Archive for the tag 'holocaust memorial park'

holocaust Memorial park nyc

The eternal light at the center of Holocaust Memorial Park was extinguished during Superstorm Sandy. Now, 17 months later, the light is shining again.

News came from the offices of Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who said the councilman worked with the Parks Department to repair the facilities there.

“Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said, ‘To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time,’ with these poignant words in mind, I am proud to announce that my efforts in conjunction with the Holocaust Memorial Park Committee to have the park’s eternal flame relit have been successful,” Deutsch said in a statement. “This flame, which was extinguished during Hurricane Sandy, will once again shine brightly, symbolizing our resiliency, and reminding future generations of one of the darkest periods in the history of man, and insure that we never forget, and never again allow such human injustice and genocide to occur in the future.”

It’s not so clear if the light was actually on before Superstorm Sandy. The 15-foot-tall fixture has been problematic for years, with park stewards complaining that it frequently goes out and can take the Parks Department long stretches to replace it.

During one incident in 2010, the bulb was out for several weeks. Parks Department replaced it, but it failed again several days later.

Delays in replacing it can happen because of the city’s procurement policies. The custom bulb needs to be ordered in bulk, and if none are on hand parkgoers will have to wait for the city’s next big order.

But Deutsch’s office said that the problems from Sandy went far beyond the bulb. The light’s electrical wires were damaged from the salt water and needed to be completely replaced. The department sought to do it in February, but the snowstorms pushed delays to the end of March.

Rabbi Menahem Zarkh leads the memorial service in prayer.

Rabbi Menahem Zarkh leads the memorial service in prayer.

Local survivors of the Nazi atrocities during World War II braved frigid weather to gather with family and friends and commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day yesterday.

Organized by the Be Proud Foundation, about 35 Southern Brooklyn members of the Russian-American Jewish community came together for prayer and remembrance on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp by Soviet troops, when 7,000 remaining prisoners were freed. The day is recognized worldwide in memory of all victims of the Holocaust.

“A lot of relatives of mine died and survived the Holocaust,” said Ruslan Gladkovitser, a member of Be Proud Foundation’s Board of Directors who put the event together. Gladkovitser said his grandmother and aunt were among those killed by the Nazis. “So we celebrate the survivors, and make a memory.”

The service took place in Russian, Hebrew and Yiddish, with local rabbis leading the service in prayer and discussing the importance of remembering the struggles of Jewish people.

Rabbi Avrohom Winner of the Chabad of Manhattan Beach led the Yiddish portion.

“I said thank God we are alive, life is continuing,” he told Sheepshead Bites after the event. “Our gathering is something that represents our victory over our enemies, who have tried to kill all the world’s Jews.

Rabbi Menahem Zarkh of Nevsky Yablokoff Memorial Chapels spoke to the crowd in Russian, discussing the need of the Jewish people to be ever vigilant in the modern world. He noted that Jews still have many enemies, particularly Islamic extremists in Israel.

The Holocaust Memorial Park at Emmons Avenue and West End Avenue became the city’s first public memorial to the Holocaust when it was dedicated in 1985, and the permanent memorial was completed and dedicated in 1997.

Cleanup060

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey brought together more than 80 students and their parents from Manhattan Beach’s Mazel Day School for a cleanup of Holocaust Memorial Park.

Aside from tidying up the place, the event was held to commemorate the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which left Mazel’s former Brighton Beach location in tatters.

“This was a great lesson for the children,” Cymbrowitz said of the event, via a press release. “After destruction, there can be new life.”

Supplies for the event were provided by the Parks Department, and the children planted tulip and daffodil bulbs, leaving the park free of litter and weeds.

Cleanup0144

kagan

Council Candidate Ari Kagan

Fierce campaigning and bitterness is quickly becoming the hallmark in the battle to win the departing Michael Nelson’s City Council seat. Politicker is reporting that Democratic candidate Ari Kagan and Republican David Storobin are running tough campaigns to win over the predominantly Russian voting block in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.

