A very energized and informative meeting comprised of legislators and Kew Gardens Jewish community leaders took place this past Sunday, January 15, at the home of Mrs. Judy Sukenik, wife of the legendary Queens philanthropist Mr. Moshe Sukenik of blessed memory. The newly re-elected officials who each cover various parts of Kew Gardens met with key community lay and religious leaders, heard their concerns, and discussed opportunities for growth.

New York State Senator Leroy Comrie and Assembly Members Andrew Hevesi, Daniel Rosenthal, and David Weprin each detailed their priorities for the year ahead and heard from the leaders about pertinent issues on the minds of the Jewish community. Of note were increased acts of anti-Semitism throughout Queens Jewish communities, thereby necessitating greater police protection. Also deliberated were methods on how to reach out to more families with additional resources who are burdened with overwhelming inflationary and childcare costs. All the electeds agreed that they will advocate and do what is necessary to address these concerns.

Likewise mentioned was the unfair and imbalanced attack on all yeshivah educational institutions from The New York Times and the New York State Board of Regents. At Agudath Israel of America’s recent Yeshiva Summit at Terrace on the Park, Senator Comrie responded to this question, stating, “This is New York City; this is New York State. We are obligated to make sure that every culture that comes to this state has the opportunity to educate their children in the fashion that they want them to be educated. It is important for the cultures in the people that are here that they continue to pass down their tradition, history, and lifestyle through education to their children. If they want to have a private school network to make that happen, we need to support it in every way possible. I was chagrin at the actions of the Department of Education in how they rolled out this issue of yeshivah schools and education. I am also very concerned about how the media can put out a half-statement and then create a hell storm around it. I think that we need to make sure we do more in the media to push back the show.”

Comrie went on to speak about his meetings with yeshivah directors, and his meetings with administers of local Queens yeshivahs, saying, “They have showed me a quality project, quality schools, and they do not have this concern about how their children are being educated, because they are educating them themselves in a holistic and full manner.” Comrie also noted the books and educational material that is designed and tailored for the children to have a superb learning experience. Comrie continued, “Let’s push back and make sure that the Board of Regents has someone from a yeshivah school, or a non-profit private school to be a representative member on the Board of Regents. We cannot allow people to only have one point of view and then dominate our educational system.” Comrie insisted that we need to have a worldview that encourages world cultures to be part of New York’s educational system, included amongst the yeshivah educational system, allowing us to pass on our rich traditions to our future generations.

Attendees included Shimi Pelman, Democratic 27th District Leader; Aaron Cyperstein, President, Chaverim of Queens; Rabbi Ginsparg; Rabbi Avrohom Hecht; Aron Katz; Rabbi Binyomin Kessler; Meshulam Lisker; Rabbi Binyomin Mittel; Rabbi Don Pacht; Rabbi Daniel Pollack; Shiu Reichmann; Rabbi Leibel Rockove; Sam Schechter; and Rabbi Chaim Schwartz.

By QJL Staff