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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Parkway’

’770′ Stabber Kept Saying ‘Kill the Jews’

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

The stabbing of 22-year-old Israeli rabbinical student Levi Yitzchok Rosenblat at 1:37 am Tuesday morning in the synagogue at Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters was a hate crime, and not a random attack, according to Chabad officials, but nevertheless, leaders urged the community to remain “calm” and “keep the peace.”

The stabber, 50-year-old Calvin Peters attacked Rosenblat, a resident of Beitar Illit, in the downstairs sanctuary of the Chassidic movement’s world-famous building “770” Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Officers in a mobile police base directly across the street from “770” saw the attack unfold on the security screens in front of their eyes before racing to stop the bloodshed.

A spokesperson for Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters told JewishPress.com Tuesday night the young Israeli rabbinical student was studying in the synagogue when the attacker approached him and stabbed him.

“According to witnesses he was heard saying repeatedly “Kill the Jews,” said Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesperson for Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters. “Several other individuals immediately intervened.”

By then, Rosenblat was in critical condition from multiple stab wounds. His condition has since stabilized and he is currently hospitalized at Bellevue Medical Center in Manhattan, where he is listed in serious but stable condition. During the day he underwent emergency surgery at the hospital.

A team of police converged on the perpetrator and ordered him to drop the weapon. Initially the attacker did, in fact, drop the knife, but within seconds he retrieved it and continued moving towards the officers with the weapon in his hand. When  after 12 requests to drop the weapon Peters tried to charge the officers, escalating the danger, an officer drew and fired one shot from his own weapon to neutralize that threat. Peters later died of his wounds at Kings County Hospital.

“While we are very pained by everything that has unfolded, we are very grateful to the police for their quick response and are working closely with the authorities in their ongoing investigation,” Seligson said. “We commend the heroic efforts of the individuals who were present and took immediate action, if not for their intervention the outcome could have been, G-d forbid far worse. We continue to pray for the young man who is in stable condition,” he added.

New York City activists and politicians called for unity and calm at a joint news conference Tuesday afternoon, where they joined in commending the responding police officers for their restraint in handling the attack. Jewish Community Relations Council leader Michael Miller noted that a synagogue “should remain a safe place.” Another Jewish leader commented that the attack on a worshiper in a Jewish house of prayer echoed the recent terrorist massacre that took place at a well-known synagogue during morning prayers in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. Other leaders expressed concerns the incident would trigger racial tensions and urged residents to “keep the peace.”

The news conference, organized by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, was held just a few steps from where the attack took place. Politicians and activists of all races, including city public advocate Letitia James, Assemblywoman Laurie Cumbo and city council member Mark Levine underscored their approval of the police officers who had only opened fire when no other choice was left. Running footage from a 24-hour security camera monitored constantly clearly substantiated police accounts of the encounter.

A reader on the Crown Heights.info website commented on the officer who shot the stabber: “In this political climate, a lot was on this policeman’s shoulders – more than just the incident in front of him, but the very real worry about sparking a race riot, justified or not!… I phoned the non-emergency number of the 71st precinct and I thanked them for handling things the way they did. And I told them to keep up the good work. And I’m proud that I did! I think everyone should phone the police department and thank them when they do a good job.”

Meeting The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

It was a beautiful morning in May 1985 when I decided to take my tzedakah box to Lubavitch headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway. I did not know much about Chabad, and had to ask for directions.

Driving along Eastern Parkway, I encountered thousands of Lubavitcher chassidim. I finally managed to park my car on a side street.

As I started to walk, I asked a chassid, “Where is 770?”

He said, “four blocks ahead.”

I pushed my way through the crowd until I saw the building, and approached the three steps leading up to the front door of 770.

To my amazement, the Lubavitcher Rebbe was coming out of the building and facing me, looking directly into my eyes. I froze right there on the steps.

“What do I do now?” I wondered.

The Rebbe was walking toward me. I went backwards down the three steps. My left hand touched the gray Cadillac parked there, and I dropped my tzedakah box on the sidewalk. A young Lubavitcher chassid opened the front door of the car.

The Rebbe looked at me again and got into the car. I closed the car door, picked up my tzedakah box from the sidewalk, proceeded up the three steps again and ascended to the office on the second floor.

