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Monday, August 31, 2009

John Heyer: Back to Basics Program and Website Lets Voters Nominate Problems to be Fixed 

   

City Council candidate John Heyer has always said that this election is about the small things. Now he’s backing that up with a concrete way for voters to send in problem spots around the neighborhood – and get them fixed within a year.

Starting today, on the new blog at www.JohnHeyer.org/basics, Heyer will display photos of common problems sent in by residents: broken traffic lights, potholes, graffiti, and the like. And here’s the kicker: Heyer will pledge to fix each problem within his first year in office.

“This mayoral administration is balancing its budget on the backs of ordinary people,” said John Heyer. “We spend millions of dollars on vanity projects like fountains on the East River. But regular quality of life problems go unaddressed, year after year.”

“Brooklyn is not a stepchild of Manhattan,” Heyer went on to say. “It’s time for us to stand up and demand the same level of basic services that residents elsewhere in the city can rely on.”

The New York City annual budget, currently running at $60 billion, is rife with waste, says Heyer. If 1% is saved through efficiencies, $600 million would then be freed up to restore essential amenities to keep our streets safe, our parks clean, and transportation services running on time.

“This is not a political issue,” said Heyer. “This is about simple, local governance. I invite all my opponents – and all other candidates running for office – to take part. Have the voters send in photos of problems. Post them for everyone to see. And pledge to fix them within a year.”

Anyone can submit a photo or a description of a problem spot via email to basics@JohnHeyer.org. It will be posted on Heyer’s blog within 24 hours, and, Heyer says, fixed within his first year as Councilman.

“City Council is our most local form of government,” said Heyer. “But most people still don’t feel like they have a chance to elect an ally to government – someone who can improve our lives by making small changes. My ‘Back to Basics’ program will give neighbors a simple, quick and easy way to get problems addressed by the City Council. No issue is too small. And I pledge to address any problem that’s sent to us within my first year in office.”

John Heyer's Back To Basics Blog

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MUSIC REVIEW - Shira Besimcha 





It's been a really long time since Project X was released, or any other medley style album worth listening to, for that matter. That is where 'Shira Besimcha' by Yossi Fraenkel and Shloimy Zeiger comes into the picture.

Shira Besimcha is a vocally solid album with well-arranged music and harmonies that is reminiscent of the days when you would buy an album and could listen to it again and again and again. Yossi Fraenkel, who is well-known to the chasunah-hopper crowd, does a superb job singing all the latest Jewish music hits, all while adding his own vocal spin. He is accompanied up by a fantastic orchestra consisting of some of the greatest musicians in the field today. With completely updated musical and vocal arrangements, Shira Besimcha is an album that has a familiar sound but is yet very fresh to the ear.

It has been a long time since the release of a CD that will literally spin in your player until it destroys itself from wear.


You can contact Yossi Fraenkel by visiting his website, www.jewishsinger.com.
Alternately, he can be reached at 917-677-4545.


Below: Yossi with some of the stars of Jewish music today.
   

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Why Isaac Abraham & John Heyer Can Easily Win 

In the 33rd district, Isaac Abraham is a Satmar Hasid who is running on a combined platform of opposition to Vito Lopez and what, for the district as a whole, would be extreme conservativism. Isaac Abraham has been a supporter of Connectitcut Senator Joe Lieberman, the former Vice Presidential candidate who became a McCain supporter in 2008. Abraham, who is running in the Democratic primary, has gone on record urging Jewish Democrats to re-register Republican. Abraham supports tax-payer funded school vouchers for private schools, a tradtionally Republican stand. Abraham is also opposed to gay rights and is anti-choice. These stands put him at odds with most of the voters in the district but is in sync with the orthodox Jewish and old-school Catholic neighborhoods. Competing with Abraham for these conservative votes is the machine candiadte Steve Levin whose boss, Vito Lopez, has connections in the conservative neighborhoods and is pulling strings to get the conservative vote for Levin over Abraham and is exploiting personality conflicts among the Hasids to siphon away votes from Abraham. So Hasids have the choice of voting their values (and so voting for Abraham) or voting according to political alliances and exchange of political favors (and so voting for the machine's Steve Levin). It should be noted that Levin's boss has had a history of supporting Republicans over Democrats before he became Party Boss, and even after that has had a history of actively discouraging challenges to Republicans in Brooklyn, so Vito Lopez certainly has his connections to conservatives.

