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December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

Why Is the Left So Concerned with Haredi Dropouts?

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Over the past few months, we’ve been inundated with stories about Haredi men and women who can no longer tolerate life inside their sheltered—and at the same time oppressive—communities, and opt instead to live in the big city, go to college, go on the Internet, and subscribe to cable television like the rest of us.

Some of them do it because of their sexual preferences—as was depicted by the touching film “Trembling before God,” others go on NBC to explain how much better off they are with their college degrees and Manhattan careers. It’s all extremely touching as well.

Then there are Modern Orthodox Jews who advocate passionately that these ex-Haredim should try their looser-but-still-religious lifestyle, instead of going “off the road” altogether. I’m sure Conservative and Reform compassion is poured on them, too. No Jew left behind, you know the drill.

If you ask me, there’s something hollow, even vacuous, certainly vulgar, about people who manage their personal relationship with God through newspaper articles and television tidbits (like the recent NBC item). It makes me, personally, feel uncomfortable. It’s like watching someone shopping for a bathing suit – I have no doubt they could use a nice suit, but why must I be made to watch?

But the hyper indulgence of outfits like the Forward and NBC in these stories and confessions and heartbreaking melodramas have very little to do with religious or spiritual soul searching and a whole lot more to do with the Jewish left’s panicky need to do something about the enormous tide of Haredi births, which threaten to drown American Jewry with torrents of cute, little, seemingly identical Haredi babies—in my opinion, the current dispute is only over the point in time in which Haredim will constitute the majority of Jews in America, but nobody questions the fact that that moment will be here, in our lifetime.

By pointing out the shortcomings—some obvious, some less familiar—of the burgeoning Haredi masses, these anxious reporters must prove that the laws of physics are working, and that the Haredi pendulum that has been swinging in an unstoppable curve to the right, must, at some point, give in to the laws of gravity and entropy and start swinging back.

And so, the refugees from Lee Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for their self-indulgent reasons, are collaborating with the anxious, Jewish left, to make history more palatable.

Here is the most recent contribution to this genre, “Why I Am Not Modern Orthodox,” by Shulem Deen, on the Forward’s blog dedicated to “conversations about the Jewish tomorrow” (where Shimon Peres meets Zabar’s? — thanks to my friend Larry Yudelson for the link and the quote, I originally thought it was written by Larry, only to be told otherwise by our readers):

“What many ex-Haredim are saying, then, to religious leaders and religious communities and religious lifestyles of all kinds: We have lost the trust necessary to embrace your religious views, however moderate they might be. We have lost faith in your ability to convey truths, just as we have lost faith in the Haredi worldview with which we were raised. We have rejected that which demands trust but does not recognize the need to earn it; dogmas and assertions simply declared as truths, be they Satmar or Modern Orthodox, Chabad or Renewal.”

This note aggressively depicts that mission in well phrased protests good enough to be pinned, Martin Luther style, on the oak doors of the main Satmar synagogue. But while I recognize the validity of these protests, I don’t believe they are valid—as he seems to argue—in describing the actual motivation of even a single Haredi dropout.

My own experience with young men and women leaving the fold has been that their departure was over sexual choices – looking to date more freely, yearning to explore their sexual identity, over education, over love of music, over just needing to have more fun in their lives. I doubt very seriously that anyone has decided to move to Manhattan over their loss of trust in their religious Sherpa.

I think Deen very much engages in these issues of mistrust, and he is absolutely on the money regarding their seriousness. In fact, I would venture that this loss of trust in our leaders is common to all of us, religious Jews. When a chief rabbi today is up on charges in Israel for embezzlement and the Jewish world is yawning in disinterest—it must mean that we are simply not surprised that such a man would do such things. So, we expect our rabbis to be scoundrels—what does that have to do with keeping kosher or driving on Shabbat?

Flatbush Yeshiva: Bumping Students from Plane Was not Anti-Semitic

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

The decision to eject the senior class of the Yeshiva of Flatbush in Brooklyn from a flight was not anti-Semitic, an internal school report found.

AirTran Airways “abused its discretion” in forcing the 101 students off the early morning flight June 3 to their senior trip in Atlanta, according to the report, obtained by the Times of Israel and authored by the yeshiva’s executive director, Rabbi Seth Linfield.

