Sephardic Bikur Holim Hosts
Its First UnConference Brunch

On June 6th, Sephardic Bikur Holim hosted its first UnConference Brunch for over 40 guidance counselors, psychologists, and social workers of our community schools. Professionals from Hillel, Gesher Yehuda/Yeshiva Prep High school, Yeshivah of Flatbush, Magen David Yeshivah, Shaare Torah, YDE, Barkai Yeshivah, Bnot Rachel, Sephardic Community Center, and Orot Sarah were in attendance.

The morning was organized to help educate these professionals on the many different SBH programs and services available to their students. After an introduction by the SBH’s President Jack Aini, Executive Director Nathan Krasnovsky, Director of Development Charles Anteby, and Mental Health Resource
co-directors Rochelle Mansour and Audrey Grazi, the directors of each SBH division had the opportunity to address the crowd. The directors covered almost every aspect of SBH, including our education advocacy program, food pantry services, free uniform and holiday clothing program, as well as our medical screenings and counseling services. The MHR team – and SBH as a whole – has been at the forefront of many child-related issues, offering services that many may have been unaware of.

Following the presentations by the directors, the attendees were broken into groups for an exercise that allowed them to collaborate and brainstorm with professionals from other schools. “We are lucky to have an organization that we can turn to for so many resources, supports, and ideas. I was talking about what a great morning it was all day and I was especially excited to be part of a continued endeavor,” wrote one school professional. The morning was a great success in that it provided these professionals with information they may need to ensure that their students receive the support they need.

Flatbush Shomrim’s Annual
Carnival & Bike Registration is a Hit!

On June 10th, Flatbush Shomrim, with funding from State Senator Simcha Felder, held its Annual Carnival & Bike Registration event. Over 2,000 people attended and took advantage of the many free giveaways throughout the day.

Below are some of the impressive give-away numbers from
the event:

1,500 bicycle helmets

850 cable combination
bike locks

2,000 T-shirts

Flatbush Shomrim looks forward to hosting an even larger and better event next year!

Flatbush Shomrim also wants to remind everyone to please wear bicycle helmets – as they really do save lives!! Just two days after the helmet giveaway, a 13-year-old boy from the community was clipped by a car while riding his bicycle. The boy fell backwards and hit his head on the concrete floor. There is no question that the helmet was instrumental in preventing a serious and potentially deadly accident.

NY State Senate Gives Green Light to Legislation Granting Straphangers Two Free Transfers

State Senator Martin J. Golden announced that the New York State Senate has approved legislation (S. 7862) that would require the Metropolitan Transit Authority to apply two free transfers within two hours for every paid fare.

This legislation would help straphangers affected by the rising costs of MTA subway and bus fares. This amendment of current state law would automatically add an additional free transfer for straphangers utilizing MetroCards to travel by MTA subways and/orbuses.

Senator Marty Golden stated, “For the New Yorkers that have to transfer more than once from train to bus, or train to train, or bus to train, financial relief is on the horizon. I urge the Assembly to pass the companion bill and call upon Governor Cuomo to sign this bill into law.”

“New Yorkers who take three or more trains or buses, or a combination, could have already saved a bundle if the Governor had not vetoed this bill last year. There is no reason for a veto on this bill and we must step up to the plate and offer this free extra transfer to straphangers. Some need to make an additional transfer because of service reductions and changes. It is not fair to have them forced to pay more because of the MTA’s decisions,” concluded Senator Marty Golden.

The legislation has been sent to the State Assembly where Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) is the sponsor of A. 9627.The bill was approved byboth houses of the New York State Legislature last year but was vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Shomrim Activities

May 18, 3:00am– One person arrested for breaking into a vehicle in the vicinity of Ave. W and East 1st. Arrest was made by 61 pct.

May 22, 2:30am– One person arrested for attempted burglary in the area of Locust Ave. and East 15. Stolen property was found on his person. Arrest was made by 70 pct.

May 22, 2:00pm– One person arrested for stealing a bike in the area of New York Ave L-K. He had over 30 prior arrests! Arrest was made by the 63 pct.

May 24, 2:00pm– Flatbush Shomrim units responded to Ave. P and East 18 for a child with his finger stuck in the wheel of a scooter. In a matter of minutes, the situation was corrected and the members left the scene. The next day the very appreciative mother called to thank and bless the members for their help! “Chazak U’baruch” is what she said. Great to help and great to be appreciated!

May 27, 2:45pm– Flatbush Shomrin units assisted in a Torah procession at East 24 M-N. Safety, traffic, and crowd control are our goals, and thank Gd we were successful.

May 27, 4:00pm– A second Torah procession was successfully and flawlessly controlled by FSSP at 1555 East 9thStreet.

June 1, 2:45am – Three people arrested for car break-ins in the area of East 8 and Ave. N. Arrests were made by the 66 pct.

June 6, 10:00am– One person arrested in the area of Ave. J and East 26 for grand larceny auto, attempted burglary of a residence, and weapons possession. This was a “bad guy” that we were happy to get off the street! Arrest was made by the 70 pct.

