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The View From The Beis Medrash

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A Series Of Tragic Events

A number of tragic events have recently befallen Klal Yisrael.

Rav Yaakov Galinsky, zt”l, the famed maggid, was niftar on Thursday, January 23. The day before, an 11-month-old baby girl died of head wounds in a park in the Israeli city of Rishon LeZion. Earlier that day a 15-year-old Satmar bachur, Yeshaya Kaufman, a”h, was niftar during the night in Yerushalayim.

In the latter case, the young bachur reportedly said that he was not feeling well while attending a chassanah. A few minutes later he went to the restroom, collapsed, and went into cardiac arrest. He was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead. The bachur was apparently healthy and not known to be suffering from any medical condition.

On Monday, January 20, a painstaking tragedy occurred in the house of a yungerman from the Mirrer Yeshiva. An exterminator using a poisonous chemical in an apartment claimed the lives of two children and left two others (Raphael Yitzchak Issac ben Michal, and Chaim Michael ben Michal) fighting for their lives. May Hashem provide them with a refuah sheleimah b’karov.

And early last week a devastating gas explosion in Yerushalayim took the lives of Avraham and Galit Tufan and their two-year-old child, Yosef Chaim, rachmanah litzlan. The gas technician handling the case was initially taken into custody but later released.

NYC Human Rights Commission Drops Lawsuit Against Chassidishe Storeowners

On Tuesday, January 21, the New York City Human Rights Commission settled a lawsuit with seven chassidishe storeowners in Williamsburg. In the suit claiming discriminatory practices, the city had attempted to raise the fines against the Williamsburg shop owners from a collective $2,500 to $75,000.

New York City Human Rights Commissioner Patricia L. Gatling issued the following statement: “Today the New York City Commission on Human Rights settled the cases it had filed in August 2012 against seven businesses on Lee Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, based on gender and religious discrimination: the posting of signs in the store windows that discriminated against women.

“The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, such as stores, and the posting of advertisements that express a preference or limitation based on a membership in a protected class. Pursuant to the proposed agreement, representatives from the stores agreed that if they were to post new signs in their windows, they would say that while modest dress is appreciated, all individuals are welcome to enter the stores free from discrimination. The Commission is satisfied that the storeowners understand their obligations under the NYC Human Rights Law – the nation’s strongest civil rights law – that protects those who live, work in or visit New York City from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.”

In a statement, Rabbi David Niederman, executive director and president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg (UJO), said, “I am gratified that this case is finally over and that the seven small businesses of Lee Avenue have been vindicated. It was an outrage for this case to be brought in the first place and even more shocking that as recently as this morning, the New York City Human Rights Commission had the chutzpah to try and impose a $75,000 fine against local businesses who did nothing wrong.

“If you go to an upscale restaurant in New York City there is a dress code, yet when small businesses in Williamsburg do the same, they are attacked and threatened with fines that would put them out of business. These businesses are pillars of the community, and most importantly are breadwinners trying to provide for their families. They deserve to be afforded the same rights as establishments in the rest of New York City.”

Rabbi Niederman continued, “When this saga began the stores came to the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg for help. Thankfully, the attorneys at Kirkland & Ellis, led by Jay Lefkowitz and Devora Allon, responded to the call of the UJO and Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, taking on this case pro-bono and bringing justice for the small businesses of Lee Avenue.”

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


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