Sunday, July 18, 2010
Teaneck, for some odd reason, is the subject of an article in The Jerusalem Post.
Seems to me that this is just another of the slew of anti-orthodox articles that appear every so often, for no reason other than to rip the orthodox. Perfect timing on the eve of Tisha B'Av.
The author talks about Teaneck's "golden days" as a liberal progressive welcoming community and then takes a sharp turn to take pot shots at the very people who moved to her so-called "welcoming" community.
Here's the article, in its entirety.
A town that touts its diversity
By MARILYN HENRY
It is neither easy (nor wise) to write about the town in which you live, especially if it is a small town; especially if it is a small town that is deeply invested in its delusions. I live in Teaneck, a New Jersey township a few miles across the Hudson from Manhattan. Lovely place with a storied history as a progressive community.
There was some happy news earlier this month when the town’s seven-member council selected its Muslim member, Mohammed Hameeduddin, as mayor. An Orthodox Jew, Adam Gussen, was selected as deputy mayor. The local county newspaper, The Record, said: “It’s stated so often that it’s almost a local cliché: Teaneck’s greatest strength is its diversity.” It is easy to get mistyeyed about a town that likes to tout its diversity. The council comprises two black women, four Jews (three of whom are Orthodox) and a Muslim.
However, diversity also means multiple, distinctive interests that may collide with each other. With nearly 40,000 residents, Teaneck is diverse, but it is not integrated.
For the Jews, who are about 40 percent of the population, it is a golden ghetto, where the main street caters to the religiously traditional Orthodox and Conservative communities. The politics, Jewish and local, are nasty.
In the May council election, an Orthodox candidate, Joseph Steinberg, lost support after he was attacked by a right-wing Jewish monthly paper that is published in the neighboring town of Englewood. Steinberg, who has a record of civic service in Teaneck, was assailed, in part, for failing to condemn Barbara Ley Toffler, a Jewish council member who is not Orthodox. Toffler had antagonized part of the observant community in February 2007 with a comment in The New York Times.
In a column called “Proudly Diverse Teaneck Is Forced to Re-examine Its Assumptions,” she was quoted as saying: “People worry that there’s a group that wants this to become an Orthodox community like some of the ones in Rockland County [New York]. This has always been an incredibly diverse community, and from my perspective, I don’t want it to become any one thing.”
Apart from how people feel about Toffler, it seems cruel and childish to penalize Steinberg over someone else’s comments three years earlier. Days before his defeat, Steinberg said in an “open letter” that because of “the smear campaign, a terrible hillul hashem [desecration of God’s name] has now spread both within and beyond the Jewish community.”
IN 1949, the US government considered Teaneck a model town, at least for American propaganda purposes. The government made a traveling photo exhibition of civic life in Teaneck, then led by town manager Paul Volcker Sr., to be used in democracy “reeducation” programs in occupied Eastern Europe and Japan. A generation later, in 1965, Teaneck was thought to be the first township in the US to voluntarily racially integrate its schools.
The Orthodox presence here began to grow some three decades ago when Rabbi Macy Gordon helped bring a small group to the town because the upper Manhattan area around Yeshiva University was not suited for young families who wanted a suburban lifestyle. What was a convivial environment for the fledgling Orthodox community was also attractive to the Muslim community, which grew with two mosques and an Islamic school in Teaneck.
Now, within Teaneck’s six square miles, there are 14 Orthodox synagogues (with more on the horizon), a new mikve and every conceivable type of kosher establishment.
It’s a very cozy place for the frum. The question is whether other residents – blacks, Muslims, Asians and Reform Jews – are comfortably at liberty to express concerns or grievances about the Jewish presence without being branded as bigots.
“BRANDING” HERE in Teaneck, which also has been called “dati-neck,” is not limited to religious and racial questions, although those are the cruelest and most sensitive.
“Politics by its very nature is divisive. People need to disagree without being disagreeable,” Hameeduddin told the local Jewish newspaper, the Jewish Standard. “If you can’t compromise, then there is no democracy.”
The new mayor has the advantage of a long-term friendship with the new deputy mayor, Gussen. They know how to talk to each other. They have been doing it for decades. They were students together at Teaneck public schools; their relationship began with sports. “That would be the first thing everybody did, ” Hameeduddin told the Standard.
The selection of Hameeduddin was a marvelous bit of symbolism that put the town and its nonpartisan council in the news. The post of Teaneck mayor is largely ceremonial, but it gives Hameeduddin quite a pulpit. Perhaps he can use this opportunity to remind us that “diversity” is a vague term that conveys nothing about the quality of civic life. We are diverse, yes, but no longer the liberal town that resisted the rampant racial segregation of the 1960s and that made Teaneck such a welcoming community for an Orthodox flock.
