Brooklyn pool can keep women-only swim times


Women-only swimming hours will be allowed to continue at a public pool in a heavily Orthodox neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The New York City Parks Department decision on the indoor pool at the Metropolitan Recreation Center in Williamsburg closes a chapter on a controversy that erupted in May. It follows a revision of the gender discrimination policy by the city Commission on Human Rights announced Wednesday.

However, the special hours, which have been in effect since the 1990s without complaint, will be reduced from 7 1/4 to 4 a week in an effort to appease those who felt the program was unfair, the website DNAinfo reported.

The hours cater to Hasidic women, who may not swim with men under strict religious law.

The Parks Department had canceled the women-only hours when an anonymous complaint was filed with the city’s Commission on Human Rights. The decision was put on hold following objections by local politicians and activists, including Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an Orthodox politician from nearby Borough Park.

The controversy inspired a strongly worded editorial in The New York Times asserting that the special hours were unconstitutional and against the principals of fairness and equal access. The editorial itself drew a backlash from some in the Jewish community, who accused the Times of being selective in applying its commitment to pluralism.

In a letter to the Times, Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, which represents haredi Orthodox interests, called the hours a “reasonable accommodation.”

On Wednesday, Hikind released a statement praising Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Commission on Human Rights and the Parks Department.

“I’m so proud that NYC is making separate swimming accommodations kosher not just for the Hasidic community, but for all women,” including Muslims and the elderly who also might prefer such privacy, Hikind said.

“By respecting everyone’s differences, NYC sends an unequivocal message encouraging and promoting citywide cultural diversity.”

Smashed car window covers 6-year-old in glass, may be hate crime


A teenage boy hurled a rock into the car of an Orthodox Jewish woman in Brooklyn, shattering the back window and covering her 6-year-old child in glass.

The teen, who was not identified, had shouted an anti-Semitic remark at the woman in the car before throwing the rock and fleeing the scene, the New York Daily News reported.

The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating.

4 pro-Israel NY food co-op members suspended for disrupting 2015 BDS presentation


A popular Brooklyn cooperative grocery store that has been fighting about Israel boycott efforts for eight years reportedly suspended four pro-Israel members for interrupting a meeting more than a year ago.

According to the Brooklyn Paper, four Park Slope Food Co-op members have been suspended for a year for interrupting an April 2015 presentation by members who were calling for a boycott of SodaStream, the Israeli seltzer-machine company that at the time had a factory in a West Bank settlement.

At the 2015 meeting attended by hundreds of members, the four now-suspended members went to the front of the room and unplugged the projector that was displaying an image of an Israeli soldier and Palestinian that they believed was propagandistic.

The four were subjected to a disciplinary hearing in April and found guilty of uncooperative behavior.

In a heated and much publicized 2012 referendum, the co-op voted against boycotting Israeli products. Earlier this year, its members voted to require a supermajority of 75 percent for future boycott efforts.

Section 8 vouchers disproportionately go to Brooklyn’s Chasidic Jews, report charges


Chasidic Jews in Brooklyn benefit disproportionately from Section 8 housing vouchers, even as other impoverished residents have difficulty obtaining the federal housing subsidy, according to a new report.

A joint investigation published Tuesday by WNYC and the New York Daily News found that in several heavily Chasidic sections of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, more than 30 percent of residents use Section 8 vouchers, a benefit for those unable to afford market-rate rents.

The statistic is striking because the neighborhood, which has gentrified dramatically in recent years, is near Manhattan and commands among the city’s highest rents and sale prices. In contrast, according to the report, most of the city’s Section 8 users are in outlying neighborhoods with lower market-rate rents.

According to the report, 120,000 eligible New Yorkers are on a waiting list for Section 8 benefits.

It is unclear from the reporting whether the Hasidic community’s large representation among Section 8 beneficiaries stems from illegal dealings or if it is simply a result of the tight-knit community’s organizing and advocacy skills. The report cited two fraud cases, including in 2012, when the head of the large Satmar school United Talmudical Academy and his brother pleaded guilty to defrauding the Section 8 program of $200,000.

Some sources quoted by the Daily News and WNYC accused members of the Chasidic community of using off-the-books income to supplement their payments to the landlord, thus paying higher rent than what is reported to the government. They also claimed that many Williamsburg buildings owned by Chasidic developers have violated the Fair Housing Act by marketing their rentals exclusively to Chasidic families.

11-year-old charged in bus blaze outside Crown Heights Jewish girls’ school


An 11-year-old boy was charged Monday with setting fire to a school bus outside a Jewish school in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

The bus went up in flames on Sunday evening in front of the Beth Rivkah School for Girls in the haredi Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. There were no injuries.

The accused boy was released to his parents, WABC-TV reported. Up to five boys were on the bus when it was set on fire, the station reported, citing a witness, who was able to identify the boy who was charged as a juvenile in the incident.

A lit pizza box was found inside the burning bus.

Police reportedly planned to use surveillance video from the school in an effort to identify the suspects.

Sanders returns to childhood home in Brooklyn


Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Friday returned to the Brooklyn neighborhood he was brought up as a child, kicking off his New York weekend with campaign rally outside his childhood home on E. 26th street in Midwood.

“Thank you for coming out to my old neighborhood. I spent the first 18 years of my life in apartment 2C right here,” Sanders said standing on a stage outside 1525 East 26th street. “Right on this street, I spent thousands of hours playing punch ball.”

As Sanders gave his traditional stump speech, some local Jewish teenagers yelled, “We love you, Bernie,” as one of them waved a campaign poster with “Shabbat Shalom” scribbled on the top.

“>fired back at the Jewish senator’s critics, accusing them of distorting his comments. “As many people know, Sen. Sanders, as a young man, spent months in Israel and, in fact, has family living there now. There is no candidate for president who will be a stronger supporter of Israel’s right to exist in freedom, peace and security,” Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs said in a statement. “The idea that Sen. Sanders stated definitely that 10,000 Palestinians were killed is just not accurate and a distortion of that discussion. Bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not be easy. It would help if candidates’ positions on this issue are not distorted.”

The clarification wasn’t good enough for Assemblyman Hikind. After attempting to 

How Matisyahu became a Hasidic humanist — in his own words


Matisyahu’s personal and religious journey — from non-religious stoner teen to Hasidic reggae rocker to non-Orthodox Jewish symbol — has been tracked closely in the media.

