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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Staten Island’

Remembering a Community’s Selfless Response to Hurricane Sandy

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

With the coming of the New Year I can’t help but think of the past year’s highlights. While many memorable events occurred in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Jewish community in 5773, one in particular stands out for me: our response to Hurricane (later named Superstorm) Sandy.

In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy pounded America’s East Coast. Numerous communities in New York and New Jersey were devastated by flooding. Although Harrisburg experienced strong winds and heavy rains we were, thankfully, spared the fury of our temperamental Susquehanna River.

Our feelings of relief, however, were cut short when we learned just how badly other communities had fared. We soon heard of Jewish communities whose very infrastructure – schools, synagogues and homes – had been destroyed by the storm. To make matters worse, many of the areas most affected by Sandy were left without power for weeks after the storm.

Very quickly, Jewish relief organizations sprang into action to assist those who had lost everything. News stories abounded about ad-hoc aid centers, soup kitchens, and food and clothing distribution points that had been set up in Jewish day schools and synagogues.

It did not take long before Harrisburg’s diverse Jewish community found itself directly involved in the relief effort.

In a short span of time our shul, Kesher Israel Congregation, raised and distributed thousands of dollars to help fund those relief organizations actively assisting families most affected by Sandy.

The teens of the local Jewish Federation’s Bnei Tzedek group collected an incredible amount of canned goods, batteries and flashlights for Jewish families left without power in the Far Rockaway section of New York.

The Federation here also organized a clothing drive to help families of all backgrounds left without belongings in Sandy’s wake.

Perhaps most impressive, however, was our community’s rapidly assembled relief mission to Staten Island, New York.

In a wonderful statement of unity, a group of volunteers spanning Jewish Harrisburg (and beyond) spent Wednesday, November 14 in Staten Island helping hurricane victims in a hands-on fashion. Starting at 4:30 a.m. our group met at our JCC to load our bus with an abundance of supplies and clothing our community had donated for the hurricane victims.

Our group of relief volunteers represented the diverse nature of Harrisburg’s Jewish community. From an excited bunch of 7th graders in our local Jewish day school to a hard-working volunteer in his eighties, our group also spanned all ages. Once in Staten Island, we worked through the Young Israel, which had become one of the command centers assisting area residents hit by the storm.

In the days following Sandy, families of all religions, backgrounds and circumstances who had been devastated by the storm reached out to the synagogue for assistance. Upon our arrival we handed off our collected goods and the synagogue’s relief coordinator found appropriate jobs for each member of our group. In one way we all put in a hard day’s work assisting families, both Jewish and non-Jewish, whose homes had sustained damage ranging from flooded basements all the way to total loss. As a result of our efforts, Harrisburg’s Jewish community gained national attention.

What prompted our relatively small Jewish community out in Central Pennsylvania to be so generous with funds, resources and time? While a number of factors certainly played a role, I believe there is one that cannot be ignored.

The Jews of Harrisburg can honestly identify and sympathize with flood-stricken families, synagogues, and schools. As Harrisburg is nestled along the banks of the Susquehanna River, we know all too well what it means to suffer the effects of a hurricane. Having been through something of this nature on several occasions (my congregants report that the worst was Hurricane Agnes of 1972), our collective reaction was that of understanding, empathy and a sincere wish to be part of the relief effort.

In the months since Hurricane Sandy I have received many thank-you notes from people who were assisted by our community. I would venture to say, however, that those of us who did our best to help others in their time of need were ourselves, on a different level to be sure, very real beneficiaries of that relief effort.

Giuliani Pitching Lhota as Only Candidate Ready to Be Mayor

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

The Republican mayoral hopeful couldn’t of chosen a better advocate, making the case for his candidacy, than former mayor Rudy Giuliani in his home turf – Staten Island. In a 30 minute speech to supporters, who gathered at a minimum of $175 per person at the Excelsior Grand in Staten Island, Mayor Giuliani pitched the case for Joe Lhota, whom he said is the most qualified person to serve as New York City’s next mayor.

“Joe understands the budget of the city in detail, from his work in my administration and from his work as a financial analyst, working on municipal finance for many years before he came to city government,” said Mayor Giuliani. “Joe brings with him a great deal of knowledge of the financial market and business. That’s what we need. Not these career politicians who have never really held a job. Like our president who really never held a job.”

“The Democratic candidates are going to be owned by the unions,” Mayor Giuliani said, as he turned to deny the Democratic candidates from obtaining the job at City Hall. “When I ran for mayor the slogan was: ‘With all the crime, all the deficits and all the unemployment, vote for me, you can’t do any worse.’ You know something? That slogan applies today. You can’t do any worse. And in fact you will do worse, a lot worse, if you don’t elect Joe Lhota.”