In the 39th district the conservative candidate, John Heyer, isn't coming from the Hasidic community but from the old-school Italian Catholic community. He is also anti-choice and pro-school vouchers. His views on gay rights are more nuanced than those of Isaac Abraham, but still amount to opposition to gay marriage in the eyes of the LGBT community. Initially Heyer's sole source of support seemed to be the conservative end of the Catholic community and the candidate who was making the most inroads into the Hasidic community was Brad Lander whose connection to the scandal-ridden WFP machine, brought him an endorsement from ultra-conservative (politically), homophobic Jewish Assemblyman Dov Hikind. (I hear rumors that Brad Lander is receiving help from Vito Lopez's machine as well, but, as with rumors I heard last year about Lopez helping Roger Adler, do not seem well-founded or, at least, don't seem to represent any substantial help). This devil's bargain between Brad Lander (progressive and anti-Israel) with Dov Hikind (intolerant ultra-conservative pro-Israel Jew) does not sit well with either Hasids or progressives and seems to be backfiring. Brad has received criticism from the liberal majority in the district for eagerly seeking out Dov Hikind's endorsement, and Hikind is receiving considerable criticism in the Hasidic press for his support of a liberal, anti-Israel candidate. Both also receive criticism for making a deal that clearly is a purely political bargain that is the specialty of political machines and not in line with reform values that appeal to the majority of the district. This has been exploited by the genuine conservative in the district, John Heyer, who has recently made a blitz on the Hasidic community and been VERY well received as being FAR more in line with Hasidic values. Hasids traditionally prefer their candidates to be anti-choice, anti-gay rights and pro-school vouchers. AND pro-Israel. So Heyer now looks to be bringing together the coservative elements in the district while Lander's progressive credentials have taken a hit because of his ties to Dov Hikind.

Both Abraham and Heyer are dedicated community activists and I have found myself respecting them for their dedication. However, they are both appealing to predominantly Republican social values and to voters who, outside of NYC, would probably be Republican voters. Both also find themselves locked in a battle with the candidates linked to scandal-ridden machines, Steve Levin and Brad Lander, and so can make claims to being reformers despite their anti-progressive stands. The machines use their web of political connections to call in favors among conservative leaders and thus siphon conservative votes from the real conservatives.

http://www.dailygotham.com/mole333/blog/conservativesvsmachinesincentralbrooklyn

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Brooklyn bike loan gets Hasids and Hipsters rollin' together 

An unusual sign appeared in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn in early August. On it is a large Star of David constructed out of 50 or so rubber chickens. In the middle of the star, Yiddish text offers a free bike loan to any of the Yiddish-speaking Satmar Hasidim who live in the area.

"You can come borrow a bike to ride around and have fun," the sign reads.
Baruch Herzfeld, a neighborhood gadfly/clown/activist/businessman who owns a small bicycle repair shop below the offices of his cell phone company (the shop's name: Traif Bike Geschaft), put up the sign.

Herzfeld, 37, already has sent some of his Hasidic friends down to the Brooklyn waterfront on the beat-up bikes he has in his repair shop. He just received 500 used bikes from Japan that will allow him to expand his program.

"These guys always complain to me. They say: 'Baruch, what can I do? I'm miserable. Help me out,'" Herzfeld said. "I said, come to me. I'll give you a bicycle on the side."

Herzfeld's office is smack in the middle of the divided territory of Williamsburg, a neighborhood that has long been inhabited by Satmar Hasidim but has recently become a favorite of young secular New York hipsters. These two communities have little in common, but they have been particularly divided over the past year by proposed bike lanes through the neighborhood ? which the Hasidim have opposed and the hipsters have generally supported. Herzfeld thinks that if he can get a few Hasidim riding bikes, it could ease some of the tension.

