Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cashing in on state grant opportunities benefits Kiryas Joel

This community's latest appeal for cash from one of its most reliable funding sources sounds perfectly reasonable at first.

What the village asked for — and got — from the Governor's Office for Small Cities was a $400,000 grant to replace 1,720 household water meters, said to be losing accuracy with age.

Its application hit all the right notes: shockingly low income levels; an explosive growth rate; a mandate from the state to conserve water. But did anyone at the state agency stop to wonder how replacing meters would help the village recover 160,000 gallons a day of "lost" water, as it was led to believe?

Every year since 2000, when New York opened the Small Cities office to ladle out community development block grants from the federal government, Kiryas Joel has sought a piece of the action, competing with hundreds of towns, villages, cities and counties around the state.

And every year, Kiryas Joel has come up a winner. All told, it has racked up nearly $3.9 million over seven years, the fifth highest total of 1,282 eligible communities.

There is no evidence that any money was outright misspent — as happened in 1989 and 1990, when Kiryas Joel diverted $100,000 in federal funds for a medical clinic to pay for a school swimming pool and a drainage pipe.

But a closer look at two of the Small Cities-funded projects — the water meters and a chicken slaughterhouse that opened in 2004 — raises questions about whether they have achieved, or could ever achieve, goals the village set in its applications.

It also provides a master class in creative grant-writing by a community famous for its success in that arena.



Saturday, December 30, 2006

Yechiel (Jerry) Brauner, the Molester Rebbe SHLIT"A back on the streets

Yechiel (Jerry) Brauner

Convicted sex offender Yechiel Brauner is back on the streets again after his latest arrest. Brauner who is currently on probation for fondling a 15 year-old boy in a hearst on the way to his grandmother's levaya is now again in trouble for allgedly falsifying documents, conspiring to rob a dying old woman of her home and for failing to report that he was a sex offender when he applied for his notary public. Brauner was released on $85,000 bail and was leibing and laching again. To add insult to injury, Brauner davened Mincha this Erev Shabbos for the Umed.


Friday, December 29, 2006

UnSholem Bayis - Boro-Park house is split in two

City real estate is a tough market to navigate, so tough that some couples who are splitting up decide to live together until they can find their own places. And then there are the Taubs of Borough Park. Earlier this year, as the couple separated, Simon Taub said that he was going to put a wall down the middle of their home because he didn't want to move and be further from his kids and doctor. And yesterday, the Daily News witnessed the insanity of the "Off-the-wall divorce":

On Wednesday, the city Buildings Department issued Taub a permit for the Sheetrock wall, which slices through two floors of the three-story house on 49th St. the couple shared for 18 years.

As a curious crowd gathered outside, workers hurried to change the locks on Simon Taub's front door while his wife demanded clothing, a fax machine and shoes be brought to her side of the home.

"They're moving my shoes!" she yelled to one of her adult sons. "I need my fax. Just take it, don't ask!"

Soon-to-be ex-wife Chana Taub's sister scoffed at Taub's claim that he couldn't move somewhere else, calling him a millionaire who just wants to torment his wife. However, a neighbor said "We are all against [Chana Taub]" for some reason.


Survey finds more U.S. Jews

Just when you thought the American Jewish community was dying—or at least the debate about its size—a new study that finds nearly a million more American Jews than previous estimates has resurrected the discussions.

When the United Jewish Communities found in its 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey that the American Jewish population stood at roughly 5.2 million, the number was widely scrutinized. Most observers were dismayed by the decrease of 300,000 Jews from the UJC's previous population survey in 1990, and critics claimed the UJC had used flawed methodology.

After two years of debating the accuracy of the 2000-2001 study, the discussion seemed to wane as Jewish communal professionals decided it had value even if it wasn't perfect. But the 2006 American Jewish Yearbook, which came out Dec. 18, claims the U.S. Jewish population is roughly 6.4 million.

University of Miami professor Ira Sheskin and University of Connecticut professor Arnold Dashefsky arrived at the 6.4 million figure from surveys conducted by local Jewish communities.

Sheskin admits that their survey was fundamentally flawed. In counting individual communities, the two professors were bound to overcount by several hundred thousand people because of Jewish "snowbirds" who have two residences. Also, they had to rely on estimates from smaller communities, which can be inexact.



Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sullivan County mounts court battle vs. Thompson grocery store deal

Sullivan County attacked in court yesterday a $20,000 per-year side agreement the Town of Thompson cut with a bungalow colony over a tax-exempt grocery store, citing "misrepresentation and fraud."

The Ichud Foundation, a Satmar Hasidic group that owns the former Ideal Bungalow Colony on Route 42, "withheld crucial information from the county and the Monticello school district" when it negotiated that side deal with the town, the county claims in court papers filed yesterday.

Before that deal, the town, the county and the school district had already settled out of court with Ichud, granting the bungalow colony tax-exempt status and approval for the grocery store in exchange for a $20,000-per-year payment in lieu of taxes, split among the three entities.

After the settlement, Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini convinced Ichud to give only the town an extra $20,000 per year if the colony ever built the 6,000-square-foot grocery store.

The county and school district did not know about that deal. They learned about it through a Dec. 1 Times Herald-Record article, court papers say.

"No one should have received a preferred or different settlement that was not also offered to the other taxing entities," said county Legislature Chairman Chris Cunningham in a prepared statement yesterday.

He declined further comment.

Cellini and Ichud's lawyer, Moshe Katlowitz, also declined comment.

The county wants the court to vacate the settlement with Ichud, and the school district is expected to join with the county once the school board authorizes it.

If the settlement and side agreement stand, the town's annual revenue from Ichud would jump from $9,000 to $25,000, a gain of $16,000.

However, the school district's annual revenue would plummet from $44,000 to $10,000, a loss of $34,000. The county's take, too, would drop from $15,000 to $5,000.


Kosher Cop Yoeli Witriol

Yikes! He looks scary.

Oh, read this.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Williamsburg Yingerman to spend New Year's Eve at Times Square

Yoeli Witriol from Williamsburg, New York City's first Chasidishe Police Officer, will be performing his first assignment as an NYPD Cop on New Year's Eve in Times Square. Yoeli, who graduated yesterday from the Police Academy, will be pulling the night shift due to the extra need for Police coverage at the New Year's ceremony. I wonder if the Vaad HaTznius will come and drag him by the ear back to Williamsburg.

