Sunday, June 30, 2019

Did a Brooklyn judicial candidate adopt her Jewish husband’s last name to win the race? 

An Orthodox Jewish judicial candidate in Brooklyn says one of her opponents changed her last name to that of her Jewish husband in order to win the race.

Civil court judicial candidate Caroline Piela ran for office under the last name Cohen, which she officially changed in February just weeks before she announced her candidacy despite being married since 2006, the New York Post reported.

Tehilah Berman, 49, also a candidate for the judgeship in Brooklyn’s 6th Municipal District, called the name change “deception,” according to the Post.

“Catering to religious groups is not proper in this democracy,” Berman, an Orthodox Jew from Flatbush, told the Post. “People should be proud of their religion and not make believe they are something else.”

Cohen won Tuesday’s election with 44.24 percent of the vote. Berman came in last in the field of four with 14.53 percent.

“To the extent that I received support from the Orthodox community, it was because those folks saw who I am and what I did,” Cohen told the Post.

“I know Tehilah Berman is an Orthodox woman, and I believe her name to be very identifiably Jewish, and Ms. Berman did not do nearly as well as I did,” she said.

One of Cohen’s ads in Jewish publications in Brooklyn included the biblical quote, in Hebrew letters, “Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof,” or “justice, justice, you shall pursue.”



Saturday, June 29, 2019


Bestselling novelist Richard Zimler, has been dropped from two "literary events" in the United Kingdom due to two cultural event coordinators terminating publicizing his novel due to feared outrage from anti-Israel activists, according to the Guardian.

Zimler was "deeply shocked and upset," saying that he had no words to be said initially after being told, and now worries that an "atmosphere of fear" and antisemitism means that Jewish professionals will now be denied work.

“I never expected my career in the UK would be prejudiced by my being Jewish. It made Britain seem like a place I didn’t know and maybe never knew. Even just asking about my religious affiliation struck me as outrageous," Zimler wrote in the Observer.

While his publicist added, "I was very shocked and surprised. People in the literary world are not usually narrow-minded. Everyone who knows Richard knows he is his own person.”

Zimler has won many awards for his works, publishing 11 novels translated into 23 languages. Now living in Portugal, the irony is within the fact that Zimler has no connection to the State of Israel nor does he have family in the country.

“If cultural organizations are afraid of hosting events for Jewish writers, then Britain has taken a big step backwards," Zimler said in his Observer op-ed, stating further that he has been "long endeavored in [his] novels to give voice to people who have been systematically silenced by prejudice and bigotry."



Friday, June 28, 2019

Yoni Katz Can Take You on a ‘Messianic’ Tour of Hasidic Crown Heights 

It all started with a fight over bike lanes.

Rabbi Yoni Katz, 40, almost 10 years ago noticed “tension” between “hipsters” and Hasidic people in Williamsburg centered around them.

“They had their bike lanes running through Bedford Avenue, and when they used to drive their bikes through the heart of the Hasidic neighborhood, it was a big cultural shock for them,” Katz, who was born in Israel and raised in Pittsburgh, explained in a small library on Kingston Ave. where he begins his tours of Hasidic Crown Heights.

“I said, ‘Let me do something about it,’ and I tweeted about an open forum in Williamsburg where the tension was really bad,” Katz, who was working at the Lubavitch Youth Organization and blogging at 11213.org, went on.

A few years later, as some of the similar “hipster” types involved in the bike lane controversy started moving to Crown Heights, Katz,— along with friend Zalman Kohn, Rabbi Manis Friedman and a few others—launched a “Unite The Beards” campaign. 

“I said, ‘We’ll invite any hipster or artist who lives in the neighborhood and welcome them,’” he told Bklyner.


In Crown Heights, where he lives next to a “building full of hipsters,” Katz says though no open animosity is on display, seldom did people from the two groups converse with one another. “It’s just not neighborly love,” he said. 

In 2016, when Beryl Epstein, who gave the Lubavitch Youth Organization-sponsored tour before him, became ill, Katz began to fill in as a substitute guide. And when Epstein died in the spring of 2017, Katz took over.

“I was just left holding the bag,” he said. “I never intended to give tours.”

But the Unite the Beards effort, Katz says, prepared him for giving tours to people from all walks of life.

“I had the interest, because of the campaign that I was doing, reaching out to non-Jewish people and totally non-affiliated people,” Katz explained.

During the Hasidic Brooklyn tour, a three-hour, $69-a-person Airbnb experience, Katz interacts with a broader demographic than just Brooklyn gentrifiers. (Katz says the revenue goes straight to funding the library and his salary comes from the Lubavitch Youth Organization, which is headed by his father-in-law, Shlomo Friedman). On any given day, 12 to 15 people from all over the world—Italy, Germany, United Arab Emirates, England, Palestine, Utah along with some people who live in Crown Heights or adjacent neighborhoods—join him to pick his brain and walk around Crown Heights. 

“Look what’s happening here, you have people from all religious backgrounds, all parts of the world, all different faiths,” Katz says, looking around the table in the library during the beginning of a tour. “Could it get any better than this?” 

The journey begins in a library on Kingston Ave., between Union Street and Eastern Parkway, where Katz explains Hasidic Judaism—and more specifically the Chabad-Lubavitch movement— as well as a bit of his life story and a brief history of the neighborhood. Though relaxed and freewheeling, Katz has his shpiel down to the letter.

He has, at the very least, two jokes he tells in identical fashions every tour. For example: Hasidim in Crown Heights are different from Satmar Hasidim in Williamsburg, because Satmar come from Hungary, rather than parts of Eastern Europe, speak Yiddish at home rather than English, close themselves off from the modern world and people in Crown Heights have iPhones, and in Williamsburg “they all have Androids,” he quips.

“The philosophy is different. The philosophy is, we’re not going to close ourselves off,” he says, earnestly explaining the difference between Satmar and Chabad movements.

