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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 5, No. 10   July 17, 2018  

""Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
      -  Amendment 1, the Bill of Rights of the United States of America (dated 1791)

* Calendar: July - Poetry

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MASTHEAD PHOTO: The sousaphone player with the Asphalt Orchestra performing at the Battery Park City Authority's 50th anniversary celebration on May 31, 2018.
(©Terese Loeb Kreuzer 2018)  

Terese Loeb Kreuzer, editor
I've been preoccupied by national politics recently. Among other things, I've been thinking about freedom of the press, the separation of church and state in this country, and in general, about the foundational freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

With these issues on my mind, on July 2, I paid a visit to Federal Hall National Memorial at the junction of Wall, Broad and Nassau Streets. The Greek Revival building that's there now with its columned portico and its majestic statue of George Washington at the top of the steps only dates from 1842. Previously, there was another building on this site - but you know how it is in New York City. More often than not old buildings get torn down because they're in the way or someone thinks there's money to be made by building something else. So we lost New York's second city hall, which was constructed between 1699 and 1703. That's where John Peter Zenger, a newspaper publisher, was accused in 1735 of committing libel against the British royal governor. Zenger was imprisoned and tried. Ultimately he was acquitted because it was found that what he had published was true. This case helped to establish the principle of freedom of the press, later codified in the Bill of Rights.

That old building, now lost, was also the site of the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, where representatives of nine of the 13 colonies drafted and sent a letter to King George III, the House of Lords and the House of Commons, protesting taxation without representation.

In 1788, the building was remodeled and enlarged. Renamed Federal Hall, the first United States Congress met there on March 4, 1789 to count the votes that elected George Washington as the first president of the United States. On April 30, 1789, he was inaugurated on the building's balcony, overlooking Wall Street.

His inaugural address was brief. He said he was anxious about assuming the duties of president, but if his country wanted and needed him, he could not refuse. He also said he would take no pay. "I must decline as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the Executive Department," he said, "and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the Station in which I am placed may, during my continuance in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require."

That's what he said and that's what he meant. He abjured personal power and wasn't interested in turning the presidency of the United States into a feeding trough.

What happened at Federal Hall in the months that followed that first inauguration was breathtaking. The first Congress of the United States drafted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, 10 of which were ratified as the Bill of Rights. The first amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

The old building is gone now but the Bill of Rights remains, drafted here in Lower Manhattan, the rock on which this country stands. No one can take that away from us.
- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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Terese Loeb Kreuzer
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 The opening number of "Fidler Afn Dakh" - a production of "Fiddler on the Roof" in Yiddish at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City with Steven Skybell as Tevye the Milkman and Ensemble. (Photos: Victor Nechay/ProperPix)

A fiddler leaps onto the stage, playing a haunting melody on her violin. She's a conjuror with a story to tell.

Once upon a time there was a shtetl called Anatevka. It was somewhere in Russia, in the Pale of Settlement where Jews were forced to live. They had lived there for a long time - long enough to have buried their grandparents there, long enough for children to have been born there and to have had children of their own. Anatevka was home and the Jews there were like family. Everyone knew their place and what was expected of them. Tradition shaped their lives. Tradition!

And in that shtetl there lived a dairyman named Tevye with his wife, Golde, and their five daughters who would need dowries so they could marry but Tevye was only a poor milkman with a lame horse. He had to pull his milk cart through the streets of Anatevka himself when he tried to sell his wares.

And so the story unfolds.

None of this is true. It was all made up in the late 19th century by a writer who called himself Sholem Aleichem. (His real name was Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich.)

But it's all true and more true in this production of "Fiddler on the Roof" produced by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City than it was in cavernous Broadway theaters where "Fiddler" with Zero Mostel as the original Tevye captivated audiences beginning in 1964 or in five succeeding Broadway revivals or in the film released in 1971 with Chaim Topol as Tevye.

The current "Fiddler" in Yiddish with English and Russian super-titles is more intimate, more touching, more authentic, funnier, sadder, more passionate. The sets are minimal but with great acting, dancing, singing and direction nothing more is needed.

Yes. Anatevka exists. By their tears, laughter and applause, many in the audience for this production seem to have come from there. They may never have seen Anatevka but they remember it - the place where the fiddler played sweet melodies from his perch on the roof despite poverty and pogroms - the place where a Jew like Tevye could talk with God and often did. They had long conversations. Tevye was always respectful but often asked God why he couldn't make things just a little easier for the Jews.

