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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘york’

Early Jewish New York: Poets, Anarchists, And Unspeakable Crowding: An Interview with Historian Tyler Anbinder

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

The Germans, the Irish, the Italians, the Jews, the Chinese, the Puerto Ricans – wave after wave of immigrants over the centuries have come to New York City seeking opportunity in the land of the free. A new book, “City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), documents some of their stories. The author, Tyler Anbinder, is a professor of history at George Washington University and the descendant of Jewish immigrants from southwest Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia.

The Jewish Press: The front cover of City of Dreams features a picture of the Statue of Liberty. Interestingly, though, you write that the statue was not originally associated with immigration, or even the friendship between France and the United States. What did the French who gifted it have in mind, then?

Anbinder: The Statue of Liberty was originally conceived as a monument celebrating the emancipation of the slaves at the end of the Civil War. But by the time the Frenchmen got around to building it, Americans were no longer interested in commemorating the slaves’ emancipation since racial issues had begun to divide the country again. So people in the United States who were trying to raise money to build the pedestal for the statue began to portray it as a symbol of Franco-American friendship instead.

And it was within that effort to build this ten-story pedestal that Emma Lazarus, in 1883, wrote her poem in which she commemorated the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The idea was that she would write a poem which would be part of a scrap book of artistic works that would be auctioned off, and the proceeds from the auction would help pay for the pedestal.

It was only in 1903, though, 16 years after Lazarus died, that her poem, “The New Colossus,” was affixed to the base of the statue.

That’s correct. In fact, when Emma Lazarus died in 1887 at age 38, none of her obituaries even mentioned “The New Colossus.” And when the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886, none of the speeches by President Grover Cleveland or any of the other dignitaries in attendance mentioned immigrants or immigration. It was only later that the Statue of Liberty became a symbol of immigration.

            Many Jews believe the names of their ancestors were changed at Ellis Island when they entered this country. You argue that this is a “myth.” Please explain.

There was no time for the immigration officials at Ellis Island to change anybody’s name. They only had one minute per family; it was a very fast process, and name changing was not one of the things done. There was no official document you left Ellis Island with that stated your new name. In fact, you didn’t leave Ellis Island with any official document whatsoever.

So where did this myth come from?

It’s not clear exactly. There are a couple of possibilities. One is that the immigrants were confused when they went through Ellis Island. Sometimes the shipping companies put a piece of paper on the immigrants’ coats with their name on it as it was written on the ship manifest, and sometimes that ship manifest would spell their name incorrectly as it was often transliterated from Yiddish. So it’s possible the immigrants thought that was an official document telling them their new name when in fact it wasn’t. It’s also possible that they supposed the mispronunciation of their name by the workers at Ellis Island was something official when it wasn’t.

But I think the theory that is most likely is that immigrants changed their names themselves to try to assimilate – especially if they had a business where having a more American-sounding name would help them – and I think a lot of these immigrants were embarrassed later to tell their children or grandchildren that they had changed the family name, so they came up with this story that somebody else had done it for them.

            You write that the Lower East Side – home to many Jewish immigrants – was the most congested area in the world before World War I. Was it really that crowded?

It’s unimaginable today. The closest you can get to it is maybe Mumbai, Dakha, or Nairobi. I think one good way to think about it is that the Lower East Side’s 1.4 square miles had more inhabitants than the 440,000 square miles of Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona combined.

Why was it so crowded?

Because Jewish immigrants wanted to live on the Lower East Side and the landlords didn’t want to build new buildings – in part, because if they did they would have to meet the requirements of housing codes that tried to make buildings safer but also made them more expensive to build. So the landlords kept the buildings the same while the number of immigrants living in them expanded exponentially.

Some Jews in the early 20th century were active in the rising socialist movement. Emma Goldman is perhaps the most famous among them. Can you talk a little bit about her?

I think Emma Goldman is a fascinating story. She was a Jewish immigrant who left Russia because her father had wanted her to get married and she didn’t want to get married so young. So in 1885, at age 16, she came to America with her half-sister and moved to Rochester where she was pushed by her relatives into a marriage she didn’t want. So after a couple of years, she left her husband and moved to New York to join the anarchist movement.

