New York

The Sukkah Kings

Staff Writer
Walk into any Home Depot, and youíll find ordinary, non-contractor types loading up on tools and materials for do-it-yourself projects. But when it comes to sukkahs, the trend is just the opposite. The stock and trade these days is in simple products that can be assembled in a matter of minutes. "People don't want to build by themselves anymore," says Sukkah Depot's Nir Weiss, an Israeli who comes to New York each fall to ply the sukkah trade. "With the new designs, there are no tools, no screws. Just pieces that connect."

'Shock To The System'

Staff Writer
The day after Ruchama Clapman appeared on a Jewish radio program to discuss issues raised by two chasidic runaways, the phones were ringing off the hook at MASK, the organization she founded to address at-risk youth in the Orthodox community. Clapman had given the number of a hotline for parents who are concerned that their children, mostly teenagers, may be straying from what is known as "the derech," or path of what is considered appropriate behavior in strictly observant or chasidic communities.

Holiday Healing

Staff Writer
During Sunday's morning minyan at Young Israel of Vanderveer Park in Brooklyn, Rabbi Joseph Rosenbluh darted around the run-down sanctuary, stepping over aluminum pans that catch water from the leaky roof, helping daveners find the appropriate page in the book of Selichot. When he read the prayers himself, the rabbi said later, the words had particular resonance. "I ask God not to punish me for my sins, and to let me learn from them," he said, pointing to a spot in the book. "Remove the factors in my life that cause me to make bad judgments."

Child Without A Country

Staff Writer
Precisely where 1-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky was born seems unlikely to be a matter that could impact U.S. Mideast policy or the peace process. But Menachem's father, Ari, is hoping to use the baby's American passport to shift the way the State Department views Jerusalem and revise its longstanding ambiguity about the city's status. The passport, issued in December 2002 at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, lists Jerusalem as Menachem's place of birth with no reference to a country. Officials refused a request by his mother, Naomi, to add Israel.

Distinguished Service

Staff Writer
When 2nd Lt. Jonathan Zagdanski arrived in Kuwait last January, he found himself on an urgent supply mission. The kosher meals he had arranged back in Fort Benning, Ga., hadn't arrived, and the supply officer in Kuwait City knew nothing about it. "I had to bust his nuts for two weeks to get me my meals," Zagdanski said. "He got so sick and tired of me, he showed up with a truck": enough meals to feed a kosher battalion, if there was one. Word spread about the food, and dozens of gentile soldiers suddenly turned kosher.

Primary Concerns

Staff Writer
Expect few surprises as New Yorkers head to the polls Tuesday in an unusual primary held only two years after the last citywide election. The races for City Council were prompted by district changes based on the decennial census. Candidates for Civil Court also will be chosen. Most Council members who face primary challenges are likely to cruise to re-election, observers say.

The Mayor's Mensch

Staff Writer
Most politicians tend to play up their friends in high places. Simcha Felder seems to downplay them. When asked about his cozy relationship with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Brooklyn councilman simply says, "A lot of people have good relationships with the mayor." But a lot of people weren't invited by Bloomberg to fly to Israel this week on his private jet. Felder is one of 10 Jewish members of the City Council, but the only one making the trip.

Is Crown Heights Over?

Staff Writer
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.

Aleph-Bais Ball

Staff Writer
Jewish Heritage Day at Shea Stadium was a boon not only for thousands of faithful fans Sunday, but for the Mets, who pulled off their fifth victory in the six years the annual event has been held. This time the Amazins beat Colorado 6-4 before a crowd of 28,393. It didn't hurt that the team was on a five-game winning streak, although they remained in last place in the National League East as of Tuesday, at 54-69.

Russian Candidate Fights To Run

Staff Writer
In the latest political controversy involving Brooklyn's Russian-speaking community, a councilman who represents part of Brighton Beach has succeeded in knocking an immigrant candidate off September's Democratic primary ballot, charging that he fraudulently changed his name. The Board of Elections took Tony Eisenberg out of the running because he was born Anatoly Eyzenberg in the former Soviet Union. Lawyers for Councilman Dominic Recchia, backed by Brooklynís Democratic political machine, charged that Eisenberg was trying to mislead voters about his national origin.
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