In Brooklyn Redistricting, Eggs In One Basket

Senate releases superdistrict with heavy Orthodox base, but some question the logic; race for Kruger seat turns ugly.
Assistant Managing Editor

As anticipated, New York’s legislative task force for redistricting last week released a map that packs several heavily Orthodox neighborhoods into one Senate bailiwick for a Jewish Brooklyn “superdistrict.”

But not everyone is embracing the idea.

“This is a smoke-filled, backroom deal,” said Councilman David Greenfield, who represents parts of Borough Park and Flatbush. Last year, Greenfield testified before the redistricting committee that two or three senators, rather than the current six should represent Orthodox areas.

Some say the proposed superdistrict would give Orothodox voters "significant influence" in Senate races.

Oprah Goes Orthodox (Sort Of)

Associate Editor

Not since Melanie Griffith donned a sheitel to play an undercover cop in the 1992 film “A Stranger Among Us,” has an A-list celebrity (not counting Matisyahu) brought an entourage a film crew into chasidic Brooklyn.

But in a two-part series beginning Feb. 12, talk show diva Oprah Winfrey’s new TV program brings viewers to Crown Heights and Borough Park, where chasidic families she interviews, according to the “Oprah’s Next Chapter” website, “lift the veil, revealing the secrets to their usually private and mysterious way of life.”

Oprah learns about chasidic culture.

Brooklyn DA Released Abusers’ Names In Recent Years

Jewish Week uncovers press releases from 2009-’10; Hynes’ office mum on possible policy change?
Special To The Jewish Week

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes continues to refuse to reveal the names of 85 Orthodox Jewish child molesters his office claims have been arrested and charged through the Kol Tzedek program, a confidential hotline it established in March 2009.

Yet while Hynes’ office has explained this refusal by citing the confidentiality rights of the victims, The Jewish Week has uncovered four press releases it issued as recently as 2010 naming convicted child molesters from the Brooklyn Orthodox community.

Republicans Eye Brooklyn Jewish ‘Superdistrict’

Reapportionment process could help GOP cash in on gains in south of borough.
Assistant Managing Editor

In their bid to hold the majority, state Senate Republicans seem to be fixed on giving residents of one of New York’s most heavily Jewish areas what they want: A superdistrict.

The GOP now holds a razor-thin Senate majority after last year’s elections, but redistricting next year will create new opportunities since several downstate districts will need to be expanded.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, above, reportedly wants ex-Councilman Simcha Felder to run for Senate as a Republican.

Extradition Testing Rival B’klyn Patrol Groups

Hate-crime case ‘fanning flames’ between Shomrim, Shmira in Crown Heights.
Assistant Managing Editor

The pending extradition from Israel of a chasidic man, wanted in connection with the attack on a black teen in Crown Heights in 2008, stands to put a long-festering feud between rival Jewish patrol groups there back in the spotlight.

Suspect Yitzchak Shuchat is a member of the Shmira patrol group. The man who hired a private investigator to track him down in Israel acknowledges being the coordinator of the rival Shomrim.

Yitzchak Shuchat has until Dec. 16 to appeal extradition request from Brooklyn DA.

Atoning For Nothing

As free High Holiday services catch on, more and more mainstream congregations are rethinking the old pay-to-pray model.
Special To The Jewish Week

The Brooklyn Lyceum, a performance space on the outskirts of gentrified Park Slope, opened in 1910 as a public bathhouse. But this Friday night several hundred young Jews will file through the bar that leads to its 4,000-square-foot theater for Kol Nidre, the prelude service for Yom Kippur.

Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in the West Village has drawn thousands of worshippers to its free High Holiday services.

Council Members Defend Shomrim

Taxpayer funding of Orthodox patrols unlikely to be affected by recent criticism.
Assistant Managing Editor

Several City Council members who bankroll volunteer patrol groups in Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhoods with their discretionary funds say they will continue to do so amid some recent criticism of how such groups operate.

Councilman David Greenfield with members of Borough Park Shomrim and 66th Precinct cops after softball game last summer.

Ai Weiwei's Jews: Pictures from an Exhibition

On the weekends, I like to get away from work. One of the places where I like to do that is museums.  And what better one to visit, if you're looking to avoid Jews (for me, that's my job; not anti-semitism), than the Asia Society?  Surely there'd be nothing on view there that would make me think of writing, deadlines and blogging about Jews--that is, work.

Kosher, Low-Cal And At The Door

Staff Writer

Late one recent Sunday night, three vans set out from an industrial kitchen in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, carrying four packaged kosher meals in insulated bags. By early morning, the meals were delivered to homes in nearby Brooklyn, Boston and Washington.

The meals, produced by the Kosher Fresh Diet firm (, marked the expansion of its home-delivered products to the Northeast and a growth of the kosher-meals-at-your-doorstep trend.

Yosef Schwartz, left, and Zalmi Duchman.

The Art Of ‘Sisterhood’

Israeli artist Ofri Cnaani challenges the Talmudic Sota story.
Staff Writer

There is not much ambiguity in the 14-line Talmudic story known as “Sota.” As a parable about adultery, the tale is pretty straightforward: a husband accuses his wife of cheating on him, and then orders her to drink from a special fountain with “bitter water.” If she’s guilty, she’ll die; if she’s innocent she’ll be blessed with fertility.

The Talmudic story called “Sota” focuses on two sisters.
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