As fewer and fewer households have live television options these days, and as news is available to us instantly in our hands, one area of life that seems to be on the way out is the late local news. The best part of the late local news was always that puff piece that came on after the weather and the sports that usually put a smile on your face as you wrapped up your day - stories like “community comes together to support person facing a struggle” or “kid donates birthday money to fight cancer.” Those stories tended to be a nice balance to the probably terrible news from the beginning of the broadcast.
Well last week, a group of Orthodox Jewish teens made it to that spot. High school students at Yeshiva University of Los Angeles (YULA) surprised their teacher by purchasing him a car so he can commute to work. The car will significantly decrease the commute time for math teacher Julio Castro, who until now faced a two-hour commute each way. The students raised over $30,000 during the summer to pay for the car and a year’s worth of gas and insurance. The story was covered by the LA Times, the Patch, Upworthy, and of course, a variety of local news stations. All in all, it was a nice gesture that came from hard work from an appreciative student body for their beloved teacher.
And that’s where the story should have ended.
Dr. Hannah Lebovits, who has become something of a lightning rod on Jewish Twitter, decided to use this story to push her usual far-Left agenda. In a widely-mocked and now-deleted tweet, Lebovits wrote, “These boys come from some of the wealthiest families in this specific Jewish community and spent every day learning from someone truly working class and all they could think to do for him was to get him an expensive car. Yikes. So much to unpack here.”
The only thing that needs unpacking here is the absolute idiocy of this particular tweet. Dr. Lebovits has a lot of takes I do not agree with, but she is very good at pointing out areas of Judaism that need to be amended in some way. But this is probably her worst take on any issue she has ever commented on. So let’s unpack this, shall we?
Firstly, while these students do indeed come from an affluent neighborhood, they certainly are not the only Jews in the country to be from one, and they definitely are not the wealthiest. Yet, they seem to have been the only ones to do something on this level by themselves for their teacher. We don’t see gestures like this coming out of comparable communities in New York, New Jersey, Florida, or literally anywhere else. In fact, these stories are rare among wealthy students of any background, anywhere in America. Students don’t just buy their teachers $30,000 cars. That’s why this is a news story.
Secondly - and this is the more important aspect of this story - while Lebovits makes her bones on social media by bashing Orthodox Judaism (and this just so happened to be an almost-unanimously-praised story involving Orthodox Jews doing something good), Lebovits isn’t using this as a way to rip on Judaism. She is using this as a way to push her Leftist agenda. When Lebovits emphasizes the fact that the teacher is “someone truly working class,” she is making it clear that the students are part of the societal problem here. The teacher is the victim, and the best way - in fact, the only way - to rectify this is not to give him an expensive gift, but to do something meaningful that will impact not only Mr. Castro’s life, but all teachers, or even all working-class individuals.
Lebovits believes that those with the financial resources, which these teenagers must have, should be spending their altruistic time helping not only someone that has impacted their lives directly, and help him and his family have a better life, but should be focused on everyone who falls in that boat. They should have spent that time and those resources petitioning their school for higher wages for their teachers, or better yet, petitioning local and state governments to force the school to unionize so the educators can get the funds they need to buy their own $30,000 car. Or better still, why did the students stop at one car for one teacher? Aren’t there more teachers in their school? Aren’t there more teachers in the state of California? They should raise $30,000 for every teacher in America. Anything short of that is just not enough, and just proves that these privileged upper-class, suburban, affluent students are the real problem in America.
It is this mentality, and through this lens, that the Left loves to make their most ludicrous points. When there is a story involving the haves and have-nots, or even the have-less, the haves automatically start as the oppressor, and there is very little the oppressor can do to change that narrative in the Leftist’s eyes. It’s how we get stories like Nick Sandmann, the white student from Covington Catholic who smirked at a Native American and thus was labeled a white supremacist. It’s how we have excuses for those who rob stores; after all, the stores have stuff, and the robbers don’t have the stuff, so they must be disadvantaged. It’s how we get policies like bail reform and student loan forgiveness. Those who don’t have stuff need to have stuff, and those who do have stuff are obviously evil. And as Dr. Hannah Lebovits would want you to think, the haves need a little help in unpacking their stuff so the have-nots can repack it and take it home.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.