Sunday, October 31, 2010

Terrror bomb scare: NYPD keeps closer eye on city temples; Jewish community on alert 

Security was stepped up at synagogues across New York on Saturday and the Jewish community was on alert after authorities intercepted explosives bound for Chicago houses of worship.

In Brooklyn, some members of the Orthodox community were unaware of the terror threat since they had not read the newspaper, watched television or listened to the radio in observance of the Sabbath.

However, word was spreading quickly that Jewish centers in Chicago were believed to be the target of the potentially deadly packages found in the United Kingdom and Dubai and that the NYPD was beefing up security.

"It's always related to a Jewish organization," said Yehuda Eber, 43, who was attending a service at Chabad Lubavitch in Crown Heights, where NYPD patrol cars lingered on the streets as worshipers filed inside for Shabbat services.

"The threat is alive and well. I'm not gonna say I'm used to it, but anything can happen anytime, anywhere," Eber said. "We hope and pray that law enforcement takes it seriously. It's a different world now."

At the Temple Emanu-El on E.65th St. in Manhattan, a mobile command center and patrol guard stood outside the synagogue.

"Our counterterrorism coverage will continue to include coverage of synagogues, at least for the next few days," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. "Although I want to emphasize that there's nothing to suggest New York is being targeted in this instance."

Locals said the police presence was the same every Saturday, but news of what President Obama described as a "credible terrorist threat against our country" was on everyone's lips.

"It's scary, isn't it? It's odd, it's creepy," said Margery Daly, who sings in the choir and lives in Tarrytown. "We're always in danger but you can't dwell on it."

In Chicago, members of the Jewish community continued their weekend services despite knowing that two packages containing white power and wires were addressed to two synagogues in the city's North Side neighborhood.

"We're always prepared," said Emily Eyre, 49, who is also in the choir at Temple Emanu-El. "When you work in a synagogue you're prepared for it."



Saturday, October 30, 2010

Larkin's campaign disavows KJ mailer 

State Sen. Bill Larkin's campaign said Friday that it never authorized a mailer purportedly sent out by the Village of Kiryas Joel urging voters to support the senator.

"That's bogus as far as we know," said Ralph Caruso, Larkin's campaign manager.

The mailer, which showed up in district residents' mailboxes earlier this week, urges voters to support "our candidate" for state senate and praises Larkin as one who "has helped and will continue to help our community."

But it cites as an example of that help an $11.5 million women's center for which Larkin says he had no role in obtaining funding. The center was built with a number of grants sponsored by then-Gov. George Pataki, U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton and others, but Larkin's name is not attached to any of them. Larkin, a 20-year incumbent Republican, is being challenged by Monroe town Councilman Harley Doles, a Democrat.

Caruso said Larkin's campaign has "no physical proof connecting (the mailer) to Harley Doles and his campaign." But he noted the mailer's postal permit number was issued in Brooklyn, where Doles has drawn a substantial amount of financial support.

Doles could not be reached for comment in time for this story.



Friday, October 29, 2010

Man arraigned in NYC store clerk's killing 

A man has pleaded not guilty in the shooting of a popular Brooklyn store clerk who died while trying to protect a customer.

Eion Klass was held without bail after his arraignment Friday. His lawyer, Victor M. Brown, declined to comment.

Prosecutors say Klass killed 34-year-old Yoseph Robinson during a botched robbery at MB Vineyards in August.

They say Robinson was shot as he tried to stop the gunman from taking a woman's jewelry. The robber fled empty-handed.

Residents said Robinson enjoyed telling customers about his spiritual journey converting to Judaism. Dozens of people from the heavily Orthodox and Hasidic neighborhood paid their respects outside the store.

The 33-year-old Klass faces life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. His next court date is Dec. 21.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Meat supplier stops kosher slaughter at McDonald’s request 

A slaughterhouse that supplies kosher meat to London-area stores has stopped kosher slaughter following a protest by McDonald’s.

Slaney Foods in County Wexford, Ireland, decided to stop religious slaughter, the Jewish Chronicle reported. Slaney has supplied meat to McDonald’s for eight years.

McDonald’s has been under fire in recent days since the media reported that halal meat, which is ritually slaughtered for Muslims, is used by some of the fast-food chain’s restaurants. After denying that such meat was used because it is against company policy, McDonald’s was forced to admit that some of its meat indeed was ritually slaughtered at Slaney.

Some are against eating food made from ritually slaughtered meat because the animal is not stunned unconscious before it is slaughtered.

The Jewish Chronicle reported rumors had circulated that McDonald’s had given the slaughterhouse an ultimatum, but they have been disproven. But the newspaper quoted the slaughterhouse’s managing director, Rory Fanning, as saying that “it’s not that we are doing it because someone was influencing us outside the company. We made the decision ourselves.

“There has been a lot of media coverage of ritual slaughter, and it was in the context of that that the decision was made,” she told the newspaper. “I’m not saying it’s the right decision. I am very hesitant.”



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eruv Proposal Moves Forward, As Verizon And LIPA Give Initial Approvals 

A non-profit organization has cleared two major hurdles on the path to establishing a symbolic Jewish religious boundary, known as an eruv, that would encompass Westhampton Beach Village and the hamlet of Quiogue, the head of the organization said on Wednesday.

Marvin Tenzer, the Westhampton Beach resident who heads the East End Eruv Association, said he received word from Verizon on Tuesday evening that the company intends to allow his organization to attach markings, known as “lechis,” to utility poles in order to delineate an eruv that would encompass Westhampton Beach and Quiogue, and also include parts of Quogue and Westhampton. The Long Island Power Authority, which owns other utility poles in the area, agreed to allow the organization to mark its poles this summer but is currently reviewing that agreement, according to a spokeswoman.

The eruv is a symbolic enclosure; the lechis replace walls in public places. The religious boundary, if created, would allow Orthodox Jews to carry and push objects on the Sabbath, activities that are normally prohibited out of doors on their day of rest.

“We don’t have the license yet from Verizon, we haven’t heard from LIPA, so the time horizon ... is still up in the air,” he said regarding when the boundary would be established.

But Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Conrad Teller disagrees with that assessment, stating that his municipality must still sign off on the proposed religious boundary for it to become a reality. “We will be speaking with our attorney,” said Mr. Teller, adding that, as of Wednesday morning, he was not aware of the letter from Verizon or the agreement with LIPA.



Hasidic father of seven busted in plan to kill business ally with sleep pill-laced coffee 

A Hasidic father of seven was charged Tuesday with plotting to kill a business associate with an overdose of sleeping pills in his coffee.

Jacob Vizel, 54, was the beneficiary of a life insurance policy for the intended victim and had been making payments for several years, according to court papers filed yesterday in Brooklyn Federal Court.

"I'm tired of paying," Vizel told an informant who was secretly taping the conversation for the FBI.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes said the defendant had been the target of a $12 million mortgage fraud when investigators recently learned of the murder-for-hire scheme from the informant.

The informant, wearing a hidden wire, taped several conversations this month with Vizel discussing how to get rid of the man, identified in court papers only as Joey.

