Instead of us focusing on how to duplicate the success of improving our children, we attack the yeshivos that are providing the quality education that embraces our children
New York Mayor Eric Adams
There’s a tribe in Africa called the Maasai who don’t greet each other by saying hello; they ask, “How are the children?”
How are the children? Based on that answer, you can tell the society, you can tell the tribe, you can tell the town, the village, the city, and the nation.
So, I want you to contemplate how the children are. We’re watching in our country that on college campuses, bullets are carving highways of death.
We’re watching anti-Semitism among young people increasing and even in the institutions of learning, we’re seeing hate across not only the nation but the globe.
We’re watching the growth of cannabis use and the reports that show it destroys brain development. We’re watching fentanyl use in parts of our city that we’ve never witnessed before. Overdoses are on the rise.
Depression among young people is increasing. Suicidal thoughts are increasing. Young girls are watching social media take away their natural ethnic beauty and want to have plastic surgery at 10, 11, and 12 years old.
TikTok is showing our children how to steal cars and how to play games to harm themselves. The same TikTok version that you can’t see in the country that created TikTok in the first place.
How are the children? The children are in a state of despair of epic proportions, but instead of us focusing on how to duplicate the success of improving our children, we attack the yeshivos that are providing the quality education that embraces our children.
These schools have turned around the question mark of how are our children? You are making an exclamation point that’s saying, our children are fine. We need to be duplicating what you are achieving.
People are asking questions about what is happening in our yeshivos across the city and state, while at the same time, 65% of black and brown children never reach proficiency in the public school system. But we’re asking, what are you doing in your schools? We need to ask what are we doing wrong in our schools and learn what you are doing in the yeshivos to improve education.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m so worried about our country, the direction that we are traveling in. If we don’t better invest in the quality of children and families, we are going to see the basic principles that made America great erode at a level that we’re no longer competitive with those who are improving on the quality of their children.
Something is happening in America when you have 52 percent of Americans say they would not protect this country if it’s attacked by foreign enemies. Well, you know what? I’m one of the 48 percent.
As I wake up every day and say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under G-d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” That is who I am.
This is the greatest country on the globe because we are the greatest state on the globe. There’s no place else with “dream” attached to its name. It’s not a German dream, a French dream, a Polish dream, but it as an American dream. And that dream is what it is because of New York state and because of New York City.
And so, let’s lean into this moment. Let’s reach across our ethnic, cultural, and religious philosophies. Let’s embrace those that believe in the quality of this country and the quality of this state, and uplift families, children, and education, and appreciate the religious philosophies that are part of the educational opportunities.
I don’t apologize for believing in G-d. G-d made us who we are, and we need to embrace our religious beliefs because it instills in us the principles of who we are.
Faith is who we are. It is not only what we have on our dollar bill, “In G-d We Trust.” It is not only in the oath of office that I said, “So help me G-d.” It is not only that every president but three placed their hands on a religious text. It is not only before you walk inside the room, you touch the mezuzah to say that you acknowledge what’s going on.
It’s not only that we wake up in the morning and pray. G-d is who we are. Faith is who we are. We are a country of faith and belief and we should have it anywhere possible to educate and to help uplift our children in the process.
I am a mayor that believes in G-d and I’m a mayor that believes in family. I’m a mayor that believes in faith. I’m a mayor that believes in my country and I’m a mayor that believes that we can bring us all to the next level.
Thank you for what you’re doing. You were there for me when I ran for mayor. I’m going to be there for you as your mayor. —
The above piece is adapted from an address delivered by New York’s Mayor Eric Adams at the TeachNYS Annual Dinner on May 10. TeachNYS is a project of the Orthodox Union led by Maury Litwack that advocates for equitable government funding to make nonpublic schools better, safer, and more affordable.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 962)
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