Rockland legislator uses social media to harass, restrict debate on yeshiva education
Yoel Falkowitz, a Hasidic father of three, feels that the education his children are getting in a Yeshiva will leave them and other ultra-orthodox Jewish children unprepared to succeed in the outside world. (Video by Seth Harrison/The Journal News)
Newsflash: Twitter is a pesthole of trolls. Actually, that’s news to no one. Still, most of us expect better of our elected officials when they’re on the social-media platform.
Which is why Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder’s smear campaign, on Twitter, against a local activist, Naftuli Moster, should be deeply troubling to Rocklanders. Wieder represents District 13, which includes part of the ultra-Orthodox community (of which he is a member). Many readers will recall the savage budget cuts and sweeping layoffs during his controversial time on the East Ramapo Board of Education, a school board controlled by representatives of the Orthodox community, whose children attend private religious schools known as yeshivas. Moster, formerly a member of a Hasidic community, leads the organization YAFFED (Young Advocates for Fair Education), which seeks to improve the secular education of yeshiva students. Flouting state law, many Hasidic yeshivas focus on religious studies to the near-exclusion of secular subjects such as English, math, and science.
Legislator Wieder has been a vigorous defender of New York State Sen. Simcha Felder’s recent attempt to hollow out the law that ensures private-school students get the same well-rounded education that New York’s public-school students receive. Through his Twitter account, Moster has argued against Felder’s legislation.
Rather than engage in a thoughtful debate on the issues, Wieder has attacked Moster personally. On Twitter, he has accused Moster of “deceiving lawmakers and policymakers that he is an observing [sic] religious Hasidic Jew” and underscores that point by using the anglicized version of his name (“Nicholas”) — a dog-whistle to the ultra-Orthodox, implying that no citizen who isn’t a member of that community is entitled to criticize the yeshiva system. As well, he retweeted photos of Moster and, even more alarming, a photo of a legal document with Moster’s cell phone number clearly legible, a widely reviled form of Internet harassment known as “doxxing.”
The Rockland County Board of Ethics should censure Legislator Wieder. His cyberbullying is not only a discredit to the body of which he is a member but a clear violation of the legislature’s own Social Media Guide, which states, in the section on “Social Media ‘Best Practices’ for Elected Officials,” that officials should strive, when posting on social media, to be “honest, straightforward, and respectful” (italics mine); that they should “add value to any social media discussion by staying focused on the issue” as opposed, presumably, to the character or beliefs of the individual (such as whether he is an observant Jew); and that they should not post “non-public or confidential information” such as private phone numbers.
To read the article in its entirety click here.
Amazing Video Every Resident of Rockland Must View: Is The Ultra-Orthodox Community Interested In Separation Of Church And State, Or Sovereignty Of Church Over State?
In this video leaders of the ‘Orthodox’ community candidly admit to their motives and tactics regarding their desire for a political takeover of New York State.
The simple truth is that if YOU don’t vote YOU don’t matter. Many Clarkstown residents showed that they mattered at the last election as you will discover in this video where the last election in Clarkstown is specifically described with the word ‘vile’. Now more Clarkstown residents need to show that they matter too regardless of how ‘vile’ their desire to preserve their quality of life may appear to others.
Just one minute into the video, moderator Rabbi AD Motzen poses the question as to whether or not members of the Orthodox community should be running for office. This begs the question of why shouldn’t any member of any community be free to run for office? Is the speaker questioning whether the ultra-Orthodox community is better served by remaining behind the scenes and pulling the strings of political puppets such as Alden Wolfe, Toney Earl and Aney Paul? In our view, that is exactly his question.
At the 4:55 minute mark in the video, Rabbi Motzen asks if it is best to be associated to with any single political party or if it might be better to court both parties and “let them BUY our vote.”
Yes, that is a direct quote.
It gets worse as the video moves along. Perhaps the highlight is at about the 24:30 mark where panelist Chaskel Bennett states how his community prefers to advance its agenda: “We’ll try to do it under the guise of darkness where nobody will know.” He then laments how this is no longer possible, as the media will expose it within 48 hours.
Watch for yourself. The video can be seen at the following link:
The meeting in which these comments were made was organized by Agudath Israel of America sometimes referred to as Agudah or abbreviated AIA, a Haredi Jewish communal organization in the United States loosely affiliated with the international World Agudath Israel.
