For millions of Jewish-Americans and Jews living across the world, the past few weeks have felt surreal, with emotions running between sadness, fear, anger, and an overwhelming sense of loss.
For many like Josh Lafazan, legislator for Nassau County’s 18th district, there is an added layer of worry for family members living in Israel as the war with Hamas shows no signs of stopping.
Lafazan expl-ained that his uncle Eric Lafazan moved with his family to Israel from Rockland County in upstate New York roughly 20 years ago. The legislator explained that he grew up playing with his cousins, and over the years has stayed in close contact with them, frequently visiting for family and religious celebrations.
“There’s a really dynamic and vibrant community of a lot of Americans who have moved over there to be closer to the Jewish faith and to live in Israel, and they have absolutely loved it,” Lafazan said. “We as a family have visited them numerous times, whether it’s been for weddings, bar mitzvahs, or just to see them for the holidays.”
Lafazan’s uncle, aunt and five cousins live on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and there are also extended family members who reside in Tel Aviv “and all over Israel.” With only roughly 16 million Jewish people across the world, and roughly 2 million in New York metro alone, he added that most Jewish-Americans have friends, relatives or acquaintances living there.
So when the news of the attack was first announced, he said he was not alone in feeling a sense of terror and fear for his relatives living abroad. Fursubmit its recommendations to the City Council, which will vote to award the contract for the city-owned property to one of two proposers, Jeanine and Fred DiMenna, of The View Grill, and Kent Monkan, owner of KVM Food Corp.
The city’s request for proposal called for extensive capital improvements to the property, which is currently leased by Jeanine DiMenna. Monkan, who owns two restaurants on the North Shore — the Brass Rail, in Locust Valley, and the Heirloom Tavern, in Glen Head — submitted the only other proposal.
Since late September, submissions have been reviewed by a committee that includes Louis Fugazy Jr., Scott Grupp, Pat Hall, Cherise Kramer, Vincent Hartley, Cynthia Ayres and Lisa Travatello. Meetings between the proposers and the committee have been facilitated by Yelena Quiles. The committee was originally scheduled to submit its suggestions to the City Council by early this month.
Gracie Cipriano, one of DiMenna’s many supporters, reminded council members that if she doesn’t get the council’s vote, her employees must plan to find new jobs. Cipriano added that The View Grill, whose lease expires in February, is unable to book events for 2024 until a decision is made.
Since the community first learned about the RFP, many of DiMenna’s supporters have signed petitions and held protests before council meetings, hoping to sway committee members and the council. Those hoping that Monkan will take over the lease have not been as outspoken as those rooting for DiMenna, but at Tuesday’s meeting, Maureen Pappachristou expressed concerns about DiMenna remaining at The View.
“The city can’t just do a nice thing for Jeanine because she is part of the city,” Pappachristou said. “Elected officials doing favors for people will get them in trouble.”
As stated in The View Grill’s lease, 5 percent of its gross revenues beyond $600,000 are turned over to the city as added rent, and any gaps in payment were due after 45 days after its yearly lease ended. Pappachristou asked if the restaurant was up to date on its payments, after the restaurant missed payments in 2018 and 2019.
City controller Michael Piccirillo stated that the RFP process revealed that DiMenna had underreported her revenue, and owed the city $25,000 in rent.
In a phone interview with the Herald after the meeting, DiMenna said that her accountant, Nester Chopin, brought the matter to her attention just after the RFP proposals were due, and she urged him to report his findings to the city.
Chopin told the Herald that the underreported revenue was the result of misreporting by Clover Point of Sales, which the restaurant uses to gauge its profits.
“If they tell us how much we owe them, we’re going to pay them,” Fred DiMenna said. “It was an error on our part.”
DiMenna added that he regretted not being more vigilant about Chopin’s bookkeeping, explaining that Chopin was consulted only because he worked for the restaurant that previously operated at the Lattingtown Road site.
The DiMennas said they were seeking legal counsel to address Chopin’s alleged negligence over the past two years. They believe the committee has delayed its decision because of its diligence in assessing the proposals.
“We like what the city has done for us — that’s why we want to stay,” Fred DiMenna said. “If we felt they were unfair, we were going to get the hell out of there. We liked what they’ve done for us.”