Wednesday, June 30, 2021

A Hasidic gallery in Williamsburg is the latest addition to New York’s art scene 

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Gone are the days when New York's art scene was concentrated solely within Manhattan. Case in point: An exciting new fine art gallery centered on Hasidic artists and identities opened within the Jewish Satmar community of Williamsburg this month. The Shtetl Gallery, named after the Yiddish word that signifies a close-knit community, debuted its premiere exhibition on June 15. The new show spotlights several Hasidic artists from across the world and explores layered themes surrounding contemporary Hasidic life and theology. 

Zalmen Glauber, artist and founder of Shtetl Gallery, strives to "challenge common perceptions of his community as an insular, ultra-conservative collective frozen in time" through the new space and the art displayed there, per arts website Hyperallergic. The vision of Hasidic life on display is more progressive and inclusive than simplistic perceptions of the community might normally allow: The work of women artists are included and Glauber is even open to displaying the work of "non-jews" whose work touches on matters of importance to the community. Glauber told Hyperallergic, "The idea behind the gallery is to create a platform for Hasidic artists to show their work but also to get our messages, emotions, and stories to the greater public. I would love this to create some kind of a dialogue with other communities."

On its website, Shtetl Gallery elaborates on its progressive mission, writing, "The Gallery's primary aim is to create a center for Hasidic art in the heart of vibrant Williamsburg, to introduce & educate the greater NYC populace to the thriving Chasidic community. The Gallery will open a lens & showcase a side to this "hidden insular" community that was not available to the general public prior to this opening." 

Lately, buzzy art galleries have found a home in Williamsburg, including 17 Frost and Carrie Able. However, a gallery such a Shtetl Gallery feels especially urgent and vital, as Williamsburg's Hasidic Jewish community, which has deep ties to the neighborhood, navigates the pressures of rapidly encroaching gentrification and rising rent. Recognizing the importance of Shtetl Gallery, mayoral candidate and Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams attended the space's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Visitors to Shtetl can expect to find a wide array of art on display currently, including bronzes of various characters from the seminal Jewish classic Fiddler on The Roof, triptychs from the women artist Rosa Katzenelson, and sculptures that deftly evade breaking the Judaism's rules against idolatry through creative omissions of body parts and features. 

If you're interested in checking out the latest addition to New York's art scene, Shtetl Gallery is located inside the Condor Hotel at 56 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205. The gallery is open by appointment only Monday and Tuesdays and for walk-ins on Wednesdays, 12-5.



Monday, June 28, 2021

Rescuers working tirelessly to find survivors after Florida condo collapse 

Families of the missing visited the scene of the Florida condo building collapse as rescuers kept digging through the mound of rubble and clinging to hope that someone could yet be alive somewhere under the broken concrete and twisted metal.

On Sunday, the death toll rose by four, to a total of nine confirmed dead, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced.

But after almost four full days of search-and-rescue efforts, more than 150 additional people are still missing.

No one has been pulled alive from the pile since Thursday, hours after the collapse.

The outlook grew more and more grim by the hour, however, as the slow rescue operation, involving workers sorting nonstop through the rubble in torrid heat and high humidity, carried on.

"We were able to recover four additional bodies in the rubble... So I am confirming today that the death toll is at nine," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters in Surfside, near Miami Beach, adding that one victim had died in hospital. "We've identified four of the victims and notified next of kin."

"We are making every effort to identify those others who have been recovered," she said in a morning briefing.

Six to eight squads, backed by two huge cranes and aided by sniffer dogs, are "on the pile actually searching at any given time," she added.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said debris with "forensic value" is being taken to a large warehouse to be inspected as investigators seek to determine the cause of the collapse.

And Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said accommodation was being found for anyone wishing to evacuate the tower's nearly identical "sister" building a block away, though no structural problems have yet been identified there.



Friday, June 25, 2021

Almost 500 homes nearly completed in 1,600-unit Kiryas Joel condo complex 

The first several hundred units are nearly finished in a condo complex that will eventually house more people than some entire towns in Orange County.

The 1,600-unit Veyoel Moshe Gardens project has been taking shape on a hillside overlooking Route 17 since 2018, filling part of a 70-acre peninsula of Kiryas Joel that used to be woods. As many as 700 units in all are under construction and up to 500 are almost done, the project's planner told the Times Herald-Record.

Several hurdles still must be cleared before any completed condos can be occupied.

One is the completion of a new sewer main that was needed to handle the increased wastewater, which is piped through Monroe to a treatment plant in Harriman. Workers had already installed the wider pipe in Monroe and were preparing to bore under Route 17 to connect it to mains on the Kiryas Joel side of the highway.