"The goal is just to make it acceptable. I'm not doing it because I want to change the world ? I just think it would be a healthy thing for the whole city if some of these guys got on bicycles," he said.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1111097.html

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mtisyahu live on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien - One Day 


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Friday, August 28, 2009

Lander and Skaller for taxing disposable shopping bags 

According to a source, during the recent Hamodia interviews of the 39th District City Council candidates, when asked their opinion on the disposable shopping-bag tax, Brad Lander said that he would work to get a law passed to tax each shopping-bag. The source further said that when Josh Skaller was asked if he would oppose a tax on disposable shopping-bags he said “NO, I take my own bag with me when I go shopping”.

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Krula Rebbe goes hi-tech 

 
KrulaRebbe.com

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

City Council candidate John Heyer visits Belzer Cheider 

  

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Monroe Hasidic school an enigma 



The big house set back in the woods at the end of Cliff Court has been a source of mystery and irritation for neighbors on the quiet cul de sac in recent months.

Vehicles come and go at all hours, and several times, whole groups of them have sped up the driveway with emergency lights flashing.

Once, the Hasidic boys who study at a makeshift school inside the house spilled out into the neighborhood in pursuit of a bear.

And perhaps the oddest: Neighbors have watched drivers pass black, plastic garbage bags from one vehicle to another at night at the end of the driveway.

What's going on at 21 Cliff Court?

At the moment, it's clear that a school is operating there, although neither the owner of the house nor the men running the school will discuss it.

The Town of Monroe building inspector concluded as much on Aug. 3, when he counted four boys outside and spied 11 black hats inside by peering through a garage window.

He wound up citing the owner for converting the three-car garage and basement into classrooms without building permits, along with six other code violations.

That hasn't stopped classes. On Wednesday morning, despite the violations and a foreclosure cloud over the property, teenage boys could be seen studying inside the garage. One was sent outside to report that no adults wanted to answer questions.

Isidor Landau, the Spring Valley man who bought the newly built house for $800,000 in 2004, later referred questions to his attorney, whom he wouldn't identify.

The property remains in the hands of a limited-liability corporation Landau transferred it to, although the mortgage company that lent him and his wife $640,000 for the house foreclosed on it in June, claiming that payments stopped last year.

It's unclear what town approvals, aside from building permits, were needed to create a school in the house, which the town classifies as a single-family home with an accessory apartment and taxes accordingly. Property-tax bills totaled nearly $29,000 last year.

Neighbors say the house — one of eight on the block — initially was used to board some of the Eastern European women who clean homes in neighboring Kiryas Joel.

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090827/NEWS/908270332

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hasidic sect fined $19K for girls-camp violations 

A Hasidic group that was forced out of the former Homowack Lodge faces fines of up to $19,500 for allowing children to live in filthy and dangerous conditions for five weeks, the Times Herald-Record has learned.

Congregation Bais Trana, based in the Monsey area of Rockland County, evacuated a girls camp in August after a five-week standoff with state Department of Health and Town of Mamakating officials.

The group faces a maximum penalty of $2,000 for each of nine violations and a maximum of $250 for six others. DOH has offered to settle the case for $12, 650, records indicate.

"They have been cited in the past," said Mark Knudsen, DOH district director, Monday. "As I recall, they settled all the cases prior to the hearing. All the respondents are offered an opportunity to settle a case without a hearing, similar to plea bargaining."

According to citation reports and court records, children were playing outside without supervision and used an indoor swimming pool that had unsafe water quality.

A 6-foot-tall mound of kitchen waste was piled next to an overflowing dumpster. Toxic cleaning materials were kept in unlocked storage rooms in the dorms and old mattresses and other debris were jammed into the basement of one of the dorms.

Fire doors were propped open with garbage cans, chairs and buckets. Exit doors were blocked or locked. Water was leaking over exposed electrical boxes and fixtures. A well-head was submerged in water, threatening a supply of potable water.

DOH asked the group to leave voluntarily and later sought a commissioner's order and then a court order forcing them out on Aug. 9. Roughly 265 girls and 35 families were staying there.

Knudsen said the camp can negotiate a lesser settlement payment if they argue convincingly that the proposed penalties are excessively harsh.

"Our intention was not to fine then, it was to vacate the property," Knudsen said.

