Shafran For School Board
Dear Fellow School District 14 Residents,
My name is Jacob Shafran and I am running for election to the District 14 School Board. I have been a District 14 resident for over 26 years. I am a product of the public-school system, having gone to P.S. 208, middle school, and high school in Brooklyn. Although my children have not attended public schools, my two nieces and nephew have attended the Ogden school, the HW Middle School, and Hewlett High School. I therefore greatly value the public-school system, and as a product of that background I am an advocate for a strong and vibrant school district.
I am a practicing optometrist with hospital teaching experience. Further, in my experience in running an optical business, I keenly understand the need to control costs without sacrificing quality. The need to deliver good service and a good product is paramount, but prudent practice and responsibility require that this be done within a budget.
I have spoken with people who are in retirement, on fixed incomes, and individuals who are unemployed and underemployed. I have had discussions with people who have children in our district’s public schools and those who do not. There is one common theme that stands out starkly in all of the discussions. The continuously upward trajectory of our school taxes is having a substantial adverse impact on people’s lives. Nassau County recently released data that shows that we are #1—that School District 14 has the highest taxes in the entire Nassau County. That #1 position is not a bragging point. I emphasize again that I strongly support a first-class and vibrant public-school system and I will advocate for that. But we must demand fiscal responsibility, accountability, and, above all, transparency. The status quo that has prevailed over the years is not getting us there. We must address this head-on. We owe it to our children and to each of our fellow school-district residents.
My message is simple: A strong and vibrant school district but with fiscal responsibility.
The problem of spiraling taxes needs to be addressed and fiscal transparency must become the new norm. Please help me in my efforts to be elected in the upcoming election for the school board on May 20. I will do everything in my power to promote a first-rate school district and establish fiscal responsibility, accountability, and transparency.
I hope I can count on you on May 20. Thank you.
Politics On Parade
I am bemused by the flurry of attention given to the participation of groups such as the New Israel Fund in the upcoming (June 1) Celebrate Israel Parade. I do endorse the exclusion of groups that directly support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS). Further, I would agree that if a group is one step removed from BDS—that is, it does not directly support BDS but it channels considerable financial aid to groups that do—a case may be made to likewise exclude that group. Whether the NIF and the other organizations in question fit either of these criteria is a matter worthy of examination. One possible distinction concerns groups that urge a boycott of products made in Judea and Samaria while opposing a boycott of items manufactured in Israel proper.
My bemusement, though, stems from the fact that a much greater threat to Israel, exposed last year, remains unresolved. I refer to the inclusion of an openly gay group, Jewish Queer Youth, in the parade the past several years. Last year, I was part of a campaign that called upon Orthodox institutions to boycott the parade unless JQY were prohibited from marching under its own banner. (We had no issue with gays and lesbians marching among other groups.) We noted that according to the Torah, homosexual practice can cause the Land of Israel to spit out its inhabitants. How, then, we asked, could Orthodox groups march alongside JQY? How would this benefit our beloved State of Israel?
Our campaign gained traction only after repeated attempts were made to alert yeshivos and other Orthodox groups that they were, in effect, legitimizing homosexual behavior by marching. Eventually a meeting was called at which the Jewish Community Relations Council, which administers the parade, was instructed to prevent JQY from displaying blatantly offensive banners. (The prior year, JQY had marched with banners stating: “We are in every yeshiva.”) While this was a victory for Torah morals, it was a partial one, because yeshivos refused to pull out of the parade, thus leaving the unfortunate impression that JQY represents a legitimate approach to Judaism. This inaction occurred despite the fact that many yeshiva principals privately agreed with our view that participating alongside an openly immoral group was wrong.
I have heard that this year, some of these same yeshivos may now leave the parade because NIF is marching. I firmly believe that if we are to question our participation, we should do so on moral grounds rather than on political ones. Whether the New Israel Fund marches is much less important than whether Jewish Queer Youth marches.
In the interim, there is one group that has chosen to make a kiddush Hashem in this regard. I refer to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, whose Catholic organizers continue to take the principled stance that groups professing morals antithetical to the shared Judeo-Christian ethic must not march under their own banner.
