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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Jew calls for sanctions on Israel

An anti-Zionist Jewish activist at a meeting in Malaysia called for UN sanctions against Israel for violating the human rights of Palestinians, a news report has said.


Uri Davis, who has written books on apartheid and democracy in Israel and the Middle East, said Israeli bans on trade between Jewish citizens and Palestinians violated UN principles, the New Straits Times reported.

"It is a violation of human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948," Davis was quoted as saying at a meeting organized by the Malaysian Social Research Institute and the Islamic Welfare Society.

Dir Yasin commemoration

The meeting on Sunday afternoon was organised to commemorate a 1948 Jewish militia attack on the Arab village of Dir Yasin, in what is now Israel, killing more than 100 Arabs and forcing the rest to flee.

Organisers were not immediately available on Monday morning for comment.

Mostly-Muslim Malaysia and Israel do not have diplomatic ties, and leaders of this Southeast Asian country often have criticised Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad - who outraged world leaders when he told a summit of Islamic leaders in 2003 that "Jews rule the world by proxy" - said he was barred from entering Jerusalem and the West Bank town of Jenin when he tried to visit them two weeks ago.

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Saudi Columnist: We must discuss why we hate the Jews

The Extent of Tremendous Hatred of the Jews is Baffling

...The extent of tremendous hatred of the Jews is baffling. Therefore we ask, 'Why do we hate the Jews?'

The immediate answer will be: 'No, we don't hate the Jews, we hate the Zionists.' [But] this is nonsense. We don't hear [preachers saying in their sermons,] 'Oh Allah, destroy the Zionists, the Zionist enterprise, the offspring of Herzl, and the ‘Basel plan’. Is our current hatred of the Jews the result of the political situation in general and the Palestinian problem in particular? This is a pivotal and important question, and must be answered honestly.

A few days ago, one of the Saudi newspapers did a nice inquiry on vestiges of Jews in the Al-Ahsaa region in the Arab Peninsula [in eastern Saudi Arabia]. Is it possible that there were traces of Jews in the Arab Peninsula, and that they lived amongst us? The answer is, of course, yes. There is much evidence proving that in more than one Arab country, [Muslims] lived normally alongside Jews, and that [the Jews] studied and worked like the rest of the residents of that country.

The Prophet Muhammad Had Good Relations with the Jews

Therefore, the matter requires another explanation. This is particularly true since the Prophet Muhammad's relations with the Jews were clear. He made agreements with them, stood [in respect] at the funeral of one of them, maintained relations with them, married a Jewess, and entrusted his armor to his Jewish neighbor and asked about this Jew when he was missing and sick.

Our religion permits us to eat the Jews' food, trade with them, and marry them. So what is the issue? If we know the scope of the problem, and the true reason why the Jews have become this great monster, and [if we understand] how this has spread to the point where they have become the reason for every catastrophe, then we will be able to understand the idea of dividing [human beings] into groups...

There are Saudis who studied with Jews, were taught by Jewish teachers, and were treated by Jewish doctors. They tell good and normal stories about relations with the Jews relations that broke the emotional barrier built long ago regarding relations with the Jews.

It should suffice us to hear a Saudi saying: 'My son was treated for cancer by a Jewish doctor, nobly and morally, and there is someone who wants me to hold hatred and animosity [against this Jew] in my heart, and to curse him at night. I will never do this. There is a huge difference between the contaminated Zionism that abuses Palestine and its sons and carries out atrocities and crimes, and [this] divine religion and its sons.'

Once, the Muslims knew it, and treated the Jews according to [Koranic] verse [7:159]: 'And of Moses's people there is a party who guided (people) with the truth, and thereby do justice.' Jews attained top posts in the Umayyad state like [Rabbi Moses] Ben Maimon, who attained the post of first minister to the caliph [sic].

I know that a subject like this launches a debate but, with Allah's help, it is a debate whose aims are good. There is great benefit for us in such a reexamination and an answer to the question of why we hate the other."

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A ritual bath, the Mikvah, makes an elegant return

Among Orthodox Jews, the mikvah, the ritual bath taken mostly by married women after their menstrual cycle or just before their wedding, is considered one of the pillars of Judaism. But this ritual commanded by religious law had long been treated with disdain or ignored by many Jews who regarded it as an obscure, outdated tradition performed in a dank and dingy place in the depths of a synagogue, Orthodox leaders say.

Now, however, there has been a revival of the ritual, those leaders say, and mikvahs are being built that are decidedly more impressive than the traditional baths familiar to many Orthodox. With elegant suites adorned with exquisite marble tiling and smooth mahogany doors, they have the look of a fancy spa and can be found on the Upper East Side and in the Hamptons, Brooklyn and New Jersey.

"Women come in and say, 'This isn't like any mikvah I've seen before,' " said Shternie Raskin, 35, who with her husband, Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin, 38, runs a well-appointed, renovated mikvah in a synagogue on Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights that seeks to attract the successful professional women who might otherwise avoid a mikvah.

Rabbi Raskin said: "We wanted to make it like a spa, because you need to make a mikvah much more fashionable if you want to attract career women who are used to upscale resorts. You need to make it like a haven or a utopia."

In Easthampton, a group of investors have bought a house and are building a mikvah in a renovated pool house on the property that they hope to open by late June.

On the Upper East Side, a mikvah is the cornerstone of a $12 million project to turn a town house on East 77th Street into the Schneerson Center for Jewish Life, a 17,200-square-foot space devoted to educational, social and outreach programs. It is set to open in November. "The water drops straight from heaven down into here," said Rabbi Ben Tzion Krasnianski, the director of the center, as he stood recently in the basement where two mikvah pools sunken into the concrete floor resemble miniature swimming pools.

He explained that rainwater was collected on the roof, dripping down through a large pipe and into the mikvah.

A mikvah has two pools: an immersion tank often filled with filtered tap water connected to an adjoining pool that must hold at least 200 gallons of accumulated rainwater and filled according to specific rules. The two pools share a common wall that must have a hole at least two inches in diameter so the waters can touch, or "kiss" as it is sometimes called.

The mikvah in the Jewish center will take up the entire basement with two pools and eight preparation rooms, including a bridal suite to be used by women who want to use the mikvah before their weddings. On the first floor will be a vessel mikvah to purify dishes before use.

"A lot of Jewish people have a negative impression of mikvah," Rabbi Krasnianski said, "but this will be a first-class mikvah, a spa for the soul."

Rabbi Krasnianski's wife, Chanie, said that many non-Orthodox women in her Torah class have begun using mikvahs. One of them, Joyce Misrahi, 36, lives on the Upper East Side with her husband, a hedge fund manager, and their three sons.

"It's unbelievable there isn't a mikvah on the Upper East Side already," Mrs. Misrahi said. "When this new one opens here, I'll go regularly. Having it nice and clean and new makes a big difference."

The mikvah, Rabbi Krasnianski explained, dates to the beginning of Jewish history, and religious law dictates that building one takes precedence over building a synagogue.

Mikvahs are part of the rules governing marital relations among the Orthodox. A husband and wife must refrain from sexual relations from the beginning of the wife's menstrual cycle until after she immerses herself in the mikvah at nightfall, seven days after her cycle finishes. Until then a woman is considered ritually unclean.

The immersion is considered a spiritually purifying ritual, not a hygienic washing, Rabbi Krasnianski said, adding that a woman must be scrupulously clean before she enters the pool. Some Hasidic men use the mikvah before morning prayers, and it is also used for conversions and before Yom Kippur.

Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for the Lubavitch movement and the director of Chabad.org, a Web site that compiles lists of hundreds of mikvah locations worldwide, said the use of mikvahs declined over the past century because of "wars, upheavals, poverty and less strict forms of Judaism."

In New York City, many mikvahs on the Lower East Side and in other Jewish neighborhoods were steadily shut down, though they are still common in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

The effort to revive mikvahs has been largely motivated by a mandate from Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson, of the Lubavitch movement, who died in 1994. He assigned rabbinical emissaries to set up Jewish communities worldwide and directed them to build mikvahs and promote their use. Now there are mikvahs in places like Anchorage, Bangkok and Bogota, Colombia, Rabbi Shmotkin said.

In Easthampton, the new mikvah under construction already has eager would-be users, said Rabbi Leibel Baumgarten, 44, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of the East End.

"There is such a big demand now for a mikvah from people coming out for the summer," he said. "You wouldn't believe how many nonobservant Jewish are calling me asking for a mikvah out here. They realize that mikvah is the foundation of the Jewish people."

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Rabbi Yehudah Tirnauer, Ruv of Shomer Shabbos in Boro-Park, involved in car accident

While leaving the Shomer Shabbos Shul on 53rd Street and 13th Avenue in Boro-Park, a mini-bus hit the car that the Ruv, Rabbi Tirnauer, was riding in. Although he did not seem to be injured, Hatzolah arrived at the scene and checked hime out. The mini-bus driver claims he never touched the car.

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Cops locked out of their patrol car, HELP! Call Chaveirim


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Monday, May 30, 2005

Eichler's agrees not to display pictures of R' Bentzion or R' Mordche Dovid

After having on display in Eichler's S'forim Store in Boro-Park for quite a while large blown-up pictures of both R' Bentzion and R' Mordche Dovid, one of R' Bentzion's people came in to the store and purchased both of them. He afterwards asked the Manager to please cease from further displaying any pictures of either one of them. The Manager agreed and has since kept to his word.

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Arrest warrant issued for rabbi accused of child molestation

A felony warrant has been issued for the arrest of a
rabbi accused of child molestation and sexual abuse.

Yavapai County prosecutors say 55-year-old David Lipman faces eleven
counts of child molestation and five counts of sexual abuse.

The charges stem from an investigation involving two girls, ages 16
and 14.

Prescott Justice Court signed a warrant yesterday for Lipman's
arrest.

Prescott police received a call on May 13th from a Child Protective
Services employee who reported possible sexual abuse of two girls.

A Prescott Police Detective says that prompted a criminal
investigation against Lipman, who admitted to inappropriate touching.

Lipman was placed on administrative leave Monday from Temple B'rith
Shalom, where he has been rabbi since April 2002.

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The oilem at the Bronx Zoo


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Long wait for restitution for Eastern Europe's Jews

The former "captive nations" of Eastern Europe re-emerged as independent states more than a decade ago, but the Jewish communal property left behind by their citizens who perished in the Nazi Holocaust remains beyond the reach of the victims' authorised representatives to retrieve.

It was confiscated by Hitler's SS immediately after the German Wehrmacht's conquests and was nationalised by the local communists after the Red Army's takeover. Since 1992, when the recovery process began, the former synagogues, hospitals, orphanages, cemeteries and ritual baths have been the subject of snail's pace negotiations and impenetrable bureaucracies.
The market value runs into hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the World Jewish Restitution Organisation, which was founded in 1992, shortly after Eastern Europe's bloc of Soviet satellite states passed into history due to the Soviet Union's collapse.

The organisation estimates the private property left behind in these countries by the Holocaust's 6 million Jewish victims is valued in the billions of dollars. But its focus is on the communal rather than the private assets at this stage.

Naftali Lavie, the organisation's deputy chairman, who has been trying to settle the outstanding communal claims for the past 12 years, admits that few of the valuable sites have been recovered.

"The Eastern European officials keep pleading poverty and tell me they cannot finance such a project," he said.

A death camp survivor who was born in Poland, Lavie reeled off the rationale given to him in all the former Soviet satellite states as if he had the words on tape.

"The war ended 60 years ago, they say, as if I didn't know. We also suffered from it," he said, paraphrasing his hosts. Lavie contended that much of the property in question was possessed for former Communist Party functionaries. "They still have a hold on it although many contend that it belongs to 'third parties' who refuse to let it go."

Poland, which had Eastern Europe's largest Jewish population – more than 3 million – has been responding to the WJRO's entreaties, but the restitution process has been agonisingly slow. At the current rate, it will take at least 60 years for the Jewish communal claims to be processed. By that time, few if any of the Holocaust survivors who might have benefited from the proceeds will be alive.

Poland's official policy is that the money granted as financial compensation for the communal property must be spent on Polish soil and cannot be converted into foreign currencies for allocation abroad. Its current Jewish population of 10,000-12,000, according to Polish officials (less than 8000 according to the WJRO), leaves relatively few institutional outlets for the restitution payments.

"The property should go to the former owners or their successors," said the Polish ambassador to Israel, Jan Wojciech Piekarski, a 40-year veteran of his country's diplomatic service. He asserted that the Foundation for the Protection of Jewish Property in Poland, a body established jointly three years ago by the WJRO and the Union of Jewish Religious communities in Poland, was the legal heir.

Piekarski said the restitution process was being conducted in accordance with the same procedures as those applied to property claimed by the Catholic Church.

"It is being treated on the very same level," he said. Catholicism, which is Poland's dominant religious faith, also sustained material losses during the half-century of Communist rule in Warsaw. Piekarski cited 5544 claims submitted to the regulatory commission set up by the Polish government to deal with the Jewish assets, of which 5346 were deemed valid. As of this month, 744 of these claims were settled.

Lavie said the response of the 10 other former Soviet satellites also has been bureaucratic and legalistic. In short, they, like Poland, have been "stalling", he said.

He thought he detected a ray of light for his effort eight years ago when the Czech, Hungarian and Polish government leaders believed that swift restitution would help them gain entry into NATO and the European Union. But once they were admitted, the situation reverted to what it had been before.

In his numerous discussions with the Polish Government, Lavie did not blame the Poles for the tragedy that befell their Jewish fellow-citizens, but held them accountable for the material assets left behind. "You did not kill," he said, "but you did benefit."

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Fundraising drive to aid historic Jewish cemetery

At the quiet intersection of two gravel roads in rural Douglas County stands a little piece of Jewish history.

Occupying one quarter of a bucolic, two-acre parcel of land just southwest of Eudora is B'nai Israel Cemetery. It contains the graves of about 40 Jewish men, women and children stretching from the middle of the 19th century to the dawn of the 21st.

The oldest tombstone marks the burial site of a child, Isaac Cohn, who died in 1858. The most recent burial, for a Lawrence woman named Una Hehir Forer, took place earlier this year.

Now, the cemetery has a lonesome air amid the surrounding farmland and pasture, forlorn and perhaps forgotten by all but a few.

But that's about to change.

In February, the Lawrence Jewish Community Center - the legal owner of the land - launched a capital campaign to raise $40,000 to upgrade the cemetery's appearance.

Since March, 49 people have pledged $35,000 to the campaign and 15 others have indicated they will donate to the fund.

Plans call for the cemetery to be filled out with new landscaping and native plantings, a water meter to nourish the greenery and a circular road for improved access.

No longer will it seem so bleak.

"I think it's great. You'll be able to drive down the road, and instead of just seeing a few tombstones off in a corner, you're going to see an oasis of trees and plantings in what used to be a Kansas farm field," says Neil Shanberg, the cemetery's sexton, or caretaker.

"It's going to make a good impression, and you're going to say, 'Isn't that beautiful?'"

Which is just fine with Shanberg.

Some day, he and his wife, Liz Kundin, will be buried here.

Many of those who are buried in B'nai Israel Cemetery no longer have living relatives, or at least relatives in the Lawrence area.

But raising tens of thousands of dollars for the improvement effort has come easily, according to Kundin, chairman of the capital campaign.

"It's something that is very important, and to make this happen requires money. The fundraising effort certainly hasn't been difficult. People understand why we're raising money, and they're helping to the extent they are able," Kundin says.

Shanberg and Kundin belong to the Lawrence Jewish Community Center. Shanberg is a former president of the congregation.

Four members have donated $1,800 or more. Ten members have contributed $900 or more. And one couple who belongs to the center donated a car, which was then sold for $5,000.

"They gave that specifically as our (capital campaign) kickoff gift," Kundin says.

Donations to the campaign have been made by current and former center members and their relatives, as well as the relatives of some of those who have been buried in the cemetery in recent decades.

Thirteen burials have taken place there since 1980.

Every center member has a right to be buried in the cemetery, and because there are many interfaith marriages among the congregation, non-Jewish family members may be buried there, too.

But B'nai Israel Cemetery - the Jewish cemetery nearest to Lawrence - is intended to serve the needs of all Jews who live in this area, including those from nearby communities such as Topeka.

Jack Wisman, co-owner of Einstein's Outdoor Outfitters, a Topeka business, has an aunt buried at B'nai Israel Cemetery. Wisman's aunt, Melda Einstein, died March 17, 2002, at the age of 86. The Einstein family, to which Wisman belongs, donated money to the capital campaign.

"For personal reasons, for family reasons and for supporting the Jewish community in Lawrence, we wanted to do it," Wisman says.

"The cemetery also has a lot of historical value. There aren't many places like that in the Midwest. It shows that there have been Jews in this country for a long, long time."

Though the presence of the Jewish cemetery might not be widely known to Lawrence residents, it has been serving the needs of area Jews for almost 150 years.

The cemetery's history is detailed in "Gone But Not Forgotten," a 2001 book by Anita Loeb published by the Jewish Federation of Kansas City.

A group of pioneer Jews settled in Eudora in the 1850s. Isadore Bernstein purchased two acres of land, which was then deeded to Charles Levy, David Urbansky and Samuel Frischman as trustees for the B'nai Israel Cemetery.

The first burial was of Isaac Cohn, son of Asher and Sarah Cohn, who died in 1858. By 1928, there had been 24 burials in the cemetery. The Jewish settlement in this area declined, and the cemetery was not used for a number of years.

It was restored by Beth Horon Lodge of the B'nai B'rith - a Jewish fraternal organization - in 1952. The Lawrence Jewish Community Center has been the legal owner for the past 25 years.

David Katzman, a professor of American studies at Kansas University, was the Jewish center's president when the cemetery was acquired and is among those who have donated to the capital campaign to improve the cemetery.

"I'm going to be buried there," he says. "But I think it's more than just personal (that he gave money). We need to provide burial grounds for the community. After all, visiting the sick and the dead are important parts of Jewish practice."

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Brooklyn's technicolor dream quilt

The new face of New York City is taking shape among the graceful Victorian houses and stout apartment buildings of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

This softly shaded patch of Flatbush is one of the city's most polyglot and polychrome, what city demographers like to call a melting-pot neighborhood, because no one ethnic or racial group is dominant and many are represented. Moreover, the neighborhood's population of 8,243 is not cut up into distinct ethnic swatches like Williamsburg in Brooklyn - where Hasidim, Italians, Poles, Latinos and white bohemians live in distinct pockets - but is significantly intermingled. Residents proudly reel off a multitude of races and nationalities that flank their porches and backyards, and interviews with two dozen residents indicate that the ethnic mix is not merely cosmetic, it is thorough and strong.

The outlook for such neighborhoods, according to a new analysis by the Department of City Planning, is bullish. Data from the 2000 census indicates there were 220 melting-pot census tracts among the city's 2,217; in 1970 there were 70. In 2000, they were found in neighborhoods like Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Flushing in Queens. The ranks are growing as a result of immigration and the apparent comfort level long-rooted New Yorkers feel in cosmopolitan milieus.

"People are living side by side in a way that 100 years from now we may take for granted," said Joseph J. Salvo, director of the City Planning Department's population division in a speech last month at New York University's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. New Yorkers, he added, are more ready to say, "I'm going to live next to the guy even though he's five shades different than me."

In part, this is the result of a wave of newcomers from two dozen countries since 1965, when a revised immigration law began to shape the city into one in which immigrants or their American-born offspring account for 55 percent of the populace. The decline of crime, the city's liberal tradition, and the sheer habit of encountering different cultures on a daily basis has made New Yorkers more open.

