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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Verizon Wireless steps up to plate in Adirondack park cell tower story - other carriers snooze

Link to news story



















Click image to enlarge

3 comments
Gold-medal skater embraces her Jewish roots

The Olympic gold medalist Oksana Baiul, 29, skated across a plastic ice runway in the lobby of a posh condominium near Wall Street. She wore a Hasidic fur hat and a jacket made from black and white prayer shawls while holding a prayer book. For a moment, she posed playfully before the audience, looked into the Hebrew pages and skated backstage.

As klezmer music played in the background, sylphs pranced down the runway in designer Levi Okunov's orange and teal lace garments. More than 500 people watched, many standing in the back or sitting on the floor, as Baiul returned to the runway, wearing a sequined wedding dress and performing her signature number from "Swan Lake."

Baiul's routine wasn't as graceful as when the then unknown 16-year-old Ukrainian seized the Olympic gold medal from the favored Nancy Kerrigan in 1994. The balletic style of the blue-eyed blonde that had so awed judges back then is stiffer 13 years later, although Baiul is still lithe.

But for Baiul, this exhibition carried a deep spiritual significance. The show was a celebration of her recently discovered Jewish roots.

"The show was a way of connecting to my heritage, and it was a tremendous success," Baiul said. "I already heard that people were upset that I wore the strimal" — the traditional hat —" but I wanted to do it because Levi said, 'Oksana, it's meaningful.'"

The performance was the brainchild of Okunov, Baiul's close friend and religious mentor, a 21-year-old aspiring fashion designer from the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn and the son of a Lubavitch rabbi. Baiul affectionately calls the younger Okunov "my rabbi" for the guidance he has provided in Orthodox Judaism and mysticism.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/feb/28/goldmedal_skater_embraces_her_jewish_roots/?neapolitan

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Lipa Schmeltzer on the derech

Lipa Schmeltzer, or should I say HaRav Schmeltzer, moved to Monsey and opened a Shul in the basement of his home. The hip-hop Hasidic obviously outgrew New Square and his Rebbe and now wants to be one himself. Lipa, who is known for his unique rhyming talent, his gevaldige chesed work and for his brush with the law, is also in the midst of writing a Sefer Torah for his Shul. I wonder who will perform at the Hachnusas Sefer Torah.

10 comments

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Board 12 hearing today on new Shul and catering hall

Board 12 held a hearing today at 6:00 pm about the proposed opening of a new Shul and catering hall on 54th Street and 12th Avenue. Mayer Unsdorfer, self-proclaimed Brizhaner Rebbe, is looking to expand his basement Shteeble into a full-blown Rabbisteve type business. Unsdorfer, formerly the Klausenburger administrator, purchased a house just a couple of doors down from his current residence to serve as his headquarters. The proposed Shul will have a large Beis Medrash, a Mikvah, a catering hall and NO parking lot. Unsdorfer had his children make phone calls to the area residents to show up at the hearing and lend support to his endeavor.

4 comments
Hilton's Kosher Meat Party

While serious Hollywood actors and actresses were getting their beauty sleep the night before the Oscars, Paris Hilton was throwing herself another birthday party at the Prime Grill on Rodeo Drive. This new Western outpost of the Manhattan steak house has already set the table for stars like Carmen Electra and Colin Farrell, says the New York Post, but that's nothing compared to the Saturday soiree, where Hilton pal Brandon Davis, the oil heir (and famous Lindsay Lohan basher), showed up to pick on Paula Abdul and proposition Courtney Love in front of daughter Frances Bean. Apparently Paris forgave him, though; he was allowed into her house later that night where the party continued.

We're pretty sure Paris didn't pick the Prime Grill in accordance with Talmudic law, but is the food any good? After all, its owner told the Jewish Journal, "We don't want people to think of us as a kosher restaurant that happens to be superb. We want them to think of us as a superb restaurant that happens to be kosher." The L.A. Times describes it as a place that doesn't take many risks with its offerings, but which has superb steaks -- "that and the joyous spirit of the place." That must have been what attracted Ms. Hilton & Co. But a Calendarlive.com review describes a 90-minute post-Shabbat wait and an oblivious hostess. Let the diner beware!

http://www.jaunted.com/story/2007/2/27/84145/5727/travel/Paris+Hilton's+Kosher+Meat+Party

3 comments

Monday, February 26, 2007

R' Mordche Dovid Unger's parking lot gets a tent put up on it











22 comments

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gerrer Rebbe tells Chasidim "Better not to fly El-Al"

Gerrer Chasidim from the world over will be making alternate plans to make the pilgrimage to Israel for the Rebbe's Einikel's Chasunah. Due to the latest trick pulled by El-Al in the no Shabbos flying controversy, the Gerrer Rebbe has told his Chasidim that it is better not to fly with El-Al. Many Chasidim that had booked tickets on El-Al flights are now canceling them and making alternate arrangements to get to Israel for the Chasunah.

