Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Micah Halpern on the Kidnapped Boys in Israel


Please Join us this Shabbos 
(June 28, 2014)
 
with Huffington Post Columnist

Micah Halpern 


will speak at kiddush on:

"Bring Us Back Our Boys:
Breaking Updates on the 

Kidnapped Teens" 


Micah D. Halpern is a frequent analyst on network television and radio in the areas of terror, the Middle East and Muslim Fundamentalism. He is the author of the recently released, best selling, book THUGS.

His voice is recognized by listeners to talk radio across America and to his weekly feature, A Safer World, on USA Radio Network. He is familiar to viewers on CBS, FOX, MSNBC and to those who watch documentaries on PBS, The Learning Channel, The History Channel, Discovery and the Food Network. Following 9-11 he was the CBS-2 commentator on terror. On 9-11, 2003 he was the guest expert on ABC's The View. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Terror (Toby Press, 2003) an accessible book that clearly and succinctly answers the questions we are afraid to ask.

Halpern lectures frequently, both in the United States and Israel, on issues relating to terror, foreign affairs, Israel and the Middle East, as well as wine history, and popular culture. In 1997, Micah Halpern was appointed Israel columnist for America Online and continues, until today, to write a weekly, now syndicated, column on foreign affairs, the Middle East and terror.

An expert on terrorism, Halpern has been invited for consultations in the White House with terror analysts and has addressed conferences sponsored by the Justice Department. His expertise as a historian was called on by PBS for their 4 part series on Herod and by The History Channel for the documentary film entitled Masada in which he also appears. He has also contributed religious commentary for CNN and ABC television.

For fun, Micah Halpern writes a column on Kosher wines. He is the only exclusively kosher wine reviewer in the Western world.

A native of Annapolis, he currently divides his time between Jerusalem and New York City.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sam and Dora Ratner and the Old Broadway Synagogue Sukkah

Four years ago, in 2010, we rebuilt our fixed sukkah in the back courtyard on foundation of the sukkah that was donated to the synagogue by Sam and Dora Ratner back in in 1954. Since this year is the sixtieth anniversary of that sukkah, it is appropriate to reflect on the Ratners and their contribution to the synagogue.

Before I go further, I should say that it was much that the Ratners donated the sukkah, they most likely donated the materials, but moreover, Sam built the sukkah with his own hands. And a great job he did at that since the sukkah was in operation until 2009 when the heavily reinforced roof flaps started pulling the walls apart.

Dorothy and Dora Ratner, middle to late 1940s.
According to Sam's grandson, Ken Ratner, Sam was born in 1897 in Zelva, Byelorussia, and came to the United States via Ellis Island. The origin of the name "Ratner" is shrouded in mystery, since the family's original name was "Bublatzky." One theory has it that the name was the maiden name of a woman who married into the family. Another theory is that the orignal name was changed at Ellis Island (I myself am usually suspicious of such stories, and on the Ellis Island site, one can find both names on the lists of arriving passengers). In any event, it seems to have been changed by Sam's father, Eliahu (Bublatzky) Ratner. Please click here for further notes on the Ratner family genealogy.

Sam opened a dry good store in lower Manhattan and later another one on White Plains Road in the Bronx, but lost these stores in the Depression. Later, he moved to Harlem and opened another dry goods store.

Ken and David Ratner and Abraham Klein, 1966
In 1921, Sam married Dora Sackinsky in Brooklyn. Sam and Dora son, Herbert, married Dorothy Rogoff in the late 1940s and had sons Robert, Ken and David. Herbert and Dorothy, their children and Dorothy's mother, Esther (Kiki) Rogoff,  lived at 160 Claremont, and then moved briefly into the Manhattanville Houses when they opened in 1961. After a few years, the family moved into 180 Claremont (where the Krets, the Rubinsteins, the Feigenblatts and the Libermans lived, among others). When Sam died in 1958 (four years after building the sukkah), Dora married member of the Old Broadway Synagogue, Abraham Klein Sometime in the 1970s, the Kleins moved to Florida, where Abraham died in 1979 and Dora died in 1996.
Esther Rogoff, 1985
Robert Ratner Bar Mitzvah Photo, 1963

