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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Crown Heights’

NJ Chabad Rabbinical Student Killed in Garbage Truck Accident

Monday, February 24th, 2014

A New Jersey rabbinical student on his way to morning prayers was struck by a garbage truck and killed in Brooklyn.

Gedalia Gruntzweig, 25, a student at Tiferes Bachurim, a Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva in Morristown, was visiting friends in Crown Heights on Sunday for a pre-wedding party.

Gruntzweig, a Ukraine native, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cars driving near the scene indicated that Gruntzweig had the right of way, but witnesses said the truck driver, who was attempting to make a right turn, did not see him, according to the New York Daily News. The driver remained at the scene and no summonses were issued.

The Department of Sanitation released a statement sending its “deepest condolences to the family … and the entire Crown Heights community.”

Kill the Quest for ‘Chill’

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Single frum male seeks female who is chill. That’s the description that plagues a particular stack of resumes found in the homes of matchmakers throughout every Jewish community. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about Flatbush, Crown Heights, Williamsburg, the Upper West Side, Toronto, Miami, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Israel, etc. This desire to find a “chill” girl is everywhere.

When examined, this seemingly vague description can really be a code for many things. Unfortunately, these things are primarily irrelevant and some are just completely unrealistic. More importantly, if this is you, then you need to take a step back and put on your safety goggles because I am about to burst your bubble. Here goes. No female, young or old, is “chill” after marriage. Final answer.

Ouch – did that snippet of reality sting? Are you in disbelief? Now, I will say that many women are clever and can easily appear to be “chill.” Why? We can multitask – it’s our superhero power. We get things done and we handle our responsibilities. Hence, we begin to grow into our own unique manifestation of our husband’s Aishes Chayil.

What kills the chill? Some married men may believe that they married someone who began as very chill. So, what killed the chill? For new wives, the post-marriage non-chill mode may stem from the self-imposed pressure to perfect their ability to prepare their husbands shabbos favorites while learning how to coordinate an open home for regular visitors and random guests.

What originally seems like fun can quickly turn into a buzz kill. Hence, there is nothing glamorous about coping with the responsibility of balancing everything that one takes on in marriage: maintaining a home, dealing with in-laws and navigating your community as a couple. Scheduling conflicts for new couples can be tricky as well.

For the slightly post newlywed couple, this “non-chill” trigger can mean kids. You, BH, iy”H, have them but then you have to balance them. Then when you, iy”H, have more of them you must strive to somehow keep your world together while doing everything else (work, cooking, cleaning – oh, yea and actually talking to your spouse). Then as the years of your relationship goes on, more pressure is added.

So, again, let me say – basing your search for a partner on their ability to be “chill,” is definitely wrong. Warning: This may be you or it may be the hang-up of your otherwise perfect-catch that keeps their status set to single. Searching for a “no pressure” mate is something that may seem to make sense until you actually examine the thought process behind it and what you would really get if you accomplished such a task.

What’s behind the chill? “Chill,” that’s the word. That’s the term that acts as a crutch. It’s an easy was to say I want to be married but I need to find someone who will put no pressure on me.

What’s the big problem here? There are many big problems here. What is one big problem? The feeling of “pressure.” This feeling, like all feelings is a person’s own reaction to a situation. In life, Hashem gave us a big blessing. He gave us free will. In this case, it means that we get to choose our own reactions. This includes the feeling of pressure. You feel it, because you perceive a situation in a particular way. However, your perception is an opinion and not a fact. And, as we all know, opinions can be changed. If you can’t escape the feeling of pressure then embrace it as the blessing it is.

NYC Councilwoman-Elect: ‘Knockout’ Triggered by Jewish Success

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

New York City Councilwoman-Elect Lauri Cumbo will be representing a portion of Crown Heights in Brooklyn beginning this January.

