Family of Menachem Stark Speaks Out: New York Post Cover Story Added Salt to Our Wound
The brother-in-law of slain Chasidic businessman, Menachem Stark, said that Sunday’s New York Post front page cover story and the article that followed, which painted the victim as a ruthless and crooked landlord, added salt to the family’s wound. In an interview with The Algemeiner, Abraham Buxbaum who is married to Stark’s sister, also painted a very different picture of a family man who, while struggling with major business challenges, never turned away those seeking his help.
Describing The Post‘s cover story headlined, “Who didn’t want him dead?” as “disgusting,” Buxbaum said that “Instead of giving comfort it is just adding salt to the wound.”
“They are only saying one side of the story,” he said. “Unfortunately we can’t hear the second side of the story, because he’s not here any more.”
“Apologies wont help, the damage is done, I think,” he added. “It would be nice [for them] to apologize, because that is the best they can offer now, but it was disgusting what was done, and that can’t be reversed.” In a statement released on Sunday however, The Post said that no apology would be forthcoming.
Stark is survived by seven children, the youngest of which is two years old. Buxbaum said that while he and other family members would help take care of the children, “life will never be the same without Menachem.”
“We will all be helping out, we will do our best, but no-one can replace a husband and father,” he said.
Further criticizing The Post‘s coverage, Buxbaum said that the human side of Stark’s story had been omitted, “…that he has a wife that will never see her husband, and that he has seven children, some older, some younger, they will never see their father.”
Buxbaum described his brother-in-law as a savvy businessman who was struggling after taking a hit during the financial downturn of 2008. “He was in the real estate market, and everyone… knows what the real estate market went through,” he said. “Whatever was legally permitted, he tried to do to survive.”
Buxbaum also said that he was a business partner of the deceased, owning a couple of “small properties” together with him. “I can say first hand that he did do everything in his power to please all his tenants as best as possible,” he asserted, adding that, “He had so many tenants, it is impossible not to have an unhappy tenant, it is just impossible.”
Despite the challenges Stark faced, Buxbaum said that Stark never turned away needy people that flocked to him for help. Rabbi David Niederman, head of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn concurred.
People came to Stark who needed help buying food, paying their rent, marrying off children, paying medical bills and more, they said. “The one and only thing that everyone said, is that his answer was always ‘no problem,’ no-one ever got a no from him,” Buxbaum said, adding that Stark himself would never talk about his charitable activities.
“As a community leader I called upon him many times to help, I knew him well,” Niederman told The Algemeiner. “He was always responding, sometimes more, sometimes less, but he never ever said, ‘I am sorry I cant help.'”
“And, he would call on others to contribute,” Niederman added. “He was a major benefactor of institutions and needy people.”
Also sharply criticizing the New York Post, Niederman said that the story effectively incites “people to resort to violence and organized crime,” and that his community was outraged. “We have to send out messages, that people should contain themselves, that is how outraged they are,” he said.
Stark was abducted by two men on Friday morning who were seen on surveillance footage bundling him into a white van. He was found dead on Saturday in a Long Island dumpster burnt from the waist down.
The New York Post’s front page on Sunday featured Stark, in traditional dress, including a streimel, a fur hat, and kapote, a satin black coat, beside the headline, “Slumlord found burned in dumpster: Who didn’t want him dead?”
Numerous community and political leaders condemned The Post following the publication. A Facebook page entitled, “Condemn the NY Post for Sundays Cover Page,” has attracted over 5,800 “likes” at the time of publication.