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rabbiBlakeIn the wake of a New Year's Eve plane accident in Costa Rica, many in Scarsdale are struggling to make sense of the death of an entire local family. Those who knew them mourn them ... those who did not know the Steinbergs personally wrestle with a tragedy, that before December 31, was beyond their wildest fears.

A memorial service for the family was held at Westchester Reform Temple on January 7, 2017. Senior Rabbi Jonathan Blake's life-affirming words brought comfort and understanding to many in the room and he kindly offered to share these words with the wider community on Scarsdale10583.

Here are his remarks:

We who were strangers to one another when we entered this synagogue have become as one family in our sanctuary. We are united in the terrible kinship of our sorrow, the shared human horror at what was, until Sunday, the "unthinkable," the common thread of our bewilderment, and the collective need to place all of our bruised and battered feelings upon the altar of a God whom the Bible calls "a Healer of Broken hearts, the One who binds up their wounds."

Twelve vibrant lives, two cherished families, one guide and two crew, all snuffed out in a blinding instant, and the hopes and dreams that die with them—we are mourning them all: all the unfulfilled potential, all the graduations and first loves and weddings, all the potential for another generation of children and grandchildren, all the healing work that yet could have been brought to bear on a hurting world, all the laughter and love and hope—all gone.

The Book of Leviticus tells the story of two sons of the high priest Aaron who die instantaneously, in blaze of alien fire. When their father learns the news the Bible records just two words, Vayidom Aharon in Hebrew, "Aaron fell silent." There are no words, no eloquent eulogy, no tribute, no matter how heartfelt, adequate to respond to this kind of brutal and tragic bereavement. Every song of the heart falls silent in the face of such a loss.

The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote, "Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; ... I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned."

We are not resigned to this. I have no spiritual medicine that can soothe the hurt. And there is some wisdom in recognizing that anesthetizing our souls to feeling pain also numbs us to feeling love.

And if you remember nothing else from this ritual of remembrance, remember this: grief is always reflected love. Our sorrow is monumental because our love for Bruce and Irene, Zachary, William, and Matthew is surpassingly great and is undiminished in death. And the love we come to express today will provide boundless support for Bruce's family, for his parents Irwin and Dianne, his sister Tamara (Tammy) and brother-in-law Alan and their children, for Irene's parents Margery and Allen, for her brother Robert, sister-in-law Rebecca, and their children. And of course we are here to embrace Olga who was family in every meaningful sense of the word. We are here for all of you.

The Jewish tradition speaks of a chatzi-nechama, a "half-measure of comfort," that comes from knowing that no one must grieve alone. I would add: not even the rabbi. I am blessed by the partnership of spiritual leaders who join in the common embrace of sympathy today. I bring our community the condolences of Rabbi Jacob Luski of St. Petersburg, Florida, who, in the coming days, will memorialize the Weiss family who perished along with the Steinbergs. Our hearts are linked to his community even as the memories of the Steinbergs and the Weisses are now forever linked. I bring the condolences of several of our elected officials, including New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and hundreds of rabbinic and cantorial colleagues.

And I am grateful to share the bimah this afternoon with my WRT clergy colleagues, Cantor Jill Abramson, Rabbi David Levy, Cantor Amanda Kleinman, and Rabbi Daniel Reiser. Each of them enjoyed a special connection with the Steinbergs, tutoring the boys for Bar Mitzvah, celebrating with them at Confirmation, and seeing Bruce and especially Irene here for pretty much any community program available to the Jewish People.

I am most of all grateful to Randi Musnitsky, Senior Rabbi of Temple Har Shalom in Warren, New Jersey, who joins us for today's service.

Every heart in this room is carrying an overwhelming burden of grief. Emotional resources have been battered and drained. We come into this sanctuary with but one question on our lips: Why? Why should a family—why should this family, this brilliant, dynamic, philanthropic, fun-loving, close-knit, fundamentally good, caring family—be taken from among the living in the prime of life?

