The proposed amphitheater has been on the minds, hearts and souls of tens of thousands of people who live in the surrounding area of the Asser Levy Park.
There has been a war of words and many hurtful and hateful words have been spoken on behalf of both sides. Mayor Bloomberg, a man of integrity, a philanthropist who gives away hundreds of millions of dollars in charity, must be aware or be made aware of the tremendous ramifications this plan will have on our neighborhood and our houses of worship.
Mayor Bloomberg’s mother is in her mid-90s, and our borough president’s mom is in her mid-80s. May they be blessed with good health. Bloomberg and Markowitz’s mothers have been blessed with terrific sons who love, honor and respect them, and can afford to give them what millions of other children or families can not.
In our synagogues, Temple Beth Abraham and Sea Breeze Jewish Center, we have members who have no sons or family to care for them. They have come from Russia from a life of hell and those few who escaped the horrors of the Nazi torture and the ovens where they watched their families go up in smoke. We have a dozen members who come to pray with the numbers branded on their hands and arms, some who survived in Schindler camps. They escaped from the darkest annals of history.
They come to our synagogues to cry, pray, to find solace and serenity. They come with their walkers and wheelchairs in snow, ice rain all kinds of weather. They come for Sabbath lunch, for sisterhood meetings. How sad now, their sorrows are going to be drowned out by big-time music while our synagogues are praying.
What about the thousands of people who live here, who have signed petitions against this amphitheater? What about over a thousand people who came to our town hall rallies? It’s amazing to what great lengths our elected officials will go to to push forward their pet projects. What a legacy to leave our children and grandchildren.
Our goal is not to stop the six summer concerts that our fellow Brooklynites have been enjoying for so many years. Our only goal is to maintain our precious quality of life. It’s absurd that our elected officials are willing to spend $64 million on an amphitheater that is not wanted nor needed.
Borough President Markowitz, rebuild the band shell, put in new lights, install new benches. Spend $2 million or $3 million and put the rest where it is needed: education, police, sanitation, libraries and senior centers. When the city is laying off thousands of people, shouldn’t we spend money more prudently?
My main problem is that what is being proposed for Asser Levy Park will become a burden for all who live in the area, resulting in traffic, parking, garbage, noise, drinking, and loitering.
This has never been an issue about religion, and it’s shameful for anyone to use religion or synagogues or churches for a personal agenda. It has always been and always will be about preserving and maintaining our communities precious quality of life.
I pray that Bloomberg and Markowitz stop this madness and protect our community. They are our elected officials and should do what’s right for the people they represent. I hope and pray that they can join forces with us in rethinking this project and do what’s right for the community.
Mendy Sontag is president of the Sea Breeze Jewish Center in Coney Island.