Sunday, September 29, 2019

K'Sivah V'Chasima Toivah 

Wishing all of K'lal Yisroel a happy and healthy year.


Saturday, September 28, 2019

Nearly 25,000 Hasidic pilgrims arrive in Ukraine 

About 25,000 Hasidic pilgrims have already arrived in Ukraine to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.
"The pilgrims continue arriving massively as the Orthodox Jews celebrate the 5780th Jewish New Year tomorrow, on September 29. To date, the officers of the State Border Guard Service have already registered 24,782 pilgrims at the checkpoints in Kyiv, Odesa, Vinnytsia, at the border with Poland, Slovakia and Romania," the press service of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine reports.

According to the State Border Guard Service, 5,687 Hasidic pilgrims traveling to Uman were registered only during the last day.

The celebration of the Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year will last from September 29 to October 1.

Every Rosh Hashana, tens of thousands of Hasidic pilgrims from around the world visit the burial site of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, located on the former site of the Jewish cemetery in a rebuilt synagogue in the town of Uman, Cherkasy region in central Ukraine.



Friday, September 27, 2019

Police detachment from Israel arrives in Uman to help ensure order during Jewish New Year 

A detachment of about 20 Israeli policemen has arrived in Uman, Cherkasy region to patrol areas of the city where Hasidic pilgrims will congregate.

According to the communication office of the Cherkasy region's police, the leader of a joint Ukrainian-Israeli police detachment Serhiy Dovhy conducted training before the police went on patrol.

As of September 26, more than 7,200 pilgrims had arrived to celebrate Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) 5780, according the Jewish calendar. This year the holiday is celebrated from September 29 through the evening of October 1.



Thursday, September 26, 2019

Teens sought after knocking off Hasidic men's hats in Williamsburg 

Police are searching for two teenagers who they say knocked the religious hats off of two Hasidic Jewish men in Brooklyn.

Police say they're investigating the incident as a hate crime.

It happened last Friday around 9 p.m. near South 10th Street and Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg.

Police say the teens knocked off the Jewish men's Shtreimels and ran away.

Neither victim was hurt.

The first individual is described as a Hispanic teen boy, approximately 15-years-old, with a medium build and dark hair. He was last seen wearing black pants, a black track suit jacket with white stripes, white sneakers and a black Rolling Stones t-shirt with a picture of a mouth on the front.

The second individual is described as a Hispanic teen boy, approximately 15-years-old, medium build with short dark hair. He was last seen wearing black pants, a black t-shirt and white sneakers.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Rockland County declares end to measles outbreak after nearly a year 

The measles outbreak in Rockland County is officially over after nearly a year.

Officials made the announcement Wednesday, saying they had to wait for two incubation periods totaling 42 days since the last person with the rash reported the virus.

There were 312 reported cases of measles in the county since last October -- most of which impacted the Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities where many children live.

The outbreak led to an emergency declaration.

"We had been part of the largest measles outbreak in New York State since 1992 and have nearly 20 percent of the cases nationwide of 2018 and 2019," county executive Ed Day said.

County officials acknowledge there still could be new cases in the future, but say another outbreak on a similar scale is unlikely.

Officials say nearly 30,000 MMR vaccinations were administered in Rockland County -- triple the yearly rate.

With a new state law ending religious exemptions, the chance of measles spreading in schools is low, which is a relief to county officials even though containing the outbreak cost some $3 million.



Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Two Brooklyn neighborhoods have been hit yet again with more suspected antisemitic incidents against Jewish residents.

This comes just days after dozens of people protested against the scourge of antisemitism at City Hall Park over the weekend.

On Monday morning, a Jewish man walking to his synagogue in Gravesend was verbally assaulted. The attacker then tried to punch him repeatedly to no avail. The Jewish man was not injured.

New York Councilman Chaim Deutsch said on Twitter that he is "working with the victim of a hate crime in Gravesend, who was verbally assaulted this morning as he entered a synagogue for prayers."

He added that the Hate Crimes Unit of the New York Police Department is investigating the incident.

On Friday, two religious men were walking in Williamsburg when a group of youths knocked off their shtreimels as they passed the men.

According to Williamsburg News, the incident happened on the corner of Wythe Avenue and South 10th Street.

"Two hassidic Jews were attacked Friday night...by a group of 7 youngsters who threw down their 'Shtreimel[s],'" a tweet by the news organization read.

Following Sunday's rally against antisemitism, Deutsch also tweeted about the incident.

"I spoke at a rally about the fear Holocaust survivors face, walking the streets of NYC and feeling targeted because of their religion once again," he wrote on Twitter. "Now, just a few hours later, I spoke [with] the victim of another hate crime, attacked because of religious garb. When does it end?"

According to recent statistics released by the NYPD, antisemitic hate crimes have risen 63% this year compared to 2018.

In a separate incident on Sunday, congregants arriving at the Racine Beit Israel Sinai Congregation for a meeting were horrified to discover antisemitic graffiti painted on the walls and on the synagogue's door including the words "Jude" and Nazi-styled S's.

In a statement on Facebook, Racine Police said it responded to a report of vandalism at the synagogue at 1:44 p.m. on Sunday.

"Antisemitic graffiti was spray painted onto the building," the statement said. "The Racine Police Department is currently investigating the incident."

Racine Mayor Cory Mason took to Facebook to condemn the incident.

"It's deeply disturbing that this horrendous act was committed the week before Jewish people will celebrate the High Holy Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which are intended to be a time of reflection and celebration," he said. "This is a clear act of hate, and antisemitism of any kind has no place in our City. I hope the congregation at Beth Israel Sinai knows that this ignorant act is not reflective of the inclusive community Racine strives to be."

Mason said that it is his "hope that the perpetrator of this crime will swiftly be brought to justice and atone for their actions."

Meanwhile, a synagogue in Sharon, Massachusetts was also vandalized over the weekend with antisemitic markings that looked similar to swastikas.

Sharon Police said in a statement that they received a call from Temple Sinai at around 7:20 p.m. on Saturday.

Police added that they "are working closely with our friends at Temple Sinai and are determined to resolve this case."



Monday, September 23, 2019

Police: 7 teens wanted for possible bias attack of Jewish man in Williamsburg 

Police are investigating another possible bias attack in the borough after a Jewish man was attacked in Williamsburg.

It happened Friday night near the corner of Wythe Avenue and South 10th Street.

Police say a group of seven young men walked up to a Hasidic Jewish man and knocked his fur hat off his head.

The man was not hurt in the attack.

News 12 is told the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating to determine whether this was in fact a bias attack.

Anyone with information is asked to call police.



Sunday, September 22, 2019


A hasidic best seller

In 1891-1892, a printing press in Berdyczów, published a five-part work dedicated to the Hebrew language: Otzar Hashorashim by “Mabit,” a pseudonym for Meshullam F. Tuchinsky (1846-ca.1900). Tuchinsky would go on to publish other works aimed at furthering Hebrew language skills: in 189,2 a book in Yiddish about learning Hebrew grammar, and in 1899, a collection of Yiddish phrases and possible Hebrew replacements. There must have been demand for Otzar Hashorashim, for immediately after its publication a second edition appeared in 1893-1895. Otzar Hashorashim included approbations from “the wise men of Berdyczów.” Two approbations were penned on the same day in 1890, one by the notable hasidic jurist Rabbi David Ortenberg (d.1910), and the other by Rabbi Yaakov Margaliyot who is described as a “moreh hora’ah” – a title used for a rabbi charged with responding to everyday questions of Jewish law. Not much is known about Rabbi Margaliyot.

A year after the publication of the second edition of Otzar Hashorashim, in 1896, Rabbi Margaliyot turned to the same printing press to publish his own work. The volume was entitled Kevutzat Yaakov, and it included seven short works – hence the title Kevutzat, the collection of, [Rabbi] Yaakov [Margaliyot].



Saturday, September 21, 2019

Do Jewish lives matter to Bill de Blasio? 

Jews being hit with rocks. Jews being chased down and punched. Jews being beaten with belts. Jews being stabbed on the street. Jewish school buses being set on fire. Jewish women having their wigs ripped off. Swastikas being painted on sidewalks. Jews being forced to take off their kippot. These are scenes that could be straight out of 1940s Nazi Germany, or perhaps from France today, but they’re not. These recent assaults have all happened in Brooklyn, New York. The worst part is, no one seems to care.

Every so often a video is shared on Twitter — like this recent one, showing four assailants chasing down and assaulting a Hasidic Jew. Jewish community leaders come together to condemn it, and increasingly, to ask why nothing is being done.



Friday, September 20, 2019


Some Williamsburg residents are asking for more women's-only hours at a local public pool, but with a compromise: Give men some alone time, too.

A group of local women — of various ethnicities and religions — got unanimous approval last Tuesday from Brooklyn Community Board 1  for three additional hours of women-only swimming at the Metropolitan Pool on Bedford Avenue. Also okayed: creating men-only hours.

The Parks Department, which did not respond to a request for comment, will have the final say.

"It's not a contentious issue in our neighborhood," said Jan Peterson, the chair of CB1's Women's Issues committee. "White, black, Hispanic, Polish — all the community leaders support this issue."

Still, the vote threatened to reignite the controversy over the decades-old, single-sex swimming sessions that surfaced in 2016 after an anonymous tipster alerted the City Commission on Human Rights.

That triggered a review and spurred the Parks Department to shut down the women's-only sessions, which were eight hours a week at the time.

The Commission reversed course a few months later, however, and the no-men-allowed swim times were reinstated, on a limited four-hour schedule that remains today.

The practice, which notched national attention, was widely criticized by everyone from The New York Times Editorial Board to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which argued the decision to keep any restricted hours violated the Constitution.

The Parks Department shut down a request in March 2017 for the return of the full eight-hour schedule. The Williamsburg women believe now is the chance to reclaim their time — with a nod to offering men some privacy as well.

"We polled women of all ethnicities of women of all religions, of all ethnicities, ages: Jewish women, Muslim women, Hispanic women, Italian women, pregnant women, who just don't want to swim with men," said Maria Aragona, a lawyer who is behind the proposal.

"If I had a young daughter, I wouldn't want to bring her to a pool where there might be a child molester," added Aragona, a Williamsburg resident for 23 years.

Aragona, other members of CB1's Women's Issues Committee, non-board members of the committee, and representatives of at least two local elected officials will meet next week to draft a letter to the Mayor's Office and the Parks Department with their revised proposal.



Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Secret History of ‘Hava Nagila’ 

Every song carries within it many stories. Before it was a universal Jewish wedding anthem, a European soccer chant, and a Jewish musical cliché par excellence, the Hebrew song “Hava Nagila” started out as a Hasidic folk melody. The song’s many lives have spawned an award-winning documentary, an Israeli court battle, and a generations-long rift between two Jewish families. But its actual origins remained shrouded in mystery. How did an East European religious folk tune become a Zionist sonic emblem only to shed both its religious and political forms and morph yet again into a generic ode to happiness?

The story begins with the musician Abraham Zvi Idelsohn. Born in 1882 in Feliksburg, in the northwest of the Russian Empire (present-day Latvia), he trained as a cantor in Libau before moving to Germany in the 1890s to study at Berlin’s Stern Conservatory and the Leipzig Academy of Music. Idelsohn then worked as a cantor in Leipzig, Regensburg, and Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1907, he settled in Jerusalem with his family.

Living next door to Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, Idelsohn set as his own goal to create a modern Hebrew music to accompany the national rebirth of Jewish life in their ancient homeland. In the spirit of the Zionist philosopher Ahad Ha’am, Idelsohn began to collect all the riches of Jewish musical traditions that he found in Ottoman Palestine and throughout the diaspora. Using the emerging recording technology, he began to transcribe folk songs and make field recordings in order to forge an old-new musical sound that would be (in his view) authentically Jewish. That meant uncovering what he imagined to be the oldest layer of pre-exilic melody common to all Jewish traditions and liberating it from the foreign accretions resulting from the exile.

Idelsohn’s project was an unabashedly political one. He denounced the cultural and spiritual “assimilation” that he experienced among German Jews. He lambasted his fellow Jewish musicians for flocking into European classical music rather than taking an interest in their own heritage. Many of his innovations—the first major Hebrew songbook for schools and synagogues, the first textbook on the history of Jewish music, the first Hebrew opera, and his seminal 10-volume work, The Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies (Hebräische Orientalische Melodiensatz, 1914-1932)—were intended to disseminate Zionism, pushing Jews to embrace a national cultural identity rooted in the common wellsprings of renewed cultural life in Zion. Like other architects of this new Hebrew culture, Idelsohn sought out Jewish religious culture in order to refashion it into new secular national traditions.



Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Hasidic Jewish man attacked, robbed by group of men in Brooklyn: police 

Police said they're investigating after a Hasidic Jewish man was assaulted and robbed while walking home in Brooklyn Tuesday night.

The 24-year-old man was walking on Warsoff Place, near Flushing Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesan, around 9:30 p.m. when he was confronted by a group of four men, authorities said.

Police said one of the men told the victim, "Give us everything," before a man in the group punched him in the head.

Surveillance video posted on Twitter by the Williamsburg Shomrim safety patrol shows the man attempting to run away and being chased by the group.

The men also took his cellphone, which they threw down the street, authorities said.

The group fled the scene in an unknown direction while the man was left with minor injuries, according to police.

The attack is not currently being investigated as a hate crime, officials say.



Tuesday, September 17, 2019

For blacks and Jews, annual Crown Heights festival takes on greater significance following string of attacks 

At the end of August, the New York Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force investigated an alleged anti-Semitic attack near Brower Park in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Someone had allegedly thrown a block of ice at a Hasidic man driving a car. It was the second allegedly anti-Semitic attack that week, coming days after an assailant had bashed a Hasidic man's head with a brick.

Two weeks later, at the same park, the famously fraught neighborhood projected a much different image: one of a diverse and peaceful community.

At a community festival on Sunday, a popular Orthodox Jewish children's singer shared the stage with a Caribbean dance group on stilts. Jewish and African-American children played together on a closed-off street. And inside a tent behind the stage, attendees sat in a circle and discussed contentious issues like hate crimes and gun violence.

This was the fourth annual #OneCrownHeights festival, but it felt especially relevant this year following a string of attacks on Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn that has heightened tensions in the area.
Crown Heights, a majority African-American neighborhood with a sizable Hasidic Jewish community and a growing population of hipsters, was the site of some of those attacks.

