Friday, March 26, 2021

Chag Kosher V'Sameach 

 Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and Kosher Pesach.


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Hasidic Brooklyn’s child matchmaker is under investigation 

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During a Hasidic teenager's first day at a new Brooklyn yeshiva last year, the head of the school approached him to talk about arranging his marriage.

"He told me, 'Wow, you're so cute. You're going to find a girl fast,'" said the former student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "I was 16."

He added: "If I would have stayed, it would have happened."

That head of school, Rabbi Yoel Roth, and the school he runs, Yeshiva Tiferes Hatorah in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, are now the subject of investigations by the New York Police Department and the Administration for Children's Services, the Forward has learned, after stories of Roth marrying off people as young as 15 erupted on social media in the last month. New York State requires people to be 18 to legally marry, or 17 with the consent of the Supreme Court or family court.

In interviews this week, siblings and witnesses of the rabbi's acolytes and others familiar with his operations described Roth as the Pied Piper of Hasidic Brooklyn who is brainwashing children who look like they have not yet gone through puberty into religious engagement and wedding ceremonies.

"This is a real cult," said one Hasidic woman in Brooklyn who said she has multiple siblings who joined Roth's community, describing some as still "full-fledged" adherents. She spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her siblings. "It was only once they got really hurt and they left, that those cult-like characteristics really — you could see it."

In addition to the Williamsburg yeshiva, which is also known by the name Heichel Hakodesh Breslev, Roth runs Camp Breslev in Brooklyn and another nonprofit called Ach Tov V Chesed, according to tax filings. The organizations have a religious exemption from public disclosure of details like revenues and expenses.

Roth has also started a community of about 60 families in the Sullivan County, New York, town of Liberty, whose members are Roth's most committed followers, including some of the young couples he matched and married.

Roth declined to be interviewed for this article through his secretary, Shaul Indig. Indig denied the charges in a phone call this week. He said the claims were "lies" from "people who hate" Roth, and that the rabbi organizes engagements among young people but does not marry them until they're of legal age.

"They are going to be engaged for three years," Indig said of a 15-year-old who was engaged to a 17-year-old last week. "If they were secular, they would just be friends for three years."

But in videos posted to his website and on his social media channels, Roth says that listening to the state's marriage laws is akin to listening to the Gentiles, and seems to advocate for marriage following only a few years after bar mitzvah.

"If you want to make a child happy, you have to marry him or her off," Roth said in one video. Apparently invoking Rabbi Eliezer Shlomo Schick, who was arrested in 2011 in Israel for arranging child marriages, Roth said: "The yeshiva head spoke of pain, he spoke of 50 years that teenage boys write him letters, open themselves up to him. 'There's no other advice to be given except to marry off children young.'"



Sunday, March 21, 2021

Ukraine ready to greenlight Hasidim pilgrimage to Uman 

The Ukrainian government will allow vaccinated Israelis to make an annual Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev in the city of Uman, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported on Friday.

The development reportedly comes amid talks of Israel sending surplus COVID-19 vaccinations to Kyiv, I24News reports.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is said to have arrived at the bespoke agreement on Friday after a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Arye Deri.

Every year, tens of thousands of Israelis travel to this central Ukrainian city to worship at the tomb of the 19th-century Hasidic rabbi, founder of the Breslev movement.

Last year, however, Ukrainian authorities blocked entry into the country and refused to organize the pilgrimage due to coronavirus pandemic. 

"The key condition for the implementation of this large-scale measure (the organization of the pilgrimage, editor's note) will be the improvement of the epidemiological situation in Ukraine and the preliminary vaccination of visitors," a statement released by Avakov's office reads.

The two government officials discussed "assistance from Israel in providing vaccine packages," the statement added.


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Singapore Jewish community has deep roots stretching back to 1819 

The Jewish community in Singapore can trace its roots all the way back to 1819, when merchants from across Asia arrived to trade.

Some of the earliest records indicate there were nine Jews in Singapore in 1830.

The earliest Jewish families lived near Boat Quay, where the first synagogue was built in the 1840s along what is today Synagogue Street.

As the community grew, the need for a new place of worship arose, and construction of the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Waterloo Street began. It was completed in 1878, and is the oldest standing synagogue in South-east Asia.

A second place of worship, Chesed-El Synagogue in Oxley Rise, was opened in 1905.

Both buildings were gazetted as national monuments in 1998. Today, they remain at the centre of religious activities for the community, which numbers around 2,500, comprising Singaporeans as well as expatriates from across the globe.