A Disgraceful Picture
The picture in the May 2 issue of Marc Schneier with Mahmoud Abbas in a handshake is cruel and offensive. Abbas calls for the murder of Jews, the destruction of Israel, and cheers each time a Jew is killed! And the list goes on . . . With Yom HaZikaron on May 5, right after Yom HaShoah, or anytime for that matter! And we just concluded Pesach . . . Shame on the Five Towns Jewish Times!
A Good Read
On behalf of the Destinations by Yossi Zablocki Passover Program, we wish to express our deepest thanks and appreciation for providing us issues of the Five Towns Jewish Times over the recent Pesach holiday at the Honor’s Haven Resort & Spa.
Our guests enjoyed your newspaper and expressed their appreciation, as reading the paper helped enhance our program.
Once again, our thanks and best wishes to you and your family for good health, happiness, nachas, and smachot.
Moshe I. Sorscher
Where Are Our Brethren?
This past Wednesday (April 30), I took the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC with a thousand other Jews on the NORPAC mission to Washington. We went to lobby government support against a nuclear Iran, against an armed Hezbollah, and in support of military aid for Israel. It is needless to say how appropriate these points are for our time—a time when sonei Yisrael, those who hate us, are arming up so they can target the Jews in Israel.
While the trip was very pleasant and meaningful, there was one thing that really bothered me: I was there alone. I do not mean that there was no one else there or that I had no friends on the trip; quite to the contrary, I had the pleasure of meeting people I knew and meeting up with old friends. Yet, still I was alone, missing a whole category of friends.
From all the people on the mission, I did not meet anyone from the mainstream “yeshivish” yeshivas I attended. Buses left mainly from Modern Orthodox neighborhoods, though there were some buses from Brooklyn and Queens. Why is it, I wondered, that my yeshivish friends are not here with me on this trip? Do they not care about the Yidden in Eretz Yisrael? Obviously that was not the reason. We have all seen what a strong sense of areivus and care for other people the frum and heimishe communities have. We’ve seen this with the tragic story of Mordechai Rubashkin, with the three bachurim imprisoned in Japan, and from how closely people followed the story of Yakov Ostreicher when he was arrested in Bolivia. Clearly the frum community cares very much for fellow Yidden. So why would they not pursue this important goal of lobbying for the well-being and security of Yidden in Eretz Yisrael?
And then I got the answer.
As many frum and heimishe Yidden feel that the Israeli government is carrying out policies that are hurting frum Yidden in Eretz Yisrael, people feel that it is inappropriate to show support for that same government. This, however, is a terrible mistake.
Take, for example, a Gerer yungerman living in Ashdod being harassed by Yair Lapid and his secular party. If you asked him what he thought of the current Israeli government, he would surely not have great things to say. At the same time, ask him if he is happy about the Iron Dome system that makes sure that Hamas rockets do not fall on the Gerer shtiebel as they have in the past, and he would surely say he is really happy. The Iron Dome system did not just arrive next to Ashdod protecting its residents from Hamas’s rockets; it came there due to congressional resolutions supporting it. Congress was informed and educated about the matter by pro-Israel lobbyists.
The time has come that we realize that supporting the security and well-being of the Yidden living in Eretz Yisrael is by no means an endorsement for all of the Israeli government’s domestic-policy decisions.
There is no reason in the world that, when it comes to one Yid in danger we should all be deeply concerned and do everything for him, yet when it comes to thousands and thousands of Yidden in great sakanah we should not be doing our best to support them.
Lobbying for Israel by and large, if not completely, deals with security issues—something that results in saving Jewish lives. For us not to do any hishtadlus on this does not make any sense. It is inexcusable for us not to pick up the phone or write a letter, at no cost, telling our local representatives how important it is to us to protect the lives of our brothers and sisters living in Eretz Yisrael. This is by no means a statement of endorsement for what the current or previous Israeli governments are doing on religious matters; it is simply doing our hishtadlus for our fellow Yidden at a time they need us.
Looking forward to seeing you on my next trip to Washington.
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko