24 Dec SPeak Your Vues
ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILL
Senator Felder, joined by Assemblyman Eichenstein and Councilmembers Deutsch and Yeger, held an active shooter drill training for school administrators representing tens of thousands of yeshiva students in our community. Officers from the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau’s SHIELD program, a unit dedicated to private sector security, presented a comprehensive training program to a packed audience, for whom safety and school security is of paramount importance.
“We are witnessing a chilling, escalating rise in hate crimes. We all bear a grave responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that in the event of a terrorist attack or active shooter situation, we are prepared with the knowledge and practice necessary to stay safe and save lives. The overwhelming attendance at this training confirmed how seriously the community is taking this critical call to action,” said Senator Felder.
Awareness is always critical. Information provided by alert citizens is key to thwarting attacks. New Yorkers assist in the fight against terrorism by reporting suspicious behavior as soon as possible to the 24-hour hotline, 1-888-NYC-SAFE. Additionally, every witness to an emergency should be sure to call 911. Numerous calls signal a credible and serious threat to 911 operators. Failing to act, under the assumption that other witnesses will, deprives law enforcement of the important details you might provide. Officers are best armed with as much information as possible.
“It is unfortunate that we need to be so concerned that our children stay safe in their schools where they should be most secure, but that is the reality that we live in – an age plagued by school shootings. Senator Felder put today’s drills together so all our schools can be prepared no matter the situation,” said Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein.
“Trainings like these are sadly becoming more and more necessary. While the likelihood of an attack is statistically slim, we must plan for every possibility and take every opportunity to protect our children,” said Councilman Kalman Yeger
“Every single school administrator should learn this training; and with G-d’s help, none will ever have to use it,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch
“Today everyone conducts fire drills, although few remember why. That change began after a tragic school fire trapped students and teachers who didn’t know how to get out. Then, like now, we mobilized to educate people with lifesaving information and mandated drills, practicing how to stay safe. Together, we will continue to do everything humanly possible to protect our children from any threat,” concluded Senator Felder.
Editor’s Note: It is unfortunate that this is today’s reality.
STOP REDUCING ISRAEL
Years ago on the Charlie Rose show Hannah Ashwari was laughing, “We only want 22%.” She knows it. Why doesn’t Israel get it? Jordan was illegally given 78% of the mandate for the Jewish state in Palestine. The Romans named Israel, Palestine to confuse. Still confused. Jordan is the state illegally given to another Husseini Arab by the British custodian. 78% too much. Stop the confusion. There is already a second state from the legal Jewish mandate; an illegal state. Stop the confusion. Any more reduction of the size of the Jewish mandate will put in jeopardy the 22%. Stop the confusion, a BIG LIE. No 3rd reduction.
Editor’s Note: As much as you’re right, the left will deny.
DISLIKE OF MEN
As much as I hate to agree with anything that Fox News host Tucker Carlson says ever about anything, I have to agree with him when he says that women in this country seem to dislike men a lot more than they did in past decades, and that they will never admit it, they will deny it, and they refuse to talk about it. I agree. It is there. We have a real problem in this country. And I want us to talk about it.
Stewart B. E
Editor’s Note: We are the perfect forum for it: continue talking and writing.
There is room for improvement in journalism for the Jewish vues. The piece on “New Jersey’ s assembly passed a measure to eliminate religious exemptions to vaccination but stalled in Senate due to shouting of the crowd…drowning out the session.”
Baloney!!! Truth: it was stalled in the Senate when it was a tie vote with one senator left to vote. They did not like this at all because they want it to pass…so they called a recess and then “pulled” the bill to revote sometime this month. This legal corruption should wake people up to the ugly reality. Reach out to your legislators that they have to vote for the citizens and not for the pharmaceutical industry…
Editor’s Note: Every one needs to vaccinate.
IT’S COUNTRY, COUNTRY YOSSI
Thank you for the interview with Country Yossi. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid. With his magazine and show not around I was wondering if he is ok… It was really nice! Thanks!
Editor’s Note: Yes he is alive and well and has not aged one iota.
ROOSEVELT ADMINISTRATION DIFFICULT TO JEWS
A recent New York Times article told the poignant story of an unlikely romance between two prisoners in Auschwitz.