Robert Gray, the Orange County official who oversees the county-run sewer system serving that area, told the Times Herald-Record last week that the sewer work is expected to be done by Sept. 1 and will cost $4.3 million, all borne by the developer of Veyoel Moshe Gardens.

In addition, workers must finish burying underground gas and electric lines, pave roads and install two traffic signals at the project entrances on County Route 105 and Nininger Road, said Joel Mann of Brach & Mann Associates, the planning firm for the project. The signal at Route 105 and Bakertown Road is set to be installed within a couple weeks.

Mann said the condos will range in size from 1,200 square feet to 2,800 square feet. No prices have been set. One of two planned synagogues is also under construction.

The project is the largest by far out of several that are being built in Kiryas Joel to meet housing demand in the ever-growing Satmar Hasidic community. Planners estimated during the environmental review for Veyoel Moshe Gardens that it ultimately could house as many as 9,000 people, or roughly one-third of the nearly 27,000 residents the village was estimated to have as of mid-2019.


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Mother of 10 Becomes One of Few Hasidic Female Doctors 

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Years in the past, Alexandra Friedman noticed a T-shirt bearing a message she by no means forgot: "Become the doctor your mother always wanted you to marry."

It appeared like an unattainable objective for a Hasidic lady in Monsey, N.Y., a predominantly Orthodox Jewish enclave some half-hour north of town that's house to some of the strictest Orthodox communities.

Many ladies marry younger, and their lives revolve round caring for kids, talking Yiddish and abiding by rigid way of life and dress tips to stick to Hasidic traditions.

Ms. Friedman and her husband, Yosef, have 10 youngsters, ranging in age from an 8-month-old son to a 21-year-old daughter.

But final month, Dr. Friedman turned an anomaly in Monsey by graduating from medical faculty and acquiring a residency in pediatrics. Her commencement makes her one of the few feminine Hasidic medical doctors within the nation, stated Dr. Miriam A. Knoll, president of the Jewish Orthodox Women's Medical Association.

"It's unusual for medical students to have any children, let alone 10 children," Dr. Knoll stated. "So to come from a conservative background and have that many children, you're fighting an uphill battle, one that just takes extraordinary drive and commitment."

When Dr. Friedman started serious about medical faculty 5 years in the past, even her finest mates had doubts. One of them, a mom of 14 youngsters, thought Dr. Friedman's already busy schedule as a spouse and mom would by no means enable her to deal with the pains of medical faculty. Another urged her to grow to be a retailer cashier as a substitute.

Dr. Friedman believed that pursuing medication would increase her spirituality, not detract from it.

"In Judaism, there's a belief that if you don't use the gifts given to you by God, you're not really honoring God," she stated in a current interview.

Even whereas fighting the arduous educational calls for over the previous 4 years, she met the home obligations anticipated of an ultra-Orthodox mom. She continued tending to her youngsters and avoided finding out on Jewish holidays and on the Sabbath, every Friday night by means of Saturday night.

None of her obligations appeared to harm her grades or hold her from graduating on time inside 4 years, and she or he even gave beginning throughout her research to 3 youngsters: her 8-month-old, Aharon; and her 3-year-old twin women, Mimi and Layla.

She graduated first academically of the 135 college students in her class at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Middletown, N.Y.

Dr. Friedman was not at all times Hasidic. As the daughter of a U.S. Army common, she was half of a secular Jewish household that moved across the nation lots.

She thought of herself a feminist — and nonetheless does — and earned a bachelor's diploma in biology. In her 20s, she started medical faculty however dropped out and developed an curiosity in Orthodox Judaism, following its strict tips and avoiding many distractions of the skin world.

She studied Yiddish and started carrying a wig and modest, full-length clothes. She stopped driving and having casual conversations with males and even wanting them within the eye. Smartphones and the web had been off-limits.

In 2008, after she had moved to a Hasidic part of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, to check at a Hasidic seminary, she met Yosef Friedman, a widower with two daughters from his earlier marriage. They married and ultimately settled in Monsey.

After having a number of youngsters, her thoughts turned again to her medical training.

"Being religious was kind of a full-time job, but once I got the hang of motherhood and Orthodox life, that yearning sort of came back," stated Dr. Friedman, who approached her non secular mentor, Rabbi Aharon Kohn, and requested him in her still-imperfect Yiddish for steering.

Both realized that medical faculty can be doubly difficult for a mom from Monsey. The Hasidim in Monsey largely deal with judicial points amongst themselves, store at Jewish shops and ship their youngsters to spiritual faculties.

