Two issues ago, I wrote an open letter to Senator Toby Stavisky for her damaging letter to Yeshiva University, which was leaked to The New York Times. The letter added fuel to fiery hatred of The Times against Orthodox Jewry (and Israel). It turns out, as documented by Warren Hecht and others, that the charges of financial impropriety were totally unfounded . What really rankled the three Jewish co-signers, including Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Liz Krueger, was YU’s stand against the LGBTQ clubs. Other people privately wrote to Stavisky as well, expressing their dismay with her.
As of this writing, the senator has not responded to the Queens Jewish Link, nor as far as I know, to the individual writers. I will assume her lack of response was not due to hubris on her part, but likely the advice of her handlers who counseled her not to respond so that the controversy does not remain in the air.
So, I am doubling down. We cannot allow ourselves to forget how many of our Jewish politicians disappoint us. And many think if they publicly rebuke the Orthodox, it’s a feather in their cap. They can preen themselves as if to say, “I’m not one of those Jews.”
Just this past weekend, there was an incident that once again showed that the anti-Semite does not distinguish between an Orthodox or a non-Orthodox Jew. In Bloomfield, New Jersey, someone threw a Molotov cocktail at a Reform temple. Thankfully, the temple had proper security, and no one was hurt. Of course, in Israel, seven people were killed by a young Palestinian as they exited their shul on Friday night. The following day in Ir David, a 13-year-old Palestinian shot and wounded a father and son. In both cases, the Palestinian mothers were seen celebrating their sons’ holy missions of killing Jews.
Do you think it made a difference to that Jew-hater if the temple was Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox? Hurling public rebuke at YU is equivalent to hurling at Satmar, the Jewish Theological Seminary, or the Hebrew Union College. Jews are all in it together.
This week’s edition of Mishpacha Magazine ran an excellent article by Avi Schick, in which he showed how The Times is an equal opportunity Orthodox basher. It’s not just the insular chasidic yeshivos they are after for their lack of a standardized secular education. Yeshiva University certainly cannot be accused of minimizing the need for studying the secular disciplines. But they are Orthodox, and The Times lumps us all together.
Here’s an idea for our public Jewish servants. How about fighting anti-Semitism on college campuses, especially those that are part of CUNY and SUNY? Our great Jewish “leaders” like Jerrold Nadler and Charles Schumer have been totally silent on the matter. And they both know how to make themselves heard when they want to. So instead of picking on YU, how about leaving that soft target and come to the aid of Jewish students everywhere!
The only active Jewish politician I know of who has been outspoken about college anti-Semitism is Republican Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, a proud Jewish Ukrainian immigrant. The only other political person that I am aware of who was vocally outspoken on the outrageous anti-Semitism on campus was our own Jim Gennaro. I’m talking about the threat to cut funding from CUNY because of anti-Semitism. Not general anti-hate legislation. We need politicians with teeth. (Yes, I know we can always count on Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal.)
I implore the organized Jewish community, Orthodox or not, to not let our leaders get away with harming us with impunity. It cannot be business as usual with them.
Michael Nussbaum and the QJCC have let their voices be known when it comes to fighting for Israel and fighting against the skewered legal system. Most recently, they issued a public release critical of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg for treating a viscous anti-Semite with kid gloves. We need more of that leadership. I hope the QJCC remains tall and stoic in their stance against Jew-hatred and holds our political representatives accountable.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi Emeritus of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.