Airport security


Tuesday, December 26, 2006


A Brooklyn homeowner has beaten a $100 littering fine by convincing an appeals panel that there are more than 60 minutes in what the city considers an hour, The Post has learned.

In a little-noticed decision, the Environmental Control Board rescinded a summons issued to David Rubin on July 19, 2005, at 9 a.m. for not removing a Styrofoam plate and cup, a candy wrapper and a water bottle at the curb in front of his home.

A law sponsored in 2004 by City Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) allows the Sanitation Department to hand out residential littering summonses during only two one-hour periods: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m.

Rubin argued that 9 a.m. is outside that boundary.

He didn't get very far in a hearing before an administrative law judge last year, but found some sympathetic ears this year before some math-savvy appeals officers.

"[The city's] position that residential routing hours commence at and include 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. and end and include 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively, would define predetermined periods in excess of one hour each," the Control Board determined.

It ruled that legitimate summonses couldn't be written past 8:59:59 a.m. and 12:59:59 p.m.

"It's not clever, it's just logic," Rubin said at his Borough Park home. "There are 60 minutes in an hour, not 61. Every body knows that."

He said he wasn't looking for atten tion, but was irri tated at getting ticketed for trash he claimed was blown in front of his corner house, and by the barely legible, handwritten decision that initially found him guilty.

"That got me so irked, I had to do something," he recalled.

The appeals decision didn't sit too well with the Sanitation Department.

"If [the statute] says 9 a.m., that is certainly within the one-hour period we are authorized to write," spokesman Vito Turso insisted.

On a lighter note, Turso added, "We're going to make sure everyone synchronizes their watches."

Councilman Felder said he was "delighted" with the outcome.

"You don't have to give someone a ticket at 9 a.m. or 8:58 a.m.," he said.

"This is the kind of thing people are furious about. I would say the same thing about parking meters. They [enforcement agents] shouldn't be standing there like vultures."

But this David vs. Goliath story has a bitter twist. Rubin said he was recently issued another summons for a similar infraction within the legal time frame.

"Unfortunately, I couldn't make the same argument with this one," he said. "I had to pay the $100. So I didn't really win in the end."



Monday, December 25, 2006

United Colors of Benetton show their true colors of anti-Semitism

United Colors of Benetton are using their strong corporate powers to bully Jewish owned UCB stores. United Colors of Benetton is operated as a franchise, meaning that all stores are privately owned but must order from the same supplier. UCB headquarters regularly conducts sales around the secular Holidays offering up to 50% off their clothing line. Being that Boro-Park does not celebrate these Holidays, the store owner of the Boro-Park branch made his sale for Chanukah. UCB headquarters was not very happy that one branch failed to comply with the timing of their Holiday sale. Even after repeated explaining about the unique religious situation they would not budge in their position. As a means of punishment for the non-compliance with Holiday sales, orders placed by the Boro-Park branch of UCB just didn't arrive, leaving the store no merchandise to sell.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Demand for Religious Games, Toys Grows

The "crazy, crazy Jewish fun" of KosherLand looks a lot like the board game Candy Land, except gefilte fishing substitutes for visits to the Ice Cream Sea.

The board game ''Mortality'' is seen at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. Sales numbers indicate the market for religious games is growing.

In Catholic-opoly, like Monopoly, the job is to bankrupt your opponents. The difference is it's done "in a nice, fun way."

And playtime can get pretty realistic with the Biblical Action Figure of Job, which comes complete with boils.

The market for religious board games and toys like these is tiny and a bit quirky. But sales numbers indicate that demand is growing as families seek wholesome entertainment, selections expand and the Internet gives greater access to retailers.

Abe Blumberger of Jewish Educational Toys says people are much more willing to buy religious toys since he helped create KosherLand in 1985. His game is now offered on UrbanOutfitters.com.

"I think there's a recognition there's a small niche out there," Blumberger said.

Statistics on sales of religious games are hard to find. However, retail sales of inspirational gifts and merchandise, which includes religious toys and games, were an estimated $1.9 billion in 2005, an 11.8% increase from the previous year, according to an April report by Packaged Facts, the publishing arm of MarketResearch.com.

The report projected 26.3% growth to $2.4 billion in sales in the gifts and merchandise sector by 2010.



Saturday, December 23, 2006

Matzo Ball Parties Set for 6 U.S. Cities

With no tradition of leaving cookies for Santa, no church to attend and no expectation of presents in the morning, Christmas Eve used to hold little to look forward to for non-Christians _ until the Matzo Ball and other night-before-Christmas parties.

Part reunion, part date night, these parties draw thousands of people. The granddaddy of them all, the Matzo Ball, will be held this year at clubs in six cities.

Organizers say the events are open to everyone, though the crowds are overwhelmingly Jewish singles and couples in their 20s and 30s.

"For Jews, Christmas Eve has become the dating or the matchmaking night," said Andy Rudnick, 42, creator of the Matzo Ball. "That's the night that things happen."

Rudnick was just out of college when he threw the first Matzo Ball party _ named for the large dumpling featured in traditional Jewish cuisine _ in Boston in 1987. To his surprise, 2,000 people showed up. It's grown ever since, and Rudnick, who has moved to Florida, even met his wife at a Matzo Ball in 1997.

This year, the parties are being held in Boston, New York, Denver, Washington, Miami and Boca Raton.

The Matzo Balls have competition. A party sponsored by the Tampa Jewish Federation is called Vodka Latke after the Jewish pancakes, and the Eve Party in Miami Beach is hosted by an organization called Jmerica. In Los Angeles, it's the Schmooz-a-Palooza, which has drawn over 1,000 people in the past, and New York has The Ball, now in its 12th year.

"I think that every two seconds on the radio you hear another Christmas song and everywhere you go you see Christmas trees," said Lewis Weinger, who organized the Schmooz-a-Palooza for 12 years before JDate took over. "I think in a predominantly non-Jewish environment, even Los Angeles, I think it's an important night for Jewish people to get together and connect and to party and be proud they're Jewish."

