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Old-School Brooklyn Hat Store Keeps Hasids and Hipsters Looking Dapper

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By Nate Lavey

Published June 03, 2013, The Jewish Daily Forward
Bencraft HattersStanley Goldstein sits at the center of a narrow hat store in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, fielding customers’ questions about brim sizes, crowns and colors. Bencraft Hatters, which was first opened in 1948 by Goldstein’s father, has been selling hats to Jews and non-Jews for 65 years and carries everything from cowboy hats and flat caps to the fedoras and Homburgs favored by the religious crowd. At 85, Goldstein still oversees much of the operation in Williamsburg, while Steven Goldstein, Stanley Goldstein’s son and the other owner of the business, can often be found shuttling between Williamsburg and the Goldsteins’ other store in Boro Park. In their own way, the two stores represent different part of New York’s Jewish community: The Williamsburg location accommodates a more secular crowd, including hipsters, while in Boro Park the clientele tends to be distinctly Orthodox.

Steven explained that “there are three or four hat stores in Boro Park, and for the most part each hat store takes care of a different sect of the community.” Bencraft is mostly oriented toward the Lubavitch and Modern Orthodox communities, which are not heavily represented in Boro Park. That means that customers sometimes trek across the city just to try on a Borsalino.

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Art Exhibit in Brooklyn Examines Hasidic Dress and Culture

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by Elke Reva Sudin – http://www.algemeiner.com – July 12, 2013

Viznitz SatmarThere are two ways people typically explore Hasidic subjects through art. It is either a sensitive portrayal of a tradition they are a part of, or an outsider’s perspective on a strange and unique culture. Brooklyn based artist Michael Levin has done both, and quite successfully at that.
In his new series “Jews of Today” opening July 20th at the 109 Gallery in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Levin explores the nuances and contradictions of Hasidic ritual dress through a series of elegant drawings and explanations, delving into larger issues of Jewishness and cultural identity in the process.
Originally from Los Angeles, Levin received his BA in Classics at the University of Chicago in 2006, and this fall he will begin his MFA in Printmaking at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Levin became obsessed with Hasidic culture and dress after becoming neighbors with many Hasidim in the ever gentrifying Williamsburg, and looking for a way to relate to them.
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Marvin Miller

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Marvin Miller

Marvin Miller

On Tuesday,November 26.2012, a great Bronx-born but Brooklyn-bred American Jewish hero, Marvin Miller died. The Malach Hamoves (Angel of Death) claimed him at age 95. His daughter Susan cited liver cancer as the cause but, denied elevation to Baseball’s Hall of Fame, Miller, an outstanding economist and labor leader, may have succumbed to a broken heart.

Several years prior, at the Workmen’s Circle building, I shared a podium with this protean figure. Deeply honored and almost speechless, I greeted him in Yiddish. Why? According to my late mother, at the Workmen’s Circle — home of mame loshen (mother tongue) –one must speak Yiddish. Moreover, I pointed out that baseball’s peerless union leader, Marvin Miller owes his success to the Golden rule, that is to say the Harry Golden rule.  Dress British.  Think Yiddish.

To this paradigm, add a social conscience, rooted in trade union culture, grounded in prophetic tradition, and leavened with core values — and you have an unbeatable force. Marvin Miller recalled that his father worked in lower Manhattan dispensing tsadaka (charity) and wisdom in Chinese, English, and Yiddish.

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Pat Singer Is the Mother of Brighton Beach

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By Tanya Paperny Published February 22, 2013, The Jewish Daily Forward

Pat SingerLocated on the main stretch of Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach Avenue, among numerous Russian delis, Russian-language bookstores and a shuttered Russian travel agency, the Brighton Neighborhood Association stands out. Its window is one of the few on the block with signs predominantly in English, and it’s one of the few storefronts near the elevated tracks of the B and Q trains that doesn’t actually sell anything.

This doesn’t stop people — and definitely not elderly Russians — from strolling through the glass front door, unannounced, on a regular basis. Some mistake the office for a thrift store and start lifting up, one by one, the porcelain and enamel elephants, gifts from friends and other tchotchkes on the desk of Pat Singer, founder and executive director of BNA, a not-for-profit social service agency in Brighton Beach, a neighborhood that stretches for one mile along the Atlantic coast.

