Friday, July 31, 2015

Judge finds New Square rabbi not guilty in sex abuse case 

A Rockland judge on Thursday found New Square Rabbi Moshe Taubenfeld not guilty of allegations he sexually abused a boy over a five-year period from 2001 to 2006.
As Taubenfeld left the fourth-floor courtroom in the New City courthouse, a few dozen of his supporters started singing and dancing in the hallway, until court officers told them to be more composed. Several said they planned a celebration later in New Square.
Despite Judge Rolf Thorsen's verdict, the young man who accused Taubenfeld of sexual abuse said he hoped the fact that he testified publicly will help other victims of abuse in New Square and the religious community.
"Justice has not been served, unfortunately," he said after the verdict. "I believe, that as the victim, I did the right thing to come forward. I hope this will inspire all victims to come forward and help make this a better place for our future."
Taubenfeld, 55, also known as Mendel Zarkowsky, was charged with second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, a felony. He read from his prayer book at the defense table as he waited for the judge to issue his ruling. More than 40 people packed the courtroom to hear the verdict.
Defense attorney Gerard Damiani said,  "Mr. Taubenfeld is very happy it is over with. He always denied he ever abused (the boy) or anyone."
Damiani said Taubenfeld had taught more than 200 students over his career and not one of them had ever suggested he did anything inappropriate. Damiani said he asked for a non-jury trial because he doubted Taubenfeld could get a fair trial from many of the non-Hasidic residents in the county.
Damiani said Thorsen considered the testimony and facts presented him by the defense and prosecutor Stephen Moore, an executive assistant district attorney.
"The pressure that was on from the media, the DA, Brooklyn activists, and public opinion was tremendous," Damiani said. "We asked for a non-jury trial to get past all the prejudice."
Thorsen said he ruled on the facts, including deciding the credibility of the testimony and whether there was reasonable doubt based on the evidence. He announced the verdict just past 3 p.m. following a multi-week trial.
District Attorney Thomas Zugibe declined comment on Thorsen's verdict.
Nachum Rosenberg, a Brooklyn resident with ties to the Ramapo religious community who advocates for people who are sexually abused in the Hasidic community, was at court to hear the verdict. Rosenberg said it had been a terrible week for children in Rockland, citing another rabbi's plea to a reduced charge in a sexual abuse case earlier in the week.
Rosenberg called Thorsen's decision political, charging that the judge has aspirations for higher judicial office and owed his recent election to New Square Hasidic community. He said as long as judges are subject to political influence, "there will be no peace for children."
The courtroom had been packed with men supporting Taubenfeld, a father of 20 who is well respected within the Skver Hasidic village. His wife and a young daughter were killed in a terrorist attack on a bus in Israel. Several his other daughters testified during the trial.
His brother, Herschel Taubenfeld, pleaded guilty in 2013 to charges that he forcibly touched a young boy.
The accuser testified during the trial's second day that Taubenfeld had sexually abused him, starting when he sought comfort and an explanation for the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He was 8 years old at the time and Taubenfeld was a neighbor. He said the alleged abuse didn't stop until he said he turned 13 and moved out of the village in May 2006.
The young man said he and his family reported the abuse about six years ago to New Square community religious leaders, who discouraged him from going to police.
Damiani, however, hammered at what he said were inconsistencies in the man's story.


Rabbi pleads to endangering welfare of a child, ends sex abuse case 

A Monsey rabbi accused of sexually abusing a 7-year-old boy pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lesser charge of endangering the welfare of a child.
Prosecutors said the agreement met the family's request to spare their son from having to testify in public.
Rabbi Gabriel Bodenheimer, 72, principal of Yeshiva Bais Mikroh for decades, faces three years probation when sentenced Oct. 27 on the misdemeanor count. As part of the agreement, the rabbi is barred from teaching or entering any school. He will also be subject to typical restrictions imposed on sex offenders.
Rockland County Court Judge Rolf Thorsen accepted the rabbi's plea.
Prosecutor Richard Kennison Moran told Thorsen the case was being resolved at the request of the victim's family, who told Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe they wanted the boy to move forward with his therapy and life.
"The victim is extremely strong mentally," Moran said. "I believe he would be able to testify before this court. The family wants to spare their son the ordeal of testifying. I respect his family's wishes."
The boy's grandfather said Bodenheimer's guilty plea speaks volumes.
"The fact he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge tells you what the crime was," he said after court. "It tells you he is a predator and a bum. He took away a child's innocence that can never be given back."
Bodenheimer had earlier rejected a plea agreement that would have resulted in state prison time. He had maintained he never touched the boy.
A grand jury charged the rabbi last year with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual act and one count of first-degree sex abuse. The charges covered oral and anal sex with a child and carried a maximum of 25 years in prison.
The boy, now, 12, was 7 when Bodenheimer allegedly abused him at his school office between Aug. 1, 2009 and July 31, 2010. The boy and his mother filed a complaint in December 2013 with the Ramapo police.
Bodenheimer, who lives at 3 Dunhill Lane, said little Tuesday, standing with his lawyer, Avi Moskowitz. He admitted to knowing the boy and taking actions that endangered the child's welfare. He is prohibited from going near the boy in the future.
Bodenheimer, who has 14 children and 100 grandchildren, has led the Bais Mikroh on Viola Road for decades, educating thousands of Orthodox Jewish boys. He has been active recently in the push to change the state education aid formula to bring more aid to the East Ramapo School District and to the private schools that many of its young residents attend.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mamakating may sue Bloomingburg over Chestnut Ridge 

The Town of Mamakating is poised to go to court to stop the Village of Bloomingburg from allowing people to move into a controversial local development.
In two special meetings Monday night, Mamakating's town board and planning board each passed resolutions saying that if the Bloomingburg village board issues certificates of occupancy for finished units within the massive Chestnut Ridge development, Mamakating will take legal action against the village.
The Chestnut Ridge development, which will eventually include 396 units designed to attract Hasidic Jews, has become mired in lawsuits. Developer Shalom Lamm filed a $25 million suit against Mamakating and Bloomingburg last fall, alleging government backed anti-Semitism, and the two municipalities answered with a racketeering lawsuit against Lamm in April.
Bloomingburg has not yet issued certificates of occupancy for the approximately 48 completed residences in Chestnut Ridge, but Mamakating Supervisor Bill Herrmann said the town board held its special meeting Monday so it would be prepared if those certificates were issued this week. Nearly identical resolutions were passed by both the town board and the planning board, which declare that the two entities will file an Article 78 lawsuit against Bloomingburg to enjoin the village building inspector against issuing certificates of occupancy for the development.
The town opposes the certificates of occupancy because Lamm has not complied with all the conditions set by the planning board, formerly overseen by the village and now overseen by the town, Herrmann said. Lamm has not complied with planning board rules regarding its water supply, including getting approval from the town for the location of the development's well. The rules are the rules, Herrmann said, and Lamm's development must abide by them.
"We are not going to stand by and let anything slide by that's not proper," Herrmann said.
The village board has not issued the certificates yet because the village does not believe Lamm has finished everything the building inspector requires, according to village attorney Steve Mogel. However, the village and the town disagree on what is left for Lamm to do. The items of disagreement are things upon which reasonable minds may differ, Mogel said.
"Ultimately we may well need the intervention of the court," Mogel said.


Meet Brooklyn's Fearless Hasidic Dog Walker 

"The business, for me, is 30% rebellion, 30% comedy, and 30% for money," said Gedalya Gottdenger. He was wearing a yarmulke, peyos, and a t-shirt screenprinted with an ostentatious cat in mirror shades. Gottdenger stroked his client for the day, a shy red-hued Retriever named Tuppance, and reconsidered his math for a second.
"I want to say the remaining 10% is my love of dogs, but really that's the overarching reason, much more than 10%."
An Ultra Orthodox gentleman with a giddy pup in tow may not be an odd sight to everyone, but for those aware of the cultural taboo and relatively benign stereotype that religious Jews fear dogs, Gottdenger sticks out like a bagel at a Passover seder.
A column in the Jewish Daily Forward, a recent book of essays, and even the FAQ section of the website for Hasidic sect Chabad describe the phenomena and offer some explanations from a Kabbalah assertion that dogs have demonic powers to a simple fear of the unfamiliar, to its origin.
"There's a lot of theories as to why. I'm not really satisfied with any of them," Gottdenger, 23, says. "The most common suggestion is usually about Nazis and their German Shepherds, but I don't buy it. We were bred to be afraid, any kind of non-human animals give us the shits."
"Even cats?" I ask.
"Yeah, even cats," he says, adding, "but to be fair, cats are assholes."
Like most of his peers, Gottdenger avoided dogs altogether until his early twenties. The belief that they can "smell fear," some trainers say, can lead to a negative feedback loop of anxiety between dogs and humans.
He was able to break this pattern through prolonged exposure with his secular friend's affectionate and clingy chihuahua who demands endless games of fetch and occasionally demonstrates affection through urination.
"The more time I spent with her, I realized that not all dogs are scary and want to kill me," Gottdenger said.
Unable to have a pet himself, he began to walk the chihuahua for fun, and enjoyed the interactions that followed.
"I usually get comments from Latino men. They say, 'I never saw a Jew with a dog before!'"
While we sat on a bench outside a shop on Myrtle Avenue, a young African American employee of a shop came out with a cup of water to offer to Tuppance. He and Gottdenger had a brief chat about the dog's age, shyness, and the weather.
As for other Hasidim, sometimes they'll laugh or furtively snap a camera phone photo, but are too scared to approach.
Tuppance's "Mom", Nitza, met Gottdenger through the Jewish community in Williamsburg. They are both working towards careers in social work, and Nitza agreed to hire to him to walk Tuppance several times a week while he saves some cash for school. Two years later, he's turned his neurotic hobby into a burgeoning career.
"He has a foot in both the Satmar community, and in the whole yuppie, hipster, whatever you want to call it community," Nitza says.
Although she admits that what he's doing is unique, it's all part of the cherished melting pot character of New York. "I couldn't give a crap about the novelty of it," she says. "He genuinely loves dogs, he's very calm, very reliable. She's not easy to get along with, but she really does like him."
Recently Gottdenger has expanded the business by walking more dogs each day and offering to watch pets while their owners are on vacation, promoting himself with business cards and social media as "The Hasidic Dog Walker." His card shows a traditionally dressed Hasidic man looking down, perhaps with trepidation at a dog with a leash in its mouth."
"I love that as a business mantra," says Erin Mathieu of Bed-Stuy, whose self-described "jerk chihuahua" Reno was the first dog Gottdenger walked. "It's a wonderfully snarky response to the pigeonholing that New Yorkers tend to participate in when it comes to the Ultra Orthodox."
Dog-walking is a standard job for those who appreciate the flexible hours, ability to work outdoors, ease and informality of working for oneself, and occasionally, the animal companionship. Hasidim, on the other hand, live a life where every minute detail is dictated by religious law and customs, and likely see the precarious profession itself, let alone its proximity to fearsome dogs, as opposite their rigid lifestyle.
Some attempt a difficult transition out of Hasidic life, but Gottdenger, who is part of a sect that he describes as "no more open than any other," prefers to remain religious while testing cultural boundaries. He notes that like cycling, socializing, or attending secular functions, having an animal companion is not prohibited by religious laws.
"But while it's 'only culture' it's still culture," he says, emphasizing the extreme centrality of tradition as a supplement to religious life. "It's not a revolutionary thing, I'm not walking around Williamsburg naked, but for some people, somehow, it's enough."
Hoping to bridge the divide in more direct ways, he encourages gentile and secular friends curious about Judaism and Hasidic philosophy to try Torah study with Pratt's Chabad Rabbi, and interns for a new organization called Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED), which promotes the expansion of secular education amongst Ultra Orthodox children.
"I am angry for not having a well-rounded mathematical or linguistic education," Gottdenger says. "I'm not upset about not being brought up with Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Baseball, but it's hard to make it, to become independent, without a well-rounded education."
Gottdenger's parents and most of his religious friends don't know about his new profession, and he doesn't know how negatively they will react, but perhaps compared to others who more radically transgress cultural norms—such as queer or atheist Hasidim who are forced to either give up the communities in which they were raised or to live double lives—he isn't too worried.
"People are ultimately going to live the life they want to lead," Gottdenger says. "And even if it contradicts Judaism or Christianity or Islam or whatever, we have to let them be able to do it."


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New York to investigate haredi schools for lack of secular studies 

The City of New York will investigate thirty nine Brooklyn yeshivas after a local advocacy group alleged that they have failed to implement the full state mandated educational curriculum.

"We take seriously our responsibility to ensure that all students in New York receive an appropriate education, and we will investigate all allegations that are brought to our attention," a spokesman for the Department of Education told the New York Jewish Week on Tuesday.

While secular subjects form a much greater part of the curriculum at American ultra-Orthodox schools than in Israeli ones, especially among the non-hassidic groups, there are significant numbers of students who receive minimal instruction.

The Department's response came shortly after Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED), an organization that lobbies for increased secular education among New York's hassidim, organized a letter writing campaign complaining of"the poor quality and scant amount of secular education" at the yeshivas.

