The Real Antisemitic Attacks in NYC
Thank you to Marc Gronich for his recent article on antisemitic crimes in Westchester County. As Elliot Forchheimer, CEO of the Westchester Jewish Council, explains, the minimal number of reported incidents tends to be symbolic (such as using swastikas) or online (as typified by rapper Kanye West’s recent hateful comments on social media). These incidents are hateful and should of course be minimized.
As awful as these incidents are, we should be grateful that these are not real-time incidents in person, which tend to be violent and are on the rise in New York City and other areas. The New York City Police Department has reported four times as many anti-Jewish hate crimes this year compared to last year. For example, in two successive incidents this past August, two teenagers in Brooklyn chased visibly Jewish elderly men with a fire extinguisher. In another occurrence the same week, three teenagers stole a kippah off the head of a 13-year-old boy in Staten Island. The next week, in Brooklyn, a crowd of teenagers surrounded a Chasidic man and one of them punched him in the face. People filmed the incident without intervening. The list of such incidents unfortunately goes on and on.
Although the targets of some of these violent attacks are girls or women, most of them are boys and men. Indeed, a recent large-scale study of data on antisemitism in Europe by Mie Astrup Jensen finds that “Jewish men are consistently more likely than Jewish women to experience antisemitic discrimination.” The likely reason? Observant Jewish boys and men are more visibly Jewish than observant Jewish girls and women are. Whether or not wearing a kippah is an obligation – as halachic authorities have debated based on the Talmud’s instruction to cover one’s head (Shabbat 156b) – observant Jewish boys and men accept it as an outright obligation and wear a kippah visible on their heads. Similarly, due to various religious obligations or traditional practices, they also might have tzitzit fringes visible on their clothing, a tallit prayer shawl draped over their clothing, peyot sidelocks hanging down the sides of their face, or large-brimmed hats, long coats, and high socks that signify that their wearers are Jewish. While observant Jewish girls and women have conservative dress codes, they are much less noticeably Jewish.
As our local governments address rising incidences of hate crimes of all kinds – in-person, symbolic, and online – it is crucial that they be specifically attuned to the gendered nature of violent antisemitic attacks, precisely because of the distinguishable religious and traditional obligations of many Jewish boys and men.
New York, N.Y.
Who is Subsidizing Whom?
Barry Kirzner’s letter (October 6) contends that “non-religious taxpayers have subsidized these schools to the amount of over a billion dollars in just the last four years.”
The NY Times, Mr. Kirzner, and other detractors of “taxpayer funding” of yeshivas miss one very vital fact. Religious Jewish homeowners have funded community public schools to the tune of hundreds of millions, and probably billions of dollars in real estate tax payments over many decades without being able to avail themselves of these funds or schools. Is there a corresponding outcry to the taxpayer “funding” of Catholic or Muslim schools that I’m sure occurs? Obviously not.
The so-called funding of yeshivas by taxpayer dollars is nothing more than overdue allocation of funds to these schools of Jewish taxpayer dollars heretofore not available to these institutions. The alleged billion dollars are by no means some beneficent or gratuitous contributions to yeshivas at all. Furthermore, I challenge the yeshiva naysayers to compare the performance of yeshivas and day schools to public schools any day. One primary difference is that yeshivas and day schools do not attempt to sexualize and otherwise harm their students with exposure to inappropriate ideologies and explicit material that young minds are not ready for. There is always room for improvement in all educational venues. The latest disparagement of yeshivas, however, is unwarranted and, I would venture to say, antisemitic.
Muslim Schools – No Problem for New York DOE
Barry Kirzner’s negative view (Letter, October 7) of The Jewish Press‘s forthright defense of yeshiva education, comes from a lack of knowledge of the facts. Muslim educational institutions here in New York give no better education or even hours for secular subjects than the yeshivos that are the target of the Department of Education. Yet, contrary to Mr. Kirzner’s assertions, these Muslim schools do receive many millions in government aid.
Worse yet, publicly available investigative articles over the last few years have exposed the fact that many of these Muslim schools openly teach using anti-American as well as antisemitic diatribes (talk about biting the hand that feeds you). The facts on the ground speak for themselves. It is also crystal clear that the leaders of organizations leading the drive against yeshivos were long ago misfits in the communities of their origin. They are no different than the Russian czars of yore who sought to find ways to assimilate the Jews and destroy their existing way of life. In another parallel, these “leaders” have proven that they are the Hellenists of the 21st century.
Shul Is Lost No More
It was so heartwarming to read about how the “lost shul,” Cong. Ahavas Achim, disposed of the proceeds from the sale of their shul, along with the Sifrei Torah and memorial plaques. I often drive by the “lost shul” on my way to work. The souls seem to cry out to me. I am so proud of the former congregants in how they so honorably performed the closing of the era of Ahavas Achim. I am looking forward to visiting the shul in Tel Aviv, where many of the items were sent on for continued use.
A Vote for Zeldin
When I go to the polls to vote for governor of New York, I’m voting for Lee Zeldin. I want change in New York. And change is coming, as they put more cops on the trains. Now, let them work on stopping letting illegal immigrants from coming into New York City.
The People’s Lawyer
The late New York State Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz was a mainstream Republican. He served for 22 years from 1957 to 1979 earning the title “the people’s lawyer.’ Today’s State Attorney General Letitia James’s use of his title “the people’s lawyer” represents consumer fraud. Ms. James, with only two years in office, has yet to build a record worthy of this title. Her accomplishments don’t come anywhere close to Lefkowitz. Co-opting this title just serves as a cheap re-election television ad sound bite.
Great Neck, N.Y.