At another point of the speech, Mayor Giuliani referred to the Democratic candidates as being sold out to the unions or lack the conviction of dealing with the economic crisis. “We need an strong man with strong convictions as mayor of New York city. Not someone who’s going to change his mind just because one union yells very loud. Just because his opponents are saying: ‘oh, you didn’t the support the bill to give people all the money they want. Now you’re supporting the bill to give people all the money they want because you’re running for office.’ That alone should disqualify you for office,” said the mayor.

Mayor Giuliani also addressed Mr. Lhota’s ties to Staten Island, a stronghold for Republicans, especially in the primaries. “There are other Republican candidates. They have pluses. They have minuses. But as far of understanding Staten Island, none of them.. none of them.. comes close to Joe Lhota. He knows more about Staten Island than all of those Republicans combined X2.”

“But he can’t do it alone,” said Mr Giuliani.”Here is your job. You got to raise money for him… The rules are so difficult that we need a lot of people making small contribution in order to get the money that’s necessary to make Joe a viable candidate. Money is very very important. Because the message that I just gave to you here, is the message that people all over New York City have to hear. And if they do, he will be elected as mayor of New York City.”

Mr Giuliani also addressed the Boston Terror attack, the 9/11 attacks, public safety and the war on terror as a reason to put Mr. Lhota at the helm, in order to keep New York City a safe place to live in and avoid future terror attacks.

“New York City still is as we know, and as we have been reminded in the last couple of weeks, New York City still is the number one target of terrorism in this country,” Mr Giuliani said before turning the focus at Islamic terrorism in general. “There were some people in Washington, who when we captured Bin Laden thought that the war on terror was over. They even announced it. I believe that some of these attacks that have recently taken place, have taken place because there is in Washington a process of denial. A Process of not really understanding what is against us. It is almost silly to say that there is no war on terror, because the Terrorists are at war with us.”

So we need a mayor who’s going to be very strong about this. We need a mayor who is not going to be confused by so many of these liberal ideas that say: ‘Oh, I don’t know. Maybe we shouldn’t classify this person as an Islamic extremist terrorist. Maybe it will offend somebody if we do it’. We need a mayor who understands that from having been at my side virtually every moment for 40 days, from the moment the bombs hit until the moment we left office.”

Brooklyn Woman Admits Stealing $1 Million from Jewish Cemetery

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

A Brooklyn woman pleaded guilty to charges that she stole $1 million from a Jewish cemetery on Staten Island.

Ilana Friedman, 51, admitted to grand larceny in Staten Island Supreme Court on Tuesday. Friedman, former director of the United Hebrew Cemetery, stole the money over a six-year period.

Friedman and her husband, Arthur, the cemetery’s former president, agreed to pay $1.1 million in restitution. Arthur Friedman did not face charges of theft, DNAInfo reported, but court papers accused him of failing to oversee his wife’s activities.

“The Friedmans abused their posts at this Staten Island cemetery to enrich themselves,” New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “This law-breaking husband-and-wife team will now pay for their shameless misconduct.”

My Machberes

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Hurricane Sandy And Frum Communities

The fury Hurricane Sandy unleashed on the Northeast severely impacted many communities throughout the greater New York City metropolitan area, leaving in its wake fatalities, injuries and destruction. Homes were destroyed or flooded and the loss of electrical power crippled whole neighborhoods.

The Rockaways, Bayswater, and Belle Harbor

The Rockaways, Bayswater and Belle Harbor were flooded by the tidal water overruns that came simultaneously from the beach and the bay. Every home, many of them were by large observant families, was damaged. Every basement was flooded. Extensive libraries of Jewish holy books were waterlogged and destroyed. The buildings of the Yeshiva of Belle Harbor were devastated.

Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis, Nikolsburger Rebbe, salvaging a sefer Torah from a flooded Belle Harbor shul basement.

Entire shuls were flooded. At least 17 sifrei Torah were ruined. Tears flowed copiously when volunteer salvage organizations, such as the Matzileh Aish volunteer firefighters of Kiryas Yoel, approached the shuls and saw more than one upended aron kodesh with sifrei Torah floating in water.

The loss of electrical power, combined with the extreme gasoline shortage, interfered with salvage efforts. Without power, pumping water out of basements becomes a Herculean task. Gasoline generators, with limited fuel, have to be used. Dredging efforts were deployed to remove mountains of sand from buried homes and clogged streets.

Hatzolah, Shomrim, Chaverim, and many other organizations from all areas joined to help. Bikur cholim and hachnassas orchim organizations heroically provided warm meals, new clothing, laundry services, and dredging applications. Inflatable boats were used to rescue people trapped in flooded areas. Sometimes the inflated boats themselves had to be rescued. Volunteers worked through the storm twenty-four hours a day.

