Friday, May 31, 2013

Rabbis ban Israeli Parade because of Gay participation, but they have no problem with endorsing Gay candidates!

The following article was submitted to YWN by the writer, Alan Betsalel Friedlander. It has not been edited in any form by YWN, and presented in its entirety below:
The Celebrate Israel Parade is an event attended heavily by Modern Orthodox Jewish attendees. A group listed only by its initials as a participant in this year’s parade participants list actually has a hidden agenda. In a brazen attempt to force Orthodox Jews to accept their way of life at the Torah’s expense, the understanding that was maintained for two decades has been overturned, without asking for Rabbinic authorization.
In the 1990′s Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik, Zt”l (OBM), protested against showing tolerance toward homosexuals as a public marching group at the Celebrate Israel Parade. Up until last year, his advice had been heeded. Avi Goldstein brought this to the attention of the community this year and so many leading Rabbis have signed a letter that proclaims:
”Any participation in any event that includes so called “Orthodox” groups, who in any way condone or support toevah (abomination), or a deviant way of life, is asur (forbidden). Whoever is a participant or spectator is an assistant to a sinful matter. Such a brazen public chilul HaShem (desecration of the Divine Name) needs to be denounced.
Co-Signatory Rabbi Yehuda Sheinkopf said the following: “We could not let this group march under a banner of Orthodoxy without a response that this is not Orthodoxy, is it contrary to the Torah. These rabbis feel that it must be known that to join with such a group is assisting their agenda which is contrary to the Torah.”
Rabbi Yisroel Belsky gave a heter (leniency) if due to the short notice for someone who feels committed to the event what should they do so they can still attend without violating halacha. The answer was on condition that they protest the participation of the forbidden group(s).
If you wish to protest this event, the 2013 Parade occurs this Sunday, June 2, from 11 AM to 4PM in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue from 57th Street to 74th.
Due to the late nature of disclosure, this list of signatories (in alphabetical order) is still being populated even as this story goes to press.
Rabbi Yisroel Belsky
Rabbi Eliyahu Elbaz
Rabbi Eliezer Ginzburg
Rabbi Yosef Rabinowitz
Rabbi Aharon Moshe Schechter
Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman
Rabbi Avrohom Schorr
Rabbi Yehuda Sheinkopf

Charedi Rabbi: The Jewish Community Should Deal With Molesters Just Like Murderers

from the Jewish home LA:
Rabbi Avrohom StulbergerThe recent guilty plea of an Orthodox Rabbi to molestation charges in New Jersey as well as the District Attorney’s expressed hope that this case will encourage other parents of abused children from the Orthodox community to come forward to report crimes, beg the questions that have bothered me for years : Why is there such a reticence on the part of Orthodox Jews to put these perpetrators behind bars?
Why are threats of retribution aimed at the victims and their families if they report these crimes, when logic dictates that our wrath should be aimed at the abuser and not at the abused?
I recently read an article in the L.A. Times about Phil Jackson’s new book, and what he says in it about Kobe Bryant. Jackson writes that he harbored a deep underlying hatred for Bryant the year that he was accused of sexual assault, because Jackson’s daughter was a victim of a similar assault years earlier. That episode, therefore, hit Jackson close to home. It struck me clearly that the mere fact that Jackson had a daughter wasn’t enough to affect him deeply. The basic feelings of empathy and compassion that dictate revulsion at the mere mention of such a heinous crime were apparently beyond even beyond Phil Jackson’s capabilities.
I am not here to criticize Jackson, but could it be that we the chosen people, are mired in the same place? Do we hear the words “abuse” and “molestation”, shake our heads and move on?
Do we, Heaven forbid have to feel the pain personally before we react the way a parent of a victim would? Let me make a suggestion: let us rename these people “murderers” instead of molesters. From a religious point of view , that is exactly what they are. Killing one’s souls, in Jewish law, is at least as destructive as killing one physically.
In addition when a Rabbi or other religious authority figure invades a child’s world with abuse, he shatters the positive association with Torah that so significantly contributes to the child’s spirituality. When we compound the tragedy with intimation and cover-up, we bear the guilt of both pushing the knife into the hearts of the victims, and becoming accessories to the future murders of innocent neshamos.
I am not being overly dramatic. Listen to the mental health professionals and hear how much of a struggle it is to rebuild theses victims’ self- esteem and trust. Can a Jew come to love Torah when its representative has so ravaged his inner peace and self-worth?
The Torah commands us not to stand by idly as our fellow Jew’s blood is being spilled. This Halacha clearly encompasses more than actual blood: one’s mental and spiritual health are within its purview as well. Factoring in the intimacy issues that abuse raises later in life, the damaged caused is incalculable. Arguably, there is no greater single threat to a chid’s emerging Ruchnius than suffering the pain of sexual abuse.
So let’s stop focusing on the sterling reputations of perpetrators and their family members, who inevitably rally to the molesters side. Let’s stop nonsensically pretending that we are turning innocent people over to the KGB or the Gestapo. Let’s stop listening to the empty promises that it won’t happen again. Instead, let’s start looking into these children’s hearts and let us cry at the agony that we see.
Let’s look honestly at the fact that today as an Orthodox community we cannot manage our own house, and cannot promise that there will be no more victims. We don’t have the power. We don’t have the authority. And sadly, I fear that we don’t have the empathy.
Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger is a prominent Charedi Rabbi and noted speaker. Rabbi Stulberger has been the Dean of Valley Torah High School for 27 years. Serves as the President of the Yeshiva Principals council of LA and has served on the Halachic Advisory Board of Aleinu Jewish Family Services for over a decade.

Frum Couple indicted for killing lady and melting her body

The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed an indictment against Ze’ev and Olga Gorelik for allegedly murdering Iris Gorelik Visilib and melting her body with chemicals to cover up the crime.

The alleged murder was also shocking in the defendants’ alleged use of the Internet to research techniques for melting the body and use of Skype to coordinate the crime.

The defendants were charged with murder, destroying evidence and obstruction of justice – by melting the body.

