Menachem Stark, a Hasidic real estate developer who was found murdered and burned in a dumpster on Friday in Long Island, was buried last night after hundreds gathered outside of the Lodiner Bais Medrash synagogue in Williamsburg to pay their respects.
Questions surrounding the circumstances of his death continue to mount.
Detectives working on the case say that Stark left behind a trail of angry tenants and unpaid contractors from the 17 North Brooklyn properties he owned, according to the New York Post. Stark had defaulted on several multi-million dollar loans and had 233 complaints and 148 violations lodged against his buildings. Residents claimed the buildings were infested with rodents and at times lacked heat and water and in 2009 one was found unfit to live in.
Within the Orthodox community, however, Stark was beloved. He reported helped pay yeshiva tuition bills of less fortunate families and was active in his synagogue.
The cover of Sunday’s New York Post which pictured Stark reads: “Slumlord found burned in dumpster. Who didn’t want him dead?” has caused an outrage on social media, from public officials and Jewish news outlets (including the Forward).
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams railed at the paper at a Sunday afternoon press conference: “Who did not want him dead? Who didn’t? His children did not want him dead.” Adams went on to demand a formal apology in Monday’s newspaper and announced that an anonymous donor has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Stark’s killer.
New York City Councilman David G. Greenfield tweeted: “I’m sickened by the @NYPost condoning the murder & kidnapping of chasidic businessman. I don’t subscribe. If I did, I would cancel subscription.”
Other officials condemned the paper in statements. Assemblyman Dov Hikind said:
I understand that the New York Post wants to sell papers and that they are willing to sacrifice the standards of propriety…But there is a difference between bad taste and just plain indecency…The pain that this headline caused to not only a man’s family but to the entire Jewish community is indescribable and was so unnecessary.
On social media, more than 4,000 tweets spoke out against the paper using the hashtag #StopNYPostHate. Many called on subscribers to cancel their subscriptions, advertisers to pull their accounts with the paper and others for apologies.
Reached for comment a New York Post spokesperson backed the paper’s story, according to Politicker.com. “The Post does not say Mr. Stark deserved to die but our reporting showed that he had many enemies, which may have led to the commission of this terrible crime. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time of loss,” the spokesperson said in a statement.