On Friday, erev Shabbos Vayeira, buses came from as far as Baltimore to transport people to warm homes for Shabbos. On Sunday, November 4, a cold snap descended on the region. Tremendous efforts were expended to move children, including newborns, and their mothers to welcoming homes in areas that had heat. All this was in addition to truckloads of warm clothing, blankets and food collected and brought from other frum neighborhoods. Shabbos meal packages and weekday communal meals were available.

Seagate, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach

Residents of Seagate were equally impacted. Beachfront houses and homes close to the beachfront were washed away. Except for those close to the water, most homes did not have flood insurance since coverage is expensive and the need was not apparent. Every basement was flooded. Mordecai Ben David, the renowned Jewish singer, had a recording studio in his basement with equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars. Water smashed into his basement, destroying everything below shoulder height. A well-known collector of antique sefarim had his entire collection, worth millions of dollars, ruined. Every basement has to be stripped, relined, and rebuilt. The shuls, too, lost sifrei Torah and sefarim.

Long Beach

Words cannot describe the destruction in Long Beach. Ocean Place, the center of the frum neighborhood, was severely impacted, with homes totally destroyed or rendered inaccessible because of flooding. For the first time in its 47-year existence, the sounds of Torah at the Yeshiva of Long Beach were stilled. The yeshiva found temporary quarters elsewhere.

Staten Island

Hurricane Sandy caused untold damage to several areas of Staten Island. The electricity went out Monday at 10:15 p.m., after the last minyan for Maariv at Congregation Agudas Shomre Hadas, 98 Rupert Avenue. Early Tuesday morning, right before the shul’s first early morning shiur, the lights came back on, as they did in most of the frum community.

Boro Park

Boro Park emerged relatively unscathed from the brutal force of Hurricane Sandy. Several trees were uprooted, damaging cars and blocking thoroughfares.

Kiryas Yoel

Because of the loss of electricity, many of Kiryas Yoel’s residents left, including those who seldom wander out of the enclave. Satmar families in Boro Park and Williamsburg welcomed them in. Chaverim sought to service those who remained at home. Chaverim members were observed carrying laundry bags all day from homes without power to those with, and then returning with freshly washed laundry. This was in addition to the thousands of packaged meals delivered. Power was restored to most residents on the afternoon of Shabbos Chayei Sarah. Matzileh Aish oversaw the use of generators wherever possible. On Shabbos, non-Jews conducted patrols carrying extra gasoline to fill emptying generator tanks.

New York Under Water

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

New York City has undergone a torrential storm that left six people dead and stranded close to a million residents without power. The city’s transportation system is crippled.

The storm surge was made worse by a higher full-moon tide, with the peak of the flooding lower Manhattan and other low-lying areas by 8 PM.

Large parts of Manhattan below midtown are now in the dark after a reported explosion that may have been at a Con Ed building, reported The Gothamist. “Huge explosion at 14th St. All of downtown is now dark,” tweeted the website’s correspondent. Another witness saw a “massive explosion here in LES then all went dark.”

As of early Tuesday morning, there are numerous reports of residents trapped in their homes facing the high waters that submerged many parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Rockaways. The Fire Department is forced to reach those trapped by boat.

According to the NY Post, water gushed into the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and cars were floating in the streets. There was no dry land anywhere in the Rockaways, where cops in the 100th Precinct station house were trapped on the building’s second floor.

A 29-year-old man was killed in his Flushing, Queens, home when a tree fell into the building. Three children were killed when a tree fell in North Salem. A woman was electrocuted after stepping into a puddle on 105th Avenue in South Richmond Hill.

NYU Langone Medical Center is dark after the backup generators failed. Patients had to be moved to nearby facilities.

All MTA trains and buses are down.

Bacon Hate Crimes and Islamophobia Witch-Hunts

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

The NYPD is taking a break from investigating multiple shootings in four of New York City’s boroughs, including the attempted murder of an NYPD Sergeant, to head down to the city’s much overlooked fifth borough, Staten Island, to investigate a case of littering.

Muslims arriving at the New Dorp football field, a few blocks away from the New Dorp High School, discovered some bacon lying on the ground. The field is usually home to the New Dorp Central Cougars and the Staten Island Tech Seagulls, but that day instead of boys and girls running around joyfully in the sun, robed men had come to attend a Ramadan event. The media and police were quickly summoned and now the NYPD is investigating the bacon as a hate crime.

The Ramadan event had been organized by a local chapter of the Muslim American Society. The Muslim American Society is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, and some of its chapters have called for the murder of Jews. Calling for the murder of Jews however falls under freedom of speech. Unlike bacon which is a hate crime.

