Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Have You Heard The One About The Kid From Camden, The Tea Partier And The Rabbi?

A Trenton Times guest opinion column was brought to my attention this morning by a sister Save Our Schools NJ Organizer, and from all of my research on issues related to Tikun Olam and Hatikvah I had some knowledge of the author of the piece.

His byline says "Israel Teitelbaum serves as secretary of Alliance for Free Choice in Education"  Check out the link.  Thin on content, heavy on rhetoric.  

So is his column.  

Seems it was inspired by the E3 sponsored Camden parents class action complaint seeking the immediate transfer of their kids out of the Camden public schools.  

E3 threw up a heavy handed press release after the parents were denied.  Oh look!  The only comment is from Mr. Teitelbaum himself!  Just a snippet from his comment:
Those who control education also control our nation’s culture and all that evolves there from, including the role of government in directing our lives. The greatest government-sanctioned violation of our civil rights, and denial of our liberty, occurs every day when government financially coerces parents to send their children to government schools. This has no place in a free society, and parental choice in education needs to be fully implemented NOW!
Huh, that doesn't really make it sound like this is about kids in Camden for Mr. Teitelbaum, does it?  

His column is chuck full of union bashing, Tea Party inspired liberty and limited government gobbledygook, and even a pitch for the "recent" films "The Cartel" and "Waiting for Superman"!  Man, Mr. Teitelbaum is sure casting a wide net there!

If you can stomach it, watch this YouTube video of Mr. Teitelbaum at a Tea Party School Choice meeting.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

I'm still not entirely buying that this is about kids in Camden or Tea Party politics for Mr. Teitelbaum though, are you?     

Feels like there must be something else in this for him....:

It’s a fair bet that when area Orthodox rabbis meet on Monday, August 3, with Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher J. Christie, they are going to receive information that will please them—and, more importantly, their day school-tuition-beleaguered congregants—on the issue of school vouchers. 
Mr. Christie supports school-choice, and a pilot program currently simmering in the state legislature could help Jewish families in at least two communities receive vouchers or tuition tax benefits. 
The meeting is being organized by Howie Beigelman, the Orthodox Union’s professional who is responsible for state government relations.
Among those who will be attending the meeting with Mr. Christie is Rabbi Israel Teitelbaum, a spiritual leader of Cong Ahavath Yisrael in Morristown and the director of Parents for a Free Choice in Education. He said he and a colleague from the shul, Michoel Kotler, hoped to bring to the table their experience gained over many years of participation in the struggle for school-choice. 

Rabbi Teitelbaum said that even though most Orthodox rabbis recognize the importance of vouchers or tax relief for parents sending children to day schools, many are afraid to get involved in the struggle. 

“Too many of them believe that politics and synagogues don’t mix. They are afraid that taking an activist role, or even talking about the issue, could be a violation of IRS regulations,” he said. 
He is hoping the OU-sponsored meeting with Mr. Christie will help abate those fears." (emphasis mine)
Ah, now that makes more sense.  

And much easier to avoid any trouble with the IRS for using your tax exempt religious institution for political activities if you just mask what you're really advocating for.  

We're to believe that Rabbi Teitelbaum is fighting for the needs of kids in Camden?  I'm not buying it, any more than I bought that the founders of Tikun Olam wanted to serve kids in New Brunswick.  

School Choice sure does make strange bedfellows, doesn't it?  

1 comment:

  1. As an Orthodox Jew who is also a public school teacher with a child in yeshiva, it is truly embarrassing to see this guy in action. It makes me so angry to see him use the teacher-bashing line when there are many, many Orthodox Jews working as public school educators in New Jersey, whose ability to support their families has been irreparably damaged by the ability of people like him and Christie to scapegoat us. He publishes in several of the Jewish newspapers on a regular basis.

    Lately one of our Highland Park synagogues had lectures by officials hoping to whip up support for vouchers--they also play the "poor kids in the inner cities line." They are liars. Yes, it is hard for Jewish families to afford Jewish education, and even though I disagree with the notion of vouchers, I "get" why it is a popular one. Any Jew who goes around bashing public school teachers and our middling salaries and expressing false concern about non-Jewish inner city kids in order to address an understandable financial concern, does not deserve any respect. I wish our local Orthodox institutions would understand that sending notices home with our children to lobby for school vouchers, or having one-sided presentations on the issue in synagogues, is offensive to some of us in the community.