"Anybody who rides the subway is going to have a multicultural experience," said John H. Mollenkopf of the City University of New York. "One senses that people who can't handle that sort of thing moved out of New York."

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R' Bentzion fires back over court accusation

A letter was just mailed out from R' Bentzion's people defending themself from accusations by R' M. D. that there was no choice but to go to court. In the letter it is explained that R' Bentzion whole heartedly planned to show up in Beis Din, only he was never given ample time to do so.

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R' Bentzion shaking hands with Shliach Rabbi Azimov at the Chabad house on the way to the Hakomas Matzevah


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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Unlicensed Jewish day care center may stay shut

The Staten Island day-care center ordered closed on Thursday may have been operating without a license for years, according to city records.
Torah Tots Academy, which enrolled more than 90 children in separate buildings at 289 Harold St. and 389 Bradley Ave. in Willowbrook, was shut indefinitely by city officials because of insufficient fire exits, overcrowding and the lack of a Health Department license.

Buildings Department officials said the center's owner filed for a permit in 1998 to convert the two-family pink stucco building at 389 Bradley Ave. into a day-care center, but never finalized the approval.

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Satmar Rebbe's son, the Boro-Park Satmar Ruv, spends Shabbos in Crown Heights

The youngest son of the Satmarer Rebbe, Reb Sholom Lazer of Bor-Park was in Crown Heights for a Shabbos as his child was in a nearby hospital. He was welcomed by the Anash and was well provided for. He davened at Bais Binyomin on Montgomery street on Shabbos. Apparantly he thinks very highly of Lubavitch.

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Boineh Oilam thanks Yonasson Shtrasser and wife

Boineh Oilam said thanks a million to Mr. and Mrs. Shtrasser for their generous $1 million donation to the organization last week by publishing a full page thank you ad in the newspaper this week.

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MBD kiruv music video

A new Mordechai Ben David kiruv music video. Chap arein while it's still Lag B'omer.

Watch video

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Man throws pashkevilin against Hatzolah in Williamsburg for violating curfew

A man that was apparently quite upset over the Hatzolah party that was supposed to take place this passed Motzei Shabbos, since it would inevitably cause a violation to the Williamsburg night time curfew, threw out pashkevilin against Hatzolah. The man was dragged into a store and 'taught a lesson'. The rabbonim subsequently requested that Hatzolah reschedule their party for another time that would be more curfew friendly. Hatzolah complied to their demands.

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R' Naftulche's Matzevah


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Meron Lag B'omer video

For all of those that can't be in Meron this year, you can watch this video shot in Meron on Lag B'omer.

Watch video

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Williamsburg imposes night time curfew on girls

In an attempt to remedy the problem of girls and boys meeting up in Williamsburg, community leaders imposed a 10:30 pm curfew on all girls. Any girl seen on the street after that time will be thrown out of school no questions asked. I think they have that same curfew in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Hamodia refuses to publish pictures of Bobover Rebbe(s)

Until the Bobover Rebbe confusion is settled, the Hamodia newspaper has refused to publish pictures of any of the two possible Rebbes. The newspaper, in their usual fashion of trying to avoid any controversy, is afraid that by printing a picture of either of the two it may be misconstrued as taking a side which would eventually hurt the newspaper's readership. I guess we're lucky the Hamodia wasn't around in the times of Moshe Rabbeinu and Korech.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sullivan soon to get up to speed on Rte. 17

Tired of slowing down when you head into Sullivan County.
Or, really, tired of breaking the law every time you cruise up Route 17 doing 65 mph.
Well, just so you know, Sullivan's speeding up.
The Department of Transportation plans to have the speed limit on Route 17 in Sullivan County raised to 65 mph ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
But keep an eye on those signs: There will be three 55 mph sections where driving the new speed limit would be too risky. They are as follows:
From the Orange County line to a half-mile past Exit 112, the Masten Lake exit.
Around Monticello, between Exits 104 and 106.
Around Parksville, where there's a stop light at Exit 98.
The 65 mph signs were installed last week. You might have seen them – the ones wrapped in black.
Sometime before Friday, two DOT crews, starting at opposite ends of the county, will pull up the old signs and unwrap the new 65 mph ones.
"Have you ever driven in Sullivan County?" asked Sgt. Keith Hocker of the New York State Police. "Are people driving the speed limit now? I would say 'No.'"
Hocker is worried about the new speed limit.
"Increased speed means increased severity of accidents," he said.
He's annoyed by the three 55 mph sections.
"It will cause confusion," he said. State troopers could pull someone over in a 55 mph zone, but, "the last sign they legitimately had seen might have said 65 mph."

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Yingerman gets ten days in jail

A yingerman who is currently in court for a case involving charges of collecting section 8 on a rented apartment in Williamsburg while owning a house in Boro-Park was put in jail for ten days for being 'smart' to the judge. The judge disliked the yingerman's attitude towards him and his total disregard for the seriousness of the nature of the trial and felt it needed to be dealt with. Just a thought, if you are on trial, DO NOT p.o. the judge.

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Monticello Landfill fight festers

Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini was hopping mad last week when Monticello trustees didn't pass a local law to ban the expansion of the landfill.
He said that the Village Board was lacking a part of the male anatomy.
Cellini blasted his friend Mayor Jim Barnicle for tabling the law and praised Trustee Scott Schoonmaker, with whom he's often butted heads. Schoonmaker was the only trustee who supported passing the law Monday night.
But Cellini also told the Record that he's still going to win this landfill fight.
He's trying to turn five lawmakers against the 35-acre expansion.
He thinks he's going to do it, too.
"Mark this day on your calendar," he said.
"The people will prevail."

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Second Heimishe girl held up in Monsey within one week

Last night another Heimishe girl was held up in monsey while taking a shortcut. This is the second incidence of this kind within a one week period. Last week an eleven year old girl was held up the same way while taking a shortcut home. I think its time for Monsey Shomrim.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Lubavitch crash Sharon visit

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was met Sunday evening with curses from anti-disengagement protesters, many of them of Lubavitch Hasidim, while speaking to New York Jewish leaders in Baruch College.

During the speech, which lasted twenty minutes, part of the audience stood up, cursed the prime minister and chanted anti-disengagement slogans.

According to one of those present, the episode “was extremely embarrassing and completely alien to the American mentality.”

After a couple of disturbances, including one in which a heckler called Sharon an “a--hole,” the prime minister responded with a sarcastic “thank you.” The protesters were ejected from the hall and Sharon finished his speech, which was met with thunderous applause.

Hundreds demonstrated outside Baruch College, screaming at Sharon “Shame on you.”

New York City Police arrested a number of protesters for disturbing the peace.

Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, a member of Land of Israel Forum maintaining contact with Chabad Hasidim in New York, told Ynet, “Every Jew can help in the struggle against the uprooting and expulsion plan.”

Asked why hassidim not living in Israel would bother to get involved in the issue, Wolpe responded, “Sharon himself traveled abroad to speak with Jews in the Diaspora, to listen to them and be influenced by them, even though they do not live here. We’re talking about Jews with family here.”

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IDF rescues 7 Breslav Hasidim at Joseph's Tomb

Palestinians opened fire towards seven Breslav Hasidim who had entered the site of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus early Thursday morning without coordinating the visit with the IDF in advance.

The seven Jews arrived in Nablus by illegally bypassing a number of roadblocks, Army Radio reported.

Security forces who were alerted to the scene managed to rescue the Hasidim, who were brought in for questioning. Police requested that their remand be extended.

In related developments, OC Central Command Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh met with residents from the Yitzhar settlement in the West Bank as well as with local rabbis in order to discuss the tense relationship between the IDF and settlers, Army Radio reported.

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R' Bentzion stops off to speak at Chabad house

R' Bentzion stopped off at a Chabad house yesterday on the way to his brother's Hakomas Matzevah. He stayed there a while and spoke to the people there about chasidus. I guess he's trying now to get Chabad on his side.

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Satmar gives chinuch speech

Afetr months of Williamsburg boys and girls meeeting at a location in Williamsburg near the old Domino Sugar factory, Satmar finally realized that the problem needed to be addressed. Therefore a sort of first time groundbreaking speech on the topic was given to inform the people to be aware of the situation. A problem? No, it can't be.

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Hiemishe Mentch on the Bentch Judge Schmidt’s Acting Fine As Supreme Court Justice

Ask almost any experienced trial lawyer about Acting Kings Justice David Schmidt and they’ll tell you about how he helped them settle a difficult case, often a case which had lingered in their files for years because one of the parties was reluctant to reach an agreement. In just short of 10 years on the bench, Justice Schmidt – one of the city’s most productive jurists -- has settled, “moved” or “disposed of” almost 19,000 cases!

Not only is he recognized in court, but the former law secretary to then Civil Court judge – now Supreme Court Justice -- Gerard Rosenberg, is equally known outdoors because every day at lunchtime the burly, likeable justice strolls Court Street and environs with his traditional yarmulke topping a coatless outfit that does not include even a suit jacket! Just what you might expect from an attorney whose Civil Court campaign motto was “Elect a Mensch To the Bench!”

Every time we pointed out to a colleague that Justice Schmidt would seek re-election in this September’s primary the response was a collective “Are you kidding!?! He should be appointed for life!”

Justice Schmidt has been praised for his knowledge of the law, and his innate ability to size up a case as well as the competing attorneys and put a “real number” on a case.

Defendant and plaintiff attorneys agree. Typical is legendary defense counsel Mark Longo, who regards Justice Schmidt as ‘one of the most hard-working, sincere and competent jurists I have come across in my more than 27 years of practicing law. Court administrators apparently feel the same way,” he added, “because they have relied on him to preside in various civil parts where these attributes can best contribute to the efficient administration of justice.”

Attorney Longo cites Justice Schmidt’s “ability to bring parties together to resolve cases under difficult circumstances, for example where there is no (bodily injury) insurance. ” He adds that “parties who might otherwise be frustrated ... are compensated because of the ability of this judge” to forge a settlement under the most challenging circumstances.