The anarchists were kind of the radical end of the socialist movement, known in particular for advocating violence to achieve socialist goals. So Emma Goldman came to New York and very quickly became one of the leading socialist public speakers at rallies and assemblies and soon became nationally famous for advocating for the anarchist cause. She plotted to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, who was one of the leading American industrialists at the time, and helped plot bombings across the United States later on as well. She spent a lot of time in jail and eventually was deported back to Russia during World War I.

Some twenty million people immigrated to the United Stated from 1881 to 1914, including two million Jews. Yet, shortly after World War I, Congress imposed severe immigration restrictions, which of course had dire consequences for Jews 20 years later trying to escape the Holocaust. Why were these restrictions imposed?

A couple of reasons. Part of it was a fear that with so much of Europe devastated because of the war, too many European refugees would come to the United States and the Roaring Twenties would grind to a halt. Another reason is that many native-born Americans associated Jewish immigrants and Italian immigrants, in particular, with radical movements like the anarchists.

Back then, when Americans thought of terrorists, they thought of Italians and Eastern European Jews – people like Emma Goldman and some of the Italian socialists who carried out bombings. The biggest terrorist attack in the United States before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was an anarchist bombing of Wall Street by Italian anarchists in 1920, in which dozens of people were killed. So a lot of Americans associated Eastern European Jews and Italians with violent anarchism. And the immigration restrictions especially targeted these two groups.

            You argue at the end of the book that all immigrant groups to America are, in essence, the same. How so?

Immigrants come to America mostly for the same reason – to improve their lives and those of their children. When they first get here, immigrants struggle to fit in and they feel very lost. They take the lowest jobs because they usually can’t get any others. They eventually – with the help of friends and family members who are already here – start to learn the ropes and feel more at home. Yet at the same time they worry that their American-born children will become too American and lose too much of their heritage.

Was there anything you were surprised to learn when doing research for the book?

One thing I found surprising was how similar the debates about immigration 100 years ago are to the debates today. Pretty much all the things people say today about Muslim immigrants were said 100 years ago about Italians and Eastern European Jews – that they took Americans’ jobs, that they posed a national security threat, and that they would change the very nature of what it meant to be an American. And whereas today people might argue against Muslim immigrants on the grounds that they don’t fit into America’s Judeo-Christian tradition, 100 years ago they said Jews didn’t fit within America’s Christian tradition.

To be fair, though: Just because an argument may have been wrong in one context doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong in another.

Certainly not, but I think the argument was wrong both times. And I think the fact that each generation of immigrants is eventually seen as perfectly American and perfectly acceptable shows that, very likely, the anti-immigrant sentiment today against Muslim immigrants is going to fade and a generation from now people will look back and say how funny it was that we thought Muslims couldn’t be good Americans.

Elliot Resnick

New York Endorsements

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

U.S. Senate

Charles Schumer. The leader of the Senate’s Democrats, he will have great power even if Republicans retain control of the Senate. An important supporter of Israel and an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, he took great political risks in defying President Obama on the latter.


U.S. Congress

Grace Meng (6th Congressional District, Queens)

Hakeem Jeffries (8th CD, Brooklyn)

Jerrold Nadler (10th CD, Brooklyn). He has a solid track record on Israel but we were sorely disappointed by his vote for the Iran nuclear deal. He took great pains during an interview at The Jewish Press offices to explain that his vote was based on sincere risk analysis rather than political calculation. He said he was convinced Iran could not cheat undetected because cheating would require massive movements of fissionable material that could not be hidden. And he recently voted to override the president’s veto of legislation enabling victims of terrorism to sue Saudi Arabia.

We believe keeping him in Congress is the better option for America and Israel at this point. We’ll be paying close attention to his votes.

