Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Child poverty on rise in region 

The percentage of school-age children living in poverty has grown in Orange and Ulster counties and leaped ahead in Sullivan County since the recession took hold, according to figures released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

The numbers, broken down by counties and school districts nationwide, show a wide disparity in poverty among children ages 5-17 within the three counties, ranging from a low of 4.4 percent in Tuxedo School District to nearly 52 percent in Kiryas Joel.

Out of 34 school districts in the three counties, seven of the 10 poorest were in Sullivan County. At least one in five school-age children in each of those districts was living below the poverty line, with numbers as high as 31.5 percent in Monticello.

The recession clearly worsened Sullivan's long-standing economic woes. In 2007, 18.5 percent of children ages 5-17 in the county were deemed poor; by 2010, the number had grown to 25.4 percent.

One of Sullivan's poorest districts, Monticello, now serves free or reduced-price lunches to 61 percent of its students — up from 51 percent a year earlier.

"For some students, it's the only warm meal that they may have that day," said Daniel Teplesky, who took over as Monticello superintendent in August.

"There is a need in our area, and we address it each and every day," Teplesky said.

The federal poverty threshold varies by household size.

Despite the concentration in Sullivan, the two school districts with the highest percentages — Kiryas Joel in Orange County and Ellenville in Ulster — were outside its borders.

Kiryas Joel, one of the poorest places in America, is a fast-growing community of about 21,000 Hasidic Jews, who prize religious study over secular education and tend to have low incomes as a result. Many families are large — with six or more children — and rely on Medicaid, food stamps and other programs.

Median household incomes have risen 20 percent or more since the 2000 census, reaching $65,512 in Orange County, $43,882 in Sullivan County and $51,194 in Ulster County in 2010, the new data show. While that seems contrary to growing child poverty , earnings have stagnated or dipped since 2007, when median household incomes were $64,799 in Orange, $45,555 in Sullivan and $55,589 in Ulster.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Suit against Kiryas Joel is tossed 

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Kiryas Joel dissidents accusing community leaders of discrimination and
arguing that the village is an unconstitutional "theocracy" that should
be dissolved.

Civil-rights attorney Michael
Sussman brought the case in June on behalf of residents who claim that
secular and religious authority are closely entwined in Kiryas Joel and
that village officials discriminate against them because of a split in
the Satmar Hasidic movement over leadership.

In a decision signed Monday, Judge Jed Rakoff rejected the patchwork of
claims, concluding that some had already been addressed in previous
cases and that others were lacking because the alleged victims weren't
parties to the case.

Among other things, the plaintiffs had accused
the village's public safety force of acting as enforcers for the
community's main congregation and failing to protect dissidents when
they were menaced by young supporters of Grand Rebbe Aaron Teitelbaum.

The dissidents wanted the court to dismantle the 34-year-old village and
place its roughly 21,000 residents under the government of the
surrounding Town of Monroe.
Short of that, they asked the court to remove the current elected and appointed officials from office.

When the case was filed, village officials attributed the allegations to a
"small group of discontented persons" and insisted they provide services to all residents without discrimination.

They also accused the plaintiffs of trying to undo the will of voters who elected Mayor Abraham Wieder and village trustees.

The lawsuit listed dissident grievances dating back to the village's first
contested municipal election, in 2001. But the immediate trigger was a
heated dispute over a dissident synagogue that resulted in the closure
of the synagogue.

Rakoff declared in his
ruling that any claims involving the closed synagogue were off limits
because the conflict had already been litigated in two cases in state
Supreme Court.

Sussman had contended that the
combination of claims amounted to violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons

For instance, he claimed the alleged
mingling of secular and religious authority constituted an establishment of religion, forbidden by the First Amendment.



Monday, November 28, 2011

Chabad Claims Discrimination, Heads To Court 

A law­suit by a Jewish group on a land-use issue that divided the town appears to be heading toward a conclusion.

to Kenneth Slater of Halloran & Sage LLP in Hartford, the attorney
representing by Chabad Lubavitch of Litch­field County Inc., which is
led by Rabbi Yosef Aisenbach, parties on both sides of the case have filed motions for summary judgment.

is suing the Litchfield Historic Dis­trict Commission, a govern­mental
entity of the Litchfield Borough, for its denial of plans to expand and
convert the former site of the Wilderness Shop on West Street — in the
town center — into a new Chabad headquarters.

Slater explained
that the parties are entitled under the rules of procedure to ask the
court to render a ruling in their favor without need for a full trial.
"We have gone through the discovery phase where depositions are held and
documents are exchanged," the attorney noted.

The lawsuit is
filed in U.S. District Court, and the court is scheduled to hear oral
arguments from both parties next Friday (Dec. 2) in federal court in
Bridgeport, Mr. Slater said.

The lawsuit, filed in 2009,
challenges the right of the Historic District Commission to deny
Chabad's plans and summons the protections afford by the federal
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

building, now owned by Chabad, is just southwest of the West Street
shops and in the historic district, where the commission has wide power
to regulate exterior changes. The Litchfield Borough covers a square
mile and has its own layer of government that functions independently
from municipal government.

Chabad had proposed a project that
would have taken a building of a slightly more than 2,500 square feet
and increased it to more than 20,000 square feet. In denying a
certificate of appropriateness for the plans, the Historic District
Commission cited the scope and scale of the project as being too
invasive and out of character with other buildings in the heart of the
tourist-destination town.

Chabad saw the December 2007 denial as
an example of religious discrimination and in its lawsuit it cited the
horrors of the Holocaust and gave examples of other buildings in the
historic district that have been greatly expanded, including the
original structure that is part of Oliver Wolcott Library on South

The defendants in the suit filed motions seeking to
dismiss two counts in the lawsuit—those alleging a conspiracy to violate
the plaintiffs' rights and the failure to prevent such a conspiracy.

Janet C. Hall denied those motions in a July 2010 ruling, writing at
one point, "Several statements were made in what appear to be meetings
of the HDC that may contain evidence of discrimination directed against
Jewish people in general and the Chabad in particular."

plaintiffs claim that the actions of the defendants in blocking Chabad's
plans not only represent violations of the Jewish group's civil rights
but also violate RLUIPA directly and state statutes.

In April of
last year, the plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint, and the
defendants asked the court to strike certain portions of the complaint,
according to court documents.