Senate Passes Verrazano Bridge Toll Discount Plan

Call it the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge or the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge. Either way, the toll is way too high! And Brooklynites are being hit the hardest by having to cough up the $17 round-trip fare. The State Senate has finally passed a bill that will offer some relief, especially for those Brooklyn residents who travel to Staten Island for work or have family living there. According to State Senator Marty Golden, the legislation would provide Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll relief to Kings County residents who use E-Z pass and who cross the bridge three or more times per month.

Agudath Israel Applauds
Governor Cuomo’s Release of
Hate Crimes Grant Awards at
Event at Magen David Yeshiva

With rising anti-Semitic incidents around the country, and in particular rising hate crimes across New York State, last February, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would appropriate $25 million for security for yeshivas and other nonpublic schools. The Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program provides grants to help strengthen security measures and help prevent crimes or attacks against these facilities because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission.

At an event in Magen David Yeshiva, Governor Cuomo announced the release of the first round of grant awards. Sixty-one yeshivot and other community facilities in Brooklyn were awarded a combined total of more than $5 million.

Agudath Israel of America applauds the Governor who has made the security of our students a top priority. Increased security funding has been and continues to be a major legislative agenda item for the Jewish community, and Agudath Israel has been in the forefront in advocating for increased funding for yeshivot over the past few years.

Agudath Israel attendees, Mr. Ami Bazov, Coordinator of Yeshiva Services, and Rabbi Shai Markowitz, Director of the Lefkowitz Leadership Initiative, commended Governor Cuomo’s strong statements against anti-Semitism and the importance of ensuring
all students are safe in school.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s Executive Vice President, noted, “The Governor’s unwavering stance on
anti-Semitism has distinguished him as a friend of our community. He has put his office and prestige behind a tangible proposal to protect religious institutions. Those institutions will now be able to reap the fruits of this initiative in the form of more secure facilities and greater protection for yeshiva and other nonpublic students throughout the state. We are truly grateful for his leadership. We are living in dangerous times and our institutions need to do everything they can to keep the children safe. This special allocation will go a long way in helping them secure their facilities.”

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Hacham Baruch Kollel Celebrates
its 10th Year Anniversary

On 24 Iyar, 5765 (June 2, 2005), our community mourned the loss of our revered rabbi and leader, Hacham Baruch Ben Haim, a”h.
For over 55 years, Hacham Baruch guided our community towards the prominent status it holds today. To honor the memory of our great Rabbi, the Hacham Baruch Kollel was launched by the Rabbi’s children one year following his passing. Founded in May, 2006, the project commenced with a student body of ten young men, and headed by Hacham Yaacov Ben Haim.

Student admittance to the Kollel isn’t easy, as the administration is highly selective on who is granted entry. A criteria of fine character and good midotare of paramount importance
for admittance.

Located in ‘the Annex’ (of Cong. Shaare Zion), members of the Kollel undergo a rigorous schedule of Torah and halacha study, and are tested regularly on the material. However, their focus isn’t merely on the advanced level of halacha, but in fact on both teaching and leadership skills, which are likewise stressed. With the help of the Rosh Kollel, Rabbi Yehuda Eliyahu, the men progress to receive theirsemicha (rabbinical ordination), while being trained to become teachers and rabbis in
the community.

And with ten year of history behind them, the Hacham Baruch Kollel has got quite a lot to boast.

Today, the student body has more than doubled in size, with many current members and alumnus having assumed roles as rabbis and educators, giving back to their community by teaching in our schools and synagogues. When asked to what he attributes the success of the Kollel, Hacham Yaacov Ben-Haim says it is undoubtedly the zechut of his father, a”h, to whom the success can be credited.

“Mona meets Morris…
In a rather strange way”

January was a big month for Renewal. Kidney transplants were done in NY, Cleveland, and Toronto. Renewal has shown that where there is a need… they will go.

One of the highlights of the month took place on January 19th, 2016 when for the first time in our community we had a match of a donor and recipient who didn’t know each other before the transplant. We have had several transplants where community members have received or donated to others outside the community or to members of their own family (over 50 so far) but this is the first altruistic kidney transplant within the community.

Morris Gindi had the desire to donate a kidney for a long time, as he watched fellow community members become donors. He wanted the chance to save a life. That day came when Renewal matched Morris to Mona Massry. Mona had been suffering from kidney disease for a few years and was subject to living a life of dialysis. B”H, with her new kidney she will be able to live a normal life again.

The act of courage that Morris undertook should serve as an example to others in the community, showing that they too can be life savers. For more information on kidney donations please contact community Advocate A.J. Gindi at

Inspirational Ahi Ezer Yeshiva 8th Grade Shabbaton

Our thoughtful teachers organized an amazing Shabbaton for their spirited 8thgrade girls. Friday morning the buses headed out to BounceU, which was a great fun-filled start to an incredible weekend. From there they traveled to the Airmont Mansion where they settled in to their beautiful and plush accommodations in upstate NY. The students and teachers decorated and created their own T-shirts to keep as a memorable souvenir of the girls’ graduating year at Ahi Ezer Yeshiva.