Staten Island had 226 robberies, 342 felonious assaults, 380 burglaries and 1,129 misdemeanor assaults last year. The figures are probably even worse this year and the NYPD has better things to do than train bacon-sniffing dogs to track down litterers. But the case of the lost bacon is not New York’s most absurd Islamophobia witch-hunt to date.

Last year Osman Daramy, an 11-year-old boy, was charged with a hate crime for trying to pull off a girl’s hijab in school. Osman had a long history of violent misbehavior but no real disciplinary action was taken against him until he went too far and pulled off a hijab. Newspapers, which generally avoid printing photos of children being arrested unless they murdered someone, gleefully ran pictures of him being led away in handcuffs and leg irons.

Somewhere in the middle of all the madness, Osman’s stepfather explained to the press that the Daramy family is Muslim and that Osman participates in Muslim prayers. “How could a Muslim have (committed) another hate crime against a Muslim?” he asked.

The year before that, New York City was treated to an even more horrifying Islamophobic hate crime. On a hot August day, the wire services reported that a man had invaded a mosque, accused the worshipers of being terrorists and then urinated on their prayer rugs. “Start of a bigger trend?” MSNBC asked. “Without a significant response by mainstream political leaders, this disturbing trend will only continue to grow,” a CAIR spokesman warned.

But the disturbing trend of mosque carpet urinators did not take off. The perpetrator, Omar Rivera, had been drinking for five straight days after the death of his sister and had never mentioned terrorists. His only crime was accidentally soiling some prayer rugs lying outside the mosque. The only hate came from inside the mosque which had an article on its website accusing the Jews of being responsible for homosexuality and AIDS.

Omar Rivera and Osman Daramy were swept up in the Islamophobia witch-hunt. But they weren’t the only ones. Innocent New Yorkers, like Eddie Crespo, an off-duty MTA officer who tried to break up a fight involving a Muslim Imam, have also been caught up in the Islamophobia hysteria. And now the NYPD is hunting for bacon-lovers while prosecutors wonder how to convince a jury that littering is a form of intimidation, just like a swastika or a burning cross.

The Islamophobia witch-hunt is not the NYPD’s fault. The NYPD is under severe political pressure to fight Islamophobia and it has to make the requisite number of arrests to show that it is serious about it. The Islamophobia establishment and its media allies are the ones responsible for unleashing the witch-hunt that led to a Latino MTA officer nearly losing his career and a grieving Latino man nearly being locked up for a minor offense. And even Muslim children, such as Osman Daramy, can be caught up in the hysteria of the Islamophobia witch-hunt when there aren’t any actual bias crimes against Muslims to be found.

In the last five years there have been multiple Muslim plots to bomb synagogues. The NYPD is investigating bombs in synagogues, not bacon, because there really is a disturbing trend of anti-Semitic hate crimes. The best evidence that there is no similarly disturbing trend of Islamophobic attacks is that the NYPD is bagging and tagging bacon at a Staten Island football field.

New Site Aims For ‘One Million Refuah Shleimahs’

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Almost every American Orthodox Jew who owns a computer either checks or knows about OnlySimchas.com. If Naftali Mark, a young Flatbush financial representative, has his druthers, the same will one day be true about www.Refuahs.org.

 

            Started in January, Refuahs.org lists the names of dozens of sick people from around the world with the aim of “connecting those praying with those in need of prayer.” Visitors to the site can sign up for a daily e-mail alert with the names of ill people, along with a short inspirational d’var Torah. Additionally, people can receive emergency alerts via e-mail or Refuahs.org’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

“I wanted to make something that would be the world’s most circulated cholim list,” said Mark.

 

            “My number one goal is to be able to say one day that we got one million refuah shleimahs said in one day. If we have 100,000 people signed up for the mailer and each person says a refuah shleimah for 10 names, that’s one million refuah shleimahs,” he said.

 

Right now Mark’s website is still in its infancy stage, with only several hundred people receiving his daily e-mails. However, Mark said he is already seeing spiritual dividends on his investment. Staten Island resident Jack Newman told The Jewish Press, “Unfortunately I know people who need a refuah and – other than word of mouth in the community – if I want to get it out to the general public I use Refuahs.org.”

 

Praying for sick people, Newman said, “has been going on for thousands of years, and now we’re just bringing it into the 21st century.”

 

The idea of creating the website came to Mark on January 16, less than 36 hours after his grandmother passed away. He credits her as the site’s inspiration. “My grandmother and I were extremely close, and she always wanted me to do something that would better this world and really have an impact. And this is my opportunity to make a difference, leave my ‘mark’ – my last name is Mark, so I always say this – on this world, and have a positive impact.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community//2009/06/01/

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