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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Long Island’

Reward Increased in Search for Menachem Stark’s Killers

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

The family of murdered Brooklyn landlord Menachem Stark has contributed $50,000 to what is now a total reward to $72,000 for information leading to the killer of the Satmar Hasidic real estate developer. The New York Police offered $20,000 and the NYPD Crime Stoppers program pitched in with $2,000.

“We have increased the reward in the hopes that anyone and everyone who knows anything comes forward,” Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, the central planning and social service agency for more than 200 organizations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said in a statement, “There are seven orphans in Brooklyn, and a loving grieving wife – and we hope and pray there will be justice. We thank the law enforcement community for their hard work, and echo Commissioner Bratton’s call for the public’s assistance in solving this case.”

Stark’s body was found last Friday on suburban Long Island some 16 miles away from his office in the heavily Satmar section of Williamsburg, from where he was kidnapped the previous evening. He reportedly was suffocated before his body was placed in the dumpster outside a Great Neck gas station and burned, according to police.

Video footage taken from his office showed Stark being taken into a van after a struggle outside his office.

Police on Wednesday released a surveillance video showing a suspect in the kidnapping and believe Stark may have been squashed to death when kidnappers sat on his chest to subdue him after he was abducted.

Police also believe Stark, 39, was already dead when his body was set alight in a dumpster.

Long Island Man Arrested in ‘Knockout’ Attacks

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

NBC News reports that a Long Island man has been accused of punching seven random victim in “knockout game” attacks, and is expected to be indicted and arraigned on assault charges Wednesday.

Darryl Mitchell, 20, is accused of attacking several victims for no apparent reason over the past 8 months, according to Suffolk County authorities. The victims’ ages range from 17 to 69.

Mitchell may be the first suspect arrested in Suffolk county for “knockout game” attacks, in which the perpetrators punch unsuspecting victims and run away.

According to Newsday, on Nov. 10, a lawyer saw Mitchell walking “aggressively” toward him and moved toward the curb to avoid him, but Mitchell ran up and punched the lawyer in the right eye, cutting his eyelid. The cut required seven stitches.

On Nov. 30, a 69-year-old man was rummaging through the trunk of his car, parked on Williams Avenue in North Amityville, when he heard someone approach from behind.

“When he turned around, he was punched twice in the head,” District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a statement. “He told us he spent a couple of weeks with horrendous headaches.”

Two men were attacked only a few hours apart on Dec. 1, according to NBC News. In the first incident, the suspect punched a 66-year-old man in the face on the same North Amityville street where Mitchell lives.

A few hours later, another man, who was on his way to church, was hit, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Robert Clifford told Newsday.

“The defendant ran up to him and suddenly punched him in the face multiple times and he fell to the ground,” Clifford said.

Mitchell was arrested on Dec. 4, after he was identified by four victims. He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of third-degree assault in an initial arraignment, but is expected to face additional charges Wednesday.

Mitchell is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail. It’s not known whether he has an attorney.

Damaged Torahs Found in Iraq Buried in New York

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Damaged Torah scrolls found by U.S. troops in Iraq’s intelligence headquarters were buried in a cemetery in New York on Sunday, according to Jewish law for disposing of unusable religious objects and texts.

More than 100 people, including Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., attended the ceremony at the New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon, Long Island. “This is a statement by the government and people of Iraq that we are here to respect the heritage of the Jews,” Faily said.

Thousands of Jewish ritual items were discovered by U.S. troops in 2003, after the U.S. ouster of Saddam Hussein. U.S. troops found the items in the waterlogged basement of Iraq’s intelligence headquarters, and they were shipped to the National Archives, where experts set about restoring them.

An exhibit there on display through Jan. 5, is the first opportunity to see them.

Long Island Orthodox Woman a Volunteer Firefighter

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Shoshana Weiner of Long Island, New York, has been a volunteer firefighter for 12 years. In addition to firefighting, Weiner’s day job includes working as a nurse practitioner at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, and as a paramedic instructor at St. John’s University in Queens.

Tazpit News Agency caught up (literally) with Weiner during her vacation in Israel, where she took the time to volunteer with the Petah Tikvah fire department, answering some brush fires and dealing with hazardous material.

“Volunteering as a firefighter in Israel is a little different from Long Island,” Weiner, 39, told Tazpit News Agency. The fire trucks and the equipment are different from what I am used to in Long Island, but that’s all part of the learning experience.”

Weiner was born and raised in New York, where very few Orthodox Jewish women volunteer as firefighters, she says. “I kind of fell into volunteer firefighting by accident,” Weiner explains. “I was looking to volunteer in emergency medical services (EMS) at a local fire station, but in order to get accepted, I also had to train as a firefighter.”

Shabbat evening dinners take on a different routine at Weiner’s home. “Multiple times, I’ve gotten calls right after my husband has said Kiddush, and I’d have to run out and respond to a fire or medical emergency.”

