Monday, September 8, 2008

An Article About Obama and Public Education and My Thoughts about The Hampton Eruv

In every matchup, private religious schools do better than public schools in graduation rates, achievement and of course, crime rates. In the inner city, many parents want the values taught in Sunday school to be taught during the week as well. The effect of this extends far beyond the time spent in religious instruction.

What does the McCain, Palin campaign have in common with inner city public schools? Both are underfunded and both are winning .

What does the Obama campaign have in common with public schools? Both are awash in cash and both are being beaten by the competition.Latest poll numbers show that the underfunded McCain- Palin campaign is almost 10 ahead in the polls.

Latest Presidential Poll Numbers

Not surprisingly, teachers unions are among those supporting an Obama candidacy, with its rock solid support of the public school monopoly on tax dollars.

It would be logical to condemn the teacher’s unions for supporting a monopoly that ill serves disadvantaged children. Many poor families make great sacrifices to provide their children with a parochial school education.

What is far less noted is the plight of teachers in private schools who often get thousands of dollars less for teaching in the schools of their choice. Some private school teachers have philosophical reasons or a desire to teach in an orderly environment. Those who teach in private schools are making as much of a sacrifice as are the parents of their students.

Proponents of school choice should find a way to draft proposals which would equalise the pay of public and private school teachers. A parochial school teacher delivering an education that imparts literacy and good citizenship deserves no less money than a public school teacher.

Teacher’s unions should welcome the chance to raise the living standards of all teachers. They should strive to promote a teacher’s freedom of expression. A teacher who wishes to work under religious auspices should not have to pay an undue price for teaching according to their religious philosophy

Public school teachers have a wide range of personal and religious beliefs. The banishment of prayer from public schools and the slippery slope of “value neutral” education has adversely effected them as well.

Throwing money at a dysfunctional system does not fix it, whether it is a public school system or a political party with discredited ideas. That is why the GOP is winning. That is why private religious schools are winning.

The McCain campaign would do well to look at the needs of both teachers and their students to enjoy educational choice. Framing the debate about education in these terms would benefit everyone.


Did anyone read in the New York Post about the Eruv "Holy war in the Hamptons? There is an orthodox synagogue that wants to put up an Eruv. An Eruv is a boundary made by putting up wire and designating existing boundaries as an enclosure within which one may carry on the Jewish Sabbath. When I visit family in Baltimore, I can carry a book to synagogue that I was learning from at home. My son and his wife can walk a stroller to synagogue and back home. Here in Crown Heights, we have no eruv. The book and the baby stay home. Arrangements have to be made so the babies are taken care of and the hard working mothers have someone covering them until the babies can walk.

It is a not always possible to build a community eruv, but when it is, it makes a wider range of activities possible on the Sabbath. It is a refreshing change to visit a community that has an such an amenity for Shabbos.

It takes official cooperation to build an Eruv. You can't build anything on public property without permission. That is to be expected.

In the Hamptons, a meeting of the town council was called to discuss making an Eruv. The motives of its proponents were the various aspects of Sabbath convenience so familiar to Orthodox Jews.

The ugliness was unbelievable. People got up and said "We don't want them taking over." Talk abounded about not wanting to change the character of the town. If such sentiments were voiced about African Americans, it would be condemned nationwide. But since it was about Jews, it was accepted. And who were the most vocal protestors? It was Jews themselves. People who seldom join a Jewish organisation now have formed the" Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv".

How wonderful. Now they belong to a Jewish organisation. It will keep other Jews out of their town. Walking a baby carriage to shul? Carrying a book or plate of cookies to the synagogue? Heaven forbid!!

This organisation reminds me of "Germans of the Mosaic Faith" who blanched in horror at the sight of an "Ostjude" from Poland. When the Polish Jews were pushed over the German Polish border, these people slept soundly. They were after all defending quality of life in the streets of the Reich. It wasn't that they hated" those people." They just didn't belong in Germany.

It is troubling to see such hatred. Such a fear of "otherness" bespeaks a sickness of the soul. I believe these people were facing a test when they went to that meeting. Although the only casualty was a Sabbath convenience to their neighbours, they failed the test. There are many people who have passed life and death surprise tests administered by history. Many have failed also, in Rwanda, in Bosnia and other flashpoints of ethnic hatred. America is a tolerant and peaceful country that does not sorely test the good will of its citizens.

I am grateful that the 'Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv' are here in America, where they are an inconvenience and an annoyance. Because any place else, they would be dangerous.

HAMPTONS HOLY WAR New York Post 9/7/8

Tensions over the proposed creation of a symbolic Orthodox Jewish boundary in a tony Long Island hamlet boiled over yesterday at a raucous meeting in Westhampton Beach.

Organized by a group called Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv, the rowdy morning gathering of more than 250 people pitted Reform Jews against Orthodox Jews.

At issue was the proposed creation of an "eruv," a boundary consisting of marked telephone poles that form a figurative extension of a home. The eruv would allow Orthodox Jews to engage in activities normally prohibited on the Sabbath, such as pushing strollers and carrying keys.

Members of the Hampton Synagogue, led by high-profile Rabbi Marc Schneier, had hoped to marshal support for the eruv during the summer season. But recent town meetings have degenerated into shouting matches.

"We don't want to change the community," said Jack Kringstein, co-chairman of the Jewish group opposed to the eruv. "We feel like we will be converting Westhampton to [Orthodox Jews'] tastes."

Hampton Synagogue member Alan Shecter, one of only a handful of eruv supporters at yesterday's meeting, was shouted down.

Schneier said that the opposition is inspired by baseless fears of an Orthodox influx.

"I'm very saddened and disappointed by what's taken place," he said. Sphere: Related Content

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