A Landmark Remembered!

Dear Editor:

 For the last 81 years – and no, I can’t believe it either – one part of our neighborhood has stood in the same location, surviving past transformations in the neighborhood, and the industry in which it served.

Main Street Theaters opened their doors in 1941, and their doors will soon close forever! As seen on a recent Facebook post and in interviews with people, this soon-to-be-defunct theater, many gave up on years ago, holds a special place in the hearts of Kew Gardens Hills citizens of all ages. I myself remember as a kid attending and holding birthday parties in that theater! I was eight, and we saw Monsters Inc. in November of 2001! As I grew up, I remember going there on a nearly consistent basis of Sundays for multiple years with friends. With Benjy’s Pizza next door, and the price barely breaking $10 even to this day, it was a place to go when you just wanted to escape without breaking the bank.

Many memories were made here over the years; some celebrities in fact even held a part in the history of this theater. Based on a post, Fran Drescher worked there in her younger days, before she became the Sheffields’ nanny! Despite the lack of customers in recent years, the lack of upgrades, the turmoil of COVID, and the final nail in the coffin to which I am not knowledgeable about, this soon-to-be-closed theater will remain in the hearts and memories of community members of many generations for years to come!

Main Street Theater, we hardly knew ye? No! We knew ye well! RIP!

Kenneth S.


Dear Editor:

 I would like to express appreciation to Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, on the eve of his final Shabbos at the helm of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills (YIKGH). Together with Rebbetzin Peri, Rabbi Schonfeld has made a meaningful impact on the lives of so many in the shul and wider community. Many of these efforts and endeavors are widely known, and Rabbi Schonfeld has earned much deserved gratitude and praise.

On a personal level, I have tremendous hakaras ha’tov for all his rabbinic mentorship over the years. I consider myself fortunate to have served for a year as the YIKGH’s rabbinic intern, and then for three years as an assistant rabbi, under the leadership of Rabbi Schonfeld. During this time, he was consistently available to answer my questions and provide direction on matters of halachah and policy. Infinitely more than he taught me with words, Rabbi Schonfeld instructed with action. He remains a paradigm of round-the-clock devotion to his k’hilah and community, while still making family a priority. The fearless conviction with which he expresses his opinions, coupled with his openness to hear dissenting views, are unique, admirable qualities in our time.

Much as he has left an indelible impression on the shul and KGH community, I feel I have grown so much, personally and professionally, from being under his guidance and care. On behalf of myself and my wife, Ahuva, I wish Rabbi and Rebbetzin Schonfeld much hatzlachah and good health in the next chapter of their lives.

To the YIKGH, led by shul president Stuart Verstandig, I similarly express my hakaras ha’tov for all the wonderful years and opportunities. I wish much hatzlachah to incoming Rabbi Daniel and Rebbetzin Amanda Rosenfelt and the entire k’hilah.

Rabbi Yaakov Abramovitz


Dear Editor:

 In response to the Oasis Parking Lot letter to the editor, a few thoughts came to mind. I will admit I don’t know anything about parking lots or towing companies, and contracts between the two parties except what I’ve seen on reality TV shows. But before rushing to public judgment and disclosure that a frum Jew instructed the company to tow cars on Shabbos, let’s look at some other possibilities.

It’s possible the tow company has full discretion to decide the days and times they can inspect cars and tow if needed. Some of the non-Jewish drivers might have complained to their boss about all the arguments they get into. The non-Jewish boss might have had a “bright idea” to tow the cars on Saturday because that’s the Jewish Sabbath and the owner of the vehicle won’t be around (we like to think only frum Jews know about Shabbos).

Another possibility is the drivers themselves have full authority to decide when they come and tow cars, as long as they come and inspect X number of days a week, etc. One of the drivers might have had a “bright idea” to tow the cars on Saturday because that’s the Jewish Sabbath and the owners of the vehicle won’t be around. In both cases, the frum Jewish owner of the property would have no idea what was going on

It’s also possible that the property owner told the tow company not to do anything on Saturday because it’s the Jewish Sabbath. The non-Jewish tow company manager might have said, “No problem, we won’t,” with his fingers crossed, then instructed his drivers to do it anyway.

Finally, it’s also possible the property owner has a property manager or assistant who handles the business activities, and that person (Jew or non-Jew) was the one who told the tow company to do it on Shabbos after they complained about the arguments.

Now let’s look at some possible next steps based on the three scenarios listed above. Has anyone called the frum property owner and told him about this issue? It’s possible, based on the first, second, and last scenarios listed, that he had no idea and would immediately call the tow company and tell them to stop it. In possible scenario 3, he would have to tell the company again, and if the problem persists, he could look into having it explicitly written in the contract or change companies to a company that will listen.