Also, there would inevitably be clashes between educational necessities and Hasidic tips. Dr. Friedman would want to make use of the web and work together with male college students, lecturers and medical doctors. What if emergency medical remedy lasted into Shabbos? And since Hasidic ladies are discouraged from driving, how would she even get there?

Touro's sensitivity to Orthodox college students, she stated, made it "an easier sale" to the rabbi, who recounted a narrative about how his grandfather, additionally a rabbi, as soon as urged a girl in Israel to grow to be a midwife to assist different Hasidic ladies.

He in the end agreed, even after Dr. Friedman questioned if her buddy was proper about her changing into a cashier as a substitute.

"He said absolutely not — he wanted me to be of service to my community," stated Dr. Friedman, who interviewed for admission to medical faculty 4 days after giving beginning to the couple's seventh little one.

Dr. Friedman's new path raised eyebrows in her tightly knit Hasidic Jewish group.

"People would say, 'What? You're going to medical school?' and I'd say, 'The rabbi said it was OK,'" she recalled whereas sitting just lately in her neat two-story house in a leafy part of Monsey.

She sat close to cabinets bearing a shofar and a menorah. Scattered on the ground had been youngsters's toys. The household was packing for his or her upcoming transfer to Boca Raton, Fla., to start her residency.

As a medical scholar, Dr. Friedman started assuming a sorely wanted position advising Hasidic feminine acquaintances who had restricted info on medical points however many questions — starting from menstrual and infertility points to how gynecological remedy comported with Jewish legislation and cultural tips relating to modesty.

"People became excited to have a woman who understands the community and understands medicine," stated Dr. Friedman When Monsey turned a coronavirus sizzling spot final year, she started fielding calls from mates searching for extra up to date info than Yiddish weekly newspapers supplied.

(*10*) she stated.

She urged mates early on to put on masks, and in current months, as extra calls have are available in relating to vaccination for the virus, she has advisable getting the pictures.

She and her husband each contracted the virus final year however skilled no severe signs, she stated.

Mr. Friedman, 50, who makes minimal wage as an aide for sufferers with disabilities, stated the household has lived paycheck to paycheck to afford medical faculty and relied on numerous scholarships. Student mortgage money typically helped pay the lease.

"Every obstacle seems to get blown out of the way," stated Mr. Friedman, who obtained a dean's award from Touro for being a supportive partner. "It makes me realize that this was just meant to be. This is what she's meant to do."

He started working nights as a way to have a tendency the youngsters through the day.

Far from being a distraction, Dr. Friedman stated her busy household life supplied steadiness and stress reduction from the tense calls for of finding out for boards and exams.

Instead of hitting the library together with her fellow college students, she studied at house together with her youngsters round her. They quizzed her with flash playing cards and adorned her anatomy and surgical procedure textbooks with brightly coloured stickers. They watched her follow her sutures earlier than bedtime.

While in labor for 12 hours together with her twin women, now age 3, she studied for the microbiology half of the board examination.

"It kept my mind off the contractions," she stated.

While the web is commonly discouraged among the many Hasidim as overexposure to the secular world, Dr. Friedman secured the rabbi's permission to purchase a laptop computer and get web service put in to entry medical info and examine guides that fellow college students shared on social media. She acquired a smartphone for college-required apps on surgical procedures.

She additionally obtained rabbinical approval to drive the household automotive herself, however her husband continued to drive her out of their fast neighborhood, then hop out and stroll house, to keep away from upsetting her Orthodox neighbors.

She continued to put on her wig throughout surgical procedures, however Rabbi Kohn agreed she might change the standard Hasidic head scarf with a surgical cap and put on scrub pants coated with a disposable surgical robe.

Shaking arms with male colleagues was nonetheless discouraged, however the rabbi agreed that unintended and mandatory contact with male medical doctors throughout surgical procedure was permissible, as was wanting them within the eye throughout medical discussions.

When college students started working towards osteopathic manipulations on each other in giant lessons, Dr. Friedman secured a feminine associate and wore full clothes as a substitute of shorts and a sports activities bra like different feminine college students.

Rabbi Moshe Krupka, govt vice-president of the Touro College and University System, known as Dr. Friedman a "poster child" for Touro's emphasis on supporting specific wants of college students from numerous backgrounds.

But Dr. Friedman's greatest supporter was Rabbi Kohn.

Last June, he died from Covid-19 at age 69.

In September when her youngest little one was born, Dr. Friedman honored the rabbi who inspired her medical faculty dream by naming her son after him: Aharon.

"The last thing he told me," she stated, "was, 'Don't quit.'"



Friday, June 18, 2021

He’ll get you out of jail for Shabbos: Posters pop up in Brooklyn calling on Borough Park community to support aspiring judge 

Get out of jail free — and in time for Shabbos!

