Wednesday, December 05, 2007

No one knows names. There are men approaching children. The silence of a Haredi Community in Har Nof - Israel

Fear and loathing in Har Nof

By Stuart Winer, Additional reporting by Hilary Leila Krieger

Jerusalem Post - March 7, 2003

Edition; In Jerusalem, Section: Features, Page: 01

Friday, March 7, 2003 -- In the last two months, public revelations of child molestation have caused fear and shock in the predominantly haredi neighborhood of Har Nof. As police try to combat the incidents of abuse, the community must combat a code of silence which has traditionally pushed such abuse below the surface.

"The haredi community is not used to talking to strangers on any subject, " said Dov Bernstein, supervisor for the Jerusalem area investigators of the Child Investigation Service at the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry. "Add to that the problem of them being victims of sexual attacks and it can be very difficult."

Yet police succeeded in arresting two long-time abusers this winter. In early January, a 17-year-old haredi Har Nof resident admitted to sexually abusing young boys. The police said he had raped and sodomized 15 to 20 children from the ages of five to 10 in a local synagogue. And one month later, a 27-year-old non-haredi man from Har Nof admitted to committing over 25 acts of molestation on girls aged six to 11 over the past three years, according to Jerusalem Police Spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby.

But there are scores of other cases in the neighborhood that go unprosecuted for lack of evidence; in many instances they are not even reported. Now that the topic has been brought to the public's attention, everyone seems to know someone who has been affected by the phenomena.

"No one knows names," said Bertha Goldstein as she watched a group of children playing on Rehov Kaplan in Har Nof. "But there are men approaching children."

Over the past months local Har Nof newsletters have carried numerous appeals for parents to remain alert after children were accosted in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood.

"I recently heard of a guy who tried to stop a 12- year-old girl from leaving a building. She way lucky because some other girls walked in and she managed to run for it," Goldstein said. "Everyone thought these were isolated incidents but now they are beginning to piece things together."

"People are now very cautious about letting their children walk around alone," Goldstein said. "Even 12 and 13-year-old girls are not allowed out by themselves."

When victims do go to the authorities, they often find there's not much that can be done. One Har Nof mother recounted that after her 18-year-old daughter was fondled by an unknown haredi man in the elevator of their apartment complex one afternoon last summer, she filed a complaint with the police.

She said the complaint was a means of taking action, "[But] I don' t know if it does any good."

She noted that no arrest was ever made but didn't blame the police.

"I don't think the police can really do anything," she said, explaining, "he [the perpetrator] looks like the rest of the population. What would he do to stand out? It has to be residents, who know he's different and doesn't belong."

That's one of the reasons she said she believes speaking out about incidents of abuse is important. "If everybody called [attention to potential abusers], maybe we could do something about these weirdos."

Once she and her daughter began to talk about what had happened, they found that several friends and neighbors had experienced similar traumas.

"There's a lot of stuff going on in Har Nof," the mother said, noting that her daughter's experience "wasn't such an isolated case ... Frequently I've found out that people have gone through this."

While she said the women whom she told about the molestation were supportive and as a result felt freer to talk about their own similar experiences, she expressed some annoyance that no one had shared these incidents with her before.

"They weren't common knowledge. I didn't know I should be worried and alert."

Even so, she said her daughter thought twice about entering the elevator when she saw a strange man inside. When she noticed a second-grader also in the lift, she decided it was safe to enter.

"As soon as the doors closed he began to handle [fondle] my daughter, to grope her," the mother described. "She yelled at him and he got out and ran."

Afterwards, the mother recollected how her daughter "was very shaken, " as was the young girl who witnessed the attack.

But her daughter told her, "I have to go out now or I won't be able to go out."

The alternative would have been that "she would get crippled by fear, " the mother added. "It strikes your security. You don't trust anybody."

The sense of mistrust applies to the community as a whole, the mother explained.

"One would think that ostensibly in a religious neighborhood, people behave better," she said. "I think that we assume a certain kind of [safety]. We don't play around. We live by the Torah. Guys don't bother girls. Men stay married. It's not a free-for-all in terms of morality ... One individual can wreak a lot of havoc. "

But experts contacted by In Jerusalem said they didn't have any statistics to track whether rates of sexual abuse are higher or lower in haredi communities than in the public at large.

