As someone who was born and raised in Kew Gardens Hills in the early 1960s (and became a bar mitzvah at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills in 1975), I have been following the Letters to the Editor about the composition of the neighborhood with interest. When I was growing up, the area was not predominantly Orthodox or even overwhelmingly Jewish. Why is it then that some of your readers act like they have been there since time immemorial?
While I can understand why they would appreciate certain aspects of the current composition of the neighborhood, is it really necessary for them to write letters complaining about non-Jews “infiltrating” the area? Maybe they should imagine for a second what their reaction would be if they read letters in some other local paper complaining about Jewish “infiltrators” and contemplate how offensive their attitudes about their fellow Americans really are.
After reading the letter submitted by the cowardly “Anonymous,” I knew I could not keep reading a newspaper that printed such banal, primitive views unless I took matters into my own hands.
The author of this letter stated that Ashkenazim are starting to feel like the minority, and that is why they are moving out of the wonderful community of KGH. Apparently, Bukharians are “moving in in droves.” This blatant racism is not negated by the statement “A Jew is a Jew is a Jew.” Bukharians have been, and always will be, the minority. Yet, enduring persecution in our countries of origin, while seeing the only representation of Jewish suffering being the Holocaust and, occasionally, the Spanish Inquisition, so that inclusion of Sefardi may be ticked off a box, is something only Bukharians, the minority, have to deal with.
Any kosher restaurant is guaranteed to have Birkas HaMazon booklets – but all in the Ashkenazi zimun. I assure you, Anonymous, the Ashkenazim are not a minority. The community needs to do better in making no one feel like a minority. However, there is no excuse for making your fellow Jews feel like they are second-class Jews, simply because of their background. As you have stated so graciously, you addressed the elephant in the room that no one else wants to. Personally, I feel that the issue lies with you and your family’s social – or shall I say, lack thereof – abilities, and not with an issue that Bukharians have. Bukharians get along with non-racist people just fine.
I really do hope that, when you look for an “Ashkenazic feel,” you make sure not to use TorahAnytime, Vine, and everything else that Bukharians have invented. Maybe it’s good that people like you are moving out.
Gerald Harris’ column last week discussing the 40-percent increase in the 2021 death rate of those between the ages of 18 and 64 is fascinating. He, along with others, remain mystified at how a death rate that was flat for decades jumped 40 percent in 2021.
He correctly asserts that it is unlikely that this dramatic spike in deaths was due to COVID. The initial COVID strain of 2020 was likely the strongest and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of elderly people. The average age of a COVID death was 78 years old. The subsequent COVID strains in 2021 and 2022 have been weaker and were much less likely to kill people, especially younger folks in the 18-64 range. This very likely precludes COVID as the cause of the death spike.
But did it ever occur to Mr. Harris or the insurance companies that perhaps the COVID vaccines were the culprit of these mysterious deaths? The timeline fits neatly, as COVID vaccinations began in the beginning of 2021 to a large percentage of the population.
Before anyone accuses me of channeling my inner Alex Jones on this issue, consider the following: The COVID vaccines were rolled out in record time and touted as the solution to ending the pandemic. When it became obvious within months that these vaccines fell well short of their initial hype and did not protect against COVID infection or transmission, what was the government reaction? Did they pressure Big Pharma to improve their defective product? Nope! Instead, they attempted (and were to a large extent successful) in forcing a large percentage of the population to take this defective product. While there is a VAERS database recording adverse events including deaths related to vaccines, Government has shown no inclination to truly explore any of the data. Given that COVID vaccines are a Big Pharma/Big Government initiative, there is simply no incentive to research and uncover potential latent defects in COVID vaccines. In fact, the opposite is true. Big Pharma/Big Government’s goal of mass COVID vaccination (including children as young as five years old) has incentivized them to not explore any potential vaccine issues. Likewise, no one should hold his breath on the mainstream media networks giving these issues much daylight, as Big Pharma is a huge corporate sponsor of much of what we view on mainstream television programming.
While I suspect that we will never be given the information to conclusively establish that vaccines are the cause of the spike in deaths, I challenge others to come up with a more plausible explanation.
