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The Debate Over Proposed Coney Island Casino Continues

In April 2022, almost two years ago, Governor Kathy Hochul signed off on awarding three downstate licenses for casinos in New York. It was part of the $220 billion approved one-year state budget.  

Applicants had hoped that the licenses would be awarded by the end of 2023 or early 2024. 

NYS announced the request for applications in January 2023 and now, a year later, the casino licensing process is still in its first phase. 

Questions and Answers Long Awaited 

In late August 2023, the NYS Gaming Commission and Gaming Facility Location Board released a 103-page report responding to the first round of questions from NY casino bidders.  Regulators addressed 613 queries and are reviewing the second group of questions submitted on October 6th.  There is no set timeframe for the answers. Due to the slow and methodical process performed by gaming regulators, licenses may not be awarded until 2025.   

The five-month turnaround for the first set of questions has surprised many, given that these casinos are expected to generate thousands of jobs, millions in local taxes, and billions in gambling revenue. 

Community Board 13 and most of its underlying four district neighborhood residents, remain opposed to Joseph Sitt’s (founder of Thor Equities) application for the Coney Project.  Included in Community Board 13 is our own community and the Sephardic Community Federation. 

Bidding War for Gambling Licenses 

Coney Island is one of three downstate gambling casino sites in the NYC area for which developers and gaming companies are bidding for licenses. There are eleven known applicants in the bidding war for these three casino sites.  They include big names in gambling, such as Bally’s, Caesars, Hard Rock, and Las Vegas Sands.   

Sitt’s Coney project has been called a pie-in-the-sky plan.  Some say a Coney Island casino might be fun but it is unlikely that visitors would travel from NJ, Connecticut, or upstate NY.  Resorts World NYC(Genting Group) and Empire City Casino (MGM Resorts International) have been described as frontrunners for two downstate casino licenses.  

Developers who are looking to build tourist attractions near transit hubs like Times Square may have an edge in the bidding war.  Regulators may prefer two venues that have gambling already, Yonkers Raceway and Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. 

The Coney Project 

A 40-page public engagement report released last July by Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso had three responses opposing the Coney Project for every response in favor.  Over 200 people provided feedback. Reynoso remains undecided about the casino plan and says the project deserves a hard look. Former City Councilman Ari Kagan, who represented Coney Island, took a strong stance against the project. 

The Coney’s proponents predict an ace-in-the-hole with increased employment, visitors, and income for the area.  

 

Opponents see minimal economic benefits, point to the disappointing outcomes in Atlantic City, and are wary of increased crime and traffic and limited security resources.  They also voice serious concerns about the harmful influence of a casino on our children and families. 

 

The consortium continues to claim that The Coney will bring an economic boom and rejuvenate the iconic and aging boardwalk.   

 

Playing Dirty 

Joseph Sitt sponsored a nine-week basketball clinic in Coney Island and gave the children t-shirts with the logos of “The Coney” on the first day of the clinic. Large banners of “The Coney” were also used as a backdrop for the basketball clinic. Parents and coaches were not told of Sitt’s involvement.  

Coney Island community activist and member of Neighborhood Advisory Board 13, Kouichi Shirayanagi, wrote in an op-ed for the July 14th issue of Brooklyn News, stating, “Sitt’s use of the neighborhood kids to market his project shows a blatant disregard for the national problem [of youth gambling addiction]. This was not the first time Sitt has splashed his money out onto the community to promote his casino project, but exploiting neighborhood kids, turning them into walking billboards to drum up his bid to bring a major multi-hundred-million-dollar gambling conglomerate to the Coney Island Peninsula was a new low for him. Children should never be used to promote gambling, just as they should not be promoting cigarettes, alcohol, or anything else that is illegal to them.” 

 

New Developments 

The New York City Planning Commission is starting a seven-month process for a zoning text amendment that will help pave the way for casinos in NYC boroughs.  The amendment needs to be passed through community boards and borough presidents’ offices and adopted by the Commission itself before the NYC Council votes on it. 

Recap of the Casino Application and Award Process 

The Coney details depend on a request for proposals (RFA) issued by the NYS Gaming Commission in January 2023. The approval process was anticipated to be lengthy, and a determination was expected later in 2023 at the earliest. As of December 21, 2023, no determination was issued. 

Joe Sitt, a Coney Island native and real estate developer for Thor Equities, is vying for one of the three downstate casino licenses 

His goal is to turn Coney Island into a year-round destination instead of its current status as a summertime hangout, primarily limited to the boardwalk.  Thor expects to spend $3 billion to redevelop five acres that would include a casino, a roller coaster, an indoor water park, hotels, and museums.   

The Gaming Facility Location Board was tasked to oversee the application process and select the three NYC casino sites.  

After its review, the Board will make recommendations to the Gaming Commission, which is authorized to decide which licenses to award.  

The conditions required for the Gaming Commission to approve a casino application include gaining public support from community advisory committees and compliance with state and local zoning laws.  

Applicants to this RFA must first be approved by a community advisory committee and complete the municipal zoning process before the evaluation of any applications.  

The application process allows strong community opposition to defeat a casino bid before state regulators can even review the application. 