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Monday, May 23, 2005

Chuck Schumer calls to close Williamsburg 'Dirty bomb' plant

A radioactive-waste storage facility in Williamsburg,
Brooklyn, should be shut down because it is a "dirty bomb that has yet
to be detonated," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said yesterday.

Joined by a group of community and religious leaders, he called on the
state Department of Environmental Conservation to deny a new permit to
the Radiac Research Corp. facility. The department is holding a hearing
today on the facility, which stores radioactive wastes and hazardous
chemicals near homes and a block from PS 84, which has 1,100 students.

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Protesters heckle Laura Bush in Jerusalem

Laura Bush waded into Middle East tensions on Sunday during chaotic visits to sacred religious sites, where crowds and hecklers grew so rowdy that armed guards had to restrain them.

America's first lady said what she witnessed showed that passions are running high among Palestinians and Israelis. "The United States will do what they can in this process," she said, urging both sides to work for peace.

Before entering the ruins of an 8th-century palace in the West Bank town of Jericho, Mrs. Bush told reporters, "As you can tell from our day here, this is a place of emotion, everywhere we went, from the Western Wall to the Dome of the Rock to here."

At the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest shrine, protesters demanded that the U.S. release of an American Jew imprisoned for spying for Israel. At her stop nearby at the Dome of the Rock, she faced heckling from angry Palestinians. One man yelled, "How dare you come in here! Why your husband kill Muslim?"

As she moved into the Palestinian territory, she said the both sides in the conflict sent her the same message. "We're reminded again of what we all want, what every one of us pray for," she said. "What we all want is peace."

Mrs. Bush placed a note in the Western Wall that she wrote while flying Sunday from Jordan to Israel. She wanted to keep the contents private, a spokeswoman said.

Dozens of protesters stood nearby, shouting, "Free Pollard now." Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, now serving a life sentence in the United States, was a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy.

Mrs. Bush's five-day visit to the Middle East was intended partly to help defuse anti-American sentiment in the region. Strains have arisen because of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and allegations that American interrogators have mistreated Muslim prisoners.

Some visitors that Mrs. Bush encountered near the Dome of the Rock, a mosque on a hilltop compound known to Muslims as Haram as-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, shouted at her in Arabic. "None of you belong in here!" one man yelled as Mrs. Bush and her entourage arrived.

Mrs. Bush removed her shoes as she entered the mosque and walked barefoot on the red carpet. She held a black scarf tightly around her head as she gazed up at the gilded dome and the colorful mosaics.

Some of the women studying inside the mosque were clearly annoyed at the intrusion and waved their fingers at the U.S. entourage. Despite the chaos at both sites, Mrs. Bush kept smiling and said little.

As she left, visitors and media grew so aggressive that Israeli police locked arms and encircled her in a wide human chain. U.S. Secret Service agents packed tightly around her. The police yelled at those who got too close to stay back and pushed them away if they did not listen.

Pollard's supporters also held up signs outside the resident of Israel's president, where Mrs. Bush had tea with his wife, Gila Katsav, and other Israeli women.

No protesters were evident when Mrs. Bush had lunch with leading Palestinian women at a hotel in Jericho, a town that Israel recently turned over to Palestinian control, or when she visited the palace ruins and appealed for peace.

"It will take a lot of baby steps, and I'm sure it will be a few steps backward on the way," she said.

"But I want to encourage the people that I met with earlier and the women that I just met with that the United States will do what they can in this process. It also requires the work of the people here, of the Palestinians and the Israelis to come to the table, obviously. And we'll see."

Behind the recent rise in anti-American sentiment is a now-retracted report in Newsweek that Pentagon investigators had found evidence that interrogators at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, placed copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, in washrooms to unsettle suspects and flushed a Quran down a toilet.

"We in principle don't reject anyone's visit to the Al Aqsa Mosque (compound), but we see in the visit of Mrs. Bush an attempt to whitewash the face of the United States, after the crimes that the American interrogators had committed when they desecrated the Quran," the militant Islamic Hamas group said in a statement on its Web site.

Adnan Husseini, director of the Islamic Trust that administers the mosque compound, said Mrs. Bush tried to play down the heckling, saying it could have happened anywhere.

Husseini said he told her he hoped President Bush would exert pressure to achieve peace in the Holy Land. Bush is meeting on Thursday at the White House with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Mrs. Bush got the same message during her lunch with the Palestinian women. "She replied, `I will make sure that I convey this message to my husband,'" said Fadia Daibes, an expert on water law and policy who attended the event.

Later Sunday, Mrs. Bush laid a wreath at Yad Vashem, the Israeli memorial for the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust of World War II.

She wrote in the visitors' book at the site: "Each life is precious. Each memory calls us to action to honor those lost. We committ ourselves to reject hatred and to teach tolerance and live in peace. Thank you."

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Google takes a stance on the word 'Jew'

When you preform a google search with the word 'Jew' in the search box, Google takes a stance and provides an interesting warning.

Google's explanation for Jew search

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Bobov makes two Hakomas Matzevahs today

In order to make sure that the two warring Bobover factions don't end up in a confrontation, there were two separate Hakomas Matzevah proceedings. One group had the first half of the day to go and the other group had the afternoon. I just hope they didn't put two stones on the grave.

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R' Zalmen Leib slated to open new girl's school

R' Zalmen Leib is slated to open a new girl's school in Boro-Park. Being that the current Satmar girl's school is mostly R' Aron's people, R' Zalmen Leib found it necessary to open his own girl's school.

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Hasids end battle

A group of Hasidic Jews have found themselves in a no-holds-barred battle with ritzy Southampton residents as they try to establish the first synagogue there on a mansion-studded street.
The religious uproar erupted after members of the Chabad of Southampton Jewish Center began using the private home of Rabbi Rafe Konikov on tony Hill Street as an informal synagogue in 1999.

The problem was the place of worship is in a residential area, a violation of local zoning laws.

That prompted the Southampton Village Building Department to cite Konikov for code violations last year — and a group of neighbors to sue to try to shut down the religious gatherings at his home.

The Chabad is now petitioning the Southampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals for an exemption.

"There is really nowhere else to go [for the group to worship], especially for people who want to walk there on Sabbath," said synagogue member Carl Davis of Southampton.

Davis and others argue that the synagogue does not disturb the serenity of the affluent area.

As for detractors, "I think some of the people opposed just don't understand what we represent — we are the first synagogue in the oldest village in New York state," Konikov said.

The rabbi said he hosts about 20 people per weekend on the off-season and around double that during the summer.

But some residents who live near the Chabad house have complained that the synagogue's presence has a negative impact on property values and snarls traffic in the area, especially during the busy summer season.

They filed a lawsuit in the hopes that a state court will shut it down and order a halt to the current zoning-board appeal.

"I'm just not sure this is the right place," said Audrey Linney, whose mother lives near the house during the summer.

"Look around. This is about as residential as it gets. Any time you have people getting together in numbers on a regular basis, that's going to annoy people, especially around here."

Another neighbor said the area's residential character should be respected.

"Zoning is in place for a reason," she said. "You don't just throw it out willy-nilly."

Still, others had no problem with the formalizing of the synagogue.

"To be honest, if this was another church, I don't think it would be a big deal," said a neighbor who would not give his name. "It's not like these people are throwing concerts in there."

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Hasidic Jews look at Hazleton Pennsylvania area as potential home

A community of Hasidic Jews from New York wants to build 1,000 residential units on more than 400 acres near Hazleton.

The project could eventually attract as many as 5,000 new residents and boost the local tax base.

The Hazleton Area School District, already struggling with overcrowding, wouldn’t be affected because developer/owner Shari Limud Inc. plans to build its own private schools.

Shari Limud has an agreement to buy the property if it can get the roughly 380 acres in the Stockton section of Hazle Township rezoned from conservation to residential, said attorney John Michelin, who represents the group through the law firm of Donald Karpowich.

The rest of the land is in Hazleton and already zoned residential, he said.

Representatives of Shari Limud said they picked the Hazleton area because it is rural, the people seem friendly and it is relatively close to New York City and other areas of New York where transplants might have relatives, Michelin said.

The 1,000 dwellings would be a combination of single family homes, townhouses and multi-family residences.

Medical facilities and grocery stores are also planned, although Michelin said the residents would still shop locally.

Hasidic Jews speak English, but converse in Yiddish among themselves, Michelin said.

They plan for their community to remain part of the local government subdivisions, and don’t want to create their own borough or village, he said.

“They don’t keep totally to themselves and welcome people to come into their development,” Michelin said. “They want to be part of the fabric of the community.”

The township planning department plans to issue a recommendation soon to township supervisors. Supervisors, who will ultimately decide whether the zoning change is granted, plan to hold a public meeting, tentatively scheduled for June 13, to gather more information and seek public feedback.

Michelin said residents of more crowded Hasidic communities in Brooklyn and a New York village named Kiryas Joel about an hour from New York City might be interested in coming here.

The Hasidic culture is unfamiliar to many Hazleton area residents, he said. Some people wrongly believe they are more like the Amish, shunning technology, but they drive cars and were at a recent meeting in Hazleton carrying cell phones, Michelin said.

Hasidic Jews tend to live in communities and have large families.

Hasidic men sport long side curls and beards, and always keep their heads covered with skullcaps and broad-brimmed hats. The women dress modestly, and the married ones wear wigs or head coverings. The Village of Kiryas Joel shuts down on Saturdays for Sabbath, just like Christians adhere to a Sunday Sabbath.

Some people will notice white strings – called tzitzis or tzitzit -- hanging down outside the men’s pants. They are part of a four-cornered garment that might be worn under or outside a shirt.

Michelin expects many of the people who come here to be highly educated and work at the businesses they open within the community.

