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COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS





Senate Passes
Verrazzano Toll Discount for Brooklynites

Last month the State Senate finally passed a bill that will offer some relief from high bridge tolls, especially for those Brooklyn residents who travel to Staten Island for work or to visit family.

A reduced fare plan has been in effect for Staten Island residents who commute daily across the bridge to work in Manhattan or one of the boroughs. That same discount has never applied for Brooklyn residents who do the reverse commute.

According to State Senator Marty Golden, the legislation would provide Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge toll relief to Kings County residents who utilize E-Z pass and who cross the bridge three or more times per month.

“The residents of Brooklyn, and in particular Southern Brooklyn, realistically have only one way to enter Staten Island and/or parts of New Jersey for employment, visiting relatives, and use of vacation properties,” Golden said. “Our families and businesses simply cannot afford to shoulder the burdens forced on them by the tolls at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge any longer.”

Brooklyn residents with E-Z pass pay $11.52, a 32% savings on the $17.00 toll. Staten Island residents
pay $5.50.

Golden said that this issue has been a constant complaint from borough residents. “On a very regular basis, Brooklyn residents express concerns about the regular rising cost of the Verrazano Bridge toll, and see no end in sight to these increases,” Golden said, calling on his colleagues in the Assembly to “make this the year toll-relief happens.”

Before any discount plan can take effect, the bill must be passed by the State Assembly. It would then be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

Magen David Yeshivah HS Highlights

To culminate their year-long theme of the Ten Commandments, MDY’s GEMS and Sparks enjoyed a special breakfast last month. The boys had a siyumfor finishing the masechetthey learned in their gemara classes. Awards were given to the students who showed special aptitude, and minyanawards were given as well for the boys who showed leadership skills during tefilah.

Then MDY participated in the Israel Parade. The theme of this year's Celebrate Israel Parade was “Only in Israel,ˮand Magen David Yeshivah High School was proud to represent IsraAid – an Israeli based humanitarian organization that travels the world to help communities in distress.

FJCC Thanks FDNY and Other Agencies After Devastating Flatbush Fire

On behalf of our grateful community, the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition thanks the FDNY for their heroic efforts in rescuing the families from the massive fire last month. We also wish to express our appreciation to the numerous members of Flatbush Hatzolah and FDNY EMS for their early morning response, as well as FDNY Fire Marshals and the NYPD for finding and arresting the accused arsonist.

We are relieved and grateful that there were no serious injuries, despite the fast-moving blaze. We again urge all homeowners and tenants to make sure their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in perfect working order. Smoke alarms played an integral role in saving lives in this incident. Also, it is important for all renters to have adequate renter’s insurance, which is available for only a few dollars a month.

We also wish to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Councilman Chaim Deutsch, and NYPD commanders for personally reaching out immediately after the fire to offer assistance and security.

The financial and personal losses of those affected are staggering, and we strongly encourage and ask everyone to assist the families by donating to the community fire fund. This fund has been set up primarily to provide support to the families that were renting apartments and had no insurance, or had only minimal renter’s insurance.

Please make checks payable to: Khal Beth Abraham - mail to 1496 East 18 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11230. Please visit the following link for more information:https://donate.thechesedfund.com/cause/fire-in-flatbush-please-help-the-families.

Hundreds Attend “Mishnathon” in Flatbush Syrian Community

This past Lag B’Omer, the Syrian community of Flatbush held a historic event called “The Mishnathon.” A project of Yeshivat Shaare Torah of Brooklyn, The Mishnathon saw nearly 600 participants join in the remarkable achievement of completing Shas Mishnayotin one
single night.

Billed as a communal event, participants of The Mishnathon hailed from a wide variety of Syrian shuls and schools. Upon entry, each chavrutawas greeted with a custom Mishnayot, published exclusively for the event by the corporate sponsor Artscroll Publications, personalized with their names and seating information. A spectacular Hadranand Kaddishceremony was led by HaRav Malkiel Kotler, Rosh Hayeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha, Mr. Manny Haber, Chairman of the Board at Yeshivat Shaare Torah, and Mr. Ray Haber, the evening’s sponsor. The event itself was chaired by David Haber.

World renowned speakerRabbi Ephraim Shapiro of Congregation Shaaray Teffila of Miami, Florida delivered the keynote address and Simcha Leiner headlined an extraordinary concert, complete with multimedia effects.

Nearly 50 community rabbis and over 20 kehillot were represented in the ballroom. While the Syrian community is renowned for their tight-knit nature, a showing of unity such as this is unprecedented, and marks a historic milestone for this burgeoning community.

Also in attendance were HaRav Eliezer Ginzberg, Rosh Kollelof Mirrer Yeshiva of Rov at Agudah of Coney Island Ave., R’ Aaron Kotler, CEO of BMG, Rabbi Gedaliah Zlotowitz, CEO of Artscroll Publications, and Councilman Kalman Yeger.

Rabbi Shlomo Tawil Attacked in Central Argentina

A rabbi in Rosario, the third mostpopulous city in Argentina, was verbally and physically attacked in an incident that has been characterized as anti-Semitic violence.

Rabbi Shlomo Tawil, of the local Chabad-Lubavitch organization, was attacked last month by three men in the city center of Rosario, located in the center of the country. The men shouted anti-Semitic epithets before removing the rabbi’s hat and trampling it on the ground, and then beating the rabbi, who was walking alone.