In this production of the musical with a book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Steven Skybell plays Tevye, Mary Illes plays Golde and Jackie Hoffman plays Yente the matchmaker, but it would be wrong to single out any one person for commendation. Everyone in the cast is superb. The acting and the singing are excellent. The dancing, choreographed by Stas Kmiec, is thrilling.

Joel Grey, 86 years old, who may be best remembered in his long and illustrious career for his role as the Master of Ceremonies in the stage and film versions of the musical "Cabaret," directed. He won Academy, Tony and Golden Globe awards for "Cabaret." He knows what he's doing and it shows.

A note in the program says that Grey had long admired "Fiddler on the Roof," which he considered "one of the great works of the American musical theater." When Zalmen Mlotek, the artistic director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and the music director and conductor for "Fidler Afn Dakh," asked Grey to direct this production, he replied, "I could only say 'Yes!'"

In 1965, "Fidler" was translated into Yiddish by Shraga Friedman, a Warsaw native who had emigrated to Israel at the outbreak of World War II. The Yiddish "Fidler" had been performed in Israel but never before in the United States.

Grey came from a Jewish family, the son of Goldie "Grace" (née Epstein) and Mickey Katz, a Jewish actor, comedian, and musician, but he doesn't speak Yiddish. Neither do three-quarters of the 26-member cast. They learned their roles by being given scripts with transliterated Yiddish flanked by the literal English translation and by the words of the original production, some of which were altered for this "Fidler."

Grey said that he selected the cast members for their acting talent and theatrical experience, not for their Yiddish fluency.

But Yiddish is a powerful force in this production, expressive and emotive in a way that informs the acting. This "Fidler" brims with feeling. Tevye tries to play the stern patriarch, but he loves his daughters so much that he can't quite manage it. He wants them to be cared for and happy.

Stephanie Lynne Mason as Hodl and Daniel Kahn as Pertshik
In one of the most poignant scenes, he accompanies his daughter, Hodl, (Stephanie Lynne Mason) to the train station, where she will take a train to Siberia to be with her husband, Pertshik (Daniel Kahn), who has been arrested for his radical political activities. Tevye lingers with Hodl as long as he can. She assures him that she will be all right. When he finally turns away, knowing he may never see her again, he asks God to take care of her and keep her warm.

"Fiddler" ends, as most of the audience must surely know, with a decree that all of the Jews have three days to sell their possessions and leave Anatevka. Taking what little they can carry, they bid each other goodbye. Yente, the widowed matchmaker, says that she will go to Jerusalem, where surely matchmakers are needed. Tevye's oldest daughter, Tsaytl (Rachel Zatcoff), and her husband, Motl Kamzoyl, the tailor (Ben Liebert), and their baby, will go to Poland. Khave, Tevye's third daughter (Rosie Jo Neddy) and her Russian husband, Fyedke (Cameron Johnson), will go to Krakow. Tevye and Golde and their youngest daughters will go to America.

And so they pick up their burdens and begin their long journey as the fiddler (Lauren Jeanne Thomas) plays her tune. Once upon a time there was a village called Anatevka. You may remember it. If you close your eyes and listen, you can still hear the fiddler on the roof.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

"Fidler Afn Dakh" ("Fiddler on the Roof") is playing at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, through Sept. 2, 2018. For more information and tickets, click here.

A series of Wednesday evening talks accompanies "Fidler Afn Dakh." They take place on July 18, July 25, Aug. 8 and Aug. 22. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

The Jews of Anatevka take what they can carry and leave their home, knowing that most of them will never see each other again. Behind them on a banner is the single word, "Torah," ripped in two by the maurading Cossacks but carefully sewn back together. Wherever they go, the Jews will take the Torah with them. (Photo: Victor Nechay/ProperPix)

 Bits & Bytes 

At the Battery Park City Authority's Board of Directors meeting on June 19, 2018, Dennis Mehiel announced that he was departing as Board chairman and Chief Executive Officer effective immediately. Board member George J. Tsunis, appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last June, was elected to serve as the new Board chairman and B.J. Jones, appointed Battery Park City President and Chief Operating Officer in January 2018, was elevated to Chief Executive Officer at the June 19 board meeting. The next meeting of the BPCA Board of Directors will be on Tuesday, July 24 at the BPCA office, 200 Liberty St., 24th floor, starting at 10:30 a.m. The public is welcome to attend. (Photo: George Tsunis congratulating B.J. Jones on his appointment to the presidency of the BPCA.  Photo: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 