The other joke, about a group of military commanders of various nationalities who tell their soldiers to jump out the window and only one—the fictitious Russian named Vladamir—complies, and asks “Out of which window?” has a bit more meaning to it. 

“That’s what Hasidic really means,” he explains to a group of around a dozen on a Thursday morning in mid-June. ‘“God, if you need it, we’re not thinking about heaven, we’re not thinking about the afterlife, we’re not thinking about nirvana. We’re thinking about you.”

For Hasidim, God is the vulnerable party in the God-human relationship, Katz says.

“It was serving god out of the kindness it does for God, not out of the kindness that it does for you, because in a lot of religions you follow these laws with certain benefits that it’s going to bring to you,” he said. “So the founder of the Hasidic movement came along and said, ‘We don’t serve God for the benefit it would bring to us. That’s not serving God, that’s really serving yourself.’”



Thursday, June 27, 2019

Picasso painting worth $100 million that was sold for just $12,000 by a German Jewish businessman to fund his escape from the Nazis 

A Pablo Picasso painting worth $100 million and sold by a German Jewish businessman for just $12,000 to fund his escape from the Nazis should stay at New York's Met Museum rather than be returned to his heirs, an appeals court has ruled.

The Actor will remain as part of the museum's collection after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said Wednesday that the former owner Paul Leffmann's great-grandniece waited too long to reclaim it.

Laurel Zuckerman had not demanded the masterpiece's return until 2010, which was 72 years after it was sold and 58 years after it entered the Met.

She said her relative, Paul Leffmann, sold the masterpiece to a Paris art dealer in 1938 for $12,000 to fund his and his wife Alice's escape to Switzerland from Italy, which was then led by Benito Mussolini, an ally of Adolf Hitler.



Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Hasidic mom terrified by Brooklyn measles police who cited her for not vaccinating her baby despite doctor’s order 

Hasidic mom terrified by Brooklyn measles police who cited her for not vaccinating her baby despite doctor’s order

A Hasidic mother of nine recounted on Wednesday the terrifying episode of city sheriffs banging on the door of her Brooklyn home to cite her for failing to vaccinate her baby boy amid the national measles outbreak.

The Williamsburg mom, identified only as Jane Doe, told an administrative hearing officer that she was stunned when her daughter answered a knock on the door around 10 p.m. to find the uniformed law enforcement agents serving a $1,000 city Department of Health summons.

“The police are at the door,” the little girl exclaimed to the mom during the April 30 raid on the family’s Williamsburg apartment.

“She was really scared,” the mother said.

The episode is the first glimpse into how the city has enforced the city health commissioner’s emergency order requiring all residents in Williamsburg zip codes to prove immunization against the virus.

“My kids were all terrified, you’d think that I’d have committed the worst crime,” she told the Daily News during a break in a city hearing over her citations. “It’s ridiculous that you have sheriffs knocking on your door in the middle of the night.”

Didi Scaff, the hearing officer, suggested she would dismiss the citation after seeing health records showing the boy has since been vaccinated.

Asked about the late-night raid, a spokesman for the Health Department said it was up to the sheriff’s department to determine how and when to serve summonses on parents.

The case was among the first hearings for 209 parents cited so far for failing to abide by an April 17 emergency order for all children in several zip codes to be immunized. At least 90 of those have already been dismissed after parents provided evidence of vaccination, said Patrick Gallahue, a spokesman for the Department of Health.

More than 1,000 cases of measles have been recorded nationwide in the worst outbreak of the childhood disease in decades. The outbreak has been centered in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn and upstate in Rockland County.



Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Jewish Kid Selected Number One Draft Pick in 2019 NHL Draft 

The New Jersey Devils’ hockey team have selected 18-year-old forward Jack Hughes as the number one overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. A top prospect going into the draft, Hughes, was born in Orlando, Fl, but was raised in Mississauga, Ontario. His mother, Ellen Weinberg-Hughes is Jewish. An impressive athlete herself, Weinberg-Hughes played a variety of sports including ice hockey, lacrosse, and soccer at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). She was also inducted into the UNH Athletics Hall of Fame. She also played for the US women’s ice hockey team winning a silver medal at the 1992 World Championship.

Jack Hughes is therefore Halachikally (according to Jewish law) Jewish and had a Bar Mitzvah despite going to Catholic school. As an American national, Hughes told Fox Business about the moment he realized that he was selected number one overall describing it as “a surreal moment.” Adding that “It was unreal.”

Martin Brodeur, an executive with the team said of the teenage phenom ““I think he’s going to change our organization. He’s a tremendous talent. He’s a young American”. Brodeur noted that being American born could draw a larger crowd than many Canadian players in the NHL. “Obviously, we’re trying to grow the sport and so for us, having our fans be able to cheer on somebody from their own, and we’re trying to get better, trying to get to a Stanley Cup championship-caliber team. He’s going to be a big part of the puzzle going forward” he added.

Hughes broke the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) all time points record for the 2018-2019 season. In a 12–4 decisive victory over the Green Bay Gamblers, he tallied five points garnering 190 overall.



Monday, June 24, 2019

Boston rabbi suggests congregants bring guns to synagogue for protection 

A rabbi here has asked congregants to consider bringing guns to religious services as a form of protection in response to recent shootings at synagogues across the country.

Rabbi Dan Rodkin of Shaloh House in Brighton, a Boston neighborhood with a large number of Russian-speaking Jews, told the public radio station WBUR that the rise in hate crimes across the country and the loss of life at the Chabad at Poway and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh influenced his thinking.

Rodkin fears that increased safety measures implemented at Shaloh House — they include security cameras, reinforced glass windows and panic buttons — are no longer sufficient protection. The rabbi said the actions of an off-duty officer at the Poway Chabad center, where one woman was murdered, may have prevented further casualties.

“I know it sounds horrible, but I think it’s a very logical approach for the situation we’re in,” he said in an interview on the WBUR “Morning Edition” program. “I don’t want people to have guns. But I think to protect our families, it’s a necessity now.”