Campaign posters touting an aspiring Brooklyn judge bizarrely claim candidate Charles Finkelstein will help spring Jewish suspects from lockup before Shabbat if they're arrested on a Friday, even as he seeks a seat in civil rather than criminal court.

Finkelstein is one of three civil court candidates in the borough's June 22 primary, and a Borough Park poster put up by the "Committee for the Good of the Community" asserts the 56-year-old is the most deserving vote in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood.

"A policeman stops you on a beautiful Friday afternoon and he arrests you, God forbid, and brings you to the jail ... If we have someone inside, that is the easiest way to get you out before Shabbos," read one poster written in Yiddish and seen by the Daily News.

The poster also asserted Finkelstein has a "good chance to win... even if he doesn't get the votes of the Blacks or the women."

If non-Jewish voters support either of the two Black women candidates running against Finkelstein, as the sign suggested, the Jewish candidate can win with just over one-third of the vote.

"Their votes will be divided between two candidates," the flier said. "That means that Mr. [Finkelstein] needs to get only 34% of the votes to win, and he has a good chance to do that. We only now seek to get out the masses of votes for Charles Finkelstein and thereby assure that we will have a good friend (in the) court house."

The word used to describe Black people in the missive is "tinkele," which literally translates to dark, and is considered by some Yiddish speakers to be a derogatory way to refer to Black people. Others said it is not necessarily racist depending on context, but Finkelstein insisted that he never signed off on the message either way.

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"I don't speak Yiddish and it's not authorized," he told The News. "That's not the way I speak."

The former Brooklyn prosecutor and defense attorney shrugged off the promise to spring his Jewish constituents from jail cells in time for Saturday services.

"Anyone who gets arrested close to Shabbos, you try to expedite it if you can help them to get out," he said, adding that courts try to get people out "before Christmas or New Year's" as well.

"But as a judge, I wouldn't make any calls. And there's no calls to make," Finkelstein explained.

Running against Finkelstein are two Black women, Igna O'neale and Casilda Elena Roper-Simpson, seeking the Civil Court seat that handles lawsuits, divorces and other matters.

Finkelstein ran for civil court in 2012 and lost to Steven Mostofsky, whose son Aaron was arrested in the Capitol riots in January.



Thursday, June 17, 2021

Monsey developer buys 84 acres in South Blooming Grove for $11 million 

A Monsey developer made the latest in a recent string of big land purchases in and around the village, paying $11.2 million last month for 84 acres of mostly vacant land off Route 208.

The property is the site of a closed driving range and boxing gym, surrounded by woods and close to the busy interchange where Route 208 meets Route 17. Its proximity to Route 17 had made the driving-range site a contender for a casino resort in 2014 when casino operators were competing for state licenses.

The owner, David Plotkin, had listed the land for sale for $8.5 million in 2017, according to previous reporting by the Times Herald-Record. A deed transfer filed this week with the Orange County Clerk's Office indicates the newly formed Orange Industrial LLC paid him almost $3 million more than that for the property on May 13.



Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Andrew Yang Is Right. There Should be Very Little Regulation of Hasidic Education 

New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang recently made waves when he declared that the city "shouldn't interfere" with Orthodox Jewish schools "as long as the outcomes are good." Yang's position is very different from the one that some activist groups have pushed in recent years. Critics claim that many such yeshivas do not offer enough secular education to satisfy New York's requirements and to prepare their students for the workforce.

But Yang got this right. Even if some Jewish schools do not teach the same content as public schools, if, as Yang put it, their outcomes are good, the city should let them be.

First, the criticisms of New York's yeshivas are empirically unsound. Reports of minimal secular education across New York's Yeshivas confuse the exceptions for the rule. Over 170,000 students attend hundreds of Orthodox Jewish Schools in New York. Most of these schools offer a robust secular studies curriculum. Even the few Hasidic schools that don't still provide an intellectually rigorous education; they simply prioritize religious studies over secular equivalents.

As Yang—who is famously data-driven—certainly realizes, no data support the view that outcomes are poor for students in Hasidic schools. While data about Hasidic economic and educational outcomes are limited, the information available does not suggest that Hasidim are particularly disadvantaged economically. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, average household incomes in Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn (home to many of New York City's Hasidim) are 9th and 29th highest out of 50 districts city-wide. So too, it's not clear that Hasidic students — who are largely English Language Learners (ELL) since their first language is usually Yiddish — would fare any better in public schools. For example, 8th grade ELL students in the Williamsburg public schools (where many Hasidim live) had a zero percent proficiency rate in math and English in 2016, according to the city's own data.

