On May 29, 2022, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim (RAA) convened its Rosh Chodesh Sivan conference at Kahal Bnei Matisyahu where its Presidium Chairman, Rabbi Yaakov Klass, serves as Rabbi. Rabbi Yaakov Klass and his brother Mr. Arthur Klass sponsored the conference in memory of their father, Mr. Albert Klass, Anschel Ben Moshe Feivel.
Mr. Albert Klass, a proud American-born Jew, was one of the stalwarts of Torah True Orthodox Judaism in the United States, known for fighting for Shabbos and Torah observance. Mr. Albert Klass championed Orthodoxy at a time when being strictly mitzvah observant was difficult in the United States. Mr. Albert Klass helped his brother, Rabbi Sholom Klass, ZT’L, found the Jewish Press newspaper, which has proudly presented the Orthodox worldview on many critical issues facing the American Jewish community throughout its many decades of publication. The founding of the Jewish Press in itself is of important historical significance. In 1959, alarmed by the demise of several Yiddish newspapers that had played an important role in the Jewish community, several members of the Agudas HaRabbonim, led by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and Rabbi Simcha Elberg, asked Rabbi Sholom Klass if he could fill the void by publishing a religiously-oriented newspaper for Jews across the country. To meet that need, Rabbi Sholom Klass undertook the project of creating an English newspaper that could be read by all. Rabbi Sholom Klass did so with the help of his illustrious brother, Mr. Albert Klass… and the rest is history. It is thanks to these pioneering Jews that Orthodoxy has attained a trendy, fashionable status in the contemporary Jewish American scene. American Orthodoxy truly owes a debt of gratitude to these great Jewish leaders. May the memory of Mr. Albert Klass serve as a blessing for his family and all of Israel.
RAA reaffirmed at the Rosh Chodesh Sivan Conference its strong opposition to, and expressed its shock and outrage over, the new educational guidelines issued by the New York State Education Department. As is common knowledge, New York State released new guidelines about nonpublic schools – including day schools, yeshivas, and Bais Yaakov schools, which currently educate over 100,000 students – redefining the requirement to provide an education that is “substantially equivalent” to that of the public schools. Going forward, Jewish schools must meet onerous government standards about what they teach and for how long they teach it, subject to watchful government inspection.
At the Rosh Chodesh Sivan Conference, the Rabbinical Alliance of America passed a resolution decrying these newly promulgated guidelines and asserting that they represent an unacceptable governmental encroachment on and intrusion in the autonomy of our religious schools. Each school’s board and educational committee should be entrusted to determine the course of education for its students, according to the traditions and philosophy of its community and parent body.
RAA Presidium Chairman, Rabbi Yaakov Klass, stated that “perhaps the single most important issue currently facing the Jewish community of New York City is the freedom to educate our children in a proper yeshiva environment that trains them to be good Americans and at the same time teaches them to remain true to our faith and traditions. The Yeshiva educational system has produced generations of productive, loyal, resourceful, and respectful New Yorkers who have contributed greatly to the growth of the city’s economic, civic, and cultural greatness. The vast and diverse Yeshiva system in New York is currently thriving as it offers parents a spectrum of schools to fit each child’s unique needs. Never in history has a Jewish parent had so many school choices as in New York today.”
RAA Executive Vice President, Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, noted that “the important wall of separation between state and religion is being breached in a most egregious manner, as evident by the draconian guidelines issued by the New York State Education Department.”
This country was settled due, in part, to the desire to live and raise one’s children according to one’s religion. The constitution protects the right of a citizen to parent and educate one’s child in the religious manner one sees fit.
Jewish schools have done an outstanding job in educating the community’s children. In addition to extensive Judaic content and core secular studies, these schools teach critical thinking, logic, textual skills, and traditional values – skills that are crucial to becoming productive, law-abiding citizens. The numerous graduates of the Jewish educational system and their manifold accomplishments, throughout the USA and abroad, attest to the high quality of Jewish education.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America concluded the resolution by fully and unequivocally supporting all the actions being taken by community leaders supporting religious liberty and Jewish education in combating the edicts of the New York State Education Department encroaching upon the separation of religion and government.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America calls upon the New York State Education Department to abolish these draconian regulations that are, in our considered opinion, both unconstitutional and an infringement on religious freedom, the promise this great country offers all its inhabitants.
