Saturday, October 31, 2009

Remember to Change Your Clocks Tonight 

Remember to change your clocks back an hour tonight: a majority of Hoosiers will gain an hour when daylight savings time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

A Milwaukee man has an idea about what to do with the hour you’ll gain this weekend when daylight saving time ends.

L. Maxwell McKissick says it’s a great excuse to donate 60 minutes of volunteer work to a local charity. He says if every American pitched in, communities and nonprofits would get 300 million-plus hours of assistance.

Federal law specifies that daylight saving time applies from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday of November in areas that don’t exempt themselves.

That means most Americans lose an hour when they spring forward in March, and gain it back eight months later.



Friday, October 30, 2009

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 'Boro-Park - Land of Gold' written by Chaptzem, the only Heimishe blogger to make the transition from cyberspace to print.


Ritual bath to honor couple murdered in Mumbai terror attack 

A ritual bath, steeped in symbols of Judaic faith, will remind those who immerse and pray in its waters of a young rabbi and his wife killed in a terrorist attack in India a year ago.

On the tiled walls of its mikvah, a deep, warm-water bath that promises spiritual purity to Jewish women, the Lubavitch Center in Pikesville will hang a marble plaque that reads, "May their merit be a blessing for all those who immerse in these waters."

At 11 a.m. Sunday, in a public ceremony, the center will rededicate its Mikvah Mei Menachem in homage to Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg. The rabbi's sister, Rikal Kaler, belongs to the congregation.

"This wall of remembrance is a message of life, survival and hope, all of which the mikvah symbolizes," said Rochelle Kaplan, center director. "It is most appropriate to remember the Holtzberg couple at this facility, because their life exemplified purity, self-sacrifice and the very best of humanity."

As members of Chabad Lubavitch, an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic sect dedicated to outreach around the globe, the Holtzbergs founded Nariman House, a synagogue and cultural center for Israeli tourists and the small Jewish community in Mumbai. Terrorists infiltrated the center during a siege of the city last year, and the Holtzbergs were among the hostages found killed after Indian commando units stormed the center. Their toddler son was rescued and lives with his grandparents in Israel.

"Although their light was extinguished, they will continue to shine through the life of their son and through the use of mikvah, which represents rebirth," Kaplan said.

Donations in the couple's memory helped refurbish the mikvah with beige and aqua ceramic tiles on the walls, stained-glass windows depicting Biblical women and water images, and soft lighting to the bath that opened at the center in 2003 and typically serves about 50 women a month.

In the corner of the center that houses the mikvah, Kaplan has created a welcoming space that visitors can tour Sunday.

"We want people to walk through and absorb the atmosphere and the message, as we rededicate this place," she said.

The entry hall is lined with memorial plaques and donated artwork, including a painting by Israeli students and a portrait of a couple at their wedding. Michoel Muchnik, a New York artist, used blues, greens and earth tones to fashion wall hangings, one of a water jug and the other of a blessings cup. Silk plants and roses line the sides of the deep pool, where a lone woman would fully immerse herself and intone a blessing, while serene music trills softly in the background.

"This mikvah will make us take a moment to think about what these young people meant," Kaplan said. "They were sparks of light in the world and they died doing what they loved."



Thursday, October 29, 2009

Footsteps uses controversial term for their ad 

It makes you wonder how their clients feel about them using that term for them.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Call for Pidyon Shevuyim as Criminal Case against Shomrim Goes to Trial 

Sent in by a Chaptzem reader

One calamity after another has befallen the community at large. Young lives have been taken from us, Jews are facing prosecution, and others already sit in prison.

Most Crown Heights residents wave their hands dismissively when the case against six Shomrim members is brought up. “It’s just politics,” they say. Despite the fact that these are fellow Jews, the young men standing trial on Wednesday are also the volunteers who altruistically aid the community daily, in countless ways. It would be commendable of the community to now actively take a stand for fellow Jews and give support to those who have been on-call 24/7 to serve others.

It is no longer merely politics. The case, which until now many have been dismissive of, has reached and crossed the threshold of trial by jury. Six Shomrim volunteers are facing years of real jail time if convicted.

“This is no longer politics,” says Aron Hershkop, a Shomrim coordinator. “This is now a Pidyon Shvuim matter, and we need the community’s help.”

In a prepared statement, Shomrim said that while serving the community for more than a decade, they requested no monetary contributions, yet with the trial just one day away, they are now looking to the community for support.

A statement by Shomrim:

For over 15 years, Shomrim, under its current leadership, has been gladly helping the Crown Heights community - from assisting a crime victim in filing a police report, to helping someone with a flat tire - without ever once asking for anything in return.

Unfortunately, the situation has changed and six of our volunteers are facing serious criminal charges stemming from an incident in which they were called for assistance.

Each of the six volunteers has a lawyer and the costs of going to trial are too great for them to be able to individually bear. Tens of thousands of dollars have already been spent, and with the trail just one day away, we ask for the community we so generously help to return that kindness and help us cover our costs.

Court will be reconvening Wednesday, where jury selection will begin, followed by the trial, in which the District Attorney will be presenting their case to the court in hopes of securing a conviction.

For those who would like to attend the trial proceedings and show support, you are welcome to. The trial is taking place at 320 Jay Street which is the New York State Supreme Court on the second floor in the Ceremonial 1 court room, starting at 10:00am on Wednesday October 28th.

Contributions can be mailed to Shomrim office at:

537 East New York Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

Or you can call the Shomrim hotline (718) 774-3333 after 6:00pm and we will send a member to pick up your contribution.


Slaughterhouse company cancels New Square hearing 

A public hearing that would have drawn a crowd of angry neighbors opposed to a proposed poultry slaughterhouse was canceled indefinitely on Tuesday.

In calling off the Nov. 10 hearing, Adir Poultry Inc. wants more time to gather information on the environmental impact of the 26,250-square-foot plant to process kosher poultry.

The decision comes as opponents plan another protest march along Route 45 near the proposed site at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

The delay of the public hearing brought support from opponents of the facility on 1 acre near a much smaller plant and across from Rovitz Place off Route 45.

Adir needs to provide studies on the plant's impact on the air, traffic and overall environmental concerns, opponents and Adir's lawyer said Tuesday.

Opponents want information on how many chickens will be slaughtered daily as well as how much water will be used and how many workers and trucks will be involved.

"At this point they are not ready for a public hearing," said Adir's attorney, Ira Emmanuel. "Questions being asked by residents, the village of New Hempstead and the county of Rockland are all legitimate questions. We need to be able to respond to those questions."

Emmanuel, who was hired by Adir last week, informed New Square Village Clerk David Breuer of the company's decision in a letter dated Tuesday.

Deputy Mayor Israel Spitzer referred all comments to Emmanuel.

New Square Board of Trustees members must address a variety of environmental and site-planning issues mandated by law before approving what amounts to a slaughterhouse serving the Hasidic Jewish community.

New Square rezoned the area well over a year ago to allow industrial use at what's called Heritage Park.

The Rockland County Planning Board has opposed construction of the slaughterhouse, saying in its nonbinding decision that the plant would be an "incompatible industrial use that should not be permitted alongside residential properties."

