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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

New Jersey Jewish Student Sues NY Cops over Immodest Frisk

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Bard College student Samantha Rosenbaum is suing the New York Police Department for carrying out an immodest search while she was walking on a Williamsburg street on  the way from the post office back to her place of work at a store last year.

The suit, reported Thursday by The New York Post, comes amid controversy over Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charge that the police are carrying out a disproportionate number of frisks on white people. A New York Daily News survey published today revealed that the mayor is wrong, but more troubling is the reason for frisks, whether on blacks or whites.

Rosenbaum, age 22 and from Essex, New Jersey, told the newspaper that she loves animals and stopped to pet a cat she noticed in an alley. The plainclothed police, sitting in an unmarked car, apparently did not look at it that way.

“Hey, stop!” a man yelled from his parked car. “He was really aggressive,” Rosenbaum recalled. “I had no idea who he was, [so] I just kept walking.”

That was the obvious tip-off for the two police officers that she was a criminal, and they ran after Rosenbaum and threw her against the car, asking her if she had drugs.

“This whole time, I didn’t know who these people are,” she told the Post. “Finally, after a few minutes, they tell me they are police. My face and stomach were on the hood. I don’t think anyone, no matter what color you are, deserves to be treated like that.

“I offered to show them the cat. They had two people on top of me, and my arm was really hurting.”

Her lawyer Michael Goldstein added,  “She thought she was getting kidnapped. This is a very nice young lady. This was a false arrest and imprisonment. It’s assault.”

The suit alleges that a policewoman who was part of the search-and-frisk team opened her clothing and peeked underneath at private parts of her body.

According to Rosenbaum, the police finally let her go when she started crying after they threatened several times to haul her off to the police station and charge her with a crime,

“They told me they didn’t want me to have a bad impression of cops so they were going to let me go,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.

Why would anyone even think of such a thing?

There are plenty who would think so.

The New York Civil Liberties Union found in a survey two years ago, quoted by Slate, “Only 11 percent of stops in 2011 were based on a description of a violent crime suspect.” The rest of them were carried out at random, and most of the victim was found to be innocent.

The numbers are astonishing. Hundreds of thousands of people are stopped every year for frisks that turn out to be needless but which the police justify when they file forms after each search. All a police officer has to write is that a person was “carrying a suspicious object” or “wearing clothes commonly used in a crime,” or was wearing “inappropriate attire for season.”

Or, “The suspect was petting a cat.”

Christie Declares Special August Primaries for Lautenberg’s Seat

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday a special primary election will be held August 13, followed by general elections Oct. 16, to fill the seat left vacant by the death on Monday of Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. By law, he could have appointed a temporary replacement.

“I want to have an elected senator as soon as possible,” Christie told reporters at a news conference. “I firmly believe that the decisions that need to be made in Washington are too great to be determined by an appointee for a period of 18 months.”

The new senator who will be elected will serve only a year because Sen. Lautenberg’s term of office expires in 2014, when the seat again will be up for grabs.

Frank Lautenberg, Senate’s Oldest Member, Dies at Age 89

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

World War II veteran and New Jersey Jewish Sen. Frank Lautenberg died Monday at the age of 89. His health had failed the past several months, and the Democratic senator has not been seen on the Senate floor for most of the year because of what his office said was “muscle weakness and fatigue.”

Republican Gov. Chris Christie will appoint a replacement until a special election this year, followed by another election in 2014, when Lautenberg’s six-year term of office expires.

Last week, the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus life honored Sen. Lautenberg for his contributions to the Jewish community and Israel. The celebration was broadcast to his home, where he was confined because of his illness, and his wife Bonnie accepted the organization’s Renaissance Award.

He was the son of poor but hard-working Russian and Polish immigrant parents in Paterson, New Jersey, and he succeeded in business and helped found the nation’s first payroll services company, Automatic Data Processing. He served in the Senate for 18 years, retired in 2000 and returned to the Senate in 2002.

Sen. Lautenberg was a strong liberal. He was pro-choice, supported gun control, introduced bills increasing penalties for carjacking and car theft, and criticized the Bush administration on national security issues.

He was vigorous in his opposition to the war in Iraq.

The senator was heavily involved in various anti-smoking and airline safety legislation and co-sponsored legislation to increase drunken driving penalties.

One of his best known bills that passed into law was the prohibition of smoking from most commercial airline flights.

He also authored the Ryan White Care Act, which provides services to AIDS patients.

