Opinion- Do Better by Yeshiva Students

Do better by yeshiva students

City and state officials must do more to protect the civil rights of these children and ensure that they are properly educated.

By Shlomo Noskow

https://www.amny.com/opinion/do-better-by-yeshiva-students-1.21868910

I am perpetually astonished by how Hasidic community leaders in New York have managed to convince thousands on the logic of keeping young Jewish boys uneducated. And state and city education officials who have the duty and authority to ensure that students are educated have not done so.

Private and religious schools are obligated to provide students with an education that is at least “substantially equivalent” to that of public schools. This is to ensure that in addition to religious curricula, students are offered at least a basic education in topics such as reading and writing of English, math and history.

I recall as a teenager spending 12 or so hours a day in my Hasidic high school in Brooklyn. Some of the time included daily prayers, but the day consisted mostly of studying and rehearsing portions of Talmud and its commentaries. There were no secular studies. No English, no math. Outside of school, there was no time for extracurricular activities. More than 20 years later, the school still operates and, unfortunately, like many other Hasidic boys schools, it still does not provide students with a secular education.

My parents had my best interest in mind, but they acted like cogs in a system, following community norms. Hasidic Rabbis and community leaders set the norms, including school curricula. But the developing mind of a child shouldn’t be restricted to religious studies, regardless of religion.

It is perplexing that wonderful parents who deeply care about their children, allow the educational neglect of their education. Why are Rabbis, who incidentally are well provided for, allowed to deny these children a basic education? Shouldn’t we instead do everything possible to expand their options and better prepare them for the future? Why not have the schools incorporate a few hours a day for secular subjects? Would teaching students how to properly communicate in English and about basic history, science and finance be so detrimental?

Proponents of the status quo say Hasidic boys seem to thrive. That ignores the fact that a large percentage of Hasidic families are dependent on government aid. We are essentially dooming generations to lives of poverty. Why? And shouldn’t government programs, including Section-8, food stamps and Medicaid, be reserved for people experiencing unforeseen events? The programs are not meant to be used as a way of life, the way they are being used by many in the Hasidic community.

City and state officials must do more to protect the civil rights of these children and ensure that they are properly educated, as guaranteed by our Constitution. For years, we’ve watched politicians place politics ahead of the education and welfare of children. It’s time educational guidelines are enforced.

Speaking out in the Hasidic community is not well-tolerated. Anyone who does risks being ostracized or having their children expelled from school. But if enough Hasidic parents make their voices heard, perhaps politicians and school officials would take note. Then we’d be able to compel yeshivas to properly educate children.

Shlomo Noskow, who grew up Hasidic in Brooklyn, is an emergency medical physician in New York City.

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Fort Greene Residents to Sue Over High-Rise to Preserve Brooklyn Neighborhood

Fort Greene Residents To Sue City Over High-Rise Plans

An attorney for Preserve Our Brooklyn Neighborhoods will file suit to stop a proposed 13-story building from going up on South Portland.

 

FORT GREENE, BROOKLYN — Fort Greene residents plan to sue the city over a new development planned to go up on South Portland Avenue.

Grassroots organization Preserve Our Brooklyn Neighborhoods will file suit against the New York City Planning Commission in a last-ditch attempt to prevent a 13-story high rise from going up at 142 South Portland Ave., organizer Sandy Reiburn told Patch.

“Our low-rise and historic communities are being appropriated by rapacious development,” Reiburn said, “fueled by a mayor who asserts he’s configuring 300,000 new ‘affordable’ apartments, no matter how unaffordable nor how many generations of New Yorkers will be displaced.”

The property belongs to the Hanson Place Seventh Day Adventist Church, which first sought community support for the 50-affordable-unit complex in November 2017 by arguing the building would bring much-needed affordable housing to the neighborhood.

“They want what the lord wants,” developer Michael T. Rooney of MDG Design, the company commissioned to design the building, told residents in November. “They’re pleading with the neighborhood to stand with them on this.”

Developers initially presented plans that called for 75 percent of the units to be priced at or above the area median income, with rents for a three-bedroom apartment topping out at $3,150-per-month.

The City has since committed $50 million to subsidize the development under the mayor’s controversial Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which allows developers to construct larger buildings if a percentage of the units are affordably priced, said the group’s attorney Jack Lester.

Lester told Patch he will file an Article 78 later this week that argues the development “obliterates local zoning while not producing increased affordable housing as promised.”

 

TO READ THE ARTICLE IN ITS ORIGINAL CONTENT FORM CLICK HERE.

YAFFED.Org – Speaks out against Kalman and Yeger

This was submitted to us by a frequent reader and we tip our hats to that reader.

We note that we are posting this without the prior knowledge of Yaffed’s Naftuli Moster.

This post should not be deemed to imply that we have the support of either Yaffed or Mr. Moster, nor should it be assumed that they are readers of our posts.

Please see the video.

