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Invite for Almighty April 2004 MAGIC Party
Password is: At the Westchester County Fair (please sing jingle)

Why is this MAGIC GARDEN different from all other MAGIC GARDENS? Why, it's the first night of Passover, you heathen. While it's true that many of our natives will be with their families and friends - eating bitter herbs and hiding matzoh - for the early part of the night, in the later hours we invite them to come to the MAGIC GARDEN to celebrate the beautiful, diverse culture that this fine city has nurtured. All non-Seder attending people, please come by at 7ish, to drink, dance and eagerly await the arrival of the Seder-attending Jews.

All concerned Seder-goers, please read this personal note:
What, bubbulah, you don't want to be a mentsch and come to the party, so you can kvetch about all the mishigas from your Pesach dinner? You have some schmutz on your face. And change out of that schmattah. Come, we'll discuss what's wrong with the world with all these goyem shmendriks running the country. And we'll drink Maneschewitz.

And after the MAGIC GARDEN, "Everyone come join the fun, at the Westchester County Fair. Rides and attractions. Non-stop action. Folks, animals, fireworks too. It's the single most fun thing you can do."

While the TV commercial attempting to lure unsuspecting NYC kids to Westchester was fun and memorable, I don't know a soul who went to this fair. Do you? I took school trips to Great Adventure in NJ, and waited on 2 hour lines to ride Lightning Loops, but nary a trip to see the prize hogs and hens in Westchester. If you have proof of attending the fair, you'll get a free drink.

Westchester. The county fair in Yonkers. Hmmm. Ella Fitzgerald was from Yonkers. Also Elisha Graves Otis, who invented the safety elevator, Edwin Armstrong - the FM radio, Leo Baekeland - "bakelite," and Charles T. Harvey - the first elevated train. Yonkers is home the second oldest annual marathon in the country (Boston is the oldest). Samuel Tilden, former Governor of NY and resident of Yonkers, was the first presidential candidate to win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote (in 1876, against Rutherford B. Hayes) - hmmm, sound familiar? To celebrate the election of Governor Samuel Tilden, a bartender at the Manhattan Club invented the Manhattan, a mixture of bourbon or blended whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters with crushed ice.

Westchester is also filled with Jewish people ­ about 129,000. The population of Jews in Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties increased by 24% in the last decade (221,000 Jews in Nassau, 90,000 in Suffolk), while NYC's Jewish population dropped by about 5%. For the first time in over a century, the number of Jews in NYC has fallen below one million; there are currently 972,000 Jews ­ that's 12% of the city's 8 million people. 50 years ago NYC had 2 million Jews ­ 25% of the population. If it were up to Mel Gibson, there would be no Jews left. The current borough breakdown of the Jewish population goes a little something like this: Brooklyn ­ 456,000; Manhattan ­ 243,000; Queens ­ 186,000; Bronx ­ 45,000; Staten Island ­ 42,000

But joyfully, this year marks the 350th anniversary of the establishment of a Jewish community in the US of A. In 1654, 23 Jews arrived in New Amsterdam from Pernambuco, Brazil ­ a region that had been under Dutch rule since 1633. When the Portuguese conquered Pernambuco, the Protestant and Jewish citizens traveled to the nearest Dutch colony in the New World ­ right here in good ole NYC. The Jews were initially denied residence by the Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant (if he only knew how many Jews went to Stuyvesant High School), but the Dutch West India Company ordered him to allow Jewish settlement. Ha ha. These Jews formed a congregation - "Shearith Israel," or "The Remnants of Israel." In 1730 Congregation Shearith Israel built its first synagogue on Mill St. ­ near Wall Street - and today that congregation continues at Central Park West and 70th Street, known as Congregation Shearith Israel, The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. In 1825 the second Jewish synagogue, B'nai Jeshuron, was erected and became the forerunner of all the Ashkenazi shuls. Temples and synagogues in the city.

About 25% of New York Jews say they have "no religion." The Orthodox are the fastest growing segment of the Jewish population, growing from 13% in 1991 to 19% in 2003. The Conservative and Reform movements are losing members as people move to the suburbs or to other states. Don't go. Please.

While the number of Jews in NYC has consistently been decreasing, Jewish observance has been on the rise. In 2002, 72% of NYC Jews fasted on Yom Kippur, compared to 66% in 1991. Lighting Shabbos candles went up from 43 to 53%, and keeping kosher from 25 to 28%. As for Passover, 77% always attend a Passover seder, 15% sometimes and about 8% never.

The overall intermarriage rate is 51% (51% percent of the 505,000 Jews who got married within the last decade married spouses who were avowedly not Jewish). 40% married a Jewish spouse and 9% married someone who had converted. Of those who married before 1965, 89% married a Jewish spouse. At least a third of all American Jews who are married are married to a non-Jew.

Jewish poverty in NYC has doubled from 10.5% in 1991 to 21.2% as of 2002. Oy! 244,000 people live in poor Jewish households; 91% of Russian-speaking seniors report poverty level incomes. One in five Jewish households in NYC are poor, compared to one in 10 in 1991. This is generally attributed to the influx of Russian immigrants who tend to be poor, especially in the first years after their arrival.

Many "experts" predict that the departure of the Jewish population from the city will result in a weakening of the Jewish community's political influence. Edward Koch believes that the decline in the number of Jews will push the city's politically liberal outlook to the right. He says that Jews from the former Soviet Union, having suffered under communism, are politically more conservative than the older generations of Jewish immigrants.

The 12 countries with the largest Jewish population:
USA ­ 5,800,000
Israel ­ 4,847,000
France ­ 600,000
Russia ­ 550,000
Ukraine ­ 400,000
Canada ­ 360,000
United Kingdom ­ 300,000
Argentina ­ 250,000
Brazil ­ 130,000
South Africa ­ 106,000
Australia ­ 100,000

The cities with the largest Jewish population:
NYC ­ 1,750,000
Miami ­ 535,000
Los Angeles ­ 490,000
Paris ­ 350,000
Philadelphia ­ 254,000
Chicago ­ 248,000
San Francisco ­ 210,000
Boston ­ 208,000
London ­ 200,000
Moscow ­ 200,000
Buenos Aires ­ 180,000
Toronto ­ 175,000
Washington DC ­ 165,000
Kiev, Ukraine ­ 110,000
Montreal ­ 100,000
St. Petersburg, Russia ­ 100,000

Here are a few people you may not have known were Jewish:
Emma Lazarus (writer of "The New Colossus," the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty ­ "Give me your tired, you poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ...")
Krusty the Clown
Judy Blume
Linda McCartney (originally from Scarsdale)

The MAGIC GARDEN is now in its 2nd month of the monthly voluntary "be nice" campaign, by supporting a different cause/charity/fund. Upon entering the party, you will have the opportunity, if you so desire, to donate to the monthly cause.

If you have a cause that is of personal significance to you and would like to be the monthly recipient of the MAGIC GARDEN's voluntary donation, please email me the details.

So check your leavening at the door, and come to the MAGIC GARDEN.

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