Triple-Witching Hour in the Village

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Triple-Witching Hour in the Village

Updated 08/02/2008 - 09:56 pm

Don't know what else to call it... in one three block area, Westhampton Beach hosted the Greater Westhampton Outdoor Art Show at Main and Mill, the Saturday morning Farmer's Market on Mill off Woodland, and New York State Governor David Paterson at Hampton Synagogue at Sunset and Brook.

Traffic Control Officers were all over the Art Show and Flea Market, the Governor brought his own admirably low-profile security detail, and Suffolk County National Bank Assistant Branch Manager Beverly Perkowski pressed her good-natured husband into service as a park­ing attendant so that customers could park and access the drive-through window and ATM.

Just to stay "legit," I made a banking deposit before heading off to hear what the Governor had to say to those assembled both within the temple proper and the overflow of congregants and visitors on the outside flagstone portion.

I was fully prepared to stand on the periphery in the open air and try to listen to the speak­ers, but an old friend spotted me and got me access to the Press section at the rear of the main room¹.

Even beneath the yarmulke I was directed to wear by a stern-visaged usher, Rabbi Marc Schneier spotted me across the breadth of the room, which led to some animated conferenc­ing with Executive Director Sam Nussbaum and then my escort, Glenn Dorskind.

Whatever was thrashed out, I was able to go the distance and hear Synagogue President Morris Tuchman deliver what seemed to be a heartfelt paean to the Rabbi, followed by Rabbi Schneier deliver­ing an address which included the words...

"I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be fighting a civil rights battle in my own backyard for my own community."

(He shouldn't have acted surprised!)

Then the Governor was "on," and dressed con­siderably more conservatively than during his visit to the East End in June.

He surprised on two counts:

  • While not especially eloquent, he spoke with both wit and an astonishing amount of erudition given that of nec­essity he can cannot use notes or read from a prepared text.
  • In response to an earlier wish by the Rabbi for the Governor to "monitor" the progress of the Synagogue's request for a eruv, he announced, assuming an ap­propriate posture:
    "There's a new Sheriff in town!"
    I don't know what he meant, but it was met with great approbation by those assembled.

He also spoke of an eruv as "a civil right" as if it has been established... which, after review­ing Tenafly Eruv Association, Inc. v. The Borough of Tenafly, I don't believe it has. Per­haps he was speaking metaphorically.

In all, an interesting event on several levels.

Next up will be the August 13th informational meeting, and I trust that Jacqueline Sprotte and I will not be the only token gentiles in attendance.


¹.- As impressive a House of Worship as I've been in since I visited Eero Saarinen's MIT Chapel more than half-a-century ago.


1. Glenn Dorskind said...


Thanks for coming to the Governor's talk. I wish you had stayed for the Kiddish. The food was good and it would have been nice to catch up. The Rabbi just wanted to make sure I knew you since that section was reserved for the press and there were some security concerns. I told him you were press and an old friend and that was the end of the discussion.

Below is a transcript of what the Governor actually said. I will try and get you the whole speech.

Governor Paterson: "So is August 13 your eruv educational session?"

Rabbi Schneier: "You’re more than welcome to come back."

Governor Paterson: "I might drop by. I want people to know there is a new sheriff in town."

The Governor stressed that he hoped August 13th works out and I think the "sheriff" stuff was just tongue in cheek. I'd be surprised if the Governor returned on the 13th.

We all just have to sit down and talk. I'm trying to reach out Let me know if I can go anywhere or talk to anyone to help break the divide. I will do what I can to make people feel comfortable on the 13th. I hope lots of people show.

In terms of the "stern-visaged usher," it's a tough job. I did it for Hillary and Governor Pataki, and the security and noise management made me pretty uptight. I hope you felt welcomed anyway.
Would have loved to have knoshed on some Kosher victuals, but I didn't wish to press my luck.

Thank you for the portion of the transcript... that was very helpful.

Your presence was most reassuring, and I trust that you weren't called on the Rabbinical carpet.

2. Specialist said...

Thank you, Mayor Teller! I just finished reading the Newsday article where Gov. Paterson compared the eruv to a civil rights struggle.

Again, we are in the press due to Teller flip-flopping on his stand.

We shouldnt be suprised that he AGAIN has this little Village in the news.

Let's go back and re-visit a 1997 New York Times article which highlights the type of department Teller ran when he was the Chief.

If you read the article you see how Teller protected his cronies (most are still the same) and railroaded an officer (who had his own share of problems) when he tried to show the dirty workings of the Police Department headed by Teller.

While I stil don't think an eruv is a Civil Rights issue, ya gotta give the Rabbi credit; he got the Governor to speak out in support of the eruv!

We're "in the press again," not because Mayor Teller "flip-flopped," but because he didn't have the cojones to approve the eruv before it became a front-page story!

Odd that you should reference that old Times report on the Verbeeck and Bergman cases; I have also on a blog entry I plan to publish tomorrow.

3. Frank Wheeler said...

Why would the Rabbi care if you were in the audience? I just read Jessica DiNapoli's story on 27East and she quotes some really ugly anti-eruv stuff from others who were there. You seem to have been for the eruv all along. It's the Rabbi you don't like.

The initial feedback I got was that Rabbi Schneier was PO'd that I'd sneaked in to the service because I'd been "so critial of him." Somewhere along the line I think he came to realize that 86'ing me would only validate my view that it's all about his ego, not the eruv.

Reporter DiNapoli did a commendably thorough report on the issue, and if the Lewis Ziegler and Cynthia DiLonardo quotes are accurate, got right to lines in the sand.

I wasn't "for" the approval of the eruv until I attended the second meeting at Village Hall, and understood what was being requested, and what it all meant. As far as my own feelings about the Rabbi, it's not him that I dislike so much as his methods and, not unlike Mayor Teller, the duplicity with which he too often speaks.

4. David said...

DiLonardo said some much more damning things... stay tuned.

5. Paul Haines said...

The Westhampton Beach eruv has made international news on the Israli web site

As Al Jolson famously uttered in another context, "You ain't heard nothin' yet!"

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