Most importantly, the criticisms misstate both the law and the philosophical problems that underlie it. American law balances a real tension between two competing values: parents' right to educate their children as they see fit and the state's right to ensure a reasonable education for all children. As far back as 1925, the Supreme Court in Pierce v. Society of Sisters recognized the unique role that parents play in their children's education. In 1972, the Supreme Court's ruling in Wisconsin v. Yoder made clear that when mandatory education laws would destroy a viable religious community, the state must back off to allow the community to function, even at the expense of the model of education that the state prefers.

New York codifies this balance using the phrase "substantial equivalence." Private school education must be substantially equivalent to – but not necessarily identical with – public school education. (See "New York State Cracks Down on Religious Schools," Fall 2019.)

For over a century, this New York standard lay dormant. In 2018, the state responded to complaints about some Hasidic yeshivas in New York by redefining "equivalence" to mean that private schools must offer a wide range of specific subjects for specific periods of time each day. Many private schools objected, and a trial court rejected this approach as administratively over-broad. Had the regulations stood, they would have transformed private school education in the state by requiring private schools to reproduce public education, rather than fulfilling their own unique missions.

Resolving this legal problem requires thinking through some fundamental questions. Why should the state regulate education? To produce law-abiding citizens? To teach students how to think? To ensure their personal happiness? To train them for sustainable jobs?

By the most important of these metrics — what Yang calls "good outcomes" — Hasidic schools pass with flying colors. They offer a deep and rich education that emphasizes text comprehension and analytic thinking, even if the context for these skills is very different from that found in public schools. They produce graduates who live in stable communities: Hasidic populations report low levels of violent crime, and a high degree of family and social cohesion.

Hasidic culture is different, even strange, to many Americans. But that does not make Hasidic life any less valuable and productive. It is parochial to assume that the only life of value is one that aims for the Ivy League.

No one cultural or educational model is "right" or "wrong." Use of education law to mandate schooling that conflicts with religious faith is exactly what our constitutional system opposes. And for good reason: forcing parents into an educational model that they religiously oppose is unlikely to succeed. Private schools subsidize public education since parents pay taxes towards the schools, but do not send their children to them (to the tune of $7 billion a year in New York City, since NYC spends $28,000 per student in public school and 256,000 NYC students go to private schools). We should use some of those savings to help Hasidic yeshivas improve in ways that match the values of society at large without undermining religious values they hold dear.

In an environment of increasing antisemitism, and after two years of near daily physical and verbal attacks on Hasidic Jews, does it make sense to single out this community's schools alone for special condemnation, particularly when the city's public schools are often doing no better a job?

In a multicultural society, we must all make room for each other and for our diverse values. While most Americans will attend public schools, private schools (particularly parochial schools), exist to provide other kinds of education – in Mandarin or Yiddish, focusing on Native American culture or Talmudic law, providing an Amish or Catholic view of the world.

Rather than mandating conformity, New York should support reasonable educational rubrics —ones that are consistent with each religious community's values, and that, as Yang suggests, produce good outcomes. Carrots from government, rather than sticks, need to be used to achieve those goals.



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Photo collection captures Hasidic life round the world 

The Polish photographer Agnieszka Traczewska has just published a second collection of photographs of Hasidic Jewish life, entitled "A Rekindled World."

In this new album she presents scenes of daily life among ultra-Orthodox Jews in America, Israel, Canada, England, Belgium and Brazil. Her previous collection, "The Returns," centered on images of Hasidim visiting the graves of prominent rabbis in Eastern Europe. Her portraits, which often borrow styles and motifs from Dutch painters Rembrandt and Vermeer, have won awards in a variety of photography competitions, including a 2014 citation from National Geographic's Traveler Photo Award.

Traczewska, who is Catholic, has befriended Hasidim in various cities, especially in Jerusalem. As she explained in an interview with Haaretz, although all Hasidim may look the same to people who don't know them, their communities are actually quite diverse. She hopes that her photographs reveal this diversity.

Traczewska's new collection also includes portraits of women. She was initially concerned that some Hasidim might object to the publication of pictures of their wives and mothers, but so far she has received only positive responses from the people she knows in Mea Shearim and other ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.



Monday, June 14, 2021

Andrew Yang, Eric Adams and the battle for Orthodox Jewish support 

Before Andrew Yang announced his bid for New York City mayor in January, upending what until then had seemed like a fairly stable Democratic primary field, the favorite candidate for Orthodox Jewish support throughout the five boroughs was, by most accounts, Eric Adams, the brash and outspoken Brooklyn borough president.

