Volume 76, Number 21 | October 11 - 17, 2006

Letters to the editor

Fowl ritual must end

To The Editor:
Re “Purifying poultry” (photo story, Oct. 4):

Recently on Y-Net an article entitled “Rabbis cry ‘fowl’ on ritual use of chickens” described how some rabbis are calling for an end to the ritual slaughtering of chickens for Kapparot, bringing up a very necessary — and long-overdue — discussion of this barbaric practice. As Professor Richard Schwartz points out in his very eloquent and well-researched article “The Custom of Kapparot in the Jewish Tradition” (which can be viewed, along with my opinion piece, at http://www.rrrina.com/kaporot.htm), Kapparot is not mentioned in the Torah or the Talmud. Also, if we could truly rid ourselves of sin by slicing open an animal, what would be the purpose of Yom Kippur?

Beside the questionable appropriateness of the practice itself, the chickens, even prior to slaughter, are treated miserably. To add insult to injury, every year there are articles in the various papers about how crates of chickens are found abandoned, starving to death. Last year, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, such crates were found with starving chickens poking each others’ eyes out. This is the epitome of neglect and, certainly, a far cry from our protective laws for animals in the Torah.

I am overjoyed to hear that more rabbis are questioning this barbaric, archaic practice. It’s about time.

Rina Deych

For the lonely liberal

To The Editor:
This is a project long overdue. There ought to be a space for the more subtle and nuanced thinkers among us, those unafraid to entertain a complex thought now and then, who occasionally feel concern for human beings on the planet less fortunate than ourselves — in other words, liberals — to meet people of the opposite sex who share similar core values.

In my past dating travails, I’ve had the miserable luck of getting involved with a few conservative, business-type gals — not exactly Ann Coulters, but in the general heartless vicinity. When I recall their blank, glazed expressions while I shared excitedly about one of my progressive projects — projects central to my identity — I still cringe. And yet, I have faith that there must be some American women out there (liberal arts majors, readers of serious fiction, women who instead of neutering their natural sense of caring to become corporate zombies, channel this caring into a progressive politics) who have a more European need for dialogue with the men in their lives a tad more complex than: “So who are the Jets playing this weekend?”

I’d like to create a space for something truly radical: simple conversation between progressive strangers. Such conversation could lead to romance, but this needn’t be its only goal. Possibilities for friendship, sharing information, serendipitous coalition building or an ephemeral chat that makes a person feel less isolated exist as bonus prizes alongside the chance of finding the next great love of your life.

And for those who say that Lefties have plenty of opportunities to meet at their usual rallies and events, I say: Think again. The noted fragmentation on the Left (“So you’re a Marxist Humanist? Well screw you, I’m a Humanist Marxist!”) creates silent, competitive barriers to connection that can only be broken down when you purposefully frame the meeting as one designed for people to get to know each other. Notice, if you will, the shy turning away from strangers among liberals during the prelude to a progressive meeting, or the intellectual armor that makes it hard to approach someone at MoMA or the Film Forum, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Before the unfortunate closure of Drip Cafe, a remarkably innovative dating space on the Upper West Side, Barbara Streisand had expressed a desire to base a TV show on it. Given Barbara’s unabashed liberal leanings (her fondness for Bill Clinton is legendary), if anyone knows someone who knows someone, please see to it that she gets this letter! George Soros, too, might be interested in a project that builds community and brings badly needed joy to dispirited American liberals.

John Bredin

Something is rotten at Westbeth

To The Editor:
Re “Neighbors, electeds trash Gansevoort transfer plan” (news article, Sept. 20):

The Villager’s article on the hearings about the recycling plant to be put in the Hudson River Park, supported by Christine Quinn, noted that the Westbeth Artists Residents Council was the only Village group to vote in favor of it.

At a meeting of Westbeth residents last week, many were outraged!

It may interest you to know that Christine Quinn just gave the Westbeth Artists Residents Council a $7,000 grant, as indicated in their minutes just posted.

The WARC represents an example of a small, powerful clique of Westbeth residents mesmerized by George Cominskie’s dictatorial leadership. An article in the Westbeth Artists News, published by an alternative group of residents, came out in opposition to this plan. Please let your readers know that the majority of Westbeth residents do not support putting a garbage collection site in the Hudson River Park, next to a children’s playground.

I hope you covered the meeting on Tues. Oct. 10, at the Westbeth Community Room to hear people speak against this plan.

Connect the dots — Christine Quinn gives the Westbeth Artists Residence Council $7,000, then the WARC votes to support her plan for a recycling depot in the park. Interesting isn’t it?

Jacqui Taylor Basker

Witnesses by the river

To The Editor:
O.K., denial is a river in the East Village — yes, a river of megadorms and condos that look like they were designed for some other city — a city that prizes soulless and unimaginative architecture that blots out as much beauty as possible!

