New York

'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.

More..

In New York, rabbis take on bohemians in a bicycle war

By Ellen Tumposky, September 10, 2009

On one side of Broadway — a main street in the New York suburb of Williamsburg — bohemian 20-somethings in sunglasses and shorts work on laptops at an outdoor café.

Across the street, Satmar Chasidim in black hats stroll outside the office of Der Yid, the Satmar Yiddish language weekly.

Tensions between the two communities, living cheek by jowl but rarely interacting, have recently risen to boiling point over an unlikely issue — bike lanes on avenues that run through both their sides of the neighbourhood.

More..

Orthodox women offer de-licing service at $200 a head

By Paul Berger, September 10, 2009

To most people, the beginning of the school year in New York means bright September days, shiny new lunch boxes and meeting friends.

But to Dalya Harel it signifies one thing above all else — the start of head lice-hunting season.

Mrs Harel, 48, is founder of LiceBustersNYC, one of a dozen or more lice-removal businesses in the New York area run by Orthodox women.

Her competitors include Adele Horowitz’s Licenders, Susan Sherman’s LiceBGoners and Abigail “The Lice Lady” Rosenfeld.

More..

Shul security and the rabbis with guns

By Paul Berger, September 3, 2009

They call themselves The International Security Coalition of Clergy.

But you can think of them as The God Squad — armed rabbis and priests ready to leap from the bimah, or the pulpit, to tackle and kill terrorists.

The coalition is led by Rabbi Gary Moscowitz, 52, a fast-talking martial arts instructor and former New York police officer, who says he can transform the average synagoguegoer into a fighting machine, trained in unarmed combat and weapons.

“Jews are not like Christians,” he says. “If we turn our cheek, we are spinning around to make a kick.”

More..

Colonel Gaddafi? He ruined my fence

By Paul Berger, September 3, 2009

Nothing can stop Colonel Gaddafi from visiting New York in a couple of weeks’ time to address the United Nations General Assembly.

But the Libyan leader is having one heck of a time trying to find somewhere to stay.

Mr Gaddafi often travels with an air-conditioned tent on foreign trips. His first reported request, to camp in Central Park, was turned down. Now, an apparent attempt to stay in the garden of a mansion owned by the Libyan government, in Englewood, New Jersey, has also been blocked.

More..

Hebrew school opens - but it is not Jewish

By Paul Berger, August 20, 2009

After a bumpy start and a last-minute scramble to find a home, New York’s first state-funded primary school to specialise in the teaching of Hebrew will open its doors on Monday.

The Hebrew Language Academy is open to Jews and non-Jews alike. Because it is publicly funded and America has a strict separation between church and state, the school had to be vetted by New York State’s board of education to ensure there would be no religious instruction.

More..

NY crash pilot was Jewish businessman

By Jessica Elgot, August 11, 2009

The pilot killed in this weekend's New York plane and helicopter collision was a wealthy Jewish philanthropist who used the plane in which he died in to transport sick people to hospital for charity.

Steven Altman, 60, a property tycoon from Ambler, near Philadelphia, was flying the plane in clear weather, with his brother Daniel and his 15-year-old nephew Douglas when he hit a helicopter and crashed into the Hudson River, Manhattan.

More..

Is London to blame for New York measles?

By Jeremy Gillick, July 16, 2009

The New York Department of Health suspects that an outbreak of measles in the Chasidic community may have originated in London.

Twelve cases have been confirmed over the past two months, the majority of them in Williamsburg, home to around 70,000 Satmar Chasidim, and two in Borough Park, a Bobover enclave.

“We have not identified any source yet,” said Dr Jane Zucker, assistant commissioner for immunisation at New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “but in the past we have had measles imported from the UK and other European countries.

More..

A woman rabbi (by any other name)

By Hilary Krieger, New York, June 3, 2009

Sara Hurwitz considers herself a rabbi.

She recently completed the same tests Orthodox men take to be ordained. Last month she underwent a conferral ceremony at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, one of the largest Orthodox synagogues insuburban New York, where she has been acting as Torah scholar, and adjudicating Jewish law, for several years.

But there is one problem: she wasn’t given the title rabbi. Instead, she is known as Maharat — a neologism which stands for Madrichah Hilchatit, Ruchanit v’Toranit, or Leader in Jewish Law, Spiritual Matters, and Torah.

More..

Charedim battle sex-abuse bill

By Nathan Guttman, May 27, 2009

Attempts to bring justice to victims of sexual abuse are opening old wounds in New York’s strictly Orthodox community and its leadership, which is largely viewed as trying to block these attempts.

More..