Agudah serves as a leadership and policy umbrella organization for Haredi Jews in the United States. Agudah in the United States has been very successful in the difficult task of retaining its major Hasidic factions together. Agudah represents the vast majority members of the yeshiva world; all are commonly known as Haredim or “ultra-Orthodox” Jews representing Torah Judaism in North America.
Not all Hasidic Jewish groups are affiliated with Agudath Israel. For example, the Hasidic group Satmar dislikes Agudah’s relatively moderate stance towards the State of Israel. AIA is also a part of the World Agudath Israel organization, which convenes international conferences and religious conclaves.
For further information about this organization see:
In November 2015 AIA held a convention at which one of the modules under discussion was titled: “The Growing Political Force Of The Orthodox Community – Opportunities And Responsibilities”. Legislator Wieder attended this conference and spoke as a panel member during this module.
This video is nearly one hour long but as Rocklanders we must become educated about what the Haredi world is saying about its future expectations and how it intends to achieve them.
Here is a summary of some other points you will hear brought up in this video.
Orthodox households are home to 64% of all Jewish children in the New York area. The Haredi birthdate is three times that of the non-Orthodox world. They are the biggest private school system in the NY area. With that comes opportunities for political power.
Is it better to be a block vote? Should the orthodox community be a swing vote and let ‘them’ buy our vote – chase after our vote – let ‘them’ do something for us so that we will vote for ‘them’?
Block voting has become a pejorative term. It is important that the orthodox community is present in both parties so they have a voice in who is picked as candidates. That is not to say orthodox people can not cross party lines to vote and not have a split vote in the election. The Kiryas Joel vote is split and fractured. That’s a political loser for them.
Aron Wieder talks at time 15:00 about his position on block voting. He was thinking in Rockland County to form a party called ‘The Block Vote Party’. All of a sudden in Rockland County other groups are calling themselves a ‘block’ vote. There was a good relationship in the Rockland County Legislature and votes were usually unanimous before now.
Agudath Board of Trustees member Chaskel Bennett goes on as follows: “If you don’t vote, you don’t matter. That is the simple truth.”
Bennett continues that sometimes the community pays attention and unfortunately sometimes they do not. A defeat in Rockland County for the orthodox community is a defeat for all Jews across New York. In politics today it is an ‘us versus them’ mentality whether it is on school funding or on expansion it is an ‘us versus them’ approach. It is not the orthodox community that has created this approach – it is the world around the orthodox community.
The orthodox community can no longer go quietly about their business and think that nobody is going to notice. Bennett then makes the previously statement that they try to implement their action plan under the guise of darkness where nobody will know but there are no secrets that can be kept anymore.
As to the Block Vote – it’s People NOT Party. Candidates who support orthodox positions are candidates who will receive the orthodox community’s support.
Why the focus by the orthodox community on politics? One example in New York State is the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) which provides $20 million annually of new revenue stream signed by the governor and the orthodox community does not have to go back for it.
The speaker is basically talking about a $20MM heist. As Governor Cuomo continues on his crusade to consolidate and defund public schools, take a moment to view what is concurrently happening within the Ultra-Orthodox community. Every NYS taxpayer really needs to start paying attention to how the Hasidim are controlling Albany politics and effectively getting tax dollars into their communities for the purpose of teaching intolerance and isolation towards anyone who isn’t of their religion. Governor Cuomo and State Senator David Carlucci are both fully on board with supporting this Tuition Assistance Program.
If you live in NY City it is an absolute waste to register as a Republican – the elections matter in the primaries – the winner of the primaries will most likely win the election – and 98% of the time in NY City that winner will be a Democrat.” That means if you are orthodox in NY City you should be a Democrat and by voting in the Democrat primary where there is low turnout, the candidate that the orthodox community block votes for is 98% assured will be elected in the general election.
As far as orthodox political voting, (Timemark 30:00) it is really only in New York and New Jersey where it matters. The pitfalls of orthodox political power is that some of the worst and most anti-orthodox campaigning, vile, over-the-line things are said that would never be said about any other ethnic group. Look at the elections that just happened in Rockland County where the growth of the orthodox community was the pivotal issue in Clarkstown. The Democrat (Gromack) who said he was not a friend of the orthodox community was thrown out by his opponent (Hoehmann) who said he was even more unfriendly to the orthodox community.