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Kiryas Joel, Monroe near firefighting deal

A contract proposal to be finalized and voted on this month could settle long-standing questions over how and when Monroe firefighters will respond to emergencies in neighboring Kiryas Joel.
At the same time, leaders of both villages say, Kiryas Joel has agreed to pay Monroe tens of thousands of dollars it owes for fire protection for the last year – a debt it withheld paying as contract talks dragged on.
Monroe firefighters have answered fire calls in Kiryas Joel for years, but the relationship became murky five years ago when the Hasidic community created its own fire department – with limited abilities.
As Hasidic Jews, the new firefighters can't fight fires or answer other emergency calls on Shabbos or Jewish holidays. They also can't rush into burning buildings because their beards would interfere with their oxygen masks.
Kiryas Joel has long wanted to restructure its fire contract with Monroe to fill those gaps.
In the meantime, Monroe's squad has remained the community's primary responder.
Under the impending proposal, Kiryas Joel would take over that role for the first time but would cede authority to Monroe whenever it came – a concession meant to satisfy Monroe's command concerns, Kiryas Joel Administrator Gedalye Szegedin said last week. Kiryas Joel would pay Monroe $1,096 for each fire response and guarantee at least $54,800 a year, the price of 50 calls.
The village has offered to pay its outstanding bill based on that rate and the number of fire calls Monroe has answered in Kiryas Joel since last May – instead of the $183,877 flat rate it paid the last year of the old contract.
That amount couldn't be verified last week.
The proposal will be presented to both village boards for approval this month, with the hope that it will be signed in time for the beginning of the new fiscal year on June 1, Szegedin and Monroe Mayor Joseph Mancuso said last week.
The contract language was still being ironed out, Mancuso said.
The Monroe Fire Department also must agree to the contract. Monroe fire Chief Jeffrey Mahran said Thursday he couldn't predict the outcome because his department hadn't been briefed on the contract terms.
"I haven't heard anything about the new contract," he said. "If we don't like it, we're not going to sign anything."

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Nine Israelis in plot vs. mosque

Nine Jewish extremists planned to attack Islam's holy Al Aqsa Mosque in two separate plots to blow up the Mideast peace process, Israeli authorities revealed yesterday.
The alleged plotters were arrested more than a month ago but released without formal charges - a move that has outraged Arab and Palestinian leaders.

The mosque is the Muslim world's third-holiest shrine and is built atop the Temple Mount, sacred to Jews as the ancient site of Solomon's Temple.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra said the plots were "not serious" and that the men involved, including several members of the ultra-Orthodox Bratslav Hasidic movement, never had the means to see the violence through.

But at the same time, investigators did say the men:


Planned to fire an anti-tank missile at the mosque from the roof of a nearby yeshiva in Jerusalem's old city.

Talked of attacking Israeli security forces with grenades - and then committing suicide.

Contacted underworld figures to buy a missile but didn't have the money.
The men were released after prosecutors determined that - in the absence of finding weapons, or evidence that the plot was ever going to be realized - the suspects could not be convicted.

"The Arabs will think people really want to destroy the Temple Mount," Ezra said.

"There are no indictments because there was no crime," he added. "If it were serious, would they have been released? The whole story is exaggerated."

But Arab and Palestinian leaders were flabbergasted that the Jewish extremists were let go.

"The entire world must hold Israel fully responsible for any attack on mosques, which may ignite the entire region," said Hatem Abdel Kader, a Palestinian Legislative Council member.

He also alleged that the extremists "are supported by a large sector of the Israeli security establishment and army" and demanded the UN Security Council meet to discuss the threats to the mosque.

"They say they are dealing with it, but what does that mean?" asked Abdel-Malik Dehamsheh, an Arab member of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. "Will they 'deal with it' until the first missile hits and then say, 'Sorry, we were dealing with it but we messed up?'"

Investigators say the catalyst for the right-wing Jewish extremists is Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to shut down Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

One of the suspects, Avtalion Kadosh, even declared he wanted to "create a third intifadeh and a war with Arab countries," investigators alleged.

Sharon's Gaza withdrawal plan sparked massive protests around Israel yesterday. Thousands of Israelis blocked main highways and burned tires to protest the plan. At least 300 people were arrested.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Kiryas Joel annexation update

The Kiryas Joel Alliance this week withdrew its application to annex 87 acres into Kiryas Joel from Woodbury and announced the decision in concert with its new partners in peace – annexation opponents SOCA At Work and members of the Woodbury Town Board.
But the goodwill gesture caused some opponents to focus on the fact that the dissident Satmar group still has a pending petition to annex 97 acres of Monroe into Kiryas Joel. They flooded Monroe Town Hall with calls demanding the Town Board reject the annexation request.
Supervisor Sandy Leonard faxed the Times Herald-Record a written response.
The town "must look at each annexation petition individually on its merits," she said. Then a hint: The board "has not looked favorably" on past requests.
"Although past performance is no guarantee of future decisions, it gives an idea of how we are thinking," Leonard wrote.
Not that the board has any reason to seriously consider a request from the enemies of its friends, the KJ leadership. Why agree to cough up land, catch hell from residents and enrage KJ Mayor Abraham Wieder, all in one move?

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Academy graduate says Weida views him as ‘Jew first’

An Air Force Academy graduate who accused the school of religious intolerance said he was insulted when the academy’s No. 2 commander wrote to him in Hebrew, and said the letters show the commander “sees me as a Jew first.”
Mike Weinstein, a 1977 academy graduate, said he got the letters this month from Brig. Gen. Gen. Johnny Weida, the school’s commandant of cadets. Weinstein called the letters “bizarre in the extreme.”

Weida, who describes himself as a born-again Christian, has been the subject of complaints that he improperly mixes religion with his official duties. An Air Force task force is investigating allegations that cadets were pressured to attend religious services, public prayers were held before official events and Jewish cadets were harassed and insulted.

Academy spokesman Johnny Whitaker said Weida sent the letters “to reach out to Mr. Weinstein in the hope that we can work together to deal with the religious respect issues and programs at the academy of which Mr. Weinstein has been so critical.”

Weinstein, of Albuquerque, N.M., told The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs that Weida sent him a May 12 letter including the phrase “Shalom Aleichem,” or “peace to you.”

After he got the letter, Weinstein said, he called Weida’s secretary and said, “We’re at war.”

Weinstein said Weida responded with a second letter saying he hoped they would not be at war and wrote in Hebrew, “May this be the beginning activity for the good of the Air Force Academy. Peace to you.”

Weinstein said he does not speak Hebrew and had the phrases translated by his rabbi.

“Why does he have to cloud it in an ancient language that almost no Jew is conversant in?” he said. “Oh yeah. That’s right. Because he sees me as a Jew first.”

Weinstein said his son Curtis, a student at the academy, has been called a Christ-killer by evangelical Christian cadets.

The Air Force announced the task force inquiry on May 3 after cadets lodged dozens of complaints in internal surveys. The group is expected to submit its report to Acting Air Force Secretary Michael L. Dominguez on Monday.

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Cases dismissed in cornerstone arrests; plaque blowtorched days later

The cases against the various people arrested last December 15th in connection with the confrontation over the plaque at 770 were essentially concluded last Thursday (April 7th), as the defendants all received Adjournments in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACDs). This disposition means that if the defendant is not arrested for other crimes for the next six months, charges will be dismissed – a virtual certainty under the circumstances.
The ACDs were conditional in the cases of those who were charged with the felony of second-degree assault against police officers, as well as for those charged with inciting to riot (a shliach from Flatbush, arrested December 19th) and with petit larceny (one of the bochurim, arrested November 4th, involved in the original switching of the longstanding plaque for a new one). The condition was that they successfully complete an eight-week program being designed by the District Attorney’s office, modeled after secular anger-management programs but tailored for religious individuals.
“It’s a mashpia-type program,” said George Farkash, attorney for the defendants.
Regular anger management programs are structured for people who have trouble controlling their anger against, for example, a spouse or co-worker, he explained. These defendants, however, and people like them, are ordinarily calm, controlled people whose behavior was motivated by anger over a religious dispute. “It’s very hard for a secular person conducting a mainstream anger management program to tell people like that, ‘Control yourself,’” said Mr. Farkash. “In this program, religious leaders conduct the sessions.”
“The DA, in a very wise decision, is devising a program, into which I have input, into which [Lubavitch] community leaders have input, to address these issues,” the attorney noted. However, he declined to identify which community leaders were involved.
Mr. Farkash attributed the dismissals to his and the community’s having been able to satisfy the police that “we can contain this”; that there won’t be any more assaults or similar conduct and that the dispute will be resolved peacefully within the community. The police were willing to go along with that, he said, and no civil suits are pending or monetary settlements exchanged with the injured police officers.
During the night following Sunday April 10th, a person wearing a mask inflicted significant damage to the Plexiglas covering the plaque, and may even have harmed the plaque itself. The guard, who was in the security booth at the time, called police and the vandal fled as they approached. Asked about this, Mr. Farkash said he had not heard about the incident. “However,” he stated, “I am certain that if the police catch somebody, they will be prosecuted” vigorously, and will not be able to expect the same result as his clients received.
After last Thursday’s decision, the only case that now remains pending in connection with the plaque is the ongoing civil lawsuit in which Merkos and Aguch are battling Congregation Lubavitch, Inc. for control of 770. That case, which had been scheduled to resume April 13th, has been adjourned until May 25th.

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Jew vs. Jew struggle in N.Y. School Board election

A bitter school board election in an affluent Long Island suburb has inflamed tensions between Orthodox Jews and members of the old-guard, liberal Jewish community in Lawrence, N.Y.

Tuesday's election pitted Shlomo Huttler, a lawyer and Orthodox rabbi, against Stanley Kopilow, vice president of a local Reform temple. Kopilow won the race, which featured battling allegations in the local Jewish newspaper, concerns over violent rhetoric and a controversial letter from a prominent Reform rabbi.

Much of the election debate centered on perceptions that the growth of Lawrence's Orthodox population has weakened support for its public schools. As in similar debates here and elsewhere in the region, liberal efforts to maintain traditional tax rates and services have led to heated charges of anti-Orthodox and even antisemitic bigotry.