New Hempstead Mayor Lawrence Dessau and neighbor Althea Mundy said Tuesday that Adir's delay made sense and the operator should take its time before seeking another public hearing date.

Opponents think New Square officials would have quietly approved the slaughterhouse if not for the public outcry shining a spotlight on the plans.

They argue the plant has an impact on people's health and property values not only in the nearby communities but countywide.



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pilot found in plane's wreckage 

A psychiatrist with the Kiryas Joel School District in Orange County died when the small plane he was piloting crashed Sunday night near a Vermont airport.

The body of Chaim Weiss, 58, of Spring Valley, Rockland County, was removed from the site about 12:45 p.m. Monday, according to Bennington Police Chief Richard Gauthier.

The four-seat Cessna 172 crashed about a mile and a half west of the William H. Morse State Airport.

Weiss was a prominent psychiatrist and worked for the Kiryas Joel Village Union Free School District in Monroe, Orange County, officials there confirmed.

The school's superintendent was not immediately available for comment.

Kiryas Joel is a village in the town of Monroe in which the majority of residents are Hasidic Jews who strictly observe the Torah and its commandments.

Weiss told his family Sunday that he was going for a short flight, Gauthier said. The family said they did not know why Weiss would have flown to Vermont.

Reached at home, Weiss' family refused to comment to a reporter.

The pilot's errors include taking the wrong approach to the airport, in the dark and turning the wrong way, sending the plane into the mountain, Gauthier said.

''We have to also check to see if he had some medical issue,'' Gauthier said. An autopsy is planned.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration Web site, Weiss received his pilot's license in 2005.

The FAA will leave the plane in the woods for several days as the investigation continues.

Guy Rouelle, lead investigator for the Vermont Transportation Authority, said witnesses on Sunday night reported a loud crash. No one else was aboard the plane, he said.

The plane is owned by Sky Training of West Milford, N.J. A woman who answered the phone at Sky Training did not identify herself and referred all questions to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The crash was on Whipstock Mountain in an area of dense vegetation below the summit, said Joe Hayes, chief of the Bennington Rural Fire Department.

The plane is near an area known as Guitar Patch for the distinctive pine tree-filled feature that looks like a guitar on the side of the mountain, according to a neighbor.

Roland Smith, who heard the crash from his nearby property, said he was able to reach the plane Monday morning. He said it was wrapped around a tree on state land and that the pilot was dead.



Monday, October 26, 2009

JCC of Marine Park Hosts Inaugural Legislative Breakfast to Standing-Room Only Crowd 

(L-R) David Greenfield - Master of Ceremonies, Yossi Sharf - Treasurer of the JCCMP, Councilman Lew Fidler, Jeff Leb - Chairman of the JCCMP, Shea Rubenstein - Executive Vice President of the JCCMP, Shua Gelbstein - President of the JCCMP

(L-R) David Greenfield - Master of Ceremonies, Shua Gelbstein - President of the JCCMP, Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Rokeach, Brooklyn Borough Presidnet Marty Markowitz, Jeff Leb - Chairman of the JCCMP, Shea Rubenstein - Executive Vice President of the JCCMP, Yossi Sharf - Treasurer of the JCCMP, Avi Spitzer - Secretary of the JCCMP


NY Republican apologizes for Silver joke 

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver isn't commenting on a Republican who said the orthodox Jewish lawmaker might be an anti-Christ.

Erie County Executive Chris Collins, who's considering a run for governor, says he made the "poor joke" at a Republican dinner in Buffalo. He soon after issued an apology to Silver, the powerful Democrat from Manhattan, and called him directly. The New York Daily News first reported the remark.

Collins was reportedly joking about the astrologer Nostradamus' prediction the world would be visited by three anti-Christs. Collins said many believe the first were Napoleon and Adolf Hitler, and he was pretty sure the third is Silver.

Collins says Monday he was referring to Albany's notorious three-men-in-a-room negotiations among governors and legislative leaders.



Jews Who Survived World War Two Have More Cancer 

A new study shows Israeli Jews who survived World War Two in Europe have a higher risk for getting cancer than other Jews.

The study's researchers say the finding could stem from the hardships endured by victims of the Holocaust, where the German Nazi regime systematically persecuted and murdered about six-million Jews.

Those hardships included being subjected to severe starvation and mental stress as well as exposure to cold and infectious agents.

The study indicated Jews who spent World War Two in Europe were at least 17-percent more likely to develop colorectal, breast and lung cancers.

The cancer risk was greatest among the war's youngest Jewish survivors, those born between 1940 and 1945.

This suggests the traumas they endured as children during the Holocaust may have raised their risk of getting cancer by altering their growth and hormone patterns.



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Video and picture of Dov Hikind radio show with Bill Thompson 


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wurtsboro supervisor Fiore facing tough race 

In a town known for voting out its supervisors, incumbent Democrat Bob Fiore is facing a stiff challenge after one term in office.

Republican Harold Baird, 53, a sales and service manager from Bloomingburg, secured the key Conservative endorsement in the southern Sullivan County town.

His pitch to the voters is to help small businesses, mom and pop stores, and wants to make it easier for homeowners to deal with the building department. He is also a volunteer fireman and Bloomingburg fire commissioner, who led a team to Biloxi, Miss. after Hurricane Katrina.

Fiore, 62, a retired supervisor in the New York State Department of Corrections, took over two years ago while the town faced a financial crisis and a damning audit by the state Comptroller's office.

Fiore, who also will run on the Independence and Working Families lines, touts improvements in financial tracking and record keeping and cost cutting moves, implementing a four-day week at Town Hall while expanding working hours.

Fiore and the town were criticized by residents this summer when a Hasidic girls camp opened in the former Homowack, which had fallen dangerously into disrepair. While residents accused the town of moving slowly to close the resort, Fiore said his administration was the first to take code violations seriously.

"Previous administrations have swept it under the table," Fiore said. "We dealt with it in a legal way, we let due process prevail and the Homowack was eventually vacated and has been placarded."

The hot-button issue remains the prospect of a Yukiguni Maitake mushroom plant opening on Route 209.

While Fiore has taken no sides on this project, Baird believes the company will be helpful for employment and the tax base.

"I think they proved themselves," he said. "To my knowledge, when they build it, it will benefit the economy of Mamakating."

Fiore said that the town is working on developing shovel-ready sites to attract eco-friendly business.

"Progress is being made, perhaps not at the speed that I or the public would desire, but it is moving forward," Fiore said.



Wurtsboro supervisor Fiore facing tough race 

In a town known for voting out its supervisors, incumbent Democrat Bob Fiore is facing a stiff challenge after one term in office.

Republican Harold Baird, 53, a sales and service manager from Bloomingburg, secured the key Conservative endorsement in the southern Sullivan County town.

His pitch to the voters is to help small businesses, mom and pop stores, and wants to make it easier for homeowners to deal with the building department. He is also a volunteer fireman and Bloomingburg fire commissioner, who led a team to Biloxi, Miss. after Hurricane Katrina.

Fiore, 62, a retired supervisor in the New York State Department of Corrections, took over two years ago while the town faced a financial crisis and a damning audit by the state Comptroller's office.

Fiore, who also will run on the Independence and Working Families lines, touts improvements in financial tracking and record keeping and cost cutting moves, implementing a four-day week at Town Hall while expanding working hours.