The letter, sent to seven district superintendents in Queens and Brooklyn as well as to the city's Schools Chancellor, alleged that the educational institutions have failed to meet New York state law requiring all nonpublic schools to provide an education that is "substantially equivalent" to what is offered in public schools and called for government intervention.

According to the Jewish Week, previous letters from Yaffed failed to raise a response from the various officials to which it turned because it declined to name specific educational institutions.

In late 2014 the New York Times reported that Yaffed founder Naftuli Moster along with several parents of children currently in the ultra-orthodox school system had brought a suit against the State of New York.

The organizations is best known for running billboards in orthodox neighborhoods calling for increased secular education. In one, a young hasidic boy is shown studying a math textbook accompanied by the Talmudic quote "a man is obligated to teach his son a trade."

Several testimonials on Yaffed's website provide a hint of the resentment and anger among those who believe that they have been denied the education they deserve.

"In high-school, we didn't get any secular education at all. We were in Yeshiva for almost 12 hours a day, but didn't learn anything besides Judaic studies. The lack of education effected me enormously. I couldn't get in to any college, and I cannot get a decent job. More importantly, I feel like I am unable to succeed to my full potential. I feel robbed. I feel violated," one anonymous Belz hasid wrote.

"I am empty numb void robotic life trying to support tons of kids. [sic] i have nothing to write because i wasn't taught how to write," another testimonial, this one from a member of the Satmar sect, read.

Yaffed's activities have been controversial in the ultra-orthodox world, especially because it works outside of established channels and the community power structure to obtain its ends.

Last December Ami Magazine, an internationally distributed haredi weekly, issued an apology after printing an advertisement for the group.

"Last night it came to my attention that in this week's edition of Ami Magazine there is a banner ad for YAFFED, an organization with a mission to change the state of Orthodox Jewish chinuch [education]," wrote Ami Magazine editor Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter in an email to subscribers.

"Ami Magazine has repeatedly advocated against such efforts and has condemned organizations like YAFFED. We have asked the community to unite against all those who seek to reform the Orthodox way of life, and we remain steadfast in our resolve to defeat such misguided initiatives," he said.

However, change within the community has proved impracticable, Moster told the Post at the time.

"People complain about us talking to the non-Jewish media about this issue, but the Heimish [religious] newspapers repeatedly reject our ads and offers for interviews," he said.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Brooklyn Girl Behind Viral ‘Worst Day Ever’ Poem Speaks Exclusively With 1010 WINS 

A Brooklyn girl's poem is taking over the Internet.
Chanie Gorkin, a 17-year-old about to enter the 12th grade at the Lubavitch high school Beth Rivkah, originally wrote the poem entitled "Worst Day Ever?" for an assignment at school.
"I don't think there is such a thing as the worst day ever," Gorkin told 1010 WINS in an exclusive interview Monday. "I wanted to show how your day is really based on how you look at things."
The poem is inspired by Talmudic teachings. "It comes from Hasidic philosophy, which I learn daily and try to take to heart, so I try my best to live what I wrote," Gorkin said.
The complex poem contains a surprise. From top to bottom it reads negatively, but when read in reverse the message drastically changes.
"It took me a few hours [to write]," Gorkin said. "I was scribbling, erasing, writing, trying to figure out how to make it work both ways."
It was posted online last year as part of a contest on PoetryNation.com, but went viral after it was recently spotted hanging on a wall in North London by a man who then tweeted it out. It garnered thousands of shares and made its way onto Facebook.
The poem has been viewed more than 1.3 million times on imgur.com. Gorkin said she is overwhelmed by the response.
"I knew that it was shared on Facebook before and people liked it, but I didn't know it was going around like this," Gorkin said. "I was kind of overwhelmed, but I'm happy that so many people were inspired."
She hopes her message will continue to spread.
"I'm very happy that so many people got this message and if it made people think a little more and inspire people to change their perspective then I'm very happy," Gorkin said. "I just hope that if people were really inspired by this then they should try to do something to inspire other people and spread this attitude everywhere."


Monday, July 27, 2015

Police visit to support Hackney Jewish neighbourhood watch scheme 

Met and City Hall chiefs will visit Hackney today to support an open day for the Shomrim, north-east London's Jewish neighbourhood watch scheme.
The event runs from 1pm until 4pm on Clapton Common, and offers a chance for local people to meet the volunteer group that works alongside the police to combat crime in the area.
Founded in 2005, the Stamford Hill Shomrim was modelled on a similar group that operates alongside the NYPD in New York.
The Deputy Mayor of London for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh and the Met's deputy assistant commissioner Hellen Ball will be at the event, alongside Hackney borough commander Ch Supt Simon Lawrence.
Matthew Horne, Ch Supt Lawrence's predecessor, told Al-Jazeera in 2009 the local police had good relationship with the Shomrim, whose volunteers he believed had helped cut crime levels by giving local Hasidic Jews an intermediary with the police.
"The Jewish community are extremely good at noticing when something is wrong. They will very quickly contact Shomrim," he said. "They will keep an eye on it and they will generally know when is the time to call us."
Shomrim event coordinator Michael Scher said: "It's important for the public, especially children, to see real people behind the uniforms, and appreciate their hard work on a daily basis. This is an open and public event - everyone is welcome.
"This event has a special focus on bike safety and cycling, which is very important, especially in Hackney where so many people cycle.
"All in all, I hope everyone has an enjoyable day."


Sunday, July 26, 2015

‘Miracle’ Babies Born in Israel to Identical Twin Parents 

The Breslov Hasidic community in Israel is calling the birth of two baby girls 20 minutes apart a miracle.

The girls born last week in Netanya are the daughters of two couples – identical twin brothers born 20 minutes apart and married to identical twin sisters born 20 minutes apart. The births at the Laniado Hospital were first reported by the haredi Orthodox website Kikar HaShabbat.

Hospital staff “came to the delivery room to see the wonders never before witnessed in the world,” Kikar HaShabbat reported.

The brothers, Niv and Ran Cohen, became religious about two years ago under the tutelage of the Breslov community’s rabbi, Eliezer Shlomo Schick, who died recently. Schick introduced them to their wives, Leah and Rebecca, and the couples were married last year, four days apart.

They live in the Breslov community in Yavneel, south of Tiberias.



Saturday, July 25, 2015

What drives former Haredim to suicide? And what can we do to stop it? 

In September 2013, I gathered with a group of friends to share feelings and reflections on the suicide death of one our friends, Deb Tambor, who had been struggling with a variety of issues related to leaving the insular Hasidic Jewish world. Next to me sat Faigy Mayer, a friend and fellow ex-Hasid.