Buried deep within the full-page feature about the relationship between David Wisnia and Helen Spitzer, however, was a heartbreaking fact whose significance most readers may not have recognized.
It turns out that all the years of starvation, beatings, and torture Wisnia endured at the hands of the Nazis could have been avoided, if not for the Roosevelt administration’s harsh policy towards Jewish refugee students seeking admission to the United States.
Wisnia was an exceptionally talented singer. “Before the war, he’d written a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt requesting a visa so he could study music in America,” the Times noted. “His mother’s two sisters had emigrated to the Bronx in the 1930s, and he’d memorized their address.”
American immigration policy during those years was governed by a strict quota system, based on national origins. But the law contained three major exceptions: clergy, professors, and students could be admitted outside the quota restrictions.
To qualify for a student visa, an applicant needed to show a letter of acceptance from an accredited American school. It may be that Wisnia had not yet been accepted, and therefore technically didn’t qualify for a student visa. But that was part of the problem: U.S. consular officials in Europe, acting in accordance with President Roosevelt’s policy, looked for every possible reason to keep refugees out. Had they been inclined toward kindness, instead of cold-heartedness, they could have chosen to grant Wisnia a regular visa on the grounds that he had close family members—two aunts—already living in the United States.
Wisnia was a Polish citizen. From 1933 to 1945, the quota for Polish immigrants to the United States was never filled, and in most of those years it was more than 70% unfilled. Tens of thousands of unused visas for would-be Polish Jewish immigrants were thrown into the wastebasket, alongside David Wisnia’s letter pleading to be let in.
What makes this story even more tragic is that many Jewish refugee students who did have letters of acceptance from American schools were kept out of the country, anyway.
Prof. Bat-Ami Zucker (Bar-Ilan University) has found multiple instances in which European Jewish students were denied visas even though they had been admitted to Dropsie College, in Philadelphia, or the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, in New York City.
An official at the U.S. consul in Berlin said the visas were rejected because in each case, the student was “a potential refugee from Germany” and therefore was “unable to submit proof that he will be in a position to leave the United States upon the completion of his schooling.”
Similarly, Prof. Stephen Norwood (University of Oklahoma) has described a case in which a European Jewish refugee student who was admitted to Bryn Mawr College was denied a visa “because she could not meet the requirement of identifying a permanent residence to which she could return after completing her studies.” Bryn Mawr’s president learned that the American Friends Service Committee, which assisted refugees, knew of another fifty instances in which European students who had been admitted to U.S. colleges—and offered scholarships—were denied visas for that reason.
It was a Catch-22. These Jewish students were seeking to study in American schools precisely because the Nazis prevented them from studying in German universities. Now the Roosevelt administration was telling them they could not enter the United States—and therefore would have to remain in the country where they were being persecuted—because they could not guarantee they would return to the country where they were being persecuted.
Prof. Zucker points out, however, that the immigration regulations “did not require that an applicant for a student visa prove that he would be able to return to Germany….The regulations required only an affidavit stating his intention to return to Germany.”
This was, in other words, yet another example of the numerous extra requirements and obstacles imposed by Roosevelt administration officials in order to suppress Jewish refugee immigration below the levels permitted by law.
A handful of refugee students did manage to reach America’s shores during the Nazi era. Several dozen studied at Yeshiva University. Twenty were admitted to Harvard (although for some reason Harvard felt it necessary to announce that “a large number” of them were not Jews). Rutgers University, the New Jersey College for Women, and McPherson College, in Kansas, each took one.
But so many more could have been saved if President Roosevelt and his administration had simply allowed the existing student visa exemption to be fully utilized, instead of going out of their way to keep the Jews out.
Editor’s Note: What a shame we could have saved so many Jews!
COMMUNITY CAME TOGETHER IN TRAGEDY
The horrific shooting in Jersey City was unfortunately the third deadly anti-Semitic attack at a Jewish institution in recent years. The victims of this attack were members of the ultra-Orthodox Satmar movement, a Hasidic community known for being insular and conservative.
It was encouraging that this fact didn’t minimize the shock and grief felt by the entire Jewish community, who came together in solidarity and were united in collective shock grief in the wake of this horrific event.