In response to Gerald Harris’ article about a 40-percent increase in deaths over the past year, he asked if anyone can think of an explanation. According to his sources, which are more to the left, such as Reuters, the narrative precludes one from relating any adverse V reactions to explain the increase. I think we should be mindful of the censorship going on in some of our communities based on political narratives that are seeking to divide our people and limit our freedom to make our own medical choices. We need to rise above that and seek out resources to get critical information that can help improve people’s health. Some resources for those who are interested: truthforhealth.org; Rofiminternational.org; Javi 929-277-2700.
May we all move forward to embrace and help our community members no matter what their opinions are. In this z’chus, may we be zocheh to the G’ulah Sh’leimah now!
Big props to Yaakov Serle for his message to the QJL readership apologizing for the inappropriate letter that appeared in these pages a few weeks back. In certain instances, truth is an absolute defense. This is not one of those times. Even if one were to assume arguendo, that Ashkenazim are moving out of KGH because of demographic changes, not everything that’s true needs to be published in Queens’ paper of record. The offensive nature of the letter far outweighed any information that was conveyed by the writer. The publisher deserves credit for correcting the oversight and promoting achdus, not strife.
Regarding Warren Hecht’s column titled “For What It’s Worth,” my response is not much. I’ve heard of rare instances of “long COVID,” but Mr. Hecht must be suffering from the longest-running case of Trump Derangement Syndrome ever recorded. His obsession with the former President and continuing coverage of the January 6 hearings is beyond ridiculous.
Poll after poll reveals that Americans do not care about January 6. With gas prices still about double what it was under Trump, record inflation, out-of-control crime, and a wide-open southern border, January 6 simply does not rate as a top issue for most Americans. These congressional hearings are an obvious ploy by Democrats to distract from the consequences of their horrendous governing over the past year and half. If Mr. Hecht wants to write a more relevant column for his readership, I have a suggestion for him: Why not dedicate a column informing all his readers of the great accomplishments of the Biden-Harris administration? Might be his shortest column ever!
A Tribute to Rebbetzin Elaine Stolper a”h
Chazal tell us that the terms ishah chashuvah, ishah k’sheirah, and nashim tzidkaniyos are among the highest compliments that are employed when discussing the life of a woman who was a major spiritual personality. Rebbetzin Elaine Stolper a”h was such a person. She was a regal and down-to-earth Midwesterner who moved to New York to strengthen her own commitment to Torah and mitzvos. She was the eim of kiruv together with her husband, Rabbi Pinchas Stolper z”l, whom I recently described as the av of kiruv.
Rebbetzin Stolper was moseir nefesh on the many Shabbasos when Rabbi Stolper was away at NCSY Shabbatonim. The Stolpers always brought their children to the National Convention, the high point of the year in NCSY, where NCSYers were able to experience the transmission of Torah. The Stolper children were able to witness the excitement of kabalas haTorah – from Kabalas Shabbos through Havdalah – by a younger, often unaffiliated generation. They witnessed firsthand their parents’ critically important contributions to transmitting the Mesorah.
In last week’s Mishpacha Magazine, I saw the following story recounted in a letter to the editor. In the introduction to his translation of the Pachad Yitzchak on Purim, Rabbi Stolper mentioned that he once told his rebbe, Rav Yitzchak Hutner z”l, that he felt “burned out” and wanted to retire. Rav Hutner responded by telling Rabbi Stolper to go to Honolulu, relax on a beach, read a good book, and go back to work. I don’t think that Rabbi Stolper ever went to Honolulu, because the Rebbetzin provided a nurturing and supportive atmosphere at home. This atmosphere always revitalized Rabbi Stolper, and he was able to continue his work with great vigor and enthusiasm.
Rebbetzin Stolper epitomized hachnasas orchim, as many NCSYers graced her Shabbos table throughout the years. The Stolpers’ Shabbos table, as the Rebbetzin emphasized, was for ruchniyus, not gashmiyus. Rebbetzin Stolper was a role model for so many young women who sought to dress in a totally tz’nuah manner, raise Torah-committed families, and have a spiritually meaningful Shabbos table while even working outside the home.