Robert Fellman, 31, of Boca Raton, said he has attended the Matzo Ball ever since he turned 21.

"I look forward to it all year. It's definitely not just another night out," he said.



Friday, December 22, 2006

Religion goes pop: Contemporary culture taps into many faiths this season and beyond

Wednesday, you went to see Hasidic reggae artist Matisyahu at his "Festival of Light" Hanukkah concert at the Boston club Avalon.

Thursday, you watched the holiday episode on NBC's "My Name Is Earl," which borrows the Hindu concept of karma.

Tonight, you're heading to the movie theater to see "The Nativity Story," and you might even get up early tomorrow to watch Christian-based "VeggieTales" on NBC's Saturday morning cartoons. You may not realize it, but popular culture is bombarding us with religion this holiday season in what some may see as newer, hipper forms. But several local experts say religion constantly updates itself to be part of the mainstream.

"The two are so intertwined. It's not that we've suddenly discovered that art and religion are friendly to each other; art and religion have been deeply intertwined for centuries," said Bruce Herman, chairman of the art department at Gordon College in Wenham. "Any medium someone chooses - whether it's high art or commercial art; whether it's contemporary music or poetry - any medium chosen to communicate religious ideas, I believe is good."

Religious, for-profit entities are everywhere in entertainment, including JVibe, a Newton-based Jewish teen magazine, and FoxFaith, a new cinematic venture by 20th Century Fox for Christian content. But some believe there's more at stake than simply making a few bucks; that maintaining relevance is crucial to winning the attention of an increasingly secular society.



Thursday, December 21, 2006

New Halachah Scandal - Easy Light brand prepared Chanukah lights pull oil switcheroo

Easy Lights brand prepared Chanukah lights are the basis for a new scandal where money overrides morality and Halachah. The Easy Lights, which are little glass lamps filled with oil and a wick, were selling for $13.99 for a full set, which is half the price of any other brand. Competitors could not believe that it was possible to sell prepared Chanukah lights in glass holders filled with extra virgin olive oil for such a low price, so they sent it to a lab to be checked out. The lab results showed that the lights did not contain olive oil, but was rather filled with inexpensive everyday vegetable cooking oil. The Bal HaMachshir has already pulled his Hechsher and has declared the maker as defrauding the people.

Internet threatens NY diamond dealers' way of life

In the confines of the Diamond Dealers Club, a Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn and a dealer from Antwerp huddle over a small, folded piece of paper.

The Hasid reaches inside to produce a flawless diamond, which his client inspects closely with a jeweler's magnifying glass. The two reach a deal, shake hands and say a Hebrew blessing "Mazal U' Bracha" ("Good luck and God bless").

This typical scene, witnessed earlier this month at the elite epicenter of New York City's diamond business, is becoming threatened by electronic commerce.
Reuters Pictures

"In the olden days, most of the trading happened on the trading floor. Now it's moved to electronic," said Elliott Krisher, treasurer of the Diamond Dealers Club. "It's become an electronic handshake."

In the last five years, membership in the club has stayed flat at 2,000. Yet 1,200 new members joined the club's Web-based trading platform launched four years ago.

Many of the old-time dealers whose shops line Manhattan's West 47th Street are having difficulty competing with online companies such as Seattle-based BlueNile.com, a jewelry company whose estimated earnings for 2006 are $250 million, up from $44 million six years ago.

The diamond merchants form an enclave along a western block of Manhattan's 47th Street that is lined with jewelry stores. The dealers club estimates some 2,000 businesses along the street are connected in some way to the diamond businesses, among them shops, dealers and gem cutters.



Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shwekey and Ohad Channukah Concert

Enjoy this clip of Shwekey and Ohad from the 2006 NCSY Channukah Concert


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

UPS Says Anti-Semitic 'Apartheid" Rumors Not True

Officials at United Parcel Service are vehemently fighting back rumors that their company practices "package apartheid" by refusing to deliver to Jewish settlements in the West Bank while offering service to Palestinian communities behind the Green Line.

A UPS spokesman said that the inability to serve some locations in Israel's disputed territories is purely a matter of economics rather than an effort to deny service to Jewish customers in the West Bank.

"This has nothing to do with politics, nothing," John Flick, a UPS international spokesman, repeatedly told FOXNews.com in two phone interviews.

The charges blew up in UPS' face last week after columnist Debbie Schlussel investigated a claim by one of her readers who was told she could not have a package delivered from the United States to Gush Etzion, a religious Jewish outpost in the West Bank located just 15 minutes from Jerusalem.

The reader told Schlussel that she was told UPS would not deliver beyond the Green Line, the marker that represents the boundary drawn between Israel and the territory captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War. But when asked about delivery to Palestinian city of Ramallah, the home of Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank, the service representative said packages could be sent there.

"Last night, I called UPS to verify this, and, in fact, it is true. Not only is it true, but UPS will not recognize even parts of Israel that are within the 'Green Line,' such as the Golan Heights," Schlussel wrote in the first of several updates on the story. "Today, they won't deliver to Jewish areas. Tomorrow, it will be Christian areas. But the Islamic terrorist-infested areas, no prob. UPS: Official delivery service of the Jihad. DHL: Still free and strong."

Flick said the confusion started because the automated system used by UPS service representatives to assist customers is based on postal codes and if a customer calls in to send a package to an area without a postal code, the service representative tells the customer that UPS can’t deliver to that area. Israel, where UPS has been operating since 1988, does not use postal codes.

"This issue is one of incorrect information in our systems for our customer service centers," Flick said. "We definitely screwed up and we are now addressing the postal code gap."



Monday, December 18, 2006

Fire Hazard - Pre-filled plastic Menorah Lemplich

Beware, the plastic pre-filled lemplich can melt and catch fire. We suggest not using these lemplich. Do not risk your life.

In Warsaw, hundreds gather to celebrate Hanukkah and light menorah

Jewish leaders and Poland's first lady lit candles of a large menorah in central Warsaw on Sunday as they celebrated the third day of Hanukkah, or the Jewish Festival of Lights.