The violence has sparked painful memories of the 1991 riots there, which began when a black boy was killed accidentally by a car escorting Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late head of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement headquartered in the neighborhood. The death touched off three days of rioting in which black youths attacked religious Jews, killing one.



Monday, September 16, 2019

Teenager sporting fake Hitler mustache performs Nazi salute outside Scottish synagogue 

A teenage boy in Scotland was filmed performing the Nazi salute in front of a local synagogue while wearing a fake Hitler mustache.

The STV station on Monday reported that the incident outside Giffnock & Newlands Synagogue, which was exposed in social networks but whose exact date is not known, is being treated as an anti-Semitic hate crime by local police.

"Police Scotland is aware of a video circulating online on various social media channels which shows a teenage boy conducting actions of an anti-Semitic nature outside a synagogue. Inquiries are ongoing to trace the persons responsible for making and distributing the video," a police spokeswoman was quoted as telling STV.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland told the Jewish Chronicle later on Monday: "A 16-year-old-boy has been charged and is the subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal and the Scottish Children's Reporters Administration in connection with the incident."

The video is believed to have been created via the TikTok social media video app, and reportedly was circulated among students at the end of last week, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

Paul Edlin, president of Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, told STV: "The Glasgow Jewish Representative Council are appalled at this anti-Semitic hate crime and we understand that the police are pursuing it vigorously and hope that the alleged perpetrators will be brought to justice quickly.

"The fact that it is now posted on social media makes it an even more significant hate crime," he added.



Sunday, September 15, 2019

Grand Opening! Chabad Jewish Center of Lamorinda! 

The Chabad Jewish center will consist of a Judaica Center where you can buy any judaica items. A kiddush cup, Tallit, Menorah, Mezuzah or any Jewish item you can think of. All different styles.Holiday cards will also be available!

There will also be a Jewish art Gallery featuring Jewish art from around the world.

A Jewish Library/Bookstore where you can sit and read in the lounge or buy an array of all different styles of Jewish books and Cookbooks.



Saturday, September 14, 2019

Jewish professor sues Pace University for discrimination 

A former professor has sued Pace University in New York for discrimination, claiming observant Jewish and older teachers were pushed out of the math department.

Jonathan Gersch, who is Jewish and wore a yarmulke to the school’s Manhattan campus, said he worked as an adjunct math and statistics professor at Pace for more than 15 years, according to a New York Post report Thursday about his $500,000 lawsuit.

In 2016, a new department chair, Shing So, started cleaning house to bring in younger and cheaper staff, according to the lawsuit, which Gersch filed Wednesday in Manhattan State Supreme Court.

Gersch alleged that he was forced out under false pretenses after the university did not renew his position in March 2017.

His suit claims that soon after 2016, all of the “observant Jews” and 50 percent of the employees at the university for 15 years or more were let go.

“While observant Jews were under 8 percent of the 51 adjuncts, ALL of them — 100 percent — were pushed out after the 2016 academic year,” the suit says.

Gersch said “there had been friction” between him and the university “regarding making reasonable accommodations for Jewish holidays in the past,” the Post’s report quotes court papers as saying.

He filed a similar suit in February, which is still pending, according to the Post.

Marie Boster, a Pace spokeswoman, told the Post that the university “has a zero tolerance policy against discrimination in the workplace.”

“Under the university’s policies, if we receive a complaint, we investigate thoroughly and take appropriate action,” she said.

So did not immediately return an email from the Post requesting comment.



Friday, September 13, 2019

Florida Man Apprehended for Threatening to Shoot Jews 

A Florida man who threatened to shoot up a local synagogue and has said publicly that he hates Jews was apprehended on Friday by the FBI.

Hanson Larkin, 25, was in an Orlando federal court the same day, charged with making threats through interstate communication to, according to police, a Jewish man that included: "If meeting me for five seconds is not worth the lives of multiple Jews then I have no other option" and "There's a Chabad near me. And Amtrak has no security for weapons. Don't make me make a choice they'll regret."

A Jewish male, Lizardo Rivas, 44, allegedly rejected romantic advances from Larkin and notified authorities of the threats.

Rivas said he has communicated with Larkin for two years, and that the suspect has expressed bigotry towards Jews and had suicidal thoughts.

Larkin appeared in court again on Tuesday and was denied bail. He could face up to five years behind bars if convicted.

In related news, also on Friday, a 45-year-old man in Daytona Beach, Fla., was charged with making threats, including against Jews.

Leo Arong Jr. posted the threats on YouTube during a livestream of the "PBS NewsHour." It included "I hate jews because I am an inbred LOSER. We have to kill jews in order for LOSERS like me to feel relevant. Thank you."

He was charged with making written threats to kill or harm people related to a mass shooting or act of terrorism, and was transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail. He was denied bail.



California Enacts ‘Mezuzah Bill’ Following Widespread Support Among Lawmakers 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that protects the right of Jewish residents to place a mezuzah on their doorposts, including dormitory rooms and apartments.

Senate Bill 652, known as the "Mezuzah Bill," mandates that property owners "shall not enforce or adopt a restrictive covenant or any other restriction that prohibits one or more religious items from being displayed or affixed on any entry door or entry door frame of a dwelling."

A mezuzah is a parchment scroll with Torah verses handwritten on it by an expert scribe placed on the doorpost of a Jewish person's home and often on interior rooms of  the home.

The bill was authored by Legislative Jewish Caucus chair Sen. Ben Allen. Each member of the caucus, which is comprised of seven state senators and nine assembly members, signed on as co-authors. The bill passed four committee hearings, and floor votes in the Senate and the Assembly, with sweeping support.



Thursday, September 12, 2019

Cops arrest man who bashed Crown Heights Rabbi with giant rock 

Inline image

Police have collared a 26-year-old man in connection with an assault of a rabbi in a Crown Heights park, cops said Thursday.

Oneil Gilbourne allegedly smacked the 64-year-old in the face with a paving stone, knocking out his teeth, while the rabbi was on his morning stroll through Lincoln Terrace Park on Aug. 27, according to police.

Gilbourne was in the hospital for evaluation and charges were still pending against him Thursday afternoon, cops said.

The encounter started just after 7:40 p.m. when Rabbi Avraham Gopin, father-in-law of popular Hasidic singer Benny Friedman, said Gilbourne hurled a rock in his direction, cops said.

When Gopin, who was wearing a yarmulke, confronted the random man, the man punched him in the face, according to police.

The two struggled until, at one point, Gilbourne took a paving stone and hit Gopin in the face, cops said.

The assault is still being investigated as a possible hate crime.



Airmont: Feds eye involvement in Hasidic Jewish-discrimination lawsuit 

The U.S. Attorney's Office is evaluating whether to get involved in a civil rights lawsuit filed by Orthodox and Hasidic Jews claiming the village practices systemic discrimination, according to a letter to a federal judge.

The December 2018 lawsuit by Congregation of Ridnik and several rabbis claims village officials are hostile toward religious Jews and try to prevent them from praying and holding services in their homes by delaying approvals for residential houses of worship.

The legal papers also claim the village threatens religious freedom by issuing building and zoning violations with daily fines of up to $1,000 and threats of jail.
Village officials have previously denied the accusations and are contesting the legal action in U.S. District Court in White Plains.