Dan Donovan (11th CD, Staten Island)


State Assembly

David Weprin (24th Assembly District, Queens)

Nily Rozic (25th AD, Queens)

Catherine Nolan (37th AD, Queens)

Helene Weinstein 42nd AD, Brooklyn)

Steven Cymbrowitz (45th AD, Brooklyn)

Pamela Harris (46th AD, Brooklyn)

William Colton (47th AD, Brooklyn)

Dov Hikind (48th AD, Brooklyn)

Tremaine Wright (56th AD, Brooklyn)

Walter Mosley (59th AD, Brooklyn)

Jamie Williams (59th AD, Brooklyn)

Herman Farrell, Jr. (71st AD, Manhattan)

Rebecca Harary (73rd AD, Manhattan). She has great concern for constituents and is running against an incumbent who, tellingly, locates his community office on a building’s seventh floor in proximity to his law office, causing inconvenience for constituents needing services.

Aaron Wieder (98th AD, Rockland County) A chassid, he is facing vicious anti-Semitic attacks depicting him as a “dirty Jew” and unwelcome in the community.


State Senate

Michael Gianaris (12th Senate District, Queens)

Simcha Felder (17th SD, Brooklyn – Boro Park)

Roxanne Persaud (19th SD, Brooklyn)

Jesse Hamilton (20th SD, Brooklyn)

Martin Golden (22nd SD, Brooklyn) Justice of the NYS Supreme Court

Mark Partnow (2nd Judicial District, Brooklyn)

Leon Ruckelsman (2nd JD, Brooklyn

Peter Sweeney (2nd JD, Brooklyn)


Judge of the Civil Court

Rachel Freier (5th Municipal Court District, Brooklyn). She’s a highly regarded, accomplished attorney with a great reputation for leading pro bono efforts and social justice projects.

Editorial Board

The New York Times Declares War on the Jewish State of Israel

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

It would seem as if the New York Times has declared political and propaganda war on the Jewish state of Israel. Not on a particular government or policy – but on Israel. For how else could one describe the NYT’s call to pass resolutions in the UN to force a “peace” on Israel? The New York Times – the newspaper of record that could barely mention the Holocaust during WW II except near Ma Kettle’s recipe for apple pie on page 49 (I exaggerate, but that’s the gist of it with some rare exceptions) – has gone on record for a diktat to be imposed on Israel by the UN Security Council, of which Israel has never been a member because of the strong anti-Israel bias in the UN! This diktat that the New York Times is openly calling for, would force on the only Jewish state, a “solution” that a clear majority of its population sees not only as a mortal danger, but also as a great, immoral injustice.

The latest UNESCO resolutions remind us once again – as if we needed reminding – that the UN is hugely populated with four types of nations: the brainless scare-crow, the heartless tin-man, the cowardly lion and Dorothy. The brainless scare-crow are those who seem not to have a clue as to where Israel really is, what’s really the size of our country, the history and what the other side really wants, which is to make Israel into “was Real”. The heartless tin-men are those – like Russia or China – who know, but pursue their supposed interests at the expense of the Jewish nation. The cowardly lion are the Europeans who know that Jerusalem if foremost the capital of the Jewish religion – but act cowardly out of fear of the Arabs, as well as imaginary self-interest. And then there is Dorothy – Israel, who knows that the UN isn’t Kansas, where the rain falls and grain grows, where there is logic, rules of nature and natural morality. All Dorothy wants is to be left alone so she can go home, to the only home she ever knew, lived in and prayed for, and where she was the only sovereign independent state that her home ever knew.

Suggesting that the UN be the arena to “solve” the Arab-Israeli conflict is to suggest passing resolutions to force Israel to surrender to forces that wish her destruction, that do not recognize the basic right to national self-determination in our homeland, that seek to have the international “community” deny our history and the very essence of our religion and way of life. The New York Times suggestion is the move of all three-in-one characters: brainless, heartless and cowardly.

Of course the rumor is that this is a trial balloon of what President Obama wishes to do, which is to try to do more damage to the Jewish Nation during his last two months in office than he has done in the last eight years. There are always some so conceited and chock full of hubris that they think they know the solution to a problem that has eluded solving for almost a century. That’s either the scare-crow or the cowardly lion speaking, because it avoids seeing the reality: the problems of the Middle East – including the threats against Israel’s existence – stem not from anything Israel or the West have done or are imagined to have done, but from Arab society itself, reinforced by the Arab imperialist dream supported by the Arab religion of Islam. Or perhaps it’s a heartless choice to throw Israel under the bus for the sake of closer relations with the Arabs or Iran, which is another Western dream to sucker the East.