Vizel said a man he knew had offered to kill Joey for money. "[H]e tells me, 'Give me $500 and I'll leave him in the basement'.... He choke him," Vizel said, according to the complaint.

Later Vizel mentioned that Joey used sleeping pills and suggested a different plan of attack. "When you want to bring him for coffee, you tell me and I give [sleeping pills] to you," Vizel said. "Insurance not going to do nothing. He took his own tablet."

The complaint said Vizel offered to pay the informant for putting the sleeping pills in the victim's coffee.

Vizel, an Israeli citizen who has lived in Brooklyn for 25 years, was ordered held without bail.

He has not yet been charged in the mortgage fraud scheme.



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rabbi sues neighbors over access to river 

A $2.25 million Hudson River property bought for the New Square grand rabbi's solitude has become the subject of legal action contesting the use of a 155-foot swath of land providing neighbors access to the river.

The response to the lawsuit by the rabbi's followers goes into their failed illegal transfer of the property to a New Square-based congregation to avoid paying $198,000 in property taxes on the rabbi's retreat house.

The legal action also includes claims from one neighbor that his property value is being diminished by buses and cars loaded with the rabbi's followers who come to the house during the day and night, blocking a private road and access to the river.

The legal action by Menucha of Nyack LLC centers on blocking two neighbors from paving over a 10-foot-wide swath of lawn on Menucha's property and giving them access to the river.

Menucha purchased the property, which is less than 1 acre with a single-family home, in 2006 for Grand Rabbi David Twersky's retreat residence.

Menucha paid $2.25 million, raised by a London-based donor for the Hasidic community, and then spent nearly $1 million renovating the run-down house, adding landscaping and a ceremonial bath called a mikvah.

The two neighbors, businessman Greg Fisher and real estate attorney C. Robert Clemensen, argue an existing easement allows them to use the 155-foot long, 10-foot-wide strip of land along Menucha's property to access the river.

Fisher said he bought the property in 2005 to tear down an existing house and build a new one, but the actions of the rabbi and his followers have blocked his plans and diminished the value of his property. He said he has lost tenants due to noise and lack of privacy.

"I refuse to be pushed out of a neighborhood that I have spent 30 years living in," Fisher said, adding that he pays a heavy tax bill. "Upper Nyack is my home. The rabbi has moved in next door to the wrong person."

Menucha has responded that it owns the 10-foot-wide swath to the river and the neighbors have no rights of access.



Monday, October 25, 2010


Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) is asking for the community’s assistance in solving a hate crime. Yesterday, Hikind was informed by an askan that two Polish men were shouting “Heil Hitler!” at Jewish individuals on the corner of 49th Street and 12th Avenue.

Assemblyman Hikind contacted the 66th precinct, and officers responded in a matter of minutes. The perpetrators were eventually caught at Ft. Hamilton Parkway between 51st and 52nd Streets. Unfortunately, because no victims remained at the scene, the police were unable to arrest these two men. The police have advised that if even one person who was verbally assaulted comes forward to press charges, the police can proceed with the arrests.

If you were a victim of this hate crime or know someone who was, please contact the Office of Assemblyman Hikind immediately at 718.853.9616.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Meeting to be Held in n Monsey, NY to Explain Ramifications of New Pro-Gay Law 

The New Jersey Family Policy Council, working together with local activists in New Jersey and New York, has been informed that the Democrats are attempting tom force religious schools to teach tolerance for "alternative lifestyles". Law s 1987 Section 3 Page 1, requiring schools to do so was passed on Sept. 31. It was discretely and cunningly slipped into a 10 page bill. It allows for absolutely no exceptions for religious schools.

Schools have been disregarding the law, assuming that they will not be punished. However, Greg Quinlan of the NJFPC has noted that these schools may be mistaken by believing that by keeping quiet they will not be prosecuted. He mentioned that in Sweden a Pastor was jailed for 50 days for the "crime" of quoting passages the Bible regarding gays. He was kept in jail until the Supreme Court finally allowed his release.

Currently, activists are going from synagogue to synagogue, especially during the present pre-election season, to educate people of the possible affects of the law. They are warning them that they may be betrayed by those who say that the law will not adversely affect them. Orthodox Jews tend to insulate themselves from the decadence of society. Even the Internet, which they must use for work, is always strictly filtered with filters like JNet and Covenant Eyes. Yet, still and all, with today's technology entering their homes, they too feel the pressure from gay and porn sites, which are trying to infiltrate their lives.

Orthodox Jewish activists are now working with the Christian media to make their position clear. They are sending out the message that some people in the U.S. and Israel were bought off by the gay lobby. These people do not represent the Jewish Bible and time-honored Jewish belief. On a radio show aired live this past summer on Crusade Radio, Mr. Larry Cirinato of the National Family Council and Mr. Isaac played a live protest of 5,000 Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem, protesting a march of 300 gay activists, deliberately walking through the streets of the Orthodox communities. Larry declared that under no circumstances will we tolerate militant gays who seek to disturb family life. He pointed out that no one is stopping them from doing what they want in their own lives. Why must they disrupt wholesome families?

In another case of discrimination against those who oppose the gay lobby's agenda, activists around the world have been making attempts to ease the suffering of Rabbi Yishai Schlissel. Rabbi Schlissel, a father of 5, has been incarcerated for 5 years for protecting the morality of Jerusalem.

With the world in turmoil and elections near, Rabbis read from the Bible that the great flood and other disasters were caused when people were quiet and apathetic while deviant groups angered God. Rabbis are now asking everyone to register to vote and support candidates with strong family values and not capitulate until the coming of the Messiah.

A meeting has been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 24 in Monsey, NY, to discuss the current situation and get the facts out to the public. The meeting will be held at 4 Blueberry Hill Rd. at 6pm. It will be attended by Rabbis and activists. Greg Quinlan will address the gathering via hook-up.



Saturday, October 23, 2010

Six arrested following stabbing of SUNY Sullivan students 

Four men and a teenager from Liberty are charged with stabbing four Sullivan County Community College students during a large party Friday morning at off-campus housing, and a Bronx man was charged with brandishing a semiautomatic handgun , Fallsburg police said Saturday.

Police arrested Joshua Tariq, 23, Steven Jones, 24, Rolando Ortiz, 21, Kenneth Reyes, 18, and a 17-year-old juvenile. Each is charged with felony second-degree gang assault, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.

The five are accused of slashing and stabbing four students in the head, face and arms after a fight broke out at about 3:30 a.m. during an end-of-week party that began Thursday evening at Edgewood Dorms, a Hasidic bungalow camp that reverts to student housing during the school year.

They were sent without bail to Sullivan County Jail and are due to return to Fallsburg Justice Court on Oct. 25 at 1 p.m.

Police also arrested Reynaldo Sanchez, 20, and charged him with felony second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree menacing, a misdemeanor.

Sanchez, accused of waving a .38-caliber handgun at a crowd during the party, was ordered held on $20,000 bail and is due back in Fallsburg court on Oct. 25 at 1 p.m.