Intellectually we may understand the monumental indifference of Nature; that accidents, terrible accidents, disasters even, can, and do, happen; can, and do, afflict even the gems of humankind—intellectually we may be able to comprehend all of this, but, emotionally, we also understand that the sun should not set before it has risen; that leaves should not fall from the tree in the brightness of summer; that parents should never have to bury their children or their grandchildren.

And so we are left with Why, a question that echoes back a silence as profound and awful as the grave itself.

The only response to the Why of death is to go on living as magnificently and magnanimously as our time on earth allows. We have been summoned to this place and this moment by a tragedy beyond our control. We did not choose this.

But we always have a choice in how we respond, even to the unthinkable. And in this case, we can, and must, still affirm life. Some losses can be met only with an uncomfortable mixture of inconsolable anguish, courage, and affirmation.

And that is what Bruce, Irene, Zachary, William, and Matthew would have wanted. They would not want their beautiful and big-hearted lives memorialized in endless pain or bitterness. We are devastated by their deaths. But in the weeks and months and years to come, we will use our grief to make sure that the message of their lives, the joy the members of this family brought to one another and to so many others, the good deeds and acts of charity they had already begun to perform on behalf of so many others, the beautiful and heartwarming and funny and sacred memories they placed in our hearts and minds, the stories of their lives—cut short though they are—will not die with them.

Many have asked: "What can I do to help?" The outpouring of support from the WRT and Westchester communities, from the Bridgewater and UJA-Federation and AJC and Seeds of Peace communities, from the Hopkins and Penn and Fieldston communities, from the Jewish community here and in Israel, from friends of this family of every age and stage of life, from elected officials and even total strangers all over the world—has been extraordinary and, on behalf of the surviving family members, allow me to express how grateful we all are.

Let it be known in this sacred circle that actions speak louder than words; but most of all, know this: your simple and loving presence here speaks loudest of all. Thank you for your steadfastness. Thank you for the acts of caring that will continue to sustain the parents, siblings, nephews and nieces of the Steinberg family in days to come. Thank you for the generosity of spirit that will allow our community to love the living whom the Steinbergs loved in life, and continue to champion the causes they cherished. Let our good deeds be the way in which we give honor to our friends.

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crystal-ballWe asked some of our local friends to make resolutions and wishes for 2018 –-for both themselves and the country. So many express dismay about the powers that be in the White House and ask for better leadership this year.

On the personal front, parents want happiness for their children and they want to enjoy their own lives and be better people.

We thought they would be interesting to you. See below – and send us your resolutions or wishes in the comments section below.
Happy New Year!

Personal Wishes:

1. Stay involved, grow personally and professionally, and make a difference!
2. Embrace the wonderful and meaningful moments in life – perspective!
3. Lose weight
4. I hope to be kinder to my family, to others, and to myself. I hope to appreciate every day.
5. I will try to focus on the positives in my life and not on the chaos in the world.
6. Talk less
7. Be a better listener
8. I want to have more fun (and do so being a size 4)
9. Don't sweat the little things!
10. Have a healthy life, less food, less alcohol, more sex, more sex
11. Embrace the year with joy
12. I wish for my children's happiness
13. I want my son to find a job he loves
14. To be less greedy
15. To be a mother in law

Wishes for the Country and the World:

1. I wish for peace and patience and may the world leaders make up and protect the planet.
2. More sanity, ethics, more women in leadership roles.
3. Trump is out! Ryan is out! McConnell is out, Scotus remains the same!
4. A new haircut for Kim Jung Il (perhaps that's why he's so ornery!)
5. Good health, good weather, good friends, new Potus and Congress.
6. Everyone should shrive to get along and not focus on our differences and political agendas.
7. Good will, civility, and reconciliation rather than polarization from local to global and everything in between.
8. I wish that the Democrats will take the house and the senate. The world will be grateful.
9. I wish for a huge Democratic victory in November.
10. That many Democrats from high tax blue states move to low tax Red states and vote.
11. Globalism "trumps" nationalism, facism, sexism, and hate in all forms are highlighted and obliterated.
12. Turn back the clock and have Hillary win the election.
13. A Democratic House of Representatives
14. Lock him up!
15. A world with less conflict at a global level, on a national level and on a personal level –- get along for the sake of getting along.

