Friday, May 31, 2019

Measles Outbreak Surpasses 25-Year-Old Record, Challenging The Virus’ Status As ‘Eliminated’ 

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared measles “eliminated,” putting the disease in the same category as smallpox and polio. That meant that, according to the CDC, there had been an “absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months.”

Now, that status is on the verge of being revoked.

This year alone has seen 971 measles infections nationwide, with the majority of those coming from outbreaks in upstate New York and New York City. That broke a record from 1994 that encompassed the total number of infections over a 12-month period. It’s still far from the 1992 measles total, however, a year that had over 2,200 infections.

Furthermore, the disease is nowhere near as deadly and widespread as it was at its zenith, in the 1950s, when millions were infected and hundreds died from the disease each year, NPR reported.

The extreme rates of infection have been fueled by travelers coming back from abroad with the infection from countries experiencing significant measles outbreaks, primarily Ukraine and Israel. Europe as a whole had over 82,000 measles infections last year, according to the World Health Organization.

New York state has seen 550 infections since September, almost entirely within the state’s Hasidic community. That outbreak has been traced to travelers coming back from Israel, which saw over 2,000 measles cases in 2018, also almost entirely within the country’s Hasidic community. The outbreak has spread in the community due to a mix of low vaccination rates for some schools and neighborhoods, crowded living conditions, frequent multi-family gatherings (such as for holidays and Sabbath meals) and mistrust of the government and medical establishment, leading parents to vaccinate children late or behind the recommended immunization schedule.

Hasidic Jews opposed to vaccination have been exposed to anti-vaccine propaganda that mirrors the kinds of anti-vaccine media that secular anti-vaxxers consume.

Recently, New York health officials have pointed to slowing infection rates as a sign of hope for the outbreak in the state. Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency in heavily Hasidic portions of Brooklyn, mandating that people who have not been vaccinated receive fines. Health workers have been offering free vaccines in the affected Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Even as Hasidic anti-vaxxers have publicized their stances, many in the community have expressed fears of a backlash against all visibly Orthodox Jews.



Thursday, May 30, 2019

Remembering Berel Raskin The Fishmonger, An Icon Of Hasidic Crown Heights For Decades 

Sholom Ber Raskin — a.k.a. Schlomo, a.k.a. Berel — legendary fishmonger to Hasidic Crown Heights for over 65 years, died on Saturday at the age of 84, Chabad.org reported in an obituary.

Raskin was born in Leningrad in 1934, as government authorities had begun to strangle Jewish observance across Soviet Russia. When Raskin was six, his mother took him and his brothers east, to the city of Gorky. His father stayed behind, and died during the Siege of Leningrad.

Raskin eventually made it to America, in 1954, with stops in Tashkent, Uzbekistan — where a community of Lubavitcher Hasidic Jews had formed to practice Judaism far from the centers of Soviet power — as well as a displaced persons camp in Austria and a suburb of Paris.

He grew up in close proximity to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the rebbe, or spiritual leader, of the Lubavitcher Hasidic group, which soon became known around the world as Chabad. As a young man, Raskin reportedly agreed to grow a beard in exchange for Schneerson officiating his wedding.



Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Diederich files petitions for independent line on November ballot 

Attorney Michael Diederich has filed petitions to gain a November ballot spot for district attorney, as retired Judge Victor Alfieri won a court appeal putting him on the June primary ballot.

Diederich, whose petitions the other candidates say they are not challenging, will have a place on the ballot that provides him with a public forum to press his goal of prosecuting private schools that don't meet state educational standards as the county's top prosecutor.

Diederich, a Stony Point resident and retired army attorney, filed 2,053 names for his "Serve Rockland" ballot line in the Nov. 6 election. He needed 1,500 valid signatures.

Diederich said he depended on grassroots supporters to collect the signatures for him after he dropped out of the June 25 Democratic Party primary in April. He originally sought the ballot line of the nascent Serve America Movement.

Diederich stood out among the Democrats for the open post by contending he would prosecute administrators of private Hasidic schools for the lack of secular education as a potential misdemeanor crime.

His stance — advocated at political conventions and in the media — drew supporters across the county concerned about the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox community's educational standards for their children.

Many of his supporters also have voiced concerns on social media and public meetings about those community members who operate schools and housing in Ramapo without proper approvals with the town's tacit approval. 

Others claim Diederich is exploiting anti-Semitic feelings concerning the insular community.



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hasidic Jews in Staten Island remove eruv after anti-Semitic backlash 

An eruv, or symbolic boundary for Sabbath-observant Jews, was removed from a neighborhood on Staten Island.

The eruv had been put up on utility poles around the neighborhood by a group of Hasidic Orthodox Jewish residents. They removed it after other residents put up lawn signs expressing opposition to an influx or religious Jews in their neighborhood. The residents had not yet secured the necessary permission from Con Ed, Verizon, or the Transportation Department, Spectrum News reported.

The lawn signs, created by the Westerleigh Improvement Society, read: “Westerleigh Strong. We’re Not Selling.” They reportedly referred to Hasidic Jews from Brooklyn’s Boro Park looking to move into the neighborhood, the Advance reported.

The Orthodox residents have submitted paperwork to the local council to reattach the eruv.

The Westerleigh Improvement Society said in a statement: “We are thankful that most of the Eruv has been removed, as it was installed without the required permission, required insurance, and did not follow standard or established details … We would like to call attention to the fact that we have a thriving community that we love, made up of folks of many ethnic and religious backgrounds, and welcome our new neighbors to assimilate with us and expect and insist that we all abide by the same laws and processes.  So far these normal expectations have not been demonstrated.”

Recent meetings of the society have included the yelling of “anti-Semitic comments,” the Advance reported, citing multiple unnamed sources.

An eruv allows Sabbath-observant Jews to carry objects, including carrying children or pushing a stroller, outside of their private property. Without it, parents of young children are confined to their homes on the Sabbath.

On Thursday, the Chabad of Staten Island synagogue building was spray painted with the words “Synagogue of Satan.”



Monday, May 27, 2019

NY Uber driver calls Hasidic woman ‘one of those f***ing measles people’ 

An Uber driver in New York made a harassing remark about measles to a Hasidic Orthodox female passenger.

When the woman entered the car in the largely Hasidic neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on Thursday the driver said “You are one of those f***ing measles people”. The woman, who had been on her cellphone with her husband when she entered the car, kept him on the line until she got to her destination, out of fear for her safety, according to the report.

Yossi Gestetner of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, whose mission is to “counter the defamation and generalization of the Orthodox Jewish community,” tweeted about the incident and tagged Uber.

Uber responded 10 minutes later, saying in a comment: “We take this very seriously. Please send us a DM with your email address, phone number and the location where this particular incident happened, so we can connect ASAP.”

The woman also submitted a formal complaint via the Uber app.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also responded via a tweet.

“Don’t ever accept bigotry like this. You have rights and your city has your back. Thank you to @NYCTaxi for your swift action in investigating this incident. Anti-Semitism has no home in this town,” he tweeted.

