Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Video of the inside of a Mikvah

Watch this video tour of the inside of a Mikvah. Pedofiles not shown in this video.

Albany to pass law banning out of state registration

A common practice in New York is about to come to a crashing halt. Lawmakers in Albany are planning to make it illegal for New York residents to register their cars out of state. Due to extremely high insurance rates, New Yorkers have been registering ad insuring their cars on out of state addresses in order to get lower premiums. New York State has the highest insurance premiums in the entire country. The national average insurance is about $400. This practice, although frowned upon by the insurance companies, is not currently illegal and authorities can therefore do nothing to stop this from happening. The most common action taken against a motorist that registers out of state is to have his insurance cancelled if his ploy is found out. However, in the event that a driver is involved in a serious accident, the insurance company may launch a full investigation into the situation. If it is found that the car is not actually driven by the out of state registrant the insurance company can then nullify the policy, leaving the driver retroactively uninsured and liable for all the damages by himself. Chap arein while you can, the party is almost over.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

14th Avenue closed off from 51st Street to 50th Street

14th Avenue is currently closed off, by a 66th Precinct Police car, to all vehicle traffic between 51st and 50th Street due to the girls from the Bobover school that are crossing 14th Avenue at this time. All cars are being diverted down 51st Street towards 13th Avenue.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Boro-Park Riot T-shirt featured in Country Yossi Magazine

Now you can own a piece of Boro-Park history. The famous Boro-Park Riot T-shirt has now been featured in the Dateline feature of the May / Sivan issue of the Country Yossi Family Magazine. Buy the t-shirt and wear it proudly. Show the world that you are a survivor.

Buy the t-shirt and other memorabilia


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Beware! - Vehicles being towed today for overdue tickets

Please be aware of the situation and either pay your parking tickets or keep your vehicle off the road. The NYPD is towing cars today, yes, on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, for overdue parking violations. Mr. red 1994 Ford Aerostar with N.Y. license plate number AEX 2925, you owe $70 for two overdue expired meter tickets and your car has been towed. Just a little heads up so you know where your car is.

Synagogue seats now face east - A Conservative Temple turns into an Orthodox Shul

Temple B'nai Zion in Sunny Isles Beach, which recently switched from Conservative to Orthodox, has undergone a unique renovation to comply with its new set of guidelines.

The temple's seats, which previously faced west, were rotated to face east, toward Jerusalem, as Orthodox rules require. The ark where the Torah is kept was also moved and a separate section was created for women because orthodoxy mandates that women sit separately from men and not participate in Torah readings.

In another change, Orthodox members can't use machinery during the Sabbath, which means no microphones at services and no travel by car to get to temple.

Shifting demographics in the area -- toward younger and more Orthodox Jews -- inspired the change, said temple director Ahuva Franco. They needed a synagogue where they could pray that was within walking distance of their homes and followed the Orthodox guidelines they were accustomed to.

''If they came in and saw women and men praying together, they would not pray in my synagogue,'' said Franco's husband, temple President Isaac Franco.

The decision was made last summer; construction began in January. The temple, at 200 178th St., reopened before Passover in April.

''It came out to be a very beautiful synagogue,'' Franco said.

Although most synagogues do face east, B'nai Zion was previously a church. And, while there had been discussions about changing the direction of the bima, or altar, the temple lacked the money to pay for it until more people became members.

The previous layout was ''really backwards,'' Franco said, but because most members of the temple were older, there wasn't much impetus to renovate. When younger people started moving into the community, he and other members saw a chance to change.

''We really saw an opportunity to keep the synagogue open,'' he said.

Despite the major change, membership has remained constant, and only three of about 200 members who voted on the change opposed it, Franco said.

''Some gripe, but they come,'' he said.

The renovations took ''a miracle from God and a little bit of ingenuity'' -- and just under $25,000, Franco said.

The B'nai Zion switch to orthodoxy is an anomaly. Most communities are making the opposite change, either to Conservative or Reform Judaism, Franco said.

Some less restrictive synagogues do not face east and say that nothing in the Bible says they have to. The Conservative Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, 20400 NE 30th Ave., has its main sanctuary facing south by design.

''What you have to face is the Torah,'' said Aventura Turnberry director Amir Baron.

``There is no law at all in the Bible that says temples have to face east.''

Whether worshipers will face east or not depends on minhag, or local custom, he said.

Meyer Gorin of Arkidesign Inc., a Jewish architecture group, also says the direction doesn't matter as long as worshipers don't have their backs turned to the sacred scrolls. ''Tradition says you pray facing the east, yes,'' but ultimately, it's the rabbi's decision, he said.

Baron said his temple's smaller, everyday sanctuary does face east.

''We did nothing wrong,'' he said.

B'nai Zion's Franco acknowledged that each synagogue can decide how it will interpret the rules.

''I respect whatever they do,'' he said.



Saturday, May 27, 2006

Downfall of a Young and Ambitious Assemblyman Stuns His Constituents

For Rockland County, Ryan S. Karben was nothing less than a political dynamo. He was appointed to the planning board in the Town of Ramapo at age 18. In 2002, he had already served two terms in the County Legislature when he won a State Assembly seat at 28, becoming the youngest state lawmaker in New York.

Described variously as ambitious, energetic, smart and ubiquitous, Mr. Karben, a Democrat, stood out for more than his youth, however. "He was a shining star," said Nicole Doliner, secretary of the Clarkstown Democratic Committee in Rockland. "He was very inspiring. He would give a speech and you would say, 'Wow, let's go.' He really believed what he said."

But his rising political fortunes came crashing down a week ago when he abruptly resigned from the Assembly, saying only that he wanted to spend more time with his wife and their three young daughters.

It did not take long for the back story to emerge. According to several Assembly officials who were briefed on the matter, Mr. Karben quit his post after being confronted with allegations that he brought three Assembly interns to a home he owns in Albany and watched pornography with them there.

Rather than face an investigation, which could include public censure, Mr. Karben chose to step down, the officials said.

Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the Assembly, said she could neither confirm nor deny that a complaint had been filed against Mr. Karben, who would not comment for this article.

His political fall apparently brought his law career down with it, at least for now. The firm in Spring Valley where Mr. Karben, a Columbia Law School graduate, had been a partner for three years wasted no time in removing his name from the lobby directory. Howard M. Gurock, a partner, confirmed that Mr. Karben's employment was terminated, but he declined to elaborate.



Friday, May 26, 2006

Children's carnival in Boro-Park, it ain't what it used to be!

There was a carnival for children today, yes on Erev Shabbos, in Boro-Park by 12th Avenue and 54th Street. This was not your regular children's carnival of yesteryear where there would be a few booths, bob the apple, sit on a balloon, with some kids making $40 or $50 tops. This was a full blown carnival with rides, cotton candy and prizes, bringing in the money by the bagfull. No, this was not a carnival held by some organization or Yeshivah, this was done by a family of spoiled kids, with obviously much of their parents help and support. I found it quite interesting to see how far parents will let their kids go nowadays with their demands. The days of asking your parents for a ten speed bike and getting a resounding unanimous NO! are over. Now children are asking for, and oddly enough actually getting, every whim, regardless of how outlandish these requests may be. What I found even more interesting was how the mother of these kids was k'velling with naches over what her sheffelech had accomplished. Apparently this mother, of at least six young children, had nothing better to do on Erev Shabbos than sit around in front of her house and schmooze up every person that stopped over with their kids for the carnival. Well I guess if you have a capable goyte cleaning your house and taking care of children, you can find the time to hang out with your neighbors all day and make carnivals. I wonder what our next generation will be like. Who knows, maybe two or three goytes and much more free time.

Kosher meat packer accused of worker abuse

The largest kosher meat packing plant in the United States has been accused of paying workers low wages, union busting and bad working conditions.
While top officials at AgriProcessors in Postville, Iowa, deny the allegations, The Forward, a New York newspaper, reports testimony from workers and scholars who looked into them tell a different story.
Some claim they get barely more than $6 an hour with little training and skimpy break time to produce the beef and chicken sold under the Aaron's Best brand. And the burgeoning numbers of immigrant workers say they get treated worst.
Plant manager Sholom Rubashkin told the newspaper working conditions are legal and allegations like bribery and threats of firing or deportation are untrue.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has written up AgriProcessors on six violations so far this year, which makes up more than half of all violations served to meatpacking plants in the state, the Forward reported.
Mark Grey, the director of the University of Northern Iowa's Center for Immigrant Leadership and Integration, said the ultra-observant, Hasidic Jewish owners don't value non-Jewish workers.
Grey told the Forward, "The bottom line here is that I'm not sure these devout Jews are using Jewish ethics to treat their workers."