Flight attendants said the students did not stay seated and continued to use their mobile devices in advance of takeoff, despite their requests as well as from the captain. The report found that students erred by not turning off their cellphones.

“At no time did the students disrespect the flight crew in words or tone — beyond not immediately complying with the directives… to turn off all electronic devices,” the report said, according to the report.

The yeshiva said the airline crew rejected offers of assistance from the seven school chaperones in controlling the students and that the medias headline the incident because of claims that the airplane officials acted out of anti-Semitism.

The yeshiva apologized to AirTran, a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines, “to the extent that any of our students behaved in a way that was perceived by the flight crew to be disrespectful or disobedient.”

It also praised AirTran for giving vouchers to the students to continue on to Atlanta and working to rebook them.

One in Five NY Jews Live in Poverty

Friday, June 7th, 2013

A new report shows that 20 percent of Jewish households in the New York metropolitan area are poor, a figure only marginally lower than the rate in the general population.

The report released Thursday by UJA-Federation of New York found more than 560,000 people living in 200,000 poor or near-poor Jewish households, a figure that represents a doubling of the number of people living in poor Jewish households since 1991, despite only a 14 percent increase in the Jewish population. The report also found nearly half of children in Jewish households live in poor or near-poor conditions.

Among all residents of the New York area, some 25 percent live in poor households, the report said.

“The sheer scale of Jewish poverty in the New York area is immense, and the Jewish community has a sacred responsibility to care for those in need,” said John Ruskay, UJA-Federation’s executive vice president and CEO.

The report found that the largest group of poor Jewish households in New York is Russian-speaking seniors, followed by Hasidim and non-Russian-speaking seniors.

Though the report acknowledges that contemporary American poverty does not typically result in “extreme deprivation,” it does note that 14 percent of poor and 9 percent of near-poor say they cannot make ends meet.

“In the most affluent society in history, this should not be acceptable,” the report said.

The report defines poor households as those earning less than 150 percent of the 2010 federal poverty guideline.

‘Non-Compliant’ NY Yeshiva Students Ejected from Flight

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

The senior class of Yeshiva of Flatbush in Brooklyn was kicked off a flight Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Atlanta on Monday for being “non-compliant.”

Flight attendants said the students did not stay seated and continued to use their mobile devices in advance of takeoff, despite their requests as well as from the captain.

Chaperones interviewed by CNN said the flight crew overreacted and that some of the 101 students had to be told twice to sit down and turn off their devices, but that they all complied.

One of the students, Jonathan Zehavi, told CNN that the class was targeted because they were identifiably Jewish.

“They treated us like we were terrorists; I’ve never seen anything like it,” Zehavi said. “I’m not someone to make these kinds of statements. I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”

The airline gave the students travel vouchers to continue on to their trip’s destination. The students went on several different flights, some taking up to 12 hours to meet up with the group.

Street Poll: Jewish Voters Divided on Brother Anthony

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

On Sunday, the media were given a unique opportunity to assess Anthony Weiner’s support among Jewish voters. At the Celebrate Israel parade on 5th avenue, the WSJ and the Daily News conducted many interviews with Jewish voters who had mixed feelings about the only Jewish candidate running for mayor in the Democratic primary.

“I have no desire to vote for him,” said Alan Walz, a 54-year-old legal assistant who lives in Queens. “Whether he’s Jewish or not is irrelevant to me. It’s about whether he’d make a good mayor, and based on his indiscretions, I won’t put him in office. He’s already made his bed.”

“The thing you most need in a mayor … is moral integrity, and this man has trampled on integrity,” said Sandy Lebowitz of Midwood, Brooklyn, once Weiner’s political base. “How dare he come here because it’s [politically] convenient.”

Karen Gordon of Riverdale, the Bronx, also said Weiner was unwelcome. “He embarrassed himself, and someone like that shouldn’t be elected,” she said.

“In some ways, your community is the one that’s going to judge you the harshest,” one prominent Jewish leader. told the Daily News,  “There’s a Yiddish word for it: shonda. It’s like a shame to the community.”

Others were more forgiving.

“I was disappointed when he quit, so I’m glad he’s back,” said Ellen Kamaras, a 57-year-old accountant in the Brooklyn section of Mr. Weiner’s old district. “Not that I’m condoning what he did, but I always thought that he was good for the community.”