Cumbo took on a highly emotionally-charged topic in a long letter she sent to her constituents.  She posted that letter on her Facebook page – it has since been removed but is still available here – in which she discussed her understanding about the origins of what is widely referred to as the “Knockout Game.” Most of the Knockout attacks in New York City have taken place in Crown Heights. The New York City media outlet The Gothamist addressed the issue at length.

Knockout is a crime in which teens, seeking to gain notoriety, attempt to punch into unconsciousness a random victim. There is no theft. The sole goal is to, with a single punch to the head, “knockout” a blameless victim.

In New York City, at least, the victims have been largely, though not exclusively, Jewish.  Virtually all of the perpetrators have been African Americans.

Cumbo explained in her Facebook post that while campaigning in her district this past summer, she heard from many African American and Caribbean residents of a resentment felt towards the other minority in the Crown Heights community – Jews.

That resentment was attributed to “Jewish success” and the sense that “Jewish landlords” will push out their black tenants in favor of Jewish tenants. Cumbo relayed what she heard about this resentment at a town hall meeting about the Blackout problem. She offered that view because, she wrote, it was her view that resentment towards this  “Jewish success” could be at least part of what is fueling the hostility which leads to African American and Caribbean youths engaging in Knockout.

Cumbo goes to some length to declare her own respect for the Jewish people. She explained that pointing out the resentment, for her, is an effort to help to honestly explore the origin of the violent trend. Here is part of Cumbo’s explanation:

I admire the Jewish community immensely. I am particularly inspired by the fact that the Jewish community has not assimilated to the dominant American culture, and has preserved their religious and cultural values while remaining true to themselves. I respect and appreciate the Jewish community’s family values and unity that has led to strong political, economic and cultural gains. While I personally regard this level of tenacity, I also recognize that for others, the accomplishments of the Jewish community triggers feelings of resentment, and a sense that Jewish success is not also their success.

Cumbo was not excusing the violent behavior.  But she was resentful that the media attention given to the Knockout events had caused it to become a racially divisive issue.  In part, she blamed a Nov. 26 article in The Jewish Week for that focus on race.

Over the past month many black leaders in Crown Heights and throughout the City of New York have come out squarely, publicly, against the Knockout trend. See the video at the end of this article from a Nov. 18 press conference held by African American community leaders speaking out against the crime.

Cumbo wrote in her public letter that she wanted to play a role in bringing together the different racial groups in her constituency. She said that she wants them to move forward towards a better relationship than what they currently have.  Where she places the blame for the violence is worth noting. This is how she described it:

As an African American woman, this is challenging, because I recognize that it is Black children and not Jewish children that are playing the “Knock Out Game.” Why is this? In many ways governmental neglect, outside uncontrolled influences and failed leadership have led to the breakdown that so many young people of color are currently facing. I feel torn because I feel apart of the very system that has caused the destructive path that so many young people have decided to take while I am simultaneously demanding that they be arrested by that same system.

Former Congressman Eliot Spitzer commented on Cumbo’s Facebook posting.  He was highly supportive. He also mentioned that when Cumbo first thought about running for office he spoke with her about “different issues in the Jewish community.” Five people “liked” Spitzer’s comment – including Spitzer.

Here is the video from the Nov. 18 press conference of African American Crown Heights community leaders condemning – unequivocally – the Knockout violence.

12 Yr Old Jew Not Knockout Victim, Attacker Bullied to Attack Him

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

On Nov. 6, a 12 year old Crown Heights Jewish boy was punched in the face on the streets of Brooklyn. After striking the victim, the attacker and his accomplice ran off.

On Monday, Nov. 25, the perpetrator of the attack was arrested.  The good news: the 12 year old was not the victim of the “Knockout Game.” The bad news: the 12 year old was punched in the face by a 13 year old black boy who was “bullied into assaulting the victim.”

“His friends told him that if he did not hit someone he would not get any respect, and he was repeatedly made fun of until he did,” according to a local news source.

Don’t you feel better?

The 13 year old was charged with assault and aggravated harassment and sent home with his mother to await trial.

Rebbetzin Devorah, Wife of Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Aide Rabbi Yehuda, Laid to Rest

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Rebbetzin Devorah Krinsky, wife of chief aide to the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, passed away on Friday night at the age of 74.

Rebbetzin Devorah returned her soul to its maker after the Friday night Kiddush was recited at her bedside, surrounded by her husband, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky – who still serves as Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel educational and social services – and their children.

Rebbetzin Devorah’s parents, Rabbi Zev and Etta Kasinetz, provided space for early Lubavitch work from their home in Brooklyn’s Brownsville in the late 1930’s and 40’s, according to an article in Chabad’s COLlive.

She was described by COLlive as the pillar of her home, and a constant partner in the work of her husband.  “Her warmth and humor, her quick wit, practical common sense, and her concern for others complemented her dignified comportment,” the article written on the  occasion of her death said.

Rebbetzin Devorah is survived by Rabbi Yehuda, her children Rabbi Hillel Dovid of Crown Heights, Mrs. Sheine Friedman of Crown Heights, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Crown Heights, Rabbi Levi of Lubavitch of New Hampshire, Mrs. Chana Futerfas of Crown Heights, Rabbi Shmaya of Crown Heights, and her grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as her brother Rabbi Moshe Kasinetz, founder of Suburban Torah Center in Livingston, New Jersey.

Rebbetzin Devorah’s funeral took place on Sunday at noon, leaving from Shomrei Hadas Chapels and passing by Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway.  She was laid to rest at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens.

The shiva house is located at 729 Montgomery Street in Brooklyn, and will be open from 11am on Monday through Friday.

COLlive listed prayer times at the home as follows:

Shachris: 8:00, 8:45, 9:30, 10:00

Mincha: 15 Minutes before sunset

Maariv: After nightfall

Those wishing to send condolences to the family are also encouraged to write to krinskyfam@gmail.com.

NY Jewish Boroughs Voted Romney

Monday, November 26th, 2012

An analysis of a recent New York Times article examining the presidential voting trends of all the New York precincts determined that almost all Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney over Democratic incumbent Barack Obama.

According to an article by Front Page Mag, Romney won over 90 percent of the Jewish votes in Borough Park, Williamsburg, Flatbush, Crown Heights, Manhattan Beach, Belle Harbor, Howard Beach, Kew Garden Hills, Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.

The article noted that support for Romney was irrespective of the level of income of the neighborhoods.

Chabad Women Rocking in ‘Bulletproof Stockings’ (Video)

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Rocking custom sheitels and opaque tights, and walking the sidewalks of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Dalia Shusterman and Perl Wolfe have the Hasidic world talking – and singing along to the tunes of their Hasidic alternative rock girl band, Bulletproof Stockings.

Featured in the New York Post and the Times of Israel in the last month, Shusterman, the recently widowed mother of four boys under the age of 8 and Wolfe, a young divorcee, appear the picture of Chabad normalcy.

But while their influences are rather “unorthodox” – Radio Head, Jane’s Addiction, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, they are not.  While they do not appear to fill the conventional roles typically adhered to by the women of Chabad Lubavitch, and have raised concerns that they may be poor role models to young Jewish women, Shusterman and Wolfe maintain their commitment to doing things Torah-style.

Their soulful crooning is women-only, in accordance with the rabbinic prohibition of “kol isha”, making live singing performances by women off-limits to men.  They said they don’t view the restriction as a limitation, however, viewing it rather as an opportunity for women to commune in an environment of free expression.

In their interviews, the duo said they hope other Jewish women will get musical, and shed the misconception that Jewish women do not sing or perform.

Shusterman is a veteran percussionist on the indie rock scene who found Chabad Lubavitch in September 2001, when a chassid handed her a flyer for a Sukkot event in Crown Heights.  She fell in love with Jewish spirituality, and a man she met that night, and ended up the wife of a rabbi and mother of four boys.  Her husband passed away in the spring.