6 comments
IRS needs proof of small Purim gifts

Next time you drop $20 into the collection plate at your place of worship, you might want to get a receipt.

New IRS rules in effect since Jan. 1 require written proof to get a tax break on any cash donation — including offerings or the odd bills and coins tossed into donation boxes at churches, synagogues and mosques.

Previously, the IRS would take the taxpayer's word for it on any cash offerings less than $250, accepting personal notes or diary accounts as sufficient proof.

Contributions of $250 and more still require written acknowledgment from the charity.

St. Cloud-area religious officials say tracking member donations has been common in congregations, and they don't expect the new law to affect their collections.

http://www.sctimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070225/BUSINESS/102250008/1003

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Ultra-Orthodox outraged by El Al 'trick'

The ultra-Orthodox community is up in arms that the El Al airline has apparently desecrated Shabbat, only six weeks after an agreement binding the airline not to fly on Shabbat was signed between the two parties.

The crisis began when an El Al flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv was forced to land in London on Friday, due to technical difficulties. Despite the late hour, the flight continued as planned.

Because Shabbat was approaching, El Al authorities decided to transfer the flight to their charter company, Sun D'Or Airlines. While the religious passengers were sent to various London hotels, the plane that had "switched companies" for Shabbat landed in Ben Gurion Airport after Friday at sundown.

Members of the 'Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat' intend to hold an urgent meeting with leading rabbis of the ultra-Orthodox community early in the week, in order to determine how to proceed.

Rabbi Yitzhak Goldknopf, the group's chairman, told Ynet that "the trick used by the company is not acceptable" and said that he believes the responses from the community this time would be more severe and quicker in coming than during the last crisis between the ultra-Orthodox and the airline.

During the last crisis with El Al, which took place at the end of 2006, the Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat published official announcements in the haredi media saying that it was "inappropriate to fly El Al."

A week later, following many days of intensive negations which led to dead ends, the rabbis intensified their steps and signed a document calling on the complete boycott of the company.

It should be noted that El Al has been administering Sun D'Or, which flies on Shabbat, since the seventies, a fact that is known in the haredi community. Nonetheless, Sun D'Or does not bear El Al's Jewish-affiliated symbol and therefore, in the past, has been treated differently.

Sources from El Al said that the committee had been asked to wait until the return of company CEO Haim Romano before responding to the alleged desecration of Shabbat. El Al had no formal comment regarding the veracity of these statements.

http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Culture/10779.htm

1 comments
Biber hat on Ebay auction



Auction description:

this is the hat that is being worn by the ultra orthodox community,within the chasidic circles, it will make you look great. the size is "54, its for a small/medium head. good for purim.

Link to auction

3 comments

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Y takes sounding on window issue

To help solve the controversy over frosted windows installed a year ago to prevent Hasidic Jewish neighbours from seeing into one of its upstairs exercise rooms, the Park Ave. YMCA is polling some of its 3,281 adult members for their opinions and suggestions. The telephone poll began this week and will last for a few more weeks. Done by an independent polling firm, the interviews will help the Y's local advisory board make a decision about the four windows by the end of next month, YMCA Grand-Montreal spokesperson Marie-Josee Meilleur said.

http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/montreal/story.html?id=edd2edb3-81e6-4fe7-8fca-52da36b0cee8

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Friday, February 23, 2007

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 'Setting Things Straight' written by Chaptzem, the only Heimishe blogger to make the transition from cyberspace to print.

8 comments
GOVERNOR GETS AN EARFUL FROM ORTHODOX BLOGGERS ON CELL PHONE ABSENCE TRAGEDY

Orthodox Jews are responding in big numbers to bloggers' calls to ring up Gov. Spitzer's office and demand better cellphone service on a remote upstate highway where a Brooklyn man died last month after he was unable to call for help.

A Spitzer spokesman said yesterday the office has gotten a "substantial" number of calls about cell service on the stretch of Interstate 87 known as the Northway, where Alfred Langner, 63, died of hypothermia after a car accident Jan. 25.

Langner, an Orthodox Jew, and his wife were trapped in their car for 24 hours because they could not use their cellphone to call for help.

An organizer of an Orthodox news and discussion Web site said he believes more than 1,000 people will have called Spitzer by today.

But Adirondack Park Agency officials say the cell-tower shortage is really a matter of phone-company economics.

