Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

Chasidic Heroes

Binyomin Zev Unger, and Yitzchok Greenberg (YWN)
Always happy to report a Kiddush HaShem. From YWN:

Two Jewish construction workers who worked in New Square are being hailed as heroes, after helping rescue occupants from a home that exploded in Hillcrest, and making a tremendous Kiddush Hashem.

Sources tell YWN that the two men – Binyomin Zev Unger, and Yitzchok Greenberg, were working in New Square when they heard an explosion and saw a plume of smoke. The pair ran through the woods to a home that had turned into a fireball.

When they arrived at the home, there was one family member sitting on the front steps with bloody and and burned face. They helped move them away from the burning home, but then realized that another family member was still inside the home. They were unable to gain access due to the home being fully engulfed in flames, but began screaming to the occupant to run out as quickly as possible.

The explosion and fire sent a mother and her adult son to the hospital.

According to News12, fire officials say the fire broke out around 9 a.m. on 4 Stark Court in Hillcrest, not far from the Palisades Parkway. Firefighters think the explosion happened in the son’s second-floor bedroom, and the fire spread to the rest of the house.

Much of the multimillion-dollar home has been destroyed. It is unknown at this time what caused the explosion. A spokesman from Orange and Rockland Utilities say there is no indication that the explosion was gas related.

Both people were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital. The son suffered burns, and the woman has a medical condition that first responders wanted to have checked.

Ramapo Police gave YWN the following statement:


At approximately 8:43 am today, Ramapo Police were advised of a structure fire on Stark Ct., in the New City section of the Town of Ramapo. An adult male resident sustained minor injuries. He was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital by Spring Hill Ambulance Corp. Rockland Paramedics assisted with the injured person. Hillcrest FD, Spring Valley FD, Suffern FD, Haverstraw FD, West Haverstraw FD, New City FD, and Orangetown FD assisted with fighting this fire. The fire has been deemed suspicious. It is being investigated by the Ramapo Police Detective Bureau. Rockland County Sheriff’s Office BCI was assisting RPD.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Reserve Cut, Zagat, and Chaim

The distinguished rabbi featured in this video is my nephew, Chaim Maryles. I watched him grow up right here in Chicago. He has traveled many trails, and had many trials and tribulations. But he has triumphed. God bless him. (Love that guy!)

 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

First Responders: Orthodox Jews

View of damage at Zaventem Airport in Brussels following a terrorist attack 
Another Kiddush HaShem. Sad, though, that it came through a horrific terrorist attack where 32 people died. From JTA:

(JTA) – Four haredi Orthodox paramedics from Antwerp who rushed to the main airport in Brussels following a terrorist attack there reportedly were among the first medical professionals on the scene.

The paramedics, who use motorcycles, are part of the Hatzolah emergency service that primarily serves the 12,000 haredi Jews living in the Jewish Quarter of Antwerp, the Gazet van Antwerpen daily reported Wednesday.

Certified ambulance service providers under Belgian law, the paramedics were able to reach the scene of the March 22 terrorist bombings at Zaventem Airport soon after the attack. The bombings there and at subway station in central Brussels about an hour later killed 32 people and wounded 300.

Hatzolah Chairman Samuel Markowitz told the daily he was the only Hatzolah volunteer who arrived at the scene in a car, with his treatment kit in the trunk. The other paramedics sped there on motorcycles and began treating the wounded immediately.

“The images I saw there, I will never forget,” Markowitz said, adding that the response was part of Hatzolah’s commitment to serving all Belgians, not just Jews.

“We didn’t know whether there were Jewish victims, we only knew they could use our help there,” he said.

While identification of all the dead may take weeks and require DNA testing, it is already known that at least three Jewish people were wounded in the attack.
Walter Benjamin, who was en route to be with his daughter in Israel, lost a leg in the attack. In addition, two seminary students from Antwerp were wounded. One is in a coma, according to the daily.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

BDS? Really? Well... Boycott This!

Is this a country that should be boycotted? ...or divested from? ...or sanctioned?

 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Kiddush HaShem by a New Square Chasid

New Square Chasid, Heshy Gottdiener
I love featuring stories like this one from North Jersey:

Heshy Gottdiener had been on the Hudson River for about four hours Tuesday, just about a half-mile south of the George Washington Bridge, when he saw something drop from the span a little before 5 p.m.

It was an unseasonably warm and clear afternoon, but Gott­dien­er still couldn’t tell if the object that plunged into the frigid water was debris or something more horrific.
It was only when he saw the splashing, that Gottdiener realized a person had jumped — and survived. Screaming, he thrust a pair of binoculars into the hands of a companion while another person, Joseph Margaretten, dialed 911.