Faigy and I talked for a bit, about Deb, and about our own lives. She told me she was doing well. I told her I was writing an essay about Deb’s death for an online magazine, and she offered me some helpful thoughts.

This week, nearly two years later, Faigy jumped to her own death from a 20-story building in Manhattan.

The news, when I heard it, shook me, as it did many in our community of ex-Haredi Jews. But it didn’t shock me. It’s almost as if we’ve come to expect another suicide in our ranks every so often.

Since leaving the Hasidic community in early 2008, I have lost at least half a dozen friends and acquaintances to death by their own hands, usually deliberate. There have been others too, friends of friends, members of our extended community, with waves of grief flowing outward far beyond those who knew the victims.



Friday, July 24, 2015

NYPD meets with religious leaders over paintball shootings 

New York Police Department officials sat down with religious leaders and lawmakers to discuss how to respond to a series of shocking attacks targeting Hasidic Jews in South Williamsburg in which the attackers have fired paintballs at victims, thrown bottles and physically assaulted them.
The meeting, which took place last week at the headquarters of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, was requested by Rabbi David Neiderman, the group's director.
Much of the discussion centered on ways the community could become more involved in preventing the attacks, according to Assemblymember Joseph Lentol (D-North Brooklyn), who was in attendance.
There have been five paint ball attacks against Hasidic Jews in South Williamsburg since March, according to the New York Daily News, which reported that the incidents are being investigated as possible hate crimes.
Dep. Insp. Mark DiPaolo, commanding officer of the 90th Police Precinct; Assistant Chief Jeffrey Maddrey, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn North; state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn Heights-North Brooklyn); state Sen. Martin Dilan (D-Bushwick-Williamsburg) and Assemblymember Maritza Davila (D-Bushwick) were also at the session, along with representatives from the office of Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Williamsburg-Greenpoint), the mayor's office and the borough president's office.
Leaders of Williamsburg Shomrim, a citizens patrol group, also attended the meeting.
The NYPD brass stressed the importance of using video cameras to catch perpetrators. They also talked about how important it is for private security cameras to be in working order.
Lentol said that many of the participants around the table agreed that video cameras are not only a great tool for finding perpetrators, they are also a valuable crime deterrent and create a greater sense of safety in the community.
The elected officials pledged to work together on an education campaign to inform residents of the value of having working security cameras, Lentol said. The lawmakers are also in the process of securing additional funding to purchase more cameras for the area, he said.
"We all came together because there is no better way to solve problems than with a broad coalition. No person should be subject to an assault; no matter their religion or the color of their skin. I know these perpetrators will be caught and I know that the NYPD and the Williamsburg Shomrim are hard at work to prevent any future attacks," Lentol said.


‘Worst Day Ever’? N.Y. Hasidic teen’s touching poem goes viral 

A poem with a surprisingly positive message written by a Brooklyn high school student is taking the world by storm.
A man in the U.K. spotted the poem tacked on the wall of a bar in North London and then posted a picture of it on Twitter.
"Worst Day Ever?" By Chanie Gorkin
Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don't try to convince me that
There's something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don't last.
And it's not true that
It's all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be obtained
Only if one's surroundings are good
It's not true that good exists
I'm sure you can agree that
The reality
My attitude
It's all beyond my control
And you'll never in a million years hear me say that
Today was a good day
Now read from the bottom to top, the other way,
And see what I really feel about my day.
While reading the poem from top to bottom seems like a dark view of today's world, reading it from the bottom to the top completely changes the poem's perspective.
The author of this creative and insightful poem is Chanie Gorkin, an 11th grader at Beth Rivkah High School in Crown Heights. She attends an all-girls school and lives in the Hasidic Community of Crown Heights.
Gorkin's mother confirmed to WABC that Chanie is the poem's author. She posted the poem on poetrynation.com. Her mom said Chanie was unable to comment at this time because she is busy having too much fun at summer camp.
Poetry Nation reports that the girl's mother also gave the poem some momentum by sharing it on Facebook. She was shocked that it took off the way it did.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

New York Assemblyman Arrested for Protesting Iran Deal Outside U.S. Senator's Office 

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind was arrested for "disorderly conduct" while protesting outside U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer's office in Manhattan on Thursday.
The NYPD says a total of eight protesters were arrested, including three men and five women.
Police would not confirm that Hikind was among them. However, a photo on his Twitter account shows him being handcuffed. And his spokesperson says he was taken into Manhattan Central Booking.
Schumer and the other protesters were demanding that Sen. Schumer oppose the Obama administration's deal with Iran regarding its nuclear capabilities, which is currently up for a 60-day congressional review. (Although the president has said he'll veto any attempt by Congress to block it.)

According to the office of Assemblyman Hikind, he was arrested while chanting "Chuck the deal!" outside Sen. Schumer's Manhattan headquarters.
"We're pleading with Senator Schumer to step up and lead this fight," Hikind says in a pre-released statement. "Schumer's voice is critical, with other senators looking towards him to take a stance. I see millions of people in Iran chanting 'Death to America, Death to Israel' and we're negotiating with this regime? It's insane."

Hikind is known as a bit of a rabble-rouser, especially when it comes to issues dear to his Hasidic constituency in Borough Park.

But he's not the only one angry about Schumer's position on Iran. Thursday afternoon's small protest on 3rd Avenue was a mini followup to a massive "Stop Iran Now" rally on Wednesday night in Times Square that drew around 10,000 supporters.
The New York Post also took aim at Schumer on Wednesday's front page. "Where's Chuck? Senator hides from Post's Iran questions," reads the quarter-page headline.
Patch has reached out to Schumer's office for comment.