Police did not say whether any of those arrested were SUNY Sullivan students and have not released the names of the victims.



Friday, October 22, 2010

Avrahom Rosenberg Candidate for New York State Senate 27th District 

While I was collecting signatures in my district many people had asked me a question, who am I? My reply was, “My Name is Avrahom Rosenberg running for State Senate for the 27th District to help my community.” Some people see my age as a disadvantage. I see my age as an advantage. I am young. I am Energetic. I don’t owe any favors. I have a fresh pair of eyes to oversee all State programs, budgets, and agencies. I am not afraid to tackle any issues. I will oversee which programs are working and which programs are not. I will try to allocate funds to the programs that are working to make them better. The programs that are not working, I will decipher them to try to make them work.

What can I do for the community? I grew up in this community. I still live in this community. I see a lot of day to day issues that I will try to tackle. I as a candidate will represent the people. I have watched year after year how corruption has destroyed our Government and Community. That is why I joined the NY uprising, and I am an official of “Hero of Reform.”

“I applaud Avrahom Rosenberg as a “Hero of Reform” for signing the three New York Uprising pledges. This year voters are counting on candidates to commit to specific reforms in advance, as Avrahom has done. I look forward to working with him to see them swiftly implemented should he be elected.” —Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, Founder, NY Uprising

Who am I? I am a voice of the community, and I know the problems of the community. I am a role model for teenagers, I am young and energetic. I am the example that Teenagers should not have apathy; I am young and running for State Senator of the 27th district. This shows how far one can go if they have determination. I will use this determination to push forth the needs of my constituents, and community.

We cannot not only focus on the young, we must also focus on our Senior citizens. I will fight for senior citizens, and make sure senior citizens programs are taken care, for the many years of dedication to our community.

By electing me as State Senator, We will start a new era of U.S History and Government. We will be entering the era of the People, not the politician. We will be showing how the youth are the future. We all care about our children’s education. Who is better to fight for this then one who has seen this, and is affected the most by it.

We all face hard times; we all struggle to make ends meet. It’s about time we had the relief we need. This is why Avrahom Rosenberg should be your next State Senator. He has seen how, families of all dominations and affiliations, have struggled trying to but their kids through Private schools. The Government spends over $16,000 on a kid for public schooling. Shouldn’t we get School Vouchers, for at least half of that, compared to the ZERO we get now? The answer is, YES. This is why we have to elect Avrahom Rosenberg for State Senate for the 27th District.

We all have those monthly bills to pay; we all use our cities and states roads. However when we get home and get our pay check we see a big chunk taken out for taxes, which leaves us with no money to spend or save. This doesn’t only hurt us but hurts our kids, because we cannot afford their college tuition, regular school tuition, and our mortgage/rent. Avrahom Rosenberg will fight for Tax Cuts, Lower property tax and Lower the sales tax which was recently reinstated. We should not be raising taxes in tough economic times, we should be lowering it.

Avrahom Rosenberg will fight for the programs of our Elders for their many years of dedication to our community. As well as, strengthen their Medicaid/Medicare Coverage.

Avrahom Rosenberg, who is the Youngest Nominated Candidate for State Senate, is currently going to Touro College and is majoring Political Science. He is a Resident of Midwood in Brooklyn. Mr. Rosenberg cares for his community and wants to put the voices of his community back into Government. That’s why he hopes you share his same passion for his Community and Vote for Avrahom Rosenberg on November 2nd for New York State Senate 27thDistrict!

Avrahom Rosenberg’s District is comprised of Boro Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush , Gravesend, Madison, Marine Park, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach.

The Future is Now and the Best is Yet to Come!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

In Lakewood, influence splinters for Jewish leaders' Vaad 

For a man who had lived here only one year, Bill Hobday felt remarkably secure as a candidate for Township Committee in early 2002. He already had Republican Party backing and faced no opponent in the June primary.

The only matter left was a meeting … a courtesy, he thought … with local Orthodox Jewish leaders who called themselves the Vaad.

Hobday wasn't prepared for what followed. Within a week of that interview, the Vaad issued a newsletter telling the Jewish community to write in another candidate's name on Election Day, that of 28-year-old Air Force chaplain Menashe Miller. The bulletin was headlined, "We MUST Knock Out Bill Hobday!!!''

Five days later, 3,732 ballots were cast for Miller, defeating Hobday by a 60 percent margin. It was one of only a handful of times in Ocean County history that a write-in challenger ousted an official candidate in a municipal election.

"I was unfamiliar with the power structure here,'' said Hobday, now 68. "It was a terrible shock to us.''

Scroll forward eight years to 2010, and it's the Vaad that's now experiencing a jolt … one so intense a local official likened it to an "Orthodox Tea Party'' backlash.

Known as a potent political force able to steer entire voting blocs, this body of rabbis, businessmen and government liaisons was unable in recent months to muster enough Orthodox community support for its most established darling.

In this bubble of rigid customs and clear hierarchies, a consensus has formed that the grip of the old order is slipping as technology and new thinking take hold.

It is struggling, they say, to keep up with an expanding Orthodox population as fresh voices speak out and the economy shifts personal priorities.

"We're at a point where the community has minds of its own and does not just follow recommendations without understanding them,'' Vaad member Avrohom Moshe Muller said. "It puts us in a different position.''

Some Lakewood leaders argue that a splintered Orthodox constituency may hurt the town's influence at the state level. Others see the diminished leadership role as a healthy swing toward an open political system.



Orthodox Jews accused of controlling NY town's education system 

The dirt road that someone cut through a few feet of brush to connect the Hasidic village of New Square to the playing fields of Hillcrest Elementary School in early October is only the latest in a series of puzzles surrounding the contested sale of the shuttered public school.

In this ethnically divided section of suburban Rockland County, close to New York City, it is also one more cause for an uptick in tensions between the area’s Orthodox Jewish community and their neighbors.

The road might not have been a problem had the New York State Education Department not placed a hold in late August on the purchase of the school by a New Square yeshiva, after a public school parent filed a complaint alleging, among other things, that the $3.2 million sale price was far below market value. And both the prematurely cleared road and the questions about the school’s sale price might have escaped notice if they hadn’t come as emotions over the mangement of the public school system were already threatening to spiral out of control.

Although Orthodox Jews in the predominantly Jewish upstate New York villages of Monsey and New Square send their children to private religious schools, six of the eight elected members of the Board of Education of the East Ramapo Central School District are Orthodox. A ninth, who recently resigned and has yet to be replaced, is also Orthodox. Some non-Orthodox community members allege that the Orthodox members of the board support the religious schools at the expense of the public school system — claims that the Orthodox board denies. But people on both sides agree that anger over the issue is running high.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rabbi accused of sexual abuse: Man's strength is in his silence 

Rabbi Mordechai (Moti) Elon responded Wednesday to testimonies of sexual abuse claims against him that had been made public by Takana, a forum that fights sexual abuse in the Orthdox community, saying "man's greatest strength is to remain silent."
"What there is in the world is not the noise around," Elon said during a sermon in a Bat Yam synagogue.