Ultra-Orthodox Jews Surf "Forbidden" Internet

Surfing the "forbidden Internet world," young ultra-Orthodox Jews, or Haredi, are increasingly breaking through their tightly sealed society into the world, defying long-timed traditions considering the "outside culture" and the Internet as a threat to their way of life.

"They are curious, they want to know more about the outside world. Their world can be very lonely sometimes, and here they find refuge," Michael Krumer, the owner of the Strudel Internet café, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Friday, May 26.

Most of his clients are ultra-Orthodox youngsters who use the Internet for e-mailing and surfing news sites.

Many also visit dozens of ultra-Orthodox chat rooms where they can exchange thoughts on issues such as the Bible, community gossip or any other topic.

Throughout history, Ultra-Orthodox Jews have been living in closed and self-contained communities.

They have persistently resisted outside influence in an effort to preserve their radically conservative traditions, according to AFP.

"Building Walls"

Many Yeshiva (religious schools) rabbis have repeatedly warned their followers of the "destructive influence" of the "outside culture" and especially the Internet, fearing they will corrupt the purity of their lives.

"Instead of dedicating their attention to Torah studies, our children are being exposed to the Internet," said rabbi Shmuel Haim Papenheim, the editor of an ultra-Orthodox magazine.

Jewish sages have ruled that the Internet should not be let into homes unless a rabbi grants special authorization.

Papenheim said that the Internet, more than television and radio, poses a real threat to the austere and pure way of life of ultra-Orthodox children.

"We must guard our children. The young generation is completely exposed and we must build walls around them because the other side is constantly trying to harm them."

Many Internet cafes have received threats to close from the so-called "modesty patrols" -- groups of ultra-Orthodox men who police their neighborhoods to guard the community against immodesty and vice.

Some cafe owners were even forced to shut down.

Two weeks ago, one cafe was gutted by what police suspect was a group of ultra-Orthodox arsonists.

"The patrols said they have cameras which take pictures of anyone entering and that the pictures will be hung on street walls," said Eli, a 18-year-old Yeshiva student.

"Students can be kicked out of their Yeshiva and might have problems in their matchmaking," he added.


However, Eli and other Ultra-Orthodox youngsters defy the threats as well as the rabbis' edicts.

They no longer see the Internet as threat to their way of life.

"I think my parents know I come here, but not all parents know. They don't like it because they think their children can be tempted and fail," said an 18-year-old Yeshiva student.

"But that is wrong. I believe and like my way of living. This won't corrupt me."

Yitzhak, 20, said he comes to the Internet café "every now and then".

"I watch the news and some DVD films and just check what's happening in the world."

He said he will bring a computer into his home once he get married.

"The Haredi are also developing and bringing into their homes things the secular people have. The Internet is slowly becoming legitimate," he stressed.



Thursday, May 25, 2006

Warning! Children can fall through window gates

A two year old Williamsburg girl was playing with her brother in the window gate that extends out of her third floor apartment. The child's brother came screaming to the mother that his younger sister had fallen through the bars in the gate and was hanging. The mother quickly rushed over to hold the girl from falling. By that time a neighbor had also seen what was going on and had called Hatzolah and come to help. Hatzolah arrived at the scene but was unable to free the child. The Fire Department was called and they proceeded to cut the bars and freed the child. The child was taken into the hospital and was given a full examination and x-rays and was released with clean bill of health.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Chaptzem! Blog in the news: Black Hat Meets Blog

Is computer technology shifting the balance of power in Brooklyn’s insular, fervently Orthodox community?

In the 1980s, two prominent Flatbush rabbis allegedly closed the door on a burgeoning sexual abuse scandal by preventing a rabbinical court proceeding from taking place. Now, two decades later, an Internet blog has reinvigorated the allegations, resulting in two multimillion-dollar lawsuits against a rabbi, a yeshiva and a summer camp for boys.

“Without the Internet, this story never would have been brought to light,” said Un-Orthodox Jew, the anonymous blogger who last year began posting angry diatribes about the alleged abuse and cover-up on www.theunorthodoxjew.blogspot.com.

On the blog, Un-Orthodox Jew, who also goes by UOJ and claims to have deep ties in the “black hat” world, stated that Rabbi Yehuda Kolko sexually abused a number of male students at Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Temimah in Flatbush and at Camp Agudah in Ferndale, N.Y., while Rabbi Lipa Margulies, the head of the school, allegedly helped to protect him at the expense of the victims. All told, three former students of Rabbi Kolko allege abuse against him in the two lawsuits.

While the blog has generated heaps of scorn among readers — some people have said UOJ’s Web posts were less acceptable than the alleged acts they were revealing — the Web site has also elicited support as well as a response from at least one alleged victim.

In the wake of the lawsuits and the New York magazine article, UOJ said he has received more than 400,000 hits to his site. Meanwhile, the alleged abuse has also become a hot topic on other Jewish blogs.

On the Chaptzem blog (http://chaptzem.blogspot.com/), which describes itself as “the one and only heimishe news center,” the host wrote:

“The whole Kolko-Margulies story has brought to light some very important questions regarding child abuse. How do we as a community deal with allegations of abuse? How do we decide if they are founded or fabricated? … Also, even if the allegations are founded how do we go about stopping it? How far do we go?”

According to UOJ, such questions have been a long time coming.


Kasho Rebbe gives speech exclusively for women

Kasho Rebbe gave a speech last night exclusively for women. The speech, which was mostly about tznius issues, was held in Williamsburg. This is the first time in many years that a Rebbe has given a speech to an exclusively female audience. I hope the Rebbe wasn't affected spiritually by this breach of boundaries.

A slogan please?

Most Yiddishe neighborhoods have a slogan, i.e., Lakewood - Ier Hatorah, and Boro-Park does not, but desperately needs one.

Can you come up with one?

Post your proposed slogan that most appropriately describes Boro-Park.

Rokeach foods sells off substantially all of their assets

R.A.B. Food Group, LLC and Rokeach Food Corporation announced today that R.A.B. Food Group has purchased substantially all of the assets and assumed certain specified liabilities of the privately held Rokeach. The Rokeach brands include, among others, Rokeach(R), Mothers'(R), Mrs. Adler's(R) and Mishpacha(R). Rokeach is also the exclusive importer and distributor of Elite Confectionary products. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Richard A. Bernstein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of R.A.B. Holdings, Inc., R.A.B. Food Group's parent said, "The acquisition compliments our company's other food brands and is an exciting growth opportunity. Together with our existing brands we will be a far stronger factor in the ethnic food business, a better resource to our retailers and a complete source of superior ethnic products to our consumers."

R.A.B. Food Group's President and CEO Jeremy J. Fingerman indicated that the "acquisition of Rokeach fits perfectly with our strategic intent to be America's Preferred Specialty Foods Company. It will permit us to broaden our portfolio of category leading brands, which are preferred by consumers and retailers alike. Our products will now be found not only in mainstream supermarkets but also independent kosher food stores. We are extremely excited about this opportunity to increase our product portfolio and grow our brands and categories."

Through its R.A.B. Food Group, LLC subsidiary, R.A.B. Holdings, Inc. manufactures and markets Manischewitz(R), Horowitz Margareten(R), Goodman's(R), Asian Harvest(R), Season(R) and Guiltless Gourmet(R) brand products. R.A.B. Food Group's B. Manischewitz Company is a 118 year old branded food manufacturer and is the nation's largest manufacturer of processed kosher food products including matzos, noodles, crackers, cakes, cookies, soups and processed fish products. For more information, please visit the company's website, www.rabfoodgroup.com.

R.A.B. Holdings, Inc. through its Millbrook Distribution Services Inc. subsidiary is the nation's largest full service independent distributor of specialty foods, health and beauty care products and general merchandise to supermarkets and mass market retailers in 48 states. Millbrook also carries a line of its own private label brands as well as store brands and other special need items for specific customers. For more information please visit our company's website, www.millbrookds.com.



Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Meal-Mart claims Shelf Fresh will be better

The distributor of Meal-Mart's new line of refrigerator-free travel food, Shelf Fresh, claims that the new meals will be like any other available on the market today. According to them the new meals differ from La Briut in the fact that they are not rations and do need to be heated by microwave or the sort. Also the distributor claims that these meals will be superior in taste and are produced from ingredients of the utmost quality. Samples of the product were not available for tasting as of this time.

Special students getting new digs

At the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in this bustling community is a school where workers coax young, uncooperative legs to walk and nurture kids with Down syndrome and autism.

For years, as politicians and lawyers debated the constitutionality of creating a public school solely for disabled Hasidic children, therapy and instruction went on undisturbed in this one-story building off Kahan Drive.