In the amended complaint, the
plaintiffs added two sections which the defendants object to. The
plaintiffs include a brief description of the history of the
discrimination against Jewish people and the need for places of worship
for Orthodox Jews. Some of the description is limited to the
discrimination experienced by Jews in the United States and in recent
history, but the plaintiffs also include a brief description of the
Holocaust and the Nazis' attempt to exterminate the Jewish population.

arguing that is simply made an appropriate land-use decision, the
Historic District Commission has said the plan would overwhelm the
town's historic district. And it stressed that it proposed a compromise
to allow a doubling of the original square footage of the building to
5,000 square feet — a compromise that was rejected.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

NYC police investigating 2nd swastika on building 

New York City police are investigating a swastika found at a Brooklyn building as a possible hate crime.

The New York Post reports it's the second time in nine days that the anti-Semitic symbol has been found at the location in Williamsburg inside an elevator. The first symbol was found nine days ago also in the elevator.

The latest reports come two weeks after cars were torched in a Hasidic neighborhood, and swastikas were also found on benches in the Midwood neighborhood.

No arrests have been made.



Chabad-Lubavitch Gather in Crown Heights for 28th Annual Conference 

More than 4,000 rabbis, scholars and other representatives of the Hasidic Jewish community will gather on Sunday for the closing banquet of the 28th Annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emmissaries, which started Wednesday, November 23, in the Crown Heights section Brooklyn.

The international conference is the largest rabbinic gathering in New York, and is a way for rabbis and other Jewish leaders to connect, network, re-focus and re-energize around the Chabad-Lubavitch global movement, which started 300 years ago in Russia and has grown to more than 4,000 centers in 80 countries.

In New York, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement is based primarily in Crown Heights.

“We like for this annual meeting to also serve as inspiration for the Shluchim (the organization’s youth), to remind them that they must live their lives in a way where they are helping to improve something or someone,” said Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, 30, who has been a rabbi since he was 21 years old.

“Our goal has always been to help people reconnect with their heritage and make this a better world through acts of kindness.”

“If you look around the movement, the average rabbi moves out of the house at the age of 23, 24, and 25, and then they go on to become leaders of their communities. The empowerment of the youth is a major part of what we do. Of course it’s all based on the traditions and directives of the elders.

But if you look at the organization, probably 60 percent of the rabbis are under 45,” said Kotlarsky, whose father, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, is one of the conference chairmen and vice chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be especially poignant, as Saturday, Nov 26, marks the three-year anniversary of the 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks, (sometimes referred to as 26/11) marking the date of more than 10 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai by Islamist terrorist.

The attacks killed 164 people and wounded at least 308. Among those murdered were the Chabad-Lubavitch representatives Rabbi Gavriel Noach, his wife Rebbetzin Rivkah Holtzberg, and the four guests of the Chabad House, Rabbis Bentzion Kruman and Leibish Teitelbaum, Yoheved Orpaz and Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovich.

Two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg and nanny Sandra Samuel were the only ones to make it out of the Chabad House in Mumbai, India, alive after attackers stormed the house. All will be duly recognized at tomorrow’s gathering.

“It’s something we look forward to all year. And if it weren’t three days and 30 days, I would be happy,” said Rabbi Danny Cohen who runs a Chabad post in Hebron, Israel, which is located in the middle of the West Bank.

“[I’m] in a very unique place (Hebron), because it is an area considered by many as controversial. It is really a hot spot and a war zone. We’re there to take care of the Israeli soldiers, preserve the historic sites and support the Jewish community that is there.”

“Judaism is a way of life, so our focus is on all aspects and all issues of life, not just the sensational or major issues of today. We’re working towards the ultimate Utopia,” said Kotlarsky.

Sunday's banquet can be viewed live here via Internet simulcast with a running Twitter commentary.
Related Topics: 28th Annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emmissaries, Chabad-Lubavitch, Crown Heights, Hebron, Rabbi Danny Cohen, and Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky.



Friday, November 25, 2011

Inside the Ultra-Orthodox Shomrim Force 

When 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky went missing in Brooklyn last June, it
took two hours for anyone in Leiby's ultra-Orthodox neighborhood to
inform the police. The local volunteer Jewish security patrol heard
almost immediately.

The patrol, known as the Shomrim, organized a massive
posse to search Boro Park for the boy. But it was the police who found
him days later — hacked to pieces, in a nearby dumpster and in the
alleged murderer's freezer.

Jewish security patrols have existed for decades in
Orthodox enclaves in New York, but few have received as much outside
attention as the Boro Park volunteers in the days after Leiby's murder.
Early on, the Shomrim's rapid response drew praise, but after the praise came questions, some of them damning.

A new book by former Christian Science Monitor staff
reporter Matthew Shaer goes some way toward explaining why Leiby's
parents didn't call the cops when they lost their child. In Hasidic
Brooklyn, the Jewish Orthodox security patrol is more than just a
neighborhood watch: A powerful local force, it is central to communal
identity, and in a community eager to preserve its insularity, it forms a buffer against secular authorities.

Shaer's book, "Among Righteous Men: A Tale of
Vigilantes and Vindication in Hasidic Crown Heights," doesn't deal
directly with the Shomrim of Boro Park. Instead, it looks at a Lubavitch neighborhood in Crown Heights and digs deep into the culture and
context of a similar patrol that operates there.



Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rabbi critical, man he was helping across street killed 

A rabbi was in critical condition today after a car accident took the life of the 88-year-old man he was helping across the street in Hancock Park.

Berish Landau of Los Angeles, a prominent member of the Hasidic community, and 59-year-old Rabbi Samuel Jacobs of Valley Village, were walking across La Brea Avenue at Oakwood Avenue in the crosswalk about 6:15 a.m. Tuesday when they were struck.

A 1999 Plymouth Voyager, being driven north on North La Brea by a 27- year-old man, struck the men in front of Bais Yehuda Shul about 6:20 a.m., authorities said.

The driver, whose name was not released, stopped and cooperated with officers investigating the collision. There are no plans to charge him, police said.

Jacobs helped Landau across the street everyday, Rabbi Asher Biron told KPCC.

"This appears to have been a terrible accident and the driver was not arrested," according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement. "The driver and victims were all part of a close-knit Jewish community, which has been deeply saddened by the incident."

Landau moved here 10 years ago from New York to be closer to his son, Yonah, a prominent community outreach activist who runs a food distribution organization called Tomchei Shabbos.