Fiore and the town were criticized by residents this summer when a Hasidic girls camp opened in the former Homowack, which had fallen dangerously into disrepair. While residents accused the town of moving slowly to close the resort, Fiore said his administration was the first to take code violations seriously.

"Previous administrations have swept it under the table," Fiore said. "We dealt with it in a legal way, we let due process prevail and the Homowack was eventually vacated and has been placarded."

The hot-button issue remains the prospect of a Yukiguni Maitake mushroom plant opening on Route 209.

While Fiore has taken no sides on this project, Baird believes the company will be helpful for employment and the tax base.

"I think they proved themselves," he said. "To my knowledge, when they build it, it will benefit the economy of Mamakating."

Fiore said that the town is working on developing shovel-ready sites to attract eco-friendly business.

"Progress is being made, perhaps not at the speed that I or the public would desire, but it is moving forward," Fiore said.



Friday, October 23, 2009

Bloomberg looks to shore up Orthodox votes 

Mayor Bloomberg made an unannounced visit to the Brooklyn offices of the English-language Orthodox Jewish paper Hamodia this morning, popping in with full retinue for an hour-plus interview with the influential paper's editorial board. (Photo courtesy of Hamodia's Hillel Engel.)

Hamodia interviewed Thompson weeks ago, and though it has not made an endorsement yet, it found itself the center of anti-Bloomberg sentiment after former Mayor Rudy Giuliani made his racially-charged remarks last weekend to an Orthodox crowd.

It comes as Controller William Thompson appears to be making surprising headway in Brooklyn's often-fractious Orthodox community, with yesterday's endorsement from Assemblyman Dov Hikind merely showing to outsiders what has been simmering below the surface for months. The Brawl first heard rumblings last spring that Orthodox voters might not be as friendly to a two-term Jewish mayor as you might think, because they pay the same property taxes and water bills as everyone else.

As our blog sister Liz has noted, yesterday was also the day when Bloomberg made an unscheduled stop in Borough Park to announce he was restoring child care vouchers primarily aimed at Orthodox families. He was accompanied there, and again today, by Orthodox Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), who seems to have patched things up with Bloomberg after their earlier falling-out over earmarks for Orthodox groups.

That's Felder, directly to the right of Bloomberg in the picture above. He told the Brawl after the meeting that concerns about Orthodox Jews not showing up to support him Nov. 3 are overblown:

"More conservative neighborhoods, whether here or in Staten Island, are more focused on security and safety -- especially after the events of Sept. 11 -- and will come out en masse for Mayor Bloomberg."



From Craig's List: The Child You Almost Killed Today Could Have Been Yours! (Boro Park) 

Sent in by a Chaptzem reader

I was driving westbound on 17th Avenue this morning, through the usual morning traffic, mainly caused by the abundance of school buses at that time, when an eastbound bus stopped in front of me to pick up his precious cargo. He stopped the bus, activated the flashing lights and deployed the flip-out stop signs. Since it was alternate-side-parking this morning on that side of the street, there was a long stretch of space to the right of the bus with no cars parked.

I saw a mother and child start walking down their stoop walking towards the bus. What a great day the child must have been looking forward to. A half a day of school, with a shabbos party to boot.

How flabbergasted was I to see that a car driving behind the bus squeezed himself into the right side of the bus, and slowly inched his way forward on the right side of the bus, savoring the view of all the stop signs and flashing lights before him, then proceeding to pass the bus, ON THE RIGHT SIDE, narrowly missing the unwary mother and child.

The street was clogged with cars in both directions. Many of the drivers, including myself were in a hurry to get to our destinations. We accept the morning traffic as a reality we have to contend with. Nevertheless, we all froze in our places when we saw the bus stop and announce to the world that it was in the process of its noble mission of ferrying precious children to school. I my lifetime I have seen cars pass buses on the left side from time to time. Perhaps a little cautiously and perhaps they were engrossed in their driving along and didn't notice the bus. That is bad enough. But this guy deliberately proceeded to squeeze his way into the right lane created by a row of vacant parking spaces, took note of the myriad of flashing lights around him, and proceeded with malice to recklessly endanger the life of innocents. People go to jail for such things.

Witnessing this scene I lost it, and swung my car into the oncoming lane and blocked the way of this would be assassin, and gave him a piece of my mind. His only reaction was to show contempt for my gall in delaying him from getting to his destination. After all, the whole world does revolve around him.

As he squirmed himself past my roadblock like a rat scurrying into a hole, I managed to snap a picture of the rear of his car. If this message ever does get to him, I only hope that the little drama from this morning will evoke in him a small dose of common decency. If that happens this all would have been worth it.

BTW, a shout out to all my fellow commuters who cheered me on this morning. It appears that decent people are still the majority in our society.




In Boro Park, Bloomberg Grapples With Apathy 

After an intense lobbying campaign, Michael Bloomberg restored $8 million of what was a $16 million program providing Priority 7 vouchers in Boro Park for free after-school care for children in the neighborhood at a yeshiva of their choice.

But Michael Fragin, who led the mayor’s outreach efforts in Boro Park during the 2005 campaign, said there concern remains that the funding could again be eliminated next year, when the election is over and the city faces a $5 billion deficit.

Fragin said that while Bill Thompson was unlikely to pick up many votes in the neighborhood, the real question for the Bloomberg campaign is voter apathy in an area that proved a treasure trove of votes for the mayor in his last two campaigns.

“It’s more of a question of whether they will vote at all,” Fragin said.

At a meeting Thursday with community leaders and 100 local principals, Bloomberg promised to fully restore the additional $8 million in funding by next December, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting.

The perceived unrest helped prompt Rudy Giuliani’s controversial appearance last Sunday before the Jewish Community Council.

Ezra Friedlander, president of the consulting firm The Friedlander Group, organized the speech for Bloomberg, and said it was intended to remind voters that about the reduction in crime over Bloomberg’s tenure.

Friedlander said this record would trump any unrest over more parochial issues.

“Even Moses couldn’t satisfy all of the Jews,” he said. “Why would we think the mayor would be able to?”

One indication of the unrest has been pro-Thompson coverage in the most influential newspaper in the neighborhood, Hamodia, which also has refused the Bloomberg campaign’s entreaties in search of an endorsement, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.

Meanwhile, Thompson received the endorsement Thursday of Assembly Member Dov Hikind, the longest serving political leader in Boro Park.

Hikind, who endorsed Bloomberg in 2005, said he struggled with the decision, but that his longstanding close relationship with Thompson ultimately led him to endorse the comptroller.

Skeptical observers also note, however, that Hikind’s brother, Pinchus, draws an $112,000 salary working for Thompson in the comptroller’s office.

Some political observers say that as the neighborhood has grown more socially conservative in recent years, Hikind’s endorsement has lost some of its value, since he at times has backed socially liberal candidates.

During the recent Democratic Council primary to replace Bill de Blasio, for instance, Hikind’s candidate, Brad Lander, got 14 percent of the vote in the area, while the more socially conservative John Heyer got 74 percent.

Hikind, however, said he would continue support who he believes in the best candidate, regardless of political expediency. He added that this also held true in the mayoral race.