The country's Chief Orthodox Rabbi Michael Schudrich chanted prayers in Hebrew before Maria Kaczynski, the wife of President Lech Kaczynski, lit a candle and wished happy Hanukkah to the hundreds who gathered on Grzybowski Square, which lies in the heart of the capital's once-thriving prewar Jewish community.

Israeli Ambassador David Peleg and Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz also lit candles and recalled the rich historical ties that link Poles and Jews.

"This is fantastic," said Piotr Kadlcik, leader of Warsaw's small Jewish community. "Not only Jews have come today, but also non-Jews have shown up to have a good time and celebrate with us, which is very important."

Five Jewish organizations helped organize the event.

Nearby, another 200 people took part in a similar ceremony organized by Chabad Lubavitch, an international group of Hasidic Jews that sponsors public menorah lightings worldwide, in front of the Stalinist-era Palace of Culture.

Poland was once home to a Jewish community of nearly 3.5 million people, but some 90 percent of the country's Jewish community perished during World War II in death camps established by Nazi Germany.

Today, the population is estimated to be around 30,000 of Poland's 38 million residents.

Hanukkah, which began Dec. 15, is an eight-day celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees' victory against the Syrians.



Sunday, December 17, 2006

Rabbi's suit puts menorah in limelight

When Diana Raphael Carver of Snohomish, Wash., takes her menorah out each year, she is reminded of eating potato pancakes at Hanukkah celebrations when she was a child, and looks forward to observing the holiday with her daughter and 3-year-old granddaughter.

When she lights the menorah's candles, it's a time for reflection. That's why she doesn't like the idea of displaying a giant electric menorah at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

"It cheapens Hanukkah" and reduces the menorah to a decoration, said Ms. Carver, a retired advertising executive. "It takes away from what Hanukkah really means – a thanking of God and reminding us of the miracle that happened."

Ms. Carver is among other local Jews who, for a variety of reasons, say they disagree with the approach of a local rabbi who requested that the Port of Seattle install an 8-foot-tall electric menorah at the airport.

When Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky and his attorney couldn't get a definite answer from the port, they threatened legal action, sending the port a draft of a 24-page lawsuit.



Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hasidic Jews Reject Evil Text Messaging, Sprint Service - Cell Phone M'Ishar saga

Plaintiffs: Yeshiva Yagdil Torah, a New York Corp. doing business as Vaad Harabbonim Letikshoreth

Defendants: Sprint Solutions Inc.; Sprint P.C.S.; Sprint Nextel Corp.; Sprint Communications Co.

Accusation: In 2005, a group of rabbis formed a council to find a way Hasidic Jews could use cell phones without getting exposed to soul-corrupting text messages and spam. They enlisted the help of Sprint Nextel in developing something called a Kosher Phone: a so-called "plain vanilla" voice phone that would preclude the very possibility of going online, and the attendant temptations. Of course, it didn't work.

One would think this could be easily accomplished by using older-model phones, but one would, apparently, be wrong. After a year of negotiations and $150,000 spent, Sprint acquiesced and issued a limited batch of phones with text-messaging functions blocked and SIM cards taken out. Then, horror: "Some users reported instances in which devices had the ability to send and receive text messages." The lawsuit charges that Sprint, somewhat understandably nervous about the commercial prospects of this retarded (in the very literal sense) technology, went behind the rabbis' back and switched the texting functions back on.

BONUS: The complaint doesn't waste its time before running afoul of Godwin's Law, in an extremely convoluted manner to boot. See if you can follow this: Vaad is saying that Sprint has said that Vaad was comparing Internet spam to the Holocaust. Vaad says it would never stoop to this kind of rhetoric.

Read the lawsuit


Satmars slam Shoah talks attendees

Six Jews who attended a Holocaust denial conference in Iran have come under intense criticism over the visit, with one of the world's largest Hasidic groups denouncing them as "reckless outcasts."

The Jews who went to Iran "trampled on the memory of their ancestors and people. They embraced the disciplines and followers of their murderers," said a statement from the Satmar leaders of Congregation Yetev Lev in Brooklyn.

The Jews who attended the conference are often confused with the Satmars, who also are anti-Zionist but acknowledge that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.



Friday, December 15, 2006

Merry Channukah!

Monsey rabbi defends Holocaust conference participation

A rally has been scheduled for next week to show support for Holocaust survivors in emotional pain over Iran's Holocaust denial conference and the participation of a Monsey rabbi who belongs to an anti-Israel religious group.

It's the first of two planned locally in the next few weeks in reaction to the participation of Monsey Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss in a conference for Holocaust deniers hosted by Iran this week. Though Weiss said the Holocaust is fact, his attendance at the conference has been fiercely denounced.

Weiss belongs to Neturei Karta, a group of Hasidic Jews who oppose the existence of Israel on religious grounds and who believe Jews should live under Arab Muslim rule until the Messiah comes.

The first rally will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday outside the Holocaust Museum and Study Center, 17 S. Madison Ave., Rabbi Michael Gisser, the museum's executive director, said yesterday.

"Really, this is something in support of the community, but more so of our survivors here," Gisser said. "When people deny the Holocaust, it's denying their memories, their testimonies, what they went through."

Speaking in a telephone interview from Tehran last night, Weiss defended his participation in the conference, saying he told conferees that the Holocaust was fact.

His presence at the conference was meant to seek a solution to the impasse, and to stop the Holocaust from being used as a tool to prevent conciliation, he said.

Saying he lost grandparents in the Holocaust, Weiss added: "My blood cooks at the hurt and the suffering of the Jewish people because it's my blood, and of course, we feel it. Whoever wants to say that they suffer any more than I do ... they have no right to say that.

"My blood is palpitating with fear to what will happen to the remnants of Jews because of the ongoing incitement of the Zionists and the intimidation ... of the Muslim people," he said.



Thursday, December 14, 2006

Exclusive interview with a Gerer Yingerman about Rabbi Leizerowitz

Read our previously posted exclusive interview with a Gerer Yingerman about the allegations against Rabbi Leizerowitz.