In April, a bus driver at first refused to allow a Hasidic man to board the bus over the measles outbreak, driving right by the stop in Williamsburg. When the man caught up with the bus at a stop light, she covered her face with her sweater, and refused to accept the man’s transfer, while shouting “Measles! Go in!”



Sunday, May 26, 2019

Chabad celebrates Jewish holiday despite hate speech graffiti 

The Chabad of Staten Island, Meiers Corners, held a Lag B’Omer celebration on Thursday, despite the hate speech written on the wall of the Yeshiva.

Lag B’Omer, a Jewish holiday which celebrates Jewish unity and pride across the world, is traditionally celebrated with parades, marches and bonfires. The holiday also marks the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who escaped the persecution of the Roman conquest of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

In reference to the aforementioned persecution of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, Rabbi Mendy Katzman, the associate director of Chabad of Staten Island, said that “2,000 years later, we’re dealing with the same thing. We are having attacks on our synagogue, people are writing ‘synagogue of Satan.’ ”

“But we’re still going to go out and be prideful and stand strong,” Rabbi Katzman added.

The hate speech written on the synagogue wall was discovered early Thursday morning on the eve of the Jewish holiday.

Dozens attended the celebration, which included a bonfire, a bounce house, cotton candy, and storytellers.



Saturday, May 25, 2019

Staten Island Yeshivas Vandalized With Anti-Semitic Graffiti 

Two Staten Island yeshivas were vandalized with messages of hate overnight on Harold Street.

The words “Synagogue of Satan” were painted on one of the yeshivas, and the acronym “SOS” on another yeshiva across the street.

“I’m very upset,” 15-year-old student Eli Gross said.

Rabbi Moshe Katzman runs the Chabad of Staten Island next door and said the mainly Hasidic community was ready to rally together if the recent string of hateful incidents in the city made it to their doorstep.

“I was waiting for something to happen because of the atmosphere that’s going on in America,” he told CBS2’s Tara Jakeway. “The antisemitism is just going on a rampage out there, and no one is taking a stand.”

Shmira of Staten Island, a Jewish volunteer safety patrol, shared a surveillance video that captured the moment the vandal struck in the Manor Heights neighborhood late Wednesday night.

“I want these people to become better people, I want them to become better citizens. I don’t need them punished as long as they behave properly,” said Moshe.

“Don’t do it ever again,” Gross added.

MORE: City Council Speaker Corey Johnson Meets With Jewish Leaders In Wake Of Latest Anti-Semitic Incident

A group of Wagner College students on the way to class on Friday reflected on what the yeshiva students had to face on the way to theirs.

“It’s just annoying to see people’s ways of religion just being vandalized and not being respected,” said Sebastian Jondecker.

Students told Jakeway they’re exercising more caution on their walks to and from school.

The NYPD says anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city were up 82 percent over the first four months of 2019, compared to the same period last year.



Friday, May 24, 2019

‘Synagogue of Satan’ Graffiti Found on NY Chabad 

The words “Synagogue of Satan” were discovered on a New York Chabad building on the morning of May 23, as first reported by the Stop Antisemitism watchdog.

The aforementioned graffiti was spray-painted on the Chabad of Staten Island synagogue and the letters “SOS” – presumably standing for “Synagogue of Satan” – were also found on the Yeshiva Zichron Paltiel of Staten Island across the street.

Chabad of Staten Island Rabbi Moshe Katzman told SI Live that the Chabad has typically “left a door open” but now they “can’t do that anymore.” Chabad of Staten Island Associate Director Mendy Katzman told SI Live that they’re going to increase security in response to the vandalism.

“We’re here, we’re staying,” Rabbi Katzman said. “Life goes on.”

Anti-Defamation League New York and New Jersey Regional Director Evan Bernstein told the Journal in a phone interview that there is speculation in the Staten Island community that the graffiti was in response to the Lag B’Omer holiday or due to tensions in the community from Hasidic Jews erecting a religious eruv before receiving Consolidated Edison’s approval.

“Anti-Semitic graffitis are the hardest hate crimes for NYPD [New York Police Department] to solve,” Bernstein said. “Unless there’s videotape of it or a direct witness, it’s almost impossible to solve. Very, very difficult.”

Bernstein added that “it’s incredibly concerning” to see a “huge spike” in anti-Semitic incidents in New York in the fourth quarter of 2018 continue on into the first quarter of 2019.



Thursday, May 23, 2019

Monsey Hasidic group battles anti-Semitism tied to measles outbreak 

A Hasidic group is using a Jewish holiday to fight anti-Semitic sentiments tied to a measles outbreak.

"We find the rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Hasidic language to be tied to the measles outbreak," said Rabbi Avraham Katz, the leader of the Monsey-Tosh group.

Katz invited local lawmakers and politicians to Wednesday night's  Lag B'Omer bonfire as a show of solidarity and understanding amidst the measles outbreak primarily affecting the Orthodox Jewish community.

The outbreak, which started when seven travelers from Israel visited Rockland, has reached 244 reported cases since it began last October. It led the county to issue an exclusion order affecting the Monsey and Spring Valley area that bans anyone infected with the measles from public places.

Katz, whose Yiddish replies were translated by an assistant, said it is hurtful that the entire Hasidic community is targeted and lumped together with a small minority within the community that is anti-vaccine.

"For me specifically, it isn’t fair and doesn’t make sense," he said. "As the head of a large Hasidic community, I support vaccinations, all of my children and grandchildren are vaccinated and I encourage anyone who asks me to do the same."

Katz added: "Almost everyone in the Hasidic community today does in fact vaccinate and we hear and see how we’re being talked about so we are grateful that the politicians are coming to show their support."



Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Christian Woman Who Dressed Orthodox, Tried To Convert Jewish Neighbors Lashes Out At Critics 

One half of the Christian couple who dressed and acted like Orthodox Jews and tried to convert their neighbors wrote a Facebook post this week defending their actions and lambasting the “fake stories” that have brought “shame to Judaism.”

Rivkah Joy Weber, who went by the name Rivkah Costello while living in the heavily-Jewish Chicago neighborhood of West Rogers Park, wrote on the social network that she and her husband love and “care deeply for” the Jewish community, according to a screenshot of the post taken by JTA journalist (and former Forward editor) Laura E. Adkins. Weber said that the couple’s intention was not to trick people, but rather to spread the word of their religion.

“We have made mistakes but have you not sinned too?” she wrote.

She criticized those who spread news of their scheme, saying that they “have brought shame to Judaism for how you have slandered us and even encouraged others to harm us and our children.” She said she was open to having an “honest discussion” about the situation.

Her husband used to work for Global Gates, an international Christian group whose mission is to reach “the world’s most unevangelized people groups,” according to a document obtained by JTA.



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

2 Brooklyn Hasidic Jewish Teens, 16, Chased by Men in Car Shouting ‘Allah Akbar, We Love Hitler’ 

Two Jewish teens have been targeted in New York’s latest anti-Semitic hate crime incident as they walked home in Brooklyn on May 18.

The two Hasidic boys, who were walking near Borough Park at around 1:30 a.m local time, were left terrified when they were harassed by a group of four men who shouted “Allah Akbar” at them from a car.

The pair ran away in terror, but were followed by the car while one of the men yelled, “Do you know Hitler? We love Hitler!” before they drove off.