What are your resolutions - share them in the comments section below:

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computershopphotoThere's a new computer shop in Scarsdale Village and they're ready to help you with all of your computer, networking and gaming needs. Owner Miles Spisiak has been working in the field for 15 years, helping clients with computer maintenance and service. He's ready to help you with your tablet, laptop, desktop computer, Mac or a PC.

He worked for Geek Squad at Best Buy for nearly 5 years, and in the new store, he will offer clients a more personal experience. Miles say, "After all, electronics we use every day have become very personal and are "extensions of ourselves" so to speak. Sometimes a maintenance call is all that's needed to find a solution to your problem."

Spisiak always wanted to open up a computer shop in Scarsdale Village, and is excited that he has now realized his dream. He loves this area and his wife has owned the Garth Road Inn since 2010. When he saw the available retail space at 17 Boniface Circle he fell in love with it. It is just what he had envisioned and believes that Scarsdale Village can benefit from having a local computer and repair store.

Says Spisiak, "Most certainly customers can benefit from my knowledge, reliability and flexibility. This is a very convenient spot right in the Village and easy for customers to visit, rather than traveling over to Central Avenue or White Plains Road. I have been working with individual clients as well as small businesses across Westchester, many of which are in Scarsdale, Eastchester and Bronxville area."

Here is how the can help:

Sales – laptops, desktops, tablets, fully custom systems, made to order.

Service – Repair laptops, desktops, all in one computers, Mac and PC.

Computer Setup – setting up new computer, updates, data transfer, software installation, etc.
These repairs include virus removal and protection, general system maintenance, operating system upgrades and updates, hardware upgrades such as hard drive, solid state drive, memory, video card upgrades, etc. He also replace broken screens on laptops and some all in one computers.

Data Services – these would include continuous backup (before something goes wrong). Data recovery (after something goes wrong). Data migration (from one computer to another, old to new). Advanced data recovery (when data gets accidentally deleted). Cloud backup and data sync (usually across devices)

Networking –Troubleshoot networking issues including Wi-Fi, wired networking, network printing and data sharing. General network problems, there are too many to list. He also sets up home technology systems, such as smart TVs, Roku, Amazon FireStick for streaming, etc.
Spisiak offers in-store services as well as on-site services for all of his clients. Some problems need solving at the client's location, so bringing devices to the store would be pointless. He urges you to call him with your technology needs. He can point you in the right direction, set up your equipment and make today's technology work for you.

Village Computer Shop
Miles Spisiak
17 Boniface Circle
Scarsdale, NY 10583

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scarsdalevillagehallGood news: You can prepay your 2018 Village taxes if you act quickly. The Village is accepting payments in person through 5 pm on Friday December 29, in the drop box at Village Hall and online. Read the instructions from the Village of Scarsdale below:

Prepayment of 2018 Property Taxes Update

The Mayor and Village Board of Trustees convened a special meeting on December 28 and adopted a resolution allowing for the prepayment of 2018 Village property taxes prior to December 31, 2017. The Board acted to provide potential assistance to homeowners with maintaining certain property tax deductions on their Federal income tax largely lost due to the recently adopted Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act . Please be advised that the final determination regarding the applicability and deductibility of prepaying the Village taxes will be decided by the United States Internal Revenue Service.

The Village Board's action was taken pursuant to Governor Cuomo ' s December 22, 2017 Executive Order No. 172 which temporarily suspended certain provisions of New York State Real Property Tax Law. In the Village ' s opinion, this temporary suspension allowed the Village to issue an interim tax levy and warrant for the collection of property taxes in advance of our normal fiscal year budgetary process. As it is uncertain whether this interim warrant will in fact allow for the issuance of a final warrant once the normal budget process is completed and a budget adopted by May 1, 2018, the interim warrant adopted by the Village Board includes a 2% increase over the current Fiscal Year (FY) 2017-2018 warrant. This 2% is consistent with the New York State tax cap allowance for Villages for FY 2018-2019 and is predicated on funding certain contractual obligations known at this time. Ultimately the adopted budget will be based on the Village Board's deliberations, public input and funding decisions, and will be reflected in the final levy and warrant.

