Saint Patrick

New York Mysteries March 17, 2023

Saint Patrick died on March 17 in the fifth century. Born in Britain, at sixteen he was captured by pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland. After six years he escaped and returned to Britain. When he became a cleric he went back to Ireland and eventually became a bishop.

He combined native Irish rituals in his Christian teaching. Bonfires were used to celebrate Easter since the Irish honored their gods with fire. He also added a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, to create a Celtic cross.

St. Patrick’s Prayer

May the Strength of God pilot us.

May the Power of God preserve us.

May the Wisdom of God instruct us.

May the Hand of God protect us.

May the Way of God direct us.

May the Shield of God defend us.

May the Host of God guard us,

This day and evermore.



Rashida Tlaib, the one Palestinian member in our Congress, will be in New York City on March 18. She emailed me this recent letter. I admire her courage and commitment.

Mary jo,

Under Israel’s apartheid government, Palestinians are banned from flying the Palestinian flag. But I’m proudly flying the flag outside my office in Congress. 

As violence keeps escalating under Israel’s extremist far-right government, I want the Palestinian people to know that no one can erase our existence.

For months, Israeli soldiers have invaded Palestinian villages nearly every day, critically injuring hundreds while shooting at ambulances to block people from receiving medical care. And in the last week, violent mobs of Israeli settlers (who live in Palestinian territories illegally) have attacked a number of Palestinian towns, even burning down homes with families inside. 

Responding to recent attacks, a senior Israeli government official incited genocide against Palestinians, calling for the state of Israel to “wipe out” the Palestinian villages.

Yet the bipartisan effort to shield Israel from accountability continues. State governments and Congress have tried to punish boycotts of Israel and other tactics calling for Palestinian rights, in violation of our First Amendment rights to free speech and dissent. Yet the far-right Supreme Court recently refused to take up a case to overturn one of these unconstitutional laws. 

Despite these efforts to silence us, I will not back down. As the only Palestinian-American serving in the U.S. Congress, I won’t stand by silently as our country is complicit in Israel’s apartheid. We must end unconditional U.S. military support for Israel’s military now. We need to keep the pressure on until Palestinians’ humanity and equal rights are finally recognized. 

I will not back down in the face of attempts to silence me and others in the movement for Palestinian rights. Thank you for being by my side.

In solidarity,


New York Mysteries

New York Mysteries March 3, 2023

Dear Mary Jo,

Twenty years ago on March 16th, human rights activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli soldier driving a bulldozer.  Rachel was protesting the demolition of the home of a Palestinian family in Gaza.  She was 23 years old.

According to the reports of multiple eyewitnesses and photographic documentation, she was intentionally killed.

In the years since, Palestinian home demolitions by Israel have increased severalfold.  Unfortunately, Rachel’s message remains as relevant as it was then, if not more.

For 2022, B’tselem reported that Israel demolished a total of 801 Palestinian homes, surpassing 2021 and amounting to one of the highest annual figures on record.  An overwhelming number of Palestinian construction permit applications are rejected by Israel, with more than 98% turned down between 2016 and 2018.  

We urge you to help keep Rachel’s message alive by sharing her story with your community.  

Cards, a booklet of Rachel’s letters she wrote while in Gaza, and posters are all available on our website to order or download. (For orders, click on the links above and then use the buttons – you can use your credit card or a PayPal account.)

We would also suggest that you to write a letter about Rachel to the editor of your local newspaper.  See here for an example.

As always, thank you for your efforts on behalf of peace and justice for Palestine.  

The If Americans Knew Team

Black History Month

I am fortunate to attend the YMCA on 14th Street and 6th Avenue in New York City. The following information comes from the Y’s posters celebrating Black History Month.

Jackie Robinson, William Hunton, Anthony Bowen. Are any of these names familiar to you?

In 1947 Jackie Robinson was the first Black major league baseball player. He and Roy Campanella volunteered at the Harlem YMCA.