“Thompson is behind in the polls, and the odds are for Bloomberg,” he said. “I try my very best to do the right thing, regardless.”



Group challenges voter registration surge in bungalow area 

Petitions challenging more than 150 new voter registrations in the Town of Bethel were presented to the Sullivan County Board of Elections Thursday afternoon, by County Legislator Dave Sager, who says a surge in registrations appears to be tied to part-time residents of bungalow colonies.

The surge, he maintains, seems to coincide with efforts to establish the United Talmudical Academy in Bethel. Sager produced a copy of the state Department of Health permit, stating that the UTA may use the bungalow colony “as a temporary residence”.

Sager, speaking in his capacity as a the spokesman and a founding member of the group Voters for Election Integrity, said this is only about meeting the legal requirements for permanent residency for purposes of voting in Sullivan County, and not about who the people are.

“Although New York case law states that a person may choose only one voting address from among multiple principal homes, that voting residence is valid only if the voter maintains ‘legitimate, significant and continuing attachments to his or her residence’.”

Clearly, Sager contends, bungalows occupied for at most three months out of the year, do not qualify.

Republican Election Commissioner Rodney Gaebel said he could not comment in depth on the petition.

“What we need to do is we need to look over what’s presented to us and make a rational decision as to how it should be handled.”

While he was reluctant to pass any early judgment, Gaebel said it’s hard to question Sager’s key point.

“To consider them permanent residents would be a stretch.”



Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pictures from Dov Hikind rally endorsing Bill Thompson for mayor 



Assemblyman Dov Hikind will be endorsing City Comptroller Bill Thompson for mayor 

WHERE: Outside of Amnon’s Kosher Pizza
4814 13th Avenue
Borough Park, Brooklyn

October 22, 2009
10:30 AM


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One on One With Matisyahu 


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Jersey Corruption Witness Dwek Pleads Guilty 

Solomon Dwek, a real estate developer who worked as an undercover federal informant to build cases against 44 people in a crackdown on New Jersey political corruption, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering.

Dwek, 37, arrested in 2006 on a bank fraud charge, posed as a developer and titling company owner looking for business in the schools, court records show. He pleaded guilty today in federal court in Newark.

U.S. District Judge Jose Linares continued Dwek’s release on $10 million bond pending a scheduled Feb. 9 sentencing.

The bank fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The money laundering charge could bring him 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Prosecutors are recommending he serve between 105 months and 135 months, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a statement.

Dwek admitted he and Joseph Kohen, of Deal, New Jersey, attempted to defraud PNC Bank of more than $50 million and laundered $22.8 million through other banks, Fishman said. Kohen pleaded guilty to bank fraud March 21, 2007.

Dwek deposited into a PNC account for his firm SEM Realty Associates LLC in April 2006 a $25 million check on an inactive account he controlled. After an employee at the Eatontown, New Jersey, branch told him the account was closed with a zero balance, he falsely said “corporate” would transfer money into the account to cover the check.

The following day he phoned in four fraudulent wire transfers to other banks totaling $22.8 million, Fishman said. Also that day he attempted to deposit another $25 million check into the account at a bank in Asbury Park. The bank didn’t honor or deposit the check, Fishman said.

Michael Himmel, Dwek’s attorney, declined to comment as he left the federal courthouse in Newark.



Luke Oil clears up trademark flap 

A group of orthodox Jews says Luke Oil gas stations have stopped illegally using the kosher trademark, but the group is still pressing forward with a lawsuit, according to a motion filed Monday.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America had filed a lawsuit against Luke Oil Co. after the group said the company was using the kosher mark, a U inside a circle, next to the company name inside stores and on products.

The group holds the copyright for the mark and is in charge of determining which foods receive the kosher mark, meaning they have been properly prepared according to Jewish dietary law. Some Jews and other groups use the mark to determine what food is kosher.

According to pictures filed with the lawsuit, the mark could be seen above a wall of packaged snack food and on a cup used for fountain drinks, which an attorney for the Jewish group said could mislead people to think those food products are kosher.

The group had filed for a preliminary injunction preventing Luke from using the mark as part of the lawsuit.

However, court documents said Luke Oil has proven the company has taken off the certified mark from its stores. Those same documents say the lawsuit is pending, though.

No reason was given for continuing.



Boss-backed Broadway Triangle rezoning advances 

The city’s contentious plan to allow residential development inside the largely commercial “Broadway Triangle” was rubber-stamped by the City Planning Commission on Monday, as commissioners said that the project’s ends — affordable housing — justified the sometimes ugly means that were involved in drafting the plan.

The commission voted 11-1 for the rezoning — which promises 1,851 new apartments, 850 of them pegged at below-market rates — despite months of protests over the city’s decision to grant development rights to two politically connected groups. Commissioners said the urgent need for affordable housing trumped complaints from a coalition of 40 community groups that claimed that the community’s voice was not heard in the rush to give control to the two non-profits.

“Affordable housing is an ongoing need in this city [that] I need to support,” said commission Vice Chairman Kenneth Knuckles.

Other commissioners said the rezoning would also encourage the construction of contextual low-rise buildings, create open space and boost local economic development in a dour area bounded by Broadway, Flushing and Union avenues.

Opponents say they were snubbed by the city when no-bid contracts went to the United Jewish Organization and the Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, two groups tied to the borough’s Democratic Party boss, Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick).



Monday, October 19, 2009


The Jewish Community Council of Boro Park under the leadership of Rabbi Yechiel Kaufman, Executive Director and Mr. Yussi Rieder, Chairman; hosted their 7th Annual Legislative breakfast on Sunday morning, October 18, at Khal Chasidim, located at 4820 15th Avenue, Brooklyn, in honor of the Shearith Hapleitah-Holocaust Survivors. This special event coordinated by the acclaimed public relations firm, The Friedlander Group, honored NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg who was introduced by a ringing Councilman Simcha Felder. Surprise Guest Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani wooed the crowed with his presence and strong words of support for Mayor Bloomberg. William Rapfogel, CEO of Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty served as Breakfast Chair. The general theme of the breakfast was articulated by Assemblyman Dov Hikind who paid tribute to the Holocaust Survivors for recreating the cultural landscape of Boro Park with a vibrant Jewish presence, blending the warmth and charitable practices of the past with the contemporary community. The gathering also focused on the uniqueness of Boro Park and its bright future of continued growth and ongoing transformation.

This event is always a valuable outlet for the survivors whose daily personal challenges as senior citizens are compounded by the horrific memories they have been forced to carry throughout the years. It is widely believed that this annual BPJCC event serves as an important stimulation for those participating, allowing them to reconnect with old friends and forge new relationships that add immeasurable companionship and pleasure to their lives.

