For what it’s worth, 06/02/16

We didn’t start the fire, until we did

The story in my local paper carries the headline:

Yeshivas fight back, claim county inspections ‘improper’, ‘draconian’

And no, this is not about the missplaced comma in the hed. This is about a bunch of religious wackos defending their right to endanger children. In my country. In my state. In my county.

Rockland County (NY) Executive Ed Day recently announced that “the state [has] given the county permission to inspect 53 private schools, mostly in Ramapo and Spring Valley, for fire and building code compliance.”

That’s good, right? When a school goes up in flames … or collapses due to faulty construction … that’s a bad thing, right? We try to make sure that doesn’t happen, right? Continue reading

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Stop the plane? Not a prayer

where's waldo

Rockland County, N.Y., where I’ve lived for nearly 40 years, is home to the third largest population of Hasidic Jews in the world, trailing only the entire nation of Israel and New York City. Which explains why, in a previous millennium, when I was the Page One editor of The Journal News, the newspaper of New York’s northern suburbs, a reporter and photographer were assigned to cover what was either the bar mitzvah or the wedding of the grand rebbe’s son in New Square, N.Y.

Bar mitzvah or wedding. I’m not sure which one, because I wasn’t invited. On the other hand, I didn’t have to buy a gift.

New Square is a small hamlet (are there large hamlets?) accessed by a single road off a main road that runs through the county. Drive in a block or two and it suddenly feels like you’ve time-traveled back to 18th century Europe. Drive in on a Saturday – Shabbos – and you’re in the only car in town that’s moving. And that guy who looks like he just dropped in from Mars – thats you, because you’re the only guy in town who isn’t sporting a full beard and a long black coat and a wide-brimmed black hat. Continue reading