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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Help Needed

A reader e-mails:
A family in Bayswater had a terrible fire erev Yom Tov and their house that they were renting completely burned down. B”H they all got out okay, but the father who saved the entire family plus all the tenants in the house, has some 3rd degree burns and cuts. This happened at 4am on Sunday. The family of 7 (5 kids ranging from 6 months to 13 years), have lost everything they own. There was no insurance. The people to contact are Ilanit at the Sephardic Beit Medrash of Bayswater @ 917-796-7865 or Batia @ 917-257-1078. Checks can be made out to:

Bayswater Neighbors Fund
c/o Richard Altabe
637 Meehan Avenue
Far Rockaway, NY 11691

Tizku L’Mitzvot!

Long Skirt Safety

This is interesting, for obvious reasons:
A bus driver is seeking redress from the MTA after getting fired for refusing to wear pants.

On her second week on the job, Tahita Jenkins, 33, explained to her new bosses that as a Pentecostalist, the standard issue NYC Transit bus-driver uniform is against her religion.

She even provided a note from the pastor of her Far Rockaway church, Holy Ghost Headquarters Prayer Band Mission of New Beginning Deliverance Church, requesting she be permitted to wear a skirt. But transit officials insisted that for safety reasons she had to wear either pants or culottes.

"I told them culottes are just wide pants," Jenkins said. "I said 'I'm not going to change my religious beliefs just to be a bus driver.' I've been driving a school bus for years and my skirt never got caught on anything." Transit officials said they had no choice but to fire her Tuesday.
I understand that if a bus driver in a skirt presents legitimate safety concerns, then the MTA has to protect the safety of its passengers - but is a skirt really a safety risk? I have seen Orthodox women ski in long skirts, hike in long skirts, and ride bicycles in long skirts. I can't imagine that an activity such as riding a bus in a skirt poses any sort of special safety concern. Anyone have any explanation as to why it might be?

Oh, well. I guess strike "MTA Bus Driver" of the list of employment possibilities for Charedi women.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sleep Deprivation and Parent's Health

Slate tells us what moms of small sleepless children have known for a long time - parents of children who don't sleep well at night can suffer consequences to their physical and mental health. Everyone knows that a frazzled, run-down parent who is having sleep interrupted on a nightly basis can start to lag in the immunity department. The fact that people who are not sleeping well have trouble being bright and cheery in personal relationships isn't much of a shock either.

The article does discuss some strategies to getting small kids to sleep more soundly at night. Unfortunately, it still seems easier right now to just let the kid sleep on the floor of my room at 2 AM instead of getting a whole reward system going for keeping him in his bed. The middle of the night just never seems to be the best time for diplomatic negotiations with a strong-willed toddler who has a penchant for tantrums. So even though the system outlined in the article I linked might just work in the long term, so does another little trick - waiting until the kid is no longer a toddler and starts to sleep a little better. How long-term one is willing to wait is another question entirely.

So check out the article. Maybe you are feeling miserable enough to give some of the suggestions a shot. Let me know how it goes for you - or leave any other tips for getting toddlers to stay in their beds here in comments.

With any luck, maybe a particularly savvy commenter can get me some sleep and spare me picking up another cold or stomach bug.

Heter Mechira and Shemitta

This is an interesting tidbit:
The Chief Rabbinate has called on all the bodies that issue kashrut certificates in Israel to refrain from purchasing fruits and vegetables from Palestinian farmers during the next year, which is set to be Sabbatical year (shnat shmita), for fear the proceeds will be used for funding terror.

According to the Torah, during the shmita year farm-land in the Land of Israel has to remain uncultivated

During a sabbatical year, many haredi kashrut organizations prefer to buy produce from non-Jews, in order to make sure that Jewish law has not been violated.

The Shmita Committee at the Chief Rabbinate also stated that due to the security situation, kashrut supervision in the territories has become almost impossible, especially because of the great danger faced by kashrut supervisors in the PA.
Interesting, because in Shemitta years past, the Charedi population in Israel has generally sought out only those fruits and vegetables grown on land owned outright by non-Jews - as the Charedi world has decidedly not relied on the heter mechira that allows fruit grown on land owned by Jews to be eaten during a Shemitta year. The loophole is a way to skirt the commandment against eating or benefiting from produce grown on land owned by Jews by temporarily selling the land for the Shemitta year, in much the same way that Jews sell their Chametz and Chametz utensils to non-Jews over Pesach and then regain ownership at the close of the Chag. However, the heter mechira regarding Chametz on Pesach is far more widely accepted in the Charedi world than the heter mechira for Shemitta produce.