Since 2007, the community has met for activities at the Jacob Ballas Centre, next to the Maghain Aboth Synagogue.

A large number of the early Jewish immigrants hailed from India and the Middle East, and for many, their main language was Arabic.

During the Japanese Occupation, many Jews who remained here were detained by the Japanese at Changi Prison and then in Sime Road.

The community has contributed significantly to Singapore, and its members include first chief minister David Marshall, who helped establish what is today the Jewish Welfare Board.

Other prominent figures include philanthropist Jacob Ballas, the first chairman of the Malayan Stock Exchange and then the Malaysia and Singapore Stock Exchange; prominent surgeon Yahya Cohen; and lawyer Harry Elias, who set up the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme.

Jewish leaders have been active in the Inter-Religious Organisation and other religious harmony efforts, and the Jewish Welfare Board said yesterday that the community has always felt safe in Singapore, unlike in many other countries.



Tuesday, March 09, 2021

After visiting yeshiva, Eric Adams “impressed” by secular education 

Eric Adams, one of the leading candidates running to be mayor of New York City toured a Brooklyn yeshiva on Monday that had been on a list of schools subject to investigation over adequate secular education standards and came away with a positive impression.

"I was really impressed by what I saw," Adams told the Forward on Monday night. "Watching those children understand grammar, understand English, saying they like writing and reading, it was amazing."

Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, declined to identify the yeshiva, which was in the Hasidic neighborhood of Borough Park. Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, who invited Adams for the hour-long tour, said it was among the "29 yeshivas most heavily scrutinized by the city."

The question of how much science, math and English education should be required in private yeshivas has been roiling the Orthodox communities in recent years. A city Department of Education report in 2019 found that more than half of the yeshivas investigated were not providing the amount of secular education that is "substantially equivalent" to that of public schools, as required by state law.

Eichenstein, who is Orthodox and was elected in 2018 to represent a district that includes Borough Park, said he wanted Adams, who a recent poll showed running second among some 30 candidates in the crowded June 22 Democratic primary, to see the much-discussed yeshiva situation firsthand. "Adams had the opportunity to step into any classroom, talk to any student, and review any of the classroom materials that were of his interest," Eichenstein said.

Adams compared the visit to another meeting he recently had with African-American teachers and students who felt that Anglo-Saxon standards did not give Black children the opportunity to identify with curriculum material that lacks cultural relevance for their community.

"It's obvious that the laws are not working," said Adams, who is Black. "The fight that the Jewish community is having is no different than the fight that the African-American and the Hispanic communities have. We must fight to change how we evaluate schools and understand the importance of culture and religion in school."

The next mayor will play a key role in how to enforce state laws governing yeshiva education. Last month, a group of 100 rabbis and Jewish leaders signed a letter to candidates about the importance of secular education in the yeshiva system spearheaded by Yaffed, a group founded by former yeshiva students and parents upset about the curriculum.

Andrew Yang, the current frontrunner in recent polls, promised he would not take action to boost secular education in yeshivas if elected mayor. The other leading candidates — responding to a Forward survey — said they would be working closely with the community to implement changes and fully enforce the law when needed.

But following his visit on Monday, Adams suggested he would adopt a more proactive approach. "Albany needs to enter a re-evaluation phase on what the cultural norms are in culturally sensitive education," he said. He added that he would invite the chancellor of the state's Board of Regents and other leaders to visit the religious schools "so they can see this for themselves."

Eichenstein said he is certain that what Adams witnessed "was an eye opener for him" and invited "any candidate who is willing to be objective and open minded about understanding the true facts about our yeshiva system to come with me to a yeshiva to see what it's really like."

In the phone interview on Monday night, Adams rejected the idea that he was taking this position to galvanize support in Brooklyn's Orthodox communities, an influential voting bloc. "Everyone who knows me knows that I speak my mind and I tell the truth," he maintained. "That's why I wanted to go to the school today, to actually visit on my own and hear from the students that are there and look at the books that they're using."

Adams urged the outspoken critics of the yeshiva education system to "come see how these children are expanding their knowledge and not being limited in their knowledge."



Monday, March 08, 2021

Volunteer surge for charity providing kosher meals to hospital patients 

A charity which provides free kosher meals to hospital patients has seen a surge of volunteers after announcing a new hub in Golders Green.

Bedside Kosher, which has a deal with the Royal Free in Hampstead to provide a full kosher menu, is opening its new hub today.

Its executive director, Anthony Shaw, said that it had allowed more people to volunteer with the service.