Sunday, June 23, 2019

New synagogue opens in East Setauket 

A worker puts up a crystal chandelier in

An Orthodox Jewish movement that uses the motto “Judaism with a smile” is booming across Long Island.

The Chabad Lubavitch branch has opened nearly one synagogue a year on the Island since Rabbi Tuvia Teldon set up the first center 40 years ago in a rented storefront in Stony Brook.

Come Sunday, the denomination will have three dozen synagogues when Village Chabad opens in East Setauket. The 12,000-square-foot building, set on 9 acres off Nicolls Road, has an expandable sanctuary, a ballroom and a daytime Hebrew school for younger children. The cost: $4.6 million.

“We are very excited and we feel that now the work begins for us,” said Rabbi Chaim Grossbaum, who heads a team of three rabbis and their wives at the center.



Saturday, June 22, 2019

Detained Jewish hikers were released before Shabbat 

Four Jewish hikers detained Friday afternoon after being attacked by Palestinian Authority (PA) "police officers" were released home before sunset on Friday, thanks to intervention by Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan and Honenu attorney Nati Rom.

Dagan himself arrived at the police station, demanding the hikers be released and treated as innocent hikers instead of as criminals.

The hikers, who had been hiking in springs near Ariel, were chased by PA "police officers" who fired into the air. The IDF, arriving an hour and a half later, rescued the hikers and brought them to safety. They were then brought to the police station to testify.

On Saturday night, Dagan spoke with a senior IDF official, demanding a thorough investigation be conducted and that the incident not be allowed to be forgotten.

"Palestinian policemen firing at and arguing with Israeli civilians in Area C crosses a red line," Dagan said. "This is a serious issue. I demand the investigation of this issue be continued."

"These are normal and serious people who went for a hike on a Friday. It is unfathomable that if they became confused and walked close to an [Arab] village, Arabs should attempt to lynch and kill them, and Palestinian police officers should fire into the air and chase after them in Area C."



Friday, June 21, 2019

Ultra-Orthodox and Jewish pelt dealers get their hackles up as NYC mulls fur ban 

It’s summer and Marc Kaufman has thousands of coats in the basement of his store in Midtown Manhattan. For a fee, the fifth-generation fur dealer cleans and stores them for his customers to help prevent heat damage.

Upstairs there are racks and racks of coats for sale — lynx, mink, chinchilla, sable and coyote, Kaufman’s personal favorite. There’s everything from a long white fox coat speckled with bright pink, black and blue to a bluish gray bomber-style chinchilla jacket.

Coats sell for an average of $3,000 but can go for up to $150,000. Kaufman has sold to big names such as Jennifer Lopez and 50 Cent, and his grandfather sold fur to Marilyn Monroe and Liberace.

But new legislation proposed in the City Council here could threaten Kaufman’s livelihood, and those of some 150 other stores in New York that earn the majority of their income through fur sales.

In March, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson introduced legislation that would ban the sale of new fur apparel.

“As an animal lover, I believe it is cruel to kill an animal just for the purpose of people buying and wearing a fur coat. There is really no need for this,” Johnson said in a statement ahead of introducing the bill.

In May, the council heard testimony from opponents and critics of the ban. Following the hearing, Johnson slightly changed his tune, saying he would want a potential ban to be phased in over time time to have a less dramatic impact on the industry.

The New York State Senate and Assembly also are considering bills to ban the sale of fur in the state.

Stores that earn the majority of their revenues through the sale of fur employ about 1,110 people, according to Fur NYC, which opposes the ban. That doesn’t include a supply chain that includes marketing, banking and insurance, says the trade group.

“A fur ban would be catastrophic to New York City — eliminating a historic manufacturing community, along with thousands of jobs for New Yorkers who’ve never made another living and millions of tax revenue that fund critical government programs that help New Yorkers,” according to Fur NYC.

Like many other stores in New York’s Fur District, there are signs posted on Kaufman’s store protesting the proposal.

“If they don’t want to wear furs, they don’t [have to] wear it,” he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last week. “If they don’t want to eat meat, let them not eat meat. But don’t impose your views on me.”



Thursday, June 20, 2019

Seven Springs proposal survives as village bills go nowhere in Legislature 

Among the bills left for dead at the end of the legislative session in Albany were four that would have derailed a proposed new village next to Kiryas Joel by changing or ordering a re-examination of the rules for creating villages in New York.

The final attempt was a short proposal by Sen. James Skoufis on Monday that would have simply raised the minimum number of inhabitants for a new village to 1,000 instead of 500. His bill would have applied to pending petitions and effectively blocked plans by Hasidic property owners to establish the Village of Seven Springs in Monroe, since only about 610 people live in the 1.9 square miles to be incorporated.

State lawmakers were still passing a barrage of final bills for the 2019 session on Thursday when Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat, announced the village bill wouldn’t be among them.

“New York State’s village incorporation laws are astonishingly weak and have been increasingly used by hostile developers as a bludgeon against town governments,” Skoufis said in a statement. “That’s why I’ve tirelessly worked this legislative session to update these antiquated, abused laws.

“Despite authoring three separate bills to address the Seven Springs issue in the Town of Monroe, the Legislature’s leadership failed to support any of my common-sense proposals and, more importantly, failed the people of New York State who are suffering under these harmful laws.”

He vowed to continue fighting the Seven Springs proposal, which is awaiting the outcome of a lawsuit demanding that Monroe Supervisor Tony Cardone review the petition and schedule a referendum if it meets all legal requirements. Monroe’s handling of the Seven Springs proposal had been cast into uncertainty by the filing of an annexation petition by Kiryas Joel that involved some of the same properties.

Skoufis had an earlier bill that would have added new criteria to form a village and opened referendums on new villages to all voters in the town where they’re located, not just those in the area to be incorporated. Another proposal would have frozen all pending village plans in New York for two years while a study was conducted to improve the state’s laws on forming, dissolving or merging municipalities.



Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Stiffer rules on homeschooling that are set to come into effect on July 1 have been met with outrage among many parents of the estimated 5,000 children in Quebec who have chosen this educational option.

They include families of the 2,000 children from Hasidic and other haredi communities who are being homeschooled in the province’s curriculum, under an arrangement made three years ago between the Education Ministry and the English Montreal School Board, and later the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, as well.

The children, mostly boys, continue to go to their community schools, where they are instructed mainly in religious studies.

But Devorah Feldman, head of a homeschooling support program for boys in the Lubavitch Hasidic community, is confident the new regulations will allow “alternative education” like hers to continue to flourish.

She founded the Limmud Centre in 2015, specifically to supplement the secular education of students attending the Rabbinical College of Canada, the Lubavitcher yeshivah. Limmud is a private, independent entity that’s not affiliated with the yeshivah, she stressed.

It has received grants from Federation CJA and the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal, and received an award for excellence in community programming from the Federation on June 17.

Now completing its fourth year, the centre serves close to 70 boys in kindergarten through Grade 8.

The students come after school to the nearby centre four days a week for an hour of tutorials in compulsory subjects, and the parents continue the schooling at home.

The ultimate goal is to enable them to write the provincial matriculation exams and obtain a high school diploma.

Extracurricular activities added in the past year include baseball and hockey coached by members of the Concordia Stingers, as well as robotics.

The new homeschooling regulations were introduced by Education Minister Jean-François Roberge on March 27, and because that was the day before the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) tabled its secularism legislation, it has received little notice beyond those most affected.

“All children in Quebec are entitled to the same opportunities to succeed, and those receiving homeschooling should not be an exception,” Roberge said at the time.

Critics say requiring homeschooling to be more in line with regular school runs counter to the very raison d’être of educating children at home according to individual needs.

The CAQ’s rules further beef up the previous Liberal government’s Bill 144, which came into effect in 2018 and was also aimed at keeping closer tabs on homeschooled children. It made annual learning plans for each child mandatory and strengthened the government’s powers to ensure all children up to age 16 are in a recognized school program.

The CAQ, which has long railed against so-called illegal religious schools, did not feel the bill went far enough.

The CAQ is now adding minimal teaching requirements in French, English, mathematics, science and technology, among other subjects. What has upset parents most is that students in Grade 4 and above will have to take the Education Ministry’s standardized tests.

Until now, the province has allowed parents to use a variety of evaluation methods to measure progress.

Feldman does not agree with this policy. A “portfolio-based evaluation” has been Limmud’s favoured means of judging how well the kids are doing, at least for the younger grades. Starting in Grade 6, the students are slowly acclimated to exam writing.

“If they are being taught through an alternative lens, standardized exams make no sense,” she said. “But our attitude has always been to do what is required by the law, and we will adjust.”

The Limmud Centre is one of six homeschooling programs that are recognized by the Education Ministry as an “external source,” which is an endorsement of its credentials. This year, it received a grant for the development of new frameworks for homeschooling in Quebec.

Feldman, who was trained as a social worker, sat on the advisory panel on homeschooling that was created by former education minister Sébastien Proulx.

She describes Limmud as “an alternative approach to mainstream education, enabling its students to complete the mandated Quebec education without compromising their religious education and identity.” It has developed all its own cross-curricular materials and does not use ministry texts.

While it does not offer religious studies, everything it teaches is in line with Orthodox belief. Science instruction, for example, is rooted in the belief that God created the world. The majority of the teachers are from the Lubavitch community.

Next year, Limmud will add Grade 9 classes and help prepare Grade 10 students for their first matriculation exams, she said.

Limmud was recently awarded a grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, so that researchers from the Université de Montréal and the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières can document the effectiveness of its educational model. “While the Limmud Centre model fills a distinct need in the Lubavitch community, it also offers an effective and specialized alternative to mainstream schooling for anyone interested in the homeschooling experience,” Feldman said.

Among the many detractors of the new law is the Jewish Association for Homeschooling, which represents those parents in the public school board-supervised programs.

The changes brought in by Bill 144 last September are already strict enough, said its spokesperson, Abraham Eckstein.

“All (these new regulations) do is make life more difficult for parents who want to comply with the law,” he said. The association had asked for a three-year freeze on the implementation of the new rules.



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

NY summer camp is latest hit with measles outbreak 

The battle to contain the worst U.S. measles outbreak in 27 years has a new front: summer camp.

Vaccinations have been made mandatory this summer for campers and staff in several counties north of New York City that annually fill up with kids from the Orthodox Jewish communities that have been hit hardest by measles.

Ulster County took the extra step of mandating the measles vaccine or proof of immunity at all day camps and overnight camps, becoming the latest county in the area to issue immunization requirements. Rockland County announced a similar order this month, following mandates from Sullivan and Orange counties.

"We have to make sure our t's are crossed and our i's are dotted in making sure all these vaccination records are in and have been fine-combed through to make sure everything is in compliance," said Rabbi Hanoch Hecht, of Ulster County's Camp Emunah, which hosts many girls from a Chabad community in Brooklyn's Crown Heights.

"In the past where we accepted religious exemptions for certain things," said Hecht, who is getting his own blood checked for immunity, "now we cannot."

The state of New York requires summer camps to keep immunization records for all campers, but doesn't bar children from attending if they haven't gotten a measles shot.

Children are required to get the measles vaccine to attend schools in New York, however, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Thursday eliminating an exemption for kids whose parents object to vaccinations on religious grounds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, as of June 1, more than 1,000 measles cases had been reported in the U.S. since the start of the year, up from fewer than 100 cases a year a decade ago. The bulk of those cases have been diagnosed in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn and suburban Rockland County.

The CDC recommends everyone over a year old should get the vaccine, except for people who had the disease as children. Those who have had measles are immune.

