Archive for the tag 'orthodox jews'


Screenshot from debate video, produced by Jacob Kornbluh

The Democratic candidates for the 48th District of the City Council, currently represented by Michael Nelson, tested the limits of civil discussion during a heated forum hosted by the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition, with each candidate chiding the others for dirty campaign tactics and stances on issues contrary to the Orthodox community.

Sheepshead Bites couldn’t attend the forum, which was held in the heart of one of the most conservative communities in the district at Young Israel of Midwood, but reports by Politicker and show that the discussion quickly turned negative, as the candidates lobbed rhetorical bombs – and meows – at one another.

Politicker reports:

Unlike in other parts of the city, endorsements from groups like the teachers’ union were treated almost as liabilities. And openly admiring George Bush–either father or son–was not.

“When I went down to the [United Federation of Teachers], I walked into the office and I said to them, ‘I don’t want your endorsement, but I’m here out of respect. I’m gonna come answer the questions and what my issues are,’” said Chaim Deutsch, an Orthodox Jewish City Council aide, to applause.

Ari Kagan, a Russian-American district leader backed by the UFT, fended off attacks from rivals and even prodding from a moderator about whether he would be committed to defending private school education, particularly tax credits for families with kids attending Yeshivas, while running with the support of a public school teachers union.

“Maybe you want to look at Ari, who has accepted the endorsement of UFT but in the same breath says he supports vouchers,” Mr. [Igor] Oberman remarked.

When asked if he supported school vouchers, Oberman said it would never happen in New York City, and encouraged attendees to “see through the bullshit” of what he believed to be pandering in other candidates’ support for school vouchers.

The Politicker report continued:

All of the candidates further reveled in panning more liberal-leaning Bloomberg administration policies like the proposed regulations on large sugary beverages–Mr. Oberman called the proposal “retarded”–as well as the tax burden on small businesses. Mr. Oberman, the Working Families Party-backed candidate, blasted Mr. Kagan for not denouncing independent expenditures being paid on his behalf by a real estate-backed group, portraying him as a future puppet of wealthy real estate developers.

Tacking right, Mr. Kagan hit right back.

“I never knew that I would come from the former Soviet Union to listen about class warfare in the United States of America from a person who also came from the former Soviet Union. I’m shocked, a little bit,” Mr. Kagan said.

As Mr. Kagan and Mr. Oberman traded blows, another candidate, Theresa Scavo, a professed admirer of both President Bushes, periodically cried “meow,” implying the two men were engaging in frivolous cat fights.

“I’m not getting down in the mud with any one of these three,” she declared. “I am finding this so disgusting sitting here, the three of them clawing at each other … the three of you are behaving like children!”

Scavo may have aimed to stay above the fray, but was dragged down into it after Deutsch targeted her for allegedly speaking ill of seniors, accepting the support of the National Organization of Women, which he said “had an agenda with gays and lesbians,” and for being complicit in deceiving the community when a supporter allegedly used a pen name to write a positive profile of her in a Sephardic magazine – an allegation which she “meowed” through. reports:

Mr. Deutsch also attacked Ms. Scavo for slamming ‘seniors’ sleeping at community board 15 meetings and for having Mike Geller, the former District leader in the 45th AD, pen articles in favor of Ms. Scavo in the Image Magazine under a pen name ‘Kim Grell’.

Scavo called Deutsch a liar after he made the claim about seniors, clarifying that she told then-Congressman Anthony Weiner that there were seniors sleeping at the Board meetings. She did not respond to the allegations regarding Mike Geller and the article in Image Magazine, but did dismiss the endorsement from the National Organization of Women, noting that she received it because she’s the only woman in the race.

Although the issue was not tackled directly during the debate, Scavo has expressed support for gay and lesbian marriage equality to Sheepshead Bites, as has Oberman. Deutsch and Kagan, as well as the Republican contender, David Storobin, all stand opposed to marriage equality.

From the reports, Deutsch appeared to be the instigator of the negativity, slamming each of his rivals one by one, including an allegation against Kagan that he had altered his first name – from Arkady – in order to draw more support from the frum community. Kagan mailers also printed his first name in Hebrew, another sore point for Deutsch.

“I will not be like my opponent … Mr. Ari Kagan, advertising as the name ‘Ari’ in Hebrew, making people think he is the Orthodox candidate,” said Deutsch, according to Politicker. “I will not fool anyone. I will not lie to you.”