Inspectors Accepting Bribes to Speed up Developments, Shocking? Nope.

The Daily News

Fourteen people charged with bribing inspectors to speed up Brooklyn development projects

With new buildings popping up across Brooklyn, some corrupt property owners put a pair of city inspectors on retainer to avoid code violations, the Department of Investigation charged Wednesday.

The two Department of Buildings inspectors were among 14 individuals hit with charges in the latest crackdown on the resilient corruption that’s plagued the building sector in this city for decades.

The two inspectors were paid off by property owners and contractors to overlook code violations such as inoperable exit signs on residential and commercial buildings going up across Brooklyn, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said.

“Fabricating documents, lying about conducting inspections or about who is doing the work has serious consequences,” said Peters. “For the defendants it’s about expediting the construction timeline. It’s about making an extra buck.”

Financier gets probation for bribing state pension official

In all, 10 property owners, developers and contractors were charged in the scheme, along with a private sector asbestos inspector who took fees to fudge inspections and a master plumber who sold the use of his license.

Thirteen of the 14 were arrested in a pre-dawn sweep. All will be prosecuted by Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and were to be presented in court later Wednesday.

The two city inspectors were paid off with cash but also got free kitchen renovations and driveway upgrades to their private homes, the complaints allege.

Yeshiva Deprives Students of Secular Education and Mayor De Blasio Offers Praise

De Blasio Praised Brooklyn Yeshiva Accused Of Depriving Students Of Secular Education

From: The Gothamist

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Oholei Torah in Crown Heights. Mayor de Blasio praised the yeshiva, which is under DOE investigation, in a letter this spring. (Emma Whitford / Gothamist)

In May of this year, long after the Department of Education announced an investigation into dozens of yeshivas for failing to provide a basic education to their students, Mayor Bill de Blasio effusively praised one of the yeshivas that was being investigated.

In a letter obtained by Gothamist, de Blasio congratulated Crown Heights yeshiva Oholei Torah for “giving its students the tools they need to build solid foundations for their futures,” even as alumni accuse the ultra-Orthodox school of leaving them unprepared for college and a career.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has yet to issue any findings related to their investigation of educational neglect at 39 yeshivas in New York, and has allegedly blown through several promised deadlines since the probe was opened over two years ago.

At a press conference outside City Hall on Wednesday, secular education advocates criticized de Blasio’s support for the school, and accused the mayor and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña of dragging their feet on the investigation for fear of offending the powerful Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox voting blocs.

“The politics behind this is obvious—the city is absolutely terrified of calling out the Hasidic yeshivas, because the findings would indicate that they’re not even close to meeting state requirements [concerning education],” Naftuli Moster, the executive director of Young Adults For A Fair Education [Yaffed], which acquired the mayor’s letter, told Gothamist.

The letter was included in a commemorative “journal” distributed to guests at the yeshiva’s 60th anniversary dinner this year, according to the group. It will be included in a forthcoming Yaffed report, which alleges that Oholei Torah provides no secular education to its students, in grades kindergarten through twelve.

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“It feels like the mayor just is not even pretending to care,” said Chaim Levin, 28, who attended Oholei Torah in Crown Heights from 1995 to 2005. “It’s like, he’s rewarding very bad behavior. Bad behavior that’s been going on for 60 years of this school’s existence.”

Oholei Torah did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the mayor’s letter, or Yaffed’s allegations. The Mayor’s Office declined to comment on the letter.

In July of 2015, around 50 yeshiva parents, alumni and former teachers sent a letter to the DOE expressing their concern that the Orthodox schools were almost entirely focused on intensive religious studies, to the exclusion of math, English, science and social studies.

According to a report put out earlier this month by Yaffed, the lack of instruction in secular education leaves “young men lack[ing] the requisite skills to obtain employment with a decent income to support themselves and their (often large) families.” The report recommends that the DOE establish a task force to improve education in the schools, and that all funding be cut to schools not meeting state benchmarks by summer 2019.

In response Yaffed’s report, the pro-yeshiva group Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools [PEARLS] released a statement noting that the purpose of the ultra-Orthodox schools was for “children to receive a religious education that is central to their cultural identity, and that teaches young men and women to become thriving, respected members of the community.” The group rejected Yaffed’s recommendations.

“The vast majority of Hasidic boys’ high schools do not teach any secular studies, zero, not even English,” Moster said in response.

Such practices would place yeshivas in violation of a state law requiring all private schools to provide education that is “at least substantially equivalent” to that provided in public schools. While the city has promised a good faith investigation into the potential neglect, Moster says they’ve missed at least two deadlines that they set for themselves.

Toya Holness, a spokesperson for the DOE, told Gothamist, “The investigation is ongoing and we are treating this matter with utmost seriousness.” She also provided Gothamist with a letter showing that the DOE had made scheduled visits to six yeshivas through the city, and planned to make additional visits throughout the month. She declined to answer a question about whether the department had a deadline for releasing their findings.