Soon after, it was time for the girls to prepare for Shabbat. Each girl got a chance to light her own candlesand recite a beautiful bracha. The girls felt so special and close to Hashemas they covered their faces during candle lighting. Next came gorgeous singing, headed by the Ahi Ezer choir girls. After completing a delectable Shabbat dinner prepared by our own special chef, the girls were treated to an inspirational speaker, Ms. Suri Cohen. She spoke to the girls intimately about the parashaand its invaluable lessons. Her talk was followed by an onegand a panel discussion where the girls participated in a question/answer session with their teachers.

Shabbat morning was a beautiful sunny day, and the girls hurried to get dressed for shul in their best clothes. Each girl looked like a true bat Yisraeland prayed with so much kavanah. Everyone enjoyed a special seudat Shabbat. The teachers then escorted the students on a walk to visit with a very inspiring woman, Breindy, who is physically handicapped. Breindy took the girls to new heights with her words of wisdom.

The girls headed back for seudat shlishit and havdallah. Next was another fun-filled activity at the local bowling alley. The ride home was a perfect ending to a great time: singing and rejoicing about the most inspiring, life changing Shabbat they had ever experienced, and will never forget.

Community Members
Put New Focus on Aliyah

Aliyah.Recently, the idea has gained traction in our community. Whether it’s ideologically, financially, or religiously motivated, it’s becoming popular as people see Israel as a more viable option. As this grassroots movement continues growing, community members have begun organizing. By getting together to discuss ideas and concerns, we aim to translate ideas into action. With the support of peers, more people may feel encouraged to explore aliyah.

On December 27th, such an event was held at the home of Michael and Sarah Hidary. Over 30 community members gathered for remarks given by renowned Israeli Radio show host and international spokesman for the Jewish community in Hevron Yishai Fleisher and NBN (Nefesh B’Nefesh) Employment Director Rachel Berger. The event provided a forum for people to discuss potential issues they face when considering moving.

The attendees included young professionals, young families, and grandparents with children already in Israel. Many observed that community members who’ve already made aliyahdid not do so as a cohesive group. It was posited that moving in large enough numbers to the same place could help alleviate challenges people face when leaving a community with such a strong senseof identity.

People’s motivations for considering aliyahwere multi-faceted. Many cited economic opportunity and lifestyle changes within a vibrant Jewish environment. Whereas one might worry over retaining Jewish identity and finding quality education in other cities, a family move to Israel would not present these challenges.

Rachel from NBN spoke about resources available to find jobs in Israel. Yishai then gave his perspective as a person who has lived there for most of his life. “For the Syrian community, which places a tremendous value on close family bonds, the real challenge of aliyahis the distance that it creates…. However, those people who choose to make aliyahwill be creating that family closeness for the next generation in the Jewish homeland, and sparing their children from having to contemplate that decision twenty years down the line. One generation has to break out in order to build a tight knit community in Israel.”

So, what’s next? By organizing, can we encourage more community members considering aliyahto make that leap? Could coordination be the answer to the challenge of expanding beyond our strong, supportive community? We will continue planning more events to raise awareness. For those not prepared to make a permanent move, we will also host events about the importance of spending time and investing more in Israel. To get involved and share your thoughts, please email Morris Cohen:

SAFE Visits Magen David Yeshiva

Like a slow-starting car in the winter, the 8th grade boys at Magen David Yeshivah were quiet at first, but by the end of the hour spent with The SAFE Foundation’s therapists, Sean Kensing, CASAC-G (Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor – Gambling), and Laura Mizrahi, LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor), the discussion was revving right along.

The purpose of their visit on that morning in early December was to open a conversation about the warning signs of compulsive behaviors and to inform the students about how to reach out for confidential help.

Some of the kids wanted to know if spending too much
time on the internet and buying lotto tickets are forms of compulsive behaviors.

The therapists addressed all questions. They especially highlighted in each of their replies that the signs of compulsive behavior are when a person is preoccupied with something and is unable to stop the behavior, even though he or she is experiencing negative consequences.

Mr. Kensing and Mrs. Mizrahi advised, “The worst thing a person can do if having some of these symptoms is to retreat into a shell of secrecy. The best thing one can do is share the problem with someone trustworthy.

“It is never too early to get help with a problem or to simply ask a question” they told the students. The therapistscontinued, “When it comes to compulsive behaviors, waiting too long may be very detrimental. When a person with a problem progresses, they’ll be feeling a powerful loss of control and may be sensing that they don’t even have a choice when it comes to being free from these behaviors.”

Mr. Kensing explained that when someone calls SAFE with a problem, he or she is met with support, rather than with shame. A caller in distress will be told, “So sorry to hear that you are experiencing that. Let’s see what we can do for you.”

SAFE’s Director of School Programs Yehudah Alcabes, LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker), CASAC, said that he found the exchange between the therapists and the students to be very valuable. He said, “It opened their minds to thinking about and dealing with problems and about recognizing the signs of trouble before it is too late. It is just part of what we are doing at SAFE to raise awareness and prevent problems.”

If you or someone you know needs help, please call our confidential, toll-free hotline, 24/7 at
1-866-569-SAFE (1-866- 569-7233). Have a question? E-mail:

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