“I am very proud of my name. I legally changed my name in 2002 before I ran for anything. I never knew that writing my name in Hebrew is wrong. What is wrong with you, Chaim?” Kagan replied, according to

Jacob Kornbluh, author of the report, filmed the video below. He told Sheepshead Bites he hopes to have the full version online tonight, which we’ll add to this post.

Yoseph Robinson, Source: via facebook

Yoseph Robinson, Source: via facebook

Yoseph Robinson, the fallen Jamaican hip-hop artist turned Orthodox Jew, will be honored with a street conaming at the intersection of Avenue J and Nostrand Avenue. According to a press release issued by Councilman Jumaane Williams, the legislation to honor Robinson was passed unanimously by the City Council and signed into law by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

We’ve previously reported on Williams’s effort to honor Robinson, who was murdered on August 19, 2010, while working as a liquor store clerk in Midwood. As a teenager, Robinson was an aspiring hip-hop artist caught up in gang related activity like drug dealing. Looking to change his life, he converted to Orthodox Judaism at age 23. Robinson was murdered at MB Vineyards located at 2388 Nostrand Avenue while trying to protect his girlfriend from armed robber Eion Klass.

The Robinson legislation was passed alongside a bill to honor murdered teenager Christopher Rose, who was stabbed to death while being robbed. Rose is given the sad distinction as being the first person killed for their iPod. Williams recognized both Robinson and Rose at a press conference at City Hall.

“The legacies of Christopher Rose and Yoseph Robinson will live on in this community through these street co-namings,” said Council Member Williams. “Both of these individuals have had lasting impacts, and the fact that their names will be forever attached with our streets ensures that future New Yorkers will share in their history. I look forward to joining Yoseph and Christopher’s families and friends, along with the rest of our community, when we unveil their signs and celebrate their stories.”

Click to enlarge

It’s official: Chaim Deutsch, an aide to Councilman Michael Nelson and founder of the Flatbush Shomrim, formally announced his campaign today in an e-mail to press and supporters.

The letter states:

Dear friends,

With the support and encouragement of my wife, children, family and friends, I am excited to inform you that I am officially running for the New York City Council seat in the 48th District. For over two decades I have worked, both as a professional and a volunteer, on behalf of the community. I believe that the 48th Council District needs a strong advocate in the City Council and I am proud to have worked with so many of you, to make our neighborhoods safer and improve the quality of life for all. Affordable housing, education, safe streets, and care for our seniors are just some of the issues that concern all of us. Together, we have accomplished a lot but there is still so much more to achieve.

I hope you will join me as our campaign kicks-off in the very near future. Details to follow…

I look forward to your continued friendship and support, it means everything to me.

Warmest regards,


Deutsch, a Midwood resident with roots in the Orthodox Jewish community, has long been considered a likely candidate for the seat to replace Nelson. He declined to confirm his run as district lines were being redrawn, and was a local opponent of plans to redraw the district with an increase in Russian-American voters and a decrease in Orthodox Jewish voters. Despite the opposition from Deutsch and his supporters, the plans stood with minor changes.

Deutsch will face off against Ari Kagan, Igor Oberman, Theresa Scavo, Michael Treybich and Natraj Bhushan in the Democratic primaries. He is expected to have the backing of Councilman Nelson.

Former State Senator David Storobin is considered a likely Republican contender, and has already received the support of the Conservative Party.

Source: nesnad via wikimedia commons

The fight over speed enforcement cameras is getting nastier. Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg personally called out State Senators Marty Golden, Simcha Felder and Dean Skelos for having blood on their hands in refusing to include funding for speed enforcement cameras in the state budget. In response, Senate Democrats are trying to reinvigorate the effort to get the cameras approved. However, in their recap of the week’s events, the New York Times included this interesting tidbit of closed door negotiations between Governor Andrew Cuomo, Bloomberg, Felder and Golden.

Senator Felder, too, has no use for cameras. He represents a district dominated by Orthodox Jewish voters, and his priority this session was to persuade the city and state to foot the bill to bus any child past 4 p.m., which in effect means mostly children who attend yeshivas. Mr. Felder and Mr. Golden succeeded in pushing through this legislation, which will cost the city $5.6 million this year.