During his funeral service last night blocks from the accident scene, Landau, also called Dov, was remembered as a man who lived in pre-war Europe and provided an important link to another generation of Jews, Rabbi Asher Biron of Los Angeles told KPCC. Another funeral will be held Friday morning in New York, where Landau will be buried, Biron said.

Jacobs, who goes by Shmuel, is an elementary school teacher at Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn located near the accident site. Community members have been praying for his condition to improve.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hasidic Woman finds dime in a pint of Häagen-Dazs 

This pint of ice cream came with cash back.

A Hasidic woman's Shabbat was spoiled after she bit into a frozen dime buried inside a container of Häagen-Dazs chocolate at her Williamsburg home last Friday.

Sara Abraham purchased two containers of the delectable confection from a Kent Avenue Duane Reade store on Nov. 11, as she has done once a week since the pharmacy opened several months ago.

But by the fifth spoonful, she tasted something "metallic" — and the dime was in her mouth. "I had a bad taste and I spat it out," said Abraham. "I felt something in my mouth and the ice cream didn't have a good taste from the start. Two hours later, I still felt a metallic taste in my mouth." Her husband, Orthodox activist Isaac Abraham, called Häagen-Dazs and the Duane Reade at 4 pm, and complained about finding the frozen coin.

A Duane Reade employee said the store pulled its Häagen-Dazs batch from its shelves in response to Abraham's complaint and gave its order back to the global dessert company, just to be safe, A Häagen-Dazs employee told Isaac Abraham on Tuesday to send more information about the incident and ship the icy dime to its California-based quality control center.

But for now, he is keeping the change. "I'm not an idiot — if I send the dime then my story would melt away with the ice cream," said Abraham, who is speaking with an attorney. "Luckily, she didn't break a tooth. Who knows where the dime came from or who touched it before it went into the ice cream?"

A Häagen-Dazs representative said that the company "apologizes for her experience," adding that finding a foreign object in chocolate ice cream is "highly unusual." "It is made in one location, then it is pumped and filled [into cartons] before it passes through a metal detector that shoots them off a carrier belt if metal is detected," said Häagen-Dazs spokeswoman Diane McIntyre. "It detects dime, but nothing is infallible."

The company, which was founded in the Bronx and opened its first retail store in Brooklyn in 1976, has found shell casings or pebbles, but never coins, inside nut-flavored ice cream. That's cold comfort to Sara Abraham, who said she is giving up ice cream indefinitely. "I don't want to eat it anymore," said Abraham.



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Attorney for suspect in New Square firebomb case asks judge to dismiss criminal contempt charge 

An attorney for an 18-year-old accused of attempted murder and arson asked the village justice Monday to dismiss a misdemeanor charge accusing the teen of walking past his alleged victim's home in violation of an order of protection.

Shaul Spitzer, who is facing felony counts of attempted murder, arson and assault for his suspected role in a May 22 attack on fellow New Square resident Aron Rottenberg, was additionally charged with second-degree criminal contempt on Oct. 26 after a photograph taken by a village resident surfaced, alleged to show Spitzer in front of Rottenberg's Truman Avenue home about 3:15 p.m. Oct. 4.

On Monday, Kenneth Gribetz, Spitzer's defense attorney, asked New Square Village Justice Stuart Salles to dismiss the contempt charge on the grounds that the order of protection does not require Spitzer to maintain a specific distance from Rottenberg's residence.

Salles reserved his decision to dismiss the misdemeanor charge, noting that he would decide on the matter within 30 days.

In papers filed in New Square Village Court, Gribetz contends his client was merely walking past Rottenberg's house with three others and was not engaging in any behavior that would have put him in violation of the protection order.

"He did not violate that order of protection in any way, shape or form," Gribetz told Salles while attempting to make his point Monday evening.

Also Monday, the prosecution presented Salles with a superseding document that, along with the initial criminal contempt charge, includes a transcript of an earlier court appearance during which the order of protection was originally issued.

The prosecution told Salles that while discussing the scope of the protection order, Spitzer had been verbally instructed not to walk by the Rottenberg home and provided with alternative routes enabling him access to the Hasidic Jewish community's only synagogue, which lies near Truman Avenue.

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe was not in the court Monday, but called the motion to dismiss the contempt charge routine. Zugibe said he believes the charge his office had brought against Spitzer in New Square will stand.



Monday, November 21, 2011

Chief Rabbi blames Apple's Steve Jobs for 'selfish' culture 

Steve Jobs created an "i, i, i" consumer society that spreads unhappiness among those who are unable to afford the latest model of iPhone, the UK's Chief Rabbi has said.

Lord Jonathan Sacks said that commercial advertising has made consumers only aware of what they don't own, rather than being thankful for what they have.

Speaking last week at an interfaith reception attended by the Queen, the Chief Rabbi singled out Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, for criticism over his helping to create this culture of selfishness and unhappiness.

Lord Sacks likened the iPhone and iPad products created by Jobs to the tablets of stone bearing the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses, saying that these electronic devices have delivered the new "values" of consumer society.

"People are looking for values other than the values of a consumer society. The values of a consumer society really aren't ones you can live by for terribly long," The Daily Telegraph quotes him as saying.

"The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad one and iPad two, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTune, i, i, i. When you're an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about 'I', you don't do terribly well."

In a stinging criticism of personal materialism, Lord Sacks hit out at the "subtly seductive approaches" of advertising, saying that this is the "most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness".

"What does a consumer ethic do? It makes you aware all the time of the things you don't have instead of thanking God for all the things you do have," he said.

"If in a consumer society, through all the advertising and subtly seductive approaches to it, you've got an iPhone but you haven't got a fourth generation one, the consumer society is in fact the most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness."

The Chief Rabbi is among the first high-profile people to really criticize Jobs's legacy since the technology leader died last month from pancreatic cancer.

He said that the Jewish day of rest, the Shabbat, is a time when people discover matters of faith rather than spend money in shops on consumer goods.

"The answer to the consumer society is the world of faith, which the Jews call the world of Shabbat, where you can't shop and you can't spend and you spend your time with things that matter, with family," said Lord Sacks.

"Unless we get back to these values we will succeed in making our children and grandchildren ever unhappier."



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Compromise offered to Lakewood school bus drivers in Thanksgiving controversy 

Public outcry over school bus drivers having to work on Thanksgiving to provide service for private school students has led some officials to offer a compromise, said Michael Inzelbuch, attorney for the township Board of Education.

