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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 46  March 31, 2014

Quote of the day:
""These Iraqi archives are like a miracle that have served to finally shine the light on Iraqi Jewry." - David E. R. Dangoor describing the books and photographs found in the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters and now on exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

* Fragments of Saddam Hussein's Judaica collection at Museum of Jewish Heritage
* Bits & Bytes: World Trade Center security breaches and museum opening; penthouse sold
* Businesses south of Canal Street get tax break extensions
* Volunteers still needed for Runyon Up on April 3
* Community Board 1 meetings: Week of March 31
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

The masts of the South Street Seaport Museum's ships, Wavertree and Peking. March 27, 2014.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Thousands of documents and books from Iraq's Jewish community were found in the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters in Baghdad when a U.S. Army team arrived on May 6, 2003 looking for weapons of mass destruction. The books and papers were shipped to the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. for restoration.  (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The Garden of Eden was said to have been in Babylon, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. And the tombs of the High Priest Joshua and the Prophet Ezekiel were there. Jews lived in Babylon, later known as "Iraq," for almost 2,700 years. For a thousand years, they flourished, establishing centers of learning and creating the Babylonian Talmud that became the cornerstone of rabbinic Judaism. But by the 1960s, there were almost no Jews left. They had been murdered, exiled, their property seized, their citizenship, revoked. 
Books, torn and stained, as they were found in the flooded basement. 

On May 6, 2003, a U.S. Army team entered the headquarters of Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein's intelligence services in Baghdad, looking for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. They didn't find them. Instead, in the building's flooded basement, they found more than 2,500 books and thousands of documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq. They were written in a variety of languages: Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English. The oldest dated from 1568, the newest, from the mid-20th century.  


The books and documents were water-logged, stained, moldy and tattered. There were prayer books, portions of Torah scrolls, schoolbooks, calendars, school report cards, correspondence between officials of the Jewish community and the government, and more.  


Carefully, the Army team removed them to a lawn to begin to dry out. Then, they were frozen, a common preservation technique for materials in this condition. With the consent of Iraqi officials, they were packed in metal trunks and shipped first to a facility in Texas and then to the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. for restoration.   


A page from a Haggadah, printed in Vienna. 

Now, some of these objects are on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City in an exhibit called, "Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage." A video and photographs show the flooded basement, the tangle of documents and their journey to the conservators who are painstakingly resurrecting them.    


On Feb. 3, the night before the exhibit opened to the public, David E. R. Dangoor, a board member of the World Organization for the Jews of Iraq, stood in front of a small group of guests to reflect on the exhibit and its significance. "These Iraqi archives are like a miracle that have served to finally shine the light on Iraqi Jewry," he said. Most people that he met didn't know that there were Iraqi Jews.


Today, there are around 330,000 Babylonian Jews in the world, Dangoor said. Most of them live in Israel. In 2008, they established the World Organization of Jews from Iraq in order to protect, preserve and promote Jewish communal assets and the Iraqi Jewish heritage. "For example," he said, "we hope to preserve the tombs of the Prophets Nahum, Ezekiel, Jonah and Daniel, among others, as well as those of Joshua, the High Priest and Ezra, the priest-scribe."   


Dangoor said that the documents found in Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters "were plundered from homes, schools, and congregations by the Baath regime. At one time, it was even forbidden to have any books or writings in Hebrew in one's home." The Iraqi Jews would like to have these documents back. Neither the Iraqi government nor President Obama has responded to their plea.  


However, on March 7, U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who represents the Congressional district in which the Museum of Jewish Heritage is located, joined with Representatives Steve Israel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 17 other members of Congress to introduce a resolution (H.Res. 505) to return the Iraqi Jewish Archives to Iraqi Jews and their descendants. In the meantime, 24 of the Iraqi-Jewish books and documents are on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage through May 18. 


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 


For more information about the exhibit and about the hours and admission fees at the Museum of Jewish Heritage at 36 Battery Place, click here. In addition, a website has been created to make these materials available online as they are digitized and catalogued. For the website, click here.  