William Hunton, the son of a freed slave, was the first employed YMCA secretary at a “Colored YMCA”. Mr. Hunton worked among the soldiers during the Spanish American War.

Anthony Bowen was a freed slave and the first Black clerk in the U. S. patent office. He founded the first YMCA for the Black community in Washington D. C.

Community members gathered for a lively Trans Day of Love event on February 15 at Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan.

The event was produced by activists Qween Jean and Gia Love and featured speeches, performances, food, and more. Qween Jean became known for spearheading a weekly “Stonewall Protests” demonstration in 2020 and 2021 during which folks would gather to stand up for trans rights and injustice.

The food at the event was donated by Okra Project, Pixie Scout, Fig NYC, and other volunteers. There were also raffle prizes.

This information is from Transday of Love, a Judson community email, posted on 2/17/23.

New York Mysteries. Com

Thank you, Abigail Hastings, Historian and Archivist Extraordinaire for revealing Judson Memorial Church’s layered history. 

Happy birthday, Judson! It was 132 years ago today – Sunday, February 8, 1893 – that Judson’s first Sunday service was held. And yes, there used to be pews – and fancy lamp posts out front. But it wasn’t until the week of January 22-29, 1983 when dedicatory services were held – with speakers every night but Saturday – to mark the completion of the church (which covered a good part of the block). Edward Judson’s vision was so grand, his former church, Berean Baptist on Downing and Bedford, simply wasn’t large enough. Raising funds to build such a massive enterprise took great effort, and as the Times article below mentions, one person termed Edward’s work as “finangelistic” instead of evangelistic. Whatever it took, we’re glad he gave us such a fine place with a very storied history. 

full article attached; scroll down for more…


Judson’s 132nd anniversary is Feb 6, 2023!
Judson’s founding minister, Rev. Dr. Edward Judson, wrote in 1899 that he wanted to build what he called “an institutional church” that “supplemented the ordinary methods of the Gospel with a system of organized kindness by touching people on physical, social and intellectual sides.”  He added: “The church contains the potency for the cure of all the ills that flesh is heir to. Here lies the solution of every social problem.” Ok, maybe not every problem but Judson did establish a nursery school, a kindergarten, an employment bureau for the poor, instructional classes for new mothers, a gymnasium for young men, affordable hotel rooms and a medical dispensary that served over 7,000 patients in 1899 and set the stage for the Judson Health Clinic to come in 1921. 

The first church service was held on a Friday night—actually part of their pattern of Friday night prayer services—and was held in the “lecture room” (where the gym is now but at street level then) with the first Sunday service held on February 8, 1891. The Times article declares it “one the handsomest edifices in the city… extremely graceful in its architectural lines, being Romanesque in style” (NYT Feb 7, 1891). The tower would include a children’s orphanage on two floors and the Judson Hotel was adjacent to that. The Times article observed, “The entire establishment may be regarded, in short, as a church that may be made a home.”

Happy Birthday Judson!

New York Mysteries.Com


Representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez Democrat New York, 14th District Bronx  just threw an utter temper tantrum on House floor after Ilhan Omar REMOVED from Foreign Affairs Committee. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar are two of the progressive Democratic group in the House known as the Squad.

I quote this from the Guardian:  Omar struck a defiant note in a speech shortly before the votes were counted, accusing Republicans of trying to silence her because she is a Muslim immigrant, and promising to continue speaking out.

“Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy? Or that they see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced? Frankly, it is expected because when you push power, power pushes back,” Omar said, adding: “My leadership and voice will not be diminished.”

When Ilhan Omar Asks Questions, Her Colleagues Should Listen
Peter Beinart  January 30, 2023 New York Times 
She doesn’t oppose an active U.S. foreign policy. She opposes the myth — which frames so much official discourse in Washington — that American foreign policy is intrinsically moral.