Elon, who was suspended from his public position following the police's recommendation to charge him with the allegations against him, said "Rachel taught me the secret of silence. There are kinds of silence that are above talk."

Following a lengthy investigation, the police announced in August they had collected sufficient evidence to recommend that Elon, one of the most prominent rabbis in the religious Zionist movement, be indicted on charges of sexual crimes.

Police suspect Elon of forcibly committing indecent acts on two minors.

The investigation included testimony from various individuals who had come into contact with the complainant during the time the alleged crimes were committed and strengthened the suspicions against Elon.

Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds of Elon's students signed an online petition criticizing "the malicious intention to publish defamations."

"For the last year we have gotten used to attempts to humiliate Rabbi Elon, and the Rabbi, in his humility has remained silent," the students wrote in the petition. "But now things have reached a point at which we cannot remain silent. To us, who have known Elon for many years, you cannot tell stories. We testify that over the many years we have been privileged to study and teach with Rabbi Elon, we have never, in any matter, not sight, nor rumor or even a hint of any kind, encountered exploitive or inappropriate behavior on Elon's part."



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Orthodox Non-Endorsement In AG Race 

Last week Orthodox Union leaders scrambled to make it known they had not endorsed Eric Schneiderman, the Democrat running for state attorney general, after a Schneiderman supporter's ad featured an OU press release about meeting the candidate.

Now it's leaders of the Satmar Chasidic community who are insisting they never endorsed Schneiderman's Republican rival, Daniel Donovan. The Staten Island DA was in Brooklyn Sunday meeting with the Aron faction of the divided sect. He chose not to meet with the rival Zalman faction because of its ties to embattled, under-investigation Brooklyn Democrat boss Vito Lopez, according to the New York Observer.

The meeting resulted in this press release from Donovan's campaign:

"Daniel M. Donovan's campaign for New York State Attorney General today announced that it has gained the endorsement of leaders of the Satmar (Aron faction) and other Hasidic communities in Williamsburg and Borough Park. After careful deliberation, these community leaders decided that Donovan represents the best choice for New York State Attorney General. Citing his 15 years experience as a prosecutor and record of accomplishment as District Attorney, the leaders of the Williamsburg and Borough Park communities stated that Donovan 'demonstrated both a unique ability to do the job of Attorney General and a true appreciation for the needs of the Hasidic community in Brooklyn and throughout the state, and therefore, has won their support.'
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"I am deeply honored and gratified to receive these endorsements," said Donovan. "These leaders admirably serve the Williamsburg, Borough Park and surrounding Hasidic communities of New York with integrity and distinction, by being a voice for good government and improving the lives of the Satmar Community throughout Brooklyn. It's an honor to earn their support for my campaign for Attorney General."

A new release followed Monday morning with this amended statement:

"I am deeply honored to have met with these leaders and Rebbes," said Donovan. "These leaders admirably serve the Williamsburg, Borough Park and surrounding Hasidic communities of New York with integrity and distinction, by being a voice for good government and improving the lives of the Satmar Community throughout Brooklyn."

Donovan's Jewish adviser, Menashe Shapiro, took the rap.

"I misinterpreted the authority of some of the organizers -- who [are] political activists for the community -- to make political endorsements on behalf of the Brooklyn portion of the Satmar/Aron faction," he said in a statement Monday. "But I should have been aware of that fact. I take this hit, me alone."

There were no apparent hard feelings between Donovan and Shapiro, who is a Democrat, when the two visited The Jewish Week's office on Monday afternoon to tape a video interview.

Asked about the issues of concern expressed by the chasidic leaders, Donovan cited religious accommodation in the workplace and member-item funding for community-based organizations from state legislators, over which Donovan wants to see stricter oversight and more transparency in light of some recent scandals.

"I told them there will be more money available for legitimate non-profits," said the candidate. "Their main concern is having a voice."

Donovan said he noted to the chasidim that while Schneiderman said he would open an annex in his office for the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, "there are 19 million people in this state and everyone will have a voice" if he is elected.

Schneiderman, in a separate interview Sunday, said he never meant for the Sharpton comment to be taken literally.

"No one gets special treatment in my office," he said. "I was speaking to the idea that all those who feel they are voiceless will have a voice."



Monday, October 18, 2010

On Heels Of Hasidic Meeting, Donovan To Make Major Push For Jewish Vote 

Although attorney general candidate Dan Donovan's big meeting with Hasidic leaders was yesterday—a meeting that ended with a premature endorsement announcement—according to sources in the campaign and in the Jewish community, Donovan is preparing a major push for Jewish voters in the final weeks of the campaign.

The campaign is relying on many political operatives who have done Jewish outreach for the Bloomberg administration and who worked on David Greenfield's campaign for City Council last year.

Mark Botnick, who now works for Ed Koch's New York Uprising and who left the mayor's community affairs unit to work on his re-election campaign, was with Donovan yesterday as he toured the Hasidic neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Botnick was Greenfield's campaign manager. Also assisting is Michael Fragin, a former Pataki aide who helped out Greenfield and who led Donovan through his home town on Long Island last Sunday.

All are volunteers. Menashe Shapiro, who also worked on Bloomberg '09, is coordinating the effort.

"It's basically a carbon copy of Bloomberg's Jewish outreach in 2009," said one member of the Hasidic community.

Yesterday, Donovan met with the Aron faction of the Satmar community in Williamsburg and not the Zalman faction, who are more numerous. However, the Zalman faction is closely allied with Vito Lopez, and since Donovan is charged with the investigation of Lopez's non-profit, the campaign thought it would be inappropriate to meet with them. Many of the questions that Donovan fielded yesterday, in Williamsburg at least, had to do with Lopez in some fashion or another, but Donovan demurred, citing the investigation that his office is conducting.

Hasidic voters especially tend to vote as a block, and the Donovan campaign thinks that they have at least a fighting chance of getting a considerable number of votes there, particularly because of Donovan's relative social conservatism—he is pro-life and against same-sex marriage. However, Schneiderman, who is Jewish, also has deep roots in the community, having done legal work many years ago in Kiryas Joel.

Even if Donovan did not secure an official endorsement from the people he met with yesterday, he did secure one from Isaac Abraham, the community activist who ran as a Democrat for the City Council last year.

He cited Donovan's party registration as a reason to vote for him, echoing Ed Koch's endorsement of Donovan last month.

"When you have a Democratic governor, it's always better to have someone running the shop that's a Republican," he said. "It doesn't make a difference what party you are with. If you fail, you fail."



Sunday, October 17, 2010

OU nixes women leading Friday night services 

The Orthodox Union issued a statement saying women may not lead Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services if men are present.

Last week’s decision by the group's board of directors is the latest setback for Orthodox Jews seeking greater roles for women in worship ritual.

“With regard to the matter of a woman leading Kabbalat Shabbat services before an audience of men and women, the position of the Orthodox Union is that such practice is improper and constitutes an unacceptable breach of Jewish tradition," the board said.