But now, after 16 years as a sanctuary for those too impaired for Kiryas Joel's religious schools, the building will soon be replaced.

A few blocks away on Bakertown Road, trucks are clearing land for a $13 million, 40,000-square-foot school that will modernize the Kiryas Joel School District and accommodate the community's rapid growth.

The project marks a triumphant new stage in the life of a unique school forged in controversy.

The state Legislature created the school in 1989 because Kiryas Joel parents didn't want their handicapped children going to Monroe-Woodbury public schools to receive special services.

The Kiryas Joel district was repeatedly challenged in court and was finally declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1994. But state lawmakers rewrote the legislation after each ruling. The final version went unchallenged.

Today, about 150 children with moderate and severe disabilities attend the school. Another 100 or so with minor problems are bused in for services. Most pupils are from Kiryas Joel, although some are tuition-paying students from Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester counties.

The age range is broad: from infancy, when specialists begin working with children in their homes, to age 21. The disability range is also broad, as seen during a recent visit to the school.

In one room, a physical therapist helps a little girl with mild cerebral palsy. In another, kids fill out worksheets to practice telling time. In others, workers guide children with multiple disabilities, mental and physical. Some are in wheelchairs or connected to feeding tubes.

All 150 teachers, therapists and other staff members know at least two languages, Yiddish and English. Students first learn only in Yiddish - the language spoken in most Kiryas Joel homes - and then in English as they get older.

The new school will add soundproof rooms for the speech department and a therapeutic pool, among other new features. It will initially hold up to 350 students but will be able to be expanded to bring the capacity to 420, said Superintendent Steven Benardo.

The goal is to move in by the fall of 2007.



Monday, May 22, 2006

Judge clears way for vote on new village

A state judge has cleared the way for residents of southern Blooming Grove to decide whether to establish the first new village in Orange County since Kiryas Joel formed in 1977.

State Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Horowitz ruled Friday that a petition signed by nearly 1,000 residents of the proposed village was valid, despite a litany of technical objections brought by landowners hoping to derail the effort.

The ruling clears the way for Blooming Grove to schedule a referendum for residents living within the 4.8 square miles that would constitute the Village of South Blooming Grove. Almost 2,800 people live in that area.

Spencer McLaughlin, an attorney who has advised the organizers of the petition drive, said today that the proposal still carries momentum, despite the nearly two years that have elapsed since residents mobilized to form a village.

"They'll be very happy," McLaughlin said. "I get calls about this a couple of times every week."

An appeal appears unlikely. Hal Greene, a key opponent, said today the decision will rest with the investor group that recently bought a controlling interest in the former Lake Anne Country Club, the 862-acre expanse that Greene's family owned for decades.

Ziggy Brach, an influential member of that partnership, said he has no interest in an appeal.

"The whole lawsuit was nonsense," he said.

South Blooming Grove was one of three village proposals that surfaced in 2004 as people in areas outside the Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel scrambled to prevent the densely populated village from expanding into their suburban neighborhoods.

A petition to form a Village of Woodbury was submitted in 2004 and challenged; the case is now before the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court. A third proposal, to incorporate Salisbury Mills as a village, never got off the ground.


Boro-Park perv strikes again

The Boro-Park perv has struck again, this time on 10th Avenue and 45th Street. The pervert started up with a girl during the day in broad daylight this time. Keep your children aware of what is going on, it's not over yet. Make sure that they have seen his description and if anyone strange to them offers them anything they should run away and alert an adult.

Rabbi hurt in race attack

Rabbi Alan Shelton

A religious leader has told how a racist teenage gang attacked him like a "pack of hyenas."

Rabbi Alan Shelton, 58, of Clapton Common, Upper Clapton, was punched to the ground and kicked by up to 15 yobs.

They took off his religious headgear and threw it to the floor during the ferocious attack in Craven Park Road, Stamford Hill.

"It happened so quickly," said rabbi Shelton. "I was walking home alone when 15 youths turned the corner and crossed over the road towards me.

"I did not run because nothing like this has happened to me before, but suddenly fists were flying and three or four of them pushed me over.

"I was lying on the floor and they were kicking me. They were like hyenas surrounding me in the dark."

Rabbi Shelton was walking home last Friday after having a meal with friends in Tottenham.

The teenagers, aged between 15 and 17 years old, attacked him at around 11.25pm. No arrests have been made.

An ambulance crew took Rabbi Shelton to Homerton University Hospital, where he was treated for a broken collarbone and severe bruising.

Haringey police are investigating the incident, which took place on the borough border.

A spokesman said: "We are treating this as a racially motivated attack and we are appealing for any witnesses to come forward."

Stamford Hill has one of the largest Hasidic Jewish populations in Europe. The men wear distinctive long black cloaks and black fur hats.

Mark Gardner, the director of communications for the Community Security Trust, a charity which helps people affected by anti-Semitism, said the organisation was "extremely disturbed" by such a "frightening and unprovoked" attack.

"We are working closely with the police to ensure the perpetrators are caught and the Jewish community can continue to go about its way of life in Stamford Hill freely and without fear," he said.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Shelton is recovering at home. "The trauma of the incident has not yet come out because I am in so much pain," he said.

He believes CCTV cameras should be installed at the entrances to Springfield Park in Upper Clapton to deter criminals using the green space as an escape route.



Sunday, May 21, 2006

Muscle mania at Shomer Shabbos

Two Bucharian Sefardim were stopped while going at it in front of Shomer Shabbos. The incident began when a Sefardi Schnorrer, who hangs out at Shomer Shabbos and is known to antagonize people, began to taunt a younger Sefardi man. The younger man retaliated by kicking and punching the Schnorrer and was about to really let him have it when another Bucharian Sefardi man came and separated the two. The third man got in the middle of the other two and told the Schnorrer, "Are you crazy? He'll kill you. Don't you know he carries a knife?" With that the fight broke up and each one went on his own way.

Meal-Mart slated for new food line

Meal-Mart, the biggest distributor of Kosher travel meals, is planning to come out with a new food line in a couple of weeks. The new line, called Shelf Fresh, will be an assortment of travel meals that come in a box and have an unlimited shelf life without the need of any refrigeration. The new technology enables the meal to taste just as fresh after years of sitting on a shelf as when it was manufactured. From my experience with Meal-Mart meals, that last statement does not necessarily precipitate any confidence from me in their new product. I usually confuse the food and the box when eating their frozen meals.

New safety lessons for Women of Lakewood

Staying safe the Torah way!

Some facts about Yiddish

Among words English borrowed from Yiddish are "shtick," "klutz," "schmooze" and "schmaltzy."

To speak "Yiddish" literally means to speak "Jewish"; "yid" means "Jew" in Yiddish.

Prominent Yiddish-speakers from the 20th century include big band leader Benny Goodman, and novelists Isaac Bashevis Singer and Saul Bellow.

After the founding of Israel in 1948, its leaders chose Hebrew over Yiddish as the new Jewish state's national language; many leaders argued that Yiddish was tainted by its association with the Holocaust and repression of Jews in Europe.

High birth rates among Hasidic Jews suggest the ranks of the Yiddish-speaking orthodox, already at over 250,000 in the United States, could boom to several million by the end of the century. But Hasidics shun the secular world, including Yiddish literature, theater and music.



Saturday, May 20, 2006

Against the odds, devotees fight to save Yiddish

Itche Goldberg and Jason Rubin are separated in age by 82 years, but they're linked by a common passion for an ancient Jewish language that threatens to slip into obscurity.

The life of 102-year-old Goldberg spans the recent decline of Yiddish to its heyday early last century when about 13 million Jews _ or some 70 percent of Jews worldwide _ spoke the lilting language that gave English words like "chutzpah" and "schmo."

Rubin, a 20-year-old student of Yiddish, embodies the hope that somehow, some way, the language can survive now that there are fewer than 2 million speakers.

"You can't possibly see a future Jewish life with the disappearance of a 1,000-year-old language and with it a 1,000-year-old culture," says Goldberg, a top Yiddish scholar since the 1930s, by phone from his New York home. "Somehow it has to be there."

Ensuring the language and culture Jews brought from Eastern Europe is there for posterity is the goal of devotees across the nation, some of whom hold summer camps while others stage theatrical shows in a bid to turn people on to Yiddish.

Revival bands perform traditional Yiddish klezmer music _ a kind of Jewish jazz _ with the same aim. And one New York group trying to pique interest among children recently published "Di Kats Der Payats" _ better known as Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat."

Others, like Rubin, contribute to the cause by putting in hard hours to learn the hybrid of German and Hebrew. After two years studying it at the University of Chicago, Rubin, whose grandparents spoke Yiddish, is now close to fluent.

