By: David Mizrahi

Most people who are unhappy about their representation in government, simply fret about it at the water cooler. But Joseph Hayon is not most people. At just 32-years-old, he has already compiled an impressive resume of positions of leadership and community service. Once employed as a service coordinator for the non-profit Pesach Tikvah organization and then as a devoted elementary school teacher, Hayon later founded Homework Helper Institute LLC, a tutoring agency designed to ensure adequate pay for teachers while cutting costs for parents.  He also sat on the Board of Advisors of the American Family Association-NY. 

Throughout his experiences, Hayon, the son of Sephardic immigrants from Egypt and South America, noticed a large and widening gap between the needs and values of his native community in Brooklyn and their leadership in government. So, he decided to do something about it, setting his sights upon the U.S. Congress, campaigning for New York’s 9thCongressional District, comprising southeast Brooklyn (i.e. Midwood, Marine Park, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay) and southwest Queens (i.e. Rockaways, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Fresh Meadows) in this November’s election.

Joseph and his family are no strangers to Brooklyn’s Sephardic community. His father, Isaac Hayon, who passed away in 2008, owned the “Kolbo Kosher” store on Kings Highway, and his mother, Marlene, was involved in numerous Sephardic organizations. Not surprisingly, Hayon’s candidacy has earned the endorsement of several community rabbis, including Rabbi Haim Benoliel (of Bnai Yosef), Rabbi Yosheyahu Shammah (of Shevet Achim), Rabbi David Cohen (of Bet Shaul U’Miriam) and Rabbi Moshe Shemtov (of Bet Shaul U’Miriam).

Hayon’s campaign is not your average political campaign.  For one thing, the candidate has instructed all campaign volunteers and staffers to abstain from any campaigning activity on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.  Offices are closed, telephone calls are not answered, and staffers – Jewish or not – are not to do any work for the campaign on these days, even from the privacy of their own homes.  Moreover, the Hayon campaign has committed itself to maintaining the strictest standards of ethics and propriety.  All staff members – including volunteers and paid employees – are required to sign a contract avowing that the campaign will be run “with dignity, integrity, and professionalism.”  This includes respect of opponents, and an unconditional ban on mudslinging.

But how does Joseph Hayon stand on the issues that matter most to us? Steve Rosner, the candidate’s campaign manager, offered some of the highlights of Joseph Hayon’s policy agenda – many of which completely contradict the policies of incumbent Anthony Weiner.

Private School Tuition

Arguably the most pressing issue facing American Orthodox Jewry today is the ever-growing cost of yeshiva tuition.  Hayon has promised to propose a Civil Rights Act requiring states to provide school funding regardless of which school a child attends.  On his campaign website, Hayon calls the current state of affairs religious discrimination, as religious families are denied equitable school funding due to their religious needs.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Many believe that the Obama Administration has adopted a policy of pacifying Israel’s hostile neighbors while bullying the tiny democracy into discontinuing construction in disputed areas, including its capital, Jerusalem, and speaks of imposing a peace settlement requiring the surrender of large territories to the Palestinians. Hayon has affirmed Israel’s right as a sovereign state to determine her own course of action in her quest for peace and security.  He firmly believes that no country has the right to dictate to the Jewish State where it may or may not build, or how to defend itself against its foes.

By the same token, Hayon recognizes Israel’s right to determine the prudent response to the Iranian threat.  Hayon believes that whereas military conflict is an absolute last resort, a preemptive Israeli strike should be supported if such a measure is deemed necessary in light of reliable evidence that Iran’s nuclear facilities pose a threat to Israel’s existence.

Definition of Marriage

Hayon strongly opposes the current trend to redefine marriage, and supports a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Healthcare

Instead of leaving it to the government to manage every citizen’s healthcare, Hayon advocates simply cutting the cost of healthcare insurance to make it accessible to those who don’t qualify for public assistance.  This can be done, he believes, by removing current regulations which allow private companies to monopolize the industry, and through legal reform to protect physicians from frivolous malpractice suits.  Currently, the threat of such suits results in unnecessary procedures, driving up the cost of healthcare.

Taxes

Hayon is committed to eliminating the current capital gains tax on profits earned from the sale of a primary residence, as well as the inheritance tax.  A fiscal conservative, Hayon believes in keeping government small so that taxes can be reduced.  He also calls for regulating foreign aid spending by demanding greater accountability on how foreign aid is used, and increased participation by other countries.

More information about Hayon’s policies and stand on the issues can be found at www.josephhayon.com.