Brooklyn: Parks Dept. to Prune Trees to Accommodate Kohanim


ny-parks-dept-kohanim-greenfieldCouncilman David Greenfield met today with Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey and several leading rabbonim to tour the perimeter of Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn and discuss the need to prune the branches on several large trees between the street and sidewalk that are currently hanging over the edge of the cemetery in order to accommodate kohanim walking or driving through these areas.

After recently becoming aware of a kol koreh issued by rabbonim, including Rav Yechezkel Roth, the Kalusburger Rov, forbidding kohanim from walking on 20th Avenue and 21st Avenue, Greenfield asked Commissioner Jeffrey to tour the area with him and the rabbonim and come up with an appropriate solution. Specifically, the issue is most prevalent along Ocean Parkway just south of Congregation Yad Yosef and Congregation Beth Torah and along Bay Parkway near McDonald Avenue. On the Boro Park side, the situation is problematic along 20th Avenue and 21st Avenue between 53rd Street and 57th Street.

Accompanying the Councilman and Commissioner along Ocean Parkway was Rabbi Ozeiri of Congregation Yad Yosef and Rabbi Azancot of Congregation Beth Torah. Present for the 20th Avenue and 21st Avenue tour was Rav Roth, accompanied by Rav Mechel Steinmetz, Skverer Dayan; Rav Yitzchok Stein, Kalusburger Rosh Bais Din; and Rav Shiya Herschel Katzberg, one of the Belzer dayanim, who is himself a kohein.

Following the walking tour, Commissioner Jeffrey indicated that the city Parks Department would do their best to make reasonable accommodations to prune the branches and once again open these sidewalks up to all community members within the next month.

“After hearing that this problem had cropped up again in certain locations around the community, I immediately reached out to the Parks Department to find a solution,” said Greenfield. “I am confident that as a result of today’s site visit, the Parks Department can take measures to resolve this issue moving forward.

Greenfield and Rabbi Ozeiri met with Parks Department officials along Ocean Parkway to discuss this problem last year. However, despite efforts taken at the time, the branches have once again reached beyond the cemetery fence, especially due to the amount of sunlight trees along there receive. With that in mind, Greenfield and Jeffrey are now working on a plan that includes periodic pruning of these trees to prevent the issue from arising again in the near future.

“It is often a balancing act between protecting the religious rights and needs of our community and working with the city to meet their requirements and needs. With that in mind, I am very grateful to Commissioner Jeffrey and the Parks Department for their efforts to fully understand this issue and to work with our community on an appropriate solution,” added Greenfield.

{Gavriel Newscenter}


  1. Sefer Taharas Kohanim (Rabbi D. Munk, Rabbi Y. Lombard)p. 46 (seif katan 69)cautions to stay four amos away from the branches as with a kever. Anyone have any info on this?