Now if it is true that he outright instructed the tow company to come on Shabbos, then first step is to ask how can we protect ourselves? Maybe start an email distribution list or WhatsApp group where 2-3 hours before Shabbos someone sends a reminder to make sure everyone with a car in the lot remembers to check to make sure the permit is hanging visibly in the window. Maybe even have someone who has the time (maybe a child who wants a chesed opportunity) to walk around the lot and check if any cars don’t have a permit hanging, then mention that in the group chat.

Then consult a competent rav who is familiar with the halachos of business and Shabbos and see what can be done (beis din, have someone close to him in the community try to talk to him, etc.). You would also need to ask if its permissible to disclose what is happening publicly. If the answer is no and the other solutions aren’t allowed or won’t work, then the idea in the above paragraph would be the ideal solution to at least alert everyone so they can protect themselves.



Shame On The MTA, Service Cuts Effective Immediately

Dear Editor:

 Janno Lieber, Chair and CEO of the MTA, and Richard Davey, President, New York City Transit, must be held accountable for undermining New Yorkers as they agreed to terminate bus service to underused routes.

According to an exclusive report in the Daily News, the Transit Authority has informed its bus depot managers to allow sick shifts to remain uncovered for up to six shifts daily, effectively leaving passengers stranded. The MTA has not publicly released information on the sudden reduction in service or supposed cost-cutting measures, simply stating that they are finding new ways to save funds.

In a very public display of solidarity with New Yorkers, the United States Congress shifted $4 billion to the struggling organization in February of 2021 amidst a devastating pandemic. It was then reported that the authority would not make any reduction to service until 2023. Ridership on the MTA fluctuates at barely 65% of the levels before coronavirus entered the city, and this is the reason given for the current situation. The agency, whose annual operational budget is a whopping $18 billion, has asked for an addition $8 billion for service to remain consistent, including $2.5 billion by 2024.

Lieber has gone on record stating he would not resort to harming riders and pledged those reductions comparable to those of the financial crisis of 2010 would not be seen.

In an abhorrent choice of words, the communication stated, “I understand this is not the way we are accustomed to doing business, but it is the way the organization is handling its financial issues.” Shame on the MTA. Do not let them get away with these tactics. Voice your opinion by contacting the MTA on WhatsApp at https://api.whatsapp.com/send?phone=16465046928, or by phone at 212-878-7000.

Shabsie Saphirstein


Dear Editor:

 I understand that Rabbi Schonfeld’s political leanings cause him to view criticisms of former President Trump and his opponents differently, but I still have to take issue with some of the contrasts he makes in his latest column. He cites former President Clinton’s behavior in the White House and President Biden’s “strange behavior with females,” but doesn’t think that the at least 18 accusations by women against Trump harassment, assault, and worse even warrant a mention. Trump even bragged about it on tape! And while Biden definitely has occasional problems with the truth, he can’t touch Trump for pure volume, and has done nothing that can match the shamelessness and destructiveness of Trump’s constant and ongoing barrage of lies regarding the 2020 election.

And I will once again ask if Rabbi Schonfeld has read the bi-partisan report from the then Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian interference in the election, as he continues to call it a hoax. But I suppose buying into that framing allows one to simply dismiss any accusations surrounding January 6 or the possible reasons why the FBI had to raid Mar-a-Lago without dealing with the substance of those matters. It’s easy to wonder how anyone can have animus towards Trump when you can just ignore or hand-waive away truly disturbing behavior.

But that’s all just pretty standard partisan blinkers. What’s truly brazen is Moshe Hill dedicating a column to criticizing the Biden-directed final withdrawal from Afghanistan while making it seem like it was something Biden started from scratch when he took office, without mentioning that it was Trump who signed an agreement with the Taliban in February 2020 to withdraw all forces. Trump had, in fact, started the process to the point that there were only 3,500 troops left when Biden took office, down from a high of 13,000 at the time of the agreement, all while stopping the issuance of visas to those who wanted to leave. Why is the fact that the agreement was signed in February 2020 notable? Why, that’s the month that Mr. Hill cites as being the last time an American soldier was killed in action there before the final pullout, which he uses to claim that the argument that the US needed to withdraw to “save the troops” was a fallacy. But it seems pretty obvious that the reason there were no deaths after that point, in what had been a long and bloody war, is that with Trump’s agreement, the Taliban had won – there was no reason to be on the offensive against the US-led coalition forces while they could just wait for them to leave as per the agreement. But obviously, if the agreement would be broken, there was no reason to believe that would continue, and we would be back to being involved in the destructive war but with fewer troops on the ground.

Biden clearly agreed with the decision to withdraw and wasn’t just forced into it by Trump (although you could argue that certain actions by Trump made it more difficult), but Mr. Hill’s distorting the facts to cater to his typical political hit piece is a little hard to take.