"At Graduation, a Son in the Limelight and a Father in the Shadows," New York Times, 7/3/18. "Two pieces of big news came at the end of May to the home of Roni Lezama and his father, Carlos," says The New York Times. "Roni's classmates at Millennium High School had elected him graduation speaker. Their choice was easy to understand. 'He's very good at writing, he's incredibly smart, and he wasn't just studying all the time,' Stella Krajick, a classmate, said. 'He always has friends with him.' That same week in May, Carlos Lezama, 52, learned that he was to appear before a judge in October for deportation proceedings. ... Mr. Lezama came to the United States from Mexico City in 1994 and stayed, a violation of immigration law that his son says is the only blemish in an otherwise law-abiding, taxpaying, flag-waving life in the country. In eighth grade, Roni did not get into the top three schools he selected and instead was assigned to a neighborhood school that did not appeal to him or his father. ... So in the summer of 2014, he went door to door at well-ranked high schools. Colin McEvoy, the principal of Millennium, a rigorous and popular school of about 700 students in Manhattan's financial district, invited him to join the class of 2018. It was filled with students from other countries - among them, China, Mexico, Kosovo, Nigeria - and the children of immigrants." For the complete article, click here.
"Three World Trade Center on the verge of losing two big eateries," New York Post, 7/16/18. "The cupboard's going bare at the Westfield-controlled Three World Trade Center mall, where a major, widely reported restaurant deal has been called off and a second eatery mega-lease might also be dead," says the New York Post. "Plans for a 7,000-square-foot casual dining spot from Will Guidara and chef Daniel Humm, of Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad fame, have been scratched....Meanwhile, Hawksmoor - an acclaimed steakhouse with seven locations in Britain that was supposed to open a 14,000-square-foot jumbo at Three World Trade last year - is 'now looking at a different location uptown,' a source said, 'near Park Avenue South.' Hawksmoor owner Will Becket had postponed a previously announced opening for 2018 at Three World Trade until at least 2019, The Post reported last year." For the complete article, click here.

"Foundation Work Takes Shape At 77 Greenwich, Financial District," New York YIMBY, 7/12/18. Excavation has completely wrapped at 77 Greenwich St. (aka 42 Trinity Place), and foundation work has begun in earnest on the imminently 40-story and 500-foot-tall tower, says New York YIMBY. "The project is being designed by FX Collaborative and developed by Trinity Place Holdings. Looking at the site today, it is an active project with most of the foundation work taking form on the northern half of the property. Large steel horizontal pipes have been added to brace and secure the walls of the foundation from caving in, placed between rows of piles inserted earlier this year." For the complete article with photographs, click here.
"E-Commerce Entrepreneur to Pay a Record for New York Penthouse," Wall Street Journal, 7/12/18. "Michael Rubin, a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the owner of online sports merchandise retailer Fanatics, is purchasing a penthouse in downtown Manhattan for a price in the low to mid-$40 million range," says the Wall Street Journal. "Mr. Rubin entered contract to buy the unit in October 2017...but the deal hasn't yet closed. When it closes, the property will be the priciest home ever sold below 14th Street in New York, real-estate agents said. Such a record is unlikely to hold for long, though: A penthouse listed for $65 million at nearby 70 Vestry is also in contract. The interior of the north-facing penthouse at 160 Leroy Street is close to 8,000 square feet, with five bedrooms. It also has a landscaped roof terrace with a 27-foot private outdoor pool, a private elevator, a screening room, a library and four fireplaces. The building was developed by a partnership that included real estate investor and hotelier Ian Schrager, and was designed by the architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron." For the complete article, click here.