But Haim Walder, manager of the Center for the Child and Family in Bnei Brak, an organization that deals with child abuse in the haredi community, said that while "petty crime is almost unheard of in the haredi community, sexual crime is more common and more of a problem. People don't even think about it going on."

Walder, himself haredi, added, "The biggest problem is closure. People don't want to report it or talk about it."

"We found in Har Nof that we knew a lot of information but parents were not prepared to talk. We knew things were going on but people would not come forward," Bernstein said.

Yifat Boyer, an attorney at the National Council for the Child, an organization that provides legal aid for children, agreed that the lack of openness makes tackling child abuse in communities like Har Nof difficult.

"Even the people who are trying to address the issue in the haredi community don't talk about sex, or sexuality, or even use words like that."

"You don't want to overexpose the specifics of the threat the way a lot of media tends to go into graphic detail," Walder said. "On the other hand we don't want to ignore it."

Walder said that community leaders face the dilemma of how to warn children without exposing them to things that they don't want them to know about. The solution, in his opinion, is to give over the message in a way that is acceptable to community sensitivities.

"For example, there is a kid's book with a story that explains it is important to keep away from strangers without explaining what the danger is," Walder explained. He added that the idea is to encourage children to talk more about what happens to them.

At the same time he noted, "In some ways it is better not to scare the children" about concepts such as incest, inicidents of which he claimed is rare.

Boyer said educating children about incest in the haredi community can be a real problem due to the absolute authority wielded by haredi parents.

"You can't tell haredi children not to do what their father tells them to do," Boyer said.

Bernstein said that in some cases it can take years for children to realize that something happened to them.

Bernstein theorized that the dogma of benevolence and generosity on which haredi youth is raised may make them easy targets.

"There is a method to seducing children, of getting close to them. Child molesters know just how to talk to children to gain their confidence, " Bernstein said. "Since haredi youth are educated to believe in helping people whenever they can, they are easier to seduce."

Bernstein suggested that in some cases the hospitality inherent in haredi communities can result in predators being invited right into victims' homes.

"They also want to help each other and to help ba'alei tshuva (the newly observant), Bernstein added. "So it is confusing to the children who see their parents inviting these people into their homes and then they are not sure if there is something wrong when they interfere with them."

And the unwillingness to challenge authority extends to the means of dealing with cases, which Boyer said often revolve around the rabbis.

"Even when a rabbi knows about a case in his community he is less likely to report it to the authorities but will try to deal with it himself," he said. "That could be because they don't recognize the authorities and they also don't want the story to get out."

Additionally, Walder said, "Sometimes the victim suffers at the expense of the public and the media who have a field day, and that is something that the rabbis did not want to happen.The idea is to help the victim and the community."

Bernstein said that all victims of sexual abuse need to receive treatment. If denied it, the results can be dire. Studies have shown that victims of child sexual abuse who are not treated are prone to become abusers themselves as adults.

"The more serious the initial attack, the more intensive the treatment must be," Bernstein said. "It takes time, sometimes even up to three years of treatment, but it is critical."

Bernstein said some rabbinic leaders are taking special training and there are additional courses for religious women to help them to deal with these situations.

"People who do try to deal with incidents by intuition or from the Holy Scriptures can do even more damage," Bernstein said. "I know of cases in which rabbis said, 'It's not so bad,' or they drove families out of the community instead of trying to deal with the problem."

Har Nof resident and school principal Yizhak Soffer, said he feels that community leaders could be doing more.

"The cover-up attitude is stupid," he said. "The correct attitude is to be on the offensive. They should be supervising education, be much more aware of strangers, teach basic self-defense so that the kids know what to do if something happens."

Because of the difficulties in breaking into the closed community on a subject that is not only intimate, but also taboo, Bernstein said the investigators apply a method known as "joining."

He explained, "We often investigate in stages. First we build confidence by getting to know the children, and talking about neutral subjects."