PERV CHARGE VS. 2ND RABBI - Rabbi Avraham Mordecai Lazerewitz from Ger

For the second time in a week, a respected Brooklyn rabbi has been accused of sexually abusing a boy student at a religious school.

A suit filed Tuesday in Brooklyn Supreme Court accuses Avraham Mordecai Lazerewitz, described as the spiritual supervisor at the Geres Misivta Bais Yisroel school, of touching a student in April. Lazerewitz groped and improperly touched the victim during a one-on-one help session in the rabbi's office in the Borough Park secondary school, says the unidentified boy's lawyer, Eric Green.

School officials did not return a telephone message. Last week, authorities accused Brooklyn Rabbi Joel Kolko of fondling a student, 6, and a 31-year-old former pupil.



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Choo-Choo train restaurant is going Kosher

The famous Miller's Diner on New Utrecht Avenue and 56th Street has been bought off by a Heimishe Yingerman and will be selling Kosher food within a couple of weeks. The diner which became famous due to its unique shape, which is like a New York City subway train, will be renamed as Glatt Diner and will serve deli and take-out. Glatt Diner will be open every night until 3 am and all night on Leil Shishi. I can smell the Cholent already.

Liver Yingerman promises there is a big uproar yet to come

The Yingerman that brought up the controversy over the Meal-Mart liver claims that there is yet some big news to come. He says that there are forces that are working hard at quieting the matter and putting it to bed without the Kashrus interests of the public in mind. He says that in time there will be a big revelation with regard to this story. I guess we will have to wait and see.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cover of Cracked Magazine

'Dead' Bnei Brak child turns up alive and well in Canada

A storm is raging throughout the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel and the US following testimony that a boy from the Hasidic Satmar community in NY was allegedly kidnapped from his parents more than 50 years ago and adopted by a Christian Canadian couple.

The most popular ultra-Orthodox weekly, "Family" is conducting an in-depth investigation into the mysterious story. According to findings
so far, some 50 years ago a Hasidic family from Bnei Brak gave birth to twins. One of the twins died immediately after birth and doctors later informed the couple that the other child had also has passed away and had been buried.

Doctors told the family that the baby had become ill and his condition deteriorated until he met his death. The stricken parents had no choice but to accept the news, however reportedly they always bore a persistent doubt as to the circumstances of their child's death. This doubt was reinforced some 18 years later when the "dead child" received a military induction order. The shocked family attributed this to nothing more than an unfortunate error.

About a month ago, in a Canadian city, thousands of kilometers from Bnei Brak, an only child opened his mother's will after she passed away. The words darted in font of his eyes and almost made him faint.

"You are a Jewish child from the city of Bnei Brak in Israel," it was written in the will. "We adopted you when you were just a few days old and we raised you without revealing your true identity. You are now entitled to know the great secret we kept from you."



Monday, December 11, 2006

Radio Station Plays Only Hanukkah Music

Every year it's the same - the relentless refrains of "Santa Baby" and "Silver Bells," those saccharine lyrics that seem to fill every radio frequency, not to mention the airwaves in stores and restaurants and offices. By the time Christmas is over, Terri Lynn says she feels saturated.

This year, the 50-year-old Jewish woman from Fort Lauderdale has an escape: She can tune her XM Satellite Radio to XM108 for Radio Hanukkah.

Though the potential audience is likely rather small, XM's Hanukkah-themed station is being touted as the first radio station of its kind and one celebrated by the satellite network's Jewish clientele, who've long known December's airwaves to be filled only with the holly-jolly, bell-clinging sounds of Christmas.

"It's 24 hours of Hanukkah! I'll be dancing the horah," said Lynn, a publicist whose clients include the Salvation Army, the Jewish Federation of Broward County and Habitat for Humanity. "This could be refreshing. Who knows? Maybe non-Jews will start loving these songs too."


Tehran Conference on Holocaust Starts Work

The two-day conference organized by the Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) has drawn 67 foreign researchers from 30 world countries.

'The Holocaust, Modern Outlooks', 'The Holocaust, Statistical Figures and Realities', 'The Holocaust, Historical Documents', 'Nazism, The Holocaust and Zionism', 'The Holocaust, Effects and Consequences' and 'The Holocaust, Global Vision' comprise the main topics to be discussed by participants in 6 consequent sessions with full respect for Judaism and away from any kind of political tendency or propaganda.

The conference is also attended by chief rabbis from different world countries, including the US.

The anti-Zionist Jews Organization Neturei Karta is also represented in the conference by a delegation of rabbis, including its world spokesman Rabbi Yisroel David Weiss.

In recent years, Neturei Karta members have taken several trips to Iran and got acquainted with Iran's ideas about Jews and the conditions of the Jewish community in Iran.

They have also met with the Iranian President in New York, where Ahmadinejad underlined Iran's full respect for the Jews and Judaism and strong opposition to Zionism.

Neturei Karta and similar movements have been formed by mainly orthodox Jews to inform the world of the fact that Zionism and Judaism are two separate notions in direct opposition.

Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini Sunday said that the two-day confab in Tehran has a scientific and research nature.

The conference has caused, at times, hot reactions by some western countries, including the US and Germany.



Sunday, December 10, 2006

Company to make kosher electricity

Israel's state-run power company has decided to start producing "kosher" electricity.

In a bid to satisfy ultra-Orthodox Jews, the company plans to spend $US10 million on automating its processes and hiring non-Jewish employees in order to produce power on the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest, without violating Jewish law.

The decision follows a series of meetings between Israel's infrastructure minister, the minister in charge of religious services and the chief executive of the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), Haaretz newspaper reported.

According to the newspaper, many ultra-Orthodox Jews, who number about 500,000 of Israel's 7 million people, refuse to use the national provider because of its Sabbath violation, instead using private generators to produce power.

However, the generators and their home-made connections to the national grid are illegal and pose safety problems, officials say. There have been many cases of electrocution.

To resolve that problem, the IEC has said it will now base its power generation on as many automated processes as possible, and 150 non-Jews will be hired to carry out the remaining operations that require human intervention.

The infrastructure ministry said the extra costs would probably be covered by the extra revenue generated by the ultra-Orthodox returning to the IEC rather than relying on their own generators.