"A certain set of social issues... are getting played out again and again in suburban areas where Orthodox Jews are moving in," Huttler told the Forward. "What often ensues is extremely ugly debate. ... You could almost call it a Kabuki-like quality."

Kopilow, the Reform leader, dismissed Huttler's comments as "the typical tactic of a losing campaign, and of a campaign that has nothing to say." He argued that Huttler was "the guy who has been the loudest religion-baiter."

Lawrence, population 6,500, is one of a group of leafy villages known locally as the Five Towns, affluent, mostly-Jewish suburbs on Long Island's south shore. The area has seen an explosive growth in Orthodox population over the past two decades, fueled by spillover from the burgeoning Orthodox neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The exodus has been accompanied by repeated tensions over school boards and school budgets, as well as land use, zoning and the legality of erecting of Sabbath barriers, or eruvs, on public property.

By all accounts, the Lawrence school board race took those debates to a new height of incivility.

With many Orthodox Jewish families moving into Lawrence and opting for Jewish day schools, the public school population has sunk dramatically, leaving some facilities vacant. Huttler campaigned on the idea that these properties should be sold, with funds from the sales — instead of additional property taxes — being used to cover budget increases. Lawrence voters have not approved a budget increase since 2002. According to a report in The New York Times, the number of public school teachers on Long Island earning $100,000 or more a year grew "fivefold" between 2001 and 2003. Lawrence had the second highest proportion of teachers earning six-figure salaries, at 25%.

While these budgetary issues produced the policy questions in the campaign, both candidates appealed on religious differences in the debate.

In an advertisement in Long Island's Jewish Star newspaper, Huttler asserted that Kopilow was "counting on Orthodox voters just like you to not vote on May 17." A 2002 survey conducted by UJA-Federation of New York found that the Orthodox constitute about 26% of the estimated 41,400 Jews living in the Five Towns and Atlantic Beach.

Kopilow ran his own ad asserting that Huttler would represent only the "private school community" and that Huttler had "chutzpah" for wanting to represent a district that has a "majority of Christian students."

Then, at a meet-the-candidates night on May 2, Kopilow was asked what he would do if the proposed budget increase on the May 17 ballot was rejected by voters. Exactly what he said in response remains the subject of debate, but all observers agree he made some reference to using a "a shotgun." Kopilow says that he simply quipped, "Other than taking a shotgun to someone's head?" But some Huttler supporters in the audience claim that Kopilow said he would take a "shotgun to a certain group" if the budget received a rejection.

The Jewish Star couldn't clarify the quote, but chimed in with an editorial condemning Kopilow for jokingly referring to shotgun use "in this post Columbine-Red Lake world," and went on to endorse Huttler for the school board position.

Then Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, religious leader of Temple Israel of Lawrence, the Reform congregation where Kopilow serves as vice president, waded into the controversy. A leader in the Reform rabbinate, Rosenbaum used synagogue letterhead and the congregation's fax machine to send out a letter to the other rabbis in Lawrence in an effort to "introduce" Kopilow. The letter did not offer a direct endorsement of the Reform candidate. Still, it incited complaints from many in the pro-Huttler camp who charged that by sending the letter, Rosenbaum had violated his congregation's 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

Kevin McKeon, a New York press liaison for the Internal Revenue Service, would not comment on the specifics of the situation, citing privacy laws, but referred the Forward to a press release from 2004 in which the IRS asserted that violators would include those who "distribute statements, or become involved in any other activities that may be beneficial or detrimental to any candidate."

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Nathan Schlesinger found guilty

A prominent businessman in Williamsburg's Hasidic community was convicted yesterday in federal court of setting fire to his Brooklyn factory to collect $4.5 million in insurance money.

In addition to arson, Nathan Schlesinger, 68, of 234 Marcy Ave., Brooklyn, was found guilty of use of fire to commit a felony, money laundering, and mail and wire fraud. Schlesinger's square-block-size factory at 750 Kent Ave., Brooklyn, manufactured women's clothing under store-brand labels for upscale stores such as Neiman-Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Fire officials sent out a "mayday" call when contact was lost with a firefighter battling a blaze inside the factory in December 1998, one of the five fires that figured in the case against Schlesinger. The firefighter was quickly found unharmed. Schlesinger also was convicted of collecting another $4.5 million by inflating the damage on the other four fires. Schlesinger's attorney, Douglas Burns, said, "We are extremely disappointed in the outcome and will vigorously pursue an appeal."

The case was brought after a five-year investigation by the IRS, the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Enforcement, and fire marshals.

Under federal guidelines, Schlesinger faces a mandatory prison sentence of 10 years for conviction on the use of arson in commission of a felony. When fraud and money laundering counts are included, Schlesinger could face between 235 to 293 months in prison. U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Spatt ordered Schlesinger held without bail, saying he was a flight risk because of the prison sentence.

Many Schlesinger supporters from Williamsburg's Satmar Hasidic community showed up during the trial, at times forced to wait outside the courtroom.

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Taxes in Kiryas Joel stable, no hike for 8th straight year

The last time this village raised property taxes, Bill Clinton was president and Monica Lewinsky had yet to become a household name.
"Titanic" – both the doomed ship and the film's leaden dialogue – was sinking quickly on movie screens; Rosanne Barr was a sassy TV mom; and the Florida Marlins were on their way to winning the World Series in only their fourth season.
Kiryas Joel, the region's newest and fastest-growing municipality, the one with all the expensive capital projects, has just adopted a $7.4 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year with the same tax rate that was set back in 1997.
Eight years in a row with no tax increase.
Yes, the village is raising its tax levy – the total amount it collects from property owners to support its spending. That figure will go up by 7.7 percent to roughly $1.4 million in the fiscal year beginning on June 1.
But the tax base has widened at a comparable rate over the last year, largely because of the relentless housing construction. That means the tax rate will remain at an unusually low $14.14 per $1,000 of assessed value.
But what about all the big capital projects completed or started since the last tax hike – the sewage treatment plant, the fire station, the chicken slaughterhouse, the convalescence center for mothers? Or the trucks and equipment for the sanitation and fire departments formed since taxes last rose?
Or, for that matter, the money spent so far on engineers and lawyers to plan and defend the village's proposed $21 million water hookup to the Catskill Aqueduct?
The simplest explanation appears to be government grants, which have helped pay for several of the capital projects, and municipal bonds – the usual way to space out large costs over a number of years.
Kiryas Joel Administrator Gedalye Szegedin explained this week that his village, like other municipalities, accounts for its capital spending outside its operating budget, so that a $21 million water project wouldn't suddenly crank up spending and taxes.
However the accounting was done, the bottom line remains: The tax rate is $14.14. Again.

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R' Aron's einikel's Bar-Mitzvah

R' Aron Teitelbaum will be celebrating his einikel's Bar-Mitzvah tonight.

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Lipa Schmeltzer becomes a Lubavitcher


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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Yonason Shtrasser donates $1 million to Boineh Oilam

At the Boineh Oilam fundraising party last night film slides were shown of the services provided by the organization. The slides were quite touching and invoked a lot of compassion from people that had attended the function. Compassion that translated into big bucks. However, apparantly Mr. Yonasson Shtrasser was very touched. After the slide presentation was over, Mr. Shtrasser approached the stage, took the microphone in his hand and announced that he would donate $1 million to the organization. Hmm, maybe I should make a Chaptzem fundraising dinner.

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Councilman pushing legal double parking

A Brooklyn city councilman is suggesting that motorists be allowed to double park for five minutes - so they can run that quick errand at the neighborhood store.

Councilman Vincent Gentile says traffic agents are "out of control" costing people hundreds of dollars for running simple errands.

Gentile says one of his constituents was given a 115 dollar ticket for double parking while he was waiting for another motorist to pull out of a parking spot.

The bill doesn't seem to have much of a chance. The chairman of the city council transportation committee, John Lui, says the city is not going to make it easier to double park.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for next month.

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7.4 Million Dollar Bar Mitzvah!

British retail billionaire Philip Green has hired chart-topping R&B
group Destiny's Child to perform at his son's bar mitzvah.
The stars are set to entertain guests at the three-day event on the
French Riviera estimated to have cost the Bhs and Top Shop boss £4m
($7.4m).

Singer Justin Timberlake could also be performing, The Times reports.

Mr Green is said to have chartered a plane to fly about 200 of his
family's friends to the bash this weekend.

The guests are being put up at the exclusive Hotel du Cap in Cannes,
with the actual bar mitzvah itself expected to take place at a
synagogue being temporarily set up in the building.

Mr Green, who lives in nearby Monaco, has built up a fortune of more
than £3bn.

Rich and famous

He went straight into the rag trade after leaving private school in
Berkshire at the age of 15.

Securing the services of pop stars is nothing new for the rich and
famous.

UK-based steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal was able to hire Kylie Minogue
for his daughter's wedding in Versailles last year.

And Mr Green, 53, who unsuccessfully tried to buy UK High Street
group Marks & Spencer, marked his 50th birthday by throwing a three-
day bash for 250 guests in Cyprus.

That event included a toga party and entertainment from Tom Jones and
Rod Stewart.

