(Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from “History of Brooklyn Jewry” by Samuel P. Abelow, Scheba Publishing Company, Brooklyn, 1937.)
Today Brooklyn is fortunate to have a large number of yeshivas and Bais Yaakovs that span the spectrum from Modern Orthodox to haredi and chassidic. Jewish parents thus have a wide range of educational choices for their children. The situation in the 1930s was considerably different. There were, of course, fewer yeshivas, and hence parental choice was much more limited.
Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin
Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin (or Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin) was established in 1904 as Yeshiva Tiferes Bachurim. It is the oldest yeshiva in Kings County. At the suggestion of Rabbi Meir Berlin (Bar-Ilan) it was renamed in memory of his brother, Rabbi Chaim Berlin, the chief rabbi of Moscow who had moved to Jerusalem in 1906. (Rabbi Bar-Ilan lived in the United States from 1913 to 1923.)
In 1937 the yeshiva was located at 1890 Prospect Place. “Thousands of boys have gone forth from its portals to practice and to spread the teachings of the Bible, the Prophets, the Talmud, and of the leading rabbis in Israel. The history of the organization has been a struggle for funds and for public sympathy. Within the last few years, this struggle has been an intense one. Many a time did the instructors spend payless weeks, because it was not possible for the officers to collect the dues or the donations that were promised to meet the yearly budget of $60,000. [Nearly one million dollars today.]
“When the yeshiva was organized, the parents had to be coaxed and cajoled into enrolling their sons. The parents feared that the curriculum would be too severe and impossible for American children. They also feared that the secular work of the children would suffer. Time and experience proved these fears to be groundless. Besides the hundreds of graduates who have become lawyers, doctors, rabbis, and cultured gentlemen, the graduates of the yeshiva are feeding such movements as the Adas Bnai Israel and Young Israel. The English department of the yeshiva has sustained itself. The graduates distinguish themselves in the high schools and do very well in college.”
[This last paragraph says much about the attitude of parents during the first part of the twentieth century regarding the importance of yeshiva education. Many parents resisted sending their sons to a yeshiva because they felt attending yeshiva would hinder their sons’ ability to integrate into American society. They felt that sending their children to public school was the way to accomplish this. They failed to realize that without a proper Jewish education their children most likely would reject traditional Judaism.]
“The cost of maintaining the yeshiva is very large. During 1932, the total expense was $49,699, of which amount $36,510 went for instruction. The income for the year was $41,431. The institution ran at a deficit of over $8,000. This meant hardship for the instructors and the children. Nevertheless, the teachers and the staff carried on.
“The faculty consisted in 1933 of the principal, Isidore K. Zwickel, and the following teachers: Abraham Kaplan, M. Ahlich, Joseph Wahrman, Samuel Kaplan, David Kalawitz, Solomon Tanrubsky, Abraham Guslik, Ben-Zion Wienokur, Hyman Rivlin, Ben Zion Tepper, Michael Shranpulski, Eleazar Bzdondsky, and Meyer Franim.
“The success of the institution is due to a large extent to the officers who work unselfishly for the cause of Judaism. They derive no material profit from their labors which they give during their leisure moments. They give not only time but money for the development of the institution. Similar to other institutions, the Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin has several very active auxiliaries: the Ladies’ Auxiliary, Parents’ Association, Women’s Welfare and Social Club, and an Alumni Association.”
Hillary and Bernie locked horns, clashed, yelled and smashed into each other almost literally last night in Brooklyn, NY. There were cheap shots and there were deep cuts. It can be safely said that the behavioral gap between the Democratic and Republican debates have narrowed significantly, so neither side can claim the high ground any longer. As to the portion of the debate in which we were most interested, US-Israeli relations, we must agree Hillary made us feel a little safer. Sanders started off from the point of view of B’Tselem and J Street, while Hillary at this point is a little to the right of J Street. After last night’s debate, if you’re a Democrat who cares about Israel, we advise you to buy an industrial size laundry clip, put it on your nose and vote for Bill’s wife. Not because we endorse her, we really really don’t, but she scares us a little less than Bernie does.
And now, to what they actually said last night about how they’d like to finally bring peace to the region…
Blitzer: Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.”
What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?
Sanders: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.
But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.
Heckler: Free Palestine!
Sanders: Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else.
Sanders: And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run — and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.
Sanders: So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people.
That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think…
Blitzer: … Thank you, Senator…
Sanders: …to an approach that works in the Middle East.
Blitzer: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, end its disproportionate responses?
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Clinton: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with…
Clinton: President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages.
They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.
So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist tact, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.
That does not mean — that does not mean that you don’t take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there’s always second guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and…
Blitzer: … Thank you…
Clinton: … just let me finish. The rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the Late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister Barat put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.
Blitzer: Thank you, Senator, go ahead — go ahead, Senator.
Sanders: I don’t think that anybody would suggest that Israel invites and welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue.
And, you evaded the answer. You evaded the question. The question is not does Israel have a right to respond, nor does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism. That’s not the debate. Was their response disproportionate?
I believe that it was, you have not answered that.
Clinton: I will certainly be willing to answer it. I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible.
I’m not saying it’s anything other than terrible. It would be great — remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.
Clinton: And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.
So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.
Blitzer: Thank you, Secretary.
Sanders: I read Secretary Clinton’s statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech.
Sanders: So here is the issue: of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long-term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people.
