Three leaders of the Crown Heights Jewish community will attend an address by President Barack Obama Friday in the first presidential visit to the Brooklyn neighborhood, which will also feature traffic gridlock when large parts of Crown Heights and nearby Prospect Park are closed off.
The White House initially invited Rabbi Chanina Sperlin, intergovernmental liaison for the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, to attend Friday afternoon’s speech at Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH). They asked him to suggest two other Jewish officials who could attend, according to a report in COLlive.com independently confirmed by Hamodia.
Rabbi Sperlin recommended Rabbi Shea Hecht, who chairs the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education, and Devorah Halberstam, a director at the Jewish Children’s Museum and an advocate for counterterrorism ever since her son Ari, Hy”d, was murdered on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994.
Parts of Brooklyn, including Prospect Park, where the president is expected to land his helicopter, and Crown Heights will see massive street closures. The entire Prospect Park will be closed for six hours beginning at 12:00 p.m.
Between 20 and 30 vehicles are in the presidential motorcade, among them several armored vehicles, a USSS electronic countermeasures Suburban, a counter-assault team and Secret Service agents.
The routes are selected by Secret Service agents in cooperation with local police forces. Escape routes are also established in the event of an emergency.
The traffic jams will begin at approximately 3:00 p.m. and will go until 6:00 p.m., about 15 minutes after Shabbos starts.
The affected streets are Empire Boulevard from Flatbush Avenue to Kingston Avenue, and Kingston Avenue from Eastern Parkway to Empire Boulevard — the heart of the Jewish section of the neighborhood.
No parking will be allowed along the route starting midnight Thursday. All parked cars will be towed.
Obama decided to visit P-TECH, which he praised in last year’s State of the Union address, since he is seeking congressional funding to replicate its six-year program, according to the Daily News.