4 comments

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Elephant-sized problem for police officers in Kiryas Joel

Police answering a complaint about parked vehicles blocking
Schunnemunk Road outside Kiryas Joel Sunday night came across an
unexpected scene at the unoccupied Achdus Summer Homes bungalow
colony.
There, at around 6:30 p.m., they found an elephant lumbering and
prancing for the delight of 400 to 500 people as circus music played
through loudspeakers, police Sgt. Cliff Weeks said. Parked in the
vicinity were roughly 50 to 70 cars, a tractor-trailer truck, a dozen
school buses and a Kiryas Joel fire truck, Weeks said.
It turns out the four-ton pachyderm had been hired to entertain
Kiryas Joel children who sing psalms together every Saturday morning
to pray for the sick and needy. Once a year, the community rewards
them with a special event – usually a tamer activity, such as the
puppet show the kids got last year, said Rabbi Ely Shloma Kohn, who
helps coordinate the program.
Town officials broke up the elephant show, saying no one warned
them or applied for a permit. Building Inspector Gary Thomasberger
said yesterday that he issued no citations but would write a letter
to the Kiryas Joel School District, which had paid the trainer.
The elephant – a 30-year-old female from Florida en route to a
summer gig in the Adirondacks – also gave an hour-long performance
yesterday morning in a school-bus parking lot on Bakertown Road in
Kiryas Joel. That show was for the students and staff of the Kiryas
Joel School District, the community's public school for handicapped
children.

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R' M. D. Ungar slated to setup shop in old B.Y.

R' M. D. Ungar is about to begin construction on the old Bais Yaakov building. The building, once all the necessary renovations are done, will be the new base of operations for the Ungar Chassidim. I guess that's better than having those highway construction lights along with a tent.

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Man rescued from shelf-destruction in Sforim store

A customer at a Brooklyn Judaica store was nearly buried alive
yesterday when a 7-foot shelf collapsed on him - burying him in
religious books.
The unidentified man had to be extricated by firefighters after the
accident on the second floor of the Z. Berman Books store on 17th
Ave. in Borough Park.

Bookstore worker Yisroel Neusbaum said no one had any idea why the
metal shelves toppled.

"That's what we're trying to figure out," Neusbaum said.

The shopper was a first-time customer at the store, which stocks
hundreds of copies of Jewish religious texts stacked up toward the
ceiling.

He was browsing on the second floor when one of the dozens of shelves
collapsed.

Neusbaum called 911.

Firefighters responded and had to pull the customer out from under
the avalanche of books. He somehow escaped with only minor injuries
and refused medical treatment.

Bookstore workers said they never had had any problems with the
shelves before.

"They're always safe. It's just like a mystery," said another
employee who did not want his name used.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

S'gan Menahel kicked out of Bobov

The S'gan Menahel of Bobover Talmid Torah, Harav Miller, was kicked out of his job. He was approached by the Yeshivah's administration and was told that he could keep his job if he promised to drop his alliance towards R' M. D. Ungar. He refused to comply to these demands and subsequently forfeited his job.

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R' Aron Teitelbaum opens Shul in Monsey

R' Aron opens a new Shul in Monsey in a bid to combat the strong influence of his brother R' Zalmen Leib throughout the area.

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

R' Yecheskel Roth speaks out against R' Hillel Weinberger

R' Yecheskel Roth, in a fiery speech, spoke out against R' Hillel Weinberger's speech against the eiruv. He said it was a travesty that such words could be spoken from such a person about yiddishe kinder. He continued to quote the posuk from Tehilim, kapitel yud, "Ki Hillel rushe".

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Stamar forced to give back Balkany Yeshivah plus landmark Synagogue

In a recent court decision, Satmar was forced to return to Rabbi Balkany his Yeshivah and the adjoining landmark Synagogue that had been purchased from him. Rabbi Balkany, during his 'difficult time' was forced to sell the properties. However, now he wanted them back. Since most of the money had been paid under the table, the seller contract was considered void and the money would have to be accepted back by Satmar.

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Nicklashburger Rebbe accepting private audiences

Nicklashburger Rebbe from Israel will now be accepting private one-on-one audiences with people. If you are interested in setting up an appointment or if you would like information on where the Rebbe will be staying, please feel free to call the Nicklashburger hotline at 718-300-3134.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bobov has their day in court

Bobov had their day in Federal Court, to some capacity at least. While appearing in front of Federal Court Judge Kramer, he began to explain a request that he had for them. The Judge related a story of when he had been running for his position, he had gone to R' Shloime Bobover for a brocho. The Rebbe told him he would grant it to him, he had only one request. That if two heimishe people would come before him, he would send them first to Beis Din. The Judge said, he would at least expect his children to follow what he had said. He gave them ten days to go to Beis Din.

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Friday, May 13, 2005

New Traffic Camera Locations

Bronx Pelham Pkwy (W/B) @ Stillwell Ave
Bronx 149th St. (S/B) @ 3rd Ave.
Bronx Grand Concourse several locations (N and S/B)
Bronx Major Deegan Service Road (N/B) @ Yankee Stadium
Bronx Fordham Rd. @ Sedgwick Ave.
Bronx E. 135th St.(W) @ Alexander Ave. X4-13
Bronx Cross Bronx Exp Service Rd (N/B) @ Rosedale Ave.
Bronx Grand Concourse (E) @ 167th St. X1-12
Bronx 161st St. (E/B) @ Anderson Ave.

Brooklyn Coney Island Ave. (N/B) @ Avenue J
Brooklyn Kings Hwy (S/B) @ Remsen Ave. KI-12
Brooklyn Flatlands Ave. @ Ralph Ave.
Brooklyn Pennsylvania Ave. (E/B) @ Atlantic Ave.
Brooklyn Ocean Pkwy (N/B) @ Church ave.
Brooklyn Kings Hgwy. (E/B) @ Nostrand Ave. KI-12
Brooklyn Jamaica Ave. (E/B) @ Pennsylvania Ave. KD-13
Brooklyn Hmltn Ave. (N) @ Clinton Ave. K3-23
Brooklyn Fort Hamilton Parkway (W/B) @ 60th Street
Brooklyn Utica Ave. @ Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn Flatbush Ave. @ Toy's-R-Us entrance
Brooklyn East side of Humboldt St. @ Metropolitan Ave.
Brooklyn Boerum Pl. (N/B) @ Atlantic Ave.
Brooklyn Bay Pkwy (N/B) @ 65th St.
Brooklyn Atlantic Ave. (W) @ Bedford Ave. K9-23
Brooklyn 78th St. @ 7th Ave.
Brooklyn 4Th Ave. (S) @ 41st St. K5-23
Brooklyn Flatbush Ave. (N/B) @ Avenue H Kk-12
Brooklyn Eastern Pkwy. (E) @ Utica Ave. K6-13

Manhattan West 72nd St. (N/B) @ Amsterdam Ave.
Manhattan 1st Ave. (N/B) @ E. 125th St. MA-14
Manhattan East 42nd St. (S/B) @ 2nd Ave.
Manhattan East 72nd St. (N/B) @ 3rd Ave.
Manhattan Madison Ave. (N/B) @ E. 96th St. ME-24
Manhattan West End Avenue. (S/B) @ 66th St. M7-12
Manhattan York Ave. (N/B) @ E. 79th St. MC-12
Manhattan Broadway (S/B) @ Sherman Ave. Mf-12
Manhattan Amsterdam Ave. (N/B) @ 96th Street - MJ-23
Manhattan 2nd Ave (S/B) @ 42nd St - M1-24
Manhattan Houston St. (W/B) @ 1st Ave. M5-13
Manhattan Houston St. (S/B) @ West St.

Queens Queens Blvd. (W/B) @ Roosevelt Ave. QK-23
Queens Metropolitan Ave. (W/B)@ Cooper Ave. Qe-12
Queens Queens Blvd. (W/B) @ 71st Ave. Qi-13
Queens Woodhaven Blvd. (S/B) @ 62nd Rd. QA-23
Queens So. Conduit Ave. (E/B) @ 89th St. Q5-23
Queens Queens Blvd. @ Ascan Ave.
Queens Queens Blvd. (E/B) @ 58th St. Q1-13
Queens Northern Blvd. (W/B) @ Douglaston Pkwy.
Queens Northern Blvd. (E/B) @ 114th St.
Queens Metropolitan Ave. (W/B) @ Fresh Pond Rd. Q8-12
Queens L.I.E. N. Svc Road (W/B) @ College Pt. Blvd. QH-12
Queens Frances Lewis Blvd. (S/B) @ Union Tpke QI-22
Queens Crossbay Blvd. (N/A) @ 165th Ave. QC-14
Queens Astoria Blvd. @ 108th St.
Queens Astoria Blvd. (E/B) @ Steinway St. QG-23
Queens Rockaway Blvd. (W/B) @ Brookville Rd.

Staten Island Hylan Blvd. (N/B) @ Burbank Ave.
Staten Island Richmond Ave. (N/B) @ Draper Pl. S5-13
Staten Island Richmond Ave. (N/B) @ Travis Ave.
Staten Island Richmond Ave. (N/B) @ West Caswell Ave.
Staten Island Victory Blvd. (E/B) @ Morani Ave.
Staten Island: N/B Hylan Blvd at Tysens Lane (towards New Dorp Lane)
Staten Island - Huguenot Ave & Woodrow Road. On Huguenot Ave towards Amboy Road

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Goyte cleaning windows for Pesach


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Rabbi Hillel Weinberger - The uncensored tapes

Rabbi Hillel Weinberger of Nitra gave a speech saying that anyone who carries with the eiruv is like a "millech kestel" (milk crate) and should be yelled at. I have yet to figure out who yells at a milk crate. He also criticized the Vaad Ha'Eiruv for having to 'import' a Rav for their p'sak. Isn't Rabbi Weinberger from Nitra, I guess that makes him an 'import' too. After the speech, tapes had been distributed with these two sentences censored out of it. Here is a hotline that has the uncensored version available to listen to. The number is (212) 990-7194.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Queens man held in grenade plot

An ex-Israeli army soldier living in Queens has been arrested for plotting to buy a half-dozen hand grenades. Police searching his Rego Park apartment found an Uzi submachine gun and ammunition.

Police say 57-year-old Joshua Hedvat reportedly made threats to a juge, a rabbi and U-S Senator Charles Schumer. However, Schumer's office says they knew of no threats.

Authorities and neighbors say Hedvat complained that his family fortune in Iran was cheated from him.

Neighbors told police Hedvat was a loner who often muttered about violence, but he never did anything dangerous.