On Friday night, the Jewish reggae star sat down to tell his story in his own words, no holds barred. He spoke with Brooklyn Rabbi Dan Ain and Relix magazine editor Mike Greenhaus at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village for the second installment of their Friday Night Jam series — which features Jewish musicians willing to talk about their art and their spirituality.

The first speaker last month was Ryan Miller, the lead singer of Guster; the next musician lined up is Lenny Kaye, the longtime guitarist of Patti Smith’s band.

After a Shabbat candle blessing and a short meditation session, Matisyahu began drinking red wine and opening up. He answered questions about what many of his fans are most interested in: how he entered the music world as a Hasidic Jew and how he eventually left the Chabad Hasidic community.

Here are five poignant and funny stories from his reprisal of the past decade of his life.

1. His late teenage years were full of drugs and jam bands

When he was 16, Matisyahu (then Matthew Miller) went to a Phish concert in Worcester, Massachusetts, and dropped acid for the first time with some friends.

“It changed my life,” he said.

He quickly became obsessed with the jam band scene and dropped out of high school to follow Phish on a tour across the country. After trying and failing to reenroll in high school, he ended up at a rehab center in Oregon, where he first began playing open mic sets.

“I wasn’t religious but I remember drinking mushroom tea and coming out wrapped in an Israeli flag with sage burning,” he said. “I decided: I love music, I love drugs, but I sort of need to make that next step. And being who I am, I did that in a drastic way and decided okay, I need to become something.”

2. He lived with New York University’s Chabad rabbi

After moving back to New York and attending The New School, Matisyahu started going to the Carlebach Shul on the city’s Upper West Side — which, as he put it, blew his mind. He gradually started wearing tzitzit and growing out his beard. One night he got so drunk that he collapsed in a bar’s stairwell and had an epiphany that he had to change his ways.

“The next day I was in Washington Square Park and [NYU Chabad] Rabbi [Dave] Korn was there,” Matisyahu said. “He poured me a glass of vodka … and the next thing I knew I was married with three kids in Crown Heights.”

What he really did next was move in with Korn’s family and begin studying Torah all day, every day.

“There was a beauty to it, it was like a purification in some sense. And there was also a complete psychosis to it, where I completely lost touch with myself and was trying to be this other thing,” he said.

3. His first hip-hop audience was a group of Hasidic Jews in the Catskills

The entire staff and student body of the yeshiva Matisyahu had enrolled in vacationed in New York’s Catskill Mountains. At a celebration one summer night, at the urging of someone, Matisyahu stood up on a table and rapped in front of the yeshiva’s staff members and their families.

“They kind of flipped out,” he said. “And they were into it.”

He would soon be performing for larger audiences. Back in his Torah-consumed life in the city, he had a teacher — “a maniac from Russia” — who tried to “crush” any dreams he had of being a musician. He let go of his ambitions, but quietly worked on his first album, which came out in 2004.

“I let go of [the dream] and said, Whatever God wants for me. And I think that in that internal moment of letting go, I was afforded the humility for God to come and give it to me. Because when it happened, it just happened almost in a supernatural way … It was just like, OK, this is now what you’re doing. You’re going to be on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, you’re going to be at Bonnaroo … everything happened very quickly,” Matisyahu said.

4. He got his beard shaved at Supercuts

Fast-forward several years and hundreds of thousands of records sold. In the Upper West Side one day in 2011, after a session with his therapist, he decided to walk into a Supercuts salon. The only employee inside was a Hispanic woman. He told her that he hadn’t shaved his beard for 10 years. After the deed was done, the two of them cried together.

“Honestly, I really didn’t think about anybody else when I shaved. I didn’t think about what it would mean for my career or what people would think about it. I just got to the place I wanted to,” he said.

5. Now, he’s most comfortable praying with Hasidim who scream

After shaving his beard, Matisyahu began to attend a Hasidic shul in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, associated with the Karlin sect.

“The place I feel most comfortable davening is by the Hasidim who scream,” he said. “I stepped into a Karlin shul, where they’re literally pissed off and screaming at God and everybody is singing their own melody. And it’s very beautiful.”

These days, Matisyahu is still religious — and he’s looking for a new synagogue to pray at near his home in Monsey, a town in New York’s Rockland County.

“I love Hasidim, I love certain aspects of it. But when you put an idea at the top of the list and everything else falls under that, you lose track of what’s real, of humanity,” he said.

Sanders: Israel ‘overreacted’ during Gaza War


Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addressed for the second time in a lengthy profile his Jewish upbringing in Brooklyn and faith. But, for the first time, he also took a very critical stance against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In an interview to Rolling Stone, published Wednesday, Sanders went into detail about his childhood in Brooklyn, how his older brother Larry drew him into politics and how being Jewish motivated him to pursue a political career.

“My dad and mom were not political. They voted, they were Democrats, as was almost everybody in our community,” Sanders recalled. “My brother was political and introduced me to politics. But we were not a political family.”

He added, “Clearly, one of the factors that influenced my life was the knowledge, as a kid, that my dad’s family – and probably my mother’s as well, but I knew more about my dad – that many members of his family were killed by Hitler. So what you learn, not intellectually when you’re seven years of age, but it goes into your emotional, instinctual base, is that politics makes a difference. That’s why many African-Americans pay attention to politics in a different way. Politics meant that segregation and lynching existed in this country. And that’s why African-Americans are very sensitive to what goes on in politics. And the same thing with Jewish people. That is how, instinctually, if you like, or emotionally, I gravitated into politics.”

Rolling Stone asked the Jewish Senator: “Do you believe in God?”

“Yeah, I do. I do,” Sanders responded. “I’m not into organized religion. But I believe that what impacts you impacts me, that we are all united in one way or another. When children go hungry, I get impacted. When kids die because they can’t afford medicine, I get impacted. We are one world and one people. And that belief leads me to the conclusion that we just cannot turn our back on human suffering.”

Sanders also discussed his approach towards Israel and his relationship with Netanyahu. But while promising to “support the security of Israel” and “help Israel fight terrorist attacks, Sanders criticzed Netanyahu’s conduct and “overreacted” response to the rockets fired at Israel during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. 

“Do I think that Netanyahu overreacted? Yes, I do. War is terrible unto itself. But I think that Israel overreacted and caused more civilian damage than was necessary,” he told the magazine. “They have very sophisticated weapons systems. They make the case, and I respect that, that they do try to make sure that civilians are not damaged. But the end result was that a lot of civilians were killed, and a lot of housing was destroyed. There was terrible, terrible damage done.”

