Photo credit: Jewish Press
Thank you, readers of the Jewish press
Once again, we would like to thank The Jewish press and its many readers for helping to make our “Erev-Pesach Felafel campaign” for poor Israeli families a huge success.
Thanks to the generosity of The Jewish press readers, this year we were able to send over 70 beautiful big Jewish families to our local falafel shop for a falafel, fries and a drink on erev Passover.
Really, The Jewish press is unique in the impressive number of readers who not only read it, but also respond to it.
We sincerely thank you, The Jewish press management and the generosity of your readership, to make this erev Passover was a wonderful time for so many beautiful, very poor Jewish families.
With Sincere Appreciation,
PS Any checks we receive too late for the Felafel Fund will be donated to the Felafel Emergency Fund for similar poor families. Thank you.
Yeshiva Education – Time to be honest
As the debate over yeshiva education continues, it is time for a fresh and honest approach to defending our traditional way of life. I would like to respond to the article by Avrohom Weinstock, Agudath Israel of America (April 29). By his own admission, the 140,000 letters submitted in the first round of the public comment period fell short of their target.
I am a parent of sons who attended a Hasidic yeshiva in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I am convinced that this is the most appropriate type of education for Hasidic boys, both for their own good and for the future of the Jewish people.
Like a baal teshuva and practicing physician, I am certain that Hasidic education is in no way “substantially equivalent” to the public school education I received. My sons are not likely to go to Harvard University like me. But fortunately they were spared exposure to the corrupt and harmful influences of outside secular society. My sons are all good young men who have completed their yeshiva studies and then prepared for a career when the time comes. “Learning to learn” in the yeshiva is a skill that has brought them lifelong benefits.
Every boy is obligated to spend his formative years learning Torah. The public school curriculum, however, is not only contrary to our belief system, but it also takes away crucial time from learning Torah. My wife and I chose a Hasidic lifestyle and all that entails. We changed the course of our lives precisely because we knew firsthand what the outside world was like. I entered university almost 50 years ago. I understand that the situation has seriously deteriorated since then, with a total hefkeirus which prevails now.
It’s time to be honest, both with ourselves and with the government. No more pretending that a Torah program miraculously confers skills in English, math or science. It’s pure fiction. It is for this reason that despite the thousands of letters encouraged by Agudath Israel, the New York State Department of Education rejected this argument.
I don’t speak Yiddish but it has come to my attention that a recent editorial in Satmar magazine “The Otzernumber 144, pointed out that Agudath Israel has distorted the nature of the Hasidic yeshiva curriculum at the state education department. The lengthy editorial goes on to claim that Agudath Israel’s legal staff are unable to defend the Torah-only program of the Hasidic yeshivas. “They” neither received nor truly believed in a pure Torah program. Therefore, it is no wonder that their many legal arguments and presentations fell flat.
We Hasidic Jews must demand full exemption from New York State education regulations based on the requirements of our religious beliefs and convictions. What We Need to Do is reminiscent of the historic Amish showdown in the famous Wisconsin v. Yoder case, where the Amish defended their unique education system in the United States Supreme Court. The simple direct testimony of a true selected would make a bigger impression than the polished lawyers of Agudath Israel.
Agudath Israel’s flawed approach is well illustrated by their misuse of an affidavit written by Nobel laureate Professor Yisroel Aumann. They used his affidavit to defend the Hasidic educational system, when in truth he believes in a dual curriculum of Torah and mada. Subsequently, Aumann published an article calling out Agudath Israel for misrepresenting his position.
Continuing on the path advocated by Agudath Israel has not and will not bring the relief we seek. Claiming that the Hasidic curriculum is already “substantially equivalent” to the public school curriculum is simply wrong and ultimately counterproductive. While the Midrash admits that the nations have wisdom – chochma bagoyim tamin – they don’t have the Torah. It is precisely this pure Torah education that makes the Hasidic unique yeshiva system. To claim that it includes the wisdom and science of the Gentiles pollutes and denigrates the very Torah we strive to uphold.
