On the eighth day, God made oxycodone

New York City narcotics agents announced the indictment of five Brooklyn men yesterday, members of a Sabbath-observant drug ring that operated out of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

Defendants Jack Zibak, 28; Jack Zaibak, 24; Eduard Sorin, 38; David Gerowitz, 37; and Philip Mandel, 25, were charged with multiple crimes, from illegal possession of narcotics to illegal possession of a weapon, according to CBS news.

Police reportedly seized around 900 doses of heroin, as well 335 oxycodone pills, cocaine, Xanax, Suboxone and Klonopin from the group during their initial arrest in April. They also found a sawed-off shotgun and ammunition.

The name of the NYPD sting operation that led to the drug bust? Only After Sundown.

Though cavalier about New York’s drug laws, the group was scrupulous about observing the Sabbath. Text messages from members of the gang show them alerting their clientele of their weekly sundown-to-sunset hiatus.

“We are closing 7:30 on the dot and we will reopen Saturday 8:15 so if u need anything you have 45 mins to get what you want,” they wrote in a group text-message to clients.

Letters to the Editor: Dennis Prager, kosher hot dogs, chewable Xanax

Left, Right and the Definition of Evil

Mr. Prager has stated he has had an obsession with fighting evil (“A Man and a Book,” April 20). He falsely accuses the left from its inception as combating something other than evil, and that is material inequality. Where, Mr. Prager, on your idea of the political continuum, does the right end and the left begin? Was the New Deal of FDR not fighting evil when he set up agencies to help desperately poor people during the Great Depression? Was FDR not fighting evil when he led our nation against Hitler? Was LBJ not fighting evil when he got Congress to pass to the Civil Rights Acts, making Jim Crow illegal? Was Obama not fighting evil when he got regulations back to stop the excesses of Wall Street and the banks that brought on the terrible Bush recession? Mr. Prager, in practically every one of your columns, you rail against the left. This, sir, is your obsession, and as a self-proclaimed fighter of good against evil, your obsession with the left is not good.

Leon M. Salter
Los Angeles

Dennis Prager responds:

When FDR fought the terrible effects of the Depression, he was fighting tragedy, not evil. There is a robust debate among today economists whether FDR’s massive government spending helped or hindered recovery from the Depression. His own treasury secretary said in 1939 that it didn’t help. Yes, of course, fighting Hitler was fighting evil, and after Pearl Harbor, Republicans and Democrats alike fought Hitler. But the preoccupation of the left (not liberals, as I repeatedly note) has been economic inequality, not evil. That is why the left celebrated the Soviets until Stalin made a pact with Hitler in 1939. That is why the left mocked Ronald Reagan when he called the Soviet Union an evil empire. That is why the left mocked George W. Bush when he labeled North Korea a country-prison camp, and the Holocaust-denying Iranian regime, with its promise to wipe Israel off the map, an “axis of evil.” That is why the left opposed anti-communists far more than they opposed Mao (murderer of 75 million), Ho Chi Minh, Castro and other murderous communist tyrants. As for racism in America, more Republicans than Democrats voted for civil rights legislation, and it was Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who sent troops to integrate Little Rock High School in 1957. It was racists in the Democratic Party, not conservatives or Republicans, who blocked civil rights for blacks. American history’s most conservative candidate for president, Barry Goldwater, was a founder of the Arizona NAACP. And the roots of the current recession lie in policies put into place long before George W. Bush. It was largely brought on by Presidents Carter and Clinton, whose legislation and financial industry regulation coerced banks into giving home loans to minorities and other people with low incomes thought to be “underrepresented” as homeowners. Finally, Mr. Salter, outside of the Muslim world, virtually all the attempts to delegitimize Israel come from the left. Is that worth being “obsessed” about?

Something’s Not Kosher in Dodger-land

I was stunned to read in Michael Berenbaum’s opinion piece (“Time for a (Kosher) Hot Dog, a Beer and Dodgers Baseball,” April 20) that Dodger Stadium, of all places, does not sell kosher hot dogs, although it is located in such a large Jewish market. It’s also sad that a petition may be necessary to change that reality.

As a New Yorker and lifelong Yankees fan, I believe that there are two ballparks whose beauty elevates the already spiritual nature of the game of baseball – Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium. Yankee Stadium has glatt kosher food stands where hot dogs and other goodies are available. What are the Dodgers waiting for?