"Silvera Properties buys Tribeca site for $25M,", 7/11/2018. "Silvera Properties, a Hamptons homebuilder, has purchased a collection of three Tribeca buildings for $24.5 million," says The Real Deal. "The sites at 29-31 Leonard Street and 198 West Broadway span 29,500 square feet and come with no additional square footage, as they are already overbuilt." For the complete article, click here.    
"Restoration Plans Revealed For New York City's Beloved Brooklyn Bridge," New York YIMBY, 7/10/18. "Plans by the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) have been submitted to the Landmark Preservation Commission calling for alterations of the Brooklyn Bridge," says New York YIMBY. "The designs call for a revamping of the bridge's famous Towers and the arch blocks along the Manhattan approach. This program will address ailments on a portion of the bridge many residents of New York City don't often see. The arch blocks have fallen into a state of dilapidation. The current condition is a stain on the reputation of the international icon, and yet another example of the city failing to adequately maintain a national landmark.  Most significant for the proposal is patchwork to the two iconic towers. The documents detail three significant activities will be performed to maintain the facade." For the complete article, with renderings, click here  
"City's Rent Board Approves Increases of 1.5% and 2.5%," New York Times, 6/27/18. "New York City's Rent Guidelines Board voted on Tuesday night to allow landlords of rent-stabilized apartments to charge increases of up to 1.5 percent for one-year leases and 2.5 percent for two-year leases," says The New York Times. "The increases were seen as modest given the history of the nine-member board. Still, the permitted increases were the steepest since 2013 and were met by a barrage of loud jeers from the crowd at a public hearing inside the Great Hall at the Cooper Union. The increases will be in effect for any of the city's roughly one million rent-stabilized tenants who renew leases after Oct. 1." For the complete article, click here
"Milstein sells Seaport parking lot for $180M," New York Post, 6/11/18. "A huge parking lot near the South Street Seaport - long one of Manhattan's most closely watched development sites - has been sold to Howard Hughes Corp. for $180 million," says the New York Post. "The under-utilized lot at 250 Water St., and bounded by Peck Slip, Pearl Street and Beekman Street, had been owned for decades by Milstein Properties, which was frustrated in repeated efforts to develop it. The purchase of the parking lot comes as HHC has been methodically transforming several long-dormant Seaport buildings as part of a $751 million redevelopment in the district - although the Milstein property pickup surprised onlookers. Under a Seaport district downzoning passed in 2003, the site can support an as-of-right, 289,000-square-foot new building not taller than 120 feet. However, HHC owns significant air rights at other nearby Seaport District properties it owns, which theoretically can be transferred to the parking lot site and allow a much larger building." For the complete article, click here.


Downtown bulletin board
A ferry arriving at Soissons Landing on Governors Island. The island, which is open daily, is now open on Friday and Saturday nights until 11 p.m.  (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Governors Island adds 'late night' Saturdays: Governors Island is open daily. From Monday to Thursday, the hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This season, for the first time, the Island is open until 11 p.m. every Friday night through Sept. 14 and until 11 p.m on Saturday night through Sept. 1. Sundays, the Island is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Ferries to and from Governors Island leave from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South St. and from Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6. For ferry schedules and fees, click here.

Free Fridays at the South Street Seaport Museum: The South Street Seaport Museum's exhibits at 12 Fulton Street and historic ships at Piers 16 and 17 will be free every Friday through Sept. 22, 2018 between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. For more information about the South Street Seaport Museum, click here.

Summer NYC Ferry schedules: The NYC Ferry summer schedules went into effect on Monday, May 21. Currently there are four ferry routes: East River, Astoria, South Brooklyn and Rockaway. Routes to Soundview and the Lower East Side are expected to launch later this summer. The fare, like that on the subway, is $2.75, subsidized by the City. For more information, click here.

Most of the Downtown Post NYC bulletin board listings are now on the Downtown Post NYC website. To see the bulletin board listings, click here.

calendar CALENDAR: July 2018  
Spotlight: Poetry

"The Eclipse" by Jacob Hashimoto, a monumental work of thousands of delicate rice paper kites, has been installed in St. Cornelius Chapel on Governors Island. The artwork will be there through Oct. 31, 2018. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

July 28-July 29: The New York City Poetry Festival returns to Governors Island with poetry readings from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 28 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Place: Colonel's Row. Free. For more information, click here.  
Through Aug. 18: The only event of its kind, the annual Poets House Showcase is a free exhibit displaying the newest poetry books and poetry-related texts published in the United States from over 700 commercial, university and independent presses. Place: Poets House, 10 River Terrace, Battery Park City. Open Tuesdays to Fridays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free. For more information, click here
The exhibition is accompanied by the following events:

Reading: Thursday, July 19, 7 p.m.
Lawrence Joseph, So Where Are We? (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Natalie Eilbert, Indictus (Noemi)
Anaïs Duplan, Mount Carmel & The Blood of Parnassus (Monster House Press)
Tony Robles, Fingerprints of a Hungerstrike (Ithurel's Spear)

Reading: Thursday, July 26, 7 p.m.
Joy Ladin, The Future is Trying to Tell Us Something: New & Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow)
Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Oceanic (Copper Canyon)
Michael Lally, Another Way to Play: Poems 1960-2017 (Seven Stories)
Roberto Harrison, Bridge of the World (Litmus Press) 

For the complete calendar of Battery Park City events between May and August, click here.

For more calendar listings, go to the Downtown Post NYC website. Click here.


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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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