New York – A City Councilman who called on the highest ranking member of the NYPD to investigate a reported death threat against a former-Charedi educational advocate has admitted to being unfamiliar with the details of the alleged threat.
Councilman Daniel Dromm sent a letter to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill saying that YAFFED head Naftuli Moster felt that his life had been threatened by a Hamodia article that suggested that he had the halachic status of a rodeif because of his efforts to demand mandatory improvements to the secular curriculums of Charedi schools.
According to the October 16th letter, Moster told Dromm that being classified as a rodeif gave others license to kill him under Jewish law, a justification used in the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in 1995.
“I am asking that you investigate the not-so-thinly veiled threat against activists working for education reform within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community,” wrote Dromm in the letter, which was accompanied by a copy of a Hamodia article titled “Not When It Comes to Our Children!” Dromm also noted in his letter that classifying YAFFED as rodfim had potentially fatal consequences saying, “within this cultural context it should be considered a death threat.”
But in a telephone interview with VIN News, Dromm, who represents District 25 in Queens and also chairs the Council’s Education Committee, confessed that he could not say how many people had been threatened or what the threat entailed.
“I don’t know the exact details,” Dromm told VIN News “I know what I have read in the story.”
When pressed for further clarification about the article, Dromm could say only that it appeared in The Jewish Week. Asked how he could call on the NYPD to investigate a death threat without knowing any of the details, Dromm abruptly ending the interview saying, “I don’t know who you are and I am not going to talk to you.”.
Dromm appeared last month with Moster at a press conference just days after the release of a YAFFED report charging both Charedi schools and numerous city officials with abdicating their responsibilities to Chasidic children by not ensuring that students receive an adequate secular education.
The Jewish Week (http://bit.ly/2xQK8JT) reported that the councilman, a former teacher, accused city officials of acting immorally by neglecting the needs of 57,000 yeshiva students.
“We’ve waited two years and two months … and then I find out from media reports that they’ve only gone to six yeshivas?” said Dromm. “ … One has to wonder if they’re being genuine in their intent to fully investigate this issue and follow the law.”
The Hamodia article written by Rabbi Avraham Y. Heschel of Borough Park quoted the Chofetz Chaim’s view that undermining the Jewish educational system is akin to murdering children and that there is a halachic obligation to save children in those schools at all costs.
A post on the YAFFED Facebook page featured the article, condemning the author for “implicitly inciting violence against us.” Moster called on his social media followers to pressure Hamodia to retract the article and to refuse all future submissions from Rabbi Heschel. Similar demands were made by Power of Ten, an East Ramapo advocacy group that has allied itself with YAFFED.
Moster later posted a comment on the same Facebook post with a screenshot of an email from Hamodia publisher Ruth Lichtenstein saying that he had “misinterpreted the article” which did not “contain the slurs and threats you claim.”
Rabbi Heschel was not immediately available to comment on the article.
Moster said on Facebook today that he had reported the threat to detectives at the NYPD’s 18th Precinct but an NYPD spokesperson was unable to confirm that report, or that Dromm’s letter had been received by Commissioner O’Neill.