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Final Push For Signatures to Save Yeshivos

More than 63,000 signatures have already arrived, with another 20,000 on the way

As the deadline approaches to submit public comments on proposed regulations that would drastically alter the character of New York state’s yeshivos, more than 63,000 have already arrived, with another 20,000 on the way.

That is a significant number for a state regulation. In comparison, a bitterly contested rule by the Cuomo administration to allow hydraulic fracking in 2011 garnered 66,000 signatures and convinced the governor to abandon the effort.

Aron Weider, a legislator in Rockland County, plans to drive to Albany on Tuesday to personally deliver his letter to the education department — along with 20,000 others.

Weider has taken a keen personal interest in the fate of yeshivah education in New York and the state’s proposal to add several more hours of secular education per day. Last week, he crashed the press conference of YAFFED, the anti-yeshivah organization led by Naftali Moster. Though Moster has claimed that a “silent majority” supports his work, over the last five years, only five or six supporters have regularly attended his public events, which the media has regularly covered.

On Friday morning, Wieder, who was once a classmate of Moster’s at Boro Park’s Belzer yeshivah, showed up at the latter’s Rockland County press conference to demonstrate that there are two sides to this very volatile issue.

“All or most of his classmates,” Weider called out from the sidelines, “are very successful business people.” He, for example, is an elected member of the county legislature while Moster has a college degree and runs a successful nonprofit. That, Weider asserted, was due to his yeshivah education.

The Orthodox lawmaker says he felt frustrated that the media has allowed Moster to set the tone for this debate. The results vindicated his actions, he says.

“After the cameras were on him when he spoke, they immediately turned toward us,” Wieder says. “I realized that the media just wants to hear both sides of every story. I checked all media reports on the conference and it was exactly the way I wanted it to come out.

“For once,” he adds, “it was not fake news.”

Weider also notes that Michael Hull, an anti-Orthodox agitator in upstate New York who runs a Facebook page called “Clarkstown — What They Don’t Want You to Know,” was at the presser. He calls Hull’s presence “very disturbing,” since he must have been personally informed of the press conference by Moster.

“You are the anti-Semite of Rockland County!” Weider told Hull, according to a video Weider posted on Twitter.

“Hull comes over and he slaps me on the back,” Weider says, “and tells me, ‘Oh, you’re not going to talk to me, you think I’m a Nazi.’ I said, ‘No, you’re not a Nazi. Nazis are dead.’ ”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 775)

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