Yaakov Ribner


Dear Editor:

 Last week, Rabbi Schonfeld wrote about how Warren Hecht clearly suffers from Trump Derangement Syndrome, but then in the very same column, Rabbi Schonfeld goes and asks Mr. Hecht to provide a rational explanation for his suffering from the dreaded Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Meanwhile Mr. Hecht has written in the Queens Jewish Link about how he watches TV and reads The New York Times, and so then how can Rabbi Schonfeld possibly expect Mr. Hecht to start overcoming his highly irrational dislike of the all-time most pro-Jewish US President ever?

Choni Herschel Kantor
Kew Gardens, New York


Dear Editor:

 I wish to take this time to praise Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld for his great service to our community. He will be sorely missed. Rabbi Schonfeld has the courage to speak the truth and is not afraid to be politically incorrect. I speak for many when I say that we want Rabbi Schonfeld to continue his column in the Queens Jewish Link.

Now to get to Warren Hecht. Warren claims that the DOJ and FBI are not biased against Trump and conservatives. I hope this is some kind of joke. Once again, Warren states conclusions without a factual basis.

Here are the facts:

The difference between tyranny and democracy is the justice system. In a democracy, a crime is committed and the Justice Department investigates with the purpose of finding a culprit. In a tyranny, the government names some political adversary as the culprit and then the Justice Department works to find the crime(s). That is exactly what we have right now.

Merrick Garland has stated on more than one occasion through words and deeds that he will concentrate all his attention on going after conservatives for political crimes. He is ignoring the BLM and Antifa riots. He is ignoring the actions of the drug cartels at our border, and he has refused to act to protect conservative members of SCOTUS. Garland argues that White Supremacists are the only threat to this country. The definition of White Supremacist is anyone who is not politically correct. This includes parents who do not want their children taught about LGBT and CRT. Warren and the Left argue that January 6 is worse than 9/11, World War II, Pearl Harbor, and the Civil War combined. In those conflicts, millions of people were killed. On January 6, the rioters did not kill anyone, but one of the protesters threw a water bottle at the police. This “domestic terrorist” is receiving an abnormally harsh sentence.

The FBI has committed many violations of the law. This includes presenting false and misleading statements on FISA applications in order to go after Trump and conservatives. The protocol with the FBI has always been to only make predawn raids on violent criminals and drug dealers who refuse to surrender peacefully. The new protocol is to use these raids as a weapon against political opponents of the Democratic Party. The FBI has raided the houses of Roger Stone, Peter Navarro, Mayor Giuliani, Project Veritas, and other conservatives. Warren claims the FBI is not partisan. Here is the list of Democrats who have been invaded by the FBI. I did not have enough space to list them all so I will just give the top three:

           John Doe

           John Doe

           John Doe

Now we get to the raid on Trump’s home. The Fourth Amendment requires narrowness to the intrusion on the person’s home. The warrant approved by Garland had language in it that allowed the FBI to take anything it wants. This is a “fishing expedition” and is not legal. Such a broad warrant violates the Fourth Amendment.

A major legal precedent was established by Court Justice Berman (U.S.C. $2203(a)). It stated that the Presidential Records Act (PRA) gives the president a high level of deference in deciding which records are personal and which records belong in the Archives. The ruling stated, in regard to Bill Clinton, that nobody had the authority to take the records from him. The FBI and DOJ are weaponized to go after political opponents. If their power is not checked, we are all in danger of losing our Republic.

Eric Rubin


Dear Editor:

The AARP full-page ad thanking Senator Schumer for “leading the fight to lower drug prices,” which appeared in both The New York Times and Newsday August 17 editions, was dishonest. AARP could have also thanked all the other Senators and House members who also supported, fought for, and voted for the bill. The ad was nothing more than a political quid pro quo from ARRP to assist Schumer in his reelection campaign. Schumer could have paid for the ad out of his own $30 million campaign kitty. I did not intend for my annual AARP membership dues to be used for paid political advertisements on behalf of politicians.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, New York


Dear Editor:

 Once again, Mr. Hecht cherry-picks different parts of the Constitution to fit his narrative. He conveniently leaves out the crux of the argument. Article II states that the Executive Branch is the Presidency. The President is also the commander in chief of the Army and the Navy. Therefore, he can classify and declassify any documents he wants. Not only that, but statutes cannot supersede the Constitution and, therefore, the Espionage Act cannot apply to the President. Now we know that the Clintons went home with furniture from the White House, and they weren’t charged with larceny, which is not covered by the Constitution. How many other Presidents have documents in their homes, classified or not? This whole episode is beyond despicable and clearly political.

But since the Constitution lays out the requirements for the Presidency, I’m sure we will see President Trump running again in 2024.

Shalom Markowitz