I Have Mixed Feelings About the NY Times Article on Hasidic Education

One of the many rights that a parent has is to determine how their child should be educated. That being said, if the young person is not able to function as an adult because their academic experience was lacking, then something must be done to fix it.

Last Sunday, the New York Times released a rather scathing report on the status of education in the Hasidic Jewish community. Written by Eliza Shapiro and Brian M. Rosenthal, the article accused many schools (boys schools to be specific) of taking state funds and not using them to ensure that the students receive at the very least, basic secular learning.

Both The Brian Lehrer Show and Unorthodox (start at 15:46) addressed the findings. Before I go any further, I have to advise on two points:

  1. I am not an alumnus of any of these institutions. I was sent to public school during the day and attended Hebrew school in the afternoon. Obviously, I cannot speak from personal experience.
  2. In the Hasidic world, men are expected to become religious scholars. It is the women who earn traditional degrees and later a paycheck while taking care of the family.

    I understand the purpose of educating the next generation in a faith-based setting (particularly when that faith is a minority). It is important to know the language, traditions, and history of one’s family. I also know that public education in this country is not up to par.

    However, the accusations made can be seen as antisemitic. It does not matter that the reporters could be of the same religion as the subjects of the story. Even if the state and the city were lax in doing their own follow-up, the idea that these communities were using the money improperly only adds to lies about my co-religionists and the hate-based crimes. On top of that, the Times does not exactly have a history of having journalistic integrity when it comes to my religion.

    Regardless of one’s perspective, this topic is bound to be controversial. I just wish that the truth, whatever it is, comes to a conclusion that allows young people to receive the classroom experience they deserve.

    Words I Thought I Would Never Say: I Agree With Bill de Blasio

    It takes an adult to admit when they are wrong. It also takes an adult to be able to criticize your peers in a way that is meant is meant to be helpful and thoughtful without veering into cruelty or making the other person feel small.

    On Friday, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was a guest on WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show. The reason for his appearance was an article he wrote in The Atlantic magazine. Both in the article and during the interview, he discussed what he did wrong during his time in office and how the Democrats can learn from his mistakes.

    De Blasio is 100% correct. If we are to ensure that the Democratic party wins in 2022, 2024, and beyond, they have to speak plainly. From the President on down, they have to state clearly what they have done for the people of this country and what they would like to do. The time for pussyfooting around and playing nice is over.

    While he was in office, I wrote quite a few posts about the man. Like many who live here, I had an intense dislike for his politics and the decisions he made as Mayor. I even went so far as to vote Republican when he ran for the second time. That being said, I can respect someone who publicly recognizes their imperfections and wants to prevent another person from making the errors they made.

    I can only hope that his advice will be heeded.

    Republican Fuckery Part III: Will Hurd on Abortion, Frank Niceley on Hitler and the Homeless, Tucker Carlson’s Balls, and Paul Schroder

    In an ideal world, we would all agree on everything. But we don’t live in an ideal world. However, that does not mean that in the halls of power, one party has to do all the work and the other can just complain all day.

    Last Monday, former Texas Congressman Will Hurd was on The Brian Lehrer Show. When asked about abortion, he said the following:

    I am pro-life and I think the time at which how many weeks into a birth you should limit. I think there is where Texas falls I am supportive of. I also think both sides of the argument should be looking and making sure, how do we prevent a young woman or any woman from having to get in this situation? I think working on the front end of this issue is where both sides of individuals can be working together.

    While the Congressman has a right to his opinion and sounds more reasonable than many on the right, he is still seeing this issue in black and white instead of in color. An episode from the podcast The Experiment which originally premiered last December explains why we need to look at abortion from an honest perspective.

    Meanwhile, also within the Lone State’s borders, there is a voice of reason: Paul Schroder. He spoke truth to power on Governor Greg Abbott‘s attempt to limit the number of trucks coming into the state. Instead of helping the country, they are once more hurting us. Thanks, Republicans.

    Meanwhile, in Tennessee, State Senator Frank Niceley made the following statement:

    “Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while. So for two years, Hitler lived on the streets and practiced oratory and his body language and how to connect with the masses, and then went on to lead a life that got him into history books,” he said.

    “So a lot of these people, it’s not a dead end. They can come out of this, these homeless camps and have a productive life, or in Hitler’s case, a very unproductive life,” he continued. “I support this bill.”

