Thursday, May 31, 2012


press release

May 31, 2012

Contact: Yehudah Meth                                                       For Immediate Release
                718-853-9616 (office)      
    973-945-4903 (cell)


Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has asked Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to look into accusations of anti-Semitism at the highest levels of Brooklyn College. The Assemblyman says that although CUNY promised to independently investigate charges made by Brooklyn College staff that Provost William Tramontano demonstrated a pattern of racial discrimination against faculty and job candidates, what CUNY delivered was anything but independent.

“CUNY’s internal investigation was a sham,” said the Assemblyman. “The atmosphere of intimidation at Brooklyn College continues and the fear of retaliation is very real to staff. But many additional witnesses will come forward for the Attorney General.”

Last month, Assemblyman Hikind, along with 20 fellow lawmakers, contacted CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein asking him to address what they considered a pervasive pattern of anti-Semitism at Brooklyn College originating from the Provost’s office. Among incidents cited, Observant Jewish faculty candidates were denied employment opportunities at the college despite the highest recommendations from the College’s Appointment Committee; promotions were denied to Orthodox Jews while given to far-less-deserving staff members; and biased language unbecoming of a staff member was attributed to Tramontano. In one case, Tramontano blocked the hiring of a highly qualified Orthodox Jewish woman recommended by his own committee with the words, “I already gave you a Miriam.”

“I am overwhelming disappointed by CUNY’s inability to address this matter honestly,” said Assemblyman Hikind, himself a Brooklyn College graduate. “It’s clear that a probe from the Attorney General is called for. With their identities protected by the Attorney General, many witnesses who have kept quiet until now are eager to offer evidence of what’s going on at Brooklyn College.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


press release

As the one-year anniversary of Jacob Ostreicher’s questionable incarceration approaches, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) continues to lead the charge for his constituent. Yesterday, the Assemblyman met with NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Ostreicher’s wife Miriam to continue strategizing as more than 27,000 signatures filed a petition to the White House to intervene for the U.S. citizen who is being held in a Bolivian prison.

Miriam Ostreicher, Dov Hikind and Bill de Blasio discuss Jacob Ostreicher's situation
“Jacob Ostreicher’s life continues to be a living hell,” said Assemblyman Hikind. “In just a few days he will have been trapped for a full year in the Palmasola Prison in Bolivian where daily conditions are deplorable and it’s difficult to maintain one’s faith. But faith is what I told Jacob he must continue to cling to. Despite the injustice of his situation, the dangerous environment surrounding him and the weakness brought on by his hunger strike, Jacob Ostreicher must stay strong just as we must remain diligent in our efforts to free him. Fortunately, we’re beginning to see an increased effort on the part of our elected officials for Jacob.”

Over the last few weeks there have been public efforts not only from Council Members and Assembly Members but also from U.S. Congress Members, as well as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Yesterday, de Blasio made his commitment to Mrs. Ostreicher clear.

“Miriam Ostreicher and her family are in terrible distress because of Jacob Ostreicher’s situation,” said de Blasio. “This situation can not be allowed to drag on and on. In my capacity as Public Advocate, I am reaching out to all of the people that I have relationships with in the U.S. Government and asking for their help.”

After a year without justice, a year without being charged with a crime, Ostreicher has been promised a hearing on June 11 by the Bolivian government.

“These promises have been made and broken before,” said the Assemblyman. “Regardless, my staff, colleagues and I remain committed to seeing justice for Jacob Ostreicher. And I will continue to report on our progress.”

Friday, May 25, 2012

Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative: Update

There's been some misinformation circulating regarding the Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative.