School district bus drivers were informed recently that some of them would be required to work Thanksgiving to provide busing for private school students, many of whom are Orthodox Jewish.

Thanksgiving is a normal school day for 18,000 Orthodox students who attend private schools in the township.

Inzelbuch held a meeting Thursday morning with officials from 14 bus companies in an attempt to iron out the “challenging times of the last few days.” He said the Board of Education has been receiving calls, many from parents of Orthodox students who said they would transport their own children so bus drivers could take off Thanksgiving, a federal holiday.

Bus companies that hold contracts with the township Board of Education are required by the state Department of Education to transport students Monday through Friday, from September to June. Despite this requirement, about 22 of the 76 private schools in Lakewood have opted to require only morning bus service for their students.

In the past, private schools waived their right to district busing on Thanksgiving as a courtesy.

This year, no such waiver was offered, township school officials had said earlier in the week.

In the past, the private schools found other ways to transport the children on Thanksgiving. However, the township’s Orthodox community has grown over the years, and now many students need the bus service as a safety issue, some Orthodox leaders and other officials have said.

Of the 76 private schools that receive bus service from the township school district, all but two are Orthodox schools, Inzelbuch said.

Lakewood has about 400 private school bus routes and about 90 public school routes, said Gus Kakavas, transportation consultant to the township school board.



Friday, November 18, 2011

Read the new Chaptzem article in the Country Yossi Family Magazine 

Make sure to pick up your free copy of the Country Yossi Family Magazine and read the brand new original article 'Days of Recovery' written by Chaptzem, the only Heimishe blogger to make the transition from cyberspace to print.


In 30 days a synagogue comes to life 

On a patch of land in south Aventura are five brown trailers put
together to make one building, Lubavich Aventura South's first place of
its own.

This temporary synagogue was built in 30 days, just in time for the High Holidays.

"It's a home," said Julia Peron, 55, who has been a member of the Lubavich
congregation for about two and a half years. "During the High Holidays,
it was beautiful. Everybody knew each other. Since we had a bigger
place, friends of friends and family of family were able to also come."

Lubavich Aventura South, led by Rabbi Mendel Rosenfeld, previously rented two salons at the Aventura Courtyard Marriott for its services.

The Lubavich synagogue is the first one in south Aventura, making it much
easier for Orthodox Jews who live in the neighborhood to walk to Shabbat services.

"Now, the synagogue is right there," said Ronald Zukin, 71, who used to attend services at the Courtyard Marriott. "It is so
close to us. Before we were walking almost a mile. There are loads of
senior citizens who per law of Orthodox Judaism do not drive on the

After the city approved the construction of the
synagogue in late July, Rosenfeld wanted it completed in time for Rosh
Hashanah at the end of September.

"The rabbi had asked me, 'Can
you please have this ready for the High Holidays?'," said Daniel Naim,
construction manager and congregation member. "I laughed at him. I
asked, 'In what year?' "

The 3,500-square-foot temple was ready on Sept. 23, five days before Rosh Hashanah.

"It was amazing," Naim said. "It was incredible to come here and see all
the people enjoying themselves. They had a place to pray and a home that is not a rented hotel room."

In two years, the temporary temple
will give way to a permanent, 19,800-square-foot, two-story synagogue
made from white stucco and Jerusalem stone with stained-glass windows.

Since the temple opened, Rosenfeld's congregation has grown to more than 600
people. Aside from its weekly services and Torah studies, the temple
offers weekly free lunches.

Construction of the synagogue began in late August. The land was slated for a high-rise condominium and its
underground foundation – large concrete piles – had to be removed,
causing one of many delays in the construction process.

"When we
started to dig here, we hit a lot of concrete piles," said Morris
Kaplan, the representative for the congregation and a congregation

The crews then had 30 days to move a Florida Power &
Light pole that was in the middle of where the synagogue would be;
install a custom-made electric distribution panel to light the facility; dig 18-feet deep to install the 200-foot-long drainage pipe; pour
cement for the sidewalk and parking lot; plan the landscaping and take
care of inspections by the Aventura Zoning and Building Department, as
well as the Miami Dade Fire Department.

Everything was finalized by 4 p.m. Sept. 23, except for one light fixture.

"If anything through that process had a one-hour delay, then we wouldn't have been ready in time," Kaplan said.

More than a month after the synagogue was completed, congregation members still felt blessed to have a place of their own.

"It was like having a child," said Ruth Akerman, 60, of south Aventura. "I
have been waiting for this to happen, and we were thrilled once we had
it. Now, it is like this place where we are like blooming."



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lakewood school bus drivers required to work Thanksgiving to accommodate Orthodox Jewish students 

While most New Jerseyans will pause next week to give thanks and eat
turkey, taking a day off from work and school to celebrate Thanksgiving, for many Orthodox Jews in Lakewood it will be business as usual.

And in an unwelcome surprise, school bus drivers have been told they will be working, too.

Thanksgiving is a regular school day for most kids in the Ocean
County town where some 18,000 children attend more than 70 private
Orthodox Jewish schools. About 5,300 students attend public schools,
which are closed for the national and state holiday.

State law requires the district to bus both public and private school students, although in recent years the private schools worked out ways
to avoid it on Thanksgiving. Last year, most private school families
carpooled that day.

But after a resident raised the issue at a school board meeting
earlier this year, public school officials looked into the matter. As a
result, private bus contracting companies serving the schools were told
they have to work this Thanksgiving.

"I feel for my drivers, I don't want them to have to work on
Thanksgiving," said Jay Ellinson, owner of Jay's Bus Service, which has
about 100 drivers transporting township kids. Ellinson is Orthodox but
said most of his drivers are not.

"I myself will be on a bus, if my driving helps a driver be off and
be with their family," he said. "I think the right thing to do is let
them enjoy the day off. But if they make us work — I don't make the

School and bus company officials said the last time Lakewood kids
were bused on Thanksgiving was 2003. After that, in what one official
said was an effort to save public schools money, private schools agreed
to forgo busing on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day and Memorial

School board attorney Michael Inzelbuch said the law is clear:
Between Sept. 1 and June 30, on weekdays when school is open, busing
must be provided.
In addition, he said, in a town with so many schools, and major highways criss-crossing, busing is a safety issue.

"When busing is not provided, this town essentially enters one big gridlock," he said.