When we decided the the sukkah built by Sam Ratner was no longer safe, we considered a couple different options. One would be to demolish the old sukkah and just put up a nylon sukkah, as many people in the suburbs have. The second option would be to recreate our original sukkah as best we could. In light of the fact that the old sukkah had served us well, and also because it was built in an old European style which included moveable roof flaps (compare with the images of the sukkos that appear in the extraordinary sukkah decoration was created by R. Aryeh Steinberger and hangs in the first floor of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan), we decided to recreate the sukkah that Sam Ratner built. We had to raise the money from a number of contributors to build the new sukkah, and because none of us had Sam Ratner's expertise, we hired Alex Myftarago, the contractor who rebuilt the roof, to build the new sukkah. As was noted above, the new sukkah was built upon the foundation of the old sukkah and largely along the same lines. To express our continuing thanks to the Ratners for nearly 50 years of the sukkah, we installed the old sukkah plaque next to the new one, which thanks our recent generous donors. Let's hope the new sukkah will last as long as the one it replaced!

Plaque thanking the Ratners on the left, and plaque thanking the contributors to the new sukkah on the right, 2010. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

OLD BROADWAY SYNAGOGUE EXTERIOR RESTORATION CAMPAIGN

The Old Broadway Synagogue has been awarded a $25,000 Jewish Heritage Fund matching grant from the  New York Landmarks Conservancy. The grant is conditional on our raising matching funds, which I am pleased to announce that we have done. The grant and the matching funds add up to $50,000, but the entire project will cost $67,000. Now we are trying to raise the additional $17,000.  This project will repoint the exterior of the building, replace the rear exit doors with new doors with emergency hardware, repaint the fire escape and restore the large window in the rear facade. We hope to carry out the project this summer (2014).


The facade of the Old Broadway Synagogue after the restoration of the stained glass windows and the facade that was done in 2003 with a grant from the Upper Manhattan Historic Preservation Fund (and administered by the New York Landmarks Conservancy). The proposed work will focus on the side and rear elevations of the building.
 Your help will be deeply appreciated. If you would like to contribute, please send a check made out to the "Old Broadway Synagogue" to Old Broadway Synagogue, 15 Old Broadway, New York, NY 10027.  In the memo section, please  write "Exterior Restoration." You can also contribute online through Paypal by clicking here. Thank you in advance for your help!

PROGRESS OF THE OLD BROADWAY SYNAGOGUE EXTERIOR RESTORATION CAMPAIGN



WE HAVE REACHED OUR MINIMAL GOAL OF $10,000!!!
Now we need to raise the rest of the money -
 $17,000 - to complete the project

We thank the following for their support:

Sam Alperin
Shirley Bennett
Donald and Helen Brown
Ruth Brown
Barbara and Mark Cane
Seth and Rachel Chalmer
Daniel and Jennifer Cohen
Daniel Davidow
Allan Dolgow
Samson Frankel
Avi and Jodi Friedman
Edward Kahn
Professor Eli Katz
Stephen Katzman
Chanan and Eve Kessler
Cameron LaFollette
Jose Melendrez and Rebecca Dreisinger
Eric and Gloria Plaks
Asher Radensky
Paul Radensky
Sheila Rubin
Irving Ruderman
Leon Sadoff
Harry and Courtney Schley
Jerome Schuster
Scott Schuster
Daniel and Esther Steinhauer
Martin and Sara Suman
Dr. Robert and Professor Lottie Tartell



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Eureka!!! The Best Vegetarian Cholent Ever!!!

Well, that's probably an exaggeration, I did, however, make a very good vegetarian this Shabbos. It had great consistency, and for vegetarian, a very good taste. Friday afternoon before Shabbos, I put six large chopped carrots in olive oil on the bottom of the five quart crock pot. To that I added three cups of dried beans - black, red and white. I also added a cup of wheat berries, a cup of barley, three heaping teaspoons of salt, a spoon and a half of pepper, and also a half a spoon of peppercorns. I also placed six whole eggs in the pot and more olive oil. I would have added paprika, but we were out. I filled the pot with water and let it cook until just after davenning early Shabbos afternoon. The ingredients blended very nicely and yielded a thick, filling consistency. The pepper gave the cholent some kick, but not so much that our pepper-averse congregants could not eat it. I augmented my own bowl with some cayenne so that it was sufficiently spicy for my taste. I had been adding mushrooms to the cholent but some people don't like them, and I feel that mushrooms don't hold up that well in leftovers. So I made this one without mushrooms. Reviews from the other congregants were uniformly positive although they would have been much happier if they could have had meat cholent.