Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Big 'Schvitzer' gets arrested on Palisades Parkway
A Brooklyn man faces various traffic charges after a woman told state police he used a siren and lights to keep her from merging onto the Palisades Interstate Parkway.
She told troopers she was trying to merge onto the parkway at Exit 10 when the car sped up as she tried to merge, blocking her entry. The woman said she then slowed to pull into the right lane behind the vehicle. The driver then slowed and activated some kind of siren as her path was blocked again.
The woman followed the car and wrote down the license-plate numbers. When she reached Troop F on Thiells-Mount Ivy Road, she pulled into the station and made a complaint. A short while after the complaint was made, troopers stopped a 1989 light blue Lincoln Continental traveling northbound on the Palisades Interstate Parkway near Exit 18, operated by a 38-year-old Brooklyn man.
The car had several red emergency lights, a switch-activated siren and heavily tinted windows, which impaired the view into the car, troopers said.
The man was charged with misdemeanor reckless driving, police said, and other misdemeanor charges were expected to be filed when he is due to return to the post, the troopers also impounded the Lincoln. Now, without a car, he can put the lights and sirens on his bicycle.


Thursday, July 15, 2004

A 19 year old counselor from Munkatcher Camp drowns
A nineteen year old counselor from Munkatcher Camp drowned while on a camp trip. The counselor, Yossi Leichter, was on a water ride when apparently he got a cramp from the frigid waters and could not stay afloat.


Monday, July 12, 2004

Supreme Court Justice David I. Schmidt dismisses dog-bite case

A Brooklyn woman was barking up the wrong tree when she tried to sue her landlord after her roommate's pit bull took a chunk out of her leg, a judge has ruled. Janine Gordon had sued her landlord, Vera Realty, arguing the company should have warned her that her roomie's dog, Tar, had "vicious propensities" because the pit bull had previously attacked somebody else in one of its buildings. But in a decision published Saturday, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice David I. Schmidt noted that Gordon knew more about the dog's behavior than the landlord, because her roommate, Grace Roselli, had told her about the cranky canine before they moved in together in 1996. Gordon and Tar got along well at first, the ruling says, and Gordon even "cared for Tar when Roselli was on vacation, at times letting the dog sleep with her." I guess the saying is correct, "let sleeping dogs lie", or the people watching them will lie.


Friday, July 09, 2004

Over $250,000.00 in Government funds retracted from Yeshiva Yesode Hatorah, Vien, Williamsburg

Over a quarter of a million dollars in Government grants that were promised to Viener Cheder in Williamsburg were snatched away from them after the Yeshiva had laid out already large amounts. The Yeshiva was promised the moneys to buy a new building for their pre-school and to hire teachers. However, after the building had been purchased and the teachers were hired, the Government retracted their funding claiming it was due to the fact that the school was to be for boys only. Though the Government does routinely provide funding even for boys-only schools, they claim this case was different since the school would include a pre-kindergarten class which the Government claims would not benefit from being separate and therefore does not deserve funding. I guess it's not enough that we pay taxes to support the public schools, don't use the public school system, provide the city with better educated individuals but we also don't deserve Governmental subsidies for our better run, more successful private schools just because our beliefs don't conform with their studies.


Thursday, July 08, 2004

Rabbi Naftali Lichtenstein passes away

If you have ever come in contact 'Reb Naftule', as everyone who knew him would refer to him, then you know that we have lost a one-of-a-kind man. R' Naftule, a giant 'Talmid Chochom', fluent in every facet of the Torah, spent his whole life working for the 'klal'. He worked in the Matzoh Bakery for years keeping everything to the highest standard of Kashrus. He ran Machne Arugas Habosem, Tzelemer Camp in Hurleyville, for countless years taking pride in providing in 'ruchniyes' and 'gashmiyes' for the camp. R' Naftule was an icon and will be missed.