Saturday, December 09, 2006

Tip of iceberg feared in rabbi child sex rap

Rabbi Yudi Kolko                                    David Framowitz

Prosecutors warned yesterday that a Brooklyn rabbi accused of sexually abusing two victims - including a young boy - may face more charges.

Joel Yehuda Kolko, 60, a former teacher and assistant principal at Yeshiva-Mesivta Torah Temimah on Ocean Parkway in Midwood, was released on $10,000 bail after he was arraigned yesterday on four counts of sexual abuse and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

He was required to surrender his passport before he was allowed to return to his Midwood home in time for Sabbath observations.

The charges against him involve the alleged molestation of a 6-year-old boy and a 31-year-old man.

"There may be other charges with other complainants, and there is an ongoing investigation regarding Kolko," Assistant Brooklyn District Attorney Marc Fliedner said in Brooklyn Criminal Court.

A $10-million suit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Wednesday accuses the yeshiva of harboring Kolko despite accusations that he abused children in his care there for years.

In May, three men filed suits seeking $30 million for alleged abuse the rabbi committed against them when they attended the yeshiva as children.

One of the three men was contacted by a Daily News reporter following yesterday's court action.

"I think it's 25 years later than it should have happened," the 39-year-old man said. "I know the wheels of justice are slow. I hope they crunch this guy."

The man said he personally knows of another 15 victims, and that he believes more than 100 other boys were molested by the rabbi.

Some of Kolko's former students were flabbergasted at the charges yesterday.

"I think a bunch of people are out to get him," said Aaron Tarnes, 30, a student at the yeshiva for 15 years. "I'm disturbed to hear such things against such a wonderful man."

Kolko arrived at his home on E. 22nd St. shortly after 4:15 p.m. in a silver Buick driven by his son, Avi. Kolko dashed inside without a word to waiting reporters.



Friday, December 08, 2006

Read the new Chaptzem article in the Country Yossi Family Magazine

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

A few poignant questions brought to the surface by the Kolko arrest

The arrest of Yudi Kolko has brought up many questions that we were never forced to face or answer until now.

Question #1 - Is there a Kaf Z'chus L'halacha for someone like Kolko?

Question #2 - Do the laws of Loshon Horah pertain to Kolko or someone like him?

Question #3 - What role does his family play in this? Are they innocent or are they enablers and are as guilty as him or not?

Question #4 - The Rabbonim have effectually made themselves ineffectual by standing behind him all this time. What can be done by the Rabbonim to rebuild our trust in them and in the system?

Question #5 - What can and should be done to prevent such situations in the future?

While I certainly don't have the answers to all these questions, I do have my opinions. Let's hear some of yours.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Police: Brooklyn Rabbi Charged With Sexual Abuse On Child

A Brooklyn Rabbi has been charged with sex abuse and child endangerment, police said.

Rabbi Joel Kolko, 60, was arrested Wednesday and charged with four counts of sex abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor, police said.

Police said the alleged victim is a 9-year-old boy who said he was sexually abused during 2002 and 2003.
Click here to find out more!

The arrest comes after a the New York Daily News reported on a $10 million lawsuit that was filed by a child of "early elementary school" age.

Police said they had been investigating Kolko and made the decision to arrest him after the lawsuit was made public.

Kolko is part of Mesivta Torah Temimah on Ocean Parkway, where the lawsuit alleges the abuse took place.

"He's been my principal for years," said one person. "I never knew him like that. He never acted inappropriately."

No one at the school wanted to comment officially, NewsChannel 4 reported, but his former student said he finds the allegations hard to believe.

"As a person, he doesn't fit the criteria," said Abraham Birnbaum. "I've known him for 10 years. My brother was a student, (comma) and he never had that view of him."

Students said Kolko voluntarily left the school a few years ago when the allegations of abuse began to surface.


Rabbi rap sparks $10M suit

A Brooklyn Yeshiva was slapped yesterday with another big-bucks lawsuit alleging it protected a rabbi suspected of molesting children.

The suit, which seeks $10 million in damages, charges Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, 60, of Yeshiva-Mesivta Torah Temimah abused an unnamed boy of "early elementary school age" during the 2003 to 2004 school year.

It says the abuse took place in the religious school on Ocean Parkway.

A similar suit against Kolko and the Yeshiva seeking $20 million in damages was filed in May by two former students who claim they were molested by the rabbi more than 25 years ago.

Since New York's three-year statute of limitations has expired on the alleged offenses in the first case, Kolko was immune from prosecution.

But law enforcement sources said the new allegations against him are under criminal investigation.

Yesterday's suit accuses the Yeshiva of "failing to protect" the victim "from sexual assault and lewd and lascivious acts" despite knowing Kolko's "dangerous propensities."

A plaintiff in the $20 million case contends Kolko victimized at least 15 kids.


Lawsuit filed against Torah Temimah in Supreme Court

A new case that is within the statutes has been filed in Supreme Court against Torah Temimah.


Index No. 37492/06

by and through his natural parents and guardians, and by his MOTHER and FATHER individually,

Plaintiffs, v.



Read the full case here - scroll down


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Arrests made in Crown Heights Kinus HaShluchim incident

Members of Rabbi Shemtov's security team were arrested today on assault charges resultant of the incidents that took place at the Kinus HaShluchim in 770.

A Market Grows on the Lower East Side

FEW things can ignite a cook’s shame quite so powerfully as the realization that she doesn’t know the name and genealogy of every important purveyor of foodstuffs from here to the Maldives. I speak from my own sense of disquiet. Some months ago, a friend told me about the Essex Street Market, the 15,000-square-foot enclosed food hall on the lower East Side of Manhattan, and I felt as if I were a soprano hearing the name Donizetti for the first time.

The market has been in continual operation for the past 66 years. But it is thriving today as it never did, making available both the world of the bodega and the universe of the gourmand — Goya groceries and hams cured from pigs fed on acorns. That the market itself is shaped like a giant shoebox only adds to the sense that it has become a diorama of the city in demographic miniature. Hasidic men and Latina women come, as they always have, and they are joined now by young people of indeterminate sexuality, vocation or coiffure.

