Federal prosecutors charged the founder of the Borough Park shomrim with a three-count indictment for allegedly coercing a 15-year-old girl to travel for sex, authorities announced on Thursday.
Jacob Daskal, 62, had been charged in New York State court in 2018 for raping the teen victim, and was out on a $75,000 bond, but now the feds have stepped in — hitting him with charges of coercing a minor to engage in illicit sexual conduct, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct,
“Daskal, who was almost 60 years old when these crimes were committed, exploited the vulnerability of a young teenager by grooming her for sex and enticing her into having sexual relationships with him,” acting US District Attorney Seth DuCharme said in a statement.
Federal prosecutors say that Daskal — who founded the private safety group that patrols Borough Park in conjunction with the 66th Police Precinct — fostered a sexual relationship with the underaged girl, who abused his home in Brooklyn in 2017.
Daskal also allegedly took the girl to his summer home in upstate New York — crossing state borders into New Jersey along the way, according to court documents.
The cross-border crimes continued when the victim moved to Chicago, and Daskal allegedly communicated with the victim over Skype and text, asking her to pose nude during video chats and send nude photos, according to the federal complaint.
On Nov. 5 2017, Daskal traveled to Chicago to visit the victim, where he brought her to a hotel room for sex, prosecutors allege.
“A man who founded an organization aimed at creating a safer community should know the difference between right and wrong,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.To continue reading in TheBrooklynPaper
Did Mayor de Blasio First Coordinate and then Castigate a Funeral Procession (his Police Department Helped Organize)? If so, What Does that Say About the State of Affairs in New York
This is a follow-up to our last piece entitled:
The following is a commentary based upon new information that we have obtained through the day.
We were hopeful that finally Mayor Bill de Blasio had put his foot down to the violations of social mandates by a small but not insignificant community. The NYPD has repeatedly had to break up funeral gatherings and other social soirees in religious communities in New York. Each such event runs the risk of infecting thousands of New Yorkers (and New Jerseyites) with Covid-19; but, to the extent de Blasio could look the other way, de Blasio has done just that. Time and time again, he has avoided controversy while still juggling political expediency.
But, to help organize a massive funeral in a pandemic? Really?
De Blasio’s various campaigns have been well funded by members of the religious community (and their attorneys and media consultants), and not just the Jewish community. His public records of campaign finances are a veritable whose who of influential people and activists and those that represent him. Members of the funeral-hosting Haredi community have gotten special treatment when it comes to real estate deals. Nursing homes are largely unregulated, whether that has anything to do with de Blasio and his office or not is anyone’s guess in bedlam, oops, Gotham. And the Shomrim are largely funded by NYS taxpayer dollars in one form or another.
How many communities get their own assisted police and ambulance forces, sometimes better equipped than those that are by New York’s public system? We don’t know nor do we judge. We stand by our position, however, that the Shomrim’s days should be numbered in favor of a more unified police force in New York. But these are the ways of politics and de Blasio has the financial remains of a Presidential bid to account for, or not.
So, yesterday’s utter castigation of the attendees to a massive funeral procession felt oddly like de Blasio was finally standing up for all Jews and all residents of the City of New York (and New Jersey). There are too few degrees of separation in a City so packed with people. In a Borough that has nearly the largest number of sick to healthy people on the various Covid-Scales, to have a safe giant funeral is impossible. Mayor de Blasio’s march to the scene of the funeral to help disperse the crowd felt somewhat heroic (albeit admittedly naive).
The mere mortals of this world, Jewish or otherwise, have had to bury our dead largely alone or with the help of online media portals. A Rabbi’s funeral, despite broad accounts of its importance in Jewish observance, still cannot undo the mandates of Pikuach Nefesh as it applies to the lack of safety in numbers with Covid-19 so easily transmitted. But we suppose a belief in Pikuach Nefesh presupposes a belief in the underlying science.
We accepted if not celebrated de Blasio’s response to the massive funeral procession as a measured response to frustration with a community that has violated the social distancing laws to the detriment of all New Yorkers. We thought that finally the camel’s back had broken. The religious community, small as it may be or not, that has thumbed its nose to social distancing (and the science behind it) has raised the ire of Jews and non Jews everywhere. So finally, de Blasio did it! He yelled! He Tweeted! He stood up and said, “Enough.” And in so doing he was unsurprisingly called an anti-Semite.
Of course, waiving that flag in the Covid-19 environment is a measured response (sarcasm intended).