The agency in 2002 approved 33 cell towers on the Northway stretch, but the projects are considered unprofitable, spokesman Keith McKeever said.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/02232007/news/regionalnews/gov_gets_an_earful_on_tragedy_regionalnews_bill_sanderson.htm

0 comments

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Why Aderet's new 'lease' copy protection doesn't fly









In an attempt to circumvent the absence of intellectual property rights (IPR) in Halachah and forbid the private duplication of CD's, Aderet came up with a new idea. From now on you are no longer purchasing the CD from them, but are rather leasing it from them. This way they can charge you for the CD while maintaining ownership and the rights to it, which expressly prohibit duplication.

Now here is the problem with this skewed train of thought. If Aderet still owns the CD and they are merely leasing it to be listened to, you are no longer allowed to even make yourself a backup copy, or to rip the songs to your hard drive to listen to. This is above and beyond any current copyright law.

Further, if one gets injured by the said CD, which is still the property of Aderet, Aderet can now be sued, as was the issue with car leasing.

Even further, because there is no stipulation that the lease is for less than one hundred years, rather it is stated to be a 'perpetual' lease, the term lease can no longer be used, leaving the transaction null and void.

Now, lets go one step further. Since one of the conditions of the lease is that the lessee is not to duplicate the CD, then if and when he does, he has broken the terms of the lease and therefore causes it to become null and void. The lessee should then be forced to return the CD and have his money returned, minus a penalty at most.

Aderet, and the other music producers, can try and try any way they like, the Torah does not recognize intellectual property rights and there is no way around that.

21 comments

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Elderly woman hit by car in Boro-Park

An elderly woman was hit by a car while crossing at 14th Avenue and 53rd Street. Hatzolah arrived at the scene immobilized the woman and transported her to the hospital.

4 comments
Rabbi's widow, U.S. synagogue dispute ownership of Torah scrolls

A rabbi's widow is at odds with a synagogue over who her late husband's Torahs rightly belong to.

Rabbi Norman Pauker lent Beth Midrash Mishkan Israel four Torah scrolls after his own North Hollywood synagogue closed in 1994.

His widow, Rita Pauker, has been asking for the return of the scrolls since his death in 2002, but Rabbi Samuel Ohana insists that what was at first a loan to his neighboring Sherman Oaks synagogue later became a gift.

"He called me in front of his wife and he said, 'Rabbi I cannot bear having these Torahs gathering dust in my garage," Ohana said. "Take them, please.'"

According to a handwritten contract between the two rabbis that has Ohana's signature at the bottom, the Torahs were to be borrowed for two years.

Ohana said that contract was for insurance purposes, and that Pauker asked him to take the scrolls permanently five years later, an assertion Pauker's widow disputes. She accused Ohana's orthodox synagogue of "praying on stolen Torahs."

"He is operating on a lie. It's all a lie," Pauker said. "He is disrespecting everything Jewish."
The Torah, a set of ancient Hebrew writings also known as the Five Books of Moses, is the central document of Judaism and serves as the center of Jewish religious ceremonies. A formal written scroll like the kind in dispute is known as a "Sefer Torah."

Pauker said she doesn't want to sue for the Torahs because Jewish law forbids bringing disputes over religious items to secular court. But if she goes before a rabbinical court or "beis din" she fears she will be asked to compromise.

"The truth is the beis din probably is going to split the baby," said Jeffrey Bohner, an attorney representing Pauker who attended her husband's synagogue and once studied under Ohana. "Rabbi Ohana has no claim to these, and Rita has all claim. So it is unfair for Rita to settle for half."

Torah scrolls can take as long as a year to ink, must be destroyed when damaged and are generally worth several thousand dollars (euros). Lending the scrolls is a common Mitzvah, or good deed, for those who own them.

Ohana said he would return the Torahs if he could be assured Pauker would give them to another synagogue and not sell them.

Pauker said she wants to give them to her nephews, who are rabbis in Florida and New York.

http://www.cjp.org/content_display.html?ArticleID=208845


4 comments

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Israeli chief rabbi issues fur edict

Jews must not wear fur skinned from live animals, Israel's chief rabbi said in a religious ruling on Tuesday.

'All Jews are obliged to prevent the horrible phenomenon of cruelty to animals and be a 'light onto nations' by refusing to use products that originate from acts which cause such suffering,' Rabbi Yona Metzger said.

Animal rights campaigners in Israel and abroad say that animals are skinned alive at fur farms in China.

Metzger issued the edict in response to an appeal by an Israeli legislator who looked into the reports of animal cruelty in China at the request of a constituent.
The ruling stopped short of banning the use of fur from animals skinned after they were slaughtered.

Mati Korinio of Israel's Nature and Parks Authority, which oversees fur imports, said much of the fur sold in the Jewish state did not originate in China.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20070220-0627-israel-fur.htm

4 comments

Monday, February 19, 2007

A picture from Chuck E. Cheese's during President's Day vacation

Thousands of Boro-Parkers flock with their kids to Chuck E. Cheese's to spend their President's Day vacation affordably. Finkel's chicken was served at the event.