It comes as another Hasidic man in his thirties came forward on May 19 to say he was also targeted in a similar attack.

He said he was just several blocks away from the site of the first reported assault and at around a similar time, when four men in a vehicle of the same description drove up to him and shouted, “[expletive removed] Jews!” and “Allah Akbar” at him, before they drove away.

Local police were notified of the initial incident when one of the targeted teen’s parents contacted former New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who then accompanied them to the local NYPD precinct to file a report.



Monday, May 20, 2019

Bushwick Artist Walks NYC Streets Wrapped in Saran Wrap as a Social Experiment 

For decades, New York City has been a stage for artists to perform, whether it be on the street, in the subways, or in the center of a busy park. Israeli musician Eran Sabo, who is now based in Bushwick, recently lent himself to the public eye for a project he did in conjunction with the release of his first single, “Shiva.” For the project, Sabo wrapped his half-naked body in Saran wrap and went into public spaces such as Lincoln Center, Times Square, and different subway stations, taking pictures and waiting for reactions.

“I consider it a social experiment,” Sabo told Bushwick daily. “I wanted to see how people would respond to this character.”

Shiva is about the constant struggle we face as humans to not hide our true selves from the world. The name itself means “seven” in Hebrew, and is also a seven day Jewish ritual, in which mourners create an environment of comfort and community that helps them cope with their loss—Sabo wrote the song during a Shiva.  Saran wrap, a synthetic material,  represents all the masks and layers we encase ourselves in when in the presence of others.

“I received a mix of responses,” Sabo said. He first performed as this character in Lincoln Center, where he walked around taking promotional pictures. “At first it was fine, but the closer I got to the main buildings, security confronted me and asked me if I was leaving.” But he wasn’t at all offended, instead, he was curious about the security guard’s response. “He was understanding of the project,” Sabo explained, “But I was making others uncomfortable, which is why I was asked to leave.”

Being a social experiment, these are the kinds of responses Sabo was looking for: he’s more interested in knowing why people find discomfort around this character rather than trying to prove a point. “Younger people were a lot more receptive of this idea,” he said. While in Lincoln Center, a group of kids came up to him, asking him questions and taking pictures. “They were really excited to see something like this in a place like Lincoln Center.” Throughout the course of his experiment, Sabo found younger generations to be more accepting of what he was doing than older.

One of the most interesting encounters Sabo experienced was on the subway with two Hasidic Jewish men. “I saw them staring at me, so I decided to talk to them. I explained to them my project, and one was more partial to the project than the other, which started a discussion between them,” Sabo said. Shiva is entirely in Hebrew, and even has spiritual undertones given the lyrics:

“All my layers 

a forgotten Dance

Naked I was born

And Naked I will return”

“They understood my ideas, but had a hard time accepting if it was ‘right.’”

Sabo was born and raised in Kfar-Saba Israel, where he spent much 0f his young life studying music. He started playing guitar when we hes 10, and went through a jazz intensive program in high school, and was able to continue his studies into college while serving the country. He came to New York  about seven years ago, where he got his masters in music at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.



Sunday, May 19, 2019

NY Dem slams 'unacceptable' harassment of Brooklyn Jewish teens 

Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind expressed outrage after two Jewish children were harassed in an anti-Semitic incident in Brooklyn Saturday morning.

"It’s happened. Again. Jews harassed for the horrible crime of being Jewish on the streets of New York City. This time it was two Hasidic thirteen-year olds in Boro Park, near the post office (at 12 avenue and 51 street)," the former Democratic Assemblyman stated,

"They were walking home from the Skolener and Bobover Rebbes’ Tisch early Saturday morning at 1:30am when they were harassed by 4 men in a vehicle (with TLC plates) who yelled “Allah Akbar” sending the two boys away in terror. The car sped up after them, when one of them yelled “Do you know Hitler? We love Hitler!” The two teens were terrified, and one of the boy’s parents reached out to me right after Shabbos to let me know what happened; I immediately mobilized and accompanied them to the local police (66th) precinct where they have filed a report. The case is being referred to the NYPD’s Bias Unit as the use of a vehicle constituted a physical threat.

He warned that anti-Semitism in New York City would soon reach a tipping point. "To say this is horrifying, or that it’s unacceptable is meaningless in the face of events that seem to be totally out of control. There aren’t enough words to continuously express shock, outrage, and discontent with the unfolding situation of anti-Semitism in America, and particularly in New York City. The “wake up” period won’t last forever, and soon enough we just may find ourselves well beyond the point of no return if we do not take immediate and serious action against antisemitic violence and harassment anywhere and everywhere it manifests."

"Will any leader stand up to the task? All indications are they’re out to lunch."

Brooklyn has seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents and attacks in recent months. Last week a teenager turned himself in after punching a Hasidic man in the back of the head.

The NYPD reported earlier this month that of the 145 hate crimes reported in January through April 2019, 82 incidents – nearly 57 percent – were anti-Jewish. Three precincts with large Hasidic populations, all in Brooklyn and including Williamsburg, reported the most anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2018.



Saturday, May 18, 2019

Brooklyn’s kooky anti-vaxxer rabbi is extremist on sex abuse, circumcision — even opposes Israel 

Brooklyn’s kooky anti-vaxxer rabbi is extremist on sex abuse, circumcision — even opposes Israel

Rabbi Hillel Handler enjoyed a rare moment in the glare of mainstream media this week when he addressed an anti-vaccination crowd in a heavily Hasidic town in suburban Rockland County.

The member of the Satmar Hasidic sect riled up the crowd of a couple of hundreds of people with a diatribe that accused liberals in and out of government of using a still-spreading measles outbreak to target observant Jews.

Handler called Mayor de Blasio a “nasty German" and claimed it was “in his DNA” to hate Jews.

”Like the Fuhrer, he says: ‘Blame the Jews. They’re contaminating the whole city,’ " Handler told the Daily News Wednesday.

De Blasio shot back that Handler was spouting “dangerous and irresponsible lies.”

“Rabbi Handler is putting at risk the lives he claims he’s trying to save,” said Miranda Marcy, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

At the rally in Monsey, Handler focused mostly on measles, although he did veer off into an anti-immigrant diatribe claiming that undocumented immigrants pose a more serious health threat.

Little did the crowd or the reporters covering the event know that Handler has a long history of supporting radical causes on the far right-wing fringes of Jewish opinion.

Handler has fiercely attacked observant Jews for reporting child sex abuse to police, claiming such accusations should be handled by rabbinic authorities. He once even defended a rabbi who was convicted of raping his own daughter, saying the girl was lying about the abuse.

Handler also opposed efforts to regulate metzizah b’pei, a controversial circumcision rite that health officials say can spread deadly herpes to newborn boys.

He even opposes Israel’s existence.

“There’s a lot of half-crazies like him in America," said Alexander Rapaport, who runs a network of kosher soup kitchens and recently recorded a pro-vaccination public service video. “It’s the price of freedom in America.”

Rapaport, who happens to be a neighbor of Handler, shrugs him off as a phony who has no pulpit and no real following.