As a condition of a settlement, the congregation would have to agree not to occupy the buildings unless they are brought up to state standards.

In a separate action in Supreme Court, the state Attorney General's Office is seeking a permanent injunction that would prevent the camp from using the properties.

DOH has scheduled an administrative hearing in Monticello for Sept. 23.

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090826/NEWS/908260338

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Google ess nur pleeze! 


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Belz urging Chasidim who will be out of town to vote absentee 

The Belz community which has over 1,100 registered democrats in the 39th City Council district has endorsed John Heyer. Hasidic sects traditionally do a pilgrimage to their Grand Rabbi on the Hebrew New-Year, which this year is on Saturday after election day. With anticipation that a lot of their members will be out of town on election day they are starting an Absentee voting campaign. They are committed to having 100% of their members vote.


Story and picture sent in by a Chaptzem reader

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Burial dispute at Kiryas Joel 

Two factions in the Village of Kiryas Joel are at odds over the burial of a man in a new cemetery in the Town of Monroe just outside the Village of Kiryas Joel.

On Thursday, a group of a Brooklyn based Hasidic congregation prepared to bury Eziel Perlstein, 41, in a new cemetery, which they own.

State Police were called to Raywood Drive in Monroe where they were met with between 100 and 200 Yeshiva school teenaged young men that they described as an “unruly crowd” that was placing tree logs and boulders across the entranceway to the existing cemetery at Kiryas Joel.

As a result, the Brooklyn group decided to bury the deceased in the new cemetery.

Troopers dispersed the large crowd without incident and remained on location through the afternoon and evening to prevent any further clashes between the two factions. No arrests were made.

The new cemetery, in the Town of Monroe, is still pending permit approval by the town planning board; however, town officials did not desire to take any enforcement action preventing the use of the new cemetery.

http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/2009/August09/22/KJ_burial%20dispute-22Aug09.html

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Ramapo yeshiva plans to move after violations cited 

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish congregation that ran an illegal children's school and violated numerous health and safety codes is leaving a residential neighborhood on Route 306, officials said.

Neighbors were pleased that Bobover Yeshiva, which also was the site of a backyard cow slaughtering, planned to leave the area.

The Hasidic Jewish congregation plans to lease classrooms for its students at Yeshiva Degel Hatorah on Maple Avenue in Spring Valley starting on Sept. 1.

"Of course I am happy," neighbor Carol Friedman said. "We're not happy that they managed to stay open for 10 weeks after they should have been shut down. They turned their backs on the health and welfare of the children."

The congregation's decision to move came as Ramapo inspectors issued Bobover Yeshiva additional health and safety violations. Ramapo and Rockland's Department of Health officials inspected the building on Aug. 13.

Ramapo Fire Inspector Thomas Buckley issued the yeshiva citations on Aug. 14 for illegal construction - converting the two-car detached garage into a classroom for students, including a child in a wheelchair, without a fire-prevention system or proper exits.

The inspectors also found electrical wiring problems in the kitchen, blocked emergency exits and mouse droppings in the kitchen.

The inspections came after the Hillcrest Fire Department responded to a fire alarm and found violations. Hillcrest Fire Chief Kim Weppler was concerned that when the alarms went off, the students didn't evacuate the building.

"Class was still going, business as usual," he said.

Weppler said the alarm system was activated by heat coming from the kitchen. Firefighters walked through the yeshiva and discovered "unsatisfactory" conditions in the kitchen and bathrooms, he said.

"We found spoiled food on shelves, electrical outlet connections that were lying in water in the middle of the kitchen, basically unsanitary conditions all the way around," Weppler said.

http://www.lohud.com/article/20090823/NEWS03/908230361/-1/SPORTS

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City Council candidate John Heyer visiting Chernobyl'e Rebbe 


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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Former Landau's Restaurant in Williamsburg being renovated to a MASBIA Soup Kitchen 

 

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Videos of City Council candidate John Heyer visiting Rabbonim 





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Friday, August 21, 2009

John Heyer visits with local Rabbonim 

    

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A Heimishe Election Poster 



This Yiddish poster in a Borough Park storefront boosts the candidacy of John Heyer for City Council in the 39th C.D. which stretches from Carroll Gardens to that neighborhood. Meanwhile, Yiddish-language posters for Steve Levin, a candidate in the neighboring 33rd C.D., were seen in Hasidic Williamsburg.

http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categories/category.php?category_id=43&id=30256

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

City Council candidates Brad Lander and John Heyer at Yad Efrayim 

Yad Efrayim a Hassidic hospital volunteer group, which Brad Lander had used a photograph of himself volunteering there for his Boro-Park Mailer had invited John Heyer Wednesday night to package some food baskets.