Ze’ev and Iris were married from 1995 to 2009 and had two children. In 2007, Ze’ev left his wife and moved in with a woman named Ana Tortikovsky with whom he had a daughter in 2008. The indictment does not specify anything else regarding Ana, but it does state that in 2011, Ze’ev married Olga.

Ze’ev was obligated by court order to pay child support to Iris for the benefit of their children, and recently his overdue debt to her had reached nearly NIS 70,000. Following Ze’ev’s failure to pay, Iris filed a collection action and eventually placed a lien on Ze’ev’s salary to garnish his wages in February.

Starting on March 11, the indictment stated that Olga started doing suspicious Internet searches. First she engaged with “the chemical forum, how to melt hair.” On March 12, she did dozens of online searches about “different ways for how to melt a person’s body,” “how to hide a body,” “which chemicals are the best to melt a body in home condition” and others, said the indictment.

Later, on March 12, Ze’ev bought a series of chemicals which would later be used to melt the body at a store in Jerusalem, the indictment alleged.

According to the indictment, on April 29, Ze’ev went to meet 
up with Iris at her office. He and Iris then traveled to Ze’ev and Olga’s residence.

The indictment was unclear on where Olga was during the murder itself, but she was close by enough to give Ze’ev additional “operational” strategy details about which neighbors 
were nearby.

Upon entering the residence, Ze’ev stabbed Iris to death, said the indictment. Next, the indictment said that Ze’ev and Olga melted Iris’s body using a series of chemicals. The two drove and parked Iris’s car in the east Jerusalem neighborhood Beit Hanina to throw off any potential police investigation, according to the indictment.However, the next morning the police arrived at their residence to investigate that Iris was missing and arrested the two upon finding Iris’s melted remains.The state also requested to remand both defendants to police custody until the end of the proceedings. The state’s motion for remand will be heard on June 3.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Young Frum 20 year old gets a brutal beating, 1 suspect arrested, Video

One arrest has been made in the brutal Far Rockaway beating and robbery of a 20 year old Orthodox man, which took place at 9:40 PM on Sunday night, as previously reported on VIN News. In an interview with VIN News, Officer Markowski of the NYPD’s Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information confirmed a fifteen year old male was arrested at 10:15 this morning by police officer Michael Legutko and was charged with two counts of robbery in the second degree. Police are not releasing the name of the alleged attacker. Rockaway Citzens Safety Patrol coordinator Jason Shtundel praised the NYPD’s Anti Crime Unit and Deputy Inspector Kevin Mahoney for their fast response to the incident and said that further breaks in the case are expected shortly. “They have a pretty good idea of who to pick up next and we expect further arrests to be made soon,” Shtundel told VIN News. Advertisement: Shtundel credited the video footage taken from the a neighbor’s surveillance camera with being a key factor in the rapid apprehension of a suspect and stressed the benefits of installing video security systems as an important safety measure. “Not only do they help the police make arrests in cases like these, but they also act as a deterrent to prevent crimes,” said Shtundel.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

$25,000.00 Reward in 1986 Chaim Weiss Murder, Scroll down for Video

The unsolved killing of a 15-year-old rabbinical student found bludgeoned to death in his dormitory at a suburban New York yeshiva in 1986 is receiving renewed attention from homicide detectives.

“There’s somebody out there that knows a secret,” said Lt. John Azzata, commander of the Nassau County Police homicide squad. “I’m looking for that person to give me that secret.”
Flanked by the victim’s father, county officials announced Tuesday they were increasing the reward for information leading to the arrest of Chaim Weiss’ killer from $5,000 to $25,000.
The announcement came at a press conference intended to spark renewed interest in the case, Azzata said, adding that police have already begun to receive telephone tips.
Interest in the case has faded in the more than quarter century since. NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries” featured it in the early 1990s and articles about the killing have appeared in various publications, but police have yet to unravel the mystery.
Police were quick to note that the reopening of the case was not due to any new evidence that had recently come to light.

Weiss was described at the time as a bright student. He was found bludgeoned to death in his room at a religious school in Long Beach, a Long Island community east of New York City, after he failed to show up for morning prayers.
The Nov. 1, 1986, slaying shocked the Orthodox Jewish community and from the beginning, police have acknowledged having no suspects.
There were no signs that anyone broke into the room.
It was later revealed that the victim’s body had been moved to the floor from his bed, where he is believed to have been slain with a sharp, blunt object. Also, a window in the dormitory room was left open despite late autumn temperatures that hovered in the low 40s. Some have suggested the moving of the body and the opening of the window were somehow related to the young man’s religious faith.
On Tuesday, chief of detectives Rick Capece specifically addressed the Jewish community, saying that detectives were aware that witnesses may be reticent to suggest those who may have been involved in the killing without having “positive proof” of their involvement.
“We are sensitive to and respect that belief,” Capece said. “However a homicide has occurred and we need any information that can help us solve this case and bring justice and peace to the Weiss family.”
Nassau County Police are requesting that anyone who was at the yeshiva at the time of the murder to contact them at 516 573 7788.
In addition to Crime Stoppers flyers detailing known information about the case and asking anyone with any information to call Crime Stoppers or the Nassau County Homicide Squad, the police department also gave out contact information for Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of the Rabbinical Council of America.
“Given our public position concerning coming forward to authorities, particularly in abuse cases, they called and had asked me to make a public statement urging anyone with any information to come forward.  Obviously anyone with any information is obligated to speak to the authorities and tell them what they know.”
Rabbi Goldin had originally been scheduled to speak at the press conference but was unable to attend due to a communication error regarding the timing of today’s press conference.
Anton Weiss, the boy’s father, spoke briefly at Tuesday’s news conference but declined to answer any reporter questions, citing a desire to protect his family’s privacy.
He noted his son’s classmates would be in their early 40s by now.
“His classmates by now are married, are parents on their own and understand what it means to be a parent,” Weiss said. “I am appealing to you and urging you in the strongest way, if you have any information that you feel the police might need in this murder investigation, I ask you, I urge you, to please contact the police department.”

In addition to Crime Stoppers flyers detailing known information about the case and asking anyone with any information to call Crime Stoppers or the Nassau County Homicide Squad, the police department also gave out contact information for Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of the Rabbinical Council of America.In addition to Crime Stoppers flyers detailing known information about the case and asking anyone with any information to call Crime Stoppers or the Nassau County Homicide Squad, the police department also gave out contact information for Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of the Rabbinical Council of America.