Others see him as a powerful danger in his ability to link different hateful causes. Shmarya Rosenberg spent several years chronicling abuse and corruption in the ultra-Orthodox world but has since left the blog called Failed Messiah.

“He’s an extremist, and he’s amoral,” said Shmarya Rosenberg. “He’s appears to be a gun for hire in the ultra-Orthodox community.”

Handler fires back at all his critics, reeling off statistics and medical studies to back up his claim that measles is a fairly harmless disease that children are better off simply getting and becoming immune to it for life. He says forcing parents to vaccinate children is “fascistic."

The Holocaust survivor makes no secret of defending Rabbi Yisroel Weingarten, who was imprisoned in 2009 for repeatedly raping his own daughter.

“I got up to defend an innocent man,” he said. “It’s dangerous to be a man these days. How do you prove you didn’t do something you are accused of?”

Like most members of the Satmar sect, Handler admits opposing the state of Israel, although he framed that as a “theoretical” position.

While others call him a hateful charlatan, Handler portrays himself as brave man who dares to express controversial opinions that others won’t touch.

“When something is unpopular or no one has the courage to say it, they come to me,” Handler explains. “If not me, who?”



Friday, May 17, 2019

Hundreds pay their respects on 103rd anniversary of rabbi's death at Graniteville cemetery 

With chants of the kaddish prayer and dozens of stones placed upon his grave, hundreds of Orthodox Jews pay their respects to Rabbi Yehuda Tzvi “Herman” Steiner, who died 103 years ago and is buried at the Baron Hirsch Cemetery in Graniteville.

Rabbi Herman Steiner is the older brother of the Grand Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner of Kerestir, the founder of the Kerestir Hasidic dynasty who was believed to be a miracle worker.

Born in 1851, the Grand Rabbi’s image is used “as an amulet by those Jews who believe that it wards away mice and offers protection against misfortune,” according to Wikipedia. He died in 1925.

On the anniversary of the Grand Rabbi’s death, Orthodox Jews traditionally travel to Bodrogkeresztur, Hungary, where he is buried, to pray and receive his blessing. Jews who can’t make it to Hungary can pray at his brother’s grave located in Staten Island.

“If you pray here, it’s just like you pray there. [Grand Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner] will accept the prayers,” said Moshe Stern from Borough Park at the grave site in Graniteville.



Thursday, May 16, 2019

Jogger is arrested after 'SPITTING on elderly Jewish couple and threatening to sexually assault others as they left Florida synagogue' 

Daniel Valerivich Starikov, 33, was arrested after police reviewed surveillance footage of the attacks

Police in Florida on Wednesday arrested an allegedly anti-Semitic man who they said spat on a Jewish couple as they left their synagogue. 

Daniel Valerivich Starikov, 33, of Hollywood, Florida was taken into custody Wednesday for the alleged March 22 incident that happened in the village of Bal Harbour about 12 miles northeast of Miami.

Starikov is originally from Britain, according to police, but his social media indicates that he is from Ukraine.

He was charged with two counts of battery with prejudice on a person 65 or older, assault on a person 65 or older, and assault with religious prejudice before being released on a total $15,000 bond.

Authorities said Starikov was jogging in the 9600 block of Collins Ave around 11pm eight weeks ago when he saw and confronted a group of Jewish men wearing yarmulkes and wide-brimmed Hasidic hats as they walked home from temple.

There are five synagogues nearby and it is unclear which one the groups had come from. 

Witnesses told police that the 33-year-old suspect clenched and banged his fists together in a threatening manner as he approached the victims, according to a police report obtained by the Miami Herald.

'I'll show you. I'm going to shove my d--- down your throats. You Jews, I'm gonna get you,' Starikov told the group, according to the report.

A short time later, Starikov confronted another group of Jews in the 9900 block of Collins Avenue after the first group fled to a nearby apartment building, police said.

This time he spat on two elderly people in the group while appearing to blow a raspberry with his mouth.

Both groups of victims told police they believe Starikov targeted them because of their faith.

Police reviewed video footage captured by surveillance cameras located between Bal Harbour and Sunny Isles Beach, before arresting Starikov Wednesday.

County records show Starikov was out on bond for battery against a law enforcement officer or firefighter, resisting arrest with violence and threatening a public servant for an unrelated incident.



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Police Arrest Suspect in Anti-Semitic Attack in Williamsburg 

NYPD police have arrested a suspect in connection with an attack on a Hasidic man on a street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn this month.

New York City Council member Kalman Yeger tweeted his thanks to the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit for their quick response to the attack which took place a week ago. A Hasidic man was attacked at around 7:30 pm by a young Hispanic-looking man as he was walking along the sidewalk near the intersection of Marcy Avenue and Rodney Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn New York.

The attacker trotted up behind the Hasid, swung up his right arm, and punched the man in the back of the head, knocking off his hat and yarmulka while doing so, and causing him to stumble.



Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Farrakhan-influenced black men attack Jews in NYC, de Blasio blames white supremacy 

According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, white supremacy is to blame for a recent spate of Farrakhan-influenced black men attacking Jews throughout the metropolitan city.

“I think it’s really clear … the forces of white supremacy have been unleashed,” he said at a press conference earlier this month. “I think what’s happening in this country is a lot of folks used to be told it was unacceptable to be anti-Semitic, to be racist, and now they’re getting more permission.”

According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, white supremacy is to blame for a recent spate of Farrakhan-influenced black men attacking Jews throughout the metropolitan city.

“I think it’s really clear … the forces of white supremacy have been unleashed,” he said at a press conference earlier this month. “I think what’s happening in this country is a lot of folks used to be told it was unacceptable to be anti-Semitic, to be racist, and now they’re getting more permission.”

Three months earlier, three black men approached and then proceeded to beat a 51-year-old Jewish man on the streets of Crown Heights, reportedly leaving him with cuts and bruises.



Monday, May 13, 2019

Man found dead in burning car in Brooklyn in possible self-immolation 

Man found dead in burning car in Brooklyn in possible self-immolation  Brooklyn car fire victim, Shmiel Fishman, is pictured in an undated photo.

A man whose body was found in a burned-out car in Brooklyn was a 23-year-old Hasidic yeshiva student who appeared to have set himself on fire as a sacrifice, police sources said Monday.

His friends and family never saw it coming

The man’s scorched body was discovered in the driver’s seat of a 2018 Honda Accord consumed by flames on the sidewalk of 39th St. near 12th Ave. in Borough Park about 2:50 a.m.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The car was parked on the sidewalk. The city medical examiner will determine how he died.

Cops did not immediately identify the victim, but sources in the neighborhood identified him as Shmiel Fishman. Neighbors said Fishman was an electrician.

“Nobody understands what happened here, why he did what he did,” a source with ties to the family said. "Everybody’s shocked at what happened. He was a good kid, nobody understands what happened here. They didn’t expect this.”

“He was one of the greatest people I’ve met in my life,” a friend said. “Always smiling, always willing to the be there for people.”

About 200 tearful mourners gathered for a rainy funeral outside Congregation Nachlas Boruch Rodnick in Borough Park Monday evening.

In a eulogy, Rabbi Baruch Shimshon Halberstam summarized Fishman’s time in his community, including volunteering at NYU Langone Hospital and raising about $34,000 for the wedding of a young couple.

