Extra Security at Jewish Monuments in Amsterdam

June 6th, 2014

aAmsterdam’s mayor says he has ordered extra security measures at the city’s Jewish monuments on advice of the national anti-terrorism office.

In a letter to the city council, Eberhard van der Laan said he is not aware of any concrete threat to Jewish places of interest, but an attack is “conceivable” following an attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium last month which left three people dead.

Amsterdam buildings such as the Anne Frank House Museum and the Jewish Historical Museum already have considerable protective measures such as metal detectors and bullet-resistant glass.

A police van was stationed outside the Jewish Historical Museum Friday morning.

Spokespeople for the city and the museums declined to comment on what additional measures are being taken, citing security concerns.


Olmert Wants to Travel Abroad – State Prosecutor Opposed

June 6th, 2014

olmFormer Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has been sentenced to six years imprisonment, wishes to travel abroad. Olmert’s attorney filed a request on behalf of his client with Tel Aviv District Court Justice David Rosen. The prosecution has informed the court it objects to permitting Olmert to travel abroad following his conviction and sentencing.

Justice Rosen is expected to announce his decision in the near future. Olmert wishes to fly abroad on July 8th to the 15th to attend business meetings in a number of countries.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

New York Mayor Wants Obama’s Library In His City

June 6th, 2014

debNew York Mayor Bill de Blasio wants his city to be the home of President Barack Obama’s future library.

Obama hasn’t decided which city will house his presidential library. Many observers believe the favorite to be Chicago, his hometown.

But New York may have received a lift thanks to a recent Politico story. It reported Obama is considering moving to New York after his term ends in 2016.
Obama received his undergraduate degree at Columbia University, which is making a bid for the library.

De Blasio said Thursday he’s supporting the Ivy League university’s efforts. The Democrat says Columbia would be “the perfect place” for the library.

He also says he’ll let Columbia and Obama’s team know the city would support any deal.


Man Robs Ramapo Hotel At Gunpoint

June 6th, 2014

rpdOn June 4th, 2014 at approximately 1:45AM, the Town of Ramapo Police received a report of a robbery which had just occurred at the Howard Johnsons Motor Lodge located at 17 North Airmont Rd. in the Village of Airmont.

Responding police units arrived and found a female front desk employee bound at the wrist and on the floor of an office. There were no signs of the suspect. Witnesses reported that they saw a 6’0” tall black male, approximately 190-200 lbs. leave the front lobby and get into the passenger side of a dark colored (possibly black) sedan with unknown license plates being operated by an un described driver.

The suspect displayed what appeared to be a dark colored handgun. The proceeds of the robbery were an undisclosed amount of cash and a bag which belonged to the front desk clerk.

The Town of Ramapo Police Detective bureau is investigating the crime with the assistance of the Rockland County Sheriffs Dept. Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

Anyone with any further information can contact the Town of Ramapo Police Detective bureau at 845-357-2400.

(YWN Monsey Newsdesk)

Halachic Analysis: The Shalom Zachar

June 6th, 2014

b[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman]

Written in honor of the birth of the author’s new grandson whose Shalom Zachor is to be held this evening.

It is an Ashkenazic custom to arrange a Shalom Zachar on the first Shabbos after a male child is born.  The Ramah YD 265:12 writes that we visit where the baby is staying in order to taste something and it is also considered a Seudas Mitzvah.  The following is an overview of the Shalom Zachar, including the reasons for it, why it is called Shalom Zachar and why it is held on Shabbos.


There are a number of reasons cited for this custom.

The first reason is proposed by Rabbeinu Tam on the Gemorah in Bava Kamma 80a.  The Gemorah there explains that Rav and Shmuel went to a house of a “Shavuah haBen” and others say it was a house of a “Yeshuah HaBen.”

Rashi correlates Shavuah HaBen to a Bris Milah – since seven days have passed and he could now have a Bris.  He correlates Yeshuah HaBen to the Pidyon HaBen ceremony since Yeshuah is translated in the Aramaic as “Purkan” which can mean redemption.

Rabbeinu Tam questions this identification since although Purkan means redemption it does not mean salvation.  Rabbeinu Tam thus explains that this was a meal celebrated because the child was saved and escaped the dangers involved in childbirth, as in the verse in Yishayahu 66:7, “And she delivered a male child.”  .

