May 30, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

From Dallas to Bergenfield

I appreciated and read with both amusement and nostalgia the article “From Teaneck to Tennessee,” (September 10, 2015). The author is 100% correct about the wonderfully unique experience of living in a small out of town Jewish community. My family and I just moved to Bergenfield after living in Dallas for 16 years. In fact, outside of four years of my life in New York, I always lived out of town: Silver Spring, New Haven and Boston. My wife is from Fair Lawn, and her brothers live in Bergenfield and Teaneck respectively, so this move was much more in her wheelhouse.

For me, this move has been challenging, as I cling to my out of town roots. However, I have been pleasantly surprised as how “out-of-town”-ish Bergenfield is for an in town community: People are generally very friendly; “Good Shabbos” is uttered, not muttered to passersby; Diversity within the framework of Torah living is appreciated; and a sense of openness and kindness permeate the community.

Plus, of course there are the creature comforts of in town: A Multitude of Minyanim with many time options; Crazy amounts of Kosher options with overall cheaper prices; Gas pumped for you by men in turbans; and wide choices in shiurim and learning opportunities. And most importantly, outstanding chinuch options.

One amenity I truly appreciate are the kosher restaurants: I’m a consultant with about a 75% non-Jewish clientele. Living in Dallas I was severely limited for lunch options; here, I have already had three client meetings in restaurants that rival the classic non-kosher upscale eateries.

Yet, as the new Memphian wrote, living out of town is an amazing experience. The thing I miss the most about living in Dallas is one you may not expect: it’s being the minority culture. I think Hashem always intended us, during our difficult exile, to be the ethical minority, serving as a light to the nations, but not by being ubiquitous. That being said, I have found in Bergenfield, despite a large population, a humility and appreciation for the sundry world we inhabit, both of Jews and non-Jews.

I look forward to an experience of the best of both worlds here!

Jonathan (Yoni) Schick

President, GOAL Consulting

Author, The Nonprofit Secret

214-587-3960

Help Us Ban Unsafe Oil Trains

In regard to “Rezoning of World of Wings Site for AvalonBay Tops Teaneck Council Agenda,” not only is a derailment of an oil train more dangerous because of its explosive potential, but now there are concerns that the trains themselves may cause the tracks to deteriorate and make a derailment more likely. In particular, the so-called unit trains are very heavy and, unlike in a mixed train, it’s car after car of the same oppressive weight. Experts are thinking about whether this weakens the tracks inordinately.

CSX invests more than $1 billion a year on the maintenance of tracks, bridges and signals. After taxes and expenses their profit is $2 billion per year.

Cities and towns are buying radar guns to track the speed of trains rolling through and are finding many speeding incidents. When trains derail and the cargo was not oil, the sigh of relief is soon replaced by an angry realization that it could just as well have been oil.

The local concern grows even though all the parties understand that railroads answer only to the federal authorities.

Trains are losing their romantic appeal. They disturb sleep, disrupt traffic, and, however seldom, derail, blow up and kill people.

Cities are taking railroads to court; a once quixotic exercise, now more and more paying off. City officials are confronting railroad executives about why accidents occur, condition of rails, cars, switches, bridges, etc. They generally run into executives who are not particularly forthcoming.

The Federal Railroad Administration is the regulator whose job is to enforce railroad safety regulations. In the past, the FRA has viewed its mission as that of a partner rather than an overseer of the railroads. In the clear and present peril posed by oil trains, their mission must change to one of strict enforcement. Railroad profits cannot be their number one concern. Sign the petition at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/enforce-railroad-health?source=s.fwd&r_by=1718159 and add a comment. Let the FRA get some feedback from someone other than a railroad lobbyist for a change.

Jean Wulterkens

Teaneck

Online Viewing Doesn’t Convey Meeting’s Tone

Regarding, “Rezoning of World of Wings Site for AvalonBay Tops Teaneck Council Agenda,” (September 10, 2015): I went to the council meeting on September 8 and witnessed firsthand the discussions on Avalon Bay and the CSX train tracks and whether AvalonBay should be allowed to purchase the World of Wings location. As reported by Elizabeth Kratz, Deputy Mayor Katz stated correctly that the Teaneck Town Council cannot prevent a sale between two interested parties. However, AvalonBay has a contingent sale pending zoning changes approvals by the Planning Board which will require Council approval. In addition, the town council can demand that the builder adhere to higher standards than stated in the building code for a residential tower.

In addition, I will note that I was at the council meeting and you can feel the tone in the audience with regard to Avalon Bay and the idling CSX oil trains that may be within a stone’s throw of the proposed Avalon Bay building. The highly flammable building near an idling train can produce results similar to the fire in Edgewater which resulted in over 100 families becoming homeless overnight. I therefore invite Mrs. Kratz to join us and attend council meetings, and as such she can write an article on what transpired along with the mood during the ongoing discussion.

In the article, Councilman Michael Castle is mentioned; who is Michael Castle? If you want to write about the town council please at least know the names of its members. By the way, it’s Jason Castle. (This was corrected to Jason Castle in the online edition after the Jewish Link was notified of the error.)