Jumper denounced Hasidic ‘cult’ in despondent email 

The former Hasidic woman who jumped to her death from a swanky rooftop bar Monday wrote a despondent e-mail to pals days before her suicide blasting the Jewish sect as a "cult" that "shouldn't exist."
Faigy Mayer, who was shunned by her Hasidic parents, described the sect as antiquated, oppressive and controlled by powerful rabbis.
She talked about how everything from Internet use to sex was rigidly regulated — and that even after leaving the faith she still felt its grip.
"I feel as though Hasidic Judaism shouldn't exist at all," the 30-year-old woman wrote in the missive, adding that "Thinking analytically when it comes to basic life decisions is something new to me and something I still struggle with, 5 years after leaving."
In the long, impassioned letter sent on July 12, Mayer — who plunged 20 stories from the 230 Fifth bar in the Flatiron District — compared being Hasidic to being in a cult.
"Right now rabbis are winning. One of the characteristics of a cult is a charismatic leader. These charismatic rabbis are saying no to the internet," she wrote.
She began by describing her upbringing, including early schooling in which married female teachers had to wear wigs to cover their hair — and then hats over their wigs. She said boys' Yiddish studies prevented them from learning simple math.
"Hasidic boys aren't as lucky as Hasidic girls," Mayer wrote. "They do not know simple math such as division or fractions . . . They have only 'Yiddish' all day."
She spoke about how many Hasidim are on welfare, and how those who try to run businesses have trouble because they can't use the Internet.
Mayer described intimate relations among Hasidim as "the couple having sex with the wife wearing a bra in the complete dark (hole in the sheet, anyone?) but still producing 13 children generally throughout her lifetime."
Mayer said rabbis are stifling any kind of fun.
"My 3 nephews . . . most fun they have is to color with crayons," she wrote. "Basic joys American kids get on a daily basis my nephews don't have."
Mayer talked about her struggles being raised in a strict religious environment and said her "uneducated" mother diagnosed her as "bipolar" at age 16.
She was tormented with her decision to leave the faith and was hospitalized several times for mental health issues.
Full email text below:
I remember being in the third grade and my mom and I wrote a list of all the girls in my girls-only hasidic Jewish girls' school. The school was a part of the Hasidic sect of Belz. The purpose was to find me a friend. We went over the list to see if there was anyone I wanted to be friends with. I don't remember what happened after we went over that list. However, I do remember that clearly nothing was accomplished, and until I left the religion of hasidic Judaism at the age of 24, I would not have any friends. I thought a girl named Chevy was my friend in the 10th grade, but when she had to tell her sister that I was at her house, she said: My classmate is here. I remember being stung by her not referring to me as her friend.
It is now, having recently celebrated my 5 year anniversary for leaving hasidic Judaism that I realize what my problem probably was. It was probably due to the fact that my mom's parents are converts to Hasidic Judaism, my grandmother had most of a college degree from Brooklyn College at the age of 18, is highly intellectual, and I take after her and strongly identify with my American roots. I wasn't able to have anything to dish about with my peers. I couldn't share with them my love for reading books on the Olympics. I liked my teacher Mrs. Binet in the 7th grade. She was "cool." Belz was right-wing enough to make all married teachers wear hats on top of their wigs if they wore a wig and not a silky scarf-covering. Mrs. Binet was chastised for wearing a hat a bit too fancy. Trendiness was not encouraged. That was the austere environment I was in.
I didn't know that leaving the faith was an option to me until the age of 23 when a secular relative told me I could. I didn't know that I will never get married to a hasidic guy. When I was 16 my uneducated mom personally diagnosed me with bipolar and given the family situation when I was 18, I was allowed to attend college and then graduate school. But when I was 18 or so, I remember wondering about what if I would have a boy? A day at Belz school from pre-1-a to the end of high school was divided in half. The two parts of the day were "Yiddish" (the first half), and "English," the second half. I purposely flunked out of Yiddish as I knew there would be no consequences as there were separate diplomas for English and Yiddish.
In August 2004, at the age of 18, I was accepted to Touro College with only my diploma and no transcripts as hasidic schools refuse to provide transcripts. But hasidic boys aren't as lucky as hasidic girls. They do not know simple math such as division or fractions. That is because their day isn't divided in two. They have only "Yiddish" all day. I remember wondering what I would do if I would have a son and he would be subjected to the torture of learning Yiddish all day. I remember my teacher Mrs. Gips teaching us the laws of kashrut and she was obsessing over accidentally using a dairy utensil in a meat pot and without knowing the word, Bulls---, that is what I was thinking, and failing that class and so many others was the smartest thing I did.
Without knowing I was agnostic I refused to study rules that were clearly not applicable to 2001. This was the same with the Lammed Tes Meluchos already in the 6th grade. The Lammed Tes Meluchos are the 36 commandments kept on Shabbat. I remember one commandment forbids tying knots on Shabbat and my teacher taught us all the loopholes to tying and untying knots. I was chastised to decorating my lammed tes meluchos book and making it too fancy, but the actual studying of the Hebrew words that I wrote so fancily never happened.
I discussed the above to try to explain what happens to intelligent children with American backgrounds. However, I feel as though Hasidic Judaism shouldn't exist at all. My 3 nephews are being raised in a very strict hasidic Jewish environment. It isn't fair to them that they have to live their lives the way they do. The most fun they have is to color with crayons. Even if I would be allowed to be in their lives, they would not be allowed to play games on my iPhone. Basic joys American kids get on a daily basis my nephews don't have. Instead they have long hours at a Cheder, which is a boys' school, where they are forced to sit in one place and study Jewish laws and history with ZERO time for sports. On TV today, I watched Roger Federer play at Wimbledon and the guy I was with explained that the winner needs to win 3 sets. Ordinarily, I would believe that my nephews will never see tennis...But I had a conversation last night with two friends, Yangbo Du and Jason that suggests otherwise.
Jason and Yangbo were talking about how Facebook, in a brilliant marketing effort, created a 501c3 called internet.org which gives free internet connections to those using facebook.com, getting all that ad revenue and making money that way. Then Facebook gets even more money by charging if the user uses any domain other than facebook.com. I disagreed with Jason on his stance that Facebook shouldn't be doing this. I see how atheist hasidic Jews pretend to believe and Facebook is their only outlet for speaking with like minded Jews (unless Facebook is tipped off that their account is fake and automatically deletes it).
But rabbis do not allow computers or smartphones, so internet.org couldn't help my people. The next part of our conversation is something I think people would find eye-opening. The austere lifestyle my people face of arranged marriages, strict segregation of the genders, the wife shaving her head, the couple having sex with the wife wearing a bra in the complete dark (hole in the sheet, anyone?) but still producing 13 children generally throughout her lifetime, working for cash only so that Uncle Sam can help with food stamps, section 8, and Medicaid and seeing on average worse doctors because they have the worst insurance...Jason thinks that that might end in 20 years.
Jason has a hasidic landlord so he had a specific example for me to illustrate his logic: His landlord was 3 weeks late replying to his email about a broken air conditioner. Therefore, his electricity bill was through the roof and he refused to pay a month's rent. Jason said his landlady explained that she doesn't have the internet so she was unable to respond to his email in a timely fashion. However, now that she lost a month's rent, will she find a way to check her email every day? Probably yes.
Right now rabbis are winning. One of the characteristics of a cult is a charismatic leader. These charismatic rabbis are saying no to the internet. But can you survive without the internet? I worked for about 5 years throughout college for my aunt on a part-time basis. She and my uncle are running an exterminating business out of their home. They face incredible difficulties by not having the internet in their home. Once I stopped generating a report on chemical usage, they had their consultant do it. Their consultant has to physically come to Boro Park to put the data on a USB drive and then she will work with it. This is now.
When I had to renew my NYS ID, I did so online. what if in 20 years you have to go online to get a birth certificate for your child. I have mine on paper. Does that make sense? A hasidic mom with 13 children needs those birth certificates so that she could get food stamps for her child as soon as that child is born. Will she go online so that she can get her food stamps? I believe she will. And once she is online, she might come across a story on the home screen, and that might make her think about her harsh life, which she embraces, but she is embracing it without thinking. IF PEOPLE WERE ALLOWED TO THINK, THEY WOULD NOT BE RELIGIOUS. Thinking analytically when it comes to basic life decisions is something new to me and something I still struggle with, 5 years after leaving.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Orthodox Funeral Held for Faigy Mayer, Former Hasid Who Jumped to Death From Trendy NYC Rooftop Bar 