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Joseph Gutnick taking precautions from Al-Quaeda

Joe Gutnick, one of Australia's richest men and a former president of
Melbourne Football Club, has employed a small army of former police
and special forces soldiers to protect him.
During the trial of Jack Roche – a Muslim convert sentenced this week
by a Perth court for terrorist offences – it emerged that Mr Gutnick
was on an al-Qaida hit list because of his involvement with Zionist
He said yesterday he lived under constant protection after being told
by Australian Federal Police he was a target. I would suggest he hide himself in one his square block vaults.


Sunday, July 04, 2004

Battle in Kiryas Joel getting hot

John Giattino wants to stop Kiryas Joel's planned water pipeline to
keep the Hasidic community from growing until the fallow fields of
nearby ACE Farm sprout apartment buildings.
He remembers seeing the Hasidic population in Rockland County expand
rapidly when he was growing up there.
"I'm not prejudiced against these people," the Highland Mills
electrical engineer said. "These people will stretch and strip
resources and they will make us pay for it. The community grows and
grows and grows unbridled."
Two miles away, in Kiryas Joel, Shimon Rolnitzky reads with anger
about people like Giattino fighting his village's water project and
sees a very different parallel – to medieval laws attempting to
limit the Jewish population.
In a more philosophical mood, Rolnitzky pretends he's "a rich white
suburban guy, living peacefully in a better neighborhood" and
concludes that having a growing population of neighbors who act and
dress differently probably would bother him, too.
"We are feeling their pain," he says of Kiryas Joel's
neighbors, "but as much as we are going to try, we cannot stop our
growth. If we will not have water to drink, it might lead to a water
shortage in our area and even to serious health problems."
The friction between Hasids and non-Hasids in southern Orange County
has risen in recent months from its usual subterranean hum to an
open roar, because of the phenomenal population growth in a
community that produces huge families – and needs houses to put them
The noise reached a crescendo Thursday when the Orange County
Legislature voted in a chamber packed with spectators to formally
oppose Kiryas Joel's proposal to tap New York City's water supply –
a project opponents fear will fuel more explosive growth in one of
New York's fastest-growing communities.
One night before, another development in the KJ wars: residents of
southern Blooming Grove signed a petition to form their own village –
at least partly to forestall what they see as encroachment by
nearby Kiryas Joel.
It now appears that a similar effort to form a village is gathering
steam in the Town of Woodbury.
For Kiryas Joel's critics, like Giattino, the fight is about
protecting the suburban or rural way of life that drew many of them
to Orange County.
"It's an encroachment that's not going to stop until the politicians
put their feet down," he said. "That's what all the fathers talk
about at the baseball games. All you have to do is bring it up and
you get a very impassioned discussion."
But for Kiryas Joel's increasingly embattled residents – who say
they are just pursuing basic human needs for housing and water – the
mounting opposition smacks of anti-Semitism, or at least anti-
"Why are we being treated like second-class citizens?" Rolnitzky
asked. "Are we taking anything away from Orange County residents?
Why wouldn't they let us live our lives?"
The newest wrinkle in the conflict – the village pushes in Blooming
Grove and Woodbury – is causing people to recall events in the
Rockland County Town of Ramapo, which had a Hasidic population
taking root in the Village of New Square and the Monsey area years
before Kiryas Joel was settled.
New villages began cropping up there in the 1980s as residents
sought to take control of zoning from town authorities who they said
were being too lax in enforcement or too broad in interpreting the
The issue came to a head in what would become the Village of Airmont
when Ramapo allowed synagogues to operate in homes, recalled John
Layne, Airmont's current mayor.
Airmont incorporated in 1991 and was promptly sued by the federal
government, and by some Hasidic groups, who accused the village
founders of trying to zone out Hasids.
After protracted litigation, the courts left the village intact but
forced it to change its zoning. Today, Layne said, Airmont has
several home synagogues and a free-standing one but no large,
noticeable Hasidic population.
In all, six villages incorporated in Ramapo between 1982 and 1991.
One, countering the strict-zoning trend, was the all-Hasidic Village
of Kaser – which now has more than 3,300 people living in its 0.2
square miles.
John and Lori Giattino knew Kiryas Joel was just down Seven Springs
Road when they bought their home in Highland Mills three years ago,
but they didn't consider it a problem.
But then they read in January that the community's development arm
had bought 140-acre ACE Farm. Suddenly they could envision more
apartment buildings spreading across the landscape – and their
property value sinking.
"I think what's got a lot of us up in arms here is the purchase of
ACE Farm," John Giattino said. "It's going to be a monstrosity."
Like other pipeline critics, he bristles at the suggestion of anti-
Semitism, pointing out that his relatives are Jewish. But he says
emphatically that he doesn't want to live near Hasids because he
thinks they let their buildings become run down and properties fill
with litter.
"Keep your sloppiness contained within your community," Giattino
said, "because I don't want you bringing down my neighborhood."
Rolnitzky replies that the quality of life in Kiryas Joel is better
than in Newburgh, Middletown and other big cities – and that he and
other residents regard their village as a city.
"We prefer an urban environment as opposed to a rural one," he
said. "We have to live close to our shuls, schools and stores,
because our women and a big percentage of our men aren't driving
Kiryas Joel "is working very hard to keep ourselves and our streets
clean," Rolnitzky said. "I don't know any other village in our
region where the streets are being swept twice a week."
He sees his village's growth as inevitable and wonders why its
neighbors would try to prevent it from securing an outside water
source – one that won't compete with their ground water.
Kiryas Joel already had conflicts with nearby Monroe and Woodbury
residents when their wells ran dry about six years ago, he points
"This is what bothers us," he said. "By opposing the pipeline,
they're not helping themselves."
While opponents think stopping the pipeline will stop Kiryas Joel's
growth, Rolnitzky said villagers see it differently.
"It's not that we need the water pipeline to grow. We need it to