Sanders did not mention the recent wave of stabbing attacks against Israeli citizens over the past two months or condemn the Palestinian Authority for inciting against Israel. But, on the other hand, he decried Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and its policy towards Hamas-ruled Gaza. “The United States has got to work with the Palestinian people in improving their standard of living, which is now a disaster, and has been made much worse since the war in Gaza,” he stressed. 

“Under my administration,” Sanders pledged, “the United States will maintain an even-handed approach to the area. I believe in a two-state solution, where Israel has security, and the Palestinians have a state of their own.”

Brooklyn sculpture says it all in a New York way: ‘Oy’ and ‘yo’


A sculpture installed in a Brooklyn park says it all in an expressly New York way: “oy” and “yo.”

Artist Deborah Kass created the bright yellow sculpture, titled “OY/YO,” that was placed this week in Brooklyn Bridge Park, near the East River separating the two boroughs, according to reports. It is scheduled to remain there until August.

Those viewing from Brooklyn see “oy”; Manhattanites see “yo.”

“The fact that this particular work resonates so beautifully in so many languages to so many communities is why I wanted to make it monumental,” Kass told The New York Times. “This is New York, baby. We’ve got it all. And the sculpture covers it all.”

The work is made of aluminum and paint. Much of Kass’ work makes reference to other modern artists, including Gertrude Stein, Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock.

What does the sculpture using the two oft-used expressions by New Yorkers mean? Kass told the Times that it was best left open to interpretation.

“Oy” entered the English lexicon in the 1890s, while “yo” has been used as far back as the 15th century in Middle English, Peter Sokolowski, the editor at large of Merriam-Webster, told the Times.

Orthodox Jews, kosher market hit by paintballs in Brooklyn


Police are searching for suspects who targeted a kosher market and some Orthodox Jewish individuals in Brooklyn with a paintball gun.

On June 29, Bondo’s 24 supermarket in the Williamsburg section and 62-year-old Chaim Klein were hit with paintballs. An unnamed man and his two grandchildren walking home from synagogue were targeted as well on the same day, WCBS-TV in New York reported.

Police said the attacks could be linked to three similar incidents that occurred in the same area in March and may be investigated as hate crimes, the New York Daily News reported.

The suspects fired at the supermarket before driving off in a dark car and targeting the other victims. Klein was hit nearby.

“It’s unfortunate – this, in 2015, this is still happening,” said Brooklyn community leader Rabbi Moshe Indig.

Mother of 7 children who died in Brooklyn house fire leaves hospital


The mother of seven children who died in a March fire in their Brooklyn home was released from the hospital.

Gayle Sassoon left the hospital on Friday and will continue to recover at the Brooklyn home of her mother-in-law, her husband, Gabriel, told the Kol Barama radio station on Sunday during an eight-minute interview.

Sassoon will continue to receive rehabilitation treatment on an outpatient basis, including to improve her walking and the use of her hands, Gabriel Sassoon said, calling his wife “very strong” and saying she possesses “a lot of faith.”

“We are able to cry about them [the children] with love and then be happy instead of crying about them and missing them and being depressed,” Gabriel Sassoon said. “So, I and my wife are trying to make our missing them for something better, to remember the love and the joy that we have. Through this, it’s possible to change the situation from something negative to something positive.”

The couple’s surviving daughter, Tzipporah, 15, came home from the hospital in April.

Gabriel Sassoon was out of town at a religious conference when the fire consumed the family’s home in the New York City borough shortly after midnight on March 22, a Saturday. Officials have blamed an unattended hot plate warming Shabbat meals as the cause.

Gayle Sassoon and Tziporah escaped by leaping from the second floor of the house. The seven children, who ranged in age from 5 to 16, were buried in Jerusalem.

Beverly Hills resident Mendel Tevel pleads guilty in Brooklyn to sex abuse charges


Mendel Tevel, who was arrested in Beverly Hills in Oct. 2013 and then extradited to Brooklyn on charges of sexual abuse stemming from an Apr. 2007 incident, pleaded guilty in a New York courtroom before Judge Elizabeth Foley on Apr. 24 to two counts of criminal sexual acts in the third degree, according to Lupe Todd, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.

In Aug. 2013, the Jewish Journal published an ” target=”_blank”>arrested in Beverly Hills and held in a Los Angeles County jail for more than a week, then was ” target=”_blank”>pleaded not guilty to 37 counts of sexual abuse—most were either first-degree or third-degree—and was released on $100,000 bail.

On Apr. 24, after agreeing to a plea bargain with the prosecutor, Tevel pleaded guilty to only two counts of a “criminal sexual act in the third degree,” which, as described by the New York penal code, constitutes anal or oral sex with someone who is either under 17 or is otherwise incapable of providing legal consent. At the time of the incident, Tevel was either 23 or 24 years old. The Brooklyn D.A.’s office said that because the crime was sexual in nature, it couldn’t share more information on the case, including the victim’s identity.

Tevel is the son-in-law of Rabbi Hertzel Illulian, the founder and director of the JEM youth center in Beverly Hills, where Tevel used to work and where Beverly Hills police arrested him in 2013. Tevel married Illulian’s daughter, Bracha, in 2012.

Tevel is expected to appear in court again on June 8 for sentencing by Judge Foley. According to New York guidelines, he could be given from 16 months to up to four years in prison or as little as no jail time, which could be with or without probation.

Father says 7 children who died in NYC fire were ‘so pure’


The father of seven Orthodox Jewish children killed in a Brooklyn house fire told hundreds of mourners at their funeral on Sunday that the only way he can survive the tragedy was “complete, utter and total surrender” to his religious beliefs.

The grieving man, Gabriel Sassoon, spoke at a packed funeral chapel where white curtains separated hundreds of men wearing black hats and yarmulkes from women in modest dress.

His eulogy for the seven children, ages 5 to 16, was broadcast to an even bigger crowd outside. Many of the mourners rocked back and forth in reverence as he spoke.

“My children, they were so pure,” said Sassoon, looking at the seven small, wooden coffins at the Shomrei Hadas Chapels. The coffins were to be loaded into seven hearses headed for John F. Kennedy International Airport, then flown to Israel for burial.

Only an eighth child, 15-year-old Siporah, and Sassoon's wife, Gayle Sassoon, 45, survived the blaze, which the Fire Department blamed on a malfunctioning hot plate that observant Jews use to heat food without violating the Sabbath rules. Both are hospitalized in critical condition.

“I don't know how I could have everything and now I have nothing,” said Sassoon, who was at a religious conference when the flames broke out at his home around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday.

“There's only one way to survive this: It's complete, utter and total surrender,” he wailed.

Around the corner from the charred home, the Fire Department handed out pamphlets titled “Fire Safety for Jewish Observances” as well as smoke alarms and batteries.

Orthodox Jews closely adhere to strict rules that define rest and work on the Sabbath, which lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Prohibitions include turning on and off electric appliances, said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the heavily Jewish district.

“A lot of people use these hot plates to keep food warm for the next day,” Hikind said. “They put them on Friday and they are left on for the entire Sabbath, 25 hours.”

An online version of the Fire Department pamphlet about dangers during the Sabbath and Jewish holidays tops the list with the warning: “Stay in the kitchen – don't leave cooking food unattended.”

Hikind said he uses a water-filled urn that he heats up before the Sabbath starts.

“I called my own daughter, who has six kids, to tell her to stop using that hot plate,” he said.

It was the city's fourth deadly fire in 15 years sparked by hot plates or use of ritual candles, according to the Jewish Forward newspaper, including a 2000 fire in Williamsburg that killed the granddaugther of the Satmar Grand Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum and her 5-month old baby.

Hikind said that scam artists immediately launched a phony fundraising scheme in the Sassoon family's name, and he warned followers on Twitter not to contribute.

“People's heart aches – Jew and non-Jew alike. They want to help. We don't want you to waste your money,” he later told Reuters.

Although smoke alarms are required on every floor of a home, according to a Fire Department spokesman, the New York Times reported the Sassoon home only had a smoke alarm in the basement.

The Fire Department did not immediately respond to questions about the home's smoke alarms or about previous deadly fires tied to religious observances

Brooklyn house fire kills 7 from Orthodox Jewish family


Seven children from an Orthodox Jewish family died early on Saturday when flames ripped through their Brooklyn home in one of New York City's deadliest fires in years, officials said.

Their 45-year-old mother and a teenage sister survived after jumping from an upper floor. The two were taken to a local hospital and were in critical condition, New York Fire Department spokesman Michael Parrella said.

The blaze erupted in the single-family dwelling around 12:30 a.m. It apparently was started accidentally by a hot plate, used by many Orthodox families to warm food on the Sabbath, said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

It was the highest death toll in a fire in the city in seven years, Nigro said.

“This is an unbelievable tragedy,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters after seeing the devastation at the site of the blaze. “Every New Yorker is feeling this pain right now.”

De Blasio described the interior of the house, located in Brooklyn's middle-class Midwood neighborhood, as completely charred.

“You can literally see what was a home for a large and strong family and now it is wiped out, every room empty and burned,” he said.

De Blasio asked for the surrounding community to support the family's grieving father, who was apparently away for a conference overnight.

Responding to reports of flames inside the home, firefighters forced their way in and extinguished the fire, which had started in the kitchen, Nigro said. They then found the children, aged 5 to 16, in their bedrooms near the back of the home, he said, after the mother and another daughter jumped.

“I heard the mother yelling, 'My kids are in there! My kids are in there! Get them out! Get them out!'” neighbor Nate Weber told the New York Daily News. “The mother was outside. She was burned.”

Police have identified the children who died as Yaakob Sassoon, 5, Sara, 6, Moshe, 8, Yeshua, 10, Rivkah, 11, David, 12, and Eliane, 16. Authorities initially said the oldest child was 15 years old.

More than 100 firefighters turned out to battle the blaze and brought it under control within an hour, Parrella said.

Midwood has a large population of Orthodox Jewish residents. Nigro said the hot plate was likely left switched on because of religious restrictions on lighting fires during the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown on Friday.

New York police shoot, kill man who stabbed student in synagogue


New York police fatally shot a man armed with a knife on Tuesday after he stabbed a rabbinical student from Israel in a Brooklyn synagogue, and authorities quickly stepped up security at Jewish houses of worship around the city, police said.

The suspect, Calvin Peters, 49, who has a history of mental illness, stabbed and wounded 22-year-old Levi Rosenblat, who was studying at the world headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, police said.

When police arrived at the synagogue at 1:40 a.m. EST, they found the suspect with the knife in his hand and threatening other worshippers.

Rabbi Motti Seligson of Chabad-Lubavitch said Peters was heard saying repeatedly, “Kill the Jews.”

Police officers confronted Peters, and the suspect complied with their demand to drop the knife. A video of the confrontation shows the officer then holstered his gun, but Peters picked up the knife again and began moving toward police.

Police said the officer shot once, hitting Peters in the torso. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

While the assailant's motive remains unknown, Police Commissioner William Bratton said security was being stepped up at Jewish facilities around the city.

Chabad-Lubavitch is a movement dedicated to encouraging Jews to be more observant, and the building is revered by some Jews as the seat of the grand rabbi, the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who some followers believed was the messiah. The incident comes just weeks after a deadly meat cleaver attack by two Palestinians in a synagogue in Israel.

It also comes amid close scrutiny of U.S. law enforcement after several recent police killings of unarmed African-American men. Police described Peters as black and the officer who shot him as Hispanic.

Bratton said the NYPD is stepping up training for officers on ways to bring people under control without using firearms.

“The shooting looks like it was justified,” Bratton told reporters. “You had an individual with a knife who had stabbed an individual.”

The student, Rosenblat, was stabbed in the left temple and was in stable condition at the hospital, police said.

At the time of the incident, the building, which also houses a soup kitchen for the homeless and needy neighborhood residents, was open as usual and a number of people were inside.

In the video, the attacker walks up to and asks each of about a half dozen men dressed in Orthodox Jewish clothing, “Want me to kill you?”

The officer demands the attacker drop the knife or he will shoot and the men initially shout, “Don't shoot! Don't shoot!” Police confirmed the video, which was posted to the New York Post website, was legitimate.

The knife was recovered at the scene and the investigation into the incident is continuing.

Young Jewish adults missing in Israel, Brooklyn


A 27-year-old British Jewish woman has disappeared in Israel, and in a separate case, a 28-year-old Jewish man in Brooklyn has gone missing.

