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Monday, August 19, 2019

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Cutting Waste, Not Commercial Development, Will Save Teaneck

Regarding “World of Wings Rezoned,” (November 12, 2015) by Elizabeth Kratz: Elie brought up the fact that Teaneck needs alternative revenue sources. I agree 100 percent, but we also need to lower expenses, and I suggest the following ways:

1) Healthcare waivers, if limited to $5,000 per employee, would save $400,000.

2) Council members receive an annual salary of $7,000 a year. In aggregate, that costs the town $49,000. However, in addition, the taxpayer pays $68,000 more for healthcare benefits (and increasing by 14 percent next year) and waivers for members of council ($29,000 each for Katz and Hameeduddin for healthcare and $10,000 for Parker for waiving healthcare). That’s 43 percent more for benefits than salaries. I believe all members of council are equal, each with one vote and, as such, should get paid the same. Council meetings account for approximately 10-12 hours a month. Either all have benefits or none. I vote none as they all are employed and can get insurance elsewhere.

3) We pay about 20-25 employees a monthly travel allowance of $250. This costs the town approximately $6,000 a month. Based on the federal travel allowance of 57 cents per mile, that translates to 435 miles a month. There are about 16 work days a month (as most work four days a week, why not five?). That translates to 27 miles a day. If it takes 15 minutes to get there, a half hour stop, and 15 minutes back. That would translate to six stops a day. How does any work get done? Teaneck is obviously overpaying. I guarantee if any employee traveled more than 435 miles in a month they would want more than the $250. Do the math! Cut waste.

4) Better negotiations, as salaries and benefits are out of hand. Employees get health care that costs $29,000 per employee and is increasing by 14-16 percent next year. They have $10 copays. And the Cadillac tax is coming. This is a major issue and the average cost for insurance per family is $18,000 per year.

Stephen Gruber

Teaneck

Help Save a Fellow Jew From Cremation

This past Rosh Hashanah, Mr. Martin Mendelsohn went downstairs to the recreation room of Evergreen Court Home for Adults in Spring Valley, NY, to listen to the shofar. On Tuesday afternoon he passed away peacefully in his sleep. To date he has not been buried.

Martin Mendelsohn lived a simple life. A long-time accountant for the city of New York, he remained single his entire life, his only family a brother living on the West Coast. Martin lived out his retirement years in various adult homes, all glatt-kosher facilities with a shul on premises.

His brother Stephen demands that Martin be cremated. Mr. Chesky Schonberger, the owner of Evergreen Adult Homes and an Orthodox Jew, refuses to allow this abomination to occur. He has launched a legal battle that has thus far cost upwards of $30,000 and is poised to set a legal precedent which could have long-lasting ramifications for Orthodox Jewry across the United States, provided the necessary funds are raised to allow the fight to continue.

“I called the funeral home the moment I heard that Marty, who was my friend, had passed away. I was shocked and dismayed when the funeral owner told me the body was scheduled for cremation on Monday,” he said.

Schonberger immediately contacted Martin’s brother and after expressing his condolences, offered to pay for the expense of shipping the body to California as well as all expenses that would be incurred for a Jewish burial. The brother adamantly refused.

There was no swaying the brother and for Schonberger, no turning back. He consulted with Maran Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky shlita, and was given the psak that this has the din of mes mitzvah and he should proceed “with all his abilities and strength.” After speaking with Agudas Yisrael and Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, as well as other rabbanim and leading daas Torah including Rav Yisroel Dovid Schlesinger, Schonberger retained the services of a lawyer who, though upfront about the slim chances of winning a stay, took up the case. He instructed Schonberger to collect any and all evidence that could help prove that Martin would have been opposed to being cremated based on his belief system.

On October 8, Mendelsohn appeared in Rockland County Supreme Court together with his lawyer. During questioning conducted by Beth Finkelstein, counsel for Schonberger, Mendelsohn admitted under oath that both his parents were buried according to Jewish law and that his brother, Martin, sat shiva for his father, lit memorial candles and covered the mirrors. “My brother and I argued. I wanted my father cremated and my brother said my father must have a burial.”

Rabbi Binyomin Kelsen, Esq. of Teaneck, NJ, a musmach of Yeshiva University, was in court as the professional witness accepted by both sides. Judge Victor Alfredi asked numerous questions and concluded the proceedings with one pivotal inquiry: “In your expert opinion, having heard all this testimony, do you think Mr. Martin Mendelsohn would have wanted to be cremated?”

“One hundred percent not!” was Rabbi Kelson’s adamant response.

As such, it would seem that the legal argument was successfully made that Mr. Stephen Mendelsohn is negating the law that the next of kin should adhere to the wishes of the deceased. However, ruling in favor of Schonberger would set into motion a hitherto unprecedented legal battle. Never before has someone with the legal status of “friend” successfully challenged a next of kin regarding burial of the deceased based on his/her wishes and religious beliefs. The judge succumbed to the pressure exerted by the defendant’s lawyer and ruled against Schonberger.

But this battle cannot be fought without funding. Martin Mendelsohn awaits burial and it is up to us to step forward, join the fight and provide the money necessary to ensure that Martin be buried as he would have wished: as he lived—with dignity and love for the Jewish faith.

Please act now. Join forces with Chesky Schonberger, Isaac Leider, Chesed Shel Emes, and all of klal Yisrael and be a part of the ultimate chesed shel emes. Contribute generously so that Mordechai ben Reuven should be brought to kever Yisrael.

Please help the cause and visit this link to the GoFundMe campaign to cover the legal fees: www.gofund.me/fightcremation.

Shoshana Bernstein

Can Kallah Classes Prevent Sexual Abuse Calamities?

The Halberstam incident serves as an unfortunate reminder to all of us that sexual predators do exist in our midsts. It is a terrible thing for all of us to confront and a terrible thought that you have to be so careful about who you trust with your children. So what can we do about it?  How can we purge these people from our communities? Unfortunately there is not much. We can educate the public, educate our children but at the end of the day that is clearly not enough as the few times these situations arise it appears that only a small number of victims come forward leaving us to wonder whether there are more innocent children involved.

One commonality that these perpetrators share is their secrecy. That is we find out that their spouses knew nothing about their criminal conduct. They were so secretive about their commission of these heinous crimes that when the police or FBI show up at their door to arrest them we, the community, are left to deal with comforting the wife whose life was just shattered.  Invariably, the wife was in the dark. Herein may lie the answer as to what further actions we may take in order to help prevent this calamity. Educate our women as to what constitutes a normal marital relationship on all levels including intimacy.

My suggestion is that the best time and place to do so is when a woman takes a Kallah class. These classes are often times one on one and always discuss the issues involved in the intimacy aspect of a marital relationship. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for someone who a woman trusts to guide her as to what a normal intimate relationship should be. In this way, our women can be on the lookout for abnormalities such as the lack of or infrequency of intimacy, the abnormality of keeping secrets from your spouse, etc. Furthermore, to encourage our women that if they experience such behavior from their husband that the husband should be confronted in order to help determine what, if any, the problem is. Maybe there is an underlying marital issue that the couple can work towards resolving or maybe there is more to it and our women will be more able to plot an appropriate course of action.

I am not saying that this is a cure all. But this may help our women spot this deviant behavior and act to stop it thereby taking away that sinking feeling when law enforcement knocks on the door to make an arrest for crimes of this nature and shatters their lives.

Jeffrey M. Goldstein

Teaneck