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Veterans Day "War To End All Wars"

The “War to End All Wars” came to an end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

A year later on Nov. 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day, the precursor to what we now call Veterans Day. This commemoration was dedicated to the cause of world peace in honor of those who served in World War I.

Over 30 nations were at war between 1914 and 1918. World War I was the first truly modern war, with the introduction of air warfare and tanks, while 65 million troops worldwide fought in its battles.

The United States entered the war in 1917. Nearly 5 million men and women served our country during the conflict, with 116,516 lives lost.

 In 1954, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, which now pays tribute to all veterans who served our country in peacetime and in war. Today, 18.2 million veterans live in the United States and Puerto Rico, according to Census Bureau data.

In fact, the first post-war decennial census to include a veteran status question was in 1930. Twelve years after the end of the war, we counted 3.7 million veterans of The Great War.

The 1990 Census, 72 years after the war’s end, was the last time World War I was included as a period of military service. At that time, roughly 62,000 veterans remained.

The last known surviving U.S. World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, died in 2011.


Vigil For Pittsburgh Jewish Community "There Are No Words" 


By Karl Grossman 

Reprint The Times of Israel

“There are no words,” said Rabbi Daniel Geffen to the overflow throng of people—Jews and those of other faiths—gathered last week for a “Vigil For The Pittsburgh Jewish Community.”

“I have uttered this phrase many times in my life, but never more than I have over the last few days,” said Rabbi Geffen at the vigil at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons in East Hampton, New York.

Rabbi Geffen, of Temple Adas Israel in nearby Sag Harbor, Long Island’s oldest synagogue, continued: “Although it is unquestionably trite, and unabashedly unhelpful, these are the words I return to because they speak a sad truth. There are no words to describe what took place at The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last Shabbat. There are no words to define the anguish and pain that we are feeling. No words capable of offering the kind of comfort all of us so desperately need,”

“And yet, here we are,” he went on, “searching precisely for the orchestrated locutions that will somehow both console and inspire us; to reflect and refract the complexity of both our emotional and rational states of mind.”

“First and foremost, we think of the lives that have been taken. We think of 11 individuals, each with their own story. Each with families and friends and a community that will never see them again. They are not numbers or means for political fodder, they were human beings whose lives were extinguished solely for the fact that they were Jews.”

“Though few, if any of us here tonight knew them, we feel as if we did. Such is the remarkable bond that connects us all in times of loss. The wounds feel gaping tonight; beyond the ability for any salve or suture to seal with ease,” he went on, sometimes his voice breaking with emotion.

“I also know that pain is often followed by fear; and surely many of us tonight are scared. Some of us are feeling that fear only now, shocked that such an act could take place in this country, in this era and in a house of worship. Others of us have been feeling this fear for some time, as we have observed the tides of hatred, racism, sexism, bigotry and anti-Semitism rising in front of us.”

“Certainly, this fear is understandable,” he said. “On the one hand, Pittsburgh feels 500 miles and a world away, and yet at the same time it feels like it is just down the road. I would be lying if I said I have not been jolted awake in the darkest moments of the night, with the thought of my own family, my own community in the crosshairs. These fears are visceral and they touch the very deepest recesses of our minds and hearts. It does not take much for that fear to grow and to feel like a boulder resting upon the chest.”

“To fear is human,” Rabbi Geffen said, “And in our most fearful moments, a voice inside cries out to us to hide. To put up bigger walls, to surround ourselves with sword and shield and to view our neighbors and strangers alike with suspicion and apprehension. It is a natural response. One that can easily be justified by circumstance as much as emotion.”

“But,” he stressed, “despite all its rationality and acceptable cause, fear is not what we need right now. Fear will not help us to remember the victims, nor console their families and friends. Fear will not help us to rebuild the Tree of Life, nor will it help us to counter hatred. Fear did not keep us home tonight and it cannot be allowed to keep us from returning to our synagogues, our churches, mosques, temples and schools.”