Adams, a former police captain who is building his campaign around a public safety message amid an uptick in violent crime across the city, has maintained long-standing ties with Orthodox leaders, particularly in Queens as well as Hasidic enclaves of Brooklyn like Borough Park and Crown Heights, a neighborhood he represented as a state senator from 2007 to 2013.

Having set his sights on Gracie Mansion after decades of public service, Adams is now depending on those relationships as he builds a coalition capable of propelling him past his opponents in the crowded June 22 primary, for which early voting began on Saturday. "I have a lot of credible messengers that know me," Adams, 60, said in a February interview with Jewish Insider, predicting that he would pull in strong support from the Orthodox community, certain sects of which represent powerful voting blocs in local elections.

But Yang's candidacy has tested that expectation. The 46-year-old mayoral hopeful, a former presidential contender who rose to national prominence last election cycle on a widely popular pitch for universal basic income, has aggressively courted the Orthodox vote with a similarly straightforward message. 

Early in his mayoral campaign, for example, Yang forcefully denounced the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as antisemitic while expressing his steadfast support for Israel. "Not only is BDS rooted in antisemitic thought and history, hearkening back to fascist boycotts of Jewish businesses, it's also a direct shot at New York City's economy," Yang wrote in a January opinion piece for The Forward. "Strong ties with Israel are essential for a global city such as ours, which boasts the highest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel. Our economy is struggling, and we should be looking for ways to bring back small businesses, not stop commerce."

Jewish leaders have appreciated Yang's views, even as they have garnered criticism from progressives.

"Looking at the field, I felt he was the best person for New York City and the best person for the Jewish community," said Daniel Rosenthal, an Orthodox assemblyman in Queens, who offered an early endorsement for Yang in mid-March and values his opposition to BDS. "In a time when some people in the Jewish community felt like they were being shunned, he was proudly standing with us."

Perhaps most consequentially, though, Yang's unequivocal defense of the yeshiva education system has given him a unique advantage within the Orthodox community. He has vowed to take a hands-off approach to imposing state-mandated instruction on secular subjects at the Jewish religious schools, many of which have been found to be lacking in that regard, according to an investigation by the Department of Education.



Friday, June 11, 2021

Israel hailed as first country to ban fur despite loophole allowing major exceptions 

Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) celebrated the move as a "victory for so many" after Israel's environment minister, Gila Gamliel, signed the bill into law.

However, it is somewhat toothless, as fur will continue to be imported into the country for religious reasons.

The amendment to the Wildlife Protection Law contains a loophole that allows the import and export of pelts if they are to be used for "religion, religious tradition, scientific research, education or teaching".

Israel's main use for fur is for sable hats, known as shtreimels. A shtreimel is a fur hat worn by some Jewish men, mainly members of Hasidic Judaism, on Shabbat and Jewish holidays and other festive occasions.

While importers will have to apply for a special permit, the flow of fur in and out of the country will continue despite the new law.

Peta said it had lobbied Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and government officials to support the ban on fur.

It thanked Ms Gamliel for taking action, who responded: "Proud to to be the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur.

"Now the whole world knows we made history today, fur is no longer in fashion."



Thursday, June 10, 2021

She’s Running for New York City Council. But Newspapers Won’t Publish Her Photo. 

In all but one way, Amber Adler is running a pretty normal campaign for New York city council. She knocks on doors and attends rallies; she campaigns outside of grocery stores and subway stations; she puts posters up across her district and places ads in local newspapers.

But look for a picture of her face in one of those local papers, and you're not likely to find one. Why not? Because most of the magazines and newspapers in her neighborhood refuse to publish her photo.

Adler, 37, is the first Orthodox Jewish woman to run for city council in her Brooklyn district, which includes ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods scattered throughout Borough Park and Midwood. And as she heads toward her June 22 primary, she's a victim of a fairly recent trend among Jewish media outlets in Orthodox neighborhoods in the United States: a refusal to publish photographs of women and girls for religious reasons. Which means if Adler wants campaign ads printed in the Jewish news, she can't be in most of them.

For Adler, who is only the second ever Orthodox woman to run for publicly elected office in Brooklyn, the visual gag-order is yet another hurdle in an uphill campaign. She is butting up against expectations that Orthodox women don't assume positions of communal authority and should instead stick to more internal-facing roles.

She's trying to change that perception — and also highlight some of the other issues that Orthodox women face, including a system of religious divorce that frequently leaves them trapped in broken marriages. (Such a woman is referred to by the Hebrew term "agunah," which literally means "chained.") Adler, who herself spent two years as an agunah and speaks candidly about the experience, supports a current bill in front of the New York state legislature that would make coercive control a Class E felony.

But how far can she get in making things better for women when she can't even get her photo in the paper?

