Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

That Hasidic Beggar Isn’t Jewish

July 10, 2014

This post first appeared in The Times of Israel.

A beggar in New York (illustrative image: Frank Gaertner /

A beggar in New York (illustrative image: Frank Gaertner /

Look again. That Hasidic panhandler on the streets of Brooklyn isn’t necessarily who you think she is

The New York Post reports that non-Jewish beggars are posing as Hasidim in order to maximize their intake. They may not be members of the tribe, but the panhandlers have gotten wind of the mitzvah of tsedakah, or giving charity — especially prior to Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

“They’re good people. They’re righteous people,” said Vincent Maurizio, who has begged at 13th Avenue and 43th Street in the heavily Hasidic Borough Park for almost two decades. Maurizio reported that he had collected $750 during Passover this year.

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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.



Measles Vaccine Developer Warns Jewish Anti-Vaxxers

December 11, 2013

This article was originally published in The Times of Israel.

An illustrative photo of a patient receiving a vaccination. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)

An illustrative photo of a patient receiving a vaccination. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)

With almost no measles in the United States since the 1990s, today’s generation of American parents are not familiar with the disease and buy in too easily to the anti-vaccination movement currently in vogue, said measles vaccine developer Dr. Samuel Katz.

“Unless you have worked in Sub-Saharan Africa, you have no anxiety to protect against it,” Katz said.

The last surviving member of the team of researchers that developed the measles vaccine 50 years ago believes it is “ludicrous,” however, to get upset over the Center for Disease Control’s December 5 announcement that there were 175 casesof the disease in the United States in 2013, a tripling of the annual average.

Notably, 58 of those cases were among Hasidic Jews in the Brooklyn’s Boro Park and Williamsburg neighborhoods. It was the largest outbreak of measles in the US since 1996.

“It’s all so relative,” said Katz, who was honored last week by the CDC. “True, there were 175 cases in the US so far this year, but there are 3-4 million cases a year worldwide. In Western Europe alone there are 25,000 cases per year.”

On an average day, 430 children die of measles worldwide. In 2011, there were an estimated 158,000 measles deaths.

In a phone interview with The Times of Israel, Katz, professor emeritus of pediatrics at Duke University, emphasized that the measles cases in the US were all the result of the importation of the virus from other countries.

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.



Shomer Shabbos Drug Dealers

September 10, 2013

This post first appeared as “Ring of Observant Jewish Drug Dealers Refused to Work on Shabbat” in The Forward.

<> on August 21, 2013 in Camden, New Jersey.Law enforcement took note that the members of a drug ring in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn were keeping unusual hours. What drew attention was not when the pushers were doing business, but rather when they weren’t.

According to the New York Daily News, a group of apparently Jewish men have been indicted for running a shomer Shabbos drug operation. The sellers of oxycodone, cocaine and heroine sent messages to clients warning them not to come by between sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.

“We are closing 7:30 on the dot and we will reopen saturday 8:15 so if u need anything you have 45mins to get what you want,” read one text message they blasted on Friday to clients. In another message, they wrote that business was “closed for Shabbat.”

The men may be observant of Jewish law, but the secular authorities don’t see anything kosher about their allegedly criminal behavior.

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.