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.

    The Similarities Between the Violence Against the Rohingya and the Holocaust are Too Scary to Ignore

    Since the beginning of our species, humanity has evolved in ways that our ancestors could have never dreamed of. But there is one aspect that is unchanged: hate.

    In Myanmar, the official policy against the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority has been discrimination and violence. On a recent episode of the WNYC show, The Takeaway, the subject was the brutal treatment of this specific group, which has escalated in the last five years.

    The similarities to the Holocaust are too scary to not ignore.

    1. Spreading lies and slowly dehumanizing a specific minority.
    2. Enacting laws that strip them of their rights as citizens and human beings.
    3. Removing access to educational and professional opportunities for both children and adults.
    4. While the world looks away, those in power continue on their path, knowing that nothing and no one is standing in their way.
    5. Destroying homes and taking material possessions at will.
    6. Forcing many to become refugees and ramping up the persecution of those who stay.
    7. Outright murder.

    While I was listening to this story, I could feel and hear the cries of the six million murdered. Their souls reach through time and space, asking why it is happening again. I wish I could answer them. But I cannot.

    Maybe this time, the rest of the world will pick their head out of their asses and stop this madness. But knowing what has happened in the not too distant past, I highly doubt it will happen.

    May the memories of everyone who has been killed by hate be a blessing. Z”L.

    P.S. In the English city of Norwich, human remains were recently found in a well. Tests revealed that the victims (three of whom were young girls) were all murdered in a medieval pogrom simply because they were Jews.

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    The Shooting in Buffalo is a Shit Storm of Everything That is Wrong With This Country

    Saturday morning started as out as a normal day. For the residents of Buffalo in upstate NY, it became a day marked by grief and horror. A gunman walked into a grocery store and started shooting. By the time he was apprehended, ten people were dead, and three were injured.

    The accused (whose name will not be mentioned on this blog) is an eighteen-year-old Caucasian boy. According to the police, his intention was to murder as many African-Americans as he could. Only two of the victims were not POC. Upon further digging, law enforcement officials discovered a manifesto in which he also believed the antisemitic bullshit.

    To make matter worse, he had previous mental health issues and was able to evade the laws that prevented him from legally buying a firearm. If that was not enough, he lived streamed the massacre. As much as I appreciate the upsides of social media, the companies that run these platforms have some serious work and soul searching to do.

    Everything that is wrong with this country is represented by the event on Saturday and the person accused of perpetrating it. There are many who would have no restrictions at all when it comes to firearms, but they will do everything in their power to control a woman’s/pregnant person’s body and their right to choose if/when they become a parent. They also turn a blind eye to the hate coming out of the right-wing press and the politicians who prefer power over respecting democracy, political norms, and the rule of law.

    I don’t know what it is going to take to shake us out of this dream world that we live in. I fear that when we do, it will be too late.

    May the memories of those killed on Saturday be a blessing. Z”L.

    P.S. There were five mass shootings across the country this past weekend. How many people are going to die before we do something about this once and for all?

    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.

    Flashback Friday: Radiolab (2002-Present)

    It has been said that curiosity killed the cat. But it also leads us to ask questions and perhaps create a better world from those questions.

    The NPR and WNYC podcast, Radiolab, has been on the air since 2002. Hosted by Jad Abumrad, Lulu Miller, and Latif Nasser, this show uses curiosity as a launching pad for an in-depth examination of various subjects such as science, news, and history. Known for adding both sounds and music, each takes the viewer in a direction that could be both surprising and educational.

    Though I don’t regularly listen to this podcast, they sometimes have interesting episodes. What I do appreciate is the unorthodox approach that is taken in both the topic and their approach to the topic.

    Do I recommend it? Maybe.

    New episodes of Radiolab are released every Sunday.

    Will Be Wild Podcast Review

    The thing about news and politics is that both are ever-present in our lives. As much as we want to get away from them, we can’t.

    The new eight-part podcast, Will Be Wild, is a follow-up to the WNYC podcast, Trump Inc. Hosts Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz dive into what led to January 6th and its repercussions. Using sources from different backgrounds and perspectives, Bernstein and Marritz explore the potential lasting damage and those that would overturn our democracy for the sake of power.

    The podcast is amazing and so important to listen to. It once more reveals how corrupt many politicians are and how willing they are to put their own needs ahead of the people they work for and represent.

    Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

    New episodes of Will Be Wild are released every Monday.

    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.

    The New York City Pay Transparency Law is a Long Time Coming and Very Necessary

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that looking for new employment sucks. It can, however, be made easier when the job ad contains all of the information that the job seeker needs to make a decision. That includes the potential salary.

    On May 15th, the New York City Pay Transparency Law will be on the books in NYC. It requires that companies with four or more employees list a salary range when posting about open positions.

    Frankly, it’s about time that was written into city law. It’s not about being greedy, it’s just plain common sense.

    On a recent segment on WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show, the question of whether it will help or hurt a potential employee’s chance of being hired when the question of pay came up.

    Back when I was unemployed, there were a number of job ads that did not provide information on what the corresponding paycheck would be. The problem with that is that it wastes the time and energy of both the applicant and the person who has posted the ad. I remember applying to a specific job, liking what I read. When I was contacted for an interview, I had to turn it down because I knew that I could not live on what they were paying. I applied to the same company for the same position a short time later (because the company did not identify itself in either ad). When they contacted me again, I had to once more turn it down.

    To say that I was frustrated at that moment was an understatement. It’s difficult as is, but to have my time unnecessarily squandered just added to the difficulty. I understand that for every position and the corresponding tasks, there is a price point. Asking for this information is not an out-of-the-box question. It allows the applicant to make an informed decision, which in turn allows the company to make a similar informed decision as to whom they will hire.

    The search for new employment is strenuous, to say the least. Requiring the salary range allows all parties to make a decision that is mutually beneficial to both.

    Throwback Thursday: Trump, Inc (2017-2021)

    To say that the last Presidential administration was controversial and unnecessarily complicated is an understatement.

    The WNYC podcast, Trump, Inc. aired from 2017 to 2021. For four years, this investigative journalism podcast delved into the lies and half-truths coming from Washington D.C. Leaving no stone unturned, the revelations of the greed, complicity, and scandal were complete and jaw-dropping.

    I loved it. There was nothing superficial or flashy about the information that was reported. It was deep, real, disturbing, and solidified my opinion of you know who.

    Do I recommend it? Yes.

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