In an attempt to be sensitive to bus drivers — and after the issue
erupted — district officials this week began polling Orthodox schools
about Thanksgiving busing.
As of Wednesday, Lakewood transportation consultant Gus Kakavas said
six schools waived the busing altogether; 25 requested morning runs
only; and 12 said they needed transportation both ways. The remaining
schools hadn't decided, he said, and if they don't do so by Wednesday,
they will get full busing.

As one small consolation, Inzelbuch offered all bus drivers who work
that day a pumpkin pie "or like pastry/dessert" as a gesture of

Most bus drivers — who include part-time workers and single parents,
some of whom were afraid to give their names for fear of losing their
jobs — aren't happy.

"Many of us already made arrangements to go away, spend time with
family," said Adeola Ademosu, a manager and driver at Klarr bus service. "All of a sudden, they want us to drive. I really don't think that's

Several Orthodox schools said they did not want to comment, but a few parents said they would not mind driving their kids that day.

Jane Eisenberger has seven children, three of whom are still in the Orthodox schools.

"I have no problem with there not being busing on Thanksgiving," she
said. "It's a little more difficult, but everyone understands it's a

Lakewood's Orthodox Jewish population has exploded in the past
decade. Six of nine Lakewood school board members are Orthodox and send
their kids to the private schools, said member Chesky Seitler.

Deputy Mayor Steve Langert, who is Orthodox, said Lakewood is the
only town in the country where private school kids so outnumber those in public school.
"It presents unique challenges and unique situations," he said.

Among those: Lakewood appears to be the only town in the state where
most kids go to school on Thanksgiving. A spokesman for the New Jersey
School Boards Association said public and private schools are free to
choose the holidays they close, but he knows of no public district that
will be open on Thanksgiving.

Rabbi Moshe Weisberg, a member of a Jewish leadership council in
Lakewood called the Vaad, said the Orthodox community appreciates the
meaning of Thanksgiving but don't close school for it.

"We're not trying to be cruel or keep people away from their
families," he said. "In Jewish school tradition, we don't celebrate
holidays by taking off from school — even Chanukah most schools have

But Jewish religious holidays like Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana have
restrictions that require schools to close, he said. Sukkot — another
fall holiday — provides a longer, midterm break.

Langert said with many days lost to religious observance, Orthodox schools have to make up the time somewhere.
"It is not meant as a sign of disrespect to be open on Thanksgiving," he said. "Growing up, we celebrated Thanksgiving. My children have been taught Thanksgiving is a day that America thanks God for the ability to live in a free society. We eat our turkey Friday night for the sabbath



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Judge to decide Hasidic-rights case 

A Supreme Court judge likely will decide early
next year whether the Town of Bethel violated a Satmar Hasidic bungalow
colony's rights and broke its own rules when it denied sewer service to a future residential development on 17B — a case Bethel's supervisor
previously said the town probably couldn't win.

Kollel Averichim Torah Veyirah sued the town last month after three town board members at a Sept. 14 meeting denied a sewer extension for future homes on Schultz Road, where the group planned to build a small housing

That move came after the town
first conducted an environmental review and approved the extension in
2010, after finding no detrimental environmental impacts and that the
sewer treatment plant had adequate capacity.

Afterwards, opponents gathered signatures but
were late in filing a petition and then exerted pressure on the board to rethink the decision.

Residents expressed concerns about traffic and that the environmental review wasn't adequate.

Three board members — Denise Frangipane, Robert Blais and Richard Crumley —
voted to deny the extension. Supervisor Dan Sturm and Vicky Simpson
opposed reversing the board's original approval.

The lawsuit asks Judge Mark Meddaugh to order an extension of the sewer
line to the parcel, which is across the street from a synagogue, damages and attorney's fees, and a judgment that the board violated their
property rights.

Jay Zeiger, the colony's
attorney, said the case should be resolved quickly in the new year.
"There are no issues of fact" he said.

lawsuit alleges the board bowed to "political pressure" and some
residents appeared to oppose "further growth by the Orthodox Jewish

Zeiger said he was unsure if the group was a victim of ethnic or religious discrimination.

"I certainly hope not because that would be inappropriate," he said.
"There was no reason stated for rescinding. They were totally silent."

The colony is affiliated with the United Talmudical Academy, which had a
highly publicized standoff with town officials in the summer of 2009
over the rapid construction of a synagogue, and later started a petition drive targeting town board members.

The town hasn't yet filed a response to the complaint and a town attorney handling the case couldn't be reached for comment.

In January, Sturm told the Times Herald-Record: "Our attorney said if you
turn it down without a good reason, you could get sued and lose. So we
have an obligation to avoid lawsuits and protect the taxpayers,
especially if is the right thing to do."



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hundreds show support for rabbi after firecracker thrown at his home 

On Monday, hundreds of people came to the home of Rabbi Yoshiahu
Pinto in Ashdod to offer support after a firecracker was thrown at his
home Sunday, scaring the rabbi and his family.

"The police are definitely taking this
seriously, understanding that someone who could do something like this
could take it further," said a family spokesman.

The family spokesman said the firecracker was thrown just after U.S.
media reported that an investigation was being opened into claims the
rabbi was being extorted.
Pinto is known for his work and influence with business and political leaders.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Hate crime puts BK residents on edge 

A spree of hate crime incidents during the weekend has Brooklyn residents "shaken," one councilman said yesterday.

Local politicians gathered yesterday to demand more police in Brooklyn
as officers searched for the suspects behind a startling anti-Semitic
incident Friday in Midwood, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. Someone
spray painted "KKK" on a red van and set three cars on fire. Nobody was
injured in the attack.

Midwood residents marched with officials yesterday in an afternoon "Walk for Tolerance."

Investigators are processing fingerprints lifted from 27 Corona bottles
near the car fire scene, Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes told

The same day as the Midwood incident, a Hasidic man was punched
repeatedly in Williamsburg on Friday, said Councilman Steven Levin, who
represents Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

Although cops do not consider the Williamsburg assault a hate crime,
Levin said that after the incidents, "Residents seem shaken."

"Residents in Williamsburg ought to be able to walk down their own
streets without fear of being attacked," Levin said. "Especially during
the Jewish Sabbath, we need increased police patrols."

A Williamsburg grandmother told Levin's office she was scared to walk down the street with her grandkids.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the Friday incident may have coincided with the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht.

