With the arrival of the New Year, several New York ethnic publications highlighted the most relevant stories for their communities in 2012. Here are some of them, coming from backgrounds as varied as Jewish, Filipino and Hispanic.
In The Jewish Daily Forward’s section “Our Twelve Biggest Jewish Stories for 2012,” which covers news from around the world in subjects ranging from politics to sports, three stories about Jewish life in the city stand out:
In “Chinks in the Wall of Silence,” Paul Berger reports how 2012 was the year that “the wall of silence that protected child molesters in the Orthodox Jewish community” began to collapse.
From the crowded streets of Brooklyn’s Hasidic neighborhoods to the halls of Yeshiva University’s flagship high school and beyond, there were signs of an unprecedented willingness to hold adults accountable for what they did to children.
“Digging Deeper Into Costs of Dying Jewishly” exposed the millionaire “death industry” of “not-for-profit Jewish cemeteries,” including such dealings as “fat funeral executive salaries and massive surcharges for Sunday burials.”
Behind all the coffins and cash, the Forward uncovered a connecting thread: Many funeral business practices banned in other states are allowed without question in New Jersey. Sunday burial fees are much smaller at New York Jewish cemeteries than at those in New Jersey. The for-profit firm that makes money off the New Jersey not-for-profit cemetery would be specifically barred from doing the same thing in New York.
In “What Beige Stockings Say About the Hasidim,” Naomi Zeveloff tells the story of Judy Brown, a member of Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhood Boro Park, who was falsely accused by “a passing neighbor” of showing her naked legs in a “kiddy pool in her backyard.”
In 2011, she went public as Judy Brown (her legal last name is Braun) as a way of taking a stand against the covering up of sex abuse and violence in ultra-Orthodoxy. Today she is in the process of leaving her community. In the Forward’s pages and online, she has written about the first time she opened a science book, her surprise at finding “Sesame Street” too sexy to show to her children and the loneliness of doubting her faith.
The FilAm magazine’s “Top 10 stories of 2012” for Filipino-Americans obviously mentions national hero Manny Pacquiao’s stunning KO in Las Vegas, but there’s more to the year the ends.
In 2012, Filipino-Americans in the New York Tri-State were irked when Arnold Clavio ridiculed “fake Filipinos,” stormed the heavens for Jessica Sanchez to become the first FilAm “American Idol,” and were curious about the low-key lifestyle of retired actress Dindi Gallardo.
Other stories mentioned by The FilAm are the burglary charges filed against charismatic community leader Rene Ballenas, and also: “The death of Philippine Fiesta organizer Mila Mendez, how Cheesa almost became The Voice, and the suicide of Eira Fatima Maghuyop allegedly from bullying.”
The Long Island-based Spanish-language weekly La Tribuna Hispana USA explores “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly in our community.”
Among the “Good,” the best story of the year by far was President Obama’s passage of deferred action for young undocumented students, which advances the cause of the DREAM Act.
The “Bad” story of the year goes to the demise of The Workplace Project/Centro de Derechos Laborales. The esteemed Long Island-based organization has helped many immigrant workers since 1992 but is now on the brink of disappearing because of infighting and mismanagement.
As for the “Ugly” moment, it goes to the contentious visit to Long Island in August of El Salvador’s Vice President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, who was accused of participating in the burning of a U.S. flag soon after 9/11. The author of the article, Lux Fer, says the accusations were unfounded, and blames what he calls “grindios” —“those who feel more gringos than the gringos.”
The Spanish-language weekly magazine Impacto Latin News named Latinos as “Person of The Year 2012.″
Barack Obama wouldn’t have won his second presidential mandate last November without the strong backing of Hispanics, whom this time came out massively to the polls and changed the electoral course of the U.S.
The magazine goes on to say that 2012 was the year that Hispanics “became grown-ups,” citing entertainment, sports and politics stars such as Jennifer López, Víctor Cruz, Manu Ginobili, or Sens. Robert Menéndez and Marco Rubio.
The projections point to a near future in which very possibly a ‘Juan Pérez’ or ‘Eduardo Rodríguez’, or any of the millions of second-generation Hispanics, will be the first Hispanic President of the United States.
Finally, in its recap of 2012, The Gotham Gazette highlights the big stories of the year, starting with Hurricane Sandy and going over such subjects as education, food or the postponing of the bike-sharing program. The article “Politics Thwart Brooklyn Housing” recalls how, as homelessness rises in the city, plans for a housing development project in Brooklyn were thwarted by political and religious rivalries.
The Broadway Triangle project, which was approved by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009, promised the development of 1,800 new housing units located in Brooklyn—44 percent of them for the poor.
But the ongoing lawsuit over the project raises questions over whom, exactly, the plan will benefit. The battle pits multiple organizations from the black and Hispanic communities against the mayor, and rival branches of the Hasidic Jewish community against each other, all of which are fighting for the same ultimate goal: more housing.