The disturbing rise in anti-Semitic incidents was confronted Wednesday in a conference call hosted by Maury Litwack, the executive director of Teach NYS, a project of the Orthodox Union advocating for New York’s Jewish day schools.
The security threats date back to 2012, Litwack said, and are “something that the Teach advocacy network has been working on for some time.” He noted that lack of funding for security is one of the most pressing needs facing private schools.
Litwack told JP Updates that the reason securing funding for private schools has been such an uphill battle is partly because “local and elected officials have to travel and see [first-hand] the lack of security” at the schools in question. Litwack illustrated his point by referring to a legislator he had spoken with who did not realize how grave the lack of security was until she enrolled her daughter in a Jewish day care.
“[There was] no security, no guards,” Litwack told JP. “Until she was a parent, she had no idea.”
Litwack expressed dismay that many legislators give lip service to addressing security concerns and anti-Semitism without devising practical solutions.
“There’s a threat, there’s a concern, we condemn the anti-Semitism,” Litwack told JP Updates. “There’s not a discussion on what the legislators can actually practically do.”
“We’ve gone to legislators time and again, and said to them ‘Its great that you’re denouncing it, it’s great that you’re discussing it, but there’s concrete action that can be taken to make a difference,'” Litwack said.
Recently released NYPD statistics were also cited by Litwack, showing that 56 hate crimes were reported in New York City as of Feb. 12, compared with 31 at the same time last year. Litwack also addressed the waves of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers nationwide, referring to a CNN report that 48 JCCs were targeted in 27 states.
“What most people are unaware of is that non-public schools do not have the same resources [as public schools],” Litwack said, pointing out that Teach NYS has “advocated successfully for more government funding on a state and local level for yeshiva day schools.”
Teach NYS has increased its call state by state for additional security funding to be distributed to private schools, Litwack said, “simply because these schools do not have the necessary resources to handle these additional concerns.”
Progress made by Teach NYS includes the “successful passage in 2013 to receive a security grant program in Pennsylvania which paid for security guards,” and the “passage of a 20 million bill paying for non public security guards,” Litwack noted, adding that Teach NYS has been advocating for increased security funding in Albany and Trenton.
“We do believe that there is a role that the state and local government can play in this,” Litwack said. “We have been very heartened by the bipartisan effort of state and local legislators to get involved in this effort.”
Litwack noted the “successful role the state and local government can play in providing security to all children.”
In response to a question about which schools specifically were targeted in recent anti-Semitic incidents, Litwak replied that “anti-Semitism doesn’t discriminate.”