New York is trying to reform the Orthodox yeshiva system, which some graduates say barely taught them to speak English
NEW YORK (JTA) — Gene Steinberg was born and raised barely an hour outside New York City, but well into adulthood he could barely speak the language of his native country.
Raised in a mostly Hasidic community 50 miles northwest of Manhattan, Steinberg, now 43, attended schools where Yiddish was the primary language of instruction. Until age 12, he received only an hour of instruction in secular subjects each day. After that, the number dropped to zero. From early morning until late in the evening, he spent his time immersed in the study of Jewish texts.
When he went to enroll at a community college at the age of 37, he was told he had to take an English class aimed at new immigrants.
“I had a conversation with the person in charge and the first question she asked me [was], ‘When did you immigrate? What year?’” Seinberg recalled. “And I tried to explain to her, I didn’t immigrate. I was born here.”
Jewish Rabbis and Highly Damaging Comments
We are reposting below the following Facebook post without the permission of the author, the Distinguished Fellow in Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, Professor Shaul Magid.
This will allow non-Facebook members to see his comments and follow the various links.
Your takaway should not be that Professor Magid endorses this site. He is likely wholly unfamiliar with this site. His comments are profound.
We ask that you watch the accompanying 3 minute video which, for a litany of reasons, we find more than a little unpalatable.
In our view the Rabbi’s “attacking Trump” are expressing a position that is entirely contrary to the basic architectural tenets of Judaism and dangerous to all Jews everywhere. We note, as does Professor Magid, that the Rabbis do not speak about Israel but about “Eretz Ha-Kodesh” or “The Holy Land.”
They do not recognize the formal State of Israel.
We could go on and on but Professor Shaul Magid is far more eloquent.
Please watch this three minute clip of Rav Elya Brudny of the Mirrer yeshiva at a recent Agudah convention on the “three Jews attacking Trump” and then read, if you’re interested, my remarks below. Thanks to Yossi Newfield.
This clip of Rav Elya Brudny of the Mirrer yeshiva, speaking about the impeachment hearings at a recent Agudat Yisrael convention is an illuminating and a fascinating document worthy of our consideration, in particular in regards to American Orthodoxy’s relationship to Trump but more significantly how many in the “Yeshiva Orthodox” world view their place, and the place of Jews more generally, in America. R. Brundy is not making a pro-Trump case here but decrying what he views as assimilated Jews (“they don’t even know what it is to be Jew”) leading the impeachment of a sitting president. R. Brundy views this as a breach in the precarious “covenant” between Jews and the “host” societies in which they live. That is, “we should be thankful they do not throw us out” and thus engaging in what he determines is the political morass of impeachment, endangers the Jews. He notes that the real place for the Jews is “eretz ha-kodesh” (curiously not saying “the state of Israel”) and thus we are guests here in America and should act like guests. Is this a kind of “sha-schtill” position? Should Jews just stay out of political controversy?
There are a number of things here worth noting. First, of course, given the present state of things, R. Brundy could live in Israel (which he views is where Jews should live) and chooses not to. Second, the notion of the Jews as “guests” contradicts, or at least, questions, the very nature of what America is for the Jew, the “Tri-Faith” society in which are, or should be, on equal footing with “Protestants and Catholics” (at least). The very notion of civil society in America is that we, and other minorities, are not “guests” but integral parts of the fabric of the society in which we live. His position is a difficult one to maintain in a democracy, more reminiscent of a monarchy and Czarist regime. Third, we do not know if R Brundy would have said similar things, or did say similar things, when Obama was being viciously attacked. What would he say, for example, about Stephen Miller, or other “unpopular” Jews in the Trump administration? In short, is this a political statement or not? Fourth, his denigration of those “Jews who don’t even know what Judaism is” (Schiff, Schumer, et al) seems like an old model of Orthodoxy’s animus toward “the left” that we can see at least as far back as the mid-19th century. How much is this also implicit in Orthodoxy’s Trumpism?
Finally, R. Brundy is a fairly well-known Rav in the Agudah world. He is a rosh yeshiva in the Mirrer yeshiva in Brooklyn. How common is this view? How much does this reflect contemporary Orthodoxy in its politics and its attitude toward those “Jews who don’t know what it means to be Jewish” which would include not only those referenced, but most or all non-Orthodox Jews in America (to say nothing of secular Israelis)?
Dear Editor of Lost Messiah:
We are asking you to print the following letter along with the link to the documents substantiating our claim. This is the story as we understand it based upon the documents we found.
We don’t even know how to explain this secret that has surfaced…..and it looks right on track.
It’s 11 PAGES OF CHANGES FOR JACKSON land use rules.
Story has it there was a secret meeting between Ken Bressi and Agudath Israel of America back in November; and behind closed doors decisions for Jackson Township/Lakewood were made. As you can see from the document the new developments are being designed, the Kapparot Ordinance which would allow the ritual slaughter of fowl during the High Holy Holidays was presented along with the Eiruv Ordinance. It is all in the documents.
I ask you thiss?
WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH THE REST OF THE COUNCIL???
Are they to busy too working for Jackson because it seems it’s all Ken Bressi.
Please read the rest below presented from Rise Up Ocean County:
Dormitories, schools, mikvahs, synagogues, community centers, parking waivers, eruvim…all discussed in a closed door meeting between representatives of Agudath Israel of America, Jackson Township Attorney Jean Cipriani and Jackson Township Councilman and Planning Board member Ken Bressi. No one else. No other councilmen…just BRESSI! Why is this guy neck deep in all of this?