To be clear:

  • The contracted security company will be responsible for maintaining the video feed of all cameras.
  • There is no organization acting as “gatekeeper” to security video footage; law enforcement will have unlimited access to security video footage.
  • Agudath Israel of America’s only role is to administer the financial aspects of the security initiative.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Congressman Jerry Nadler Continues Fight for Jacob Ostreicher

Congressman Jerry Nadler met with Miriam Ostreicher and Assemblyman Dov Hikind's staff yesterday to discuss how he can assist in bringing home Jacob Ostreicher, who has been held in a Bolivian prison for nearly a year without being charged with a crime. The Congressman has written a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the matter.
Congressman Jerry Nadler and Miriam Ostreicher

Constituents continue to visit Assemblyman Hikind's office every day to sign the petition to free Jacob Ostreicher.


U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (left) and Assemblyman Dov Hikind meet with Miriam Ostreicher to discuss Jacob Ostreicher's situation

At the urging of Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) met with Miriam Ostreicher and the Assemblyman Hikind on Sunday morning to discuss the plight of Jacob Ostreicher, a Borough Park resident who has been held in a Bolivian prison for nearly one year without being charged with a crime.

Senator Gillibrand, who has been following the situation since its inception, expressed her concern over Jacob Ostreicher’s health, which has been deteriorating since taking upon himself a hunger strike to bring further attention to his plight. The Senator made her commitment to help resolve Jacob Ostreicher's horrendous situation clear to Mrs. Ostreicher and Assemblyman Hikind as the three discussed next steps.

Assemblyman Hikind continues to seek support for Ostreicher from elected officials and urges everyone to do their utmost in helping to bring Jacob Ostreicher home quickly and safely. He urges everyone to sign the petition to free Jacob Ostreicher and to spread the story of his incarceration through their own networks, places of worship and social media.

Visit to sign the petition.

Reclaiming Jerusalem

Dov Hikind & Shani Hikind at last night's Ateret Cohanim Dinner where Shani received the Bonei Yeruyshalayim Award

Sunday, May 20, 2012



Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) and New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos will make Brooklyn history when they take the wraps off an extensive security initiative designed to protect residents of Borough Park and Midwood. The Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative, named for the young boy who was murdered in Borough Park last July, will utilize the newest advances in surveillance technology to safeguard community residents. The pilot program places 150 high-tech security cameras in strategic places throughout the community allowing for end-to-end surveillance as needed.

“The Jewish community is the largest potential target for attacks—that’s why the NYPD is forced to increase its patrols in our community whenever terror alerts are issued,” noted Assemblyman Hikind. “The security-surveillance system that we are about to put in place will not only decrease the chances of outside attacks, but it will also enormously enhance law enforcement’s ability to solve and prevent local crimes. If, for instance, a child were to go missing G-d forbid, we will have exponentially increased the ability to locate and recover that child.”

“Brooklyn’s Jewish community remains high on the list of potential danger zones in times of heightened security,” said Senator Skelos. “Our State goes to great lengths to protect our State and National monuments, but our people are truly our greatest treasures and deserve our State’s protection. With the Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative, investing in this proverbial ounce of prevention far outweighs a pound of cure.”

Assemblyman Hikind pointed out that government and police officials have long agreed that there is a significant security threat to the Jewish community. The Borough Park and Midwood communities of Brooklyn have one of the largest concentrations of Jewish families in the U.S. and numerous acts of violent anti-Semitism have taken place in its confines.

Working with Jewish community leaders, Assemblyman Hikind’s office identified key locations throughout the Borough Park and Midwood areas that would offer the broadest surveillance coverage. These include commercial districts, schools and institutions, as well as residential areas. The area is bounded by 60th Street to McDonald Avenue, 9th Avenue to 20th Avenue in Borough Park, McDonald Avenue to Ocean Avenue, and Foster Avenue to Avenue U in Midwood. Surveillance cameras will be mounted at major intersections. Camera output will be accessed by private volunteer organizations and can be reviewed by authorized police officials.