A video released by the progressive group Jews for Racial and Economic Justice featured Jews from many denominations sharing their condolences addressing “the Satmar community.” There were hundreds of donations made to the several online fundraisers established in the wake of the tragedy.
This outpouring of love was manifested offline, too, as many secular Jews from all over the United States contacted the bereaved Ferencz and Deutsch families. Some came to express sympathy and solidarity in person.
Despite the deep differences in the Jewish world, our historic bonds run deeper. When tragedy strikes, those differences are insignificant compared to the bonds of brotherhood and common destiny all Jews share. Grief is something most of us are unfortunately intimately familiar with, and loss is something to which we can all relate. And tragically, it is grief and loss that bring us together more than anything else.
But as this tragedy has also brought my Satmar community under the spotlight, the responses from the general public and the wider Jewish world have underscored how little people know about Hasidic Jews, this community in particular.
The reactions were a mix of love and sympathy, but also fascination and curiosity. The unfolding of the tragic events allowed outsiders a rare glimpse into the lives of an otherwise insular community, which from the outside can sometimes look enigmatic and even mysterious.
The attack has compelled many people to look us in the eyes for the first time, and it felt at times as if they were surprised to discover humans who grieve and are in pain staring back at them.
The ultra-Orthodox community is culturally and visibly different than any other group of people with whom you normally interact, and therefore our very existence sometimes provokes a wide range of emotions, from curiosity to contempt.
But it is important to keep in mind that these characteristics can make us easy targets for anti-Semites — and “othered,” sometimes even by our fellow Jews. Some of the assumptions about ultra-Orthodox Jews play into classic anti-Semitic tropes: We are often depicted as stingy, greedy, noisy and unfriendly. On the flip side, our communal piety is also sometimes overly romanticized and glorified.
As a very distinct group, we are easily identifiable and easily branded. It takes only a few headlines to turn us all into slumlords, sexual predators or saints. But we aren’t any of that. We are a community with shared values and traditions, but that doesn’t give us all the same character traits.
Many friends from different Jewish communities have reached out to ask how they can help and what they can do to make the community feel safer. While I cannot speak for the entire community, if there is one lesson to take away from the response to the tragedy, it is this: You may have your own opinions about our way of life, and you may even strongly disagree with it. But when Hasidic Jews are saying they are afraid and feel unsafe, it is the duty of all of us to stand up in their defense. Mere expressions of solidarity are not enough — nor is solidarity that comes only after tragedy strikes.
When we are being ridiculed or mocked for the way we dress or speak, it isn’t funny, it is worrying.
When officials and neighbors in Jackson, New Jersey, or Rockland County, New York, single out Hasidim as bad neighbors or as a “threat to our quality of life” and tailor zoning laws to limit the community’s natural growth, it should be seen for what it is: good old-fashioned anti-Semitism that eventually leads to the sort of violence we saw last week in Jersey City.
When Hasidim are harassed and targeted online or on the streets, they are not isolated events but a revelation of deeper anti-Semitic hatred that must be uprooted and fought with the same might as any other form of anti-Semitism.
The murderous event didn’t happen in a void — it came after years of ignoring hate and mockery of Hasidic Jews. Our community hasn’t been taken seriously, and it is time for this to change. Jewish solidarity isn’t just soul-comforting — it saves lives. If we have the support of our Jewish brothers and sisters, we will feel a bit safer in our streets and such tragedies may be prevented in the future.
Editor’s Note: One should also remember that we are in Golus and we have certain exemptions in Chazal when it comes to mode of dress where one can change it in order to alleviate Anti-Semitism.
JERSEY CITY TRAGEDY
It was the call that no one wants to get and it came on the afternoon of Tuesday, December 10th.
An active shooter situation was taking place at a kosher supermarket, the barrage of gunfire turning the Greenville section of Jersey City into a veritable war zone. There was a synagogue in the same building and several dozen children were in the small school located just upstairs from the grocery. The potential for bloodshed was both horrific and unthinkable.
While we mourn the tragic loss of life that took place in Jersey City, we appreciate that even amidst unthinkable darkness, numerous rays of light emerged.
