Archive for the tag 'holocaust'

swastika

Photo by Jane Roitman

A Queens assemblyman has asked the Department of Consumer Affairs to look into regulating swastikas and other offensive ads from taking to the skies after beachgoers were shocked this weekend by the appearance of a swastika-towing plane flying over the sands.

The banner, shown above, was flown on Saturday by the International Raelian Movement, a quasi-religious organization that says they’ve cloned humans and they believe extraterrestrial scientists made life on Earth. The group flies the banner over New York City beaches annually to “rehabilitate” the image as a sign of peace and unity. Although it wasn’t intended to be anti-Semitic, locals were outraged that the passion-stirring icon would fly over one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

In addition to Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Coney Island, the banner toured over the Rockaway and Long Island beaches.

CBS reports on the effort to make sure the Raelians won’t be back next year:

Assemblyman Phil Goldfelder, D-Queens, told [reporter Alex] Silverman he is asking the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs to look at regulating swastikas in the sky and other offensive ads, which he thinks can be done without opening a constitutional can of worms. He’s also considering introducing legislation.

“There’s been a lot of precedent about regulation on signage in public places, and I think that we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our families,” Goldfelder said.

swastika

A fringe religious group that believes extraterrestrial scientists created life on Earth is today flying a large swastika banner over Brighton Beach and Coney Island, outraging residents in one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

The plane was spotted by beachgoers flying between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street around noon. With a symbol of a Star of David interlaced with the swastika, and a message that reads “卐 + ☮ = ❤ Proswastika.org,” the banner is commissioned annually by the International Raelian Movement in an attempt to “rehabilitate” the symbol to it’s pre-Nazi-era meaning of peace. It flew over the beach in previous years, sparking headlines - and outbursts from upset residents.

This year is no different.

“A plane was flying with this sign over the beach today, not once but twice it went past  the beach. Beaches filled with families and children. This is an inhumane action and must be stopped,” wrote tipster Jane Roitman, who sent in the photo above.

Another tipster called in to say that the group is being beyond insensitive, given the area’s dense population of Holocaust survivors and the current inflamed tensions between Israel and Palestine.

“I was dumbfounded by it. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and everyone [in Brighton Beach] knows someone whose family was affected by the Holocaust,” said Loren Azimov. “The timing could not be worse with everything going on in Israel and Palestine; it’s as bad as it has ever been.”

Azimov said there are other ways to try to rehabilitate the symbol without being so offensive, and that he’d like to see either the banner grounded.

“The First Amendment is not an acceptable reason [to let it fly.] What if it was rehabilitation of slavery? People would be up in arms,” Azimov said, adding that he’d like to see pressure on the company the organization chartered to refuse them access to the skies in the future.

It wouldn’t be the first company to decline the Raelian’s business. The group sought an expanded international campaign for what they’re calling Swastika Rehabilitation Week this year. When they approached a major Canadian billboard company, they were turned away.

“The company representative said many people would see our ad as offensive and inflammatory, so they wouldn’t post it,” said Thomas Kaenzig in a press release. Kaenzig is a planetary guide, the title for a top-ranking clergymember. “So this poses a real catch 22. How can the world be reeducated about the truth of this symbol if we can’t get the word out to show people?”

Azimov has been calling elected officials and government agencies, but to no avail. One prominent leader in Brighton Beach’s Russian-Jewish community told him that he should “consider writing a letter to the leadership of this org and kindly express compelling reasons not to fly this in our area.”

The Raelians may not be so receptive to Azimov’s rationale. Aside from brushing off similar complaints in previous years, the group appears to have a tenuous grasp on reality.

Raelism dates back to the 1970s and is the world’s largest UFO religion, believing that space scientists created life and have been popping in for visits throughout human history (with increased frequency in recent years, as evidenced through all the UFO sightings in the past century). Buddha, Jesus and other religious figures are all believed by the group to be messengers of the extraterrestrials. The group is attempting to build an interplanetary embassy to welcome extraterrestrials, and have been denied land in Israel because of their prominent use of the swastika.

The group also operates Clonaid, a company developing human cloning. The company claimed to have cloned the first human in 2002. There was no evidence that the claim was anything more than a publicity stunt, and the group has since been derided as cult led by a sex-crazed leader.

UPDATE (3:28 p.m.): Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and part of Brighton Beach, and is also the grandson of Holocaust survivors, called Sheepshead Bites to express his outrage.

“It isabsolutely disgusting and an egregious act of hate and intolerance. Whatever this hate group is, it’s an unacceptable act. I’ve asked the police department to investigate how this happened and how it came to be,” he said.

Treyger said he’s received numerous calls from constituents offended by the banner. He has also reached out to the mayor’s office and the City Council speaker’s office, which he said were receptive to the concerns. He said authorities are trying to determine if the plane and advertising campaign are in violation of any laws, and are also attempting to identify the company chartered to fly the banner.

The local pol said the group’s attempt to restore the symbol as one of peace and unity has little chance of success, and the group should stop its “outrageous” approach.

“Try asking someone who witnessed their loved ones murdered under that symbol if they’ll view that symbol as anything but murder and pain,” he said. “There’s no place for this here in this country.”

The following is a flier from the Holocaust Memorial Committee:

holocaust-mem

Source: Weinstein's office

Source: Weinstein’s office

The following is an unaltered press release from the offices of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:

Thanks to Assemblywoman Weinstein, Students at P.S. 52 learning about the Holocaust and World War II during the month of May, heard personal stories of survival from local Holocaust survivors.

