In light of the horrific recent shooting in Pittsburgh and other public acts of anti-Semitism, the students of the Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva decided to take action. On November 19, students called New Jersey Senate President Sweeney and Assembly President Coughlin to ask them to increase the support for non-public school security.
The idea for the calling session came to life through Teach NJS, an organization that makes sure that non-public schools are safe and fairly funded. They are asking politicians to increase security funding from $75 per student to $190 per student for school security. They also ask for increased funding for nursing, technology and textbook supplies in non-public schools. Leslie Ostrin, who works with Teach NJS, came to Rabbi Daniel Loew, the principal of RPRY, to ask him if the school would like to participate in an activity where the kids would call top New Jersey state leaders and ask them to support school security bills. Rabbi Loew approved the idea and appointed me as a student coordinator. I asked three of my classmates to help me recruit others to make calls.
With the help of Mrs. Ostrin, we scheduled and planned the event to happen as soon as possible, and it was a success. The politicians’ offices picked up every call the students made, and they stated that our calls were important to the elected officials.
About 50 kids called the offices of Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Coughlin within a 20-minute period. The reason all the calls were made quickly was to show that we care about our security and we will do what we need to do to convey that message. I asked Mrs. Ostrin why she thought this was important and she said that “it is a very easy way to make a difference in the world and that is one person at a time. So, as students it’s important that we each will reach out to our elected officials to try to get equitable funding. Security is super important and there’s no better way to teach them than to actually be doing it and I’m really proud of all the students at RPRY that are getting involved.”
When asked why students agreed to call the officials, I got the same core answer almost every time—that safety is really important. I asked some of my fellow eighth graders who were on the committee why they called. Abie Russ-Fishbane answered: “Because I think it’s very important that, especially in this day and age, that we are all safe.” Naomi Strupinsky said, “No child is any less deserving of safety, whether they are part of a non-public school or not, all children deserve equality in safety, and the funding that we’re advocating for will make a difference.” Student Council Representative Nina Even-Hen said, “I think that it is an important cause to support safety in schools.”
Personally, I think it is important that as students we make a difference and advocate for our safety because our safety is as important, and our lives are as important, as public school kids’. Every student deserves to be safe and non-public school kids shouldn’t have to think that they aren’t as important. So I’m very proud to have participated in this activity. Thank you to Teach NJS and Mrs. Ostrin for organizing it!
By Joey Ostroff
Joey Ostroff is an eighth grader at Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison, New Jersey.