The official newspaper of the Ramaz Upper School

The Rampage

The official newspaper of the Ramaz Upper School

The Rampage

The official newspaper of the Ramaz Upper School

The Rampage

Ramaz Hears From Ritchie Torres

Ramaz+Hears+From+Ritchie+Torres

On June 3, 2024, Ramaz students got to hear from Congressman Ritchie Torres during a special morning assembly. Congressman Torres has been serving as a democratic New York representative for ten years now, currently serving as the U.S. representative for New York’s 15th congressional district. 

Congressman Torres was welcomed by a booming round of applause from students and teachers alike, excited to hear from the congressman who has done so much for Israel and the Jewish people from New York. 

Congressman Torres was here, not only to speak to Ramaz students, but to accept the Julius L. Lassner Semper Fi Award for Good Citizenship and Service to God and Country, presented this year to Congressman Torres for his incredible work in support of Israel and the Jewish people. Charles Gribetz, 25’, gave a brief introduction to the award and why this year it was appropriate to give it to Congressman Torres. He then handed the microphone to Julius Lassner’s son, who shared the story of his father, for whom the award is named. Then, Jonathan Cannon, head of school, presented Congressman Torres with the award, and student Ashley Rechstchaffen ‘25, gave an introduction to his work.

Congressman Torres shared his background, the story of his childhood in the Bronx, living in poverty with a single mom, who he attributes his success to. As he says, “I am my mothers son first and foremost”.  He described how he grew up in public housing, which drew him into politics, looking for a change. He went door to door campaigning and won his first election, becoming the youngest elected official in the biggest city in the world. 

Torres then spoke about his advocacy for Israel, detailing why he believes sticking up for the Jewish people is so important. As he says “I am a proud zionist because I feel it in my Kishkuhs (soul). You don’t have to be Jewish to be a zionist the same way you don’t have to be black to stand against racism.” At first, he said, he didn’t really view himself as a zionist or hold any strong opinions about the situation in Israel, but then in 2014 he visited the country for the first time and his whole perspective changed. Since he has learned of the tremendous hardships the people in Israel face and how insecure the country actually is, he has devoted himself to fighting antisemitism in congress and the country. He promised to continue to stand with us and fight in the battle against antisemitism as through history he has learned that we all must be in this together.

He then opened up the floor for questions from students, allowing them to get further insight into his beliefs and process. He discussed how he handles conversations with people on the other side, how he attempts to convince people to support Israel, and what he believes the end of the war would look like. He shared his goals for congress, details about his recent trip to Israel, and his thoughts on how to handle the encampments on college campuses. 

Rabbi Frank thanked him for coming and for all his work and the assembly concluded with a thunderous round of applause.

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