The vaccine, which became available in the 1960s, is considered safe and highly effective — paving the way for measles to be declared all but eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. But it has had a resurgence several times, including 667 cases in 2014.

Hecht and others stressed that vaccinations are widely accepted by most members of the Orthodox community, echoing rabbis in Brooklyn and Rockland County who say it is a relatively small group of parents influenced by anti-vaccination propaganda — not religious teachings — who have resisted inoculations.

The Orthodox Union said it has previously required up-to-date vaccinations, including the MMR vaccine, for its 37 summer programs.



Monday, June 17, 2019

Sewage problem resolved at sleep-away camp in Kerhonkson, health official says 

When Camp Rav Tov opens for the summer, neighbors are likely to be pleasantly surprised by what isn't in the air.

Ulster County Health Commissioner Dr. Carol Smith says a new septic system installed at the Cherrytown Road sleep-away camp has been approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"It looks like the issue that had been ongoing with the failure of their [septic] system has been resolved," Smith said.

Last summer, the county Department of Health ordered the camp, which is attended by Hasidic Jewish girls, to close by Aug. 13 because raw sewage was seeping out of the ground from the failing septic system. The untreated raw sewage not only surfaced onto the camp property but ran down into the road. Smith said the raw sewage posed a health threat to both campers and the community.

Smith said the county contacted the Brooklyn-based owners of the camp  several times before deciding to order the facility closed. She said the camp had taken some steps to mitigate the problems but that the efforts weren’t enough to remove the threat posed by the flow of raw sewage.

On the eve of the camp's ordered closure, a Kings County judge issued a temporary restraining order that blocked Ulster County closure order and allowed the camp to operate through the end of its season on Aug. 22.

Following that injunction, Ulster County and the camp negotiated a settlement that required the camp to pump and haul all sewage from the camp on a daily basis and to install a new septic system before seeking operating permits for 2019.

Smith said that with the installation of the new septic system, the Department of Health can move on the camp's application for a permit to operate for the 2019 season.

"The major capital improvement they needed to make because of the failure that was the issue last season seems to have been remedied," she said."We will proceed with the regular protocol of pre-camp inspection that is routine for every camp that gets a permit through us."

The owners of the Cherrytown Road Camp also operate three other sleep-away camps in Ulster County.



Sunday, June 16, 2019

Man Screams At Hasidic Jew In NYC: ‘Hitler Did Not Kill Enough’ ‘Rat Jews’ 

On Sunday evening, a man in New York City hurled vile anti-Semitic remarks at a Hasidic Jew who was on his way to visit Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson's resting place in preparation of the 25th anniversary of his passing.

The alleged assailant, who has not yet been identified, verbally attacked Menachem B. as Menachem was on his way to pay his respects to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known to many as the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

"We were on our way in preparation for his 25th passing anniversary which is on July 6," Menachem told The Daily Wire.

According to Menachem, the man randomly approached him and his friend Moshe R. as they were leaving a barber shop in Brooklyn and began screaming at them: "You guys robbed me."

Menachem said that he tried to get the man to calm down so he could figure out what the man's problem was but then the man launched into hurling anti-Semitic remarks at them.

"Hitler didn't not, Hitler did not kill enough of f--king all you," the man can be seen screaming in one video. “Hitler did not kill enough. He had the right to kill all because [inaudible] rat Jews. The rat Jews."

Moshe's parents, who are both still alive, are both Holocaust survivors.

In response to the incident, Moshe asked Menachem: "What is this, Nazi Germany?”

"This was a totally unprovoked anti-Semitic attack and it’s very sad to see in America in 2019 this level of hatred," Menachem told The Daily Wire. "I never thought I would encounter hate like this in America. Just as this was a random act of unprovoked hatred, I want to urge everyone to take the initiative to do random acts of goodness and kindness to others, regardless of any differences you may have them. At least this way something good can come out of this to counter the hate, to fight darkness with light as Lubavitcher Rebbe has taught us."



Saturday, June 15, 2019

Concord man arrested after threatening to commit mass murder of Jewish people, police say 

Police in Concord have arrested a man in connection with several crimes related to possession of an illegal assault rifle and for threatening comments the man reportedly made in the chat room of an online gaming platform.

Ross Farca, 23, of Concord, was arrested and ultimately charged by the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office with making criminal threats, possession of an illegal assault rifle and manufacturing an assault rifle, according to the Concord Police Department.

Last weekend, the FBI relayed a cyber-tip to police in Concord about threatening comments made in an online chat room that consisted of threats against Jewish people, threats to commit a mass shooting at a synagogue and threats to shoot at law enforcement. Police said the suspect also claimed to possess an assault rifle.

There were no specific threats locations included in the threats, according to police.

The FBI's initial investigation determined the threatening posts originated from an address in Concord, and detectives with the Concord Police Department were able to identify Farca as a suspect in the case.

Police said Farca had legally purchased an incomplete AR-15 rifle frame earlier this year.

On Monday, police obtained an arrest warrant for Farca and a warrant to search his home.

Farca was taken into custody without incident.

During a search of his home, police found an illegal AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, which had been built from the legally purchased frame, police said.

Investigators also found several high-capacity magazines, but they did not find any ammunition.

Detectives also found Nazi literature, camouflage clothing and a sword.

In addition to Farca's arrest, detectives were also able to obtain an emergency Gun Violence Restraining Order against Farca to prevent him from legally purchasing firearms.



Friday, June 14, 2019

Former TV private eye Vinny Parco sentenced to prison for promoting prostitution 

Former TV private eye Vincent Parco was hit with a 1 to 3-year prison sentence Friday for trying to blackmail a witness in a child sex abuse case by plying him with hookers and secretly taping it.

Parco, who once starred in Court TV’s “Parco P.I.," was found guilty on May 3 of promoting prostitution and unlawful surveillance for blackmailing the relative of a child sex abuse victim to stop him from cooperating with cops.

The trial was highlighted by details of hotel rendezvous, massages and a hidden video camera.