Stephen Gruber

Teaneck

Let’s Work With Booker, Not Bury Him

I was disappointed by Senator Booker’s vote on the Iran deal. I was also disappointed with your newspaper’s front page headline editorial (“One Toxic Vote Puts Booker’s Jewish Support at Risk,” September 10, 2015), masquerading as reporting, denouncing the Senator’s vote. Your editorial, which purports to “report” how Senator Booker’s vote may undermine his support among Jews is rather a detailed critique of the Senator’s vote, laced with invectives culminating in unnamed Jewish sources declaring the Senator to be an enemy of the Jewish people.

I draw your attention to two facts.

(1) Approving or not approving the bad Iran deal is a complex issue. Many friends of Israel are in favor of its approval. For example pro-Israel Iran sanctions officials David Cohen (recently moved to CIA to be deputy director) and Adam Szubin support approval. Cohen worked in the Treasury Department during the Bush Administration primarily on Patriot Act and Bank Secrecy Act, and served since 2011 as “sanctions Czar”, i.e. Undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes responsible for enforcing Iran sanctions. His successor as sanctions Czar, Szubin, an Orthodox Jew and graduate of NJ day school, served previously as Director of Treasury’s Foreign Assets Control since 2006. Both these dedicated sanctions gurus (Yale Law School, Harvard Law school, respectively) could be earning a lot more money and having a lot more fun working privately. Their common position is sanctions alone cannot stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon – they defy the narrative that says sanctions can be powerful enough to squeeze Iran into submission on its nuclear program. And they maintain Iran can and will continue to support terrorist activities at qualitatively the same level with or without a relaxation in sanctions of $100B. Whether or not one agrees with these experts who are in the field every day—and with many others like them—it’s a lot to expect Senator Booker to be more Catholic than the Pope in a party-line partisan vote.

(2) The diplomatic/monitoring battle with Iran has only begun. Booker is potentially a strong voice against Iran, together with the senior Senator and the Governor, in the fierce struggles that lie ahead. The Senator’s voting record on Israel has been perfect. He is fluent with the issues. He is considered pro-Israel. It makes more sense for the pro-Israel voters, if they can’t praise him, to try to work with Senator Booker than to come to bury him.

Sincerely,

Name withheld upon request

Congress Should Prioritize America in Iran Deal

After months of special interest capitulation, back channel negotiation and political navigation, the magic number, 41 Democratic Senators, agreed to uphold President Obama’s most historic foreign policy legacy—the Iran deal.

Congress played a key role in this global negotiation with the chief investment officer of radical-Islamic terrorism. Although the Iran deal gained the approval of the U.N. Security Council in mid-July, the ultimate kibosh on the deal has always been in the hands of two thirds of both houses of the U.S. Congress. Had a veto-proof majority of U.S. Congress voted against the Iran deal, governments, cross-national businesses and investors worldwide would have to make a relatively easy economic decision—do business with the Mullahs of Iran or do business with or through the United States of America. For virtually any third party, Uncle Sam and his renowned banking institutions would win the battle against the Iranians.

Formally beginning with Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech against the Iran deal on March 3 and increasing in intensity subsequent to the July 14 agreement between the P5+1 and the Mullahs, most pro-Israel interest groups and activists have invested significant sweat and treasure to convince members of U.S. Congress to oppose the deal. The pro-Israel groups focused efforts on the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Activists feverishly reminded Senators and Congressman of the Ayatollah’s desire to eliminate Israel from the map. These efforts proved generally unsuccessful, as reflected in the commitment of the 41 Senators in favor of the deal.

While the rhetoric about Israel’s ties to the U.S. have merit, the objects of the campaign against the Iran deal are members of the United States Congress, not the Knesset. Those members were elected by American constituents and need to remain focused on making decisions in the best interest of Americans. Ultimately, as of this week, 41 Senators have made the decision that approving the Iran deal is in the best interest of their constituents and the United States of America. It is that judgment that reflects so poorly on those members of Congress.

Pro-Iran deal Senators simply lacked the intestinal fortitude and clarity of mind to object to the poorly devised, morally objectionable and unenforceable agreement the P5+1 reached with Iranian President Rouhani. The biggest problem with this deal is that from one perspective it is solely focused on Iran’s nuclear ambitions but from the alternative perspective it is all-encompassing.

The P5+1 may have successfully delayed Iran’s engineering of nuclear bombs by a decade. This was the sole, paltry and highly debatable “achievement” of the Western negotiators. On the other hand, Iran’s objective was to scale back all sanctions the international community levied upon them—whether a result of nuclear ambitions, terrorist activity or otherwise. Iran achieved this all-encompassing goal.

Proponent members of Congress, and most certainly President Obama, need to be challenged, opposed and held to task for enabling the greatest terror sponsor of our times. The irreparable damage proponents of the Iran deal have caused, for Israel, the Europeans, the moderate Arabs and the United States, is immeasurable. Giving carte blanche to the Mullahs to provide cash and weaponry to any and all terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world will unfortunately only be blatantly obvious once it is too late. The “aha moment” will sadly come for our proponent government officials, but those killed by the Iran-backed terrorists whose funding and weaponry came easier as a result of this week’s approval will not have that opportunity. As constituents we must do all we can by writing letters and, most importantly, use better judgment in the voting booth than the pro-deal Congressmen and Senators have used enabling terrorist sponsors, destructive to the United States, to run wild.

Name Withheld Upon Request

Teaneck

 

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