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Michael Sciaraffo’s Secret Sandy Clause toy collection. Image courtesy of
Sciaraffo’s Facebook page

When it comes to making sure that the youngest victim’s of Hurricane Sandy have a great Christmas, there is no shortage of bighearted locals.

Gravesend resident Michael Sciaraffo has been a one man Sandy relief machine. He started by collecting essential supplies for relief efforts with Facebook appeals and eventually moved on bringing holiday gifts to kids whose families are struggling.

“This was my home, and I felt compelled to do something about it,” Sciaraffo said to NY 1.”I couldn’t just sit around and do nothing. So I said ‘You know what? I am going to mobilize.”

Michael Sciaraffo’s Secret Sandy Clause event. Image courtesy of
Sciaraffo’s Facebook page

He collected over 200 toys from a Secret Sandy Claus event he hosted. Then, instead of just dropping the toys off at centers, he decided to don a Santa suit and deliver them himself to bring that extra bit of cheer to kids.

His first stop was the McGowan family on Bevy Court in Gerritsen Beach. The family has been living out of a trailer on their lawn because their home was completely destroyed by Sandy.

“A lot of times, they ask, they want to go home and they want their toys,” said Mom Elizabeth McGowan. “I’m telling them that Santa Claus is coming and they are going to get toys. And he showed up and that will mean the world to them.”

Sciaraffo is nowhere near done. His list includes hundreds of kids from all over the five boroughs. He said that personally recalls the importance toys play in a child’s life and wants to make sure that these kids have a joy-filled Christmas in spite of their difficulties.

To donate toys, call 646-623-7542 or email secretsandyclausproject@gmail.com.

Superstorm Sandy may have spared most Bensonhurst residents and businesses, but recovery was still center stage at Community Board 11′s December 13 meeting.

In the wake of the storm, rebuilding the sea wall and protecting homeowners from toxic mold growth are top priorities for local leaders.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate called for a quick rehabilitation of the Caesar’s Bay bulkhead and the Shore Parkway Greenway sea wall. The greenway is of particular importance, as it serves as a line of defense for the Belt Parkway, Southern Brooklyn’s principal artery. According to District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia and Chairman William Guarinello, the effects of another storm could wipe out the roadway.

“The Belt Parkway is a vital link in our community,” Abbate added, noting that rebuilding the lost seawall at Caesar’s Bay is an important precaution.

There have been a few cases of mold in Bensonhurst homes after the hurricane, the Board noted. Community members are encouraged to check their homes for mold and hire licensed contractors for removal. Homeowners should not attempt to remove the mold itself, as it requires specialized equipment to protect from inhaling the toxic spores.

Also, on Monday, the City Council voted to postpone property taxes for local home owners, according to Councilman Vincent Gentile’s representatives. There will be a three-month grace period for owners, which should help the community in the Bensonhurst post-Sandy rebuilding effort.

Aiello and  Msgr. Cassato. Source: Thetablet.org

Much has been said about the light displays in Dyker Heights. Now, Bensonhurst residents have decided to get in on the action.

The St. Athanasius Church at 2154 61st Street set up decorations and lit up a Christmas tree in front of the rectory after Mass last week. Along with Santa, Hollywood actors Quintin Aaron and Danny Aiello participated in the festivities, according to the The Tablet.

Aiello even sang Christmas carol duets with Monsignor David Cassato to the musical accompaniment of the Dixieland Band.

Three homes on 82nd Street have also went all out decorating their homes in festive lights.

The homeowners have been banding together for years to create a large display. According to News 12, they want to make their display bigger every year.

Image courtesy of Senator Martin Golden

Looks like the cheerleaders, spectators and Senator Marty Golden had a blast at the local tree lighting at Van Sicklen Street and Avenue U.

Make sure you go there to check out the tree in all of its glory!

 

Source: Cec via Wikimedia Commons

There are several subway service changes this weekend. Here’s what you can expect from some of the local lines:

  • Coney Island-bound D trains run express from 9th Avenue to Stillwell Avenue. Trains stop at 62 St.-New Utrecht Avenue and Bay Parkway. For service to Fort Hamilton Parkway, 50, 55, 71 and 79th Streets, 18th, 20th 25th Avenues and Bay 50th Street, take the D to 62nd Street-New Utrecht Avenue, Bay Parkway or Stillwell Avenue and transfer to a Norwood-bound D train.
  • N trains run over the Manhattan Bridge in both directions between Canal St and DeKalb Avenue. In Brooklyn, transfer between N and 4 trains at Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center.
  • There are no R trains between 34th Street-Herald Square and Jay Street-MetroTech. Instead, R train runs in two sections: Between Forest Hills-71st Avenue and 34th Street-Herald Square and between Jay Street-MetroTech and Bay Ridge-95th Street. For service between Manhattan and Brooklyn, take the N or Q train. Transfer between R and N/Q trains at 34th Street-Herald Square or Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center.

