web analytics
November 25, 2015 / 13 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Williamsburg’

Solving One Problem, Sort of…

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

My issues with Satmar notwithstanding, I must give credit where credit is due. The Williamsburg area where Satmar Hasidim live has quietly created a trend of development that is somewhat counter culture – in a good way. In an era where gentrification has become standard for urban renewal Satmar has had its own – much more affordable version of that going on in its outer edges.

Gentrification is what happens to slums (or at best neglected neighborhoods) where the poor live when a city council and developers get together to try and eliminate those slums. Developers will buy out dilapidated buildings and either demolish them to build new upscale living quarters or rehabilitate existing structures that in their hey-day were quite upscale themselves.

When the original tenants moved to the suburbs (what used to be called white flight) and the poor started moving in these neighborhoods became neglected – some of them turning into slums. The residents could not afford to keep up the buildings and they became run down. That is an oversimplified – but I think fair description of what has happened.

Developers – seeking to attract singles or a working couple with no children whose incomes are well above average and expenditures far less that the average family would build housing suitable for this demographic… making them unattractive for most families and too expensive in any event. These dwellings are steeply priced. As an article in the New York Observer points out – in the trendier section of Williamsburg, a half a million dollars will barely buy you a studio apartment.

Satmar developers, ever mindful of the need of their growing community, have taken a different track. They have lobbied government officials successfully and have received zoning variances enabling them to build housing on what were once commercial and industrial zoned areas of Williamsburg. And they have built brand new and affordable housing for Satmar families where that same half million will buy a three-bedroom condo in a new elevator building.

True these structures will not win any architectural awards. “Strolling down Bedford Avenue, you’re greeted by a solid wall of new six-story brick buildings” says the New York Observer. They are obviously more functional than aesthetic. But they do have a clean and new functional look to them. In an area where a modest lifestyle is promoted, this type of housing is ideal. And again from the Observer (here comes the good part): “the ultra-Orthodox have succeeded in building thousands of units and keeping the neighborhood affordable for families—on private land, and without public money!”

I have been to these neighborhoods and seen these buildings. They are a far cry from the impoverished conditions I used to see there just a decade or so ago. It appears to be populated entirely by Williamsburg Hasidim.

And yet, I can’t help but feel that there is something missing from this seemingly idyllic picture. For one thing a half million dollars isn’t pocket change. The ‘modest’ incomes of most Satmar Hasidim doesn’t seem like enough to buy one of these units. Even if you factor in low down payments – there remains the very high mortgage payments. Which begs the question, where do these families with 6, 7, 8 or more children get the money to pay for that? It would therefore appear to be that only a more upscale (by Satmar standards) family can afford these units. Either that or some of these families must be getting subsidized. And if so, where is that money coming from? Philanthropists? Government welfare programs?

The building boom also had some controversy attached when public land was bought along with private land. From the New York Observer:

Black and Latino leaders claimed that the affordable housing complex—to be built on city-owned land, some of which would be seized by eminent domain—would give a disproportionate number of units to the ultra-Orthodox, as traditional public housing projects nearby had in the past.

Rabbi David Niederman, leader of the United Jewish Organizations, begged to differ, saying that both the public and private aspect of the rezoning are needed. “We believe in supply and demand,” he said. “Imagine if 200 people are fighting for one unit”—something that New Yorkers outside of Hasidic Williamsburg won’t have to try very hard to do. “Prices are going to go up like crazy.”

I personally see no problem with what Satmar did. They lobbied for the land and they got it. Black and Latino leaders could have done the same.

Mezuzah Arsonist Strikes Again, Evoking Familiar Jewish Fears

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

A day after 11 mezuzahs were found burned in the Taylor-Wythe Houses in Williamsburg, shortly after 1 PM Tuesday, another mezuzah was found burned outside an apartment at 130 Clymer St., in the same housing development.

In both incidents the vandal started on the 13th floor, but this time he fled after burning just one.

NYPD released surveillance footage of him as a person of interest was described as a male Hispanic between 20 and 25 years old, wearing a purple do-rag, and a black jacket with an “NY” symbol on the shoulder and “New York” across the chest,” and lighting a match.

Local resident David Greenblatt told NYC Channel 2 News that the surveillance images came as a relief.

“Yes it is, because it means that we’re going to pursue such crimes, and hopefully, that will deter them,” Greenblatt said. “That’s what we need.”

Resident Pessie Gelb said, “I was a little bit shocked to see what’s going on again. The next building? What is it going to happen again?”

Her neighbor Lydia Pena said, “I think it’s real horrible. You shouldn’t touch nothing that doesn’t belong to you.”

There was an even more insightful reaction, from resident Raizy Fogel, who told Channel 2: “It’s devastating, it’s very sad and such things shouldn’t happen.”

Fogel said the attack on a specifically Jewish religious item was intended to send a message on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The message, Fogel said, is “that we are unwanted here, and I don’t know why.”

Give her another minute, another hour, another day – she’ll get the message…

Brooklyn Anti-Semites Mark Holocaust Day by Burning Mezuzahs

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Anti-Semitic vandals torched more than 10 mezuzahs on the doorposts in the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn apartments Monday, Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is not known if the attack was carried by an individual or a group. The attacks took place on at least 10 different floors.

New York police are considering the arson as an anti-Semitic crime although officials said they did not know if the timing of the attack was coincidental or not. There was little damage to the apartments except for the burned mezuzahs.

“This was a brazen act of religious desecration,” Councilman Stephen Levin told The New York Times. “It’s hard to explain just how deeply painful this is to the religious Jewish community. It’s a blessing on a home. It’s a profoundly hurtful thing to do.”