The attack, which was stopped by the intervention of passersby, has been characterized as anti-Semitic since the attackers meant specifically to hurt the rabbi and did not steal anything from him.

The local representative of the DAIA Jewish political umbrella in Argentina, Gabriel Dobkin, told local media that the organization would file a complaint with police in the coming hours. He said that police were working with a city prosecutor to determine if the attack was captured on surveillance cameras and called for a thorough investigation. He called the violence against the rabbi, “a fierce, cowardly, anti-Semitic attack.”

DAIA and the Jewish community of Rosario said in a joint statement that they “demand from the authorities a total and absolute clarification of this unfortunate event.”

“We hope that these violent people will be definitively eradicated from the Argentine society that has chosen the path of coexistence, peace, and justice,” the statement also said.

The rabbi is recovering at home with his family. Originally from Buenos Aires, he has served as the Chabad emissary in Rosario since 1987, and is married with eight children and two grandchildren.

The president of the local city parliament, Antonio Bonfatti, tweeted Monday that “as a society we cannot allow these acts of violence and intolerance,”and called for “peace and coexistence.”

The attack on Tawil is the third physical anti-Semitic attack in the last two months. There other two attacks took place in Buenos Aires, one in April and one in May.

Friends of the IDF Donate $60,000 to Rebuild Synagogue Destroyed
by Hamas Rocket

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) supporters Fred and Jeannette Bogart of Boca Raton, Florida and New York donated $60,000 to rebuild the synagogue on the Israel Defense Forces’ Kissufim Base, home to the 414th Nesher Field Intelligence Battalion and a rotation of infantry units.

The synagogue, along with a Torah scroll used by IDF soldiers, was destroyed by a Hamas rocket in early May in a barrage of rocket fire into Israel that caused the deaths of four civilians.

Following the attack, FIDF launched a campaign on May 29 to raise $60,000 to rebuild the synagogue and an additional $43,000 to dedicate a new Torah scroll. Upon hearing of the campaign, the Bogart’s donated the full amount needed to repair the synagogue.

The synagogue is scheduled to be rebuilt by September, according to FIDF.

“We feel privileged to be able to contribute to the wonderful efforts of Friends of the IDF in supporting the brave men and women of the IDF,” said Fred Bogart. “These soldiers risk their lives to defend the Jewish homeland on the Gaza border, so helping to restore this place of spirituality is an honor for us.”

The Bogart’s will be recognized for their donation with a plaque in the synagogue. They will be invited to the synagogue’s reopening and will have an opportunity to meet the soldiers and commanders on the base.

FIDF is still seeking $43,000 to replace the Torah scroll donated in memory of Holocaust survivors, which was also destroyed by the Hamas rocket attack.

“The soldiersof the Kissufim Base work along the dangerous Gaza border to ensure the safety of the state of Israel,” said Susan
Levin-Abir, executive director of the FIDF Palm Beach/Broward in South Florida. “Rebuilding the synagogue will raise the morale of the soldiers, and return a center for prayer, celebration, and spirituality that was lost.”

Reported by Sephardic.org

NYS Eliminates Religious Exemption for Vaccinations: Agudath Israel Statement

Agudath Israel of America has previously described that, with a measles vaccination rate in NY Orthodox Jewish schools of 96%, vaccination is our “clear societal norm” and that “it is imperative to build on the Orthodox Jewish community’s already high vaccination rate.” It has also decried an anti-vaccination rally held amidst the outbreak, and the inflammatory and senseless musings shared therein.

Agudath Israel has proactively organized multiple, free vaccination clinics in Borough Park, Flatbush, and Williamsburg, has placed full page educational advertisements in community magazines and newspapers, and has partnered with the NYS and NYC Departments of Health to disseminate critical information to schools and parents describing the best steps to take in order to prevent this disease. Our stance and actions on this issue have been clear.

That being said, Agudath Israel views with concern the recent passage of a bill to eliminate the ability to file a religious exemption for vaccination to allow attendance in a New York State K-12 school. When Agudath Israel expressed concern to the legislature, it emphasized that the First Amendment, and the sacrosanct constitutional principle of governmental aversion toward impinging on the free exercise of religion, is a cornerstone of our country. It is a principle that our constituents routinely rely upon to function as Orthodox Jews in America. Erosion of that – irrespective of whether it affects our immediate religious practice – sets a dangerous precedent.

This is particularly true given that existing law already allowed religious exemptions to be revoked by the authorities in a time of outbreak. Additionally, this measure does nothing to address vaccination for preschool children, where there are the greatest vaccination lapses, and the vast majority of cases. It also neglects to addprotective measures for overseas travel, the source of such non-native
diseases. Moreover, the “anti-vax” movement is a
non-denominational, international phenomenon. Enhanced public vaccine and contagion education would have been a more comprehensive, long-term approach.

In short, with rates already high in most yeshivot, it is unclear if this reactive measure, had it been enacted last year, would have mitigated the current outbreak. With other less intrusive, and arguably more impactful measures available, it is our hope that lawmakers use their power in the future to negotiate the sometimes, thorny terrain of balancing enhancing public health while preserving the integrity of free exercise.