"If you're designing a building and you've never seen someone with a disability, you won't understand that you need a ramp. Obviously those people are going to be left out. That's what's happening [to women] in Orthodox Judaism right now," said Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, a Jerusalem-based writer and activist who opposes banning images of women from Jewish media. "Community leaders are making decisions without even considering how they're going to impact women."


Wednesday, June 09, 2021

In Hipster Williamsburg, Hasidic Jews Are the Real Counterculture 

Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood is known as a center of gentrification and a gathering place for the cool young hipsters of New York City. A short walk from the Lower East Side over the Williamsburg Bridge, it's also home to one of the most concentrated Hasidic Jewish communities in New York. 

In their new book, "A Fortress in Brooklyn: Race, Real Estate, and the Making of Hasidic Williamsburg" (Yale University Press), Nathaniel Deutsch and Michael Casper unpack the history of Jewish Williamsburg and the collision of its pious Jewish community with the forces of commerce and urban development.

They show how the Satmar and other Hasidic movements represented an alternative version of the "New York Jew" — the assimilated cohort that was already heading to the suburbs when Williamsburg began to fill with strictly Orthodox refugees from Hitler's Europe. Moreover, while their fellow Jews were largely joining the professional class, the Hasidim had more in common with their Puerto Rican and African-American residents as proponents for and beneficiaries of federal and state aid to the poor.

"Rather than an Eastern European shtetl miraculously transported to Brooklyn, the Hasidic enclave in Williamsburg is a distinctly American creation, and its journey from the 1940s to the present is a classic New York City story," they write.

We spoke to Deutsch, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Caspar, a writer with a Ph.D. in history from UCLA, about their book in an event at the American Jewish Historical Society on May 23. This conversation has been edited and condensed from a transcript of that discussion.



Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Disgraced rabbi sentenced to 18 months in jail under plea bargain 

The Jerusalem District Court has approved a plea deal with 84-year-old Rabbi Eliezer Berland who was accused of defrauding millions of shekels from sick and elderly followers.

That disgraced Hasidic leader, who previously served a 10-month sentence for sexually abusing his female followers, was hit with an 18-month prison sentence — 13 of which had has already served — for numerous offenses, including fraud, extortion, tax offenses and money laundering. 

Berland — who headed Shuvu Banim yeshiva which is affiliated with the Breslov Hasidic movement — was arrested along with his wife in February 2020, for conning hundreds of people, including terminally ill patients, out of tens of millions of shekels with false promises of a miracle cure.

The rabbi's convictions came as part of a settlement that saw Berland plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence, which includes 18 months of jail time, minus time served; a year-long probation period, in eight of which he will have to wear an electronic tagger; a fine of more than NIS 2.4 million as well as compensation to the victims.

"Berland committed a series of acts of fraud against people who appealed to him based on the status that he built and nurtured over the years," the prosecution stated.

"Berland told those who came to him that if they paid him sums of money ranging between NIS 5,000 and NIS 20,000, their loved one would recover and their illness would go away, all while knowing that the facts he told those who came to him were f."



Monday, June 07, 2021

Jewish Man Punched in Williamsburg 

A Hasidic man was assaulted in Williamsburg Sunday afternoon, the latest in a string of attacks against Jews in New York City.

Around 12:25 p.m, surveillance video at Stockton Street and Marcy Avenue shows a man yelling at a Jew, then punching him.

Shomrim, Hatzolah and the NYPD responded to the scene. The victim was examined by Hatzalah for minor injuries, and did not require hospitalization.



Friday, June 04, 2021

Eric Adams: Orthodox voting blocs are falling for Yang’s ‘false promises’ 

Eric Adams, the front-runner in the race for mayor of New York City according to recent polls, had some harsh words Thursday for the Orthodox voting blocs supporting his rival Andrew Yang, who is in second place, not far behind Adams.

In a meeting with the leadership of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition, a local Orthodox political group founded in 2013, Adams suggested that Orthodox voting blocs are mistakenly falling for the "false promises" Yang made while courting their vote. Adams has been making inroads in the Orthodox community in recent weeks.

"If someone can come in, out of nowhere, give you false promises and just say anything, and all of a sudden take away a long relationship with you, that's going to send a bad message," said Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, who described his well-established relationship with the community as an inspiration for other politicians.

Asked by the Forward if he was referring to Yang's stances on yeshivas that had earned him the backing of most Hasidic sects and Orthodox elected officials in Brooklyn, Adams demurred. "Whoever believes they can just walk into this community and they can just say and do anything and then take away a long relationship and important relationship, whomever fits that description, that's who I'm talking to," said Adams. "And there's a host of candidates that are in this race that thought they could just come and walk down Flatbush Avenue or walk down 14th Avenue, or sit inside a synagogue, and it was a wrap."