“Weiner for mayor!” yelled Jack Gindi of Flatbush, Brooklyn, who said he could ignore Weiner’s personal foibles.

“The man can and has served well for the people of New York City, and what he does in his private life and whatever else he’s done in the past, I’m willing to overlook for the sake of New York City,” he said.

Queens Rabbi Moses Birnbaum predicted many Jews would end up as Weiner followers, if not on Twitter. “Judaism believes in redemption,” he said. “As far as the unfortunate episode over the Internet, a lot of my people have said the media have fixated on this, when you consider the people serving in Congress who have violated laws, like tax laws, they think he shouldn’t have resigned.” Speaking to reporters Sunday before marching in the parade. Mr. Weiner played down any specific appeal he has to Jews. “I’m very comfortable with the issues that are important to middle-class voters in this city, and I’ve represented a district that had a heavy Jewish population for my entire career,” Mr. Weiner said. “But frankly the things I’m talking about in this campaign are unifying themes. It doesn’t matter where you live, it doesn’t matter what your faith is, you probably believe that this city has become harder for the middle class to live in.”

Hikind Joins Bloggers to Accuse Greenfield as a Phony Blogger

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

“I’m not insinuating that David is the only person that uses the Dov Gordon pen name, but as it pertains to politics, he is far and away the only person writing about inside baseball,” Stefanie Fedak, Greenfield’s former chief of staff, told the CityandStateNY website.

Greenfield laid off Fedak 18 months ago, and now Fedak is spilling the beans.

Greenfield confirmed Fedak’s version, according to a source close to the city councilman and who was quoted by CityandState.

However, an official statement from a spokesperson for Greenfield staged to the website, “Your story is a vicious lie being spread by an obsessed and disgruntled former staffer who was fired nearly two years ago. The Clintons have Vince Foster nuts, President Obama has his crazy birthers and Councilman Greenfield has lunatics who think he writes daily news columns while maintaining a very public 70-hour-a-week work schedule. All of these conspiracy theorists should be institutionalized.”

“Dov Gordon” is a frequent blogger for Yeshiva World News.

State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, far from a close friend of Greenfield, alleged that Yeshiva World’s coverage of him “mean-spirited” and “degrading.”

“You can criticize me; that’s not the issue, we can all be criticized at times,” Hikind said in an interview with the website’s Nick Powell. “This is way beyond that … this is someone with an agenda. … One of the most interesting things is, there’s one person who’s always very popular with Dov Gordon: David Greenfield.”

So who is Dov Gordon?

CityandState searched but did not come up with a final answer.

Powell wrote, “City & State searched public records for people named Dov Gordon, but was unable to identify anyone with that name who admitted to writing for Yeshiva World.

“A report by journalist Ross Barkan refers to a Dov Gordon as the spokesperson for an organization called Save Flatbush, which ran an ad in the Jewish newspaper Hamodia condemning the City Council’s proposed redistricting of south Brooklyn.

“The report, including an interview with this Dov Gordon, was posted on Barkan’s blog in February, two months after Pete Appel had speculated whether Greenfield might be Dov Gordon. City & State sent an email to Save Flatbush asking if the Dov Gordon that worked for the organization also wrote for Yeshiva World, but received no response.

“The Flatbush Jewish Journal also posted a letter to the editor from someone named Dov Gordon in late January. The letter criticizes unnamed elected officials for failing residents in a redistricting process that had allowed the community to be divided up.”

Brooklyn Woman Admits Stealing $1 Million from Jewish Cemetery

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

A Brooklyn woman pleaded guilty to charges that she stole $1 million from a Jewish cemetery on Staten Island.

Ilana Friedman, 51, admitted to grand larceny in Staten Island Supreme Court on Tuesday. Friedman, former director of the United Hebrew Cemetery, stole the money over a six-year period.

Friedman and her husband, Arthur, the cemetery’s former president, agreed to pay $1.1 million in restitution. Arthur Friedman did not face charges of theft, DNAInfo reported, but court papers accused him of failing to oversee his wife’s activities.

“The Friedmans abused their posts at this Staten Island cemetery to enrich themselves,” New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “This law-breaking husband-and-wife team will now pay for their shameless misconduct.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/brooklyn-woman-admits-stealing-1-million-from-jewish-cemetery/2013/04/18/

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