The December lawsuit came on the heels of a legal action by the Central United Talmudical Academy in November accusing the village of discrimination concerning expansion of a school on Cherry Lane. The Suffern Central School District is named in the lawsuit for its busing policies.

Video: Drone video of United Talmudical Academy of Monsey campus on Cherry Lane in Airmont John Meore & Peter Carr/The Journal News

The U.S. Attorney's Office has been monitoring Airmont's zoning and enforcement based on two previous legal actions accusing the village of discriminatory zoning against Hasidic and Orthodox Jews since its incorporation in 1992. The actions accuse the village of violating the U.S. Constitution's freedom of religion amendment.

In a letter dated Sept. 4 to Judge Stephen Roman, federal prosecutors said they want to ensure that Airmont officials are adhering to previous agreements and court decisions governing the village's zoning codes and practices involving Hasidic and Orthodox Jews.

The prosecutors told Roman they want to evaluate the Ridnik legal action and determine how Airmont characterizes previous government positions. The prosecutors want until Sept. 30 to determine whether "to file a statement of interest" in the legal action.

"As the court may be aware, the village of Airmont has been the subject of much prior, long running litigation brought by the United States arising out the village's pattern and practice of unlawfully discriminating against Hasidic residents," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a letter sent by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cha-Kim.

A statement of interest is a legal brief setting the prosecution's position on a case. Román granted the U;S. Attorney's Office's request for a Sept. 30 deadline.

Mayor Nathan Bubel didn't respond to an email request for comment nor did the four other members of the Board of Trustees. Messages were not returned by Village Attorney Amy Mele and the village counsel in the lawsuit, Brian Sokoloff.

Both 2018 lawsuits were filed against the administration of Mayor Philip Gigante. He and two trustees were defeated in March in a write-in campaign by Bubel, Brian Downey and Migdalia Pesante with strong support from the Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish voters.

Gigante and other officials maintained the village has strict enforcement of zoning and safety codes but doesn't discriminate.

The Ridnik lawsuit marked the fourth one accusing the village of discrimination since it formed along the southern tier of Ramapo in 1991, bordering New Jersey. The village lost the first two cases for using its zoning to block residential houses of worship and then schools with dormitories in the mid-1990s. The fights cost taxpayers several million dollars in legal fees and penalties.

Residents broke away from the town of Ramapo to form the village and as Orthodox and Hasidic Jews began moving into the area with hopes of setting up schools and synagogues in residential areas.

Similar tensions exist in nearby Chestnut Ridge, where Orthodox Jews won a heated battle to have the Board of Trustees adopt a law with a tier system of allowing residential houses of worship. The law prompted several legal actions in state and federal court by Orthodox and Hasidic Jews to force the law and other residents seeking to overturn the statute.

In Ramapo's northern region, Pomona lost a federal lawsuit brought by the Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov. Pomona is appeal the ruling, saying village officials created zoning to block the congregation's school and housing for rabbinical students and their families. The village also is fighting Taritkov's request for $5.2 million in reimbursement for its legal fees.



'The Vigil' a horror movie set in the Orthodox Jewish community of Brooklyn 

Get out your tallit, your tefillin and your terrifying visions of a diabolical entity twisting your body into a pretzel, because The Exorcist is coming to Borough Park.
Such is the unorthodox (or is that Orthodox?) premise of The Vigil, a devilish, and very Yiddish, bone-crunching chiller set in Brooklyn's premier Hasidic neighborhood.

Written and directed by first-timer Keith Thomas, the film spends one frightful night with Yakov (the excellent Dave Davis), a young man who recently quit the sectarian Jewish community but gets pulled back in to serve as a shomer, watching over a dead body until it gets taken off for burial. Suffice to say this was a bad idea, as Yakov has to contend with a dybbuk (Yiddish for evil spirit) who haunts his every waking minute, as well as his nightmares, with an onslaught of grisly shock-horror scares.

Following the low-budget Blumhouse formula of one location + one monster that you hardly ever see (a formula Jason Blum borrowed from the likes of RKO producer Val Lewton), Thomas displays an ample skillset for making us jump out of our seats at opportune moments, although he tends to overdo it on the tympanum-busting sound effects. More intriguing is how he chose to set his film in such a specific milieu, with the actors switching between English and Yiddish, and multiple references to the Torah, the Talmud and the Holocaust that give the story a unique cultural grounding.
Premiering in Toronto's Midnight Madness section, The Vigil has the chops and the craft — kudos especially go to cinematographer Zach Kuperstein (The Climb) for his exquisitely shadowed lighting — to get bar mitzvahed beyond the fest circuit, where it could find both limited theatrical release and a prolonged afterlife on streaming sites.

A brief intro shows Yakov sitting in a support group with other people who have given up on Orthodox Judaism. (Such groups were featured in the 2017 documentary One of Us.) On the way out he meets a cousin (Menashe Lustig from the indie drama, Menashe, which was set in the same neighborhood) who offers him a few hundred bucks to hold vigil at the home of Mrs. Litvak (Lynn Cohen) — a women stricken with Alzheimer's whose husband, a Holocaust survivor, passed away earlier in the day.

The stage is thus set for a long night of mayhem, with Yakov stuck in a cramped living room furnished with giant lamps, yellowing wallpaper — production designer Liz Toonkel gets these details just right — and a dead body that starts doing things a dead body shouldn't. As the terror takes over, Yakov has to fight two demons at once: those haunting the soul of Mr. Litvak, and his own inner demons, which were generated by the tragic death of his young brother after the two were bullied by a gang of Anti-Semites.

Thomas keeps the tension high throughout most of the movie, even if some his scare tactics can feel redundant. Just because the devil in The Exorcist twisted limbs and spun heads around, it doesn't mean this one has to do the same. Or do all Jewish and gentile devils alike? The director also turns the sound mix up extra high to induce maximum goosebums, but the result can give you a slight headache.

What works better is how Thomas transforms Orthodox culture into gory material for a slightly elevated horror flick, with Yakov ultimately turning to Hebrew prayer as his only way out of hell. Davis is extremely convincing as a guy who suffers PTSD from his dogmatic upbringing, and who at one point makes a desperate call to his shrink (voiced by Fred Melamed, who memorably played the Sy Ableman character in A Serious Man) that does ends with a frightening twist. Veteran stage and character actor Cohen is also perfectly cast as the creepy Jewish grandmother you don't want to sit down and have rugelach with.



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Stop Picking on the Hasidim 

The Orthodox Jewish community of New York is under attack. In just a few days, a 63-year-old Hasidic grandfather was beaten with a brick, another was made to strip off his yarmulke at gunpoint, a gang attacked a truck, and more. Then a shocking campaign video was posted by Republicans in Rockland County, depicting Hasidic Jews as a threat to their fellow Americans.
Those behind the video refused to apologize, and as The New York Post revealed, they had deviously plotted their modern-age blood libel months in advance.

These unmistakably antisemitic attacks are not sui generis in nature. On the contrary, the NYPD found a 101 percent increase in antisemitic hate crimes compared to the same period last year. With their distinctive black and white uniforms and visible religious head coverings, the Orthodox make an easy target for physical violence and societal prejudice.

As Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone, social media editor at Chabad.org, puts it, Hasidim "are described as all things except for the one thing we are the most: human beings trying to make it in this town like everyone else."