6 comments

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chasidic Tunes Inspire Rockers

Artists as diverse as jazz virtuoso Tim Sparks, rockers Soul Farm and roots reggae stars 12 Tribe Sound have found inspiration in the compositions of the Rebbes of Lubavitch.

An iconic image of Chasidic life is a Rebbe surrounded by his followers as they sing a niggun. A niggun, or a "humming tune," is a spiritual song or devotional, frequently without words or lyrics. In some circumstances, the songs are joyous expressions of religious ecstasy. Other times they are slow dirges, designed to send shivers down the spine of the listener. In light of the niggun’s long history, going back to the Baal Shem Tov in the 17th century, its influence on modern musicians is unexpected and exciting.

"When a musician hears a melody that touches a deep chord, they can hear it and sense this is something really authentic," Rabbi Asi Spiegel, Chabad representative from Eugene, Oregon, and a musician himself, explains. "Especially in our time where music has gone so commercial, people are looking for very deep musical outlets."

Such was the case with the talented Tim Sparks, who released At the Rebbe’s Table in 2002 on Tzadik - John Zorn’s record label. The album marks an early beginning for this remarkable trend. Like the best niggunim, Spark’s album is a meditation on the experience of being a physical being in God’s spiritual world. Unlike niggunim, though, Spark’s marries the Chabad tradition to his extensive training as a jazz musician.

http://www.lubavitch.com/top.html?ixobject=2017224

2 comments
Police are investigating brutal anti-Semitic attack in London

Police in London are appealing for information about a brutal anti-Semitic attack committed by three teenage thugs armed with baseball bats and rocks in one of the city’s most vibrant Jewish neighbourhoods.

The attackers - one of whom was described as white, one Asian and one of Mediterranean complexion - launched their assault in Golders Green Road last Tuesday shortly after their two Jewish victims, one of whom was a tourist, left a restaurant at 9.30pm.

Police say the men were given a torrent of anti-Semitic verbal abuse as they left the restaurant, and they were followed and physically attacked minutes later.

The trio of thugs hit their victims with baseball bats, wooden sticks and rocks and left the men with bruises, cuts to their faces and arms as they tried to defend themselves, officers say.

Brothers

The London Jewish News reported that the victims were brothers.

One of the victims was a 25-year-old on holiday from France, who was left with cuts to the face and arms, a swollen lip and severe bruising.

His brother, 35, suffered a slashed arm in the attack, the newspaper reported.

Confirming the attack was anti-Semitic, Detective Superintendent Richard Walton, Barnet’s deputy borough commander, said: "This unprovoked attack was committed by three young men who targeted the victims purely based on their religion."

The suspects were described as being around 17 years old. One was white, about five feet and seven inches tall, and wearing a black, beanie-style hat, jeans and a red sweater, one was of Mediterranean skin colour, five feet and ten inches tall, wearing a black jacket, a white t-shirt and jeans, and the other was Asian, around five feet nine inches, in a grey hoodie top with white stripes on the arms and black tracksuit bottoms.

Police have appealed for witnesses to call the Metropolitan Police’s Barnet division on 0208 200 1212.

Golders Green, a suburb of north west London, is known for its large Jewish population as well as its significant number of kosher restaurants, delicatessens and bakeries.

It has a particularly large ultra-Orthodox community.

http://www.ejpress.org/article/14263

0 comments

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dunkin' Donuts drops kashrut at two stores; third to follow

The doughnuts will still be made with kosher ingredients, but, as of next week, the Washington area will have fewer Dunkin' Donut franchises certified as kosher.

With the corporation's push to expand its menu offerings, Jim Willard, who owns five franchises in the area, says he has received a letter from the corporation saying he could no longer make menu modifications in his stores. That, in effect, means he must sell nonkosher food products.

As of Wednesday, the Cabin John location in Potomac and the Rockville Metro Pike Plaza store near White Flint will no longer be certified by the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Washington kosher supervising agency.

Two other Rockville locations, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington and Veirs Mill Road in Twinbrook, will remain kosher, as will, for just a short time, the Gaithersburg location.

With three years remaining on his 10-year contract with the JCCGW, Willard said that Dunkin' Donuts corporation "will not put us in default." As a result, the Twinbrook shop, where the baking takes place for the JCCGW location, also will remain kosher.

With renovations planned for the kitchen at Twinbrook, the Gaithersburg store will handle the baking for a short time. Once renovations are completed, the Gaithersburg store will also begin to sell nonkosher products. That's expected to happen sometime in the spring, Willard said.