Wolfe was a rebellious teen who left the Chabad path her music-loving ba’al teshuva parents had forged for her. She came back to observance after a year in Israel, and ultimately returned to Crown Heights in 2008 after her marriage fell apart.

Wolfe, the singer and song writer, says her songs are inspired by the Torah and by her Lubavitch faith.  She says she prays before she writes lyrics, asking God to inspire her with messages which will be meaningful to her audience.

Listen to Bulletproof Stockings on Myspace.

So Different Yet Similar

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Music played loudly while the men danced. On the women’s side of the mechitzah, we tried to speak over the sounds. I leaned over the table to hear what my co-worker’s wife was saying.

“Well, because we are both Belz, it just made sense,” Zeldy said with a smile, then continued picking at the chicken on her plate.

“The Belzer Rebbe even had a hand in our shidduch; he told both of our parents that it was a good idea.”

“By the time a young couple meets,” another woman, Toby, piped in, “the families know so much about each other. All that remains is for the couple to meet. They sometimes even get engaged that night. I remember when my brother was about to meet a girl for the first time, I caught my mother buying candy for a party, and I said, ‘Ma! You’ve already decided they’re getting engaged?’ But they actually did. They got engaged that night!” Toby said with a laugh.

Wow, I thought to myself. We come from such different worlds.

When I arrived home that night after the bar mitzvah of my boss’s son, I thought to myself how interesting it had been to interact with other Jews – but how strange it was not knowing much at all about their lifestyle.

Growing up as a second-generation Lubavitcher in Houston, the only chassidim to whom I had been exposed were the Chabad rabbis in my community. (And I never met the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who lived in New York from 1941 until his passing in 1994.)

My hometown community is an eclectic mix of observant Jews from various backgrounds, and as a child I was exposed to secular ideas and curriculums. Then, while attending a Lubavitch seminary in Israel, I observed other chassidim from afar.

I soon moved to Crown Heights to live near friends while attending university, and picked up the concentrated Lubavitch culture fairly quickly.

It was only four years later, when working alongside Belz, Satmar, and Bobov chassidim for a magazine based in Boro Park, that I developed an intense curiosity about the customs and lifestyle of these chassidim that seemed so different from my own.

Everything from their pronunciation of the holidays to the different ways they each curled their peyos to the mayonnaise-packed dishes for sale every few shops made me dizzy.

The chassidim around me at work periodically gave me a glimpse into their culture, but all I could see was how vastly theirs differed from mine. Still, I continued to observe them from a distance, figuring they valued their privacy.

Earlier that week I had attended a Satmar wedding. Everything seemed so new and exciting to me, but there was something that bothered me. These are my fellow Jews, I thought. Why do their ways seem so foreign to me?

Separate seating I was used to. The chuppah was traditionally Jewish. The fathers swayed back and forth in deep concentration as the bride approached the groom, stepping to the side as she encircled him seven times. The women looked radiant, angelic.

But some of the customs were, well, different. The mothers walked the bride down to the chuppah with an extra covering on their heads. The bride came down to the wedding reception with a wig on, her hair nowhere to be seen.

I had seen some of the customs before, of course. But there was a certain innocence, a purity I sensed, that made me yearn to know these people better. I looked at the girls around me and I ached inside; I didn’t quite know my own sisters, whom I loved nonetheless.

I decided to spend a Shabbos in Boro Park.

* * * * *

After lighting candles on Friday night, I left the house where I was staying to walk quickly through the raindrops to my co-worker’s house. Every person I passed rushed by me, looking in the other direction.

Soon I realized they were all men, so I should not expect a greeting nor should I offer one – of any kind. Men and women keep to their own gender in this neighborhood, I reminded myself. Greetings cannot be called out like in my hometown. Finally I spotted a woman and called out, “Good Shabbos,” to which she smiled and wished me the same.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/so-different-yet-similar/2012/06/27/

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