Faigy Mayer — a 30-year-old aspiring tech entrepreneur who fatally leaped from a New York rooftop bar — was given an Orthodox Jewish funeral Tuesday from her family's Hasidic community, even as friends said she was feeling rejected by them in the hours before her death.
"She wrote that she asked her family for pictures of when she was a baby, and they didn't want to give them to her," mourner Chaya Huss said.
Two hours after the Facebook post, Mayer ran through a crowd of party-goers Monday night at the trendy, 230 Fifth rooftop bar in Manhattan's Flatiron District. Mayer ran through some bushes and jumped off the roof, 20 stories to her death. She was wearing a dress and heels.
Huss said, like Mayer, she had left the traditional, Hasidic lifestyle and was seeking counseling.
"And I confided in her, when I was feeling suicidal myself, and she talked me out of it," Huss said.
Mayer appeared in a National Geographic documentary shortly after she left the community.
Another friend, Jason Wisdom, told KTLA sister station WPIX that Mayer wanted to be a tech entrepreneur.
"She wanted to be a successful, iOS developer; she was taking classes," Wisdom said. "And she was having challenges getting started there, so she was unhappy about that."
Mayer often posted happy, hopeful, and positive photos on her Facebook and Twitter accounts. One picture showed her standing in front of a wall with bright, painted words behind her, stating "Life is beautiful." On Twitter, she shared pictures of the U.S. Women's Soccer team at the recent ticker tape parade in New York City.
Mourners relayed that Mayer's father gave a pained eulogy in Yiddish at the funeral, which was held at Shomrei Hadas Funeral Home in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Those standing outside could hear his cries over a speaker, WPIX reported.
Later, Hasidic men backed up a black van to the doors of the funeral parlor, so the press could not see the casket being carried to the hearse. The men followed the hearse to the corner of 14th Avenue.
"I'm in pain," Mayer's father said at one point in English. "I can't get out of the pain."
Mark Appel, who leads the group Voice for Justice, spoke to PIX11 at Mayer's funeral.
"We need more attention to the mental health problems of our youth," Appel said specifically about the troubled youth within the Orthodox Jewish community. "We have to help out the next generation; otherwise, we lose them."


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Woman Who Left Hasidic Community Jumps to Death From Rooftop Bar 

A 30-year-old tech entrepreneur who left her Hasidic community jumped to her death from a 20th-floor rooftop bar in Manhattan's trendy Flatiron District.
Faigy Mayer, 30, plunged off the roof of 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar on West 27th Street Monday night in an apparent suicide, a New York police spokesman told Gothamist.
Mayer was the founder, CEO and iOS Developer of Appton, a startup specializing in mobile apps. She was a graduate student of Accounting at CUNY. According to her Twitter profile, she identifies as a "Former hasid who codes in iOS. Love coding, beacons, bacon, the appleWatch and life!"
Mayer was also a member of Footsteps , a group that provides "social and emotional support, educational and vocational guidance, workshops and social activities, and access to resources" to members of the ultra-Orthodox community that wish to leave.
Friends on her Facebook page said Mayer struggled with depression.
The New York Post spoke to witness Dale Martin, who said, "I was walking across the street and I saw she was falling."
Another witness, Becky Whittemore was at the bar and told the Post, "There was a big corporate party up there and she kind of ran through them and jumped."
Eliyahu Fink, a former rabbi at the Pacific Jewish Center, said he did not know Mayer personally. They shared several common friends and she followed him on Facebook. Tuesday morning, he wrote a long post about how the Orthodox community should do more for suicide prevention and acceptance. He never mentioned Mayer by name.
He told the Forward, "As a community, we must do a better job loving unconditionally. Too many people make their relationships dependent on religious observance. This compounds the trauma and loneliness for those who leave."


Remains of Jewish victims of Nazi medical experiments found in France 

It started with a letter, a brief reference to samples taken from the bodies of Holocaust victims used in Nazi medical research. Decades later, the jars and test tubes found behind a glass cupboard in a locked room testified to history's horror.
Raphael Toledano, a researcher from Strasbourg who has spent more than a decade delving into the eastern French city's Nazi past, stumbled upon the 1952 letter from Camille Simonin, the director of the forensic science school at the University of Strasbourg, detailing the storage of tissue samples taken from some of the 86 Jews gassed for the experiments of August Hirt, a notorious Nazi anatomy researcher.
The autopsy samples were intended to be used to prosecute Hirt, who directed the construction of a gas chamber built specifically to provide victims for experiments carried out at the facility. At the time, Germans had replaced the French staff, which largely decamped elsewhere.
Strasbourg was liberated by the Americans, Hirt ultimately committed suicide, and the remains ended up in the highly specialised forensic science museum at the university, which has since become one of France's most prestigious medical schools.
Simonin's letter was directed at a judge who planned to put Hirt on trial, asking if the samples could be of use. It's not known how or whether the judge responded, said Jean-Sebastien Raul, the institute's current director.
The samples were apparently forgotten until 9 July, when Toledano and Raul cracked open the door. The storage container and jar and test tubes, holding a fragment of human skin and other body samples, were meticulously labelled just as the letter detailed, Toledano said.
"It was a shock to discover that these jars were still there, that we put in a museum display a part of these Jews who were murdered by the Nazis," Toledano said.

The Strasbourg mayor's office said on Monday it hoped to return the remains to Strasbourg's Jewish community for eventual burial in the city, which sits on the border of France and Germany.
Hirt was tried in absentia in 1952 in France and sentenced to death for his experiments. At the time French authorities did not realise that he had committed suicide at the end of the second world war and presumed that he was hiding in Germany.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Microsoft Buys ‘FieldOne’ Headed by Satmar Hassid for $39 Million 

Microsoft just bought IT company FieldOne, which was founded and led by Satmar Hasid, Shlomo Boim, for $39 million.