Chris Coffey, Yang's campaign manager, pushed back against Adams' attack. "One of the things we hear about Eric from the community is that he has a complicated past here, filled with checkered characters who haven't always been great to the Jewish community," Coffey told the Forward, hinting about Adams' past praise of the antisemitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and alliance with the Rev. Al Sharpton. "So it's no surprise that when someone like Andrew Yang comes in and they see his character and his dedication to their issues that they gravitate to him."



Thursday, June 03, 2021

NYC Council candidate Harold ‘Heshy’ Tischler says he was punched in attack outside his Brooklyn home 

Controversial City Council candidate Harold "Heshy" Tischler says he was attacked by two men outside his Brooklyn home Wednesday afternoon.

Tischler — who last month pleaded guilty to inciting a Brooklyn riot where a reporter was beaten by a Hasidic mob — said a man stepped out of a gray sedan outside his Borough Park home and threatened him.

"I think we're going to get you. We know where you live," the man said, according to Tischler.

Tischler, who was sitting in his vehicle waiting to pick up his granddaughter, told police that when he got out of his car and recorded the man with his phone, the man slapped the phone out of his hand, an NYPD spokesman said.

A second attacker then stepped out of the sedan and punched him twice in the head, Tischler told police. The duo then got back into the sedan and fled.

"We're taking this seriously. We have a good lead," a high-ranking police source told the Daily News. "We look forward to making an arrest."

Tischler said he believes one of the attackers was a pro-Palestine protester who confronted him at him at a George Floyd memorial event last week.

"Borough Park is the safest neighborhood in New York City. We have two community patrols. Nobody can come in here and get away with this," Tischler said. "The guy has the nerve to think he's a terrorist to come to our neighborhood and try to kill me."

Though he initially refused medical attention, Tischler said he was planning a trip to the hospital Wednesday night because he felt dizzy and had a headache with blurry vision.

"I'm a big guy. They're not taking me down. Not until I get elected," he said.

Tischler is one of seven candidates running for City Council in Brooklyn's 48th District, which includes several Orthodox neighborhoods in south Brooklyn. The seat was previously held by Chaim Deutsch, an Orthodox politician expelled from the council last month after a guilty plea to tax fraud.

Tischler's guilty plea last month came after he was accused of urging demonstrators to target journalist Jacob Kornbluh at a protest over COVID-19 restrictions.

The same week he was arrested, Tishler made headlines for a viral video in which he denounced Mayor de Blasio's wife Chirlane McCray as a "kurva" — Yiddish for whore — and described her as a "retard woman."



Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Right-wing lawmakers face intense pressure to reject the opposition coalition 

Sitting in her office in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Idit Silman, a hard-right lawmaker, flicked through hundreds of recent text messages from unknown numbers.

Some were laced with abusive language. Some warned she was going to hell. All of them demanded that her party abandon coalition negotiations with an alliance of centrist, leftist and right-wing lawmakers seeking to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time in 12 years.

"It's very hard," Ms. Silman said. "People would rather put pressure on Idit Silman than see Benjamin Netanyahu leave Balfour Street," she added, in a reference to the location of the prime minister's official residence.

As opposition negotiators race to meet a midnight deadline to agree on a new government, supporters of Mr. Netanyahu and his Likud party were working overtime to pressure Ms. Silman and other members of the right-wing Yamina party.



Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Once the world’s tallest politician, Robert Cornegy wants to take Brooklyn to new heights 

Not long ago, Robert Cornegy, a member of the New York City Council, was dubbed the tallest politician in the world. As borough president, he said, he can make the world look up to Brooklyn.

Cornegy, 55, who played professional basketball in Israel and talks about his strong affinity for the Jewish state, is one of the leading candidates — along with councilmember Antonio Reynoso and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon — for the office in the June 22 primaries. His height may help him stand out in a crowded field of 14.

At 6-foot-10, Cornegy earned the title of the tallest politician from the Guinness Book of World Records in 2019 after submitting several doctors' measurements of his body — both standing up and lying down. "He's brought politics to new heights," NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who himself stands at 6-foot-5, said in a ceremony marking the achievement. In November 2019, Cornegy lost the title to a Republican politician in North Dakota, Jon Godfread, an insurance commissioner who was a centimeter taller. "I don't mind losing, but I lost to someone who holds an elected role that I've never even heard of before," Cornegy quipped in a recent sit-down interview. "But I was very grateful to be able to be among the people who internationally represent the borough of Brooklyn."



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