"We are really in early days with dealing with it," Boyer said. "We are trying to hold a meeting with the people in the haredi community to try and make in-roads."

"It all starts with the rabbi," Bernstein said. "The more the rabbis are involved, the more likely the community is to involve outsiders in the process. I know one rabbi who managed to persuade some families to go to the police although they didn't want to at first."

Bernstein sees the first stage to tackling the problem in gaining the support of the community leaders.

"The more the rabbis are prepared to listen to us, even if they have suspicions, they will understand that we have the same interests: to protect the children."

The process of apprehending and punishing pedophiles in this country is a long and complicated one that can continue for years. First the perpetrator must be identified and subsequently arrested. The 27-year- old arrested in Har Nof last month carried out attacks for three years before being apprehended after a girl came forward with details of how he had molested her in a residential building. After police began investing the case, other victims spoke out.

There are many instances when the accused is released until the case comes to court. The 17-year-old arrested in January is currently under house arrest at his brother's.

Prosecution procedures begin when police receive a complaint from a victim. If, on the basis of initial evidence, the state attorney' s office decides to prosecute, then the child investigators take over. According to the law, children under the age of 14 are forbidden from providing testimony in court in order to protect them from difficult questioning. Instead of the child, the investigator who handled the case gives testimony.

All investigations with the children are videotaped from the first interview until the end of the investigation. The tape is then submitted to the court, where the judges watch all the footage and the investigator give testimony in place of the victim. Child abuse investigator Dov Bernstein said that in some cases the investigator decides that the victim can give evidence if the child seems confident and strong enough to do so. Usually, however, it is the investigator who speaks in the name of the child, a circumstance that Bernstein says is unique in the whole world.

By law, anyone who knows of a case and doesn't report it to the authorities can be sentenced to six months in prison.

"There is a legal requirement to report incidents that apply not just to community leaders or educators but all members of the public too, " Bernstein said. "There have been cases in the past when rabbis were investigated."


Case of Yeedle Werdyger - Chassidic Singer

(AKA: The Case of The Son of Famous Orthodox Singer and a Haredi Friend)

Jerusalem, Israel

Yeedle Werdyger and an unnamed haredi friend, were arrested in Jerusalem for enticing teenage girls, some of whom were below the age of 16, to take dangerous drugs and then to have sexual relations with them.

In addition, police said the two men photographed the girls in intimate positions in the bathroom and having sexual relations with other men. The suspects would later show the pictures to their friends. A search of the downtown apartment of one of the suspects turned up the miniature camera that was used.

When the singer was arrested, he tried to swallow the memory disc of his computer, breaking the chip as he chewed it. Yeedle's relatives say: This is a frameup.

According to the article "Rabbis calling for a boycott of the Ben David"; the rabbis were also distributing a Jerusalem Post article relating to the arrest in Israel of a Charedi performer, even though the case was later dropped through lack of evidence.").

City Notes - Haredi Drug and Rape Scandal

by Abigail Radoszkowicz, Judy Siegel, Gail Lichtman

The Jerusalem Post, September 26, 2003


Two haredi men, one the singer son of a prominent American haredi performer, were arrested Friday afternoon in Jerusalem for enticing girls, some of whom were below the age of 16, to take dangerous drugs and then to have sexual relations with them.

In addition, police said the two men photographed the girls in intimate positions in the bathroom and having sexual relations with other men. The suspects would later show the pictures to their friends. A search of the downtown apartment of one of the suspects turned up the miniature camera that was used.

When the singer was arrested, he tried to swallow the memory disc of his computer, breaking the chip as he chewed it. "We think he had good reason to do so," the police told the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court judge.

The victims were all harediot, and police said the suspects took advantage of the girls' innocence and lack of sex education.

Investigation of the case began based on complaints filed by some of the girls as well as on additional sources, said police.

The police description of one of the suspects as the son of a prominent haredi personality led to wild speculation in the haredi community. Radio reports noted that Israeli Internet sites carried the full names of the suspects.

The judge ordered the police to allow friends of the two suspects to supply them with strictly kosher food with Eda Haredit certification.