Even as the new ownership of the Dodgers spends millions on the team and keeping the stadium looking like new at the age of 50, it should use the vast resources of the Los Angeles Orthodox community to bring a shomer Shabbos glatt kosher food emporium to “The House That O’Malley Built.”

Stephen Steiner
Director of Public Relations
Orthodox Union

Take a Chill Pill, Mom

Teresa Strasser’s son does not need chewable Xanax (“Chewable Xanax and the Shoe Debacle,” April 20). He needs his mother at home and no daycare. My heart goes out to this little boy. My advice to Ms. Strasser: You should take the chewable Xanax! 

Barbara Joan Grubman
Woodland Hills


The article “$20 Million Gift to L.A. Federation Is Its Largest Ever” (April 20) neglected to state that in addition to funding Brawerman Elementary School West at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in 1998, Geri and Richard Brawerman provided the naming gift for the school’s east campus, which opened in fall 2011 at the temple’s historic building on Wilshire Boulevard.

Opinion: Chewable Xanax and the shoe debacle

I had to look inside myself, which was kind of like looking into my high school locker: moldy half-eaten sandwich, a few loose Starburst candies, heaps of notebooks and burrito-stained gym clothes obscuring the few things of value. Sure, there’s a book of Sylvia Plath poems and a valid bus pass, but good luck finding them while avoiding that festering tuna salad from yesteryear. 

When I looked inside myself, it took a second to clear out the debris. Also, I usually forget the combination to the stupid lock.

All of this inner turmoil was catalyzed by one simple moment, just picking up my 2-year-old from day care. He went to put on his shoes and socks, struggled mightily, finally succeeded, after which he looked at me, paused for a beat and started bawling. He lunged at me for a hug and I knelt down to look him in the eye.

“I’m scared,” he said, sobbing. Me, too, dude. If I wanted to see someone overreact to one of life’s challenges, I could just look in a mirror.

My child, facing a difficult task, got through it only to melt down completely. It’s happening, I thought. This kid needs chewable Xanax.

Hoping his day care teacher didn’t notice, but knowing she had, I grabbed his coat and hustled him out of there.

Driving home, I was baffled. I mean, you would think irrational crying jags related to under-achieving would be right up my dark alley, but this one had me stumped. I knew he put on his socks and shoes after naptime every single day, but I was uncharacteristically early that day, and I happened to be there. Had I thrown off his game? Did he have performance anxiety doing this important task in front of Mom? Have I already passed along some deep, depressing cultural pressure to earn love through accomplishment?  

The day after the shoe debacle, the day care lady snagged me as I turned to exit.

“We have to talk about what happened with the shoes,” she whispered gently. I knew she was right.

According to her, the problem wasn’t in his skill level, but in his confidence. “You need to tell him that you know he can do it. He doesn’t think you believe in him. You don’t trust him, so he doesn’t trust himself.”

That’s when I looked into the rusty old locker of my soul and realized; she is right. I wanted to think it was some Montessori mumbo-jumbo, but I knew it was the truth.

When I saw his little hands struggling with the heels of his tiny socks, it looked so impossible, getting them up, closing the Velcro on his sneakers, the whole thing just looked too hard, and I was pretty sure I was going to have to jump in and help him. The truth is, I didn’t think he could do it, and he sensed that, and he got scared and wept.

“But, you won’t pass the bar,” said my mom to my brother, moments after he announced he would be applying to law school.

He passed the bar on the first try and has been a lawyer for years, but you see how this runs in my family, runs like a kid with inside-out socks.

Since the day care talking-to, I have kept a watchful eye on myself. I convince myself to believe he can hold onto the swing chains without falling, no matter how high I push him. I convince myself that I believe he can spear pieces of broccoli with his fork, or hang up his coat, or turn pages of a book.

Fear of those you love failing isn’t mean or belittling or dismissive; it’s a protective mechanism. That doesn’t make it right. If I don’t have confidence in the little things now, I could project the idea that I don’t trust him to tackle big things later. So, I guess I have to trust myself to at least fake trusting him. Locker closed.

Teresa Strasser is a Los Angeles Press Club and Emmy Award-winning writer and the author of “Exploiting My Baby: Because It’s Exploiting Me”( Penguin). She blogs at ExploitingMyBaby.com.