Brad Lander saw all his hard work campaign in Boro-Park go up in flames in one week by the John Heyer campaign. Brad Lander who got the endorsement of the Teachers Union became a big threat to the community’s overstressed private schools. And of course John Heyer is a Catholic, a man of faith.

Brad Lander showed up a half hour before thinking that it would deter John Heyer from coming… but John Heyer came anyway.

  
Story and pictures sent in by a Chaptzem reader

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Hasidim kick off Bethel voter drive 



Hasidic groups have begun a voter registration drive in the Town of Bethel after what organizers say has been increasingly unfair treatment at the hands of the Town Board.

Organizers opened an office in Kauneonga Lake about two weeks ago. They say 300 people have filled out voter registration forms.

"We Orthodox people, we like to live in peace," said one man, standing on the steps of the office Tuesday afternoon. "We are not interested in politics, in leading the town. But, unfortunately, we have to use the power we have."

On Aug. 14, an article appeared in the Satmar Brooklyn weekly Der Yid, announcing the formation of "Community Council of Bethel."

This comes after a dispute in July between the United Talmudical Academy and the town over the construction of a synagogue on Schultz Road. Town officials tried to force the group to vacate the building and involve the Planning Board in a review of the plans after the fact. The UTA has taken the town to court twice this summer.

But the organizer said the timing of the UTA dispute and the formation of the council is "coincidental."

Residents, he said, are upset generally about new zoning and a feeling that "a few people run everything."

"It has nothing to do with the UTA," he said. "It is not only Jewish people. We have a lot of just plain old local people."

While the council won't put up candidates, it will interview and endorse candidates for the Nov. 3 general election, the organizer said. Bethel's elections are normally hotly contested and decided by a hundred votes or less. The supervisor and two board seats are up for grabs.

"I think the possibility exists that they are out to get anybody on the Town Board," said Supervisor Dan Sturm, who has run afoul of Orthodox communities over the UTA controversy. Sturm faces a challenge from former Supervisor Harold Russell, a Republican.

"Overall, whether they are allowed to vote or not, it is up to the elections office," Sturm said. "I am doing what I think is right. I am not going to be intimidated to act any differently. I will do what I think is right for the safety of the residents and hopefully the rest will take care of itself."

According to the Sullivan County Board of Elections, the council has registered at least 20 people at addresses on State Route 17B and Cohen and Cohen Road. A county elections officer said the group dropped off another 31 cards Tuesday afternoon. Most are switching registrations from Brooklyn and the Monroe area in Orange County, the worker said.

While bloc voting from Kiryas Joel residents has swung elections in Monroe, Orthodox communities have never registered enough votes to control elections in Sullivan County. Orthodox voters do commonly vote in the towns of Thompson and Fallsburg, where numerous summer camps and bungalow colonies are located.

A person must live in a county for at least 30 days before an election to vote in that county. Switching registrations involves a simple act of filling out a form and signing an affidavit that the person qualifies to vote, and recording the previous address. Sullivan's Board of Elections mails a voter registration card before the election. Election workers try to verify the person's residency only if the card is returned in the mail. The deadline to register for the general election is Oct. 9.

In Bethel, there are voting blocs already at the gated Chapin Estate and community activist groups in Smallwood and elsewhere. These organizations have pushed for restrictive zoning.

"Our voice has not been heard," the organizer said.

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090820/NEWS/908200335

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lakewood man, 20, admits targeting Orthodox Jews in robberies 

A 20-year-old Lakewood man has admitted violently robbing two men he said were targeted for the crimes because they are Orthodox Jews.