“He was always there to help, always with a smile, always happy to make people happy," he said.



Sunday, May 12, 2019

Anti-Semitic attacks are rising in Brooklyn and seems like no one cares 

The videos have become all too familiar: Hasidic Jews viciously, violently attacked on the streets of Brooklyn. Last week, there were two such violent attacks, both on the streets of Williamsburg, plus a couple of verbal incidents, including one in which a traffic officer reportedly called a driver a “stupid Jew.”

In the video of one of the physical attacks, a man is seen running up from behind and punching a Hasidic man in the head. The assailant runs away gleefully as his victim stumbles back to his feet. Children are visible in the video; it is broad daylight. What happens next is the most troubling part: nothing.

An investigation is under way as the police search for the suspects, but no one ties these attacks to a larger problem. Some elected officials, like City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, at least make statements about the attacks. “There has been a shocking number of unprovoked assaults on religious Jewish New Yorkers in recent weeks,” Deutsch warned in December. Since then, he and two other council members have proposed allowing houses of worship to hire private security and then be reimbursed by the city.

Many others, however, rarely speak up, if at all. They may register mild disapproval, but there is no one sounding the alarm about rising anti-Semitism, mainly targeting the Orthodox community in its own enclaves in the Big Apple.

In the wake of President Trump’s election, New York City liberals ­affixed “No place for hate” signs to their windows, vowing to protect anyone targeted for his beliefs and identity. Today, Orthodox Jews are learning that that noble promise doesn’t cover them.

The problem for all the silent elected officials is that the perpetrators of these violent crimes don’t fit neatly into their political-enemies list. They aren’t MAGA-hat-wearing white supremacists. There are no tiki torches. The attackers clocking Jews probably don’t have a manifesto or a philosophy.

They are just full of hate toward people who look different. That’s precisely what the left pretends to fight against but is finally mute when the victims aren’t in their special victims’ club and, more specifically, when the attackers aren’t as easy a target.

The attackers come from all walks of New York City life. They are black, white, Hispanic, Muslim, men, women. They aren’t so easy to condemn according to intersectional ideology, so our leadership mostly pretends nothing systemic is happening.

The same New York leaders, however, are quick to blame Trump for his alleged role in fanning the flames of bigotry. This month, Mayor Bill de Blasio used the president as a convenient scapegoat for the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in our uber-liberal city.

“What’s happening here in this country, a lot of folks were told it was unacceptable to be anti-Semitic, it was unacceptable to be racist, and now they’re getting more permission,” he said. The clear subtext was that the president had granted such permission to the haters.

Hate crimes have spiked by 67 per­cent this year in New York, with anti-Semitic attacks leading the ugly boom. Yet somehow the fact that the city has failed to protect its Orthodox Jews is still Trump’s fault.

It’s hard to imagine similar attacks on any other group, no matter the perpetrator, going similarly ignored. The worst joke is that the larger Jewish community would never stand by while another group was singled out for violence in this way. Yet there are no marches, no speeches and no ­demands made by the liberal Jewish community in defense of our Orthodox co-religionists.

That’s part of the issue. The victims in these cases are people ­described as “ultra-Orthodox.” That “ultra” implies something sinister about them. They wear strange outfits and adhere to practices we don’t understand. And yet it’s impossible to imagine that a rash of attacks on Muslims in full burkas going unnoticed.

Speaking up against hate when the victim is particularly sympathetic, or when the attacker can be easily condemned, is easy. But it shouldn’t be this difficult for the mayor and his liberal allies to find the words to condemn violence against our fellow New Yorkers — forcefully, repeatedly — and make sure to follow it up with action.

The attacks, and the silence of progressive New York, are utterly appalling.



Saturday, May 11, 2019

Quest for suburban lifestyle pushes Hasidic frontier farther from KJ 

Joseph Waldman was one of the first settlers in 1976 in a small enclave that would soon become the Village of Kiryas Joel, an upstate outpost for Satmar Hasidic families seeking a peaceful refuge from the congestion of Brooklyn.

Forty-three years later, Kiryas Joel is a densely populated community of 24,000 or more, and Waldman and his family have relocated again, this time to neighboring Woodbury.

Waldman and his wife, Sarah, bought a house last year on Schunnemunk Road in the Country Crossing development, following five of their daughters who already had moved to the same quiet neighborhood. He proudly showed a reporter the picturesque view of Schunnemunk Mountain from his kitchen during a recent visit, and recalled the sense of tranquility he enjoyed as a Satmar pioneer in rural Monroe decades ago.

“Moving here is exactly the same feeling that we had moving here from the city 43 years ago and building that new house,” Waldman said.

The Waldmans are part of a steady flow of Satmar families migrating to the towns abutting Kiryas Joel, where they can get a single-family house with a yard and privacy for the same price as a condo in the crowded village. The trend started in 2015 during a tense conflict over efforts to expand Kiryas Joel and has continued in its aftermath, with couples and investors from Kiryas Joel and Brooklyn now having bought hundreds of houses in Monroe, Blooming Grove and Woodbury over the last four years, according to Orange County property records.

The most striking example is South Blooming Grove, where at least 387 homes, or 44 percent of all single-family houses in the village, have changed hands. In neighboring Woodbury, Hasidic families have settled in neighborhoods like the Waldmans’, where about 70 homes have changed hands, and Woodbury Junction, where about 100 houses and lots have been sold since a Brooklyn developer bought the stalled 451-home project in 2016 and resumed construction.

New complexes are being built or planned in Monroe, Blooming Grove and Chester as well, like the 181-home Smith Farm project taking shape on a hill off Route 17M in Monroe. One proposal still under review, the 600-home Clovewood project, could bring as many as 3,800 new people to South Blooming Grove, more than doubling the population of 3,200.

The home buy-ups and new construction have extended the frontier for Orange County’s Satmar community, which for decades had lived strictly in Kiryas Joel and adjacent neighborhoods close to the synagogues, religious schools, kosher stores, ritual baths and wedding halls that anchor Hasidic life. Now, school buses roll through Worley Heights in South Blooming Grove to take children to Kiryas Joel’s yeshivas, and Orthodox boundary markers known as eruvs line streets in Woodbury.

For a fast-growing community with large families and a constant need for more housing, new opportunities abound.

The suburban migration from Kiryas Joel represents a cultural shift for the Satmar Hasidim and raises new considerations for the towns experiencing or facing that influx. Though the transition has been ordinary in some respects, as routine as one family moving in to replace another, it has also triggered sporadic conflicts over development plans, eruvs and other issues, and has stoked anxiety among some about the future power of growing Hasidic voting blocs.

A ‘KJ without borders’

One late spring night in Kiryas Joel in 2015, attorney Steven Barshov took the microphone in the ballroom of a girls’ school to make his case to a crowd of about 600, Hasidic and non-Hasidic alike, about why it made sense for Kiryas Joel to annex 507 acres from the Town of Monroe. Barshov, representing the property owners who had petitioned for that border change, talked about the scarcity of building space in the Hasidic village and posed a leading question about its future population growth.

