To Rav, with love? Chasidim in inner-city public-schools offer to tikkun the system for minorities. But will ethnocentrists sabotage the opportunity?


NBC's Today Show aired a story in 2008 which featured a Lubavitch principal, Shimon Waronker, who turned-around a dangerous, Latino-South Bronx junior-high school - academically and socially. N.Y. Times' Jennifer Lee wrote in 2008:
Mr. Waronker, the seventh principal in less than three years, was in the first graduating class of the New York City Leadership Academy, which was created in 2003 to groom promising principal candidates. While considered one of the stars, he was among the last to get a job, as school officials deemed him “not a fit” in a city where the tensions between blacks and Hasidic Jews that erupted in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in 1991 are not easily forgotten.

Waronker, a member of the Chabad-Lubavitch sect of Hasidic Judaism who wears a conservative suit, a beard, a black hat and a velvet yarmulke, had to overcome prejudice both in getting the job and in gaining the trust of the parents, teacher and students at the school.

But at J.H.S. 22, attendance among the 670 students is above 93 percent, and some of the class offerings seem positively elite, like a new French dual-language program, one of only three in the city. “If I could clone Shimon Waronker, I would do that immediately,” Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein said in a recent interview.
In Los Angeles, a public-school teacher - "The Surfing Rabbi" Nachum Shifren - has been working to improve educational conditions in inner-city schools for years.
Teaching in high-crime areas of the city, Shifren is fed-up with what he experiences as a system which pushes delinquent students upward without proper skills, a dysfunctional administrative system, and the teachers' union which protects apathetic teachers.

Rabbi Shifren is seeking to repair the system through election to the California State Senate. In a district which includes areas of high minority constituency (including 37% Latino) with high-crime and overused social services, Shifren seeks to garner traction for his Conservative agenda, which includes cracking-down on illegal immigrants' abuse of tax-payers' social services.



Rabbi Shifren held a town-hall meeting with Jamiel Shaw, Sr., whose son Jamiel was murdered by an illegal-alien gang-member, Pedro Espinoza, now imprisoned at tax-payer expense. Rabbi Shifren is shown speaking to a multi-ethnic audience of voters- who take an interest in how the candidate might crack-down on crime and improve conditions in their schools.

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