GREAT NECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Controversy over where some high school students have been going to eat their lunch has hit one Long Island village.
Some are asking if a local synagogue is going too far by mixing pizza with prayer.
Some students at Great Neck North High School have been going to Congregation Torah Ohr up the block for a free lunch and learn program.
“At first I started…because of the free food,” senior Brian Naki told CBS 2’s Alice Gainer on Wednesday. “It’s really open to anyone. I’ve had friends who aren’t Jewish come, like Catholic friends, who would come.”
But some claim Torah Ohr is using free food as a way to entice students to give them Orthodox instruction. The students who had lunch at the academy got free pizza bagels for lunch and a lecture by Rabbi Abraham Kohan.
Citing deep concerns, Great Neck North Principal Bernard Kaplan wrote in a letter to parents: “They were quietly eating while a man was instructing them in religious beliefs. There is no sign on the building even identifying it as a temple.”
The controversy started when Kaplan, citing parents’ concern about proselytizing, called police about the situation.
“He’s not trying to convert anyone. He’s giving ideas to what you want to do in your future, like let’s say ‘Do you want to be more religious when you grow up,'” one student told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria.