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New Van Cortlandt Library Looking Great

17 May

5.17.19 – This is what will be the new wonderful and large local Van Cortlandt Library on Cannon Place in Kingsbridge Heights replacing the smaller on Sedgwick Avenue. Looking forward to its completion!

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Eastern Bloc Artists’ Exhibit at Derfner Judaica Museum at Hebrew Home (in Riverdale/Bronx)

13 May
Fremund

Richard Fremund (Czech, 1928–1969), Easter Landscape (Velikonocni Krajina), 1963, oil on canvas, 35 x 45 1/2 inches.

If you love art, you should get to know, if you haven’t already, the Derfner Judaica Museum, based at the Hebrew Home, in Riverdale. It’s free and wonderful to see. Here’s info on the exciting exhibit and opening on May 19 to check out …

“Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale is pleased to announce its latest exhibition, From the Eastern Bloc to the Bronx: Early Acquisitions from The Art Collection, on view in the Derfner Judaica Museum from May 5–August 25, 2019. A reception and curator’s talk will be held on Sunday, May 19, 2019, from 1:30–3 p.m. in the Museum, located at 5901 Palisade Avenue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. This event is free and open to the public. R.S.V.P. 718.581.1596 or art@hebrewhome.org. Photo I.D. required for entry at all times. 

“The exhibition is part of the Derfner Judaica Museum’s 10th Anniversary celebration, which will include several events and activities throughout the summer.” More info here

 

Rabin

Oscar Rabin (Russian, 1928–2018), Cats Under Crescent Moon, 1963, oil on canvas, 35 ½ x 43 ½ inches

love art, you should get to know, if you haven’t already, the Derfner Judaica Museum, based at the Hebrew Home,  in Riverdale. (It’s free and wonderful to see.) Here

Poetry Reading at Hebrew Home/Derfner Judaica Museum in Observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day

30 Apr

Tomorrow evening, Wed. 5/1, at Derfner Judaica Museum at Hebrew Home in Riverdale (northwest Bronx), there will be a free poetry reading and film screening. More info here:

Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale will host a poetry reading and film screening in observance of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on Wednesday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m. A pre-event reception will be held in the Museum, followed by the program commencing at 7 p.m. in the Winter Garden on the main floor of the Jacob Reingold Pavilion located at 5901 Palisade Avenue, in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx. This event is free and open to the public. Please R.S.V.P. to 718.581.1596 or art@hebrewhome.org. Photo I.D. required for entrance.

Link to Facebook invite here.

Swan Lake (Van Cortlandt Park)

22 Apr

Van Cortlandt Park Swan

Saw this beautiful swan today in Van Cortlandt Park Lake. I see one or two there often, but they never cease to attract my attention. Photo by Jordan Moss

What Should We Do With Van Cortlandt Library Space?

21 Apr
DSC_1084.jpg

Van Cortlandt Library on Sedgwick Avenue will soon be leaving this space for a new, larger site on Cannon Place. What should replace it? Photo by Jordan Moss

This is a photo of the current Van Cortlandt Library, but it will only exist for another couple of months. The one that will replace it is twice as large, allowing more, and separate, rooms for kids and adults. And from the photo I saw of the design, it’s infinitely more attractive. It’s being built right now on Cannon Place. It should be open by the end of summer. Fingers crossed.

But in the meantime, what should go in the old space? It’s for rent, and who knows, maybe for sale (phone number in photo).

Here’s what I think: it should be a diner or breakfast/lunch joint. Yeah, sure I’d also like a Thai or Indian restaurant or an art gallery or … a lotta stuff. But I really think that a diner wold benefit the most people in the vicinity. There’s no place for anyone to sit down for a quick breakfast or lunch before they get on the bus, or go to work at PS 95 across the street. And, except for the pizza place, there’s really no place for the elderly and people without cars to take a walk and have some breakfast, lunch or dinner. We all love pizza but not every single time we want/need to go get something to eat.

That’s my view. But I’m interested in yours. And if there’s a collective community view of what should be there, let’s all shout it out loud to everyone we know who could help spread word to business folks interested in what we are interested in.

-Jordan Moss

 

 

Assembly Speaker Heastie, Bronxite, Must Do the Right Thing on Raise Recommendation

14 Dec

10.14.18 — Most city residents don’t know who their state legislators are. It’s just a fact. I don’t know of a poll in this regard, but I bet a tiny, tiny fraction of us Bronxites know that an assemblyman from the northeast Bronx, Carl Heastie, is the speaker of the Assembly. A pretty important job especially considering that he and his Democratic colleagues could get some critically important legislation passed, now that the state Senate will be led by Democrats on Jan. 1.

So, Heastie has the power to do good. But there’s word that he might, well, do something very bad. A group of current and former city and state comptrollers was given the power to come up with recommendations regarding whether and how to increase state legislators’ pay from $79,500 to $110,000 on Jan. 1 and eventually to $130,000 in 2021. That would be the top pay for state legislators in the country. The critical caveat the comptroller-team put forward was that legislators’ outside income can only be 15 percent of what they earn in the Assembly or state Senate. That’s because so much of the vast corruption in Albany is related to hidden handshake money deals on legislation that is connected with lawmakers’ non-government gigs.  U.S. congressmen/women and  senators in D.C. are prohibited from doing other work while they’re in Congress for this exact reason.