Yeedle: The Legacy Continues

by Charni Sochet

The coronation of the prince of Jewish music reiterates the intensity of a musical dynasty that has for three generations defined and revolutionized the medium. With a legendary grandfather, Chazzan David Werdyger, and the King of Jewish Music, Mordechai Ben David, for a father, Yeedle Werdyger's meteoric rather than episodic ascent to the court of musical excellence was paved in gold; two debut albums - "Together" and "Yeedle II" which both went gold.

Three years ago, as Yeedle embarked on a daunting journey to deliver his unique musical manifesto there was the ever present specter of his father's formidable shadow of excellence. MBD's twenty-five year seminal influence in the trends and direction of Jewish music would invoke analogous predictions that could prove disastrous to a debut artist. That dialogue of expectations has undermined the potential of sons who attempt to entertain the success of their fathers. Yeedle is very much his father's son, yet remarkably, he has emerged and cast a resplendent shadow of his own.

The parallels to his father's career are unavoidable and provide commentary on the Werdyger legacy of assiduous commitment to the format. Yeedle's status as heir apparent is distinguished in the familiar, yet uniquely eloquent vocal characterizations of his own stylistic imperative. MBD's visionary albums celebrate the medium of American Jewish music. He captured the volatility of contemporary music and made it palatable for a generation who would otherwise have been enticed by more alien refrains, bridging the gap between classical and contemporary music, and creating the premise for American Jewish music. Twenty-five years later, Yeedle generates identical revolutionary overtones by captivating the musical conscience of the next generation.

As Yeedle enthusiastically comments, "It's in my blood. As a child my father sang before he spoke. The heart he puts into music, is the heart he puts into everything else and he relayed that to me in every note and chorus. I live the music, and inhale its potency in the perfectionist tendencies my father passed on to me." Both Yeedle's and MBD's intensity embodies that ideal, in every arena in their lives. That orientation resonates in the success of "Together" and "Yeedle II". Yeedle's unassuming candor belies the impact he has had on the Jewish music industry. The response to "Together" was so overwhelming that it compelled Yeedle to devote himself to the full-time realization of his potential.

The public response to "Yeedle II" has by far surpassed all expectations. Yeedle reflects on its thunderous popularity, "The vocals, arrangements, choir, etc., every element of this album was formulated and reformulated to perfection. As an MBD production my father was directly involved in the arranging, mixing, and he guided me vocally." The selections on "Yeedle II" run the spectrum from the classical ballad to rhythmic dispensations with a variety that appeals to sensitivities across the spectrum.

The phenomenon that is Yeedle has swept the international music scene, with concert appearances in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, Paris, London, Canada, and Israel. He recently returned from a concert in Israel at Parkei Hayarkon Gan Yehoshua at which he made a guest appearance and enthralled an audience that was 200,000 strong. "It's staggering to look out at a sea of faces 200,000 deep and perform to an audience ten times the size of a New York presentation." He shared the stage with MBD, Avrohom Fried, and Dedi and confides his anxieties in performing before a live audience of this magnitude. "I'm always nervous before a performance, but the expectations and exceptional show of unity generated by the concert inspired, motivated, and kept me focused. The incredible surge of exultation that swept the crowd demonstrates the vast inroads that Jewish music has accomplished in the last twenty-five years." That coincides with the significant contribution the Werdygers have made. His return from Israel is marked by his impending departure for another concert in mid-June back in Israel. The intense popularity of "Yeedle II" keeps him shuttling back and forth between concert destinations in an effort not to disappoint any of his fans.

The remarkable reception that "Yeedle II" encountered internationally bespeaks the universality of the message that Yeedle conveys, "I like to experiment with different styles of music, without negotiating the standards of Jewish music. Music that makes you feel guilty is not Jewish music. You have to feel the song, it's essence and it's message. I try to reach out to every Jewish neighborhood and affect each person, because each song is enhanced by our particular perspective. My intent is to take traditional Jewish music and update it; popularize it for consumption by the next generation." And it has been voraciously consumed by numbers that stagger industry standards.