“This is an historical moment for the Jewish community,” said Assemblyman Hikind who thanked Senator Skelos for helping secure the funds for the security initiative. “The achievement of this initiative demonstrates the importance of partnering with our government.”
High-tech, multi-view security cameras like this one mounted on the corner of Chase at 48th and 13th will blanket Borough Park and Midwood

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wake Up Call: It’s Not Enough to Feel Sorry for Jacob Ostreicher

On the phone moments ago with Jacob Ostreicher

It’s difficult to write anything after having just hung up with Jacob Ostreicher. But I feel it’s important to share this conversation—and that you share it, too. Not just with members of our community but with everyone.

Jacob Ostreicher has been deteriorating in a Bolivian prison for nearly one year without being charged with a crime. There’s so much more to his story than meets the eye.

The fact that Jacob can take an occasional phone call while imprisoned should not imply any comfort on his part. Jacob can receive an occasional call if he pays for it. Just like he has a room to sleep in because he pays for it. If he didn’t, he’d sleep on the streets.

The prison Jacob is in is unlike anything most Americans can imagine. There are no rules. There are no guards. Prisoners live in a fenced-in community of prisoners—drug smugglers, murderers, rapists—everyone thrown together behind a wall where the inmates run the community. Hard to believe, I know, but watch ABC’s “Nightline” feature on Jacob’s plight and you’ll see what it’s like there. Nevertheless, no amount of excellent reportage can portray what Jacob Ostreicher is living in. 

“Gehenom,” he called it in our conversation. “A living hell.”

I could hear the despair in Jacob’s voice. He’s been on a hunger strike for too long and this once strong and healthy man is down to 115 lbs. Is the Bolivian government aware of his condition? Do they care?
The answer is we must make them care. And we can only do that by demonstrating how much we care.

I care. And I’m making sure that my fellow lawmakers care, too. We need momentum and we need voices that the Bolivian government will listen to. But it starts with all of us. And time is of the essence. Jacob told me that he fears for his life. I fear for it, too.

Please help us. Imagine for one moment that this is your innocent father or brother or husband or grandfather. Here’s what you can do:

  • Sign the petition
  • Ask your shul or place of worship to immediately send out an email or newsletter blast telling people where and how to sign the petition.
  • Use any social media at your disposal to make people aware of Jacob Ostreicher’s plight.
  • Contact your elected officials including the White House and demand justice for Jacob Ostreicher.
  • Pray for Jacob Ostreicher’s safe and speedy release from prison.

Please. Raise your voice for Jacob Ostreicher before it’s too late.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


It appears that CUNY is attempting to white-wash accusations of anti-Semitism at Brooklyn College in its recently released report on allegations of discrimination. To recap, I was joined by twenty New York State lawmakers in requesting an independent investigation into allegations of racism made by Brooklyn College faculty and staff after numerous incidents were reported involving Provost William Tramontano. And I was assured by CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein that there would be an investigation. Sadly, it was far from independent.

That being the case, the report that CUNY issued comes as a shocking non-surprise. It seems clear to the faculty and staff who were questioned that the attorney hired by CUNY was working too closely with CUNY’s own internal attorney. Their findings were a foregone conclusion.

The accusations of anti-Semitism following the conduct of Provost William Tramontano were not leveled by an individual but by many individuals; they were made not in relation to an isolated incident but after a pattern of behavior was established.

There are obvious holes in the CUNY report that I intend to point out to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Website for Jacob Ostreicher is Down...

They are apparently experiencing technical difficulties but you can still access the online petition by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Contact: Yehudah Meth 718-853-9616


Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), Councilman David G. Greenfield (D-Brooklyn), and Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) are urging community residents who have not already done so to sign an on-line petition to President Obama urging his intervention with the Bolivian government to free Jacob Ostreicher. Ostreicher, a Brooklyn resident and U.S. citizen, has been held in a Bolivian prison for nearly one year without being charged with a crime.

“Eleven months behind bars without being charged—the thought boggles the mind,” said Assemblyman Hikind. “Jacob Ostreicher spends each day of his life in a Bolivian prison without even basic human rights. None of us can sleep easy while this terrible injustice continues. Please be part of the solution and urge everyone to do the same.”

