Translation of speech by Satmar Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum on 12/22/22

Today, we live once again with Hellenizers [reformers and modernizers] of Jewish ancestry who have arisen against us. They have approached the government time and again, knocked on every door they could find, to inform against the yeshivas, alleging that our secular studies are inadequate. And they have petitioned the government to force the schools to provide more secular studies. It would be a terrible and bitter decree, should they succeed, God forbid.

It is written in Midrash Shmuel – some say this facetiously, but I saw it in Midrash Shmuel — [regarding the passage in Psalms], “God stands to my aid, and I will see my enemies’ downfall.” He offers this interpretation: May God protect me from those who wish to “aid” me [disingenuously]; and as for my enemies, I will see to them myself.

We, too, have a problem of this sort, for which we pray, may God stand to our aid.

I want to speak my mind. It is very painful, and so I want to speak my mind, so that all may hear what is taking place.

There’s an organization called PEARLS. This organization was created with the mission and intention to fight this decree. PEARLS has a lawyer named Avi Schick. He’s their lawyer. I’ve met with him several times, along with the PEARLS leaders.

Anyone who understand the judicial process — a judicial process with which we must now engage — or anyone who has ever had a serious matter with the courts, knows that on any complicated matter, you need attorneys of various kinds. First, you look for the one with the greatest expertise. Then you seek to assemble a team; one member is an expert on this, the other is an expert on that, and another is an expert on something else. In this case, it turns out you need an education expert, a constitutional expert, as well as [an expert on] various New York State laws. Everyone understands that in this sort of situation, you need [more expertise than usual]. You assemble a team with one individual for one area, and another for another area, each for their own area of expertise. I think anyone who knows anything knows how this works.

In this case, there’s one lawyer, and he says, “There is no one else but me. I am the attorney.” And that’s that.

I tried to argue with him. I told him we won’t retain him. “Add more people, as is standard in such cases.” But he insisted that he is the one and only lawyer. And now the fate of all the Jewish people lies in his hands. God forbid, if it fails, it’s over.

What we really need are the greatest experts. Everyone knows that a judge respects a top lawyer, but [not] a little shmegege lawyer, you know.... Everyone understands this. I’m not saying he’s a bad lawyer. He’s fine, if someone’s buying a house, or for some other real estate transaction, and so forth. But for the fate of all the Jewish people to hang on a single man?!

However, I was unable to accomplish anything, so I split with them. It's just not the way to do things.

But it’s much worse than that.

There’s an assemblyman in Borough Park named Simcha Eichenstein. Simcha Eichenstein — a savvy Hasidic young man — came up with an idea no one knew about. He organized a group of black ["Shchoirim"] assemblymen and black ["Shchoirim"] senators, who introduced legislation without it having his fingerprints on it, to keep anyone from knowing that a Jew was behind it, to keep it from being hindered.

This past summer, on the last day of the legislative session, a black [Shuchor] assemblyman introduced a bill to allow an accreditation committee to confirm that a school is a good school, and in such case the government needn’t interfere. Just as there is AARTS, for accrediting the yeshivas [for secondary school], this kind of accreditation would now exist for primary schools. And so long as this accrediting body confirms that it’s a good school, then the government would be satisfied.

The bill passed in the assembly, with 149 assemblymembers voting in favor. They had not the slightest idea what they were even voting on. It was snuck inside another bill, and it was the last day, when they were all eager to head home, and there was no time to read through it all. And so, it passed in the assembly with 149, of 150 assemblymembers, 149 voting for it, from across New York State. And the same was done in the senate. To ensure that it passes, a black [“schvartze”] senator introduced it.

That same day, one senator, unaware that Avi Schick knew nothing of the scheme, mentioned it to him in passing. He thought he’d be satisfied to hear it. When Avi Schick found out that this had been done behind his back, he insisted it be immediately undone. And there’d have been no chance to try it again. The next day, the legislature would be gone. He has three American [non-Hasidic] rabbis, with whom he consulted, and they removed the provision from the bill.

Today everyone knows about it. I have [an article] written by the top informant, in which he complains about the black {“Schvartze”] legislator, saying that if this had passed, all his work would have been for nothing. That’s what he, that fellow, writes; that all his work would have been for nothing.

That’s the result of “No one but me.”

I knew nothing of it either. I admit it. I don’t have to know everything. Because this is how it works — if the matter is taken care of, then he can’t raise more money [on this topic].

There was a meeting of rabbis here in Williamsburg, before Rosh Hashanah, and that attorney attended. There were ten important rabbis, who had gathered to strategize on how to abolish this decree. That lawyer addressed them, but he said nothing about all that he’d done just a few weeks earlier. The rabbis had no idea what was happening; it was all done in complete secrecy.

I take responsibility for what I say, it goes without saying. I take responsibility for everything I say.

So, this is who wants to “aid” the Jewish people. That’s where we stand. That’s the situation with the education decree. And now we’re at a standstill.

God stands to my aid. We pray, may God protect us from those who want to “aid” us.

To be clear, what I refer to would affect the primary schools, but not the secondary schools.

So what is to be done?

I say now, speaking to all the Jews of New York: we are in great danger, regarding education.

What we need are Hasidic businessmen and activists, as well as Hasidic rabbis who understand, who aren’t incompetent, who are savvy about judicial processes and legislative processes, to see how we might come to some arrangement with the government. [We need] men who are at once devout and knowledgeable, who will be tasked with saving the education of Jewish children.

They use the Hasidic rabbis for the photos, but they don’t tell them anything. With the incident I described earlier, none of those who attended the Williamsburg meeting had any idea what the situation was. They called a meeting, supposedly to discuss the matter [but in fact kept them in the dark].

I want to say: awaken, you who slumber, from your sleep. We must wake up, and we must take urgent action to abolish this decree.

There are many things to be said. My point, in what I’ve told you here, is that only someone raised Hasidic knows how to pull off that sort of trick in the state legislature.

There are other things we can do. A group of Hasidic businessmen, serious businessmen, with Hasidic rabbis, who understand these matters, must do what needs to be done.

For my part, should this sort of committee be created, one of businessmen and rabbis, I will stand to their aid, with each one of them, and do whatever I can do, whatever is in my meager capacity. And other rabbis will also act. We can accomplish a great deal by working together. We can accomplish a great deal.

May God destroy the evil schemes of those who prey upon us. We pray: Our father, our king, thwart the plot of our foes. Our father, our king, silence the voices of our enemies and persecutors. This too is included in that.

May God grant that we be successful with our tactics in this battle, on every front. With God’s help, [as in the words of the prayer] he performed miracles in those days, in these times. In those days, God ultimately granted Jews victory over the Greeks. May God grant that we, too, emerge victorious, by taking the correct action. May God grant that we raise our children undisturbed. May God grant that we raise them in the ways of the Torah, to wed them, and to raise them with good deeds, with peace of mind. May God grant that we merit [ultimate redemption].