Did Rabbi Belsky have "ne'geeois" when he paskened that Doheney Meat in LA was Kosher?

uh oh! 
Read this opinion from frumfollies:

Owning a well-run, established business in a growing market is nice. But a monopoly in the same market – now that is splendid. Los Angeles may be heading to a kosher meat distribution monopoly.  Until shortly before Passover 2013, LA was divided into two kosher meat silos. Most of the kosher supervision (hashgachah) in town was provided by the Rabbinical Council of California (RRC). Every restaurant, caterer and retail shop under the RRC had to buy their meat from the RRC certified distributer, Doheney Kosher Meats. The smaller Kehilla Kosher certification (under Rabbi Avrohom Teichman)  required their establishments to buy meat from Western Kosher.  In effect, there was a meat distribution monopoly within each hashgachah.
Then a tsunami overturned this tidy arrangement. According to the LA Times,
The controversy started Sunday when a video taken by a private investigator surfaced, purporting to show Doheny workers bringing in boxes of meat late at night without the required supervision of the independent inspector, known as amashgiach, tasked with overseeing the store. The video later aired on KTLA-TV Channel 5. After viewing the videotape, the Rabbinical Council of California pulled Doheny’s kosher certification. A group of rabbis also met with Michael Engelman, Doheny’s owner. According to the council, Engelman initially denied any wrongdoing but later “admitted to bringing unauthorized products to the store on two to three occasions.”
This scandal could have turned into a disaster. It broke just before Passover. Imagine every caterer, restaurant, and kosher home that depended on RCC meat products being forced to toss their meat, kosher or replace their utensils, and start all over buying and cooking their food. Also consider the financial damages to consumers or businesses and their lawsuits against Doheney and the RCC.
The RCC evaded this disaster by issuing an announcement:
On Sunday March 24th, the RCC’s … leading members of the Vaad Hakashrus met and, assessing the evidence of policy violations as compelling, ordered the immediate removal of our certification……
In implementing that decision … the RCC consulted with Rav Yisroel Belsky, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah V’Daas and Posek for the OU Kashrut Division, and a nationally recognized kashrus authority. At 8pm, Rabbi Belsky issued his ruling, based on the application of normative Halachic principles, permitting the use of products purchased from the store prior to the suspension of the certification.
But the RCC’s problems were not over. Kehilla Kosher, the RCC’s main competitor did not embrace Belsky’s heter (lenient ruling). According to Yeshiva World News, on April 8 they announced,
As to the recent development involving Doheny Meats, Kehilla has not made any official statement nor has Kehilla authorized the publication of any position regarding whether or not there is a halachic need to kosher utensils in private homes, at business establishments or at catering establishments. (Moshe Zyskind, Chairman of the Board; Avrohom Teichman, Rav Hamachshir).
However, Kehilla, while it could cause some damage to the RCC, was not their biggest problem. The RCC needed to keep the meat distribution flowing, and given their policies and business interests they wanted it to be a distributor under their auspices. Returning the hashagachah to Engelman was not going to wash, not after those videos ran on local TV news.
Within a week, Doheney had a new owner, Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz. Initial reports portrayed him as a white knight eager to rescue a vital community resource. According to the LA Jewish Journal,
Rechnitz, a prominent local businessman and philanthropist, has purchased Doheny…… on Sunday, March 31, just one week after … the RCC, revoked the store’s certification…… (as) “A favor to the community……
RCC President Rabbi Meyer H. May… (said)  “He’s going to preserve the richness of the meat supply and preserve the price structure for consumers.”
Rechnitz was one of a handful of non-rabbis who attended a hastily organized meeting on Sunday, March 24, when Engelman spoke to the RCC’s leadership and rabbis ……
Over the course of a week of negotiations, Rechnitz spent between eight and ten hours with Engelman; he said he does not believe Engelman brought the unsupervised products into Doheny to respond to specific customers’ requests, as some have suggested.
Rechnitz said Engelman himself couldn’t fully explain why he brought the unsupervised meat into the store,…… Money may not have been the motivating factor, Rechnitz said, “Because it wasn’t that much of a difference, based on the quantity.” ……
Over the course of the week of negotiations he became a bit more optimistic about the business prospects for the company. “I didn’t have time to send in a forensic accounting team,” he said, but Engelman told him that Doheny’s gross sales on the retail and distribution sides added up to approximately $8 million a year.
That said, Rechnitz said he hopes to remain a mostly silent investor in Doheny, and won’t aim to build its market share at the expense of other distributors……
In his philanthropic work, Rechnitz has also come to the aid of embattled organizations. Last year, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Rechnitz donated $1 million to an organization that supports Jewish day schools in the New York area. In 2011, Rechnitz donated $5 million to the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, which was struggling under millions in debt following the death of its chief rabbi and fundraiser. That same year, Rechnitz also helped save Chabad of California’s headquarters from foreclosure. But Rechnitz is also known for charitable giving of a very different sort. Every Saturday night, Jews line up outside his family’s home. Until six months ago, those who came walked away with checks; now they leave with gift cards to one of two kosher markets in the area near Fairfax and La Brea.
My first reaction was, wow, what a great guy! He made the culprit take a loss and he is going to sell it for the price he bought it. But then I remembered that Rechnitz was the son-in-law of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, the man who ruled all meat bought before the closure could be presumed kosher. I knew Belsky based his ruling on the halachicprincipal of rov (majority) where we presume a particular item kosher under uncertain circumstances when we know that the majority of such items are kosher.
I am suspicious of Belsky. I know he is a lamdan (rabbinic scholar). But when it came to sex abuse he defended the innocence of the Kolkos because they insisted they were innocent. He maintained that position while refusing to talk to the accusers. That got me wondering how good a job he did in examining the facts in this case.