One thing I know for sure: the Jewish people have been around and thriving for over three thousand years and we’ll be around and thriving long after the last edition of the NYT is printed and long after anyone remembers who BHO was.

Dovid Ben-Meir

The New York Times Thinks that the Jews from Arab Countries Simply “Immigrated”

Monday, October 31st, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through}

On October 20, 2016, the New York Times profiled a rising Israeli member of Knesset, Miri Regev.  The article, “Miri Regev’s Culture War,” highlighted her background in Israel’s “periphery,” as part of the Mizrachi or “Eastern” communities.

The Times stated that “Mizrachi” is “a catchall term that includes Jewish communities from Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Sephardic Jews, whose origins can be traced to Spain and Portugal, who settled there. These communities immigrated to Israel in mass waves after its founding in 1948 and into the early 1950s, upending its demographic makeup. The Jewish population, almost exclusively Ashkenazi, became more than 40 percent Mizrahi. But it wasn’t just the country’s ethnic composition that changed. The Jewish population that predated the founding of the state was primarily young, secular and idealistic; it was also heavily male. By contrast, the new Mizrahi arrivals tended to be large families from traditional societies. In their ethnic garb, often with no knowledge of Hebrew, they struck the native-born Israeli sabras and the European Ashkenazim as provincial and uneducated.”

Read the passage again.  It sounds like these Jews simply left the MENA {Middle East-North Africa} region because they wanted to go to the newly reestablished Jewish State after Israel was founded in 1948.  Nowhere in the article is there any sense that these Mizrachi Jews suffered any persecution by the Muslim nations. Such poor treatment was only under the elitist Ashkenazi Jews from Israel.

This was a continued insult and mischaracterization of history by the media of the over 850,000 Jews that were forcibly expelled or fled for their lives from communities that they had lived in for centuries, due to Muslims anger over the founding of the Jewish State in a place that they deemed “Arab land.

The Muslim Expulsion of the Jews

Roughly two-thirds of the Jewish refugees from the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) went to Israel, while one-third fled to France.  France was a natural place for Jews to flee French-speaking Arab countries such as Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

Algeria. Pogroms in Algeria began shortly after the Palestine Mandate to reestablish a Jewish homeland took effect, killing dozens in the 1920s and 1930s. During World War II, Jews were stripped of their citizenship when Nazis took over France, As Algeria was technically part of France. The French Vichy regime was particularly harsh to Jews, stripping them of most rights and ability to work.

Even as the war ended, Muslims put in place their own anti-Jewish laws. In 1962, when Algeria declared independence from France, virtually the entire Jewish community fled, seeing the Nuremberg-type laws in Muslim countries, and the fate of Jews in the rest of the MENA region. The majority of Jews went to France, while many moved to Israel.

Egypt. Nationality Laws in 1927 and 1929 gave preference to Egyptians who were Arab-Muslim. The laws made it difficult for Jews to gain citizenship, and in 1947, it is estimated that only 10,000 of the 75,000 Jews in Egypt had citizenship, while the rest were either stateless or were foreign nationals.

Jews came under direct attack at the founding of Israel, including bombings of Jewish neighborhoods in 1948 which killed 70, and a bombing in the Cairo Jewish Quarter in 1949 that killed 34.

When the Suez War with Israel broke out in 1956, there was no more room for Jews.  On November 23, 1956, the Egyptian Minister for Religious Affairs declared that “all Jews and Zionists are enemies of the state,” as Egypt moved to expel the Jews and confiscate their property.

Iraq. In the 1920s, Jews were prohibited from teaching Hebrew or Jewish history. In July 1948, Iraq made Zionism a crime, punishable with up to seven years in jail. In October 1948, all Jews who held positions in government were fired. In May 1950, Jews in Iraq were stripped of their citizenship and the government began to seize all Jewish property.