Anyhow, when civil litigation is filed there is a requirement for mediation and settlement discussions before an actual trial. There is no requirement that you bend over, grab your ankles and prepare for the worst and yet…last November, as part of that process, this meeting took place to establish common ground and areas that might become common ground. As a result, an eleven page notice of surrender, there is no other way to describe it, was drafted. You can read the entire document by clicking the link below.
In short, these terms of surrender, if approved, would make Lakewood look tame compared to Jackson. Special provisions for almost every orthodox Jewish demand and, you are starting to see some of these being put into place on Tuesday night. A township wide eruv and an ordinance that PROTECTS the ritualistic slaughter of chickens during Kaporos are just the first two steps of capitulation. In essence, your government has given up.
Remember when Mayor Reina said “the gloves are off” signaling that he was ready to fight? How about the announcement that Jackson Township had hired religious land use attorney Marci Hamilton to help guide the town through the lawsuits, fight for home rule and to provide counsel on future ordinances? Well the gloves are back on, Marci Hamilton has left the building and only one thing stands between Jackson staying a rural, blue collar and family friendly town and Lakewood 2.0. YOU!
So let’s all put on our big boy/girl pants because quite literally it is time to take the fight to town hall.
Thank you for publishing this letter.
VIDEO (log in through Facebook):
VIDEO (log in through Facebook):
NYC’s Top Elected Officials Grace Sukkoth Celebration
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer
NYC Public Advocate Tish James
Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson
Assemblyman Dov Hikind
City Councilman Brad Lander
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte
Assemblyman David Weprin
have in common?
They all gathered in the Sukkoh of Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group to wish prominent members of the Jewish community a “Chag Sameach”.
In attendance was also: Rabbi David Zwiebel, Executive VP Agudath Israel of America
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive VP, NY Board of Rabbis
Rabbi Steve Burg, East Coast Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center and Rabbi Michael Miller, executive VP of the Jewish Community Relations Council who delivered greetings to the assembled.
Three members of Jackson Township boards dealing with development have tendered their resignations, following the release of recordings of their attendance at a meeting aimed at stopping the construction of a housing project geared towards Orthodox Jews.
Controversy began after an anonymous leak to local officials and media surfaced that Richard Egan, who was a member of Jackson’s Planning Board, and Sheldon Hofstein and Joseph Sullivan who served on its Zoning Board, were present at what was labeled as the town’s inaugural CUPON meeting. CUPON (Citizens United to Protect Our Neighborhoods) has been active in New York’s Rockland County for some time, largely focusing on efforts to oppose the growth of the Orthodox community there.
The meeting was held two weeks ago at Jackson’s Miller Road Fire House and was reportedly attended by some 28 residents. Included on its written agenda was discussion of an upcoming Planning Board application for Jackson Trails, a development for more than 460 homes and a shul in an area of the town near the border with Manchester Township, far from the area of Jackson that borders Lakewood, and which is already home to several hundred Orthodox families.
Very brief clips of a recording of the meeting, released through the Lakewood Scoop, feature the three men acknowledging that their presence at the gathering must be kept secret.
“We’re not supposed to be here,” Mr. Hofstein said. “Nobody saw us.”
“We didn’t sign in, we’re neutral like invisible,” said Mr. Egan.
“We weren’t here,” said Mr. Sullivan.
A source who has listened to the entire audio recording but requested anonymity, told Hamodia that all three took an active part in conversations strategizing to block Jackson Trails’ application.
The planning meeting held four days later was attended by some 175 residents. Just before it commenced, Gregory McGuckin, who serves as an attorney for Jackson as well as being its assemblyman, approached Mr. Egan and asked that he recuse himself from taking part in the meeting.
Presumably under pressure from town officials that their continued participation would throw a further pall over the town’s zoning and planning decisions, Mr. Egan and Mr. Sullivan submitted their resignations this past Friday, and Mr. Hofstein added his on Monday.
Robert Nixon, who serves as president of Jackson’s Town Council told Hamodia that he welcomed the resignations.
“Council was surprised and disappointed at the allegations made recently against members of our Planning and Zoning Boards and we support their decision to step down,” he said. “The focus of the Zoning and Planning Boards have always been, and must only be, on the law governing land use and Jackson’s Master Plan.”
Zoning Board appointments are made by the town council, and those to the Planning Board are made by the town’s Mayor, Michael Reina.
Jackson has struggled to keep its town boards staffed in recent years, following a series of scandals. Robert Burrows, a former Zoning Board member, has been the author of several online anti-Semitic tirades. In 2017, Larry Schuster was forced to resign after anti-Semitic and other offensive comments he made online were discovered, only weeks after Anthony Marano was forced from the board over an arrest for possession of illicit materials and resisting arrest.
At the time, members of the council called for more rigorous background checks to be made before admitting applicants to serve on town boards.
The recent resignations could complicate Jackson’s ongoing legal woes as well. In 2017, the town was sued by the Agudath Israel of America, which claimed that ordinances that banned the construction of new schools and eruvinwere motivated by bias against the Orthodox community.
Officials had entered into arbitration, but negotiations stalled and a trove of emails revealed by a FOIL request between the mayor and council members seemed to reveal that talks were little more than a stalling tactic. The cases are currently moving forward.
Prior to the Agudah’s action, Jackson had been sued by Oros Bais Yaakov over the township’s denial of its application to build.
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