Wieder declares at time 42:00 that if you want to win an election in Ramapo you have to be a registered Democrat but for the record Wieder states wryly that he is a Democrat because of his principles and ideals. He ran on both the Democrat and Republican lines last time because Republicans “wrote him in”.
Listen to how a senator in Albany changed his principles about one bill because of who funded him and by how much. Fundraising for politicians can change their minds and their votes despite their ‘principles’. Wieder urges that strategy as a prime principle to be followed by the orthodox community – presumably as the key way to buy their vote.
At the 47:00 minute mark, you will witness Wieder painfully describe the “tuition crisis” that he insists is burdening his community. Mr. Wieder, whom many allege was the most dangerous architect of the destruction and fiscal pillaging of the East Ramapo School District, apparently feels that public monies should be diverted for the education of religious indoctrination.
We shall be interested in reading your comments as you complete viewing this video. Although we have provided our opinion and comments about this video we are presenting the video in full (even though parts of it were apparently cut by the producers) so that you may form your own independent conclusions about what is said. We believe that this video presents the political strategy of the New York and Lakewood, New Jersey, Hasidic communities in their own words.
Given the number of times that Rockland is mentioned by the speakers, it is clear that Rockland County is now ‘ground zero’ for Hasidic expansion and growth of political power. You can bet that because Rockland is heavily Democratic – as is New York City – that registering as a Democrat to control who the Democrats run for office and voting in the primaries for their preferred Democratic candidate could be the main block vote strategy to further political power even if the result is not then 98% guaranteed as it is in NY City.
That is perhaps why the Rockland County Democratic Committee and its Chairperson, Kristen Stavisky, remains silent about its political support for what has happened in Ramapo. A similar strategy can be followed by registering orthodox members in the Republican Party and if necessary in the general election party lines can be crossed to deliver a block vote for the final preferred candidate.
To the people of Rockland County we entirely agree with the orthodox community in one aspect: If you don’t register to vote, or having registered to vote you don’t vote in EVERY election, primary or otherwise, then not only does your opinion not matter, YOU don’t matter.
We invite all Rockland County voters to join with Preserve Rockland in continuing to preserve and reform the political process in this county.
HOW MANY REASONS DO YOU NEED TO VOTE AGAINST ARON WIEDER?
Failed School District
Election Fraud Allegations
anti- Child Victims Act
anti – Monitor
anti – zoning and code enforcement
and then there’s his donor pool…
Aron Wieder, Legislator in Rockland County, announced that he is seeking election for an Assembly seat in the NYS Assembly. We can think of dozens of reasons not to give him an Assembly seat soapbox as a voice of Rockland County. The first and foremost, he is the voice of a smear campaign against anything non-Jewish or non-ultra-Orthodox Jewish, “A Jew in Rockland.”
From the archives of Failed Messiah:
Aron Wieder Yossi GestetnerSatmar hasidic PR hack Yossi Gestetner’s Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC) has released a disgusting video that smears opponents of the haredi community as anti-Semites and potential terrorists without ever once mentioning the very real misbehavior of many haredim. It pulls from a tiny minority of opponents who are (or can be construed as) anti-Semitic and smears the vast majority of opponents with that very broad brush. And the video is narrated by the hasidic Majority Leader of the Rockland County Legislature Aaron Wieder.
Above: left, Aron Wieder; right, Yossi Gestetner
ARON WIEDER – A Nightmare for New York State, a Highly Beholden Political Figure, Anti Child Victim’s Act, Anti – Secular Education, Anti – Inspections
ARON WIEDER –
ANTI THE SECULAR AND NON-JEWISH WORLD
If ever there were someone suitably unsuited to run for an assembly seat, and there are many, it is Aron Wieder. His Legislature seat in Rockland County, according to one commenter, has been the worst thing to happen to the children of Rockland, particularly East Ramapo Central School District, marking the school district’s demise.
Legislator Wieder has unabashedly spoken out against a monitor with veto power. He has systematically criticized the Rockland County Executive Ed Day for his position on inspections of Yeshivas and other properties, as well as his decision to enforce County tax laws. He has spoken of racism in Rockland County incessantly, but not about how unwelcome non-Jews are in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods and how the non-Yeshiva contingent of children in East Ramapo are being deprived an appropriate education. Aron Wieder has systematically denied the poor behavior of many of his minions, crying racism in every criticism.