“The perks are probably the barbecues,” Weiner says with a smile. “At least for my husband.”

The difficult point in Weiner’s volunteer firefighting career was September 11. “That was probably the worst day in history for New York firefighters. I was lucky I didn’t go down to the Twin Towers with the firefighters the first night, when the casualties took place. I joined the second night as an EMS responder.”

In Israel, Weiner also had the chance to take part in the Emergency Volunteer Program (EVP), a non-profit international organization that trains volunteers from abroad to assist Israel as emergency first responders.

“It was great to meet other people across the US, from Washington State to Arkansas, who were training to help Israel in an emergency situation,” Weiner said. “Although we come from different states across America, and there are differences in the way things work in Israel, we all share the language of emergency response.”

Weiner explains that one fundamental difference is the manpower at hand. In “Israel, there are generally two firefighters who do everything during a call—including driving to the emergency and putting out the fire, etc. In New York at least, there are five to six people on every fire truck.”

Shoshana believes that the situation in Israel is volatile. “At some point, we all know that Israel will need our help and that’s why we are here training together– to assist in whatever situation that happens in the future.”

School Sued for Ignoring Anti-Semitic Taunts

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

A suburban New York father is suing his school district over the anti-Semitic taunting of his son.

Robert Slade filed the suit last week alleging that officials at Northport High School on Long Island took no action to stop a group of 20 students from traumatizing his son with taunts such as “Jews are disgusting,” “Being Jewish must suck,” “Hitler was a good person” and “My love for you burns like a thousand Jews in an oven.”

The suit says that 20 students mercilessly teased the boy in person and on Facebook during his freshman year in 2011 until he was forced to leave.

“This student was subjected to some awful things,” Slade’s lawyer, Chaim Book, told the NY Post. “His parents alerted administrators at the school and they were ignored. Nothing was done.”

A lawyer for the school district said officials reacted appropriately to the student’s concerns.

The suit, which seeks compensatory damages, was filed May 3 in U.S. District Court. The superintendent and high school principal also are named as defendants.

L.I. Community Dedicates Torah In Memory Of Young Boy

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

   More than 500 people dedicated a new Torah scroll in the Long Island town of Woodmere, N.Y., last Sunday, a little more than one year after the sudden passing of a nine-year-old sent shock waves through the tight-knit Jewish community.

 

   The ceremony began at the home of Rabbi Zalman and Chanie Wolowik, the directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Five Towns whose son, Levi Yitzchok Wolowik, passed away in his sleep on a Friday night. Attendees completed the final letters of the holy scroll at the home before parading the new Torah down a stretch of Central Avenue that had been blocked off for the occasion. Throughout the parade route, passersby saw a spirited procession of celebrants dancing to the chords of live music.

 

   Culminating at the Wolowiks’ Chabad House, where more dancing and a reception capped off the festivities, the Torah dedication represented the collective actions of countless individuals over the past year to pay tribute to a young boy known throughout the community as an exceptional student with a kindhearted nature.

 

   More than 700 children from 13 countries across the globe participated in a “learn-a-thon” that saw the young students study Torah in memory of Levi Yitzchok Wolowik and in order to fund the Torah scroll.

 

   “Levi’s soul is perpetuated through this Torah,” said Rabbi Levi Gurkov, a childhood friend of Zalman Wolowik. “Every time a boy reads from this Torah on his bar mitzvah, every time it is used in a holiday celebration, it will stand as a tribute for Levi.”

 

   As a memento of the occasion, each child received a certificate announcing their inclusion in the Torah, and a piece of fabric used in the making of the Torah’s cover.

 

   Miriam Wolowik, the boy’s aunt, said that the family treasured the outpouring of support from the neighbors.

 

   “The entire community showed up,” she said after the ceremony. “Everyone came. It was a beautiful, bittersweet day.”

 

   Shalom Jacobs, a longtime member of Chabad of the Five Towns, said that “the message of the day was one of unity, to stick together through these crazy times.”

 

   His wife, Pessy Jacobs, added: “The community came to show its love and support for Chanie and Zalman. It was very moving to be a part of it.”

 

   Rabbi Tuvia Teldon, director of Lubavitch of Long Island, said that the Wolowiks had inspired people by exhibiting strength in the midst of tragedy. Soon after the passing of their son, they announced a campaign to build a children’s library in his memory. Since that time, the couple has continued work on the Levi Yitzchok Library, identifying a site and finalizing construction plans.

 

   “They took the most painful of experiences and turned it into something really powerful,” said Teldon.

 

   The comment echoed a statement the Wolowiks posted online in the midst of their mourning.

 

   “The only way to confront tragedy, to overcome and persevere,” they wrote, “is to persist with even more energy and more joy.”