A spokesperson for Dunkin' Donuts' corporate office did not know how many franchises are certified as kosher, and was unable to answer other inquiries by this week's deadline. The regional manager did not respond to phone messages, nor would Willard provide a copy of the letter from Dunkin' Donuts.

Clifford Snapper has been a regular at the Potomac location for about 10 years. He spends most mornings there - with his cup of Joe and a bagel, doughnut or muffin - pouring over Gemara and Mishnah, among other Jewish texts.

"It was a nice routine," said Snapper, a professor at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda. "It's very hard when you're kosher to find a place," said Snapper, quipping that "Dunkin' Donuts should provide free counseling for a month."

Rabbi Binyamin Sanders, who had overseen the kashering of the stores on behalf of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Washington, said he was saddened by the decision. "I'm hoping we can work with Dunkin' Donuts to broaden the program once again," he said.

Willard, who is not Jewish, said it's unclear how the changes will affect his business. On the one hand, he said, people who eat only in certified shops might simply take their business to one of the remaining kosher locations.

Willard said he also might gain business once the other stores add new menu items. He noted that customers seeking something they've seen nationally advertised - Dunkin' Donuts, for instance, recently introduced a breakfast sandwich with sausage - sometimes get angry when a shop doesn't carry the item.

The Twinbrook and Cabin John locations have been kosher for about a decade. "We were getting requests from the community," Willard said, explaining why he took that step some two years after opening the franchises.

He noted, however, that when he dropped the kosher certification about two years ago at his shop in Rockville's Wintergreen Shopping Center, business wasn't affected. That shop had been kosher for two years.

http://www.washingtonjewishweek.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=6714&TM=64478.37

4 comments
Newspaper vows closer scrutiny of ad content












The controversy about an advertisement in the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram that conjured up negative stereotypes of Jewish people will lead to greater vigilance by the newspaper and efforts throughout the community to improve sensitivity to such depictions.

That commitment follows a meeting Friday of newspaper executives, representatives of Maine's Jewish community and the creators of an advertisement that depicted a bearded "Fee Bandit," which resembled a Hasidic Jew, eager to take people's money. The ad was published Wednesday.

"We're convinced the placement of this ad was not a case of intentional anti-Semitism or bigotry," said Benjamin Marcus, of the Jewish Community Alliance, after learning how the ad was developed and presented to the newspaper. But Marcus, chairman of the alliance's community relations committee, said the image "perpetuates a hurtful and negative stereotype of Jews."

The alliance is working with the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence and the Anti-Defamation League's New England office to develop training around awareness of stereotypes that it will offer for the advertising industry as well as for the newspaper's advertising staff.

"It's an opportunity for education," said Steve Wessler, director of the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence. "When communities and institutions view it that way, there's the best chance to actually make progress."

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/news/state/070217ad.html

1 comments

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bloomberg Apologizes, Waives Parking Tickets

Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized on Friday to drivers all over the city who were outraged that parking rules were upheld during this week's winter storm, resulting in thousands of tickets on stuck cars.

"I'm sorry for the inconvenience to people," he said, "but you've got to make decisions and try things and each storm is different." Bloomberg added that the tickets would be thrown out.

A day earlier, Bloomberg had dismissed drivers' complaints as mere laziness.

"This was not a lot of snow. It was easy to move your car," he told reporters on Thursday. "I don't like to get up early in the morning and have to do anything either -- I'd like to sleep in, too."

During snowstorms, the city often suspends what are known as alternate side of the street parking regulations. The rules dictate on which side of the street drivers can park at certain times during the day, a schedule that allows cleaning vehicles to sweep along the curbs.

The rules were not suspended for Wednesday's storm. Although just a few inches fell, the combination of sleet, snow and ice formed rigid crusts around curbs and vehicles in some parts of the city, and many motorists could not chip it away to get their cars out.

http://wcbstv.com/topstories/local_story_047144021.html

3 comments
Man arrested in alleged sexual assault of girl in Williamsburg

A Level 3 sex offender was charged with allegedly kissing and fondling a girl in an alleyway in a crime that shocked a tight-knit community in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

Eyewitness News has learned 29-year-old Jason Forgetta of Brooklyn was charged with sodomy, sex abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. Forgetta was positively identified by the victim of the Oct. 4 attack that caused concern in the Hasidic neighborhood.

Police say the victim, a seven-year-old girl, was coerced into an alleyway at 135 Ross Street, where the victim said Forgetta kissed and fondled her.

According to reports, the girl's father stumbled on the attack and chased the suspect into the street. Eyewitness News is told Forgetta then jumped into a dark SUV and drove off, as the father tried to hold on to the vehicle's door.

Authorities were able to track Forgetta down because he is already a convicted sex offender. He was designated a Level 3 sex offender following a May 8, 2002, conviction for sex abuse and attempted sex abuse.

