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Tuesday, June 24, 2014




ORTHODOX UNION Applauds Sweeping Change in NYC For Families With Special Needs Children                 


(Tuesday, June 24th, 2014)
oulOU Advocacy’s work with New York state legislators promoting Special Ed legislation culminated with today’s announcement by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio of sweeping changes within the New York City Department of Education (DOE) for families with children with special needs.
The agreement between Speaker Silver and Mayor de Blasio ends the DOE’s practice of automatically challenging private school placements for children with special needs.
OU Advocacy partnered with and the New York Catholic Conference to support the Special Ed bills before the New York State legislature. Last week, OU Advocacy and Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), brought a delegation of students with special needs and parents to Albany to advocate for the bills.
Key modifications to be implemented by the DOE in time for the upcoming school year include: expediting decisions about settling cases within 15 days; making tuition payments to parents on a monthly basis; providing a payment schedule to parents; reducing paperwork by only requiring parents to submit full documentation every three years; and refraining from re-litigating settled or decided cases, unless there is a change in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
“This agreement provides much-needed financial and emotional relief to parents who have, in the past, had to resort to costly, time-consuming and emotionally-draining litigation as their only option to secure funding for their children’s education,” said Jeff Leb, New York State Director of OU Advocacy.
“For too long, New York City parents of children with special needs—whose IEPs have approved placement in non-public schools—have suffered needlessly through endless litigation, financial uncertainty and educational instability,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, International Director of Yachad. “We are hopeful that today’s deal with help thousands of New York City’s families.”
The Silver-de Blasio deal was preceded by Special Ed bill S.7691 passing in the New York State Senate. Sponsored by Senator Simcha Felder, that bill included many of the details included in the Silver-de Blasio deal. A sister bill was sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein.
We are extremely grateful to Speaker Silver and Mayor de Blasio for reaching this deal, to Senator Simcha Felder for sponsoring the Special Ed bill in the State Senate and ensuring its passing, as well as to Assembly Members Phil Goldfeder and Helene Weinstein for their unwavering support of the Special Ed bill in the Assembly,” Leb added. “We also want to thank  the New York Catholic Conference for working with us to keep the concerns of families with children with special needs top of mind for our legislators.”
Noting that New York City had an opportunity to do “something foundational and right some wrongs,” Mayor de Blasio called the deal a “streamlined, parent-friendly, family-friendly, respectful approach.”
“Every child in this city deserves a quality education. But for years, parents of children with special needs have had to wait for the City to settle legitimate claims for tuition reimbursement. Today, we are turning the page, making changes that will ease the burden on these parents. We are cutting red tape, speeding up the process, and reaching outcomes that do right by families,” said Mayor de Blasio at today’s press conference.
“This is a great victory for our special needs children and their hardworking families,” said Speaker Silver. “For too long, parents of special needs children had to engage in a lengthy fight to get their children placed in a private school,” Silver said, adding that the deal “gives children with special needs the education they need and gives parents the emotional and financial relief they deserve.”
“We look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio’s team, particularly New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen FariƱa” said Leb.


Friday, May 23, 2014



The New York City Police Department is asking the public’s assistance ascertaining the whereabouts of a male reported missing on Thursday, May 22, 2014.
Details are as follows;
Berger, Aaron                      
22-year-old white male
559 West 188 Street Apt 25

NY, NYThe missing was last seen at 6:00PM on Monday, May 19, 2014 inside of his residence in Washington Heights, just 3 blocks away from Yeshiva University where he was studying throughout the year.
He was wearing black shoes and beige pants.
The missing is 6’2″ tall and weighs 180 pounds.
Anyone with information in regards to this missing is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS, or contact the Princeton Police Department at 609-921-2100, ext. 0.
The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
 OR CALL VOJ AT 1 800 621 8551

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Five Members of Williamsburg Shomrim Indicted for Patterson Assault

Five Members of Williamsburg Shomrim Indicted forPatterson Assault

\Kings County District Attorney Ken Thompson Announces the Indictment of 
 Five Members of the Williamsburg Neighborhood  Patrol for  Assault


Taj PattersonBrooklyn, NY.  Kings County District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson today announced the indictment of five defendants for their participation in the brutal gang assault of Taj Patterson, a 23-year-old Fort Greene resident. The defendants, who are associated with the Williamsburg Safety Patrol Unit, a civilian neighborhood watch group, face multiple charges for allegedly beating Patterson in the early morning hours of December 1, 2013. The District Attorney said that a Kings County grand jury has indicted the following defendants: Pinchas Braver, 19; Joseph Freid, 25; Mayer Herskovic, 21; Aharon Hollander, 28; and Abraham Winkler, 39, for acting in concert to commit Gang Assault in the First Degree, and other related charges. If convicted, the defendants each face up to 25 years in prison.
“We simply cannot allow anyone walking on the streets of Brooklyn to be knocked to the ground, stomped and brutally beaten.  Our streets must be free of such violence and everyone must adhere to the rule of law, including these defendants,” said District Attorney Ken Thompson.
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said, “These indictments send a clear message that acts of vigilantism are unacceptable and cannot be condoned by the NYPD.  I want to thank the NYPD’s investigators as well as the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for their exceptional work in helping to bring these individuals to justice.”
The NYPD and the District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation to identify and prosecute the individuals who took part in the assault. According to court documents, the defendants began to chase Patterson along Flushing Avenue, while he was walking home in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Members of the patrol detained Patterson while investigating neighbors’ reports that he had damaged cars; however, they did not call the police. Despite the fact that these reports of vandalism proved to be unfounded, the group, which had grown to approximately 15 members, surrounded Patterson, preventing him from continuing his walk home. When Patterson tried to get away from the group, he was held down, and savagely punched and kicked by a number of the males surrounding him, including these defendants.
Patterson sustained injuries to his head and body, the most serious of which was a torn retina and a broken eye socket, causing him to lose vision in his right eye. The beating ceased only when passersby arrived and threatened to take pictures of the group assaulting Patterson. All of the assailants fled the scene, leaving Patterson on the ground injured. None of the attackers were present when the police and an ambulance responded to 911 calls.
The case was investigated by Prosecutors from the Investigations Division of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, along with detectives from the New York Police Department Hate Crimes Task Force and the Intelligence Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Brooklyn DA Thompson Drops Extortion Case Against Samuel Kellner

Prosecutors in the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office dismissed all extortioin and bribery charges Friday morning against chasidic abuse whistleblower Sam Kellner. Assistant District Attorney Kevin O'Donnell, speaking in court Friday, said that his office conducted an independent review of the facts of the case and found the two witnesses against Kellner to be unreliable. After the ruling, Kellner told The Jewish Week, "At the lowest point in my life, the justice system reached over" and did the right thing. "I just want to say that everything I did was according to halacha and rabbinical OK. And what I learned is that following the rules will get you out of trouble, not into trouble."…AS REPORTED BY HELLA WINSTON

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZR6PrLioX0 VIDEO OF PROTEST


Brooklyn DA Thompson Drops Extortion Case Against Samuel Kellner

A demonstration was held yesterday outside of Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes's office to protest the controversial prosecution of Hasidic sex-abuse whistleblower Sam Kellner. Chaim Levin, a Jewish activist from Crown Heights, organized the protest, and called upon D.A. Hynes to drop all charges against Kellner.
"We already know that the case against Kellner is falling apart," said Levin. "But the way it just became so abundantly clear that he's being wrongfully accused, and the real danger is not being pursued at all, it's just so disturbing and distressing."
As we previously reported, Kellner first came into the spotlight when he pushed for justice on behalf of his son and other alleged victims of sexual abuse within the ultra-Orthodox community. Kellner spoke out after learning that his son was allegedly molested by Borough Park rabbi/travel agent Baruch Lebovits.
After obtaining permission from a rabbinical court to report the abuse to the Brooklyn DA's office, Kellner was told that prosecuting was useless and that unless he could prove Lebovits was a serial offender, he would most likely go free. As a result, Kellner found two victims to come forward, and Lebovits was convicted of eight counts of molestation. However, in spite of the conviction, Lebovits, 62, has not seen much jail time.
The twist in the case comes when DA Charles Hynes indicted Kellner on charges of attempting to extort Lebovits, after the second victim recanted his statements and said that Kellner was bribing him.
But it was recently disclosed that the second victim recanted his statements again, clearing Kellner's name. And as we previously noted, it's been learned that the victim is being paid not by Kellner, but by a man named Zalmen Ashkenazi, a community activist is reportedly close to Lebovits.
"The precedent the D.A.'s office is setting is frightening," Levin said while protesting outside of 350 Jay Street. "Coming from an Orthodox community and having to deal with the culture of silence where my family told me to shut my mouth, my parents told me to shut my mouth, my Rabbi told me to shut my mouth and everyone said don't tell anyone."

Hynes's spokesman Jerry Schmetterer declined to comment on the protest, but told us, "We intend to take this case to trial."

DA Hynes has a history of looking the other way when it comes to sexual abuse charges in the ultra-Orthodox community, something that many attribute to his heavy reliance on their bloc vote.
Mark Meyer Appel, president of the Voice of Justice, who came in from Florida to attend the rally, feels that "there is no question that this man [Hynes] is a very seriously corrupt guy."
"This case is absurd. I don't know how much longer this guy can get away with it," Appel said. "I happen to know the boy that recanted his testimony, and it's horrific, it's really horrific. This boy, everyone knows he was a victim, Kellner's son, he told half of New York including myself."
When asked what his ideal outcome for the case would be, Appell replied that he feels the DA is too embarrassed to drop the case, so they are doing a "slow step" backwards. "I would like this thing to go on, the trial to go on," he said, "because then we can subpoena everything and find out what really happened. Which is one of the reasons why they want to drop it."
The protest, which started at 11 a.m., had dissipated by noon, but organizer Levin said he was "happy with the turnout." He also pointed out that the DA's office had hosted a press conference on a Brooklyn prostitution ring bust at the same time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014



The joke’s on the students


The joke’s on the students

But he and others are now exploiting the political momentum behind pre-K to pursue agendas that have nothing to do with early education — whether it’s redistributing wealth, flexing muscles, currying favor or just getting reelected.
And as they do so, they’re using the 4- and 5-year-olds they claim to care so much about as pawns in a political game.
De Blasio set the pattern by artificially yoking his pre-K proposal to a temporary tax hike on city residents making $500,000 or more.
As a campaign strategy, it worked brilliantly. He was the guy who wanted to take from the rich to give to poor children — a message that hit a sweet spot with voters.
Policywise, however, a tax that goes away after five years — as de Blasio proposes — makes no sense as a way of financing a permanent expansion of public education.
Plus, he doesn’t really need the money. According to the Independent Budget Office, the city is currently running a $2.4 billion surplus and is on track to be $1.9 billion in the black next year.
Hiking taxes became even less necessary when Gov. Cuomo declared that Albany would pick up he entire pre-K tab — not just in New York City, but across the state. But de Blasio turned up his nose at this extraordinarily generous offer — claiming the sum the governor’s offering is insufficient and suggesting that his way, and only his way, “will serve the best interests of the children tof our city.”
His argument that he needs the dedicated tax to provide “stable, consistent, reliable” funding for pre-K doesn’t hold water, though. Taxes on the wealthy are especially unreliable and inconsistent, because they fluctuate with the ups and downs of the economy.
All of which suggests that he wants to tax the rich for its own sake — and pre-K is a useful means to that end.
The motives behind Cuomo’s sudden zeal on the issue are transparent as well.
De Blasio’s pre-K plan put the governor in a tight spot: Going along would violate Cuomo’s pledge against tax hikes, but opposing it would alienate his Democratic base. So he proposed financing pre-K out of the state budget as a way of threading that needle while reasserting his status as the alpha dog of New York politics.
Yet he, too, insists it’s all about the kids.
“I support a statewide system because the children in New York City are precious and so are the children in Buffalo and so are the children in Albany and so are the children in Suffolk,” he said on WNYC. “I’m not going to leave behind the children in any part of this state. That is not going to happen. And no one should want it to happen.”
It was a clever bit of rhetorical jiu-jitsu , bludgeoning de Blasio with his own “tale of two cities” rhetoric. In truth, nothing about de Blasio’s plan would in any way deny pre-K to children in Buffalo, Albany or Suffolk.
Still, local politicians across the state — eager to be on the good side of a powerful governor — rushed to parrot his disingenuous argument.
“Every single child deserves early education, regardless of which ZIP code they were born in, or how many millionaires there are in their community to foot the bill,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
“New York is one state, and we should serve every child in it, no matter what city they live in,” Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano weighed in.
Also stepping forward as supposed champions of children were three state senators who declared themselves “deeply offended by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent assertion that the children in New York City are more deserving and more in need of early childhood education than the 4- and 5-year-olds in the communities we represent.” That was the joint statement by John Flanagan of Long Island, John DeFrancisco of Syracuse and Joe Robach of Rochester — members of a Senate GOP caucus that has not previously made a priority of pre-K, universal or otherwise.
Portraying New York City’s mayor as a money-grabbing bogeyman is a convenient way of pandering to their constituents in an election year.
Let’s stipulate that all of these elected officials are, behind their political posturing, decent human beings who care about children. All or most of them will wind up supporting whatever compromise pre-K plan results from this kabuki show — which, hopefully, will do good things for kids.
In the meantime, all of them should give the holier-than-thou rhetoric a rest.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"

Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities.

People worldwide will honor the memory of Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. by making Monday a "no shots fired" day and ringing church bells in support of non-violence.

Church services and tributes will be held across the United States to commemorate King's 85th birthday on Monday, a federal holiday. At the same time, there is a push for a new monument and possibly a major movie production from director Oliver Stone.

"Dr. King's philosophy of non-violence is more relevant, I believe, than it was 10 years ago," King's daughter, Bernice, told Reuters.

In a time of school shootings and increasingly violent movies, television shows and video games, his message of non-violence should continue to resonate, said his daughter, chief executive officer of the Atlanta-based Martin Luther King Center which promotes his philosophy of non-violence.

"America has an enormous appetite for violence. I don't know why we have such an affinity for that, but I do know it has to stop," she said.

As part of the birthday tributes, the Atlanta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) began a gun buyback program, hoping to get 1,000 weapons off the city's streets.

King, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, was assassinated four years later in Memphis, Tennessee.

This year, U.S. Jews, like other Americans, will mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by remembering him as a powerful voice against racism and for civil rights. But, for Jews, Dr. King was also something else: a uniquely important ally in the fight against anti-Semitism and for a secure Israel.
Today, Dr. King’s close bond with the Jewish community is treated only as a small footnote of his life and work. But, toward the end of his life, Dr. King devoted significant time and energy to strengthening what were becoming increasingly strained ties between black Americans and U.S. Jews. One issue Dr. King was particularly concerned with was the growing mischaracterization of Zionism as racism.

” He goes on, “The majority of those Jews who went south to help blacks or who demonstrated in their communities or gave money to the movement were neither rabbis nor adherents of Orthodoxy. It was just the opposite, in fact, most Jews who participated in the movement were the least religious of Jews”
 Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel and King developed an inextricable bond and friendship based on the common commitment to social justice. In fact, Heschel marched arm in arm with King at the head of the Selma to Montgomery protest in March 1965.
Heschel told his daughter Susannah after the march, “I felt my legs were praying.” King expressed his appreciation of Heschel’s involvement: “Often I have seen religious leaders stand amid the social injustice that pervades our society, mouthing pious irrelevancies… But here and there we find those who refuse to remain silent behind the safe security of stained glass windows… He (Heschel) has been with us in many of our struggles. I remember marching from Selma to Montgomery, how he stood at my side...”
King’s Support of Jewish Community Issues
As expressed by Rabbi Marc Schneier, American Jews began protesting against the Soviet government’s discriminatory anti-Jewish policies commencing in the early 1960’s. Heschel embraced this important cause and so did King. King expressed his thoughts on the discrimination against Soviet Jews as follows: ”Injustice to any people is a threat to justice to all people… and I cannot stand idly by… and fail to be concerned about what happens to my brothers and sisters who happen to be Jews in Soviet Russia. For what happens to them, happens to me and you…”
King also strongly advocated on behalf of Israel’s security. King expressed support for Israel in 1968 when he said: “Peace for Israel means security and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity… peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”