Legislator Wieder avidly supports Christopher St. Lawrence whose actions have nearly bankrupted Ramapo.
The New York State Assembly needs Aron Wieder like a “hole in the head.”
Gestetner, a Shining Example of an anti-Hasidic Racist as the Hasidic Mouthpiece? Bad for Jews Everywhere!
April 15, 2016
“While one bloc-vote puppet, Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, sat in a holding cell awaiting arraignment, Hasidic ‘mouthpiece’, Yossi Gestetner, was hard at work trying to reel in a bigger fish.
We’re thrilled that Mr. Trump took the time to be brought up to speed about Rockland’s issues by a person who compared Rockland residents with Nazis.
Given that NY’s Republican Primary is four days away, please give us your new and enlightened thoughts on Rockland’s crisis, Mr. Trump. After all, NY is a critical state in your Presidential future.
Please also enlighten us about the following …..
Donald Trump met in Trump Tower today with the individual who made the video ‘The Jew In Rockland’ which compared Rockland with pre-war Nazi Germany.
Yossi Gestetner, the producer of that particularly disgusting piece of video trash said Trump is an “amusement thing”.
Gestetner, a “Hasidic political consultant”, pointed out that “Trump has a long history of being friendly to people in the Jewish community.”
Trump has not actively sought the support of the ultra-Orthodox, but he has not turned it away.
Still, many Hasidim and those who closely track the political climate of the community pointed out that the discussion around the election among the ultra-Orthodox may not actually translate into votes.
Gestetner agrees there is a genuine buzz of interest about Trump’s candidacy within his community but he is skeptical whether Hasidim will actually turnout for Trump in the New York primary, which is not until April 19.
He also says many Hasidim he knows support Cruz.
Trump’s popularity in the Hasidic community right now, says Gestetner, “is conversational, it’s an amusement thing.” And just like everywhere else in the country, a large part of the conversation right now is about Trump.
“Politics is the sport of Hasidim,” said Gestetner. “And those who follow politics as closely as fanatic sports fans, see [Trump] as the winning team.”
Hanging a Black Man In Effigy, Claiming Anti-Semitism… What a Way to Ruin a Good Story…
by LostMessiah, March 24, 2016
For the News 12 report on the Hanging Black Man click, here
Purim… Today’s holiday commemorates the Jewish peoples survival despite a local hostile government.
Legislator Wieder seems to have found anti-Semitism in the justified criticism of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who found it appropriate to hang a black man in effigy in Spring Valley, New York. Spring Valley is in large part, black and Hispanic.
If Haman was a black man in Persia at the time, then that would mean the other characters in the story were also black, Esther, Mordechai, Achashveros, Vashti, etc. a possibility given the history of the Persian empire. But…. that’s a debate for another day, under another empire, without Wieder and Hikind as our elected leaders in one form or another.
A little sensitivity to their neighbors for Rockland County’s Legislator Wieder, and Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, would go a long way toward making it possible for non-Jews, well…. and secular Jews… to not feel a bit of hatred toward them and the communities in which they live. It is not a religious thing… It’s a lack of sensitivity, a non-existent sense of decorum, a sense of entitlement and a completely skewed moral compass. It’s a pity, really…
To read about Dov Hikind and his blackface costume, in a story in the New York Times from 2013, click here.
Perhaps if ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders were all women, there would be far less crass insensitivity, victimization and sheer stupidity. There is certainly something important to be learned from Esther.
Now… onto the Megillah…. Where did Effigy Come From? Social custom?
Every year on Purim, the Book of Esther (the Megilat Esther) is read in synagogues. By tradition, children dressed in costume, come and listen to the story and, pay careful attention so that they can spin noisy groggors (noisemakers) during the reciting of Haman’s name. So that his name may not be heard. It is one of the few holidays in Jewish practice which is boisterous in the synagogue. The custom of masquerading and acting out the story, appears to be derived from social teachings, rather than religious ones. Tradition has it that Jews are supposed to drink so much that they cannot distinguish their enemies from their friends. The custom of hanging/burning Haman in effigy is a one only practiced amongst ultra-Orthodox Jews (and even then not everywhere) and one that originates, well… we don’t know from where it originates.