But then the bubble burst. “Drach!” Gone. Mayor de Blasio’s office, we are told, helped to organize the very funeral procession he then needed to disperse and openly excoriate. What was that? He was not looking out for regular New Yorkers? Apparently not. He was doing damage control; and if that meant pinning blame on a large swath of New York, all Jews, then let the rip cord fly.
And, that is a disappointment.
If Mayor de Blasio used a broad stroke to include all Jews in his criticism of the Haredi community that violated social distancing, out of frustration for an event the Haredim held that places all New Yorkers at risk, so-be-it. If they did not like the heat, they should not have piled 2500 deep into the Williamsburg kitchen.
But if Mayor de Blasio first approved that gathering and then used the Jews as a scapegoat to put out what otherwise might have been a media firestorm, he is no better than the worst of the politicians there are out there. And if that last point is true, we in our previous criticism owe our apologies to the organizers of the event.
If Mayor de Blasio’s office approved the funeral, helped to keep it organized, and then misread the magnitude, the community that hosted the funeral with approvals cannot be held to account for the fallout.
That responsibility rests squarely on de Blasio’s shoulders.
If that latter point is true and if people get sick in two weeks from yesterday, any blood will, if he approved the event, be on de Blasio’s shoulders, not the shoulders of the organizers of the event.
Mayor Bill de Blasio personally helped disperse a crowded Hasidic funeral in Williamsburg on Tuesday night, sending thousands of mourners scattering on Bedford Avenue before issuing a stern warning on Twitter to “the Jewish community, and all communities.”
“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite [sic]: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,” de Blasio wrote. “What I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus.”
Twelve summonses were issued to those violating social distancing restrictions, according to Police Commissioner Dermott Shea. There were no arrests. “We cannot have what we had last night,” Shea told reporters on Wednesday. “We will not tolerate it.”
But according to Hasidic community leaders, the police department actually approved and helped coordinate the procession, which was held for local rabbi Chaim Mertz. Hours before the intervention, the NYPD’s Community Affairs Unit erected barricades in the area and worked with Shomrim, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood patrol group, to ensure the funeral could take place.
“We had an understanding with the police department that the Shomrim patrol would have 50 members and make sure everyone is wearing masks,” Rabbi Abe Friedman, a Williamsburg community leader, told Gothamist. “We can’t cancel a funeral of a very prominent rabbi, it’s not realistic.”
“It was supposed to be a very organized, safe, very short final goodbye,” he added. “Unfortunately, some people overacted and saw tons of people on the street and started dispersing the crowd and that caused a very big issue.”
Since the pandemic began, the NYPD has repeatedly broken up well-attended funeral gatherings in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, which have seen some of the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths. A police spokesperson would not say why the funeral was allowed to take place, or how the department decides to enforce social distancing laws.
To continue reading in the Gothamist, click here.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday that large gatherings like an Orthodox funeral held in Brooklyn Tuesday night were endangering his police officers — as the mayor claimed he has a “long, deep relationship with the Orthodox Jewish community.”
Shea, who said a paltry 12 summonses were issued, also pushed back against criticism that other groups were holding similar gatherings.
“There was two funerals last weekend for members of the NYPD, we would normally have probably tens of thousands of people at that funeral, we had a handful,” Shea said of scaled-down police officer funerals.
“People have to be accountable for their own actions, regardless of what neighborhood, ethnicity, where they come from, we cannot have what we had last night. We will not tolerate it.”
To continue reading, click here.
The NYPD was warned that the funeral of a prominent Brooklyn rabbi would draw a “big crowd” and sent dozens of cops with barricades and light towers — despite a ban on mass gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Post has learned.
But the situation in Williamsburg got out of hand when mourners surged toward the synagogue because a plan to relay the service over loudspeakers was unexpectedly canceled, a longtime liaison between the Hasidic Satmar community and the NYPD said Wednesday.
Moses Weiser said he “personally spoke” with NYPD Capt. Mark Vazquez before Tuesday’s funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who reportedly died of COVID-19.
“I asked him to use his resources however he wants to put this together, and he basically told us that we should follow his instructions,” Weiser said.
“We knew there was going to be a big crowd, especially now with no schools open, no yeshivas open — everyone wants to pay their respects to such a man.”
Weiser said Mertz’s synagogue, Tolas Yakov Bais Hamedrash, “originally wanted to have just family” outside “and we would set up speakers down the street a couple of blocks so that people could spread out and listen.”
“But an order came from somewhere to cancel the speakers, I’m not sure where the order came from, and so people started gathering close to see what was going on and to hear,” he said.
To continue reading, click here.
This Video Speaks for Itself.