Bits & Bytes  

The "survivors' staircase" - a remnant of the World Trade Center buildings that hundreds of people used to flee the attack on Sept. 11, 2001, and that they credit with helping to save their lives, was moved to the National September 11 Museum, which is slated to open on May 15. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


"Schumer Rips Port Authority for Security Breaches at World Trade Center,", 3/30/14. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer "ripped into the Port Authority for two security lapses at a press conference on Sunday," says NY1. In September, three people parachuted from the top of 1 World Trade Center. Around 4 a.m. on Sunday, March 16, 16-year-old Justin Casquejo sneaked through a hole in the World Trade Center fence and made his way to the top of the building, precipitating the resignation of David Velasquez, a high-ranking security official at the site. "Schumer wants the Department of Homeland Security to do a comprehensive review of the Port Authority's procedures during construction and after all the buildings at the site are completed," NY1 reports. "He also wants the training of security guards reviewed. And he wants an audit of federal money spent at the site to make sure it's being put to good use." For the complete article, click here.  


"9/11 Memorial Museum Faces the Latest Hurdle: Its Opening," New York Times, 3/30/14. The dedication ceremony for the National September 11 Museum will take place on May 15 at the bedrock level, and there will only be room for between 550 and 750 seats, "with many set aside for invited officials like President Obama and his predecessors, and New York and New Jersey's former and current political leaders," says The New York Times. "The few hundred left will be distributed by a lottery that may be entered by any recognized stakeholder." The Times describes the distribution of those seats as a "minefield," given the "various expectations and sensitivities of tens of thousands of survivors, victims' families, police officers, firefighters, rescuers, recovery workers, neighborhood residents and business owners, and an array of former and current political leaders, who, with their special connections to Sept. 11, are all called stakeholders. Who is entitled to visit early? Who deserves to attend the ceremonies? Who gets to speak at the dedication?" For the complete article, click here.

"City's Saddest Penthouse Finds a Buyer, Is Sad No More,", 3/29/14. There's someone for everyone, the old saying goes, and apparently there's a buyer for every apartment  if the seller can wait. "The duplex penthouse in 16 Warren Street hit the market in 2008 for $9.175 million," reports. "By September of 2012 it had dropped to $6.2 million and was dubbed (by us) the City's Saddest Penthouse. Now, after six years, six brokers, and untold pricechops, the unit has finally found a buyer." added, "No word yet on what the apartment sold for, but it was most recently priced at $5.495 million." For the complete article, with photos, click here.

"Historic downtown tower fetches $330M," Crain's New York Business, 3/27/14. "Big league commercial landlord RXR Realty is finally making its entry in lower Manhattan," says Crain's New York Business. "The firm is in contract to buy 61 Broadway, a 33-story, 787,000-square-foot office tower on the corner of Exchange Place for $330 million. The real estate firm, led by chief executive Scott Rechler, has been one of the busiest buyers of commercial property in the city, but while it got close to a large downtown acquisition last year, the deal for 61 Broadway is the company's first in the neighborhood. RXR Realty is buying the 98-year-old property from Broad Street Development, a company operated by Raymond Chalme and Daniel Blanco." For the complete article, click here.

For an interesting history of 61 Broadway, which opened in 1916, click here. Among other things, it tells of an assistant shipping clerk at the Vacuum Oil Company on the 7th floor who was attacked in the hallway by another worker and mortally wounded (the attacker's excuse? he felt that his colleague worked too slowly), and of the goldfish who lived in a water table under the building and were fed by one of the building's engineers.


Downtown business 
The New York State budget for 2014-2015 will extend tax breaks for lower Manhattan businesses. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
The final 2014-2015 New York State budget, which is being voted on today, will extend tax breaks for lower Manhattan businesses. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the budget either tonight or tomorrow morning.

Lower Manhattan is defined as the area south of Canal Street.

"The Lower Manhattan business community was making great progress after 9/11 when Superstorm Sandy devastated the area again," said New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, in announcing the tax breaks. "These financial incentives are a critical investment in our economy, designed to encourage businesses to remain in the community and attract new businesses to what is still the financial capital of the world."

To see the incentives that are expected to pass as part of the budget, click here.


1 World Trade Center reflected in 4 World Trade Center, where the Runyon Up stair run will be held on April 3. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation is still looking for volunteers to help out with  Runyon Up, a stair climb at 4 World Trade Center on April 3, that is raising funds for young cancer researchers.