Five years ago the market was only 60 percent full, said Jose Figuereo, one of its overseers. But because of low rents and an influx of more prosperous neighbors, 26 vendors now occupy every square foot of selling space.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation, which runs the market, receives applications for new tenants on a weekly basis and, in a change from the past, will now rent only to food vendors. It leases space to vendors at $27 a square foot on average, less than a third the standard price food retailers pay in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

A few weeks ago Paradou, a restaurant in the meatpacking district, opened a takeout shop in the market. It joins Formaggio, an outpost of a specialty shop in Cambridge, Mass., and Saxelby Cheesemongers, which arrived earlier this year, started by a winsome 25-year-old former art student named Anne Saxelby. Ms. Saxelby apprenticed on a dairy farm in the Loire Valley after graduating from college. What sort of person might shop at an artisanal cheese counter, one whose name seems borrowed from “The Chronicles of Barsetshire”? It is easy to envision the cliché and yet Ms. Saxelby’s customers do not conform to it. Among the predictable lot of young downtown mothers who swaddle their infants in hemp are aging Hispanic women, one of whom, Ms. Saxelby explained, comes in a few times a week specifically to buy a cheese called Ascutney Mountain. Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to find their way to her as well.



Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Potential ultra-Orthodox boycott threatens to cripple El Al airlines

Monday morning the storm around El Al's desecration of the Sabbath on Friday was transformed from a consumer uproar and struggle to preserve "the sanctity of the Sabbath," into a saga in which the "finger of God" was visible to many.

El Al flight LY007 had taken off from Tel Aviv for New York a little after 11:30 A.M., when a problem was discovered in the rudder system. As the captain jettisoned fuel over the sea in preparation for an emergency landing back at Ben-Gurion International Airport, panic broke out among the passengers. "People thought it was the end; everyone was shaking," a passenger, Eliezer Karlibach, said. "Even a secular person seated next to me totally panicked and said it was all happening because of the desecration of the Sabbath."

The plane landed safely and repairs were made. Before the plane took off again, Karlibach told Haaretz, "It was a miracle, no doubt about it, it was from Heaven."

Even before Friday's drama, a number of ultra-Orthodox passengers canceled their El Al tickets at the last moment and decided to fly another company. Many are said to believe that the plane's mechanical fault was a sign of divine confirmation of a statement Sunday by Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, an influential figure of the Lithuanian stream, broadcast on the community's Kol Hai radio station, that flying El Al endangered life. The trickle of a cancellation has turned into a stream, with ultra-Orthodox travel agents reporting hundreds of cancellations.

These statements followed Lithuanian sector leader Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv's consternation regarding El Al's failure to "fear desecration of Shabbat," despite the fact that it is the most terror-threatened airline in the world.

The storm began over the fact that despite the efforts of ultra-Orthodox MKs, on Thursday and Friday, El Al decided to permit flights to leave Israel shortly before the onset of Shabbat to make up for flights delayed during a nationwide strike last week. The flights took off on Friday afternoon and continued operating into the Sabbath, in defiance of the national carrier's traditional Shabbat observance.


US judge partly grants Russian counterclaim over Jewish library

A U.S. district judge has partly upheld a Russian government plea to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a Hasidic Jewish movement to recover 18th century religious writings, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported Tuesday.

Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that an American court has no jurisdiction over a Moscow library of religious books, collected since 1772 and comprising over 12,000 volumes and 381 manuscripts.

At the same time, he said the plaintiffs may sue to recover more than 25,000 pages of manuscripts, letters and other materials belonging to the Scheersohn dynasty in Russia.

In addition to the Russian government, the lawsuit, filed in 2004 in California by Chabad-Lubavitch, a Hasidic Jewish movement, names among the defendants a number of Russian state organizations, including the Ministry of Culture, the Russian State Library, and the Russian State Military Archive.

The documents were taken to Latvia and later Poland after Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn fled Russia in 1927. Following the outbreak of World War II, Schneersohn fled to the United States in 1940, leaving behind the archives, which were subsequently seized by the Nazis.

In 1945, Soviet troops returned the documents to Moscow, where they were stored at the Russian State Military Archive.

Chabad-Lubavitch, is one of the largest Jewish Orthodox movements worldwide, especially in the United States and Israel. The movement originated in Belarus in Eastern Europe, then part of Imperial Russia under the Tsars.

Chabad traces its roots back to the beginnings of Hasidic Judaism.



Monday, December 04, 2006

Board eager to sell school

Three months after the Scranton School Board agreed to sell the former East Scranton Intermediate School to a rabbi from Brooklyn, N.Y., it is still awaiting documentation from the prospective buyer to move ahead with the deal.

Some board members are getting impatient.

“I’m concerned it’s been almost three and a half months,” board President Brian Jeffers said. “How long is too long? Well, I don’t know, but I don’t want to wait much longer.”

The board voted unanimously Aug. 28 to sell the Quincy Avenue property to Rabbi Alter Rosenbaum for $400,000. The rabbi is the leader of a Nadvorna Hasidic community that wants to use the building as a school for families that would relocate to the city from Brooklyn.

Under the pending agreement of sale, Rabbi Rosenbaum is required to provide the district with two appraisals for the property.

As of late last week, only one had been submitted to the district, acknowledged Teri Backus, the real estate agent who is brokering the sale.

Ms. Backus said a second appraiser has examined the building and is preparing a formal report. She hopes to submit it within two weeks.

“That’s my goal,” she said. “Everyone wants this done as soon as possible. We all want the same thing.”

The district needs the appraisals before it can petition Lackawanna County Court for permission to sell the building. Under the state School Code, the district’s petition must include two affidavits affirming $400,000 is a “fair and reasonable” offer for the building and that a better price could not be obtained at public sale.



Sunday, December 03, 2006

Unrepentant Isaac Heschel adds insult to injury

Isaac Heschel was seen this Shabbos at a Kiddush laughing it up with his friends. Amazingly the reckless rabbi did not seem even the least bit humbled from being the object of a full-blown CBS broadcasted foot-land-air investigation and cause of a major Chillul Hashem. Apparently the abuse of emergency light and siren privileges and the endangering of people's life is a big laughing matter to Isaac Heschel.