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We publish the week’s statistics for the 62nd Precinct reports every Friday. The 62nd Precinct is the police command responsible for Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

Source: Schools.nyc.gov

I.S. 281 Joseph B. Cavallaro School (8787 24th Avenue) has been publishing their award-winning school newspaper, New Image, for years. In their winter publication, they highlight a Superstorm Sandy story written by an anonymous student.

Schools and local organizations knew early on that the hurricane may bring lasting emotional effects on kids and adults in the form of stress, anxiety or even PTSD. The story below is from a child’s point-of-view, and luckily, the damage to his or her home was not too grave. However, there is a sensitivity there that may be far worse for others who were dealt worse fate.

Read the student’s story.

There are many small Asian bakeries that populate 86th Street. These bakeries are full of hearty food, character and wonderfully cranky counter staff. I often find myself running through Bensonhurst trying to meet my Bean colleagues, interviewing oil recyclers and searching for Sandy Koufax – and in need of a quick and cheap bite.

The Yu King Bakery (2335 86th Street) is the spot for such a bite. I walked in and noticed a few older Asian women sitting at tables, drinking tea or coffee and holding court. I don’t know what they were holding court on, but I doubt it was about the Giants or Jets season, but you never know. They seemed content and at home as they offered a welcoming smile in my direction.

I wanted to order something light, and I approached the counter staff cautiously. Pork buns and thousand-year egg cookies stared back at me. I asked the staff if they had any food without meat, and the staff responded, “Meat?” Then, they scooped some meat from the steam ovens onto a nice plate and showed it to me.

I told them I wanted something with no meat and they put the plate into the steam ovens. When the oven was open, I noticed the familiar shape of a dim sum prize, the golden glove winner: Rice flour rolls.

Continue Reading »

Either Fong & Zhou Supermarket at 8514 18th Avenue is a brand new supermarket or they’re renovating, or it could even be under new management. I noticed it walking to the 18th Avenue stop of the D train. The inside of the place was being remodeled as well.

It was hard enough getting a decent picture that cold night, let alone a straight answer from the guy on the ladder (see above), who promised me the store was new.

A passerby debunked his claim by, saying they’d been it had been for a little while. When I asked her if she lived around the area, she suddenly walked away.

I don’t know about you, but for me this place is all types of confusing. If you know, let me know folks, is it new, old, remodeled or what?

Source: Councilman David Greenfield’s office

From the offices of Councilman David Greenfield:

More than 150 Borough Park residents, elected officials and ambassadors to Sweden and Hungary braved the rain yesterday afternoon on the first day of Chanukah to honor the legacy of great humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg at a street co-naming ceremony hosted by Councilman David G. Greenfield at the corner of 13th Avenue and 50th Street. As a result of yesterday’s ceremony, the entire stretch of 13th Avenue in Borough Park from 36th Street to 60th Street is now co-named “Raoul Wallenberg Way” in honor of the great World War II hero who helped save as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews from certain death in Nazi concentration camps.

Yesterday’s ceremony was the culmination of a year-long effort to honor Raoul Wallenberg’s legacy on his 100th birthday and came after the City Council approved the street co-naming earlier this year. Borough Park is home to the largest population of Holocaust survivors in the United States, and many local families are descendants of individuals saved by Wallenberg, making 13th Avenue a fitting location for this historic event. As a result, future generations of Borough Park and Brooklyn residents will know of Raoul Wallenberg and his heroic actions on behalf of others during the Holocaust.

Joining Councilman Greenfield were prominent elected officials including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, State Senator-elect Simcha Felder, Assemblyman Bill Colton and Assemblyman David Weprin, along with members of the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Commission, Consul General of Hungary Karoly Dan and Honorary Consul General of Sweden David E.R. Dangoor. In addition, more than 150 local residents, including many whose relatives were saved by Raoul Wallenberg, attended despite the steady rain. After remarks by many of the leaders in attendance, Councilman Greenfield led the formal unveiling of a new city sign designating 13th Avenue as “Raoul Wallenberg Way.”

