I am disturbed by the personal attacks published in the Queens Jewish Link on one of anshei sh’lomeinu, Warren Hecht. It is not appropriate for a religious Jewish newspaper to publish hate speech, merely because of divergent political views. It is perfectly legitimate to publish letters disagreeing with a columnist, but it is not right to publish a remark such as “Warren … is back on all fours.” I hope that you will agree that such attacks on Warren Hecht’s character have no place in our community and, indeed, demean all of us. My parents z”l, Holocaust survivors like the letter-writer’s father, taught me that V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha applies to all Jews, not only to Jews with whom one agrees.
The energy expended in writing and disseminating this type of letter could be used much more productively. By focusing on steps that your readers can take to help others, your newspaper can become a potent force for good in the Jewish community.
I have had enough. I can’t take anymore. On the one hand, as Orthodox Jews (as any kind of Jews), we owe President Trump hakaras ha’tov, gratitude, for his friendship, for supporting us, for helping make Israel strong, for recognizing Yerushalayim as the capital of Israel when no other President would, for not being Obama who was the opposite, for standing up to the tyranny of Iran, for opposing terrorism, and for many other similar positive actions. It is proper that we acknowledge and thank him for all of the above.
On the other hand, we have become his most ardent fans and public cheering squad, although he is the opposite of any kind of role model we want for ourselves and our children. As Orthodox Jews we were taught Torah values of midos tovos, positive character traits. Among these are honesty, tz’nius (modesty), never to brag, common human decency, proper public behavior, not to demean others, not to speak lashon ha’ra or slander others, never to bully others, not to shame others, and to be loyal and faithful to our wives. I have no need to continue. Everyone knows what I’m talking about. Our President doesn’t embody these midos. The opposite is true. Vulgarity and crudeness are the opposite of what we stand for.
And yet our rabbis and newspaper columnists keep touting him as one the greatest men in world history. The hypocrisy of this reaches a level of chilul Hashem in many ways and does not do us proud.
I propose we tone it down many notches: We simply say, “Thank you for your support. We appreciate it.” That’s all.
Samuel A. Kosofsky
Introduction of Fair Fares 50% half-fare discount program for NYC Transit subway and bus riders with minimum income is just the beginning. Like other government entitlement programs, watch how eligibility will expand and costs will grow.
For 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio budgeted $106 million to assist up to 800,000 NYC residents with incomes under $25,100 annually for a family of four to qualify. Over time, income eligibility will rise to $30,000, $35,000, and $40,000. The numbers of eligible NYC residents will grow to a million or more. The programs cost will grow to $200 million, $300 million, and beyond. How ironic that with the announcement of this new subsidy program, the same elected officials refuse to deal with the MTA’s annual bus and subway fare evasion of $200 million. New York City’s shrinking middle class continues to pay at the fare box, including periodic fare increases. Elected officials are like crack addicts, addicted to expanding government entitlement programs. They all want to be “politically correct,” using this new subsidy program as a vehicle to grease the wheels for reelection. Not a peep about combating fare evasion. District Attorneys refuse to prosecute fare evaders. This encourages more riders not to pay. NYC Transit has their hands tied, thus giving up enforcing fare payments. No wonder the middle class continues to shrink. How much can they put up with? NYC is well on its way in evolving into a city of just the poor and rich with no viable middle class.
(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate, and writer who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.)