Thursday, March 29, 2012

Full Reinstatement of Sales Tax Exemption on Clothing, Footwear

I am pleased to announce that a reinstatement of the sales tax exemption on clothing and footwear under $110 will take effect this Sunday, April 1—just in time for Pesach.

One of the many accomplishments of the just-passed New York State budget is some additional relief for shoppers. Clothing, footwear and related items sold for less than $110 each will be exempt from sales tax. The tax-free offer, which I was pleased to help pass into law, applies to relevant items regardless of where you purchase them—in person, by phone, by mail, over the web, etc.

The qualifying exemption doubled since last year, when it applied to apparel at or below $55. The savings will provide families with much needed relief when purchasing clothing and footwear for the holidays and beyond. Local businesses are expected to benefit, too, with an additional influx of not only New York customers but also from shoppers from neighboring states like New Jersey.

With this sales tax exemption we are taking yet another step in the right direction--and it couldn’t come at a better time as we shop for the Yom Tovim get ready for Pesach!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

$7 Million for Yeshivas and Parochial Schools from Mandated Services: A Step in the Right Direction

I am delighted to announce a $7 million budgetary distribution to yeshivas and other parochial schools in the 2012-13 NY State budget for mandated services. Our community has been short-changed for too long in C.A.P. reimbursements. This $7 million is a wonderful step in the right direction towards our yeshivas getting their full, fair share. C.A.P.(the Comprehensive Attendance Policy), part of mandated services, requires schools to take attendance at the beginning of every period. But since the program’s inception in 2006, yeshivas have been denied their equitable share of funds earmarked for all schools.

More than ever yeshivas are feeling the bite of tough economic times. It was crucial that we receive a greater share of mandated services funds so we fought long and hard for this money. This $7 million will take a huge burden off yeshivas. 

I want to thank my colleague Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz along with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for ensuring this boost in the just-passed New York State budget. There were also tremendous efforts from Sam Sutton and TEACH NYS (The Educational Alliance for Children in New York State) as well as the New York State Catholic Conference and the Orthodox Union in getting the State Assembly and Senate to recognize the importance of this allocation.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Historic Breakthrough in Albany: Transportation for Children K-6 Attending Private and Parochial Schools After 5pm

Rabbi Shiya Ostreicher (Agudath Israel of America), Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz (Agudath Israel of America)

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn) announced today that New York State has accepted the responsibility for providing transportation after 5pm for children attending private and parochial schools in grades kindergarten through six. This amendment will also ensure that transportation services deliver children as close as possible to their homes.
“The new transportation amendment is a colossal accomplishment in terms of education, safety and financial relief,” said Assemblyman Hikind. “It never made sense to penalize yeshivas and children because they wanted more education. That was the wrong message. For years we fought to get equitable transportation for children whose parents elected to give them longer school days and additional education opportunities. This subsidized transportation is an historic breakthrough that will help our yeshivas, parents and our community. This is truly a milestone.”

“We’ve all worked very hard to make this happen,” said Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein. “Now all the hard work has paid off because it was right and just.”

The Assemblyman had the highest praise for the leaders of Agudath Israel of America for leading the charge for these changes in Albany. “Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz and Rabbi Shiya Ostreicher never stopped working alongside myself with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to ensure that these transportation changes would be made,” said Hikind. “And this remarkable accomplishment would not have been achieved without the support of Assembly Members Mike Simanowitz, Phillip Goldfeder, Steven Cymbrowitz, Catherine Nolan, and State Senator Martin Golden, as well as many other members of the Legislature.”

Boycott Israel? You Should Be Ashamed

Since its inception, the State of Israel has been a valued friend to the United States. Israel is the one genuine democracy in the Middle East—a tiny country that shares American values yet is surrounded on all sides by enemies. Why single out Israel? Why not suggest boycotting products from Iran, from Syria? Are Chinese products boycotted because of China’s Tibet policies? This proposed boycott by a few members of the Park Slope Food Co-Op against products produced by innocent Israelis is a thinly veiled anti-Semitic attack. The message is ‘Don't Buy from Jews.’”

What Are We Doing?

