Happy Passover, Western Easter, and Ramadan!

Three holidays converge this weekend, so I’m wishing my Jewish friends a Happy Passover, my Western Christian friends a Happy Easter, and my Islamic friends a Happy Ramadan.

The Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Palm Sunday today… so I’ll delay my Happy Eastern Easter greetings till next week! But a special story about Greek Orthodox Holy Week will be posted this coming Thursday. Stay tuned!

“Better Call Saul” Returns …

As a huge fan of “Breaking Bad“, “El Camino“, and “Better Call Saul“, I can’t wait to pick up where we left off as the final season of BCS gets underway tomorrow night!

LGBTQ + Education

Folks have long known my stance on LGBTQ+ issues, but I wanted to give a H/T to Ari Armstrong, who provides some worthwhile “Notes on the ‘Groomer’ Panic and Transgender issues“. Ari is spot on in his central concern that “various conservatives seem to be intentionally drumming up a moral panic about the alleged ‘grooming’ of school children who are exposed to conversations and readings that <gasp!> discuss gay and transgender people.”

Thanks too, Ari, for citing my 2003 monograph, Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation (now on sale at the Center for a Stateless Society).

Brooklyn Subway Shooting

By now, the whole world has learned of the subway shooting in the Sunset Park section of my hometown, Brooklyn, New York. The action eventually shifted to my own neighborhood, where the suspect left a rented van—two blocks from my apartment, on West 3rd Street and Kings Highway, in the Gravesend section of the borough.

As I noted on Facebook, law enforcement had cordoned off the entire area, with helicopters flying above. Leave it to my sister to find a moment of gallows humor in all this: “Just lock the doors. We don’t need any hostage situations on top of everything else we’re dealing with.”

The suspect has not yet been apprehended.* Thank goodness nobody was killed; let’s hope those who were affected survive and flourish.

But to all you New York Naysayers out there: Yes, there has been an uptick in crime in this city, in the wake of a pandemic and all the civil unrest that followed the George Floyd killing. I remember a city than in 1990 had in excess of 2,200 murders. Even with upticks in various crime categories, the city is nowhere near those horrific days of murder and mayhem. A cursory look at CompStat data shows massive declines across the last 29 years in every category—from murder and rape to robbery, burglary, and grand larceny.

This city has massive structural problems, but it is still a magnificent tapestry that draws its strength from its diverse neighborhoods. I’ve been a lifelong Brooklynite—and will be here until the day I die. Because, for me, this town is still the greatest city on earth.

___
* Oh, yes he has!

A New FB Profile Pic, Part II

In Coney Island, Brooklyn, in the shadow of the Parachute Jump.

Also see Facebook post here.

Ski & the BTHS Homecoming 100

2022 marks the centennial year of Brooklyn Technical High School. This weekend is the Tech Homecoming, sponsored by the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation.

My sister, Elizabeth (“Ms. Ski”) Sciabarra, began her career at BTHS as an Apprentice Teacher of English in September 1972. She was officially appointed in 1977, and would go on to become Coordinator of Student Affairs and Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services at Tech. She later served for nearly a decade as principal of New Dorp High School on Staten Island, moving on to the Deputy Superintendency of Brooklyn and Staten Island High Schools and the Deputy Superintendency of High Schools. Her career with the NYC Department of Education reached its apex when she became Superintendent of Selective Schools and founder of the Office of Student Enrollment and the High School Admissions Program.

Upon her retirement from the DOE in 2010, Ski would return to her Tech roots, and eventually become Executive Director of the Alumni Foundation, a position from which she stepped down at the end of June 2021 due to her current health challenges.

Even though she was never a Tech graduate, she has always held Tech close to her heart. One might say that as a member of the “class of 1972”, she has had a depth of love for Tech for virtually half the years of its existence. So, yesterday, she was elated to receive from the Alumni Foundation this wonderful Centennial Package (pictured below). She hopes to participate in the Virtual Homecoming event on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

Ski & BTHS 100
#GoFundSki

Also see Facebook post here.

#GoFundSki Goal Exceeded!

My sister, Elizabeth Sciabarra, wanted to extend her heartfelt appreciation to every single person who has donated to the #GoFundSki campaign to raise $150,000 toward her care needs as she remains in-hospice at home. Over a thousand people have contributed since this project was posted, at 5:26 pm on Friday, March 26, 2022. The goal has been exceeded—in just ten days!