The practices of Purim are supposed to bring people together, celebrate differences and similarities (enemy and friend). The story is one of a Jewish victory fought and nearly singlehandedly won by a beautiful Jewish woman.
The Book of Esther, interestingly, is not a part of the original Torah; but was added as a canon after the fact as part of the Purim tradition. It is one of the most highly debated of the readings. It is as controversial a story as it is a beautiful tale of a Heroine saving her people.
The strength of the story rests in the strength of the Heroine, Esther, who saves the Jewish people from certain death. The uniqueness of the story, is that it is one of few in which the woman is the central character. And, from my teachings of the story, there is much to be learned, and many questions to be asked. G-d is not mentioned once in the story, not by commandment or by implication. Esther marries a non-Jew, does not keep the dietary laws of the Jews at the time, and assimilates, as do those she saves, into the Kingdom of Persia, where the story takes place.
According to Jewish Women’s Archive:
“the Book of Esther is unique in two important respects. First, the protagonist of the book, and the one with whom the audience should identify, is a woman, Esther (Mordecai is, of course, the other leading character and finishes the story at a very high rank, but this is basically because of his relationship to, and through the efforts of, Esther). This choice of a female hero serves an important function in the story. Women were, in the world of the Persian diaspora, as in many other cultures, essentially powerless and marginalized members of society. Even if they belonged to the dominant culture, they could not simply reach out and grasp power, as a man could; whatever power they could obtain was earned through the manipulation of the public holders of power, men. In this sense the exiled Jew could identify with the woman: he or she too was essentially powerless and marginalized, and power could be obtained only through one’s wits and talents. But, as the actions of Esther demonstrate, this can be done. By astutely using her beauty, charm, and political intelligence, and by taking one well-placed risk, Esther saves her people, brings about the downfall of their enemy, and elevates her kinsman to the highest position in the kingdom. Esther becomes the model for the Jew living in exile.
The summary of the story, revised 3.25.16, corrections made…
The story, like many good tales, starts with a party. The King, Achashveros (the puppet in the story), made a banquet for everyone great and small, lasting for seven days. On the seventh day, when the King is quite drunk with all of the men. He summons his wife, Queen Vashti who is in another room with all of her friends, so that he can show off her beauty and the riches of her crown. When she refuses to come, the king has her killed and decrees throughout the land that all women must obey their husbands.
As the story goes, King Achashveros after killing his Queen Vashti for disobeying him, must find a new queen and sends out orders through all of Persia for all of the beautiful maidens in the land to be summoned to him so he can choose his new queen.
Esther, the protagonist in the story, raised by her cousin Mordechai, is brought before the king to win favor with the king without divulging her Jewish identity. Everyday Mordecai would walk in front of the court of the house where Esther lived with the king to check on her.
On the twelfth month after the marriage, the new maiden of the king would go to him and get a wish granted. Esther only wanted the King to say that she took favor with him.
In celebration of his love for her, King Achashveros held a banquet for his princes and servants and granted a release to the provinces and gave gifts.
At that point in the story, Mordecai discovered that some of the King’s trusted men wanted to have him killed and told Esther who in turn told the King and the men were killed. Additionally, the King feel more deeply in love with her.
Haman, the antagonist in the story, is then advanced by King Achashveros to the highest position in his Kindom. He has his King’s trust. He has his following. And, like all good stories, Haman is arrogant, bombastic puppet-master. He makes people kneel before him, kiss his ring.
However, Mordecai will not do so. Haman, discovering that Mordecai is Jewish and threatened Mordecai’s refusal to kneel, and of course comfortable with the stability of his position, decides to kill all Jews.
As the story goes, Haman convinces his King to send out a decree to kill all Jews.
Esther, the protagonist in the story, hears of the decree to kill all of the Jews in the kingdom and hatches a plan to save the Jews (and destroy Haman), asking first that her handmaid tell Mordechai that all Jews in Shushan fast for 3 days.. [There is a bit more to the story… but this is of course a summary…]
And the story goes… There is a happy ending. Esther does, indeed, save the Jews. She is able to do so because King Achashveros had fallen deeply in love with her. Esther convinces the King that Haman is the bad one. Haman is killed by the king and Mordechai, joins the king and takes over Haman’s position.
For the full text of the Megillat Esther, click here.