I doubt that this ruling by Israel's chief Rabbis is going to change much in the way of Charedi practice. I actually know many Israel natives who are so averse to utilizing the heter during a Shemitta year that even thought they trust a Rabanut certification on a non-Shemitta year, they switch to purchasing produce with a "Mehadrin" or "Badatz" certification that ensures that the vegetables are not grown on Israeli land - with or without a heter mechira in place.

UPDATE: Jameel has more on this subject.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Comment of the Week

Observer, a valued OM commenter, leaves a comment that stands out among the recent post-election spate of nasty, sniping comments we've been seeing of late:
For better or worse, the people have spoken. It is time to move on already. This past shabbat, Rabbi Billet, in the largest orthodox shul in the Five Towns (and the largest Young Israel congregation in the nation) spoke about the election and I think everyone commenting on this site could learn from what he had to say. He spoke of the Board's responsibility: first and foremost to the public school children, but secondarily, to the rest of the children of the District. He spoke VERY strongly of the newly elected Board's obligation to keep the needs of the public school children at the forefront and to make them, the board's primary responsibility. He also spoke of what brought us to this point, which was the history of (at least a perception) of prior BOEs not keeping in mind their secondary responsibilities to the remaining children of the District. He also pointed out that there is nothing for anyone to gloat about, that it is simply time to move on and do what is best for the children. Hopefully, moving forward, this Board, and future BOEs will keep both responsibilities in mind and make this District better for all of the children in this community. Both sides in this community claim to want to do what is best for all children in this community, so lets do so. It is less than a week since the election, why doesn't everybody calm down, give this board an opportunity to meet its obligations to all the children of the community (with the primary obligation being to the public school children), and move on. Should this Board not meet its obligation, there will be another election (and another, and another). Just give it some time and cut out the nasty comments (from both sides) for at least a little while.
It's nice to see Rabbi Billet express a sentiment that I agree with completely - that the duty of the new BOE is to serve the education needs of the district's public school children, while ensuring that the needs of private school community are met in an equitable manner to the extent the law allows.

Now I'd like to see this community move on and try to heal a little.

And people? Take down the darn lawn signs already. There's just no excuse for dragging this sad chapter out.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Worst Nightmare

Does anyone else who happens to frequent Manhattan sidewalks avoid walking over subway grates because of a fear that they will give way, causing the unlucky pedestrian to plummet untold stories? I always avoid them, and my husband always smirks at me for being, in his opinion, a bit of a baby. Well, he should know now, for once and for all, what most of my readers already know - Orthomom is always right.

Details of a woman's terrifying fall through a subway grate here. I can only make light of this subject because she, thank God, escaped with minor injuries. But this just strengthens my resolve to stay off the grates. Agreed?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Based on an email from a well-placed source, preliminary results indicate that the winners are Marcus, Blisko and Sussman, and all three propositions passed. Details to follow.

UPDATE: From Newsday:

Results were made available to Newsday at 1:35 a.m., Wednesday morning. Marcus defeated Cancelliere (5,057 to 4,715), Blisko defeated Levey (5,046 to 4,725) and Sussman defeated Greenbaum (5,309 to 4,566). The proposed budgets passed as well.

Lawrence District Clerk Alice Laino said some challenges were filed, but none would have any bearing on the outcome of the results.

Congratulations to all the winners. Now comes the hard part - making good on your campaign promises to provide every district child with the best education they can - while trying to heal the rift in this fractured community. I believe it can be done if we all try to get along and be kind and thoughtful to each other's needs in every arena. We are neighbors. Let's all act neighborly to each other. Good luck.

UPDATE: Full results here (PDF).

Monday, May 14, 2007


Tomorrow marks school board elections in my community, which will be the culmination of weeks of sniping back and forth between the two "sides" represented in this battle.

Sadly, one side has taken normal election-season back and forth to a completely different level.

I posted below about the anti-Orthodox ads published in local papers. Said newspaper was, to their credit, quick to publish an apology and explanation for their decision to accept the ads for publication. Our local elected officials rushed to condemn the hateful, dishonest and divisive tone of the ads in no uncertain terms. Yet have we heard anything in apology or condemnation from the candidates who put out the ads? Does anyone else hear crickets (ok, crickets - and Pamela Greenbaum trying to make the idiotic case that it's those who are most offended by the ads who are somehow the ones playing the religion card - as opposed to the bigots who put the ads out in the first place)?