"I almost felt I was cheated by not knowing Yiddish growing up," says Rubin, who squeezes in Yiddish studies between premed classes. "My appreciation of Jewish culture has increased tenfold by learning it."

Preserving Yiddish in its full glory will be a mammoth task. So much is already lost.

From his downtown office atop the Board of Trade building, Jake Morowitz can see what's been lost in Chicago, which once boasted 200,000 Yiddish speakers.

In clear view to the southwest is Maxwell Street _ once the hub of Chicago's bustling Jewish district. Until 40 years ago, shoppers still haggled in Yiddish over unfixed prices in the street's open-air market.

Today, there's virtually nothing left of the old Maxwell Street. Most original Jewish families have long since moved to the suburbs, and large swaths of the district were bulldozed in the 1960s to make room for a new University of Illinois campus.

No more than 5,000 Jews still speak Yiddish in and around Chicago today, says Morowitz, head of the YIVO Society, which promotes Yiddish in the area.

Yiddish has lost ground in New York, too. After World War II, several hundred thousand people spoke Yiddish in the city, the de facto capital of Yiddish in North America. Now, around 100,000 do.

New York's Yiddish-language Forward newspaper reflects the decline. Its circulation was around 275,000 before the war; today, it's around 3,000.

And where there were scores of Yiddish theaters in New York, just one is left _ the Folksbiene. These days, it displays subtitles in English at most performances.

One last bastion of Yiddish is the ultra-orthodox Hasidic community, which employs the language to insulate members from outside influences and hedge against assimilation.

So numerous are the ultra-orthodox in parts of Brooklyn that some ATMs offer the option of conducting transactions in Yiddish.

"In our world, Yiddish is flourishing," says the dean of a Yiddish-language Hasidic school in Chicago, Rabbi Moshe Unger _ dressed in black garb, a wide-brimmed felt hat at his side.

But there's a catch to Hasidics' love of Yiddish: Since they shun the secular world, their affection doesn't extend to Yiddish literature, theater and music.

"We don't have time for that," Unger says, adding flatly that "the loss of Yiddish outside the orthodox community is not a concern of ours."

For many, though, maintaining the rich secular traditions of Yiddish is vital.

Goldberg has devoted his adult life to secular Yiddish culture, editing a Yiddish literary magazine well past his 100th birthday.

Most of Goldberg's contemporaries have long since died.

"We see before our eyes (the number of Yiddish masters) go from ten to five, from five to one and on to approach zero," leading Yiddish scholar Dovid Katz said in an e-mail. "This explains why we take the death of even 90-year-olds so badly."

Still, some young people are starting to take up the Yiddish banner, according to Morowitz.

Yiddish was once associated with bitter memories of the Holocaust, whose victims were mostly Yiddish speakers, he said. Israel's decision to adopt Hebrew as its state language also caused many Jews to shirk from Yiddish.

"When Jewish immigrants came here, they wanted to put that old ghetto life behind them," Morowitz says. "But young Jews today are no longer embarrassed by the language. There is a new influx of Jews wanting to learn Yiddish."

Morowitz, despite his optimism, strikes a realistic note about the future of Yiddish.

"We don't have any illusions about Jewish people starting to speak Yiddish to each other again," he says. "But young Jews can learn something of the language and learn to appreciate it more, and so appreciate why we are who we are."

Asked what he'd say to young Jews who haven't embraced Yiddish as wholeheartedly as Rubin _ who says he intends to teach his own children Yiddish one day _ Goldberg's answer is part plea, part admonishment.

There's also a hint of sadness in his voice.

"I would probably look at them and say, `Go back, look at your heritage,"' he says. "`It's your own, it's inside you. You can't leave it behind."'



Friday, May 19, 2006

DVD promoted Yushke to Jews as the Messiah

The DVD that came in the mail Saturday certainly looked enticing for Orthodox Jewish families.

The package was written in Hebrew; it had a disc tucked inside with a drawing of a robed, Old Testament figure blowing a ram's horn. Anyone who played the DVD found a smoothly produced recreation of biblical stories with a voice-over in the familiar cadences of Yiddish.

But the DVD, which was recently sent to about 80,0000 households throughout Kiryas Joel and other Orthodox communities in New York and New Jersey, carried an unexpected message for intensely religious Jews awaiting the arrival of the Messiah:

He already came.

It turns out the video was not a Shabbos greeting, but the sophisticated product of the Jews for Jesus organization and other evangelical Christians, hoping to convince viewers that Jesus was the Jewish savior prophesied in the Old Testament.

The DVD is called "Days of Moshiach," using the Hebrew word for Messiah.

"The Hasidim actually believe in Moshiach; they look for a Messiah," Stephen Katz, a spokesman for the group that produced the video, said yesterday. "We believe that the 'Days of Moshiach' DVD answers that hope."

Katz said DVDs were sent to homes in Kiryas Joel; the Monsey area of Rockland County; the Borough Park and Williamsburg sections of Brooklyn; and Lakewood, N.J.

Conversions might be slow in coming.

Yiddish and English newspapers serving the Orthodox communities are blasting angry warnings about the DVD, described by the weekly Monsey Advocate as a "virulent piece of missionary propaganda."

"It is suspected that this is the beginning of a wider assault aimed at entrapping the Yiddish-speaking public, particularly innocent children," the newspaper declared.

The DVD also disturbs Joel Levy, the New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

"It is deceptive because they are not Jewish and they are trying to create the impression that they are," said Levy. "They ought to say, 'We are Christians and this is what we believe.'"

Katz denies the DVD is deceptive. He said it tries to counter the "distortions, misinformation and, frankly, denigration of Yeshua" - Jesus - "that the Hasidim are familiar with."

It begins with the story of Abraham and Isaac and other Old Testament accounts to show how the coming of Jesus was foretold, he said.

"If there's any shot to communicate with this difficult-to-reach group, this seemed like the best way," said Katz, the Washington, D.C., director of Jews for Jesus, which is based in San Francisco.

But theology aside, technology might prove a larger hurdle for Katz's group. However appealing the packaging, most of the thousands of Kiryas Joel households that got the "Days of Moshiach" DVD don't have televisions or computers on which to view it.



Two-term Rockland County Assemblyman Ryan Karben, a rising star in state Democratic politics, abruptly resigned yesterday amid what sources said were allegations of improper sexual approaches to young male Assembly interns.

Karben's sudden and unexpected midyear departure shocked many of his fellow lawmakers, but several others - claiming that Karben was under investigation for some time for the alleged improper contacts - said they were not surprised.

A high-ranking Assembly official said he was told Monday by a senior aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that Karben, who is widely known for frequenting Albany's active night life, "had problems" because of recent allegations that the lawmaker made "unwanted advances" to male interns.

A second source, a high-ranking Democratic assemblyman, said he had received the same information.

"I know for a fact that the allegations have been made," said the Assembly member.

Karben, 31, an Orthodox Jew who is married to his high-school sweetheart and has three young daughters, was widely touted as a strong future candidate for higher office.

He could not be reached for comment yesterday. He was not at his Assembly offices in Albany or Pearl River, his private law office, or his home in Monsey.

Karben said in a statement released by his office that he decided to resign because, "It is time for a new beginning."

"After spending more than 13 of my 31 years in public service, it is time for a change for me and my family," said Karben.

"I was appointed to my first public position as a college freshman and leave my second elected office as a proud father of three little girls.

"I am stepping down today from the Assembly to turn greater attention to them and my law practice and to fulfilling other personal and professional aspirations."

Karben's chief of staff, Aaron Troodler, was told of the allegations by The Post and was asked to respond. He never did.

Silver (D-Manhattan) was asked yesterday about the sex-harassment allegations and said he had been in a hearing all day so he had not had a chance to inquire about that issue.

"I received a letter from Mr. Karben that indicates he is resigning for personal and professional reasons," Silver said.

"I accept that is the reason he's resigning at face value."

But several lawmakers said it didn't make sense for Karben to resign for the reasons he gave.

Karben had announced on a Web site that he was seeking re-election.

"Something caused him to resign abruptly," said one Assembly Democrat.

"If it truly was for personal reasons, he only had a month left in the legislative session. He could have announced he wouldn't seek re-election, finish what he wanted to get done over the next month and that would be it."

State Senate Minority Leader David Paterson (D-Manhattan) said he had talked to Karben about running for the Senate earlier this year and "was surprised by his announcement."

Karben became the youngest member ever elected to the Rockland County Legislature in 1997 and was majority leader.

In 1992, at the age of 18, he served on the town of Ramapo planning board.