Did Belsky have any way of absolutely knowing how much non-approved meat was smuggled into the plant? Rechnitz says “that he believes Engelman with “99 percent” confidence” How the hell can Rechnitz or anyone besides Engelman know that with certainty? What sort of smart businessman trusts a known fraudster’s version when the guy has an incentive to minimize his culpability?
I would have been more impressed if the RCC reported that they did an intensive audit of Doheneys purchases and sales, and randomly verified his records by confirming them with outside buyers and sellers. Of course, they wouldn’t have been caught with their pants down if they had been doing that all along.
I also remembered that during the Rubashkin trial in 2009, prosecutors exhibited fabricated invoices to Doheney for more than a million dollars of meat when the actual debt was in the range of $300,000-$400,000. The prosecutors claimed that Rubashkin and Engelman colluded to inflate Rubashkin’s receivables to justify a larger credit line and to reduce Doheney’s tax liability. Naturally they both denied those allegations. With the benefit of hindsight I wonder if this was also a way for Doheney to fool the RCC about the size of his purchases from Rubashkin. I would hope that the RCC and Belsky seriously investigated that possibility. If he repeated that same maneuver several times a year with several suppliers, the majority of his sales of eight million dollars a year could easily have been based on meat not accounted for with purchases from kosher sources. Such numbers would have overturned any justification for a ruling based on rov.
The RCC had a conflict of interest when they investigated the fraud. They knew it was going to be exposed with video on local TV News (Link). So they had to fess up but they had motives for minimizing its scope to lessen the damage to their reputation and income.
How else can one explain the RCC claim that while the meat that was smuggled in was not glatt, it was kosher, even though they never had any proof? Incredibly, Rabbi May even admitted to a reporter, “We didn’t ask him for evidence”
So, now we have Belsky determining rov based on inadequate numbers and evidence from a sloppy investigation conducted by self-interested rabbis.
But wait, it gets worse. Rechnitz, the supposedly disinterested white-knight buyer of Doheney is not sticking to his plan of finding a buyer to restore the operation under RCC supervision. According to Jonah Lowenfeld of the Jewish Journal,
Shlomo Rechnitz … bought the shop [Doheney meats] and its distribution arm on March 31 and then transferred the agreement to David Kagan, owner of Western Kosher, the competing kosher retailer, on April 8.
Wow! LA is now a town with just one kosher meat distributor. Naturally the fight is on about which kosher agency will control it. According to the same article in the Jewish Journal,
Reached by phone on May 21, Kagan declined to comment. On Tuesday, Rechnitz declined to comment about the negotiations on the record, other than to say that they are ongoing. On that same day, [RCC President Rabbi Meyer] May said he isn’t sure exactly who currently owns the shop, but he appeared to be expecting Rechnitz to make good on his promise that the reopened Doheny would remain under the RCC’s certification. “We won’t accept that Doheny will open up under Kehilla,” May said. Whether the RCC would, in fact, be able to stop that from happening is unclear.
So now we have Rechnitz backing out of promises he made when he first got involved in the investigation and purchase. You don’t have to be a genius to realize a lot of money can be made buying a business at distressed prices and converting it into the final piece of a monopoly. Anyone who has ever traded the Monopoly Boardwalk card understands this. Rechnitz of course will claim he sold it for the price he bought it. But none of us know what that price was; the deal with Engelmanincluded a non-disclosure agreement about the price.
I am sure Rechnitz appreciated the potential for profit in the deal. According to the LA Jewish Journal,
Rechnitz described the final selling price as “sizable,” but not as big as it might have been prior to the scandal……“It definitely came at a major discount due to the fact of what [Engelman] did, or what he tried to get away with,” Rechnitz said. “He definitely was not rewarded for his actions.”
Rechnitz has experience working with organizations at times of crisis. In his role as CEO of one of his companies, Brius Management Co., which manages multiple nursing homes across California, Rechnitz told a reporter in 2011 that his company looked mostly for “distressed facilities.”
Belsky shouldn’t have agreed to be a posek in this case. He had a conflict of interest. He knew, or should have anticipated that his son-in-law might make big bucks from his ruling. Belsky should also have offered some evidence of due diligence in his determinations other than the self-serving summaries of a superficial investigation conducted by culpable parties at the RCC and his son-in-law, Rechnitz.
Unfortunately, Belsky has a pattern of ruling in favor of his krovim (close ones) on the basis of their reports without listening to the opposing side. Belsky slandered the family of the victim of Yosef Kolko without even talking to them. He did the same for his buddy Yehuda (Joel) Kolko. Both ended up being convicted of the very abuse that Belsky denied. I have argued elsewhere that Belsky should be removed as Senior Posek of OU Kosher because of his misconduct.
Belsky’s defenders at the Orthodox Union (OU) insist that his bizarre antics about sex abuse are not pertinent to his qualifications as a posek for kosher. Maybe, now they can see that Belsky’s misconduct extends to kashrus as well.
Belsky’s dwindling band of defenders say he enhances the standing of the OU in the heimish world. Actually, his psak in LA is not working. Three establishments are already known to have dropped their RCC hashgachah and more are expected to make the shift in the coming weeks. It is time for the Orthodox Union to realize that Belsky isn’t just a bad posek; he is also a bad business decision.
Some people are writing the OU to demand that he publicly repudiate his position about the innocence of the Kolkos and his slander of the victims. I think these letter writers are aiming too low. The OU’s members and consumers deserve an honorableposek.
Let me offer a marketing argument to the mercenaries at the OU who insist they need Belsky for the heimish market. The OU cannot win by out-frumming its competitors. But it can demonstrate superior erlichkeit and integrity. They cannot win by using a beard like Belsky. They can win by showing they are worthy carriers of the legacy of the Rav, Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Of course he had and has his detractors in theheimish world. But very few in that world disputed his towering lomdus and integrity. It is time for the OU to draw on, and play to, the strengths of Modern Orthodoxy instead of cowering and trying to disavow their congregations and rabbis. Belsky is not the way to do it. Even if they insist on having a high profile heimish posek there are many worthy alternatives.

