Robocalls target Yang, Adams as ‘harm’ to orthodox kids

A group fighting for the city to ensure that Orthodox Jewish children receive better secular education in yeshivas is launching an 11-hour assault against Eric Adams and Andrew Yang — top contenders who are backed by various Hasidic leaders, The Post has learned.

An anti-Adams and Yang group on Sunday began sending out robocalls to Democratic voters claiming the two frontrunners will “harm” Hasidic children’s education if elected mayor by caving to “ultra-Orthodox rabbis.”   

“My child cannot afford to have Eric Adams or Andrew Yang as mayor. Yang and Adams have both made deals with ultra-Orthodox rabbis in exchange for the Hasidic bloc vote, and will allow tens of thousands of children to be denied an education in even basic math, science and American history,” said a Beatrice Weber, an Orthodox Jewish mother, in the 35-second call, according to a recording and a transcript of it.

“Do not rank either Eric Adams or Andrew Yang with your vote on Tuesday,” she added. “Don’t let them harm my children’s education.”   

The group responsible for the robocalls, Voters for Substantial Equivalency, is spending $40,000 to send out 1 million automated calls to likely Democratic primary voters in the days ahead of Tuesday’s primary, according to David Golovner, a spokesperson for the group, which registered with the state Monday.

Adams and Yang — who according to a poll released Monday are the top two contenders in the race — have taken hands-off positions on mandating higher-quality secular education in yeshivas.  

A robocall from Voters for Substantial Equivalency went out to potential voters urging them to not rank Eric Adams or Andrew Yang.
Paul Martinka

“If a school is delivering the same outcomes, like, I do not think we should be prescribing rigid curricula,” Yang said in February.

Adams struck a similarly lenient tone in March, when he said he was “really impressed” by the non-Judaic studies curriculum at a yeshiva under investigation due to their low secular educational standards after a visit to the school.  

“Both Eric Adams and Andrew Yang have made it clear that they care about votes not voters,” Golovner, of Voters for Substantial Equivalency, said in a press release.

“Children’s futures are being hijacked in backroom deals with the Hasidic rabbis who wield a bloc vote to allow yeshivas that refuse to teach students even basic math, English, science or history to continue to operate.”

“This is occurring in violation of state law and it is abhorrent that candidates for mayor would allow the futures of over 65,000 Jewish children to be hijacked for votes,” Golovner went on. “Andrew Yang’s complete disregard for all education metrics is matched by Eric Adams willingness to rhetorically write off the public school system as inferior to one that unabashedly refuses to teach anything outside Judaic studies.” 

The call claimed that Yang and Adams would “harm” Hasidic children’s education.
Paul Martinka

Adams, asked at a campaign stop in Brooklyn about the calls, said he wouldn’t respond to them. “No nope. I’m focused, no distraction,” Adams said a day before the primary. “Grind and vote.” 

“New Yorkers know Andrew is a public school parent who is going to prioritize every child’s education and won’t be swayed by late attacks from anonymous special interests,” said Yang campaign spokesman Jake Sporn.

Weber — an Orthodox Jewish mother of 10, including an 8-year-old boy who studies at a yeshiva — said she was moved to record the call because she’d fed up with the current situation on secular education in secular Jewish private schools in her community.

Adams and Yang would maintain the status quo of Orthodox Jewish children receiving substandard secular education in yeshivas, she said.

“I was really horrified with the Jewish media, saying, `Wow, look what Yang and Adams promised,’ that Adams and Yang are willing to help the yeshivas,” she told The Post.  

“It’s very infuriating when politicians keep the system the way it is. I know how the system works. There are a lot of voters who don’t know what’s going on.”

She added that Mayor Bill de Blasio was “a big player in “stalling an investigation” of yeshivas’ secular teaching. De Blasio delayed a long-awaited investigation into secular educational standards in yeshivas with the aim of getting Orthodox leaders’ support for mayoral control of New York City public schools, The Post reported in March 2020.

But the call did not go over well with some who received it.

The robocalls claims were made despite Yang and Adams being endorsed by Hasidic groups.
The robocalls claims were made despite Yang and Adams being endorsed by Hasidic groups and leaders.
Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Douglas Schneider — a City Council candidate who received the robocall about 8:30 p.m. on Sunday at his campaign office’s landline — said he was in disbelief when he heard the message.

“It was, ‘I can’t believe it,’” he told The Post of his reaction when he heard the call, because he said it used anti-Semitic “tropes” to sway the election.   

“It sounded like a desperate mother to me,” said Julia Vitullo-Martin, a former Manhattan Institute senior fellow, who Sunday evening received a similar call, which “shocked” and confused her.

“The Yang-Adams pairing seemed odd,” she said of the two rivals, who have attacked each other throughout the campaign.   

Melinda Thaler, who received Weber’ call at 8 p.m. Sunday at her home in Manhattan, said the robocall was offensive.

“It just struck me as total bullshit,” she said. “I thought that it was hostile to me as Jew.”
“I didn’t find it to be a legitimate representative of the Orthodox community.”  

Additional reporting by Nolan Hicks and Julia Marsh

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