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Metzitza B'peh under scrutiny by NYC Board of Health

As both the New York State and Rockland County Boards of Health have decided to allow Metzitza B'peh and discontinue their investigation into the matter, the New York City Board of Health however, is still persuing the matter. In an effort to try to persuade the Board and consider the ramifications of such an inquiry, various Rabbonim have applied for a permit to protest against it. The permit applictaion was for 25,000 protesters.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Nicklashburger Rebbe comes to America

The Nicklashburger Rebbe is scheduled to arrive in America tomorrow. This will be the first visit for the Rebbe from Israel in a very long time. His trip had been postponed from a couple of months ago. He will be first staying in Williamsburg and will then make his way around. Y'hay Boyoy Livrocho!

1 comments

Monday, May 09, 2005

Illegal immigrants clean homes in Williamsburg

Women waiting for off-the-books cleaning jobs line up at corner of Division St. and Marcy Ave. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

On street corners all over the nation, men - many illegal immigrants - wait for construction, landscaping and factory work. But there are far fewer places where women wait, hoping for a day's pay.
Two of those places are in New York.

Outside the delis and newsstands at Eighth Ave. and 37th St. in Manhattan, Latinas wait to be hired for work in Fashion District factories or New Jersey warehouses. And at the corner of Marcy Ave. and Division St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Hasidic housewives hire Hispanic and Polish women to clean.

"There aren't many permanent jobs left around here, so here we are," said one Ecuadoran woman waiting on 37th St. on a recent chilly morning. She, like others who stood nearby with their arms crossed, wore low-heeled shoes and dangling gold earrings.

There are 60 such "shapeups" for men in New York City and at least a dozen on Long Island, said Nadia Marin-Molina of the Workplace Project in Hempstead, L.I.

Women traditionally have found work through other means, such as agencies or newspaper ads. But about five years ago, labor organizers said, women started waiting for daywork.

In some ways, the shapeups are an American rite for new immigrants, who seek menial labor that doesn't pay well - but still eclipses what they would earn back home.

At the same time, they have become tacit components of the underbelly of the U.S. economy, which depends on undocumented cheap labor.

"African-American women used to stand on the corner in the Bronx waiting for housecleaning work. And Irish men used to stand on streetcorners waiting for work as day laborers," Marin-Molina said. "It's traditionally been immigrants."

Today's women laborers take the same leap of faith others before them have: At some point, they go off with strangers, not knowing what they will want them to do or if they'll be paid for their work.

Advocates say day laborers face many problems, including below-minimum-wage pay, pressure to work faster, and dirty or unsafe conditions. They often cobble together work hours, earning $5 to $10 an hour but with no insurance, vacations or job security.

Beyond that, some women day laborers have been sexually harassed and even raped, said Oscar Paredes of the Latin American Workers Project.

"These women are always afraid, afraid of losing their jobs, afraid of the police, afraid of anti-immigrant sentiment and laws," Paredes said.

In Farmingville, L.I., and other parts of the country, male day laborers have come under fire by residents who say their presence lowers the safety and property values of their communities. In Williamsburg, residents hire the women, but they've objected to building an official work center for them.

The female day laborers are hired for what jobs the Fashion District has left, mostly sewing and ironing. Others are shuttled by van to warehouses to pack CDs and DVDs.

In Williamsburg, they clean homes and tidy neighborhood stores. Margarita, a Mexican woman, said it's important to negotiate pay and hours in advance and to warn others if the employer doesn't pay.

"That way, they know they can't get away with that," she said. "Out here, you're your own boss."

A grueling 7 hours of scrubbing - for $42

I was climbing down from Mrs. G's fire escape when she thrust a small plastic cup of lemonade at me.

"Here lady," she said.

After more than four hours of cleaning her windows, walls and floors, Mrs. G still hadn't asked my name.

At 7 a.m. each day, women gather alongside the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to find cleaning work.

Recently I worked one of those jobs, waiting with women from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Poland as Hasidic housewives and daughters contracted us to do the intense pre-Passover cleaning their Orthodox tradition requires.

I asked Margarita, a thin-eyebrowed Mexican woman sitting against one of the concrete barriers, how things worked, explaining that I was new to the spot.

I should start with two key questions, she said: How much do you pay, and how many hours are you looking for? The pay is usually $8 or $9 an hour, but with the holiday looming, there was enough work to be choosy. No one was working for less than $10 an hour, Margarita explained.

And, she warned me in Spanish, they are very strict about cleaning. "Everything has to be done just so."

Ten minutes into my wait, I had several offers.

One young girl offered me $10 an hour for a few hours. She gave me a slip of paper with her address on it.

When I showed Dionisia, a tall Dominican woman, she clucked her tongue and said, "Oh no, don't go there. She doesn't pay. It's a good thing you showed me that."

About 10 a.m., a woman approached me as I stood slightly apart from the group.

"You want to clean? You want a job?" she asked.

Yes, I said, and I followed her home. Inside her nearby apartment on Hooper St., she handed me a bucket, a rag and bleach and told me to bring a 6-foot metal ladder from her formal dining room into her kitchen.

For seven hours I washed her dishes, cleaned her windows and blinds and scrubbed her walls. I scoured the insides of her cabinets and wiped out greasy dust bunnies from the top of her refrigerator. I washed the back and sides of her dishwasher.

As I worked, she sat at her kitchen table, talking in Yiddish on the phone and to her sons, who passed through the kitchen for snacks without so much as a look in my direction.

She scrutinized my work, pointed to spots she said I'd missed, then instructed me to redo most of it. I plunged my hands into the cold water and bleach again to clean the same things two or three times.

After hours of climbing up and down the ladder, I mopped her kitchen floor on my hands and knees. I tried not to talk much, except to say, "Okay" in a manufactured Hispanic accent when I'd finished something or gotten a new task.

At 5:30 p.m., with no end in sight, my back and knees were weak and my hands were peeling. Exhausted, I made up an excuse about needing to pick up a child I don't have.

Mrs. G asked if I could work every Friday, then gave me a piece of paper with her name and address. She also gave me a chilled apple and stuck $42 in my hand and sent me off.

As I bit into my apple, I realized I had been a nameless, $6-an-hour bargain for Mrs. G - and no doubt a joke to the other women leaving their cleaning jobs. But I was thankful that the only house I have to clean is my own.

Note: The $42 was donated to the New York Women's Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income women and girls in the city achieve economic security.

7 comments

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Naftoli Spiegel gets beaten up in Boro-Park

As Munkatcher Rebbe was walking on the street Shabbos with his Chassidim in tow, he had passed by Naftoli Spiegel. Naftoli shouted at the Rebbe, "Mchalelehu mois yimos". The Rebbe turned to him and said "Di Tzedoiky!". After the Rebbe had passed by, some of the Chassidim turned around and went after Naftoli. They grabbed his spudik and glasses, beat the daylights out of him and then took off. I guess this time Naftoli Spiegel picked on the wrong guys.

17 comments
Scam Rabbi's prayer

A prominent Orthodox Jewish leader is begging a federal judge for mercy in the hope of avoiding prison time for a multimillion-dollar business scam — and he has a slew of rabbis, civic and business leaders pleading his cause, The Post has learned.
Rabbi Judah Feinerman, 79, of Far Rockaway, Queens, confessed to being a crooked insurance broker who, along with a co-defendant, collected $20 million from trucking companies and firms without ever setting up the policies with insurance companies. He used the money to pay for a home in Boca Raton, Fla., among other personal expenses.

Feinerman's downfall has reverberated through the tightly knit Orthodox Jewish community. More than 100 friends have written Manhattan federal Judge Richard Holwell appealing for compassion.

Among those going to bat for Feinerman is Touro College President Bernard Lander, who said Feinerman's "life has been replete with acts of decency and charity," Lander said.

Herbert Dobrinsky, vice president of Yeshiva University, said Feinerman "opened his home to individuals and families who became destitute."

Rabbi Aaron Eli Glatt, an infectious-disease specialist, wrote, "There are literally thousands of individuals who have directly benefited from this good man's hospitality and kindness."

Widely regarded as a charitable man who helped build synagogues and financed tuition for needy students, Feinerman was treasurer of the Synagogue Council of America. He long was a trustee on the governing board of his alma mater, Yeshiva, and chaired the board of the university's rabbinical school from 1986 to 2000.

He was also one of 20 U.S. Jewish leaders invited to a historic gathering at the Vatican in 1990.

"I stand before you today as a broken individual. I pleaded guilty to a crime because I am guilty," Feinerman said in a statement he has prepared for his sentencing.

He repented having "sullied" his family, which includes four children, 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

"I am old. I am tired," said Feinerman, who is in ailing health. "My fear now is that I may die alone in jail . . . Judge Holwell, with every fiber of my being, I hope to seek atonement for my misdeeds and I beg for your mercy."

His sentencing is slated for May 19. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has recommended 30 months in jail.

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Family of Sephardic Chief Rabbi Arrested

The wife, daughter and son of Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi were arrested in the kidnapping and beating of a 17-year-old youth, Israeli media reported Friday.

The family of the rabbi, Shlomo Amar, reportedly objected to a romantic relationship the youth, who is ultra-Orthodox, had with the rabbi's 18-year-old daughter, the reports said. The rabbi is not a suspect in the case, the reports said.

Police were not immediately available for comment. One police inspector, Moshe Mualem, told Israel Radio that the investigation was still in the early stages. The three suspects appeared before a Tel Aviv court Friday. The rabbi's wife and daughter were released to house arrest, the reports said.

Amar is one of Israel's two chief rabbis, the most senior position in the ultra-Orthodox establishment.

According to the reports, the rabbi's daughter had met the youth through the Internet. In the ultra-Orthodox world, social contact between unmarried men and women is frowned upon.

The Haaretz daily said the key suspect is Amar's son, Meir, who has been leading a secular life for years. He and two accomplices allegedly beat the youth for several hours in the presence of his sister, the report said. The young woman was arrested because she did not try to stop the beating, the report said.

2 comments

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