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The Destruction of Netiv Avot

Dear Editor:

It was a sunny day in the Gush Etzion area and then the clouds rolled in. Nestled upon a hill of the town of Elazar was a carpentry shop. Atop its roof an Israeli flag blew in the wind. By morning’s end, it was gone along with the building.

A short distance outside the premises, a sizable crowd had gathered. They were kept away by a line formed by the border police. Inside and in the immediate vicinity of the carpentry shop slated for demolition this day, were hundreds of students who arrived during the prior evening from high schools around the area. By their presence, they would delay the destruction. Also accompanying the students were some of their Rabbis and teachers. At midnight the premises was closed off by the police in order to control the size of the protest.

The owner of the condemned business was away on reserve duty, serving the country which was about to destroy his business.

The group was loud and spirited. They blew whistles and sang songs, ‘Am Yisrael Chai’, ‘HaTikvah’, ‘V’Ata Takum’.

The protest would soon be brought to an end.

Later in the morning, members of the Yasam riot control police unit entered the building to evacuate the students. The noise level increased. There was some shoving. Some boys were forcibly escorted from the area. But it was not like the commotion at Amona during the summer.

One student appeared to have suffered a minor injury to his arm from the melee. Another appeared to have experienced dehydration.

The Israeli flag was pulled down and then the destruction began. Before the crowds, the property was dissembled piece by piece. Then one single tractor arrived to finish the job amid warnings announced on a loudspeaker to the students who would face arrest if they interfered.

It is one thing to hear of the uprooting of a Jewish home or building, it is another to see it up close.

The sound of the building cracking to the push of the bulldozer was clearly audible. Some screamed in distress. Some embraced as to console one another. Others sat down and gazed towards the site. One of the bystanders watching from afar muttered the word “disgraceful.”Another commented, “Absurd“.

It was high school students who were the defenders courageously trying to hold on to this small piece of Israel.

The tiny parcels of land for which there is no claim, were built and inhabited with the permission of the government. And now, on November 29, 2017, due to the decision of the Supreme Court, the floor has been pulled out from under one building. Sixteen homes in Netiv Avot await the same fate in March 2018, with no compensation offered to the owners.

This is not even a matter of dispute.

May the homes of Netiv Avot be spared the consequences of very mistaken judgment.


Larry Domnitch

Vintage Trains During the Holidays

Dear Editor:

It is refreshing to hear that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit has begun running a series of nostalgia trains and buses to help celebrate the holidays in December. The “Shoppers Special” consisting of eight cars from the 1930’s runs between 10 AM and 5 PM between the 96th Street 2nd Avenue Q line station and 6th Avenue F line 2nd Avenue stations in Manhattan Sundays on December 3, 10 & 17th and 24th..

Riding the old subway cars reminds me of a time when it was common to find both penny gum and soda machines dispensing products at many subway stations. Clean and safe bathrooms were readily available. It was a time when people respected authority and law. Previous generations of riders did not litter subway stations and buses, by leaving behind gum, candy wrappers, paper cups, bottles and newspapers. No one would openly eat pizza, chicken or other messy foods while riding a bus or subway. Everyone paid their way and there was no fare evasion.

NYC Transit is also operating a fleet of vintage buses on the M42 midtown cross town 42nd Street route in Manhattan for weekday service during December between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m from December 5th to 21st. Likewise, riding the old vintage buses are also a great trip down memory lane. It was a time when bus drivers had to make change and drive, at the same time. No one dared bring any food on the bus or leave any litter behind. You had to pay separate fares to ride either the bus or subway. Now there are Metro Cards affording free transfers between bus and subway, along with discounted weekly or monthly fares. Employee transit checks to help cover the costs didn’t exist decades ago.

Previous generations of both bus and subway riders survived daily commutes with no air conditioning. All they had for comfort were overhead fans. Air conditioned buses and subway cars that we all take for granted today were virtually non existent up until the time of the 1964-65 Worlds Fair. Air conditioned buses were still a novelty. It was not until 1966, that NYC Transit first purchased over 600 buses with this new feature. Subsequently, all future new buses would include air conditioning. By the early 1990’s, 100% of the bus fleet was air conditioned.


Larry Penner

(Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office).

Supposedly Orthodox Shuls

Dear Editor:

For the past few years we’ve heard examples of supposedly orthodox shuls that have given credence to homosexual relationships (both orally and in temple publications). It’s furthermore very disturbing that some of these shuls belong to an organization such as the OU–one of the first orthodox organizations in this country’s history. Having such temples as part of a orthodox union of shuls, gives the impression that the Orthodoxy and thus the torah doesn’t completely abhor these relationships. There is possibly nothing else a Orthodox shul can do, that would further alienate themselves from God and his torah, then recognizing or worse celebrating relationships which are the complete anathema to everything that the torah stands for.

We therefore demand that the OU make a new policy to officially and publicly kick out any member shul that in anyways knowingly gives credence to a homosexual couple. Whether by referring to any of the partners with the word “husband” “wife” “spouse”, wishing a mazel tov on the birth of a child to the partner (in sin) of the true (biological) parent, or a kiddush on something related to their sinful relationship, all forms of recognition must be forbidden. This iron rule has to be clear- no matter if the shul brings in millions of dollars to the OU, if the rabbis is as big a talmid chacham as Elisha Ben Avuya, or if throwing them out of the OU will lead the shul into joining the USCJ–they cannot be part of the OU.

With this action we may stop the further tide of the total destruction of the Jewish World, and save the future


Avraham Sharaby


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