‘Day of Festivities’ Marks Crown Heights Riots

People gathered on Eastern Parkway today, Sunday, for a ‘festival’ marking 25 years since the Crown Heights Riots. The event was the first part of a controversial ‘day of festivities’ which was organized to commemorate those dark and tragic days.

Sitting on a podium, a number of community activists, clergy and politicians spoke to a small gathered crowed and members of the media remembering how the riots unfolded – beginning with the tragic death of 7-year-old Gavin Cato, which was followed by the brutal murder of 29-year-old Yankel Rosenbaum, HYD, and three days of rioting that rocked Crown Heights.

The event was organized in part by Mrs. Devorah Halberstam, who lead off by speaking about her memories of the riots and her personal loss.

Richard Green of the Crown Heights Youth Collective, who was very active in the days following the riots and part organizer of the event, recalled his meeting the Lubavitcher Rebbe and receiving a dollar from him. “His words calling Crown Heights one community are still with me to this day.”

The events were not without controversy.

Noticeably absent was Norman Rosenbaum, brother of Yankel Rosenbaum, who refused to attend the day’s events. “Any celebration or promotion of racial harmony I wholeheartedly endorse, however this is not a time to celebrate. Now is not a time to celebrate the wrongs and it disregards the anti-Semitic violence that took place” said Rosenbaum before the event.

Instead, a solemn memorial ceremony took place Friday on President Street and Brooklyn Avenue, the site where Yankel Rosenbaum HYD was stabbed and beaten to death, before a crowd of some 50 people. There, the prayer of Keil Molei Rachamim was recited, followed by Kadish by Norman Rosenbaum.

Though present, Mr. Carmel Cato, father of Gavin, refused to address the crowd and instead lit a candle and quickly left – preferring not to march to the site where the ‘festivities’ were to take place.

“I was shocked to learn that [Norman] Rosenbaum found out about the event from news reports and not from the organizers of the event,” said Yaacov Behrman, a community activist who is friends with the Rosenbaum family. “No one had the decency to consult with or inform the Cato or Rosenbaum families despite planning this event for over a year.”

When asked who was behind the events, Mr. Rosenbaum responded that it was a conglomeration of local community organizers – among them the Anti Defamation League, whose silence during the riots was deafening. “They were not here during the riots, they were not here at the funeral, but they are here now to celebrate,” he said.

Rosenbaum also noted how the flyer advertising the event failed to mention the word ‘riots’, instead calling them “the events that took place 25 years ago.”

Following the speeches and a candle lighting ceremony, around two dozen activists and politicians marched to Park Place and Kingston Avenue, where a carnival style ‘festival’ was to take place all afternoon.

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26 Comments

  • 1. Ari Halberstam Festival Day wrote:

    Hey Devorah, maybe its time to ‘get over’ the racial divide and make a Ari Halberstam festival day, complete with a carnival, facepainting and cotton candy…

    SMH…. Devorah you should know better.

    • 2. Kevin wrote:

      Just make sure there’s no ‘Black Face’ paint :(.

      Its a new shtus mostly in the liberal world were if your a victim or family member of a victim of something you get to comment and pass judgment on anything similar even if its totally unrelated.

    • 3. Tznius wrote:

      How about starting by dressing tzniusdig! Not having your legs exposed like that.

  • 4. Larry wrote:

    It was an accident that happened and in return a Jewish person got murdered and it’s a festival a day to celebrate something seriously is messed up

  • 6. to #1 wrote:

    couldn’t have said it better
    it would work great for both communities
    women in burkas and sheitels, separation of the genders, many kosher meats today are halal certified.
    this is brilliant, we might be able to get obama to attend the “unity festival” of Jews & Moslems

  • 7. Why a festival!? wrote:

    “around two dozen activists and politicians marched to Park Place and Kingston Avenue, where a carnival style ‘festival’ was to take place all afternoon.”

    This was very poor judgement and insensitive of the organizers. I didn’t want to believe Devorah was one of them. If Yankel’s brother didn’t want this day to include a festival, take a hint and don’t do something to further his pain. How would Devorah (and the rest of the Jewish community) feel if some misguided and/or ignorant (given best case scenario) people decided to make a festival on the yartzeit of her son’s murder!?

    These people owe the Rosenbaum family an apology for their 1) stupidity 2) lack of sensitivity 3) complete lack of human decency. Shame shame shame…

  • 8. That line at the end kinda' says it all... wrote:

    “… two dozen activists and politicians marched to Park Place and Kingston Avenue, where a carnival style ‘festival’ was to take place all afternoon.”

    This event was all about politicking and posturing and photo ops. Politicians were getting up and making speeches, and the whole thing was in really appalling taste. What WERE the planners thinking???? Very poor thinking indeed, I am sorry to say. What a big waste of money, along with being an insult to the memories of those who died and were murdered, and also an insult to those who were terrorized 25 years ago.

    And I couldn’t help but notice that Dinkins and Brown and Sharpton and their cronies stayed home!

  • 10. resident wrote:

    right
    Mrs. Halberstam, mark the festivle of your sons murder with the death sentence of his murderer together at a party.

    • 11. Murder is Still Alive wrote:

      Ari’s murderer is still alive in jail. No death sentence.

  • 12. Anyone know the inside story? wrote:

    Does anybody know why this event was deemed so important by the CHJCC? What’s the behind the scenes story?