Hameeduddin and Gussen would not have been likely to become friends if they were young students today, instead of fathers with professional careers. Most Jewish children in Teaneck attend Jewish day schools, yeshivot or private schools. They don’t meet other children in the classrooms or on the sports fields. The Jewish community needs to determine if it wants to live exclusively in the segregated golden ghetto or if it is willing to find a realistic way to recreate the progressive town that made friends of two boys named Mohammed and Adam.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
On Wednesday, the town's auditors presented their budget analysis to the council.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
DON'T SPLIT THE VOTE.....3 and OUT!
With the 9 candidate running in this week’s Municipal Election, and the way votes can get spread amongst all the candidates, it’s important not to split our vote and LOSE EVERYTHING.
Lissette Parker's supporters are asking people to bullet vote for her and this will hurt Katz, Stern and Gussen, and they could lose.
Katz, Stern and Gussen have shown that they support the Public Schools and they understand the pain of the residents and taxpayers and refuse to rubber stamp this or any budget. They have chosen to work with the different interest groups, the concerned Board of Education parents, and both private and public school parents and students to carefully analyze this school budget for waste and better efficiencies and we support them because they are the only candidates that support the audit requested by the Board of Education PTO last year.
This is not a reflection on any other candidate, just noting the experience, leadership and positive work that Katz, Stern and Gussen have done.
We need Katz, Stern and Gussen back on the Council. Don't split your vote-- vote just for Katz, Stern, Gussen.
...please vote for 3 and out.
2 – STERN
3 – GUSSEN
8 – KATZ
Friday, May 7, 2010
Just after I posted the email I received throwing Joe Steinberg under the bus, I opened my mailbox to find the newest issue of my personal favorite monthly magazine, The Jewish Voice And Opinion. The editors make it perfectly clear why our community is shying away from endorsing Steinberg. Since only PDF copies of the magazine are available online, I'm posting the entire text of the article here so everyone can see that Joe Steinberg is actually a disciple of the evil Barbara Toffler, who could very well be an enemy of our community.
THE JEWISH VOICE
Promoting Classical Judaism
May 2010 Vol. 23 • No. 7 Iyar/Sivan 5770
Teaneck Council Elections: Four Seats Open, Nine Candidates, Four of Them Observant, One May Be Problematic
On May 11, residents of Teaneck will go to the polls to elect four members of its seven-seat Town Council. Of the nine candidates vying for the four open seats, four are members of the observant community. Three of the four have been active in Teaneck civic affairs and politics for years, building reputations of trust and respect in elected positions. The fourth is a newcomer whose close ties to a controversial far-left local activist with a history of rhetoric castigating the observant community and a series of ethical and other lapses, is raising eyebrows in many Teaneck circles.
The three candidates with solid reputations, not only in the Jewish community, but beyond it as well, are current Councilman and former Teaneck Mayor Elie Y Katz, current Councilman Adam Gussen, and former Teaneck Deputy Mayor Yitz Stern.
Based on his behavior and the comments of some residents of Teaneck who are supporting him, it has been suggested that the campaign and candidacy of Joseph Steinberg, the fourth member of the Orthodox community who is running for Council, have been supported and guided by Dr. Barbara Ley Toffler, a current Council member whose anti-observant animus, verging on outright antisemitism, was made public in the New York Times.
Dr. Toffler, whose term expires in 2012, is not a candidate in this election, but a source close to the Town Council, who asked for anonymity, charged that Mr. Steinberg “is in effect Barbara Toffler’s surrogate.”
In February 2007, Dr. Toffler, who refers to herself as an “ethicist’ and has boasted that she thinks of herself “as one of the most ethical people I know,” was cited by Times columnist Peter Applebome in a story about the growth of Teaneck’s observant-Jewish community.
In that article, Dr. Toffler, then a member of the Teaneck Planning Board, said, “People worry that there’s a group that wants [Teaneck] to become an Orthodox community like some of the ones in Rockland County. [Teaneck] has always been an incredibly diverse community, and, from my perspective, I don’t want it to become any one thing.”
She has never apologized for her suggestion that observant Jews were trying to take over Teaneck and turn it into “Monsey,” although she has acknowledged that her rhetoric has caused many residents, particularly in the Jewish community, to view her with suspicion.
Mr. Steinberg is evidently not one of them. At Town Council meetings,he and Dr. Toffler have had a close working relationship. Several of Dr. Toffler’s most ardent supporters in Teaneck—people who, for the most part, have been associated with anti-observant movements or sentiments—have endorsed Mr. Steinberg.
Dr. Toffler and the other candidates she is supporting were among those invited to Mr. Steinberg’s campaign kick-off party. He invited other candidates, none from the observant community.