According to officials, a Level 3 sex offender means psychologists believe it's more than likely that the offender will commit the crime again.

The attack reportedly involved sexual contact, during which he physically overpowered and hit his victim.

Forgetta served two years of a three year prison sentence and was released on parole on Jan. 24, 2006. He was on parole at the time of the October attack.

News video is posted on the site

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=local&id=5039778

2 comments

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Times Square, Boro-Park






3 comments

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

For Hasidic owned ice.com, this Valentine's Day will be sweeter than chocolate


Mayer Gniwisch (left) and his brother Shmuel display jewellery available at their ice.com website or from their Montreal offices.

It's Valentine's Day, a red-letter day for Montreal-based www.ice.com, one of North America's top online jewellery retailers.

Not only is it the peak of one of the company's most profitable periods, its jewellery will be featured on today's Dr. Phil show, a TV placement that will bring ice.com into millions of homes.

But more importantly to Shmuel and Pinny Gniwisch, two of four brothers at the helm of the family controlled firm, this special day helps them woo Nancy, perchance to win her heart. Or enjoy her undivided patronage.

Although the Gniwisch brothers claim to know Nancy intimately, their relationship is not romantic. The men are non-practising ordained Hasidic rabbis, happily married with 10 children between them.

And Nancy is a fictional construct, the persona of a prime target customer.

In marketing terms, a persona is "your customer designed in such a way that you not only get their demographic information, you get their psycho, graphic and emotional triggers," said Pinny Gniwisch, who gives seminars on e-commerce marketing.

"You build these personae and then you build your (web) site based on these personae," he said this week.

http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=9b93bbbb-ee16-4190-b3d6-7a186db68deb&k=32105

7 comments
Hasidim lace into Sears over lingerie ads

Members of a religious community in Williamsburg who want to stop what they see as racy flyers from landing on their doorsteps say their pleas to halt the distribution are falling on deaf ears.

Advertisements from Sears featuring women clad in lacy or revealing undergarments or negligees have been causing dismay and outrage among devout Hasidim.

"I would be disgraced to hold it in my hand," said Rabbi Sam Weiser, an activist in the tightly knit religious community. "I understand that they want our business, but they are hurting us," said the rabbi, who has repeatedly asked Sears to stop distributing the material.

"These photos are explicit and disgusting. We don't want our children looking at them. Why can't they respect our religion?" he said.

In September, the Hasidic community, which encompasses about 15 blocks in Williamsburg, started to get similar flyers from J.C. Penney. But after the rabbi sent letters expressing concerns, the company halted distribution last month, Weiser said.

Sears, however, said the matter was beyond its control and was the responsibility of Newsday, the Long Island newspaper which circulates the print ads with its newspaper.

"Sears respects the opinions of our customers," said Kimberly Freely, manager of corporate public relations for Sears, based in the Chicago area. "We are unable to selectively distribute within each Zip Code."

Weiser said he is puzzled by the company's explanation.

"We are not asking them to stop distribution in all of the zip code [11211], we just want it stopped in our community, which is not very big," he said.

Deidra Parrish Williams, a spokeswoman for Newsday, said the company wants to accommodate the community's wishes.

"We respect our readers' preferences and our policy has been and remains to process requests for delivery changes or stops as quickly as possible," she said.

But in the case of multiple-family homes, the ads are delivered at a common entry point, not at an individual door. So Hasidic families may find it hard to avoid the objectionable flyers when they share the building with non-Hasidic families.

That doesn't satisfy Weiser.

"J.C. Penney listened to us; I don't understand why Sears cannot," he said. "It makes no sense."

http://www.nydailynews.com/boroughs/story/497232p-419125c.html

5 comments
A special Times Square Yechi


6 comments

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Frum community and the Hamodia

While many of you either agree with the points that I have made in my last Hamodia post, or have at least kept an open mind and have, first thought and then, disagreed, others chose to dismiss everything without any thought or reason. This is very reflective of the attitude exhibited at the Hamodia newspaper. The lack of open-mindedness, backbone or opinion is not a plus in journalism. It goes against all the principles of Frumkeit and journalism, and subsequently is also a perfect deterrent for readership. Since when is it a problem for a Frum person to express an opinion about everyday life-issues, political issues or the issues that face the Frum world today? Why is it that when we finally have a newspaper on the stands instead of accommodating our readers, we betray them by not being honest in its pages?

So who is reading the Hamodia? The Kollel Yingerleit, that's who. So now, if you subscribe to the Hamodia viewpoint, ask yourself, what are we accomplishing with the Hamodia? Do Kollel Yingerleit need to read newspapers? Why are we printing a newspaper that is geared towards Kollel Yingerleit? Shouldn't they have no need for newspapers at all?