Also discussed at the Rosh Chodesh Sivan Conference was the alarming rise in hate crimes and violence plaguing the United States. From the shootings in Buffalo to Laguna Beach to Uvalde, we have seen way too much blood, hate, antisemitism, anti-Asian hate, racism, bigotry and violence. The RAA passed a resolution calling for peace, understanding and for the condemnation of these harrowing and chilling events. Shockingly, there have been over 210 mass shootings in the United States since January of 2022. Some of these hateful events targeted individuals solely based on their ethnic or racial identity. It is deeply troubling how, in the eyes of these sick individuals, precious human life has become valueless. What is further shocking is the young age of many of these perpetrators — in some cases they are school-aged children.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik commented, “As Jews, we have a long proud history as a people. Throughout the centuries, we have suffered hate, pogroms, the Holocaust and terror in Israel. Because we are no strangers to bigotry and hatred, we especially feel the pain of the families of all the victims. As Americans, we must do everything in our power to rid our society of hateful ideologies and to teach future generations the concepts of love, tolerance, civility, respect and compassion for all. We must take proactive steps to educate that hate, racism, antisemitism and bigotry are wrong and have no place in America. We must hold accountable all those engaging in crimes fueled by hate. We must send a resounding message that there is a severe consequence for engaging in hate crimes. Our prayers are with these families and all families who have lost their loved ones to senseless acts of hatred.”
Mirocznik further concluded by presenting a resolution calling for the revision of the Bail Reform Laws that allow dangerous individuals to assault and re-assault peace-loving people. We believe that the architects of the Bail Reform Law may have had good intentions in the drafting and implementation of the reforms they believed the bail system needed. However, those reforms must be reevaluated in light of the increased danger and violence we see the public facing with the recent skyrocket spike in crime. Currently, the revolving door of justice places all New Yorkers at risk and particularly visible Jews, who are suffering an epidemic of antisemitic attacks. Therefore, as a matter of public safety, the RAA calls upon our elected representatives to correct the areas of the Bail Reform Law that imperil public safety.
Also participating in the RAA’s Rosh Chodesh Sivan Conference was Rabbi Avraham Hecht, Executive Director, Jewish Community Council of Canarsie; Rabbi Mosih Schmerler, Administrative Director of the RAA; Rabbi Gil Student, Director of Halacha Commission, RAA; Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank, Director, Programing, Chaplaincy and External Affairs, RAA; and Rabbi Kalman Sodden, Rabbi, Kingsbridge Medical Center.
Video of events available here
Names in Pictures
Picture (1) Left to Right, Rabbi Aharon Dier; Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank, director, Programing, Chaplaincy and External Affairs, RAA; Rabbi Avraham Hecht, executive director, Jewish Community Council of Canarsie; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA; Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman, RAA; Rabbi Moshe Schmerler, administrative director RAA and Rabbi Gil Student, director, Halacha Commission, RAA
Picture (2) Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman, RAA; and Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA
Picture (3) Rabbi Gil Student, director, Halacha Commission, RAA
Picture (4) Rabbi Avraham Hecht, executive director, Jewish Community Council of Canarsie
Picture (5) Rabbi Moshe Schmerler, administrative director RAA
Picture (6) Rabbi Kalman Sodden, Rabbi, Kingsbridge Medical Center; and Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA
Picture (7) Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman, RAA
Picture (8) Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA
Picture (9) Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA; and Rabbi Gil Student, director, Halacha Commission, RAA
Picture (10) Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank, director, Programing, Chaplaincy and External Affairs, RAA
Picture (11) Rabbi Avraham Hecht, executive director, Jewish Community Council of Canarsie; and Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA
Picture (12) Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank, director, Programing, Chaplaincy and External Affairs, RAA; and Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA
Picture (13) Left to Right, Rabbi Moshe Schmerler, administrative director RAA; Rabbi Gil Student, director, Halacha Commission, RAA; ) Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank, director, Programing, Chaplaincy and External Affairs, RAA; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA; and Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman, RAA