Archive for the tag 'religion'

The burning of the chametz. Source: Dudy Tuchfeld / Flickr

The burning of the chametz. Source: Dudy Tuchfeld / Flickr

Beginning next week, in advance of the Jewish commemoration of Passover, there will be special Sanitation collections for residents who live within Community Board (CB) 15. You can find out if you live within the boundaries of CB15 by clicking on this link.

Next Monday, April 14, all of CB15 will receive regular garbage and recycling collection. You should place all your garbage out for collection on Sunday evening, April 13, after 5:00 p.m. Recycling and regular garbage need to be separated.

For your convenience, a public Dumpster will be located at the following locations on the morning of Monday, April 14, and will be removed before nightfall:

  • James Madison High School Sports Field on the south side of Quentin Road between East 27th Street and East 28th Street
  • In front of 2810 Nostrand Avenue, corner of Kings Highway and Nostrand Avenue

Burning Chametz

People in charge of burning Chametz (food deemed unkosher for Passover), either in front of a home or a synagogue, must ensure that the fires are small and controlled so that the Fire Department does not need to be called to respond to an “out of control fire.” Here are some rules that must be observed for the burning of chametz.

  • All fires must be supervised by a mature, responsible adult
  • No paint thinner, aerosol cans, sprays, lighter fluid or any other flammable liquids are to be used to ignite the fire. These items have caused accidents and are extremely dangerous
  • Water, fire extinguishers, or sand should be readily available at the site of the chametz burning
  • Do not burn chametz enclosed in aluminum foil
  • Chametz should be put at the curb in plastic bags. This will eliminate the necessity for retrieving and washing out garbage cans
  • Do not park cars on smoldering embers

Your cooperation in following the schedule and observing these safety precautions will expedite the pickup. The chametz burning should end at 11:36 a.m., Monday, April 14.

A Stipula fountain pen. Source: Wikipedia

A Stipula fountain pen. Source: Wikipedia

A Jewish writing group is forming at the Beth El Jewish Center of Flatbush, 1981 Homecrest Avenue at the corner of Avenue T. The group will function according to the principles of the New York Writer’s Coalition, encouraging the exchange of creative ideas and constructive criticism.

All are welcome to participate. The group will meet Monday evenings at 8:00 p.m. in the synagogue’s daily chapel. Participants are requested to bring a pad or notebook and a pen.

For more information, call (718)-375-0120.

Councilman Lew Fidler. Photo by Erica Sherman

For decades a battle has raged between parents, religious leaders and politicians over the question of allowing prayer in schools. Councilman Lew Fidler may have come up with a solution that attempts to bridge the gap between those who believe and those who don’t.

According to CBS New York, Fidler has put forward a resolution that calls for students to observe a mandatory, albeit non-denominational moment of silence, either before or after the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Like most attempts to legislate the behavior of children, Fidler’s idea has split critics and divided parents.

TriBeCa resident Christi Wood spoke to the seemingly benign nature of the proposed resolution. She told CBS New York that she thinks “it’s a good idea. They can kind of think about whatever they want. We live in a crazy, fast-paced city, so a moment of silence, I think it is a good idea. I’d like to have one.”

Julie Antoinette thought the measure was a waste of time.

“I disagree with it. I just think that if they need to have a moment of silence [do it] at their own time. How many hours in a school day? They have 12 other hours to do it on their own private time.”

While a resolution from the City Council can’t force the Department of Education to enact a mandatory moment of silence, Fidler hopes that a near-unanimous council resolution puts pressure on them to do so.

“Hopefully, if it passes the council and it passes unanimously, or close to unanimously, the Department of Education will understand that there is a school of thought out there that believes that this should be policy,” Fidler told CBS.

We were wondering what our readers think of making children observe a mandatory moment of silence everyday at school.

Do you think it’s good for children to have a moment to silently meditate, pray or just relax quietly? Do you think the idea is too rooted in a religious mind-frame and has no place in public schools? Or do you think the idea is just dumb and a waste of time?

Let us know.


Representative Jerrold Nadler is facing some criticism from Jewish groups today over his stance on the recent Congressional legislation that allowed for FEMA money to be spent on the repair and rebuilding of synagogues, churches and other religious houses of worship damaged by Superstorm Sandy, according to an editorial by the Jewish Press.