The relationship between Dr. Toffler and other members of the Council has been stormy.
In an email sent to Dr. Toffler, Mr. Katz accused Dr. Toffler of using her position on the Town Council “as a soap box to spew hate, act as an obstructionist to progress, and become the Council bully.”
Another Councilman, Mohammed Hameeduddin, a member of Teaneck’s Muslim community, agreed.
“I have worked with her for three years and still do not understand any legislative agenda she has except race baiting,” said Mr. Humeeduddin, accusing her of “repeatedly sending out and making disparaging remarks about me and many of our colleagues on Council.”
Financial Advisory Board
The political relationship between Dr. Toffler and Mr. Steinberg reportedly developed while both served on Teaneck’s Financial Advisory Board. Dr. Toffler was the Council’s liaison to the advisory board; Mr. Steinberg was appointed to the board and served as its chairman.
According to the source close to the Council, “not a single deliverable or actionable item has been achieved on the Financial Advisory Board since Toffler became Council liaison and Steinberg became chair.”
“Under Toffler and Steinberg, the Financial Advisory Board has been a total failure.
Not a single recommendation for the 2010 budget was submitted nor has it delivered to the Council any of the comparative budget analysis it was tasked to do,” said the source, adding that this lack of accomplishment by Dr. Toffler and Mr. Steinberg “shows a failure in leadership, results, and competence, and has been a wasted opportunity to save money in these tough economic times.”
But, said the source, Dr. Toffler’s problems on the Council have not been limited to issues of competency.
“There are ethical problems, too,” said the source, noting that Dr. Toffler has dubbed herself an “ethicist.”
The source recalled that Dr. Toffler had personally chosen the website vendor responsible for Teaneck’s site. After the town manager and attorney notified the Council that the vendor had violated the terms of his contract, Dr. Toffler publicly admitted meeting with the vendor in her home, said the source.
“A few weeks later, after the Council voted to terminate the agreement with the website vendor, Toffler insisted on using taxpayer money to pay the entire amount of the contract, even though many of the items were not completed,” said the source.
The source claimed there were other examples of her engaging in questionable ethical behavior as well.
“Like her back room meetings with vendors, she has involved herself in questionable ethical practices that could open the town to litigation,” said the source.
Calling Mr. Steinberg “Toffler’s pawn,” the source said she had taken him “under her wings.”
“Is this the leadership we can expect with Toffler’s pawn on the Council? One Toffler is more than enough. Can Teaneck survive two?” the source said.
Asked if he would, at the very least, denounce Dr. Toffler’s anti-observant statement, Mr. Steinberg had no comment. The other three observant candidates, as well as well as scores of others, Jews and non-Jews, residents and non-residents of Teaneck, have clearly—and publicly— denounced her rhetoric.
Mr. Steinberg also had no comment when asked if he would be similarly “eager” to work with a person who had made anti-African-American or anti-gay statements that mirrored Dr. Toffler’s anti-observant quote.
“Would Steinberg work—or have anything to do—with a member of the Teaneck Council who said that she feared African- Americans could turn Teaneck into ‘Harlem’ or that gay Americans could turn Teaneck into ‘Greenwich Village?’ Would he accept the endorsements of her strongest supporters? But when this Councilwoman tells the New York Times she fears Orthodox Jews could turn Teaneck into ‘Monsey,’ that’s okay with him?” said the source.
After Mr. Applebome’s article appeared, even Dr. Toffler recognized that she might face political consequences. Fearing that her quote might prompt members of Council to consider her unfit to be reappointed to the Teaneck Planning Board, she reached out to Mr. Stern, one of the observant community’s most respected leaders, and asked for his advice on how she might regain the trust of the people she had offended by the Times article.
Despite warnings from community members familiar with Dr. Toffler that dealing with her could prove disadvantageous, Mr. Stern responded to her request, sending her an email with what he considered thoughtful and well-reasoned advice. He suggested she first apologize for her quote in the Applebome article and then educate herself on issues the observant-community considers important, such as bringing ratables to the community-at-large.
His recommendations were not to Dr. Toffler’s liking, and she retaliated by reading his email out loud at a Teaneck Town Council meeting without explaining that it was she who initiated the conversation by asking for Mr. Stern’s advice,
“She tried to humiliate him, making it seem as though he had sent her his advice on his own initiative, out of the blue,” said the source.
When asked about the incident, Dr. Toffler defended herself, explaining that emails are not “private” and that, in her opinion, she had committed no ethical breach.
The source close to the Town Council agreed that Mr. Stern probably could not have won a legal case against Dr. Toffler, but the source had no doubt that she had committed a moral violation.