“The Talmud tells us that one who saves a life saves the world. In essence, that is what Chanukah is all about, a handful of people refusing to stand by and instead standing up to end the religious persecution nearly 2,200 years ago. But only 68 years ago Raoul Wallenberg made the ultimate sacrifice for doing the right thing. There are literally thousands in Borough Park who trace their lineage to someone saved by Raoul Wallenberg, and many of us would not be here today without Raoul Wallenberg. That is why we are here along the most important commercial strip in Borough Park recognizing Raoul Wallenberg. He chose to do the right thing, which is why he is a genuine hero. It is that lesson that we celebrate with this street naming in honor of a person who stood up and made a difference,” said Councilman David G. Greenfield.

“The realization of Raoul Wallenberg Way will forever be a testament to the heroism of Raoul Wallenberg and will indeed forever be a symbol of our gratitude to Raoul Wallenberg for saving 100,000 Jewish lives many of whom later re-established themselves here in Boro Park including my late grandfather, the previous Liska Rebbe of blessed memory,” said Ezra Friedlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group, which spearheaded the creation of the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Commission.

“Raoul Wallenberg saved members of my own family and yesterday we celebrated the life of a true hero of the Jewish people who will always occupy a special place in our hearts. That’s why the street naming ceremony was a true Kiddush Hashem and on behalf of the Wallenberg Commission, we thank Council Members David Greenfield and Brad Lander,” said Peter Rebenwurzel, chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Commission.

“Sweden is very fortunate to participate in this event to honor Raoul Wallenberg and we are very proud as a country to have him as part of our legacy. I want to take this opportunity to thank Councilman David Greenfield and Councilman Brad Lander for holding this important event,” said Honorary Consul General of Sweden David E.R. Dangoor.

“I would like to thank the Wallenberg Commission for putting forth this wonderful street renaming so Raoul Wallenberg’s name is here forever. One hundred years from now we have to make sure Raoul Wallenberg’s name is not only marking this street, but something that means something important to us,” said Consul General of Hungary Karoly Dan.

“Raoul Wallenberg is certainly one of the great heroes of our time, and we need to never forget his incredible courage and his inspiration in the face of tragedy. He certainly is a man for all the ages. How appropriate it is that we keep strong the name Raoul Wallenberg here in Borough Park. Congratulations to David Greenfield and Brad Lander for sponsoring this resolution,” said State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

“Let this sign indicate from today and for all the days to come exactly who the true world heroes are. They are not sports figures, and they’re not entertainers, they are men and women who put their own life on the line to ensure democracy, freedom and equality, and to stand up to injustice. Let this corner stand as a testimony from this day forward that goodness will always prevail over evil, and the true heroes of this world are people like Raoul Wallenberg,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

“This is such a great moment here in Brooklyn, as we make the statement that we will never forget those who stood up and did the right thing, and realized that we are all connected as people. Raoul Wallenberg showed that in the middle of such inhumanity, there are those who don’t forget that we are one people. Thank you to Councilman Greenfield for bringing us together. Even on a rainy day, the sun is still shining because this is a great moment for our city,” said former Comptroller Bill Thompson.

“We still face forces of evil, and there are still forces that seek to destroy, so this street renaming is a sign and a light. It is very appropriate that it be during this period of Chanukah. It is a light to the world of hope and determination to make sure that good survives, and I want to thank Council Members Greenfield and Lander for bringing this great opportunity. We will never forget.” said Assemblyman Bill Colton.

“This is a righteous person and someone who should be recognized by the world. It is certainly appropriate that the main street in the middle of Borough Park be named for Raoul Wallenberg. When young children pass by, their parents will be able to tell them that Raoul Wallenberg is a real hero for all of eternity,” said Assemblyman David Weprin.

“This co-naming is very important, especially for the younger generations who do not know as much about our history, so that we look up and see Raoul Wallenberg Way. That is the way that you should live your life,” said CB 12 Chairman Yidel Perlstein.

“I am proud to join the community in paying tribute to the life of Raoul Wallenberg. His actions saved so many lives during the Holocaust. He is a hero not just for Jews, but for all of humanity, and his story should never be forgotten,” said Councilmember Brad Lander in a statement.

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who put his life on hold in the summer of 1944 and embarked on a mission that led to the saving of as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews who were otherwise bound for death in Nazi concentration camps. Serving as first secretary at the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Wallenberg devised a plan to issue Swedish “protective passports” and establish safe houses in buildings throughout Budapest.

“It was great to see so many community members take the time to join us for yesterday’s ceremony. It is only right that our community show hakaros hatov for Raoul Wallenberg’s inspiring and selfless actions, so my thanks to Councilman Brad Lander, the Wallenberg Commission and everyone who worked hard to make this event a reality. As a result of this street co-naming, the name Raoul Wallenberg will live on forever along 13th Avenue here in Borough Park,” concluded Councilman Greenfield.