Yesterday, we reported that the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to approve the use of federal funds to help Sandy-stricken houses of worship of all faiths. The passing of the act is likely to face some friction in the Senate and the courts as it brings up important questions regarding separation of church and state.

Nadler was a vocal leader of the opposition to this bill, arguing that the use of taxpayer money to fund the reconstruction of religious buildings was unconstitutional. His stance did not go unnoticed by the Jewish Press, arguing that the legislation made “common sense.”

If Congress decides that it is in the public interest to bring about large-scale restorations, such as roof and sidewall repair, by what logic can one exclude religious institutions that are in exactly the same position as non-religious entities? After all, religious institutions are entitled to, for example, police and fire protection just like their non-religious counterparts.

While Nadler was on the receiving end of criticism, other politicians, who have been pushing for the bill, like Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz were pleased with its passage in the House, reaching out to his Facebook followers with this message.

 Yesterday the House of Representatives passed the “Federal Disaster Assistance Non-Profit Fairness Act of 2013,” which would allow houses of worship to be included among the non-profit recipients of FEMA relief aid. I’ve been working on this issue with the Jewish Community Relations Council of NY and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to help synagogues and churches apply for FEMA. Houses of worship impact our entire community and desperately need a helping hand to get back on their feet.


The Megillat (scroll of) Esther, which is read aloud every Purim. Source: Wikipedia

This weekend, our area will play host to two Purim celebrations for the entire community. Purim, oftentimes (and erroneously) referred to as the “Jewish Halloween,” tells the story of Esther, the Jewish Queen of Persian, who heroically foiled the plans of the wicked royal henchman, Haman — after whom the delicious hamantashen cookie is named — to murder all of the Jews of ancient Persia.

Congregation Israel of Kings Bay

Congregation Israel of Kings Bay invites area residents to hear a reading of Megillat Esther — the biblical “Book of Esther” (also known as “The Megillah,” the Hebrew word for scroll, upon which the Megillah is printed), immediately following Shabbat on Saturday night, February 23 at 6:45 p.m. (Shabbat ends at 6:20 p.m.)

Following the Megillah reading, there will be a Purim costume party for all ages at 7:30 p.m. There will be Hamantashen, groggers (noise-makers), Purim bags, prizes, a raffle and more. The following morning, on Purim Day, February 24, there will be a second Megillah reading at the synagogue at 8:30 a.m.

Congregation Israel of Kings Bay is located at 3903 Nostrand Avenue on the corner of Voorhies Avenue. For more information, call the synagogue at (718) 934-5176 or email Rabbi Winner at

The Kings Bay YM-YWHA

The Kings Bay YM-YWHA invites the entire community to its Annual Purim Carnival on Sunday, February 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The entire day will be filled with festivities for all ages, as the community gathers to sing, dance and celebrate this joyous day.

The celebration will feature exciting activities for the entire family. Children will enjoy rides, sand art, face painting, Purim-themed arts and crafts, carnival games and a costume contest. Free hamentashen cookies and raffle prizes will be awarded.

This Purim celebration is anticipated to be the largest in Sheepshead Bay.

The Kings Bay Y is located at 3495 Nostrand Avenue between Avenues U and V. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call Alina Plotkina at (718) 648-7703 extension 224, email or go to

The House of Representatives voted by a wide margin to approve the use of federal funds to repair and rebuild religious institutions damaged by Superstorm Sandy, according to a report by the New York Times.

Receiving intense lobbying by Catholic and Jewish groups, the bill was passed 354-to-72. Support for the measure was largely bipartisan, while opposition consisted of 66 Democrats and six Republicans. The Times laid out the scope of the bill’s language:

Under the bill, “a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other house of worship, and a private nonprofit facility operated by a religious organization,” would be eligible for federal disaster assistance “without regard to the religious character of the facility or the primary religious use of the facility.”

According to the Times, FEMA raised serious objections to the bill, issuing a memorandum claiming that its passage represents an “enormous departure” from current law.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents parts of Coney Island, Borough Park and Bensonhurst, opposed the bill on grounds that using taxpayer money to fund the reconstruction and furnishing of religious buildings was unconstitutional.

