A family checked into the Park House Hotel in Boro Park last week under an assumed name (we now know it was the wife’s maiden name). We did not know the true identity of this family, who paid in cash for their stay through Motzei Shabbos.
On Friday afternoon someone recognized the head of the family as being none other than Mr. Moshe Arye Friedman, who recently traveled to Iran with members of Neturei Karta to attend the notorious Holocaust denial conference there.
When we were informed as to his true identity we asked Mr. Friedman to leave, but he refused. We checked with the police and were advised that since he had paid for his stay, we had no legal cause to put him out.
A demonstration outside the hotel against Mr. Friedman caused great angst to our other guests, to many prospective guests, and to neighborhood residents.
We wish to make clear that had we known who Mr. Friedman was, we would not have taken his reservation, nor would we have accepted him as a guest in our hotel.
Park House Hotel
Steven Plaut captured in his “Anti-Zionism, Sephardic Style’ (front-page essay, Jan. 12) what we in the Sephardic community have known for years – that there is a virulent anti-Zionist strain among us both in Israel and the Diaspora.
This was one of those important pieces that expose little-known problems – in this case a problem that few outside the Sephardic community were aware of. The article demonstrated that we Sephardim have our very own political agitators, much like a certain group of Jews who recently embraced the Iranian president.
These marginalized Sephardic dissenters are small in number, but, as is the case with our outspoken Islamic adversaries, they remain dangerous.
Our thanks to Professor Plaut and The Jewish Press.
International Sephardic Leadership Council
Jews Of Color (I)
Thank you for publishing Ita Yankovich’s piece on Orthodox Jews of color (“Minority Within a Minority,” Jan. 12). It’s been hard for me growing up and dealing with some of the same issues addressed in the article. Judaism has made me a stronger person, and I would never trade it for another religion.
Jews Of Color (II)
I found the piece on Jews of color fascinating. Ita Yankovich did a really good job of presenting an open forum for black Jews to express their concerns. As an Orthodox Jew, I totally agree that we need to break away from the conformity that plagues us and embrace Jews of all colors and backgrounds.
I’m a non-chassidish former Boro Parker whose kids often wouldn’t be included in the fold because I don’t wear a black hat and my wife’s sleeves just covered her elbows. We could all learn a lesson from the people interviewed by Ms. Yankovich. Thank you for publishing this great article.
Too Clever By Half
Reader Esther Fish suggests (Letters, Jan. 12) that Neturei Karta’s meeting with Ahmadinejad was actually “a clever move in securing the safety of Israel.”
Esther, here’s an idea: Why not have Ahmadinejad, David Duke, Abbas, Farrakhan, and some good old Nazis over for tea and crumpets? You could “cleverly” shmooze all night long. Just don’t forget to tell your next of kin where you hide your valuables.
Wake up! Remember Neville Chamberlain and that funny-looking guy with the bad haircut?
I would like to express my outrage at the relatively small turnout at the anti-Neturei Karta rally last week in Monsey. As a frum Monsey resident who was there, I am offended that no more than a few hundred people felt the need to show their opposition to these lunatics who openly consort with the most vicious anti-Semites of our time, in effect lending credence to their sick lies and twisted revisionism.
Even worse, they have the chutzpah to parade themselves in front of the media as authentic representatives of Torah, which makes us all look bad. The least we as Orthodox Jews could have done was show up in large numbers to change that perception.
Why do I have the feeling that if financial losses were somehow at stake, people would be up in arms and rallying by the thousands? Shouldn’t the need to protest against a group of Jews who smear the memory of the Six Million Million kedoshim have equal footing?
Shame on all those who didn’t attend. When will we ever learn?
Presidents And Israel
The Media Monitor’s Jan. 12 ranking of U.S. presidents in terms of their relationship with Israel was absolutely accurate, especially the “demotion” of Bill Clinton to a mid-level spot despite his being endlessly and erroneously referred to by his admirers as “the best U.S. president Israel ever had.”
And the Monitor’s choice of Richard Nixon for the number one spot was even more justified in view of Nixon’s rejection of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s advice and counsel to let Israel “stew awhile” before initiating the crucial shipments of armaments that helped Israel avert catastrophe in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Nixon’s recorded anti-Semitic ramblings must be put in context of his coming to Israel’s rescue when its back was against the proverbial wall. His ranking is eminently warranted.
