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August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan’

World Trade Center, 9/11: Is Ground Zero A Sacred Site?

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

It’s been 13 years since I slammed my transmission into overdrive, popped the flashing red light onto the roof of my car and went barreling down half-empty streets in Brooklyn towards Manhattan.

Beside me were a sheaf of papers bearing photos of a girl I didn’t know, who was working in an office on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. “Maybe someone has seen her,” her terrified parents said. A colleague handed half of the stack to me before getting into his own car to head down the same road.

We both knew it was a long shot but neither of us realized just how long a shot it was. In fact, it was no shot at all. No one ever came out of that pile of busted concrete and twisted metal alive. I know, because I was there.

Too old already to be a firefighter (which I was in younger days), back then I was a volunteer fire chaplain. But I was on my way to work at a local mental health clinic that morning, since I am also a trauma therapist and ADHD specialist in my “other life.” I was listening to the radio in my car when the DJ interrupted the music to make “a special announcement.” Annoying, I thought idly.

A plane had slammed into the World Trade Center, he said. Details to follow. Weird, I thought. “Radar screwed up? Pilot lost control of the plane?” I started to run through the list in my mind. Meanwhile the DJ was doing the same thing on the air with a second person who had joined him on commentary.

That’s ominous, I reflected. Having lived five years in Israel in my younger years, all my red flags went up the more I thought about it.

And then a plane hit the second tower. That’s when I knew this was no accident.

By the time I reached the clinic, patients were calling in to cancel and the secretary had a small television on, with live coverage showing what had happened. “That’s a terror attack,” I muttered, and disappeared into my office. The next call was to the volunteer fire and rescue team coordinator. I saw two patients and the clinic closed early. A sigh of relief and I raced to pick up the flyers: “Have you seen this girl?”

I flashed an ID in order to get into the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which was blocked off to everyone. Cops were everywhere. “A bit late, no?” I grumbled, whizzing into the tunnel. It opened up into a smoke-filled nightmare.

I couldn’t park anywhere near the site. In fact, I couldn’t FIND the site. The World Trade Center had disappeared. The entire area was wrapped in a thick grey haze for dozens of blocks in each direction. It was impossible to see beyond a foot or two. The Liberty One building was not stable — it was swaying in the breeze.

I finally found a spot about half a mile away. It was still smoky in that area, but at least I could see the address, which I’ve since blocked from my mind. There’s a lot I’ve blocked, in fact, but what I have never been able to block out is the stink that hit as soon as I got closer to Ground Zero.

There is no mistaking that smell.

When I was a child, my Sunday School held a special assembly to educate the students in Grades 4 and up about the Holocaust. On that day we were shown the film, “Let My People Go,” a documentary of the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews. It included a full description by concentration camp survivors of the crematoria and accompanying photos.

Second Orthodox NY High School Allowing Girls to Don Tefillin

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

A second Modern Orthodox high school in New York has announced it will permit girls to wear tefillin during prayer.

The Ramaz School in Manhattan said it will allow girls to wear tefillin during coed worship, going one step further than SAR High School, which drew a flurry of media coverage earlier this week for allowing girls to use the phylacteries during women’s prayer services.

Ramaz, one of the oldest and most prestigious Modern Orthodox day schools in the United States, sent its parents, students and board members an email Tuesday afternoon announcing that it “would be happy to allow any female student who wants to observe the mitzvah of tefillin to do so.”

The email, from head of school Paul Shaviv, noted, “Women should be taught that they do not need to wear tefillin in order to lead Jewishly-religiously meaningful lives, at least equal to men. But they have the right to make their own decisions.”

In an interview with JTA, Shaviv said “a small number of girls” have donned tefillin at the school’s prayer services in past years “without anyone making a fuss,” although none have asked to do so in the past three years.

Shaviv said the school decided for the first time on Tuesday to “formalize” its policy and “clarify our position” because journalists were calling to inquire about it.

“The parental response has been completely positive,” he said.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, longtime principal of the Upper East Side school and spiritual leader of Kehilath Jeshurun, told JTA that no female student has requested to wear tefillin recently, but that if one did “we would honor that request.”

“We’re not encouraging this; we’re accommodating this,” he added.

New Jersey Man Claims He Lost Job for not Firing Jewish Employee

Monday, December 30th, 2013

A New Jersey man said he was fired after refusing to fire a man his boss called a “no-good New York city Jew.”