Our fascination with Chasidishe Ausvorfs

Over the last year or so, since the Chasidishe underworld has begun blogging and reading blogs a most peculiar fascination has started. While there are many Jewish blogs from all streams of Judaism that give their unique peek into their life and mindset, that is however not what is getting all of our attention. It is the rebel blogs, the blogs of Upgefurene Chasidishe Bucherim that are getting all of our attention. Are these people being envied by the populace, or is everyone helplessly drawn to them like to a bad car crash?
Further, where are these people coming from? All the hate and rhetoric that these people write on their blog. Why do they have so much anger towards their born-in faith? What has gone wrong? For such anger and contempt to take place there has to be something that has been done wrong to them in their life. Children will generally look up to their parents and teachers to be their role models. When children rebel and refuse to accept and integrate these figures and their messages into their life, something is wrong.
When reading these blogs, interestingly there is a common underlying message. If the anger is stripped away and attention is closely paid to the meta message, it is apparent that what these people seek is acceptance. They were never accepted by their parents and Melamdim for whom they were. They were always tried to be pushed into that mold. That one-size-fits-all mold that is sold in every Yeshivah in Boro-Park and Williamsburg. Does every child really fit the same mold. Can every child really be educated using the same methods. What ever happened to "Chanoich L'nar Al Pi Darkoy"? Of course it's not easy. Who said being a Melamid was meant to be a way of getting out of Kollel and avoiding a job in the outside world? Why are the Melamdim in the Chasidishe Yeshivahs the guys who were never able to do anything else? Why aren't we hiring talented and gifted educaters as our Melamdim, people that actually know how to teach, not just babysit? Is this how much we value the next generation that we are willing to let people who could never sit in one place in Yeshivah for more than five minutes, let alone learn something, educate our children?
Children need more than that and they are worth more than that. There is no way that a child can grow up loving to learn and to love Yiddishkeit when all his Melamid can think of is when he will get his next phone call so that he can leave the class and schmooze. There has to be a standard for Melamdim in the community. What other job would hire a worker who's biggest accomplishment was that he drank 3,657 coffees in a kollel until he was mercifully released from his obligation and was allowed by his wife to become a Melamid. Just like when becoming a real-estate agent there is a New York Sate required course and license, so should there be one for Melamdim. Until we don't want to realize what we are doing wrong and what we are sacrificing here, there will be plenty more Chasidishe blogs popping up. And the Yeshivahs will not waste a second to asser the children from reading them, oblivious to the fact that they are speaking to future blog authors.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kwik Kosher Pushcart

If you are orthodox and paying a ticket in Brooklyn you're out of luck finding a kosher deli near the courthouse. Enter Baruch Yehuda Ganz, who took the venerable New York push cart and made it Kosher. Try the falafel balls or a knish. He's just east of Court St, open from noon to 3:30pm on weekdays.

Watch Video


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dealing with abuse in the community

The whole Kolko - Margulies story has brought to light some very important questions regarding child abuse. How do we as a community deal with allegations of abuse? How do we decide if they are founded or fabricated? Do we just assume that every person that gets accused by someone is automatically guilty? It doesn't take much to accuse someone of abuse! Also, even if the allegations are founded how do we go about stopping it? How far do we go? Do we lock him up, sue him, destroy him and his family's life?
There are some very important issues that need to be addressed if we are to be progressive in our approach to this topic. One of the main problems in the community is that people feel that they don't have Rabbonim that they can trust. Most people feel that the Rabbonim that they know are either with their heads in the sand with such issues or that they are only interested in keeping a nice face in the community and are unwilling to get things done that may make waves.
This has to change. If we are to truly grow as a community, change has to take place. Rabbonim have to be forced to listen to us and be made aware of things that are going on. The days of turning the other cheek are over, reality has set in and it has come to hit us in the face. All the years of ignoring and pushing things under the rug have created a sizeable heap of rubbish that our children are now tripping on. Don't get me wrong, I am in no way saying that abuse in our community is even close to that of the secular world. IT IS NOT. The rate of abuse in our community is exponentially lower. Even with claims of these things going unreported, anyone with a brain and no axe to grind will admit that there is no comparison. However that is no excuse for nothing being done about it. Will the Hamodia discuss this? Will the Yated discuss this? NO! Why? If the answer is because children will start asking questions, that is the best reason to bring this up. Abusers pray on innocent children, it is the children that ask questions that they avoid. A child that realizes what is going on, will run away. He will know that he has not done anything wrong. It is the clueless child that the abuser seeks out and terrorizes, telling him that this is what needs to be done, this is what is right. Do you want your child to know what is wrong and run away from it, or to think it is ok and get abused? We can't avoid abusers from existing, we can only help avoid abuse from happening. The community and our Rabbonim need to take responsibility and take an active role in putting a stop to this. They can do it, they only have to want to do it.

Munkatch, Satmar come to agreement

After many hours of negotiating in Supreme Court, the Munkatcher Rebbe's son and Satmar were able to come to an agreement. A fierce boundary dispute between the two had brought them to Supreme Court. Supreme Court Justice David I. Schmidt spent many hours with the two sides trying to negotiate a compromise. The two sides agreed to take their dispute out of court for the time being and to go to Beis Din to try to settle the matter there. Wow, what a concept, Rabbonim going to Beis Din to settle their dispute. I wonder why they needed a Judge to tell them that?!


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Kolko, Margulies get a work-out on Google

According to a new Google feature called Google Trends, which allows users to monitor search volume, it seems like Kolko and Margulies have been getting quite a search work-out. Searches for the words kolko and Margulies have surged over the last couple of months. Here are the search results comparing these two queries to each other.

Kolko and Margulies Google search volume

Search volume limited to the U.S. for 2006

Boro-Park pervert - Update

Police higher ups and Boro-Park politicians have decided to take a new approach to the situation with the Boro-Park pervert. The new tactic is silence. Although it has been seemingly quiet and there has been no news of any new incidences, they are still going on. Don't let this apparent lull get you off guard. There have been a few more occurrences in Boro-Park over the last week that have not been publicized. The logic behind this is to give the pervert a false sense of security and then catch him off guard. While this approach has two sides to it and can work either way, it is nevertheless not our intention to interfere with this tactic, but rather to just give the community a heads up as to what is really going on and to help keep everyone on the alert by keeping a close eye on children playing outside, especially after six o'clock p.m.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Reaction to Kolko Article

After reading through the entire New York article about Rabbi Yehuda Kolko and Rabbi Lipa Margulies, I found a couple of things interesting and extremely important to bring to light. What bothered me however was that there was a major portion of this article that was extremely disturbing and inexcusable to publish in the public eye, under ANY circumstance. If the accuser felt that he had no other recourse than to file a law suit and contact the media to get his story out, that is one thing. But to make blatantly false and generalistic accusations against every Yeshivah is not only ludicrous and irresponsible, but utterly pompous and stupid as well. If you believe you have been wronged by a Jewish person, a Rabbi, that you trusted and were betrayed by and feel you need to get that out in the open, that's fine. Bury the guy. But to bring down the entire religion because you were wronged by a Yeshivah is inexcusable. The Jewish religion does not in any way condone child abuse or the quieting down of such, as you wish to lead everyone to believe. This was a crime perpetrated by individuals. Individuals that have no place in society, let alone our community.
Further, the article mentions how the repression in the community is what leads to child abuse. I found that statement very indicative of the author's contempt for our culture. Does the secular world have less child abuse per capita because they are not repressed? Do secular girls get raped less because they dress more provocatively? I wonder if that logic adds up in the author's mind at all, or was this just a mental hiccup on the back of a runaway train of anti-Frumkeit. Our religion has many rules and regulations, and no, we are not stifled or repressed. This is what ensures our future and makes us thrive, even when other cultures are failing. Our religion is smart and strong and can therefore withstand the challenges of time and change and nobody is smarter than G-d. Rabbi Kolko and Rabbi Margulies if you have knowingly hurt Jewish children, our next generation, in any way, be it physical or emotional, or by just enabling it to happen, the punishment that you will suffer in this world will pale in comparison to what is awaiting you in the world to come. To the abused, if you can help other people by exposing abusers, by all means do so. Do not however stoop to their level by destroying Frum Yiddishkeit in the process.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

On the Rabbi's Knee - Do the Orthodox Jews have a Catholic-priest problem?

Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, outside his Brooklyn home.

The boy and his teacher were in the front seat of the teacher’s blue Plymouth sedan. The boy was 12 years old, pale and shy, and new to Brooklyn—plucked out of another life in Toronto after his mother remarried. He’d lost his father when he was 7, and the promise of a fresh start had appealed to him—a new family, a new world to explore. But a few months had passed, and the boy was lonely. His new stepsisters ignored him; he had trouble making friends at his new school. So when a popular teacher who lived nearby took an interest in him, it seemed like welcome news.