"Our fresh meals have so far reached patients in every London hospital, but this new hub will allow our food parcels to reach patients in North West London at a much faster rate," he said. 

"It's extraordinary to see so many volunteers step forward during the pandemic and deliver our free meal service – highlighting the best of our community."

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the charity estimates it has delivered over 40,000 meals throughout London, with the majority of its volunteers coming from Stamford Hill's Charedi community.

Alongside providing meals, the charity delivers kashrut training to NHS staff and helps mediate complaints from the community about the lack of kosher hospital meals.

Chairman of Bedside Kosher, Ari Feferkorn, added that the service would "not stop until every Jewish patient is treated like everyone else in hospital," with access to kosher food.



Friday, March 05, 2021

Why are Jews being singled out for Covid breaches? 

Another week, another viral airplane video. Throughout the Covid crisis, camera-phone footage from flights has been a social-media staple, capturing some of the worst moments of our societal meltdown for all to see. But rather than just another screaming match over social distancing, this latest viral clip apparently shows something much worse.

The video, recorded in New York, shows a Hasidic Jewish family leaving a plane after what the airline, Frontier, admits was a row about face masks. But what started the row? According to the family in question, the argument began after staff insisted that a 15-month-old child wear a face mask – a demand they say was motivated at least partly by anti-Semitism. When they finally left, they say they saw staff high-fiving.

Are they correct to blame anti-Semitism? Who knows. Part of the problem with these camera-phone videos is that it's near impossible to work out what's really going on. But one thing is for sure. In the ongoing culture war over lockdowns and mask mania, we are witnessing a worrying tendency to blame the Jews – uber-religious ones in particular.

It was back in October when rapper 50 Cent shared a video which summed it up perfectly. A solitary Haredi man walks along a Brooklyn street and is abused – loudly – by a driver yelling 'put your fucking mask on!'. Why did the Grammy-winning musician share this nasty piece of almost-certainly anti-Semitic bullying? It earned him two million likes in any case.

America's political elites haven't been much better. Back in May, as lockdown mania gripped New York, governor Andrew Cuomo and mayor Bill de Blasio both issued stern diktats singling out the city's ultra-orthdox Jews for apparently attending illegal funerals. De Blasio even chastised 'the Jewish community' directly on Twitter, telling them that, when it came to social distancing, 'the time for warnings has passed'.

How he expected this rather menacing tweet to go down with a largely poor, Yiddish-speaking community that shuns social media wasn't exactly clear. But it was certainly appreciated by hordes of self-righteous internet users keen to castigate the Jews for their selfish insistence on following their religious norms. The New York Times, usually hyper-sensitive to the slightest whiff of bigotry, was oddly quiet.

Here in London, we have (thankfully) seen less of the outright Jew-blaming. But we've still had panic-stricken media reports of a 400-strong wedding in ultra-orthodox enclave Stamford Hill (only later, incidentally, did the Metropolitan Police admit the number was less than half what it originally claimed). Jewish supermarkets, meanwhile, have been admonished by local councils for not upholding mask mandates and letting family members shop together.

It would be foolish to deny there aren't some problems here within the ultra-orthodox community, for whom – let's face it – social distancing and the 'New Normal' were never going to come naturally. But given the shameful history of Jews being defamed as plague-spreaders, could we have a little less public shaming? Shaming which, I suspect, achieves nothing beyond fuelling the anger of the Covid curtain-twitchers.

In a milder way, the Frontier situation reminds me of my own proudest moment of the pandemic. It was last August and I was boarding a flight to Ukraine when I heard some commotion back at the gate. Looking back, I could see that three slightly confused Hasidic men were being turned back by unsympathetic staff for not being able to show their health insurance on their (non-existent) smartphones.

Knowing a tiny bit about Hasidim, I guessed – correctly – that these travellers were embarking on a 'new year' pilgrimage to Uman, the Ukrainian birthplace of a revered religious figure. Keen to strike a blow against Covid officiousness, I grabbed my laptop, and offered to help them load up their documents. Ten minutes later, they were safely on the plane – much to the annoyance of several tutting passengers.

I mention this story not as an egregious example of anti-Semitism (it clearly isn't) but rather as another example of how our utter fixation with Covid sometimes blinds us to other more important things, like tolerance and kindness. Sometimes, as in the case of the horrendous mask-shaming video shared by 50 Cent, Covid officiousness gives cover to downright ugliness. That ugliness might not always be bigotry. It might be otherwise reasonable people shopping their neighbours to the police for minor infringements of 'the rules'.

