On July 2, 2019, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim (RAA/Igud) assembled for its monthly Rosh Chodesh (Tammuz) Seudah and Conference. This conference was sponsored by the Josephy family in commemoration of the 15th Yahrzeit of Rabbi Nachum Zvi Josephy, ZT’L, the longstanding Executive Director of the RAA/Igud. Rabbi Zvi Warnick, speaking on behalf of the Josephy family, described how Rabbi Josephy is remembered not only for his tireless work on behalf of Igud HaRabbonim, and as the Rav of the Bais Medrash HaGadol of Borough Park, but as someone who cared about each individual.
Rabbi Josephy’s greatest accomplishment was not organizing and rebuilding the Ohel of HaRav HaGaon Shlomo Ganzfried, ZT’L, the author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, or his communal work, but rather what he did for Jewish education. Rabbi Josephy was an outreach pioneer, among the first Americans to help families and children from the Soviet Union embrace their Jewish heritage. Rabbi Josephy is best remembered for the many families and their children who are Torah observant Jews thanks to his efforts. Rabbi Josephy’s wished that every Jewish child should be educated in the path of Torah because only through a proper Jewish education can we guaranty that Yiddishkeit will flourish.
In following this theme of the critical importance of Jewish education, the Igud HaRabbonim invited Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, director of New York Government Relations for Agudath Israel of America, and Rabbi Avi Greenstein, the chief executive officer of the Jewish Community Council of Borough Park and a member of Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools (PEARLS). Rabbi Silber and Rabbi Greenstein addressed the conference about the educational regulations and guidelines that New York State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia currently is considering.
Rabbi Silber explained that Agudath Israel has worked with PEARLS over the course of the last few years with the objective of protecting the fundamental right of parents to choose that their children receive the intensive religious instruction and academic programs offered at yeshivas.
To that end, PEARLS is comprised of families of students, educators, religious leaders, and community members, working together to educate the public and raise awareness about the importance of the yeshiva school system, its benefits to the communities it serves, and the reasons why parents choose a yeshiva education for their children. Most New Yorkers are unfamiliar with yeshivas and the education they offer. PEARLS was founded to inform the public about why tens of thousands of parents choose to send their children to these schools. The organization aims to support efforts to improve yeshiva curricula so that children receive the best religious instruction possible.
Rabbi Greenstein explained how the Jewish community is extremely proud of the yeshiva education system that, for the last 60 years has produced outstanding and prospering graduates who have a deep sense of community and family values due to their education. The yeshiva curriculum evolves constantly to provide the best possible education for our children that serves as a foundation for productive lives as contributing members of society, all while adhering to our heritage. PEARLS is dedicated to the continuous improvement of yeshiva curriculum while protecting our fundamental bedrock principle of religious learning.
Both Rabbi Silber and Rabbi Greenstein emphasized how they believe that every student who attends a yeshiva should receive a high-quality education that equips them with the skills and support they need to become successful and contributing members of their society. Instruction should foster in students a strong sense of purpose and self-worth while emphasizing good citizenship and a high level of ethics and morals.
Rabbi Shamaryahu Shulman, honorary president of RAA/Igud, and Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock, Av Bais Din of Igud Bais Din, presented a motion in memory of Rabbi Josephy to re-affirm Igud HaRabbonim’s full and continuing staunch support for the important work of Agudath Israel and PEARLS on Jewish education. The resolution passed unanimously.
Also at the Rosh Chodesh Conference, Igud HaRabbonim congratulated Imam Dr. Tahir Kukaj from the Albanian Cultural Center on his appointment as a NYPD Chaplain. Rabbi Mirocznik explained, “Chaplain Kukaj, a prominent Albanian Imam, is a good friend to the Jewish community. I have known the Imam for the past 11 years. Whenever a hateful or anti-Semitic event occurs, Imam Tahir’s voice is among the first and strongest in protesting the evil of hate and anti-Semitism. Imam Tahir is known as a coalition builder who seeks to bring people together. To that end, he has helped make New York City a better place to live. We at the Igud HaRabbonim wish the best of luck to Imam Tahir as he embarks on his new additional role as a NYPD Chaplain. We are confident that Imam Tahir will be a credit to the NYPD and will bring them much honor and respect.”
Also participating in remembering Rabbi Josephy was Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, presidium chairman of RAA/Igud; Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium member of RAA/Igud; Rabbi Hanania Elbaz, presidium member of RAA/Igud; Rabbi Dovid Katz, Menahel of RAA/Igud and Rabbi Moish Schmerler, Director of RAA/Igud.