The teacher was in his early twenties—closer in age to many of his students than to his colleagues—tall and athletic, with a shock of red hair, and the kids liked him: He wasn’t the type who’d shake his fist at the heavens if he’d heard someone had gone to see a movie. The teacher taught first grade, and the boy was too old to be in his class, but they were neighbors. On the way to the bus stop, the boy would spot the teacher walking from his modest ground-floor newlywed apartment, coffee mug in hand, to his car. And on many days, the teacher was happy to offer the boy and a few other neighborhood kids a lift.

The teacher would usually park on the access road alongside Ocean Parkway, and they’d all walk into school together. But on this cold autumn morning, a few months into the school year, the boy would later remember, the teacher didn’t leave the car right away. As the boy and his friends began emptying out of the backseat, the boy remembers the teacher turning to him.

Article in full

Missionary DVD has arrived in Boro-Park

The Yiddish language missionary DVD, aimed at luring Yiddish speaking people to their ideas about Moshiach, has been received by Boro-Park residents in the mail. According to poskim, aside from the issur of watching DVD's, this DVD is usser to watch because it contains apikorses. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO WATCH IT TO SEE WHAT IT IS ABOUT, YOU ARE NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO RESIST THE POWER OF THIS DVD.

Hamas minister, anti-Zionist rabbi meet

Palestinian cabinet minister Atef Adwan and a controversial Austrian rabbi pledged Friday to work to build ties between Hamas and anti-Zionist Jews.

Adwan, Hamas's refugee minister, and Orthodox rabbi Moishe Arye Friedman said their meeting in the Swedish capital heralded a "joint coalition" between their groups. Adwan also said the two hoped their meeting would lead to plans for humanitarian aid to flow from Friedman's congregation in Vienna to the West Bank.

Friedman flew to Stockholm from Vienna on Thursday to meet with Adwan, who was attending a conference on Palestinian refugees and meeting Swedish lawmakers during his weeklong visit to Sweden.

Israel had harshly criticized Sweden for granting Adwan a visa, saying it helped legitimize Hamas.

Friedman said his congregation would "do everything in practical terms to help the Palestinian people," including sending money and food to the West Bank.

"We will support them in ways that others have failed to do," Friedman said, but declined to give details.

Friedman is chief rabbi for hundreds of anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews in Vienna but is shunned by Austria's 7,000-member Israelite Religious Community because of views that are repudiated by most Jews and also, in some cases, embraced by far-rightists.

Friedman denies Israel's right to exist and has said Zionist Jews share the blame for the Holocaust, which he sees as punishment for straying from God's path.

Hamas - listed as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union - took power five weeks ago following a surprise election victory. Its government is financially crippled because of an international boycott, threatening to leave much of the Palestinian population without aid.

While few Jews share Friedman's views, Adwan said he hoped the meeting would "send a message ... that we can in fact live with each other. That [Jews] can accept the Palestinians as their mates, as their friends and as their neighbors, and we will accept them as the same."

Friedman also announced plans for a conference of more than 100 Muslim, Jewish and Christian religious leaders in Vienna in June, during the same week US President George W. Bush is scheduled to visit the Austrian capital for a US-EU summit.

Adwan, whose visa allows him movement in any of the 15 European countries bound by the Schengen border accord, is traveling to Norway later Friday for meetings with politicians and Palestinian groups.



Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fire Marshals Bring in Dog to Sniff for Arson in Greenpoint Fire

As part of their investigation into the fire that devastated a warehouse complex on the Brooklyn waterfront this month, fire marshals turned yesterday to a special investigator — a 5-year-old golden retriever named Bucca. It was not clear whether the dog — trained to detect accelerants and sit when he smells them — had shed any further light on the fire's origins.

Fire officials said that investigators were also pursuing a few leads gleaned from surveillance videotapes shot near the scene of the fire on May 2.

In the last week, the marshals have focused their efforts on the building where the fire is believed to have started, working to clear tons of debris from it.

By yesterday morning, they had removed enough bricks and charred wood to expose a patch of concrete floor the size of a generous two-bedroom apartment.

On that floor, they are hoping to decipher any patterns left by the fire, or find traces of flammable liquids that an arsonist might have used.

The fire, which leveled at least 10 buildings in the Greenpoint Terminal Market, attracted attention not just for its size and what was destroyed, but also because of the history of, and plans for, the complex.

The buildings, which were bought by a developer, Joshua Guttman, in 2001, were at the center of a failed real estate deal last year.

Neighborhood groups and preservationists also had an interest in the complex, which was scheduled to be demolished to make way for high-rise apartment buildings.

Reflecting the high-profile nature of the fire, officials announced yesterday that they had formed a joint task force to investigate the fire. The group included members of the Police and Fire Departments, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and marshals from the state's Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

This week, construction crews working for the owner, Mr. Guttman, quickly erected a fence around most of the site.

Soon after the fire, the city's Department of Environmental Protection ordered Mr. Guttman to secure the site at all times.

The developer has attracted some scrutiny in the days since the blaze, as a history of other fires at some of the dozens of properties he owns throughout the city has emerged, from records culled by the fire marshals. At least four of those fires were ruled arson. Mr. Guttman, through his lawyers, has said he had nothing to do with any of the fires.

The building the fire marshals have focused on, on the northwest corner of the complex, was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Because there was no electricity flowing to that building, which was believed to be vacant, fire officials called the fire suspicious.

That was the building that Bucca toured yesterday morning, sniffing through the bricks and wood for a whiff of residue that is left by ignitable liquids.

The dog, who is named for Ronald Bucca, a fire marshal who died on Sept. 11, 2001, lives in Albany, and travels around the state helping with fire investigations, said Larry Sombke, a spokesman for the State Office of Fire Prevention.

Yesterday afternoon, after a week of occasionally frenzied activity around the destroyed buildings, the work seemed to slow down. In a white van marked K-9 Unit, Bucca and his handlers drove away.


Arrest in Elevator Robbery That Killed Frum 81 Year old Man

A 24-year old man who the police said robbed and fatally beat an 81-year old retired lamp shop owner in an elevator this month was arrested Friday night and charged with murder, the police said.

The man, William Hill, who is homeless, is being investigated in a string of similar attacks that occurred last year in the elevators of buildings in the Fort George neighborhood of Manhattan, the police said.

On May 2, Mr. Hill followed the lamp shop owner, Jacob Gerstle, into the elevator in his building at 105 Bennett Avenue, near 186th Street, the police said. Then, they said, Mr. Hill — who, at 6-foot-7, towered over Mr. Gerstle — punched him in the face and stole his wallet, which Mr. Gerstle's relatives estimated had held about $250. Mr. Gerstle, who had severe bleeding in the brain, was in a coma for three days before he died, the authorities said.

A surveillance camera captured the moments before and after the robbery, and the police distributed images of Mr. Gerstle's attacker. On Friday night, after receiving several tips from the public, the police found Mr. Hill at 144th Street and Lenox Avenue, and arrested him after a short chase, Capt. Geoffrey Hart said.

Mr. Hill, who was to be arraigned yesterday evening in Manhattan Criminal Court, served time in prison on an attempted robbery conviction beginning in October 2005 and was released in March, according to state records. Investigators were still trying to determine whether he was responsible for four other attacks that took place between May and August 2005. Those attacks, on people who ranged in age from 69 to 84 years old, involved assaults and robberies in elevators. Amarilis Gabriel, who lives in Mr. Gerstle's six-story building, said she told her two young daughters to start taking the stairs. "It's such a relief," she said of the arrest on Friday.

"It's such a horrible thing to happen to the sweetest person in the building," she said, referring to Mr. Gerstle. "Such a nice gentleman."



Friday, May 12, 2006

Joshua Guttman makes fire sale

The charred ruins of the city's biggest fire in more than a decade are being used to line the already deep pockets of the ravaged site's owner - who is literally selling the rubble off brick by brick, the Daily News has learned.

Dozens of century-old, giant wooden beams and thousands of bricks from the destroyed Greenpoint Terminal Market are being carted away and sold, sources revealed yesterday.

The red bricks from the warehouses' crushed walls are priced at 15 cents for lots of 10, the sources said.

And magnificent roof beams - cut from durable wood that can be recycled into new flooring - are being hawked for about $1,500 each, the sources said.

Even the beams that were scorched black are selling fast, the sources added.

"Wood is just like toast. Scrape off the burnt part" and it's like new, a source said.

The historic warehouses had been slated for demolition before the suspicious inferno erupted May 2. But preservationists fighting proposed apartment towers on the East River had been hoping to save the warehouses by getting them landmark status.

The 10-alarm fire was the biggest fire in the city in more than a decade, aside from 9/11. The site's owners, Joshua Guttman and his son, Jack, have adamantly denied any role in the fire. No one has been charged.

