Wednesday, July 15, 2009

After Murder, Yemeni Jews Arrive in Monsey

By Michael Casper, The Forward

Monsey, N.Y. — Seven Yemeni Jews, refugees from the heightened tensions in their homeland, have arrived in New York and begun settling into new lives amid the Orthodox community in Monsey. They are the first wave of what could be as many as 113 Yemeni Jews who are expected to immigrate to the United States, some as early as August 3.

The refugees, a couple with their infant daughter and a woman with three children, were met July 6 at JFK International Airport in Queens by relatives and representatives from Jewish organizations that have spearheaded their move, including the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg (in Brooklyn), the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and FEGS Health and Human Services System.

The recent concern for the safety of the tiny number of Jews remaining in Yemen stems from the December 2008 murder of a respected Jewish community leader. Moshe Yaish Nahari was slain in Raidah, Yemen, and a Yemeni Muslim man was sentenced to death in the high-profile case.

In June, the Jewish Agency for Israel coordinated the immigration of 16 Jews to Israel. Though a political tug-of-war ensued earlier this year between Jewish groups over whether Yemeni Jews should be moved to Israel or to the United States, many Jews in Yemen have relatives abroad, and some say they will choose their destination based on where their families live.
Although Yemen was once home to about 60,000 Jews, the vast majority of them were evacuated to the State of Israel in 1949 and 1950. By the late 1980s, only 1,500 Jews were left in Yemen, and more than 1,000 of those, too, moved to Israel or the United States. Most of those who remain — estimates range from 250 to 400 — have resisted repeated entreaties to leave Yemen, despite periodic threats from neighboring Muslims over the years.

The refugees who arrived in Monsey, a section of the town of Ramapo that is about an hour’s drive north of New York City, are living in apartments provided by their beneficiary organizations. Monsey, a hilly suburb with many Orthodox Jews, has an established Yemenite community of about a dozen large families. While many speak Arabic and Hebrew at home, they also know Yiddish, the Orthodox lingua franca and the language of instruction at Monsey’s private Jewish schools, as well as English. Yemenite families are spread out throughout the town, and some walk for up to an hour on the Sabbath to attend their community’s house of prayer, Midrash Teman, in the book-lined basement of the Yemenite rabbi’s home.

A representative of the Yemenite community of Monsey who would not give his name said that he did not want the latest refugees talking to the media while they are still undergoing the immigration process.

Moshe Jaradi, who was friends with Nahari and whose first cousin was one of the refugees who arrived July 6, said that it is becoming increasingly difficult to live a fully realized Jewish life in Yemen. “You can’t live over there,” said the 23-year-old father of three in an interview in the living room of his apartment in Monsey. Jaradi, who sought asylum in the United States eight years ago, cited in particular the lack of respect that some Muslims have for Jews.

Jaradi spoke highly of Monsey, citing its safety and the availability of kosher food. But unlike his home country, the United States has taxes, insurance and high rent. Even after eight years, he said, “it’s still hard to live.” For the Jews coming from Yemen, including, he hopes, his own father, the path ahead is “going to be very hard.”

Only 7 More Days of Yeshivacation!

There are only 7 more days of Yeshivacation left. This is your chance to get in some learning and inspiration. Don't let the opportunity pass. With classes and workshops morning, evenings and shabbosim, there is something for everyone.

Morning Classes:
Weekdays at 9:30 AM - Maamar Lecha Dodi: Chassidic Secrets on Marriage with Rabbi Shalom Pasternak

Evening Classes:
Wednesday, July 15, at 8:00 PM at the Zeiler home, 18 Zabriskie Terrace
Taharas hamishpacha Review with Bracha Chein, a well known kallah teacher with over twenty years of experience.

Thursday, July 16 at 8:30 PM at the Poltorak home, 128 West Maple Avenue
Twenty years later: Merging reality with idealism. A farbrengen moderated by Mrs. Sara Labkowski on Communicating Effectively with your Teenagers.

Motzei Shabbos Matos-Masei, July 18 at 10:45 PM at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek - for men and women, light melava malka
Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld, Menahel of Bais Medrash Chovevei Torah in Crown Heights and former shliach in Maitar, Israel. With many years of experience in chinuch and mentoring, Rabbi weinfeld is beloved by both his students and parents.

Sunday, July 19 at 8:00 PM at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek
From Show business to Shlichus: the Rebbe instructed Molly Resnik, former NBC producer to hit the road and share her story.
Molly will inspire us with her amazing strength and conviction.

Monday, July 20 at 8:30 PM at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek
Maintaining Kedusha within our Marriage. As the source of bracha to our husbands, the catalyst of sholom to our homes, and the bearer of the torch of yiddishkeit to future generation, we women have an awesome responsibility. Mrs. Sara Labkowski, will be sharing inspirational stories and insights.

Tuesday, July 21 at 8:30 PM at the Messing home, 3 Mariner Way
A Sholom Bayis workshop for couples with Rabbi Danny Schonbach, author of books on both marriage and parenting. 15 pre-registered couples necessary by Sunday. Register by contacting or 718-812-2053.

Shabbos Program
9:00 AM - womens Chassidus shiur by Rabbi Sholom Pasternak
12:30 PM - Kiddush with Rabbi Sholom Pasternak
5:45 PM - Pirkei Avos by Rabbi Boruch Lesches
6:45 PM - Juggling the Super Women Syndrome by Yehudis Abramowitz
7:45 PM - Women of Valor: Then & Now
Shalosh Seudos discussion led by Aidel Backman
10:45 PM - Communicating with our Teenagers by Rabbi Weinfeld

The suggested donation for all sessions is $7.

Mazel Tov Kinds!

Mazel tov to Yaakov and Shulamis Kind on the engagement of their son Chaim to Sara Shor of Crown Heights/Las Vegas!

Seeking Ride

I am looking for a ride from Monsey to Crown Heights this Friday, July 17 for 1 or 2 girls. Please call Dini at 845-406-3960.