Letters to the editor

Correcting the record on suicides

To The Editor:

Re “Acupuncture a tool to prevent Chinatown suicides” (news article, Nov. 25 – Dec. 2):

First of all, thank you so much for featuring Chinatown suicides as well as our Break the Silence Conference in your article. I really believe suicide among Asian Americans is such an important issue where community attention and awareness is greatly needed.

However, in reading the article, I found an error/misquote which I would like to bring to your attention. The article quoted me saying, “Although white, middle-age males have the highest suicide rate, Asian Americans have a higher suicide rate than the other ethnic minorities in New York City.”   It should have stated that, “Although whites have the highest suicide rate, Asian Americans have a higher suicide rate than the other ethnic minorities in New York City.”

The statement in the article gave the impression that white middle-age males have the highest suicide rate.  This is not accurate.

Actually, elderly white males have the highest suicide rate among men.  Middle-age males have the largest number of suicides, but the rate is slightly lower than that for elderly males.

It is because middle age males are a substantial portion of the overall population so therefore generate more suicide, but their rate is still lower than for elders.   

According to Gary L. Spielmann, director of suicide prevention from the N.Y.S. Office of Mental Health, in New York during 2002, 562 males ages 25-54 died by suicide; 267 males age 55-85 died that way.  The rate for the former was 13.63; for the elders, it was 14.43.  


Kin-Wah Lee

NY Coalition for Asian American Mental Health

E.P.A. plan flaws

To The Editor:

We knew we could count on the Downtown Express to smell a scam. The final Environmental Protection Agency “test and clean” program is a disaster for Lower Manhattan residents, workers and small business owners (news article, Dec. 2 – 8, “E.P.A. changes plan – Clinton, Downtowners fume”). E.P.A.’s testing is rigged to systematically underestimate indoor contamination and will result in a plethora of inaccurate data and deceptive findings that will inevitably be spun as another false all-clear for Downtown neighborhoods.

We applaud Ronda Kaysen and your editorial (Dec. 2 – 8, “E.P.A.’s new testing plan: Another in a long line of failures”) for defending the truth, and the health of the people who live and work Downtown, especially the kids who are growing up here. Your reference to Brownie-style disaster (mis)management puts our struggle in the big picture and points the finger straight to the top. Lower Manhattan and other affected neighborhoods deserve an honest program based on sound science. On Dec. 13th, at the final meeting of the W.T.C. expert panel it will unilaterally shut down, E.P.A. needs to hear that message loud and clear.

Kimberly Flynn and Rachel Lidov

Co-coordinators, 9/11 Environmental Action

Neighborly education advice

To The Editor:

Re “Adjustments made to East Side school project” (Progress Report Update, Nov. 18 – 24):

We appreciate the attention you’ve given to the East Side school project. As you know Pace University is the largest, immediately-adjacent neighbor on the East and West Side of the 75-story Frank Gehry-designed tower site. We’ve been pleased with the reception of our concerns about this project from our elected officials, Community Board 1, the Downtown Alliance and the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center. In addition, we’ve written to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to offer expertise from our School of Education as curricula for the pre K-8 school is developed.

The Tribeca residents and Councilmember Gerson should be commended on the agreement they reached with the developer on the East Side to mitigate noise, and in turn quality of life. Certainly the Frank Gehry tower, which at full-scale will be the second tallest building Downtown, that is surrounded by medical facilities, an institution of higher education, several thousand residents and many small businesses, will have unique safety, security and noise issues that will require thorough consideration.

As an intellectual entity that has been Downtown for nearly 100 years, Pace University is pleased to be a part of all of the exciting transformations that are taking place and we look forward to ongoing discussions regarding this project.

Meghan French

Pace University’s director of government and community relations

Stanton synagogue

To The Editor:

Pride of place demands a serious reply to the article “Lower East Side synagogues experiencing a rebirth” by Sara Levin (news article, Nov. 18 – 24).

I am glad to hear that other synagogues north of Delancey St. on the Lower East Side are also experiencing a growth in attendance. Certainly this is the case at the Stanton Street Shul, a humble shul that has survived against enormous odds. Established in 1913, but neglected for decades, today our tenement synagogue delights in the enormous changes we continue to experience. Once a sleepy place, the Stanton Street Shul proudly speaks of its more than one hundred dues paying members and its successful fundraising efforts. With the kind support of our members and good friends we have completed the first phase in a multi-phase renovation project generously supported by a matching grant from the State of New York. This summer we replaced a leaky roof, installed new skylights and shored up the rear façade of our historic building making our spiritual home water tight and secure. Now we are planning the modernization of our bais medresh, site of our daily minyan and classes and before we reach our centennial year we will restore our main sanctuary to its original glory.

Yet it is really the questionable tone in reference to the Stanton Street Shul and Ms. Tobias Cohen’s words that distressed me most. Characterizing our shul as a freakish assortment of Jews is dishonest and uncharitable. We proudly view our synagogue as a unique amalgam of beloved seniors, families with young children, singles, the devout and the spiritually hungry. As the demographics of the Lower East Side changes before our eyes the Stanton Street Shul looks at all the young, professional, educated people, some who seek an observant environment to grow and others who are uncomfortable with their background but need a community, need help, comfort, and spiritual sustenance. Our shul looks at these changes in our neighborhood as an opportunity and therein lays our success and growth. We seek congregants who wear “ski hats” and black hats, members who daven in “tee-shirts” and Hasidic garb, hair color of all shades and styles.

When we sit down for Kiddush following Shabbos morning davening, we are all as brothers and sisters, similar and diverse as the Jewish people, together sharing food and Shabbos holiness. Come join us and see for yourself.

Jeff Katz

Vice president of Stanton Street Shul’s congregation

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