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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

New York, High-End Dealers Cater To Jews Seeking The Perfect Etrog

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Naftali Berger’s quest for perfection ends in victory when the 24-year-old kollel student enters Tsvi Dahan’s trailer on Wallabout Street in the Haredi Orthodox Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

“Find something wrong with it — find it!” a glowing Berger exclaims Monday as he holds his treasure: a bumpy, lemon-like fruit.

In open-air markets and on tables unfolded on sidewalks in Jewish communities throughout the world, many Jews preparing for Sukkot look for lovely etrogim, the fruit that constitutes the centerpiece of the biblically mandated four species to be blessed during the weeklong holiday.

Many celebrants will take the basic etrogim commonly sold by synagogues, Jewish schools and shops for about $50 for a set that also includes a lulav, myrtle and willow.

Then there are men like Berger, who think nothing of dropping hundreds of dollars on an especially beautiful etrog, which they believe enhances their fulfillment of the mitzvah.

No sooner does Yom Kippur end than such customers seek out Dahan, 38, a resident of Jaffa who owns three hotels in Tel Aviv but has trekked to New York City the past 15 autumns to hawk his high-end etrogim. They are rippled and slightly smooth, hefty and slim, shiny in hue and subdued — in etrog selection, as in life, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Above all, though, Dahan’s etrogim are symmetrical and close to blemish-free — and are pure, ungrafted.

All come from the 200 trees on a half-acre plot of land Dahan leases in Dumdir, a village in southern Morocco, his parents’ homeland. Dahan visits four times a year to monitor their growth and consult with his one full-time employee.

His last visit there preceded Rosh Hashanah, when Dahan selected the crop’s 2,000 best. In a Moroccan hotel room, he categorized the 200 most pristine specimens promising top dollar, examining each for texture, shape and, above all, the slightest of flaws.

He’s not alone catering to the market in Williamsburg, where the primarily Hasidic community is dominated by the Satmar sect, with smaller pockets of Bobov and Vizhnitz. In the weeks before Sukkot, several other storefronts and trailers pop up in the neighborhood, with dealers and growers offering premium etrogim from Israel and Italy, along with Morocco.

Some of the merchants, like Dahan, also market to the haredi Orthodox community in Monsey, a town northwest of New York City.

In the trailer, Berger slides his eyeglasses down near the tip of his nose, the better to inspect the etrog he’s grasping. He takes a cotton swab from a box and dabs at the surface surrounding the pitom, as the stem is known, trying to discern if the pinhead-sized speck he spots is merely a wayward dirt particle or a blemish.

Ten minutes into the inspection, Berger phones his rabbi, detailing his observations in Yiddish. He hangs up, calls again, then returns the etrog to a foam-lined box that he sets aside on a table.

“I’m going to have a cup of coffee and think about it,” Berger says.

Ten minutes later, he returns, seizing another etrog and examining it.

This one is smaller than many others displayed, and the pitom is angled slightly, but Berger is smitten.

“It’s clean — perfectly clean. For me, that’s the most important,” Berger pronounces of the $200 etrog that he calls “a bargain.”

He’ll also take the one he’d reserved earlier — and two more besides for his brothers. He leaves a $200 deposit for the four etrogim, which he takes away for his brothers to examine.

Six blocks down Lee Street, Dahan sits in a vacant storefront, his other temporary outpost in Williamsburg. Two tables host four reading lamps to help customers scrutinize the merchandise. A man who inspects for 45 minutes leaves without purchasing.

Brooklyn Coffee Shop Fed Up with Greedy Jewish ‘Infiltrators’

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

A Brooklyn coffee shop owner justified his anti-Semitic posting on Instagram, where he ranted against Jewish “infiltrators” who “function via greed and dominance” by buying and upgrading homes, resulting in an expensive real estate market.

Bushwick Coffee Shop owner Michael Avila brushed off criticism and raced to post two videos of Jews he’s “in love with,” including Roseanne Barr and a YouTube video that features Jews against Zionism.

See? Avila really is not anti-Semitic.

He said his post on Instagram was a result of complaints by some of his customers about rising house prices. He took aim at two Israelis who were exploring the possibility of buying a building next door to the coffee shop.

“Ok, what I REALLY want to talk about is how to consider the Jews (oh yes, let’s talk about it) who want a piece or all of Bushwick,” he wrote. He declared that Jews “function via greed and dominance.”

His post, part of which is re-published here complete with typos and grammatical mistakes continued, “Bushwick IS rising and progressing, and bettering, but us contributing or just appreciating this rise and over all positive change do not want to be lumped with greedy infiltrators.