“What is needed tonight and tomorrow and the day after,” Rabbi Geffen declared, “is love, compassion, understanding and, ultimately, action.”

“After we have grieved and shed all the tears we possess, then we must concern ourselves with combating both the ways and the means by which hatred is spread. We must address the ways in which we allow our society and our world to hate with such ferocity and the means by which a single person can act on their hate with such unchecked devastation.”

“Yes,” the rabbi continued, “we must first grieve and, yes, we must first heal; no one is debating these necessities. Indeed, this is the primary reason we have gathered here tonight. But our tradition does not allow us to grieve forever. And when we eventually rise up from the floor, remove our sackcloth and dust off the ashes, we must be prepared to combat the evil that is growing right under our noses. If we do not, it is a question of when, not if another attack will come. And that is simply unacceptable.”

“Sadly,” Rabbi Geffen said, “for many of us it took this heinous act to force us to pay attention to what is happening in our world. But it is essential that we not just pay attention to the threats around us, but also to the opportunities for healing and bridge-building. Not just to the dangers, and the hatred, and the evil, but also to pay attention to the outpouring of love and support in the wake of this tragedy—exemplified by our gathering here tonight.”

The vigil on November 1st was sponsored by the Jewish Center of the Hamptons, Temple Adas Israel and the Conservative Synagogue of the Hamptons.

It opened with a welcome from Rabbi Joshua Franklin of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. The sanctuary was packed with people, all seats were taken and many people stood along the sides of the synagogue and many in the hall outside and in the synagogue’s basement who watched the vigil on television. There were 800 or more people there.

“Wow,” said Rabbi Franklin about the attendance. He said he was “quite blown away” by the turnout. “The world is much smaller than we think, and I think that’s why we’re all here,” Rabbi Franklin said. “Being here, we get to see the beauty of community.”

East Hampton Mayor Paul Rickenbach, Jr. then spoke, telling of how “eleven lives were snuffed out because of bigotry….This has to change and it’s going to take each and every one of us.”

“East Hampton stands in solidarity with the Jewish community,” declared the mayor, a Christian and former police officer.

There were other public officials at the vigil including New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. of Sag Harbor and candidates for public office including Perry Gershon, the Democratic nominee to run for Congress from eastern Long Island and a member of Temple Adas Israel.

Cantor/Rabbi Debra Stein of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons led the singing of “Let There Be Love.”

Rabbi Franklin then spoke again telling how what happened in Pittsburgh “could happen to any of us.”

“Jews have a long history of being hated, persecuted,” said Rabbi Franklin.

He asked whether anti-Semitism “is the new normal once again.” The answer, he said, is “no—look around the room, this is the new normal”—Jews with people of other faiths “coming together…supporting one another. This is our new normal,” said Rabbi Franklin.

But, he said, anti-Semitism is afoot, “loud and extreme” in the United States. Acts of anti-Semitism in the U.S. rose 57 percent in 2017, he noted. He spoke of the “neo-Nazi group” that marched last year in a torchlight parade in Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting “Jews will not replace us.”

“It reminded us,” he said, “of Nazi Germany.”

Rabbi Franklin said “we must make sure that anti-Semitism and racism of all kinds stay on the margins.”

Then there was the lighting of candles for the eleven Jews murdered in Pittsburgh. Christian ministers lit the candles. And then East Hampton Village Police Chief Michael Tracey lit a candle for the six Pittsburgh police officers shot and wounded by the Pittsburgh killer, a Nazi sympathizer.

The vigil ended with the Mourner’s Kaddish and many wet eyes.


Smithtown Democratic Committee Released Following Statement On Current Events

Statement on Current Events

Last week was one of the most horrific weeks in American history. On three separate occasions hate reared it’s ugly head. A man attempted to assassinate two former presidents, a former vice president, several former cabinet members, and others because of their political beliefs. A man shot and killed two African Americans at a grocery store in Kentucky while uttering “whites don’t kill whites”. On Saturday a man opened fire in a synagogue in Pittsburgh while worshipers were praying on the Sabbath, murdering 11 people, simply because they were Jews.