What's the cure for this ethical shortsightedness of ours? As with most things Covid, the most important thing is to keep things in perspective. To remember that there is life beyond the lockdown

If all else fails, take a lesson from that wisest of Jewish books, the Talmud. It tells the story of the 'pious fool' (chasid shoteh) who, after noticing a drowning woman, decides he can't help her without breaking the laws of modesty. For the sages and students of the Talmud, the moral is clear: obedience to the rules should never distract us from what is truly moral. Now there's a lesson we could all do with learning.



Thursday, March 04, 2021

South Nyack sues Ramapo-based yeshiva; claims illegal use of Nyack College buildings 

The Ramapo-based yeshiva that bought Nyack College for $45.5 million has started using several campus buildings despite safety violations and without village permits and inspections.

That's according to a lawsuit filed by the village in state Supreme Court.

The Yeshiva Viznitz Dkhal Torath Chaim is ignoring village and state laws, according to the complaint. The village wants the congregation to cease any use of the buildings until repairs are made and necessary permits are issued.

The property's sale to the Hasidic Jewish congregation helped fuel the village dissolution movement, out of concern the yeshiva would not abide by village and state laws pertaining to the use and development of the 106-acre campus.

The yeshiva plans to initially operate schools for 250 college-level students and 250 high-school level students, the congregation's attorney Joseph Churgin, of Nanuet, has said. He has said he's not aware of any plans for high-density housing.

The village also is asking the court to confirm the property's educational use permit has expired and the zoning has reverted back to single-family housing, negating automatic use as a school.

The village argues in its complaint that the nonconforming use ended when the property had not been used for a year for education. The college supposedly ceased operating in September 2019 and the congregation completed the sale on Dec. 20, 2020, according to the complaint. 

Churgin said the yeshiva has not been served with the village's complaint.

"Apparently it was more important to the village to leak it to the press before serving it on our client," Churgin said. "If and when the complaint is served, our client will vigorously defend its constitutional rights to operate a religious college at the site just as Nyack College did – for more than 100 years."

The village's complaint states it has no opposition to an educational faculty on the property. However, the complaint filed Wednesday contends the congregation must obtain permits, certificates of occupancy and make appropriate repairs and restorations to ensure the property can be occupied safely.

The former Nyack College property is legally separate parcels needing permits for each of the dozens of buildings on the 106-acre campus – educational-related, office, residential and dormitory.

South Nyack's complaint states the village advised the congregation of the property's status and the congregation agreed to seek special use permits where needed. The congregation has backed away from its agreement and is using some of the buildings, the complaint states.

"Such actions are necessary and appropriate for the health and safety of those on the premises," the complaint states.

Included in the purchase were properties approved for use consistent with the operation of Nyack College: 102-106 S. Highland Ave., 154 S. Highland Ave., 155 S. Highland Ave., 165 S. Highland Ave., 45 South Blvd., 47 South Blvd., 49 South Blvd., 55 South Blvd., and 65 South Blvd.

Violations cited, registrations needed
Violations were issued for the buildings by Scott Fine, the village fire and building inspector. The complaint cites violations of fire safety; lighting; heating; hazardous substances; access to emergency vehicles; access and egress, including fire escapes from upper levels; as well as other safety requirements related to sewer and water; and village, town, county and state regulations.

The congregation has not yet registered with the New York State Education Department as a secondary, post-secondary, or other educational programs, as required under state law, according to the village complaint.

The state Education Department has not yet conducted necessary annual fire safety inspections required to protect students and staff in such educational settings, the complaint states.

Churgin didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Churgin has represented Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic institutions in Ramapo against municipalities on land-use issues. He's one of the attorneys representing the Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov Inc., which has attempted to build housing in Pomona. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Tarikov's appeal of a lower court decision for Pomona.

The congregation bought Nyack College and two other properties in December. The sale included Alliance Theological Seminary property on Route 9W in Upper Nyack and property in Orangetown.  

Nyack College, facing a nearly $40 million debt, ceased operating in September 2019.  

The sale has caused much debate and consternation among residents of the Orangetown village, spurring a movement to dissolve the government and let Orangetown control the community's land-use decision, provide police, public works and other services.

Many residents criticized Mayor Bonnie Christian and the village's four trustees for being passive as the sale's talks evolved.

Nyack College officials originally fronted for a developer who wanted to build high-density housing following a sale, but the village could not alter the college's special permit as an educational facility to allow such construction. The developer would have had to go through a long planning process.