In a bizarre twist of fate, Gott­dien­er, a 36-year-old father of seven, was helping volunteers from the tightknit, ultra-Orthodox enclave of New Square, N.Y., search for the body of another jumper, David Ahronowitz, who leapt from the bridge on Jan. 22. Ahronowitz, 46, was the second person to jump from the span this year.

Gottdiener had just witnessed the third.

Gottdiener explained that the New Square community had hired two boats and a pair of divers to search for Ahronowitz’s body. “We know a person has to be buried in order that the soul should rest in peace,” he said.

Fortunately for the latest person to jump from the bridge, this group of Orthodox Jews and their helpers were about to perform a rare rescue.

Immediately, Scott Koen, the boat’s captain, shouted for the volunteers to haul the divers and their gear out of the water. Seconds later Koen waved off an NYPD helicopter, which had swooped down over the boat following the 911 call and had mistaken the divers for a rescue effort. Following Koen’s arm signals, the helicopter flew under the George Washington Bridge and hovered about 40 feet over the spot where Gott­dien­er had seen the splash, flashing its lights for the boat to hurry over.
Koen, 58, a volunteer firefighter from Rutherford, rushed to the bow of his boat and cut the anchor rope. As he sped toward the bridge he was sure this would be a recovery. Since 2009, only one person had survived the 200-foot plunge from the bridge; 95 people died. But as Koen got closer, “I could see there was an eighth of a face above water.” It was a woman lying on her back, kicking gently with her legs.

Miracle on the Hudson

Koen has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. During 30 years as a “river rat,” he said, he has been involved in 11 rescues. Koen just happened to be on the river in January 2009 when US Airways Flight 1549 landed on the Hudson. That time, he helped passengers off the plane using the dive ladder on the back of his boat, a 46-foot buoy tender called the Michael P. Murphy.

This time, Koen circled around the woman so that she could climb up the ladder and divers threw her a rope. Gottdiener said her eyes were wide open and she was screaming for help. The woman said that she couldn’t climb the ladder because her legs were broken. “She started to sink,” Koen said. “I just jumped in the water and supported her while I got a line under her arms.”

The divers and Orthodox volunteers pulled the woman onto the boat. Her left leg was badly broken just above the foot. They covered her with coats and blankets while a medic from New Square’s volunteer emergency medical service, Hatzolah, administered first aid.

The 25-year-old woman from Somerset County gave her name and date of birth. She told the men that she had left some clothes and belongings on the bridge. A Port Authority spokesman said later that her car was found on Fort Washington Avenue in Manhattan.

Koen knew that the closest dock was more than a mile away in Edgewater. After speaking with fire department officials from New York, he turned his boat toward a large rock on the Manhattan shoreline under the George Washington Bridge. Koen nosed his boat up against the rock and a fireboat pulled alongside. Firefighters boarded, strapped the woman to a body board and carried her over the rock to shore where police cars and ambulances were waiting to ferry her to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital. A Port Authority spokesman said that the woman was suffering from trauma, but that she was conscious when she reached the hospital.

Suicide-proof walks

Suicides have become an increasing problem for the Port Authority, which runs the George Washington Bridge. A Port Authority spokesman said the agency is working to deter jumpers. It has put up signs every 250 feet along the bridge’s walkway encouraging people to call a suicide prevention line, and the Port Authority Police Department has stepped up foot patrols.

Yet suicides from the bridge are rising. Between 2005 and 2009, an average of five people jumped from the bridge each year. Over the past five years, an average of 15 people have died annually jumping from the bridge. Attempted suicides are rising too, from single digits 10 years ago, to dozens of people in each of the past few years.  Port Authority police said they intervened in 86 suicide attempts last year.

The Port Authority has spoken for at least a couple of years about installing a fence along both sides of the bridge to stop people from jumping. But the project, which is expected to cost between $35 million and $50 million, has not yet begun. The first suicide-proof sidewalk is scheduled to open in 2020.

Gottdiener said he is convinced that the woman would not have survived if he and his fellow volunteers hadn’t been searching for Ahronowitz’s body. “There were no other boats in the water at that time,” he said. “I never knew I am going to be in such a situation, literally helping to save someone’s life.”

Gottdiener will be back out on the water today and, if necessary, for days to come, looking for Ahronowitz’s body. Gottdiener said that the community won’t stop searching “until we find him.”

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thank You, Mr. President

President Barack Obama at Yad Vashem
This is why I believe that the President is a friend of the Jewish people. Cynics might say that he is not sincere. That he has gone to the Israeli Embassy in Washington (the first American President to do so) to speak on Holocaust Remembrance Day as a PR stunt. to try to ingratiate himself to Jewish citizens after his controversial nuclear agreement with Iran. An agreement that I opposed. And that Israeli Prime Minister lobbied so hard to defeat. 