To date, 700 people have signed up to take part in the event and have raised over $130,000 for the cause. Entrants range in age from 14 to 71 years old, and come from all five boroughs of New York City and from 15 states. Hundreds of corporate teams and individual participants - including cancer survivors, their friends and family members - are expected to take part in the vertical challenge, the first fundraising climb up the newly opened 72-story building operated by Silverstein Properties.

Volunteers are needed for set-up and breakdown and to cheer on participants as they climb to the top. Volunteers will be asked to arrive at 4 World Trade Center (150 Greenwich St.) by 4 p.m. on April 3, and should plan to be at the building until approximately 9 p.m. Refreshments will be provided.

Individuals as well as corporate, school and community groups are welcome, and a willingness to help where needed is greatly appreciated! To explore a list of volunteer opportunities, click here.

To register to volunteer at Runyon Up, click here.

Email [email protected] or call (212) 455-0503 with any questions. For more information about the event, click here.


Battery Park City's ferry terminal. Community Board 1's Battery Park City Committee will discuss ferry horn noise, which has bothered residents of nearby buildings.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Community Board 1 committee meetings are held at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709, unless otherwise indicated, and start at 6 p.m. All are welcome to attend. Bring photo ID to enter the building.

April 1: Battery Park City Committee
Place: Battery Park City Library, 175 North End Ave. Time: 6 p.m.

* American Heart Association/NYC LeadDog Marketing Group, Inc., application for Battery Park City Authority permit for Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - Discussion
* Tunnel to Towers Foundation street activity permit application for Vestry Street between West Street and North End Ave. Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Resolution
*  225 Liberty St., application for wine and beer license for Fast Fish LLC d/b/a Blue Ribbon Sushi - Resolution
* 22 River Terrace plan for condominium conversion - Discussion
* Pilot program for six weekends of
ferry service between World Financial Center and Jersey City - Report
* Meeting with U.S. Coast Guard about ferry horns - Report

The following notices have been received for renewal, upgrade, or transfer of wine and beer or liquor licenses or sidewalk cafe permits:
* Manhattan Yacht Club, application for renewal of seasonal liquor licenses for vessels Arabella and Mermaid
* 225 Liberty St. (2 World Financial Center), renewal of application for wine and beer license for 225 Liberty LLC d/b/a Quality Burger
* 225 Liberty St. (2 World Financial Center), application for renewal of wine and beer license for Oaxaca Express
* 225 Liberty St. (2 World Financial Center), application for renewal of wine and beer license for American Rotisserie
* 102 North End Ave., application for restaurant liquor license for Hip at Murray Street LLC d/b/a Harry's Italian

April 2: Financial District Committee

* Fulton Center - Presentation on retail by George Giaquinto, Vice President, Westfield, and construction update by Uday Durg, Senior Vice President, MTA
* South Ferry Project - Update by Zachary Campbell, Assistant Director, MTA NYC Transit
* 24 John St. - Presentation by Mike Maisano, DUC Construction Corp
* Slip 1 Battery Wharf, application for a tavern (vessel) liquor license for Nautical Gourmet Inc. d/b/a Clipper City - Resolution
* 170 John St. alteration application for a liquor license for 170 John Street NYC Corp, d/b/a Trading Post - Resolution

The following notices have been received for renewal, upgrade, or transfer of wine and beer or liquor licenses or sidewalk cafe permits:
* Castle Clinton at Battery Park, renewal application for a motorized vessel liquor license for Statue Cruises LLC, d/b/a Lady Liberty
* Castle Clinton at Battery Park, renewal application for a motorized vessel liquor license for Statue Cruises LLC, d/b/a Miss Freedom
* Castle Clinton at Battery Park, renewal application for a motorized vessel liquor license for Statue Cruises LLC, d/b/a Statue of Liberty V
* 83 Maiden Lane, Store A, renewal application for a restaurant liquor license for Satellite Restaurant INC, d/b/a Toloache Taqueria
* 88 Fulton St., renewal application for a restaurant liquor license for, d/b/a Café 88
* The Bosque Area, Fountain and Carousel Kiosk renewal applications for wine and beer license for The Cleaver Company Inc., d/b/a Table Green
* 47 Broadway, renewal application for a restaurant liquor license for 47 RealOpp Corp., d/b/a TGI Friday's

CALENDAR: Week of March 31
City Council chambers in New York City Hall. Free tours of City Hall take place on most Wednesdays at noon. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

April 1: Opening reception and panel discussion: "Chapbooks from the Mimeo Revolution," at Poets House. Publisher Steve Clay joins young poetry scholars Gabby Kappes, Meira Levinson and Kyle Waugh from the CUNY Grad Center for a panel discussion. Place: 10 River Terrace. Time: 7 p.m. Free.