Devon Hardy of McArthur Street pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of armed robbery and two counts of bias intimidation related to crimes in Lakewood on May 25 and July 8 of last year.

In entering his guilty plea before Superior Court Judge James Den Uyl, Hardy said an alleged accomplice, Jose Diaz, selected the Orthodox Jewish men as victims because he knew them to be easy targets.

"It wasn't a hate crime, but they were selected because of their religion," said First Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Ronald DeLigny.

The first victim, David Davidovish, 38, was visiting from Israel when he was robbed on May 25, 2008, as he sat in a car in front of a convenience store on Route 9, police said.

DeLigny said Davidovish was assaulted with a bat. He suffered a broken nose and required stitches, DeLigny said. Several hundred dollars and a laptop computer were stolen from him.

In court, Hardy admitted to smashing the victim's windshield with the bat and stealing his money and laptop.

The second victim was a rabbi, Jack Goldbaum, 41. Hardy admitted stabbing Goldbaum twice as he stood outside his home in Lakewood, talking on a cell phone on July 8, 2008.

DeLigny alleged that Hardy was accompanied by Diaz, 32, of Joe Parker Road in Lakewood, and Timothy Swift, 19, of West Gilford Park in Toms River, and that the accomplices punched Goldbaum and stole his wallet.

Swift previously pleaded guilty to robbery in the Goldbaum case and is facing a 10-year prison term, DeLigny said.

Both Swift and Hardy agreed to testify against Diaz, who is charged in both incidents.

Under terms of his plea bargain, Hardy is facing 30 years in prison and will be required to serve at least 19 1/2 years of the term before he can be considered for release on parole, DeLigny said. He is scheduled to be sentenced in October.

http://www.app.com/article/20090818/NEWS05/908180338/1070/NEWS02

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ex-New Square clerk held without bail on federal fraud charges from the 1990s 

A federal judge yesterday ordered a former New Square village clerk held without bail on charges that he helped steal tens of millions of dollars from federal anti-poverty programs and then fled the country in the late 1990s.

Avrum David Friesel, 57, who is married with children, was extradited to the United States on Aug. 7 from London after he fought to stay in Great Britain.

U.S. marshals and London police arrested Friesel in April 2008 after he had eluded authorities since 1997.

Friesel's next scheduled appearance is Sept. 9 in U.S. District Court. His lawyer, William Komaroff of Manhattan, declined to comment.

Friesel, a son of New Square's only mayor, and six other men were accused of defrauding federal and state subsidy programs to benefit themselves and others living in the Hasidic Jewish village in Ramapo.

One of the schemes described in a 64-count indictment from 1997 included an $11.6 million fraud that bilked state and federal education programs, mostly for nonexistent students supposedly enrolled in a Judaic studies mentoring program approved by Rockland Community College.

Rockland repaid $5.1 million of the stolen money.

Five of the defendants also were convicted of creating a phony religious school in Brooklyn to steal millions more in education aid after the RCC scam.

Friesel appeared yesterday before Judge Barbara Jones, who oversaw the sentencing of five of Friesel's co-defendants.

Jones ordered him held without bail in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, across from the Foley Square courthouse in lower Manhattan.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan obtained an indictment involving a conspiracy that ran for two decades and was concealed by the use of false names and bank accounts and fraudulent income tax returns.

Among the programs defrauded were federal and state tuition assistance grants; a Small Business Administration program to aid small, minority-owned companies; the Section 8 rental subsidy program; and an insurance benefit program run by the Social Security Administration.

http://www.lohud.com/article/20090818/NEWS03/908180361/-1/SPORTS

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Monday, August 17, 2009

The Event 09 video trailer 


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Hasidim throng to KJ cemetery on anniversary of Grand Rebbe's death 



The steamy Sunday afternoon sun did nothing to shorten the caravan of cars and buses, or the line of men and boys ascending Schunnemunk Road.

They started arriving at the cemetery the previous night. They came from this village, from Brooklyn, from more distant points like Iowa and Montreal. They came to pay their respects and pray at the grave site of the man who founded the Satmar Hasidic movement.

It's been 30 years since the death of Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, who is buried in the cemetery of the village that carries his name. His yartzheit — Yiddish for death anniversary — attracts thousands of Orthodox Jews; this year was no different.

