On July 17th, Akiva Whiteman, a YOY senior from Newton gave testimony before the Joint Committee on Education at the Massachusetts State House. The committee was preparing to vote on an act that would extend universal school meal availability for the coming school year. YOY students, along with those at several other Boston Jewish schools, benefitted greatly from the daily nutritious free meals, but funding for universal school meals was set to expire.
Akiva spoke movingly before the committee. He offered a student’s perspective, making the case that no student should go hungry. “Each child has a right to learn in a school that fits their needs without having to worry about where their next meal will come from,” he testified. “Hunger does not discriminate whether you go to a public school or a private one.”
Thanks to the advocacy efforts of many, including Mrs. Ariella Hellman, the director of Agudath Israel in Boston and YOY parent, the bill passed and universal school meal funding was restored!
Akiva’s experience with the legislative process made a lasting impression. He feels proud to have helped advance this important issue. Unexpectedly, one insight that stood out to him was how meticulously he prepared to testify, not only in his speech but also in his dress. “If this is how I present myself before a government committee, how much more so should I prepare myself for prayer (davening) before Hashem.” When doing his back-to-school shopping, Avika stepped up his wardrobe, proud to represent Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael as a Ben Torah!