Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has announced the anticipated historic passage of the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) provision which will provide TAP monies to income-eligible, post-secondary rabbinical college students to offset the cost of their tuition. Previously, these students were prohibited from receiving TAP because their schools were not under the State Education Department’s (SED) direct supervision. Both the Assembly and the Senate have agreed to enact legislation to include rabbinical college students, and the Governor is expected to take action on this bill as early as today.

“Ultimately, the passing of this legislation is a matter of equity,” Hikind said. “New York State denied these rabbinical college students tuition assistance even though the federal government saw fit to provide aid to these same students in the form of Pell grants. With the passage of this legislation, a grave injustice will be corrected. It sends a message that the State of New York finds a rabbinical education to be equivalent to that of a secular college education.”

Hikind praised Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for their leadership in ensuring passage of the legislation.

“We had many disappointments leading up this moment,” Hikind remarked. “There is no question that this bill could never have become a reality without the stalwart support of Senate Majority Leader Skelos, as well as the strong commitment and leadership of Speaker Silver and the Governor. This bill will positively impact thousands of low-income rabbinical college students.”

Hikind also noted that, “We could not have achieved this success without the efforts of
Rabbi Shiya Ostreicher and Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, along with many other members of Agudath Israel of America who played an essential role in securing this victory for the Jewish community. For ten years, Rabbi Ostreicher and Rabbi Lefkowitz worked with me. They attended countless meetings and tirelessly advocated for our community. People told us it would be impossible to pass this legislation, but with God’s help, the impossible became possible.”

Hikind also recognized the hard work of other legislators and advocates who were instrumental in lobbying for the passage of this bill including: Senator Marty Golden; Senator John Sampon; Senator Diane Savino; Assemblyman Peter Abbate; Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz; Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein; Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger; Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel; and Mr. Chaskel Bennett.

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