So making $50,500 more than they make right now is a perfect incentive to do the right thing. Right?

Well, it seems many state legislators don’t think so. If the legislature does nothing (something we want for a change!) in terms of the comptrollers’ recommendations, all of the good stuff they proposed will take effect on Jan. 1. But according to a New York Times editorial today, Speaker Heastie is thinking of what the current State Senate majority leader John Flanagan is thinking: staging a vote in both chambers before Jan. 1 to get their big raise but also to keep allowing a ton of outside money to interfere with the critical government jobs voters hired them for.

Speaker Heastie, a Bronxite and like the second or third most powerful person in state government, needs to to do the right thing: vow publicly that he won’t allow a vote to undercut the comptrollers’ excellent and desperately needed small-‘d’, democratic good-government proposal.

If you agree, give Heastie a call at his office and tell him to the let his pay raise go forth the way the comptrollers recommended. So essentially, no more decision making or voting on this. It should be done, which would be good for democracy in our state. His office number is 718-654-6539 and/or email him at Speaker@nyassembly.gov.

-Jordan Moss

Indian Restaurant Opens in KINGSBRIDGE (Bronx)

11 Dec

This new Indian Restaurant, Riverdale Indian Cuisine, is now open at 308 W. 231st St. in … Kingsbridge. As mentioned earlier, its name unfortunately relates to the neighborhood up the hill rather than where it’s at, but as a resident of restaurant-lacking Kingsbridge Heights I’m excited to see it arrive in our neighboring nabe nonetheless. I look forward to checking it out. If you have already been there I’d love to know what you think. My family is hoping to check it out tonight.

We Need Local Civic Education in the Bronx and Beyond

3 Dec

12.3.18 — “One of the primary reasons our nation’s founders envisioned a vast public education system was to prepare youth to be active participants in our system of self-government. The responsibilities of each citizen were assumed to go far beyond casting a vote; protecting the common good would require developing students’ critical thinking and debate skills, along with strong civic virtues.” This is from a recent article at NEAtoday.org 

And Horace Mann, a famous public education advocate, stated something similar in the mid-1800s, according to an article in The New York Times the other day: He “wrote in 1847 that education’s purpose was to foster ‘conscientious jurors, true witnesses, incorruptible voters.'”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the above during, and since, the most recent local election for the New York State Senate. I volunteered in the campaign for State Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi.  The level of civic awareness and activity was encouraging, invigorating, and inspiring. More people voted in a mid-term election (between the presidential races) than they had in about the last half a century.

But this will not continue if it’s just us over-50 folks that get more involved. There will be fewer and fewer of us as time goes on, so, yes, high school students will play a key role in our near future whether they are politically engaged or not. And maybe even us middle-agers won’t stay so focused in the near future. Trump got us to the polls (on both sides) but he ain’t gonna be around forever (thinking this is the only way I can stay sane).

So, to interest young people in getting involved and having an impact, what’s more important than high school students learning about what city and state governments do (and don’t do!) and what students can do to have an impact. Elected officials are only going to know what their young-adult constituents are concerned about if high school students connect with them.

So civic education is critical. I’m no expert on this but I’d be surprised if more than a few high schools in the Bronx, and beyond, focus on that. Even if they do, it’s probably rather brief.

There are some efforts to teach teens civics but the results aren’t promising. As NEA today reports: “Only 25 percent of U.S. students reach the “proficient” standard on the NAEP Civics Assessment.  White, wealthy students are four to six times as likely as Black and Hispanic students from low-income households to exceed that level. Here’s why: Students in wealthier public school districts are far more likely to receive high-quality civics education than students in low-income and majority-minority schools.”

Beyond learning who their elected officials are, high school students should learn about what they can do to act on their own concerns. How many students (and adults too) know that they can go to a NYC website to check out what their landlord isn’t fixing, what the level of crime is in their communities, where their local community board office is and how they can get involved. And they should also learn about local community organizations that may be working on issues they’re particularly concerned about.

Norman Wechsler, a Bronxite and former great principal of DeWitt Clinton High School (long before it was chopped up into several separate entities under the same roof) shared this thought with me: “It would be great if there were a requirement for students to actually meet all of their government representatives — at the city, state, federal level (Congressmen/women, Senators), to identify an important issue with which each is engaged, and to write a letter to each advocating for a matter important to them.”

That’s a great idea. Students could also work together on an issue they think is important in their own communities. That could lead them to connect with elected officials, attend community board meetings, and more.

Wechsler also says that there is “one required semester of Social Studies, usually in the 12th year, is P.I.G.- Participation in Government.” I wonder how much, if at all, that class focuses on local politics and community issues.

The lack of civics education is a problem nationwide, according to a recent Times article about how students in low-income communities learn almost nothing about government and politics, and that Rhode Island has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that that’s unconstitutional.

Above are just some thoughts and facts about the need for civic education. I’d love to know what you think, especially if you’re a student or a teacher. The State Senate, newly empowered with Democratic leadership is about to take office. It’s a perfect time to tell them what you think they should take on.

—Jordan Moss