Singer has to break into her limited knowledge of Russian to shoo them away: “Not magazin, this office! Not for sale, nooo! Get your hands off my desk!”

Singer, the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants from Odessa, is a community leader in this predominantly Russian-speaking neighborhood: “I’m called ‘the Mother of Brighton Beach,’ but I’m a bad mother, because I can’t communicate with my children.”

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The Seltzer Man

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By  Published: April 26, 2013 NYTimes

Eli Miller, 79, New York City’s senior seltzer man.

“I just can’t stay home,” said Eli Miller, 79, who has been delivering seltzer for more than 50 years.

Eli Miller, 79, New York City’s senior seltzer man, hoisted crate after crate of seltzer — weighing 70 pounds apiece — into his van and then draped himself over them.

“I’m running on fumes — the reason I work is, I just can’t stay home,” said Mr. Miller, who has been delivering seltzer in Brooklyn for more than a half-century.

He can afford to retire, but that would mean his customers, many of whom have been with him for decades, might have to resort to store-bought seltzer.

“I don’t want them to have to drink that dreck you buy in the supermarket,” he said, using the Yiddish term for dirt. “So I guess I’ll retire when Gabriel blows his horn.”

Mr. Miller said that when he began delivering, on March 10, 1960, there were perhaps 500 seltzer men in the city, and a half-dozen seltzer bottlers. Now he can count his delivery competition on one hand, and they all fill up at the last seltzer factory in the city: Gomberg Seltzer Works in Canarsie.

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“The Romeos” – Feeding on Memories

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By DAVID DeWITT

Published: NY Times, July 18, 2013
“There’s something historical about us,” says one of the Romeows, a crew of septuagenarians that generally meets every Wednesday in Brooklyn for dinner and conversation. He’s right, and history should record their weekly — but rare — achievement more often. Thank goodness this gentle, affectionate documentary does it.
There’s nothing flashy about “The Romeows” the film or the Romeows the men, but what they’ve created — their life’s art — matters. It’s sitting around a restaurant, eating family style, every Wednesday, just to talk. (Romeows stands for Retired Older Men Eating Out Wednesdays.)
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Brooklyn – A Boro Transformed

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5777

Sukkah Store

View Our Sukkots in Brooklyn Video

Throughout Brooklyn, the sound of the shofar (ram’s horn) was blown during the two days of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year welcoming in the year 5774. The holiday was the beginning of a month of holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot) and a transformation of the borough, which has more Jewish people than anywhere else in the country.

The holidays came late this year, so early that many Jews remained in their summer homes for the holidays. The holiday preparations include the [preparation] cooking of many traditional foods, which are eaten as symbols of the holidays. Holiday challah is formed into a round shape to represent the circle of life. So that we may have a sweet New Year, it is filled with sweet raisins, and you can smell the challah baking, along with the traditional honey cake, as you ride down the avenues. At the holiday table, the challah is dipped in honey, along with the apples, the fall fruit, with a benediction. Symbolic foods like dates, the head of a fish (or animal), pomegranate seeds, gourds, and Swiss chard are traditionally eaten in different  varieties, whether  in Ashkenazi or Sephardi families.

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150th Celebration Siyyum Torah Dedication and Sukkot Block Party

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Sunday, September 22, 10am-1pm
Sukkot FestivalJoin our community as we culminate our 150th year by holding a special Siyyum and Torah Dedication ceremony.
This Siyyum, or closing celebration, is the culmination of a year of programming to mark Congregation Beth Elohim’s 150th anniversary. The Torah that will be dedicated has been scribed by a ritual scribe, Linda Coppleson, together with over 700 members of the CBE community who have participated in individual scribing rituals. This will also be an opportunity for us to rededicate CBE’s seven sifrei Torah.

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Memories of Sheepshead Bay

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By Adam Cohen My family grew up in Brooklyn including my parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and both sets of grandparents. I was dubbed a first generation New Jerseyan by many of my family members. As you could imagine, we spent a lot of time in Brooklyn. My parents would take my sister and I into Brooklyn on a whim and show us where they grew up, met, and dated. They… Read More »Memories of Sheepshead Bay

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