Artistically, Yeedle corroborates his father's musical achievements by elaborating on their momentum. For the generation that has been weaned on MBD, the timeless classics are those selections that punctuated their youth and the very special moments in their lives. For the generation that is currently weaned on Yeedle these 10 gems incorporated on "Yeedle II" are destined to be irrevocably fused with the memories and reminiscences that support a generation. Yeedle is characteristically compulsive about the quality of his album, "There were no arbitrary selections. There is no justification to subject the listener to insipid tones and rhythms that serve as nothing more than filler. Therefore it was imperative to assemble the finest composers, musicians, technicians, choir, arranger, etc. for a project of this magnitude." Parenthetically, Yeedle is frequently queried as to the placement of his father's compositions on Side Two. He remarks, "The fact of the matter is that Side One can be Side Two and vice versa. Each song is singularly amazing for its message and spectacular arrangements." Mona Rosenblum distinguishes "Yeedle II" with his unique signature arrangements, interludes, and overtures complemented by MBD's own interpretations. Yeedle examines the intent of compositions by MBD, Yitzy Bald, and Reb Chaim Banet with the flair of a vocal master.

Specifically, "Kivisi", composed by Reb Boruch Chait, has been especially well received and appreciated by Yeedle's constituency. "Laasos Retzon Avicha Shebashamyaim", the title song initially suffuses the album with a fervor that reflects Yeedle's design; to do the A-mighty's bidding, and it further alludes to fulfilling his own father's visions.

Recently Yeedle was featured on Gideon Levine's "Best of the Best" album, and the response to his performance illustrates his dominance in the medium. His vision has, however, not been betrayed by his success, "I love having the power to create with music and using it to sustain the audience, without being destructive. The exuberant reaction of a child confined to a wheelchair after we've shared a song thrills the spirit and awakens the soul. I am privileged to use my music the way Hashem intended."

Yeedle's goal of releasing an album a year is well underway. He is currently summoning and assembling his network of professionals who will infuse his personality and their perspectives into a cadence of indomitable energy and spirit that will enthrall his audience from generation II generation.

Rabbis call for boycott of Ben David

The Jewish Telegraph (UK) - June 11, 2004 - Sivan 22, 5764

(Note: according to the following article the Rabbis calling for a boycott of this concert "... are also distributing a Jerusalem Post article relating to the arrest in Israel of a Charedi performer, even though the case was later dropped through lack of evidence.").

A GROUP of Manchester rabbis has called for a boycott of the Mordechai Ben David Jerusalem Experience concert in Salford on Sunday week.

But the Lowry Theatre event, in aid of Israeli rescue organisation Zaka, will still go ahead.

The rabbis, including Manchester Beth Din dayanim Osher Westheim and Gabriel Krausz, put their signatures to a letter posted in synagogues advising people not to attend.

The stars are Mordechai Ben David - the world's number one Chassidic singer - together with his son Yeedle Werdyger and son-in-law Mendy Wald.

To satisfy Manchester's ultra-Orthodox community, the organisers - hoping to attract a 1,700 audience - arranged separate seating and entrances and even separate interval refreshment facilities.

Yet last weekend, posters signed by Dayanim Westheim and Krausz, Rabbis M M Schneebalg of Machzikei Hadass, Simcha Bamberger of Daf Hayomi, Y Wreschner of Adass Yeshurun Synagogue, Y Horwitz of Satmar, Leibish Rabinowitz of Shaarei Tefilah Synagogue and Sammy Goldberg of Damesek Eliezer Synagogue went up in the respective shools - banning attendance at the concert.

In defence of their position, the banning rabbis circulated an article, It's All a Matter of Taste, written by former Mancunian Ephraim Luft.

Mr Luft, now living in Bnei Brak, makes a swingeing attack on any Jewish music influenced by non-Jewish sources, even that played at religious weddings.

He particularly blames pop culture for leading to sexual immorality and claims chassidic pop is similarly tarnished.

He alleges that the intention of "frum singers" is "only to make money and they ignore the terrible negative influence that they are bringing with their music. Even if it is not intentional, it still takes control of the minds of young fans."

He quotes Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon, formerly of Gateshead, who warns against the idolising of Chassidic singers. Mr Luft also warns against the security risks of large public gatherings.