April 1: Asphalt Green's "Tuesday Talks" series continues with "Choosing an Early Childhood Program," presented by Nancy Schulman, head of the Early Learning Center at Avenues: The World School since July 2011. Previously, she was the director of the 92nd Street Y Nursery School from 1990 to  2011. She is co-author of "Practical Wisdom for Parents: Demystifying the Preschool Years." She will address such questions as when a child should start school, the time frame for applying, how schools differ and more. Place: 212 North End Ave. Time: Noon to 1 p.m. Fee: $22; $18 (members). For tickets, click here.

April 2: Lunchtime tour of City Hall. Limited to 20 people and offered year-round on most Wednesdays, without reservations. Sign in between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the New York City tourism kiosk at the southern end of City Hall Park on the east side of Broadway at Barclay Street. Time: Noon. Free. For more information, click here.    
April 4: Opening day for an exhibit called "Smile! A Photo Anthology by VII" in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. The exhibit of 84 photographs by award-winning photojournalists was drawn from work produced over a period of 30 years in 30 different countries. Place: 220 Vesey St. Time: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Free. Through May 1. The public is invited to add smile photos to the exhibit by following @ArtsBrookfield on Instagram and Twitter and submitting your photo via Instagram and/or Twitter using hashtap #ShareMySmile. Also, answer in a few words, "What makes you smile?" Arts Brookfield will screen and add submissions on a rolling basis.

April 5: Opening day and street fair for the Downtown Little League. As always, the festivities will begin with a parade from City Hall to the Battery Park City ball fields. It will be followed by speeches, an opening day pitch and a carnival on Warren Street. Parade time: 8:30 a.m. 
April 6: "America's Jews & America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball" at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Join author Larry Ruttman, longtime New York Times baseball writer Murray Chass, retired major league pitcher Bob Tufts and others to discuss the ever-evolving love affairs between Jews and the national pastime.  Place: 36 Battery Place. Time: 2:30 p.m. Tickets: $10; $7 (students and seniors); $5 (members). To buy tickets, click here
April 6:  In a series of six Sunday concerts called "Lamentatio," Trinity Wall Street presents  early Renaissance music juxtaposed with contemporary music. The fifth concert features work by Bo Holten, Pawel Lukaszewski, Johannes Brahms, Thomas Jennefelt, David Lang and Joby Talbot Santiago performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street with Michael Zaugg conducting. Place: Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street. Time: 5 p.m. Tickets: $25. For more information or to buy tickets, click here. Concerts every Sunday through April 13.
Ongoing: "Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage," is at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City. The exhibit details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community of Iraq in a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives' ongoing work in support of U.S. government efforts to preserve these materials. Through May 18, 2014. Place: 36 Battery Place. Varying hours. Museum admission fees: $12 (adults); $10 (seniors) and $7 (students). Members and children 12 and under, free. Free admission on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, click here.

Ongoing: "Defining Lines: Maps from the 1700s and early 1800s" at the Fraunces Tavern
Museum. Twenty-seven maps provide a perspective on the evolving nation's place in history. A map from 1804, never before exhibited, shows the U.S. postal routes. Place: 54 Pearl St. Time: Noon to 5 p.m., daily. Admission fees: $7; $4 (seniors, students with ID, children, 6 to 8 years old. Children, 5 and under, free. Active military with ID, free. For more information, click here.
Ongoing: The National Museum of the American Indian is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free admission. It offers free films, docent-led tours of its exhibitions and tours of its premises, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, designed by Cass Gilbert. The building, which was completed in 1907, is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One Bowling Green. Phone: (212) 514-3700. For the museum's calendar, click here.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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