Answer to Willie "the sex abuse defender" Handler in the Jewish Press!

The crazy Jewish Press doesn't get it, first they defended Mordy Tendler, now they take 
Willie Handler, the defender of Weingarten, and hater of Israel, out of mothballs.....
Here is the Jewish Press's idiotic piece by Willie  "the sex abuse lover" Handler and then see the response by http;// 
The lunatic Willie Handler

Note from the editor of the "crazy Jewish Press":
Rabbi William Handler is member of The Bris Milah Anti-Defamation League, which endorses metzitzah b’peh. He was also a supporter of Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Weingarten, convicted of molesting his daughter. I’m mentioning these two facts up front, so that they not become the topic of discussion by our readers. Rabbi Handler probably has very little in common with our Zionist, pro-Israel editorial policy, nor does he probably endorse our view that the Internet can be used sanely by educated religious Jews. Yet, when he sent us the following article for publication, I was struck by one important argument he is making which we, as a religious community, should debate:
Do we want the City and State child welfare authorities, as well as the City and State legal systems, to be automatically in charge of cases of child abuse in our community? Rabbi Handler says we don’t—and tries to argue in favor of turning to Gdolei Yisroel to supervise and even try these cases.
Personally, I don’t believe the author is making a successful argument, in light of the colossal failure of our religious leaders to respond, much less supervise and try, in one abuse case after another. But, those failures aside, is Rabbi Handler wrong in proposing that when we invite the secular authorities into our community, we’re doing this to our own detriment? Should we accept that our Gedolim simply will not measure up to this challenge?
We’d like to publish your views on this issue, which has been dividing our community.
I want to warn our Orthodox Jewish community of a new danger: the existence of a clique of pseudo-experts who are working among us in the field of “Criminal Molestation.”
These “experts”—self-styled “helping professionals”— are actively seeking-out people whom they believe to be “molesters,” with the goal of turning them over to the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.
This is an enterprise fraught with the most serious dangers for our community.
Anyone can make an accusation of “molestation.” There are usually no witnesses.
So how can anyone determine whether the accusers are telling the truth or making the whole thing up?
Well, say the “experts,” we should assume that the accusation is true, because it’s highly improbable that anyone would make up such a grotesque story; and, in the unlikely event that someone did make up such a story, the “experts” in the district attorney’s office know how to question the accusers to make sure they aren’t lying.
Now, since the whole enterprise revolves around the ehrlichkeit (honesty) of the accusers and the honesty and skill of the district attorney, it is reasonable to ask a couple of poignant questions:
1. Is the accuser really telling the truth, or is he a skilled liar, who seeks to settle a score with the accused, gain custody of children in a divorce case, or just plain do harm to someone for any reason at all?
2. Do prosecutors always do their job properly; do they always seek justice?
Those of you who have followed the Sholom Rubashkin case closely, know that prosecutors don’t necessarily care about the truth—often, their actions are based on political considerations, or they just want to show another successful conviction on their resume, and they’re willing to get it by any means necessary, legitimate or otherwise.
Those of you who may have had the occasion to get entangled with NY City’s ACS/DCP (Administration for Children’s Services / Division of Child Protection) will understand what I mean when I speak of the dangers of getting entangled in a Kafkaesque government bureaucracy.
Perhaps your baby spilled some hot tea on his hand and got a serious burn. You call Hatzoloh, and the ambulance speeds your screaming child to the hospital emergency room. (NOTE: this is a true story, it happened exactly as I’m describing it)
Before your child is even treated for his condition, and while he is still screaming in pain, the emergency room staff will insist that you submit to an interview with a social worker, who will try to determine whether you were guilty of child neglect.
This procedure is mandated by City law. As “mandated reporters,” emergency room staff are required to report any suspicious indications of child neglect or abuse (as are other government licensed professionals, like psychiatrists and doctors).
Please remember, the social worker gets paid to find cases of child neglect. If she does not find any cases, there is no justification for the existence of her agency, no justification for paying her salary and benefits. So, she has a clear bias in favor of seeking something—anything—that would justify a finding of “child neglect.”
The social worker’s report is sent to ACS/DCP.
Shortly thereafter, you will be visited by ACS workers, who will appear at your home suddenly—often in the middle of the night—to conduct interviews with your small children in an attempt to discover and document “child neglect.”
Each child will be interviewed individually, in a van parked outside your home. You will not be permitted to be present at these interviews. Any silly or indiscreet statement by your innocent child may be accepted as documented evidence of “child neglect.”
If your child mentions any behavior that the City defines as “child neglect,” slapping, yelling, etc., ACS may, at their discretion, haul you into Family Court and petition the court for the removal of ALL of your children from your home to live with foster parents.
You will have to spend a fortune on lawyers.
If you’re lucky enough to avoid losing your children, you’re still not home free. The law gives ACS up to an additional 60 days to continue their investigation of your family.
ACS will now send a “field worker” to your home to conduct “surveillance,” to observe how you interact with your family. The worker will note everything you do on her clipboard. This officious busybody will visit with you for hours upon hours, getting on your nerves, as you attempt to take care of your family. You must be extremely careful about what you say and do in front of her.
I’m sure most mothers with large families will agree that this is a nightmare scenario. However, it is something that is going on in our community right now. Just ask your friends and neighbors. As I said, I have witnessed it personally.
Now, if this is the way the City’s “professionals” abuse decent Jewish parents whose only crime was that their child accidentally spilled some hot tea on his hand, imagine how “compassionately” they treat someone who has been accused of the much more serious crime of molestation.
Do you really think the prosecutors are going to treat anyone accused of molestation fairly? Do you really believe they are going to assume that he is innocent until proven guilty?
God forbid that I should in any way minimize that great pain and the terrible damage that is inflicted on innocents by even one molester in our community. There definitely are such people in our midst, and we must take action to stop them.
But involving the cumbersome, insensitive, and largely incompetent government apparatus in the internal problems of our community can only result in even more terrible tragedies, chas v’sholom.
It borders on Mesirah (turning in a fellow Jew), and it is virtually certain that it will result in many innocent people going to jail for years and years, destroying their lives and the lives of their families and children.
I know that there have been complaints that rabbis have declined to take action when accusations of molestation have been presented to them. I have already discussed the conundrum they face earlier in this article—should they take action on the say-so of a single person, who may have malicious intent to harm the accused.
The Talmud tells us that “He who is not an expert in the laws of marriage and divorce should stay out of the picture, lest he increase the number of illegitimate mamzeirim in Klal Yisroel.”—only gedolei Yisroel—true experts—have the competence to rule in these matters.
The truth of the matter is that a situation this serious does not belong to your average rabbi, no matter how sincere and pious he may be. It must be refereed to our top Torah leadership, just as the question of Internet use was.
Only our gedolei Yisroel have the siyata d’shmaya (Divine help) necessary to guide us on the proper course of action in these painful and perplexing situations.
Can we settle for anything less in matters of pikuach nefesh (life and death)?
Now for the response by
Guest post in response to R' William Handler's nonsensical rant that was published by the Jewish Press