The jury acquitted Parco on a higher count of promoting prostitution, finding he did not supervise or manage the act, but profited from its occurrence.

Parco directed a woman to lure the blackmail target to a Sunset Park hotel room in 2016, where she hired prostitutes to have sex with the man and secretly recorded it. He then tried to use the video as blackmail.

The victim said he had no idea he was being recorded during the trysts. He testified that a month later, a man came up to his car and showed him pictures of him with the women during the hotel romps.

Prosecutors said Parco accepted $17,000 from the accused rapist, Samuel Israel of Brooklyn, for the video sting. Israel was sentenced in 2018 to eight years in prison for sexual assault.

He came up with the plan with Parco because he didn’t want jurors in his trial knowing his alleged victim was only 12 years old when he sexually abused her in March 2016, prosecutors said.

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Peter Gleason, Parco’s lawyer, called the case “politically motivated” and said he plans to appeal and seek a stay on the sentence while the appeal is pending.

“(This was) payback to the Jewish community in Brooklyn who apparently runs the district attorneys office,” Gleason said. “That influence comes from the fact that the Orthodox/Hasidic community votes in blocks and without that voting block, you don’t get elected in Brooklyn. It is clearly politically motivated. He was not given a fair trial by this court.”

Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez countered, "This defendant, a licensed private investigator, was hired by a sexual abuser who sought to silence the victim of a heinous crime, causing her and her family additional pain. A jury found him guilty of secretly recording an intimate encounter and with today’s sentencing he has been held accountable. Sickening and shameful behavior such as this will not be tolerated in Brooklyn and will be vigorously prosecuted.”

Parco will be held in protective custody at the Brooklyn House of Detention.



Thursday, June 13, 2019

Velvel Pasternak, Preserver of Hasidic Music, Is Dead at 85 

Velvel Pasternak, a leading publisher of Jewish music who recorded and transcribed, and thus preserved, the singular melodies that had typically been passed along by tradition within Hasidic sects, died on Tuesday in Oceanside, N.Y. He was 85.

His death, in a hospital, was confirmed by his son Gedalia, who said his father had had a cardiac arrest in May and never recovered.

What Alan Lomax did for folk music by traveling the country to record locally cherished but obscure ballads and blues that were in danger of extinction, Mr. Pasternak did for Hasidic music, though on a smaller scale. Working out of his Long Island home, tape recorder in hand, he drove to the Borough Park and Crown Heights neighborhoods of Brooklyn, which have large Hasidic populations, and recorded the mostly unnotated music of the Modzitz, Lubavitch, Bobov and Ger dynastic groups. The works were incorporated in his first book, “Songs of the Chassidim,” published in 1968.

The next year, Mr. Pasternak took a sabbatical from teaching at local day schools and flew with his family to Israel, where he visited Hasidic enclaves like Bnei Brak and recorded another batch of songs that had never been published, his daughters Shira Pasternak Be’eri and Naava Pasternak Swirsky said. The music was published as “Songs of the Chassidim II.”



Wednesday, June 12, 2019

NYC Closing 10th Hasidic School For ‘Measles Violations’ 

According to news reports, New York City is shuttering Brooklyn based Orthodox school because it has continued to admit unvaccinated students in violation of an Order from the Health Department.

The Central UTA Satmar School for Boys, a Hasidic school located in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, is being closed on June 11, 2019, for violating city orders regarding vaccines and vaccination records, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. 

It is the 10th Orthodox school in New York City (NYC) to be closed this year related to the NYC Health Order, according to a city official with knowledge of the matter.

Nine of the 10 schools closed thus far are in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The tenth school is located in the borough of Queens.

Williamsburg, which has a large Orthodox population, has been experiencing a measles outbreak since 2018 that has infected 588 people in New York City, as of June 10, 2019.

In addition to closing schools, if the NYC Health Department identifies a person with measles or an unvaccinated child exposed to measles in certain zip codes, that individual or their parent or guardian could be fined $1,000.

As of May 29th, 123 individuals have received summonses for being non-compliant with the Emergency Order.

The good news is that as of May 24th, 25,510 doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine have been administered to people who are under 19 years old in NYC.

According to data from the State Department of Education, more than 20 Orthodox schools in Brooklyn had immunization rates lower than 90 percent last year. Health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a measles immunization rate of at least 95 percent. 

Additionally, the CDC reported 1,022 individual cases of measles in 28 states during 2019. This is an increase of 41 cases from the previous week.

This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.



Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Seven Springs petitioners fight bill limiting village creation 

A group of Hasidic property owners that petitioned to form a new village next to Kiryas Joel is urging state lawmakers to reject a bill that could block those plans by raising the bar for incorporating a village in New York.

The pending legislation would grant town supervisors more discretion over the formation of villages by allowing them to reject a petition if it doesn’t serve the “overall public interest” or comply with the town’s Comprehensive Plan. The bill also would let all town voters cast ballots in a referendum to decide the fate of a proposed village, rather than limit the vote strictly to residents of the area to be incorporated.

Skoufis, the Woodbury Democrat who introduced the bill, has argued New York’s village incorporation law is outdated and makes it too easy to create breakaway villages, requiring just 500 inhabitants and a petition that meets all technical requirements.

Steven Barshov, the attorney for the Village of Seven Springs petitioners in Monroe, fired back with a memo in opposition to all senators and Assembly members last week, calling the proposal an attempted power shift that would undermine “the right of self-determination” of New Yorkers who want to form a village. He said the bill would “vest control over village incorporation in the town supervisor, who has no reason or incentive to approve it.”

Barshov’s clients are the second set of village petitioners to fight the legislation. Westchester County residents who have pushed for three years to create the Village of Edgemont in the Town of Greenburgh - and recently filed their second petition - have reportedly bombarded the office of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins with calls to oppose the Skoufis bill.

Neither chamber has approved the legislation, and just six voting days are left before lawmakers adjourn for the year. A Senate committee cleared the bill for a floor vote last month, but the Assembly’s Local Government Committee hasn’t taken it up.