The fact is that the Orthodox are growing extremely fast. With 70 percent of Jewish-Americans assimilating out of religious existence, these "black hat" communities (I refuse to call them "ultra-Orthodox") will reportedly soon constitute 25 percent of Jewry in the entire nation.

An example of the way these people have recently been picked on is the public reaction to the measles crisis that recently swept New York. With a health ban that was placed only on yeshiva schools, many began to blame the Orthodox for not vaccinating their children. Never mind the fact that most of the schools with unvaccinated students weren't even Jewish, or arguably that the common denominator between those who refuse vaccinations isn't religion but being white, rich, and well-educated.

Regardless, by painting the vaccination crisis in New York as an Orthodox Jewish issue, the national conversation is skewed away from the reality that nine percent of Americans (30 million people!) are reportedly anti-vaxxers. Furthermore, it is an Orthodox nurse, Blima Marcus, who is leading the way in teaching healthcare clinicians how to effectively debunk vaccination myths for the American public.

The problem is that this bias leads directly to the short-sighted and dangerous "us vs. them" mentality that pits public opinion against minority groups. In her New York Times article "Is it Safe to be a Jew in New York?" Ginia Bellafante points out that the societal intransigence to take action against the blaze of anti-Orthodox bigotry stems from stories like these that carelessly stoke the "existing impressions of backwardness."

I believe the flames of insidious bigotry must be quenched with the soothing waters of public education.

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently appointed Deborah Lauter, previously of the Anti-Defamation League, to run the new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. They should follow the advice of Elan Carr, US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, who recently remarked that fighting antisemitism must include "philosemitic education" about positive Jewish contributions to society.

Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman, arguably the most politically active Hasidic Jew in New York City, laments the ignorance surrounding the contributions his community offers the general public. "I think most New Yorkers would be surprised to discover that our non-profit, United Jewish Organizations (UJO) of Williamsburg, provides social services to anyone, regardless of religion, race, or creed."

Although most of Niederman's clientele are Hasidim, he advocates for fellow New Yorkers of all backgrounds who are referred to UJO. "We help anyone who walks in the door," Niederman says, "it could be food stamps, housing assistance or whatever else they need."

This public service ethos is derived from Jewish spiritual theology, which places a moral mandate on its followers to engage in "Chessed," colloquially translated as "acts of loving kindness." As Professor Jack Werthheimer writes in his article "What You Don't Know About the Ultra-Orthodox," the Orthodox have made "Chessed" into an "art form" by creating hundreds of aid programs, known as "Gemachs" — a Hebrew acronym for "Gemilut Chasadim," literally, "the giving of loving-kindness."

In the marketplace of ideas, cultural contributions from these most visible Jews should be cherished and protected as a national resource. In these communities, young men are expected to dedicate their post-high school years to studying at Kollelim, yeshivas of higher learning, where they pour over the ancient texts from morning until night. The purpose of this higher education model isn't to obtain a degree but to engage in study for its own sake.

At the heart of the yeshiva pedagogy is the idea that Torah study is the channel through which humanity connects with the Infinite One. The 2,711 page Talmud is replete with teachings regarding the necessity for education to lead to social activism. The founder of the Hasidic movement, the "Baal Shem Tov," famously taught how the academic study of Torah must bring about what rock star Perry Farrell recently called, "a change of consciousness and a transformation in daily living." As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education."

When we judge those who wear black and white through a black and white lens, we obscure the color of healthy multiculturalism. Perhaps if we open up to the people and books of the "People of the Book," we'll stop judging the Orthodox communities by their proverbial covers.



Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Terrorist Masquerading as Hasidic Jew Spotted in Brooklyn, NY 

A man who identifies himself in Arabic on social media and was previously arrested in the past for threatening to kill Jews was spotted at the Lubavitch World Headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on Friday reports Colive.

The bearded white male was recognized and photographed roaming in the lobby of the main synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway, a center for prayers and study for thousands of people in the Chabad movement.

The man fled from the building after one of the community members identified him.

On Facebook, the individual described himself as a "farmer, actor, writer and computer scientist" all in Arabic.



Monday, September 09, 2019

With frum Brooklyn under siege, does anyone care? 

How afraid should Jews be of being a victim of a violent anti-Semitic hate crime? In the wake of the Pittsburgh and Poway synagogue shootings, many American Jews remain afraid. The specter of white-supremacist hate that fueled those and other mass shootings has become a primary focus in fighting and monitoring anti-Semitism. But while the slaughter in Pittsburgh — the worst act of anti-Semitic violence in American history, with 11 Jewish worshippers shot and killed during Shabbat-morning services — and the scary imagery of the August 2017 torch-lit march of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., have become symbols of the rise of extremism, the odds of the average American Jew personally encountering violent Jew-hatred remains extremely small.
Except, that is, if you are Orthodox and living in Brooklyn.

Within the last week, three violent incidents involving attacks on Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn have occurred. Although there was at least one close call involving a paving stone being hurled at a rabbi that injured him, no deaths resulted. While the police have hesitated to label all of these attacks as hate crimes, the common denominator is that the victims were all Jewish men clad in Hasidic garb, and therefore easily recognizable as Jews, with the perpetrators also hurling anti-Semitic abuse.

The New York Police Department has reported 150 anti-Semitic hate crimes in the five boroughs so far in 2019. That's already more than double the number recorded in 2018. Most seem to fall into the same category as last week's spate of attacks in which identifiably African-Americans set upon Orthodox Jews.

If any other religious minority were facing this kind of threat, it's not hard to imagine that the reaction from the organized Jewish world, as well as the mainstream media, would be something close to panic. Yet calm has prevailed among those who are tasked with the job of sounding the alarm about hate.

The reason is clear. Those who are being insulted, threatened and assaulted don't look like most American Jews. Even worse, those responsible for these crimes don't fit into the narrative about anti-Semitism that has been established by groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the media. Instead of white supremacists who can be loosely, if inaccurately, linked to President Donald Trump, the perpetrators are African-Americans.

You don't have to be a Jewish community-relations professional or a sociologist to understand that a replay of the tensions that tore New York apart in the 1960s and '70s as blacks and Jews clashed is not the topic that the organized Jewish world wishes to discuss in 2019. Indeed, the instinct among some in the mainstream non-Orthodox community is to put down what's happening in Brooklyn as the inevitable tensions that result when starkly different ethnic or racial urban populations live in close proximity to each other, rather than traditional anti-Semitism.

But in order to come to such a conclusion, you have to ignore the fact that there is a conspicuous source of anti-Semitic incitement and influence among African-Americans that many political liberals have struggled to ignore: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.

Though the members of NOI mosques are only estimated to number around 50,000 nationally, Farrakhan's sympathizers and admirers are more likely to be counted in the hundreds of thousands. Moreover, it is a fact that African-American leaders don't treat the hatemonger as an extremist to be shunned. The same is true of the heads of leading anti-Trump "resistance" groups like the Women's March, who are open admirers of this purveyor of crude anti-Semitism. Only a year ago, Farrakhan sat on the stage at singer Aretha Franklin's nationally televised funeral alongside Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and former President Bill Clinton, who shared a handshake with the Nation of Islam leader. Yet most objections to this incident were dismissed as partisanship.