I had not originally planned to endorse specific candidates in advance of tomorrow's election, but the manner in which some of the candidates have behaved in recent weeks leaves me no choice.

I do not believe that candidates who endorse bigotry and dishonesty in their election materials deserve to be making decisions about our children's education.

I do not believe that electing candidates to office who make every attempt throughout an election to further drive a wedge between the already warring factions in this community is the answer to bringing this community together.

I do not believe a candidate who sues over criticism of her policies instead of defending those policies deserves to be in public office.

I do not think a candidate who angrily screams and yells at others and cannot control his emotions and outbursts at public meetings is an appropriate candidate to be elected as a public official.

I do not think a first-time candidate who is unable to answer simple questions on candidate's night about how, if elected, she plans to run this troubled, underperforming district, is qualified to be a candidate.

I do not think that candidates who are so tied up to a teacher's union that their campaign literature is sent out under the teacher's union cover are considering the needs of the district children first and foremost.

I do not think that candidates who, simply to be contrary, endorse voting "NO" to the budget that has a chance of getting this district out of the dreaded cycle of austerity deserve to be in charge of our children's education.

I will not vote for bigotry and divisiveness tomorrow. I will not vote for fiscal irresponsibility tomorrow. I will not vote for obnoxious campaign rhetoric tomorrow. I will not vote for dishonesty tomorrow.

I will vote for candidates who have pledged throughout their campaign to work for the benefit of ALL district children. I will vote for candidates whose campaign literature was inclusive instead of exclusive. I will vote for candidates who did not spend their campaign taking cheap and petty shots at the opposition's community and religious group.

Tomorrow I will be voting for:

Nahum Marcus
Sol Blisko
David Sussman

I will be voting YES on the budget in hopes that we can get this district out of this cycle of austerity.

I will be voting YES on pre-K busing to ensure that this service is provided to ALL district children equitably.

I urge everyone who cares about the state of our community and who yearns for amity instead of the enmity we have seen in recent years to vote the same.

Each and every resident of SD15 MUST vote. In elections such as these, every vote DOES count. In past years, elections have been decided by a margin of very few votes - that vote could be yours.

(Stepping off my soapbox - at least until my next post...)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Baruch Dayan HaEmet

There was a devastating fire in our community this Shabbat, resulting in the tragic deaths of an elderly couple. A local Rav in the community, who leads the Shul across the street from the couple's home, spoke about the terrible happening on Shabbat morning, as his congregants tried to absorb the loss and the jarring sight of the ruined, smoking, home. He spoke very nicely about the couple, reminded the community that the couple was supportive of the Shul, even though they themselves were not Orthodox, or members of the Shul. He also reminded the community that there was no way to know why God would allow a tragedy such as this one to happen. He was very respectful to the couple, and I think it was an appropriate reaction to their loss.

Feel free to leave any thoughts on the subject or recollections of the couple in comments.

News coverage here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

JIBS Finals

The JIB awards are in the final voting round. I'm in the following categories: Best Overall Blog, Best Culture Blog, and Best Anti-Establishment Blog. Feel free to vote for me or whoever you think deserves to win.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Herald's Apology

The Nassau Herald ran a very reasonable, well-written and conciliatory Publisher's Note this week, in response to the hateful anti-Orthodox ads run by the ALPS campaign. I ask you to please read the whole piece here, but this is the part I feel I must repost:
We knew some of you might be offended by the ads, but in the end, we thought you should read what the candidates had written and decide for yourself what message they meant to convey. Better to be offended now than surprised later that you've voted for a bigot.

In hindsight, the breadth and depth of outrage that so many of you have expressed make us question the wisdom of our decision. We spoke to dozens of loyal readers who were deeply offended by these ads and our decision to run them. They made their points eloquently, forcefully and, for the most part, civilly. We clearly underestimated the depth of emotion the use of the word Orthodox would stir up. If the Herald is to continue to be the primary public forum in the Five Towns, we must distinguish between words that provoke people to think and respond and those that are so offensive that people simply tune out and stop reading. Based on the responses we received, we made the wrong call here.
I agree completely. I am glad to know the true feelings of the ALPS candidates, and I would rather know the way they feel now, than elect a bigot. I prefer to have seen these ads to having not seen them, but I do think the right way to have done this was to run them with an editor's note disavowing the pointedly divisive tone of the ads.