The WhatsApp text containing this video stated that this occurred in Crown Heights at the corner of Crown Street and Brooklyn Avenue. The NYPD and Shomrim were alleged to have been called to the scene. We cannot tell from the video of this was a mass funeral or simply a close family escort.
This type of tragedy should be unthinkable for everyone involved. We are all victims of a terrible illness, the mismanagement of the entire situation by political leaders and the faithless continuity of large congregations by both influential church leaders and rabbis.
But, when citizen starts attacking citizen, there is a reflection of a whole different level of outrage and hostility.
We should all be outraged. Not at one another but at the political and religious leaders who are quick to blame and slow to accept accountability.
FIRST THEY ARE INDOCTRINATED THEN DEBASED, THE DENIAL OF AN AMBULANCE PERMIT IN BROOKLYN
The following is a commentary – nothing more than the opinion of the blogger or bloggers, followed by the story:
It seems to us that this was a no-brainer, an all women ambulance corp designated to respond to the needs of women in the Hasidic community. Why not? Women are the caregivers. Women are the mothers. Women are the empathetic. Women are often better educated (within the Hasidic community). Why would someone even think to deny such a service? Money.
We believe there can be no other answer than the money and the control. We contend that those in charge of this decision should be ashamed. To those of you who voted against, or simply stayed home to avoid a quorum, the life of every woman who does not seek emergency care because she does not want to be touched by a man, is in your hands. Any death, yours to shoulder.
The obvious gender bias is tough to palate.
Hasidic women have been raised to believe that the touch of a man other than their husband and young sons is forbidden. In the Hasidic community, there are areas where men and women are segregated, even on streets. A woman will not even shake the hand of a man, even as a gesture of courtesy in a business setting. Some find it insulting, but to these women it an engendered part of the sanctity of their belief in G-d. Distance between the sexes is required.
The most religious of women will not even take something directly from a man. “Please pass the salt” means that the salt gets placed down on the table by the man and picked up off the table by the woman so as to avoid any direct contact, even albeit vis a vis a salt shaker. In some cases, this is also true of the relationship between husband and wife during the time of “Nidah” or “ritual impurity.” A woman’s husband will not even take something directly from her hand. Some think this is extremism. In the religious community it is about piousness, virtue, the sanctity of a marriage and unintended sexual consequences of such interactions.
We pass no judgement.
We ask the following question to those ill-advised members of the committee who voted against the all-woman ambulance corp, and to those who decided to stay home, knowing the lack of quorum would fail the vote: When you indoctrinate a woman with a belief that the touch of a man is forbidden, how then is she to feel comfortable getting medical care provided by a man? How is any woman who has been raised within this belief system to feel comfortable if she is sick and needs medical assistance, even emergency medical assistance, when the person offering that assistance is a man?
Many women grapple with this decision. Others endure the touch and try not to feel somehow demeaned.
But, is this a fair demand of women within the religious society? What if the man who answers an emergency call is the Paramedic from next door who rides on the EMS truck for Hatzolah?
We have been told that many, many Hasidic women will avoid calling an ambulance, and will risk whatever medical danger they may be in because they fear the contact required to treat them will be the touch of a man.
As such being a Hasidic woman in a medical emergency can be tortuously uncomfortable. And these women deserve better from the society in which they are raised. They deserve better from the Rabbinate that petitioned against the bid for a permit for the all-female ambulance corp. These women bear your children. They are your future and the decision to deny Hasidic women a gender-appropriate ambulance is a travesty. It is an injustice.
The decision to deny the bid, in our view, has everything to do with money, control, sharing of financial resources and the financial accountability of Hatzolah.
The bid of an all-women Hasidic EMT crew to operate an ambulance in Brooklyn was denied Tuesday by a state-sanctioned board, in what the group is blasting as an act of bias.
Members of Ezras Nashim say the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City (REMSCO) is packed with sympathizers of Hatzolah, an Orthodox mens-only EMT group, that has forcefully opposed its female counterpart’s right to exist.
“It’s biased,” said Leah Levine, outreach and development director for the all-women group. “Once there’s a situation that there’s so many board members with Hatzolah, there’s really a very slight chance [for us to succeed].”
Ezras Nashim — Hebrew for “helping women” — sought to serve female clientele within a 2-square-mile area in the predominantly Orthodox Borough Park neighborhood. The women were previously turned away when they sought to join the men’s group.
On Tuesday night, REMSCO denied the group’s application with a 12-7 vote. There were five abstentions and two members were absent.
Ezras Nashim needed a 14-vote majority in order to get the OK to operate its own ambulance.