I could not believe what had just happened to me: meeting the Lubavitcher Rebbe face-to-face!

It must have been Divine Providence that I had come to 770 to drop off my tzedakah box.

Several years later, I told a fellow Lubavitcher chassid my story and he said, “You did not close the car door for the Rebbe. The Rebbe opened the door for you so that you could continue doing mitzvot and learning Torah until the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

May it be soon!

Photojournalist’s Testimony: Photographs By Jerry Dantzic

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Trailblazing in the Rebbe’s Footsteps


Chassidic Art Institute


375 Kingston Avenue


Brooklyn, New York 11213 


718-774-9149


Noon-7 p.m., Sunday-Thursday 


Zev Markowitz, Director


 


Lag B’Omer is a communal sigh of relief. Historically the plague that consumed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students in the second century did not include the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer. The Talmud relates that this terrible scourge was caused because “they did not act respectfully toward each other.” Therefore one aspect of the holiday of Passover (when the counting begins) celebrates the healing theme of ahavas Yisrael, the imperative to love and respect our fellow Jews.

 

Another reason to express joy on Lag B’Omer is the commemoration of the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, one of the most illustrious of Rabbi Akiva’s disciples and a fierce defender of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. Following his instructions to his students, it is celebrated with outings, parades, bonfires and communal celebrations − especially at his grave in Meron in northern Israel.

 

Known as the author of the Zohar, his influence continues to this day in the practice of Kabbalah and many Chassidic customs. Not the least of which is the annual Lubavitch Lag B’Omer parade, in which Shimon bar Yochai’s lifelong crown of Torah study is proudly celebrated on the streets of Crown Heights. As a 1973 poster proclaims: “American Jewry! Join 50,000 Boys and Girls Saluting Judaism!” On that Sunday, May 20, 1973, the photojournalist Jerry Dantzic captured much of the spirit and happiness of that Lag B’Omer, seen in a stunning series of photographs at the Chassidic Art Institute until September 2.

 

Jerry Dantzic (previously reviewed here in April 2003) was a lifelong photojournalist, whose long career documented the arts, music and the vast diversity of New York life.  He freelanced for the New York Times and Life and Look magazines, among other major publications. He also taught photography at Long Island University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

 

In 1971 he rediscovered the Cirkut camera that could take panoramic 360-degree pictures. His tour of all 50 states exploring the creative possibilities of this unique camera resulted in two Guggenheim Fellowships, an NEA Fellowship and, finally, a Museum of Modern Art exhibition in 1978.

 

The black and white prints shown here (all about 17 x 25 inches) are a curious mix of old and new technology. They were shot using Dantzic’s dependable Leica camera with Kodak Tri-X film. He took about 200 shots of the Lag B’Omer parade in May 1973, but didn’t print any of them because the funding sought for “The White Ethnic Project” that they were to be part of was never granted from the Guggenheim Foundation.

 

 



Grand Lag B’Omer Parade; Black and white photograph by Jerry Dantzic. Courtesy: Chassidic Art Institute


 


 

In preparation for this current show Dantzic’s son and archivist Grayson Dantzic, along with curator Zev Markowitz, chose the images for this exhibition and had them printed using the latest digital technology by Gamma One Conversions. They are brilliant, crisp prints, preserving all the qualities of the original black and white glossy technique.

 

The first half of the show consists mainly of photos of a Grand Farbrengen, celebrating the 46th anniversary of the 12 Tammuz release of the sixth Rebbe from Soviet prison and reversal of his death sentence for “counterrevolutionary activities” that included organizing an underground education network that helped Judaism survive the Communist suppression of religion. Seated prominently on the dais is Israel’s President Zalman Shazar, seen toasting Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson at the 1973 event.  All of these images were previously shown in the 2003 exhibition.

 

The Lag B’Omer photos begin appropriately with Eli Lipsker and his Drum Corp, a spirited 25-member marching band, setting the celebratory tone of the day’s festivities. Lipsker is seen proudly leading his band across an Eastern Parkway filled as far as the eye can see with men, women and children – and dozens and dozens of signs proclaiming a cacophony of messages: “Put on Tefillin,” “We’re From Boro Park,” and “Enjoy Torah, It’s the Real Thing.” In a more stationary mode, the six-man Neginah Orchestrais playing their tunes to an equally enthusiastic crowd.