That is what I believe the world wants to us do and that’s the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise.
Clinton: Well, if I — I want to add, you know, again describing the problem is a lot easier than trying to solve it. And I have been involved, both as first lady with my husband’s efforts, as a senator supporting the efforts that even the Bush administration was undertaking, and as secretary of state for President Obama, I’m the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel.
There were only four of us in the room, Netanyahu, Abbas, George Mitchell, and me. Three long meetings. And I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.
I was absolutely focused on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.
Blitzer: A final word, Senator, go ahead.
Sanders: There comes a time — there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.
Clinton: … you know, I have spoken about and written at some length the very candid conversations I’ve had with him and other Israeli leaders. Nobody is saying that any individual leader is always right, but it is a difficult position.
If you are from whatever perspective trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist, that is a very difficult challenge.
Blitzer: Senator, go ahead.
Sanders: You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. And I think, again, it is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Clinton and others, Jimmy Carter and others have tried to do the right thing.
All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.
Republican presidential hopeful and Ohio Governor John Kasich visited Haredi Brooklyn on Tuesday, including stops at a Jewish bookstore, a school and a shmura matzah bakery. There, at the matzah bakery, where 18 minute discs of unleavened dough are hand-made with the proper spiritual intent by kosher Jews, for the crowd that wouldn’t touch a machine-made matzah on Passover, there is where cultures and religions clashed.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful holiday for our friends in the Jewish community – the Passover,” Kasich told reporters after his tour of the matzah bakery, holding a box of precious, fresh “shmura matzah” in his hands. Then he proceeded, quite naturally, into a mini sermon about the connection between the Passover blood and the blood of you-know-who.
“The great link between the blood that was put above the lampposts (he meant the doorposts, or mezuzahs to you and me) — the blood of the lamb, because Jesus Christ is known as the lamb of God. It’s his blood, we believe …”
That was it. At least that’s all that the YouTube clip allows us to see of the Kasich visit’s Christian sermon part.
Publicist Ezra Friedlander tried to soften the blow for the press, as JTA’s Uriel Heilman, who was quite stunned by the blood of the lamb thing, described it.
“He’s very knowledgeable and he takes his religion very seriously,” Friedlander told Heilman. “In context, I thought it was appropriate.”
According to Heilman, Kasich also emphasized his points by shaking the box of shmura matzah, turning it into “shvura (broken) matza.” Considering how much these things cost on the week before the seder, he probably didn’t understand why folks were ogling him like he was using a Fabergé egg to hammer in a couple of nails.
At the bookstore, according to Heilman, Kasich told a group of young religious men, “You know who I like? Joseph. You guys like Joseph? You study Joseph? What do you think about Joseph? Did you hear the most important thing Joseph said to his brothers?” And the governor provided the answer, saying Joseph told his brothers, “My brothers, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
In other words, Kasich, a Roman Catholic turned Anglican, was actually implying for the benefit of his potential Jewish voters, that even though you people crucified you- know-who, it’s all good in the end.
Jimmy Kimmel: Between the hipster community and the Hasidic community, Brooklyn is by far the most bearded spot in New York. We thought we’d have some fun with this by playing an audience guessing game called “Hipster or Hasidic?”
As the JewishPress.com reported earlier, just about at the close of Shabbat in Israel, two Arab terrorists stabbed a 17-year-old Israeli as he and a friend were leaving the Kotel after evening prayers.
It is now known that the Israeli victim was a student at Magen Shaul Nokdim, a pre-army mechina, and had become an Israeli citizen just one month ago. The young man was listed in fair to good condition when he was taken to Hadassah Medical Center’s Mount Scopus campus.
The victim’s name had not yet been released as his family, back in Brooklyn, were still observing Shabbat.
The 17-year-old said that despite having been the victim of a terrorist stabbing, he would not be deterred from his plan to join the IDF.
According to Walla, the stabbing victim was able to speak about the attack from his medical bed: “I did not see him [the stabber], he came from behind and stabbed. There were two stabbers, they were young.”
He also said that that he was unafraid, and that “now I’m enlisting in the army and I will give everything.” He hopes to join an elite unit in the Israeli Defense Forces. “God willing, I want to join the Sayeret Matkal,” he said.
As reported earlier, two Arab teenagers, both minors, have been taken into custody for interrogation relating to this terrorist attack.
Vandals spray-painted a swastika on a statue outside an Olympia, Washington synagogue, and an anti-Semite punched an Orthodox Jewish student in the face in two high-profile hate attacks in the United States this week.
The college student was treated on the scene, with the help of a Muslim woman student. The attacker fled.
The statue in Washington stands outside Olympia’s Temple Beth HaTfiloh.
Seth Goldstein, the temple’s spiritual leader wrote in a blog post:
A swastika is not mere vandalism — it is a symbol of hatred with deep resonance with Jews and shakes us to our core, especially in a community in which we are constantly reminded of our minority status.
The incident at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College occurred when an unidentified black man bumped into an Orthodox Jewish student from behind. When the student turned around, the attacker punched him twice in the face and stomach while snarling at him for being “white and Jewish.”
College President Rudy Crew seemed to be thrilled at the chance to be politically correct and boast how a Muslim helped an Orthodox Jew.
The fact that a Muslim woman came to the defense of an orthodox Jewish man is a true reflection of the values that permeate this great institution.
Is it really such a tremendous event in the United States when a Muslim helps a Jew?