I must commend Rabbi Isser and Chana Weisberg for their brilliant op-ed article on the ramifications of Saddam Hussein’s hanging (“The Cosmic Significance of Saddam’s Execution,” Jan. 12).
Too often we read and hear of disgraced Israeli politicians, the threat of radical Islam, and the ominous stirrings of anti-Semitism. While we live within the bounds of pragmatism, and world events can at times appear foreboding, we must at all times remain cognizant that the Creator has His own Plan, details of which may be found in Scriptures and the writings of our sages. The Weisbergs succeeded not in deciphering this plan but in redirecting the mindset of Jews who may have lost their religious compass.
Let us hope that the death of this Nebuchadnezzar incarnate serves as a prelude to the imminent arrival of the Moshiach who will cause the glory of Hashem to be recognized by all mankind.
Dr. Yaakov Stern
Smearing The Victim
The editorial “We Can Learn From Rev. Al” (Jan. 12) was right on target in its comparison between, on one hand, the reaction by black community leaders to the New York Police Department killing of Sean Bell, and, on the other hand, the reaction on the part of certain so-called Jewish community leaders to the NYPD killing of Gidone Busch.
Regardless of one’s views on Rudy Giuliani’s political aspirations (I myself happen to be somewhat receptive to the idea of his seeking higher office), there is no denying that one of the Giuliani administration’s strategies to protect the NYPD was to run a posthumous smear and distortion campaign against Gidone Busch, unfairly painting him as a dangerous psychopathic monster and thereby justifying his killing by police officers. Wittingly or not, the so-called Jewish leaders who stood at the press conferences and meetings held by Giuliani and his police commissioner, Howard Safir, served to further the smear campaign.
The presence and participation of those so-called Jewish leaders at the press conferences and meetings in fact served as a sort of hashgacha in the eyes of the news media, which used and continue to use disparaging and deprecatory adjectives to refer to Gidone. Yated Ne’eman referred to him as “mentally deranged” and, nearly seven years after the shooting, the New York Daily News referred to him as a “madman.”
The postmortem slurs against Gidone served to greatly exacerbate the already considerable pain felt by Gidone’s family, friends and acquaintances. The facilitation by those who purport to assert and defend Jewish community interests makes the loss of Gidone all the more painful.
Even at this late date, the pain that Gidone’s surviving family members will bear for the remainder of their lives can still be partially alleviated if those who wrongly participated in Gidone’s posthumous defamation would acknowledge their complicity and tender their sincere apologies. Only then can Gidone Busch’s death even begin to result in a change for the better.
Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.
East Northport, NY
Advice On Dealing With Telemarketers
A letter writer (“Browbeating By Tzedakah Telemarketers,” December 29) asks how to handle phone solicitations.
First, ask the caller whether he is a volunteer or a paid solicitor. If a paid solicitor, ask what percentage goes to the charity. You might also ask where he obtained your name, as there is a substantial trade in phone and mail lists.
Before sending a donation, check the organization’s tax return at www.guidestar.org (free registration required). There, you can find every charitable organization’s tax return for the prior three years, except for tiny charities and those claiming to be houses of worship (sometimes inappropriately), which should be considered when donating.
The tax returns will show the amount the charity spends on paid solicitors and consultants, the salaries for the highest paid employees, administrative and fundraising costs, and whether it is hoarding cash. Pay attention to the abusive “joint costs” – which allows a charity to designate a part of its solicitation costs to “education expense” because the mailing asking for a donation contained a letter explaining what the charity does. I believe all “joint costs” are “fundraising expenses.” New York has the nation’s strictest rules for charities, and annual certified financial statements can be obtained from the attorney general. Texas rules are the most lax. So, be aware of the state out of which the charity operates.
I consider anything over 20% for fundraising (including joint costs) excessive. Almost every mass mail solicitation nets far less than 50% after expenses, and should be ignored. Lots of organizations, such as synagogues, yeshivas, and many that serve the poor and sick, have virtually no fundraising overhead (unless they employ a “development director”).
In my CPA practice, I see many non-Jews who tithe in a single check to their church. Jews prefer donating to many organizations, and that requires homework.
Jay Starkman, CPA