"(It) was clearly taken to coincide with the anniversary of Kristallnacht," added Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

Hateful trend

Attacks against Jews in the past few weeks:
Three cars were lit on fire in Midwood Friday morning. Swastikas, "KKK" and "F— Jews" were painted on benches nearby.
Franco Rodriguez, 40, was arrested Friday in Queens after police say he
spray painted swastikas on a church, synagogue and three libraries.
A Hasidic man was attacked in Williamsburg on Friday night. Police say
it was not a hate crime, but a councilman says it makes residents



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vice President Joe Biden to visit Detroit Yeshiva Sunday 

Vice President Joe Biden will visit Detroit Sunday for the annual dinner for Yeshiva Beth Yehudah.

Biden is the dinner's keynote speaker.

The Vice President is expected to speak in front of a crowd of Jewish American voters about the United States' support for Israel.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

SAT cheating scandal spreads to Yeshiva 

As the cheating scandal widens in Nassau County, sources now tell Eyewitness News there are two former students at a Yeshiva who are suspected of paying someone else to take their SAT's.

The principal at North Shore Hebrew Academy refused Eyewitness News' requests for an interview.

But sources confirm that one student who graduated 2 years ago actually boosted his overall score by 270 points the second time the test was offered.

One former student at the school who legitimately took the test is frustrated, to say the least.

"It's definitely an upsetting thing to hear," said David Ben Lolo, a graduate of North Shore Hebrew Academy.

Already, six other students from Great Neck North High School have been arrested after they were accused of paying a former student thousands of dollars to take their tests.

The DA says there could be more than two dozen others charged from a total five different schools as the investigation continues.

Some say they are not surprised.

"The competition is unbelievable to get into these schools, and desperate people, desperate measures," said Ally Nass, a parent.

But can the cheating be stopped?

Perhaps if students had to take the tests in their own schools on a weekday.

It's something the educational testing service is trying to do right now in several districts.

"School day SAT testing, however, requires a significant commitment by the entire school community, (even greater than the commitment required for weekend testing) and may not be an option in every school," said the ETS.

Parents in Nassau County are continuing to struggle with a scandal that's growing.

"I hope morally, my kids don't do something like that, that they're willing to put forth the effort and study, as hard as they possibly can, to succeed," said Jill Surielow, a Great Neck parent.



Friday, November 11, 2011

Anti-Semitic Vandals Strike in Brooklyn 

Police have launched an investigation into an anti-Semitic arson attack in Brooklyn.

Three cars were torched early Friday morning and nearby vehicles were daubed with swastikas and “KKK” graffiti along Ocean Parkway in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Flatbush, according to the website NYbuff.org.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind told VIN News that vandals painted “SS” insignias on nearby benches during the “shocking” attack.

The New York Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force is helping with the investigation.

Councilman David Greenfield offered a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the vandals. “I’m confident that these hateful people will be caught and punished to the full extent of the law,” Greenfield told NYBuff.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Israeli court orders extradition of Brooklyn man 

An Israeli court has ordered a Brooklyn man extradited to the U.S. in connection with an April 2008 assault on a black man.
Yitzchak Shuchat is suspected of beating Andrew Charles in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. The area is known for 1991 race riots between Orthodox Jews and blacks.
Thursday's extradition order cites a U.S. request over the 2008 attack, alleging an unidentified man on a bicycle sprayed Charles with mace while Shuchat stepped out of an SUV, struck Charles with a wooden club and drove off.
Shuchat fled to Canada, then to Israel in May 2008. He was indicted in the U.S. on hate crime and other charges.
Police suspected the attack followed reports that black youths had pelted neighborhood homes with rocks.
Shuchat belonged to a Jewish street patrol group, the Shmira.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Jewish Community of Speyer to Rebuild Synagogues and Reclaim Past 

Recently, Jewish residents of Speyer, Germany – a city that has had a Jewish presence since the 12th century - announced that it would be building a brand new synagogue.
The city of Speyer, Germany was a center of Jewish life for a millennium – from the Middle Ages until 1938 - before its Jewish residents were murdered in the Holocaust.  The community was home to several notable Jewish scholars from the group known as the Tosafists who commented on the Talmud and other Jewish texts.  Over the last decade, Jews have been returning to the area and been reclaiming their past.
The new synagogue, which was designed by Alfred Jacoby, an architect in Frankfurt – another city with considerable Jewish history – said the site where the synagogue will be built is actually the site of an abandoned church, which initially caused some problems for the community since Kohanim - the descendants of priests who served in the Temple – would not have been able to step foot in the synagogue and they are forbidden from having contact with corpses. 
Regardless, the new synagogue will be called Beth Shalom and will cost approximately 3 million Euros, part of which will be funded by the city itself.
According to Jewish community chairman Juliana Korovai, the attempt to erect a synagogue has been an effort that has not succeeded, mainly because of a dispute between the elderly, less religious members and the younger members – mostly newcomers - who are generally more religious over the synagogue's policies.  Younger members would like the Synagogue to have daily services and be run in accordance with traditional Jewish rules.  However, the elderly members as well as the Jewish Community of Rhineland Palatinate want the synagogue to be open to all, even non-Jews.
Since 2010, the city of Speyer, together with Mainz and Worms, have been rebuilding Jewish sites such as synagogues, the ritual bath known as a Mikvah and Yeshivot – schools where the Jewish texts such as the Torah and Talmud are studied in depth.  Many of these buildings are to be listed as UNESCO heritage sites but also are to be restored to its original function.  The Mikvah itself was found to be perfect condition.  The city of Cologne, another city in Germany with considerable Jewish history, has rebuilt its Jewish sites and turned them into a museum.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

B'klyn man who allegedly killed boy will face trial in borough 

The Brooklyn man accused of killing a young Hasidic boy and carving up his corpse will have to face trial in Brooklyn after an appeals court skewered his bid for a change of venue.

Levi Aron sought to move his murder and kidnapping trail to Suffolk County or, failing that, The Bronx, citing considerable media attention to the murder of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, who had gotten lost in Bough Park on his first trip home alone from day camp and died at Aron’s hands in July 2011.

“Current defense counsel’s attempts to correct inaccurate information and to redirect the public to seek justice through trial instead of vengeance have been ignored,” wrote Jennifer McCann, Aron’s lawyer.

The Brooklyn District Attorney opposed the ove, noting that that there are nearly 500,000 people eligible for jury duty in Brooklyn, and that there are far fewer Jews in Suffolk and Bronx Counties than in the Borough of Churches.

The Appellate Division ruled last week that the trial should stay in Brooklyn, but said the defense could re-apply after the jury pool was questioned.