The rabbis are also distributing a Jerusalem Post article relating to the arrest in Israel of a Charedi performer, even though the case was later dropped through lack of evidence.

But Rabbi Yehuda Brodie of Manchester Beth Din said the ban did not represent the views of the Beth Din.

The dayanim, he said, had signed in their private capacity. Manchester Beth Din dayanim Isaac Berger and Yehuda Steiner were not consulted on the matter. Concert organiser Dovid Holder, a daily Machzike Hadass synagogue worshipper, said: "The concert is going ahead. We hope it will be a sell-out.

''Mordechai Ben David, whom I know personally, is a very spiritual, Chassidic man.

"He is always learning Talmud and hardly speaks lest he talk lashon hora (slander). He is such a holy man that he makes a point of eating meat only on Shabbat."

He continued: "I am trying to do something nice for the Manchester Jewish community so that people can see how a frum gathering can be fun, uplifting and entertaining, that there are nice things in our religion. What's wrong with that?"

Tickets are available at the Lowry Box Office on 0870 787 5790.


By Steven I. Weiss

Foward - June 14, 2004

The Awareness Center has launched its page on Yeedle Werdyger, the popular Jewish singer and son of the yet-more-popular Jewish singer, Mordechai Ben David, who was reportedly accused of various criminal acts relating to drugs and sexual activity with fans who were minors in Jerusalem. Note that the original two articles there do not name Werdyger.

The launch of the page follows some controversy when certain UK rabbis issued a letter directing congregants not to attend a pair of recent concerts (covered heavily in the J-blogosphere, at Blog in Dm and most recently at Bloghead), one of which featured Werdyger. If I recall correctly, this was Werdyger's first concert since the arrest mentioned in the reports; if it was not, then some other concert in the UK was. The anti-concert contingent seems to have had plenty of desire to issue the concert ban without the accusations agains Werdyger. Indeed, the accusations against him, if the news and blogosphere reports are accurate, was merely a footnote. The Awareness Center caught one sentence in an article on the situation. Notes the Awareness Center:

Note: according to the following article the Rabbis calling for a boycott of this concert "... are also distributing a Jerusalem Post article relating to the arrest in Israel of a Charedi performer, even though the case was later dropped through lack of evidence."So the accusations were more the icing on the cake.

I've been following this as closely as anyone since the accusations first surfaced, and I'm struggling to see what news has been added to all-of-a-sudden bring these reported alleged indiscretions (note how long that string is) to the fore. I've sent The Awareness Center's Vicki Polin an e-mail asking as much. I'm as much for exposing abuse by those in power as anyone else, but this case, thus far, seems to be about as tenuous as any we've seen. I do hope we'll get more information about it, whichever way it turns out.

Posted by Steven I. Weiss, 11:29 PM



I suspect there are several factors at play here:

1) For months there has been pressure/communication with Rabbonim and concert promoters to quietly remove Yeedle from this concert. Some of this can be read in Blog in DM and MOChassid.

2) Apparently the promoters and MBD are standing firm.

3) I suspect the Rabbonim can't deal with Yeedle directly so they're going after the JM industry as a whole. On some level, I believe they actually believe it's not Yeedle's character but the nature of the JM industry that is screwed up.

4) The Awareness Center has had the Yeedle case up for months as an unamed case. I suspect for several reasons: the articles didn't name Yeedle, Rabonim were probably consulted to determine a course of action and at the time Yeedle had left public performance (private individual, not a public performer anymore) and was a reduced threat to potential victims.

5) But now Yeedle has re-emerged in England for the first time since the arrest, re-establishing himself as a public performer.

6) The Yeedle camp in trying to protect Yeedle has put out the most bizzare story. This story has further damaged the JM industry. If you were to believe it, you would have to believe that a competing JM had Yeedle framed with underage children and child pornography. If that were so, I might have to believe what the Rabbonim in England are saying about the JM industry.

7) If:

a. Rabbonim in England feel it is appropriate to publicize the Jerusalem Post article about Yeedle b. Yeedle chooses to be a public performer/figure the Awareness Center has no reason to maintain the case as an unkmown case.