In any event, kudos to the Herald for owning up to what they feel was a bad call, explaining how that decision came about, and apologizing for any offense caused.

Too bad the candidates who had the bad judgment to create and submit these ads in the first place couldn't squelch their stubbornness and try to muster up the same humility, conciliatory feeling, and goodwill to District 15 residents they so offended as the Herald.

Battling in Baltimore Over Shabbat Elevator

There's an interesting article in the Baltimore Sun regarding a vote against installing a Shabbat elevator in a Baltimore area building:
The vote from the Strathmore Tower condominium board was simple: Down with the Sabbath elevator.

But what some thought was a straightforward vote has erupted into a religious and racially tinged controversy to others in this majority senior citizen-occupied condominium complex in Upper Park Heights.

The supporters - most of whom are Jewish - say the option for a Sabbath elevator wouldn't have cost extra money and would have aided Orthodox Jewish and disabled residents while helping resale prices. Foes say such an elevator is inconvenient and could cost more.
Residents of the building allege that this was a discriminatory move on the part of the board majority who voted against the installation of a Shabbat elevator, as the elevators would have cost around the same price and would have helped many of the building's elderly, Shabbat-observant residents. They feel that considering the comparable cost, choosing the elevator with the Shabbat option would make sense from a convenience and resale value perspective.

There are other buildings in the area that have chosen to install elevators with the Shabbat option, even if the lack of a sizable Orthodox population in some of those building keeps them from activating it.

It isn't even only the building's Orthodox residents who support a Shabbat elevator:
But even residents who aren't Orthodox, or have no need for a Sabbath elevator, say the decision makes no sense.

Doris Lippens, who practices Reform Judaism, says the elevator will raise property values and accommodate Sabbath visitors who are Orthodox. "I would look forward to the fact that on a resale, having the Sabbath elevator to take people up to the seventh, eighth, ninth floor would be a good selling point," Lippens said.

She, like many other residents, says religious and racial tension is not always evident. "It's under the surface, basically," she says. "But every now and then the ugliness peaks out."
Obviously, the board majority gets to make the final decision here - and it looks like they have. But it's really a pity to see them being so shortsighted as far as installing an elevator that at least provides the option to be used as a Shabbat elevator in the future as demographics in the bulding change. Because as we all know, sometimes demographics change faster than people expect.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

ALPS' Hateful Anti-Orthodox Campaign Condemned by Political Leadership

This week's Jewish Star is a must read. It includes statements from three prominent (and popular) political leaders -- State Senator Dean Skelos, County Executive Thomas Suozzi and Town Supervisor Kate Murray -- condemning the hateful campaign being waged by ALPS (Advocates for Lawrence Public Schools) in support of Greenbaum, Cancelliere and Levey.

The ads referring to the religious beliefs of candidates Nahum Marcus and Solomon Blisko were “inappropriate,” said state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) in an interview. In his opinion, they crossed a line. When asked, he said, “No, I would not vote for somebody that did that.” Marcus and Blisko are running on a ticket with David Sussman, who is not Orthodox and currently has children attending Lawrence public schools. “My feeling is that when you run for office, whether it’s the president of the United States, state Senate or school board, it should be about issues — certainly, there’s no place in elections to bring up religion,” Skelos said. He continued, “It should always be about kids and how are we going to best educate our kids? How are we going to control property taxes, which are just choking people? That’s what it should be about — kids’ education and their future — and not a person’s religious beliefs.”

I am disturbed that the public debate regarding the school board elections in the Lawrence School District has included broad, inflammatory references to “Orthodox Jews.” I am proud of Nassau County’s ethnic diversity and spirit of tolerance. I recognize the differing views of our citizens and I encourage them to participate in community affairs for the betterment of all. In the political arena one would expect the candidates to present a candid presentation of their views and to defend those positions. A campaign is a marketplace of ideas. It is not, however a forum to be used to denigrate an individual or group based upon race, religion, gender, or ethnicity.

There are important issues to grapple with in the school board election taking place in Lawrence. Containment of school tax costs, improvement of student performance and capital repairs to buildings are the issues that should be the focus of the debate. Every resident of the district has a fair and equal right to participate in the process at all levels. No one is disqualified from participation in the American dream because of their level of religious observance.

