April 9, 2024
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A Passionate Rechnitz Slams Lakewood For School Elitism

Lakewood, New Jersey, bore the brunt of two massive storms this weekend. The first was a monster nor’easter that buried the township under massive piles of snow.

The second was a fiery speech given by Los Angeles philanthropist Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, who blasted Lakewood for an elitist mentality that has left numerous children without a school to call their own, shattering families and potentially setting the stage for these youngsters to abandon their Yiddishkeit completely.

Rechnitz’s words came at a dinner held this past Sunday night celebrating 30 years of chinuch in Lakewood under the leadership of Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Kanarek, who serves as dean at six area schools.

Rechnitz shared the pain of mothers who cry themselves to sleep nightly, fathers who live with neverending anxiety and children who live a daily nightmare as they see their friends going off to school, while they themselves sit home because there is no school in Lakewood that will accept them.

“Who has the right, who has that God-like complex, that feels they have the right to inflict such irreparable tzaar?” asked Rechnitz of the crowd that packed Lake Terrace Hall. “If you are ready to take the achrayus, then stand up now. Amod, Amod.”

Rechnitz said that he has been bombarded with calls from mothers, fathers and even children who have asked him intercede on their behalf so that they can be placed in a school, and that on his drive to Lakewood that night he had received three more phone calls on the same subject.

“Everyone in this world has their own tachlis, their individual journey,” said Rechnitz. “Why are we all judging each other? Why do I and others feel like we are being judged by a sanhedrin of 50,000 people in Lakewood? I feel terrible for most people who live here in that respect. Nobody here gives or gets any slack. Forget a second chance, that’s out of the question. You have better odds of winning the lottery.”

“This is a churban for klal Yisrael,” said a passionate Rechnitz. “How dare you destroy another child’s life because of your opinion of another child? How dare you face Hashem by davening when you snuffed out a Yiddishe neshama?… If the school isn’t good enough for your child, shut your mouth and go find him a school that works, or create your own school just for your child. Make a yeshiva just for him. This way nobody will ever be able to have any negative influence on your child prodigy.”

Rechnitz said that he and others are prepared to finance inclusive schools so that no child will be forced to stay home.

“I look forward to building schools but I’m not going to take any part of this,” said Rechnitz.

Rechnitz ended his 51-minute speech with an apology for the harshness of his words and noted the significance of delivering his words on Tu B’Shvat.

For the full article and a video of the speech, visit this link: http://tinyurl.com/z46uyce.

By Sandy Eller/Vosizneis.com

(Excerpted and printed with permission)

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