A local Community Advisory Committee was formed to hold public hearings for each application, and to issue formal findings of how much community support the proposed casino has. 

At least two-thirds of the committee members must approve the project before state regulators begin evaluating the application. 

Community Feedback 

Community Board 13 Chairperson of Coney Island, Lucy Diaz, declared: “We don’t want what Atlantic City has. We’re already drowning in traffic half the year. Now you want to bring more traffic in. We don’t want it.” 

Robert Cornegy, a former NYC council member, is a consultant for The Coney and describes his support for the casino in altruistic terms, committing to an economic development agenda. He has knocked on over 16,300 doors to get 4,000 physical signatures in favor of the casino.  As of August 23, 2023, the number of signatures reached 10,000. 

 

Local Opposition 

 

Last April 26th, Community Board 13 members voted online on an official resolution opposing the Coney.  The resolution passed by an overwhelming vote of 23-8, rejecting the casino proposal.   

The Community Board’s resolution is non-binding, has no legal bearing, and cannot singlehandedly stop the casino project.  However, Community Board 13 includes many local politicians who will have a legal say in the future and the Community Board’s vote does not look promising for the project.  

Former Councilman Ari Kagan backed the Community Board’s majority vote arguing The Coney will bring more traffic, crime, and mental health problems. 

 

The Sephardic Community Federation took a firm stand against the proposed casino.  Spearheading the “No Coney Casino” initiative, the SCF launched the website noconeycasino.com, urging all community members to sign a petition protesting the casino’s approval.   

 

Thor expects The Coney to bring 4,000 union jobs to the neighborhood.  Cornegy believes they will be decent paying, year-round jobs in hospitality, hotel, and gaming. In response, Community Board 13 Chair Diaz says these jobs are not necessarily the best match for the community. 

 

Another concern is that approximately 11,000 of Community Board 13 residents live in NYCHA housing.  Applying for casino jobs may lead to these residents losing their rent subsidies. 

 

A growing number of Coney Island residents are against The Coney, claiming it would usher in a wave of gentrification that also destroys Coney Island’s unique character.  

 

Conclusion 

 

As American baseball superstar Yogi Berra succinctly put it, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Developers are confident that the draw of promised financial gain, more jobs, and urban renewal will lure Coney Islanders into supporting The Coney’s bid for a mega casino complex. Detractors site strong community opposition to the project due to fears of more crime, traffic, pollution, and questionable financial gain as an indicator that it will not pan out. We will all have to wait and see. In the meantime, you can make your voice heard.

What Can You Do? 

 

Sign the “No Coney Casino” petition electronically, which takes only 30 seconds. Go to www.noconeycasino.com/#SignthePetition. 

  

Contact the officials below to find out who is representing you at the Community Advisory Committee meetings. Communicate your questions and concerns to: 

 

  1. NY State Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton, 718-727-9406  
  1. Assemblyman Michael Novakhov (District 45), 718-743-4078 
  1. Local City Council member Justin Brannan (District 47), 718-307-7151 
  1. Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, 718-802–3700 
  1. Mayor Eric Adams, 311 
  1. Governor Kathy Hochul, 518-474-8390  

Miracles of the 551st – Horror in a Hamas House

Miracles of the 551st 

Horror in a Hamas House 

 

Following up on an intelligence lead, we entered the home of a suspected Hamas terrorist and began searching for contraband.  Our efforts soon turned up various weapons such as assault rifles and explosive suicide vests with grenades. Proceeding to the next room, one of our commandos proceeded to search an ordinary looking chest. As he opened one of the drawers, to our collective horror, a grenade – with its trigger pin removed – fell to the ground. The chest had been booby trapped so that opening that drawer would cause the grenade to explode. Baruch Hashem, in a clear miracle, the grenade was dud and did nothing more than give us a good scare. 

 

 

Miracles of the 551st 

Civilian Subterfuge 

 

While on patrol, we saw what looked like two ordinary Gaza couples in traditional dress walking along a road controlled by the IDF. Someone in our squad detected something a bit unusual in the way the two women walked and directed our attention to the group who were approaching IDF positions. Snipers, who were part of my team, were instructed to train their rifles on each of the suspects and continued to observe their movements. Suddenly the two women started to remove their hijabs and revealed themselves to be men deceitfully carrying Kalashnikov rifles beneath women’s clothes. Baruch Hashem, before they could even position their weapons to shoot, our snipers were ready and successfully eliminated both of them.  

 

 

Miracles of the 551st 

Tracking a Terror Tunnel 

 

Hamas terrorists most often attack at dawn. One early morning in the Jabaliya neighborhood of Gaza, while we were on a mission to extract bodies, we were urgently alerted to the presence of a terrorist carrying a Kalashnikov rifle approaching our position. He was spotted from above by a drone and was seen attempting to sneak into the building where we were barricaded. 

 

We swiftly deployed into two detachments, one force was tasked with observation, while the other took up a strategic position. When the observation force detected that the terrorist was within the designated kill zone, we opened fire and quickly neutralized him.  