The program honored the distinguished elected officials for their commitment to the Boro Park community: Congressman Jerry Nadler; State Senators Carl Kruger, Kevin Parker and Diane Savino; Boro President Marty Markowitz; Brad Lander was welcomed as the Democratic Nominee of the 39th NYC Council District. Gregory J. Schneider, Executive Vice President, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany known as the Claims Conference received the Hakoras HaTov Community Appreciation Award in recognition for leadership and support of various Holocaust survivors related projects. A special message was heard from Jonathan Zalisky, of Health Plus, corporate sponsors of the breakfast. Special Recognition was given to Holocaust survivors Hersh Leib Klein and Peshea Friedman.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

At Knicks Exhibition, Rabbi Intervenes When Maccabi Coach Won’t Leave 

So a basketball coach, an N.B.A. referee and a rabbi walk onto the court at Madison Square Garden locked in an argument.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

The coach has just been ejected from the game after being called for his second technical foul but refuses to leave the floor. And while the referee, the rabbi and a group of officials in dark suits try to persuade the coach to go to the locker room, the players start an impromptu half-court shooting contest.

The punch line is that this actually happened — during the third quarter of the Knicks’ preseason game against Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv on Sunday.

With the Knicks well on their way to a 106-91 blowout, Al Harrington was whistled for a charge and began complaining to the referee. Maccabi Coach Pini Gershon took issue with Harrington’s behavior, then proceeded to do the same thing. The referee did not care for Gershon’s comments and gave him the technical.

Gershon remained in front of his team’s bench, not far from where the former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was sitting. It was as if Gershon were preparing to call the next play and put in a couple of substitutes. For a few moments, it seemed as if no one knew what to do with him, until a clutch of league representatives scurried over.

“He wouldn’t leave,” said Scott Jaffer, an N.B.A. security official who spoke with Gershon on the court. “I tried to talk him out of it. They wanted to stop the game.”

Sometime during the 10-minute discussion in front of the visitors’ bench, Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, with a long white beard, a black hat and a black coat, crossed the court from his seat to intervene.

Grossman is the founder and the president of Migdal Ohr, a center for orphans and abused and underprivileged children in Israel that benefited from the proceeds from Sunday’s game. And he saw it as his duty to moderate.

Not knowing that two technical fouls result in an automatic ejection, he attempted to persuade the referee to change his call and allow Gershon to stay.

“But he says that this is the law, that he must leave,” Grossman said, referring to the referee in broken English.

“What can I do? I tried. I tried to make peace.”

It was at that point that Gershon tried apologizing for his outburst, with Grossman behind him.

“This is not a regular game,” Grossman said he told the officials. “In a game for friendship, you forgive.”

Gershon declined to comment after the game, even though he could have freely criticized the officials without fear of retribution from the league.

“He’s a big person in European basketball, and he probably felt like he was being disrespected,” said Maccabi center Maciej Lampe, a 2003 Knicks draft pick.

While Gershon argued on one side of the court, the Knicks seemed mostly confused on the other. They stood around their bench waiting. So Nate Robinson decided to find out if basketball was going to resume and worked his way into the argument.

“I was over there just trying to figure out what was up,” said Robinson, who added that the coach and the rabbi “started speaking a different language,” which was Hebrew.

“It threw me off,” Robinson said. “I needed a translator.”

In the stands, a vocal majority of yellow-clad Maccabi fans among the 14,602 inside the Garden began chanting emphatically. All afternoon, they had made it feel like a home game for Maccabi — much the way the fans did when Maccabi last played at the Garden two years ago in front of 18,000 fans. They waved Israeli flags, belted soccer-style songs and even booed Knicks Coach Mike D’Antoni.

When Gershon ultimately left, storming down the tunnel, the fans became even louder. Neither their efforts, nor the rabbi’s, had saved his place on the sideline.

“Sometimes, somebody makes a mistake,” Grossman said.



High-powered circumcision draws pols 

For being only eight days old, little Joshua Zev Greenfield showed the kind of political clout at his circumcision that would be the envy of many a power broker.

It didn’t hurt that Joshua’s father, David Greenfield, executive vice president of the Sephardic Community Federation, is one of the most respected and well-liked people in both Brooklyn’s Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish communities.

Among those in attendance at the bris on Ocean Parkway was Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign manager Bradley Tusk, Borough President Marty Markowitz, U.S. Rep. Michael McMahon, Assemblymembers Alan Maisel, Alec Brook-Krasny, Dov Hikind and Karim Camara, City Councilmembers Vincent Gentile and Leroy Comrie, longtime District Leader Bernie Catcher, Branford Communications President Ernest Lendler, Carl Kruger’s chief of staff, Jason Koppel and his wife, Batya Storch, who is on maternity leave from U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s office.

As for the bris, it came off with compassion, and many commented on the mohel’s fine job. Afterward, all in attendance feasted on excellent pastries, salad and fruit.



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yarmulka-wearing political strategist David G. Greenfield, Esq. on the political panel of national news program 


Con accused in scamming work release program company 

Old habits apparently die hard.

A former World Trade Center currency trader convicted of conning his clients out of $110 million is now accused of scamming the company that gave him a job as part of his work release program.

The owners of the Ahava ambulette service in Brooklyn said they gave Gary Farber an office job in 2007 so he could "start a new life" and he repaid them by starting a competing company that used the Ahava's ambulettes on the sly, according to their civil suit.

They said Farber even named his company Akiva, which is similar to Ahava's name. Farber, also known as Gary Farberov, was president of First Equity Enterprises, which was headquartered in the World Trade Center, and was a trading arm of Evergreen International Spot Trading. He was convicted in 2001.



Friday, October 16, 2009

Gottlieb Restaurant in Williamsburg named top ten Deli by Daily News 

From the NY Daily News


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Orthodox 'shielding sex abusers' 

A New York State Supreme Court judge has criticised the Orthodox community for shielding perpetrators of sexual abuse while persecuting victims.

Judge Gustin Reichbach lamented the community’s “circle-the-wagons attitude” as he sentenced Yona Weinberg, a barmitzvah tutor and social worker from Brooklyn, to 13 months in jail for molesting two boys.

At the sentencing earlier this month, the courtroom was filled with Weinberg’s supporters. Almost 100 members of the Orthodox community wrote letters to the judge defending him.

Judge Reichbach lamented that no letters displayed “any concern or even any acknowledgement for these young victims which, frankly, I find shameful”. Rather, the community “seeks to blame, indeed punish, victims who seek justice from... civil society”.

Sexual abuse has become a highly contentious issue in the US Orthodox community following a string of cases involving well-known teachers and rabbis. Over the past year, 26 strictly Orthodox men have been arrested in Brooklyn in child sexual abuse cases; eight have been convicted and 18 await trial.

The strictly Orthodox are statistically no more likely to experience sexual abuse than any other group. But the problem is often exacerbated because there is pressure on victims not to go to the police, due to a suspicion of secular society and a fear of bringing shame on the community. In some cases, parents worry that revealing abuse might harm chances of a shidduch. Meanwhile, some community leaders prefer to act solely through a beth din.

However, the timing of Judge Reichbach’s comments may be ironic, as some see signs that the taboo against reporting sexual abuse is beginning to fade. NY state Assemblyman Dov Hikind became involved in the issue 15 months ago. He says many people in the community have overcome the stigma associated with abuse and are openly discussing it.

“There has been an improvement, no question about it,” says Mr Hikind. “The fact that people are acting is a huge accomplishment, but we have an even longer way to go.”

This year, more than 40 minors have agreed to testify about abuse in court.

David Zwiebel, executive vice president of the Charedi group Agudath Israel of America, told the New York Times this week that “A broad consensus has emerged that many of these issues are beyond the ability of the community to handle internally.”