Monday, November 07, 2011

Kiryas Joel sues Woodbury over high-density zoning 

The Village of Kiryas Joel has sued the neighboring Town of Woodbury to dismantle its zoning, accusing it of discriminating against Hasidic Jews by not allowing dense housing in an area where the Hasidic community hopes to expand.
The lawsuit seeks to invalidate a comprehensive plan and two zoning laws that Woodbury trustees adopted in June after seven years of planning and demands by Kiryas Joel that high-density housing be permitted.
Also targeted is a 2010 law regulating religious buildings in Woodbury. The case is filed in state Supreme Court in Goshen.
Kiryas Joel's lawyers argue that zoning for large residential lots prevents Hasidic Jews from "living and freely practicing their religion in Woodbury" and thereby "places an unreasonable burden on Kiryas Joel's housing stock, infrastructure, community services and community character."
Joining the village and its officials in the lawsuit are five prongs of Vaad Hakiryah, the development arm of Kiryas Joel's main religious congregation. The organization, which owns 175 acres of undeveloped land in Woodbury, claims it has been prevented from building multifamily housing, synagogues and other typical features of a Hasidic community.
The plaintiff's lawyers suggest that by blocking Kiryas Joel-style growth, Woodbury's zoning has hampered the lifestyle of Hasidic families who have settled outside Kiryas Joel in recent years.
David and Rose Ungar, who bought a Woodbury home for $485,000 in 2006, complain in court papers that they're "prohibited from living in a compact and walkable community in close proximity to the religious and cultural services provided in Kiryas Joel."
Also named as a plaintiff is Kiryas Joel Public Safety Director Moses Witriol, who has lived in Woodbury since 2006 and lodged the same complaint as the Ungars.
Housing density a key issue
The underlying issue is Kiryas Joel's steady population growth and quest to expand.
The village now has about 22,000 residents, and most of the available land in its 1.1 square miles has been developed. In addition to Vaad Hakiryah, various Hasidic investors own hundreds of acres of land around Kiryas Joel, awaiting development.
Vaad Hakiryah's purchase of the 140-acre ACE Farm in 2004 set off jitters in neighboring communities about Kiryas Joel expanding. Not long afterward, new villages formed in Woodbury and Blooming Grove as a way to preserve their zoning.
In the new lawsuit, Kiryas Joel's attorneys argue that Orange County planners supported the notion of denser housing in Woodbury by labeling the disputed territory a "priority growth area."
They also point out that a three-county study identified the need for hundreds of affordable housing units in Woodbury.
The court papers claim that Woodbury rejected the idea of allowing high-density development by saying it would cause "significant environmental impacts," but gave no evidence to support that conclusion.

Woodbury's attorneys declined to respond to the case on Friday.


Sunday, November 06, 2011

Group looking to revive old Raleigh hotel 

The Orthodox group that owns the historic Raleigh and Heiden Hotel properties is looking to build 236 seasonal residences on 161 acres, a project that could add nearly 1,000 summer residents and bring about $2.1 million in new tax revenue, according to the proposed developer.

RALHAL LLC and Concord Estates Condominiums LLC, both formed by Brooklyn-based Congregation Khal Bnei Zion to buy the properties in 2006, are proposing clusters of four-bedroom duplex and single-family homes.

Those homes would be built on five parcels in Fallsburg and one in Thompson and sell for about $225,000 each. They also could generate about $2.1 million in tax revenues for the county, town and the Fallsburg and Monticello school districts.

"The ultimate idea is to expand the activities at the hotel and make the place grow and take it to the next level," said Mendel Lerner, the attorney representing the properties. "The only way the hotel can survive is if it has more amenities."

Fallsburg's Planning Board will take up the project's draft environmental impact assessment and the developer's subdivision request during a public hearing at 7 p.m. Nov. 10.

The hearing represents another turn in the history of the Borscht Belt hotels, which once drew famed entertainers like Sammy Davis Jr. and Jackie Mason. Both properties eventually came under the ownership of Mannie Halbert, the longtime owner of the Raleigh who died in 2004.

RALHAL spent $5.1 million to buy the Raleigh in 2006. Concord Estates bought the Heiden property the same year. RALHAL reopened the Raleigh, which had closed in December 2005, as a retreat for Orthodox Jews and others.

The developers began planning the housing development three years ago, and have so far spent more than $1 million in engineering costs and others fees, Lerner said.

The project still needs to finalize its environmental impact assessment, taking into account the properties' wetlands and such things as stormwater flows and woodlands.

"We have no idea when we're going to get final approval," Lerner said.

A completed project would benefit the town, county and two school districts, according to the draft environmental assessement.

The town would receive an estimated $654,237 in annual property tax revenue and the county $355,636. The influx of homeowners would also send nearly $620,000 in taxes to the Fallsburg School District and about $470,000 to the Monticello School District.

"It will definitely generate local jobs," Lerner said. "Then, eventually, taxes."



Saturday, November 05, 2011

Recommendation for Ramapo supervisor 

Two of the three candidates for Ramapo supervisor are polarizing figures. That is the last thing Ramapo — a community divided — needs.

The incumbent, Christopher St. Lawrence, a Democrat who is also running on the Conservative, Working Families and Independence Party lines, has strong support within the Orthodox and Hasidic communities. Many view town leadership as favoring the religious community — and its powerful bloc vote. That's a feeling often fed by St. Lawrence's touting of open space and at once embracing overdevelopment and downzonings.

Robert Rhodes, on the Preserve Ramapo ticket, is chairman of the group that has been sharply critical of downzoning and dense development, which is often fostered by growth in the Orthodox community. Many in the religious community feel targeted by Rhodes' and Preserve Ramapo's criticisms.

When a significant portion of the community feels left out, there's a problem. Both St. Lawrence and Rhodes have that problem. Ramapo residents, however, have an option: Republican Marino Fontana. In comparison to his competitors, Fontana offers a view of Ramapo that is uninfected by spin or invective. We also believe that Fontana, smart on financial issues, will command a fresh view of the town's murky finances.

Fontana doesn't buy the rosy picture that St. Lawrence offers, nor does he agree with Rhodes' view of impending doom. While St. Lawrence assures all that the town's finances are strong, Rhodes says the town's finances are spiraling out of control. Fontana says that he's not sure how the town is truly doing, but pledges a thorough forensic audit with outside help. St. Lawrence brags about the town's healthy fiscal shape. Yet, the town was criticized in a draft state comptroller's audit for having a negative fund balance at the end of 2010.

