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Op-Ed: Your Kids Need You To Vote On Tuesday | Esther Waldman

When I started spreading the word that I was running to join the board of trustees at Finkelstein Library, friends and colleagues asked, “Why??? Are you bored?” When they heard my answer, their incredulity morphed to respect and excitement for the cause. My answer was simple. “I want to make a difference. I want to be able to impact the language and literacy of children across the district.”

Throughout my years in education, in communities across the state, I’ve had parents asking me, “What can I do to help my child? I don’t know how to teach them, but I want to do whatever I can!” My answer has always been the same. “Read, to your kid! Read with them before school, during dinner, before bed… Just read! It doesn’t matter what language the books are in, or what the books are about. When you read to your child you expose them to language and ideas that they might otherwise never hear about. So read to them. It’s the best thing you can do.” I have seen the impact of reading to my kids firsthand, as my children use phrases and ideas that they have learned from books and apply it, rather humorously at first. My four-year-old has been responding with “Ready for action” when I ask him to do something, as that is how Esther Ornstein’s Middos Man responds when he gets called to a Middos emergency. Reading to your kids is the greatest gift you can give them.

Now, I know that parents are busy; I’m busy too. Like many parents, I work, have a few children, and carry a lot of responsibilities. But I prioritize reading to my children because I know the value it carries and the lifelong impact it can have. If I want my children to be able to visualize an abstract concept in Gemara or Science, if I want my children to connect with historical events from History and Parsha, and if I want my kids to be the ones who can hear a complex word problem in math class and be able to extrapolate the important data and solve it, I can help them by reading to them. When my daughter and I read Little House on the Prairie, and we were introduced to new items that we had never heard of before, my daughter learned to listen for the details and make a picture in her head. And when we sit at the Shabbos table and read a story about a Tzaddik, my children learn about character development and the embodiment of the values we hold dear. All this learning and growth happens just because we read to our children.

And that’s where the library comes in. The library is a community resource. Our tax dollars fund the library, and we should be getting our money’s worth. We should be able to walk into the library and find books that align with our culture and values. We should be able to join events that are reflective of the community’s needs. We should have access to services that prioritize and promote language development, literacy, and education. We should be able to get all the value the Finkelstein library has to offer.

By now, you may be nodding your head in agreement and excited about the idea of having a trustee from our community at the library. You may even be ready to copy/paste the link to this article and send it to your family or neighborhood chat. And you should! But scrolling and sharing only raises awareness – it doesn’t help enact change. The only thing that can bring about change is YOU GOING OUT TO VOTE. Every single vote matters. And that means that you, the person reading this article, getting out to Finkelstein Library and voting. Vote for Esther Waldman so that I can help everyone in our community have access to free, quality, culturally appropriate literature. Vote for me to give your children, and all of the children in our community, a chance at a brighter future.

Esther Waldman is an educator with fifteen years of experience working in schools across NYC and Rockland County, and a candidate for the Finkelstein Memorial Library Board of Trustees.

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