Satmar is a Hasidic sect fiercely opposed to Zionism.

The New York based company is a Global Provider of Field Service Management  that allows organizations to better manage and deliver service to their customers in the field, by connecting all branches with their headquarters. Among FieldOne clients are United Technologies and Mitsubishi-Hitachi Power Systems.
The core FieldOne platform was built on top of the Microsoft Dynamics xRM Framework, enabling it to work easily with Dynamics CRM, Outlook, Office 365, Azure, Skype and Yammer.
Shlomo Boim previously developed a filter for Haredi Internet users in order to prevent exposure to unwanted material, particularly pornography and immodest dress.
Shlomo Boim announced:
"Today, as we announce Microsoft's definitive agreement to acquire FieldOne, I am grateful and amazed by the journey we are embarking on as a company. What started as a simple idea some years ago has turned into a powerful solution that will impact millions of people around the world. I am truly humbled by this realization.
"The future is very bright for the field service management software industry. Evolutions in technology are fueling rapid advances in the IoT, cloud, and big data. Companies need to shift from reactive to proactive service mode or they risk losing their customers. The need is blatantly obvious and with Microsoft's resources and vision we will be taking field service to a whole new level and look forward to sharing our new developments with you. We don't see this milestone as an end but rather as the beginning. We see this milestone as a fascinating journey rather than a destination and we welcome you to join us!
Microsoft Corporate Vice President Bob Stutz notes wrote on the company's official blog:

Field service management is a specific but critically important area of customer service, providing companies with the ability to deliver end-to-end field service. This is a unique and transformational point in time for these solutions as enterprises look to improve their responsiveness to customers with service in the field – taking service directly to the customer anytime a service cannot be managed by phone or other channels.
In this critical area, FieldOne really stands out. They have the baseline functionality that organizations need to drive a more effective field service operation stands out. They have the baseline functionality that organizations need to drive a more effective field service operation


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Breslov Rabbi Refuses to See Women After Tzfat, Berland Scandals 

Haredi leaders appear to be taking stock of several recent sexual harassment scandals, Kikar Hashabbat reports Sunday.

On Sunday, Rabbi Shalom Arush, Breslov leader and head of the Chut Shel Chessed yeshiva (Torah academy), announced that he will stop meeting with women during public reception hours in light of the scandals.

Rabbi Arush explained that the move is to set a precedent for caution.

"The evil inclination of rabbis is even greater than that of other people," he said, reflecting a Judaic concept that people with great potential also have greater challenges.

Therefore, he said, he will not see women in person anymore, even if they are accompanied by their husbands.

The decision was made against the backdrop of at least ten women accusing Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg of Tzfat (Safed) of sexual abuse in a religious context, which made headlines after Sheinberg attempted to flee Israel and was arrested before his departure.

Another factor was apparently the scandal surrounding Shuvu Banim hasidic sect leader Rabbi Eliezer Berland, who was accused of committing indecent acts against several young female followers and who fled to several countries before being ordered to be extradited to Israel by a Dutch court last month.



Saturday, July 18, 2015

KJ interests donate $250K to Cuomo days after veto of annexation bills 

A group of entities located in or tied to Kiryas Joel deposited $250,000 in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign account on Monday and Tuesday, less than a week after the governor vetoed two bills spawned by the Kiryas Joel annexation controversy that leaders of that community strenuously opposed, according to the financial disclosure report Cuomo's campaign filed this week.
Cuomo's haul included eight $25,000 checks from four limited liability corporations that listed the same address in Brooklyn and that appear to be connected to Mayer Hirsch, a Kiryas Joel resident and former village trustee who oversees the land development arm of Kiryas Joel's main congregation. Three of the entities that made contributions listed Hirsch's home address in Kiryas Joel when they were incorporated in 2012 and 2013.
The remaining $50,000 came in a single check from a limited liability corporation that listed the home address in Kiryas Joel of Hirsch's son, Jacob.
The disclosure of the donations has further infuriated activists who supported the bills that Cuomo vetoed, one of which would have enabled Orange County planners to recommend approval or rejection of two pending proposals to annex 507 acres or 164 acres into Kiryas Joel from the Town of Monroe. Emily Convers, chairwoman of the United Monroe citizens group, called the sudden infusion of campaign cash an obvious payment for services rendered by the governor.
"For anyone to doubt for a second who Cuomo is working for and what motivated him to veto, look no further than this blatant purchase of an elected leader," Convers said on Friday. "When those opposed to an environmental oversight bill are screaming 'anti-Semitism' and paying off the governor, it's hard not to make that assumption. It's despicable."
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi responded on Friday that Cuomo "clearly laid out" his objections to the two bills in his veto messages. The governor had argued that the bill giving county planning departments a say in certain annexation requests violated a clause in the state constitution that stipulates counties may give consent to annexations only when it affects their borders. Assemblyman James Skoufis, the Woodbury Democrat who introduced the bill, has strongly disputed that reasoning, pointing out that his bill would have left the annexation decision in the hands of the two municipalities involved - in this case, the Kiryas Joel and Town of Monroe governing boards.
The second bill - which wouldn't have affected the current annexation clash but could have played a role in future ones - would have let state officials weigh the environmental records of municipalities vying to oversee an environmental review, as Kiryas Joel and the Town of Monroe did for the 507-acre annexation request. Cuomo argued in his veto message that state officials already had that ability, and that the bill could have penalized municipalities for the environmental missteps of previous administrations.
“As stated in the Governor’s veto messages, these bills were not approved because one was unconstitutional and the other would have resulted in undue burdens being placed on the municipalities it was intended to help," Azzopardi said in an email.
Reached on his cell phone Friday afternoon, Mayer Hirsch said he would have to look into the contributions and couldn't discuss them until Monday. Vaad Hakiryah, the landholding entity he oversees, owns almost a third of the 285 undeveloped acres included in the larger annexation request.
Supporters of the bills Cuomo vetoed on July 8 argued they would have strengthened outside oversight of major annexation attempts and corrected deficiencies in state law. Kiryas Joel leaders and their allies contend the measures were intended solely to block the expansion of the Satmar Hasidic community.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Safed yeshiva head is the rabbi nabbed for alleged sex crimes 

Safed rabbi Ezra Sheinberg, head of the city's Orot HaAri yeshiva, was named Thursday night as the prominent religious figure accused of sexual offenses who was arrested earlier this month while trying to flee the country.
Sheinberg has been accused of sexual crimes by 10 different women who approached him in the past for religious guidance. He was caught at Ben Gurion Airport on July 1 as he was attempting to leave the country. 