As the state senators are not unreasonable men, they even offered to bargain: they might allow speed cameras if Mr. Bloomberg agreed to foot the bill for this busing program.

The mayor said no. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said no. But when his state budget emerged from behind closed doors in Albany it included this new and costly busing program.

The Orthodox, who are adroit at pulling the levers of power, and their political allies claim all children could benefit. But that argument is evidence-starved. The state paid for a pilot program this year, and city school buses have picked up 1,000 children — from 29 yeshivas and one charter school.

Senator Golden, who has charted the growth of the Orthodox population in his district, shrugs off criticism. It is, he said, “the new normal.”

So Golden and Felder would have been happy to approve the funding for speed enforcement cameras as long as yeshiva students who attend private Orthodox schools got free busing? Huh…so, using Golden and Felder’s logic, I guess this means that the safety of responsible motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians is less important than free transportation for private schools provided on the taxpayers’ dime.

It’s the “new normal” after all.

Yoseph Robinson, Source: via facebook

Councilmember Jumaane Williams wants to honor the tragically slain Yoseph Robinson, a former hip-hop artist turned Orthodox Jew, by renaming the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Avenue J in his honor, according to a press release.

Robinson, who was murdered on August 19, 2010, while working as a liquor store clerk in Midwood, left behind an inspirational story and thousands of mourners across Brooklyn. Council Member Williams reflected on Robinson’s legacy and the pain left in his tragic death:

“Yoseph Robinson was a true role model for the Caribbean and Jewish communities of Flatbush,” said Williams. “I live just a stone’s throw from where Yoseph worked and ultimately lost his life, and I can speak to the impact his loss has had on this tight-knit neighborhood … Now, we must take the next step to memorialize his legacy for future generations.”

Robinson’s remarkable journey from Spanish Town, Jamaica, to Midwood, Brooklyn, was set on a rocky road. As a teenager, Robinson was a budding hip-hop artist caught up in criminal activity like drug dealing. Looking to reform his life, he converted to Orthodox Judaism at age 23. Never giving up music, he began to mix Torah passages into his lyrics while making a living working as a clerk at MB Vineyards located at 2388 Nostrand Avenue.

While trying to protect his girlfriend, Robinson was gunned down by Eion Klass as Klass tried to take her jewelry. Klass was eventually sentenced to 35 years in prison.

“Yoseph’s life bridged the cultures of our neighborhood and showed us all the individual capacity to rebuild one’s life and restore one’s potential,” said Williams.

To join those wishing to rename the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Avenue J in Robinson’s honor, you can visit MB Vineyards and sign the petition there. According to the press release, several notable rabbis and civic leaders have already pledged their support for the commemoration.

Chabad of Sheepshead Bay invites all to a Sukkot Street Festival, featuring pony rides, face-painting, hair-braiding, moon-bouncing, rides, a magic show (at 4:30 p.m.), petting zoo, live music, and more, October 3 from 1:00-6:00 p.m. on East 14th Street between Avenue X and Avenue Y.

Outdoor laser tag will take place between 1:30-4:30 p.m., and for $12, a child can go on unlimited rides and enjoy a game of laser tag.

Sukkot, an eight-day (seven days in Israel), biblically-mandated “pilgrimage” festival, runs this year from September 30-October 7. You can learn more about the holiday of Sukkot — also known as the Feast of Booths, and the Feast of the Tabernacles — by clicking here.

For more, call Chabad of Sheepshead Bay, 1315 Avenue Y, at (718) 934-9331, or email

The Synagogue of Chabad Lubavitch of Manhattan Beach at 134 West End Ave is completing their very first Torah. For those who are not well versed in these matters, this is a pretty big deal for a synagogue.

Rabbi Avrohom and Shula Winner, who lead the congregation, have planned a parade to mark the occasion.

Traditionally, when a Torah is written, there exist opportunities for dedication of pages, covers and so on. Rabbi Winner calls this a “community Torah.”

He writes:

The last mitzvah (commandment) in the Torah is for every Jew to write for themselves a Torah scroll, just as it is ones responsibility to keep any of the other 613 laws. However, not everyone can write their own Torah scroll, whether they don’t know how or don’t have the financial means to do so. If, However, we participate in the writing of one it is as if we wrote our very own Torah scroll.