In response to the edicts, in 1951 and 1952, Israel launched Operation Ezra and Nechemia to airlift the Jews out of the country to safety. The Jewish community in Iraq that had stood had close to 130,000 people was quickly down to a mere 3000.

After the Arab armies were defeated in another war in 1967, the remnant of Jews in Iraq would find the situation unbearable. On January 27, 1969, the government hanged nine Jews in the public square to the cheers of Iraqis. The Jewish community in Iraq was soon no more.

Libya.  Jews were attacked by Libyans in the immediate aftermath of World War II, with 140 murdered in a pogrom. The Libyan government’s Nationality Law of 1951 prohibited Jews from having Libyan passports, and Jews were no longer allowed to vote or hold public office. By 1953, Jews in the country were subject to broad economic boycotts. The community of roughly 40,000 Jews dwindled to just 6 people.

Morocco. The Jewish community in Morocco was one of the largest in the MENA region, estimated at over 250,000 people.

After Israel’s declaration of independence in May 1948, two pogroms broke out in Morocco, in the towns of Oujda and Djerrada. The attacks killed 47 people, wounded hundreds and lefts hundreds homeless. Not surprisingly, 10% of the country’s Jews quickly fled the country.

After Morocco declared independence in 1956, an Arabization of the country commenced, cutting Jews off from parts of society. At the same time, the government prohibited emigration to Israel, which lasted until 1963. In 1961, roughly 90,000 Moroccan Jews had to be ransomed in Operation Yakhnin, bringing Jews to Israel. In the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, another 40,000 Jews fled to Israel.

Syria. In 1947, the sale of any real estate to Jews was prohibited, Jews were discharged from public office, and in 1949, the governments seized Jews’ financial assets.  In 1950, Jews were forced to leave the farming industry.  Syrians took the message, an initiated pogroms from November 1947 through August 1949, killing many as they looted Jewish homes and stores.

As Jews fled, the country had their assets seized by the state.

More edicts would follow for the Jews that remained.  In 1967, Muslims were placed as principals of all Jewish schools. In 1973, with the onset of the Yom Kippur War, new edicts were enforced that Jews could no longer communicate with anyone outside of Syria.

Tunisia. Tunisia’s independence in 1956 led to an Islamification of society and placed Jews in a secondary dhimmi status. From that point on, all Jewish businesses were forced to take on a Muslim partner.

The old Tunis Jewish cemetery was expropriated in 1957, and the great Tunis synagogue was destroyed in 1960. As Jews began to flee the country in 1961 as they had in the rest of the MENA region, Tunisia only allowed Jews to take one dinar with them, as the country confiscated the rest of their possessions.

Yemen. Sharia law was instituted in 1913, and all Jewish orphans were forcibly converted to Islam. In the 1920s, Jews became excluded from the army and public service.

In 1947, riots in Aden killed 82 Jews, and in 1948, Yemeni Jews began to lose control of their possessions, with laws forcing Jews to transfer all crafts to Arabs before leaving the country.

As a result of the crisis, Operation Magic Carpet airlifted 49,000 Jews out of the country between June 1949 and September 1950.

TOTALS. The number of Jews that fled persecution from homes they lived in for centuries was between 850,000 and 1 million people.

  • Algeria 140,000
  • Egypt 75,000
  • Iraq 135,000
  • Lebanon 5,000
  • Libya 38,000
  • Morocco 265,000
  • Syria 30,000
  • Tunisia 105,000
  • Yemen 55,000

This total of 850,000 Jews does not include the Jews who fled Iran and Afghanistan.

Yet the New York Times chose to write that Jews “immigrated” to Israel, implying no malice on the part of Arabs, nor fear in the hearts of Jews.  The paper implies that the Mizrachi Jews sought to take advantage of the new Jewish State. Maybe for economic opportunities.

This characterization comes from the same media source that makes every effort to describe Palestinian Arabs as “refugees,” and despondent, even when they are living just a few miles from the homes where their grandparents sought to destroy the nascent Jewish state.

The New York Times has a long history of only parroting the Palestinian Arab narrative in their collective fight against Israel. It has now further chosen to whitewash the crimes of the entire Muslim Arab world that forcibly rid their nations of Jews as they robbed them of their dignity, lives and property.