In April, the Rabbinical Council of America, the leading Modern Orthodox rabbinical body, came out against the ordination of women while encouraging more “halachically and communally appropriate professional opportunities” for female scholars. The ruling was in response to the near ordination of a female rabbi in January, when RCA member Rabbi Avi Weiss conferred the title of “rabba” -- a feminized version of rabbi -- on Sara Hurwitz, a member of the clerical staff of his New York synagogue, The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.

Following a harsh rebuke from the haredi Orthodox organization Agudath Israel of America and discussions with RCA leaders, Weiss said he would refrain from giving the title to other women in the name of Orthodox unity.

In July, the International Rabbinic Fellowship, a liberal Orthodox association of some 150 rabbis founded by Weiss and Rabbi Marc Angel, declared its support for an expanded definition of women’s communal roles in synagogue life but stopped short of advocating female rabbis.

Hurwitz retains her title and continues in her position as dean of Yeshivat Maharat, which offers training and placement services to women similar to that available in Orthodox rabbinical institutions. Along with Hurwitz, a handful of women serve in rabbinic-type positions at other Orthodox congregations in New York and Israel.



Saturday, October 16, 2010

Orthodox NYPD Detective Offers Memoirs and a Safety Manual 

In the 25 years that Mordecai Dzikansky worked as a homicide detective and intelligence officer for the New York Police Department, he risked his life every day to keep others safe.

Except Saturday.

Dzikansky, who became a cop in 1983 and retired recently, was among the few Orthodox Jews ever on the force.

The son of a rabbi from Brooklyn, he eventually rose through the ranks to become an expert in global terrorism and the NYPD’s representative in Israel.

Dzikansky is also the author of a new book about his experience, “Terrorist Cop: The NYPD Jewish Cop Who Traveled the World to Stop Terrorists.”

Jewish Jack Bauer anyone?

“I am in awe of the comparison, but I don’t consider myself to be the Jewish Jack Bauer,” Dzikansky says. “We both are counterterror officers, but that’s about it.”

Dzikansky, 48, says he felt compelled to write the book after discovering in his retirement that stories of his unusual service dominated every conversation with people he’d meet.

Until the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Dzikansky was a homicide detective known in New York’s Jewish community for his role on the NYPD Torah Task Force, which recovered stolen Torahs in the New York area. But after the terrorist attacks, his job took a radical turn.

Given the multiple intelligence and security failures before and on 9/11, the NYPD decided in 2002 that it could not rely solely on federal agencies to prevent terror attacks in the city. So Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly created a counterterrorism office within the police.

At first the work was an “uphill climb, if only because almost all of the NYPD’s resources until then had been utilized to deal with conventional crime,” Dzikansky writes in his book.

The new NYPD Counter Terrorism Bureau deployed several officers in overseas hot spots to gather intelligence about developing terrorist threats. Dzikansky was assigned to Israel, which was experiencing a wave of terrorist attacks in the early days of the second intifada. A fluent Hebrew speaker with a background in intelligence, he joined Israeli police officers in their counterterrorism work, including investigating the sites of terrorist attacks.

Dzikansky helped his colleagues at the Counter Terrorism Bureau find leads to help prevent potential attacks on U.S. soil, considering possible connections and observing terrorist patterns.

Becoming accustomed to a new country and workplace—not to mention going to the sites of countless bloody bombings—wasn’t easy. Even harder, Dzikansky says, was keeping the calm in his household; he brought his wife and three young children with him to Israel.

While his Israeli colleagues could regain their composure shortly after the attacks, it took time for Dzikansky to adjust this character trait of Israeli resilience. The gruesome scenes of terrorism he witnessed would leave an indelible mark on his psyche—Dzikansky developed PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

It’s a common phenomenon among security officers with similar roles.

“It screwed me up,” Dzikansky says. “The Israelis are used to it. Terror is a word in their vocabulary.”

Still, he quickly became an expert on terrorism. Dzikansky visited the sites of terrorist attacks all over the world, from Moscow and Madrid to the bombing of an Egyptian resort at Sharm el-Sheik. In the Sharm case, he went disguised as a tourist so as to not arouse suspicion among Egyptian officials.

In Israel, by examining the Arab-Israeli conflict firsthand, Dzikansky was able to provide better intelligence for related terror threats in New York and create a comprehensive manual for the NYPD about dealing with terrorism.

The goal of the manual, Dzikansky writes in his book, is to give individuals and institutions “the resources and the knowledge that will allow them to function under emergency situations, with specific reference to suicide bombings.”

Despite his work in counterterrorism, Dzikansky says his greatest accomplishments came in his days in New York on the Torah Task Force.

In the early 1990s, he was a part of an NYPD team charged with tracking down and ending a Torah theft epidemic that hit New York synagogues. Fifteen Torah scrolls and silver ornaments, valued at more than $200,000, had been stolen.

The police decided to treat the case as if it were investigating a murder. As an Orthodox Jew, Dzikansky says he felt a religious obligation to solve the case, which had upset many in the Jewish community.

During a routine interrogation of a suspect in a separate silver theft case, Dzikansky was able to find the person responsible for stealing the Torahs. The young cop became a hero in the Jewish community.

Dzikansky waves off the credit.

“My honest belief is that God made it happen,” he told JTA. “I was just the vehicle. I see it as pure beshert”—Yiddish for destiny. “Someone had to find those Torahs, and I happened to be the one. I believe that destiny led me to Israel, too.”

In his book, Dzikansky not only recounts his experiences, he also offers a counterterrorism manual for ordinary Americans.

“People have to take responsibility for their own protection,” he says. “We can’t always rely on the police. If you see anything suspicious, you must report it.”

One of the major changes in the NYPD in the quarter-century since Dzikansky began working there is a growing number of Orthodox cops. Dzikansky, who estimates that there are 40 to 50 such cops now on the force, says it doesn’t surprise him.

“The NYPD is an organization that is not anti-anything, except maybe anti-slackers,” he deadpans.

After his retirement, Dzikansky decided to stay in Israel.

“I do miss New York, but I am just too happy to have my kids growing up in the Holy Land,” he says.

As for Israel’s terrorism outlook, Dzikansky is cautiously optimistic.

“Although the threat exists and is constantly changing, I think Israel is in great shape,” he says. “In other words, I know where my bomb shelter is, but I have no intention of going there.”



Friday, October 15, 2010

Carl Paladino ... the 'hug me' candidate 

To most New Yorkers, Carl P. Paladino is best known for his mouth, from which erupt the fiery language and provocative ideas and opinions that have characterized his campaign for governor of New York.

But to those who encounter Mr. Paladino in the flesh, he is quickly becoming famous for something else: his hug.

At a rally in Buffalo last week, Mr. Paladino, the Republican candidate, grappled with the broad shoulders of the former football star Thurman Thomas. At a luncheon in Boonville on Wednesday, Mr. Paladino ran into a middle-aged woman who had turned up to cheer him on. He enveloped her in a grateful embrace. “Wow, you’re a real hugger,” she said.