Avila, an Hispanic, defended his post by explaining, “It tends to be a lot of Jewish people who are buying buildings here and then turning them into luxury condos, but it could apply to anyone of any race who is trying to be manipulate and self-serving [sic]“

Holy Crisis Intervention From Beyond the Grave

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

A dynamic young man who left this world much earlier than anyone ever expected, still managed to reach from beyond the grave this week to help a fellow Jew.

David Antar, 26, was the youngest son in a Brooklyn-based Syrian Jewish family and least likely to be sick; but he passed away nearly a year ago. Heartbroken family and friends told the story of his life in the few words they could place on the stone cover for his grave.

“Humanitarian. He helped hundreds of people in their time of need… He lived a very short life spent in the service of others.”

There is a tradition among Jews to visit the resting place of departed loved ones during the ten “days of repentance” between Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

In a Sephardic cemetery in Staten Island, New York, Eliot and Shlomit Belilos were visiting the graves of family members on Thursday when they suddenly remembered their friend David had also come to the cemetery this year.

Walking over to pay their respects, they spotted a group of nine men close to Antar’s grave who looked like they were searching for something, Shlomit Belilos related in an interview with JewishPress.com .

“Can we help you?” she asked the group.

“We need a tenth man,” one of the group replied, “and we’re running out of time. We need to say Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead) for a relative here but it is getting late.”

The requirements for reciting Kaddish are specific, and unique. A quorum of ten Jewish males age 13 and up is required. Kaddish cannot be recited without these specific conditions having been met. In the loss of a parent, for the first 11 months the prayer is recited by the bereaved child three times a day, every day, supported by the quorum of ten. In other circumstances the requirements change.

Eliot Belilos had appeared just in time, and more to the point, he was sadly eligible, having lost his father just a couple of years ago. Being familiar with the need for recitation of the Kaddish, he quickly joined the group and Kaddish was recited.

Those in the quorum merited a ‘credit’ for having helped out a fellow Jew and the bereaved merited a credit for having met his obligation to recite Kaddish as he was supposed to. Belilos scored an extra credit for being the tenth man to complete the minyan (quorum).

Coincidence? Yes, of course. But David Antar always had a knack for being in the right place at the right time when something needed to get done fast. Now.

Antar was a drug counselor, a case manager and a crisis intervention specialist. He founded and ran an agency, “C.R.I. Out” in Los Angeles, California, that helped place drug addicts in treatment programs.

He knew what worked and what didn’t, first-hand, because he had already been there — like most really good drug counselors — trying to bury old business he’d spent a lifetime trying to forget. He knew the struggle from “working the program one day at a time,” every day.

On October 28, 2013, Antar didn’t work the program. No one knows why. It cost him his life, but not his soul. That part of him still burns brightly.

On September 3, 2014, somehow David Antar reached out and made sure Kaddish was said for a fellow Jew.

May the memories of all departed loved ones be for a blessing this Yom Kippur Sabbath.

NYC Police Looking into Swastika Fliers in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

(JTA) — New York City police are investigating the distribution of fliers marked with swastikas in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

A member of the Shomrim, a watchdog group affiliated with New York’s haredi Orthodox community, spotted the fliers on Bedford Avenue, a Jewish area of Williamsburg, on Monday evening, according to the JPUpdates news site. The group alerted the police.

Police are reviewing surveillance video to see if they can track the fliers’ distributor, JPUpdates said.

The fliers are marked with a swastika and the word “uber,” which roughly translates as “superior” in German.

Crown Heights Father, 5 Yr Old Son Attacked in ‘Knock-Out’ Game

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

A Jewish father and his five year old son were attacked Tuesday in another round of the ‘knockout game’ as they walked to the little boy’s first day at school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that an alert bystander saw the attack and chased the assailant. He raced after him down President Street, according to the Crown Heights.info website, flagging down a police patrol cruiser along the way. Police officers joined the chase.

The perpetrator was cornered in an apartment building – but that didn’t mean he was ready to give up when police tried to place him under arrest. Instead he resisted violently and police were forced to add a spritz of mace to their efforts to subdue the suspect.

First responders treated the perpetrator on the scene, and the father and son also arrived to identify their attacker and formally press charges.

The neighborhood, home to “770″ – World Headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement, is a racially mixed area which also hosts the city’s West Indian Day Parade each year.

Jordan’s Arab Bank Goes on Trial in NY for Terror Financing

Monday, August 11th, 2014

A worldwide legal earthquake is about to begin in Brooklyn, where the Jordan-based Arab Bank goes on trial today (Monday) for authorizing money transfers from terror entities to Hamas members abroad.