The bricks and beams began being carted away in huge trucks Wednesday when the elder Guttman, 58, made a rare appearance at the site, escorted by his son.

"You and the media make me guilty," Joshua Guttman yelled at a photographer before driving away in an SUV.

The Guttmans bought the warehouses for $25 million in 2001 and had agreed to sell the site for $420 million last year, but the deal eventually fell apart.

Fire marshals and NYPD arson investigators have been trying to determine the cause of the inferno by digging for evidence amid a 6-foot-deep layer of debris.

Investigators were sifting through the rubble by hand yesterday for the first time when Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta visited to check on their progress.

"I'm happy with the course of the investigation but it's going to take some time," Scoppetta said.

Joshua Guttman's lawyer, Joseph Kosofsky, did not respond to calls yesterday regarding the developer's decision to sell the bricks and beams.

But several Greenpoint residents whose homes were temporarily shrouded by the blaze's black smoke were outraged.

"It's disgusting, but that's business as usual for a person like Guttman," said Phil DePaolo, 45, of the community group the People's Firehouse. "Their interest is always money. That's the bottom line of a developer."


Have you seen this man?

Please print this page and post in your Shteeble.


Link to real posters - designed by Chaptzem! L'toyvas Ha'Tzibur

Rabbi's son charged in $50 million bank scam

A millionaire real estate developer and son of a prominent Monmouth County rabbi was charged yesterday with trying to defraud a bank of more than $50 million.

Solomon Dwek, 33, of Ocean Township, was accused of depositing a bogus $25million check at the PNC Bank in Eatontown last month and spending $22 million of it before he was caught. He then tried to deposit a second bogus $25 million check at a different PNC branch, but employees stopped him, federal authorities said.

When PNC officials confronted him, he promised to return the money he had spent but never did, according to an FBI complaint filed in federal court in Newark. Bank officials filed a civil complaint against him and contacted federal law enforcement authorities.

Dwek was arrested at his home early yesterday by FBI agents and officers from the county prosecutor's office. He was charged with bank fraud, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Howe said during a brief hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk in Newark.

"The government has made some allegations involving criminal behavior. We view this as a civil dispute," Dwek's attorney, Michael Himmel, said after the hearing. "I'm disappointed that it got this far."

Dwek appeared in court with his feet shackled and his hands cuffed behind his back. Federal marshals made him remove his belt after his arrest. As he stood before Falk, he tugged clumsily at his pants to keep them from falling down.

Dwek's father is Rabbi Isaac Dwek, a leader in the Sephardic Jewish community and the head of the Synagogue of Deal. His father and other family members were in court with him.



Thursday, May 11, 2006

Munkatcher Rebbe's son sues Satmar

The Munkatcher Rebbe's son is currently in court with Satmar over a property dispute. The two sides are fighting over the boundaries of a certain property. The case is currently in front of Supreme Court Justice David I. Schmidt and he is attempting to help both sides come to an amicable agreement. The Munkatcher Rebbe, though he is not on speaking terms with his son (see previous Chaptzem! article), was heard saying that he is upset over the court case.

Attempted abduction at Bais Yaakov of Boro-Park - Unrelated

A Russian woman was caught trying to walk off with a girl from Bais Yaakov of Boro-Park. The woman came into the school claiming that she was supposed to pick up a girl to take her home. A teacher realized that the woman did not look like she belonged there and began to question her. After a few minutes it was apparent that the woman was lying and she was not supposed to pick anyone up. The woman was immediately escorted out of the building. Bais Yaakov is now enforcing their parent pass rule and no parent will be aloud to pick up their child from school without it.

FBI enlisted to help in search for Lakewood abduction suspect

Investigators have now reached out to the FBI to help find a man who abducted a young woman from a parking lot Sunday night, sexually assaulted her and then returned her to the lot seven hours later.

Mayor Meir Lichtenstein confirmed the township has reached out to the FBI for help in the investigation. Lichtenstein said the decision was made between the Lakewood Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

"We are going to be tapping into their resources,'' Lichtenstein said.

The federal response is the latest twist in the investigation that began when the woman was abducted after a workout at her gym in a shopping center at Route 9 and Kennedy Boulevard.

Police say the 20-year-old woman was then assaulted and dropped off in the same parking lot at about 5 a.m. Monday. Police are investigating leads, but have yet to announce any arrests.

Capt. Robert Lawson has said the suspect was driving a dark olive green Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. The model year is from 1995 to 1997. The SUV has gold rims, rear tinted windows and no running boards.

Investigators continue to promote a $50,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the suspect. Anyone with information can call Lakewood Detective Lt. Joseph Isnardi at (732) 363-0200, ext. 5332.


Kolko camp threatens victims and family

In the last couple of weeks, since serious litigation has begun with regard to the abuse case against Rabbi Yehudah Kolko and Yeshivah Torah Temimah, close to one hundred victims have come forward alleging that they had been abused by Rabbi Kolko over the last forty years. However, each person that has come forward in an attempt to help put some closure on their brutally disturbed childhood, has received threatening phone calls. The person on the phone threatened these people with things ranging from having their kids expelled from Yeshivah (any Yeshivah not only Torah Temimah), to having them thrown out from Shul and ostracized from the community. I guess that this is the Torah way of dealing with abuse, first abuse them and then scare them away, adding insult to injury. What is the most shocking about this is how today's Rabbonim have no problem going along with what is going on. They keep their eyes, ears and mouth closed, ignoring any possibility to what may have happened. Who knows what skeletons they have in their closet waiting to come out. Shteekah K'hoyduah!

Lakewood issues community alert


Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Police investigating the abduction and sexual assault of a young Orthodox Jewish woman in South Jersey yesterday ruled out any connection to similar attacks in Borough Park.

"There is no link," declared Lakewood Police Capt. Robert Lawson, saying that the attacker's age was a major factor in their conclusion.

The perv who seized a woman at about 9:45 p.m. Sunday as she left a gym in Lakewood is in his late 20s to early 30s - younger than the sicko being hunted for four abduction attempts in the Brooklyn community in the past three weeks.

Lawson said the attacker dragged his 19-year-old victim into his green Jeep Cherokee and used restraints to keep her there. He returned her to the gym about 5 a.m. Monday.

As of late yesterday there were no arrests in the case, but Lawson said cops have "substantial leads on the subject and the vehicle."

In three earlier attempts in Borough Park and one in Queens, a man described as olive-skinned and driving a dark Jeep or SUV targeted Orthodox Jewish girls ages 10 to 12 who were wearing long skirts and high blouses.

The NYPD is flooding Borough Park with dozens of police in a bid to nab the pervert, who shows a phony police badge to the kids he targets.


In Borough Park, the Unusual Taste of Fear

For years, Orthodox Jews have come to Borough Park in Brooklyn to keep the temptations and immodesty of the modern world at bay.

Many families do not own televisions or attend movies. The children attend yeshivas instead of public schools. Adolescent girls do not leave the house without making certain that their knees and elbows are covered, and at weddings and funerals alike, women and men sit separately to avoid physical contact, as required by religious law.

But in the last month, the world outside has intruded sharply on this carefully tended enclave. Three times in April, young girls there have been approached by a man flashing a police badge or business card who tried to lure them into his vehicle. One of the girls, a 10-year-old, climbed into the man's car and was molested by him.

That attack and the other encounters have left many girls frightened and have increased the level of vigilance among the police and community leaders to a high pitch. "I think because we're such a sheltered community, we feel invaded," said Helen Muller, a principal at the United Talmudic Academy in Borough Park. "We've tried to shelter them from outside influences," she added. "But this whole situation brings the street into the community."

But the sense of danger is not limited to Borough Park. In Queens late last month, a man approached a 12-year-old girl, identified himself as an officer, and began to grope her. And on Sunday, a young Hasidic woman in Lakewood, N.J., was sexually assaulted by a man who kidnapped her from the parking lot of her gym, the police said. The New York police do not believe the Queens attack was related to the case in Borough Park, though they are exploring possible links to the assault in Lakewood.

But with no suspects yet in custody, Borough Park — an insular, publicity-shy community — has battened the hatches even tighter.

"I think things have changed dramatically," said Simcha Felder, a city councilman who represents the area. "There are cops all over the place. Shopkeepers are fixing their security cameras and making sure they have tape. Parents are spending a lot more time talking to their children. It's scary to most people, and everyone is on edge."

Along 16th Avenue yesterday, mothers pushing strollers traded gossip about the attacks in Lakewood, where many have relatives among the Orthodox community there. They spoke of keeping their children indoors at playtime, increased patrols by the Shomrim, the community's volunteer security force, and whether the assailant might have been specifically stalking Jewish girls. Most people interviewed would give only their first names, or no names at all.