Posted by me at June 14, 2004 12:21 AM


After reading ME's comment (it was posted as I was writing my comment above) I must agree with what he wrote. I would only add that I still believe that this is a means to an end -- and that is the end of 'Jewish music' as we now know it.

Posted by Shmarya at June 14, 2004 12:33 AM


My questions and comments:

1) Why has the reporting on this story been so poor? There doesn't seem to be follow-up. No US news outlet picked up on this story at all. Why were the charges dropped? Why has Yeedle been out of the spotlight? What happened?

2) If Yeedle's claims of being set up are true, why no arrests?

3) Has Yeedle damaged the JM industry? I think it is more than the "icing on the cake" for the Rabbonim in England. I really think they see something wrong in the JM industry and it is Yeedle. But what can they do? The charges were dropped in Israel. The only thing they can do is make the JM industry pay a price till they clean their industry up. Otherwise why the timing? Why pass around the Jerusalem Post article?

4) If the stories about Yeedle are true, does this mean the post-Lanner Orthodox community is still incapable and unwilling to take the necessary action to protect our children?

Posted by me at June 14, 2004 12:39 AM


exposemolesters said...

Does anyone out there know of any new developments that have occurred in the Har Nof community since the story broke?

What about the case of Yeedle Werdyger; (aka The Case of The Son of Famous Orthodox Singer and a Haredi Friend.) There seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding it.

Kindly email at:
or leave comment.

Todah Lachem!

Avrohm Mondrowitz said...

The Har Nof community has a lot of nice children. I prefer the boys. However, don't try accusing me of being the mysterious molester. I'm in enough trouble as it is!

Stefan Colmer said...

I was hanging out in Har Nof. Rubbed against some young boys. Tried to make it look like an accident. Even went to the mikvah and couldn't help but gaze at the equipment these boys possess. I can't help myself. Shhhhha, don't tell anybody!

UOJ site hacked? said...

Israeli Chabad leaders arrested said...

Israeli Chabad leaders arrested

Published: 11/26/2007

Israeli police arrested the leader of the Young Chabad movement.

Yosef Aharonov and three others are accused of embezzlement, tax evasion and money laundering. The arrests and a Nov. 13 raid on the community of Kfar Chabad follow an eight-month investigation by the Israel Tax Authority and the Central District Fraud Squad.

Arkady Gaydamak, an Israeli-Russian billionaire and a potential Jerusalem mayoral candidate, is accused of donating $256,000 to the money-laundering facilities allegedly run out of Kfar Chabad, according to Israel's Channel 10. He and other prominent businessmen are currently under investigation.

Young Chabad, also known as Lubavitch Youth, is a nonprofit organization and one of the more prominent Chabad institutions in Israel. It has a budget of about $7.7 million a year, including allocations from the Israeli government.

Yosef George Segal, a Chabad employee who was accused more than a year ago by Young Chabad officials of embezzling $4.5 million from the organization, also was arrested.

" Like Chabad-Lubavitch offices everywhere, the Chabad Youth Organization in Israel is fiscally independent. However, its noble social service programs and educational outreach are legendary and a source of pride to the Jewish people everywhere," read a statement from the umbrella organization of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch movement.

"Clearly, every individual is instructed by the Torah to uphold the laws of his/her land, and this is, of course, a basic principle of Chabad Lubavitch operations.We are confident, therefore, that the authorities will receive full cooperation in their efforts and that, ultimately, the results will be satisfactory. " said...

By Dovid Zaklikowski
Dec 4, 2007 10:00 PM

Rabbi Nisson Pinson, a Russian transplant to North Africa who headed up Chabad-Lubavitch activities in Tunis for almost five decades, died Monday in his late 80s. Discrepancies among family accounts pin his age between 86 and 89.

Born in Russia at the height of Communist oppression, Pinson knew little of Jewish freedom in his early years. While he learned in an underground cheder, or Jewish school, his father, Nachum Yitzchak Pinson – a Lubavitch Chasid who struggled to keep the spark of Judaism alive behind the Iron Curtain – was exiled to Siberia where he later died.

