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Our religious rights and Jewish physical safety under assault

I was listening to Zev Brenner's radio show on a Saturday night and Rabbi Romi Cohn from the American Board of Ritual Circumcision was speaking about the rampant misconceptions about metzitza bepeh (the ritual oral contact from the Mohel during a circumcision). New York City's health department under the direction of Mayor Bloomberg, routinely disseminates literature in hospitals to (Jewish) mothers who give birth to baby boys of the potential hazards of the procedure of metziza bepeh. Rabbi Cohn explained that today's Mohels are totally up to date with all the medical findings and take appropriate precautions to ensure a safe circumcision such as sterilizing the Mohel's mouth beforehand with an alcoholic solution thereby rendering it totally sterile. The Rabbi explained that as a result, of what he considered scare tactics by the city, many religiously-uninformed Jewish mothers are opting for their new born boys to have a secular circumcision not in accordance with Jewish law.

Rabbi Cohn maintains that of the 2 infant deaths that the gov't cites occurring from Herpes after the circumcision was done with metziza bepeh , there were a total of 35,000 circumcisions which were performed successfully. Furthermore, of those deaths in question, according to Rabbi Cohn, the gov't refuses to perform DNA testing to determine whether in fact their Herpes were acquired through the

act of metzitza bepeh. One may wonder why the gov't did not perform the testing. Also, it may be

asked, why doesn't the Dept of Health give more of a balanced view of the Jewish circumcision

procedure in their literature? Does this not demonstrate a biased government agency working against

the interests of a religious group?

Rabbi Cohn expressed frustration that the proper and accurate information is not getting out. Taking out a whole page ad in the NY Times was suggested to him but he couldn't afford the $100k price tag that that would entail. The host of the show, Zev Brenner, suggested "saturation" of the media, namely, articles in newspapers and presumably shows such as his, to bring out the message, but isn't that already being done?

On the national level, Notre Dame University sued the Obama administration over birth control mandates which Obamacare required the university to have even though Notre Dame University is a faith based organization. Obama sees the rights of gays to marry but he doesn't see the religious rights of those who follow their religious tenets which prohibit them from funding in the university's health plan the morning-after pill or birth control mechanisms.

What the above two cases demonstrate is that under Liberal leadership the government has no reticence of stripping away religious rights from citizens. These conflicts arise often in religious communities such as ours. As a matter of fact, it has been brought up to me, that of the political leaders that our community has just voted into office, there are those who espoused views or policies in the past at one time or another, that were unprotective of the religious rights of our community.

With respect to the lack of protection of our physical well being I cite the following example. In an open letter, Brooklyn Councilwoman-elect Laurie Cumbo whose district covers Crown Heights, explained the 'knockout game' assaults in her district as stemming from tensions between the African-American and Jewish communities who share the same neighborhood. The tensions, as she explains, have to do with the comparative material success of the Jewish community vs. the lack thereof of those who perpetrate the assaults. Along with her theory explaining the violence she offers the remedy that by engaging the two groups with each other, harmony will ensue.

Obviously Ms. Cumbo is trying to deflect attention away from the probable motive of anti semitism against Jews, hence the name "knock out the Jew" similar to what we find with such violence against whites where an anti white name is used - "polar bear hunting" (polar bears are white). By saying that the tensions are related to economic disparity between the groups, she seeks to neutralize the anti religious or racist charge. However even if her theory explaining the tensions are correct how does she intend to dispel those tensions with discussions between the groups? After all such discussion, the disparity will remain.

Actually I do agree with the Councilwoman-elect in one respect. The violence that we see in Crown Heights is not necessarily racial or anti Semitic because we find violence in Crown Heights also between rivaling gangs, namely the Eastsiders and the gangs of Crown Heights. Crown Heights has had gang activity for decades. One therefore would wonder why Ms. Cumbo wouldn't apply her magical 'Mr. Roger's' good neighbor formula for gang rivalry as well? I don't know how studied she is of the history of her district but her idea is not new at all. There have been various programs in Crown Heights of neighbor-outreach between the Jewish and African-American communities since 1991. That was the year when the infamous riot broke out because of a death of a young black boy who was accidentally struck by a car driven by a Hasidic Jew. During the riot a Jewish visitor from Australia, who had nothing to do with the car accident, was knifed to death.

Councilwoman-elect Cumbo and other Liberals are in fact blind to the importance of family influence and the guidance children get from parents. This is a value that Torah teaches; "v'sheenantum l'vanechah" and "you shall teach your sons" i.e. children. Modern society is constantly missing the understanding of the great damage that occurs from deteriorated family conditions such as absent fathers and dysfunctional parenting from single mothers. The vast majority of inmates in our prisons come from such deprivations.

