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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘West Hempstead’

Coping With Irene’s Wrath: New Yorkers Tell Their Stories

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

As Hurricane Irene barreled toward New York late last week, city officials, still smarting over what critics called a tentative response to the great blizzard of 2010, acted proactively, shutting down mass transit and ordering a mandatory evacuation in zones expected to be directly in the path of the massive storm.

The mandatory evacuation order, which covered Manhattan Beach, Coney Island, Seagate, the Rockaways and parts of Staten Island, was issued Friday afternoon, with people told to leave their homes by 5 p.m. the next day. While that gave residents more than 24 hours to make their preparations, thousands of Orthodox Jews living in the designated areas as well as in neighboring parts of Nassau County, including the Five Towns and Long Beach, had just hours until the onset of the Sabbath. They all wrestled with the same question: Where to spend Shabbos?

Phone calls, text messages, e-mails and posts on Jewish news sites were used to circulate information, including a steady stream of evacuation updates and halachic guidelines for which emergency actions were permissible on Shabbos.



Downed tree in Brooklyn testifies to Irene’s fury.

Hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm

but left penty of damage in its wake.


The Orthodox Union issued hurricane guidelines originally produced by Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, advising people to keep yahrzeit candles and flashlights lit over Shabbos and to have a radio on at a low volume in a side room for emergency bulletins. In the event that Irene made landfall on Shabbos, the guidelines urged everyone to daven at home and to assume their eruv was down, but allowed for carrying, preferably in an irregular fashion, in case of medical need, danger to life and limb and for the elderly and small children.

Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Meisels, the Seagate Rav, urged residents of Coney Island and Seagate to leave their homes to avoid potential chillul Shabbos should they be forced to evacuate on Saturday, and the Agudath Israel of Bayswater sent an e-mail at 4:38 Friday afternoon informing area residents of Zone B, which included Far Rockaway, Bayswater and Belle Harbor, that if they had a place to go for Shabbos they were halachically required to leave the area.

Several shelters were opened to accommodate those who needed food and lodging for Shabbos, including in Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv in Far Rockaway and in Young Israel of Bayswater.

Achiezer, a Far Rockaway-based community resource center, offered placement for families in both West Hempstead and at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in Kew Gardens Hills.




Water reached almost five feet high at the

Sun Circle Bungalow Colony in South Fallsburg, N.Y.


Some sought temporary shelter with friends or relatives. Others were steadfast in their decision to stay home. Many found they simply did not have enough time to pack up and leave before Shabbos and were left wondering if they would be forcibly removed from their homes once the evacuation deadline passed.

As it turned out, Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it arrived in New York. So for most area residents, the much ballyhooed monster hurricane was at worst a soggy inconvenience. But in at least three cases in the Jewish community, the hurricane left tragic consequences in its wake.

David Reichenberg, a 50-year-old Orthodox Jewish father of four from Spring Valley, died saving a father and his 6-year-old son from a downed power line. Reichenberg came into contact with the live wire and was electrocuted.

Reichenberg had stopped to help the boy and his father who were viewing damage outside their home in Rockland County. The boy had touched a metal fence electrified by a fallen wire. Reichenberg pulled the two from the fence, but could not escape himself, witness Moishe Lichtenstein told the New York Daily News.

“When I got there the victim was on the ground and he was touching the wire, which was in the water,” Lichtenstein said. “When emergency officials got there, they couldn’t touch him. We were standing there for like five or 10 minutes. We were just praying, ‘God help this man.’ “

In an interview with JTA, a longtime friend of Reichenberg, Rabbi Avrohom Braun, described the deceased as an “upbeat person with unshakable faith.” Rabbi Braun is director of admissions and education at Ohr Somayach yeshiva, which Reichenberg attended 25 years ago. Every morning, Reichenberg, who ran a sign-making shop, would attend 6 a.m. classes before opening his store, Rabbi Braun said. He also said Reichenberg regularly volunteered to help coordinate Shabbos meals for impoverished families in Rockland County, which has a large population of Orthodox Jews.

Michael Kenwood, 39, also died while attempting to help others. A volunteer first aid worker from Princeton, N.J., Kenwood was checking a submerged car that rescuers thought was occupied when he became untethered and slipped. Kenwood was swept away by the current and later was pulled unconscious from the waters.

Rozalia Gluck, a Holocaust survivor originally from Russia, died after she was trapped in a Catskills motel that was swept away by flood waters during the storm. She was 82.

