Leaders of Agudath Israel, board members of Yeshiva Darchei Torah, representatives of local yeshivas, and community activists from Far Rockaway and the Five Towns met with state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan at a well-attended breakfast hosted by Darchei at its Far Rockaway campus on Sunday.
Rabbi Yaakov Bender, rosh ha yeshiva, thanked the senator for being a partner to the Jewish community and showing sensitivity to its concerns.
Darchei board member Alon Goldberger spoke of the financial plight of many parents, including those earning a decent livelihood who nevertheless cannot meet yeshiva tuition costs. As strapped as they are, said Goldberger, these parents continue to give their children a quality yeshiva education at great personal sacrifice. Government assistance, wherever legal and constitutional, is urgently needed, he said.
Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel executive vice president, noted that as former chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Flanagan’s grasp of education issues and his appreciation for the needs of the special education population have been a great blessing to the religious community.
“It’s reinvigorating and inspiring to gather together on a yearly basis, to have the opportunity to speak to the leadership of the Senate who has done so much for our community,” Rabbi Zwiebel said.
Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, Agudath Israel vice-president for community affairs, stressed the Torah community’s gratitude to Flanagan for ably representing its views in the legislature on a variety of educational, religious and ethical issues.
In addition to thanking the majority leader for his consistent support for education tax credits, Rabbi Lefkowitz also drew attention to the substantial gains obtained last year in Albany thanks to Flanagan’s backing. These include sizeable new allocations for reimbursements to New York State yeshivas for mandated educational services, as well as for new and upgraded safety and surveillance equipment.
Rabbi Lefkowitz cited other senators in Albany who represent Orthodox communities and are serving their constituencies with dedication.
They include Senators Simcha Felder and Martin Golden of Brooklyn; Elaine Phillips of Great Neck; Andrew Lanza of Staten Island; William Larkin of Kiryas Yoel; and Terrence Murphy of Westchester.
In his remarks, Flanagan pointed out that as the result of his prior chairmanship of the Education Committee, education will always be one of his top priorities. The resounding support he still elicits from that committee speaks to the deep reservoir of trust he built during those years, he noted.
He said that for a school to succeed in its mission, three things are necessary: A safe building, competent teachers, and money. He vowed to continue his fight for educational priorities that are important to the religious community, as well as other issues of paramount concern to its members.
“Maximizing government support for our yeshivos and day schools has always been a major priority for Agudath Israel and with the help of public officials like Senator Flanagan, we hope to continue to deliver tangible results,” said Shlomo Werdiger, Agudath Israel’s chairman of the board.
Agudath Israel-sponsored breakfast receptions with the senate majority leader prior to the legislature’s crafting of the annual budget have become a yearly event. They provide a venue in which community leaders can discuss with the senator legislation that may reach the Senate floor in the coming weeks. As majority leader, Flanagan has significant influence over the budget and the flow of legislation from Albany.
—Source: Agudath Isarel