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No Free Lunch
Tue, 02/19/2013 - 19:00

It is unfortunate, indeed, that your coverage missed the forest for the trees in “Lunch and Burn Over Great Neck Torah Class” (Feb. 15). The lunchtime practices of a local synagogue and rabbi may not be illegal, but that does not make them ethical.


Before people get caught up in First Amendment arguments, they would do well to recall that the students at Great Neck North High School are minors, albeit with an open campus and constitutionally protected rights to assemble, practice religion, etc. Are rights really the issue here, though?

To test the assumption, just ask yourselves whether free lunch-and-learns by a local church or mosque would receive the same sanctimonious defense of student and shul rights by the Anti-Defamation League and Agudath Israel.

To be sure, Judaism and American civil jurisprudence have great respect for rights. Neither places rights in a vacuum, however. Both underscore the responsible exercise of rights, in keeping with duty and obligation.

One wonders, is it not noteworthy that the synagogue and rabbi in question feel their rights trump those of parents and public school administrators who spoke on their behalf? While adamant about their rights, what is unclear is whether they acknowledge a concomitant sense of obligation: was the synagogue’s non-response to civic leaders respectful of its duties to the broader community in which it exists?

To my mind this is not a plain civil rights issue. As a Jewishly committed public school parent, I, for one, commend the administration of the Great Neck Public Schools for doing its utmost to keep parents and students apprised of a disturbing trend in our community. I fear that the costs to our community and the souls of the kids and families are yet unknown. Where will it end? Will more religious institutions crop up to lure minors during their public school day? What is to stop them?

Bottom line: there is no free lunch.

Great Neck, L.I.

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Written by Celia Weber

Dear Editor-

With regard to your article on the lunch debate at G N North H.S, I feel that the principal, who may sadly even be a Jew, and anyone else that sought to attack one of the most righteous Rabbis in our community ought to have their heads examined. I am not a member of the Persian community but I am a proud Ashkenazi Jew, whose magnificent spiritual leader is Rabbi Yaakov Lerner of the Young Israel. With regard to this very great man Rabbi Kohan of Torah Ohr, I would just like to say that this very noble, righteous human being has done more on behalf of the entire Jewish comunity of Great Neck in terms of the numerous outreach programs, educational lectures, events for young children, teens, and adults than I have ever witnessed in my sixty five years on this planet. May the Almighty reward his efforts with this newest endeavor of his, a Lunch and Learn prorgam which he has initiated on behalf of Jewish High School students in our community. Shame on anyone who would possibly seek to denigrate a Rabbi who is among the the greatest of gifts to those of us fortunate enough to take advantage of all that he has offered,here, and so much of which is totally free of charge. Kol Hakavod to you Rav Kohan, and thank you for all the amazing learning you provide; We are so grateful for the blessing that you are. Sincerely, Celia Weber

How sad is it that we Persian Jews escaped religious persecution in Iran, by the tens of thousands, only to come to the USA to be defamed by the principal of a public school and by some lady who has not had the proper education to know what it means to be a real Jew.

Unfortunately, Mr. Liviem is so correct that our history is being rekindled by our own beloved fellow Jews. It is people like Mr. Liviem, not those is the court of Mrs. Sassoini, who will ensure that Mashadi Jews and all other Jews never forget the sacrifices their parents made to keep them Jewish under all costs.

For 150 years we lived as Devout Muslims in Iran after being converted to Islam by the edge of a sword. Our forefathers prayed and learned in secret basements. The letter that principal Kaplan wrote reminded me of the letter that was sent to Imam Jom’eh about the New Mashadi Muslims (Jadid al Islam) accusing them that they are secretly learning Judaism in their basements and dark rooms that you enter from a side door.... that letter caused the fanatics to attack the Jewish homes once again. This second pogrom caused the Mashadi Jews to move to Thehran the capital city. Finally after the Shah was over thrown our community moved to New York. We thought we are free now to practice our religion freely with out any interference from any one. Mr. Kaplan was a victim of some close minded parents that they think they understand what is good for our children. “The Letter”successfully rekindled our Mashadi history, only this time by the hand of our own beloved fellow Jews.