“So where are the people to go?” he asked. “Would you prefer that they be spread all around Orange County, which is -”

“Yes!” annexation opponents in the audience roared back before he could finish.

What has happened in the intervening four years is a little of both.

Kiryas Joel did get more land, having annexed 164 acres in 2016 and gained another 64 acres when it separated from Monroe to form the Town of Palm Tree at the beginning of this year. Several thousand new homes are planned or under construction within its expanded borders, including a 1,600-condo complex now being built on land along Nininger Road that was part of the village before the annexation.

Yet the Hasidim have continued buying homes in a widening area around Kiryas Joel, if not “all around Orange County,” as Barshov suggested, and developers have forged ahead with housing plans in neighboring towns.

Kiryas Joel leaders hope to stem that migration. The village’s weekly Hakiryah newspaper published a multi-page insert on April 19 that touted what it said were 5,521 total new housing units coming to Kiryas Joel/Palm Tree, and urged readers to buy homes there to take advantage of the low taxes and what will soon be a buyer’s market.

That prompted a response from another Yiddish-language weekly called Vochenshrift, which ran its own real estate section on May 3 to promote thousands of homes in neighboring towns in addition to the expected housing surge in Kiryas Joel. The introduction celebrated the enlarged area for the Satmar community, calling it “a KJ without borders, with spacious homes and endless possibilities to accommodate the growth of the big city of Kiryas Joel for present and future.”

David Myers, a history professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and co-author of a forthcoming book on Kiryas Joel, attributes the move to neighboring towns largely to the “density of life” in Kiryas Joel - several times greater than that of neighboring towns - and to the “impulse toward suburbanization,” a familiar gravitational pull for families living in cities.

“Not everybody wants to live in that dense, quasi-urban environment,” he said.

Myers also sees signs of an ongoing “crisis of authority” in the Satmar community since the death in 1979 of Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, the charismatic figure who founded the Satmar movement and led its survivors to the U.S. after the Holocaust. Teitelbaum envisioned his fledgling settlement in upstate Orange County as a self-sustaining shtetl, like those that thrived in eastern Europe before World War II, he said.

Today, that vision is evolving into a “shtetl and spokes,” with Satmar families living in neighborhoods radiating outward from the hub of Kiryas Joel. Reinforcing that pattern, Myers said, is the emergence of an upper-middle-class — affluent households that can afford expensive homes in new subdivisions like Woodbury Junction.



Friday, May 10, 2019

Free measles vaccines to be available in New York Charedi communities 

Free measles vaccinations will be available in Charedi neighbourhoods of New York City.

The Charedi umbrella group Agudath Israel of America organised the service, which follows a measles outbreak linked in part to Charedi neighbourhoods in New York and elsewhere.

The vaccinations will be available Sunday without an appointment or insurance required at Hatzolah rescue service garages in the Brooklyn neighbourhoods of Borough Park, Flatbush and Williamsburg.

Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a health emergency last month and ordered unvaccinated people living or working in four ZIP codes in the largely Charedi Williamsburg neighbourhood to get the vaccine or be required to pay fines of up to $1,000.

The CDC pinned the resurgence on the unvaccinated and those who brought back measles from other countries. The outbreaks in Orthodox Jewish communities were associated with travellers who carried the disease back from Israel and Ukraine, according to the CDC.

Despite institutional pressure, a strain of opposition to vaccines has persisted in Charedi communities based on false claims that vaccines are ineffective at best and harmful at worst. Large families, close-knit communities and the complexity of timing immunizations for a family’s many young children also have contributed to the outbreak.

The majority of Orthodox Jewish children are vaccinated, according to statistics issued by the New York state and New York City health departments. There is no religious reason not to be vaccinated. Prominent rabbis in New York have called on their followers to vaccinate their children.



Thursday, May 09, 2019

NYC Measles Cases Increase To 466, But Spread Appears To Be Slowing Down 

The spread of measles continues in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Since the outbreak began, 466 cases have been reported in Brooklyn; however, but the spread is slowing down, said NYC health officials on Tuesday.

Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Demetre Daskalakis said, “We saw 43 cases last week, but actually if you look at our curve, we’re actually starting to see a slow decrease in newer cases. So we have fewer newer cases, meaning that I think we’re starting to see a glimmer of, actually more than a glimmer, the beginning of hope that we’re nearing, you know, a decrease in what we’re seeing with new measles cases.”

Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot called the measles outbreak a “highly localized” danger with nearly 80 percent of the cases found in four Williamsburg zip codes that have large populations of Orthodox Jews.

Dr. Barbot said, “We want to urge people to remain calm. The best way to protect yourself as well as family, friends, neighbors and fellow New Yorkers is to make sure that you are [vaccinated].”

Eighty-four parents have been issued citations to allow unvaccinated children in public places since the city declared an emergency in the four zip codes. In the past week, 27 citations were issued.

In the past week, only three cases have been found outside the Orthodox Jewish community, which took place in the Sunset Park neighborhood that involved children who had been permitted a religious vaccine exemption to attend public school without getting vaccinated.

Health officials explained that they did not attend school while having affected by measles, which means the danger to other students was limited.

NYC officials are launching an aggressive pro-vaccination campaign that includes thousands of robocalls, bus and subway advertisements in English as well as Yiddish, a language spoken by Hasidic Jews.

Jewish leaders have said that they support NYC’s effort to combat measles, including the crackdown. They said only a small minority of Hasidic Jews deny getting vaccinated.

Yosef Rapaport, a media consultant and Yiddish podcaster, said, “The fight over vaccination is with 5% of the population. Don’t blame the whole community.” He added, “The vaxxers and the anti-vaxxers are in the same community. We go to the same synagogues, we got to the same schools, the same weddings.” In the meantime, according to a new poll, more than 85 percent of Americans believe measles vaccination should be made mandatory, irrespective of religious, philosophical or other backgrounds. Also, the new poll found that 77 percent of Americans say children should get the measles vaccine, regardless of their parents like it or not.



Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Shocking video shows an Orthodox Jewish man getting punched in the back of his head while walking on a street in Brooklyn as police probe the unprovoked 'racist attack' 

Shocking video has surfaced showing the brutal moment a young man punches a Hasidic Jewish man in the head without provocation in New York. 

The incident took place on Tuesday evening at 7.40pm in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the intersection of Marcy Avenue and Rodney Street.

The vicious attack was caught on CCTV footage and shows the moment a 39-year-old Orthodox Jewish man walks along the street and is suddenly hit from behind.

The victim was hit with such force that he reels forward and his hat and yarmulke falls to the ground.

After the suspect throws his hit, he runs away, looking back at his injured victim. 

The young suspect, dressed in a grey sweater and a blue backpack, appears to be smiling as he runs away. 

The shocked Jewish man then picks up his hat and runs after the assailant. 

'A 39 year-old male victim stated to police that he was walking on the sidewalk when an unidentified male approached him from behind and slapped him on the side of the face with an open hand, causing pain and redness to his face,' DCPI Spokesperson Detective Sophia Mason said to DailyMail.com. 

Police say that the victim did not speak to his aggressor prior to the attack and the punch was unprovoked.  

It's not clear what happened after the victim ran after his aggressor. 

