School Choice Efforts
LLI activists in Queens arrange State Senator’s visit
State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. (D-15) recently visited Bais Yaakov Academy in Kew Gardens, Queens. The Senator’s visit, arranged by the Queens division of Agudath Israel’s Lefkowitz Leadership Initiative (LLI), was organized to better acquaint Senator Addabbo with one of the Jewish community’s most preeminent educational institutions. The meeting gave Mr. Addabbo an opportunity to spend some time with his constituents, young and old and to hear first-hand from activists and school officials out on the front line.Rabbi Pinchas Avruch, Executive Director of Bais Yaakov, led the group on a tour of the schools facilities. He pointed out some of the unique challenges the school faces as a private institution, including space constraints and security concerns. During the tour the Senator had a chance to see the schools facilities, including the computer and science labs and the library. He also learned about the unique dual curriculum and extra-curricular activities the school offers.Perhaps the highlight of the trip came when the group entered Mrs. Siegel’s third grade class. After Mrs. Siegel explained who their special visitor was, the students and Mr. Addabbo had a lengthy and spirited discussion about government and community service.Following the tour, the participants adjourned to a conference room for a frank and open discussion about the issues facing the Orthodox Jewish community at large, and Yeshiva institutions in particular. Several issues relating to School Choice and other matters were discussed, and the Senator expressed his eagerness to be of help in whatever way possible.
(L-R) LLI Member Shmuel Kazarnovsky, LLI Member Yossi Newman, Aaron Cyperstein (Board Member, Bais Yaakov of Queens), Senator Addabbo, Rabbi Pinchas Avruch (Executive Director, Bais Yaakov of Queens), LLI member Nechemiah Hoch and Yoni Dembitzer (Staff to Senator Addabbo) during the Senator’s trip to Bais Yaakov of Queens.
“It was refreshing to meet with an elected official who was willing to give so much of his time to learn about our community,” said Mr. Ari Elbogen, an LLI member who joined in the visit. “A sense of mutual understanding and a desire to work together could certainly be sensed by all those present.”
The emerging Agudath Israel LLI division has been hard at work creating warm working relationships with various local elected officials including: Congresswoman Grace Meng, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, Councilmen Eric Ulrich and Peter Vallone Jr, as well as newly elected Councilmember Rory Lancman, among others. Nechemiah Hoch, founding LLI board member explained, “We are trying to find areas where political relationships can benefit the broader Queens Jewish community and look forward to advocating on the community’s behalf in a variety of areas.”