There is a reason why no real businessman will stop reading the New York Times and start reading the Hamodia. Because it doesn't give them what they need. You give the Frum Lawyer, the Frum real estate guy, the Frum stock trader what he he wants and he'll drop the Times in a heartbeat. Why not give it to them?

In closing, the Hamodia sells itself short by avoiding any issue that may have positive impact on the Frum community and can affect major positive change. The Hamodia editors, a microcosm of the Frum community, make the mistake of closing their mind to ideas and merely strive for mediocrity.

If we want better, we have to demand better!

18 comments

Monday, February 12, 2007

Shomrim member gets ticket in Boro-Park

At 1:15 am early this morning a silver mini-van occupied by two Shomrim members was pulled over on 14th Avenue by two 66th Precinct Cops in a Police car. The officers took their information and issued the driver a ticket. About a minute after the Police car left two more Shomrim cars filled with members arrived at the scene. The members got out of the car, schmoozed for a couple of minutes and then dispersed. On a side note; the Police officers did not seem to be too chummy with the Shomrim members while issuing the ticket.

11 comments
Matisyahu gets passed on Grammys

Hasidic reggae superstar Matisyahu Miller gets passed up at the Grammys last night. The Lubavitcher Reggae Mon had been nominated for his album 'Youth' and had been complimented by Ziggy Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley, as being the real deal and a great reggae talent. Ziggy walked off with the Grammy for his album 'Love Is My Religion'. Do I smell anti-Semitism here?

12 comments

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rabbi Balkany defends Yudi Kolko

In an interview last night on the Zev Brenner radio show Rabbi Balkany came to the defense of accused child predator Yudi Kolko. Balkany said that we should not assume that the charges against Kolko will ultimately stick and that he will end up in prison. He relayed how he too had been accused of wrongdoing on a grand scale and had never been jailed. I guess Rabbi Balkany forgot about the deal that he was forced to make to avoid jail time. Either way, I wonder if Torah Temimah will be hiring Rabbi Balkany any time soon.

14 comments
Belzer Rebbe flips his Shtreimel

This Shabbos during davening the Belzer Rebbe threw a fit, and his Shtreimel as well. The Rebbe, who is known to lead his Chassidus with an iron fist, got extremely upset in Shul on Shabbos and hurled his Shtreimel at the Oilem.

17 comments

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Chasidishe Symphony






15 comments

Friday, February 09, 2007

Torah at the office


18 comments

Thursday, February 08, 2007

More Oorahtized pictures of children

I'm actually surprised by the leniency of this job.







9 comments

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fire Displaces 17 Families in New Square

Seventeen families in a northern suburban Hasidic community are without a home today after an early blaze tore through their apartments.

The Ramapo Police Department says that at about 2:14 this morning it received a report about a fire on Clinton Avenue in New Square.

Two police officers along with members of the New Square community evauated 27 apartments.

No residents were injured, but police say that one firefighter was treated for an injury to his foot. The displaced families are being cared for by the New Square community.

Police say fire departments from nine surrounding communities responded to the blaze. Ramapo detectives and the Rockland County Sheriff's Department arson investigators are searching for the cause of the fire.

http://wcbs880.com/pages/223296.php?contentType=4&amp;amp;contentId=316118

3 comments
Chassidim, teachers draw fire in minorities debate

Chassidic men reportedly requesting that male evaluators only be in the car with them when they take Quebec Automobile Insurance Board driving tests became the latest in a series of incidents in recent months that purportedly demonstrate the lengths to which Quebecers must go to satisfy religious and cultural minorities.

The Quebec Public Service Union and the Fédération des femmes du Québec complained that asking female evaluators to defer to their male colleagues violates the principle of the equality of men and women.

The insurance board defended the practice as simply good customer service. Moreover, it said, about 80 per cent of the evaluators are male, and only about 100 chassidim take a driving test each year.

Days before, a group of employees of Quebec's largest school board, the Commission Scolaire de Montréal began circulating a petition against the fact their Jewish and Muslim co-workers are allowed to take paid time off for their religious holidays – generally two or three extra days per year. They said the policy is unfair and increases the workload of non-Jews and non-Muslims. Among other irritants, the group also cited the banning of pork from the menus of the commission's day-care centres.

The commission contends that it must pay for the days off because of a 1994 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that upheld the right of three Jewish teachers working for the school board in Chambly, Que., to be paid when they took a day off on Yom Kippur.

Nevertheless, the Montreal board said it would create a committee to look into the "reasonable accommodations" that are accorded its staff.