The case, a lawsuit by the families of US victims of terror, has been 10 years in the making and revolves around ‘martyr payments’ to the relatives of Hamas suicide bombers via the Jordan-based Arab Bank through its New York branch during the second intifada.

The plaintiffs claim in their suit the Bank has violated Section 2339B of Title 18 of the US Code, which makes it illegal for an entity within the United States to provide material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations. Hamas is included on that list. Attorney Gary Osen of Osen LLC is the lead attorney in the case.

This is the first-ever civil trial targeting terrorist financing, one that has dragged on for a decade because Arab Bank has worked just that hard to fight it — or at least to delay the proceedings as long as possible. When the Supreme Court rejected the Bank’s petition to hear the case in June, the way was paved for today’s hearing in Brooklyn.

In April 2013, a New York Federal Court penalizing the Bank with an order imposing sanctions for refusing to submit documents for review by the plaintiffs to determine whether they could be used as evidence in the case.

That order raised Cain between three agencies at the federal level in the Obama administration – the US State Department, the Justice Department, and the Treasury Department – as officials tried to decide just how to deal with this delicate but dirty matter that affects not one, but at least two or more of America’s closest allies in the Middle East.

The Bank claimed it refused to submit the documents because it could have violated bank secrecy laws in Jordan and Lebanon. The lower US court was having none of that and ruled a jury could interpret that to mean an automatic admission of guilt on the part of the Bank.

In a pre-trial statement to Forbes, the Bank commented, “The facts show that Arab Bank provided routine banking service in compliance with applicable counter terrorism laws and regulations, and had no intention of providing support to Hamas or any other known terrorist organization.”

The Bank is accused of facilitating massive money transfers from 1998 to 2004 to Hamas leaders and institutions, as well as to the families of jailed Hamas members and suicide bombers. The money allegedly came from insurance benefits provided by the Saudi Committee and the Hezbollah al-Shahid Foundation. Both supported the intifada by providing benefits to the families of those who “martyred” themselves or who became injured or captured by the IDF in the process.

The insurance was “ultimately designed to provide substantial material support to Palestinian terrorist organizations and to provide a meaningful incentive both to prospective recruits and to individuals contemplating the commission of independent acts of violence in the name of the ‘popular resistance’,” according to the complaint, as quoted by Business Insider.

There were five attacks specified in the complaint in which Arab Bank allegedly facilitated money transfers to the relatives of Hamas terrorists. One was the October 2003 case of John Linde Jr., murdered with two other security officers while escorting US diplomats to interview Palestinian Arab candidates for Fulbright Scholarships. The three were killed by an IED (improvised explosive device, also known as a ‘homemade bomb’) in northern Gaza. A second involved 3-year-old Tehilla Nathansen, killed while sitting on her mother’s lap when terrorists blew up the No. 2 bus in Jerusalem in August 2003. A third child, 8th grader Jacob Mandell, was killed in a hail of rocks hurled by attacking Palestinian Arabs along with another friend while hiking in May 2001. And so on.

$50,000 Reward for Capturing Two Suspected Murdered of Rabbi in Miami

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Miami Jewish community members have posted a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of two black male suspects who murdered a visiting New York rabbi after an apparent botched robbery as he walked to synagogue on the Sabbath.

The Jewish Day of rest turned into a day of mourning for the Jewish community of Miami and family of 60-year-old Rabbi Joseph Raskin of Brooklyn, New York.

One man who rushed to his aid after he was shot said that the rabbi told him he was accosted by two men. There are conflicting on whether there was an altercation between the rabbi and the suspects, one of whom shot the rabbi to death. Rabbi Raskin died after being evacuated by helicopter to a nearby hospital.

Orthodox Jews do not carry money with them on Shabbat, but this may not have been known to the two men. Despite statements by police officials that the murder was not fueled by anti-Semitism, many local Jews are skeptical, especially since a nearby synagogue was recently vandalized.

Local Rabbi Moshe Druin told the Miami Herald that many Jews in the community don’t believe anti-Semitism was not behind the crime. Noting that Orthodox Jews do not carry money on the Sabbath, he said, “There hasn’t been a robbery on Sabbath for the past 35 years.”

At this time there is no indication of this being a hate crime,” said Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Elena Hernandez. The Florida branch of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) stated that the murder followed what “appears to be a robbery that went badly and that “currently no evidence has been brought to light that it was motivated by anti-Semitism.”

Rabbi Raskin was visiting his granddaughter and other relatives, and was killed while walking to the Bais Menachem synagogue around 9 a.m. Saturday.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/50000-reward-for-capturing-two-suspected-murdered-of-rabbi-in-miami/2014/08/10/

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