Comments: December 3, 2007

1. Robert Kolker’s story last year about one man’s mistreatment as a young boy by Yehuda Kolko, a longtime rabbi and teacher at Brooklyn’s Yeshiva Torah Temimah (On the Rabbi’s Knee,” May 22, 2006), helped influence others to file suits against the rabbi and eventually resulted in Kolko’s arrest late last year. Now, another case highlighted by Kolker’s story has also resulted in an arrest, that of Rabbi Avrahom Mondrowitz, the notorious child psychologist who was indicted in 1985 for molesting four boys in his care but decamped for Israel, where he was protected from extradition. For years, advocates have campaigned in vain for Mondrowitz to face trial. Then one of his alleged victims, Mark Weiss, read “On the Rabbi’s Knee,” which led him to voice his own horrifying memories. After Weiss told his story on ABC’s Nightline, the U.S. and Israel started working to change the extradition rules. Mondrowitz, now 59 and the father of seven children, was arrested in Israel earlier this month. He is expected to be returned to the U.S. to face trial (his wife has told reporters he is innocent). Kolker’s story, Weiss said, “inspired me to become active. I was then able to plug into the network of advocates and help get the truth out.”

2. Our cover story about congestion in the skies (Airport Hell. And How to Escape It,” November 12) did not sit well with rail advocates. “Your writer ignores a much better option than any of the desperate attempts to save our hopeless hub-and-spoke system: massive federal and state investments in developing regional rail networks that would function as well as Amtrak’s current coastal corridors,” wrote Ralph Acampora of Forest Hills. Gregory Morris of Manhattan proposed, more modestly, that passengers make greater use of existing rail service: “If most of the shuttle flights to Washington and Boston from LGA and JFK were taken out of the pattern, how much more smoothly would the rest of the flights flow?”

3. The reaction to John Heilemann’s column about John Edwards’s strategy in Iowa (“Power Grid: “Escape From Iowa,” November 26) conveyed some of the charged feelings about the presidential race. Kevin Jennings of Manhattan chided Heilemann for his “bizarre conclusion” that Edwards’s confrontational tactics might deter voters. “Those voters who want ‘peace and quiet’ are going to stick with Hillary Clinton?” wrote Jennings. “I don’t think so.” The prolific Reba Shimansky, also of Manhattan, wished for a harder line on Edwards, who, she writes, “attacks Hillary for getting money from lobbyists while he gets money from trial lawyers—which is worse. Edwards spent most of his life as an ambulance-chasing lawyer making millions off the misery of others.”

4. The Ask a Waiter interview with Ben Curtis (Dell Dude Now Tequila Dude at Tortilla Flats,” November 7) on’s Grub Street set off a virtual stampede, as it became our second-most-trafficked blog item of all time. Plus it lit up the Comments board, where readers vigorously debated whether Curtis is a good actor and/or a good dude. Despite a couple of rather vituperative opinions to the contrary, most shared the view of JOHNNY702, who wrote, “Whenever I saw Ben on TV, he made my day. And obviously, he is still bringing joy to others. I’d hang with Ben any day!” (What’s our most-trafficked blog item to date? you ask. Vulture’sBuild Your Own ‘Simpsons’ Character! (June 28).

Beulah in McCarren Park Pool.Photo: Meredith Johnson/Courtesy of Creative Time

5. We receive quite a bit of feedback on our “Approval Matrix,” proving that readers take it as seriously as we do. Our placement of “This elephant (in McCarren Park Pool!)” in the Lowbrow/Brilliant quadrant (November 26) drew this sharp rebuke from Deborah Robinson of Hartford: “Did you stop to consider [the elephant’s] life? Her name is Beulah. Stolen as a baby from her mother in the wild (they stay with their mothers for life), she now lives with one other Asian elephant (they live in extended family herds in the wild) and is trucked, chained, from one such appearance to the next.” Robinson termed us “despicable” (and probably lowbrow, too, though she didn’t specify). Also objecting to a “Matrix” item was Dwight C. Douglas, who “was not so amused with the comment of ‘oddly endearing sight of millionaires on a picket line’”—referring to the Hollywood writers’ strike—and informed us that “not all writers are millionaires,” adding, “Do you know any writers? Oh, yeah, you have them at your magazine. They are writers, too. Got any millionaires there?” Fair point, but, since you ask, the answer’s no—not any self-made ones, anyway. But that’s because we work in print.

6. A milestone! We got our first comment on “Comments,” not counting the regular drumbeat to restore the old “Letters” page. David Biderman of Vienna, Virginia, wrote in response to our ranking of the most-viewed models on our Website’s Model Manual (Comments: A Model’s Life,” November 19): “I have a feeling, based on the blessedly limited clothing worn by Ms. Lima, that she will rise from her fourth-place slot. Wow!”

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Comments: December 3, 2007