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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

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.

Mayor De Blasio Says Defending Israel Is Part of His Job

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Bill de Blasio, New York’s newly installed mayor said, “Part of my job description is to be a defender of Israel” while speaking at a private New York event of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“There’s no greater ally on earth, and that’s something we should say proudly,” he said last Thursday, as first reported Friday by the Capital New York news website.

De Blasio, elected in November described his visit to Israel with his family several years ago, and said that “City Hall will always be open” to AIPAC.

He noted in his talk that New York has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. Successive New York mayors have for decades cultivated close ties with Israel.

The AIPAC event was omitted from the mayor’s schedule distributed to the press corps, and the mayor said it was because AIPAC wanted the dinner to be closed to the press. De Blasio promised to provide a “clearer understanding” of his schedule and speeches, in the wake of the AIPAC speech.

NYPD Top Cop’s Wife to Use Her TV Status to Help Him

Monday, January 20th, 2014

New York City has another husband-and-wife team helping to run the city with the disclosure that Rikki Klieman, the wife of Police Chief Bill Bratton, plans to go to community meetings with him and will use her connections through her appearance on CBS as a legal analyst to his advantage.

The husband and wife duo, reported by The New York Daily News, follows the Bill and Chirlane act of Mayor Bill deBlasio, formerly known as William Wilhelm Jr. and later as Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm. His wife Chirlane McCray wants her own office inside City Hall , complete with her own staff.

Police Chief Bratton’s wife is a former trial lawyer and insists her connections will help Bratton’s attempts to improve relations with the city’s black community.

Farrakhan Says Kanye West Need not Apologize in Jewish Flap

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan told rapper Kanye West not to apologize or bow to pressure over remarks that were called “classic anti-Semitism” by the Anti-Defamation League.

“You are telling Kanye West he should know better,” Farrakhan said on Saturday during a weekly address for the Nation of Islam, directing his words at ADL National Director Abraham Foxman. “He does know better, and that’s why he said what he said.”

West, defending President Obama’s difficulty in passing his policies, said in an interview late last month on the New York City radio station WWPR-FM, “Black people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people.”

Foxman called the statement “classic anti-Semitism, adding: “There it goes again, the age-old canard that Jews are all-powerful and control the levers of power in government. As a celebrity with a wide following, Kanye West should know better. We hope that he will take responsibility for his words, understand why they are so offensive, and apologize to those he has offended.”

Farrakhan, taking further about Foxman, said, “I wish you and I could have a dialogue. You wouldn’t pull that small-time stuff on me.”

Bloomberg To Use $1 Million Prize For Israeli-PA Economic Ties

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a Hanukkah party Monday night that he will use the $1 million Genesis Prize to  “promote commerce between the people in Palestine and the people in Israel,” the Daily Forward reported.

It is not yet known which organizations will be assisted by the prize money. Bloomberg made the announcement at the party at the Museum of Jewish Heritage-Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

In his third and final term as New York mayor, Bloomberg was chosen from among more than 200 nominees worldwide because of his “track record of outstanding public service and his role as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists,” according to the prize committee.

The foundation was established last year by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a consortium of mega-wealthy philanthropist-businessmen from the former Soviet Union including Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and German Khan; the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel; and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Noah’s Ark Is Gone but Lower East Side Memories Are Kosher

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

For the old-timers still living on the Lower East Side, the recent closing of Noah’s Ark on Grand Street only evoked memories when Jews from throughout the New York metropolitan area would come to the East Side for the blintzes and “perogies” of Ratner’s and for the Chinese and deli items at Bernstein’s on Essex.

As the kosher restaurant scene in New York continues to grow, it is but a memory in the Lower East Side, of the days when almost every block had a kosher butcher store and where the best knishes could be consumed.

While the Lower East Side itself is far from a relic with many young professional Jews even moving into the neighborhood, it is no longer the kosher hub it was just a few decades ago. Jeremy, a business major at NYU, has roots in the Lower East Side. His mother’s parents grew up there, but he does not necessarily lament the closing of the last kosher restaurant in the immediate area. “My wife and I consider ourselves residents of Manhattan and within a subway stop or two, we have as many kosher restaurants as we want.”

It isn’t as if the East Side is totally bereft of kosher. It still has its share of pizza shops and bagel stores as well as a kosher grocery, but to the old timers it just doesn’t seem right. Said one retired typesetter: “We didn’t go out very much even when there were all those restaurants but it was nice to know that they were there.”

One iconic company remains on the lower East Side and in fact has recently released a film on its heritage there. Aaron Streit’s has been making Matzo on the Lower East Side since 1916. Even the Daily News was not able to do  a complete eulogy as it reported on the demise of Noah’s Ark. The News instead noted that with all of the new kosher restaurants opening in Brooklyn and Manhattan, “kosher is busting out!”

Another Arrest In Rapfogel Case; Alleged Theft Now $7 Million

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Authorities charged the owner of a New York insurance company with helping William Rapfogel, the former chief of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, steal more than $7 million from the organization.

The owner, Joseph Ross, was arrested and charged with a litany of crimes, including first-degree grand larceny and money laundering, according to The New York Times. The scheme, in which Rapfogel allegedly pocketed more than $1 million for himself, spanned more than two decades, according to the criminal complaint.

Ross’ company, Century Coverage in Valley Stream, N.Y., allegedly inflated invoices to Met Council. The illicit money was divided between Ross, Rapfogel and another person, the complaint said.

Rapfogel was fired from his post in August and arrested in September. At that time, the complaint listed $5 million as having been stolen. The new higher number suggests that authorities now believe the scheme involved even more money.

Ross did not enter a plea and was released on his own recognizance.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/another-arrest-in-rapfogel-case-alleged-theft-now-7-million/2013/11/17/

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