There was anger in Brooklyn today over Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s solution to the community’s fight against free concerts at a local park. The mayor has suggested two synagogues adjust worship services to accommodate the events.
Bloomberg probably thought he was displaying the Wisdom of Solomon.
“Maybe they could adjust their services slightly earlier. We just have to start being a little more tolerant of each other,” Bloomberg said.
But members of two Brighton Beach synagogues — Temple Beth Abraham and Sea Breeze Jewish Center – were furious at the suggestion from our Jewish mayor that they deviate from Jewish practice and start evening services before sundown.
“I’m flabbergasted that a man of such stature, a philanthropist, supposedly a caring man can ask us to take our religion and practically just dish it out. I mean get rid of it,” said Sea Breeze president Mendy Sontag. “He should be ashamed of himself. He’s supposedly Jewish, too?”
“The mayor belongs to a very prestigious synagogue called Temple Emanuel in Manhattan. Would they change their schedule to accomodate a concert? I doubt it very much,” added Al Turk, vice president of Temple Beth Abraham.
Turk was already upset about plans to turn Asser Levy Park across the street from the synagogue into a big concert space for 8,000 people.
“What really gets me mad and angry is that the politicians are doing each other favors and violating New York City law by doing an end run,” Turk said.
Saying the new concert space will disrupt services and create traffic and noise headaches, the residents sued the city to invoke the 500-foot law: No concerts 500 feet from any house of worship.
“‘Disrespect’ is a mild word. I am completely disillusioned with our politicians who can so callously tread upon our beliefs,” Turk said.
Mayor Bloomberg did an end run around the community. They sued, but before the judge ruled the mayor broke the indoor world record for legislative achievement. He got the City Council to introduce a bill and pass it in five days. The bill circumvents the 500-foot rule.
“The issue here is that there is a park with a band shell and a lot of people would like to go there and hear music, and there’s another group that says, well, it’s going to bother them. Keep in mind it’s not at a time when most religious organizations – even orthodox Jewish organizations – hold services. And we all have to be somewhat accommodative of each other,” Bloomberg said.
The end result is the summer concert series sponsored by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz will go on and so will the court suits.
Bloomberg is scheduled to sign the bill into law on July 12. The summer concert series is scheduled to start July 15 with Neil Sedaka and Brenda Lee.