New York

Man claims daughter abducted under fake Irish passport

By Robyn Rosen, March 18, 2010

A Jewish father in New York is fighting to have his 11-year-old daughter returned after she was taken to Ireland under a passport he claims had been fraudulently signed.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has demanded that the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, which issues passports, cancels the Irish passport issued to his daughter. She lived in New York two years ago, before, he alleges, being abducted by her mother and taken to Ireland.

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UK 'carrier' blamed for New York mumps outbreak

By Jessica Elgot, February 9, 2010

An 11-year-old boy is at the centre of a potential mumps epidemic among New York’s strictly Orthodox community because he is believed to have been the carrier of the disease after visiting the UK.

More than 300 people, almost all strictly Orthodox, have been diagnosed with mumps in the towns of Monsey and New Square, home to over 7,000 Skverer Chasidim.

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Charedi poverty, New York-style

By Paul Berger in New York, December 30, 2009

The shop windows that line Lee Avenue in the Charedi neighbourhood of Williamsburg advertise every aspect of Orthodox life — long black coats, ornate silver menorahs, challahs, prayer books, Jewish-themed toys.

So the gleaming white storefront at number 65 is striking for the fact that it advertises nothing; just a neat row of white blinds.

Behind the blinds is Williamsburg’s first kosher soup kitchen, the Orenstein-Met Council Masbia Kitchen, which opened last month.

“It’s quoted in halachah that the best way to do charity is to go all out,” said Alexander Rapaport.

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Roger Cohen - new target of New York Jews' fury

By Paul Berger, December 17, 2009

It’s been quite a year for Roger Cohen. The British-born New York Times columnist has been called a “self-hating Jew” and accused of attempting to “undermine American solidarity with Israel”. The editor of America’s largest Jewish paper, the New York Jewish Week, even wondered whether his heart had “become brutal”.

Mr Cohen’s crime: a succession of columns sharply criticising Israel and presenting an alternative view of Iran.

“I don’t set out to be provocative,” Mr Cohen says, from his home in Brooklyn. “I set out to write what I believe.”

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Chasidim stop bike lanes

By Paul Berger, December 10, 2009

For some New Yorkers, cycling is a religion.

So, when the city’s department of transport removed a bike lane that cut through the Chasidic area of Williamsburg last week, it was seen as a sacrilege.

“They illegally sold out the citizens of New York,” said Baruch Herzfeld, a modern Orthodox Jew who owns the Traif Bike Geschaft repair and rental shop on the southern edge of “hipster”, or bohemian, Williamsburg.

Mr Herzfeld and other bikers are enraged because, it appears, New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg struck a back-room deal with Williamsburg’s Satmar community.

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Lubavitch reopens debate on messianic beliefs

By Paul Berger, December 3, 2009

A Lubavitch website has reopened a debate over the exclusion of some Chabad rabbis from an Orthodox rabbinical organisation.

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), which is the main association of Orthodox rabbis in the US, inserted a clause in its membership application some years ago that barred rabbis “with messianic beliefs” from joining the group.

The clause refers to the belief among some in the Chabad movement that the last Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died in 1994, may one day return as the messiah.

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Suicide newlywed 'was sex-abused'

By Ellen Tumposky, November 19, 2009

A report that a Brooklyn man who committed suicide two days after his wedding was a victim of sex abuse has riled the Orthodox community.

Mordechai (Motty) Borger, 24, jumped from the seventh-floor terrace of his hotel on November 5. His bride, Mali Gutman, whom he married on Nov 3 after they met through a matchmaker, was asleep in the room.

A spokeswoman for the NYC medical examiner’s office said the death has been ruled a suicide.

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Trial of kosher meat plant owner opens

By Paul Berger, October 15, 2009

The former CEO of America’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant went on trial this week.

Shlomo Rubashkin, formerly of Agriprocessors, Inc, faces almost 100 charges relating to falsifying financial papers in order to secure advances on a $35 million loan.

In a separate trial, due to begin after the close of this one, he faces 72 charges relating to immigration violations.

If convicted, Mr Rubashkin, 49, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Agriprocessors, in Postville, Iowa, was the scene last May of the largest immigration raid in American history.

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Orthodox 'shielding sex abusers'

By Paul Berger, October 15, 2009

A New York State Supreme Court judge has criticised the Orthodox community for shielding perpetrators of sexual abuse while persecuting victims.

Judge Gustin Reichbach lamented the community’s “circle-the-wagons attitude” as he sentenced Yona Weinberg, a barmitzvah tutor and social worker from Brooklyn, to 13 months in jail for molesting two boys.

At the sentencing earlier this month, the courtroom was filled with Weinberg’s supporters. Almost 100 members of the Orthodox community wrote letters to the judge defending him.

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'Gods Hates Fags' extremists target synagogues

By Paul Berger, October 1, 2009

Members of one of America’s most reviled religious groups, Westboro Baptist Church, picketed two New York shuls in the run up to Yom Kippur.

A group of Westboro congregants, including young children, brandished signs last Saturday that included slogans such as “Jews Stole The Land”, “God Hates Jews” and “The Jews killed Jesus”.

The Westboro Baptist Church’s message of hate is usually aimed at homosexuals. It pickets soldiers’ funerals, claiming that military deaths are god’s punishment for America’s acceptance of homosexuality.

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