 

We recognized that the terrorist had likely emerged from a Hamas terror tunnel in the area. We were also operating under the assumption that hostages were possibly being held there in the nearby tunnels, and therefore needed to take extra care to identify such tunnels without necessarily destroying them. 

 

With that objective added to our mission, we set out shortly after to survey the area in search of a nearby tunnel shaft. I led the squad.  

 

As we moved through the alleyway from where we believed the terrorist had come, we approached a clearing amid the rubble of destroyed buildings.  

 

Unbeknown to us, our squad had come to within only a few meters of the tunnel. But we did not arrive unnoticed. A Hamas terrorist cell had apparently spotted us and triggered an explosive charge to detonate as we neared the tunnel entrance. It was a violent blast. 

An explosion of that size – which was also designed to destroy the tunnel entrance – should have taken out our entire squad. But we were only struck by small pieces of shrapnel. In an open miracle, thanks to Hashem, it turned out that at precisely the time when the bomb exploded, we were walking alongside a small, remnant of a wall, which absorbed all the shock of the explosion. If the explosion had occurred just a moment earlier or later, it is likely that many of us would not have come back alive.  

 

As it happened only one commando in our squad was lightly wounded and evacuated to the hospital (baruch Hashem, he is fine), but otherwise, we were all miraculously saved. 

After this incident, even the most secular soldiers among us began putting on tefillin. 

Why Doesn’t Hashem Show Us Why It Is Good?

Some people ask, if everything Hashem does is good, and Hashem is so kind and merciful, then why doesn’t He just show us how this is so? Why does He make things happen that seem bad, instead of just showing us how they are good?

The answer is that sometimes Hashem indeed does show us how seemingly negative events are truly for the best, but in other instances, as the Lev Simchah explains, He makes the situation look bad to give us the opportunity to trust in Him and thereby accrue the great benefits of this mitzvah. Trusting Hashem elevates a person to great spiritual heights and brings blessing and salvation, and Hashem therefore makes events appear difficult in order for us to earn these benefits.

The Gemara (Berachot 60b) tells of Rabbi Akiva who was traveling and wanted to spend the night in a certain town, but nobody agreed to host him. He was forced to sleep in the forest, and soon a lion came and ate his donkey, a cat ate his rooster, and a gust of wind blew out his candle. Throughout this ordeal, Rabbi Akiva reminded himself that everything Hashem does is for the best. The next morning, he saw that the town had been ransacked and all the residents were killed. If the attackers would have seen his light or heard his animals, he, too, would have been killed.

In a shmuz, Rabbi Chaim A. Yamnick raised the question of why Hashem had to resort to such measures to save Rabbi Akiva’s life. Certainly, He could have come up with some other way of ensuring that the attackers would not see him. Why did Rabbi Akiva’s animals have to perish and his candle blow out?

The rabbi answered that Rabbi Akiva earned this miraculous salvation by trusting Hashem when the situation looked bleak. It was specifically by insisting that everything was good when it looked bad that Rabbi Akiva earned the merit he needed. Trusting Hashem and believing that everything is good when it looks bad is what earns us great blessing and salvation, and this was how Rabbi Akiva’s life was spared

Miracle of Water

It is common (but mistaken) for people to think of the natural and the miraculous as opposites – one follows the laws of nature, the other transcends it. But seeing that the phenomena we are about to discuss is called the “miracle of water” by scientists themselves (a term rarely used in their world), it seems appropriate that we should use it here.

It is the nature of all materials to expand when hot and contract when cold. This is the reason why a small gap is left between the iron lengths of railway line, so that they will not bend or press up against each other after expanding in the summer or when heated by the friction of the train wheels.

In other words, as the temperature rises, a material expands and its volume grows; as the temperature drops, that same material shrinks and its volume contracts. This basic law of nature applies to all the matter existent in the world, without exception.

Unsolved Mystery

However, in contrast with every other substance in the world, it is amazing to discover that at a certain stage, water stops obeying the natural rule and acts in exactly the opposite manner – in complete contradiction of the law!

Between 39 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit, as water approaches its freezing point, it stops contracting and begins to act as if it were heating up. At these temperatures, water expands and increases in volume! How can this be? Scientists have no explanation for how this happens and cannot understand what makes water different from all the other substances in the world. However, they understand very well that this unnatural phenomenon is something of a miracle, without which, human life could not exist on Earth.

If water would continue contracting as it approaches its freezing point and its volume would continue to shrink, as is true for all the other substances in nature, ice would be heavier than water and would sink rather than float. If all the ice in the world had sunk during the cold periods, much of the world’s deep sources of water would have frozen and all the sea creatures within that water would have died.

In addition, without the miracle of water, each winter the northern ice seas would freeze into enormous blocks of ice. With the arrival of summer, the melting icebergs would create immense flows of water, which would flood the landmasses and drown everything upon them.

The One and Only

The only substance that contravenes the laws of nature – expanding rather than contracting in the cold – is the one most necessary for the world’s continued existence. Only water acts in this way, when it reaches the stage at which following the laws of nature would have an adverse effect on the world.

Scientists have no explanation for how or why this happens. However, we know that it is written: “For He spoke, and it was, He commanded, and it stood” (Tehillim 33:9).

He, who created the world and imprinted the natural laws onto it, is also the One who ensured the existence of the world He created. For Him, nature and the miraculous are one and the same. Both are brought about through His commandments and will.

WATER – In Its Gaseous State

Large concentrations of water are found at many places around the globe, yet who can move them to where they are needed – to irrigate the fields and fill the empty reservoirs? Can they be transported solely by artificial means, such as with pumps and pipes? What about those places lacking the necessary infrastructure or wealth required? Are they doomed to be dead and deserted forever?

With great frequency, vast quantities of water, weighing altogether millions of tons, rise to the sky and travel to those places where they are needed. During this process, liquid water is transformed into vapor, which is lighter than air, and forms a new state high up in the atmosphere, called clouds.

Another further advantage of the evaporation process is that any pollutants or salts in the water remain on the earth as solids, whereas the water vapor itself is clean and pure.

A different aspect of the water system is the special mechanism driven by the temperature differences around the globe. These cause the movement of air, which we call winds, to carry the vast volumes of evaporated water over continents and to the places where it is needed. Eventually, the air cools and the vapor condenses into droplets that are heavier than air. Then, of course, they fall to the ground as rain. In this way, water is distributed to every corner of the world, fills the empty reservoirs, irrigates the growing crops, and is there for us to use for drinking, washing, and all other uses.

Isn’t this mechanism wonderful!

How often do we notice that the water falls gently as drops that caress the earth and cause man no pain? This is another part of the amazing process that we tend to overlook. Despite their long airborne journey, falling to earth from great heights, the droplets do not touch each other – which might result in a great stream of water pounding our heads and stripping the earth of its topsoil, seeds, and delicate seedlings. This occurs even in strong winds – the drops of rain do not touch each other, but instead, fall together at an angle, as if in military formation.

WATER – In Its Solid State

Each autumn, various plants and crops drop their seeds to the ground, where they await the spring rains that will enable them to grow. However, if the outside temperature drops to 17 degrees Fahrenheit, all these seeds and seedlings will freeze and die, causing irreparable damage to the world’s food supply. How can we overcome this problem?

Let us suppose that scientists offer a “simple” solution to this dilemma: Spread a thick carpet containing trapped air over all the land surfaces in the cold regions, which will provide a layer of insulation between the air temperature of 17 degrees Fahrenheit and the ground temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This will protect the delicate seeds and seedlings.

This is a good idea, perhaps, but highly impracticable when it comes to covering large areas. Yet, that is only true in our terms – it is not true for the Almighty!

Hashem simply instructs the water vapor in the air to collect together in the atmosphere’s upper layers. When the atmosphere can carry no more (like a sponge soaked with water), the vapor freezes and forms droplets around tiny specks of dust, which had previously been lifted into the air by the wind, in accordance with a different instruction issued from on high. Once these tiny ice crystals have formed, they fall to earth in the form of snowflakes. Billions and billions of snowflakes pile one on top of the other, creating a beautiful, white carpet filled with air, which protects the plants. While the temperature above the snow layer can easily reach negative 48 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of the ground underneath the snow layer does not drop below 32 degrees. All the stored seeds and seedlings can stay alive underneath the soft protective blanket.

Hashem has granted snow another attribute that is beneficial for His creatures. At those times and places where rain would rapidly drain away and be lost before human beings can store the water, or where the reservoirs fill and empty quickly, drifts of mountain snow and ice function as storehouses for the frozen water until they melt in the spring.

SNOWFLAKES

Because the Omnipotent One is also the Supreme Designer, He has also given instructions that the ice crystals that constitute snowflakes always form in symmetrical, intensely beautiful patterns. To allow human beings to understand just a little of Hashem’s Omnipotence, He creates billions of snowflakes – that have fallen or will ever fall – each with its own unique shape. No two will ever be the same. Man’s simple intelligence finds it difficult to grasp or understand the “chance” creation of such perfect, symmetrical beauty, or the fact that such creation is repeated differently every time on an infinite number of occasions.

CONCLUSION

Water – in any state (liquid, gas, or solid) is truly miraculous!

The Ahavat Yisrael Project

Community Women from the Jersey Shore Unify to Fight Spiritual Battle 

 

By Mari Gindi 

 

 “…we, the women of the Deal community are contributing in our own way on the spiritual battlefield for Am Yisrael’s protection and success.” 

 

 

Over 200 women gathered together in Deal Synagogue last month in response to the horrific events of October 7th. We yearned for encouragement and guidance. We felt the strong desire to unify, to do something, anything, to help our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael at this very fragile moment in Jewish history.  

 

Mrs. Jackie Bitton spoke to us that night, emphasizing the importance of creating ahdut by strengthening our love and acceptance for every Jew. Inspired by her examples and the unending, unconditional love and hesed that was happening in Israel, we wanted to be a part of it, too. We wanted to connect to the soldiers, the families of the hostages, and the bereaved families of the fallen. We wanted to do something to show our solidarity and love for them all.  

 

We were intrigued when a unique learning program, just for women, was unveiled that would give us the opportunity to grow in Torah, enhance our love for each other, and create zechut for Am Yisrael 

 

The Ahavat Yisrael Project  

 

The book that was chosen, The Ahavat Yisrael Project, teaches us how to improve our interpersonal relationships and how to increase our love for our fellow Jew. The book is  set up as a daily study, for 40 days. Each day is broken down into two parts. The first part explains the things we should stay away from, such as rechilut, lashon hara, and ona’at devarim, while the second part focuses on the positive things we can incorporate into our lives to improve relationships, such as noticing good points, greeting people with a smile, and encouraging others with compliments.  

 

Unlike most projects, this one was set up to be learned with a partner or group each day. The lessons are read and then a discussion ensues to bring the points home by adding personal stories and struggles, advice, or asking and answering questions. Each person was given three names – that of a child who was being held hostage, an adult hostage, and a soldier that we are learning in the zechut for.  That really gave us a personal connection with what has been unfolding in Eretz Yisrael 

 

Learning live with someone each day was a new experience for most. The lessons really hit home, ranging from topics such as anger, character traits that lead to negative speech, how to respond to negative speech using the acronym D.E.A.F., respecting yourself, showing gratitude, feeling compassion, and not blaming.  

 

New Awareness 

 

The main thing was the awareness that came about from learning the different laws, given over with real life, relatable examples and easy-to-understand lessons. Many women wrote in how the evening was life changing. They so appreciated being a part of this beautiful group and as a result they now naturally hold back from speaking badly about others and they feel more positive towards all Jews. Some even said they gained new friendships with the partners they were matched up with.  

 

When news of hostages being freed surfaced, our group buzzed with shouts of joy – “Baruch Hashem, my hostage was freed!!” We felt a close connection and responsibility to these Jews whom we did not know, had never met, and probably never would. Yet we took our learning seriously, we tried to internalize its messages to contribute to the protection and success of our family in Israel by increasing our love for every Jew.  

 

Special Siyum 

 

As we approached the end of the book, the plans for a special siyum got underway. Over 300 women from the Deal community came out to the siyum to participate in this unique learning experience commemorating our achievement. We gathered again in the Deal Synagogue, this time with feelings of accomplishment and hope.  

 

We heard from a few women in the group who shared their personal experiences and feelings of growth from the learning project. We were encouraged and proud of their accomplishments, we related to them, we were part of a special group.  

 

Mrs. Chani Shelby offered words of encouragement and inspiration. Her moving stories left an impression on us, and her praise for our accomplishments left us feeling proud. Chani re-inspired us to continue to do our part in the war effort, by increasing our love for every Jew. 

 

The Learning Continues 

 

We felt charged up to continue with another round of learning for the protection of the Jewish nation. The book 40 Days of Caring was given out and we were excited to continue our learning the laws and ways of loving our fellow Jew.  

 

The finale of the evening was a fabulous kumtzitz with singer Susan Braha. We all felt the passion in her voice and the music literally lifted us up. In spontaneous solidarity we stood up and held hands in song with feelings of friendship, hope, and love.  

  

We are now halfway through our second round of learning and we’re going strong. We’re gaining so much from the lessons. We hear comments from people every day, wherever we go, about how the books have brought so much meaning into their lives, or how they naturally stopped themselves from speaking negatively about someone. The learning is making a positive difference in people’s lives. It is such an enriching experience! Everyone is gaining from our efforts. The ripple effect can be felt by the people around us as we enhance our love and acceptance for all Jews.  

 

We look forward to another siyum, and another, be’ezrat Hashem. In the meantime, the women of the Deal community are contributing in our own way on the spiritual battlefield for Am Yisrael’s protection and success.  

 

Our hope and our tefilla is that Hashem will look down on us with favor from our efforts and bring the geula sheleima be’karov! Amen.  

 

 

 

Amazing Gizmos and Gadgets of 2024

Heads up! Look out for these new and impressive hi-tech devices to take you into 2024. 

 

Ray-Ban Meta Wayfarer Sunglasses 

Ray-Ban’s iconic shades get a serious upgrade. The Meta Wayfarer are a pitch-perfect recreation of the original, now with AI-enhanced features allowing you to take calls, listen to music, capture photos, and livestream anytime, anywhere. 

 

AnkerMake M5C 3D Printer 

Buying things is so 2022. Build almost anything you need at home – literally – with Anker’s compact M5C. It’s simple enough for 3D-printing noobs yet powerful enough for pros who demand lightning-fast creation of their latest projects. 

 

Segway Transformers Bumblebee Electric Gokart Pro 

Decked out in a legit Bumblebee yellow-and-black (or Optimus Prime red-and-blue) colorway, this high-performance go-kart is built for serious speed – up to 24.8 miles per hour, pulling more than 1g of acceleration in the twisties! 

 

Go 3 Action Camera 

The world’s best new action camera is also the smallest at just 35 grams! Clip it, stick it, or mount it to just about anything. This cool tech gadget records all your hardcore adventures in beautiful 2.7K, while FlowState Stabilization keeps every shot buttery smooth. 

 

Lava Me 4 Carbon Guitar 

Upgrade your acoustic-electric jam sessions. This guitar blends the best of both worlds, and the multi-touch display lets you mix, loop, and add effects on the fly. Sound like a band by hitting the live drums pedal and the effects pedal. And record your compositions, too. Plus, the carbon build is ultra-durable, responsive, and handsome. 

 

Rapsodo MLM2PRO Mobile Launch Monitor and Golf Simulator 

Swing, analyze, improve, and repeat with this portable golf simulator. Dual cameras create ultra-slow-mo GIFs of your swing, showing exactly how and where you struck the ball. Then, shot-tracer tech tracks the arch and angle of the ball after every drive. 

 

Xebec The Tri-Screen 2 

Two screens are better than one, but Xebec’s Tri-Screen 2 proves three are better still! Take your productivity to the next level with more screen real estate than ever. The best part? The desk accessory folds up with your laptop into a compact, take-anywhere package. 

 

Beast Health Beastmode Blender 

There are blenders, and then there are blenders. If you demand serious power for your morning smoothies, or maybe you just like to crush rocks in yours, the Beastmode Blender is your best bet. The 1,200-watt motor is beastly enough to tackle whatever you throw at (or into) it. 

 

Therabody RecoveryTherm Cube 

It’s time to ditch the disposable heating pads and old-school icepacks. Therabody’s all-new RecoveryTherm Cube is an ultra-portable device designed for both hot and cold therapy whenever and wherever you need it. The best part: unlike one-time-use alternatives, it’s reusable. 

Community Highlights – Need a Doctor?

Need a Doctor?

If you or a loved one needs to a doctor, the SBH Medical Division is available to help you find the best medical advice.

By texting or calling SBH at 718 787 0077 or emailing medical@sbhonline.org., the SBH medical team gets to work to identify the best care for you. Once they understand your medical needs, they work through their network and pinpoint the best specialists. SBH will help you secure an appointment in a timely manner and even arrange transportation if needed.

If your care is a bit more complex, they will assign you a Medical Captain who will be with you every step of the way. The SBH Medical Division wants you to think of them as a member of your family – and your health is their priority.

 

Another Manhattan Community Board Discards Mayor Adams’ Casino Fast Track Attempt

Rendering of the Freedom Plaza.

Opposition is mounting against a city-backed measure that would allow planned casinos to bypass the local land-use review process, a move Mayor Eric Adams’ administration argues is crucial for the gaming facilities to have a chance of obtaining state approval.

Last month, Manhattan Community Board 6 passed a resolution 39-to-1 opposing a proposal by the Department of City Planning to bypass the standard city zoning approval rules, known as ULURP, for casinos.

The Board, which represents Midtown East, has one casino proposal proposed for their area, among a host of contenders for three licenses the state intends to grant in New York City or its suburbs.

The Soloviev Group has proposed placing a casino and 1,325 apartments, with nearly 40 percent slated to be below-market rentals, on First Avenue between 38th and 41st Streets, just south of the United Nations.

The Board resolution passed with no discussion at the meeting. Borough presidents will also  weigh in on the zoning amendment, after which the City Planning Commission and the City Council will vote on it.

CB6’s advisory vote in opposition follows a similar outcome from Manhattan Community Board 4, which covers another possible site in Hudson Yards, and Manhattan Community Board 5, which will take a full board vote Thursday, following a land use committee vote against the Adams proposal. CB5 includes Times Square, where a proposal is in the mix.

In Brooklyn Community Board 13, which includes Coney Island, the majority of members also opposed the text amendments.

City Planning’s proposed zoning text amendments would allow for new state licenses to go to gaming facilities in certain commercial and manufacturing districts. The measures would deem any gambling facility approved by the state for these areas as being in compliance with local zoning, permission that also extends to hotels, restaurants, and amenities at the sites.

At least two-thirds of each committee must approve an application for it to be considered by the Gaming Facility Location Board.

 

Brooklyn Public School Omits Israel from Qatar-Funded Classroom Map

A map of the “Arab World” inside a classroom at PS 261 labels Israel “Palestine.”

A public New York City elementary school is being accused of “Jewish erasure” because a map in one of its classrooms showed all of the countries in the Middle East except for Israel – which it labeled as Palestine.

The map, labeled the “Arab World,” appears in a classroom at PS 261 in Brooklyn, where Rita Lahoud gives students lessons in the Arab Culture Arts program – which is funded by Qatar. Foundation International, the American wing of the Qatar Foundation, is a nonprofit owned by the country’s wealthy ruling family.

At the school, the map is posted under the heading “Arab World” with hand-drawn labels marking each country, except for Israel, which Lahoud labeled “Palestine.”

“It’s not just that we’re experiencing Jewish hate in NYC public schools, we’re actually experiencing Jewish erasure,” said Tova Plaut, a New York City public school instructional coordinator for preschool through fifth grade.

“The fact that there is a map out there that does not represent what the world actually looks like is troubling. We’re giving children misinformation,” added Plaut, who is also the founder of the New York City Public Schools Alliance, a group of educators and parents fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of hate in city schools in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7th attack on Israel.

“When you embed something when children are young, it becomes a belief. And belief is much harder to change than knowledge,” she said.

City Hall said the map was removed “as soon as we were made aware of concerns” about its contents.

Renewal – They Do Lives, Not Windows 

Renewal is a Brooklyn-based non-profit organization that helps people suffering from kidney disease.  The Renewal team is dedicated to saving lives by providing education and working to facilitate live kidney donation. Live donor transplants offer several advantages, including superior outcomes and shorter waiting times compared to transplants from deceased donors.  

Renewal recently celebrated a remarkable landmark – the facilitation of over 1,000 successful kidney transplants!  

Top-Notch Faculty, Top-Notch Care 

In 2023 Renewal moved to its new global headquarters, a state-of-the-art facility dedicated by the Aronow-Zupnik families. Here the Renewal staff members meet new patients from around the globe, do cross-matching, plan awareness events, and meet remotely with transplant centers. This is where many recipients and donors meet for the first time.  

In 2023, Renewal facilitated 133 kidney transplants, a 47 percent increase from 2022. The numbers are incredible and surpassed every previous year. Renewal helped to facilitate kidney transplants in facilities across America. Countries with patients who underwent successful transplants from around the globe included Israel, Canada, South America, and Africa. Over 60 percent of the altruistic transplants performed in New York, which is the transplant hub of the country, were facilitated by Renewal.  

NextGenMatch, a digital lab that has been sponsored by members of the community, is a new sophisticated eplet matching system. It utilizes DNA sequences analysis to find more precise molecule matches. This reduces the probability of rejection, enables patients to safely reduce immunosuppressive medication, and increases the longevity of the transplanted kidney. The lab is overseen by Dr. Massimo Mangiola, a world-renowned board member of the National Kidney Registry. In his words, Renewal is light years ahead of any other transplant facility. 

A Testament to Community Hesed 

On January 7th, Renewal recognized its 1000+ donors with a gala event at the Basie Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey. Over 1,500 people attended this once-in-a-lifetime event.  It was a fitting celebration for an amazing milestone!  

The fact that over 1,000 kidney transplants have been successfully performed through live donors is a testament to the selflessness and compassion of the individuals who voluntarily give a part of themselves to save another’s life. Renewal’s selfless donors beautifully demonstrate  the power of community and the incredible impact that collective support can have on such an important cause. The Renewal team with staff, volunteer donors, and kidney recipients together illustrate how that lifesaving procedures can significantly improve the quality of life of those suffering from kidney failure.  

The willingness of people within our communities to step forward and undergo the process of donating a kidney is truly remarkable and deserves recognition. By celebrating this achievement, we are not only acknowledging the incredible resilience and strength of those who have received a new lease on life through kidney transplants, but we also honor individuals who have selflessly given a part of themselves to make it possible. It is a testament to the power of human connection, compassion, and the willingness to help others in need.  

People often ask why is there suddenly such a need for kidney transplants? AJ Gindi, Community Advocate of Renewal, responds that the need is not sudden. Tere always was a need but no place to go to address that need. People would quietly make their way to a dialysis machine and spend their final moments there. Now, thanks to Renewal, people suffering with kidney challenges can get a second chance at life and spend that time with their families. 

Kudos to our wonderful community for supporting this incredible cause and for making such a significant difference in the lives of others. May our community’s compassion and generosity continue to inspire others and bring hope to those in need of life-saving organ transplants. 

For more information about Renewal or kidney transplants – please contact AJ Gindi at AJgindi@Renewal.org

Chef Shiri – Pecan Pumpkin Cake

Chef Shiri

Kids – See if you have what it takes to become a Junior Chef!

 

Adult Supervision Required

Utensils Needed:

5 mini-loaf pans (5 3/4 x 3 1/4 inches)

Wooden spoon

Measuring cups and spoons

Medium-sized mixing bowl

Whisk or electric mixer

Wire rack

Toothpick

Oven mitts

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cloves

1 cup oil

1 (16-oz.) can pumpkin puree

1 cup pecans, chopped

 

Let’s Get Started!

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease the 5 mini-loaf pans.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use an electric mixer or a whisk to mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cloves.
  3. Add the oil and pumpkin puree. Mix until smooth.
  4. Use the wooden spoon to stir in the pecans.
  5. Pour batter into the greased loaf pans.
  6. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes, then carefully unmold and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

 

 Makes 5 Cakes!

Prayer Pointers from

Buzz the Brachos Bee

The berachah for this pecan pumpkin cake is ‘mezonot.’ One should eat immediately after reciting a berachah – without waiting to take the first bite. That is why one should always make sure that the food is ready to eat before the berachah is said.

Chef Shiri Says… 

Pumpkins are 90 percent water, which makes them a low-calorie food!

 

What’s In A Name?

The name ‘pumpkin’ comes from the Greek word pepon, meaning ‘large melon.’ While the name ‘pecan’ is from an Algonquian (Native American tribe) word meaning ‘a nut requiring a stone to crack.