In Jewish law Mechzo k’kuloy is: Half is counted like the whole thing. Participate partially and G-d counts it like you did the whole thing. In plain English: Give a little from your pocket and a lot from your heart G-d looks at the action (because action is what counts) and gives reward for the feelings.

Once the Torah is complete, the parade will take place Sunday, September 9, 2012, at 12:00 p.m. It begins in front of  the Chabad Lubavitch Synagogue of Manhattan Beach.

The streets will be closed. Music and dancing are encouraged and refreshments will be served.

For more info, call (718) 368-1395 or (646) 296-9020.

Jewish seniors from the former Soviet Union have a startlingly high poverty rate of 71 percent, according to the UJA-Federation’s “Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011,” and Orthodox Jews aren’t far behind, with a poverty rate of 42 percent.

The survey shows that 361,000 Jews in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester, are presently experiencing a life of poverty. This represents a 15 percent increase in the amount of impoverished Jews in those areas since 2002.

The study placed the poverty line at an annual income of $27,000 for a family of three, and designated that of $45,000 as “near-poverty” for a family of the same size.

Elderly Russian immigrants and Orthodox Jews are the two groups who have been most affected, said Jack Ukeles, a member of the survey team. He also stated that younger Russians are fairing better than the elderly.

“Older Russians, who came here with little money and a lot of health problems, are not making it,” Ukeles said. “It’s too late for them.”

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Andrew Goodman (via NY Post)

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz is demanding a tough sentencing of a confessed Midwood child molester a judge plans to put back on the streets just in time for the school season to start.

Cymbrowitz sent a letter to the judge overseeing the case of Andrew Goodman asking that he dole out a seven-year sentence during proceedings today to the admitted child sex offender instead of a rumored two-year sentence with time served – which would have Goodman back in the pol’s district by September.

Goodman pleaded guilty to two counts of child molestation in June, and has been in jail for two years after failing to post a $1 million bail.

“When you impose punishment for Andrew Goodman’s unspeakable crimes, you have the opportunity to send a clear message not just to the defendant but to his victims, their families and the entire community,” Cymbrowitz wrote to the judge. “Your judgment can provide some degree of closure to this terrible episode, or it can leave a raw, open wound from which the victims may never heal. Your judgment can demonstrate an unshakable commitment to protect the rights of victims, especially the most vulnerable, or it can extend mercy to an offender whose heinous acts are, frankly, beyond our comprehension.”

The seven-year sentence was recommended by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.

Goodman, 27, became the poster boy for child molestation in the Orthodox Jewish community after the New York Post published his name and photo when he was busted by the Brooklyn DA’s office in a three-year initiative called Kol Tzedek, Hebrew for “voice of justice.” The sweep netted 85 members of the community charged with molesting 117 predominantly male children over three years.

Goodman faced a 144-count indictment for molesting, filming and threatening young boys in the neighborhood. According to court documents reported by the New York Post last year, Goodman held booze-fueled parties in his home while screening child porn, and also “threatened the life” of a boy who reported him to authorities.

According to the Post, Goodman was caught on camera inviting teens into his home – after his indictment in 2010.

“Andrew Goodman’s victims aren’t yet free of the burden of his crimes. It seems just and reasonable that he shouldn’t be free anytime soon, either,” Cymbrowitz said.


Abraham George began his campaign for Brooklyn District Attorney last week by blasting incumbent Charles Hynes, saying he has failed to protect Brooklyn’s children.

The New York Law Journal reports that George, 33, accused Hynes of focusing on small crimes like marijuana possession charges, as opposed to larger and more violent ones, such as child molestation. George specifically referred to the manner in which Hynes dealt with the prosecution of child molesters in the Orthodox Jewish Community, a recent sore point for the sitting DA, who was accused of hiding the names of alleged molesters in order to secure the Jewish vote.

“He’s actually harming people,” George told the Daily News. “There are children who are being harmed because he runs a political office. I’m not going to stand around when I know I can do something about it.”

George said he wishes to pursue the individuals who scare witnesses from coming forward and testifying against molesters. He also hopes to form a campaign committee later on in the summer. He has considered running for this position for a while now, and feels that based on his credentials, he is now prepared to assume this role.

Hynes’ spokesman told the Daily News that Hynes will be running for re-election in 2013.

George grew up in Sheepshead Bay and now lives in Williamsburg.

He graduated from Hofstra University School of Law, and has served as an assistant prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for the past eight years.

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