PHOTOS: Millions at Stake for NYC Orthodox Jewish Parents

(Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009)

23.jpg[PHOTO LINK BELOW] BROOKLYN – A meeting convened by Agudath Israel of America on June 2 brought together city government officials and administrators of yeshivos throughout New York City to discuss the proposed elimination of a city program than benefits needy parents in the city’s Orthodox community to the tune of over $15 million a year.

The program provides child care vouchers to parents of school-age children if certain criteria are met. Under “Priority 7″ of the program, vouchers are provided to families where one parent is working full time and the other faces a substantial degree of social difficulty without child care assistance.

With its often large families and particular financial challenges, the city’s Orthodox community has been the main beneficiary of the Priority 7 category. Some 2000 child care vouchers, worth approximately $15 million dollars to their recipients, have been distributed yearly to parents in heavily Orthodox parts of New York.  Now, however, Priority 7 is slated for the dustbin, essentially eliminated from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget.

Agudath Israel called the meeting to apprise school administrators of the looming threat of Priority 7′s elimination; to discuss the issue with them and with members of the City Council and their representatives; and to formulate strategies for seeking to head off the crisis. Nearly 100 principals and administrators were in attendance.

Councilmembers Bill De Blasio and Simcha Felder were present as well and addressed the crowd, as did Agudath Israel’s executive vice president, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel; Agudath Israel’s vice president for community affairs, Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz; and Rabbi Yeruchim Shapiro, the principal of Bais Yaakov of Borough Park. Also present
were representatives of New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Councilmembers David I. Weprin and David Yassky.

At the meeting, Agudath Israel distributed to the yeshiva administrators copies of letters intended to be shared with parents of their students. The letters, addressed to Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, respectfully but strongly object to the planned elimination of Priority 7. The goal, Rabbi Lefkowitz said, is to deliver thousands of the missives to the city officials.

Other strategic options discussed included a face-to-face meeting with the Mayor and he possibility of a rally at City Hall.

Said Rabbi Zwiebel: “We hope that if we bring the Mayor’s and Speaker’s attention to the fact that the elimination of Priority 7 will have a disproportionate effect on a particular segment of the city’s population – us – they will reconsider and find a way to let whatever cuts are absolutely necessary be distributed fairly among all priority groups.”

“This issue is urgent,” he continued. The budget is likely to be finalized in the next weeks. And so it is imperative that if we are going to mobilize a grass-roots effort to let the Mayor and Speaker know how much this will hurt our community – and how unfair it is – we do it now.”

Sources tell YWN, that as of this posting, dozens of Yeshivas are mobilizing – and initiating a massive letter-writing campaign.

YWN PHOTO LINK: Click HERE Photos of this event.

(YWN Desk – NYC)


2 Comments

  1. 26 estates says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else see that (at least from the pictures taken) this seems to be a Boro Park only issue? I am not sure why though? Shouldn’t vouchers be for everyone? Were any of the Flatbush Yeshivos or Bais Yaakovs in attendance.

    Also, while I understand the need to mobilize the parents, I did not understand from the article why only 2,000 kids are getting this in the first place. Bais Yaakov of Boro Park alone has more then 2,000 kids. Why are we not pushing for 50,000 kids to get vouchers. Anyone who knows about finances concerning Frum families knows that the greatest crisis is tuition. Most parents cannot pay full, the schools claim to need full plus more so teachers are not getting paid since there is no money to pay them.

  2. eyesopen says:

    I tried searching for “Priority Seven” in the NY State website and the government benefits website. It did not appear. Where is information about this program for public viewing?

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