Ilhan Omar, Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.O)
House Republicans are poised make a grave mistake by removing from the Committee on Foreign Affairs the only person who consistently describes American foreign policy as it is experienced by much of the rest of the world. Those behind the effort to remove Ilhan Omar claim that she’s bigoted against Jews. Her Democratic defenders counter that the real bigots are those Republicans seeking to oust a Black Muslim woman. Yet neither side is talking much about what Ms. Omar has actually done on the committee from which she may soon be removed. That’s too bad. Because what Ms. Omar has done is extraordinary. In 2021, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation asked 50,000 people in 53 countries which global power they thought most threatened democracy in their nation. The United States came in first. Judging by their public statements, most members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee think these non-Americans are certifiably insane. The committee’s Republicans and Democrats both largely take it for granted that the United States — despite occasional blunders — defends liberty. When discussing threats to human rights, they generally attribute them to America’s foes. Ms. Omar is the exception. Consider what transpired at a hearing last April about American strategy in Asia. Michael McCaul, a Republican who is now the committee’s chairman, declared that “Americans’ legacy in the Indo-Pacific is freedom and prosperity” — and then warned that China’s Communist Party threatens it. Ted Deutch a Democrat, told the witness, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, that it was a “premise that I think we all share” that “human rights needs to be front and center in our foreign policy.” Having applauded the Biden administration and his fellow committee members for their devotion to human rights, Mr. Deutch asked about China’s repression in Xinjiang and its arms sales in the Middle East. When Ms. Omar’s turn came, the self-congratulation abruptly stopped. She began by noting that during America’s last Cold War, the country supported “brutal dictators” like Chile’s Augusto Pinochet and Indonesia’s Suharto because they shared “a common enemy.” She then asked Ms. Sherman why her administration was making Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India “our new Pinochet.” Ms. Omar’s colleagues discussed India primarily as a potential bulwark against China and Russia. Only Ms. Omar spoke about American complicity in the repression of minority groups in India. “How much does the Modi administration have to criminalize the act of being Muslim in India,” she asked, “for us to say something?” This pattern has repeated itself again and again in the four years since Ms. Omar entered Congress. The 50 other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee piously condemn the misdeeds of America’s foes. She asks uncomfortable questions about America’s own. In a hearing in May 2021, about Chinese atrocities against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, only Ms. Omar noted that the United States had itself imprisoned 22 Uyghurs at Guantánamo Bay and that China’s president had reportedly cited America’s “war on terror” as a justification for his own crackdown. A witness who leads the Uyghur Human Rights Project concurred that America’s actions had “paved the way for this comfortable labeling Uyghurs as a terrorist” group by Beijing. In a 2020 subcommittee hearing on “Democratic Backsliding in sub-Saharan Africa,” Republican Representative Tim Burchett expressed outrage that “some of the officers who took part in the Mali coup d’état had recently returned from Russia.” Only Ms. Omar noted that according to The Washington Post, the coup’s leader, Col. Assimi Goita, had for years fought alongside U.S. Special Forces. Under her questioning, a witness from the U.S.-government-funded National Democratic Institute admitted that the “gross violations of human rights” he denounced in Cameroon were partly committed by troops armed by the United States. Last February, in a committee hearing on Latin America, Ms. Omar asked Todd Robinson, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, about an inspectors general investigation that found that his agency had covered up its involvement in a 2012 massacre of four Indigenous Hondurans. Despite working at the agency in 2012, Mr. Robinson said he didn’t recall what he had told investigators. He didn’t know if any of the Americans and Hondurans charged in the massacre had been convicted. He didn’t know if any of the victims had received compensation. Why was Mr. Robinson so unprepared for Ms. Omar’s line of inquiry? Perhaps because committee members rarely ask government officials such pointed questions about violations of human rights committed by the United States and its friends. Ms. Omar’s detractors might say all this reflects her anti-Americanism. They’re wrong. Ms. Omar speaks idealistically about “the moral authority the United States carries on the world stage when we stand up for human rights.” She just recognizes — as do many across the globe — that the United States doesn’t exercise that moral authority nearly as often as our leaders claim. She doesn’t oppose an active U.S. foreign policy. She opposes the myth — which frames so much official discourse in Washington — that American foreign policy is intrinsically moral. “We are human beings like other human beings on this planet,” she wrote in 2021, “with the same flaws and the same ambitions and the same fragilities.” Across the world, many people encounter American foreign policy when they see a drone flying overhead, a hospital that U.S. sanctions have deprived of medicine or a dictator’s troops carrying American-made guns. Ms. Omar asks the kinds of questions that these non-Americans — whether they reside in Pakistan, Cuba or Cameroon — might ask were they seated across from the officials who direct America’s awesome power. She translates between Washington and the outside world. More often than not, she does so alone. Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) is a professor of journalism and political science at the Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York. He is also editor at large of Jewish Currents and writes The Beinart Notebook, a weekly newsletter. F