A second reason is found in the Taz based upon a Midrash Rabbah in Parshas Emor (27:10) that the reason why a Bris Milah is conducted on the eighth day is so that a Shabbos will pass prior to the Bris Milah and that the baby will have a chance to greet the Shechina.  The Midrash cites a parable of a king who refuses to see any visitor to the land until he first sees the Matrona, so too must the baby first see the Shechina on Shabbos.

A third reason is cited in the Drisha (YD 264:2) is because the child is mourning over the Torah learning that he lost, as discussed in the Gemorah Niddah 30b, that as soon as he comes to the air of the world, an angel comes and strikes him on the mouth and causes him to forget his entire Torah knowledge.  Therefore the visit of the Shalom Zachar is a type of comforting the mourning.  Indeed, the Drisha explains that the Bris is on the eighth day to allow for seven days of mourning.

The Gemorah in Niddah  further tells us that the child does not leave the womb until he takes an oath.  What is the nature of the oath?  That he remain a Tzaddik and not become a Rasha.


How do we know that it is a Seudas Mitzvah?  The Trumas HaDeshen (269) explains that since the Gemorah in Bava Kamma discusses how Rav and Shmuel went to the celebration, and we know that Rav never took part in a celebratory meal that was not a Seudas Mitzvah, as explained in the Gemorah in Chulin (95b), perforce it must be a Seudas Mitzvah.

The Chavos Yair (#70), however, questions whether it is to be considered a Seudas Mitzvah because people do not eat in a set manner at a Shalom Zachar.


Since it is a meal that connotes mourning over the loss of Torah, some (Tehillah L’Dovid on Tehillim cited in Otzer HaBris 128)  have the custom of serving lentils, which is a traditional food of mourning. In modern times, the garbanzo bean has taken on this role (called Arbis).


The simple meaning of the term “Shalom Zachar” is “Greeting the Male.”  However, the author of the Migdal Oz in his introduction (#15) offers two alternative understandings of the term.  It does not connote “male” but rather connotes “reminding.”  The term zachar refers to “remembering” the Torah that was lost.  Alternatively, it refers to “reminding” him of the oath mentioned in the Gemorah.

The question arises as to why this meal is not held for a daughter.  Although it may seem to be a contemporary question, it is not.  The Trumas HaDeshen (#269) poses it, since a baby girl was also saved from the dangers involved in childbirth.  The question is cited by the Dagul Mervavah in  Yore Deah (Siman 178).

One of the Acharonim  (Margalios HaYam Sanhedrin 32b) wants to answer that, in fact, in Talmudic times they actually did conduct it for baby girls as well.   He notes a repetitious turn of phrase in the Gemorah “Shavuah HaBen, Shavuah HaBen” and suggests that the true reading is Shavuah HaBas.


There are also a number of reasons why the meal is specifically held on Shabbos.  One reason is that since there is no Bris Milah without a Shabbos, it takes on a central role.  This is based upon the idea in the Midrash in Parshas Emor.

A second reason proposed by the Trumas HaDeshen is just because, practically, most people are at their homes on the Shabbos and are available to come.  A third reason given by the Sefer Bris Avos is because the baby is considered a Tzaddik (see Mogain Avrohom OC 288) and therefore we greet the Tzaddik on Shabbos.  A fourth reason is in order to visit the mother and to ascertain if she has any needs that might necessitate violating the Shabbos.  A fifth reason cited by the Bris Efraim in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach is to demonstrate to the yet uncircumcised child that he has a portion in Shabbos even though it states in the SHabbos Shmoneh Esreh, “And in its rest (referring to the Shabbos) uncircumcised ones will not reside.”  Another reason offered by Rav Moshe Shternbuch (Teshuvos v’Hanhagos OC II #202)  is based upon the Zohar to indicate that the bounty and overflow that we have during the week is on account of Shabbos.


There is a debate as to whether the meal is held when the baby is not present at the house.  The language of the Ramah in Shulchan Aruch is that the meal is held where one can visit the baby.  Dayan Fisher in Even Yisroel (Vol. II #201) rules in this manner.  Others understand the Trumas HaDeshen’s view to mean that since it is a meal of thanks for what has transpired, it is not necessary for the baby to be there.

