Bathed in light, wrapped in a tallit and kittel, the soul of a middle-aged New York Jew speaks to his earthly body on a Queens side street late one night last week.
“Chaim, Chaim,” calls the soul, flanked by a pair of large menorahs, an ark of Torah scrolls behind him, “good Shabbos. Did you have a good week?”
A plaintive voice — of Chaim himself, who is mentally disabled — is heard answering, “Nobody likes me.”
Don’t despair, answers the soul. “Soon it will all be over.”
Entering a Borough Park public school early Tuesday, David Tilis was emphatic about his pick for president.
“I’m Jewish, so it has to be [George W.] Bush,” said Tilis, 21, a mortgage broker en route to casting his vote for the Republican incumbent. “I don’t understand how any Jew could vote for [Sen. John] Kerry. Yasir Arafat is for him.”
The largely Orthodox community of Borough Park was on high alert this week, and patrols by the 66th Precinct and the Shomrim civilian group in the Brooklyn neighborhood were increased, after a 4-year-old girl was abducted from a Borough Park street and sexually molested on Monday evening.
The Boro Park Shomrim, whose 150 volunteers patrol the area in cars and by foot around the clock, stepped up their activities this week, and sent out security alerts to residents, said Rabbi Jacob Daskal, coordinator.
Shortly after he moved here in 2001, Rome-born journalist Maurizio Molinari went shopping in a Manhattan supermarket where he found a wide variety of certified-kosher items. “It was not a Jewish store,” he notes.
Before Sukkot he noticed lulav-and-etrog sets being sold by vendors along West 72nd Street. No one seemed surprised, he says. “For the non-Jews, it was normal.”
One day he went to a Barnes & Noble bookstore. A “huge Judaica section” stood out. Most of the shoppers in the store, as he recalls, weren’t Jewish.
Liviu Librescu, a secular Jew in rural Virginia, received a hero’s welcome — and an Orthodox funeral service — in Brooklyn last week because of the kindness of strangers in Borough Park’s haredi community.
The day after the death of Rabbi Naftuli Halberstam, rebbe of the Bobov chasidim, his half-brother Benzion sat at the Bobover rebbe’s designated place of honor — the raised platform in the middle of the sanctuary — for the Megillah reading at the central Bobov synagogue in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.
Rabbi Elimelech Schachter, a faculty member at the Yeshiva University rabbinical school for nearly 50 years, died Feb. 26 in Borough Park. He was 93.
Rabbi Schachter served as professor of rabbinics at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and taught at many divisions of YU, mentoring generations of rabbinical students. He was the author of “The Babylonian and Jerusalem Mishnah and wrote several rabbinic opinions and scholarly articles.
It's 7:30 on an ordinary morning on the campaign trail, and Gifford Miller is at the 18th Avenue F station in Borough Park doing ordinary things like handing out fliers, trying to spend a moment or two with passers-by as they rush to catch their train.
Each time he's wished good luck, the speaker of the City Council replies "You're my luck." An aide remarks about what a good line that is.
After a while, Miller does something out of the ordinary when he bursts into song: "Kol od balevav, pnima, nefesh yehudi homiya ..."
El Al Airlines added an additional flight from New York to Tel Aviv Thursday to help passengers left stranded Monday night when Tower Air unexpectedly halted all scheduled flights. The shutdown triggered an angry reaction among passengers flying from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv who were left standing in the rain at Kennedy Airport.
Irate Israeli passengers called the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan for help at 10 p.m. when they found the Tower Air terminal closed. The financially strapped airline had filed for bankruptcy protection just two months ago.