Following the attack the NYPD and Jewish civilian patrol Shomrim group attended the scene, but the suspect had already fled. 

There were no arrests made in the case and the Hate Crime Task Force is investigating this as a possibly biased incident.



Tuesday, May 07, 2019

85% want measles vaccine to be mandatory -- 77% say parents should have no say: poll 

More than 85% of Americans believe measles vaccination should be mandatory regardless of religious or other beliefs -- and 77% say kids should get the shot whether their parents like it or not.

Just 4% say vaccines are unsafe, according to a new poll, despite a small but vocal minority of so-called “anti-vaxxers.”

The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 2,000 respondents shows rising support for vaccinations in the face of the worst measles outbreak in decades.

More than 700 cases of the once-eradicated disease have been identified, many of them Orthodox Jews. A small minority of religious Jews and evangelical Christians oppose vaccines for various reasons.

Support for making vaccines mandatory have risen slightly since a similar poll in 2015.

The hardest hit areas in the current outbreak include parts of Brooklyn and upstate Rockland County that are home to large populations of Hasidic Jews. Community leaders say religious Jews support vaccinations as much as anyone but that the tight-knit community’s insular traditions may amplify the effects of a tiny number of infected members.

The city has declared a health emergency in two zip codes in the Williamsburg neighborhood and has handed out citations to parents who fail to get their kids vaccinated.



Monday, May 06, 2019

Man Assaulted, Called ‘F***ing Jew’ In Latest Brooklyn Anti-Semitic Attack 

A Jewish man was attacked in an apparently anti-Semitic incident in New York over the weekend.

The attack comes days after the New York Police Department reported that more than half of all hate crimes reported in 2018 and so far in 2019 were anti-Jewish.

In the weekend incident, according to the New York Post, the unnamed victim, who was visibly Jewish, was punched in the back of the head while walking in the heavily Hasidic Williamsburg section. The attacker was reported to have called the man a “f***|ing Jew.”

Over the past week, Brooklyn community activist Yaakov Behrman tweeted a video of a man harassing a Jewish passer-by and New York Times columnist Bret Stephens posted about witnessing an incident on Manhattan’s First Avenue.

At about the same time, an Upper East Side rabbi filmed a man lunging at him and yelling anti-Semitic slurs.

Last week, the NYPD reported that of the 145 hate crimes reported in January through April 2019, 82 incidents –  nearly 57 percent – were anti-Jewish. Three precincts with large Hasidic populations, all in Brooklyn and including Williamsburg, reported the most anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2018.



Sunday, May 05, 2019

Relief for Lubavitch as Charity Commission closes inquiry 

The Charity Commission has ended an investigation into one of British Jewry’s biggest charities, Chabad Lubavitch UK, after concluding there was no need for further action.

The regulator opened a statutory inquiry into Lubavitch in July 2017 following its failure to submit accounts to the commission on time for several successive years.

But it said this week it had closed the inquiry in March after the charity had improved its procedures.

Anne Spiller, head of the commission’s investigations team, said the inquiryhighlighted “poor management and controls in the administration of the charity”.

She was pleased that “our intervention has led to increased transparency, so that the public are better able to see how the charity manages its finances. I expect these steps towards improved governance and reporting to continue.”

Although the commission did not compile report, it said its investigation found no evidence of fraud or mismanagement of assets.

But it noted that Lubavitch branches were often late in providing financial information to its central office, leading to the failure to submit accounts within the commission’s deadline.

Rabbi Pesach Efune, speaking on behalf of the charity’s trustees, said “We are delighted, but not surprised, to have now been given a clean bill of health by the commission.

“The inquiry was initiated whilst our processes were already under review and we took the opportunity to work with the Charity Commission to address every aspect of our governance and systems.”

A stronger management team which included a new finance director and chief operating officer had enabled it to submit its accounts on time for 2017, he said. “We…are well advanced to do so again this year, and we now  feel confident going forward in the future."



Saturday, May 04, 2019

Rabbi takes stand against Westerleigh ‘not selling’ sign controversy 

The Rabbi of a Meiers Corners synagogue took a strong stand against the controversy sparked in Westerleigh in recent weeks that included residents putting up signs in front of their homes that read “Not Selling, Westerleigh Strong."

Rabbi Moshe Katzman of Chabad of Staten Island focused his Shabbat prayer on Saturday on the concept of good against evil and how it is necessary to “stand up and fight” when it is necessary.

“I grew up in Brooklyn in the late 1960s. I was hit in my head more than once,” said Katzman during his remarks at the end of the Shabbat prayer. "We stayed there and we fought back, but we never hung up a sign in front of the property of our houses [saying] “Stand strong, don’t sell.”

The Rabbi said that even though these words don’t necessarily carry a hateful language, it can become more serious.

“That’s the way things begin," he said.

Several Island-based Realtors told the Advance earlier this week that a large number of prospective homebuyers in the Westerleigh area have been from the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, a largely Orthodox Jewish community.

In fact, the Jewish Press reported that more than 300 Jewish families in Brooklyn -- many of them from Boro Park -- have relocated to Staten Island over the last four-and-a-half years.

That apparently has prompted a backlash among some homeowners. Signs that read “Not Selling, Westerleigh Strong, WesterleighStrong@outlook.com” have popped up on several lawns in the community.

When asked if the signs were targeted toward the Hasidic Jewish population, Mark Anderson of the Westerleigh Improvement Society said: "The Westerleigh Improvement Society has been committed to serving the community since 1893. The neighborhood of Westerleigh is comprised of a rich mosaic of residents, and the society is committed to embracing all members of our community. Together we maintain the safe and enjoyable community we share and love. "


Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island- Brooklyn), the first Jewish elected congressman on Staten Island, joined Katzman at a service on Saturday as he also showed solidarity for the recent shooting at a Southern California synagogue that killed a woman and left an 8-year-old girl and two men wounded.

“This is keen opportunity for stakeholders to come together and I intend to be part of that process to figure out how we can arrive at some very sensible resolution,” said Rose, in reference to the Westerleigh sign controversy.

“I have every reason to believe -- and sooner rather than later --- that stakeholders are going to sincerely figure this out and are going to continue to be proud New Yorkers and proud Staten Islanders,” he added.

Rose’s visit to Chabad of Staten Island on Saturday was also spurred by a Westerleigh Improvement Society campaign against an Eruv, a religious fence, erected in Westerleigh. An Eruv’s purpose “is to make each individual who dwells within its boundaries a part owner of the enclosed area for certain Halachic purposes,” according to Young Israel of Staten Island’s website. One has long existed in Willowboork.

The fence is essentially a wire placed on utility poles that carries a symbol of unity and community, said Chani Katzman, the Rabbi’s wife, who believes people got particularly upset about it simply because they are worried “people from a different demographic” are coming into their communities.

In a pamphlet handed out throughout Westerleigh and in a Facebook Post the Westerleigh Improvement Society called the Eruv “unsafe.”

“The Westerleigh Improvement Society is concerned about the lack of approvals, review and safety aspects of the installed Eruv,” said Anderson of the Westerleigh Improvement Society.