Neue Gallery: a friend photographed this. Last time the public can photograph!




Gustav Klimt (b. 1862, Baumgarten d. 1918 , Vienna) 

The Neue Galerie New York covers a range of art, sculpture and photographs. The works were created in Austria and Germany between 1890 and 1940. In addition to wonderful art, there’s a splendid restaurant, Café Sabarsky.

New York Mysteries. com

For years I’ve posted mail at the Avenue A and 14 Street mailbox in front of my building. I had noticed that the mailboxes had been altered so that no-one could open them. Last month I posted a sizable check to my mastercard provider. As I slid the envelope into the mailbox I felt a sticky substance. Realizing it was a means of trapping checks, I rammed the envelope into the mail box, hoping it wasn’t sticking to the illegal glue. Of course, I should have taken it out. I called the mastercard people who were solicitous but what could they do? I had visions of a thief using a liquid that erases everything on  my check except  my signature, then filling it in with a large sum as noted in the Our Town article. I went to my bank. The bank’s representative checked my check’s number and saw that no money had been withdrawn – yet. Later that day I was notified that the mastercard company had received my check. I was lucky. 

I have copied this from the Jan. 20, 2023 Our Town issue. 

The OUR TOWN article

Mailing Checks? Proceed With Caution.

At least two UWS locals have become victims, after checks they sent in the mail were intercepted and altered. Across Manhattan, complaints are on the rise.



| 19 JAN 2023 | 04:14


  • Mail collection boxes on Manhattan’s sidewalks are being targeted in check washing crimes. Photo: Abigail Gruskin


  • The U.S. Postal Inspection Service urges people to drop off their mail before the last collection time of the day. Mailboxes that formerly had pull-down doors now have thin slots to thwart thieves’ “mail fishing.” Photo via a USPIS safety flier.

After returning from a post-Thanksgiving visit with family out of state, one Upper West Side resident checked her bank account, only to find an expensive discrepancy. On Thursday, Dec. 15, she realized $7,000 — instead of the $75 she had originally sent as a charitable donation, in the form of a check — had been deducted. The check had been stolen and cashed by someone she didn’t know.

“It’s shocking, because you try to be careful with your money and then all of a sudden, out of the blue, it’s gone,” said the woman, who told her story on the condition of anonymity.

The Upper West Sider mailed her check dated Nov. 23, 2022 via a sidewalk USPS collection box on a stretch of West End Avenue between West 72nd and West 76th Streets. She’d attempted to avoid foul play by sending a check, rather than doling out her credit card number over the phone or online — but it backfired. “Somebody is making a good deal of money,” she said. It’s a crime that’s been unfolding across Manhattan with increasing frequency over the past few months, according to U.S. Postal Inspector Glen McKechnie.

Criminals On A Roll

Only a few days earlier, on Monday, Nov. 21, one West End Avenue resident mailed two checks, in the amounts of $15,000 and $1,500, on behalf of his company, Fantasy Interactive, Inc., according to police briefings. Later, his bank informed him that his checks had been intercepted by not one, but two “unknown suspects” who made themselves out as the payees.