Getting rid of molesters…. with TRUE effort

A story is told about a small church in town, which had a garden that has become completely overgrown. Years of neglect have turned it into a veritable jungle of thorns, bushes, and weeds. Among the members of the parish was a man who was quite a talented and accomplished gardener. The sight of the overgrowth bothered him week after week, until he finally decided to do something about it. He put on his gardening gloves and began pulling weeks, removing bushes, tilled the earth, planted grass, transplanted flowers, and over several days, the garden started to look really lovely.
He worked up to the last minute before services, and was on his hands and knees in the garden, finishing up, as the priest walked by.

Looking around appreciably, he said “My word, isn’t it amazing what man could accomplish with the help from Providence!”

The farmer stood up, brushed of his hands, and responded. “With all due respect, father, you should have seen this place when Providence had this place to himself!”

Obviously, the gardener was trying to point out that it was his actions that brought about the beauty before them. And, just as obviously, the priest was trying to point out that without a God to cause seeds to germinate, grass to grow, flowers to sprout, and beautiful colors come forth, all of the work the gardener had done would have also been for naught.

This is the concept of “Hishtadlus”, loosely translated as “requisite effort” that is basic to the Jewish faith. Ever since God commanded the Jews to first travel into the Red Sea before he split it, the understanding is that God will do “his job” as long as we do “our job” 

This responsibility to do our Hishtadlus carries on to earning a livelihood, to keeping our bodies fit, and to safekeeping ourselves……. and our children.

How much Hishtadlus one is required to do is up for debate, but what is NOT up for debate is that whatever Hishtadlus entails, one is obligated to do.

If you are continuously failing in what you are trying to accomplish, you must change your game plan, your Hishtadlus.

How do you reconcile “If you fail, try try again” with “It’s not working, time to try something else”?
If you have a logical reason explaining why what you have tried did not work, and now it might, then it might pay to continue. If you have tried everything, and still have not had the success you have been hoping for, Hishtadlus might very well rule that it is time to figure out a new game plan that will work and get you the results you desire.

Continuing what you had been doing is not an option,

For decades, some of our children have been living in a veritable jungle of fear, in an undergrowth of distrust, with the thorns of molestation thrust upon them through the neglect of the community that should have protected them.

During that time, the understanding was that the Rabbonim with “siyata d’shmaya” were “dealing” with the problem.

However, it was not working. The jungle life in the garden continued to wreak havoc, one Korban at a time.

Clearly, what was being done was not working. We are now coming to the realization that logically, going to the Rabbonim with was not true Hishtadlus.

How could it be Hishtadlus? The Rabbonim with don’t have the resources, training, equipment, or ability to conduct a criminal investigation.

Upon hearing of the recent guilty plea, I was flummoxed. Where was the siyata d’shmaya?How could an Adam Gadol, who was so POSITIVE that the accused was innocent, be so WRONG, in such a SPECTACULAR fashion? The only explanation I could come up with is that “siyata d’shmaya comes as PART of Hishtadlus. When a person has a Shaila about a chicken, his Hishtadlus is to go to a Rav. And the Rav will be given siyata d’shmaya in his ruling. Since proper Hishtadlus for a molestation victim is to go to the authorities, “siyata d’shmaya was withheld from the Rav in that situation who was not doing HIS Hishtadlus in that situation, by referring the case to people who are properly equipped to investigate the situation, prosecute the culprit, and assign proper punishment.

Our Gedolim are Tzaddikim who lead us, guide us, in areas of Halacha, Mussar and Hashkafa. They need to be looked up to, and follow their dictates, which indeed DO have tremendous siyata d’shmaya in areas of Psak Halacha.

Conducting a criminal investigation is not an area in which our Rabonnim have been trained or properly outfitted for.  Not only are they not qualified to conduct the investigation, they are even less qualified – or even able – to mete out appropriate punishment.

Clearly, while Halachically one is ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED to perform proper Hishtadlus, to save the lives of their children, paradoxically there were many the Rabbonim with “siyata d’shmaya” who were stopping this very Histadlus from being performed.

Thankfully, though, the tide has turned. 

Along came certain gardeners who have worked to start weeding out the evil from amongst us.
Slowly, beauty is emerging in the absence of this evil.

The people harming our children are being incarcerated. Many more are put on notice that we will not stand by and let them prey on our young.

A beautiful garden is growing.

But, make no mistake.

The eradication of this evil is being done by gardeners performing their Hishtadlus, the parents who are going to the authorities to protect their children.

None of this beauty, none of our now convicted molesters ending up in jail came about by “Providence” alone. Nor through the work of Rabbonim with “siyata d’shmaya”.  If anything, recent court actions show that due to the insistence of  Rabbonim with “siyata d’shmaya” molesters have been free to continue to molest, to the point where we now have second generation molesters in our community, who have molested children AFTER the Rabbonim with “siyata d’shmaya” have been informed of their activities. In this particularly embarrassing case, the Rabbonim with “siyata d’shmaya” were absolutely CONVINCED, after “thorough investigation” that the accused was innocent… Until the accused stood up in court and admitted guilt to each and every charge.

Moreover, if the Rabbonim with “siyata d’shmaya” had their way, Nechemia Weberman would still be giving “therapy” to teenage girls in a locked office with a bedroom for 12 hours a week, Yosef Kolko will still be a camp counselor, and Jordan Murray would still be teaching 5 and 6 year olds.
It is only through TRUE Hishtadlus, going to authorities, that this problem can be dealt with.