There’s many ways to follow what we’re doing to help the community. If you’re already on Facebook, please visit our page and "Like" us to see photos of our work, events, press conferences and issues that we're following; if you are on Twitter, follow us @HikindDov where we also “re-tweet” stories and issues that are important to the community... And of course there’s The Dov Hikind Show Saturday evenings at 11pm on WMCA-570AM.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A New State Of The Art Command Center For Borough Park Shomrim

With New York City Comptroller John Liu, City Councilmember Brad Lander, State Senator Eric Adams, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, City Councilmember David Greenfield, NYPD Inspectors Thursland, Sprague and Scholes, Lieutenant James Woods of NYPD Community Affairs, and representatives from the offices of Borough President Marty Markowitz and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
I was proud to participate yesterday in honoring Deputy Comptroller Simcha Felder, who was instrumental in obtaining the funding for the new mobile command center from the city council. Approximately 150 people gathered at the Sefardishe Shul on 45th Street for a Borough Park Shomrim breakfast, an event which included a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new mobile truck command center.

Inside the new Mobile Command Center
I recall how the voluntary community patrol began over 18 years ago as “The Bakery Boys,” with their early morning delivery men the first to patrol the area. Today, Shomrim does a remarkable job every single day of the year. Ninety-nine percent of the time, we don’t get to hear about their work, but they are out protecting our community, putting themselves at risk on a daily basis.  Everyone far and wide has tremendous respect for them. This new mobile command center is long overdue and I wish them continued success in their efforts.

Our Place Foundation's 5K Run Fundraiser for Trouble Jewish Youth

I have been involved in helping Our Place for 15 years and was delighted yesterday to see over 500 New Yorkers lace up their sneakers to run three miles around the Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn in support of the organization.

Our Place has numerous drop-in-centers for counseling, camaraderie, a home-cooked meal, and referral services for troubled Jewish youth. Located in Midwood, NY, Our Place has been a beloved safe-haven since 1998 for at-risk teens--a place for them to break addictions to alcohol and drugs. Current members and alumni of Our Place are passionate about the program, as several participants credit Our Place with saving their lives.

I love these kids. They are our kids. They come to my Shabbos table, they eat with us--we all have to help and do our part.

You can visit Our Place online at  or on Facebook.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Our Place's 5K Race is Tomorrow at 9am... And You Can Win Lunch With Me!

Our Place's 5K race is tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. This is something I am proud to support. In face, if you contribute by buying a $100 raffle ticket, one of the "door prizes" is a private lunch with me. Below is some info on Our Place from their website where you can learn more about the race and sponsorships.
Founded in 1998, Our Place employs a multi-faceted approach to counseling, rehabilitating and guiding troubled Jewish youth in their return to mainstream society. When a teen enters Our Place for the first time, the first thing he/she experiences is a friendly greeting from a member of our staff. They may be coming to "hang out," or have heard it's a place to shoot some pool or work out. They come in carrying heavy baggage - substance abuse, expulsion/dropping out of school and/or estrangement from parents. The system failed them, and they are highly distrustful of figures of authority and structured environments. So, a simple "what's up, nice to meet you" from the staff is all they receive. The interview comes later. Later still, the teen slightly lowers defenses, realizing that in everything Our Place is offering, the only catch is that someone cares about them, and has faith in them. In time, maybe they will realize the needs to talk to someone, and turn to a staff member at Our Place, perhaps the first adult in a long time that has earned their trust and respect. They begin the road to realizing that they want more out of life. This requires dealing with the "baggage" and for the first time, they have the opportunity to do so. This scenario, with many variations, is played out over and over at Our Place. Our Place provides troubled youth with a second chance; an opportunity to serve as a source of everlasting pride to their family, community and Jewish heritage.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bury Demjanjuk with the Nazis

With Council Member David Greenfied today protesting the U.S. burial of convicted, deported Nazi Demjanjuk

Radio Free Europe interviews Dov Hikind regarding the murderer John Demjanjuk.
"John John Demjanjuk was nothing but a monster. He was found guilty of 28,000 counts of accessory to murder. The United States deported him for his crimes. We don’t want him back alive or dead."

Toulouse Murderer Dead. The Lesson?

Of course we’re relieved that this monster has been removed from the world—an individual who celebrated the brutal murdering of toddlers. But there are people here just as crazy with hatred, just as capable of doing horrid things in the name of their radical causes. The lesson in this—as if we needed another lesson—is that we must whole heartedly support Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the NYPD—not criticize them and tie their hands, but rather trust them to do their jobs in protecting us from extremists.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We Mourn with the Families of the Victims of the Toulouse Tragedy

May God console you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem (Ha'makom yenahem etkhem betokh she'ar avelei Tziyonvi Yerushalayim).