“Especially for someone who calls herself ‘the ethicist,’” said the source, making clear that “fair people in Teaneck can endorse Katz, Gussen, and Stern, but not Steinberg,” because of the latter’s connection to Dr. Toffler.
“A vote for Steinberg could be a very dangerous choice for the Teaneck-Jewish community. As they say, ‘you are judged by the company you keep,’” said the source.
Below is the complete text of an email we received from "firstname.lastname@example.org"
Dear Voters :
We write to urge you to vote in the town council elections for the three candidates who supported the audit of the proposed BOE budget and it's (sic) outrageous 10.2% tax increase, Yitz Stern, Adam Gussen and Elie Katz. They are the only 3 candidates running who by supporting the audit show a real concern for trimming the waste in the current BOE system. It is extremely important that you go out and vote for these three candidates and only these three candidates.
Many of you have asked us about Joseph Steinberg. While Mr. Steinberg talks about fiscal responsibility his actions lead to a different conclusion. Specifically, he made clear his rejection of the audit of the BOE budget, while offering no viable alternative for the town council who had to gather a better understanding of the situation in the limited time offered by law. Furthermore, we question Mr. Steinberg’s judgment in suggesting that the BOE president, under whose leadership the (rejected) budget was promulgated, would now become a ready and willing partner to work collaboratively with the town council in developing acceptable areas to cut.
DON'T SPLIT THE VOTE..... VOTE for 3 and OUT!
Other candidates are asking people to “bullet vote”. This will hurt Stern, Gussen & Katz, and they could lose.
Don't split your vote --- vote just for Stern, Gussen and Katz (Lines 2, 3, and 8).
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Pruitt said voters should be wary of the challengers’ agenda.
"When you run for the board, the motivation you should have is that you’re concerned about improving instruction and making Teaneck a better school district for all of the kids," he said. "If the school district isn’t serving your kids, what’s your motivation?
"It seems ominous to me that someone would be willing to put in 50 hours a year in terms of meetings to look after someone else’s kids."
So let's get it straight: According to this jerk, the taxpayers who fund the schools who do not have children enrolled in the schools (that means the Jews), are entitled to neither representation on the board, nor a say in how their tax dollars are spent.
Pruitt, by the way, does not have any children in the Teaneck Public Schools; they have all graduated. If Pruitt would practice what he preaches, he would not be running for reelection. I guess the above statement by Pruitt only refers to Jews. He can run despite having no children in the Teaneck public schools... but the Jews can't. So, Pruitt is either an Anti-Semite who wants to keep the Jews out or a senile old man who has forgotten that he has no children in the public schools.
Pruitt has served two terms. Things have only gotten worse. Why on earth should this old man be reelected? Pruitt has made this into a Black vs Jew issue. Shame on him.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Finally, an incumbent on Teaneck's Board of Education has made it clear as to why our budget must increase. According to a post on the Teaneck Progress blog by David Duiguid: We as a district made a commitment 5 years ago to raise student achievement levels to those of surrounding districts in Bergen County, and in the process to attempt to eliminate the achievement gap between whites and minorities.
There it is. In a nutshell, Dr. Duiguid admits that our budget is increasing because he feels the need to close a so-called "achievement gap" between whites and "minorities."
So Dr. Duiguid admits he is a racist. His concern is not for all the students, but specifically for a single group of students, specifically Blacks and Hispanics.
While comments on other blogs indicate the upcoming elections are an orthodox versus everybody else issue, the true facts are that this is a "minority" versus everybody else issue.
It seems that the good doctor is convinced that throwing money at a perceived problem will solve it. This despite most studies on the "achievement gap" place the blame squarely on the parents (America's Next Achievement Test: Closing the Black-White Test Score Gap Christopher Jencks and Meredith Phillips) and on peer pressure to do poorly so as not to be viewed as being "too white." (Black Students' School Success: Coping with the "Burden of 'Acting White'" Signithia Fordham and John U. Ogbu).
How can an illegal alien, non-English speaking Central American parent help his anchor child with English homework? (Immigration, Family Life, and Achievement Motivation Among Latino Adolescents Carola Suarez-Orozco and Marcelo Suarez-Orozco)
How can a black father help his kid with schoolwork when 65% of black children live in a home without a father? (national figure from the Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p70-114.pdf)
Imagine if one of the orthodox candidates said that the entire town would be responsible for spending money on schools because some orthodox children were not scoring as well on tests as were others in the school system. The outcry from the "rest" of the town would be deafening.
So now, we are all asked to share the burden because many black fathers abandon their families and illegal aliens and anchor babies, who are given a free ride in our schools, have no schoolwork help at home.
Sorry, but while providing an acceptable education to public school children may be my civic duty, whether or not I like it, I feel no need to make up for the shortcomings of others.