1 comments

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Agudah rabbis call for Pollard’s release

Agudath Israel of America's rabbinical councils called on "all caring Jews" to appeal to President Bush to free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.
"Mr. Pollard's life sentence — a penalty far more severe than that imposed upon others who committed similar or even more serious crimes — is difficult to comprehend," said the statement issued Monday by the fervently Orthodox group's Council of Torah Sages, Rabbinic Presidium and nearly 100 signatories from its Conference of Synagogue Rabbis.
"At this time, it appears that all legal avenues through the judicial system have been shut off. Only the president of the United States, by granting Mr. Pollard executive clemency, can save him from spending the rest of his life behind bars."
Pollard was sentenced to life in 1987 for spying for Israel.
Agudath Israel says it will join other Jewish organizations in asking its members to phone the White House daily between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EST until Passover.
The phone-in is primarily organized by the National Council of Young Israel.

http://jta.org/page_view_breaking_story.asp?intid=6814

7 comments

Monday, February 05, 2007

What is extremism doing for the heimishe community?

These past couple of months we have seen an escalating level of extremism within the heimishe community. The spray-painting of newspaper boxes, the shattering of bus stop ad displays and graffiti on the Oorah billboard are just a couple of examples. While these 'religious' acts of vandalism are entirely illegal and definitely against Halacha, the bigger question is; what are they accomplishing?

Are people actually reading the New York Times less since the windows on the distribution boxes have been painted black? Are there less people eating at Burger King since their bus stop ads have been torn down? Is there actually any sign of more ehrliche children with longer payos since the little boy on the Oorah billboard had his face blackened?

I guess the question that I'm posing here is; what are our true motives? Is it Yiddishkeit or wanton vandalism? Are we actually saving our society from the outside influence, or are we bringing the outside influence of destruction right into our community?

What values are we passing down to the next generation? What will they be and look like?

9 comments

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Monsey residents mobilize to keep Wal-Mart away

The retail empire Wal-Mart has a new enemy: the ultra-Orthodox community of upstate New York.

Over the last few years, the increasingly strong ultra-Orthodox community in New York has been spilling over from the old Brooklyn neighborhoods and into areas north of New York City, like Monsey. These areas have turned into large concentrations of synagogues, yeshivas and revered rabbis.

Monsey appears to be a peaceful place where the streets are wide, tall buildings banned, and quiet prevails.

But Yaakov Brill of the Vishnitz Hasidic sect says the quiet is misleading. The residents of the area are working to prevent a Wal-Mart superstore from being built in the center of town.

Wal-Mart operates 6,400 stores across the United States, and opened 21 new stores in November alone. Many ultra-Orthodox Monsey residents don't want a Wal-Mart in their neck of the woods because they are concerned that it will attract many non-residents, including non-Orthodox shoppers, and compromise the safety of their community.

Local opposition to new Wal-Mart stores is hardly limited to Monsey. According to the Financial Times, nearly every store that Wal-Mart announces it will open generates opposition from protesters who see the corporation as disrupting the quality of life and negatively affecting small businesses in the area.

A Monsey protester complained that residents would be forced to put bars on their windows if the store is built, in a town where residents don't lock their doors.

Meir Schiller, a Talmud professor at Yeshiva University in New York, says a Wal-Mart store would draw large masses of people, including non-religious Jews and non-Jews, and that some of these outsiders are likely to damage what he calls the special character of Monsey. Schiller explains that the Jews who moved to Monsey came because they wanted to live in a quiet place, and are suddenly being forced to cope with something that will likely transform it into a noisy consumer center.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/821797.html

7 comments
How to Kasher a billboard in Williamsburg




6 comments

Saturday, February 03, 2007

R' Mordche Dovid Unger will have largest parking lot in Boro-Park

According to a source in the Unger camp, R' Mordche Dovid will have the largest parking lot in Boro-Park. The source claims that after having dropped in excess of $30 million in the last two years to acquire many properties around 14th Avenue and 49th Street, Unger's funds have now run dry and he can no longer afford to build the buildings that had been planned. Demolition of most of the Unger properties have been completed as of this time, leaving much open space in the area.

16 comments

Friday, February 02, 2007

Straightening out the rumors


4 comments

Thursday, February 01, 2007

"This box outside your home says a lot about the inside of your home."

















What exactly does it say about the inside of your home?


Does it say that you really have no need for real news?

Does it say that you have a new fancy home because you can afford the Hamodia every day?

Does it say that you are an ignorant fool that will buy old censored news?

Does it say that you have the right to be condescending towards everyone that doesn't enjoy old censored news?

Does it say that you are too dumb to read an intelligent paper that offers opinions instead of dry AP reprints?

Does it say that you have no ability to think outside of the 'box'?

Does it say that you prescribe to the exact ideas that the Hamodia editor chooses to feed you?

What does it say about the inside of your home?

25 comments

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