Contrasted with school Holocaust curriculums, the program brought members of New York Association of Holocaust Survivors to present first-person and intimate portraits of the adversities they had to overcome in order to survive. Students had plenty of questions for their guests – most, decorated Russian War Veterans – and were shocked to learn that the survivors had been close to their age when they suffered the described hardships and losses.

“There is little doubt that we are getting dangerously close to a time when we will be unable to hear these stories from the individuals who experienced them,” said Assemblywoman Weinstein. “These students need to hear these heartbreaking accounts of survival in the face of baseless hatred and violence so we can make good on our promise to ‘Never Forget’. I will continue to work with the NYS Association of Holocaust Survivors to bring this crucial program to other area schools.”

Source: History.com

Source: History.com

To commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day this weekend, Temple Shalom will welcome to speak a Holocaust survivor, and a professor of Holocaust studies, this Monday, April 28, at 7:00 p.m.

Holocaust survivor Nat Feldman, who spent three years in the labor camps of Nazi-occupied Europe, will share his experiences, and Professor Lori Weintrob will discuss the history of the Holocaust. A question and answer session will follow the speakers’ presentations and coffee and cake will be served.

Temple Sholom is located at 2075 East 68th Street at the corner of Avenue U. For more information about this event, call (718) 251-0370.

The Holocaust Memorial Park in Sheepshead Bay, where Remembrance Day will be held. (Source: Dr. Vladimir Gressel)

This Sunday, April 27, is Holocaust Remembrance Day and to commemorate the multi-ethnic and religious genocide the Stop Anti-Semitism Foundation is sponsoring Remembrance Day with a ceremony in the Holocaust Memorial Park in Sheepshead Bay.

The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. by the newly formed non-profit organization, and it will coincide with a day that is commemorated around the globe. The organization is dedicated to fighting hatred and violence against Jews and other religious and ethnic groups. And in keeping with the spirit of the event members of religiously oppressed people will also be attending the event. There will be Holocaust survivors and children of survivors, and leaders from the Jewish, Coptic Christian, Azerbaijani, Korean, Serbian and African-American communities, according to a press release.

The event hopes to reflect the diversity of the victims of Nazi persecution, which targeted gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witesses and numerous other minority groups in addition to the Jewish peoples. For the event’s founder, Dr. Vladimir Gressel, that’s an important point to recall when considering present-day persecution.

The Brooklyn Eagle spoke to Gressel:

While the Holocaust took place more than 70 years ago, violence and terror are still being used today by people who hate others simply because of their nationality or religion, said Dr. Vladimir Gressel, the organization’s founder. “Remembering the horror of the Holocaust and honoring its victims requires us to speak out against the violence and terror victimizing ethnic and religious groups today, he told the Brooklyn Eagle.

“One of the lessons we learned from the Holocaust is that silence is not an option,” said Gressel, a Jew who emigrated from the former Soviet Union several years ago.

As well as commemorating a very dark period in humanity’s history, Gressel and his organization will use the event as a way of raising awareness against current oppression and hatred.

In the press release, the organization writes that they have “become alarmed by the violence and intimidation directed towards Christian communities in the Middle East, Africa and other locations around the world.” And that these “situations that have not received adequate news coverage in the national and international press that remind us of the silence preceding the Holocaust.”

City Councilmembers Chaim Deutsch and Mark Treyger will also be there, along with State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblyman Brook-Krasny.

Featured performances will include a gospel choir of young singers, poetry recited by local children and a string trio. The event will conclude with a solemn ceremony honoring victims of the Holocaust.

Cymbrowitz welcomes Holocaust survivor Zipora Yakuboff to the podium. (Source: Cymbrowitz's office)

Cymbrowitz welcomes Holocaust survivor Zipora Yakuboff to the podium. (Source: Cymbrowitz’s office)

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz spent this past Sunday with kids from across the community who wrote essays and poetry, did performances and created art to recognize the lessons of the Holocaust.

The ceremony, held at Kingsborough Community College’s Marine Academic Center, is the culmination of the pol’s annual contest, attracting hundreds of students from public and private elementary, middle and high schools across the district. Approximately 350 entries were received this year.

(See photos and coverage from previous years here, here and here.)

“It is imperative that we never forget the lessons of those who survived the Holocaust, as well as the tragic lessons of those who did not survive,” Cymbrowitz said, according to a press release. “In an era in which some historians are trying to rewrite history and deny that the Holocaust ever happened, we need to hear these stories and preserve them. We need to pass these stories on to future generations to remind people of what can happen when hatred is allowed to grow.”

The ceremony exhibited all of the creative displays made by students. There was also musical performances by the Edward R. Murrow High School Madrigal Chorus, Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Winds. Holocaust survivor Zipora Yakuboff shared her story of loss, courage and eventual escape from a Nazi death camp.

The Amity School took home first-place for high school students, and top honors were also given to Prospect Park Yeshiva, Midwood High School and Bay Academy.

See photos of some of the displays.

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.

Barbara Sukowa as Hannah Arendt. Source: IMDb

Barbara Sukowa as Hannah Arendt. Source: IMDb

The Beth El Jewish Center of Flatbush invites all to its fall film series, with a showing of the controversial biopic “Hannah Arendt,” about the journalist for “The New Yorker” who penned “Eichmann in Jerusalem.”

The film will be screened this Saturday, December 14, at 7:00 p.m. inside the synagogue’s daily chapel, 1981 Homecrest Avenue at Avenue T.

The film’s trailer can be seen here.

The series is free, and all are welcome to attend. For further information, call (718) 375-0120.

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