Both Kagan and Storobin played host to mayoral hopefuls touring Brighton Beach over the weekend. Storobin enjoyed an endorsement by Republican front runner Joe Lhota while Kagan took Comptroller John Liu to the Tatiana Restaurant. Kagan was quick to downplay Lhota’s endorsement of Storobin as a transparent ploy.

“[Mr. Storobin] will play the Giuliani angle,” Kagan told Politicker, “He will say, ‘This is the guy who worked for Giuliani, he is endorsing me.’ People are very sophisticated, especially in Russian-speaking communities and in Orthodox Jewish communities, American and Chinese communities … people are not stupid.”

Storobin responded by attempting to discredit Kagan’s credibility, lack of experience and ability to drive a car.

“The guy has never had a full-time job in his life. That gentleman has been campaigning for about 15 years. And like I said, he’s never had a full-time job in his life. He doesn’t even own a driver’s license. For a 46-year-old, I don’t know if that’s too much work experience,” Storobin said.

Politicker described the history of the two men’s rise to the political scene and why they dislike each other so much:

Mr. Kagan and Mr. Storobin are emblematic of the emerging political clout of Russian-Americans in Brooklyn. Running in a district represented by the term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson–who replaced current mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner when Mr. Weiner was elected to Congress in 1999–the two candidates saw their electoral fortunes rise when the district’s lines were redrawn this year to rope in larger numbers of Russian-speaking voters in Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island. (Advocates from the Orthodox Jewish enclave in Midwood despaired, fearing a new “super Russian” district would dilute their power base and ensure that the district’s next representative would be less responsive to their needs.)

The hatred between the two men, who both profess close ties to Orthodox Jews, can at least partially be traced to a Russian media mogul. Gregory Davidzon, the owner of an oft-listened to Russian language radio station, is an unabashed political enthusiast, offering endorsements, mailings and robo-calls on behalf of favored candidates. Mr. Kagan, the near victor of a 2006 Assembly race, is one of those candidates; Mr. Storobin is not. When the young attorney upset the Davidzon-backed Councilman Lew Fidler in a drawn-out special election last year, he shocked Mr. Davidzon and much of the political establishment.

The battle over credibility and relevance in the community seems to be an especially sore focal point for both candidates to the point where their remarks exude an almost stubborn childishness. For example, Storobin went on to paint Kagan as an out-of-touch candidate whose supporters are all elderly non-English-speaking Russians.

“Again, he is known almost strictly to the elderly Russian people who listen to one radio station because they don’t speak English.” Storobin told Politicker. “Everyone who knows English knows me better … Even with the younger Russian people–and by younger I mean anyone under 65–they all know who I am. Nobody outside of the Russian retirees knows who he is. Literally has next to zero name ID.”

In response, Kagan noted that he became involved in community matters as soon as he arrived to America in 1997.

“I think I know local issues significantly more than him,” Kagan said. “I was at the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Park [in Sheepshead Bay] for example, in 1997 … Ask anybody in 1997, if they ever heard his name anywhere. He said, ‘I was young,’ but I came to America when I was 26 years old and I became involved the very next day.”

Richard Landman and representatives from the Roma community unveiled the new stone honoring Roma and Sinti victims at a May 5 ceremony.

Salgado (Source: Erick Salgado for Mayor)

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.

Keep reading, and view photos of the event and the new stones.

The Cleaning Sheepshead Facebook group would like to invite you to come help clean up our neighborhood tomorrow. They write:

We are assembling Saturday 11/3/12 at 10:30am at the Holocaust memorial on the corner of Emmon’s Avenue and West End Avenue!

We will walk together street by street and offer assistance to everyone that may need it! Please be there on time! We will walk up Emmons avenue towards Nostrand Avenue helping one neighbor at a time!

What to bring: Gloves, Boots, Broom, Rake, Garbage Bags, Any other cleaning supplies.

For more information, e-mail cleanupsheepsheadbay@gmail.com.

A footprint left at the site of the vandalism last week, believed to belong to the culprit.

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.

Cymbrowitz inspects the graffiti (Source: Cymbrowitz's office)

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.

Source: Councilman Nelson's office

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.

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