In the past, victims who have spoken out have faced ostracism, as well as verbal and physical threats.

One victim, Shua Finkelstein, died of an overdose at the beginning of this year. His parents later discovered a letter he had written criticising the community for not confronting abuse, which they published online. Soon afterwards, their New Jersey home was damaged in a suspected arson attack.

Yona Weinberg joins a list of recent high-profile court cases involving Orthodox Jews. Last year, Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, a teacher at Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn, struck a plea deal with the Brooklyn district attorney. To campaigners’ dismay, Kolko pleaded guilty to two counts of child endangerment, ducking a jail sentence and avoiding registration as a sex offender.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Avrohom Reichman, a principal at the United Talmudic Academy in Williamsburg, is currently the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by Joel Engleman, who claims he was molested during the 1990s.

Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz, who fled to Israel from New York in 1984 to avoid prosecution for sexual abuse, continues to fight extradition.

Mark Weiss, who says he was abused by Mondrowitz in the late 1970s, blames community leaders for the support shown to Weinberg and others like him. Mr Weiss says that “otherwise good, warmhearted, caring people are suddenly reprogrammed to defy all logic”, when they are told that they must defend the community from a chilul hashem — disgracing god’s name — by standing up for the accused.

“It’s a disgrace that our community has to get chastised by someone like Judge Reichbach, but he’s 100 per cent right,” he added. “This is about the Orthodox leadership’s control over people.”



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Candidates spar over Bethel shul, building records 

The rematch in the Town of Bethel between Supervisor Daniel Sturm and former Supervisor Harold Russell is getting nasty.

While Sturm says he spent two years cleaning up Russell's mistakes, Russell is circulating a flier that slams Sturm for everything from his business skills to "poor decision making and lack of oversight."

Bethel is the home to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the gated community of Chapin Estates and many seasonal homes and developments, while still considered a rural small town where it is hard to ignore a person for long. Sturm says Russell hasn't spoken to him for two years since the night he won the election. "He's very bitter about it."

Russell, 61, a Republican, is a longtime dairy farmer who served as supervisor in 2006 and 2007. Sturm, 46, a Democrat who also holds the Conservative line, calls himself a full-time supervisor in the $47,249 job. Sturm also is paid $2,662 a year as the town's budget officer.

Led by Sturm, the town passed comprehensive zoning and new subdivision laws. The town did away with one-acre zoning, which was unpopular with preservation groups. But the outcome of the election could be determined by voters reaction to the events surrounding the construction of a shul on Schultz Road.

The town attempted to stop the United Talmudical Academy, a Brooklyn-based Hasidic group, from using the building this summer. The town claims the project should have gone to the Planning Board for review and the UTA broke several codes. Seasonal residents have initiated a voter registration drive, which could create a bloc vote against the incumbents.

Russell says that Sturm should have been on top of the project.

"He made the statement he was unaware of it being built," Russell said. "I mean, come on? Unaware? I am sure when they had the groundbreaking he was at it."

Sturm said when attorneys and engineers told him there was a problem, he ordered a stop work order and initiated an investigation into past building projects. The town's longtime building inspector resigned after a review of several projects.

"There were at least five other projects completed without proper Planning Board oversight during Mr. Russell's term," Sturm said. "I've got one, but he's got five. We learned about it, we identified it, and we make sure it doesn't happen again. We stood up to a very powerful group, and I stand by our decisions."



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Orthodox Jews Relying More on Legal Prosecution of Sex Abuse 

For decades, prosecutors in Brooklyn routinely pursued child molesters from every major ethnic and religious segment of the borough’s diverse population. Except one.

Of some 700 child sexual abuse cases brought in an average year, few involved members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community — about 180,000 followers of Hasidic and other sects who make up the largest such cluster outside Israel. Some years, there were one or two arrests, or none.

But in the past year, there have been 26. District Attorney Charles J. Hynes has brought charges against a variety of men — yeshiva teachers, rabbis, camp counselors, merchants and relatives of children. Eight have been convicted; 18 await trial.

If the sudden spike in prosecutions is startling, even more surprising is the apparent reason: ultra-Orthodox Jews, long forbidden to inform on one another without permission from the rabbis who lead them, are going to the police and prosecutors on their own.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews, who refer to themselves as the “haredim,” meaning those who fear God, reject modern secular culture and for centuries have kept strict control over what they consider internal affairs. For centuries, allegations and disputes involving children, marriage and business have been decided by rabbinical courts called beth dins, which conduct their own inquiries and do not report their findings to the secular authorities, even when they judge someone guilty of a crime. Taboos codified centuries ago during times of anti-Semitism discourage community members from informing on other Jews; violations can result in ostracism.

Now, a growing number of haredi Jews in Brooklyn say they do not think they can get justice from the rabbinical courts, which in several high-profile cases have exonerated people who were later criminally convicted of child abuse. And although some advocates for victims contend that the district attorney has been too accommodating of the rabbinical hierarchy — a charge Mr. Hynes denies — families are increasingly turning to his office for help.

Prosecutors say that since last year there have been 40 minors prepared to testify in court about abuse. And Mr. Hynes’s office has been asked for advice by prosecutors with jurisdictions that include other large haredi enclaves in the Northeast.

”What we have witnessed in the past year is completely unprecedented,” said Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the Brooklyn district attorney’s sex crimes bureau. “This would be inconceivable just a few years ago.”

Children in haredi families are no more or less likely to suffer sexual abuse than others, according to several recent studies. But Ben Hirsch, founder of Survivors for Justice, a New York group whose members include ultra-Orthodox Jews molested as children in communities nationwide, said the clandestine handling of molestation cases had kept leaders from dealing with the problem and made it easier for predators to operate.



Ezra Friedlander Hosts Brad Lander In His Sukkah 

Sitting left to right- Yeruchim Silber, MJHS; Yitzchok Fleischer, Bobov; Brad Lander; Avrume Fischman; Dr. David Moskovits, Endowment for Democracy

Standing Left to right- Shlome Steinmetz, Yad Efraim; Shloime Reichberg, Mekimi; Yoel Leifer, Yad Ephraim; Akiva Kizelnik, Yad Efraim; Moshe Steinmetz, Yad Efraim; Pesach Greenberg, Yad Efraim; Yanky Daskal, Shomrim; Rabbi Berish Freilich, NYS Police; Ezra Friedlander, The Friedlander Group; Sam Stober, CB 12; Yussie Rieder, Boro Park JCC


Monday, October 12, 2009

The best deal in Jewish Music 

Shlock Rock lets you buy their brand new album 'No Limits' for any price YOU want to pay.
That's right! You make the price and then download the album. Want it for a buck, you got it. If you buy it for $15 or more you get the actual CD shipped to your door as well.

Album download page

From LifeOfRubin


Rabbi Schor says: Bocherem with text-capable phones are not wanted 

Sent in by a Chaptzem reader


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vizhnitz rabbi warns followers: We won't teach children who have Internet at home 

Ultra-Orthodox Web sites continue to spring up on the Internet and surveys have found that increasing numbers of ultra-Orthodox Israelis are installing home Internet connections despite rabbinical opposition in the Haredi sector. Two annual sermons by leading Haredi rabbis on Saturday were dedicated to the subject of the Internet.

