‘Chuztpah’ Is The Word!

Legislator Lon Hofstein

Legislator Lon Hofstein

Chuztpah: A Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word
ḥutspâ (חֻצְפָּה), meaning “insolence“, “cheek” or “audacity“.

To: Editor Rockland Voice
From: Legislator Lon M. Hofstein

Recently, students attending a Global Studies class at Clarkstown South High School were shown a video that was both offensive and disturbing in its portrayal of Judaism in Roman times. It is my understanding that while this video was produced by a reputable company, the content was offensive and inaccurate. The community expressed outrage over it and the school district responded. Local Jewish organizations were consulted into how to best handle the matter, and most everyone agrees the incident was eventually resolved to the overall satisfaction of the community. Clearly, the episode reinforces the fact that proper checks and balances need to be implemented when it comes to the materials used in our children’s education. There is little doubt this was an isolated incident with no malicious intention involved.

Yet, there are those that would have you believe otherwise.

Hate! Discrimination! Anti-Semitism! These are the cries coming from those seeking to create further division in our county. There is a concerted effort being put forth to label the good people of Rockland County as anti-Semites that must be refuted and rejected.

It was an error in judgment to show this video, but to describe it as a reflection of the mood our county is completely irresponsible and wrong.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind

Assemblyman Dov Hikind

For Assemblyman Dov Hikind to state this video proves that “a culture of hate has invaded Rockland County” was reckless and hurtful. Mr. Hikind has now made a second statement that is even more offensive than his first. He calls out Legislator Laurie Santulli, a dedicated daughter, wife, mother, teacher, volunteer firefighter and an elected official as one who condones hate.

Now, that takes CHUTZPAH!

This same assemblyman stood at the podium of the Rockland County Legislature and declared the implementation of an independent school monitor in the deeply troubled East Ramapo School District is “a betrayal of what this country stands for”. Does Mr. Hikind condone the behavior of the school board that regularly adjourned meetings to go into private “Executive Session“, thus leaving parents waiting for hours to have their concerns heard? Don’t you think this behavior takes CHUTZPAH?

Assemblyman Hikind states that “animosity and hate is only coming from one side”. May I ask what side is that?

I surely do not see the “horrible epidemic” of anti-Semitism in Rockland, and certainly not based on the showing of a video intended to be educational and simply not properly vetted in a high school class.

Legislator Santulli

Legislator Santulli

While I appreciate Mr. Hikind’s concern for the citizens of Rockland County, I suggest he might better focus his interest in his efforts to help. Mr. Hikind might start by taking an interest in working toward the restoration of the public school system and the lack of adherence to the NYS mandates in teaching subjects such as math and science in many of the private schools in the East Ramapo Central School District.

If Mr. Hikind truly wants to help, he should reach out to his peers in state government and ask Assemblyman Zebrowski and Assemblywoman Jaffe how he can help them improve the educational situation and communal relations in Rockland County.

Further, as a self-described “champion of tolerance and acceptance of all,” Mr. Hikind might address another disturbing video that seems to have not been brought to his attention. In March of 2015, a video titled “The Jew In Rockland” was posted on YouTube. This video compared living in Rockland County to life in a concentration camp during World War II. It was a slap in the face to all the citizens of Rockland, especially to those whose relatives endured that horror and to those with ancestors who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting against such hatred. For anyone to rationalize the production of such a disgraceful video takes CHUTZPAH! 

Assemblyman Hikind, why didn’t you come to Rockland to condemn the hatred spewed forth in this video?

Many of the examples cited by those claiming Rockland County is a “cesspool of hate” come from social media. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become a source of information to all. Unfortunately, there are people who use social media to spew vile comments and preach hate and discrimination. People can hide behind a computer screen and type words they would likely never use in a face to face meeting. These comments and any expressions of anti-Semitism or bigotry and discrimination toward any ethnic group or religion are unacceptable and should be, and often are, condemned.

We should stand together and not encourage such behavior. Problems can not and will not be solved by pointing fingers and making inappropriate accusations. Mr. Hikind should consider these points and reflect upon the recent slanders he has thrown at the good people of Rockland County.

People of diversified cultures can live together in harmony provided there is mutual respect. With one of the most diverse populations in New York State, Rockland County is a shining example of this. However, respect must be mutual. There must be equal treatment for all, and special treatment for none.

Remember as we watch our children, our children are watching us. If we want the world to be a better place for our children it is up to us to show them the way. Toning down the rhetoric and focusing on the real issues is what is needed to get things moving toward a brighter future for all residents of Rockland County.

It is time for ALL people to talk TO and not AT one another.

Lon Hofstein
Minority Leader, Rockland County Legislature

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