At least three of the men who voted against the women have ties to Hatzolah, The Post found.
“They should have recused themselves and they didn’t,” charged Ezras Nashim member Sarah Weisshaus, calling the vote “an injustice.”
“Because they are part of REMSCO they really had an advantage in terms of manipulating the situation.”
Scott Orlanski, a REMSCO board member who opposed the application, said Ezras Nashim didn’t meet certain requirements.
“This has nothing to do with Hatzolah,” Orlanski said at the meeting, referring to the Orthodox ambulance corps Hatzolah that operates in Brooklyn. “This has to do with Ezras Nashim and their proving need [to qualify for an ambulance].”
He added, “They may want to be met, there may be a desire to meet them, as has been indicated in the application submitted by Ezras Nashim, but we are not here to debate wishes, wants or desires … religion is not one of those [requirements] and I submit to my fellow members that should we tread into those dangerous, murky waters, we will be in a world of hurt.”
REMSCO board member Nancy Benedetto voted yes for the ambulance.
“What we are looking at this evening is that there is a lack of evidence that existing resources will be reallocated to fulfill the maintaining of modesty for observant Jewish women. That is a key piece here,” she said ahead of the vote.
REMSCO didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The women plan on appealing the decision in Albany.
Ezras Nashim, which launched in 2012, wants to serve Orthodox women who feel uncomfortable being cared for by male first responders.
To continue reading click here.
Two men have been convicted of falsely accusing two teenagers of robbery in north London.
Community neighbourhood watch group Shomrim Stamford Hill called police claiming the youths had tried to steal a moped from delivery driver Thiago Alves Vieira last July.
However, CCTV disproved the story.
Vieira, 38, from Edmonton, was jailed for eight months while Michael Scher, 32, was jailed for five months, suspended for two years.
Both had previously pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Wood Green Crown Court heard how police received a number of calls stating that two juveniles had been detained for robbery by the group on 3 July.
On arrival officers were told the pair, aged 13 and 15, had surrounded Vieira, demanded his moped keys and pushed him.
Vieira, along with Scher, of Amhurst Park, and Yaakov Nowogrodski, who were also members of Shomrim, made sworn statements to support this version of events.
However, this was proven to be a “deliberate criminal conspiracy,” police said.
Officers later located CCTV that showed the boys had not gone near Vieira.
Det Sgt James Leeks, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “Why these men decided to fabricate this case may never be explained. However, abusing the criminal justice system in such an underhand manner is disgraceful.”
Nowogrodski, 27, was found to have fled the country after he was charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and false imprisonment. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.
Rabbi Herschel Gluck, president of Stamford Hill Shomrim, said: “The Shomrim members involved in this incident were immediately suspended as soon as we were made aware of these serious allegations.
To continue reading click here.
Twenty-eight years ago, the Rebbe’s Shluchim to Seagate, NY Rabbi Chaim and Rivky Brikman, were hired as the rabbi and rebbetzin of Congregation Kneses Israel of Seagate, a synagogue with a storied past dating to 1924.
The shul had always prided itself on being a place in which every Jewish resident of Seagate would feel at home, so the Brikmans’ Chabad philosophy of warmth and outreach to every Jew was a natural fit.
In keeping with their mission––as shluchim of the Rebbe––the Brikmans founded a Hebrew school, adult education classes, programs for youth, teen and seniors, transforming what was a relatively small Jewish community into one that is vibrant and brimming with Jewish pride.
Eleven years ago, they were approached by a Satmar Yeshiva from Boro Park to rent space in the building adjacent to the main shul. Because the shul building sufficed for the congregation’s needs at the time, they rented the space to them.
Then came Hurricane Sandy and destroyed the lower level of the synagogue. Recently, an electrical fire wrought havoc and forced the community out, leaving hundreds of Jewish families without a building and a place to daven.
Left without a home, the congregation chose not to renew their tenant’s lease on the school building after it expired. While verbally agreeing to vacate at the end of the school year, the Satmar Yeshiva reneged on the agreement, fabricating a lawsuit against the shul, the first step in what would become a pattern of deceit trying to bankrupt the shul and initializing a hostile takeover of the shul’s property.
They have fabricated horrific accusations against the Shliach and Shlucha as well as the local community members. UTA of Boro Park, hired armed guards to station themselves in front of the shul to stop community members from entering. They even went as far to insist that the judge order the Shliach Rabbi Chaim Brikman be arrested for hosting a Shabbos Kiddush in the building.
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New York pols from Mayor de Blasio down have supported the groups, even as accounts of their rough conduct pile up.