    I think we can all agree that homelessness is a major problem that has been bandied around for decades without a reasonable resolution. But the choice of using a homicidal dictator who started a war and was responsible for the deaths of millions of people as an example was not a wise decision.

    And finally, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson has made his personal crusade the restoration of American masculinity. How you ask? Testicle tanning. I shit you not.

    (Starts at 4:15.)

    Just another day of Republican fuckery in the United States.

    Should Kathy Hochul be Elected For a Full Term as NY’s Governor?

    There are a number of ways to get into a position of political leadership. One is to actively court the role. The other is to be thrown into the deep end when scandal forces one into leadership.

    Last year, when former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped down due to numerous sexual harassment charges, his former Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul took over the job for what would have been the rest of his term. She is also running for Governor as the incumbent.

    Compared to her predecessor, I have no complaints (as of now). Her management style seems to be one of working with her staff and partners across the state, not one of intimidation and ego. That does not mean that it has been smooth sailing so far.

    The decision to use taxpayer money to partially fund the building of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills did not go over well. When she called into WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show last week, she compared it to the status that Broadway has with downstate residents (starts at 18:44). That makes sense, but I still think that the owner of the team should have put in some of their own money.

    There is also the issue of her now former Lieutenant Governor, Brian Benjamin. Mr. Benjamin stepped down due to an accusation of financial fraud charges relating to a previous campaign. Governor Hochul claims that she knew nothing about it. At this point, I believe her. Only time will tell where the investigation goes and reveal who knew what.

    As of today, I see no reason not to vote for her in November. But we still have a few months to go and no crystal ball to foresee the cracks in the road.

    Innocence Lost: 9/11 Twenty Years Later

    There are two ways to lose our innocence. The first is the slow and gradual growth to maturity when old ideas begin to be replaced with new ideas. The second is when a single event forever changes the way we see the world.

    Today is the 20th anniversary of September 11th. It was an ordinary day. The sky was blue and bright, a perfect early fall day. Offices, schools, and stores opened as normal. Then the first place hit the Twin Towers and everything changed.

    I was in college back then, part of the younger generation. It’s amazing how fast two decades can go. Though it seems like it will take forever for the time to pass, it goes in the blink of an eye. Those of us who were young then are now adults with adult responsibilities. Some of the the kids who were too young to know what was going on or not yet born are now on the verge of adulthood themselves.

    On Thursday, The Brian Lehrer Show asked listeners what the term “never forget” meant to them. What I remember is that for a brief time, the divisions that normally kept us apart disappeared. We were all Americans and we were all grieving. It was a communal loss that knew no boundaries or labels.

    Last month, I visited the 9/11 Museum with a couple of friends. It was my second visit. Walking into the building is akin to a ten pound weight being thrust on your shoulders. There is an energy that is emotional, heavy, and sometimes difficult to bear. The energy of the day and the souls of the innocent people whose lives were taken that day are all around you, a solemn reminder of what was lost on that beautiful September day.

    It was if nothing else, a potent reminder of how important it is to not only live while you can, but tell the ones you love how you feel before it is too late.

    May the memories of the nearly 3000 people who were taken us from forever be a blessing. Z”L.

    The Brian Lehrer Show Remembers Those Lost to Covid

    The late Elie Wiesel once said the following about the millions murdered in The Holocaust.

    “If we forget, the dead will be killed a second time,” Wiesel says, “and then they are today’s victims.”

    In New York City alone, approximately 25,000 people have been killed by Covid-19. Today’s episode of The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC paid tribute to some of those who are no longer with us due to the virus. Similar to the names read every September 11th, 400+ listeners read from a list of over 1000 souls who only exist in the memories of those who knew and loved them.

    Behind every name was a human being. They had lives, families, and futures that were taken from them. Saying their names aloud cannot bring them back. What it allows us to do is mourn and remember them for who they were, not for the statistic they have become.

    In the language of my faith, may the memories of everyone killed by Covid-19 be a blessing. Though they are gone physically, they will live in our hearts forever.

    Flashback Friday: The Brian Lehrer Show (1989-Present)

    The game of politics has always been contentious. It takes a cool head to let everyone share their opinion without getting into a verbal or physical argument.

