Instead of focusing on how to duplicate the success of improving our children, we attack the yeshivos that provide the quality education our children embrace.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams
There’s a tribe in Africa called the Maasai who don’t greet each other by saying hello; they ask, “How are the kids?”
How are the children? Based on that answer, you can tell the society, you can tell the tribe, you can tell the city, the village, the city, and the nation.
So I want you to think about how the kids are doing. In our country, we see bullets cutting death roads on university campuses.
We see anti-Semitism rising among young people and even in the educational institutions we see hatred not only in the country but all over the world.
We look at the growth of cannabis use and the reports showing it destroys brain development. We’re looking at fentanyl use in parts of our city that we’ve never witnessed before. Overdoses are on the rise.
Depression among young people is on the rise. Suicidal thoughts are on the rise. Watching social media take away their natural ethnic beauty, young girls want to have plastic surgery at the age of 10, 11 and 12.
TikTok shows our kids how to steal cars and how to play games to harm themselves. The same TikTok version you can’t see in the country TikTok initially created.
How are the children? The children are in a state of despair of epic proportions, but instead of focusing on how to duplicate the success of improving our children, we are attacking the yeshivos that provide the quality education our children embrace.
These schools have flipped the question mark of how are our children doing? You make an exclamation mark that says: Our children are fine. We need to duplicate what you achieve.
People are asking questions about what is happening in our city and state yeshivos, while at the same time 65% of black and brown kids never achieve a skill in the public school system. But we ask, what do you do in your schools? We need to question what we are doing wrong in our schools and learn what you are doing in the yeshivos to improve education.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m so worried about our country, the direction we’re going. If we don’t invest better in the quality of children and families, we are going to see the fundamentals that made America great erode to a level where we are no longer competitive with those who improve the quality of their children.
Something is happening in America as 52 percent of Americans say they would not protect this country if it were attacked by foreign enemies. You know what? I am one of the 48 percent.
As I wake up every day and say, “I swear allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under Gd, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” That’s who I am.
This is the largest country in the world because we are the largest state in the world. There is no other place where ‘dream’ is attached to the name. It’s not a German dream, not a French dream, not a Polish dream, but it’s an American dream. And that dream is what it is because of New York State and because of New York City.
And so let’s lean into this moment. Let’s take a look at our ethnic, cultural and religious philosophies. Let’s embrace those who believe in the quality of this country and the quality of this state, and elevate families, children, and education, and appreciate the religious philosophies that are part of the educational opportunities.
I make no apologies for believing in Gd. God made us who we are, and we should embrace our religious beliefs because it teaches us the principles of who we are.
Faith is who we are. It’s not just what we have on our dollar bill: “In Gd We Trust.” It is not only in the oath of office that I said, “So help me Gd.” It’s not just that every president, but three, laid their hands on a religious text. It’s not just before you walk into the room that you touch the mezuzah to say you acknowledge what’s going on.
It’s not just that we wake up in the morning and pray. God is who we are. Faith is who we are. We are a land of faith and belief and we should be able to educate and help educate our children in the process everywhere.
I am a mayor who believes in God and I am a mayor who believes in family. I am a mayor who believes in faith. I am a mayor who believes in my country and I am a mayor who believes that we can all take ourselves to the next level.
Thank you for what you do. You were there for me when I became mayor. I’ll be there for you as your mayor. —
The above piece is adapted from a speech by New York City Mayor Eric Adams at the TeachNYS Annual Dinner on May 10. TeachNYS is an Orthodox Union project led by Maury Litwack that advocates for equitable public funding to make non-public schools better, safer, better, and safer. and more affordable.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Issue 962)
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