“…Many of the screws that were used do not appear to be appropriate for the application. …Though the utilities have stated that their visual observations conclude that that there is no visible conditions of immediate concern, the attachment detail and design has not been submitted or reviewed by responsible technical parties as of yet.”

Anderson continued: “We have a long history of brotherhood in our community between neighbors of all religious affiliations. Our focus is related to ensuring the installation is safe, which the lack of transparency has made quite difficult. The conclusion by some that this is based on antisemitism is simply not true and hurtful.”

When alerted about the Eruv, Councilman Steven Matteo (R- Mid-Island) contacted Con Edison and Verizon and “worked to eliminate the safety concerns and address the illegality of the attachments as they were installed without the proper attachment application,” said Peter Spencer, Matteo’s chief of operations.

Con Edison and Verizon both sent crews to inspect the poles, he said. Con Edison made a list of attachments that weren’t secured properly and sent it to Young Israel, which has taken responsibility for the Eruv, Spencer said. Young Israel filed the application with Con Ed on April 9, 2019, but it has not yet been approved. The process typically takes a few weeks, he said.

“It’s still in the process of being approved, but we did go out there an inspect it for safety and it’s safe,” said Bob McGee a, ConEd spokesperson. “There’s some additional documentation that is being reviewed.”

A representative of Young Israel wasn’t immediately available for comment on Saturday, which is the Sabbath, a day of rest in Judaism.



Friday, May 03, 2019

Brooklyn’s Chabad community responds to California shooting with Unity Sabbath 

Chabad of Park Slope, responding to the horrific Poway Chabad House shooting on the concluding day of Passover last weekend, will host an Evening of Unity, Solidarity and Prayer at Congregation B’nai Jacob this Friday night.

The shooting at Chabad of Poway synagogue, near San Diego, California, left one woman dead and several injured. Lori Kaye is reported to have been killed while saving the life of Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, spiritual leader of the Poway Chabad synagogue, although he was shot in both hands.

Goldstein maintains strong ties to Brooklyn, where he was born and raised, and where many family members reside.

Rabbi Shimon Hecht, director of Chabad of Park Slope and spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Jacob, attended school with Goldstein. Chabad of Park Slope is a sister organization to Chabad of Poway, under the umbrella of Chabad-Lubavitch international, an internationally-known Orthodox Jewish Hasidic movement with a strong tradition of outreach.

The Chabad movement has its world headquarters here in Brooklyn. (Every year, thousands of rabbis convene and sit for a group photo at Chabad headquarters on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights during their five-day International Conference of Chabad Emissaries.)

Chabad of Park Slope will host an Evening of Unity, Solidarity and Prayer at Congregation B’nai Jacob, 401 9th St., this Friday, May 3 at 6 p.m., followed by a free Shabbat dinner open to everyone.

“Our hearts are shattered by the cold-blooded attack on our brothers and sisters—Jews of all walks of life gathered at Chabad-Lubavitch of Poway in celebration and prayer to the Almighty on Shabbat and the final day of Passover,” said Rabbi Menashe Wolf of Chabad of Park Slope. “We mourn the holy soul of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and we pray for the healing of all the injured. At times like this we have to come together, in unity and prayer, and also in celebration of life.”

The evening will conclude with a call to action.

“With the passing of Lori Kaye, the world became darker. We can only respond to darkness by adding in light,” said Hecht. “That’s why we’re asking that this Shabbat, go to your Chabad or local synagogue. Bring a friend and encourage others to #ShareShabbat. We invite everyone to join us at our Shabbat dinner to come together as a community and share the joy of life.”

The Shabbat dinner, which begins with a candle lighting ceremony at 6:45 p.m. will feature guest speaker Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project.



Thursday, May 02, 2019

In 2019, More Than Half of Reported Hate Crimes Were Anti-Jewish, Says NYPD 

In New York City, more than half of all hate crimes reported in 2018 and so far in 2019 were anti-Jewish.

According to Police Department figures released Thursday, of the 145 hate crimes reported in January through April 2019, 82 incidents –  nearly 57 percent – were anti-Jewish.

In 2018, there were 353 total hate crime complaints, up from 325 in 2017, and the NYPD made 149 arrests. Of these hate crimes, 186 – or nearly 53 percent – had anti-Jewish bias, up from 151 in 2017.

The NYPD tally is of reported complaints and arrests, not convictions.

Three precincts with large Hasidic populations, all in Brooklyn, reported the most anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2018. The 71st Precinct, which encompasses part of Crown Heights, reported nine anti-Jewish hate crimes, the most of any precinct. Precincts including Williamsburg and Borough Park each had seven.

Sixty-nine – or 37 percent – of 2018’s anti-Jewish hate crime reports resulted in an arrest. Forty of the alleged perpetrators were white, 25 were black, two were Hispanic and two were Asian.

“The data released by NYPD today is deeply disturbing and should serve as an important reminder to all of us that we must continue to be vigilant in the face of hate,” said Evan Bernstein, the New York-New Jersey regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, it remains imperative that New Yorkers continue to stand up to condemn these hateful and anti-Semitic acts. No one should ever have to live in fear that they will be attacked, harassed or targeted because of their faith. New York is no place for hate.”



Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Man convicted in kidnapping, murder of Menachem Stark gets 15 years 

One of the men convicted for his role in the fatally botched kidnapping of a notorious Brooklyn landlord wept in court Wednesday as he apologized to the victim’s family before he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

“I wish I could turn back time so that none of this could have taken place,” Kendel Felix sobbed to the widow of Menachem Stark, who died after Felix and his cousin, Erskine Felix, tried to abduct him for ransom as he left his Williamsburg office in 2014. “Probably if I had not taken part, Mr. Stark would be alive with you and his kids.”

“This is something I have to live with for the rest of my life,” he said through tears as Bashie Stark and other family members looked on from the gallery.

The 32-year-old admitted to driving Stark’s body out to a dumpster in Great Neck, Long Island after the duo realized the landlord was dead. Prosecutors say he suffocated in the back seat of their van when someone sat on him.

Felix was convicted by a Brooklyn jury in 2016, but later agreed to cooperate against his cousin and the purported mastermind of the scheme, Erskine Felix.

Erskine Felix was convicted last month following testimony from Kendel Felix and another cousin, Irvine Henry, and is awaiting sentencing.

Prosecutor Howard Jackson told Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Danny Chun Wednesday that Kendel Felix had been an “exemplary” cooperator, and that the Brooklyn DA’s office would not object to Felix being released following his minimum sentence.

None of Stark’s family addressed Chun before he handed down the sentence of 15 years to life in prison, saying he found Felix to be genuinely “remorseful for his own actions.”
“I do hope that this defendant will have a chance to come out and lead a life that is productive and that he can rejoin his family at some point in the future and be productive in society,” Chun added.

Later Wednesday, Chun sentenced Henry to time-served for his own cooperation agreement with prosecutors, according to a spokesman with the Brooklyn DA’s office.

The courtroom was sealed for Henry’s case, though law enforcement sources told the Post that the Brooklyn man secretly pleaded guilty in March to a single charge of attempted tampering with physical evidence, and served around three months behind bars.

Stark’s family declined comment as they left court.



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