Having security guards at his children’s school, Barkai Yeshiva in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, is quite simply a “necessity,” declares Morris Tabush. In fact, he says equally emphatically, “without the guards, I would probably not sent my kids there.”
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch, executive director of Bais Yaacov of Queens, a yeshiva in the Kew Gardens section of that borough, wholeheartedly agrees: “The idea of having security guards at the school came up numerous times but there wasn’t a great urgency. Then the San Bernadino tragedy happened. And it quickly became a priority!”
Thanks to the Herculean efforts of a number of Jewish community organizations, led by the Orthodox Union, both schools – and dozens of others in New York – will not only have security guards but will have them free of the enormous financial burdens associated with a formal school security program.
Indeed, following years of persistent advocacy by the Orthodox Union-Teach NYS coalition, the New York City Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of Introduction 65-A in last December, a bill to fund school security guards covering nearly 200,000 of New York City’s non-public schoolchildren. The bill, a top priority for the Orthodox Union-Teach NYS, sets aside nearly $20 million to protect schoolchildren from a diverse range of backgrounds, including Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and other nonpublic schools. The legislation goes into effect with the onset of this year’s September school term.
“Now more than ever, with families increasingly concerned about security, all kids deserve a safe learning environment and this bill helps provide that,” said Maury Litwack, Director of State Political Affairs for the Orthodox Union. “We commend Speaker Mark-Viverito, Councilman Greenfield, and the New York City Council for voting to protect all of our schoolchildren, regardless of where they attend school.”
Through the legislation, the 400 kids at Barkai Yeshiva – including two of Mr. Tabush’s own children – will have a number of guards with city funding. While the school has had security personnel onsite for a couple of years, he said “it had always been a financial burden. In the yeshiva world, money is always extremely tight. So much of our budget goes to financial assistance. So to be able to get this help from the city is a huge boost. And I’m grateful to the OU for the tremendous work it did, and continues to do for the Orthodox community and the Jewish community at large.”’
Echoing these sentiments, Rabbi Avruch said, “When the city program was passed, we decided to move ahead with having guards because the financial barrier to having them was lifted. The OU and its partners, especially Councilman Greenfield, made it happen. So we’re truly grateful. After all, every child has the right to a safe school environment."