It is clear that when people like Rabbi William Handler tell us that we should leave the issue in the hands of the Rabbonim with “siyata d’shmaya”, we MUST stand up, brush our hands off, and tell him “You should see what a jungle this place was when the Rabbonim with “siyata d’shmaya” had it to themselves”

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rosh Yeshivos are telling their talmidim not to go to work, but in the past everyone worked!

The intense and often corrosive debates on ultra-Orthodox military service in the state of Israel, debates which have continued for more than six decades, have in recent years been accompanied by a discourse of nearly equal intensity (and sometimes greater corrosiveness) on the subject of Haredim in the workforce. The two ultra-Orthodox parties currently represented in Israel’s parliament—though to their chagrin no longer in its government—have devoted themselves to not only increasing state support to their educational institutions, but also to providing monthly stipends for men who forsake conventional employment in favor of full-time Torah study. One of these parties, Shas, headed by nonagenarian spiritual authority Ovadia Yosef, has come to champion, at government expense, an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle hardly consistent with its Sephardi and Middle Eastern roots. But the parliamentary representatives of United Torah Judaism—operating under instructions from its exclusively Ashkenazi Council of Torah Sages, which includes Hasidic as well as “Lithuanian” rabbis—have also sought to “protect” an ostensibly traditional way of life that is actually a relative novelty.
It wasn’t always thus. In the early days of the state there was still a vigorous religious party called Poalei Agudat Yisrael (PAI)—founded in Poland in 1922—which was as much a workers’ party as an ultra-Orthodox one and which had established its first kibbutz in 1944. The Lodz-born Binyamin Mintz—a Gerrer Hasid who had first worked in construction when he came to Palestine in 1925—represented the party in the first Knesset of 1949 and was subsequently re-elected several times. In the third, fourth, and fifth Knessets, however, his small party ran jointly with Agudat Israel (ancestor of today’sUnited Torah Judaism) and accepted the authority of its non-Zionist Council of Torah Sages—which meant leaving the government in 1952 over the issue of compulsory national service for women. In 1960 Mintz made the bold decision—against the instructions of that council and of his own revered Gerrer Rebbe—to accept a ministerial post from Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Mintz’s death (at the age of 58) less than a year later reflected the anguish he had experienced. It also foreshadowed the death of a movement that might well have created a more variegated Haredi society than the one whose allegedly traditional way of life strains the Israel economy and alienates even other observant Jews who send their sons (and daughters) to the IDF and hand over hefty portions of their paychecks to the state—rather than receiving monthly allowances from it.
The sharp words recently exchanged in the Knesset between members of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and representatives of United Torah Judaism sent me reaching for a number of books in my library that vividly portray—whether in word or image—the ultra-Orthodox working class of Eastern Europe in the decades before the Holocaust. Two of these are exhibit catalogs, and two are autobiographical works by one of the greatest travel writers of the 20th century: Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, who died in 2011.
Some two decades ago a traveling exhibit titled Tracing An-sky:Jewish Collections From the State Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg was jointly organized by that museum and the Jewish Historical Museum of Amsterdam and was shown not only in the Netherlands but also in Cologne, Frankfurt, Jerusalem, and New York. The previous (and first) time that material from those collections—based primarily on the early-20th-century ethnographic expedition to the Pale of Settlement led by Shlomo An-sky (Shlomo Zanvil Rapoport), whose 2010 biography by Gabriella Safran was reviewed in these pages by Adam Kirsch—was exhibited was in the annus horribilis of 1939.
In her essay for the Tracing An-sky catalog, Ludmilla Uritskaya noted that “a collection of unique photographs” belonging to the St. Petersburg museum accompanied the exhibit. Among those included in the catalog are three photographs taken during the early years of World War I depicting Jews engaged in manual labor: a carpenter in Annopol (eastern Poland) with a gray beard and side-curls; a shoemaker of similar appearance in Kruchinets (Volhynia); and—perhaps most striking—two smiths in Polonnoye (western Ukraine). The smiths are clearly younger than the other two, and one of them is clean-shaven—and possibly non-Jewish. If so, his bearded partner would represent something doubly rare a century later—an ultra-Orthodox Jew engaged in manual labor together with a gentile. “Together with the extremely rich ethnographic material,” wrote Uritskaya, “these photos render an inimitable image of an original, unique Jewish culture,” which had developed “in close contact with the multi-national culture of Russia.” This was presumably her delicate way of acknowledging the neighboring cultures of Poland and Ukraine. “Regretfully,” she added (with the same late-Soviet certainty) “this Jewish culture no longer exists.”
If Uritskaya believes what she wrote, she might want to pursue further ethnographic research in Brooklyn, whose vibrant ultra-Orthodox communities await a scientific expedition of the sort conducted by An-sky and his team a century ago—although monographs by George Kranzler, Solomon Poll, and Israel Rubin, focusing mostly on Williamsburg’s Satmar Hasidim, provide a good beginning. The YIVO Institute’s rich collection of prewar photographs served as the basis for a ground-breaking exhibit organized during the 1970s byBarbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and the late Lucjan Dobroszycki and co-sponsored by that institute together with New York’s Jewish Museum—where Tracing An-sky was later shown. In their 1977 catalog Image Before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864-1939 Dobroszycki and Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (whose signature I was happy to discover in the used copy I bought in Jerusalem) devoted several pages to the theme of “Work,” wherein we encounter such obviously observant figures as Khone Szlaifer, an “85-year-old grinder, umbrella maker, and folk doctor” photographed in Lomza (near Bialystok) in 1927, and a white-bearded shoemaker photographed in Warsaw in the same year. There is also a 1928 photo of Naftole Grinband, a black-bearded clockmaker in Gora Kalwaria—spiritual home to the Ger Hasidim from whose ranks Binyamin Mintz emerged and who now comprise the most powerful segment in United Torah Judaism. Perhaps even more threatening for that party’s pious politicians is the 1928 photograph—in a different section of the catalog—of Cwi [Zvi] Tenenbaum, “a Jewish soldier in the Polish army.” The caption further informs us that as “a rabbinical student, he was given special permission to wear a beard.” His beard, left untrimmed in the Hasidic manner, shows that he took full advantage of that permission.
