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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Lack of ‘Kosher Cop’ in New York a Problem for Kosher Consumers

Monday, October 28th, 2013

The departure of the head of the Kosher Law Enforcement Division of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has created a vacuum in which many consumers have charged that there are many incidents of misrepresentations of kosher foods.

KosherToday has learned that the Department is looking for a replacement for Rabbi Luzer Weis but that it has no plans to rehire the inspectors that were ousted in an ostensible budget move several years ago.

Sources say that while the Department is committed to staff the kosher division with an official, it hopes that some of the routine kosher law enforcement will be carried out by New York State health inspectors.

Observers note that the absence of the inspectors has allowed co-mingling of kosher and non-kosher items in aisles that are labeled as kosher. Some Orthodox Jewish organizations have been urging the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo “to put teeth back into kosher law enforcement.”

NY Court to Decide Dispute over ‘Holocaust-Ancient Assyrian Link’

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

The fate of a tiny gold tablet in the possession of the estate of a Holocaust survivor and claimed by a Berlin Museum now is in the hands of seven judges on the New York Supreme Court.

The table, if it’s not a hoax, could be worth millions of dollars. It belonged to Holocaust survivor Riven Flamenbaum of Great Neck, New York and was inherited by his children. The history of the tablet is certain as far back as 100 years ago but may go back 3,200 years – or it may not.

German archaeologists discovered it approximately 100 years ago in the Assyrian city of Ashtur, in what is now northern Iraq, Long Island Newsday reported. It went missing after it has been displayed at the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin in 1934 until the end of the war, when the museum’s artifacts were inventoried.

It next showed up in the hands of Flamenbaum, a native Poland who obtained it by trading “either for two packs of cigarettes or a piece of salami,” according to one of his daughters, Hannah Flamenbaum.

After her father died in 2003, his son Israel told the German museum about the presence of the tablet, and it sued for its return. The lower court in New York ruled in favor of the estate, but an appeals court overruled the decision, and the New York Supreme Court concluded hearings on the case Tuesday. A ruling is expected in four to six weeks.

It is not known if the tablet is a forgery or not. His daughter Hannah said her father tried to sell it to an auction house in 1954 but was told it was a worthless forgery.

Her brother Israel disagreed with her account including of the estate and informed the museum of the tablet’s presence, setting off the legal war.

Hannah and a sister claim that so much times has passed since the disappearance of the tablet that the museum has no rightful claim.

Their lawyer says that if the tablet turns out to be true ancient artifact, it could be worth approximately $10 million.

‘Rain on Entebbe’ Producer Daniel Blatt Dies at Age 76 in LA

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Daniel Blatt, who produced “Raid on Entebbe” as well as a cult horror film and an epic science fiction movie, has died of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 76.

Blatt was born in Rockland County, New York and practiced law after he earned his law degree, but he later switched to Hollywood, where he eventually was nominated for an Emmy Award for co-producing the “Raid on Entebbe” film that was aired on NBC in 1976.

He also produced the cult horror film ”The Howling” and the sci-fi mini-series “V: The Final Battle.”

In an interview with Luke Ford several years ago, Blatt revealed that his favorite work was Entebbe because “it represented the Jews reacting to victimhood in a positive way.

“I grew up in a very Jewish house,” he said. “Then after I was Bar Mitvahed, I said ‘enough of this’ and I moved away from it. And then suddenly to be brought back into this thing was almost like a gift, a circle that I’d completed…. It was coming back to my roots.”

His parents had fled the Nazis in 1934 after his father, a doctor at a Jewish hospital, noticed regulations for Jewish doctors after the Nazis took over the medical facility.

He told the interviewer, “I grew up in a household where persecution of the Jews was drilled into my soul overtly and inovertly.”

Asked if he started observing the Sabbath, Blatt replied, “Let’s not go that far,” but he said he visited Israel “a couple of times.”

He also produced “Common Ground,” about desegregation in Boston in the 1970s,  “Kissinger and Nixon,” I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977) and “The Boost.”

Blatt produced episodes of the CBS crime drama The New Mike Hammer and concluded his film career this year with the Lifetime telefilm “Twist of Faith.”

De Blasio Intervened to Save Anti-Israeli Protester from Jail

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Bill de Blasio intervened in in charges against a teacher at his daughter’s school and who protesting Israel’s policies in Gaza in 2004 and helped him avoid a jail term, The New York Daily News reported Sunday.

Documents that now are available show that while de Blasio, leading candidate for mayor, was a city councilman, he turned to the Manhattan District Attorney to help Steve Quester, a first-grade teacher, avoid going to prison on charges that he and another dozen demonstrators blocked traffic.

NY Arrests 2 in Plot to Help Taliban ‘Cut US Soldiers to Pieces’

Friday, October 11th, 2013

New York City police have arrested two local Muslim citizens for allegedly trying to buy equipment to help Taliban terrorists “cut U.S. soldiers to pieces.”

The arrests follow a two-year investigation, leaving unanswered questions why it took so long to arrest the men and why federal authorities did not intervene.

The men, Humayoun Nabi, 27, and Ismail Alsarabbi, 32, each are being held on $550,000 on charges of conspiracy and seeking to aid terrorists. There were hauled into Queens Criminal Court on Tuesday but the announcement of the arrest was delayed until Thursday because law enforcement officials wanted  to protect their undercover sources and look for additional suspects.

Authorities said the men were not involved with any plots to terrorize New York City but that their scheme, if carried out, would have been a “game changer,” court records revealed.