But I disagree. I believe he in sincere in his friendship. I am not going to get into all the indicators that lead me in that direction. But I will publish in full a Forward article about his remarks that evening at the embassy. I believe it more than demonstrates his friendship to us. It follows.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, and the United States must lead the fight against it, President Barack Obama said in remarks at the Israeli embassy.

“Here, tonight, we must confront the reality that around the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise,” Obama said Wednesday at a ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“We cannot deny it,” he said. “When we see some Jews leaving major European cities — where their families have lived for generations — because they no longer feel safe; when Jewish centers are targeted from Mumbai to Overland Park, Kansas; when swastikas appear on college campuses — when we see all that and more, we must not be silent.”

Obama said that he has made fighting global anti-Semitism a priority, and cited Hungary as a case where the United States made it clear that the failure to address anti-Jewish bias would impede strong bilateral relations.

“It’s why, when a statue of an anti-Semitic leader from World War II was planned in Hungary, we led the charge to convince their government to reverse course,” he said. “This was not a side note to our relations with Hungary, this was central to maintaining a good relationship with the United States, and we let them know.”

Obama also addressed criticism of Israel that veers into anti-Semitism. “It’s why, when voices around the world veer from criticism of a particular Israeli policy to an unjust denial of Israel’s right to exist, when Israel faces terrorism, we stand up forcefully and proudly in defense of our ally, in defense of our friend, in defense of the Jewish State of Israel,” he said.

The president cast anti-Semitism as a manifestation of intolerance that afflict other minorities, and praised Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for combating anti-Arab bias in Israel – notably, because Rivlin has chided Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not doing enough in that arena.

Learning from the past “means cultivating a habit of empathy, and recognizing ourselves in one another; to make common cause with the outsider, the minority, whether that minority is Christian or Jew, whether it is Hindu or Muslim, or a nonbeliever; whether that minority is native born or immigrant; whether they’re Israeli or Palestinian,” Obama said.

He appeared at one point to allude to the candidacy of real estate magnate Donald Trump, leading in the polls among Republicans, and who has called for sweeping actions against undocumented migrants and against Muslims.

“It means taking a stand against bigotry in all its forms, and rejecting our darkest impulses and guarding against tribalism as the only value in our communities and in our politics,” he said.

Obama’s appearance was unprecedented; no president has ever given a speech at the embassy, something Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer noted in his remarks. Both governments have endeavored in recent months to overcome bad blood created by last years’ Iran nuclear deal, which Israel opposed, and the failure of the Obama administration’s efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Netanyahu delivered brief remarks via a video recording, thanking Obama for speaking at the embassy, and for advancing talks on extending and expanding U.S. defense assistance to Israel.
The event, co-hosted by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, included the formal recognition of four people as righteous among the nations for the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust.

They were Roddie Edmonds, a U.S. army sergeant who while being held captive in a German prisoner of war camp, refused orders from a German commander to identify Jewish POWs under his command; Lois Gunden, an American teacher in France who made the children’s home she ran a safe haven for Jewish children, and Walery and Maryla Zbijewski, a Polish couple who cared for a Jewish girl who had managed to flee with her mother from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Families of the rescuers and survivors they saved, and their descendants, attended. Obama in his speech picked up particularly on Edmonds declaration to the German commander, who was furious with Edmonds for not identifying the Jewish soldiers in his ranks: “We are all Jews,” Edmonds said.

Obama, alluding to Edmonds’ devout faith, said: “I cannot imagine a greater expression of Christianity than to say, I, too, am a Jew. Obama’s appearance was unprecedented; no president has ever given a speech at the embassy, something Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer noted in his remarks.

Both governments have endeavored in recent months to overcome bad blood created by last years’ Iran nuclear deal, which Israel opposed, and the failure of the Obama administration’s efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Netanyahu delivered brief remarks via a video recording, thanking Obama for speaking at the embassy, and for advancing talks on extending and expanding U.S. defense assistance to Israel.

The event, co-hosted by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, included the formal recognition of four people as righteous among the nations for the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust.

They were Roddie Edmonds, a U.S. army sergeant who while being held captive in a German prisoner of war camp, refused orders from a German commander to identify Jewish POWs under his command; Lois Gunden, an American teacher in France who made the children’s home she ran a safe haven for Jewish children, and Walery and Maryla Zbijewski, a Polish couple who cared for a Jewish girl who had managed to flee with her mother from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Families of the rescuers and survivors they saved, and their descendants, attended. Obama in his speech picked up particularly on Edmonds declaration to the German commander, who was furious with Edmonds for not identifying the Jewish soldiers in his ranks: “We are all Jews,” Edmonds said. Obama, alluding to Edmonds’ devout faith, said: “I cannot imagine a greater expression of Christianity than to say, I, too, am a Jew.”