Ultimately, what has most moved my sister are the words of encouragement she has received and the personal reminiscences that have been posted to the #GoFundSki page. These are the kinds of testimonials that one reads at a memorial. But they are now a living testament, which she is processing daily in a deeply emotional way. It has allowed her to truly grasp that her life really did count—and continues to count—in terms of the professional and personal impact that she has made. This outpouring of love and support is the greatest gift of all.

My sister’s at-home care is a constantly evolving situation. Every cent we raise helps to maintain her quality of life moving forward during this increasingly difficult period. We appreciate any additional contributions—whatever the amount of your donation.

#GoFundSki

Addendum: Several friends expressed their apologies to me on Facebook, in email, and even on the phone, that they have not been able to contribute to this successful campaign for my sister. One friend on Facebook stated: “I’m sorry that I cannot help.” To that friend, I said:

You have helped with your comforting words of love and support all these months as my dear friend. So many people are unable to provide material assistance at this time. But we have been blessed to have experienced spiritual support on every level, and nobody should ever apologize for being unable to help financially. You’ve been by my side for so many months now. So I say this not only to you, but to others who have been unable to donate. Your kind and caring words, expressions of love and support are so deeply appreciated during difficult times like this … and I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.

Also see Facebook post here.

Song of the Day #1936

Song of the Day: I May Be Wrong (But I Think You’re Wonderful), music by Henry Sullivan, lyrics by Harry Ruskin, was first heard in the 1929 Broadway revue, “Murray Anderson’s Almanac“. It was sung by Doris Day in the 1950 film “Young Man with a Horn“, directed by Michael Curtiz, and starring Kirk Douglas. Loosely based on the life of jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, the film has a wonderful soundtrack. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Doris Day, who had a terrific run as a star of film, TV, and song. Check out the track that features the great trumpeter Harry James on YouTube.

#GoFundSki

On behalf of my sister, I am sharing this publicly—and sending our appreciation to those who have continued to show their love and support. This is a GoFundMe for my sister. #GoFundSki to donate!

***

This is the kind of appeal that the family of Elizabeth Sciabarra (Ms. Ski to her students) never wanted to post. But we are facing some very difficult realities. My sister became seriously ill and nearly died in November 2020, which was followed by extensive spinal surgery in mid-March 2021. We nearly lost her again in mid-October 2021. Since that time, she has been receiving in-home hospice. As her devoted brother, I have been her primary caregiver—despite dealing with my own lifelong medical issues. As my own health has been compromised over these many months, we have been compelled to turn to health aides to assist with my sister’s in-home care.

My sister brings in a pension from her many years of service as an educator in the New York City public school system. She also brings in a Social Security retirement check. Given the state of American healthcare, she is in the unenviable position of being in that great “middle” ground where so many others find themselves—not “wealthy” enough to cover all her medical expenses; too “wealthy” to qualify for Medicaid. As a woman who has worked for over fifty years, and paid millions of dollars in taxes to local, state, and federal governments, she qualifies for a single Medicare home health aide, 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, though she needs 24/7 care.

Having maxed-out some assistance from the Council of Supervisors and Administrators for both the 2021 and 2022 calendar years, she is spending, on average, approximately $15,000 a month on aides and other non-insured medical supplies—more than she earns with her pension and Social Security combined. She has sold her car, exhausted her savings, and cashed-in retirement accounts—paying taxes on that too. Complete financial collapse can be avoided if my sister is placed in a Medicare-insured inpatient hospice, which would constitute a dramatic change to her quality of life. She wanted to remain at home, but without the financial capacity to do so, she will be compelled to make a decision that will break all our hearts. And hers most of all. Out of personal embarrassment and a sense of pride, she never wanted to make an appeal such as this. But after being in-and-out of hospitals and medical facilities for 17 months, even she realizes that this situation is financially unsustainable, threatening her ability to pay for even the basic necessities of life … food, clothing, and shelter.

We appreciate anything anyone can offer; we have no hope of paying anyone back. We only hope that a woman who, as an educator, devoted her life to helping thousands upon thousands of children and young adults, can raise enough funds that would allow her a level of dignity moving forward—despite the serious health challenges she continues to face every hour of every day.

Sincerely,
Chris Matthew Sciabarra (on behalf of my sister)

My dear sister, Elizabeth Sciabarra

Also see Facebook post here.

Sciabarra Household Getting Ready for Easter

Western Easter falls on April 17; Eastern Orthodox Easter falls on April 24. But here in the Sciabarra household, we’re getting ready for the holidays!

On Our Front Door
In the Dining Room
Toward the Kitchen
On the Hutch, with the Daffodils
By the Window
Toward the Living Room
And Our Window Display