The chairman of that Assembly committee, Fred Thiele, is also sponsoring the bill, and like Skoufis, has a proposed village in his district. That proposal near the eastern end of Long Island hit a roadblock on Monday, when the Southampton town supervisor rejected the Village of East Quogue petition because of flaws in its list of residents.

Barshov, in an interview on Tuesday, called the Skoufis bill “terrible public policy,” arguing that both sponsors were trying to change standards for new villages for the whole state based on proposals in their own districts.

“This is not the reason why you change the law - because you don’t like a village forming in your own backyard,” Barshov said.

Skoufis, in a statement responding to Barshov’s memo, accused the lawyer of using “exaggerations and falsehoods” to try to fool lawmakers and paint the bill as discriminatory against the Seven Springs petitioners. He described the petitioners as “disgruntled developers” who want to “cash in on a new village” and will “say and do anything to get their way.”

“My bill would hold hostile village incorporation petitions like Seven Springs accountable to the town they are trying to form within,” Skoufis said.

The Seven Springs petition, which would create a 1.9-square-mile village with just 610 residents and lots of vacant land, is awaiting a decision in a state Supreme Court lawsuit. The petitioners are demanding the Town of Monroe take up their proposal before a rival annexation request by Kiryas Joel that involves some of the same properties.



Monday, June 10, 2019

US Jewish community looks to defend itself as attacks rise 

Armed guards, safety assessments and now even a "Tactical Rabbi" to train volunteers on the use of weapons -- such is the reality today at synagogues in the United States facing mounting anti-Semitic attacks.

It is at a shooting range in the hills overlooking Los Angeles that a team of AFP reporters met recently with Raziel Cohen, dubbed the "Tactical Rabbi," who was sporting a 9mm pistol on his hip and carrying a semi-automatic rifle over his shoulder.

Cohen was trying to determine how well books can stop bullets.

The idea is to transform a library at a synagogue or Jewish school into a shelter in the event of an active shooter situation.

"We're trying to bridge the gap between the time that the shooting begins and law enforcement arrives," he told AFP.

"The expression that goes on is that we carry guns because we can't carry police officers, which is not just a joke," added Cohen.

"The reality is that there can't be police everywhere all the time."

Cohen, who has been passionate about guns since his youth, is a security expert and certified shooting instructor who has taken part in counter-terrorism courses given by retired and elite active-duty military personnel.

Born into a religious family, Cohen is also a rabbi for the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Los Angeles.

Chabad is a sect of Hasidic Judaism, and Los Angeles is second only to Brooklyn, New York in its number of Chabad congregations.

Cohen said his expertise in security took on more meaning after the April 27 shooting at the Chabad Poway Synagogue near San Diego that left one dead and three wounded.

It came six months after a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue left 11 people dead -- the worst attack against Jewish people in the modern history of the United States.



Friday, June 07, 2019

Chag Sameach 

Wishing everyone a wonderful Shvuous.


Thursday, June 06, 2019

Israeli Man Robs Two Banks Wielding An Avocado 

An Israeli man was charged with aggravated robbery after stealing nearly $8,300 from two banks last month. His weapon of choice was an avocado.

The man, who lives in a Bedouin village in southern Israel, targeted two Beersheba banks, The Times of Israel reported.

During the first robbery, at a Postal Bank branch at the Big Beersheba shopping mall, he handed the cashier a note demanding that she give him the cash at her counter. When the cashier hesitated, the man said, “Put the money in the bag quickly or I’ll throw this grenade.”

It became clear he was holding a round, black object in his right hand. But it wasn’t a grenade; in reality it was just an avocado he painted black.

But it was enough to scare the cashier, and the man walked out with $4,450.

Five days later, he pulled the same move at another branch of the Postal Bank, threatening to blow up the building with his disguised avocado. He left with $3,300 in cash.

He had covered himself well enough that security cameras couldn’t identify him. Police instead tracked cellphone locations during the times of the robberies until the found the man, who has a history of robbery; he once served a three-year term in prison. It’s unclear if any fruit were involved.



Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Whither ‘Poland’s Jewish Renaissance’? 

In 2015, after the massacres at Charlie Hebdo’s offices and a Paris kosher supermarket, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, “If 100,000 Jews leave France, France will no longer be France.”

President Emmanuel Macron has also tried to make amends for continuing antisemitic outbursts by reinforcing the national outcry: “Enough!” But in 2018, the President of the Confederation of Jews in France sadly predicted: “In a few decades, there will be no Jews in France.”

My focus is not the ongoing aliyah of French Jews to Israel or their immigration to the US, but the Quixotic attempt to encourage a movement east to Poland. Polin in Hebrew etymology means “here shalt thou lodge.”

After the medieval and early modern expulsions of Jews from England, France, Spain, and parts of Italy and Germany, Poland became the center of European Jewish life. Despite antisemitism, especially promoted by the Catholic Church, the Jewish community of Poland-Lithuania achieved economic dynamism, a last flowering of Kabbalah, new religious creativity among the Hasidic movement, Jewish self-government through the kehilla system, and Jews fighting for Poland in both the anti-Russian Revolutions of 1831 and 1863.

Though the world of the pre-World War II shtetls will never be revived, Holocaust survivors have tried to replant Jewish roots in newly-independent Poland starting in the 1990s. Beit Warsawza, a Reform synagogue, was founded in 1995. The Galicia Jewish Museum was inaugurated in 2004. The museum joined the Auschwitz Jewish Center to create the exhibition, “Polish Heroes,” focusing on the Polish Righteous Among the Nations.

But after the 2006 Lebanon War, a Pew poll showed 36 percent of Poles are antisemitic, with only Spain’s percentage higher.

The hopes for a Polish Jewish Renaissance have declined with the rise of Poland’s political right — the ruling Law and Justice Party, Fidesz, and other extremist movements. According to the ADL, Poland harbors the fifth highest number of skinheads after Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the US.

