Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The winning MTA Chorus performs at the 2013 V'ata Banim Shiru Chorus Competition - Bashanah Habaah

Ari Mandelbaum competed with MTA in the Metropolitan Yeshiva High School Boys Choir Competition on Sunday.  Ari and MTA took first place which came with a huge trophy. 

Jew Killed in Shomron Terror Attack

Who’s the Boss? By: Asher Schwartz


Dr. Fawzia Akhdar, retired member of the ministry of education: “The Saudi woman is a chancellor, judge, leader, and mother. She can shake the world with her left hand and rock her child with her right, as Napoleon said. The rest of the world views the Saudi woman differently because she is covered and wearing a hijab, so she must be oppressed. But the opposite is true. The Saudi woman is like the rest of the women of the world, or even stronger because she has had to fight to reach where she is.” 

Forty-five percent of Saudi Arabia’s population is female. Ironically, these ladies control an estimated $11.9 billion of the nation’s wealth but are denied rights that most women take for granted: They are forbidden from voting (until 2015), can’t drive, and require written permission from their male “guardians” (usually a father or husband) if they wish to travel abroad or open a business. It’s no wonder they are often stereotyped as faceless, voiceless shadows without control over their own destinies.

Offered a unique opportunity, I was invited into a world rarely visited by outsiders—one that is usually considered off-limits and impenetrable—to lift the abaya and niqab and meet the women underneath. 

Najat Bager, former school principal who now writes for various newspapers and internet publications: “Westerners must change the way they relate to us in the media. They must write the truth about Saudi women—and not just the bad women. We have women who are working as directors in television and editors at newspapers. It’s not like before.” 

Salwa Shaker, broadcaster: “When I started working as a broadcaster you could count us on one hand—perhaps three or four—but now we have more than 20 or 25 female broadcasters. What’s important is that the kingdom and the government gave priority to the development of human abilities, whether of a man or of a woman.” 

Faima Almotawa, dentistry student in her internship year: “The world should know that we don’t live in a desert and that we don’t ride camels. Our women are not slaves at home. We go to work, study, and decide our own pathway. Our challenges have never been about the Saudi government—it’s the culture. People can’t accept that women can be in line with men. Or at least they couldn’t accept it, until now.” 

Deema Barghouthi, child-speech pathologist: “Saudi women are just like any other women in the world. They are nice wives, they are kind to their kids, and they are ambitious. We want to learn and get higher education to serve our country.”

Saudi Arabia launches first campaign to combat domestic violenceFoundation says the phenomenon is more common than thought, calls on people to report abuse of women and children

Saudi Arabia launched its first-ever campaign to battle domestic violence, calling on people to come together to fight abuse of women.
In a kingdom known for its strict Muslim rules — considered oppressive by some rights groups — the campaign encouraging women to report domestic violence could be seen as groundbreaking, The Daily Mail reported Monday.
The campaign features a woman wearing a burka with a visible black eye, the only part of her not covered by the traditional garb. Under the photo is this statement: “Some things can’t be covered.”
Saudi Arabia’s restrictive laws include a ban on women driving and stipulate that women must be escorted by a guardian when walking in the street. Women are also forbidden to take part in most public activities and are required to wear very modest clothing.
The advert and campaign were initiated by the King Khalid Foundation, the report said. On the foundation’s website, a statement called on people to help protect women and children from abuse, something the site claims “is much greater than is apparent on the surface.”
Abuse of women and children “is a phenomenon found in the dark,” the foundation states. The campaign, it says, wishes to establish “a comprehensive system to deal with violence and abuse of the family in order to provide legal protection” for those who need it.

Hamas’ Latest Campaign In Gaza

The Palestine Press reports on the latest Hamas campaign in Gaza: prove the woman with you is your wife or sister.
[crappy auto-translation follows]
gaza-tunnel-coupleAccording to various sources, that the security services of the dismissed government in Gaza, especially a detective, embarked on a new episode, which knew campaign “virtue” relate to this time to prove a woman’s identity and its facilities, which extends to communicate with those girls or women that are shut off to make sure it is accompanied by her husband or her fiance or her brother.
She explained that the campaign is based on the verification of the identities of citizens who تشاهدهم the walk, accompanied by women in the streets of the sector, what has come to impose on who will come out with his wife or fiancee can not forget the marriage contract next to the ID card.
He said activists in the field of human rights in Gaza and the occurrence of such cases, and some of them got with legal persons, and that the campaign to particularly target of wandering around, accompanied by a woman, it turns out to be his wife, fiancee or his sister.
Police article justify the campaign ..
The newspaper quoted the Jerusalem local sources in the police dismissed government that this campaign was a translation of the decision has existed for years, and it is applied with the start of the summer season, especially in the coastal zone “near the shores of the sea,” and it is only in cases that are suspected them, and not to the general people.
She noted that the campaign include scrutiny of the ID card for every man, woman, and especially those who suspect the security forces in their position in breach of literature, and their presence in the areas of individual away from people, or they are in the car on their own situation suspicious, and it is inspected cars, checking the identities of the citizens, as a measure precaution, contact girls Bauaúl, if seized the situation of suspicion, to make sure more of it on a formal relationship including accompanying it.
He pointed out that this campaign began years ago, under the decision issued to prevent women from smoking “water pipe” in front of the general public on the sea, and in the under prosecution young, who Iekson girls on the sea during the summer.
Incidents took place in the Gaza Strip ..
According to Al-Quds newspaper, which indicated that they received information from the Centers rights on the basis of certificates of citizens feared cast officially, there are several incidents recently, Ctoqev car in the central area of ​​the Gaza Strip, was inside a doctor was returning from a wedding for one of her relatives to her home, where he was A relative who works in the office of the taxis connect to her house, was arrested to prove their identities. Also signed another incident in Khan Younis when police stopped, a man and his wife on the Sea of ​​the city, and told them women she is his wife, and sister of former deputy and one of the released prisoners, and asked for time number and contacted him to prove, and signed then problematic elements of the police, the brother of the woman, intervened where figures to solve.
And allowed the deposed government security apparatus of the citizens again, to enter the Gaza port area for hiking, and when citizens began arriving began to inspect and verify their identities.
Said lead researcher and activist in the field of human rights, Mustafa Ibrahim, “there are facts occurred recently in more than one area in the Gaza Strip, where interference in the privacy of citizens, sift through their identity cards, and that the journalists and public figures and citizens, were to prove the identity of their wives, or Khtaibathm, or sisters, while the police officers who are on barriers to arrest men and women for varying periods of time, so that they communicate with families, to make sure that a woman who resides in the car with the man, is his wife. ”
He said the human rights activist in the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Samir Zaqqout, such facts, in violation of the Palestinian Basic Law by all standards, and they are on public freedoms.
I somehow doubt Lauren Booth and company are going to condemn this.