Ynet news reported that students and teachers at Orot HaAri were in shock at the accusations against Sheinberg, who was extremely popular and had many ardent followers. Sheinberg was a popular Kabbalist and respected figure in Israel's national-religious community who also built bridges with the Hasidic public.
Sheinberg's written works have been dumped into a trash can in one of the institution's rooms. "From here, they'll be put away and buried," Rabbi Gad Cohen of the yeshiva told Ynet.
"Rabbi Sheinberg has become an abomination in the eyes of students."
Sheinberg had recently resigned from his position and left Safed, under pressure from a committee of local rabbis.
The women had approached the rabbinic council with the allegations. A team of local rabbis, led by Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, began investigating the accusations in mid-June, and later reported them to the police.
"In consultation with various sources, and psychologists and professionals, the rabbi was asked to resign, and he did so immediately from his role of yeshiva head," the rabbis told Channel 2 in a statement.
"He agreed to leave the city until the facts were clarified," they added.
Sheinberg has denied all the charges against him.
Eliyahu told the news website the women were initially reluctant to report the allegations to the police. The rabbis then turned to the cops with the charges, but were informed they could not file a complaint on behalf of the women, Eliyahu said.
According to Channel 10, the women had approached the rabbi for religious counsel and a blessing for fertility after they struggled to conceive.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Anti-Block Vote webpage provokes backlash with nasty post 

While Rockland County employee James Foley has attracted over 10,000 followers to his Block the Block Vote Facebook page that urges Rockland and Orange residents to organize against the influence of religious Jewish communities in the area, this week he overplayed his hand and earned sour remarks from Rocklanders.
Foley took issue with the fact that a 7-11 in a Orthodox/Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn decided to hold their annual free slurpie giveaway on July 12 instead of July 11, which fell on a Saturday, the Jewish sabbath. Foley accused "Block vote looters" all the way in Brooklyn of "bullying" an "American icon."
The nonsensical rant by Foley did not go over well even with his followers and Foley soon deleted the post.  The post later became a subject for discussion on a social media group called "Exposing Block the Block Vote."
Commenter Zorach M. Spira said, "A private business chose to change a day that they were going to give out something for free is a problem to these [jerks]? I'm sure the 7-11 store…saw it as a potential money making venture and decided to go with it. Now the kids that got this mini-slurpee will pester their parents to bring them back in the future for more. I call it good business thinking!"
Others noted that the post had nothing to do with politics and referred to customers of 7-11 as looters simply because of their religion.


Appeals court reverses property dispute decision 

An appeals court panel on Wednesday reversed a Supreme Court decision that Orange County won in a dispute with a Kiryas Joel property owner over whether a 1.5-acre slice of roadside that the county seized for road improvements was worth $33,000 or $1.1 million.
The county took the land through eminent domain to smooth a dangerous curve on County Route 105 and did the work in 2006, but wound up in a costly, heavily litigated dispute with landowner Irving Bauer over how much the county must pay him. State Supreme Court Justice James Brand, presented with wildly disparate estimates, sided with Orange County's estimate of $33,000 instead of Bauer's $1.1 million.
More than two years later, a panel of Appellate Division judges reversed that decision and ordered the case returned to Supreme Court "to recalculate the value of the subject property." The judges concluded that the county had undervalued the property, but pointed out that the court "was not bound to accept" Bauer's appraisal either.
The disputed land is a corner of 70-acre, wooded peninsula of Kiryas Joel that Bauer has owned since 1989 and that now makes up the last major swath of undeveloped land in the densely populated Hasidic community. Bauer had calculated during that trial more than 1,000 condominiums could be built on his entire property at Kiryas Joel-style density and that just half of that land was worth around $27 million.
Orange County is waging a separate court fight with Kiryas Joel over who must pay the county's legal bills for the condemnation case, which totaled about $490,000 as of June.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ex Melbourne principal facing sex abuse claims, Malka Leifer, suffering psychosis, lawyer says 

Authorities are working to force Malka Leifer's return from Israel amid accusations she sexually assaulted a string of teen girls while principal at Adass Israel School in Elsternwick.
She is currently under house arrest while extradition proceedings continue at the request of Victoria Police who have indicated she could face criminal charges.
Almost a year after being arrested in Israel, lawyers for Mrs Leifer, who has vowed to never return to Melbourne, now claim she is psychotic and unfit to face court.
Mrs Leifer was expected to appear at the Jerusalem District Court overnight but failed to attend because of ill health.
Lawyer Yehuda Fried said the extradition was "only at the beginning" and said his client pledged to drag the case out.
Mr Fried said his Mrs Leifer had been hospitalised multiple times for "psychosis" and said she had been deemed mentally ill by several psychologists.
"We cannot even begin to talk about this until my client is healthy enough to attend court," Mr Fried told the Herald Sun outside court.
"But even when the district court eventually hands down a decision, we've got the Supreme Court (to appeal to), and eventually we can turn to the justice minister, who is required to sign all extradition orders."
In a move to expedite proceedings prosecutors have called for future hearings to be held at Mrs Leifer's home, or hospital.
They have also flagged the possibility of medical treatment ahead of future court dates to prevent psychotic attacks.
And they have called for the potential for Mrs Leifer to be returned to full police custody.
"The decision for Australian authorities is not whether or not (Mrs Leifer) is capable of withstanding an extradition hearing. This is not Australia's concern," the prosecutor told the court.
"(But as for the) question about whether Australia wants (Leifer to) return, even if the process takes a long time, the answer is yes," she said.
In a scathing attack Mr Fried accused the prosecution of withholding documents and of "untoward… unethical and illegal behaviour".
But he refused to respond to rumours that his legal fees are being paid by members of the ultra-Orthodox community, rather than by the Leifer family.
Mrs Leifer, who was based in Melbourne between 2001 and 2008, fled to Israel just hours after allegations of sexual assaults were made public.
School officials failed to report the allegations to police but instead helped Ms Leifer flee to Israel.
The matter will return to court on October 26.


Police appeal after anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on Tottenham walls 

Detectives are appealing for witnesses following two incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti.
Police were called at 10.35pm on Monday to reports of graffiti of an anti-Semitic nature on a wall in Vartry Road, Tottenham.
The following day officers received another call at 1.50pm for the same offence on Richmond Road, Tottenham, which is off Vartry Road.
An investigation has been launched by detectives from the Community Support Unit who are linking the two incidents.
The two roads are on the border of the Stamford Hill area which is home to the second largest Hasidic Jewish community in the world outside of Israel.
No arrests have been made.
Any witnesses and anyone with any information can contact the Community Support Unit on 020 3276 3173 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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