Related First.One.Through articles:

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants September 2016

Help Refugees: Shut the UNRWA, Fund the UNHCR

Palestinian “Refugees” or “SAPs”?

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

Paul Gherkin

A New York Boy Becomes an Israeli Farmer

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Israel is the only country in the world where there are more trees in the ground by the end of each year than at the beginning! I am proud to say, that Baruch Hashem – in my small way, I am a part of that reality. How does a boy born and bred in New York grow up to help plant over 120,000 new fruit trees in Israel? Let me explain.

In 1999 I received a phone call from Ariel Ben-Sheitrit who lives in the beautiful town of Yitzhar. He had a dream of becoming a wine-maker and wanted to start by planting 4,000 grape trees in the land that was given by Hashem to the sons of Yosef Ha’Tzaddik. He had the land, the equipment and the strong body to do the back-breaking work. There was one thing missing… money to buy the 4,000 young saplings.

At that time, I was very active with the Yeshiva in Shechem (located at the burial site of Yosef Ha’Tzaddik). Ariel studied there and was one of our Kollel students. When we spoke he told me how much he wanted this and I told him that I would do whatever I could to help him fulfill his dream. I made a few calls, sent a few emails and within a short time, I had the money he needed! He planted the trees and over the years planted 6,000 more and recently won 2 Gold Medals in Israel’s wine competition!

That initial act of helping Ariel gave me an idea. I’m sure there are lots of “Ariels” out there who want to plant fruit trees but need help with the funding. I started making calls and – before I knew it – became the central address to help young, idealistic Jewish farmers fulfill their dreams! I had just two simple rules; 100% adherence to Jewish agricultural laws (with no short-cuts) and that no Jewish enemy can be involved whatsoever. (Aren’t you proud how “politically correct” I wrote those words??)

Since that day, back in 1999, the project I started – called “Israel Trees” – has planted a bit more than 120,000 new fruit trees all across Israel. This includes: grape, olive, mango, date, fig, pomegranate, peach, lemon, plum, almond, apple, strawberry, passion fruit, clementine, moringa (very rare tree), guava, avocado, argan (used to make a very healthy oil), nectarine, orange and cherry!!

In addition to planting all those fruits, it is very important to note where we planted as well. While I won’t list all of the places allow me to point us just a few: We planted olives in Moshav Tifrach (near Beersheba) where the farmer is the grandson of Rav Moshe Feinstein! Ever heard of Mitzpe Ramon with their natural, amazing craters? Well, we planted there a few thousand argan trees which produce a nut that is used to make very healthy oil. Currently, the entire argan oil market is centered in Morocco but very soon, thanks to “Israel Trees” many Jewish farmers in Mitzpe Ramon will be profiting from this unique product.

What about the Israeli farms that border with Gaza? We take care of them too! These towns don’t make the news since all the focus is on the heavy populated Sderot but these Jewish towns are closer to Gaza and many have been hit harder than Sderot. We helped them by planting 4,000 clementines and 400 peaches in Moshav Yevul.

How about the farms on the Jordan Valley? This is another area that has been hit hard in many ways and the people there are suffering economically. We planted 600 date trees, 400 mango trees and 3,000 olive trees in Einot Kedem, a farming community of just 4 families who host many teens-at-risk. They teach these young teenagers how to work the land and they give them skills to make something of themselves. You have to see it to believe it.

All the way up north, we planted in Kfar Shammai, a Jewish town on the Lebanese border and in Moshav Nov, a religious town on the Golan Heights. We also planted hundreds of trees in the Galilee in a farm called “Derech Eretz” (how’s THAT for a name??). This farm is located near the famous Kibbutz Lavi and we helped with a major project of new olive trees.

Many of our farmers produce amazing wine and we planted over 50,000 grape trees in Bet El, Eish Kodesh, Shevut Rachel, Sde Boaz, Bat Ayin, Itamar, Sussya, Otniel, Kochav Ha’Shachar and Maale Amos.