Mia Reeves was supposed to fly home to London from Tel Aviv on Nov. 30 on an Easy Jet airline but never made her flight, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Reeves’ father told the Post that his daughter was in Israel for a two-week bike-riding vacation and was last seen on Nov. 30 at the south Tel Aviv hostel where she had been staying.

Reeves, who is 5-foot-3 with auburn hair, was last seen accompanied by an unidentified “young man in his early 20s with boyish features and dark brown hair,” her father said.

Natan Gorelik, the missing man in Brooklyn, disappeared on Nov. 19 and was last seen leaving his grandmother’s home, News 12 Brooklyn reported. Gorelik is 5-foot-11 with blue eyes and blond hair.

Police found some of Gorelik’s belongings, including his wallet, phone and book bag, at Plumb Beach, a south Brooklyn beach that is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

 

Jewish man beaten at Brooklyn train station in apparent anti-Semitic attack


Three assailants beat an identifiably Jewish man while shouting anti-Semitic epithets at a Brooklyn train station.

A bystander who intervened in the attack on Monday in the Williamsburg neighborhood also was attacked, the New York Daily News reported, citing the website JPUpdates.com. 

The Jewish man, who was identified as a tourist from Israel, was beaten with his own umbrella after he discovered them trying to take something out of his pocket. They called him a ‘dirty bloody Jew’ and a ‘f—ing Jew’ during the attack, according to the newspaper.

The attackers fled on a Manhattan-bound train.

The New York Police Department’s hate crimes unit is investigating the incident, The Associated Press reported.

Giant Palestine Flag Draped on New York Bridge Under Investigation


New York City detectives were searching on Thursday for activists suspected of unfurling a massive Palestine flag over the side of an East River bridge during a march in support of Palestinians in Gaza, police said.

The flag, draped over the south side of the Manhattan Bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn, appeared during a Wednesday evening march organized by Palestine solidarity groups, a spokeswoman for the New York Police Department said.

Online photos of the banner show the phrase “Gaza in our hearts” and the words “boycott, divest, sanction” written in large letters on its black, white, green and red panels.

The flag was a show of support for the Palestinian cause as a six-week offensive by the Israeli military to stop rocket attacks launched into its territory from Gaza resumed after a 10-day cease-fire.

After flapping above the East River for about 20 minutes on Wednesday evening, the flag, about 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, was removed by police.

An investigation of the incident is ongoing and no arrests have been made, police said.

A recent posting on the “March for Palestine Facebook Page” discussed plans for the flag raising.

“On August 20th, NYC’s diverse communities will march together over the Brooklyn Bridge and cover it with a sea of Palestinian flags,” the posting said.

Anne Pruden, a spokeswoman for the International Action Center, one of the activist groups participating in the march, said she did not know who was responsible for the flag.

“We saw it from afar,” Pruden said. “It was a beautiful surprise.”

Other groups involved in the march could not be reached immediately for comment.

Police said they doubt the Palestinian flag was connected to an incident last month, when two bleached white American flags mysteriously appeared atop the Brooklyn Bridge, just south of the Manhattan Bridge.

Brooklyn man, extradited from Israel, arraigned in ’08 beating death


NEW YORK (JTA) — A former Hasidic community watch group member in Brooklyn was arraigned in New York in a 2008 beating death after being extradited from Israel.

Yitzchak Schuchat, 31, was arraigned Friday in state Supreme Court in the death of Andrew Charles, according to New York 1. U.S. marshals returned him to New York last week.

Schuchat is facing charges of second- and third-degree assault as a hate crime; Charles was black.

An Israeli court decided to extradite Schuchat in 2011, but he remained in Israel pending appeal.

Schuchat, a member of the Shmira community watch group at the time of the assault, is being held on $300,000 bail and is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 18.

Brooklyn baby named for three murdered Israeli teens


A Brooklyn baby was named Eyal Gilad Naftali in memory of the three murdered Israeli teens.

The name was announced at the baby’s bris on Monday, according to the NRG news website. He is the son of Yankee and Bina Teitelbaum, who live in the Crown Heights neighborhood.

Reports that circulated on social media saying that a set of triplets was named for the boys proved to be false.

The teens who were kidnapped and killed last month are Eyal Yifrah, 19, and Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, both 16.

Two of the couple’s other five children also were named for terror victims. Their daughter Shalhevet was named for Shalhevet Pass, an infant who was killed by a Palestinian sniper in 2001, and their son Ehud Daniel was named for the captive and murdered Israeli soldier Ehud Goldwasser, whose body was recovered from Hezbollah in 2008, and Daniel Agami, an American soldier killed in 2007 in Iraq.

“Those three boys are our family, even more now that we gave our own son their names,” Bina Teitelbaum said in an interview cited by NRG. “We called him this name because we want him to continue the unity the boys have brought to all of Israel — united in prayer, and then reunited in grief.”

Construction worker arrested in Stark murder


A Brooklyn construction worker was arrested in connection with the murder of real estate developer Menachem Stark.

Kendel Felix, 26, was employed by a contractor who worked for Stark, the New York Daily News reported. Felix, who was arrested Wednesday night after being questioned by police earlier in the day, is described by police sources as a “main player” in the January killing, according to the daily.

A police source told the Daily News that Felix and two accomplices wanted to rob Stark, not kill him. Felix reportedly told police that they accidentally suffocated Stark when he struggled to escape. The accomplices also were taken into custody and questioned on Wednesday.

The three suspects reportedly were linked to the crime by evidence discovered in the van used to kidnap Stark, a father of seven. A security camera outside Stark’s office in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn had captured the kidnapping.

His body was found the next day, Jan. 3, in a dumpster on suburban Long Island some 16 miles from his office. Police said he was suffocated and his body burned.

Menachem Stark, slumlord or saint? Depends who you ask


The murder of Menachem Stark has sparked intense media scrutiny of the Brooklyn real estate developer’s troubled business record, prompting the New York Post to ask “Who didn’t want him dead?” on its front page.

But while mainstream media outlets scrutinized the Satmar hasid’s relationships with tenants, contractors and lenders, haredi Orthodox publications offered a decidedly different take — looking not for clues to why someone would kill Stark, but celebrating his many virtues.

Yated Ne’eman, a prominent haredi weekly, praised Stark as a “loving father and baal chesed,” or charitable giver. Hamodia, a leading haredi daily, called Stark a “greatly beloved member of the Williamsburg community,” citing anecdotes that showed his generosity within his Hasidic neighborhood. Another Hamodia article condemned the Post for publishing “a litany of untruths to malign the integrity of Mr. Stark,” though it made no mention of the nature of the tabloid’s allegations.