Of course the full beard was not necessarily associated during the interwar years exclusively with Orthodox Judaism. When the English travel-writer Patrick Leigh Fermor was about 10 years old, he got into what he later described to his friend Xan Fielding as “a particularly bad cropper” at the “horrible preparatory school” he was then attending. It was therefore decided that he would be transferred to “a co-educational and very advanced school for difficult children near Bury St. Edmunds.” The school was run, as Leigh Fermor later recalled, “by a grey haired, wild-eyed man called Major Truthful and when I spotted two beards—then very rare among the mixed and eccentric looking staff … I knew I was going to like it.”
At the end of “three peaceful years” at that progressive institution, young Patrick made his way “with ill-founded confidence” to the King’s School in Canterbury—one of England’s oldest and most distinguished “public schools”—where he had been preceded by the likes of Christopher Marlowe and Somerset Maugham, and where he “prospered erratically at dead and living languages and at history and geography.” Both his knowledge of and aptitude for languages were to stand him in good stead when, after being sacked in senior year for holding hands with the daughter of a local greengrocer, Leigh Fermor set off in late 1933 to walk across Western and Central Europe—from Rotterdam to Istanbul. Although he didn’t made it to Istanbul (on that trip), the young Englishman made ample use of his already acquired “dead and living languages” and picked up a smattering (and sometimes more) of some others—including Hungarian, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Leigh Fermor’s first encounter with the latter two languages occurred in the Slovakian city of Bratislava, then widely still referred to as Pressburg. “The German strain in the [Yiddish] language always made me think that I was going to catch the ghost of a meaning,” he later wrote in A Time of Gifts (1977)—“but it eluded me every time; for the dialect—or language, rather—though rooted in medieval Franconian German is complicated by queer syntax and a host of changes and diminutives,” adding that its idiosyncrasy also came from “strange gutturals, Slav accretions, and many words and formations remembered from the Hebrew.” Perhaps reflecting his later encounters with Yiddish-speaking Jews on his long journey he also described Yiddish as “a vernacular in which the history of the Jews in northern Europe and the centuries of their ebb and flow between the Rhine and Russia are all embedded.”
During his stay in Bratislava the young Englishman also resumed his “old obsession with alphabets” and later discovered in the back pages of a surviving notebook from that period “Old Testament names laboriously transliterated into Hebrew characters,” as well as “everyday words” copied down in those characters from “shop fronts” and the Jewish newspapers he saw in cafés. He would soon encounter those ancient characters again in Prague’s old Jewish cemetery, which he described as “one of the most remarkable places in the city,” and where he learned to decipher some of the visual images on the tombstones—“a pitcher for [the tribe of] Levi … a stag for Hirsch, a carp for Karpeles, a cock for Hahn, a lion for Löw, and so on.”
Maundy Thursday of 1934 found Leigh Fermor in a Hungarian village north of Budapest “looking for a barn for the night and a cobbler’s shop.” While looking for the latter—in order to have a boot-nail knocked in—a voice from one of the doorways asked, “Was wollen Sie.” The German-speaking voice belonged to a “red haired Jewish baker” of, it turned out, Hasidic background, who made him “a bed of straw and blankets on the stone floor of the dark bakery” and also hammered in his boot-nail. Both the baker’s religious background and his multiple manual skills link him with some of his older contemporaries whose photographs appear in the two exhibition catalogs discussed above. He was, as his guest learned, “from a Carpathian village where quite a number of Jews, including his family, belonged to the Hasidim.” He was also fond, like his English guest, of reading the Bible—“especially the first part”—a comment whose import it took the latter “a further couple of seconds to get.” In my own ethnographic encounters with young Hasidim—sometimes in the saunas of Jerusalem gyms—I have learned of similar reading interests.
Leigh Fermor’s more extensive account of his encounter, later in his journey, with Carpathian Hasidim occurred in the sequel volume Between the Woods and the Water (1986), which he published early in his eighth decade. In the borderlands between Hungary and Rumania, near the Maros river, Leigh Fermor had met “a burly man in a red-checked flannel shirt”—the Jewish foreman of a local timber concession—with whom he again spoke in German. He followed the foreman to his log cabin, and there he found, “most incongruously seated at a table, a bearded man in a black suit and a black beaver hat,” who was “poring over a large and well-thumbed book, his spectacles close to the print.” On either side of the bearded man, studying with him, were “two sons about my age [18], also dressed in black” and also “marked for religion”—as the Englishman believed he could tell from their side-curls and from the “unshorn down which fogged their waxy cheeks.”
Leigh Fermor was struck by “how different … the man in the check shirt” was from his older brother and nephews. All of them came from “Satu Mare—Szatmár—a town in the Magyar belt to the north-west of Transylvania,” from where the rabbi and his sons were visiting for a fortnight—probably during a yeshiva vacation. “Was sind Sie von Beruf?” the visitor was asked by his host, who at first suspected that his “profession” was that of a pedlar. When the Englishman tried to explain that he was traveling mostly “for fun” (“aus Vergnügen”) his host “shrugged his shoulders and smiled and said something in Yiddish to the others.” Since Leigh Fermor’s public-school education had presumably not included Joyce’s Ulysses, first published in 1922, it is not surprising that he did not recognize the words “goyim naches” which, his Jewish interlocutors explained, “is something that the goyim like but which leaves Jews unmoved.”
The bearded and black-suited Hasid would clearly not have described his brother’s profession in the same manner, nor would later generations of Satmar Hasidim—such as those who now pursue a host of manual occupations in the less hip sections of Williamsburg. But four-score years after that prewar conversation between Leigh Fermor and his Hasidic hosts it appears that many ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Holy Land, formally prevented from working in order to protect their military exemptions as full-time Torah students, have come to regard holding down real jobs to support their growing families as a form of “hiloni naches”—something that secular Jews like to do but that leaves more pious Jews unmoved. Although both German and Hebrew translations of Dobroszycki and Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s Image Before My Eyes have appeared (the latter in 2005), Yair Lapid and his party colleague Shai Piron might consider diverting funds from the finance and education ministries they respectively run toward producing a Yiddish translation. As Leigh Fermor would have recognized, doing so on the basis of the German and the Hebrew would be relatively easy.