    • 13. ???? wrote:

      They probably got funded & they are so stupid this was all they could come up with. Kleinekeppeldik.

  • 15. just wondering wrote:

    a disgrace can the crown heights crowd ever get their act together and get real leaders instead of appeasers and panderers

  • 16. Disgusting Negativity wrote:

    Disgusting that people are picking on Mrs. Halberstam for her sincere efforts. It’s no wonder so little gets done in Crown Heights with all this negativity.

    • 17. I agree; give the blame where it really belongs wrote:

      I think we all are in agreement that, as misguided as the project ultimately was, Mrs. Halberstam’s own intentions are only for the best, and for the good of the community!

      Because she ended up being used as a spokeswoman for the project, she was put into a position of advocating for it.

      I don’t think she should bear the brunt of the complaints, though. Unlike the ulterior-motivated politicians and special interest organizations that organized this travesty, I really think we can all agree that Mrs. Halberstam is in a different category. She truly only means well (even though I personally did not like the whole idea of this event, but it is not her fault)!

      So I feel that a number of the comments here and on other blogs have been way out-of-line and hurtful in targeting Mrs. Halberstam in particular. (This observation, again, does not balance out my disapproval of the event; I just don’t approve of how people are dumping their disapproval on Mrs. Halberstam!)

      I would really blame the running-for-reelection officials and the others who have ulterior motives, who planned this event.

    • 18. get a grip wrote:

      do you actually know her?
      if you did you would not say what you are saying in her defense.

      Zal zi zayn gezunt .. both physically and mentally…

  • 19. CHLEAKS.INFO wrote:

    Chanina Sperlin and Co. were behind organizing and orchestrating the Shomrim Six Mesira (six years ago), where if convicted, six innocent Jews would spend 15 plus years in jail. Chanina Sperlin and Co. care about racial tension which it is only as a result of their actions that much Jewish Blood has been spilled.

    All the trouble we have in Crown Heights is not from the blacks and antisemitism, its from baseless hate from fellow Jews.

    As one of the Shomrim Six told me. It wasn’t the blacks that tried to lock me and my family up with a blood libel, it wasn’t the blacks that threatened my existence, it was the Jews.

    We have more to fear from these hateful Jews then we do from any outside source. We are getting robbed by people who claim to be our own. Time to wake up. It’s time to fight again for justice!

  • 20. Tony wrote:

    Tisha Bav Festival
    Let’s have a Tisha Bav Festival with the local Roman community, we’ll have kosher and non kosher food, church music, and a politician photo booth. The Pope will give a speech about tolerance and all the”activists” will pose for pictures bowing to his honor, while little Jewish children will play with Roman boys and girls. Truly inspiring.

  • 21. א באנדע משיחיסטים wrote:

    עוד הפעם המשיחיסטים עושים בלי שכל!
    חנינה, אלי כהן ובארד וואו דער איד שכביכול מציגים השכונה הק’, מבהיל
    לפני בית רבינו מסיבה כזו חילו ה’! רובם ככולם לא לבוש צנוע
    איפה הרבנים של אלו הטיפשים?
    הענדל? דריזין? ברוין? שוויי? אתם רבנים אתם עומדים בראש המפלגה המשוגע כזאת.
    אשרינו שלא נוטלים חלק בכל זה ועסוקים בנר מצוה ותורה אור

    אליעזר
    תושב השכונה

  • 22. face it wrote:

    If you like it or not Devorah Halberstam said precisely what had to be said just chill and listen to what she said she’s as daring as any of you all cry babies anytime. yeh yeh.

    • 23. the fact that there are defenders wrote:

      the fact that there is even one voice defending this entire affair and the behavior of a women who dresses inappropriately whilst representing
      us is sad.
      I am not going to call specific attention to the lack of tznius as that in itself would be a lack of tznius…

      but…………kinderlach there is lots of good and wonderful things happening in the world.. our shluchim are doing the Rebbe’s work Baruch Hashem and let’s focus on that!!
      Iy’H we will follow in their footsteps and help bring Moshiach!!

  • 24. Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai wrote:

    To Tony:

    Was Yochanan Ben Zakkai some bad guy for praising the murderous Vespasian as Emperor? Don’t forget, we are outnumbered. So, unless you want to rely on miracles, are we better off going with a confrontational or conciliatory approach?

    “Vespasian’s troops BRUTALLY conquered the north of Israel, eradicating all resistance. Meanwhile, the Jewish factions – now increasingly concentrated in Jerusalem – moved beyond power struggles into open civil war. While Vespasian merely watched from a distance, various factions of Zealots and Sicarii fought each other bitterly, even those that had common goals. They killed those advocating surrender. Thousands of Jews died at the hands of other Jews in just a few years…”

    See: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/953564/jewish/Rabbi-Yochanans-Request.htm

  • 25. Big Z Schapiro wrote:

    I have a question there is a picture of few people blowing the big Shofar and 1 big trumpets I don’t understand I do know they do that in the old city of Jerusalem at Kosel for the Bar Mitzvahs I’m talking about the modern Bar Mitzvah so anyway back to my question isn’t that kind of weird that they did for this Memorial event ?

  • 26. makes no sense wrote:

    Yes to unify. But to celebrate, to have FUN in the face of tragic death and murder??? Absolutely disgusting!

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