“It’s irrelevant if the allegations are true or not,” Yochonon Donn, the Hamodia editor who wrote the article, told JTA. “Now is not the time to dance on the family’s blood.”

The haredi media’s approach to the case reflects its journalistic ethos, which aims to report the news while complying with traditional Jewish prohibitions against lashon hara, or “evil tongue,” a term that encompasses gossip, slander and malicious speech.

“The contrast between the haredi media’s treatment of the case and that of the general media reflects the chasm between how journalism is defined by each,” Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for the haredi umbrella group Agudath Israel of America, wrote in an email. “Halacha-respecting journalism will always endeavor to shun the negative, particularly when it is sourced in innuendo and one-sided ‘interpretations.’”

Stark was abducted Jan. 2 outside his office in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Video footage from the scene showed Stark struggling in a snowstorm with assailants who forced him into a white van.

The following day, Stark’s partially burned body was found in a dumpster on Long Island. A medical examiner concluded he had died from compression asphyxiation. New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said police have “no significant leads” in the case.

Stark, who reportedly owned 17 properties in Brooklyn, was a prominent figure in Williamsburg’s Satmar Hasidic community. At the time of his murder, however, he was deeply in debt. In 2008, Stark and his business partner, Israel Perlmutter, defaulted on a $29 million loan, and they declared bankruptcy the following year, according to The New York Times.

New York newspapers reported on numerous tenant complains and building code violations at Stark’s properties. While some tenants criticized conditions in his buildings in online postings and elsewhere, other tenants have come to their late landlord’s defense. The Post’s controversial cover story called Stark a “slumlord” and cited anonymous law-enforcement sources who suggested he was a “scammer” with plenty of enemies.

But coverage in the haredi press sidestepped Stark’s business woes and allegations of improprieties. This is consistent with the high regard in which he was held in his community, where one of the Satmar sect’s two rebbes, Zalman Teitelbaum, delivered an emotional eulogy.

The New York Post’s Jan. 5 cover.

In a December 2013 editorial, Hamodia publisher Ruth Lichtenstein explained her publication’s general approach, noting that the paper’s concern not to “inadvertently embarrass or hurt an organization, individual, or child” plays a large role in editorial decisions.

“A crucial part of our mission is protecting our readers’ right ‘not to know,’” Lichtenstein wrote. “Far more difficult a task than providing you with newsworthy and ethical reading material is ensuring that you, our loyal reader, aren’t exposed to material you would find unfit to enter your home, your mind, and your heart.”

Meanwhile, the haredi community has rallied against the Post, organizing a Jan. 5 press conference with local elected officials at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Brooklyn’s borough president, Eric Adams, denounced what he called “hateful coverage.” New York City’s public advocate, Letitia James, accused the Post of having “given license to murder” and called on elected officials to stop placing advertisements in the paper.

Hamodia published an editorial Wednesday blasting New York City’s newly elected mayor, Bill de Blasio, for not joining other elected officials in condemning the coverage or publicly extending his condolences to the Stark family.

“The Jewish community must not feel, as they’ve felt several times in the past, that they are alone in this,” Hamodia wrote. “The mayor’s silence is a shocking blow.”

In a letter to the New York Post, the Anti-Defamation League called the Post’s headline “insensitive” and also took issue with the accompanying article for referring to Stark as a “millionaire Hasidic slumlord” in its lead sentence.

“Just substitute any other minority for ‘Hasidic’ in such an opening description and it would be understood how provocative it is, particularly associated with the descriptor ‘millionaire slumlord,’” wrote Evan Bernstein, the ADL’s New York regional director.

Yated Ne’eman staffers declined to discuss their coverage of the Stark murder. In lieu of comment, they forwarded a poem they planned to publish by the paper’s editor and publisher, Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz. A Yated Ne’eman reporter said the poem was “indicative of the direction” of the paper’s coverage.

Titled “Who Didn’t Want Us Dead?” the poem describes Stark as a “Giving, loving/Holy soul/Snuffed out.” Accompanied by an image of the New York Post’s front page, the poem referenced historical anti-Semitism, mentioning Hitler, Stalin and Ferdinand and Isabella.

“Jewish blood has always been cheap,/nobody cared when they came after us,” Lipschutz wrote.

Porn pioneer Al Goldstein dies at 77


Al Goldstein, the man who brought his particular brand of hard-core porn to the masses, died on Thursday in a nursing home in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. The cause of death was renal failure, The New York Times reports.

Goldstein was best known for sharing his raunchy sensibilities and radical ideas via Screw magazine and his New York City public-access cable show “Midnight Blue.”

“Mr. Goldstein did not invent the dirty magazine,” the Times obituary states, “but he was the first to present it to a wide audience without the slightest pretense of classiness or subtlety. Sex as depicted in Screw was seldom pretty, romantic or even particularly sexy. It was, primarily, a business, with consumers and suppliers like any other.”

If you’re not familiar with his over-the-topness, this about sums it up.

“Apart from Screw, Mr. Goldstein’s most notorious creation was Al Goldstein himself, a cartoonishly vituperative amalgam of borscht belt comic, free-range social critic and sex-obsessed loser who seemed to embody a moment in New York City’s cultural history: the sleaze and decay of Times Square in the 1960s and ‘70s.”

The piece goes on to detail Goldstein’s path to—as well as influence on–the sex industry, the rise and fall of his mini empire, and his eventual descent into poverty and poor health.

Here he is, dispensing Words of Wisdom, and sounding vaguely rabbinical. (Don’t worry, it’s totally clean).

Four minors arrested for ‘knockout’ attacks in N.Y.


Four minors were arrested in connection with what are believed to be “knockout game” attacks in Brooklyn, DNAinfo New York reported.

The New York Police Department arrested a 14-year-old girl and three other youths, aged 10 and 11, for involvement in three assaults in the borough in October and November.

The victims were three Jewish children: one was punched, one was hit with a rock and a third was attacked in the face with a plastic bag.

While the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force worked on the investigation as well, police determined that the attacks were not motivated by bias, according to DNAinfo New York.

The youths were arrested between Nov. 13 and Nov. 23 and were charged with assault, endangerment and criminal mischief; their names were withheld because of their ages.

Police are still investigating several other potential knockout game incidents, in which strangers assault individuals but do not attempt to rob them. While incidents have been reported throughout the country and victims have come from a mix of backgrounds, in New York City the majority of victims have been identifiably Jewish.