Other incidents involving prejudice against Orthodox Jews have come to light. One example is the astonishing video ad put out by the Republican Party of Upstate New York's Rockland County. The Rockland GOP is locked in a political struggle for power with representatives of the Hasidic community, whose exponential growth and appetite for development has transformed that formerly sleepy exurb. Zoning battles are always bitter affairs, but the exploitation of the image of the Orthodox, who look and act differently than other local residents, as a unique threat is dangerous specifically because it plays into anti-Semitic attitudes.

Yet the most pressing problem facing the Orthodox community remains the steady stream of violent attacks that no one seems to be willing or able to do anything about.

The point of highlighting what is going on in Brooklyn is not to exacerbate tensions between blacks and Jews, but to illustrate the fact that that many prominent Jews don't seem to care that much about a serious threat to Jewish security.

What is needed now is for the American Jewish world to come together to embrace the Orthodox community the way it did after the Pittsburgh and Poway attacks. If that doesn't happen, the clear lack of interest on the part of the mainstream Jewish community—and the likelihood that this stems from both politics and hostility towards the Orthodox—will worsen the already dangerous divisions along denominational lines that already exist.



Sunday, September 08, 2019

Manhattan Democratic Party leaders are revolting against their borough chairman — former Assemblyman Keith Wright — and his double life as party boss and lobbyist.

A cadre of dissidents plan to force a meeting to consider a rules change that would prohibit a party chief from lobbying, according to district leader Paul Newell.

“Fundamentally a political party, particularly the Democratic Party, should not have a lobbyist as its leader,” Newell told The Post.

The meeting is planned for late September or early October. Newell and his allies say they have met the requirements — 15 signatures from six different districts — to force the issue onto the agenda.

“There will be a vote,” Newell said. “I expect it to be contentious.”

Wright was overwhelmingly reelected as borough chairman on Aug. 28 during a meeting of the executive committee.

The former lawmaker has worked as a lobbyist since 2017 and is currently the government relations group director of high-powered firm, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, a lobbying shop helmed by former City Hall fixer Sid Davidoff.

Before joining Davidoff, Wright spent 23 years as a state assemblyman and a fixture in Harlem politics. Among more notable clients are HBO, NBC Universal, Juul and T-Mobile, and four charter schools, public filings show.

Wright left the Assembly in 2016 after an unsuccessful bid to succeed a retiring Rep. Charlie Rangel. After leaving Albany, Wright faced the mandatory two-year ban on lobbying. With the restrictions fully lifted, Wright’s name began cropping up on Davidoff Hutcher & Citron’s public filings where he was listed as lobbying dozens of his former colleagues in both chambers — including many representing Manhattan.

“It’s outrageous,” one senior Albany legislator told The Post, adding that he’s often seen Wright in the the statehouse cafeteria.

While experts and elected officials noted Wright’s power as the borough’s Dem leader is limited because of Manhattan’s diverse and unwieldy political landscape, he could still frustrate re-election efforts and even recruit primary challengers. He also plays an outsized role in the election of civil and state supreme court judges.

Sid Davidoff insisted Wright does not directly lobby elected officials and that his name was added to the filings in error.

“Out of an abundance of caution, our firm adopted a policy — which we have since reversed — of registering every member of the government relations practice on every account. The forms are being amended to reflect the fact that Keith has not and will not lobby elected officials,” he told The Post. “Keith is employed at this firm as a government relations specialist and he provides outstanding guidance to our clients.”

But public filings show that Wright has targeted members of the City Council on client issues, something confirmed by Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s chief of staff Jason Goldman.

Goldman told The Post he recalled several informal conversations about menthol cigarettes with Wright during a period when the Manhattan party boss was lobbying for tobacco giant Reynolds American. Goldman also said they have spoken about other issues, but it wasn’t clear if he was being lobbied.

Wright, 64, also appears to have plenty of business in the Albany chamber where he used to work.

In one current filing Wright was listed on, the Accessories Council paid $29,000 to the firm for lobbying directed at Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal over her plans for a statewide ban on fur products in New York.

Though Rosenthal told The Post she had no recollection of being lobbied by Wright or anyone else from Davidoff, her original bill was watered down to include an exemption for religious attire — primarily fur Shtreimel hats often worn by Hasidic Jews — around the same time. It remains in committee.

Manhattan State Sen. Brad Hoylman was the target of two aggressive lobbying pushes by Davidoff according to filings that also listed Wright. During a period from May to June, the firm took $15,000 from Taxi Tours and Big Bus Tours New York (Hoylman has been a tough critic of the iconic double-decker buses in the past). There was also another $9,500 from The Town Hall performance space in Times Square officially earmarked for “scheduling tours” with the senator.

Another $20,000 was paid out, according to filings which included Wright, by the Commercial Finance Coalition to lobby Manhattan Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou on a pair of finance bills she sponsored.

Wright’s lobbying is perfectly legal. But a growing chorus of good-government groups have joined Wright’s internal party critics in saying he must make a choice.

“For almost three years, Common Cause/NY has said Keith Wright can either be party chairman or a lobbyist but he can’t have it both ways,” Susan Lerner, executive director of the group said. “The opportunities to wield his political position for personal enrichment, or use his position to advance a client’s agenda present a clear conflict of interest.”

Wright did not return a Post message seeking comment.



Saturday, September 07, 2019

Orthodox Jews sick of being ‘photographed like animals’ by tourists 

Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish residents are fed up with tourists who swarm their insular neighborhoods by the busload — all to gawk at their clothing and customs.

“People snap pictures of you like you’re on some sort of display — like you’re in a zoo,” said Chaim, 42, who lives in Williamsburg’s Satmar community and asked that his last name be withheld. “We are people, not animals to be photographed.”

Sightseeing groups venture into Williamsburg and Crown Heights several times a week, some via tour-bus companies InterviajesNY, Tour America and Civitatis. The three offer so-called “contrast” tours of various cultural communities in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx — with one touting the “numerous memorials to gang members who were killed in shootouts” in that borough.

The tours — which cost from $40 to $70 — have been going on for years, but locals say that this summer the throngs, and the tensions they cause, have reached a new high.

“Lately they’re out there every day by the hundreds, and it’s become a ‘must see’ for tourists,” said Max Hauer, 41, who lives in Williamsburg’s Satmar area. He added that he has been photographed many times without his consent.

“They see me as a freak,” said Hauer. “They see us as people from another world [and] if you’re not seen as human, then they think it’s OK” to take photos and stare.

Hauer blames the uptick on a recent cultural obsession with his way of life, thanks to the documentary “One of Us” and the Israeli series “Shtisel,” both popular on Netflix.

On Wednesday, The Post attended a Spanish-speaking tour with InterviajesNY. As the bus entered Williamsburg, the guide discussed the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle.

“It is considered wrong to touch bodies . . . how can they procreate?” he said. “There is a sheet, or fabric, with a strategically placed opening for — you all know what that is for.”

Later, he pointed out the window.

“Look at this woman, how many children she has and how young she is,” he said. In the past, he claimed, the community would “intermarry. The uncle married the niece, the cousin would marry the cousin.”

The dissemination of outdated stereotypes has locals upset. “I’ve tried to engage with these visitors, but they aren’t interested to learn more about us,” said Hauer.

At 1 p.m., the bus, along with two others, parked along Lee Avenue in South Williamsburg and unloaded nearly 200 people — from countries including Spain, Argentina and Germany — outside Oneg Bakery.