I recall the Rebbetzin mentioning to me many years ago that they did not have a television set at home. That was during a period when most of television consisted of network news and some acceptable shows. She felt that watching television was a waste of time and was problematic for a Torah-committed home. At the time, I thought that was a little extreme. I gradually realized that excessive exposure to such a passive medium was an obstacle to growing as a ben or bas Torah. She was a pioneer in espousing an idea that is now widely accepted.
May the neshamah of Rebbetzin Stolper always be an inspiration to the vital and critical work of NCSY.
Don’t forget to patronize your neighborhood restaurants during the extended NYC Restaurant Week. It runs from July 19 to August 28, with a wide variety of both two-course lunch specials and three-course dinner specials.
My wife and I don’t mind occasionally paying a little more to help our favorite restaurants survive. Don’t forget your cook and server. We try to tip 20 percent against the total bill including taxes. If it is an odd amount, we round up to the next dollar. If we can afford to eat out, we can afford an extra dollar tip. When ordering take-out, we always leave a dollar or two for the waiter or cook. It is appreciated.
The restaurant industry employs several hundred-thousand people. This includes bartenders, waiters, busboys, cooks, and cashiers, wholesale food sellers, distributors, and linen suppliers. There are also construction contractors who renovate or build new restaurants.
Our local entrepreneurs work long hours, pay taxes, and provide local employment, especially to students during the summer. If we don’t patronize our local restaurants, they don’t eat either.
Picture this scenario: The Jews are encamped around the Mishkan in the desert, and one Yid says to another, “Can you believe Moshe Rabbeinu is 120 years old and lives on the block, while Aharon,123, is on the next block and Miriam,126, is on the block after that? Even Joshua is 100 years old! Meanwhile, what’s with Zipporah? She doesn’t look like us! Debbie (not me), if you want to move, kol ha’kavod, but stop making inane comments.
First of all, this Eden-like town that you are moving to must be off-the-map if it has lower tuition than YCQ or Bais Yaakov. How about college? You probably went to Queens for free! Those E-ZPass tolls must be costing your parents a pretty penny. I know I spend about $35 each way on tolls to visit my kids in New Jersey.
Furthermore, let’s hope you are not a financial advisor. Since when was $200,000 not a lot of money back in the ’90s? It’s still a lot of money, and it can buy you a house in 2022 in some parts of this country (see HGTV for details).
I’m glad you found your dream home. Just remember this: In eight years, when you want to upgrade or downgrade, will you put your home on the market for a paltry $800,000, or will you try to fleece the next buyer for $2 million? People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Instead of Warren Hecht using the title for his weekly column “For What It’s Worth,” a much more accurate title should be: “Trump Derangement Syndrome Par Excellence.”
Choni Herschel Kantor
The other day, I was walking several feet behind a man when I observed that his non-prescription sun glasses fell to the ground. I went and picked up the glasses and hurriedly ran after the man and told him, “I think these are yours.” To which he retorted, “No, I did not lose the glasses. I dropped them on the ground. I don’t want them.”
For the rest of my walk, I conjured up in my mind what might be an appropriate legal term he could be charged with, such as, “Littering in the First Degree.” While I would like to think his behavior was an isolated event, it is all too clear that littering is a widespread phenomenon in our community. It is not just confined to the major streets in our community, like Main Street or Jewel Avenue. We see refuse also littering the parks and side streets, and see the debris that people leave on their own front lawns.
One might legitimately ask why I am concerned with littering when there are so many other pressing problems confronting our community. True enough. But let me state a few reasons why I raise this issue. First, the abundant litter detracts from the aesthetics of our beautiful community. Second, the responsibility to dispose of the litter devolves upon other people’s shoulders such as shopkeepers or employees of the New York City Sanitation Department (which, of course, raises our taxes).
But there is a more fundamental issue at stake here. To me, littering represents an abnegation of self-responsibility and a total lack of concern for the group. All too often, particularly in today’s times, we glorify the individual and assert the rights of individuals – but we often lose sight of the impact our individual behaviors (as trivial as they may appear) have on others.