Incidents of mail thievery and check washing have been “rampant” citywide, including on the Upper East Side, according to Council Member Julie Menin. “This is an enormous problem and it’s particularly problematic for seniors,” she said, explaining that the issue was hurting New Yorkers even back when she served as commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, formerly the Department of Consumer Affairs.

In Midtown, near the intersection of East 38th Street and Madison Avenue, a man was arrested early in the morning on Wednesday, Jan. 18 for stealing mail, according to McKechnie. He said the man was found with mail from collection boxes at 401 Broadway and at the intersections of West 92nd Street and West 87th Street with West End Avenue.

McKechnie noted that despite rising complaints, incidents of theft are still only happening “here and there.” But criminals seem to be working with new tools.

Caught In A Sticky Situation

On the Upper West Side, the unlucky resident whose check was intercepted at the end of the year had previously noticed a sticky residue coating some collection boxes — which left her wondering if it could be linked with mail theft. A recent Fox 5 New York segment identified the “sticky substance” as part of a technique used by criminals to make stealing mail easier, showing video footage of a man interfering with a USPS box on a New York sidewalk.

To avoid becoming a victim of mailbox fishing, the USPS suggests an easy fix: drop off your mail in advance of the last collection time listed on sidewalk boxes — and not afterward, when mail will sit unattended overnight, McKechnie said. “These criminals, they don’t go at six, seven o’clock at night to steal,” he said. “They’ll go two, three, four o’clock in the morning, when the streets are deserted and it’s dark.” The NYPD advises people to bring mail containing sensitive or valuable information to a Post Office and write checks using pens with permanent ink.

Menin’s office and the 19th Precinct are distributing pens and the Council member is encouraging people to utilize online banking, to negate any need to send physical checks via mail. To teach older New Yorkers to use crucial online platforms, the City Council works with a group called Older Adults Technology Services (OATS). “If you switch to online banking, this then becomes a moot issue,” Menin said.

Though prevention is the best solution, according to McKechnie, the USPS often works with the NYPD to catch criminals. When investigating a case of mail theft, he explained, postal inspectors seek subpoenas to serve the banks where altered checks are deposited and collect account holder information plus relevant ATM video footage — a process that can take 90 days. McKechnie recommends that people make their complaints directly to the USPS in addition to the NYPD. (To report a case of mail theft, you can call the Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455.)

In recent years, collection boxes that previously had doors people could pull open were upgraded with new “high security” features, including the thin slots with rings inside that mail is now pushed through.

After the Upper West Side woman’s run in with mail theft, her bank took about a week to reimburse her, she said. Now, she and her husband are more cautious — and make more regular trips to the Post Office. “We definitely think twice about where we’re putting our mail.”

“It’s shocking, because you try to be careful with your money and then all of a sudden, out of the blue, it’s gone.” A woman on the UWS whose $75 written to a charity was altered to give $7,000 to a criminal who stole the check.

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January 14, 2023

 Isn’t this a lovely photo. Imagine strolling through a leafy green forest with dappled sunlight and the only sound is you trying to contact a Verizon representative to ask a simple question: Have I paid my current bill? I’m between electronic mail 75% of the time and mailed mail 25% of the time. Had I already paid it online? I didn’t want to also mail a check. Bored yet? 

VERIZON HAS YOU COVERED FOR ALL YOUR CONNECTED NEEDS. That’s the message splashed across your-pay-by-mail envelope. Going online, I was not able to speak to anyone. Instead, I was forced to use their Chat system. It consisted of repeat questions: What is your phone number with us? What is your account number with us? I copied the information from the latest bill (I guess) and was asked once again What is your phone number with us? What is your account number with us? Once again I gave it. This rigamarole continued until Chat said: We have no record of this account. So much for Verizon covering all your connected needs.

Continue your walk in the woods.

Mary Jo Robertiello's mysteries and life