    The Brian Lehrer Show has aired on WNYC since 1989. Hosted by Brian Lehrer, the program airs every weekday morning from 10:00 to 12:00. Hosting politicians, journalists, and other newsmakers, the conversations revolve around politics and news from the around the block and around the world.

    Brian one of the mainstays of NYC media personalities and a local legend. Attempting to do the impossible, he allows all voices from the political spectrum to be heard, regardless of how the listener feels about the topic. His show is my weekday morning fix and one of the few journalistic voices that is truly trying to be objective.

    Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

    Thoughts On the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots

    Major change for good comes when we stand up against hatred and prejudice.

    This weekend, we remember the Stonewall riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City and celebrate the remarkable achievements and opportunities that the LGBTQ community has had since then.

    Coming out of the closet is often a painful years long process of learning to love yourself and finding the courage to tell the ones you love who you truly are. If you are lucky, your relationship with your loved ones will not change. But not everyone is so lucky.

    This week, The Brian Lehrer Show discussed various aspects of the modern LGBTQ movement and how it was created by the Stonewall riots. Yesterday, one of the callers was a woman named Lisa. Lisa called in to tell the story of her son’s coming out and the reaction to the revelation of who he revealed himself to be. The call starts at 21:02.

    I would hope that when one comes out, they are seen by their loved ones and their community as no different than before coming out. But the reality is that many members of the LGBTQ community are often ostracized and forced out of their families and communities because they do not fit into the traditional hetero-normative/binary labels.

    Change, especially on the cultural and legislative levels, does not not happen in an instant. It takes years of work, fighting for acceptance and facing the demons of the past. But it does happen if you believe and continue to push for it. The members of the LGBTQ community have proved that and will continue to use that model to inspire all of us to push for a just and equal society.

    If You Want To Win The 2020 Election, I Suggest That You Find A Way To Re-Open The Government

    As the government shutdown continues on, the frustration from all walks of life in this country is palpable.

    The latest anxiety is that if TSA absences continue, this will create multiple issues at our nation’s airports.

    The fact is that the government has to re-open at some point. We cannot continue to allow this orange hued man baby to continue to take an adult tantrum and holds the paychecks of government workers hostage.

     

    While keeping our borders secure is a non-negotiable issue, we should not be wasting $5 Billion dollars to build the wall and then waste even more money for security and maintenance.

    On this morning’s Brian Lehrer Show, US Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) proposed a plan to re-open the government while continuing with negotiations in regards to the wall and border security. I personally think that it is best of both worlds, but I am not the final decision maker in this process.

    The fact is that the American voter has a long memory, especially when it comes to elections and more specifically, Presidential elections. We vote with our wallets as much as we vote with our cultural/social/religious beliefs. If he wants to become a two President and not a one term President, he had better find a way to compromise and re-open the government. Otherwise he might be a one term President.

     

    When Does A Review Cross The Line?

    The basic definition of a reviewer, regardless of whether they are reviewing a book, a film, etc, is to give the audience or the reader an overview of the narrative and tell them if it is worth their time to watch or read it.

    But the question is, when does a reviewer cross the line?

    Recently, I’ve started listening to the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC in the morning just to get a handle of what is going on in the world. One of the people interviewed yesterday was Vulture writer Kat Rosenfield about her recent article entitled “The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter“.

    The book in question is The Black Witch by Laurie Forest. I’ve not read the book, but hearing the response on twitter to the book and the negative reviews brings up a few questions.

    One of the things that pointed out during Ms. Rosenfield’s segment was that the writer was basically pandering to her potential readers. I get it, I’m also a writer. If your writing feels false and your only writing to make a buck, the reader will know it. One of the most common quotes associated with writing is “write what you know”. On one level that makes sense. But on another level, if every writer only wrote what they know, the science fiction and fantasy genres would never exist.

    The reviewers job is to review the art without hurting the artist(s). The problem is that the line between a review and a personal attack is subjective. The other issue is that social media so pervasive in our daily lives that one review where the reviewer goes too far can potentially damage of the career of the artist.

    I welcome your comments on this topic. Listen to the link (the interview with Ms. Rosenfield is the last 20 minutes of the show) and read the article. Where is the line and how far can a reviewer push it before it morphs into a personal attack and ruins careers?

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