“I urge all of my constituents to do everything they can to help free Jacob Ostreicher, including signing the petition immediately,” said Councilman David G. Greenfield. “We must rally as a community to fight for justice on behalf of our neighbor who is languishing in the world's worst prison. We cannot rest until justice prevails and Mr. Ostreicher is back on American soil.”

Ostreicher’s plight was recently covered by “Nightline” on ABC News. The on-line petition is available at

For those who lack easy access to the Internet, Assemblyman Hikind coordinated the following locations where people can come during business hours to sign the online petition:

  • The Office of Assembly Dov Hikind, 1310 48th St., Brooklyn, NY 11219
  • The Office of Councilman David G. Greenfield, 4424 16th Ave., Brooklyn, New York 11204
  • The Office of Councilman Stephen Levin, 410 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217
  • United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg (UJO), 32 Penn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211
  • Copy Center of Crown Heights, 418 Kingston Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11225
  • Midtown Camera, 185 Lee Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211

As more locations become available, they will be posted here on this blog

Friday, May 11, 2012

Demanding Justice for Jacob Ostreicher

It has been a week since nearly 500 of us stood together in front of the Bolivian Mission to the United Nations demanding justice for Jacob Ostreicher. If he Bolivian government believes that was this issue’s 15 minutes of fame, they are sorely mistaken. We are just getting started.

My staff and I met with Jacob’s wife Miriam today to discuss next steps. There will certainly be many next steps and the Ostreicher family needs and deserves your support as these steps are taken.

Eleven months behind bars without being charged for a crime. The thought boggles the mind. There but for the grace of G-d goes any of us who travel or do business in a country that lacks the laws and justice system of the United States. None of us can sleep easy while this terrible injustice continues.

Keep an eye on this blog and on the website set up to free Jacob Ostreicher so you can keep posted on what’s being done and how you can help. Your prayers and your signature on the petition to free Jacob will go a long way in this battle. And when we rally on Jacob’s behalf again, we’re sure we'll see you there!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Field Day for the Mice: A Lesson in Misinformation

There was a small panic in my office last night. An unexpected incident caused my assistant to leap from her chair in fright. This usually occurs when she sees a mouse scurry across the floor (what can I say? It’s the city—mice like it here, too). But this was a mouse of a different color.

The story went like this: The Jewish Center for Special Education on 1760 53rd  was concerned because their children are dismissed at 3pm and a parade, for the Jewish holiday of Log B’omer, had been announced along with street closures for tomorrow. The yeshiva called the police several times for clarity and instructions but their calls were not returned. So they phoned my office.

My assistant, with alacrity, called our friends at the police department to make certain there would be no issues for the yeshiva, the students or their parents. Assured that all was copacetic, she was relaying this information to the yeshiva’s staff when...

Suddenly someone was Tweeting (or is it Twittering?) the following: “Dov Hikind – Why are you calling NYPD to shut down Log B’omer parade! Terrible to do this – you were invited!”

Indeed, I was invited, and planned to attend. Still do.

Fortunately, we were able to correct this anonymous Tweet dropper and the twits who follow him/her/it (I have no idea who the person behind this Twitter handle is… and even if I do, I’m not telling).

Our reply: “Staffer called PD to make sure special needs children can get down 17th w/o problems. I plan to attend parade.”

Was the anonymous Tweeter mean-spirited? Was this just a hasty response to something he/she didn’t understand or misconstrued? Or was there something malevolent intended in this squeaky Tweet?

The truth is, one never knows. That’s the problem with “information” and “inside scoops” from anonymous sources. Twitter—and I dare say Facebook, message boards, and even so-called “news” sites—are filled with  digital graffiti artists; people with agendas hiding behind walls of anonymity.

Author Harlan Ellison once noted to one of his proteges that the Internet is the greatest villain of the 21st Century because it makes all information suspect. It makes the super information highway that much harder to travel.