There is no doubt that the quick action taken by members of the Jersey City Police Department saved lives, keeping the murderous rampage confined to the store alone and preventing it from spreading to the adjacent synagogue and school where precious young lives were in jeopardy.
Dozens of law enforcement agencies raced to the scene even as shots continued to ring out, and when the scene was finally secured several hours later and the investigation began, we witnessed time and time again the incredible sensitivity displayed for the victims and their loved ones.
Throughout the entire process, those in charge worked closely with Misaskim and Chesed Shel Emes, allowing them to clean up the scene and be on hand at the medical examiner’s office, expediting the entire process so that burial could take place as quickly as possible.
We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the unsung heroes who put their lives on the line to ensure our safety on a daily basis and to the Hudson County Medical Examiner’s Office for being extremely respectful of Jewish law while doing its job during this difficult time.
The Jewish community in Jersey City and beyond was touched by the many high ranking officials who made personal visits to the scene, including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito, New Jersey Homeland Security Director Jared Maples, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan and FBI Special Agent in Charge Gregory Ehrie of the Newark field office.
All were personally involved in ensuring that everything proceeded smoothly and in accordance with Jewish law, bringing tremendous comfort to the victim’s families and the community during the devastation.
Among the numerous elected officials who came to offer solace to the mourners as they sat shiva for their loved ones were Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal. Their visits were extremely meaningful to the family members, conveying through their words and their presence that leaders of government and law enforcement shared in their grief.
Both Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Jersey City Police Chief Mike Kelly went above and beyond the call of duty as did many within the Jewish community who worked tirelessly as the crisis unfolded to allay mounting fears and to coordinate the many intricate and sensitive details of the investigation and the burials.
Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and community leaders Chesky Deutsch and Moshe Schwartz stepped up to advocate on behalf of the local Jewish community and Rabbi Moshe Schapiro of Chabad Lubavitch of Hoboken also provided invaluable assistance, both as tragedy struck and in the days that followed.
It is also important to recognize the many Jersey City residents who stepped up on behalf of their Jewish neighbors, offering their support and assistance in a variety ways, their actions a clear demonstration that brotherhood and friendship extend to all who call Greenville home.
Living as we do in a time and place where mass shootings happen far too often, we have seen that it typically takes days, if not weeks, for scenes to be investigated and for answers to emerge.
The fact that victims of the attack were laid to rest in less than 36 hours comes as no accident – it is a direct result of years of advocacy and countless hours spent by community leaders building bridges with government officials and law enforcement at all levels. Governor Murphy’s presence at the shooting scene sent a clear message that Jersey City was a high priority, and that full cooperation was expected statewide to expedite matters in order to lessen the pain and suffering of those whose lives were shattered by the attack.
The Jewish community salutes the many heroes who responded to the call on December 10th and beyond and will keep them in our hearts and in our prayers. We are eternally grateful to the many individuals and agencies whose leadership conveyed a message of unity and compassion that will carry us through the difficult, days, weeks and months ahead.
Editor’s Note: Yes. Hakaras Hatov is the essence of a Yid.
JEWISH BOOKS VS. NON-JEWISH BOOKS
Is there anything wrong with a good and an appropriate Non Jewish Book or Novel? On one hand there are so many Jewish books available. On the other hand who is to know if there isn’t something to be gleaned from a Non Jewish book, which is not available in Jewish books?
Editor’s Note: As always, it depends on your age, gender, and your needs in life. There is nothing wrong with an essay by Helen Keller of Three Days to See where she provides an appreciation for our sight. There are exceptions in goyishe books. High Schoolers get to read different books and sometimes need hadracha what to learn from the books. The best scenario is if there are people in Yeshivas/Schools who pre-read these books to see if they are appropriate.
ADDITIONAL WEDDING EXPENSES
Recently, I’ve noticed that a lot of weddings are taking place out of town; meaning in a different town from where the baalei simcha are from. Friends of the chosson travel to be at these weddings and pay for carfare or airfare thinking they are going to be reimbursed. Unfortunately, not everybody can afford to do so. What can be done about this?
Editor’s Note: Takanos should be established concerning how many friends should be allowed to travel to a wedding out town. Of course, these takanos will eventually be broken like all the other takanos that were made and broken.