There is a crisis in East Ramapo, New York schools, and the newly-formed Rockland Clergy for Social Justice has been making an impact as the interfaith groups fights for a more just public education system.
Active in the group is a JOIN Seminary Leadership Project alumna, Rabbi Adam Baldachin of the Montebello Jewish Center. Rabbi Adam has been outspoken in his support of the students and a more equitable school system in Rockland County.
“Our school district’s leadership has not responded to the diverse needs of our district’s students,” said Rabbi Adam in a state senate press conference this year. “My support of these students is based on the principles of justice, freedom and opportunity.”
Rabbi Adam has worked alongside Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham and Ariella Rosen, two other JOIN for Justice Seminary Leadership Project alumni, in this powerful interfaith group. Their work to hold the governor accountable has resulted in his administration appointing a fiscal monitor for this district that has seen cuts to athletics, band, interpreters, special education and more. Rockland Clergy for Social Justice is a grassroots group of rabbis, ministers, pastors and Muslim leaders from Rockland County and nearby communities serving as “a rational voice of grassroots leadership from the community, a voice of Christian, Jews and Muslims in the midst of confusion and disarray.”
“Bringing a community organizing approach to the crisis in East Ramapo meant that I recognized the power of bringing voices of clergy together committed to searching out a just and equitable solution to a broken system of governance, which inhibits thousands of children from a fair and decent education,” Adam told JOIN this week.
Learn more about the situation in East Ramapo:
- The New York Times covered the story of East Ramapo in April: “A School Board that Overlooks its Obligations to Students.”
- In September, the radio program This American Life dedicated an entire show to the story: A Not-So-Simple Majority.
- The Journal News has compiled their extensive local coverage: Two Worlds, One District
- The Forward covered the story in April: “Is Hasidic Board to Blame for Gutting Public Schools in N.Y. Town?”
On April 30 the Rockland Clergy for Social Justice held a press conference at the state Senate. Rabbi Adam begins speaking at 3:50. Watch the entire press conference:
JOIN for Justice is currently training rabbinical students and clergy in community organizing through our Seminary Leadership Project and our Clergy Network, providing direct education in leadership and organizing and facilitating mentorship and internships. We are committed to training the next generation of religious Jewish leaders to fill synagogues across the country as well as other Jewish institutions with clergy who understand how to build thriving communities based on relationships and common purpose.