Thursday, July 01, 2004

Orthodox Community growing in Manhattan's West Side

In a sign of the growing reach of the Orthodox community in New York
City over the last decade, the Jewish character of the Upper West
Side — often perceived as the heart of progressive Judaism — is being
recast by an Orthodox boom.

Since 1990, according to figures not yet released from the Jewish
Community Study of New York 2002, the number of Orthodox households
on the Upper West Side shot up by 66 percent. In New York City
overall, the Orthodox population rose from 13 percent in 1990 to 19
percent in 2001, according to the UJA-Federation-sponsored study.

The overall Jewish population on the Upper West Side dropped by 5,000
in the last decade, to 71,800, but the percentage of Orthodox
increased significantly, from 8 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in
2001. There are now 5,194 Orthodox households on the Upper West Side
among the 37,100 Jewish households.

And while it is not yet clear how many of those households are "black
hat" and how many are Modern Orthodox, anecdotal evidence suggests
that the black hat numbers are growing, though not in the traditional
sense of the term.

The kind of so-called Modern Orthodoxy that once was prevalent on the
Upper West Side is gone, by and large, replaced instead with a more
rigid stream, according to Samuel Heilman, a Queens College
sociologist and Jewish studies professor who has written extensively
on the fervently Orthodox community.

"There has been a move to the right in Orthodoxy, there's no question
about it," Heilman said. "The West Side may be one of the last
strongholds of the young Modern Orthodox person. What we're seeing
here is that even in this stronghold [of Modern Orthodoxy], you
already have evidence of some haredization.

"The difference, and it is a critical one, is that while it may be
cool to be haredi in Borough Park, it's still not cool to be haredi
on the Upper West Side."

The distinction between Modern Orthodox and black hat, at least on
the Upper West Side, may no longer even be valid as lines blur in a
post-denominational age, observers say. The Orthodox population of
the Upper West Side, they agree, is largely fervently observant, yet
fundamentally different from more traditional, insular Orthodox
communities such as Brooklyn's Borough Park or Williamsburg in its
willingness to embrace cultural diversity, pluralism and openness.

"The main difference between the Orthodox Jews on the Upper West Side
and the Borough Park crowd is that the Upper West Siders would be
more reluctant to call themselves black-hatters," Heilman said.