It's an event that has a whiff of controversy these days, as Joel Teitelbaum's great-nephews quarrel over who will lead the 100,000-strong Satmar Hasidic sect.

Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, based in Kiryas Joel, and his younger brother, Zalman, based in Brooklyn, have been struggling for control since even before the 2006 death of their father, Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum, who succeeded Joel Teitelbaum as grand rebbe in 1979.

Both make separate trips to the grave site, and fights have erupted among their supporters in the past. But Moses Witriol, the village's public safety officer, said Aaron Teitelbaum gave strict instructions to his followers on Saturday: keep it peaceful.

Aaron made his trip quietly to his great-uncle's grave site around midday Sunday. Zalman's visit, about four hours later, was not as quiet. As a state police helicopter circled overhead, his caravan pulled into the cemetery and stopped at the gates, surrounded by hundreds of Hasidic men and boys.

They climbed on cars and elbowed their way, trying to spot him through darkly tinted car windows.

But that was as heated as things got. Zalman Teitelbaum visited the grave site, got back in his car and headed back to Brooklyn.

What would Moses Teitelbaum think about the tension sown by his sons' dispute?

"The father," Witriol said, shaking his head, "he would never have taken it."

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090817/NEWS/908170324

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

FDNY paramedics work on Brighton Beach mugging victim 


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Skverer Dayen of Boro-Park, Rabbi Michel Steinmetz, endorses John Heyer for City Council 

 

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Pictures from the MASBIA summer Catskill Extravaganza 

   

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Legal battle over Bethel shul continues 



A Hasidic group got a permit to build a shul on Schultz Road without submitting basic plans and environmental studies and then rapidly constructed and occupied the building before panicky Town of Bethel officials could stop it, court records reveal.

But a lawyer says don't blame the United Talmudical Academy, the Brooklyn-based Satmar group that owns the building.

The town building inspector and other town officials, including the supervisor, not only gave the UTA permission to construct the building, but said it was OK to move in, he says.

"My take is that the town is embarrassed, and instead of meeting us halfway and working things out, they're just grabbing at what they can to save face somehow," attorney Henri Shawn said Friday.

Last week, Bethel and the UTA were back in court. Judge Frank LaBuda broke a standoff in July by granting limited use of the building.

On Aug. 7, while the ultra-orthodox Jewish members were preparing for the Sabbath, the town ordered the group again to stop work. The town claimed they were using a mikvah — a ritual bath — and bathrooms on the lower floor, a violation of LaBuda's court order and that they were working on the parking lot without a permit from state regulators.

LaBuda again sided with the UTA, allowing it to continue to use portions of the building for religious purposes only, and to finish it.

But the fight is far from over.The town still maintains the building might not be safe. It is also creating traffic and potential environmental problems that were never studied, officials say.

The UTA also is under a violation order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for failing to obtain a stormwater permit and now faces an Aug. 28 deadline to complete that work or face fines of up to $37,500 a day.

Both sides are still so far apart that they can't agree what the building is: the UTA calls it a shul — or a synagogue — and exempt from Planning Board oversight, the town says it is "a community center," and wants to order the UTA to do detailed studies under Planning Board supervision after the fact.

Town engineers reviewing the files have found no electrical, plumbing or mechanical plans, and the building documents lack basic structural information.

"This is not the first project the UTA has done," Bethel Supervisor Daniel Sturm said. "They know full well that anything they submitted was inadequate. The plans don't match the building "» . They try to circumvent the system and we are not going to allow it."

Sturm says he did know that his building inspector, Timothy Dexter, had granted the UTA a permit, but became concerned when the building went up with "amazing speed."

He said Dexter kept telling him the project didn't need Planning Board oversight. He became suspicious after getting numerous complaints, and called his attorneys.

During a telephone conference July 10, Sturm said, the attorneys told him that Dexter had made a mistake in granting the permit, and it should have had a full review from the Planning Board, including traffic studies and environmental impact studies.

But the UTA's response is that Dexter, a long-time employee, was the only person with the authority to grant a building permit. Dexter has said he welcomes any review of his work, but has had no other comment.