I would encourage all those seeking office to set an appropriate example as the campaign reaches its conclusion and speak only to the issues.
Kate Murray:
It is my belief that divisiveness is never in the best interests of education. The introduction of dialogue that divides communities does not serve the students of any school system.
Pam Greenbaum's reaction to the furor surrounding the ads: "They’re playing the religion card." In a world where you can bully your critics with frivolous lawsuits yet manage to portray them as bullies, accusing the Orthodox of "playing the religion card" is a piece of cake.

Next week: Pam Greenbaum explains how Mel Gibson is a victim of religious hatred and intolerance.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Religious Preschools and the NYC Safety Code

The NYTimes reports that a new proposal might require NYC religious preschools, long exempted from the health regulations that apply to other city preschools, to come into compliance with the strict code. No one quoted in the article seems very pleased with the prospect, from those who run preschools in Chassidic Williamsburg to the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva of Flatbush.

I can understand these schools' worries about the difficulty of potentially having to come into compliance suddenly, but it strikes me as a good idea to have some sort of safety code for these programs. Anyone know if there is any sort of set of regulations at all for these religious preschools?

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Ok. You know what? I've had enough. I am willing to overlook the air of divisiveness tacitly encouraged by so many who live in this fractured community - up to a point. But frankly, I have finally, completely, totally, had it. I am too absolutely disgusted by what is going on in this community to try to act calmly and reasonably on this matter. It's high time for a change. To explain, I was appalled to open up the Nassau Herald and see the two ads pictured above (click each one to enlarge in all their offensive glory).

There is so much that is just wrong with these ads that I don't even know if I can do their offensiveness quotient justice. But I guess I'll just have to try.

1. The use of the phrase "Orthodox Board".
Um, hello? Do you think this phrase would be acceptable if any other racial or ethnic group was highlighted? Try replacing the phrase "Orthodox" with the term "Black", "Hispanic", or even just "Jewish". Offended yet? I know I sure am.

2. The Flat Out Lies and Misrepresentations.
a. The ad that says "Stop the Current Orthodox Controlled Board from Dismantling our Public Schools" (who doesn't get the clearly intended visual of the Orthodox community turning out en masse, literally dismantling the schools, brick by brick), goes on to say: "they cut...Reading Recovery, Super/Sunday Saturday", among other programs. Now perhaps the creators of these ads think that every single one of us greenhorn Orthodox types have moved to this neighborhood in the past several years, and therefore do not remember the fact that Super Saturday/Sunday and Reading Recovery were cut years ago, well before this community had an "Orthodox Controlled Board". But I guess when the truth is simply not that sensational, why not look to lies to get the revenge juices flowing?

b. The ad that claims the Orthodox board members do not have the best interests of the public school candidates at heart, and to prove that, supplies a quote that purports to be the views of the Orthodox candidates by putting the words "the two Orthodox school board candidates also do not recognize this ethical obligation owed to the public school children", followed by the quote: "Dr. Blisko and Mr. Marcus will attempt to maintain a majority on the school board who will fight for non-public school interests". This statement regarding Blisko/Marcus was solely the Nassau Herald's characterization of the candidates' intentions. It is obviously unfair and dishonest to ascribe a view to them based on a characterization the paper made.

3. The suggestion that there is some "ethical" problem in having a board with an Orthodox majority. The implication seems to ostensibly be that parents who do not have children in the public schools are not concerned with the educational standards of the public schools, so their having a majority on the board is not "ethical". But clearly that is not the real point here, as the statement refers only to "Orthodox board members" and not board members who are not public school parents. Is the point that Orthodox board members present an extra-special ethics concern? I truly hope not.

Is the point that parents who want equity in the services allowed by the law for their private school children represent a conflict of interest? If they are talking about the code of Ethical Standards that they quote from in the ad, they are advised to read the "no conflict of interest" provision. With that in mind, how to address the point that there are past board members and present school board candidates who are related to teachers who work in the district? If they have something to potentially gain from approving generous teachers' benefits, is it "ethical" for them to be on the board? If the answer is "no" to one, it's "no" to the other. There is no law that bars childless people or empty nesters or private school parents from representing the children of our community, or calls their election to a public school board "unethical". We all know taxation = representation. Don't like the way those the voters elected to represent the district kids are doing so? No problem. It's a democracy. Vote 'em out. But please don't imply that a certain religious group represents a greater ethics concern if elected than another. Last I checked, the financial scandals that concerned other area school boards did not include Orthodox board members as perpetrators (Roslyn, anyone?).