Baruch Hashem, the list above is just part of what we have done and I thank Hashem each and every day for giving me the opportunity to help these great heroes. Today’s Israeli farmers are generally young, idealistic men who are not looking for major profits. Yes, they have families whom they need to support, but their main goal is to build, settle and grow the Land of Israel. They work in the blazing sun day after day and come home exhausted but very satisfied, knowing that they have conquered and improved Hashem’s one and only land.

I must state that 10 years ago, my dear friend Shloime Walfish heard what I was doing and volunteered much of his time and energy for this cause. Today, Shloime and his family live in Israel and he has become my partner in the “Israel Trees” project. Shloime helped take this idea to the international level and I could  never have reached the numbers I did without his unbelievable efforts. It just proves that when you start something for the sake of Heaven, you will receive tremendous bracha and hatzlacha.

I must point out that while typing this article, I received an incredible phone call. The call was from a guy named Eldad who lives in the Golan Heights. He and his partner, D’vir, just received a large piece of land in a place called Tel Farris which is literally on the Syrian border. As you know, the Golan Heights was liberated by the holy soldiers of the IDF during the 1967 Six Day War. In 1973, the Syrians desperately wanted the Golan Heights back and when the Yom Kippur War began they sent 1,400 tanks and 60,000 soldiers to attack Tel Farris. The battle was fierce and lasted 10 days until Hashem’s messengers were able to defeat the Syrians. In that exact place of Tel Farris, Eldad and D’vir want to plant a vineyard of 22,000 grape trees. They asked if I could help them and I told them I would do the best I could. What an honor to be a part of Am Yisrael!

Allow me to conclude this article by clarifying the title. Although I am definitely from New York… I am not really a farmer. Of the 120,000 trees that “Israel Trees” has sponsored, I personally planted only about 50. That ratio clearly qualifies me as a NON-Farmer! However, I am proud to have created this project which – together with Shloime Walfish – helps REAL farmers get the work done! I guess you can call me an “Honorary” Farmer which is a title I gladly accept.

If you are interested in finding out more about this project or if you want to plant trees in Israel, please visit our website: www.IsraelTrees.org

Shmuel Sackett

Questions Surround New Kosher Food Booth At New York State Fair

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

SYRACUSE, NY – The Great New York State Fair opened for its 175th year last week and for the first time it features a kosher food booth.

Catering by The Oaks, a Syracuse-based food service run by the Sodexo company, is the vendor serving an all-dairy menu including deep-fried potato knishes ($4), deep-fried apple or cheese blintzes coated with cinnamon and brown sugar or drizzled with strawberry topping and powdered sugar ($4), deep-fried matzah balls ($4), as well as bagel and lox sandwiches ($6).

For those favoring a healthier option, the knishes and blintzes can be ordered as a baked selection, and gluten-free citrus salmon lettuce wraps ($10) and chopped Israeli salad ($2) will be part of the menu as well.

The concessionaire said the pricing is in line with non-kosher fair food.

“What we did was take the cost of the product, the fees and expenses that we pay for being at the fair, and what is in line for what the market is,” said Jarrod Charsky, general manager of Sodexo and The Oaks in Syracuse. “I can tell you our price point is probably lower than our competitors at the New York State Fair. We want to make it where everyone can try the food…. we want to make it exciting, we want to make it where everyone will want to try this. We want to go on the theme of deep-fried fun food for people who are willing to try new things.

“When I designed this menu I wanted to add to the fun and add to the fair theme. Deep-fried is always a great thing at the fair. Everyone always loves deep-fried stuff, kind of like a nice little carnival menu.”

According to people involved with setting up the kosher kiosk, which is shomer Shabbos, the contract apparently was selected by the acting state fair director and the director of the concessions and exhibits office at the fair. But is the size of the contract large enough that it should have been offered for competitive bidding?

Rabbi Aaron Metzger, director of kosher law enforcement for the state, said he could not comment without agency officials providing approval. Agency officials declined to make Rabbi Metzger available to comment for this story.

