After three days in the media glare, the so-called "Subway Good Samaritan" retreated to upstate New York in the middle of last week. But the trip with a friend lasted just 24 hours, and when Hassan Askari returned to his life as a Berkeley College accounting student and a deliveryman for two East Village Indian restaurants, a fuller picture began to emerge of a thoughtful 20-year-old Bangladeshi with a multicultural cast to his life and strong views about the common ground he believes exists between Jews and Muslims.
How is it possible, Robert Ivker thought, that in a city as affluent as New York, Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet Union can live in such grinding poverty? This despite efforts by agencies like the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst (JCH) to provide hot meals, transportation to doctors, and free English-language instruction.
Following the recent arrest of 13 visiting students in a Chabad-sponsored yeshiva in the southern Russian city of Rostov, charges flew among various Lubavitch factions.
The chief rabbi of Kfar Chabad in Israel accused the chief rabbi of Russia of conspiring to close the yeshiva and thereby causing the arrest of the students. And the Russian chief rabbi shot back, charging “slander.”
An estimated two and a half million Jews were killed in the republics of the former Soviet Union during the Holocaust, over 40 percent of the total. Yet Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Museum, presently has less than half a million of their names in its database.
That’s why the museum has launched the Shoah Victims Names Recovery Project in the FSU. In late March, Boris Maftsir, manager of the project, held a series of meetings in the Russian-speaking Jewish communities of New York and Chicago to solicit evidence of lost loved ones to Yad Vashem.
A few years ago at an immigration conference, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel said simply and powerfully, “No human being is illegal.”
The Jewish community’s point man on immigration, Gideon Aronoff, president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, recalled Wiesel’s elegant plea on behalf of immigrants this week as the Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings on legislation that would provide a clear path to citizenship for many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in this country.
Can significant numbers of American Jews be enticed into buying homes in Jewish settlements on the far side of Israel’s separation fence?
Based on the results of real estate fairs that two emissaries of the settler movement held with potential buyers in Orthodox synagogues in Teaneck, N.J., and Hillcrest, Queens, on Sunday, the answer may well be a qualified “Yes.”
The response was “positive beyond anything we had imagined before coming here,” said Aliza Herbst, spokesperson for Yesha Council leader Pinchas Wallerstein.
Arkadiy Ugorskiy, a refugee from Russia, realized a couple of years ago that he faced a new and formidable obstacle to making it in the U.S. in the field of video production. Although Ugorskiy, who studied cinematography in a top Moscow studio, had succeeded against the odds in building his business “from nothing” after arriving in Brooklyn in 1998, at 44, he couldn’t afford to buy the high-definition video equipment that was quickly becoming the standard in the field.