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Long Branch prosecutor denies misconduct claims by FBI informant 

Facing accusations from disgraced developer turned FBI informant Solomon Dwek, Long Branch Municipal Prosecutor Steven C. Rubin vehemently denied any wrongdoing, according to a report on APP.com

During his testimony in an unrelated federal corruption trial, the informant claimed Rubin accepted free office rent in exchange for fixing tickets for members of Dwek's Syrian Jewish community, according to the report. Rubin denied this, acknowledging he did accept rent, but in exchange for representing Dwek's wife, the report said.



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Enraged at Apology, Rabbi Drops Paladino Endorsement 

"Which part of the speech you gave to the Jewish community are you apologizing for, Mr. Paladino?" began the Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Yehuda Levin as he withdrew his endorsement of Carl Paladino's gubernatorial campaign on Wednesday. The Rabbi was outraged by the candidate's apology for anti-gay remarks he made over the weekend.

Rabbi Levin represents an umbrella group of ultra-Orthodox leaders who hosted the events where Paladino made the comments. The Rabbi also claimed to be one the writers of the remarks Paladino made on Sunday and said he supported all of them. During one of the Sunday speeches, Paladino stated that children should not be "brainwashed" into thinking homosexuality is acceptable. His words caused an outcry from the gay community and, soon after, Paladino apologized for his inflammatory remarks.

Rabbi Levin said Paladino's apology shows his weakness as a candidate, and asked Paladino to "show his backbone." Speaking to Paladino through the press in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral Wednesday, he said, "How can we depend on you if you folded like a cheap camera?" The Rabbi says he chose the cathedral for his speech so he could implore the Catholic Church to stand up for moral issues and to help guide religious voters who need clarity since Paladino, also a Catholic, has backed down.

Expressing his outrage and disappointment in Paladino's apology to the gay community, Rabbi Levin argued that kids in the schools are indoctrinated with "homosexualist ideas" and called homosexuality part of America's "declining culture."

Rabbi Levin says he will not return his support to the gubernatorial candidate until Paladino gives "more time" to the religious community.



Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) met with Councilman David Greenfield, Councilman Brad Lander and Community Board 12 District Manager Wolf Sender last week to explore the possibility of establishing a 13th Avenue Merchants Association.

The meeting was held in response to a small business survey conducted by Hikind in August which revealed that overall, local business owners were pessimistic about the future of their business. Among other issues, owners identified inadequate parking and overzealous enforcement by parking and sanitation agents as obstacles to the growth of their business.

“The purpose of a 13th Avenue Merchants Association is to revitalize businesses in our community and devise ways to attract consumers,” Hikind said. “Because 13th Avenue is one of the most heavily trafficked areas in our neighborhood, a merchants association could prove quite beneficial.”

Hikind noted that the Association would also act as a liaison with the City to collaborate on important initiatives.

Although the Association is still in its fledgling stage, one of the proposals currently under consideration is contracting with Project Sweep, a program which would clean the sidewalks outside of 13th Avenue businesses twice a day for a small fee. If participating merchants receive a sanitation ticket while enrolled in the program, the ticket will be paid for by Project Sweep.

Hikind and other community leaders are currently reaching out to local merchants to gauge their interest and willingness to actively participate. For more information, please contact Assemblyman Hikind’s office at 718.853.9616.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Dispatches from the campaign trail 

Female reporters and photographers were banned from covering Carl Paladino's anti-gay speech at the Karlsburg Synagogue in Borough Park, Brooklyn -- for religious reasons, according to the Hasidic group that prays there.

While the event was going on, some women on the upper floors of the building dumped water on the banned journalists.

"Hey, this is a $25,000 camera!" yelled one NY1 reporter.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Build Next Year’s Sukkah With Solar Schach 

Have the end of the Jewish holidays, return to work, and impending cold weather got you down? Fantasizing about next year’s warm evenings spent inside an outdoor sukkah (or temporary booth) might help fight that feeling. This year’s much-publicized Sukkah City design competition in New York’s Union Square might have inspired you to go above and beyond the call of sukkah duty next year and bring some serious design quality to your booth.

In the spirit of the temporary, outdoor sukkah bringing you into closer contact with nature, how about making it super sustainable as well?

“Solar Schach” (the panels of which you can see in the photo above) is a specially engineered sukkah covering made out of the multi-purpose eco material, bamboo. The particular bamboo hybrid used to make the Solar Schach, Bamboo2, contains photovoltaic cells that enable it to produce electricity.

So since the Solar Schach is both a plant material (and therefore kosher to be used as a sukkah covering) and in perfect position to collect solar power since it is positioned on the booth’s roof – it is sure to have your neighbors talking. Supposedly, Solar Schach is strong enough to produce enough energy to power the nighttime lighting of a 10×10 sukkah AND have enough to power cell phones and other small gadgets.



Saturday, October 09, 2010

Borough Park, Brooklyn 

IN late September, during the final days of the weeklong holiday of Sukkot, young boys in white shirts and black hats could often be seen lining the streets of Borough Park, a large neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn. Standing behind folding card tables arrayed with long, thin willow branches to be waved in synagogue, they called out in Yiddish, hoping to attract customers from among the crowds of shoppers who exited, bags in hand, the kosher markets of 13th Avenue.

The neighborhood is home to one of the largest Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish populations in the United States — “the Jewish capital of the United States” and a “kosher utopia,” according to David G. Greenfield, who lives and works in Borough Park, in addition to representing it in the City Council.

Religious tradition and ritual touch nearly every aspect of neighborhood life. During Sukkot, sidewalks and apartment balconies sprouted sukkahs, the traditional wooden booths commemorating the structures that ancient Israelites lived in after their exodus from Egypt.

Borough Park’s commercial strips, 13th and 16th Avenues, are lined with independently owned businesses, many of them religious-themed. The few chain stores — Rite Aid, Duane Reade, the Children’s Place — are closed on Saturdays in observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

Although Orthodox Jews make up the majority of Borough Park’s residents, other groups are represented. Residents like Amy Sicignano, who was brought up amid the neighborhood’s considerable Italian and Irish populations, have ended up acquiring an appreciation of Orthodox rituals.

Ms. Sicignano, 63, has a childhood memory of her parents’ being asked to turn on the lights in Orthodox neighbors’ houses on Saturdays. The reason for such requests — the Orthodox rule prohibiting the operation of anything mechanical or electrical on the Sabbath — remained a mystery to her until adulthood, when she gained familiarity with Orthodox traditions and holidays through a job in a neighborhood flower shop.

“Living in Borough Park is living in another world, really,” she said.

Borough Park (sometimes written Boro Park) is about 200 blocks in area, and has a population of more than 100,000, census figures show. The abundance of children, and strollers, is a striking feature of street life — a reflection of the Hasidic tradition of raising large families. And the 711-bed Maimonides Medical Center, which abuts Borough Park, is said to deliver more babies than any other hospital in New York State, according to Eileen Tynion, a spokeswoman. In 2009, 7,704 babies were delivered; Ms. Tynion said projections for 2010 exceeded 8,000.