Thomas Greco, a Middleton, New Jersey father of five, said after he was hired in May 2011 as a superintendent at the U.S. Custom House in Lower Manhattan, his boss, Howard Anastasi, ordered him to fire the Jewish worker, The New York Post reported.

“He says, ‘You got a guy working for you — Chuck Brenner — he’s a no-good New York City Jew,’ ” Greco told the Post. “ ‘You know what that means: He’s no good. You gotta get rid of him.’ ”

Greco did not fire Brenner.

A year later, while Greco was on a leave of absence following an injury, Anastasi fired him and said, according to Greco, “I told you to take care of something, and you didn’t.”

Greco, 51, has filed a complaint with New York City’s Human Rights Commission and with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the newspaper.

Reform Sell Half of Its HQ to Raise Cash for Youth Programs

Friday, December 13th, 2013

The Union for Reform Judaism has sold off half of its headquarters in New York and is investing $1 million from the proceeds to overhaul its youth programming.

The sale of one of the union’s two floors at its midtown Manhattan headquarters closed on Wednesday; Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the movement’s president, announced the sale in his speech Thursday at the Reform biennial in San Diego. He said $1 million from the sale would be used to supplement major foundation grants awarded to the union to reshape its youth engagement strategies.

Among the new initiatives Jacobs announced are the expansion of the Reform youth movement, NFTY, the National Federation of Temple Youth, to include sixth through eighth graders; a new partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation to help make Reform institutions more open to people with disabilities; and a deepening of the union’s ties with Hebrew Union College.

NY Deliveryman Awarded $900,000 in Anti-Semitism Suit

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

A New York restaurant deliveryman was awarded $900,000 for enduring 16 years of anti-Semitic harassment by three supervisors, a U.S. District Court jury in Brooklyn decided after four hours of deliberation

Adam Wiercinski sued the Mangia 57 restaurant in Manhattan, where he stated that one manager would pass gas in front of him and then joke that it was Zyklon B, which was used in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust, The New York Post reported.

Wiercinski, whose father’s family died at the hands of the Nazis, said he had to explain what Zyklon B was to the jury because they were “very young.” “When I explain how it was used in the gas chambers, they were very serious. Everybody [in the courtroom] was silent,” he told the Post.

Supervisors also called him a “dirty Jew” and threw pennies at him while making anti-Semitic comments, and they docked his tips.

Wiercinski did not quit because he felt he was too old to get a new job.

Employees at the restaurant and caterer, which has three Manhattan locations, have denied the harassment took place, and the restaurant is expected to appeal the decision.

The point of this report is not that Wiercinski won his lawsuit.

The point is that in the United States of America, no would think that nearly seven decades after the Holocaust, someone in the capacity of a restaurant manager in the city of the Statue of Liberty, in the city attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists, would act like an ignorant Nazi guard at a death camp.

No one would think that.

Think again.

Saudi Website Blames US for 9/11

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

 

Al-Sakinah, a website by run the Saudi Arabian government, posted an article marking the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks which claimed that the U.S. “played a central role in transforming terror into a global [phenomenon],” according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“This strategy allows [the U.S.] to redraw the map of the Arab countries… and to sow religious and sectarian war that enables it to control the future of the peoples and their states,” the article stated.

Around the world, jihadi extremists used the anniversary to praise the 9/11 attacks on social media and other online forums. “Manhattan, a fragment of hell, the stronghold of usury, was vaporized… the blood spilled, flesh was blown all over… [when] the arrogance [of the Americans] collapsed and retreated,” one poem read, according to MEMRI.

“Osama the lion… His position is firmly situated in a paradise,” one Facebook poster wrote next to a photo of the burning World Trade Center.

El Al Teams Up with GetTaxi

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

El Al has signed an agreement with GetTaxi to offer passengers discounts for GetTaxi’s cab hailing service in New York, Tel Aviv and other cities where it operates, the Globes business newspaper reported.

The discount from JFK to Manhattan will take $25 off the usual fare of $60-85. The discount program also is available in London and St. Petersburg, Russia.

The GetTaxi service in Israel will operate to the airport, giving El Al passengers a $5 discount. The discount is not available to inbound passengers because of an airport contract that gives one cab company exclusive rights to carry passengers out of the airport.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/el-al-teams-up-with-gettaxi/2013/09/03/

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