But for small rodents lurking in shadows, it’s a field day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bonei Olam: Hope Today... Tomorrow A Child

I was privileged to not only speak on Sunday evening at the Bonei Olam dinner, but also to introduce my friend, NY State Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos, who addressed the dinner attendees. My heartfelt thanks to Dean for adding funds to the NY State IVF Grant.

Bonei Olam’s mission--a mission they fulfill--is to help couples that are experiencing infertility realize their dreams of having a child. Bonei Olam was founded by a group of individuals who themselves had experienced the hardships of infertility. They provide funding for all aspects of fertility treatments, relieving couples of the financial, emotional, and physical stress resulting from infertility. Bonei Olam has built a strong, dedicated network of doctors and fertility centers across the world, enabling them to offer unsurpassed medical and financial assistance to all applicants.

To date, over 2000 of the many couples that Bonei Olam has assisted have given birth to children of their own. If not for Bonei Olam, these couples would not have had alternative avenues to finance their treatments.

And My Endorsement for NYC Mayor Is…

When I received a phone call on Sunday afternoon from Sally Goldenberg at The NY Post, I was happy to answer her questions about Bill Thompson and his relationship with the Jewish community. Bill is an old friend and I have nothing but good things to say about him. But I also have nothing but good things to say about Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, NYC Comptroller John Liu, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (listed alphabetically—not by position held, height, age or any other factor). In fact, I did say good things about all three of these friends to Sally in that same conversation. Those things just didn’t make it to The NY Post article.

The fact is I have not endorsed anyone for NYC Mayor. I’m far from discussing an election that will not take place until next year.

I was quoted as saying Bill Thompson is a favorite in the Jewish community. That’s true. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the favorite.

I supported Bill when he ran against—and narrowly lost to—Mayor Bloomberg. I believed then that Bill was better for our community and our city. I still believe that. But I think the same thing about many of the candidates who are looking at a mayoral run.

As for my relationship with the other prospective candidates:

  • Just last month I joined Bill de Blasio at his press conference demanding that Nissan—the winner of a $1 billion contract to manufacture NYC’s “Taxi of Tomorrow”—stop conducting business in Iran.

  • John Liu and I have stood together on many issues impacting the Jewish community and we continue to do so. 

  • Just two weeks ago, Scott Stringer supported my efforts (successfully) to have the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art give full disclosure to Gertrude Stein’s past in presenting her art collection “The Steins Collect.” 
 So I repeat, I haven’t endorsed anyone. And to the best of my knowledge neither has the Jewish community.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Yeshiva Bonim Lamokom Visits Albany

Children from Yeshiva Bonim Lamokom came to visit Albany on Wednesday morning. It was an extraordinary time for the children, but even more so for me and my fellow legislators who were fortunate enough to meet these special kids and their very special teachers.

Yeshiva Bonim Lamokom is a special education yeshiva for high-functioning boys with Down Syndrome and other developmental delays. The yeshiva took an overnight trip to Albany and I was delighted to meet with them as they toured the Capital building. One of the boys--a loyal listener to my radio show--introduced me to his classmates. Thank you Rabbi Zev Horowitz for sharing your students with us in Albany!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lipa Schmeltzer Joins Rally for Jacob Ostreicher's Freedom

Lipa Schmeltzer--the popular American Hasidic singer and composer--was among the hundreds
of people who turned out in support of Jacob Ostreicher today at the first public rally on his behalf.

The time for quiet diplomacy has ended. The Bolivians are holding Mr. Ostreucher without having charged him for a crime.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind and musician Lipa Schmeltzer speak out for Jacob Ostreicher
How can you help? Get loud. Keep this story alive. Share the story of Jacob Ostreicher's illegal captivity in a Bolivian prison and re-post this story via Facebook, Twitter, and any other means at your disposal.

Jacob Ostreicher's Plight Is Our Own

Jacob Ostreicher, a U.S. Citizen, has been illegally detained by Bolivian prosecutors in Palmasola Prison, Santa Cruz for 11 months. This is unacceptable.
photo (c) 2012 Yehudah Meth

Attempts at quiet diplomacy have only brought frustration to this man's family and the time has come to do more. Hundreds of people from Borough Park and Williamsburg turned out today at the Bolivian Mission to the United Nations to speak out against this terrifying injustice.