Nabi is a college-trained renovator with no criminal record and was a victim of police undercover agents’ tricks to arrest him for innocent actions, such as agreeing to “to send shows and coats to Afghanistan,” according to Nabi’s attorney Kenneth Finkelman.

He added, “For 18 months, for two years, the NYPD was trying to convince a guy with a wife and a child to send shoes and coats to Afghanistan. It’s totally entrapment.”

The charge sheet  states that Nabi and Alsarabbi plotted to send military equipment, including boots, to Taliban terrorists.

Alsarabbi’s attorney Sean McNicholas called the prosecution “outrageous” and accused the government of using a “a very common tactic…where they play on our fears and…use a confidential informant.”

The investigation began two years ago after Nabi met a police informant through a mutual acquaintance and talked about his hatred for the United States, Jews and American soldiers.

“The source of the Americans’ strength is their equipment, specifically good jackets, good goggles, good GPS,” Nabi told an undercover agent in December 2011. In another conversation, two weeks after U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden, Nabi allegedly said, “We are sitting here breathing in peace, eating chicken and roasts and our brothers, they are dying.”

Nabi  allegedly admitted to police he planned to provide clothes and boots to terrorists in Afghanistan to “level the playing field” in battles with U.S. soldiers. He was reported as saying he wanted to build “ a small army.”

He  also told agents he ultimately wanted to provide persons to Taliban terrorists but for the time being concentrated on funding clothing and electronics.

The police informant gave Nabi a $3,900 check, and Alsarabbi allegedly told his cohort to send the money to Nabi’s father in Pakistan.

FBI Arrests NY Rabbis for Beating Husbands Who Refuse Divorce

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The FBI raided a Monsey yeshiva Wednesday night and arrested four mean, including two rabbis, who allegedly kidnapped and beat recalcitrant husbands who had refused to grant their wives religious divorces and thereby prohibit them from re-marrying under Jewish law.

The “executors” used by the divorce gang included “electric cattle prods, karate, handcuffs and placed plastic bags over the heads of husbands,” the complaint charge stated.

The status of stranded Jewish women is known as “aguna” and is a problem that has received deserved focus in Israel and the Diaspora in recent years.

The FBI investigation and arrests bring to national attention the anguished situation of “aguna” women and perhaps will help put legal pressure on husbands who have separated from their wives but refuse to allow them to re-marry.

The suspects were arrested after a month-long sting operation in which a female FBI agent posed as an Orthodox woman trying to get a religious divorce from her husband. Another undercover agent posed as her brother.

Rabbis Mendel Epstein and Martin Wolmark, along with Ariel Potash and a fourth individual known as Yaakov, appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J. Six others could be charged, according to reports.

The FBI also raided Yeshiva Sha’arei Torah in Monsey and a yeshiva in Lakewood, N.J., Brooklyn and elsewhere.

The rabbis allegedly charged $10,000 to persuade the rabbis on the rabbinical court to approve kidnapping husbands, and another up to $60,000 to pay for others to abduct and beat husbands.

The FBI agents called Rabbi Wolmark in August and said they were “desperate for a religious divorce and were willing to pay a large sum of money to obtain a divorce,” according to the charge sheet.

“There are a couple of ways to do that,” Wolmark allegedly said in a recorded phone conversation. “You have to, we have to, convene a special Bet Din and see if there are grounds to, to, to coerce him on the ‘get’ [divorce decree].”

Wolmark allegedly added, “You need to get him to New York where someone either can harass him or nail him. Plain and simple,” he said, according to the complaint. The rabbi then set up a meeting between the undercover agents and Rabbi Epstein. A recorded conversation revealed that Rabbi Epstein spoke about “kidnapping, beating and torturing husbands in order to force a divorce.’

He allegedly added, “Basically what we are going to be doing is kidnapping a guy for a couple of hours and beating him up and torturing him and then getting him to give the ‘get.’”

One of the “tough guys,” supposedly Rabbi Epstein’s son, “uses his karate skills” on the victims, court papers said.

The FBI said the “divorce gang” has been operating for 20 years and that Rabbi Epstein said he carries out approximately one kidnapping a year.

Forcing husbands to grant a divorce is permitted under Jewish law, a rabbi told The Jewish Press Thursday. “Jewish law does not always seem humane, but it really is humane because physical force often is the only way to force angry husbands to release their wives from virtual bondage and to allow them to-remarry,” he said.

The rabbi added that rabbis often are blamed for the situation of the agunot but also are criticized for using force, recognized under Jewish law, to solve their dilemma.

He pointed out that force can be used only if a Bet Din [religious court] authorizes it and only if there are substantial reasons to order a divorce.

Brooklyn Boy Killed By Van One Month before Bar Mitzvah

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

A Brooklyn boy was struck and killed by a van Tuesday night, one month before his bar mitzvah.

Samuel Cohen-Eckstein, 12, was hit on Prospect Park West in the Park Slope neighborhood after chasing a ball into the street, the New York Daily News reported. The boy was pronounced dead soon after arriving at nearby Methodist Hospital.

The van driver remained at the scene and no summons was issued.

The Park Slope Stoop website reported that Cohen-Eckstein had been scheduled to mark his bar mitzvah at Kolot Chayeinu, a liberal congregation in Park Slope, and planned to donate a portion of his gifts to Heifer International.

His parents, Amy Cohen and Gary Eckstein, have spoken at community meetings “in support of traffic calming and the protected bike lane on Prospect Park West,” according to StreetsBlog.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/brooklyn-boy-killed-by-van-one-month-before-bar-mitzvah/2013/10/10/

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