Incoming councilwoman: Knockout attacks may be caused by black-Jewish tension


An incoming New York City councilwoman said the wave of so-called knockout attacks may be caused by tension between blacks and Jews.

Councilwoman-elect Laurie Cumbo, who was elected to represent the Crown Heights neighborhood and will take office next month, made the statement in a Facebook post on Tuesday calling for a zero-tolerance policy toward the “knockout game” and for strengthening the relationship between African-Americans and Jews.

In the game, attackers try to knock out someone with one punch. At least ten such attacks have taken place in the Brooklyn borough of New York City since September, most directed at identifiably Jewish people, according to reports.

Cumbo said that she had many discussions with local residents during the primary season and that “many African American/Caribbean residents expressed a genuine concern that as the Jewish community continues to grow, they would be pushed out by their Jewish landlords or by Jewish families looking to purchase homes.”

The councilwoman-elect said she did not mean to bring up the issue “as an insult to the Jewish community, but rather to offer possible insight as to how young African American/Caribbean teens could conceivably commit a ‘hate crime’ against a community that they know very little about.”

Cumbo stressed her admiration for the Jewish community. However, she added, “I also recognize that for others, the accomplishments of the Jewish community triggers feelings of resentment, and a sense that Jewish success is not also their success.”

She called for the communities to “gain a greater understanding of one another so that we can learn more about each other’s challenges and triumphs despite religious and cultural differences.”

Cumbo called for a detailed investigation of the knockout attacks, leading to “arrests and legal action.”

“If one person attacks another, regardless of the motivation, there is no justification for such an action,” she wrote.

Jewish leaders reportedly criticized Cumbo for her assertations.

The Anti-Defamation League said that Cumbo’s statement “evokes classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.”

“As an organization that has worked for more than 20 years to improve Black-Jewish relations in the aftermath of the Crown Heights riots, we are troubled by the incoming councilwoman’s sentiments, particularly her comment about resentment over Jewish economic success, which evokes classic anti-Semitic stereotypes,” New York Regional Director Evan Bernstein said in a statement.

Other incidents of knockout attacks have occurred in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., The Associated Press reported.

Sucker punch: Brooklyn Jews targeted in ‘knockout’ attacks


Chava, a student at a Chabad seminary, has lived in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn for six years, but it’s only in the past few days that she started carrying pepper spray in her handbag.

Her younger brother gave her the deterrent after news hit of a string of recent attacks against Orthodox Jews, seven of them in Crown Heights.

The assaults, believed to be part of a national wave of so-called “knockout game” attacks in which black teens punch random white strangers for sport, are unnerving Jews in the racially mixed neighborhood still haunted by the days of rioting there in 1991.

The latest attack came Monday, when a 72-year-old Russian-speaking Jewish woman was punched in the East New York neighborhood, according to the Daily News.

“I’ve definitely been more cautious since [the attacks] started,” Chava told JTA as she waited to pick up a hot drink at Chocolate, a kosher cafe inside the Jewish Children’s Museum. “I’ve been hearing about it, and I saw the footage. I’m looking around. I’m always aware of my surroundings.”

In other American cities, knockout victims have been non-Jewish whites. In New York, the victims of all nine punching attacks reported so far appear to be Jewish, and the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Unit is investigating.

It is unclear whether the attacks, none of which have involved robberies, are linked. A police spokesman interviewed last Friday declined to share details about the incidents but said that eight of the Brooklyn attacks fall into the hate crimes category.

For the time being, the NYPD has deployed more police officers to Crown Heights. On Monday, several police vans, a mobile command center, police cars and two officers on horseback were stationed near the corner of Eastern Parkway and Kingston Avenue, a bustling commercial street with bakeries, groceries and Judaica stores, and home to the world headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch and the Jewish Children’s Museum.

Inside the museum, Michael Harel, the manager of Chocolate and an Israeli who has lived in Crown Heights for 13 years, said there is plenty of tension between blacks and Jews in the neighborhood, some of it attributable to class resentment.

“Back in the days there were a lot of problems here,” he said. “Looks like it’s coming back.”

But Pinchas Woolstone, a cafe patron, said Crown Heights is “light years away” from the era of the riots. Although he has lived in Crown Heights for only six years, Woolstone  said he used to visit the neighborhood in the 1970s, when it resembled “a war zone.”

“No black person or Jewish person would speak to each other; they hardly looked at each other,” recalled the Australia native, who works for a commercial cleaning company. “The latest little flareup is not good, but we shouldn’t contemplate it’s anything like it used to be.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton publicly condemned the knockout attacks.

“There is nothing funny or even remotely entertaining about attacking innocents walking down the street,” he wrote in a column for the Huffington Post. “This is not a ‘game’; it is inhumane behavior that has no place in our country or the world.”

Zaki Tamir, chairman of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, said black and Jewish community leaders have enjoyed good relations in recent years, and the neighborhood has become safer over the past decade, in part due to gentrification. He acknowledged that the latest attacks are shattering the sense of security that had been built up.

“Suddenly this is reminiscent of old times and it makes everyone feel very vulnerable,” Tamir said.

Civilian patrols working in conjunction with the police have been stepped up to help escort children home from the train at night, as well as women and those considered easier targets, according to Tamir.

The community is “more organized than ever before in terms of preventing crime and keeping streets nonviolent,” he said. “People realize Crown Heights is not a haven for hoodlums anymore.”

At a press conference Monday at the Crown Heights Youth Collective, several Brooklyn elected officials, including Eric Adams, the incoming borough president, condemned the attacks, and  Tamir’s group offered a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of perpetrators.

Nathan, a Chocolate cafe employee who did not want to give his last name, said news of the attacks prompted him to stop allowing his three children, the oldest of whom is 8, to play unattended outside the lobby of his apartment building.

On Saturday, Brooklyn resident Amrit Marajh was arraigned for an attack from the previous day in Borough Park. Police initially said Marajh was being charged with a hate crime but later told The New York Times he had been charged with assault, harassment and menacing.

Marajh, who apparently has a Jewish girlfriend and has never been arrested, denied the charges and was released on $750 bail.

Accused sex offender pleads not guilty, released on bail


On Nov. 8, accused sex-offender Mendel Tevel pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn to charges that he sexually abused a minor for several months six years ago, according to CBS New York. Tevel accepted the court’s offer for $100,000 bail and is no longer in custody.

Tevel was working at the JEM Center, a Beverly Hills Jewish youth center, at the time of his arrest on Oct. 29 by Beverly Hills police who were acting on a warrant issued by New York officials. He was extradited to New York on Nov. 7.

In an article in the Jewish Journal in August, four men alleged they had been victims of Tevel as minors. Each claimed Tevel performed acts, which included spanking on bare skin, as well as sexually suggestive rubbing. The instances described by those who spoke with the Journal took place as early as around 1995 and as recently as around 2004.

Tevel was indicted by a grand jury before the DA’s office pressed charges against him. It is not known how many alleged victims appeared before the grand jury in the case. All of the allegations of abuse for which he has been charged occurred in New York and Pennsylvania. 

Tevel’s wife, Bracha; their 3-month-old daughter; and other relatives accompanied Tevel in court, according to CBS New York. 

Accused sex offender Mendel Tevel transferred to custody of Brooklyn D.A.


New York law enforcement assumed custody of accused sex-offender Mendel Tevel late Thursday morning, Nov. 7, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Beverly Hills police arrested Tevel on Oct. 29 after receiving a warrant from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.

A spokesman for the Brooklyn D.A. confirmed to the Journal that Tevel was en route Thursday afternoon to New York.

“He should be here sometime tonight and will likely be arraigned sometime tomorrow,” said the spokesman, who asked the Journal to not disclose his name.

Although the information in the indictment will not be made public until the arraignment, Tevel, 30, is expected to be charged with three counts of criminal sexual acts in the first degree, five counts of criminal sexual acts in the third degree and three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree. Those are the charges listed in the warrant sent by New York police to Beverly Hills police, according to Lt. Lincoln Hoshino, a spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Tevel is believed to have moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 2012, shortly after his marriage to Bracha Illulian, daughter of Rabbi Hertzel Illulian, who is the founder and director of the JEM Center, a Jewish youth center in Beverly Hills where Tevel worked and where he was arrested.

In an article in the Jewish Journal in August, four men alleged that they had been victims of Tevel as minors (ranging from ages 6 to 14 at the time of the alleged abuse).

They each claimed Tevel performed acts on them, which included spanking on bare skin, as well as sexually suggestive rubbing. The instances described by those who spoke with the Journal took place as early as around 1995 and as recently as around 2004.

According to the DA spokesman in Booklyn, Tevel was indicted by a grand jury before the DA’s office pressed charges against him. It is not known how many alleged victims appeared before the grand jury in the case.

Information about Tevel was first made public in October 2012 by Meyer Sewald, founder of Jewish Community Watch,  a sexual abuse watchdog that regularly publicizes information on a Web site about suspected abusers in the Jewish community, mostly in Brooklyn.

Seewald said he posted Tevel on the site’s “Wall of Shame” after multiple alleged victims of Tevel came to him.

Even after some of Tevel’s alleged victims came forward with their stories to JCW in October 2012, and to the Journal in August, Tevel continued to work around children at the JEM Center.

Seewald, who has assisted the Brooklyn DA on some abuse investigations in the Jewish community, told the Journal on Thursday that he believes several of Tevel’s alleged victims plan to come forward.

“We have other brave victims,” Seewald said, “[who] have said that they are going to the DA’s office as well.”

On Thursday, two of the four alleged victims interviewed in August for the article in the Journal said NYPD detectives have not contacted them, but that they would speak with detectives if asked to do so. They requested that the Journal not make their names public

One victim, asked whether he would testify against Tevel in court, said, “If they asked me to, then yes.”

Mendel Tevel in Los Angeles jail awaiting extradition


Menachem Mendel Tewel, who goes by the name Mendel Tevel, remains in a Los Angeles jail awaiting extradition to Brooklyn. The rabbi and youth worker ” target=”_blank”>In an article in the Journal in August, four men said they had been victims of Tevel when they were minors (ranging from ages 6 to 14 at the time of the alleged abuse). They claimed Tevel performed acts that included spanking on bare skin, to sexually suggestive rubbing. The instances described by those who spoke with the Journal took place as early as around 1995 and as recently as around 2004.

On Wednesday, the Journal contacted one of Tevel’s alleged male victims, who in August, had recounted to an audience in L.A. that in around 2004, when he was 14, Tevel  inappropriately spanked, rubbed, and massaged him. 

“I would like him to see going away forever,” the Brooklyn resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said by phone.

“There’s a massive sense of relief, however there’s a massive, big sense of stress that just came due to the fact he will be here in New York again,” the alleged victim said.

Rabbi Hertzel Illulian, director and founder of the JEM Center and Tevel’s father-in-law, would not comment when contacted in August, and did not respond to multiple calls this week to his cell phone.

In an interview with KABC TV, Illulian said, “God will help that it will show that it’s all false and will clear up, and people will see while we [JEM] will still continue our good job for the community,”

Dana Cole, the JEM Center’s attorney dismissed questions as to whether the center could face any liability for allowing Tevel to work around youth following the allegations of abuse in New York. “I couldn't possibly think of any potential liability,” Cole said.

“As far as we know there’s been nothing improper whatsoever in terms of people he came in contact with at the JEM center,” Cole said.

Hoshino said BHPD investigators in August had investigated Tevel and concluded there had been “no complaints” of any criminal or inappropriate sexual acts with students at the JEM Center.

N.Y. deliveryman awarded $900,000 in anti-Semitism suit


A New York restaurant deliveryman was awarded $900,000 for enduring 16 years of anti-Semitic harassment by three supervisors.

A U.S. District Court jury in Brooklyn found in favor of Adam Wiercinski on Oct. 24 in four hours, the New York Post reported Monday.

Citing the lawsuit, the newspaper reported that one manager at the Mangia 57 restaurant in Manhattan would pass gas in front of Wiercinski and then joke that it was Zyklon B, which was used in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust.

Much of Wiercinski’s father’s family died at the hands of the Nazis, he told the Post. He said he had to explain what Zyklon B was to the jury because they were “very young.”

“When I explain how it was used in the gas chambers, they were very serious. Everybody [in the courtroom] was silent,” he told the Post.

Supervisors also called him a “dirty Jew” and threw pennies at him while making anti-Semitic comments; they also docked his tips.

Wiercinski did not quit because he felt he was too old to get a new job, his attorney, Matthew Blit, told the newspaper.