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Building a better world from one's own space

Many of us are concerned about Obama's dealing with Iran's nuclear build up, his dealing with Syria's human slaughter or how expensive or ineffective Obama's health care act will turn out to be but what direct influence do local communities have on these events? States make their presence known policywise by the types of representatives we send to Washington. However, when ethnic, business or religious groups band together such as with the upcoming NORPAC trip to Washington whereby a large

group of Jews from the tri state area lobby politicians on the federal level, there is the opportunity to make one's voice heard on such a level.

There is however something we can do to build stronger communities and thereby a stronger city, state

and even a stronger nation but we all must do whatever we can from the position we are in. Historically, we know that pogroms and anti semitism very often flared up as a type of rebellion of sorts of the proletariat. Even when institutions such as the Christian church which initiated the Crusades or when governments such as Nazi Germany perpetrated atrocities against the Jews, it took the participation of the common folk to carry them out.

In the late middle ages Jews fled Western Europe because when the black plague broke out, the Church

blamed the Jews of poisoning the water supply and thus causing the plague. Jewish people were beaten in the streets by hysterical people who believed this absurdity. When the Jews were fleeing Spain during the Spanish Inquisition (1492) rumors spread that fleeing Jews were storing gold and diamonds by swallowing them and bands of criminals were knifing and disemboweling Jews in hopes of finding the hidden treasures.

So why do I bring up such horrible events of the past Jewish history? For the same reason any study of history is relevant. The advent of IPads and IPhones may be new but human nature is not and all the modern gadgets of the modern age will not repeal human nature. In order for Jews or any minority to thrive, the society at large must be healthy materially and psychologically. I feel that too many American Jews and even from the frum community feel that catastrophic anti semitism was repealed.

It is political season again and when I go petitioning to get someone worthy on the ballot I am really taken aback by some of the responses I get from some frum Jews. "Are you a registered Democrat?" I ask. "I don't know" quite a few may answer. Some frum Jews look at me with a look of bewilderment as if I'm asking them what bacon tastes like. One distinguished and well spoken man explained his refusal to sign the petition by saying that the candidate, who is Asian, will get plenty of signatures from downtown Flushing. Such insular thinking should be discouraged by our community leadership. I asked a frum Jew in the pizza shop if he could take a minute of his time to sign my petition. "I'm having dinner with my family" was the response. Well in fact many people whose doors we knock on are being disturbed in the middle of their dinner because petitioners come to peoples' homes between 5 PM and 7:30 PM which is essentially dinner time. Before then people are not yet back from work and after that it gets dark (at this time). I thought to myself about the Jewish fellow in the pizza shop, if I was petitioning in the days of Achashveirosh to unseat Haman would he have been as smug, not to sign my petition in the middle of his pizza dinner? Of course, many people say that they're too busy to sign. Sure, who of us can spare an extra minute from their busy schedule?

The real truth is that quite a number of frum Jews feel that politics is even beneath them - that it is almost heretical to want to be involved with politics because it is "chukas hagoi'im" (an endeavor in which we

conform to the trend). What we all need to understand is that when society at large is not well that we

will not be treated well. This, as I alluded to above, is repeated over and over again in our history. When

violence and bullying is not subdued in horrible and ineffective public schools, they will attack Jews and spray graffiti on our synagogues. When people are not stable they will crash into us with their cars when they drive drunk or are under the influence of drugs.

When kids are not cared for by stable and attentive adults they will attack us and rob us when they have

no money.

When NYC's debt looks like this (below): (as of Sept 2011)

is it time to wonder when our well being will be seriously impaired. City debt has practically

doubled since 2002. Is it illegitimate to worry about our communities when the overall debt service reaches unsustainable levels? Should people who are eating their delicious pizza or stake take a minute to help the political process to promote people with common sense solutions? Should we try to elect people to city council and state legislatures who will support common sense solutions such as charter schools, vouchers for public schools and tax credits for private schools?

I don't agree overall with assemblywoman Nily Rozic's approach to government but I do commend her on her sponsoring bill A05328 which mandates 2 hours per week of civic lessons to public school children (which she probably got from my campaign when I ran against her ) and I give her credit for attempting to push that through. City Councilman Rory Lancman is charmingly disarming as a politician and has done good things for our community, nevertheless, doesn't have the courage to go against our (out of control) mayor's purge of charter schools. I say that we as a community should let the 'progressives' know that inhibiting choice in education is not progressive at all!

If all wisdom is contained in the Torah doesn't it stand to reason that those immersed in torah, namely our Rabbis and educators should derive and apply those wise principles of Torah to spread and help incorporate to our neighbors amongst whom we dwell, to maximize peace and well being for all of us?

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