"Everyone's attuned to what's going on," said Rose, 39, a Borough Park resident. But the Lakewood attack, she said, was "even scarier. Children can lose themselves, and not be cautious, but this was an adult."

At Dagan Pizza and Dairy, a kosher restaurant in Borough Park, Debbie, 32, and her mother, Sara, 50, ate pizza and commiserated about the attacks. Sara said she was keeping tighter reins on her three teenage daughters. "It gets dark, you stay inside," she said.

Two officials at the Bais Yaakov girls' school, who also refused to give their names, said parents were telling children to travel in groups and to come home earlier than usual.

"We're seeing more pickups and dropoffs," said one of the officials. "We announce on a daily basis how to respond, what to do and what not to do."

"This is not a neighborhood used to anything of this sort," she added. "We've sort of been protected."

Tensions ran just as high in Lakewood, where about one-third of residents are Orthodox. Trim Gym, whose parking lot was the site of the abduction there, has separate hours for women and men. On Sundays, the final session for women runs from 6 to 10 p.m. The police said the woman was abducted about 10, from the rear parking lot, where three of four lights were broken.

Yesterday, a sign was posted on the door advising patrons to walk in pairs and stay in well-lighted areas.

"I'm not changing my habits, I only go in the morning," said Judy Kaufman as she left the gym yesterday. But she added, "I heard people talking nonstop. One said she would not go out in the evening."

The police in Lakewood were furiously tracking down dozens of leads, and yesterday released a sketch of the assailant, describing him as white, in his mid-20's to mid-30's, thin, with short brown hair and a goatee. A police report released earlier this month described the Brooklyn attacker as a man, 20 to 25 years old, with a large frame and black hair.

Outside the Four Corners bagel shop on East County Line Road in Lakewood, Mike Taub said people there were disappointed that a vicious crime had invaded their otherwise placid town. Lakewood is "like family, everybody knows somebody who knows them."

He added, "This sort of thing never happens here."



Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Have you seen this man?

Please print this page and post in your neighborhood.


Cash award will be offered for information in Lakewood abduction case

A significant cash award will be given out for information that helps solve the case of a 20-year-old township woman who was abducted, sexually assaulted and then returned to a Lakewood shopping plaza Monday morning.

The woman was abducted at about 8:45 Sunday night after working at a local gym and then returned to the same shopping plaza about eight hours later. Police have made no arrests and have no suspects in custody.

The reward was announced this afternoon in an impromptu press conference held by Mayor Meir Lichtenstein. The money is not sponsored by the township or the police department and is a
donation from community members, Lichtenstein said.

The details of the reward -- including whether the information received must lead to an arrest or conviction -- will be released either tonight or tomorrow, Lichtenstein said. In the meantime, anyone with information can call Detective Lt. Joseph Isnardi at (732) 363-0200, ext. 5332.

At the press conference, Capt. Robert Lawson also updated the description of the suspect's sport utility vehicle. Police are looking for a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, with rear tinted windows, gold rims and no running boards, Lawson said. The truck's color is a dark olive green.

The SUV's model year is between 1995 and 1997. The license plates are believed to be from either New York or New Jersey.


No arrest made in rape case

Police yesterday night were working on a sketch of a man they say raped a 20-year-old woman who was abducted Sunday night after working out at a local gym.

Police were following "several promising leads" in the case, but had not made an arrest, Capt. Robert Lawson said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

The 20-year-old victim suffered "significant injuries" consistent with a rape and struggle and was being treated yesterday at Kimball Medical Center, Lawson said, adding that he expected the victim would be admitted there.

Her assailant was able to escape detection even though investigators were in the immediate vicinity around 5 a.m. yesterday when he returned the victim to the spot where he had abducted her about seven hours earlier the parking area of TrimGym Fitness Center on Madison Avenue, located in the rear of ShopRite plaza, Lawson said.

"The (police) presence was in and around the front of the store," Lawson said. "The victim was dropped off to the rear. This is a large ShopRite plaza."

The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office released a description of the abductor and the vehicle he used.

The assailant is a white man in his mid-20s to early 30s, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-9, with a thin or medium build, and closely cropped, brown hair, Executive Assistant Prosecutor Robert A. Gasser said. The description varied slightly from one released earlier yesterday, when Gasser described the man as having a shaved head.

The suspect was driving a green Jeep Cherokee with gray trim and alloy wheels. The vehicle's model year was between 1996 and 1998, Gasser said. It had New York or New Jersey license plates.

Lawson said Lakewood police were talking to police in New York to determine if the Lakewood incident bore any connection to several recent attempts to abduct Orthodox Jewish girls ranging in age from 10 to 17 in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.

The victim in the Lakewood case is Orthodox, he said.

Mayor Meir Lichtenstein, who attended the news conference, said authorities had no information that the incident was a bias crime, but he said police had not yet finished interviewing the victim.

Lawson said the motive was not robbery, since the victim's purse and cellular telephone were left in her unlocked sport-utility vehicle near the spot where she was abducted after finishing her workout at the gym about 8:45 p.m. Sunday.

"His intent was to attack her, not perform a robbery," Lawson said.

Police do not believe the victim knew the man, he said. They have no information that a weapon was used, he said.

Police began a missing person investigation about 10:30 p.m. Sunday after being alerted by the victim's family, Lawson said.

Authorities have not been able to find eyewitnesses and are asking anyone who may have seen the incident to call the detective bureau at (732) 363-0200, Ext. 5332 or 5334.

The fact that the woman was dropped off at the abduction location "is a valuable clue to the (modus operandi) of the suspect," Lawson said. "It shows he has some concern for the victim of this crime."

After she was dropped off, the victim went back inside the gym, and someone there called police, Lawson said.

He could not say whether the assailant had been stalking the gym, waiting for women to leave.

Jerome Perlstein, president of TrimGym Fitness Centers, said the gym maintains separate hours for men and women to accommodate Orthodox Jewish patrons who work out separately.


Stop sign tickets in Boro-Park

Police are still ticketing at the stop sign on 14th Avenue and 56th Street. Over ten tickets are being issued every hour. Please be aware and come to a full stop even though it is an all-way stop sign.
Furthermore, in an effort to help beat the tickets, post the name of the ticketing officer and the patrol car number if possible. This way people can have a better chance of fighting the tickets together.

Crown Heights kidnap attempt update

The suspect in the Crown Heights attempt does not fit the description of all the other incidences. The attempted victim in this case was a Jewish boy. Police have not released any further details.

Hunt continues for suspect in Lakewood rape case

Police today are continuing the search for a man they say abducted a 20-year-old woman and raped her Sunday night after she had worked out at a local gym.

Police were following "several promising leads" in the case but had not made an arrest, police Capt. Robert Lawson said during a Monday news conference.



Monday, May 08, 2006

UPDATE: Lakewood police seek male suspect in abduction, assault

Law enforcement officials said this afternoon that a young woman was abducted, assaulted and then released by her captor after leaving a health club. Police also are probing whether the incident is linked to similar crimes in New York.

The woman was abducted shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday from a parking lot outside a health club, sexually assaulted and returned to the same location around 5 a.m. today, authorities said. The woman, described as about 20 years old, was hospitalized after police were contacted.

"Our town had a terrible crime visited on us last night,'' Mayor
Meir Lichtenstein said today. "All of us in Lakewood are gathering around the victim and the family.''

Police Capt. Robert Lawson said authorities are working with New York police to determine whether the incident is related to several attempted abductions in Borough Park, a largely Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. The victim in the Lakewood incident is an Orthodox Jewish woman.

Lakewood's population of about 65,000 people is nearly 50 percent Orthodox Jewish.

Police are looking for a white man, about 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-8, with a shaved head, said Executive Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Robert A. Gasser.

Police said the woman was abducted around 9:45 p.m. Sunday outside the Trim Gym health club in the ShopRite plaza at Kennedy Boulevard and Route 9 by a person driving a green Jeep Cherokee, Lawson said.

The woman was sexually assaulted and then returned to the same shopping mall this morning, police said. The woman was hospitalized at Kimball Medical Center.

The woman is believed to have put her personal belongings in her car when she was abducted, said Joe Atlas, a spokesman for Lakewood's Orthodox Jewish community.

Gasser said he had no knowledge that a weapon was involved in the incident.

Few details have emerged of the woman's time in captivity, but Atlas and Gasser said she was returned to the parking lot at about 5 a.m.

Mayor Meir Lichtenstein said preliminary reports indicate no bias motivation in the attack.

Atlas said the woman's family and the rest of the community are thankful she is alive. They also thanked law enforcement for their help.



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