“I was contacted by a representative from the governor’s office about three or four months ago to see if we could make it happen and I spoke to the caterer that does the catering at Menorah Park, which is Sodexo,” Rabbi Evan Shore, spiritual leader at Shaarei Torah Orthodox Congregation of Syracuse and mashgiach for the kosher kiosk, told The Jewish Press.

“I asked them if they were interested. We then met with the acting state fair director and after some back and forth they went back to Menorah Park, a senior citizens home, and they contracted out to Sodexo as their caterer.”

Charsky agrees with Rabbi Shore’s recollection. Rabbi Metzger, he said, “approached our rabbi [Evan Shore] and then our rabbi came to us [Sodexo] and he said I think this will be a wonderful thing because we’re the only kosher caterer in Central New York. Rabbi Metzger put us together with [state fair officials].”

One obstacle the concessionaire has to contend with is that the kiosk’s food is chalav stam rather than chalav Yisrael, which means a number of Orthodox fairgoers have to bring their own food.

“The Oaks serves chalav stam at its Menorah Park facility,” said Rabbi Shore. “That is why the fair [is] chalav stam.”

The kosher food booth is not located in the International Food Pavilion but rather in the Horticulture Building on the fair’s 375-acre grounds. This is just feet away from where Chabad-Lubavitch of Central New York has a bustling education booth where Rabbi Yaakov Rapoport and his son put tefillin on fairgoers and hand out pamphlets about Judaism.

Asked by The Jewish Press about the chalav stam situation, Rabbi Rapoport chose not to directly respond.

“I’m not commenting,” he said. “I’m not involved with it and I have no comment to make on it.”

In an effort to determine whether the venue comes under competitive bidding stipulations, we pressed for a Request for Proposal (RFP) and were instructed by state fair officials to file a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request in order to receive the information. (The state fair is run by the Department of Agriculture and Markets.)

We received the following response:

“The Department of Agriculture and Markets acknowledges receipt of your recent Freedom of Information request for the RFP for a kosher vendor, all responses to the RFP and the submitted application, the application by The Oaks@Menorah Park and the acceptance letter by the state fair,” wrote Rick Arnold, the records access officer for Agriculture and Markets. “I am also looking for the financial arrangement between the state fair and The Oaks.

“The Department is in the process of searching for and obtaining these records. Once the records are reviewed, a determination as to the extent to which these records may be released will be made as soon as possible, at which time you will receive copies of the requested records after payment for copying costs, if any, is received. If one or more records will be withheld or withheld in part, a statement explaining the reason(s) for denial of the release will be provided.”

The agency has until September 12 to respond to the FOIL request. The fair runs until September 5, so an answer is likely to be forthcoming after the fair closes.

Other potential vendors that have expressed interest in bidding for the concession include Teaneck, New Jersey-based Five Star Caterers; Jonathan Katz, owner of Queens-based Kosher Sports, which operates the kosher food concession at Citi Field; and Strikly Kosher, Inc., which manages kosher vending operations at several sports venues including Yankee Stadium.

Marc Gronich

Endorsements For The September 13 New York State Primary Elections

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

New York State Assembly

Pam Harris in the 46th AD, which encompasses portions of Sea Gate, Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, and Bath Beach in Brooklyn.

Alice Cancel in the 65th AD, which encompasses portions of the Lower East Side, Wall Street district, and Battery Park City in Manhattan.

Walter T. Mosley in the 57th AD, which encompasses portions of Crown Heights, Prospect Park, and Clinton Hill in Brooklyn. Mr. Mosley is also running for the district leader position in the same district.


New York State District Leader/State Committee Person

Darlene Mealy for New York State district leader in the 55th Assembly District, which encompasses portions of Crown Heights, Brownsville, and Ocean Hill in Brooklyn. She is also the City Councilmember for the 41st council district.


Civil Court Judge

Rachel (Ruchy) E. Freier for civil court in the 5th Municipal District in Brooklyn, which encompasses Boro Park, Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Bensonhurst, Kensington, Sunset Park, and Flatbush.

Connie M. Melendez for Kings County Civil Court, countywide, encompassing all of Brooklyn.

Editorial Board

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/endorsements-for-the-september-13-new-york-state-primary-elections-2/2016/08/31/

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