At a kosher pizza and wine bar,
black meets Jew and frum meets foodie.
Special To The Jewish Week
W hen the New York Times Magazine ran a prominent story in October about Basil Pizza and Wine Bar, a new kosher restaurant in Crown Heights, the writer, Frank Bruni, told of the place’s ambiance and its efforts to bring together Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors. But, as a letter writer bluntly pointed out the following week in the magazine, Bruni, formerly the paper’s restaurant critic, didn’t say much about the food. Good intentions and all, it was the pizza that the letter writer really wanted to hear about.
A congressional race that is nearly two years away already is making waves in the Crown Heights Jewish community, as two of its political allies head for a 2000 showdown.
Rep. Major Owens, who has represented District 11 in central Brooklyn for 16 years, is likely to face a Democratic primary challenge next year from his former protege, Councilwoman Una Clarke. Both have been strong supporters of Jewish causes, leaving activists wondering whom to support, or in a third option, whether to run a Jewish candidate.
Outraged by a continuing series of violent attacks against Jews in Crown Heights, hundreds of protestors from the Chabad-Lubavitch community rallied last Friday in the Brooklyn neighborhood outside the local police precinct calling for a greater police presence and the ouster of the precinct commander.
For a dozen years the Crown Heights riots and murder case have shown a stubborn persistence in the headlines.
First came the jury verdict that acquitted Lemrick Nelson Jr. of murdering Yankel Rosenbaum. Then the state investigation of the riots, the repercussions in the 1993 mayoral race, the civil suit and the federal investigation.
Lawyers for the family of Yankel Rosenbaum filed a brief last Friday asking a federal judge to keep the chasidic scholar's assailant in jail longer than guidelines suggest when he is sentenced Aug. 15 on a civil rights conviction.
But Lemrick Nelson Jr. is almost certain to be released within a year since a jury in May found that he was not responsible for causing Rosenbaum's death, although he admitted attacking him during the 1991 Crown Heights riots. Nelson faces a 10-year sentence for violating Rosenbaum's civil rights; he already has served much of that term.
Just prior to resting the governmentís case in the civil rights trial of Lemrick Nelson Jr., Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Resnick read a statement from an attorney who defended Nelson in his first civil rights trial in 1997.
"The evidence will show that it is not true that Lemrick Nelson stabbed Yankel Rosenbaum," Trevor Headley said then, insisting the police were "partially untruthful in their testimony or mistaken, or deliberately lied."
Lemrick Nelson referred to Yankel Rosenbaum repeatedly as 'the Jew' as he confessed to stabbing the chasidic scholar 12 years ago, a former detective testified Thursday.
Edward Brown, who was a homicide investigator at the time of the Crown Heights riots in August 1991, took the stand in the federal retrial of Nelson, who is accused of violating Rosenbaum's civil rights.
In an effort to head off tensions that have been building in Crown Heights, a dormant black-Jewish community group has quickly convened three meetings in the wake of a spate of violent incidents.
Forged in the fires of the 1991 Crown Heights riots, Project Care is an ad hoc group of community leaders that has met for more than 15 years to keep open lines of communication.
As federal prosecutors mull their next step in the Crown Heights murder case, the brother of Yankel Rosenbaum is vowing to stay in the United States until a decision is made while blasting both New York senators for what he considers disinterest in the case.
A retrial of the two men convicted in the case appears increasingly likely, with a deadline for the decision extended to March 29.