Kew Gardens Hills, New York
Sergey Kadinsky wrote “Queens Bus Redesign To Add Route On 73rd Avenue,” for the May 18 edition of the QJL, regarding the Queens Bus Network Redesign New Draft Plan. There was mixed review to the route options suggested, specifically for the Q65 and a proposed Q73 aptly suggested to serve 73rd Avenue.
The opportunity for feedback is available at a mobile pop-up site based in a MetroCard mobile sales vehicle on Tuesday, July 26, 3-7 p.m., at Queens Public Library, at Kissena Boulevard and Main Street, or on Tuesday, August 16, 3-7 p.m., at Forest Park (Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive). Other times with regularly scheduled pop-ups include Rego Park at Queens Blvd. and 63rd Road (at the mall near Marshalls), on Friday, August 5, 1-3 p.m.; Fresh Meadows Shopping Center at Horace Harding Expressway and 188th Street, Monday, August 8, 1-2:30 p.m.
Learn more about route plans here: www.new.mta.info/project/queens-bus-network-redesign/routes. Feedback can also be submitted directly on the MTA interactive map, or at www.contact.mta.info/s/forms/bus-network-redesign.
I think it is past due time that Goldy Krantz’s tenure at the Queens Jewish Link was over. In response to an article that she wrote about the rising prices of homes in Kew Gardens Hills that drive young couples out of the community, a Letter to the Editor was submitted that another reason for young couples moving out of KGH is because of “Bukharians moving in in droves.” This letter was riddled with a disgusted undertone to Bukharians.
Although the author of it attempted to stay pareve on the matter, it was clear that they agreed with what they submitted. The author of this letter did not seem to get along with Bukharians, but rather than pin the blame on their own social deficiencies, they wrote in a tone that implied Bukharians were the lower class of Jews in B’nei Yisrael. If the author truly did not agree with their statement and was only the person to “go ahead and address the (nonexistent) elephant in the room,” they would advise against judging Bukharians, or anyone really, so harshly. However, it is evident that the author, along with many others, harbor internalized racism towards groups of Jews who are not the same as their own.
A bit of a d’var Torah: The Gemara names Pharaoh’s advisors, three in all, all of whom are familiar characters: Bil’am, Iyov, and Yisro. Pharaoh consulted them about what to do with the “Jewish problem.” Bil’am gave advice to Pharaoh that would hurt the Jews, Yisro ran away after trying to stand up to Pharaoh, and Iyov remained silent. Bil’am was later killed because of this, while Yisro merited to have his descendants bring z’chuyos to his name. Iyov was cursed with afflictions. Why was Iyov cursed if he did not say anything? Because when you witness something wrong, you are obligated to stand up for what’s right; otherwise in beis din shel ma’lah, Hashem will consider not that you agreed with whomever you didn’t stand up against.
Goldy Krantz did not stand up against this embarrassment to Jews. Her silence speaks louder than the words she could have used. People with the same mindset as the writer of this Bukharian-hating-sentiment-filled letter, with this neshamah full of sin’as chinam, are the reason why we don’t have Mashiach today.
Concerning the impact of Bukharian Jews on the Jewish communal scene in Queens, our Co-Publisher Yaakov Serle articulated the point last week. One example is how all leading community organizations in our borough have a leadership and membership of Ashkenazim and Bukharians, working together. The Vaad Harabonim of Queens, Queens Hatzolah, Shmira, local schools, summer camps, and businesses, serving as examples of achdus!
But while there is cooperation among the leaders and activists, there is room for improvement among the less visible members of the community. One such example concerns children’s birthday parties.
Take, for example, one Queens yeshivah that used to be majority Ashkenazi but where the younger grades are now majority Bukharian, where it was much more common for students to invite classmates to their birthdays, not so much anymore.
To their credit, Bukharian Jews have a strong sense of family. At their children’s birthday parties, the guests include cousins, second cousins, third cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. with classmates as a second thought.
As a result, classmates see each other mostly in class, but not on weekends or after school. There is less connection between them and their respective parents. From our experience, my family serves as a bridge between the two cultures. We speak Russian and have made friends with Bukharian families; but as Ashkenazim, we’re also friends with the Orthodox American families.
We should all make an effort to understand Jews of other backgrounds and learn from each other, which strengthens our sense of community.