How You Can Help on the Front Lines

IDF commando reveals what his squad needs most now
(scroll down for the DONATE button)

Uncovering Hamas headquarters in tunnels deep under Jabaliya, seizing rockets aimed at Israeli towns in the heart of Gaza City, neutralizing attacking terrorists on the streets of Beit Hanoun, the commando battalions of the IDF’s 551st Reserve Brigade have been at the tip of the spear, battling a horrific enemy for months now. Appropriately dubbed the “Arrows of Fire,” the warriors of the 551st are among the most elite fighters in the IDF. Yet many are still only in their early 20s and just starting out their lives. Among the ranks of these intrepid soldiers is “Avram” (real name withheld per IDF protocol), an observant, third generation Israeli whose maternal grandparents were displaced from Aleppo, Syria, around the time Israel was founded. On his father’s side, Avram proudly recalls his family’s descent from the great Hida, Hacham Yosef David Azulai zs”l. 

Avram is also my cousin, a circumstance that allowed for unique access to the situation and mood among the troops on the front lines in Gaza. During a brief reprieve from the fighting, I had the privilege to speak candidly with Avram. My first question was, how can we, in America, continue to help? Can we send more bullet proof vests? Field supplies? Rations? 

“Contributions to the army have been very generous,” Avram explained, “from our standpoint, we have all the supplies we need to fight and win this war, with Hashem’s help.” 

But the fighting has taken a heavy toll psychologically. “I am only still alive because of great miracles, baruch Hashem. Hakadosh Baruch Hu is protecting me.” But many have not been so fortunate. “There have been numerous loses. Very close friends of mine have been killed and we’ve experienced very difficult tragedies within our regiment. What would really help us now, is having something new and positive to look forward to – something that would help us heal from the trauma of war.” 

Avram described how, during a tour in the field, the young men on the front are subjected to sporadic episodes of intense fighting followed by variable periods of calm and reflection. In the midst of fighting, the men quite literally trust their fellow team members with their lives. When the battlefield is quiet, they often discuss the life they wish and pray for beyond the war. 

It’s easy to see how having something positive to look forward to is critical for troop morale and is top of mind for Avram and his platoon. “That is where the people far from the bombs and the bullets can really help,” Avram urges. “We have often spoken among each other about how great it would be to take a tiyul (trip) abroad after the war to clear our minds from what we experienced in battle and help us get back to normal.” 

For many in our comfortable community, a relaxing vacation during winter break is seen as almost a necessity. How much more so should we regard such a request from soldiers engaged in active combat for months at a time? 

After sleeping on the cold, and often wet, unforgiving ground in Gaza, for the young men of Avram’s tzevet (platoon section) even the most basic youth hostel is a serious upgrade and a welcome part of the travel experience. With such modest requirements, the projected travel budget is a mere $1,500 per soldier – even for an extended, multi-city itinerary. For Avram’s tzevet, consisting of 17 commandos, the total fundraising goal is $25,500. 


If the initial raise is successful, the campaign will be expanded to the other combat sections. 

“You can’t imagine how much looking forward to such a tiyul after the war will help to keep up the spirits of these young men – myself included,” Avram adds. 

Contributions for this worthy cause are tax deductible and the campaign is being conducted with zero overhead. Every dollar collected will go directly to soldiers. 

Whether it’s a $1,500 contribution to sponsor the entire tiyul for one commando, $100 to sponsor a single meal for the group, $18 for afternoon refreshments or any amount above, below or in between – all donations are symbol of our appreciation of the sacrifices these young men are making for the Jewish nation. 

Even those who cannot afford to contribute, can still be of great help by sharing this initiative with their friends and families. 

May Hashem protect all the soldiers of Israel, bring the hostages safely home, and bless the nation of Israel with a lasting peace. 

To learn more about the successes of the 551st Reserve Brigade, see the links below. 

Contributions for this worthy cause are tax deductible when sent through Bnei Aram Soba, a 501(c)(3) organization. The campaign is being conducted with zero overhead. Every dollar collected will go directly to soldiers.
 

To donate visit the Fundraiser on Paypal.

Jack Cohen is the executive publisher of Community Magazine. To learn more about the campaign or verify distribution of funds, email Publisher@CommunityMagazine.com.

Demolishing Terrorist Infrastructure, Eliminating Terrorists and Locating Weapons: The 551st Reserve Brigade Operates in Beit Hanoun Area | IDF (www.idf.il)

IDF says troops continuing to fight in Beit Hanoun, find weapons at civilian sites | The Times of Israel

Brigade 551 is dispatched: “Brought the northern brigade of Hamas to disband” (srugim.co.il)

 רקטות מתחת למיטת ילדים, טילי נ”ט בעגלת תינוק: מה שנחשף… Rockets under children’s beds, anti-tank missiles in a baby carriage: what was revealed… (mako.co.il)

המבצע לפירוק מפקדת מנהרות של חמאס, שממנה חולצו גופות של… The operation to dismantle the Hamas tunnel headquarters, from which the bodies of 5 hostages were recovered (mako.co.il)

 רסל מיל מעוז פנינגשטיין נפל בקרב ברצועת עזה Major General (Res.) Maoz Penningstein fell in battle in the Gaza Strip (israelhayom.co.il)

עוצבת חצי האש Arrows of Fire Brigade (wikipedia.org)

Hamas – Israel War Hamas – Israel War: Real-time Official IDF Updates | IDF (www.idf.il)