"We have a building inspector and a supervisor who met through the whole year and told them all along everything was fine," Shawn said. "If he screwed up, why penalize us? It is an internal problem."

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090816/NEWS/908160333

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Where Brad Lander stands on marriage equality 

From Mr. Lander's blog

My family and I are long-time members of Congregation Kolot Chayeinu, a progressive Jewish community that makes a point of welcoming – right in its mission statement – “individuals of varying sexual orientations, gender identities, races, family arrangements, and Jewish identities and backgrounds” (ok, I know it’s a little crunchy for synagogues to have mission statements). We feel strongly that our own Jewish practice is enriched (and definitely made more fun and creative) by the diverse, often eclectic mix of perspectives presented on the bimah and in other settings. And we’re proud to have Marek and Rosa get their Jewish education in a place where they learn Jewish text, Jewish traditions, Jewish values -- tzedakah (pursuit of justice), tikkun olam (repair of the world) and gemilut hasadim (acts of loving kindness) –- and also see in very tangible ways that we value diversity and consider LGBT families to be, well, families.

Kolot’s rabbi and our friend, Ellen Lippmann, officiated at our wedding in 1996. At our wedding, Meg and I urged our friends and families to voice their opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), by calling President Clinton. Since then, I have stood with the community at many rallies and events in support of equality. And I’m proud that the rabbi that married us 13 years ago is so often the one who is officiating at those weddings, and speaking at those rallies.

I’m also proud of the commitment to equality in the neighborhood where we live. For many years, LGBTQ folks have chosen to live here, in a mixed, but predominantly straight, set of neighborhoods. They value straight neighbors who are fierce activists, who take up the challenge to support queers and their families, and who choose to live in neighborhoods where their own children will know LGBT people and be friends with kids raised in LGBT families.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

FOX5 Reports on Illegal Jewish Catering Business in Boro-Park 


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Friday, August 14, 2009

HIKIND & HUCKABEE TO TRAVEL TO ISRAEL IN SUPPORT OF A UNITED JERUSALEM 

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has announced he will travel with former Arkansas Republican Governor Mike Huckabee to Israel next week for a three-day trip to demonstrate their support for a united Jerusalem and their belief that Jews have the right to live anywhere, including Judea and Samaria.

Huckabee, who once said he supports the notion of a Palestinian state in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, has long been a vocal proponent of Israel, and of Jews’ right to reside anywhere within the Jewish state.

“I am thrilled to be accompanying the Governor on this politically significant and extremely important trip,” Hikind said. “His presence will certainly strengthen the residents who are facing the possibility of eviction due to President Obama’s incessant pressure on the Israeli government to dismantle Jewish settlements.”

Hikind and Huckabee will be joining Dr. Joseph Frager, Chairman of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and the facilitator of this trip, as well as Mr. Rubin Margules, Zionist Organization of America Brooklyn Regional President. The itinerary includes visits to Jerusalem’s Old City, Ma’aleh Adumim, and Hebron, among other locations.

Hikind is in the process of rolling out a major campaign to bring thousands of American Jews to Judea and Samaria in mid-November to show support to the affected settlers.

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Boro-Park City Council Candidate Joshua Skaller visits Rebbes 

Joshua Skaller pictured below with the Munkatcher Rebbe, Belzer Dayan and Burshtiener Rebbe.

  

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Borough Park leaders meet with City Council candidate John Heyer 

Yeshiva administrators and Borough Park leaders meet with John Heyer City Council candidate for Borough-Park’s 39th District.
List of Mosdos and Chessed organizations Gur, Belz, Bobov (45), Tzanz-Klozenburg, Chasan Sofar, Beis Yakov (18th Ave), Wiznitz, Beis Malkah, Yeshiva Ketaneh of Bensenhurst, Stulin, SBCO, Boro Park JCC, Rav Chesed, and more.

   

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Rachmestrivka Rebbe endorses John Heyer 

Rachmestrivka Rebbe to John Heyer: “You could ask everyone to vote for you, in my name.”

Sent in by a Chaptzem reader
 

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dov Hikind campaigns with Brad Lander in Boro-Park 

    

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