Two New Jersey Men Plead Not Guilty in Synagogue Bombings

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Two New Jersey men, indicted in March for arson and attempted murder and terrorism, pleaded not guilt in a New Jersey court this week.

Anthony Graziano of Lodi and Aakash Dalal of New Brunswick, both 21, were arrested after the northern New Jersey’s Bergen County bombings, one of which injured Beth El Congregation Rabbi Nosson Schuman.

The attackers hurled a firebomb at the family’s residential unit in the synagogue, setting fire to a bedroom.

Lakewood’s $10 Million Coup

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

This is one of those stories that worry me. VIN and NJ.com report that Lakewood Yeshiva (BMG) has been approved by the State of New Jersey for an over ten million dollar grant in what Governor Chris Christie is calling a “new era” for the state’s institutions of higher learning.

I’m sure that Lakewood applied for that grant legally and truthfully. I do not believe for a second that there was any fraud involved. And I congratulate them on a successful outcome. Lakewood certainly needs the money. But I remain with some serious concerns.

The grant was given for the construction of a library and research center. Governor Christie’s goal is “keeping New Jersey’s “best” and “brightest” in-state, while attracting new research and business partners who will bring new and better paying jobs.”

What worries me is that in spite of what I am sure was a completely honest presentation of Lakewood’s plans to the state; I am not convinced that the state’s purpose in granting them that money is even a dream in the back of the minds of Lakewood’s leaders. Nor do I believe for a minute that such a library will serve any other purpose than the stated mission of such an institution – Torah study. The kind of research that library will offer will no doubt be only in that vein. Neither am I convinced that it will result in anything near attracting new business partners.

This project will help to retain some of the finest minds in Torah Judaism. Lakewood is the premier “Torah Only” Yeshiva in the United States. It attracts the best and brightest among its constituents. Expansion means attracting more of the same. Some of whom may settle there and eventually have good jobs (and some – not such great jobs).

But even so, Lakewood cannot claim that as its goal. It can only say that this is a by-product of their ‘Torah Only” system. This is a yeshiva that forbids its students to take any secular courses while enrolled there and discourages it even after they leave. This is a yeshiva whose rosh yeshiva (dean) made disparaging remarks about someone who has been a pioneer in providing higher education for students of yeshivos like Lakewood so that they could get decent jobs… basically referring to him as a second class citizen (…full time students of Torah being first class citizens). One might even say that the rosh yeshiva would view someone like that as undermining the goals of Lakewood!

It is also no secret that Lakewood uses the welfare system legally for students who qualify for aid. Most of them probably do – since they do not have jobs but do have large families. Even those whose wives work (most of them, I’m sure) do not make enough money to disqualify them from some sort of government assistance. Again, nothing legally wrong with that.

I have to ask, is there not a moral or ethical issue of misrepresenting yourself to the world in this way – even if you qualify legally? Is there not something wrong with able bodied people choosing not to work and using the welfare system as a means of income?

And by the same token, is there not something wrong with taking over $10 million knowing what the government thinks you are going to do with that money – and using it for something else – even though it technically qualifies? A Beis HaMedrash may be a library. But is a $10 million Beis HaMedrash going to attract business partners who will bring new and better paying jobs?

Even if it truly a research library and not a Beis HaMedrash – it will certainly only contain Seforim – religious books – even if some of them will be in English. What kind of research will this foster – other than research in Torah studies?

I of course have no problem with such a library. I think it will be a valuable resource for student of Torah. But is this what the State of New Jersey had in mind in approving $10 million dollars to Lakewood?

Lakewood’s goal is not Governor Christie’s goal. Lakewood wants to expand its student base. The enormous growth in the numbers of Orthodox Jews, especially among Haredi Jews of the “Torah Only” persuasion, demands such an expansion. For some time now, Lakewood has been talking about doubling its capacity to over 10,000 students!

I guess they have found a way of doing that. But is it ethical? Will the state be happy with the results? And how will this be perceived by the secular public? Will they not see this as being unethical? Is this ultimately the wisest way of raising money for their cause? Will the potential negative fallout be worth it if it happens?

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

New Jersey Bible Quiz Co-Champion

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Fifteen-year-old Yishai Eisenberg of Passaic, N.J., and a Beit Shemesh high school student were the first-ever co-champions in the International Bible Quiz held in Israel on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day.

Eisenberg and Elior Babian of Beit Shemesh, located west of, stunned the judges by their perfect knowledge of the Bible. When it became clear that neither could top the other without a marathon event, the judges gave up and declared both of them the champions.