What about the grandparents’ hosting a Shalom Zachar if neither the father nor the mother are there?  It is clear that the person giving thanks should be the father or the mother.  It would seem, therefore, if the father or the mother requests or instructs that such a meal be held at their parents’ home, it would be considered a Shalom Zachar and a seudas Mitzvah.   However, in Sefer Shavuah v’Yeshuah HaBen (p. 80), the author writes that a Shalom Zachar is not held if neither the parents nor the child is present.  He concludes that “it needs further analysis.”


There are different opinions as to when the Shalom Zachar should be held when the baby is born on Shabbos itself.  The Chamudei Daniel writes that one should hold it on the first Shabbos.   The custom is also to hold a Shalom Zachar on the second Shabbos as well, in the evening immediately prior to the bris on the next morning.

If the baby is sick, then the Shalom Zachar is delayed until before the Bris Milah is to be held.

The author may be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com


Israel: Two Fatal Drownings in Private Savion Pool

June 6th, 2014

mdanA grandmother who lives in Savion invited her 11-year-old granddaughter and her friend to come and swim in her pool. She was horrified when she saw the two bodies, one at the bottom of the pool and the second floating lifeless at the top. The grandmother made the discovery while in her kitchen as she looked at the security camera monitor displaying pool activity. She immediately summoned her daughter. It was too late however and despite resuscitation efforts, the two were pronounced dead on erev Shavuos 5774.

The investigation into the deaths continues on Thursday, 7 Sivan 5774, but police are reporting it now appears an electric short circuit from the pools cleaning robot appears to have resulted in fatal electrocutions of the two R”L. A second theory being ruled out is that toxic substances used to clean the pool leaked into the water while the girls were swimming. Police hope that autopsies that are being performed on the bodies will reveal the cause of death.

Magen Avid Adom spokesman Zaki Heller confirms that paramedics performed advanced resuscitation on the victims, who were ultimately pronounced dead on the scene. The Herzl School in Yahud opened its doors on motzei Shavuos to permit social workers to meet with fifth graders who were distraught after hearing of the deaths of their friends.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Treyger Brings Historic Participatory Budgeting Initiative to Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island and Sea Gate

June 6th, 2014

treygerAs part of his effort to make sure that every resident has a chance to get involved and have a voice in local government, Council Member Mark Treyger is proud to announce the start of participatory budgeting in the 47th District neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island and Sea Gate.

Participatory budgeting gives residents the chance to decide exactly how $1 million of Council Member Treyger’s city capital funding allocation is spent on projects to improve the local quality of life. This can include ideas such as upgrading parks, schools, libraries, infrastructure or other capital projects that have a lifespan of at least five years and will benefit the community. During the process, residents will have the opportunity to attend neighborhood assemblies beginning next week and brainstorm and suggest their ideas to improve their block or neighborhood. Resident volunteers will then work with Council Member Treyger’s staff and various city agencies to determine which projects are feasible and eligible for funding under city law. As a former public school teacher who is always looking for ways to involve teenagers and students in their community, Council Member Treyger is highlighting the fact that residents 14 and older can take part in upcoming assemblies and suggest ideas for the final ballot, and everyone 16 and older can vote on their favorite projects this spring. While participatory budgeting has been in place in several council districts since 2011, this is the first time it has been brought to the 47th District and offers local residents an unprecedented chance to help shape the city budget.

The effort will begin with four neighborhood information sessions that Council Member Treyger is hosting throughout the district. All residents are invited to attend one of these meetings to find out more about how to get involved in participatory budgeting and learn exactly how the process will work over the coming months. The meetings will all take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and are scheduled for the following dates and locations: Monday, June 9th at P.S. 329 (2929 W. 30th Street); Thursday, June 12th at John Dewey High School (50 Avenue X); Monday, June 16th at P.S. 216 (350 Avenue X); and Thursday, June 19th at St. Athanasius Church, 2201 Bay Parkway.