In all, as of Tuesday afternoon some 48 deaths had been attributed to Irene.

* * *

Many of those who survived the storm encountered difficulties of their own. Among those who opted to stay home for Shabbos rather than evacuate was Chana, a resident of Bayswater who declined to give her last name. Living on the second floor of a residence located on higher ground, away from the bay, she felt confident she was out of harm’s way. Chana found Shabbos to be rainy but uneventful, though several rabbis told her she should have left the area.

After Shabbos, Chana and her neighbor heard news reports saying that power might be cut in their area and they decided to spend the night in West Hempstead. By about 9 a.m. Sunday, the house where Chana was staying had no phone, Internet or cable service. Across the street, there was no electricity and two houses had been hit by fallen trees, one of which had been split in half by lightning.

Chana left West Hempstead with her neighbor in the early afternoon; the area looked like a slalom course, with downed trees dotting the roads. Returning to Bayswater, an area that was supposed to be much harder hit by Irene, Chana reports that she saw only two fallen trees.

“I got home and everything was exactly where I had left it,” said Chana. “The garbage cans, the plants, the rosebushes, not a single item had been damaged. Bayswater was supposed to be the dangerous place to be, but it turns out that the place I went to escape Bayswater was hit even harder by Irene. I should have listened to my instincts and just stayed home. I think after Katrina and the big blizzard this year, everyone just panicked.”

Cedarhurst resident Sholom Jacobs had been contemplating going away for Shabbos with his family. Hearing news of the evacuations sealed the deal and the Jacobs family packed up their car and headed north, spending Shabbos in Monsey and Motzaei Shabbos at the Pearl River Hilton, also in Rockland County. Heading back to Cedarhurst, he noted downed trees and some flooded streets. Jacobs was grateful to find everything in his house both dry and in working order, though friends informed him that many people in the low lying areas had water in their basements and numerous homes in Cedarhurst were without power. “I think Monsey and upstate got hit harder than we did,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said he has no regrets about leaving for Shabbos.

“There is no way to predict exactly where these things will land and what the damage will be. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Joseph Horowitz of Lawrence was one of those who stayed home for Shabbos, but found the day very stressful.

“It was so close to Shabbos by the time we were told to leave that we weren’t comfortable leaving,” he said. “With so many people leaving the area and so much traffic, who really had time to get anywhere? Besides, many people stayed because they just didn’t have anywhere to go.”

In Shaaray Tefila, where Horowitz davens, those who stayed behind were clearly on edge. There were regular hurricane updates during the day and a visit from the mayor. Conversation centered around whether or not Maariv would be davened at the earliest possible time so that people could evacuate.

“Shabbos just didn’t feel like Shabbos,” said Horowitz.

While many people evacuated the Five Towns, there were some hardy souls who braved the elements and actually traveled to the evacuation zone for Shabbos.

“My friend was making a bar mitzvah in Cedarhurst,” explained Mindy, who only gave her first name. “We were almost at our destination when we found out about the mandatory evacuation order. We didn’t have enough time to turn around, sit in the traffic that was piling up on Rockaway Turnpike and still make it home in time for Shabbos. My friend came to my son’s wedding in the middle of a blizzard. Was I really going to miss her son’s bar mitzvah for a hurricane?”

Mindy and her husband found Shabbos to be rainy but calm. As Shabbos ended, there were people going around to the various shuls telling people to leave the area, so Mindy and her husband packed up and they drove home. They passed a few flooded streets but made it home in record time.

“Ten minutes after we left Cedarhurst they shut down Rockaway Turnpike,” Mindy said. “By the time we got home both Mayor Bloomberg and the Nassau County executive were telling everyone to just stay where they were. Thankfully we got out at just the right time.”

* * *

While New York City was hit less hard than anticipated, some rural vacation spots were not as lucky.

Menachem Bornstein of Far Rockaway spent last weekend with his wife’s family in Camp Morasha, located in Lake Como, Pennsylvania, where the torrential rains began after midnight on Motzaei Shabbos.



Workers at Camp Morasha remove a fallen tree from on top of a bunk.

(Photo courtesy of Menachem Bornstein)


“While we had a minyan over Shabbos, I had to drive about eight miles for a minyan on Sunday morning,” said Bornstein. “On my way back it was extremely windy with branches falling down, and as I got to the camp there was a huge fallen tree blocking the road. I stopped my car and that was when I began to smell smoke. I turned around and saw that there was smoke behind me – a tree had fallen and hit a power line.”