Schools are also too often perpetuating dysfunctional behavior by not enforcing discipline in school. Only 60% of minority children in this country graduate high school. Only half of Queens schools are considered very good; the other half is fair to poor. There is much too much violence, drugs and bullying in public schools. Children from a chaotic family life and ineffective schools, besides being damaged themselves, spill out into communities and make society as a whole share their misery through their criminal activity.

Educational choice is what our community and many others across the country have been asking about for decades and quite a number of states are achieving it but not ours. We allow politicians to ignore the issue even though NY State spends $18k per pupil, only 7% of which is paid by the federal government. What is a NY State resident getting for the $16,740 with which he or she is financing each NY State child's education? Contrary to UFT (United Federation of Teachers') propaganda, there are many private schools who are prepared and eager to take on the most challenging of inner city youth as students. Furthermore, let's consider all of the hard earned money from our community that goes to finance the useless education of those children who grow up ignorant and violent?

Schools should teach patriotism, morals and duty to one's society as well as the academic curriculum. Access to mental health counseling should not just be for those who need 'treatment' - rather it should be taught as part of the curriculum from k through 12. Society should not make the mistake of thinking that only minority children with poor family backgrounds are at risk. Family dysfunction knows no race or social class. We know that predominantly white children are involved with school shootings. In the year of 2013 there have been 24 shootings; that's practically one every other week. The schools do very little for these children as well.

Judeo Christian ethics are the undergirding of our Penal Code and Constitutional rights. Liberals have veered away from many basic moral values and this is evidenced in the sick behavior that society demonstrates. Liberal stewardship of handing out money to single mothers who aren't required to go to work, according to AFDC (aid to families with dependent children) regulations, has encouraged the trend of households with absent fathers. Custodial care for the mentally ill, reform schools for juvenile delinquents, harsh sentencing for criminals and greater access to vocational training in public schools are all things that Liberals have done away with, to society's detriment.

Now that a great segment of society has so removed itself from religious influence, there should be tax subsidized parenting classes for anyone who wants them and those classes should be mandated for all those who demonstrate dysfunctional parenting. Family life is key. The mantra of the Left "jobs, jobs, jobs" as a first remedy for chaotic and deteriorated neighborhoods, is backwards. You can't bring jobs into an unstable situation. Once a neighborhood is stable, plenty of businesses will flow in and jobs will follow.

I believe I speak for many who share my views but we are drowned out by the 'enlightened' view of the Ph.D's, Ed.D's and the J.D.'s of the Liberal persuasion, who run the government and our educational system. It is certainly true that medical doctors know from years of training how to treat disease but to stay healthy from many diseases, all it takes is good nutrition, sufficient exercise, proper rest and an ability to deal with stress. Communal health likewise is achieved through very basic things such as law and order, promoting fee markets and allowing religious, cultural and recreational venues to operate freely. This may sound very simply achievable but Liberal governance has disassembled all of those basic ingredients that would comprise a healthy society. I say therefore, that we who have been educated through Torah ethics should consider it a responsibility not just to be a steward of one's religious community but of the community as a whole because American society was built on Judeo Christian ethics.

What I submit is that before elections, upstanding citizens and fair minded people should have town hall meetings where a panel of knowledgeable leaders would discuss various issues that affect the community and field questions from the assembled. Candidates running for office should be more deeply vetted and interrogated as to the significant issues that confront a religious and fair-minded community. That way when candidates give their 'shpiel' to an audience there would be a more rigorous questioning from the electorate.

Our community did not fall for it but plenty of others were bedazzled when one charismatic state senator by the name of Barack Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Many people are seeing now that Barack Obama is not the messiah that he was once thought to be. We should be as insightful with all of our candidate selections and that way a shallow thinking person such as the Councilwoman-elect from Crown Heights wouldn't have been elected into office.

The NY Post reported on the efforts of the Young Israel of Queens Valley to conduct classes of self defense to Jewish folk to be able to fend off the attacks of the 'knockout game'. Such measures are laudatory but is this really the best we can do? Isn't this like trying to catch a horse which has already escaped from an open barn door? We have to be more insightful than reacting to society's failures. We have to be proactive and in the forefront of government policy to guide our politicians from letting society descend to this level that we must now learn martial arts in order to safely walk the streets. Similarly, we have to be able to guide our politicians from overspending and not allow our cities to fall into a Chapter 9 bankruptcy the way Detroit has or the way our own city almost did in the mid 70's.

We must look at the overall health of our secular society that undergirds all of the establishments that we need to function as free people. If America's educational system is corrupt we will all feel it. If America's courts are misguided we will all feel it. If government squanders our taxes we will all feel it. To sum it up; America is already turning its back on ethics, individual responsibility, law and order and Constitutional freedom and we are already feeling it. We have a duty to stem this slide and not just try to survive with the status quo.

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