My Tanta Shirley’s Enterprise

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

On the seventh day of Pesach, in the early hours of the morning, a great light went out in our world. My aunt, “Tanta” Shirley (Shaina Esther bas Menachem Mendel) Szmerkes, returned her special soul to God.

She was born to Russian Immigrants who came to America to make a better life for themselves, and her mother, Sarah Chana, and father, Menachem Mendel met and started out their lives in what is now called Spanish Harlem.

They opened a fruit store, and it supported their growing family – three daughters and one son. The depression hit them and in a short while they lost everything. Then Shirley’s mother took very ill and all the siblings were left pretty much out in the streets, fending for themselves. One sister married very early, and another suffered an infection that was neglected and went to her heart, so a City agency put her into foster care for the rest of her childhood. Shirley’s baby brother was born severely premature and was left with major learning disabilities.

Shirley was in school most of the day, but did not have much of a home to come to and had to rely on kind people who took her in to share their food and shelter.

As she grew up, she met her husband, Irving Yizchak Yosef, who came to America from the Holocaust, having lost his parents and all his siblings from the city of Bialystock, Poland. He miraculously escaped from a concentration camp and ran into the forest, where he wandered and barely survived until the war ended.

Shirley and Irving had a lot in common, as both had survived their devastating childhood years, and were determined to rebuild their lives together.

Irving worked for Meal Mart, driving their tractor trailers and delivering meat to the frum communities of New York City. Shirley was a loving mother to her three sons, and sent them all to the Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalyim on the Lower East Side, from preschool through high school.

Once the children were grown, my aunt decided to give love and care to many lonely, elderly Jewish women in Williamsburg.

My aunt would rise very early in the morning and go from apartment to apartment, delivering fresh milk and bread. She made sure they each had a hot meal from the Williamsburg Meals on Wheels program. If there were no cars available, my aunt would pick up the hot meals and schlep them in her shopping cart to all her shut ins.

One good deed lead to another, and she started bathing and dressing those same shut ins, going to doctor appointments with them, helping them with their banking – any need that required the help of a healthy woman with two healthy legs.

My dear aunt Shirley truly wanted to go on doing what she was doing for years on end, but Hashem in His infinite wisdom decided that her time was up. She was sick for one year exactly, in and out of the hospital, and her biggest sorrow was that she couldn’t keep caring for all the people that needed her.

She had no interest in worldly assets. She was happy with very little, by choice.

I know that my Tanta Shirley will be a Melitz Yosher (defender in Heaven) for Klall Israel, and surely she will beg the Aibishter to hasten the coming of Moshiach.

Spider-Man Makes Exodus from Williamsburg for Passover

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Williamsburg, New York Haredim have finally convinced Columbia Pictures to halt filming of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” in order not to cause parking problems during the Passover holiday.

“We expressed the importance for Spider-Man to pass-over filming during Passover and they have answered our call,” City Councilman Stephen Levin wrote on his blog. “Reducing the amount of parking the production uses will … allow everyone celebrating the opportunity to safely enjoy the holiday.”

Filming the movie during the Passover holiday would have caused several streets to be closed to parking.

Columbia will move its equipment on Friday, and Levin happily responded, “Thank you for letting my people park.”

Satmar Couple Killer Charged in NY

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Julio Acevedo, who had been arrested in connection with a car crash that killed a Stamar husband and wife and their unborn baby was charged Thursday with criminally negligent homicide, as well as three counts of assault and leaving the scene of an accident. Acevedo’s driver’s license was suspended.

Acevedo was arraigned in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn and was ordered held without bail.

State Supreme Court Judge Stephen Antignani granted an order of protection to the livery driver in whose car Nathan and Raizy Glauber were sitting at the time of the crash.

Acevedo had been brought to New York from Pennsylvania earlier on Thursday, after surrendering to police in the parking lot of a Bethlehem convenience store.

Acevedo is accused of speeding down a Williamsburg, Brooklyn street at 60 mph past midnight last Sunday, and crashing into a car service carrying Nathan and Raizy Glauber to a hospital.

Both husband and wife, 21, died on Sunday. Their son, delivered by cesarean section, died Monday. His mother was seven months pregnant and was thrown from the car, the NYC medical examiner’s office stated.

The car service came to a stop sign, and not clear if the driver stopped.

The driver was knocked unconscious in the crash.

Satmar Couple Killed in Motzei Shabbat Car Crash; Unborn Baby Survives (Video)

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

A hit-and-run driver killed a 21-year-old Satmar couple around midnight Sunday as they rushed to the hospital because of a problem in the mother’s seventh month of pregnancy, and the  baby was delivered but in serious condition.

Based on image by James Keivom/New York Daily News

Based on image by James Keivom/New York Daily News

Doctors said the baby, “Tinok ben Raizel.” probably will survive. Already termed a “miracle baby,” he will be named after his father, according to friends of the family.

The tragedy has stunned the Satmar community in Williamsburg, where Nachman and Raizel Glauber were expecting their first child. Raizel complained that she could not feel her unborn baby’s movements, and the couple hired a cab to rush them to the hospital.

They never arrived alive.

A BMW crashed into the taxi and fled the scene, leaving the couple dead and the cab driver injured but in stable condition.

The impact of the crash threw Raizel out of the vehicle. Rescue workers had to cut open the cab in order to extricate the father, and only afterwards did they notice the mother lying under a parked tractor trailer. Medics rushed her to the hospital, where doctors delivered the baby boy from the womb of the mother, who was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

The young Glaubers were buried Sunday afternoon.

Police are searching for the hit-and-run driver.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/satmar-couple-killed-in-shabbat-car-crash-embryo-survives-video/2013/03/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: