Brooklyn Today: May 11, 2012

Good morning. Today is the 132nd day of the year. On this day in 1888, Irving Berlin, one of America’s greatest songwriters, was born as Israel Baline in Tyumen, Russia. He arrived in New York with his family when he was 4 years old. After his father died, he began singing in saloons and on streetcorners in order to help his family, then worked as a singing waiter as a young man. Berlin wrote such songs as "Alexander’s Ragtime Band," "White Christmas," "God Bless America," "Blue Skies" and "Puttin’ on the Ritz." He died on Sept. 22, 1989.

Well-known people who were born today include Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, physician Robert Jarvik (the inventor of the artificial heart), comic Mort Sahl and actor Bernard Fox ("Bewitched," "Titanic").


Tomorrow at Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the Brooklyn Food Conference will take place, hosting farmers, chefs, neighbors and fair food advocates. There will be more than 170 workshops and 300 exhibits. ... Tomorrow, members of more than 50 of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s block and tenant associations will kick off the second annual Flower Bed-Stuy Day at 9 a.m. at 300 Putnam Ave. The daylong event, organized by Bridge Street Development Corporation and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Youth Education and Safety (YES) Taskforce, is a way to help create and promote a greener, more sustainable community. ... Renowned chef and cookbook author Lidia Bastianich will sign copies of her new book – Lidia’s Italy in America – tomorrow at the Red Hook Fairway Market from noon to 2 p.m.


The New York Times yesterday quoted a statement by Barbra Streisand about her upcoming concert at Barclays Center and her return to Brooklyn.  "Brooklyn to me means the Loew’s Kings, Erasmus, the yeshiva I went to, the Dodgers, Prospect Park, great Chinese food," she said about the concert, which is set for Oct. 11. "I’m so glad I came from Brooklyn — it’s down to earth. I guess you can come home again." Streisand grew up in Flatbush and graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in 1959.

The Times also ran an article saying that Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn who inform the authorities when their children are sexually molested by other Hasidim are often ostracized by their neighbors. There is a tradition in the ultra-Orthodox community, says the Times, of not reporting problems to secular authorities. "Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses," says the Times.