Jacob Ostreicher has not been charged with a crime. We cannot stand silently by and allow this to continue. I am calling upon Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the State Department, and President Obama to stop ignoring the plight of this U.S. citizen. Are American lives so cheap that any of us can get snatched by a foreign country while our own government turns a blind eye? I say no!
photo (c) 2012 Yehudah Meth
photo (c) 2012 Yehudah Meth

Today at the U.N.: We Demand Justice for Jacob Ostreicher

Today at 11 am I will address the press to demand justice for Jacob Ostreicher, an American citizen held in Bolivian prison for 1 year without being charged. I will stand with Jacob Ostreicher’s wife, family and friends. Please join us. “Where have you been Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012




Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (D-Manhattan) have convinced The Metropolitan Museum of Art to reveal that its exhibit “The Steins Collect” was owned and collected by fascist/Nazi-collaborator Gertrude Stein.

“The Steins Collect”—a popular exhibit currently on display at the Met, which includes art from Matisse, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Renoir and Picasso—noticeably overlooked some key historical details in its presentation: That the collection survived the Nazi plunder of France only because its owner, author/collector Gertrude Stein, was philosophically aligned with the Vichy Nazi collaborators. Stein not only translated Nazi puppet leader Marshall Philippe Petain’s speeches into English for submission to her New York publisher, she also lobbied for a Nobel Peace Prize for Adolph Hitler in 1938.

Following this glaring omission, Assemblyman Hikind met with representatives of the museum this morning who assured him that the presentation of “The Steins Collect” exhibit will be updated for historical accuracy.

“People are entitled to the facts,” said Assemblyman Hikind. “Visitors have the right to know that this collection exists because Gertrude Stein sold her soul; that she lived in comfort, aiding the Nazi cause while her fellow Jews were being robbed, tortured and murdered. “I am grateful to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for accepting the historical accountability of full disclosure. I also want to thank Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for joining me in correcting this glaring omission.”




Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) is demanding that The Metropolitan Museum of Art reveal that its exhibit “The Steins Collect” was owned and collected by fascist/Nazi-collaborator Gertrude Stein.

“The Steins Collect”—a popular exhibit currently on display at the Met, which includes art from Matisse, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Renoir and Picasso—is scheduled to remain on display until June 3rd. However nowhere are visitors of the collection informed of the owner Gertrude Stein’s dark past.

Gertrude Stein at home in France with
Vichy bureaucrat Bernard Fay
“Stein’s despicable behavior while her fellow Jews—men, women and children—were being rounded up for deportation to work camps and gas chambers may be well known to historians, and likely to curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but this information should be equally available to people patronizing the museum,” Assemblyman Hikind wrote to Dr. Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “As a legislator, a New Yorker, a child of Holocaust survivors, and a representative of one of the largest communities of Holocaust survivors in the United States, I was deeply disturbed to learn that the museum is displaying ‘The Steins Collect’ without any acknowledgement of Gertrude Stein’s involvement with France’s fascists as a Nazi Collaborator.”

Neither the museum’s website nor “The Steins Collect” display make any reference to Gertrude Stein’s dark past. It is a matter of fact that, among other things, Stein lobbied for a Nobel Peace Prize for Adolph Hitler and was only allowed to remain in France and continue collecting art because she aided the Vichy government in its collaboration with the Nazis.

“People need to know these facts,” said Assemblyman Hikind. “People need to know who owned this art and how she came to maintain it while her fellow Jews were being robbed, tortured and murdered. Indeed, the collection should be presented as collected and safeguarded by a Nazi Collaborator. The Metropolitan Museum of Art must take responsibility for this historical accountability.”

Assemblyman Hikind is demanding full disclosure of this information for the many people who will visit “The Steins Collect” at the Met.