Poland’s Law and Justice Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a former banker, was recorded making antisemitic remarks about “greedy … Americans, Jews, Germans, Englishmen, and Swiss” who run hedge funds. In 2018, when this tape surfaced, Morawiecki doubled down by equating some Jewish Holocaust survivors with Poland’s Nazi collaborators. More recently, he stated that restitution to Polish Jews for property stripped from their families as a result of the Holocaust and then nationalized by Poland’s communist government would be “a victory for Hitler.” In contrast, successive Polish governments have approved restitution to the Catholic Church for property seized both during and after World War II. Participants in large antisemitic demonstrations have called Jews demanding restitution “hyenas.”

The Law and Justice regime also prosecuted for libel Jan T. Gross, a historian with a Jewish father, who now teaches in the US, because his controversial scholarship has emphasized Polish antisemitism during and after World War II. The Simon Wiesenthal Center accused the Polish government of “a political witch hunt” against Gross. Poland’s new law criminalizing any mention of complicity of “the Polish nation” in the crimes of the Holocaust was passed in January 2018, despite international protests, especially from Israel. Over half of Poles believes that Polish Christians, not Jews, suffered more during World War II.



Tuesday, June 04, 2019

De Blasio says anti-Semitism is strictly a ‘right-wing movement’ 

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that anti-Semitism is a “right-wing movement” — while rejecting a claim that the left plays any role in discriminating against Jews.

“I think the ideological movement that is anti-Semitic is the right-wing movement,” de Blasio said at a Brooklyn press conference Tuesday about the increase of hate crimes in New York City. Hate crimes against all minority groups are up 64% compared to this time last year. Anti-Semitic incidents have spiked by 90%.

De Blasio said he did not agree with a claim by a reporter that there is also rising anti-Semitism “on the left in the BDS movement and around the world.” The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a largely left-wing campaign to ban Israeli products.

“I want to be very, very clear, the violent threat, the threat that is ideological is very much from the right,” de Blasio said, adding that the perpetrators trace their history back to Nazism and fascism.

He was speaking specifically about national and international incidents.

The remarks drew immediate blowback from City Council members on both sides of the political aisle.

“I don’t agree with the mayor,” said Chaim Deutsch, a Brooklyn Democrat.

“I have not seen any white supremacists coming in here committing these hate crimes,” he said.

Indeed, NYPD Chief Dermot Shea said at the same press conference that perpetrators of hate crimes “run the gamut” from teens, to people with mental illness, to first- time offenders, and career criminals.

For example, a 16-year-old recently turned himself in for punching an Orthodox Jewish man in the head in Williamsburg.

Staten Island Republican Borelli called the mayor’s position laughable.

“A simple look at where anti-Semitic hate crimes have occurred just disproves this– unless you count central Brooklyn as the home of a vast right-wing conspiracy,” Borelli said.

“Bill de Blasio regularly says stupid things, but this is literally the stupidest effing thing he’s ever said,” Borelli commented.



Monday, June 03, 2019

Who is the Admor of Gur, the Hasidic leader who plays coalition kingmaker? 

When coalition negotiations collapsed Wednesday evening and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu organized a vote for the Knesset to dissolve, the majority of ultra-Orthodox factions had agreed to Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman’s demand to pass an unaltered bill regulating the draft of the ultra-Orthodox into the military.

But United Torah Judaism leader Yaakov Litzman swiftly rejected the offer, saying it would not accept any agreement based on Liberman’s demand.

Litzman is a member of the Gur Hasidic movement, and his powerful patron is the head of the sect, or Admor, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter.

Alter is a powerful figure in the ultra-Orthodox world and could again hold the keys to the formation of a coalition after Israel returns to the polls on September 17.

According to Channel 12 news, Litzman and Alter were childhood friends but a breach in the relationship became public in 2017 when Alter ordered Litzman to resign as health minister in protest of infrastructure work on rail lines performed on Shabbat.

Litzman is the leader of Agudath Yisrael, which along with Degel HaTorah makes up United Torah Judaism, and has a focus on cutting back public transportation operations on weekends and stronger enforcement against businesses operating during Shabbat hours. Lawmakers from United Torah Judaism have previously sparked coalition crises over public works projects on Shabbat, during which work is prohibited under Jewish law, including most recently over a pedestrian bridge spanning a major Tel Aviv highway.

However, the sect also has other considerations when negotiating a role in the government.

“In the end, the ultra-Orthodox also appreciate money,” Knesset correspondent for The Marker financial newspaper, Haggai Amit, told Channel 12.  “They are not blind to this issue.”



Sunday, June 02, 2019

Williamsburg synagogue celebrates 149th anniversary 

The oldest Orthodox congregation in the borough celebrated a huge milestone Sunday.

Beth Jacob Ohev Sholom in Williamsburg is celebrating its 149th anniversary.

The congregation is the only remaining non-Hasidic, Orthodox Jewish synagogue in the neighborhood.

It allows the Jewish community of all different denominations to come and worship under the same roof.

The celebration aims to recognize the legacy of the congregation and to carry on its traditions.

The congregation even recognized several elected officials for all of the work that they do for the Jewish community.

Members of the congregation say they'll continue to celebrate the synagogue's legacy for many years to come.



Saturday, June 01, 2019

Bicyclist knocks off Hasidic man’s fedora in suspected hate crime 

The suspect of the Brooklyn hate crime.

A brazen bicyclist knocked a Hasidic Jewish man’s fedora off his head as he walked down a Brooklyn street this week, cops said.

And they’re treating it as a hate crime.

The 27-year-old victim, wearing traditional Jewish clothing, was walking along Flushing Avenue near Nostrand Avenue at 2:25 p.m. Wednesday when the passing cyclist slapped off the black hat and peddled away, according to police.

Cops said the suspect was wearing red headphones, a gray and black jacket and riding a silver BMX bike.



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