As I walk along the streets of the East Village I hear residents share their views — the same as mine about N.Y.U. megadomination — and I find comfort and also I think of one of N.Y.U.’s many hired hands (I imagine well-paid, with good health benefits) and her attacking Andrew Berman for singling out poor N.Y.U., as if she wasn’t aware of the N.Y.U. megadomination on 14th St., 13th St. and down Third Ave.

I hear people complaining about N.Y.U., as well as the hideous mirrored building that seems to have accidentally been dropped here by the black cube and I feel like the angels in “Wings of Desire” — a witness. We are witnesses…. And the mirrored building reflects a history that is no longer and a community that is not welcome. Elite, high walls — cheap, unimaginative materials and design.

How many people have died in New York City from construction accidents?

Smoke and mirrors and deep pockets and denial is a river of concrete and mirrors in the East Village...through the Community Board 3 area and Washington Square Park.

We all talk about it — we are all witnesses.

Suzannah B. Troy

Who’s alienating whom?

To The Editor:
In response to Nora Toiv’s letter in the Oct 4 issue, “Not such a party school,” I would note a number of things:

I don’t know where Ms. Toiv’s family home is, but as a resident of this neighborhood my whole life, I can assure her we see a tremendous increase in street noise at night when N.Y.U. is in session. Doesn’t N.Y.U. teach you how to connect the dots? Yes, bars are responsible not to serve underage drinkers, regardless of their origin. But the university could at least, as a good-faith gesture, show us they make it part of their indoctrination and instruct students out late at night to be considerate and not loud — and send reminders out at the beginning of each term. Would it hurt the student government to do some similar thing? Show us the students care!

Her further statement that we residents are “alienating the student community by fighting additional university development” is extremely self-serving. It seems to support the university’s claims that their students are a bunch of whiney babies that cry if they have to walk more than a block between their beds and their classroom.

We are the ones alienated, Ms. Toiv. If some big institution or corporation suddenly bought up a lot of the land around or in a small town and additionally was kicking out small private businesses for its own use, while cutting off the air and light of the home owners, etc., I can absolutely promise you, the residents would be up in arms. Because that is exactly what your school is doing.

Many of the residents here attended schools either out of state or here, and having to take a train up to Columbia, the City University schools or wherever didn’t make us a bunch of cry babies. So what if you have to walk 10 blocks? Get over yourselves!

This is a city, Ms. Toiv — not N.Y.U.’s personal campus that is tolerating some outsiders. Every time your university builds, it hurts the people around the site in any number of ways — people who have lived here for many decades and long before most of the students were even born. Just so you can show up for four years. Your student dollars support an institution that only cares about its reputation, its claim to be the country’s biggest private school and its claim to have the most applications, and which treats us taxpayers like we are an inconvenience they can’t get rid of fast enough, and damn any poor schmuck whose family has lived here for generations. The Village has been forever changed from the community it was already by N.Y.U. Excuse us if we don’t want to watch it go all the way out the window.

You obviously do not know the history of relations between N.Y.U. and the community. N.Y.U. has created this hostility. Get educated before making statements like you have in public papers.

Margot Eisenberg

E.I.S. mess is all wrong

To The Editior:
The first requirement of an E.I.S. (environmental impact statement) is to announce the purpose and need of intended changes to a perfectly functioning park. Most consider the changes for Washington Square Park in the renovation plan to be unnecessary and unwanted. Bob Nichols, one of the 1970 park renovation’s landscape architects, sees a purpose and need only to restore and repair the park and for maintaining the trees. Just about everything but the arch will be moved if the Parks Department is allowed to proceed.

Aside from the 32 trees to be cut down in the initial part of the project, many more will die after their roots have been disturbed by the new pathways. These are some of the grave environmental concerns that should be addressed in a serious environmental study.

Naturally, Parks has come out with a negative declaration determining that there is no impact to the park whatsoever. We are told this, as our lawyer, Mr. Podolsky, has not yet received it and even was informed by the Corporation Counsel that the E.A.S. (environmental assessment statement) is not yet finished. This, even though Arlene Boop, lawyer for Jonathan Greenberg’s group, had already received it.

Ms. Boop, though not revealing the source, did say it did not come from the Corporation Counsel. According to the Community Board 2 calendar, the document was to be at the community board, but it was not.

Sharon Woolums
Woolums is the point person on the lawsuit by Ronald Podolsky on the Washington Square Park renovation

The Sazerac crowd

To The Editor:
Re “After four decades, Sazerac no longer in the house” (news article, Sept. 27):

I’m sure everyone wishes Barry Cullen well. In 1967-’68 Zoot Sims, the saxophonist, often visited the Sazerac — when I was a waiter there — and local real estate magnate Bill Gottlieb dined regularly. The late George Plunkett, of 10th St. from a longshoreman’s family, told me Gene Tunney was born in the building.

John Stanley

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