Arrested for Saying “Aleinu”

As the issue of forbidding Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount makes more and more waves...

As just today, none other than the Prime Minister himself intervened to ask police to forbid an MK (Moshe Feiglin) from even entering on to the Temple Mount...

As we will be celebrating in just a few days, the famous "announcement" of "Har HaByit BeYadeinu" ...

Aryeh Sonnenberg has decided to go public with his own story, from a week ago today: 

Arrested for Saying “Aleinu”

12 Iyar, 5773
Imagine if the Israeli police prohibited praying at the Kotel, Judaism’s most sacred place on earth.
Imagine if the justification for such a decree was because it offended Muslim religious beliefs!
Imagine if Israel’s Supreme Court ruled time and time again that praying at the Kotel is NOT illegal, and yet the police still insisted on forbidding our prayers!
Which Jew wouldn’t rise on his feet to fight this evil decree in whatever way he could! Even Jews that do not pray at the Kotel would understand that our basic rights, both as Jews and as the Israeli owners of the Land, are being violated by the police who don’t let us pray in this holy place.
It was with this level of indignation that I ascended the Temple Mount last week, ready to get arrested for praying.
If the Kotel is our holiest place on earth, then the Temple Mount is our Holy of Holies. It is the Temple Mount where our two Batei Mikdash stood, and where the final Bet HaMikdash will be rebuilt, IY”H; the place where the “akeida” of Isaac took place; the place where Hashem appeared to Moshe in the burning bush. The Kotel is “but” the surrounding wall of this glorious place.
It is so ironic, then, that in all of Israel, the Israeli police forbid Jewish prayer, exactly, specifically, and with such a vengeance, on the Temple Mount.
I have been ascending the Temple Mount, with pretty much monthly regularity for the past 10+ years. I ascend with the support and halachic guidance of Torah authorities such as Rav Dov Lior, Rav Tendler, my own Rav, and many, many others.
Each time, after we pass through the security gates, the police issue the same warning: No praying, no bowing, no singing, and no tearing one’s clothes.
This time, I decided that I was going to break free from these guidelines.
In consultation with a lawyer beforehand, we decided that the courts are the place for this battle to take place. But in order to get to court, you need to have grounds for a suit. The suit was to be the police’s illegal discrimination between Jews and others, and their illegal ban of my ascending the Temple Mount after I was arrested.
The day went like clockwork: Early morning mikva, seder, davening, and an 8:30 start to Jerusalem. By 9:15, I had arrived at my parking spot.
When I got through Shaar Ha’ashpot, I saw a relatively long line of tourists waiting to go to the Temple Mount. I made my way past all of them, saying “excuse me, excuse me,” so I could fulfill my first obligatory act of discrimination: giving my identity card to the police at the checkout point.
No one needs to show their identity cards except for people that look like religious Jews. I started taking some video of how the tourists walked right through while I was forced to wait. A young English chap asked me what was going on, and why I was videoing. I explained to him that religious Jews have special rules at this religious site.
After several minutes of waiting, I was called out to come through the security gates. I was asked to remove everything from my pockets, all papers, and my wallet. Everything of mine was checked over, inside and out, to ensure that I wouldn’t bring any religious items in with me. I had never gone through such a thorough check like this.
Then, the police gave me the whole nine yards about what I was not allowed to do, and then I made my way up, by myself, to the entrance to the Temple Mount.
At the entrance, 2 policemen and an arab wakf official waited for me. It is unusual that there are two police for only one visitor. One was Jewish, an officer by the name of “Teddy,” while the other was an arab of some sort.
I made my way, turning to the right as is customary on the Temple Mount. Just as I started, I met an elderly Jew who was walking, with his police escorts, in the other direction. I asked him, “Why are you circling from the left?” He answered that he was a mourner. I countered with the proscribed blessing, “He who rests in this place shall send you consolation.”
I then passed the Shaarei Chulda to the right, the site of the Mizbeach off to the left, and then walked backwards to the Eastern wall, the only wall that is thought to be directly over where the original Temple Mount walls stood.
All the while, I had been praying, more or less silently. Once, when the Jewish policeman saw and heard me, he asked me to pray silently. Instead of my changing my tone, he walked further away. It seemed to me like he didn’t want trouble.
As I proceeded on the Eastern side I reached opposite the Sha’ar HaMizrach, where there is a direct view into where the gates to the Ezras Nashim and the Azara once stood. It is at this point that most Jewish visitors stop and say silent prayers for what they most need.
I started praying a little loudly, but still barely imperceptibly. Teddy, the Jewish officer again asked me to continue without making noise. At this point, I knew that I wanted to force an arrest, so despite the police being right in my face, I continued at the same volume. Now he told me that if I continue, he would arrest me. I continued. I had to.
He called his supervisor on the phone and told him that I was causing a disturbance, and that he was going to arrest me. Then he decided he would give me one more chance. He got off the phone, and warned me again. I was then in the middle of the prayer of Aleinu, and I simply continued what I was saying.
It is interesting to note that the Wakf official was not aware of what was going on. It was the police, the Jewish police who was interested in stopping me. Then and there, in the middle of Aleinu, he announced that he was detaining me for causing a public disturbance (I guess only to him), and that I would have to accompany him to the police station. He confiscated my phone and turned it off.
I sighed a breath of relief. I came to accomplish something, and the wait was over. I was not nervous at all, surprisingly, as I knew I was well-trained for what was to come ahead. As I was walking backwards, away from the Makom Hashechina, the Wakf guy saw me davening and he started squawking to me. I paid no attention to him. He told the police and the arab police told me that I was being taken away already.
I was walked out through the Lion’s Gate (no, no handcuffs) and then picked up from their in a police van. After waiting about 20 minutes in the parking lot of the Kotel, I was driven to the police station that’s right near Migdal David (called the Kishle). I waited in the interrogation area for about 20 minutes.
The investigator, an arab, called me in. he read my charges “disturbing the peace” or something like that by performing the ILLEGAL act of praying on the Temple Mount. He asked me if I wanted to call my lawyer. I got my one phone call to the lawyer, he reviewed with me what to do, and that was it.
When the investigation started, the police asked me if I had any comments. I answered him in the following way: I exercised my right to pray on the Temple Mount, the holiest Jewish site in the world. This right is protected by over 15 rulings of the Supreme Court. Seeing as I performed no crime, this is a political investigation, and I have nothing further to add.
He asked me where I lived, and I told him, in Bet Shemesh.
He asked me why I came to Jerusalem today, and I told him: I exercised my right to pray on the Temple Mount, the holiest Jewish site in the world. This right is protected by over 15 rulings of the Supreme Court. Seeing as I performed no crime, this is a political investigation, and I have nothing further to add.
He asked me did I know that it was forbidden to pray on the Temple Mount, and I told him: I exercised my right to pray on the Temple Mount…
I explained to him that this was going to be my answer to every question.
After several more questions, he printed out the interrogation, asked me to sign it, and then took me for fingerprinting and a mug shot (no, I did not need to hold up numbers under my face). I had been charged with a CRIMINAL OFFENSE, which requires fingerprints and mug shots. Oh my!
When we finished, he brought me back into the interrogation room. He explained to me that he was letting me off easy on my own recognizance. I needed to sign that I would come back for court if called, for, or face a 5,000 NIS fine. Also, that I was banned from the Temple Mount for 15 days. BINGO, that’s what I was waiting for.
I smiled inside, knowing that my job was done. I signed the forms, and added, according to my lawyer’s suggestion: “Under protest and with the intent to sue in court.” I got a copy of the forms, made my way home, and sent them over to the lawyer.
The next day, the lawyer filed suit in the Jerusalem court, and we are awaiting the next act in the story.

Watch Elie Wiesel's Remarks at Holocaust Museum Anniversary Tribute

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum marks its 20th anniversary with a gathering of Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans in Washington, D.C. The program, which features speeches from Elie Wiesel and President Bill Clinton, commemorates the museum's commitment to engage the public on the continuing relevance of the Holocaust.

Defected Syrian general confirms chemical weapons use, says Iran helping weaponize them

Al Arabiya in English reports:
The Syrian government ordered the use chemical weapons against the Free Syrian Army (FSA) during select battles with Syrian regime forces, a defected general told Al Arabiya late Saturday.

A former army general from the chemical weapons branch, Zahir al-Sakit, said he was instructed to use chemical weapons during a regime battle with the FSA in the southwestern area of Hauran.

But instead, Sakit disobeyed the orders and swapped the chemicals with disinfectant water he called “Javel water.”

“I was given orders to execute the use of poisonous chemicals in caves and tunnels that are used by the Free Syrian Army, but I mixed all chemicals with water and used Javel water instead,” Sakit said.

According to Sakit, prior to his defection, no chemical weapons were used on his watch in battles against the FSA.

“I assure you that I ordered all chemical weapons to be buried and I can point out the exact locations of those chemicals,” Sakit added.
His actual interview in Arabic, however, also says that he knows specifically where and when chemical weapons have been used by Syria:

Following are excerpts from an interview with Syrian army defector Brigadier-general Zaher Al-Saket, former head of chemical warfare in the 5th division, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on April 27, 2013:

Zaker Al-Saket: There are three types of chemical weapons: harassing chemical agents, incapacitating agents, and lethal agents. When the demonstrations started, the regime used harassing agents, like any country in the world using tear gas to disperse demonstrations. As for incapacitating and lethal chemical agents - the regime used incapacitating agents at first, but when the world remained silent about this, and the regime thought that the international community did not care, it used lethal [chemical] weapons in more than 13 locations. The last incident was in Utaybah. The regime used sarin gas on three occasions, and I am increasingly afraid that they will use agents more powerful than sarin. They have VX gas and mustard gas, also known as iprit.
The regime's accusation that the opposition has used chemical weapons is the most compelling proof that the regime itself has used them, because the opposition does not have the means to use chemical weapons. The means of using chemical weapons are known to the whole world: airplanes, missiles, helicopters, and artillery. Worst still, this regime has binary chemical weapons. The world must understand that there are binary chemical weapons in Syria, and [Bashar Al-Assad] will use them against his people, because he is the Nero of our age.

Binary chemical weapons consist of two non-toxic agents, which are placed in incubators that are loaded onto artillery shells. Then, the shells are launched, and when the two agents mix, a toxic substance is formed.
[Al Assad] has a complete arsenal of chemical weapons. Some came from the former USSR, and some are being manufactured right now.
Iranian experts are working with Syrian officers in the Mazzeh military airport. They manufacture incubators for the toxic substances, which will be loaded onto warheads carried by airplanes. When these warheads hit the ground, they release a toxic cloud.
I was given an order to use these substances, but I replaced them with liquid bleach. This was the reason for my defection from Al-Assad's army.
In the Amoud Horan battle in Busra Al-Harir, I was given an order to launch toxic agents into the trenches and caves to which the F.S.A. was heading. But, Allah be praised, I replaced this substance with liquid bleach, which I diluted with water and launched into the trenches.
I buried these substances with my own hands, so my commander would not find out and send me to prison.
In Utaybah, near the Damascus international airport, the regime used sarin gas three times, because it is close to the airport. The next time chemical weapons were used was in Khan Al-Assal. First, they used incapacitating agents, and then they used lethal agents, because the F.S.A. forces had managed to reach the military academy, which is the main regime stronghold.
The chemical weapons are kept in heavily fortified places in the mountains. I know exactly where they are.
The U.S. can seize control of these weapons right now, but if I reveal their location in the media, they will vanish immediately.
The chemical weapons are kept in several places: In Aleppo, in the Hama region, in Damascus, and in Latakia. The chemical weapons are there.
Many media outlets reported the sanitized Al Arabiya version, but none seem to have noticed that the full interview was more damning.

A poster dedicated to the clueless Left

The story of a tablecloth

On Monday, at Sotheby's, the first part of a highly anticipated auction of Judaica - the Steinhardt Judaica Collection -  was held.

While there are exquisite pieces of all types, including a beautiful illustrated Mishneh Torah worth millions of dollars, today's auction included an unanticipated bidding war over a 19th century tablecloth.

The estimated price for this piece was between $20,000 and $30,000. It sold for an astonishing $137,000.

Here is what it looks like and the explanation:

This colorful Sabbath tablecloth embroidered with images of the holy sites of Israel is one of an exceptional group of decorative textiles created in the Holy Land in the nineteenth century. In the central panel, the artist has featured an idealized vision of the sacred sites of the Temple Mount; the Midrash Shlomo (Solomon’s school) Bet Ha-Mikdash (The Temple) and the Kotel ha-Maaravi (the Western Wall). Surrounding the central panel are ten pavilions each denoting a tomb of one of the famous men or sages of Israel. In addition, the well of Miriam is also depicted and a fanciful chained lion represents the tomb of Rabbi Solomon Luria (known by his acronym as Ha-Ari = the Lion). In the outside corners are depictions of the tombs of Rachel, Samuel, Hulda the prophetess and the Kings of the House of David. Several prayers recited on Friday evening at the start of the Sabbath meal, (including Shalom Aleichem) are decoratively inscribed in concentric circles.

Scholarly research has identified a total of only nine clothes created in this style; these include seven highly similar tablecloths:
1. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. First half of the nineteenth century (161/58)
2. The Jewish Museum, London. First half of the nineteenth century (no. 366)
3. The Jewish Museum, New York. First half of the nineteenth century (F1789)
4. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Dated 1850 (755-1900)
5. The Wolfson Museum Heichal Shlomo, Jerusalem. Dated 1906 (#2185)
6. The Wolfson Museum Heichal Shlomo, Jerusalem. Early twentieth century (#257)
7. The Jewish Museum of Greece, nineteenth century

and one related Torah Ark Curtain in the collection of the Jewish Museum, London (#53).

The present cloth is the only one of this group to be both signed by an artist, Nachman the son of Hillel the Yerushalmi, as well as dated, 1821. More importantly, it is both the earliest example of this genre as well as one of the earliest extant dated objects of Judaica to be created in Jerusalem in the modern period.

Why would a tablecloth sell for such an astonishing amount? 

Perhaps because this is simple yet powerful proof of the centrality of Jerusalem, and specifically the Temple Mount, to Jews - a truth that too many people nowadays downplay or ignore. The tablecloth also displays a small inkling of the richness of Jewish history in the Land of Israel, and it beautifully demonstrates how Jews and their land are inexorably linked.


NYT: He Left a Fortune, to No One

When Roman Blum died last year at age 97, his body lingered in the Staten Island University Hospital morgue for four days, until a rabbi at the hospital was able to track down his lawyer.

Mr. Blum, a Holocaust survivor and real estate developer, left behind no heirs and no surviving family members — his former wife died in 1992 and the couple was childless. His funeral, held graveside at the New Montefiore Jewish Cemetery in West Babylon, N.Y., was attended by a small number of mourners, most of them elderly fellow survivors or children of survivors.

Much about Mr. Blum’s life was shrouded in mystery: He always claimed he was from Warsaw, although many who knew him said he actually came from Chelm, in southeast Poland. Several people close to Mr. Blum said that before World War II, in Poland, he had a wife and child who perished in the Holocaust, though Mr. Blum seems never to have talked of them, and the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany, has no record of them in its database. Even his birth date is in question. Records here give it as Sept. 16, 1914; identity cards from a German displaced persons camp have it as Sept. 15.

[More from The New York Times: A Nasty, Epic Real Estate Battle With Stakes 102 Stories High]

But perhaps the greatest mystery surrounding Mr. Blum is why a successful developer, who built hundreds of houses around Staten Island and left behind an estate valued at almost $40 million, would die without a will.

Charles Goldgrub, Mr. Blum's godson. (Michael Kirby Smith/NYT)That is no small matter, as his is the largest unclaimed estate in New York State history, according to the state comptroller’s office.

“He was a very smart man but he died like an idiot,” said Paul Skurka, a fellow Holocaust survivor who befriended Mr. Blum after doing carpentry work for him in the 1970s.

Gary D. Gotlin, the public administrator handling the case, sold Mr. Blum’s home on Staten Island, auctioned off his jewelry and his furniture and is putting other properties that he owned on the market. Mr. Gotlin’s office, which is overseen by Surrogate’s Court in Richmond County, is also using Mr. Blum’s estate to pay his taxes, conduct an in-depth search for a will and hire a genealogist to search for relatives. If none are identified, the money will pass into the state’s coffers. That, Mr. Blum’s friends said, would be a tragedy, compounding the one that befell him as a young man in Eastern Europe.

“I spoke to Roman many times before he passed away, and he knew what to do, how to name beneficiaries,” said Mason D. Corn, his accountant and friend for 30 years. “Two weeks before he died, I had finally gotten him to sit down. He saw the end was coming. He was becoming mentally feeble. We agreed. I had to go away, and so he told me, ‘O.K., when you come back I will do it.’ But by then it was too late. We came this close, but we missed the boat.”

Roman Blum was, by all accounts, an emotional man with a large personality. Six feet tall and handsome, he was a ladies’ man, a gambler and a drinker. He was also enterprising and tough in business.

“He had deeds on his desk piled up to the ceiling of properties he owned,” said Vincent Daino, who was Mr. Blum’s neighbor for 25 years and became his unpaid driver when the older man’s eyesight began to fail. “There were royalties from oil rigs in Alaska, money from his stocks — about once a month he would have me drive him to the bank so he could deposit $100,000 checks.”

Much of what is known about his life comes from a circle of fellow Holocaust survivors who met in displaced persons camps after the war.

They said that when war broke out, Mr. Blum was in Poland and, fearing capture, ran alone across the border to Russia, where he was briefly detained and placed in prison. The Russians soon released him along with thousands of other prisoners to fight the Nazis. The fate of his wife and child, if they existed, is unclear.

In the months after the war, Mr. Blum met a family of survivors with two daughters. One of them, Eva, had been in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

He married her, although by all accounts it was not a love match. “It was immediately after the war — he thought she was the last Jewish woman alive, and she thought there were no more men,” said a friend and fellow Holocaust survivor who met Mr. Blum around that time. The friend would speak only anonymously, for fear that he would seem to be trying to make a claim on the Blum estate.

In 1946, Mr. and Mrs. Blum made their way to Zeilsheim, a displaced persons camp on the outskirts of Frankfurt. In the chaos of postwar Germany, Mr. Blum became a smuggler, as many Jews did, Mr. Skurka said: He pirated cigarettes into Belgium while biding his time waiting for a visa to the United States. During that period, Eva remained in Zeilsheim and Mr. Blum preferred the livelier Berlin.

Paul Skurka, a Holocaust survivor who knew Mr. Blum for many years. (Richard Perry/NYT)Mr. Skurka related a story from those days that, he said, Mr. Blum had told him. One day while in Berlin, Mr. Blum walked into a barbershop and asked the proprietor for a shave. When the barber finished, Mr. Blum said he had no money, shrugging his shoulders and smiling as he walked out the door. “He had chutzpah, that’s the kind of man he was,” Mr. Skurka said.

In 1949, the Blums came to New York and settled in Forest Hills, in Queens. There, they joined a tightknit community of survivors, many of whom they knew from the Zeilsheim camp.

“They all lived the same type of lifestyle, going to the bungalow colonies together, the Catskills, everything was done as a group,” said Jack Shnay, a child of survivors who grew up in Forest Hills with the Blums. “Initially, they all lived in apartments in Rego Park; then they starting buying or building private homes.”

“Every weekend was a party,” said Charles Goldgrub, the child of survivors and Mr. Blum’s godson, who also grew up in Queens. “They had survived Hitler so they thought they would live forever.”

On weekends, the survivors would often gather to play high-stakes poker and drink plum brandy. They rarely discussed their wartime experiences, but sometimes, as a group and tipsy, they would grow emotional. Mr. Blum’s favorite tune was the 1968 single by Mary Hopkin, “Those Were The Days,” recalled Michael Pomeranc, a hotelier who grew up in Forest Hills and whose parents, also survivors, were close to the Blums. “He was always singing that song, and especially if he’d had a bit to drink, he’d try to get everyone to join in with the lyrics,” Mr. Pomeranc said.

[More from The New York Times: Loans Borrowed Against Pensions Squeeze Retirees]

Many of the men started businesses together, the majority becoming homebuilders and hotel developers. They referred to themselves as griners, a Yiddish term meaning greenhorn or newcomer. “They were known as the griner builders,” said Robert Fishler, a Staten Island real estate lawyer who represented Mr. Blum for nearly three decades.

The men also had affairs. “There were lots of women on the side,” Mr. Goldgrub said. “It was a way of life, everyone knew — the wives just closed their eyes to it.” By many accounts, Mr. Blum often had female companions other than his wife. “It was really more like growing up in the Italian mob than your typical Jewish upbringing,” Mr. Goldgrub said.

While the people in the group liked having fun, they were not showy, despite their growing wealth. Most drove the same Buicks and Oldsmobiles for years and remained in the same middle-class neighborhood. Their modesty might also have been a desire to keep their wealth under wraps. “They didn’t want anyone to know what they had. They had been so scrutinized they didn’t want to call attention to themselves,” Mr. Goldgrub said.

The Blums struggled to start a family. Mrs. Blum told her friends that she was unable to have children, and the couple spent thousands of dollars on doctors’ visits. According to stories that swirled around the couple, Mrs. Blum had been a subject of the dreaded Dr. Josef Mengele while at Auschwitz, and his experiments had rendered her infertile.

In the 1960s, on a five-week trip to Israel on the Queen Elizabeth, Mr. Blum found a boy, an orphan, whom he wished to adopt. But friends who were with them said Mrs. Blum begged him not to go through with the adoption, convinced that her doctors would ultimately be able to help them conceive. They did not adopt the boy and never had children.

Then, in 1964, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened, linking Brooklyn and Staten Island, and many in the group, including Mr. Blum, began buying land on Staten Island. Prices were low, and Mr. Blum began developing land and building homes in neighborhoods like Eltingville, Huguenot and Manor Heights.

“Everybody knew Roman. He built hundreds of homes over the years,” Bruno Betro, a broker at Volpe Realty, said. “Last time I tried to sell a piece of property for him, I’d give him an offer and he’d tell me he wanted $1 million more.”

By the 1980s, with his business thriving, Mr. Blum decided to relocate to Staten Island. He built a large brick house in the upscale neighborhood of Southeast Annadale, with four bedrooms and five bathrooms, a two-car garage and a pool.

Mrs. Blum did not want to move. “He wanted her to go live with him in his big house with a swimming pool, but she loved the city,” said the friend who wished to be unidentified. “All her friends were there, and with his lifestyle, if she went with him, she knew she would be alone a lot.” Mrs. Blum stayed in Queens and Mr. Blum moved into the new house.

“Fifty years of marriage and he just left,” said Sherri Goldgrub, who married Charles Goldgrub in 1980 and knew the Blums well. “He would sometimes come back and bring her his laundry, but she sat home waiting, thinking he’d be back for dinner.”

The Blums eventually divorced, and Mr. Blum lived the life of a bachelor. There were women and lots of poolside parties. “Every Sunday we would swim in the pool, drink and eat — he’d like to make steaks this thick on the grill,” said his friend, holding his fingers five inches apart.

As for the group back in Queens, the divorce caused a rift and many distanced themselves from Mr. Blum.

“People were offended,” Mr. Goldgrub said. “People took sides, and our family took Eva’s side.” The last time Mr. Goldgrub saw Mr. Blum was at the bar mitzvah of his son in 1995. Mr. Blum was furious that he was not asked to light a candle for the boy, an honor, and told Mr. Goldgrub’s father he was taking his godson out of his will.

But Mr. Blum’s business on Staten Island was growing. Known as shrewd and hard driving, he could often be found early in the morning, cup of coffee in hand, sitting in the garage of one of his model homes, displaying sample materials and giving prospective buyers the hard sell.

As the years went by, Mr. Blum became increasingly stingy and, according to those who knew him, paranoid that people were after his fortune. He hid $40,000 in the ceiling of his bathroom, according to Mr. Daino, and when it went missing, Mr. Blum accused another neighbor of stealing it. “He told him, ‘Give me back $30,000 and I’ll let you keep $10,000,’ ” said Mr. Daino.

Months before he died, Mr. Blum fell down the stairs of his home and broke his leg, lying on the floor for four hours before a cleaning woman found him, according to Mr. Daino. It was Mr. Daino who took him to the hospital and who eventually signed him out.

“He had no one else, I was the only person he had,” Mr. Daino said. The leg never fully healed, and Mr. Blum, who remained at home in a hospital bed with 24-hour care, died in early January 2012.

After the hospital rabbi found his body in the morgue, he notified Mr. Fishler, the lawyer, who then notified Mr. Blum’s old friends from Queens. To the surprise of many, Mr. Blum had bought a cemetery plot next to his former wife’s. He was buried there.

“It is a heartbreaking story, a tragedy,” said Mr. Pomeranc, who was one of the few people who attended Mr. Blum’s funeral. “I spoke with him three days before he died. We were going to get the whole group together and take a ride out to see him that weekend. But it didn’t happen, and then the next week he passed away.”

None of Mr. Blum’s friends know why he never wrote a will. Those close to him say it may have been superstition or, after coming so close to dying during the war, a refusal to contemplate his own mortality. He may also have been unwilling to share the full details of his estate with a lawyer, the desire for secrecy a holdover from his experiences during the war.

Had the Blums had children, the estate would have gone to them, even without a will. While Mrs. Blum, as his former wife, would not have been eligible — only a current spouse or a blood relative can claim an inheritance in the absence of a will — his friends hope that Mr. Blum had siblings back in Poland with whom he was not in contact or that, if he had had a child before the war, some distant relations are still living in Europe.

“It wouldn’t be that uncommon to uncover collateral heirs,” said Burt Neuborne, the civil liberties defender who was the lead counsel in recent Holocaust litigation against Swiss banks. “We often found that someone, like a third cousin twice removed, would come forward.”

Yet despite a worldwide search that included Poland and Israel, Mr. Gotlin said, “to date, there is no evidence of any living relatives.”

Mr. Gotlin continues to work on liquidating Mr. Blum’s estate. According to people familiar with his accounts, Mr. Blum had about $4 million in cash in his checking account. His house was put on the market for $729,000 and is now in contract, and an eight-acre parcel he owned on Forest Avenue, worth about $4.5 million, is also in contract. A safe deposit box had more than 70 $100 bills, coins from Canada and South Africa, and gold jewelry including a watch, a bracelet, cuff links, several necklaces and a ring.

Mr. Blum’s few remaining personal items, including photographs and a book on the Holocaust, have been put in a box in the basement of the public administrator, where they will remain sealed unless claimed by a blood relative.

Once Mr. Gotlin completes liquidating the assets, and if investigators fail to find a will or surviving kin, whatever money is remaining from Mr. Blum’s estate will be passed to the city’s Department of Finance. If, after three years, no one comes forward, the money would go to the state comptroller’s office of unclaimed funds, which has $12 billion in its accounts dating to 1943. That office keeps a portion of the estate and transfers a portion to the state’s general fund. If an heir comes forward, the entire amount is returned.

The last time his old friend from Zeilsheim saw him, the man pushed Mr. Blum to discuss the topic of a will. “I told him, ‘Look, I know you don’t want to talk about it, but’ — and he was already a little bit drunk — I said, ‘You have to do something,’ ” the friend said. “And he told me, he said, ‘I promise you, if anything happens to me, you are going to be proud. You’ll be proud of me.’ ”

The friend still clings to hope. “I believe a will is written,” the friend said. “Somewhere there is a plan: he made arrangements to use the money to build a home for children and to dedicate it to his child from before the war. I am sure of it.”

Too good to miss: Judge Jeanine Pirro slams jihad mom: 'Lady, you shouldn't be allowed here'

"We should not be required to breathe the same air as you, we should not be required to share the indignity of your presence" says Judge Jeanine Pirro in her opening statement to the Jihadi mother of the Boston bomber, as she exposes the facts that are being brought to light behind the terrorist attack in the Boston Marathon.

Imagine a Boston Marathon bombing every week

Noah Beck reminds us that what happened in Boston two weeks ago was a weekly occurrence in Israel a decade ago.
But imagine if this happened again next week, at a pizzeria, killing 15 diners. And again, a week later, on a bus, killing 19 passengers. Then, at a discotheque, killing 21 teens. Then, at a church, killing 11 worshipers. And so on, with a new bombing terrorizing us almost every week.
Israelis don't have to imagine. They just have to remember. Between 1995 and 2005, each year saw an average of 14 suicide bombings, murdering 66 victims. 2002 was the worst year, with 47 bombings that slaughtered 238 people. That’s almost one Boston bombing every week.
Adjusted for population differences, Israel’s victims in 2002 amounted to the equivalent of three 9/11s in one year. And these bombing statistics don’t include all of the shootings, stabbings, and other violent attacks by Palestinian extremists during those years.
Most Americans (and Europeans), who enjoy lives of far greater security, can barely recall such attacks because they usually received only scant and perfunctory media coverage, if they were mentioned at all. A few particularly gruesome attacks (like the Netanya Passover bombing that killed 30 and injured 140) were prominently reported but most attacks were barely and inconspicuously noted, and many smaller but horrific attacks went entirely unreported.
Of course, whenever Israel responded militarily to these attacks, that would be headline news.
As WSJ columnist Brett Stephens noted in 2009, "every Palestinian death receives somewhere in the order of 28 times the attention of every Chechen death." When Israel erected its West Bank security barrier, a non-violent but extremely effective way to prevent Palestinian terrorism, that too was headline news. The fence was even brought before the International Court of Justice in 2004 – unlike the terrorism that compelled it. Israel surely had other uses for the $2 billion spent to build the barrier, but the number of attacks and fatalities dropped so dramatically after its construction that few Israelis doubted its necessity.
What's worse is that every Israeli knows (or ought to know) that if the IDF were to leave Judea and Samaria tomorrow, we'd be right back to where we were in 2002 - and worse, God forbid.

Read the whole thing.

Civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen meets Chilu Posen

Civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen meets Shauly Waldner

Sanford and Son - Funny, You Don't Look It

Monday, April 29, 2013

Eli Avidan "Keshehalev Bocheh" עילי אבידני - כשהלב בוכה Israeli child solosit Eli Avidan "Keshehalev Bocheh." Iyar 5773/ April 2013.

Beis HaMedrash Nishmas Yisroel, London; Rabbi D Tugendhaft of Nishmas Yisroel in London presents Lag Baomer kumzitz Lekovod Hatanah Aloikei Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. featuring Shloime Gertner and Yitzchak Fuchs and the Asaf Flumi Band at Hasmonean High School

Civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen at Christians United for Israel event at the Saban Theater

Civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen meets Uri Resnick, Deputy Consul General of Israel at Christians United for Israel event at the Saban Theater

Mordechai Ben David Singing at Lipa Schmeltzers sons Bar Mitzvah

The Great Lag Baomer Parade 5773

Fatah leader: "Jews do not follow any moral standard of conduct" Classic antisemitism from our moderate Fatah friends

Following are excerpts from an interview with Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki, which aired on Al-Mayadeen TV on April 10, 2013:

Abbas Zaki: Many institutions have determined that Israel, in its stupidity, attacked the U.S. administration and was responsible for 9/11, and was greatly involved in it. In Europe, there are attacks on Jews these days. In 2011, there were 522 attacks. In 2012, there were 686 attacks. In other words, they caused an increase.