According to Moster, the DOE promised to release a report about the schools last summer, then pushed that back until this summer, and now appears to have backed off their commitment to a deadline entirely,

“If the only issue was waiting until after the elections, I would say fine,” he noted. “The problem is what this delay symbolizes: the city will bend itself backwards to appease a handful of powerful Hasidic leaders. If the report does ever come out, I’m expecting them to water it down dramatically.”

A Shell Game and American Express – the $260K Swindle

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/men-busted-swiping-270g-amex-fake-nyc-company-article-1.3289265

Six men busted for swiping $270G from American Express through defunct Brooklyn shell company

Six men stole $270,000 from American Express through an elaborate scam using a Brooklyn shell company, prosecutors said Thursday.

Five of the accused rip-off artists were arraigned and pleaded not guilty to grand larceny charges in Manhattan Supreme Court.

They are accused of filtering fraudulent transactions through a bogus corporation called 92K Blvd. between November 2013 and January 2014.

Defendants Yehuda Tyrnauer, 29, Naftali Safern, 30, Moshe Pomerantsev, 22, Bezalel Mermelstein, 40, and Samuel Berkovits, 50, allegedly used personal credit cards to initiate transactions with 92K Blvd.-affiliated accounts.

Israel Fischer, 62, owned the AmEx merchant account linked to the fake company, prosecutors said.

After making purchases for electronics and other goods, the crew requested refunds from AmEx but the credit giant could not recover the funds they had issued to the cardholders because 92K Blvd. was actually defunct and there were insufficient funds in the account, the Manhattan DA said

 

Defendants Yehuda Tyrnauer, 29, Naftali Safern, 30, Moshe Pomerantsev, 22, Bezalel Mermelstein, 40, and Samuel Berkovits, 50, allegedly used personal credit cards to initiate transactions with 92K Blvd.-affiliated accounts.

See the article in its original format in the New York Daily News

Martin Shkreli – Gouging Prices for Necessary Medicines Does not Make for East Jury Selection

http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/40/27/all-martin-shkreli-trial-starts-2017-06-30-bk.html

Least-favorite son: Sheepshead Bay native Martin Shkreli back in Brooklyn for fraud trial

This hometown boy did not get a warm welcome home.

Dozens of New Yorkers just can’t stand the Sheepshead Bay-born-and-bred Martin Shkreli — also known as “pharma bro” and “the most hated man in America” — who jacked up the prices of life-saving drugs.

Shkreli is back in his native Brooklyn for trial on fraud charges. The federal court case kicked off this week, but lawyers and the judge had a hard time finding jurors who can keep an open mind about the alleged Ponzi-schemer, who famously smirked as he repeatedly took the Fifth when testifying before Congress about pharmaceutical price-gouging.

One potential juror who got the boot suggested he wanted to sock Shkreli in his notoriously punchable face.

“I don’t really like this person. I can’t understand why someone would take a medication that people need and jack up the price,” said the man in a shaky voice as he raised his fists as if ready for the ring. “I would just go over there — I’m sorry judge, is he just stupid or crazy? I can’t understand.”

Shkreli — who declined to comment on whether growing up in a once-quaint fishing village made him the man he is today — faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly running a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme while the head of his drug company Retrophin.

The former hedge-fund manager has gained infamy for gouging the price of a drug for AIDS patients from $13.50 to $750 per pill overnight in 2015, trolling a journalist and the popular hip-hop group Wu Tang Clan on social media, and making plenty of other crude and callous comments on a variety of media venues — none of which he’s on trial for now — though several would-be jurors couldn’t help but admit they just want to see Shkreli behind bars, no matter what.

“In this particular case, the only thing I’d be impartial about is which prison he goes to,” said one man before walking out the door.

Another potential juror said he couldn’t forgive the 34-year-old Shkreli for attacking members of the Staten Island-based Wu Tang Clan on Twitter, after he purchased the only copy of one of their exclusive albums for $2 million and then released it in celebration right after President Trump’s electoral-college victory in November.

“I can’t say if he’s, like, totally guilty — he’s probably guilty. In no way can I let him slide out of anything. This is my attitude towards his whole demeanor, and he disrespected the Wu Tang Clan, so …” the man said, before getting cut off by the judge and shown the door.

Shkreli’s attorneys, federal prosecutors, and the judge had questioned more than 300 jurors since June 26, with nearly all of them getting excused — many because they admitted feeling similarly to the potential juror who said, “Just looking at him kind of twists my stomach, to be honest.”

But all jurors had been seated by late afternoon on June 28, and opening arguments began shortly after that, according to the New York Post.

Judge Kiyo Matsumoto expects the trial to last about six weeks, but jurors are skeptical.

“Looking at all of these lawyers, I think it’s going to be more than a six-week trial,” one guy said before getting excused for being self-employed.

To read the article in its original format click here.