“This is a historic chance for residents to really get involved in local government and have a key role in deciding how their tax dollars are reinvested in the community. I am very proud to provide this great opportunity for community involvement and to make sure that every resident has a voice in the budgeting process. I am very excited to hear what ideas residents have to improve the quality of life in Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island and Sea Gate, so I encourage everyone to attend an upcoming assembly and get involved in this great initiative,” said Council Member Treyger.

Participatory budgeting is open to all district residents, with residents 14 and older eligible to take part in the process of suggesting ideas and forming the final ballot, while those 16 and older can take part in this spring’s final vote. The process is also open to anyone who works, owns a business or attends school in the district or has children who attend school in the district. For more information, check pbnyc.org or contact Jeannine Cherichetti in Council Member Treyger’s district office at (718) 307-7151.

(YWN Desk – NYC)

PHOTOS: Truck Flips On Route 508 – One Fatality

June 6th, 2014



A truck flipped over on Route 508 in the Jordan Valley on Thursday, 7 Sivan 5774, resulting in the death of the driver. According to an Ichud Hatzalah report, the driver was pronounced dead on the scene.

Firefighters responded to extricate the driver from the tangled metal. The cause of the fatal crash is under investigation.

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(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photos: News 24)


Mortar Shells Fired from Syrian into the Golan Heights

June 6th, 2014

golan1.jpgAs a result of high trajectory fire from Syrian into Israel on Shavuos, a number of fires broke out in the Golan Heights. IDF officials tell the media it is assumed the fire was during celebrations by Assad’s troops following the Syrian president’s success in the elections. For the first time in the Golan Heights, the Iron Dome responded in an effort to intercept the incoming rocket.

At least two mortar shells were fired into the Golan Heights on yomtov. The Iron Dome fired at least two rockets to intercept the incoming mortar shells. Fires broke out between Alonei HaBashan and Ein Zivan. Golan Heights and Upper Galil region firefighters responded. The fires were declared under control within a half hour.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

VIDEO: Obama Captured On Video Pumping Iron At A Gym In Poland

June 6th, 2014


Like millions of gym goers, President Barack Obama grimaces while lifting weights. Like millions, he does lunges and step ups and tests his cardio on an elliptical machine. Unlike millions, he is surreptitiously captured on a video that goes viral on the Internet.

A one-minute, 25-second clip of Obama exercising in the gym at the Marriott Hotel Warsaw in Poland surfaced Wednesday, offering an unusual glimpse of the president in full workout mode. The clip, made by a hotel guest, shows Obama in a black gym suit, ear buds in place, choosing weights and working through an exercise routine that includes shoulder presses and deltoid lifts. Obama stayed at the hotel Tuesday night at the start of a three-country European trip.

The Secret Service, whose agents accompany the president at all times, confirmed the legitimacy of the video. No guest was asked to refrain from taking pictures.

Obama routinely works out at hotel gyms during his travels. Hotel guests are permitted to remain in the gym during his workouts. Anyone who stays in a hotel where Obama is spending the night must pass through a metal detector. The Secret Service did not consider the Warsaw hotel incident a security violation. Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said the gym visit, which was not on Obama’s official schedule, was no different than the president’s surprise attendance at a restaurant where other diners can gawk and take pictures.


Body of Drowning Victim Flown To Eretz Yisrael From Uman

June 6th, 2014

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The body of 24-year-old Shlomo Zalman Kuzlovsky Z”L, who drowned in the river as he toiveled erev Shavuos during his visit to the tziyun of Rav Nachman in Uman ZY”A was flown to Eretz Yisrael for Kvura. The meis arrived in Ben-Gurion International Airport on erev Shabbos 8 Sivan 5774. The levaya is scheduled to take place at 16:00 in the Shamgar Funeral Home in Yerushalayim. The meis will then pass Yeshivas Toras Chacham on Ohelei Yosef Street and kvura will be in Har Menuchos. The niftar’s father received the news in Argentina and hopes to arrive in time to take part in the levaya.

Due to the efforts of askanim and officials of Hatzalah in the Ukraine the body of the niftar was released. The niftar was brought to the tziyun prior to departure for Eretz Yisrael. A levaya was then held in Uman.

According to the head of Hatzalah in the Ukraine Rav Hillel Cohen, the victim toiveled in the river but did not know how to swim. He added the water is very dangerous, all the more so for one who cannot swim.

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(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photos: News 24)