As difficult as it is to look, these photos tell an important story.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fighting for Transportation for Yeshiva and Private School Children


I am battling in Albany to provide transportation after 5pm for children attending yeshivas in grades kindergarten through sixth. The goal is subsidized door-to-door transportation for children to ensure their safety.

Currently, the city denies transportation to students who are in school after 4:30pm, but it’s critical to make certain our young yeshiva students arrive home safely. Our kids shouldn’t be penalized for having an extended school day. What kind of message is that? And parents who pay extra to send their children to yeshivas shouldn’t have to worry about their children’s safety. We deserve our fair share. With the help of my colleagues, I’m fighting to ensure that our children are delivered home safely after 5 pm.

The amended education law that I'm fighting for would also ensure that the children are dropped off as close to their homes as possible.

In addition to a fair share of transportation costs, I'm seeking an equitable share of mandated services. Our community has been short-changed in reimbursements for C.A.P.  The Comprehensive Attendance Policy, part of New York State mandated services, has a harsh impact on yeshiva budgets. In these difficult economic times, it’s crucial that we receive our equitable share.

I'm working with Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein as well as Assembly Members Mike Simanowitz, Phillip Goldfeder, Steven Cymbrowitz, and many other members of the Legislature to ensure the funding of transportation and C.A.P. costs.

My sincere thanks to the leaders of Agudath Israel of America for leading the charge for these changes. Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz and Rabbi Shiya Ostreicher have been working tirelessly alongside myself with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to ensure that these changes will be made. With Hashem’s help, we’re going to see positive changes in Albany.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Another Tragedy. So We Mourn and Remain Vigilant

I was joined at my office today by New York City Council Members and leaders of the Jewish Community in Brooklyn today in condemning this morning’s terror attack at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, which left four people dead—three of them children—and at least five others wounded. My message of solidarity with the victims’ families and Jewish community of France was coupled with praise for NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and his police officers.

Today’s tragedy in France touches every one of us. What kind of individual can walk up to a three-year-old, grab him by the hair and put a bullet in his head? You can’t educate people not to do things like like—you can only prepare for them.

We cry for the victims and their families. And at the same time we must express our gratitude to Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the NYPD who have done an exemplary job of keeping our streets safe from terror in the wake of September 11 and the random acts of terrorism that have followed worldwide. Those who criticize the Commissioner and the NYPD should be ashamed! We need more security, not less.

We’re working on something major. It’s clear that the government must step in and intelligence gathering can’t be restrained. There’s no guaranteed way to stop terrorists and maniacs from perpetrating their sick acts of violence, but there are certainly better ways of curtailing them, as our law enforcement officers have demonstrated quietly since September 11.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Legalize Gambling in New York?

I’ve been debating the gambling issue not only in Albany but also in my own mind. While the State of New York would benefit from the revenue--as a number of other states already benefit--there’s also the serious issue of what gambling has done to many people.

How do you feel about it?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Agudath Israel of America Comes to Albany

I was delighted to host Agudath Israel of America and their entire delegation when they visited Albany to discuss a number of important issues on February 29. We expect to announce the fruits of some of these discussions soon.

Pictured clockwise (starting immediately myself) are: Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky (of Yeshiva of South Shore), Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz (Vice President at Agudath Israel of America), Shea Ostreicher (standing), Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger (Chairman of Agudath Israel of America), Yerucham Silber, Chaskel Bennett, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel (Executive Vice-President of Agudath Israel of America), State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, 22nd District), Senator John Flanagan (R-East Northport), and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R, C, IP).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

As the Trial Continues, Our Prayers Are Always With the Kletzkys

I was there yesterday when Levi Aron appeared in Brooklyn Criminal Court via web conference from Riker's Island. His lawyers and prosecutors were also in attendance for pre-trial motions and to reschedule a new court date. I maintain my commitment to the Kletzky family and to the memory of their dear child Leiby (of blessed memory).

All Roads Lead to... Dov Hikind?

Writing at, David Freedlander says, "Apparently in this U.S. Senate battle, all roads lead to Dov Hikind." You can read his article here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jewish Support for Obama Declining

From the Miami Political Buzz Examiner:

A prominent Democratic New York State Assemblyman has spoken out publicly – and critically – about President Barack Obama’s position on the Israel-Iran stand-off and cast doubt on the president’s prospects with Jewish voters in November...