If those ads aren't bad enough, I got a copy of this flyer, which is just as chock-full of offensive references and misrepresentations as the Nassau Herald ads were:

Let me number my objections to this piece of offensive propaganda:

1. More use of the term "Orthodox school board". Is there any good reason the term "majority Orthodox school board" was used instead of just referring to the incumbents as the being members of the present board - any good reason aside from fostering anti-Orthodox hysteria, of course? As I noted above, name me one other racial or ethnic group that would ever be deemed appropriate to use in the manner "Orthodox" was used above. Can you imagine the hue and cry had there been ads that used the phrase "majority Hispanic school board", or "majority Jewish school board"?

2. More lies and misrepresentations.
The allegation that the sitting board "funneled $135,000 of Public School funds to send 6 Private School students to an unaccredited Yeshiva" is misleading. First of all, as I note here, this was a settlement that ultimately saved the district money by preventing costly lawsuits, which could have caused the cost to skyrocket. The flyer somehow also neglects to mention that the at the same meeting, a similar settlement was reached to pay to send a public school student to an out-of-state school. With regards to the claim that the school is an "unaccredited Yeshiva", I note in the same post that the school is chartered by the NYS Board of Regents. The flyer implies that this settlement decision was fiscally irresponsible on the part of the board. Considering that this settlement potentially saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and coupled with the emphasis on the private school students who benefited from the deal - with, in a particularly dishonest and misleading move, no mention whatsoever of the public school student who benefited - lead me to believe that the thrust of the point was to prove that the board is attempting to (gasp) provide help to special needs private school kids. The fact that that the threat of helping private school students get appropriate special ed - with the added benefit of saving the district money - is actually considered an appropriate and effective scare tactic for these candidates to use, sums up what makes this ad campaign so reprehensible.

b. This one is truly unbelievable. The claim that the sitting board "deliberately breached the teachers' contract costing the district unnecessary and extensive legal fees" is laugh-out-loud funny - if this were even remotely a laughing matter. May I remind my readership that the last sitting board (which did not have the dread "Orthodox majority") were the ones who rammed this fiscally irresponsible teachers' contract in the eleventh hour of their term, when they so clearly had lost the voters' mandate?

All in all, this campaign material is just disgusting. It is designed to foster and encourage xenophobia, intolerance and division. They add fuel to the fire, deepening the fracture that already pits neighbor against neighbor in this otherwise lovely community. The fact that some in this community are so obviously and egregiously playing the hate card by attacking the religious affiliation of candidates shows me just how low people have sunk in this sad saga.

I would love to hear the candidates who are touted in these ads getting up and having their Sister Souljah moment, decrying the willful divisiveness apparent in these ads, and make good on their claims at candidate night - now ringing hollow - that they wish to heal the divide.

Funny...Sort Of

Gotta love this letter, sent out to the parent body of a Staten Island middle school by the school's dean (click to enlarge), regarding punishment for students involved in a food fight:
Obviously, some of the misspellings were common typos ("an" in place of "and" or "on"), but the misspelling of the word "unacceptable" as "unexcecpable" is...well, unacceptable, from a dean of a middle school. Also, I would be willing to let "activates" in the place of "activities" pass as a typo once...but it appears twice in the letter. As amusing as the numerous egregious spelling errors all are, the part that troubles me far more is the fact that this dean chose to level a collective punishment on the entire grade that seems so far out of proportion to the crime:
After discussing with our Principal Mrs. DellaRocca we are now holding the entire health academy out of all senior activates (including prom and senior trip). It makes no difference if your child was directly involved or not, this is an action which affects the entire Academy.
If one of my children came home with a letter such as this, I would be hard pressed to support the school's administration. A parent in the school puts it succinctly:
Rajiv Gowda, the father of an eighth-grader and the president of the local Community Education Council, called for Levy's firing.

"This sends a bad message and sets a bad example," Gowda said. "We are for zero tolerance when kids make a mistake. What is good for the goose is good for the gander."
Luckily, the principal mentioned in the letter agrees, and is not happy with Levy's actions:
In addition to at least 16 spelling or grammatical mistakes, the letter - first reported in the Staten Island Advance - was never approved by Principal Emma Della Rocca.

"I would never have anticipated that ... Mr. Levy would actually write something that would have not been readable," Della Rocca said.

She's investigating both the letter and the food fight that started it all. Though the letter told parents that all eighth-graders in the health academy - one of three theme-based academies in the school - would be punished for Monday's food fight, Della Rocca said only kids found responsible will be disciplined.
At least sanity still prevails - if only some of the time.