"What the Orthodox on the Upper West Side want is to be both in and
of America, and in that sense they're different from the people who
tend to live in Borough Park ... and want an insular enclave," he

Manhattan, Heilman adds, is precisely the place where an Orthodox Jew
can have a foot in both the Orthodox and the secular world.

Straddling Two Worlds

Y. David Scharf, 36, clearly straddles two worlds. His colleagues, he
said, joke that whoever saw him in the office, wearing his power
suit, would never know he was Jewish, and whoever saw him on his way
to shul, wearing his black hat, would never imagine he was one of the
city's more prominent attorneys.

Recently named by Crain's, a leading business publication, as one of
the 40 most influential young New Yorkers, he is an attorney to such
high-profile clients as Donald Trump and Leona Helmsley. Scharf is
also, he said, a strictly observant Orthodox Jew. In 1990, when he
and his wife were married, the two, then living in Queens, debated
which neighborhood to choose as their future home.

Scharf's wife suggested Flatbush; a native of the Upper West Side,
she had grown up in the neighborhood when its Orthodox institutions
were few and less than dominant. She said she wanted her children to
grow up in an Orthodox environment.

Eventually, however, the prospect of a short commute and the slump in
real estate prices in Manhattan triumphed, and the couple settled on
the Upper West Side.

"I would disagree that being Orthodox means you're self-contained,"
Scharf said. "I would say that I'm a professional, I'm out in the
world, I represent high-profile clients, I'm in court, I attend
functions — both Jewish and non-Jewish ones — and I run in various
circles. Living on the West Side mirrors my professional life; it is
a confluence of everything."

As an example, he offered a hypothetical weekend.

"You could attend kiddush in one shtiebel, then a kiddush in another,
then run off to The Jewish Center synagogue to be with more Modern
Orthodox, and then to the JCC for a cultural event that may or may
not have Judaism interspersed into it," Scharf said. "Then it's off
to Lincoln Center for a charity event, a symphony or an opera. You
can do all that within 36 hours."

This, he said, is particularly appealing in regard to his four

"I think there's an opportunity on the Upper West Side to expose your
children to all walks of life," he said. "They experience everything,
from different streams of Orthodoxy, such as chasidim, black-hatters
and Modern Orthodox, to non-Orthodox Jews and secular people. I
personally think that being in an atmosphere such as this breeds more
understanding, breeds a higher level of tolerance."

The emphasis Scharf places on children is a prominent theme crucial
to the understanding of the shift in demographics. The influx of
Orthodox Jews to the Upper West Side, said Rabbi Alan Schwartz of the
Ohab Zedek synagogue, one of the neighborhood's most prominent and
rapidly growing Orthodox congregations, began a decade or so ago. At
that time, the neighborhood mainly attracted singles who wanted to
avoid long commutes to their offices while still enjoying a modicum
of Jewish institutions. Those singles, however, soon wed and started

As a result, Rabbi Schwartz said, the Orthodox contingence grew

"In the 16 years I've been here," he said, "the congregation has
grown from approximately 140 families to over 800 families."

The high rent is often prohibitive to growing families, Rabbi
Schwartz added, and the birth of the third or fourth child forces
many to move to the suburbs, but many still choose to stay in the

One such resident is Richard, who declined to provide his last name.
He is a 41-year-old banker, and he moved to West 88th Street with his
wife nine years ago from Kew Gardens Hills, an Orthodox neighborhood
in Queens. Back then they had two children; now they have four.

While his apartment is getting crowded, Richard said, he does not
contemplate leaving.

"I have a lot of friends who moved to Riverdale or somewhere like
that," he said, "but I don't think I want to do that. I want to stay
here. Here you have a shul and a movie theater on the same block,
both within walking distance, one for Shabbat and one for Sunday."

Michael Landau, a real estate developer and the chairman of the
Council of Orthodox Jewish Organizations of the West Side, an
umbrella group representing 27 organizations, said the plethora of
Jewish institutions — from educational ones such as Yeshiva Ketana on
89th Street and Riverside Drive or Manhattan Day School on West 75th
Street, to synagogues such as Congregation Ohab Zedek on 95th Street
or The Jewish Center on 86th Street — are a major draw.