As proud Americans, we should have the courage to stand up for what we believe in.
Shlomo Newfield, MD
Brooklyn, New York
Disdain secular education
The problem with Mr. Weinstock’s article in The Jewish press (April 29) regarding New York’s new regulations for non-public schools is that he overlooks a very simple, overarching problem. That is, many yeshiva administrations – not only Hasidic those – have a palpable disdain for their secular education departments. This contempt is felt by both teachers and students.
What kind of message does this send to yeshiva students as they transition through their school day from religious studies to secular studies? How can we expect students to flourish in their secular studies in such an environment? These are questions Weinstock should consider answering rather than simply criticizing the proposed educational requirements his article discusses.
Brooklyn, New York
miracles in nature
The Op-Ed “Swarming Locusts – A Sign From Gd,” by Rabbi Yitzchak Sprung (April 22), states: “As science has uncovered the causes and processes of increasingly natural phenomena, Providence has taken a hit. The majesty and mystery of Gd’s world has apparently receded…” This may be true for people who view nature superficially. But when you dig deeper into natural phenomena, it’s usually the opposite. which is true – you see the miraculous aspects of nature.
Take, for example, the medical profession. Over its 186-year history, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in Bethesda, Maryland, has accumulated an enormous amount of literature of more than seven million books, journals, technical reports and manuscripts on medicine and science related. Then, medical discoveries such as artificial hearts, prostheses, antibiotics, organ transplants, knowledge of DNA structure, etc., show that today’s scientific sophistication is simply awe-inspiring. . A high capacity disk of 128 terabytes is not enough to store all the knowledge currently available to the medical field. Does it get more amazing?
In fact, it is.
The combined knowledge of every medical professional on earth, and much knowledge that we don’t even have yet, is currently contained in something much smaller than a computer disk – a cell. A single cell is what starts the process of building an entire human being, and other mammals, for that matter. A cell, so small it cannot be seen with the naked eye, contains instructions that eventually build a heart, lungs, kidneys, bones, brain, etc. It also contains instructions on exactly where to put it in the body. Besides that, he has artistic abilities; it can make you look like your father, grandmother, cousin, etc.
Does “the majesty and mystery of G‑d’s world” seem to be receding because of scientific advances? Not at all. One of the reasons it sometimes seems so is that scientific discoveries often grab the headlines, while when Mrs Gupchick in Oshkosh gives birth to a healthy baby, which is the culmination of nine months of miracles jaw-dropping, that doesn’t even make local newspapers, let alone national news.
In almost every branch of science, the more we know, the greater the mysteries. George Bernard Shaw put it this way: “Science never solves one problem without creating ten more.” Isaac Newton: “What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.” Scientific knowledge will never overshadow the majesty of nature itself.
Brooklyn, New York
Nothing new under the sun
Over the past two years, wall-to-wall coverage of Covid has occupied the media, with a variety of government restrictions and supposed remedies with little or no resolution.
Everything that happens in the world and how to deal with it inevitably finds its source in the Torah. On the question of the Covid, I have often quoted Ibn Ezra (1089-1164), a contemporary of Rashi, who writes (late Parsha B’ha-alotcha) that the quarantine of Miriam in particular and the metzorah in general was necessary to prevent the spread of disease to others. Although the primary reason for diseases is called loshon hara, the treatment process is based on what is practical, that is, simply isolating those affected. If total confinement was appropriate, we would find it in the Torah.
During the cholera epidemic in Chevron (mid-19and century) those with the disease had to isolate themselves outside the city limits until they were cured. In fact, houses on the outskirts were built specifically for this purpose.
Finally, in addition to practical and wholesome behavior, including the vaccinations that most of us have followed, we must turn to sincere and meaningful prayer – again, from the Torah. The verse from Psalms (106:30) tells us that it was the prayers of Pinchas that finally ended the plague.
Rabbi David Nemtzyov