St. Lawrence and Rhodes are worlds apart on Provident Bank Park, the baseball stadium that is home to the independent league Rockland Boulders. The supervisor has deemed the inaugural season a rousing success. St. Lawrence says the stadium's financing is strong. Rhodes says the stadium won't be able to pay off its debts and has already been a great financial drain. Fontana has promised to make the stadium work for the town, despite not supporting it originally. Fontana said that many residents didn't feel St. Lawrence was upfront with them about the stadium. "You can't tear it down and put the trees back," Fontana told the Editorial Board. "You've got to make it work for people so it's not a drain."

St. Lawrence pledged that he "got the message" and would use not town resources to build the baseball stadium. That promise came in August 2010, after Ramapo voters overwhelmingly voted down a loan guarantee on $16.5 million in bonds for the project. Since then, the town has backed a $25 million short-term loan to construct Provident Bank Park.

St. Lawrence has done many good things in his leadership position — including gaining intervenor status to fight utility rate increases. Rhodes, too, has brought attention to the issues of overdevelopment in the burgeoning town. But both come with too much baggage. Fontana can provide the steady hand that Ramapo needs now.



Friday, November 04, 2011

New moves could regulate circumcision 

There are fears that Jewish circumcision in the UK could be regulated by NHS bodies for the first time, following a move to curb malpractice in other ethnic groups.
Last week the Greater Manchester Safeguarding Children Partnership, a joint arm of NHS and Social Services, released a leaflet to GP surgeries and hospitals offering guidance for parents on circumcision.
The leaflet was produced with extensive consultation with the Jewish community, which resisted the inclusion of a list of Jewish practitioners (mohelim).
But in February the GMSCP intends to publish a list of good practitioners from all faiths, in response to Manchester hospitals flagging up botched circumcisions by non-Jewish private practitioners.
Practitioners will require annual NHS assessment to be listed.
But the Board of Deputies' Professor David Katz, an expert in immunopathology and public health, feared wide implications. He said: "There is a risk this could lead to further regulation, because as soon as you produce a list, the implication is there is something wrong with those who are not on it" .
Dr David Hibbert, a GP and the North West representative for the Initiation Society, which has trained and regulated mohelim for 350 years, said a "worst case scenario" would be an insistence that circumcisions must be carried out in licensed premises, hindering home circumcisions on Shabbat or those in synagogues.
Dr Hibbert said: "I don't think it's unreasonable for the NHS to want minimal standards. But as far as the Jewish community is concerned, we already have a list of practitioners and regulation from the Initiation Society."
He added: "There is a danger of lumping us together with non-Jewish communities.
"So far the Manchester health authorities have shown great willingness to take on our suggestions. If the supervisory nature of the NHS in this area becomes onerous, it could impinge on traditional Jewish practice."
The project lead for GMSCP, Dr Paula Whittaker, said: "We were really impressed that the Initiation Society has a very vigorous and robust regulation process and very low complication rates.
"We didn't have anything similar existing for other practitioners and we were looking to replicate what the Initiation Society does, as a model of best practice. We are not in anyway passing judgment. All we can say is that the people on our list will meet minimum standards. I don't see any move to make this kind of thing mandatory."


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Brooklyn Teacher Accused of Trying to Arrange Sex With Girl, 14 

A 27-year-old Brooklyn science teacher has been accused of trying to arrange a meeting for sex with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
Adam Kent, who teaches sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at an all-boys yeshiva in Midwood, was arrested Tuesday when he went to the location where he thought he was meeting a girl he had been instant messaging.
In reality, he had been corresponding with an undercover NYPD detective.
Believing the detective was a young girl, Kent allegedly sent sexual messages and invited her to meet him for "sexual activity in Queens," prosecutors said.
He also is accused of indicating that he wanted to make a video of them having sex.
Kent is being charged with attempted use of a child in a sexual performance, second-degree attempted criminal sexual act, second-degree attempted rape and other charges.
He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
The Queens District Attorney did not immediately know whether he had a lawyer.



Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Poland hosts largest gathering of rabbis since Holocaust 

Dozens of rabbis from across Europe have gathered in Warsaw for the largest meeting of Jewish religious leaders in Poland since the community was virtually wiped out during World War II.
This year's Conference of European Rabbis will focus on a range of issues affecting European and global Jewry, including attempts in Europe to ban the Jewish method of religious slaughter of animals.
But, the rabbis will also discuss the problem of validating the Jewish identity of people who have not practiced Judaism in two or three generations. This has become an issue in countries like Poland, where many people with Jewish ancestry were so traumatized by the Holocaust and postwar anti-Semitism that they lived secular or Christian lives for decades and are only now again embracing a Jewish life.
Over the last 30 years, the Jewish population in Poland has grown from just a few thousand to over 20,000, the conference said.
Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich called the three-day gathering of about 150 rabbis "a real testament to the revival of Jewish life in Poland."
The meeting began Monday, when several of the representatives met with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. On Wednesday, the rabbis are to meet with Polish "righteous gentiles" — Christians who risked their lives to save Jews during the war.
The meeting comes after Dutch parliament passed a bill banning the slaughter of livestock without stunning it first, removing an exemption that has allowed Jews and Muslims to butcher animals according to their centuries-old dietary rules. The bill must still pass the Senate.
It would be the second country after New Zealand to do so in recent years, joining Switzerland, and the Scandinavian and Baltic countries, whose bans are mostly traceable to pre-World War II anti-Semitism.
"This has become an issue of the utmost concern to European Jewry," the Conference of European rabbis said in a statement, noting the Dutch vote and criticism from activists at the European parliament.
Since overthrowing communism in 1989, Poland has evolved into a thriving democracy, and those with Jewish roots feel increasingly secure about living openly as Jews again — at least in the cities.
The fact that Warsaw was chosen as the spot for the 27th conference of European rabbis "is a tribute to what Poland has become," Schudrich said.
Poland was home to Europe's largest Jewish community before the war, numbering nearly 3.5 million. Most were murdered in ghettos and death camps that Germany built after invading and occupying Poland in 1939.
"The convention ... is a testament to the resurgence of the remarkable Jewish community in Poland which was all but wiped out during the Holocaust, having previously been the epicenter of the Jewish world," the conference statement said.
The Conference of European Rabbis takes place every two years.


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Help catch a bike thief in Boro-Park 

Sent in by a Chaptzem reader.


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