One woman tapped herself in the sign of the cross before stepping off the bus. Another loudly asked, “Are they wearing wigs?” while pointing at a Hasidic woman.

A representative for InterviajesNY had no comment. Tour America spokeswoman Karen Dane told The Post: “Our tours are meant to show the diversity of New York, and Williamsburg is part of that fabric.”

Hauer said shutterbugs get extra excited on Saturdays — the Sabbath — when local men don large fur hats called shtreimels.

“Whenever I go to synagogue . . . they’ll all start snapping photos in front of my face,” said Hauer.

Some people do ask for permission before taking pictures, and “the answer will always be ‘no,’ ” said one Hasidic woman, who wished to remain anonymous because of her religion’s expectations of modesty.

Stops include a Hasidic toy store called Toys 4 U, and Kaff’s Bakery for a taste of challah bread.

In Crown Heights, a tour led by Rabbi Yoni Katz takes groups into an extremely intimate space: a shop that sells wigs, or sheitels, to women who are mandated by Jewish law to cover their heads. The Post observed as tourists were invited to touch the wigs.

The Hasidic woman said that her beef has been with the interlopers’ racy, flesh-baring summer get-ups.

“The levels of modesty are totally against our beliefs,” she said. “We have a right to request that they respect our customs . . . when they walk our narrow streets.”

Some stores have gone so far as to hang signs that say “Conservative Dress Appreciated” followed by “No Shirtless, No Shorts, No Tank Tops and No Barefoot.”

Even tours headed by people associated with the community — such as the ones Frieda Vizel leads in Williamsburg and Katz guides in Crown Heights — are controversial.

Vizel is “very respectful, and she knows the culture well,” said Hauer.

But Chaim said Vizel’s background as a former Satmar raises suspicion.

“Some people [who are Satmar] think because she left, she’s probably saying bad things about us,” he said. “We are an insular community. And we want to remain isolated.”



Friday, September 06, 2019

Here’s how New York City’s new hate crimes chief plans to tackle rising anti-Semitism 

Like other local officials, Deborah Lauter can't say exactly what's causing the recent spike in hate crimes against Jews in New York City.

It could be, in her words, "the rhetoric that's coming out of various elected officials." It could be animus among the city's diverse communities. It could be that the attacks are getting more press and therefore inspiring copycats. It could just be a hot summer when people need to blow off steam.

"It's difficult to make generalizations," Lauter said. "When you look at escalation of swastikas on buildings, are these copycat attacks because they're in the press a lot and perpetrators are inspired by that? Or are they being inspired by demonization of individuals and groups?"

Lauter is now the one tasked with answering those questions.

On Tuesday, City Hall announced her appointment as head of the new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. The announcement follows a New York Police Department report from a few months earlier showing a 64 percent rise in hate crimes in the first months of 2019 over the same period last year. Attacks on Jews in particular nearly doubled, to 110 from 58.

Lauter plans to focus on educating kids against hate — for example, teaching them what a swastika is and why it's offensive. She will coordinate with 10 agencies, from police to mental health programs, that are tasked in some way with addressing hate. And she plans to emphasize community relations with adults in tense neighborhoods.

Lauter praised the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force for working to protect vulnerable groups, but said neighbors of different backgrounds don't always protect each other.

"Do I get a sense that groups stick up for the other? Maybe not as much," she said.

"I think the Hasidic community in particular is feeling a bit isolated and wondering if others care about what's happening to them," she added, referring to Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn that have suffered a number of physical assaults this year. "Can we break down silos between communities and have other groups stand up for them?"

Lauter comes to the job after decades of doing the same work in the Jewish community. For a decade she was the Anti-Defamation League's national civil rights director, during which she led a push for the ultimately successful passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. It expanded hate crimes law to cover discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and disability.

Before that, Lauter was a local Jewish leader in Atlanta and also helmed a pro-Israel group in San Francisco.

"I would love to see that kind of coordination and someone who is that kind of unifying voice for the different groups experiencing hate crimes," said Evan Bernstein, the ADL's New York-New Jersey regional director, who used to work with Lauter. "She dealt on the ground with hate crimes. She understood that communities have to build relationships. She understood how to build the macro and the micro. She's also an attorney, so she understands the law."

For fiscal year 2020, Lauter will have a budget of $1.7 million and plans to hire six people. In the future, the office will receive approximately $700,000 a year in its efforts to stem hate in America's largest city.

Lauter has no illusions that she will be able to end hate in New York. Measuring success can be difficult, she said, because it involves proving a negative.

"The thing that's hard is to show what we interrupted: Did those programs influence and impact a child early on who then did not go on to be a hater?" she said. "I think everyone's expecting, 'OK, we create this office and hate crimes are going to go away.' That's just not realistic."

Lauter faces different challenges from Jewish and non-Jewish groups. Jewish groups, she said, tend to trust law enforcement but not always get along with their neighbors. She said other minorities, like Muslims and immigrants, tend not to trust law enforcement as much and therefore don't report hate crimes at as high a rate.

One of her goals is to spread the word to New York's Hispanic community that officers do not ask about immigration status when they investigate crimes.

"We have established healthy, good, trustful relationships with law enforcement," Lauter said of the Jewish community. "But there are other communities in the city that aren't there yet. I would cite particularly the Muslim community, immigrant community. I believe transgender hate crimes are underreported. And so one of the priorities of this office is to do community outreach to those groups and get them more comfortable."

She was careful not to point a finger directly at President Donald Trump, who has been accused of inciting animosity against minorities in his rhetoric on policies toward Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans and African countries.
"People want to push me in that corner and say this is all about Trump," Lauter said. But there is an atmosphere of intolerance, she said, in which others "have engaged as well."

And Lauter also did not overstate the power that government officials have to control hate crimes.

"There can't be an expectation for government to fix this," she said. "My approach to fighting hate is everyone needs to be part of the solution."



Thursday, September 05, 2019

Rockland County GOP leader vows to re-air ‘anti-Semitic’ attack ad 

The head of the Rockland County Republican Party intends to re-show the inflammatory "A Storm Is Coming" video that was taken down last week after critics called it anti-Semitic for warning of a "takeover" by the Orthodox Jewish community.

"The Video came down for 2 reasons: first accomplished its goal of highlighting the issues that face our county. And second, took it down because the controversy stopped adding to number one above," Rockland GOP chairman Lawrence Garvey said in a Facebook post on the Village of South Nyack site.

"However," Garvey added, "the video will be back, because this conversation is important to Rockland."

The "A Storm Is Coming" video blames Hasidic and other Orthodox Jews for housing overdevelopment in the suburban county.

"Aaron Wieder [a Rockland County legislator who is Jewish] and his Ramapo bloc are plotting a takeover," it says.

The Post reported last week that Garvey and GOP officials had planned to air the controversial video months ago. Rockland County Executive Ed Day, a Republican, and other county elected officials saw the video during a strategy session in February in a bid to win county legislative seats this fall. It was posted on the Rockland GOP's website before it was taken down.

Tyrone McNeil, who's known Garvey since childhood, complained to Garvey about the video on the FB thread.

"WOW! …..Same old `Dog Whistle Southern Strategy in order to invoke fear and hate within specific demographic groups," McNeil told The Post.