In addition to its abundance of independent stores, Borough Park demonstrates its self-sufficiency through a variety of all-volunteer service groups. In September four members of Shomrim, a volunteer security patrol, were wounded by gunfire in a confrontation — an unsettling anomaly in this generally low-crime neighborhood, residents and officials say.

There is also Chaveirim, a free service much like AAA, for residents who find themselves with a flat tire or locked out of their houses. Aron Kohn, Chaveirim’s founder and director, said its hot line received about 150 calls a day.



Friday, October 08, 2010

Boy, 4, Is Killed by a Bus in Brooklyn 

A 4-year-old boy was killed and his mother was badly injured Thursday evening when they were hit by a bus in Brooklyn after the boy darted into the street, the police said.

The two were struck just before 6:30 p.m. at Oriental Boulevard and Falmouth Street in Manhattan Beach.

The authorities said that the woman, 45, was walking with her son near Manhattan Beach Park when he suddenly ran into the street.

Panicked, the mother ran after him, and the two were hit by a B49 city bus heading west on Oriental Boulevard, the police said.

The boy, Evan Svirsky, was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital.

His mother was listed in stable condition at Lutheran Medical Center on Thursday night, the authorities said. They did not release the mother’s name.



Thursday, October 07, 2010

Notorious Hasidic Pederast Returns to B’klyn Court 

An Orthodox Jewish child molester who was sentenced to a maximum of 30 years earlier this year appeared in Brooklyn Supreme Court Wednesday for a pretrial hearing in yet another case of alleged sexual abuse of a minor.

Baruch Lebovits, 59, of Borough Park, who was convicted of sexually molesting a teenager in his community, appeared before Kings County Supreme Court Justice Patricia Di Mango, the same Brooklyn judge who sentenced him in April to 10 2/3 to 32 years in prison.

Justice Di Mango gave Lebovits the maximum sentence for each of eight counts of abusing a 16-year-old Borough Park resident, whom Lebovits lured on several occasions in 2004 and 2005 to his silver Toyota for “driving lessons” before performing oral sex on the victim, who was a friend of Lebovits’ son.

Now Lebovits has at least one more active sexual abuse case and could face even more indictments, as several alleged victims came forward after Lebovits was sentenced. Sources in law enforcement have called the crimes Lebovits has been charged with “the tip of the iceberg.”

One alleged victim said Lebovits fondled him in a mikvah or ritual bath while the victim was a teen, but made the claim after being arrested himself for allegedly fondling a 12-year-old in a mikvah, according to the Daily News.

Despite these allegations, Lebovits, a cantor (traditional Jewish singer) and a local teacher, still has some supporters in the community. But the father of the victim whose testimony led to Lebovits’ April sentence has called Lebovits a “grand-molester.”

The landmark case shined a light on sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities, where it is believed that many crimes go unreported due to community solidarity and religious pressure. Some Orthodox Jews say they don’t believe that secular courts treat them fairly.

The Brooklyn Eagle ran an investigative report on the Lebovits case and how the Hasidic communities are dealing with allegations of sexual abuse, entitled “Unprecedented Case Brings Brooklyn Rabbi To Secular Court To Be Sentenced,” published online at BrooklynEagle.com on April 12, 2010.

In Lebovits’ trial, prosecutors asked witnesses about rules against mesirah or informing. A witness told the court that a Jewish man is not allowed to go to a secular court against another Jew without the permission of his rabbi.

Brooklyn defense attorney Arthur Aidala unsuccessfully argued at Lebovits’ trial this year that the allegations were part of a blackmail scheme by the victim, now in his early 20s, who admitted to battling a drug addiction.

Aidala is reportedly appealing the sentence on the grounds that Lebovits was unfairly punished with a harsh sentence for turning down a plea bargain that included a 16-month to 4-year sentence — the maximum sentence for just one count of sexual abuse.

At the time of his conviction for molesting that individual, Lebovits also had charges pending from two other alleged molestations: one for allegedly molesting an 18-year-old man who said Lebovits attacked him in a car when he was 16, and another based on reports from a 22-year-old man who said Lebovits abused him while he was aged 12 to 16.

Lebovits reportedly decided to go to trial on both the other cases. According to the court system database, a 20-month to eight-year prison sentence for Lebovits was entered for one of those cases, although it was not immediately clear which case is continuing and which was resolved.

He also has some apparent detractors. There is a Twitter account — @Kmarnarabbi — that lists Lebovits’ name and bears his photograph, but most of its tweets seem to be publicizing Lebovits’ criminal cases. Lebovits’ current case was adjourned to Oct. 14 after Wednesday’s hearing.



Cuomo wields Vito 

Andrew Cuomo scored a key endorsement in his campaign against Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino yesterday -- but got caught on an embarrassing video praising scandal-tainted Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

Cuomo was wiping egg off his face after the video surface. It shows him describing beleaguered Brooklyn Democratic boss Lopez as his "good friend."

Cuomo offered the kind words Sunday while seated across from Lopez during a gathering with Hasidic leaders in Williamsburg, according to the video.

"The assemblyman is my good friend," Cuomo said. "We do a lot of good work together."

Cuomo's Attorney General's Office is reviewing Lopez's massive social-services empire in light of two federal investigations into alleged improprieties. Cuomo ran into Lopez at least twice during his Brooklyn campaign swing.

A participant in one of the meetings had described it as "very comfortable."

Meanwhile yesterday, Paladino bought three minutes of airtime on network television stations in Buffalo starting at 5:13 p.m., WGRZ-TV reported on its Web site. His campaign manager, Michael Caputo, said the candidate would make a "major" announcement, but declined to be more specific.

Cuomo did have some good news yesterday, as he picked up the endorsement of the state Business Council.

"Steamrollers didn't work in Albany; baseball bats won't either," said Business Council President Kenneth Adams

He was referring first to disgraced former governor and self-described "f - - king steamroller" Eliot Spitzer, who had notoriously poor relations with the Legislature, and then to Paladino's pledge to "take a baseball bat" to state government.

"Andrew Cuomo has embraced many of the reforms that the Business Council has supported for years," said Adams, citing Cuomo's support for state spending and local property-tax caps.

The council's endorsement of the attorney general was the first time the 30-year-old group had backed a candidate in a gubernatorial race, and was a serious blow to real-estate developer Paladino.

While claiming Paladino "has great respect for the Business Council," a spokesman for the Republican contender dismissed the endorsement by claiming the group contained "big-business lobbyists, trade associations, and other Albany insiders."

Cuomo was also backed by Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, a prominent upstate Republican who was recently touted as a potential GOP candidate for lieutenant governor.



Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Man Charged For Burglary, Robbery, Fleeing Police, Apprehended in Parking Lot of Jewish Community Center 

A 53-year-old man has been charged, after police say he stole a couple's car and used it in a crime spree through St. Paul.

The couple was dining at The Capital Grille in downtown Minneapolis, celebrating their engagement, and left their car with the valet. While they enjoyed dinner, police say Gregory Avent drove their car to the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul where he allegedly robbed a woman and committed two burglaries.