"I can’t say I feel concerned for one simple reason:  I was concerned about him four years ago."

Hikind explained that Obama’s ties to left-wing radical activists dating back to his college days were brought into sharp focus in the 2008 presidential election.  His well-documented affiliations with the likes of William Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground which embraced bombing government buildings in its efforts to end the Vietnam War, and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor for 20 years in the church of black liberation theology, were causes for concern even amongst the Democratic faithful.

According to Hikind, more cause for concern about Obama’s past radical ties is contained in a book coming out next month.  In “Crisis of Zionism” author Peter Beinart claims Obama got his education about Israel from a group of far-left Chicago Jews who "bred in Obama a specific, and subversive, vision of American Jewish identity and of the Jewish state."

“Why didn’t we know about this stuff during the ’08 campaign?” Hikind asked, more a lament than a query.

During the course of Obama’s presidency, Hikind’s concerns regarding U.S.-Israeli relations have grown.  Among the red flags Hikind cites are the president’s “despicable” treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his visit to the White House in 2010, when Obama abruptly walked out of tense talks with the Israeli leader to have dinner with his family.  The president kept Netanyahu waiting for more than one hour before returning to the meeting. “I think Obama’s behavior in that instance showed how the president really feels about Netanyahu and his policies,” Hikind said.

You can read thee full article here.

Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"Your World w/ Neil Cavuto...and Dov Hikind"

The following are excerpts from Dov's recent (March 5) appearance on "Your World w/ Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: President Obama today is saying that he will always have Israel's back. Our next guest, though, is not so sure. And he is a Democrat. New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind joins me right now. So, Assemblyman, you are concerned that this isn't quite what it appears?

HIKIND: You know, having the president say that he has Israel's back makes me very, very nervous. There's the Barack Obama of the campaign season and there's the Barack Obama of the first three years. And [during] those first three years, the relationship between the prime minister of Israel and the president, and the people of Israel and the president, has been a very, very poor one. I can't forget 2010, when the prime minister of Israel came to the White House and was treated miserably -- was treated worse than any dictator of a Third World country: no pictures, brought through the back of the White House... We don't forget those things.

CAVUTO: Obviously, they realized how stupid that was, the White House, and they have tried to change their approach. But you don't buy it.

HIKIND: I don't buy it at all... I'm looking at the president when he was carrying out the policy over the first three years. And the relationship was a terrible, terrible one. And now, with the situation with Iran -- let me just say, when the president of the United States has to tell the world, "I don't bluff -- I really, really mean it," we are in a lot of trouble. Can you imagine Ronald Reagan saying something like that to the old Soviet Union? The fact is, I don't buy it. I think most people in my community, Democrats, don't buy it... The speech of the president to AIPAC [was] a great speech. The president makes great speeches. But it's not about speeches, as he says, not about words. It's about his behavior, the way he treated Israel during those first three years. President Obama is responsible for the end of the peace process, because he set a new standard during his first few months as president, when he said that Israel could not build anything in Judea, Samaria, the West Bank. Not even Jimmy Carter did that.

CAVUTO: But then he dialed it back by slowing the Palestinians on in this homeland, in this statehood when they were making the move in the United Nations. So you don't buy that, that that was a real agenda?

HIKIND: Well, again, it's called campaign season.


HIKIND: The Turner election in New York in a Democratic district sent a powerful message... None of us are fooled by the president.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Applauding Bob Turner's TEACH Act of 2012

Congressman Bob Turner (NY-09) today introduced the Tax and Education Assistance for Children (TEACH) Act of 2012. The bill will provide a tax credit of up to $5,000 for families who send their children to private schools and eliminate “double taxation” on parents who send their children to non-public schools.

Dov Hikind applauded the bill. “A tax credit for families paying for private schooling is not only fair, but long overdue,” said the Assemblyman. “Rising budgets were always a reality, but their impact during this economic downturn have been devastating. Private schools are suffering and parents are suffering. Regardless, parents should be allowed to provide the best and most meaningful education to their children—and to receive fair and appropriate relief from the government. I applaud Congressman Turner for recognizing how many parents will be aided by this bill and championing this important issue. This bill will benefit everyone.”