In one sermon, followers of the Vizhnitz Hasidic movement in Israel and abroad, were told if they installed an Internet connection, which was called "an instrument of impurity" in the sermon, into their homes they would not be entitled to have their children educated in Hasidic institutions.

As in the past, the sermons sparked a lively debate on Haredi Web sites. The remarks are also expected to find their way to the front pages of the ultra-Orthodox press today.

"Boys and girls whose homes have the instrument of impurity called the Internet cannot receive a Vizhnitz education in any shape or form," leading Vizhnitz rabbi Yisroel Hager told followers Saturday in Bnei Brak.

According to one of the thousands in attendance for the annual sermon marking the end of the holiday season, Hager added that insider connections will not matter in this regard.

"Every day," he said, "I hear stories about young people, both boys and girls, who have gone downhill via this horrible instrument to the edge of the abyss. This epidemic must be stopped."

The sermon, which was delivered in Yiddish, is considered the annual address to followers of the Vizhnitz movement. Hager is one of two sons of the leader of the movement, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, who is ill.

Followers of another major Hasidic movement, the Belz Hasidim, heard the head of their movement, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, speak out against the Internet in his sermon in Jerusalem on Saturday, as he had already done in the past. In his remarks Saturday he called the Internet a "great danger", but he tempered his comments by adding, according to the ultra-Orthodox Web site haredim.co.il, that anyone who needs the Internet can use a filtered service referred to as the kosher Internet.



Show your support for Sholom Rubashkin - Bus leaving to the courthouse in South Dakota 

Sent in by a Chaptzem reader

To show support for our friend Shalom Mordechai Haleivi ben Rivka Rubashkin we are organizing a bus to travel to Sioux City, South Dakota, to be there for the opening of his trial.
We are chartering a bus in order to accommodate the people who want to came to be machazeik our dear friend and to demonstrate support for him as he is forced to undergo this trial to prove his innocence in the face of the charges which have leveled against him.
This presents the many supporters of Shalom Mordechai to help him in a physical way and demonstrate our support to the world which will be carefully watching this trail.
No reservation needed JUST COME, but its suggested to contact us to reserve call us at 917-750-9813, or email us at hirschelg@gmail.com.
The bus will be leaving from 770 Eastern Pkwy, in Crown Heights on Monday, October 12th ( cof daled Tishrei) at 9:00am and will be coming back to Crown Heights on the 15th of October ( cof zayin Tishrei.)
There will be sleeping accommodations overnight at a motel. We will be present at the trial as it beings on Tuesday at 9 am. The bus coming back will be leaving between 5 and 6 pm on Wednesday in order to arrive in New York the same the time the next day.
Please do what you can in order to be able to join us and remember to continue your tefillos on behalf of Shalom Mordechai Haleivi ben Rivka and the entire Rubashkin family.
Don't forget your saving a life by this rare mitzva. Good Yom Tov!

Concerned Yidden


Friday, October 09, 2009

Labels not kosher at Luke Oil 

Contrary to its logo, Luke Oil Co. is not kosher, according to a lawsuit filed by a group of Orthodox Jews.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Hammond after the regional gas station company failed to remove the trademark from its logo indicating food is kosher, David Butler, the group's lawyer, said.

Pictures included in the lawsuit show the trademark, a U in a circle, appearing next to the word "Luke" in various parts of the Luke convenience stores, including above a wall of food and on a cup for fountain drinks.

Some Jews and others with similar dietary concerns rely on the trademark to determine what food is kosher, meaning properly prepared according to Jewish dietary law, according to the lawsuit.

The symbol has also been trademarked, which means it can't be used without permission from the orthodox group.

Butler said a customer noticed the use of the trademark and reported it to the group in August.

Letters were sent to Luke, and although officials responded, they have yet to remove the trademark, he said.

It's important for the group to keep control of the trademark so that people who use it to make sure they don't break with Jewish law don't eat something that actually isn't kosher, he said.

"It's clearly not (kosher) here, and I don't know how or why Luke Oil decided to start using the patented mark in its new branding activity," Butler said.

Todd Collins, vice president of Luke Oil, said the company was working with the orthodox group and was close to resolving the issue.

"We've reached an agreement, and we're working toward straightening everything out with them," Collins said.

However, Butler said as far as he knows, the issue has not been resolved nor is in the process of being resolved.



Thursday, October 08, 2009

Governor Paterson at Dov Hikind's office in Boro-Park 

Close to 100 Boro-Park community leaders crowd Dov Hikind’s office to greet Governor Paterson.



Wednesday, October 07, 2009

NYC Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson meets with Jewish leaders 



Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mekimi performs at Simchas Beis HaShoeva at Haym Solomon nursing home 



Monday, October 05, 2009

Thou shalt double park 

Where's the fire, rabbi?

The city Correction Department rabbi who resigned after The Post revealed he organized a bar-mitzvah bash for an inmate's son behind bars recently has been parking illegally while displaying a placard that falsely claims he is a firefighter.

The Post spotted Rabbi Leib Glanz using an official Uniformed Firefighters Association placard Friday while praying in a Williamsburg synagogue.

In June, the Post exposed how the politically connected rabbi organized a bar mitzvah last December for the son of notorious fraudster and longtime fugitive Tuvia Stern in the downtown Manhattan jail known as The Tombs. The soiree had dozens of non-inmates as guests, featured catered kosher food and a live performance by popular Orthodox Jewish singer Yaakov Shwekey.
IN THE ZONE: Rabbi Leib Glanz retrieves his SUV from a no-standing zone and, once inside the vehicle, shuffles the deck of parking permits identifying him as a firefighter and ambulance worker.

Several former inmates soon afterward said Glanz for years had arranged for Jewish inmates to be housed at The Tombs, where he let them use his office to watch movies, make phone calls and nosh on kosher delicacies.

The exposé sparked a still-pending Department of Investigation probe into Correction's coddling of Jewish inmates, as well as the resignations of Glanz and Correction chief Peter Curcio, who didn't stop the rabbi's flouting of jailhouse policy.

But Glanz apparently still has friends in high places.

A Post reporter saw a black Chevy Suburban with official license plates double-parked Friday in front of Glanz's home on Ross Street in Brooklyn. The vehicle had emergency lights on the roof and dashboard. Also on the dashboard were two parking placards.

One read, "Active firefighter . . . This vehicle is on official UFA Business . . . Uniformed Firefighters Association . . . Expires Feb 1, 2010 . . . #22344." The other was a placard from "Chevra Hatzolah," the volunteer emergency ambulance service.

At 7:30 a.m., Glanz drove to Wilson Street and Division Avenue and parked at a school where signs read, "No Standing 7 a.m.-7 p.m., School Days." Glanz went into a synagogue at 210 Division Ave.

A friend asked why a photographer was taking pictures and then got the keys and moved the SUV to a "No Standing 9 a.m.-5 p.m." zone.

Glanz came out about 9 a.m. and said he was given the firefighter placard by the Fire Department "as a courtesy" so he could park at the main synagogue of the Satmar sect on Hooper Street.

"In case I have to respond, I can park there. There aren't a lot of spaces," he said.