Both contestants were asked to complete verses from the Bible. When challenged with the verse, “The king establishes the land by justice,” Eisenberg immediately responded correctly, “But he who receives bribes overthrows it.”

Babian completed the proverb “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint” with “But happy is he who keeps the law.”

Eisenberg is a student at the YeshivaUniversity’s Yeshivat Beit Hillel of Passaic-Hillel.

The influence of American-born Knesset Member Shai Piron was felt at the quiz, which at his insistence featured simultaneous sign language translation for the first time.

The Jewish World Series: Home Run for Unison

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Baseball was on Rabbi Zvi Kahn’s mind as he headed from his home in Columbus, Ohio, to the nearby Jewish Community Center after Havdalah one Saturday night in May, three years ago. More accurately, a baseball tournament.

Rabbi Kahn is headmaster of Columbus Torah Academy, a Modern Orthodox day school (K-12) that was sponsoring a first-of-its-kind baseball tournament among four Jewish high schools over one long weekend in 2010. Earlier games on Thursday evening and Friday afternoon had drawn nice crowds of visiting parents and local fans, but the Motzaei Shabbat competition, starting at 10:30 pm, was the centerpiece of the tournament. Rabbi Kahn was worried that people wouldn’t show up.

He needn’t have worried.

As he drove up to the JCC, the site of the Columbus Baseball Invitational, he saw cars vying for parking spaces. “The parking lot was full,” he says.

“I had to park farther away, on a side street.”

The Saturday night crowd, the rabbi says, confirmed that the school’s decision to establish such a sports venture was a success, giving young frum athletes a chance to compete in a kosher atmosphere without Shabbat scheduling conflicts and with bleachers full of enthusiastic supporters.

KOSHER BASEBALL

The need for such a Shabbat-considerate—if not strictly shomer Shabbat—sports tournament was revealed last winter when the boys’ basketball team of Houston’s Beren Academy, a day school whose team had reached the semifinals in its league for small private and parochial schools, became the center of a national controversy. Beren nearly had to forfeit a game, and a shot at the championship, because the semifinal and final games were scheduled to be played on Shabbat. Following a firestorm of publicity, including support for the school from largely non-Christian celebrities and politicians, and sympathetic coverage by the Houston media, a Friday evening game was changed to Friday afternoon.

Beren won that semifinal; the final game was played Saturday night. The issue created a major kiddush Hashem, educating the wider public about the specifics of Sabbath observance and the sacrifices it sometimes entails.

“[The tournament] is very important to these kids and their families,” Rabbi Kahn says.

“If adults ignore what [teens] are interested in, we’re going to lose them,” says Dr. Tricia Rosenstein, a pediatrician and Torah Academy parent.

For most teens, especially in a Modern Orthodox milieu where athletics often plays a prominent role, competitive sports are a normal—and valued—part of adolescence. This is especially so in Columbus, home of the Ohio State Buckeyes, one of college football’s most successful teams, and of fans who continue their rabid interest as alumni. On Friday night, Torah Academy students can hear the sound of fans cheering at high school football games in their neighborhoods.

The students, frum but worldly, want the excitement and recognition that surround other—non-Jewish—schools’ sports programs, family members of the day school students say.

“Kids need something a little bigger than themselves to feel part of,” says Dr. Rosenstein. “Now,” she says, “they get to hear their own cheering.”

“Athletics, like academics, provides the challenges that help shape both the mind and body,” according to the day school’s sports blog (ctaathletics.blogspot.com). “Many studies show that qualities such as commitment and desire drive our students to compete and excel in the classroom, on the field and later, in their chosen professions.” Which is why the school said yes when Steve Guinan, a baseball coach and English teacher at Torah Academy, asked whether a baseball tournament among similar Modern Orthodox institutions is feasible.

A TOURNAMENT IS BORN

Word went out over the Internet and several schools expressed interest.

First at bat were Chicago’s Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Manhattan’s Ramaz School and the Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, New Jersey. The initial Columbus Baseball Invitational—renamed the Jewish World Series—was born within a few months. The 2012 tournament included Ramaz, Ida Crown, Yeshiva Atlanta, Kushner and Rabbi Alexander S. Gross High School in Miami. A tournament is scheduled for this coming spring as well.

“We thought it would be more local, limited to schools closer to Columbus,” says Coach Guinan. To his surprise, more distant schools signed up for the tournament, which takes place after end-of-year exams are over.

ACHDUT (UNISON) ON AND OFF THE FIELD

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/the-jewish-world-series-home-run-for-unison/2013/03/12/

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