Clowns Who Care: Lev Leytzan Warms Hearts, Heads, Hands and Toes

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

The young adult clowns of the Long Island-based charity Lev Leytzan, a medical clowning troupe, returned recently from an 11-day humanitarian mission to Romania and Israel to celebrate Chanukah.

 

The goal of the trip, Lev Leytzan’s eighth in five years, was to bring warmth to the bodies and souls of the sick, the elderly, orphans, and Holocaust survivors. The group brought socks, gloves, and hats to audiences along with slapstick humor, funny red noses, and a special kind of compassion.

 

Lev Leytzan brings clowns to the most unlikely places – hospital rooms, nursing homes, the apartments of shut-ins. “We went to many hospitals and visited people in their homes,” said Effie Pill, a Lev Leytzan member on his first overseas mission. “In Romania, where we saw so much poverty and sadness, we brought smiles and laughter. In Israel, where I am used to being a tourist, I went to people’s homes and hospitals and gave sick people the chance to feel good.”

 

One Lev Leytzaner recalled a mother at the Bucharest children’s hospital pulling him aside to tell him her seven-year-old daughter was hospitalized again, and that this would be the last time. Funeral plans were underway. “My baby girl has been lethargic for so long; it’s been months since she’s had visitors. Now she’s playing and laughing, she loves the clowns. She’s dying, yet look at her, she’s living.”

 

Slapstick, clowning and comedy filled the corridors during the hours we spent at the hospital. It was sad to see the drab hallways of the huge triage area that was the hospital’s treatment center. Toward the end of our visit, we passed out many scarves, hats and gloves. Mothers called over an English-speaking nurse to explain what these gifts meant to them.

 

“Being homeless and living with children in a park and in cardboard boxes is our plight,” said one. “Your clowning warmed our hearts and memories, while these wonderful gifts will keep our bodies and spirits warm. Bless you.”

 

While in Romania we met an elderly Holocaust survivor who said he’d lived in the same facility in Bucharest for many years. “My family is long gone,” he told us. “I love clowns, I love that they make bubbles and juggle with me. It’s been a long time since I’ve laughed so hard. I was clapping and dancing a little too. I’m usually grouchy and don’t have too much to be happy for.”

 

 

(L-R) Adam Gindea, Avi Ballabon, Effie Pill, Moshe Marton

 

 

He thanked us for coming and asked, “Was it a far ride?”

 

We went from Romania to Israel. When we do our home visits there, we never know with whom we’re going to meet – we don’t know their names or their stories. Upon entering one particular home, ready to clown, we found a family with many candles lit and the shades drawn. The sadness was palpable and the clowns were uncertain about what to do. Invited to sit, we were told one of their children had recently been murdered by Arab terrorists. We thought we were there to help the daughter who survived cancer and instead we sat and sang with this family that was experiencing such tremendous pain.

 

The Chanukah trip was organized under the auspices of Lev Leytzan’s Ambassador Program, the organization’s international outreach arm. The program’s director, Beth Friedlander, chose Bucharest for the mission due to the dire circumstances of the Jewish community there. The city’s 6,000 Jews are mostly aging, largely isolated, and impoverished. Many are Holocaust survivors. Social services are few and the groups that provide them, whether government- or privately-funded, are always strapped for money.

 

“The activities of Lev Leytzan seemed a perfect fit for these lonely, disadvantaged, and needy people,” Ms. Friedlander said. “Bringing tangible items such as socks, gloves, and hats is a great way to address an immediate hardship.”

 

During the Israel leg of the trip – the group’s annual Chanukah in Israel outreach program – the clowns interacted and played with the sick and needy throughout the country, especially children, and delivered gifts sponsored by the Ossie Memorial Toy Fund.

 

“After the success we had in Munich and Budapest last year, I couldn’t wait to find out where we’d be going next,” said one of the Lev Leytzan clowns. “It’s hard to be away during Chanukah, but I know it’s worth it. There’s nothing like seeing the joy on the faces of the people we touch.”

 

The clowns themselves fund the majority of the cost of the humanitarian missions. By enhancing the lives of others they gain maturity and perspective unusual in people their age. The trip to Romania and Israel broadened their horizons and inspired many disadvantaged and needy people hungry for human connection.

 

(Special thanks to Yeshiva Derech HaTorah’s Women’s Organization for helping to organize the sock, glove and hat drive in Brooklyn.)

 

Editor’s Note: Founded in 2004 by Dr. Neal C. Goldberg, Lev Leytzan trains teens and young adults in the art of medical clowning and spreading joy and laughter to Jewish children and the elderly in the New York area, Israel and other countries. To support Lev Leytzan visit www.levleytzan.com or call 516-612-3264.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/clowns-who-care-lev-leytzan-warms-hearts-heads-hands-and-toes/2010/01/13/

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