Asked why he was using the placard away from the Hooper Street synagogue, Glanz replied: "I'm willing to take it off. I don't need it."

He removed the two placards and drove off.

A spokesman for the firefighters' union could not immediately answer why Glanz had a placard but said that the placards are meant to be issued only to professional firefighters.

"In past years, unauthorized personnel have been arrested for misusing these vehicle identification placards, so if someone illegally obtains one, we highly recommend returning it to the UFA or turning it in to a local police precinct," the UFA said in a prepared statement.



Sunday, October 04, 2009

Ramapo buying traffic light controls for emergency responders 

When driving to fires or other emergencies, firefighters and other first responders don't have time for red lights.

Ramapo will spend nearly $1 million on electronic equipment enabling first responders to keep traffic lights green when they are rushing to a fire or other emergencies, officials said Friday.

The town is targeting 92 traffic lights across the town with small receivers that control the light patterns.

Emergency vehicles will have transmitters that can set the lights at green and lights at cross streets red for civilian motorists. The transmitters will be turned on with the emergency lights and sirens.

By law, motorists must yield the road to emergency vehicles with flashing lights and sirens. Officials said not all motorists do so and many continue through green lights.

Each device would cost about $10,000 with installation at two-way lights, and possibly more, if there are multiple four-way lights, Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence said.

St. Lawrence, who is seeking re-election, said the town would bond for the cost and would soon seek competitive cost proposals from vendors for the equipment and installation. The town would provide maintenance for the system, he said.

The Opticom System has been installed on 19 traffic lights in the Hillcrest Fire Department's jurisdiction, though only four have been made operational because of lack of funding, said Kim Weppler, the Hillcrest fire chief and president of the Ramapo Fire Chiefs Association.

The Tallman Fire Department also uses the system.

"The system is working well," Weppler said, adding that growing development in town has increased traffic.

The system is designed to speed up the response time of emergency vehicles and improve safety on congested roads by preventing non-emergency vehicles from getting in the way, officials said.

"The Opticom System will protect the lives of first responders, and save the lives of patients. Every minute counts when a critically ill person is being transported to a hospital," St. Lawrence said during a news conference with more than a dozen Ramapo fire chiefs and officials.

St. Lawrence said he does not believe any community has attempted a project with this equipment on such a large scale.

Weppler said Hillcrest installed the system about five years ago and it helps because of the high traffic on the roads. "We're hoping for continued success and expanding throughout the town and eventually the county," he said.



Friday, October 02, 2009

Chag Sameach 


New Square residents will train as firefighters, officials say 

Village residents will train to become firefighters and then work under the auspices of the Hillcrest Fire Department, officials announced today.

The training agreement came to eventually end New Square operation of an illegal, untrained fire force, which led to confrontations with Hillcrest volunteer firefighters who are legally responsible for responding to fires in the Hasidic Jewish village.

The state Labor Department has supposedly been investigating the community's firefighting operations.

Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and Hillcrest Fire Chief Kim Weppler said today that their hope is a trained New Square fire brigade would ease tensions, improve communications, increase fire prevention education and lessen fires set to brush and large trash cans in the village.

New Square Deputy Mayor Israel Spitzer has said dozens of village emergency service volunteers would train for the fire brigade.

The training would take place at the Rockland Training Center and the graduates would be certified by the state.

New Square residents have trained before but dropped out of the Hillcrest Fire Department.

Starting soon, New Square residents would train for exterior firefighting because interior fire work requires wearing air masks. The masks can't be worn with beards.

Weppler said he wants to see New Square volunteers involved with crowd control at scenes, educating young people not to set fires and preaching fire safety in homes and businesses.

As part of the agreement with New Square, the village will inventory buildings that also house businesses and hazardous materials. The law requires notifying the fire department of hazardous materials so firefighters know what's inside when they respond to a fire.

While past agreements with the community have led to only temporary improvements, St. Lawrence is confident this time will different.

"We're going to - no pun intended - hold their feet to the fire," St. Lawrence said.

Weppler was cautiously hopeful, saying, "This is going to be a challenge."

St. Lawrence, who is seeking re-election next month, also said the town will help New Square acquire federal and state grants to retrofit residential buildings with sprinkler systems.

The newer buildings were built with sprinkler systems mandated by state law.

Until a few years ago, New Square didn't require those emergency systems but changed its rules after Hillcrest and county fire officials brought down state pressure on the community.



Masbia Kosher soup kitchen preparing for Yom Tov 



Thursday, October 01, 2009

Bungalow voting registrations to be challenged 

Lawmaker David Sager is one of the primary forces behind a new grassroots group called Voters for Election Integrity (VEI). At a meeting of about 100 or so residents at the Kauneonga Lake Fire Department building on September 27, Sager said that his group would be formally challenging some, or perhaps many, of the 150 or so people who have, in the past two or three months, registered to vote in the Town of Bethel.

Sager said the group has the support of the three formally organized parties in the town, the Democratic, Republican and Conservative parties. He added, “We have reason to believe that under current election law, many of the recently submitted Town of Bethel registrations are not valid.”

The registrations came in the wake of a battle between town officials and a group called the United Talmudical Academy (UTA) over the summer. The UTA built a shul and community center on Shultz Road without the proper permits, and supervisor Dan Sturm moved to have the building shut down on safety considerations. In response, Hasidic members of the bungalow colonies who use the shul registered to vote in Bethel.

The VEI representatives at the meeting, however, went to great lengths to say the effort is not aimed specifically at any religious group but at the integrity of the election law.

Mike McGuire, a Liberty-based attorney, said the concerns “are not limited to any particular group.” He said the question VEI is concerned with is: “whether people who stay in a bungalow colony from anywhere from one to eight weeks out of an entire year, can legally register and vote here. It would appear from the research that I’ve done in New York State law that the answer is no.”

McGuire said election law stipulates that to vote in a district, a person must maintain a residence there and the law specifically defines a residence as “that place where a person maintains a fixed, permanent and principal home, and to which that person, wherever they may be temporarily located, always intends to return.”

County treasurer Ira Cohen, also a member of the group, said that in his research of the case law, it was fairly clear to him that the Appellate Court, the state’s highest court, has consistently ruled that in election law the word “residence” means “domicile,” which is a fairly strict legal concept that would not include a bungalow. But, said Cohen, “It’s not clear to everyone, but it’s clear to me.”

Gail Rubenfeld, a lawyer who has been working on the issue, said there is a recent case where a court ruled that weekend residents in Bovina, NY, did have the right to vote there even though they live during the week in New York City.

Rubenfeld said in those cases the registrants owned the homes in Bovina, went there almost every weekend, spent vacations there and “they were very involved with the community.” She said it was very different than what was happening in Bethel.

The precise details of how the registrations will be challenged have not been worked out yet, but once they are challenged, the registrations will be investigated by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office. The office will then turn over results of the investigation to the Sullivan County Board of Elections (BOE), which must then decide if the registrations are valid or not.

If VEI does not agree with the BOE’s determination, the matter may be taken to court. If that happens and if the upcoming election results are close enough, there is a possibility that the results of the election might be held up for some time. But, Cohen said, the courts move quickly in cases involving voting and elections.

UTA could not immediately be reached for comment.



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