The December 23, 2017 press release issued by the Village was predicated on the best information available to the Village at that time. We always understood that the separate legislative bodies at the County of Westchester and the Scarsdale Board of Education would perform their own review and due diligence of the Governor's Executive Order and relevant statutory requirements and decide on the applicability and legality of issuing tax warrants for the prepayment of County and School taxes, respectively. Pursuant to this review, both the County and School District determined that they were unable to issue tax warrants at this time and could not allow for the prepayment of County and School property taxes.

For those residents who have already prepaid their County and School taxes in separate checks, the Village Treasurer will return those checks, which have not been deposited, in due course. Please be advised that without County and School warrants, the Village has no authority to deposit these funds and hold this money. For those residents who paid all three taxes using a single check, the Treasurer's Office will endeavor to contact you to secure a new replacement check for the Village tax only. The original check will then be returned. The legal date of receipt of the payment will be the date the original check was either delivered or postmarked.

Property owners interested in prepayment of the Village tax have the option of paying all or a portion of their 2017 Village tax. If you are unsure of this amount, it can be found on the Village website, On the Front Page of the website, click on the icon titled " Property Inquiry " located in the center of the red tool bar. Navigate by street name and address to find your 2017 Village property tax payment information. Pursuant to the Governor 's Executive Order, payments may be made in person at Village Hall from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. through December 29, 2017. The Drop Box at Village Hall will be closed at the end of business (5:00 p.m.) December 29, 2017. Payments may also be mailed and will be accepted with a United States postmark, Federal Express or UPS shipment dated on or before December 31, 2017. Postage meter marks are not acceptable. Please note that on-line banking checks issued through personal or business accounts are not postmarked and cannot be accepted if received after December 31, 2017.

On-line payments through the Village ' s on-line payment option at, are also allowed under the Governor's Executive Order. On, go to the third icon in the red tool bar below the banner photo titled " Online Payments. " Click on this icon and follow the section " Pre-Pay 2018 Village Taxes " which include the following steps: 

Step 1: Visit Property Inquiry and look up your 2017 Village tax bill here.

Step 2: With your last name and 2017 Village tax bill amount, click here to pay all or some of it online.

If you have any issues accessing the website or have additional questions, please contact the Village Treasurer ' s Office at (914) 722-1170.

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lendahandTo the Editor: The Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps – SVAC – helps rescue residents in distress. It is now the season for residents to reciprocate and help rescue SVAC financially. SVAC is one of the few – perhaps the only -- volunteer organization in the Village whose mission can fairly be characterized as critical. When a resident is in medical dire straits, it is often SVAC, with its well trained staff, that races to respond and do whatever is possible to provide emergency aid and comfort. Fulfilling that mission requires money and because that money is not provided by the Village it must come, in large part, from the residents of the community it serves.

David Raizen – President of SVAC -- is spearheading SVAC's annual fund raising campaign as he does each year. SVAC's annual budget is approximately $600,000. Some of that is covered by bills to insurance companies, some by modest grants. The Village, however, does not pitch in for this service. SVAC is not a Village owned, operated or funded entity. It is a stand-alone 501(c)(3) organization. That means a significant portion of SVAC support must come from donors.

The community's response to this year's SVAC fund-raising campaign is anemic. Currently, approximately 600 households out of more than 5,200 have made contributions. They have generously contributed approximately $175,000, but that leaves a long way to go for an organization with a $600,000 budget. This level of response for an indispensable service is frankly inexplicable. Perhaps it is borne of a mistaken belief that the Village will take care of this. It doesn't. SVAC is not a line item in the Village budget. Perhaps SVAC's plea for funds gets lost in the blizzard of pleas we all receive at this time of year. Perhaps folks assume that someone else will cover the cost of providing this service. There is no other "someone." We are it.

So please, don't let SVAC get lost in the myriad of holiday solicitations. Give what you can to SVAC. Hopefully you and your family will not need to call on their services, but in case you face such an emergency, you'll be glad you did. Tax deductible donations can be made on line at

Very truly yours,
Jon Mark
58 Brookby Road
Scarsdale, New York 10583

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