"We went to school together; middle school, junior high, high school. We played sports together. I didn't think he was a bigot but now I can't say I'm more shocked than surprised. People get wrapped up in their political views. It's part of the hateful rhetoric that's going on right now."

Another member of the same Facebook group also said he was stunned that Garvey is defending the video and promising to re-show it.

"My feeling is that sometimes when people release something the first time, they do it to shock, the second time is to normalize this type of rhetoric," said Clarence Weathers.

Weathers said overdevelopment and education are legitimate concerns in the county, "but calling people names and doing this over-the-top stuff with the storm clouds that look like a pre-World War II propaganda video is not right."

A GOP insider called Garvey's post to recirculate the video "unreal."

Garvey declined requests for comment.



Arabs attack haredi youths at Jaffa Gate 

Last Monday, two haredi youths were attacked by Arabs on the promenade leading to the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, when the attackers threw rocks at them and shouted scorn at them.

Advocate Chaim Bleicher from the Honeinu legal aid organization that represents one of the youths contacted the police after police at the station told one of the men who was attacked that chances were the suspects would not be apprehended.

"My client and his friend, dressed in hasidic attire, were walking toward the Western Wall. While passing, my client and his friend on the promenade near the Jaffa Gate encountered two minority rioters who began to throw a number of rocks at them while laughing," Bleicher wrote.

The harassment of the haredi youth was described: "Some of the rocks hit my client and caused him shoulder injury. The rioters' actions stopped only after my client and his friend sped up and mingled with another group of people walking."
The lawyer said the injured youth contacted him after the incident and asked to consult him. In response, he recommended arriving at a nearby police station to file an orderly complaint.

He also added that, according to the young man's testimony, he could identify the faces of the attackers. However, when the young man arrived at the police station and asked the investigator for access to the crime victim's site where he could track the case's progress, he was told that he was not required to receive the number in question since the suspects would not be caught and the case would be closed anyway.

In his letter to police chiefs, Attorney Bleicher attacked the approach taken by the police officer. "First, I would like to request an immediate change in approach and serious attention to a most grave incident, which unfortunately is part of a difficult phenomenon reminiscent of the dark days of exile. What's more, my client's basic right to access the site is independent of the chance of catching the rioters."

Bleicher said the incident had distinctly anti-Semitic overtones and that it recalls dark days when Jews were attacked for their Jewish identity.

The youth described the assault: "I went with my friend on the Jaffa Gate promenade in the morning. We encountered two Arabs who started throwing rocks at us. I got hit in the back and shoulder that hurt for a few hours. I called Honeinu's attorney and he told me to complain to the police. Hopefully they'll catch the terrorists."



Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Speakers sound off to Rockland Legislature: 'You want to fix the anger? Do your jobs!' 

Tuesday night's county Legislature meeting turned into a venting session for distressed community members, with speakers letting loose about legislators Aron Wieder and Laurie Santulli, unsustainable growth, anti-Semitism, a proposed summit to address divisiveness in Rockland and more. 

"You want to fix the anger?" speaker Lauren Marie told the legislators. "Do your jobs!" She was later removed from the room for shouting at another speaker while many spectators rose and cheered for her.

The atmosphere was intense from early evening, with hundreds waiting on line outside to get into the 7 p.m. meeting. The Legislature's auditorium quickly reached its capacity of 220 people, though, and officials estimated that another couple hundred people remained outside, behind locked doors. Sheriff's deputies were all around, one with a police dog.



Tuesday, September 03, 2019

NYPD Investigates 4th Anti-Semitic Incident in a Week 

A man was beaten with his own belt buckle outside a synagogue on Saturday in what is believed to be at least the third physical attack in a week on the Jewish community in New York City's Brooklyn borough. A fourth incident involved anti-Semitic graffiti. In Saturday's assault, the unnamed victim told police he was attacked by two men who'd been drinking alcohol outside the synagogue in Midwood around 8pm, reports News 12. The men reportedly pushed the Jewish man to the ground, took off his belt, and whipped him in the face with the buckle. Though police didn't describe any hateful language, former New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind said in a tweet that the young man—treated at the scene by paramedics—was "called a 'F***ing Jew' and then belted over the head with a metal belt buckle" in "another violent anti-Semitic hate crime."

Two days earlier, an Orthodox Jewish man in traditional Hasidic clothing said he suffered an eye injury when he was struck by a chunk of ice while driving in Brooklyn's Crown Heights, per the New York Daily News. And two days before that, a rabbi was beaten with a paving stone while jogging in the area. Abraham Gopin, 63, suffered a broken nose and lost several teeth in the Aug. 27 attack, per New York. "He was for certain looking to kill," Gopin said of his assailant, whom he said uttered "Jew, Jew … something in that direction." Anti-Semitic graffiti was also found Friday at a beach club in Queens, per NBC New York. Police were investigating 145 anti-Semitic crimes across the city, which hosts the largest Jewish population in the country, as of Aug. 25. That's a 64% increase from the same time last year, per the Daily News.



Monday, September 02, 2019

AG James condemns ‘deeply disturbing’ video on Rockland County GOP FB page attacking proposed multi-family development for Hasidic Jewish community 

New York state’s top prosecutor Wednesday night issued a blistering rebuke of a “deeply disturbing” video posted on the Rockland County Republican Party’s Facebook page that portrays proposed housing development for the Hasidic Jewish community as a “threat.”

With throbbing, ominous music playing in the background, the video, titled “A storm is brewing in Rockland," warns that over-development threatens the area.

“Aron Wieder and his Ramapo bloc are plotting a takeover,” the written message overlaying the video declares, referring to the Hasidic Jewish Rockland County legislator who supports multi-family development. “If they win, we lose.”

“This video is deeply disturbing and should be removed and condemned immediately by the Rockland County Republican Party," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. "To clearly state that members of the Jewish community are a threat to families and our safety and that they must be stopped is despicable and completely unacceptable. Attacking those who are different than we are only breeds hate and makes us weaker. We must all stand together to denounce this hateful video.”

Brooklyn-born Wieder, who lives in Spring Valley, thanked James in a tweet, writing that her “unrelenting condemnation of bigotry and hysterical doomsday theorists serves New Yorkers well.”



Sunday, September 01, 2019


Several hundred children from a Hasidic community in the Montreal region have been vaccinated against measles throughout the summer, the Canadian Jewish News reported on Thursday.

After five cases of the disease emerged in the Tosh community in Boisbriand, the public health authority set up two temporary clinics in the area. The immunization was offered to those whose medical records showed that they had not been vaccinated or had not had the necessary boosters. About 350 children received shots.

According to CJN, 90 to 95% of the children in the community had been already vaccinated before the clinics were set up and the leaders of the community have been fully cooperating with the health officials. They asked all the community to get vaccines.

“We have a few anti-vaxxers; it’s no different from any community,” Isaac Weiss, who is one of the people responsible for public safety in the local Tosh group, told CJN.

He added that unvaccinated children would not be allowed into school until the outbreak is contained and that there were no religious reasons to refuse vaccinations, but parents cannot be forced but must be persuaded.

The report added that it was not clear how the outbreak started. Weiss explained that a young member of the community who traveled to New York and whose vaccinations were not up to date might have brought the virus back to the community.

Earlier this month, an El Al flight attendant died five months after contracting measles from a passenger on a flight from New York to Tel Aviv in March.



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