Wednesday, March 03, 2021

David Mintz, who invented Tofutti as a dairy substitute for kosher meals, has died 

David Mintz, who invented the once-popular Tofutti dairy substitute out of a desire to cater to observant Jews who could not mix meat and milk, has died.

His death at 89 on Feb. 24 was first reported by COLlive, an Orthodox news site that covers the Chabad-Lubavitch community. Mintz had a relationship with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the famed leader of the Hasidic movement, and sought his advice before opening his businesses, the site reported.

No cause of death was given.

Mintz was born and raised in an Orthodox section of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and attended Orthodox schools. Grub Street, New York Magazine's food blog, wrote that he sold mink stoles before opening prepared food stores, where he employed "Jewish grandmothers" who made Jewish comfort foods like knishes and rugelach.

Although he eventually left the haredi Orthodox fold, Mintz saw a wide open market through his Orthodox customers who under kosher law were prevented from eating dairy during a meal that involved meat. He reportedly first bought a gallon of tofu from a vendor in Chinatown in 1972 and went on to meld the soy-based food into "tofu-filled cookies, cakes, rugalach, tuna casserole" and more, as described in a 1981 New York Times article.

But it took him several years to perfect what would become Tofutti ice cream, his most popular and enduring creation that became a staple in grocery stores across the country — and on Shabbat tables after chicken dinners.

"Everyone said it would never taste good," Mintz told The Times, which described him as a restless and enthusiastic personality. "Those people are now my biggest fans."

COLlive reported that Mintz went to Schneerson for reassurance during his years of experimentation, and that he gave generously to Jewish causes, including those connected to Schneerson's Chabad movement. He also reportedly regularly visited Schneerson's gravesite, a pilgrimage site for Chabad followers.

"Whenever I met with the Rebbe I would mention what I was doing, and he would say to me, 'You have to have faith. If you have faith in God, you can do wonders.' So I kept trying," Mintz said, according to the site.

Among the flavors and products Mintz tried over the years were several with Jewish influences: A carrot-apple-raisin tofu ice cream, for example, offered some of the flavors of a traditional Rosh Hashanah tsimmes, while blintzes stuffed with his tofu ricotta turned an archetypal dairy dish into something that could be served at any kosher meal.



Tuesday, March 02, 2021

‘Nurses’ and the Danger of Mainstreaming Antisemitism 

Hardly a day passes without reading of someone, somewhere uttering an antisemitic trope. That part is not new; for millennia, this has been the norm. In the pre-Internet era, one could read, primarily in the Jewish media, about an antisemitic public official, a neo-Nazi, or a desk clerk at a restricted hotel uttering hateful comments or spinning conspiracies about Jews.

What is new, or relatively so, is that today we're learning of Jew-hatred in real time, within hours of it being spouted. It comes from expected, and from unexpected, quarters. And sometimes it's simply the portrayal of Jews that sends an antisemitic message.

Take the recent Canadian-produced NBC series "Nurses," whose premise centers around five nurses and the lives and people they interact with. The most recent episode involved a young Hasidic accident victim named Israel and his father, whom we meet in a hospital room, where they're engaged in conversation with one of the nurses.

The young Hasid needs a bone graft, he is told, and that will require using the bone of a cadaver. Israel expresses shock at the idea of having a "dead leg" inserted into his body, to which his father — dressed in a Hasidic black hat and coat, and wearing payot — says disgustedly: "A dead goyim leg — from anyone. An Arab, a woman." The nurse, belittling both the father and son, responds: "Or, God forbid, an Arab woman."

Never mind that Orthodox practice would allow for this graft, much more important, is that the picture presented to the viewer is classic antisemitism. Dressed in black and closed-minded (with one of them literally named Israel), the message is that these Jews are both peculiar and bigoted.

Any stereotyping is dangerous. But the Orthodox community often gets the brunt of this kind of instant presumptuousness. They are portrayed as an oddity or as an easy foil. The show made no attempt to give any kind of context to Orthodox Jewry or its medical worldview. The writers of this episode needed highly identifiable Jews to make the story work — and who cares about who might be hurt as long as it fits neatly into the one-hour timeframe.

But murderous attacks on Jews in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Poway, California, or Monsey, New York, are just a few examples of how antisemitic rhetoric can turn violent.