They do not abide by the law, they do not belong to the international community, and they do not follow any moral standard of conduct. So where does the strength of the Jews and Israel lie? Why does Obama want to change the constitution, and establish a Jewish state for all the Jews in the world? They exploit the weakness of the Arabs. The Arabs are non-existent. Therefore, we should negotiate on the basis of non-surrender, and rise to the challenge...

Abbas Zaki's cellphone rings

Interviewer: Saved by your cellphone...
Notice how Zaki uses the old excuse for antisemitism, that if people hate the Jews it must be because the Jews deserve it.

Zaki often speaks the truth about how "moderate" Palestinian Arabs think but he is too old to know how to censor himself (like substituting "Zionists" for "Jews.")

In the past, he has stated that forcing Israel to abandon Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria would be the first step in Israel's destruction:

With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made – just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward...

Despite threats from haters, St. Andrews holds "Matzah Ball" party

As mentioned in Friday's linkdump, a hotel in Scotland canceled a Friday night party sponsored by two Jewish college organizations at St. Andrews after receiving threats from Israel haters upset that two of the charities that stood to benefit from the ball were Friends of the IDF and the JNF.

I had received word on Friday that the event would go on, but I was asked not to provide any details so the haters couldn't organize against it.

Here is what happened:

A charity ball held last night and organised by St Andrews’ AEPI Jewish fraternity and the Jewish Society was forced to change location from the Golf Hotel after staff received threats from protesters linked to the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and several other activist groups.

The activists called for the event organisers and hotel to end their support for two charities, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Friends of Israel Defence Forces (FIDF). Protestors labelled the JNF an “openly racist” organisation, claiming that the JNF takes over Palestinian land and does not lease or sell land to non-Jews. They also described the FIDF as an “occupation force that brutalises, humiliates, kills and maims Palestinians.”

Two days before the event was due to take place, the Golf Hotel cancelled the event over safety concerns. Fears arose that the protest would turn violent when anti-Semitic comments were posted on Facebook. One protester wrote: “Friday we send them into hell.”Another, commenting on the police’s presence at the ball, said: “Mi5 Mossad boot boys don’t stand a chance.”

We Are All Hana Shalabi, Scotland’s Youth and Student Palestine Solidarity Movement and one of the organisations connected with the protest, told The Saint that they had urged the hotel not to host to event but denied that those who threatened staff were linked to the official demonstration.

We are encouraged that the call for the Golf Hotel to withdraw its support for the event was heeded, it illustrates the increasing anathemitisation of organisations such as FIDF and the JNF, and the scale of opposition to their activities.
The hotel only canceled because of the threats - and the haters are pretending that that their thuggish tactics had anything to do with it!

However, despite the reports, The Saint can reveal that the ball took place at a secret location. Guests were not told the venue but were picked up by taxis from pubs and bars around St Andrews. Six members of security were provided for the event, some of whom, a senior member of the organising committee told The Saint, were plain clothed police officers.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland confirmed that “appropriate measures” were taken in case there were protests but she would not confirm if plain clothed officers were present. Guests were asked at the door not to tweet or post on Facebook details of the venue.

The senior member of the organising committee told The Saint: “The safety and security of our guests was always our first priority and we worked closely with St Andrews police, a private security firm and volunteers to ensure that the event could go ahead as planned.

“At no point was the event cancelled and we are delighted that it was such a success, both in terms of the amounts raised for charity and the enjoyment of all our guests.”

The organisers had initially aimed to raise around £350 from the event. However, the change of venue and donations received from those who sympathised with the threatened students resulted in a final total of around £1,000. One man donated £230 to cover security and taxi costs to and from the venue to ensure the safety of guests.

A senior member of the Jewish society said she felt disgusted that the protesters had turned to threats of violence rather than engage the organisers in an open dialogue. She said: “I am a firm believer in freedom of expression but the problem came with their extremely offensive comments.

“They latched onto a party of 35 friends and decided that it was a massive Jewish conspiracy. I’ve lived in Israel, I’ve worked in Palestinian communities and I’ve never felt more threatened in my life by people who don’t even know who I am,” she said.

She described the Golf Hotel’s decision to cancel the event as “pathetic.” She added: “They [the Golf Hotel] had no right to violate their part of the contract. The Golf Hotel is scared of them. A victory does not come from bullying people into submission, it comes from engaging people and opening their minds.”

After speaking to Niall Thompson, the Golf Hotel’s manager, Paul Morron of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council reportedly said: “I conveyed the extent of the concern of the Jewish community that a hotel of its stature had caved in so easily to intimidation – something that would damage its reputation.”

“I contacted Inspector Meek, of St Andrews Police, and he told me that they had not had any serious concerns about policing the event.

“We regard this as a very serious incident, setting a worrying precedent in Scotland. “It’s not up to others to dictate to the Jewish community what charities they should support. That’s just not acceptable.”

Scottish Jewish Chaplaincy chairman Nicola Livingston added: “Students should be allowed to go about their ordinary business without fear of intimidation.

“This was purely a social event. Most of the charities are welfare ones, including Save a Child’s Heart, which saves the lives of children from around the world, including Palestinian children.

“Giving in to bully-boy tactics doesn’t do the reputation of the hotel any good at all.”