 

The three images of the Rabbinical Grandstand move from conventional piety to an unexpected pictorial insight. The first image (actually number 3) captures at least 14 elders, almost all with long white beards and many bespectacled, appreciating the proceedings.

 

 


Rabbinical Grandstand #1; Black and white photograph by Jerry Dantzic. Courtesy: Chassidic Art Institute

 

 

The next image from a slightly different angle sees the same men a few moments earlier, but now includes a back row of “ordinary” Jews. One man in the upper left is quizzically looking up at the sky, as if to seek a Heavenly sign of approval of the celebration. 

 

And finally, the last image in this series (number 1) pulls back from the Rabbinical Grandstand to reveal the wooden bleacher on which the sages are seated. Behind them in clear focus is the corner of Kingston Avenue and Eastern Parkway, with the building at 770 Eastern Parkway overseeing the entire scene. The first two rows of the bleacher are empty, creating the illusion and perfect metaphor of Rabbinic elevation and perhaps even levitation.

 

The notion of an event that somehow transcends the mundane world is further explored in another image of the Kingston Avenue/Eastern Parkway corner. The fire escape of the four-story building at 788 Eastern Parkway is packed with young men overlooking the parade. On the second floor a banner proclaims, “The Torah Times: its what’s happening!!” under a six-foot size “pocket watch.” On the floor above, another banner simply proclaims, “Keep Shabbos!” And finally, the top-floor fire escape supports four or five Chassidim appreciating what they think is the best viewpoint. 

 

But the image continues to give more and more precious information the longer the viewer lingers. The fire escape crowd is exclusively men, while the packed crowd on the street below is discreetly mixed with men and women. Everybody is straining for a view of the parade, perhaps none more precariously than the eight men we suddenly notice all the way at the top of the image on the edge of the roof above.

 

Finally, just when we think the image has taught us everything we might want to know about this happy moment in time, we see the two women in the window at the extreme right edge of the print. Their presence peering out of the open window, almost secretively in the otherwise all male building, reanimates the scene with a diversity and excitement that make us want to continue scouring the photograph for more secrets and insights.

 

The combination of an intense crowd scene, the layered placement of 40 figures dressed remarkably alike and integrated with the architecture of an ornate building façade begins to express the complexity and transformative nature of this religious celebration.

 

The heart of this Lag B’Omer celebration may be found in what is the oddest, and yet most exciting, image in the entire exhibition: Dancing Rabbis. The location is suddenly strange and unfamiliar, an open field and bleachers with distant institutional buildings in the background. A line of six couples − all male − are seen dancing across the field with the clumsiest elegance imaginable.

 

 


Dancing Rabbis; Black and white photograph by Jerry Dantzic. Courtesy: Chassidic Art Institute 

 

 

The Lubavitch men are filled with the incredible spirit of the day’s joyousness without the necessary dancing experience – and yetdance they must! One seems to be telling the other, “Just prance and jump, that’s all there is to it!” while another drags his partner in happy excess. The innocence of man dancing with man as couples, not in an anonymous line dance, pushes the image into a transcendence of the moment that perfectly captures the ineffable spirit of Lag B’Omer, a day of release from sorrow; a day of immersion in the holy Torah, and love and joy of our fellow Jews.

 

It is said that photojournalism does not aspire to the refined status of art photography. Its job is relatively simple; just describe in pictures what happened and bring back the story for the uninitiated. We can see from this exhibition that Jerry Dantzic was a first-rate photojournalist who clearly went beyond simple reporting, as his work becomes a testimonial to the Jewish community – its joys and beliefs.

 

At this Lag B’Omer parade, he turned his lens not on floats, banners and spectacle. Rather it was the crowd that mattered to him, since he instinctively knew that the audience − the people who faithfully traveled and participated by their very presence − was the real subject of this celebration. As a proud Jew, he knew it was the Jewish people that ultimately mattered. So too, the banner quoting the 133rd psalm at the top of 788 Eastern Parkway proudly says that where Jews are this united, “For there Hashem has commanded the blessing, May there be eternal life!”

 

Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/photojournalists-testimony-photographs-by-jerry-dantzic/2008/08/13/

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