Avent has been charged with burglary, robbery and fleeing police in a motor vehicle for all the incidents of Oct. 4.

The Minneapolis native will make his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

According to the criminal complaint, Avent allegedly stole a woman's purse while in her garage on the 2100 block of James Avenue. Then, roughly 10 minutes later, he allegedly broke into an occupied home on the 600 block of Mount Curve Boulevard, but fled after he was confronted by the homeowner.

Later that same night, police say Avent broke into a second home, this time unoccupied, in the 2200 block of Highland Parkway.

An officer spotted Avent near the area of the second alleged burglary and attempted to pull him over. Police say Avent fled the scene at a high rate of speed, catching the attention of other officers in the area who assisted in the pursuit.

According to the criminal complaint, Avent nearly crashed into several vehicles while fleeing police and speeding through St. Paul, near the Cleveland and St. Paul avenues.

He finally pulled into the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center, where he was quickly surrounded by police. According to the complaint, police were forced to use pepper spray and deploy a Taser in order to get Avent out of the vehicle and under control.

Avent was eventually arrested and taken into custody.



Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has established a special “police desk” in his district office to assist constituents who have registered a complaint with the 66th precinct and wish to ensure that a report concerning that complaint was actually filed. The move comes in the wake of recent news reports that the 66th precinct failed to follow-up on a civilian’s complaint concerning David Flores, a pedophile in Boro Park, who ultimately shot four members of the Boro Park Shomrim last month.

“I have great respect for the commanding officer of the 66th precinct and the NYPD in general,” Hikind said. “But there have been several instances where constituents have asked for my intervention in getting a report filed or an officer to take a complaint. The Flores incident is just one example where the system failed. There needs to be some kind of a back-up plan to make certain that vital information is being transmitted to and acted upon by the police. I am hopeful that my office will be that conduit.”

Constituents who wish to verify that a report was filed with the 66th precinct are advised to contact Dov Cohen at Assemblyman Hikind’s office: 718.853.8616.


Monday, October 04, 2010

Crash Victim Is Eulogized 

Before 13-year-old Sarah Erdan was killed in a violent minivan crash on Sunday, she had been one of 22 students admitted to an exclusive all-girl's Jewish High School on Long Island.

The incoming freshman had made an impression on the administrators of Shalhevet High School For Girls as "a sweet and bright girl who had Jewish values," said Headmaster Rabbi Zev Friedman.

On Monday, Mr. Friedman, his staff and the 55 students of the small school were among the dozens who gathered to mourn at Sarah's funeral in Brooklyn.

She was the only fatality when an unlicensed 16-year-old driver lost control of a minivan after speeding on a single-lane road in Midwood and colliding with a parked car, a tree and a single-family home, authorities said.

Sarah's 16-year-old brother, Yosif Erdan, who was also a passenger in the 2001 Honda minivan, suffered minor injuries in accident, police said.

The driver, Eric Hakimisefat, a friend of the Erdan family, was arrested on charges of criminally negligent homicide, speeding, reckless driving and unlicensed operation of a vehicle.

He posted the $10,000 bail set after his arraignment in Brooklyn Supreme Court Monday and was able to attend Sarah's funeral, though he kept a low profile, his attorney, Benjamin Lieberman, said.

Mr. Friedman said he canceled classes at Shalhevet so he could offer condolences to the Erdan family and so the student body could pay its respects.

He said Sarah was looking forward to joining the debate team and playing basketball with her peers.

"She had tremendous potential, and could have lived up to all of that," Mr. Friedman said. "It's a tremendous loss."

Sarah's potential was the unifying theme of the eulogies delivered at Shomrei Hadas Chapels, where teachers and rabbis from her younger days spoke to a room full of mourners, many of whom were forced to stand because all the seats had been filled at the funeral home.

Rabbi Abraham Kelman, the dean of Bnos Leah Prospect Park Yeshiva Elementary school where Sarah spent her primary years, remembered her as "mature beyond the level of her class."

"It's very hard, very hard to understand and deal with," he said. "She was a student of ours for many years. She was in many ways a model and example."

A law-enforcement source with knowledge of the case said Sarah was not wearing a seatbelt when Mr. Hakimisefat crashed after traveling down East 23rd Street at speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour at about 2 p.m. Sunday. The speed limit along the residential street is 30 miles per hour.

According to court papers, Sarah died of a severe injury as a result of the crash.

Mr. Hakimisefat had a learner's permit that does not allow him to drive without the supervision of a licensed driver who is 21 or older, the court papers said.

It hasn't been determined who owns the vehicle or why Sarah and her brother were in the minivan with the driver.



Sunday, October 03, 2010

Orthodox volunteers' grisly war 

The motorcyclist's body had just been carried away from the smoldering wreckage when a fight erupted a few yards away.

On one side of the yellow police tape stood green-vested volunteers from Chesed Shel Emes, a nonprofit that handles the gruesome task of collecting body parts and fluids for burial in accordance with Jewish law.

On the opposite end stood blue-vested Hasidic volunteers from Misaskim, a scrappy start-up with the same mission.

"They were screaming at us to get out of the scene," a longtime Chesed Shel Emes volunteer said of last April's late-night fight on Kings Highway and West Sixth Street in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

The police were called, and, in a rare display of unity, the two groups scanned the scene for droplets of blood and fragments of flesh and bone.

But today, they remain locked in the ultimate death match -- waiting for the next cleanup call and the race to the scene.

Misaskim leader Yanky Meyer was once recorded berating a Chesed Shel Emes volunteer who had helped transfer a body from a car crash to a New Jersey funeral home.

"Once you drop this deceased off in Lakewood, you'd better disappear," he can be heard saying, "because if I find out you're in the procession, I'm telling you right now -- I'm going to cut your balls off."

Meyer says he was just trying to get the volunteer "out of the way" so Misaskim could finish up.

On Aug. 19, both groups rushed to the Flatbush wine store where ex-hip-hop exec and converted Orthodox Jew Yosef Robinson was shot dead.

"We got there first," said a volunteer for Chesed Shel Emes (Hebrew for "true kindness"), which paid for the funeral and flew a minyan of 10 volunteers to Jamaica for the required prayer service.

Rabbi Mendy Rosenberg created Chesed Shel Emes 25 years ago. Its hundreds of volunteers handle about 300 burials and cleanups a year.

Misaskim ("helpers" in Hebrew) also monitors emergency calls on handheld radios. Its 11 delivery trucks transport special stools and prayer books for mourners sitting shiva.

Peace talks? The rivals won't even consider them.

"It's a freaking shame you and I have to talk about this," said Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), who has repeatedly tried to broker a sit-down. "I have a lot of respect for both."



Saturday, October 02, 2010

Another African-American convert to Judaism shot in Midwood 

Police yesterday were hunting for the gunman who shot and wounded a man on a quiet Midwood street.

The victim, a 22-year-old African-American convert to Judaism, was walking on Avenue K near East 17th Street when he was shot once in the shoulder.

He was listed in stable condition at Kings County Hospital.



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