My guess is that most viewers of this program are not Jewish. Those who know us only at a distance would understandably not know about how diverse we are. We have a communal spectrum that runs from left to right, and everything in between, and includes the religious and the secular. Is the viewer's education about the Jewish people to be gleaned from the likes of "Nurses" and other highly watched programs that traffic in biased presentations about sectors of our community?

I'm old enough to remember episodes of "Dr. Kildare," "Gunsmoke," and other TV dramas, that treated Jewish subjects with compassion and a seriousness of intent. That those programs aired at a time when Jews were subjected to admissions quotas, restricted neighborhoods, corporate glass ceilings, and other forms of discrimination made this treatment of Jews all-the-more important in fostering mutual respect.

Today though, in the broader world around us, there seems to be a growing tolerance toward anyone saying anything about whomever they wish, without any filter or fear of opprobrium. And increasingly, Jews have become the target.

"Saturday Night Live's" Michael Che delivering a blood libel about Israel and the COVID vaccine masked as a "joke"; Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's assertion that a Jewish space laser and the Rothschild family were responsible for California's wildfires; and Lowell, Massachusetts, School Committee board member Robert Hoey's referring to a former city employee as a 'kike" on live public access TV are just a few very recent examples of what is becoming a frightening trend.

The Canadian producer of "Nurses" has apologized for the offensive episode, and NBC has pulled this episode and others from the air.

"Contrition tours," where networks, politicians, comedians, and others offer a quick, "If I offended anyone, I'm sorry," or give apology interviews with friendly journalists, is one way of getting these kinds of controversies quickly out of the way. But that is not enough.

The media can play a large role in sensitivity training for the public at large, but first it needs to take a course or two itself. Playing off Jewish stereotypes for shock value, or for a few laughs, is both irresponsible and reckless.

We need to see more positive programming about the Jewish community and its many contributions — in so many fields — to this country. School systems need to utilize textbooks that teach about our story as an immigrant people who came to America from dozens of countries to find a land of opportunity denied to them in the darker corners of Europe and elsewhere. And while people may know a bit about the Jewish religion, more attention needs to be paid to its history, customs, and traditions. Doing that might prevent a repeat of the "Nurses" debacle.

In May, we will observe the 15th anniversary of Jewish American Heritage Month. While positive programming about our community should be a 12-month-a-year endeavor, this special designation on the national calendar offers many opportunities for educators, government officials, media operatives, and others to spotlight our community in a positive way.

The danger we face is the mainstreaming of antisemitism. Where once these expressions of hatred were confined to the margins or were never discovered because there simply was no Internet megaphone, today they are seemingly everywhere, including network television.

As is often said, it may start with the Jews, but it never ends there. It's not just about us: just follow what is written or said on social media, TV and talk radio, statements from political figures, and off-handed comments by celebrities; they are everywhere. It is one long parade of insults, put-downs, threats, loose talk, and worse.

Is the "Nurses" episode a wake-up call, or just another statistic in a week or month of egregious incidents? Our task is to speak up each time this happens, and as important, to ensure that our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and others beyond our community do not become inured to the threats before us.



Monday, March 01, 2021

Passengers Acuse Frontier Airlines of Kicking Jewish Family Off Flight Over Mask-less Baby 

Frontier Airlines is under a microscope after kicking a Hasidic family off a flight. Passengers claimed the incident was sparked by a baby under the age of two not wearing a mask. Frontier issued a statement blaming the passengers and denying that the issue was the baby. "Members of a large group, including adults, refused to wear masks," they wrote on Twitter.

Videos of the event show all the adults wearing masks.

"This is the baby that's one year old," says a man to the camera.

"Because the baby's not wearing a mask?" says another.

"Why are you deplaning them?" says another passenger. "This is an anti-Semitic act! Jew-haters!" yells another.

"We were sitting in the back," says a woman who is getting kicked off. "The little kids wanted to eat and they took off their masks for a few minutes [to eat].

The following Twitter thread posted by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC) has many videos. OJPAC is accusing Frontier of anti-Semitism.

Passengers who were eyewitnesses also reported what sounds like shocking anti-Semitism from Frontier Airlines' flight attendants.

A male witness unrelated to the family reported that he got thrown off the flight for videoing. "She's throwing me off the plane because I was taking videos," he said. "I saw them high-fiving each other and saying 'job well done to those Jews.'"

A female witness who also did not appear to be related to the family reported the same story. "They were telling them they don't have masks, a family of three…I saw them all coming on board with masks. They started to scream at me [and tell me] to sit down and then they all high-fived each other and said 'We did it!'"

A third male witness also said that the Frontier staff acted badly.



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