After nearly 60 years of helping Jewish refugees find better lives in New York, an agency that at its peak aided some 50,000 clients in one year is expected to shut its doors this summer as a result of a dwindling case load and difficulty in competing for social service contracts.
The New York Association for New Americans was founded in 1949 as part of the Jewish community’s efforts to absorb tens of thousands who fled persecution and chaos, mostly from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The refugees were brought to America by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
When Anna, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives alone in the Bronx despite numerous health problems, couldn’t leave the house one recent afternoon, she dialed the number she knew best in hopes of getting a hot, kosher meal delivered.
Inside the front door of Viktor Bash's apartment at the Arlene and David Schlang Pavilion in Brownsville, Brooklyn, are two pages of detailed safety instructions to be used in the event of an emergency.
In the fifth-floor hall hangs a notice that a Dec. 4 tenants' meeting has been canceled. The federally subsidized housing project's management recently distributed detailed instructions about the city's new recycling laws.
Cool: last week Jewish lawmakers, pundits and partisan activists got into an involved discussion about the rules of the English language and how they apply to anything having to do with the term “holocaust,” or “Holocaust.” Note the caps. Who knew they were such an erudite bunch?
The trouble began when they spotted a rodent in the hallway, claim Rafael and Devorah Streicher, but after being escorted by police from the Days Inn in Catskill, N.Y., the Brooklyn couple began to smell a rat.
The Streichers and three of their five children checked into the motel, about two hours from New York City, on a Friday last month en route to visit their son at a nearby summer camp. The following afternoon, the Orthodox family watched as housekeepers packed up their cholent pot and other belongings and sent them to another hotel.
Now that city teachers have won a hefty, 16 percent pay raise, Jewish education experts are worried about an exodus from day schools to public schools.
According to a survey by the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York last year, the average maximum salary for head teachers at yeshivas and day schools is about $35,000.
In a historic partnership, dozens of local paramedics and technicians from the Hatzalah Volunteer Ambulance Service are being trained by Magen David Adom to field emergency calls in Israel in the event of a major war.
"We have told Magen David that we are ready to go when you need us the most," said Chevra Hatzalah president Heshy Jacob, who hopes to have 60 volunteers trained and ready before the High Holy Days.
If the black-Latino coalition forged in last year's mayoral race holds together this year, it could spell trouble for state Sen. Eric Schneiderman. The two-term Democrat is facing former Councilman Guillermo Linares, the first Dominican-American elected to public office here, in September's primary for a district that includes areas of northern Manhattan and the Bronx.
With African-American gubernatorial hopeful Carl McCall on the ticket and Latinos running in several local races, minority turnout could bode well for Linares.
Lashon Hara is one of the occupational hazards of this job.
It is not only religiously observant reporters who have to worry about being guilty of gossip but anyone with a conscience. Responsible journalism is about balancing the public’s need to know with the privacy of individuals, their right to make mistakes and above all, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
But what do you do with someone who says the most damaging things — about himself?