Bornstein called 911 and managed to get back into the camp by going with a janitor who had appeared on the scene.

By 11 a.m. Sunday the camp had neither water nor electricity. There were twelve fallen trees in the camp, including an extremely large tree that had fallen on Bornstein’s in-laws’ cabin but miraculously did not crash through the roof.

Camp cooks prepared the food by candlelight and large generator-powered floodlights were used in the dining room to provide light for the meals. While water was restored to the camp at 8:30 Sunday night, it took until late Monday afternoon for the electricity to come back on.

Despite the soggy weather, winds and other difficulties, Bornstein said his children had a great time.

(Additional reporting by JTA)

Are You ‘Linked In?’

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Have you ever Googled your own name?  That may not be a question you hear often, but when you take the time to do so, you may be surprised by what you find.  Believe it or not, most employers Google the names of prospective employment candidates to see what they can find, and you do not want them to find your Purim pictures on Facebook.


Even when there are no pictures or blog posts that you are trying to hide, employers want to see that potential candidates have a web presence.  A Google search that produces no relevant results is almost as bad as a search that produces negative information.  It is for that reason that it is absolutely critical that every person create an account on www.linkedin.com/.


What is Linkedin?  To put it simply, Linkedin is Facebook without all the schmutz.  Instead of focusing on pictures of your latest party or relating the tale of the cutest thing ever that your daughter just did, Linkedin is a site devoted to professional networking. 


My wife and I had been house shopping in West Hempstead for more than a year without any luck.  A status update on Linkedin led to a rare house rental opportunity near the shul, and we moved less than 3 months later. 


That was a rather rare occurrence, however.  Primarily, Linkedin is a way to connect with other professionals to create business opportunities.  Linkedin users connect with people that they know who are in turn connected with their own groups of associates.  “Your network consists of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you to a vast number of qualified professionals and experts: http://press.linkedin.com/about.”


The first step after creating your free Linkedin account is designing your profile.  Effective Linkedin profiles include all of the professional basics including a summary of qualifications, work history, a professional picture and updates on your current work related projects.


People often wonder if it is wise to share so much personal information on the Internet.  While I understand those concerns, the truth is there is very little we can do to hide anymore.  If someone wants it, they can have a satellite image of and a map to your house with just a few keystrokes. (If you don’t believe me try conducting a search for your name on www.intelius.com/.)


 In any event, Linkedin does have a number of privacy settings that can be used by those who are truly worried.


For employers, Linkedin presents the most effective opportunity to collect all of the relevant and up-to-date information about a prospective employee, and the best part is that the job seeker has the ability to control exactly what the employer finds!


Are you going for a job interview?  How much information do you know about the person that is interviewing you?  A Linkedin search can reveal pertinent information about the interviewer that can be incorporated into your interview answers.


You may be wondering how Linkedin can help you if you already have a job.  Linkedin has become a favorite tool for human resources professionals who are looking to “steal” qualified talent from other employers.  Even if you are not interested in changing jobs, your Linkedin profile is a great way for prospective clients to find you.


So, when you Google yourself, what do you find?  It took a concerted effort on my part, given the fame of the late great Rabbi Chaim Shapiro of Go My Son fame (no relation), but 95 percent of the time when you Google my name, my Linkedin profile comes up first.  Even though my daughter does do an incredible amount of cute things, my profile is what I prefer people find when they are looking for me.


Chaim Shapiro: M.Ed. is the assistant director of Career Services at Touro College and a social media consultant.  He holds a Master’s Degree in College Administration from Loyola University Chicago. He is the founder of the largest Orthodox online networking group, the Frum Network on Linkedin.  He welcomes comments, suggestions and feedback at chaimshapiro@aol.com.

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Florida Voters

   Re “Jews Key In South Florida Vote” (news story, Nov. 3):

   As a longtime resident of Boca Raton, a converted Jewish umbilical-cord Democrat, and chair of Jewish Outreach for the Boca Raton Republican Club, I constantly challenge the political intelligence of my fellow Jews here in South Florida.

   I can tell you that many South Florida Jews do not wish their neighbors to know of their political feelings, nor do they register as Republicans because local political leaders peruse voting records. They actually fear that information getting out. The saying down here is, “If they find out I’m a Republican, I’ll be thrown out of the card game and into the pool.” They are scared.

