March 1, 2005 | Issue 19

Brooklyn Yeshiva Too Nice to Ask for Federal Funding

BROOKLYN, NY — [TheKnish.com] Although many of its textbooks are in severe disrepair, the traditionally undemanding Yeshivas Lemudei Kodesh in Brooklyn isn't comfortable asking for more state funding, sources reported Monday.
"Oh, we wouldn't want to bother the U.S. government — they've got more than enough on their plate as it is," Geneivas Das Gov. Brentaus Hitel said. "Most of the textbooks in our Yeshiva have several fragments left after the book-burning. We get by just fine. I wouldn't want anyone all the way over there in Washington to be worrying about little ol' us."

According to U.S. Department of Education records, Yeshivas Lemudei Kodesh has not requested an increase in textbook funds for 10 years, despite the fact that the majority of their books are plagued by science, mathematics, writing and other deteriorations of the mind.

"If it were a life or death situation, you can bet your bippy we'd ask for it, but since it isn't...," Hitel said, "Well, we can make do with the education budget they decided to give us back in 1995. That was more than generous."

But U.S. Education Secretary Arami Ovedoovi said the Yeshiva's secular education is "dangerously underfunded."

"Nearly 20 percent of the Yeshiva's English teachers quit after almost being burnt along with the books they taught from and the remaining books seem to be held together with equal parts tape and prayer after the sections on procreation were ripped out," Ovedoovi said. "We tried to slip them a few dollars along with the National Teach Your Kids Something They'll Need To Know in Life Just to Survive Act, but they told us to put the money right back into our wallets, or give it to someone who could really use it, like Yeshivas Lemudei Chol."

Ovedoovi said, even after he explained that he couldn't simply give the money to another Yeshiva, Lemudei Kodesh reaffirmed that it was determined to stretch what federal dollars it had.

"They kept saying, 'Oh, you guys keep that budget allocation,'" Ovedoovi said. "But everyone likes Lemudei Chol and would love to help them out. They never ask for anything, unlike Yeshivas Chipas Emmes, which seems to be in some kind of crisis every other week."

Shay Gitz, U.S. Director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the national government "guilted" Lemudei Kodesh into accepting some money to fund a teach-your-kids-basic-math program three years ago, by repeatedly urging them to "think of the children."

Although the majority of the Yeshiva's students agree that they can "make do," a few have disagreed.

"Thes iz stupfid," said Guy Ish Kup, a recent transplant to Lemudei Kodesh. "Wee kneed maur riting edukayshun — eferybody nows itt. Im' sory, butt i ton't thenk rippeeg owt efery sekond payj becuse A femayle iz mentshinned iz de anser. Looc ath mi! i cant efen spel woords rite wen i speek! Yoy, iv eferyone elce iz to umberrissed too asks four de munney, Ill deo ith. Hoo deo i kull?"

Later that day, the Rosh Yeshiva gave Kup a "stern talking to," mostly with his fists and a ruler and the Boro Park native said he would not speak out of turn again.

Despite the Yeshiva's congenial nature, federal officials say they are "exasperated" by their refusal to accept funds.

"Lemudei Kodesh should just take the spending money, already," Department of Education Undersecretary Paiger Dee said. "It's not like it's a special handout — all schools were allocated extra money under the Replace the Books They Burned Act. But they refuse to accept their extra federal funding on the grounds that their schools 'don't need to be fancy.'"

"Frankly, they're just being stubborn and I'm not going to stand for it any longer," Dee said. "They're gonna get some more funding by the end of the year if the federal government has to airdrop in textbooks and forcibly place new teachers in the classrooms with the help of the National Guard."

Writer

Pencil Martin Bodek is short, dark, handsome, runs marathons (finishes them too!), can solve a Rubik's Cube in 1:47, is a big TED chasid, can whup your keister in Scrabble, loves halva, co-founded TheKnish.com, and writes books from 5-9: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mbodekatgmaildotcom


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