The following is a flier from the Holocaust Memorial Committee:
The following is a flier from the Holocaust Memorial Committee:
Long-shot mayoral candidate Erick Salgado is entering the fray over Sheepshead Bay’s Holocaust Memorial Park, blasting the Parks Department for allowing the addition of stones memorializing non-Jewish victims.
A press release issued last week to Russian and Jewish news outlets but obtained by Sheepshead Bites quotes Salgado calling the installation of five new stones for non-Jewish victims “a betrayal of the community and even worse, disrespectful to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.”
The stones, which honor groups including the disabled, Roma, homosexuals and Jehovah’s Witnesses, were dedicated during a May 5 ceremony marred by a protest led by City Council candidate and Holocaust Memorial Committee member Ari Kagan. The protesters claimed that the group of activists who successfully pushed the new stones through had pulled an end-run around the committee, by going through the Parks Department.
Richard Landman, the gay son of Holocaust survivors who spearheaded the initiative for the stones, said that those allegations are phony, and that he had attempted to go through the committee and was repeatedly denied – with no explanation – over the course of 15 years. Landman, an attorney, complained to the city that the committee’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious,” and in violation of the state constitution. The Parks Department established an appeals process for the memorial as a result, and created a Blue Ribbon advisory panel to review Landman’s request – ultimately greenlighting it.
The stones were installed in June 2012, and dedicated on May 5, 2013.
But Salgado, a conservative reverend from Staten Island, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor, sided with Kagan and the committee, claiming that the Parks Department should have ceded the decision on the stones to the local committee, in accordance with their Memorandum of Understanding.
“It is of great concern that a bureaucracy such as the Parks Department would take action that is counter to the community’s wishes, especially when it involves the memory of the six million who perished in the Holocaust and the thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families who visit the memorial each year,” Salgado said. “Was the proper decision pushed to the side by political concerns?”
Here’s the press release in full:
May 8, 2013
Mayoral Candidate Erick Salgado Blasts Parks Department’s Action
Controversial Memorial Stones Installed in Holocaust Memorial Park Without Community’s Approval
Mayoral Candidate Erick Salgado has termed the New York City Parks Department’s move to install five controversial memorial stones in Sheepshead Bay’s Holocaust Memorial Park, “a betrayal of the community and even worse, disrespectful to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.”
Salgado was referring to the Parks Department’s installation of large stones with inscriptions memorializing such groups as asocial elements (alcoholics and lesbians), political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals. The inclusion of these stones was contrary to the wishes of the Board of the Holocaust Memorial Committee, which under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Parks Department has been administering the memorial since its dedication in 1997.
The five stones were installed unceremoniously last July, but an unveiling ceremony was held Sunday by several organizations from outside the community.
“It is of great concern that a bureaucracy such as the Parks Department would take action that is counter to the community’s wishes, especially when it involves the memory of the six million who perished in the Holocaust and the thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families who visit the memorial each year. Was the proper decision pushed to the side by political concerns?” Salgado asked.
A group of activists unveiled five new stones memorializing non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust at Sheepshead Bay’s Holocaust Memorial Park this weekend, capping off nearly two decades of fighting for the right against a local committee opposed to the installation.
The stones, dispersed throughout the public park, remember the persecution of homosexual victims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the disabled, Roma and Sinti, and “asocials.” The unveiling ended nearly 20 years of struggle for broader recognition within the park. Members of the Holocaust Memorial Committee, charged with reviewing and approving the placement of new names and markers, held a protest led by City Council candidate Ari Kagan, who complained that the group of “outsiders” went over the committee’s head in getting approval to place the stone, and represented a threat to the memory of Jewish victims.
Our report last week on the anti-Semitic graffiti at the Holocaust Memorial was met with swift responses from elected officials, and so far one measure has been taken to ensure the safety of the park, with possibly more to follow.
The Flatbush Shomrim safety patrol van has been parked outside the memorial, monitoring the site with live cameras since last Thursday, and unmarked patrol cars have been asked to keep an eye on the area. The Shomrim patrol van is needed for different incidents around the city and will not remain at the site, but permanent cameras in and around the memorial and in Manhattan Beach is a possibility.
According to Chaim Deutsch, Chief of Operations for Councilman Michael Nelson and founder of the Flatbush Shomrim, Nelson has asked the state for funding to install two cameras in Manhattan Beach, one by the Holocaust Memorial and another by the neighborhood’s other entrance.
“There are only two ways to get out of Manhattan Beach, and one of them is by the Memorial,” said Deutsch. “If a child goes missing, we would be able to look at the cameras and see if they exited the area. Some people are opposed to the cameras because they don’t want to be recorded, but the idea has been gaining support in the community.”
“After an incident the first thing you want to do is show visibility,” he added. “That is why we have the van there, to send a message that it is being monitored. For the future, we would like cameras installed to be a deterrent for future incidents.”
Deutsch said the initiative is still in the works. Aside from the two cameras monitoring Manhattan Beach’s entrances and exits – a plan devised shortly after the Leiby Kletzky incident by Deutsch, Nelson and the Manhattan Beach’s civic groups – local pols and candidates have suggested putting remotely monitored surveillance cameras within the park itself.
After Sheepshead Bites broke the story yesterday about the anti-Semitic graffiti spray-painted on the centerpiece of Holocaust Memorial Park (West End Avenue between Shore Boulevard and Emmons Avenue), several elected officials and candidates for political offices sent in additional comments condemning the attacks. Here they are, published in the order they were received.
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz inspected the site before detectives arrived. From a press release he issued later in the day:
The son of Holocaust survivors, Cymbrowitz called the offensive vandalism “an affront to the memory of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust, as well as to all Holocaust survivors in my district.”
“This memorial is a symbol of peace and has provided comfort to not only the Holocaust survivors in my community, but to thousands from throughout the city. The callous vandalism of this memorial must not go unpunished. As I told the police officers at the scene, everything must be done to catch these perpetrators of hate,” Cymbrowitz said.
Cymbrowitz has previously called on New York City’s District Attorneys to seek the maximum penalty for defendants accused of hate crimes and ask judges to impose the maximum sentence allowed upon conviction.
Meanwhile, Ben Akselrod and Ari Kagan, who have been campaigning together for a seat in the Assembly and local District Leader, respectively, issued a joint statement.
“Ari and I are committed to stopping this trend of hatred that goes against everything this city believes in,” Akselrod said. “These kinds of disgusting, disgraceful acts have no place in Brooklyn and in our society.” “We all must stand united to tackle this problem in a way that discourages such reprehensible, cowardly acts,” Kagan added.
Both Akselrod and Kagan demand installation of video cameras that can be monitored to protect the park from further vandalism.
Borough President Marty Markowitz weighed in as well:
Brooklyn is home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, so it’s especially offensive that not only did this reprehensible anti-Semitic act occur in our borough, but at Holocaust Memorial Park, a peaceful place of reflection that memorializes the millions of lives lost due to this very kind of hatred. The Holocaust showed the depth to which humanity can sink, and incidents like these remind us that those who use hate, vandalism and violence to vilify others still walk among us and need to be separated from society. But Brooklyn’s diversity is our strength, and ultimately there is more that unites us than divides us. That’s why we must remain vigilant in condemning hatred and discrimination against anyone—there’s no place for it in Brooklyn or anywhere in the world. I have every confidence that the NYPD will do everything in its power to track down and apprehend the thugs responsible. And, in addition to their punishment, the perpetrators should be made to visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan or the United States Holocaust MemorialMuseum in Washington, D.C. to learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust and to understand the depth of their ignorance.
Finally, State Senator David Storobin sent a statement saying the following:
There is no room for hate in our community. This memorial is a sacred site. Its defamation is an insult to Holocaust survivors, Jewish New Yorkers, and all peace-loving people. It is my hope that in this dark moment, our community will unite against anti-Semitism and hatred. If these vile criminals are caught, I call on the authorities to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
UPDATE (1:58 p.m.): Congressman Bob Turner just piped in with this:
The recent vandalism of the shrine at the Holocaust Memorial Park goes against its very purpose, which is to remind us of the necessity for community tolerance. I encourage anyone who has any information that can lead to the apprehension of those responsible to contact the proper authorities. We must work together to show that acts of cowardice and ignorance like this will not be tolerated.
YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Neighbors woke up this morning to find that the area’s beloved Holocaust Memorial Park, New York City’s only public Holocaust memorial, was the target of what appears to be anti-Semitic vandalism last night.
Approximately 200 people gathered together at the Holocaust Memorial Park on Emmons Avenue and Shore Boulevard in honor of the 27th Annual Holocaust Memorial Gathering this past Sunday, honoring and preserving the memories of those who perished in the Holocaust.
The audience was filled with people of all ages. There were leaders and members of Russian Holocaust Survivors group, and the Veterans group. According to Inna Stavitsky, president of the Holocaust Memorial Committee, many young individuals were present as well, as the theme of the afternoon was “The Generations After: Passing the Torch.”
Various elected officials attended, including Senators David Storobin and Diane Savino, as well as Assemblymembers Steven Cymbrowitz, Helene Weinstein and Alec Brook-Krasny.
A candle lighting ceremony and musical performances were held in memory of the millions of people murdered by the Nazis.
The event also featured several speakers, among them, Joseph Spitz, the Israeli Consulate Director of Academic Affairs, Lev Katzin, the publisher of two Russian language newspapers, and David Widawsky, the founder of the March of the Living.
Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart.
Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honor’s sake.
Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.
– Hannah Szenes [source]
Here in Sheepshead Bay, we Never Forget.
The Holocaust Memorial Committee — the organization charged with overseeing Holocaust Memorial Park, New York’s only outdoor tribute to the souls who perished in the Holocaust — will be holding its 27th Annual Holocaust Memorial Gathering this Sunday, June 24, 12:00 p.m. at the park, located on Emmons Avenue and Shore Boulevard.
This year’s theme is “The Generations After: Passing The Torch.” The organization will pay tribute to Shirley Heller, former president of the Holocaust Memorial Committee, and will feature Israeli Consulate Director of Academic Affairs Joseph Spitz and March of the Living’s David Widawsky, as well as musical performances, a candle-lighting ceremony and solemn cantorial selections.
In light of the many anti-Semitic hate crimes once again plaguing our community, everyone should try to attend and, in doing so, take a stand against any manner of hatred and injustice toward our fellow human beings.
The 15-foot light that sits at the center of the Holocaust Memorial Park is an “eternal flame,” a symbol of remembrance for the millions who died in the Nazi Holocaust. And, this week, it went out.
But don’t panic – it happens periodically, said Pauline Bilus, director of the Holocaust Memorial Committee, which oversees the park at the western end of Sheepshead Bay. Like all light bulbs, it simply needs to be changed.
The strange part is that the Parks Department changed the bulb about 10 days ago, said Bilus, who was surprised to hear about the malfunction. It worked the last time she saw it, but she hasn’t passed by in recent days.
Bilus will contact the Parks Department to have the problem fixed so Holocaust victims will be properly memorialized once again. She noted that the department is “generally pretty good about replacing it,” but that the city can only order new bulbs with their usual bulk orders, and may not be able to fill special requests.
Hizzoner Mayor Bloomberg is making his way down to Sheepshead Bay for the 25th Annual Gathering & Exhibit at the Holocaust Memorial Park on June 14th at noon.
The Holocaust Memorial Park is New York’s only outdoor tribute to those that perished in the Holocaust under the Nazi regime. The Holocaust Memorial Committee, an organization charged with overseeing the memorial, welcomes the community to join them and the mayor in a gathering of somber remembrance.
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