Alan Bergstein

Boca Raton, FL


W. Hempstead’s Yeshiva Gedolah

   The Oct. 27 two-page spread on West Hempstead highlighted many of the community’s fine resources and featured wonderful pictures of important community figures. I was disappointed, however, that there was no mention of the Yeshiva Gedolah of West Hempstead.
   The yeshiva, which is strongly supported by all of West Hempstead’s rabbonim and has been warmly welcomed by the community at large, is housed in the Anshei Shalom Beis Medrash (472 Hempstead Ave). Under the leadership of Rav Zev Cinamon, the yeshiva offers numerous learning opportunitiesto the community at large – including a Thursday night mishmar program, women’s shiurim and a beginner’s Talmud program.
   On a personal note, I consider myself most fortunate to have among the yeshiva’s rebbeim individuals who are deeply connected to our community. Rabbis Yossi Azose, Darrell Ginsberg and Akiva Sacknovitz are all residents of West Hempstead and Rabbi Sam Rudansky is a rebbe at HANC.

Elliot Koenigsberg

West Hempstead, NY


Canceled Conference


   Re the cancellation of the scheduled agunah conference in Jerusalem (news story, Nov. 10):
   My graduate-school age niece does not understand it: if a woman – one who acts within the legal norms of a halachic community – is a victim of get refusal and cannot protect herself under halacha, doesn’t the halachic community (especially its decisors) have the responsibility to protect her from suffering?
   For a couple of years now, I have co-chaired the JOFA Agunah Task Force. At first I shied away from involvement with individual agunot, preferring to put my energies into seeking global solutions.
   But I have not been able to stay insulated from individual women in transition who call me all the time, most of them confused as to what to do, seeking money for lawyers, unsure how the bet din works, afraid of losing their children, afraid of becoming pariahs in their communities, afraid their children will not find shidduchim, having husbands who have stolen their yerushahs or having husbands who are influential in the community (or wealthy).
   Why have these women, who entered marriage with kiddushin in such good faith, now become so disillusioned with the halachic system? I think the answer is the failed expectation of the justice my niece assumed. Surely that cannot be the last word.
   We must intensify our efforts to correct the scourge on Jewish law that puts women at the mercy of exploiting, vengeful husbands in failed marriages. Failure on the part of our community to act can only further the disillusionment of young people. If the notion of communal responsibility does not apply to the plight of agunot, what does? And if the rabbis are not acting now, why not?
Batya Levin, Chair
JOFA Agunah Task Force


Sympathy For Neturei Karta

   The Oct. 27 Inquiring Photographer column concerned the reaction of Jews to Neturei Karta. I am in my late 40′s and had been a fervent Zionist since my teen years. But last year, after much soul-searching and investigation, I had to end my support of the Zionist state, while at the same time never ceasing to love and defend Eretz Yisrael – which God will eventually permanently give to Am Yisrael.

   The two – Zionist state and Eretz Yisrael – are not the same.
   Like some of the respondents in the column, I too used to hold Neturei Karta in very low esteem, and wrote them off as self-hating and crazy. But after learning of the collaboration of many secular Zionists with the Nazis during World War Two, I decided to read some of Neturei Karta’s material. I also had occasion to read Rabbi Michoel ber Weissmandl’sMin Hameitzar.
   The reason Neturei Karta associates to some extent with Muslims is not understood by those who simply see these meetings on the news. Neturei Karta does this to show Muslims that not all Jews want to harm them – that not all Jews harbor hatred for them. They do this because, in their own way, they feel it is a matter of pikuach nefesh. And they may be right.
   Many of your respondents are rather young and do not remember that prior to and during World War II, almost all religious Jews were against the idea of the creation of a Zionist state. The Jews who established the state were almost to a man secular and even anti-religious.
   Since becoming a baal teshuvah a number of years ago, I have had occasion to associate with many chassidic Jews, and I find that those who are the most anti-Zionist tend, with few exceptions, to also be the most deeply spiritual and humble in their day-to-day associations. I puzzled for a long time as to why this might be before I realized it’s because they avoid the politics of Zionism and the necessary associations with non-religious Jews that being a Zionist eventually entails. They also have a greater faith that Hashem – and He alone – will deliver our people.
   Is it really so wrong to believe that the true Messianic Kingdom cannot be established until Moshiach comes? Is there anyone who trulythinks the secular Zionist state is representative of Torah Judaism? Was the founding of that state simply a man-made desperate act of wanting to force the Redemption without waiting for Hashem and His time?
   Worst of all, was the state’s founding simply an attempt by anti-religious Jews to find a way to “be Jewish” without having to be “burdened” with the keeping of the myriad laws of the Torah? For many of those Jews, is the secular state not simply a modern-day golden calf?
Chana Rovinsky