Landau, born in France and raised in England, moved to New York 17
years ago and chose to settle on the Upper West Side "because it is a
great community offering everything I need as someone who is, by your
definition, a black hat," he said.

"When I moved into the neighborhood, Jewish Orthodox institutions
existed, but they were not as strong as they are now. Still, the
facilities were there in order for strictly Orthodox Jews to be able
to live and thrive. It's a much more exciting place to live in; it's
fast-paced, you're in the middle of New York City, but you still have
the advantage of living a fully Orthodox life," Landau said.

The Upper West Side, he said, "is reflecting a general movement in
the Orthodox world, of people coming back to their roots and looking
for better ways to express their Orthodox religious feelings in as
comfortable a way as possible."

"All the shtiebels on the Upper West Side have grown," Landau
said. "In the Boyaner shtiebel, on 82nd Street and West End Avenue,
15 years ago we barely had 15 people on a Shabbat. Today, every
Shabbat you see 70 or 80 tallises and a load of kids running around."

Landau said the Upper West Side "caters to Orthodox people in a way
that people could personalize their own practice. It's a very live-
and-let-live attitude."

Torah Study At Talia's

Orthodox institutions in the neighborhood, however, are not
necessarily limited to places of learning or worship. The
neighborhood also offers a slew of services, such as cafes,
restaurants and bakeries, catering to the booming Orthodox

One such place is Talia's Steakhouse, a glatt kosher restaurant on
Amsterdam Avenue between 92nd and 93rd streets. With the growing
Orthodox population in mind, the restaurant opened approximately a
year ago.

Empty tables are hard to come by, according to Talia's waiter Rami
Rabuchin, 22, an Israeli native.

"We get all sorts of clients," he said, "but mainly Orthodox, what we
would call haredis. Every Wednesday there are Torah lessons given,
and occasionally we hold a fund-raiser for tzedaka."

Yet for all the pluralistic undertones, the Upper West Side's
Orthodox community remains strongly committed to its core values. And
while some of the neighborhood's residents avoid self-definition,
others gladly take to it.

An Orthodox man in his late 20s, who identified himself only as
Jonathan and who works in the computer field, moved from Flatbush
three years ago. Pointing to his traditional headgear, he said, "same
black hat, only around here, better options."

Even Scharf, with his porous identity, agreed that the Orthodox Jews
living on the Upper West Side, while more open to their surroundings,
are still very much part of the Orthodox community at large.

"You're just as true and righteous if you say that you believe that
your way of observance and worship and servitude requires you to be
more introspective and more observant, to remain insular, to focus
inwards and not outwards," he said.

"There's no right or wrong. …When you live in Borough Park, you're
within your group, you continue to focus on your group in a very
positive manner. When you are in a place like the Upper West Side,
you are more reflective. That's a benefit, or a byproduct, of where
we live."

While the Orthodox growth is clearly reshaping the West Side, a brief
glance at the history of the neighborhood suggests that while
surprising to some, the demographic shift is very much in line with
the neighborhood's tradition.

Often perceived as a mostly Jewish neighborhood, the Upper West Side,
according to the New York Historical Society's "Encyclopedia of New
York City," was in fact populated in the 1940s and '50s by Southern
blacks, Russians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Haitians and Ukrainians,
and in the '50s and '60s by Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans.

The shifting populace undoubtedly has contributed to an atmosphere of
diversity, which the Orthodox Jews who moved to the neighborhood over
the previous decade warmly embrace.

And while the overall Jewish population on the Upper West Side is
dropping, the Orthodox population is thriving. Jonathan, the young
Orthodox man, is not concerned. Ambling into a shtiebel on West End
Avenue on a recent afternoon, he simply pointed at his fellow

"Look," he said, "look at who comes here to daven." Through the door
walk a hodgepodge of Jews, from men who, like Jonathan, wear a black
hat, to men wearing sophisticated suits and small, unobtrusive kipot.

"It doesn't matter to me what you are, we still daven together,"
Jonathan said. "We're just Jews living on the Upper West Side, same
as we always have."


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