Monday, September 29, 2014

Broadway & 37th Street on the Mitzvah Tank (Part 2)

This is the second installment of photos I took on the Mitzvah Tank at 37th street. The first set is here. In that post I mentioned that there were two gentlemen who had never worn t'filin, but I forgot to post their photos. So here they are, and a few more images from the same afternoon. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

On A Lighter Note

After my rant in the last post I thought I'd post some lighthearted street shots. I try to be as inconspicuous as possible when I'm out shooting. Sometimes I try to make eye contact, but not for any of these below. I was just caught red handed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The MURDER of Klinghoffer

This is a rant.

To understand the background read this.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City has scheduled performances of this opera which was enabled with a gift of millions of dollars from an unnamed donor (the Met refuses to divulge the name). I strongly suspect it is Qatar. The Met's director, Peter Gelb - who is a scion of the Gelb family, a liberal minded Jewish family of NYC 'culture', ancestors of which also boast of being managers of the New York Times (need I say more?) - has remarked that this opera is a work of art with an important message.

From where I stand the message glorifies Palestinian terrorists who hijacked the Achille Lauro, an Italian ocean liner, and furthermore glorifies antisemitism, terror tactics, and the murder and desecration of a wheelchair bound Jewish man. How can this be considered a work of art with an important message?

I attended a rally at Lincoln Center yesterday to protest the staging of this travesty. The rally coincided with the first performance of the Metropolitan Opera's season. The first performance of the Klinghoffer travesty will be on October 20th, and I suspect there will be a rally held at that time also. Speakers at the rally included quite a few influential New York politicians who vowed to pursue withdrawal of public funding for the Met Opera and Lincoln Center. I hope they are successful. I hope the Met Opera suffers a drastic financial loss as a result of their decision to stage this opera.

The Met had some serious negotiations this summer with its service unions, one of which was Local 802 of the Musician's Union. It was comforting to hear from an acquaintance whom I met at the rally that some of the musicians have enough of an ethical conscience to refuse to play the performances. It's a big risk for musicians to take action like that. I salute them.

I stayed at the rally for about three hours. A world record for me! Shot lots of images, so many that I filled one and a half 16gb cards, another world record for me. Here's a few of the images.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Broadway & 37th Street on the Mitzvah Tank

Broadway and 37th street in Manhattan is in the heart of the garment district, and the tank parks there every thursday afternoon. On my previous is it on Tuesday, the rabbi suggested I stop by to meet some interesting people. I was not disappointed. There was a constant stream of regulars who work in the area and stopped in to put on t'filin and schmooze with the rabbi. The two gentlemen who worked the street outside the tank, asking passers-by if they were Jewish, discovered two men who said they had never worn t'filin (at least not since their bar mitzvah fifty or city years previously). Women stopped in also, just to listen to the sound of the shofar. At 3pm a group gathered for the afternoon prayer, and afterwards for the reading of the Torah portion for the day. And once again I was granted the mitzvah fulfilling the Levi aliya. It was a very fulfilling day, and I got quite a few pictures to boot.

Some women stopped in to listen to the shofar:

 Regulars stopped by just to say hello, give some tzedakah, and put on t'filin:

A group of young yeshiva students were visiting the area, bought some kosher pizza, and said hello to the rabbi:

 And we read the torah portion for the day:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mitzvah Tank on 47th Street

On Tuesday afternoon I spent a few hours with the good people of the Mitzvah Tank that  is found at various locations in Manhattan during the week. The 'tank', operated by Rabbi Levi Baumgarten, is an outreach facility of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidim based in Grown Heights, Brooklyn. The 'tank' offers a facility for Jews to participate in a short afternoon prayer service ( Mincha), put on t'filin, and at this time of year - for a month before the Rosh Hashana holiday - to hear the sound of the shofar. Usually one or more of the people with the 'tank' stand outside and ask passers-by if they are Jewish. If not, they are honored with a 'God bless you, have a good day'. If they are, however, the mitzvah-tanker will invite them (if it's a man) to put on t'filin and/or (it it's a woman) to listen to the shofar.

I love to photograph the action inside the 'tank' and out on the street. On Tuesday the tank started out on 42nd Street and Madison Ave. and then moved to the 47th Street diamond district. Tomorrow I'm hoping to spend the afternoon on the 'tank' in the garment district (on 37th Street).

Here's some pics of the action on Tuesday:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

More Again From Crown Heights III

This Sunday is an important day for Jews. In New York and Berlin rallies will be occurring to bring attention to the growth of antisemitism in our current state of affairs.

When I was a young boy my family belonged to a synagogue in Newark, NJ. Temple B'nai Abraham was a landmark institution with a very prominent rabbi, Joachim Prinz. Dr. Prinz was the chief rabbi of Berlin in the 1930's but escaped the Nazi debacle. He was an extremely charismatic personality, and was part of Dr. Martin Luther King's historic presentation in Washington, DC, He was given the honor to say some words to the mass of marchers just before Dr. King gave his landmark speech.

Dr. Prinz's speech in its entirety can be read here. But a few sentences stand out as apropos for our time:

'When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.'

So, tomorrow as we march at 12 Noon from Columbus Circle to Sixth Avenue for the 1pm rally, we will not be silent. Here's the Facebook link

Here's more from Crown Heights.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Afternoon in Crown Heights Part II

Sunday was the first time, since beginning my exploration of the neighborhood, that I sat in one of the eateries to have a bite (I'm on kind of a diet, y'know?). Here's more as a continuation from the previous blog post.