Philadelphia, PA




Kahane Was Too Honest


      Although Rabbi Meir Kahane was a lover and leader of the Jewish people worldwide and a paragon of truth – the Ultimate Truth – the Jewish Establishment saw the need to silence his words.
      We Jews, said the Establishment, are not into that kind of thing. We are better. We are peaceful. We are quiet. We are virtuous.
      The Establishment was and is terribly wrong. Reb Meir possessed a certain gravitas, a special skill that enabled him to marshal the support of the people, to galvanize and unify like few others. If only, instead of ostracizing him, we’d given him the opportunity to lead; if only we’d allowed ourselves to be led by a man whose greatness was eclipsed only by his prophetic vision.
      He was a genius, a Torah scholar, and an extremely eloquent speaker. All agree he possessed those characteristics. I think the Right – at least the Orthodox Jewish Right – largely acknowledges Rabbi Kahane’s prescience, his uncanny ability to have predicted the events we’ve seen unfold over the sixteen years since his passing. It’s time the rest of the world, however grudgingly, acknowledges it as well.
      Is it not time to give Kahaneism a try? We can shelve it if it doesn’t work. Shelve it like we’ve shelved every other preposterous plan that not only has not borne any fruit, but has shed blood and created orphans, widows and widowers; has shattered hearts in the thousands; has broken hopes and dreams in the millions; and has left in its wake sorrow and pain, anguish and surrender.
      The blame for all these woes belongs squarely on our shoulders – the shoulders of the Jewish Establishment, the Israeli government, leftists, pacifists, even Orthodox Jews.
      At the risk of being labeled a racist and a fascist, I echo Kahane in that as much as I detest seeing the pictures on the evening news of a poor innocent Lebanese child, barely three years old, badly burned, bloodied and severely injured as a result of shrapnel from an Israeli tank shell, I much more deplore visualizing Gilad Shalit or Udi Wasserman or Eldad Regev (and let’s not forget Ron Arad), the poor kidnapped soldiers, in the conditions they must be enduring – and I only cringe when imagining, God forbid, what fate awaits them if we don’t get to them soon.
      Call me a racist or a bigot. If my not wishing to see any more Jewish blood spilled; if my crying out for my people, my brothers and sisters; if my defending my country and my countrymen; if my wishing to see an end to the two-thousand-year-old chants of “Soi Juif (Dirty Jew)!” and the inevitable physical manifestations of those chants – if any of these things paints me as a racist or a bigot, I’m prepared and proud to live with such titles.
      If Rabbi Kahane had had a louder voice – if the Jewish people, especially the Orthodox, had enabled him to have a louder voice – and if world Jewry had not ostracized him, Israel would today be a bastion of morality, of tranquility, of economic and financial prowess, of total bliss, of light to the world in every way.
      Unfortunately, Rabbi Kahane made one fatal mistake and, ironically enough, that fatal mistake only proves and further bolsters his gadlus. He was too honest. He should have lied and cheated and used any and all tactics available to him in order to get votes and avoid assassination. He should have resorted to the very same antics his colleagues in the Knesset do as a matter of routine.
      Had I been Rabbi Kahane’s Karl Rove, I would have advised him to sing a liberal tune, and then once in office do a 180, just like they all do. But Reb Meir possessed qualities such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, courage, fealty, menshlichkeit – the very qualities that Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak, Yossi Beilin, Yossi Sarid, Tzipi Livni, Bibi Natanyahu, Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz, and Israel’s other feckless, spineless politicians have either never had or lost somewhere along the way.
      Reb Meir Dovid ben Reb Yechezkel Shraga Ha’Kohen zichrono tzadik V’Kadosh l’bracha l’chayei haolam haba – may God avenge your blood.

Rabbi Stephen Polter, Esq.

Elmont Jewish Center

Elmont, NY


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-163/2006/11/15/

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