While these senseless acts of violence, spurred by hate and intolerance, are playing out in front of us, acts of intolerance and hate are being played out in our political discourse giving license to some to act out. In America, we value our freedom to express ourselves, but at what point does free speech turn into incitement to violence?

We must all understand that in today’s political climate, our words can be used to call for action. However, we can, and should, use this for positive achievements. Instead of the hate and intolerance we have seen lately, we can call for understanding and tolerance.

Howard Knispel, 2nd Vice-Chair, Smithtown Democratic Committee

Co-signed - Smithtown Democratic Committee Executive Board, Edward Maher, Richard Macellaro, Janet Singer, Fredrica Berger, Anita Schnirman, Patricia Stoddard



Leo P. Ostebo Kings Park Heritage Museum Receives National Recognition

For over 25 years, retired English teacher Leo P. Ostebo and volunteers from the community of Kings Park have developed and preserved the rich history of their hamlet. 

At the end of September, in Kansas City, MO, at the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Awards Conference, Leo Ostebo was recognized and awarded for the founding and the curating leadership of the Leo P. Ostebo Kings Park Heritage Museum.  

Accepting the award for Leo was president of the museum, Joann Galletta Hahn stated,  “It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized for achievements like this and for Kings Park’s significant history.  Winning this award puts the museum in very prestigious company. The museums and exhibitions that also received awards are very well recognized and respected in their field across the nation.”

Fifty States were represented in Kansas City the Kings Park Heritage Museum was one of three representing the state of New York. “We are brand new to AASLH community and the committees that choose the award recipients have many factors and choices to consider, it takes them weeks.   The fact that the Leo’s work, in partnership with the Kings Park community’s work in creating the museum, has been recognized as leadership in history and chosen over many other submissions, is a very well deserved recognition and testimony to everyone involved.”

Kings Park is a historic area and is beginning to receive recognition.  The museum is filled with artifacts and exhibits donated by the people of Kings Park, San Remo and Ft. Salonga, as well as contributions from other towns.  The museum has gone from “What museum?” to “Hey, I know that museum!”   

For more information on touring the museum or Fall Adult Education classes about Kings Park go to www.KPHeritageMuseum.net or call 631-269-3305 to book a tour.


Hoyt Farm Monster Mash Delights Kids And Adults

Haunted Hoyt Farm


The Annual Hoyt Farm Monster Mash was a smash hit over the weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday ticket sales sold out for the big fall festival of the year at the town park. The team at Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve transformed the Grounds and buildings into a fun filled Halloween festival. On Saturday, October 19th and Sunday, October 20th, 500 children and their families descended upon the Haunted grounds to partake in the annual Halloween Monster Mash.

“This is the most fun you can have with the whole family… my grandkids are still talking about it days later. Jeff Gurmin and his amazing team at Hoyt treat every resident, young and old like a member of their family. They truly outdid themselves this year!” - Supervisor Ed Wehrheim

 Each year, the Hoyt Farm staff dress up in costumes and handcraft a weekend of Halloween games, arts & crafts, face painting, pony rides, pumpkin picking, hayrides and haunted house for young children and their parents. The Hoyt Farm staff do all the work themselves and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This is kind of our last event of the season before we start prepping the nature preserve for the cold months. For us, it’s a chance to have fun with the community and give the kids something really special to look forward to every year… and all of us too!” - Jeff Gurmin, Director of Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve,

The Annual Hoyt Farm Monster Mash is for children ages 10 and under. The event includes variety of seasonal games and crafts. Admission includes all activities (pumpkin picking, hay rides, pony rides, face painting and a haunted house) except for snacks and refreshments.

For more information about Hoyt Farm visit online or call at 631-543-7804. Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve is located at  200 New Highway in Commack, NY 11725