Nadler’s opposition potentially foreshadows a legal showdown between civil liberty groups and religious advocates in the near future:

The American Civil Liberties Union agreed [with Nadler], saying it was a bedrock principle of constitutional law that “taxpayer funds cannot go to construct, rebuild or repair buildings used for religious activities.”

Lawyers at the emergency management agency expressed concern about possible lawsuits by the civil liberties union and others. “FEMA expects that well-financed and aggressive litigation and injunctions would quickly follow enactment of this bill,” agency lawyers said in their memorandum.

Source: Friends of Ocean Parkway

Our friends at the Friends of Ocean Parkway blog tipped us off to the soon-to-be-constructed Edmond J. Safra Synagogue, coming to Ocean Parkway at Avenue U.

We called over to Rabbi Elie Abadie of Congregation Edmond J. Safra in Manhattan, but he told us the new building was not officially affiliated with his flock, but just that they share the same name.

According to the Manhattan congregation’s website, Edmon J. Safra was a “Lebanese-born [Sephardic] Jew who rose to prominence in the banking industry, [and] supported a remarkable diversity of institutions and charities during his lifetime.”

Welcome to the neighborhood, Safra Synagogue.


Sheepshead Bites wishes all of our readers observing the holiday today an easy fast and “G’mar Hatimah Tovah!”

Our publishing schedule will be lighter than usual today.

On the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th attacks, neighbors woke up to find shocking images of the burning Twin Towers on their doorsteps and an assertion that the recipient may be going to hell.

Church Rey De Reyes, a Spanish-language Pentecostal church located at 2376 East 15th Street, distributed biblical tracts overnight featuring an image of the Twin Towers engulfed in flames, and the caption, “What if you had been here September 11, 2001? A day that began like any other.”

The pamphlet goes on to suggest that, had you died in the September 11th attacks, you would have gone to hell if you had not accepted Christian beliefs.

Resident Richard R. said he found these pamphlets – called tracts – on his porch on a block near Ocean Avenue and Avenue Z this morning and it made him fume:

I’ve lived in Sheepshead Bay my whole life and this is the first time I can say I hate my neighborhood. This morning I woke up to go to work to find this on my front porch.

Now to be completely honest, I am not a religious man, in fact I identify myself as an atheist, however I am not anti-religion, but the fact that a church would choose to use a National tragedy to grow their congregation truly infuriates me, and in my own backyard no less. I find this absolutely reprehensible, and this church and it’s Reverend should be ashamed of themselves. The pamphlet, so carelessly strewn on Sheepshead bay porches this morning goes on to talk about how we are all sinners, coaxing people into going to church to repent because if they had died on 9/11, they may have gone to hell. This is religious leaders using fear-mongering to attract followers and money into their church, this is an absolute outrage. They are literally trying to profit from the deaths of thousands in an attack on this country, that is not only morally low, but truthfully, its pathetic.

Imagine if this pamphlet, so recklessly left on porches was found by a now teenager who’s parents died in those buildings, is this really the message we want our children coming home to? Ignorant of anyone’s religious beliefs I would hope that logical minds would realize that this pamphlet is just plain wrong and I don’t think our neighborhood needs this.

The tract was not created by the local church, though it does appear to be distributed by them. The pamphlet was produced by the Fellowship Tract League, which produces a number of fire-and-brimstone biblical tracts for Christian organizations around the world. Metadata on the file on their website suggests this particular tract has been published since at least 2009, and they also feature other potentially inflammatory tracts such as one about the certainty of death from AIDS.

These tract images were taken from the Fellowship Tract League website. The locally distributed version features the Church Rey De Reyes’ name and contact information.



A special education bill sponsored by local Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, which would have demanded that evaluators consider the “home life and family background” of special education students when placing them in schools, was vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.

Although the bill does not specifically address religion,  religious parents were elated at the bill’s stipulation that “home life and family background” be considered when placing special education students in schools or reimbursing parents for private school tuition. However, Cuomo put and end to this excitement, saying that the mandate was too broad and would have forced taxpayers to cover the expense of religious education.

“This administration … is committed to providing the best education and assistance to every child in New York, including children with disabilities,” Cuomo wrote in his veto message, according to the Wall Street Journal. “However, this bill unfairly places the burden on taxpayers to support the provision of private education.”

Continue Reading »

Next »