Rabbi Opening Doors to Outsiders

Nelly Shulman is used to being remarked on: She is, after all, the first Russian-born female rabbi in the former Soviet Union. But this was something she wanted to stay low-key.

Sensationalist press articles reported in May that, a few weeks earlier, Shulman had performed Russia's first lesbian wedding. Photos with one article showed Shulman, a rabbi in the progressive denomination, reading the ceremony to a couple with matching cropped hair and khaki-colored jackets.

"I got 100 hate mails a day," Shulman said at the Moscow Jewish Community House. "Hate calls as well. They said lots of different things -- like that I was a dirty lesbian myself."

Damning criticism came from the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, a traditional Orthodox group that does not perform homosexual ceremonies, nor ordain female rabbis. "We considered it necessary to announce our protest at this shocking trampling on the norms of Judaism," said Rabbi Boruch Gorin, director of the public affairs department of the federation.

Shulman, 34, stiffened as she recalled the vociferousness of the response. But in the career she has chosen, controversy is sometimes inevitable. She caters, as she put it, "in many cases to those for whom the doors of the Orthodox synagogue are still closed": Jews who marry non-Jews, people with only distant Jewish relatives, gays and lesbians.


Should shopper wear a yarmulke?

Q. I stopped patronizing a mail-order company when it began including editorial content about Jesus in its catalog, finding that inappropriate. I now plan to visit a camera store owned and staffed by Orthodox Jews. Although I am an observant Jew, I do not regularly wear a yarmulke, but I'm considering doing so in the hope of preferential treatment, maybe even a discount. Hypocritical? Ethical? R.K., New York

What's most lamentable about your scheme is not its hypocrisy -- although there is that -- but its deceit: You would present yourself to be what you are not, someone who regularly wears a yarmulke, an object of religious significance. What's more, in ethics, intent counts, and yours is simply to cadge a discount, to be what genuine yarmulke-wearers might describe as, if not a ganef, certainly a shnorrer.

As far as tactics go, I'm skeptical that a discount for the Orthodox is on offer. And that's as it should be. To give a price break to co-religionists is no different from imposing a price hike on nonbelievers. Ads boasting "Baptists Pay 10 Percent More" would not be appealing marketing or, for that matter, legal.

You might argue that what you propose is no more deceptive than acting courteously when you really feel antisocial. Dr. Johnson called politeness "fictitious benevolence" and was all for it: "It supplies the place of it amongst those who see each other only in publick, or but little. Depend on it, the want of it never fails to produce something disagreeable to one or other." But politeness merely withholds the expression of your feelings, a matter of style; it does not falsely proclaim your beliefs, a matter of substance.

I myself would never wear a cat costume to a pet shop hoping to entice the animal-loving staff into offering me a discount on a squeaky toy. I might wear it socially, but that's between me and my therapist.



Saturday, December 02, 2006

Attempted car robbery in Boro-Park

At about 3pm on Shabbos afternoon a man was seen looking into a car window and trying to break in. A Bochur caught on to what he was doing and started to watch him. As he was about to break the window, the Bochur came over to him and told him to leave before he called the Cops. The guy started to leave. As he was leaving he passed by the Bochur and stared into his face. The Bocher then told a Yingerman that was nearby to keep an eye on the guy because he may come back and try again later. The guy saw the Bochur talking to the Yingerman about him. He came back and began to scream at the Bochur, denying that he ever wanted to break into the car. He said that all he wanted to do was get some sunlight. The man then walked over to a sunny spot on the street, made believe he was getting a suntan and then left after a few minutes.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Settlement gives tax exemption for Ichud Satmar Bungalow Colony, Grocery Store

They gave away the store, says Sullivan County Treasurer Ira Cohen.

A 6,000-square-foot grocery store at a bungalow colony, to be exact.

Local governments settled in February with Ichud Foundation, a Satmar Hasidic group that owns the former Ideal Bungalow Colony on Route 42 near Monticello High School. Ichud filed to make the colony tax exempt in 2004.

The settlement gave Ichud that tax exemption, as well as approval for the grocery store.

In exchange, Ichud will pay the Town of Thompson, Sullivan County and Monticello School District a total of $20,000 per year. That's down from $74,000 a year.

Cohen says the agreement is "not only outrageous but improper overreaching, unfair to the rest of the community in Sullivan County."

"How can you have a tax-exempt grocery store?" he says. "This is a perfect example of the extreme extent to which the law is being abused."

As treasurer, Cohen has so far refused to cancel Ichud's 2006 tax lien. He hopes to work with Ichud in coming up with a new settlement.

"He's 100 percent wrong," said Moshe Katlowitz, lawyer for Ichud. "It's that simple. It's a contract. It's an agreement. It's a court-ordered settlement."

Ichud had significant leverage because courts have broadly interpreted state law on exemptions. Officials of the town, school district and county say they had no choice but to settle with the foundation.

"We were basically told they were going to get (exempt status)," says Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini. "We never win any of these cases."

The town also signed a side agreement with Ichud that doesn't involve the school district and county. It will give Thompson another $20,000 per year for approving the tax-exempt grocery store, raising the town's annual revenue from Ichud to $25,000. When Ichud was paying taxes, the Town of Thompson was getting $15,000 a year.

"I think I did a hell of a job," Cellini said. "The town made out much better."

Cellini, though, agrees with Cohen and other local officials that the state's tax-exemption laws need to be revisited.

"Municipalities are too vulnerable to this kind of litigation," Cohen says. "This law needs to be changed, and it needs to be changed badly."

Who gains
• Ichud Foundation Inc.: Property taxes drop from $74,000 per year to a $20,000 annual payment in lieu of taxes

• Town of Thompson: Tax revenue climbs from $9,000 to $25,000 per year (if a side agreement that grants the town an extra $20,000 per year is considered)

Who loses

• Monticello School District: Tax revenue drops from $44,000 to $10,000 per year

• Sullivan County: Tax revenue drops from $15,000 to $5,000 per year

• Thompson Planning Board: Loses much of its power to nix grocery store

• Thompson tax assessor: Loses power to deny tax exempt status of bungalow colony and grocery store



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