After his father's arrest, Pinson joined the small exodus of Jewish students to Samarkand in Uzbekistan, where the KGB was reportedly more lax in their enforcement of bans against the practice of Judaism. He learned in an underground yeshiva there and later directed it with Rabbi Mendel Futerfas.

While in Samarkand, he married Rachel Raskin, the daughter of Rabbi Yitzchok Raskin, a Lubavitch activist who was killed by Soviet authorities for spreading Jewish observance.

Following World War II, the Pinsons smuggled themselves out of the country and headed towards France, eventually stopping in Brunoy. They prepared immigration documents for a move to the United States, but put their plans on hold when the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, requested in 1952 that they assist Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries providing education opportunities for Morocco's Jewish community.

In 1959, they moved again, this time to Gerbera, Tunis, where they were asked to establish a Jewish school system based on the one Lubavitch started in Morocco.

Under the direction of Rabbi Benjamin Gorodetsky, Lubavitch activities had already been going on in Tunis for seven years, but together with the Pinsons, the group solidified the burgeoning interest in more-substantial Jewish education into a school.

Prior to their arrival, families would join together to hire an instructor for their children. The Pinsons and Gorodetsky thus worked with the Jewish community in changing some of the educational norms, first by offering classes to the veteran teachers employed by the community. At the request of the Pinsons, the country's rabbinate created a curriculum and purchased the necessary buildings for what would become the Ohr Hatorah day schools.

Owing to Arab and Muslim antagonism against the young State of Israel in the early 1960s, the local Jewish community – which once numbered a quarter of a million Jews – dwindled to just 47,000. Israel's victory in the 1967 Six Day War further reduced Tunis' Jewish population as families fled North Africa for Europe, the United States and Israel. Of those that remained, many were among the poorer of the country's Jews and lacking in the means for receiving a Jewish education.

To combat the growing danger of Jewish assimilation, the Pinsons gathered Jewish teens to continue their education at the Oholei Yosef Yitzchak Lubavitch high school.

A Life of Hardships

Students of the school where Pinson was principal celebrate his birthday.
According to interviews with Nisson Pinson published last year, he lived in Tunis for close to 40 years without the benefit and protection of being a citizen. The government, which accused him at times of being an Israeli spy – despite his never having step foot in Israel – simply refused to grant him citizenship. Following the Six Day War, authorities even confiscated his passport for three years.

Pinson's legal predicament caused him many hardships, from not being able to buy a home to not being able to leave the country, not even for his son's wedding in New York. Eventually, though, he was allowed to attend festivities surrounding the nuptials after the actual wedding. At a Chasidic gathering at Lubavitch World Headquarters in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., the Shabbat after the wedding, the Rebbe directed that one of the meals be in honor of the new couple.

"The Rebbe felt my pain," said Pinson.

He related in one of the interviews last year of what his wife told the Rebbe about his troubles during a private audience in the early years of their being in Tunisia.

" 'We are already used to the fact that our calls are being listened to, but recently found out that conversations that we have in our home are being listened too,' " he said his wife mentioned to the Rebbe. The Rebbe reportedly replied: "It is worse there than in Russia."

But despite the difficulties, he and the rest of the Jewish community maintained their precarious status because of the protection of the Tunisian government. During times of Muslim unrest, the government would dispatch armed guards to protect the synagogues. In a country that once was headquarters for the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization, they lived continuously between accommodation on the one hand and downright hostility on the other.

"While the Jews all over the world were dancing in 1985 following [Israel's] successful bombing in Tunis of a PLO base, the Jewish community in Tunis was in a real danger," Pinson related last year.

But through the most difficult of times, the Pinsons remained in Tunis on the instructions of the Rebbe; their presence encouraged many in the Jewish community to remain in Tunis. The schools they started, which Nisson Pinson continued to run up until the day of his passing, educate hundreds of students every year.

Rabbi Nisson Pinson was scheduled to be buried in Jerusalem on Wednesday. He leaves behind his wife Rochel Pinson and five children: Daughter Tsherna Matusof, co-director of Chabad Lubavitch of Cannes, France; daughter Faige Hecht, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Nice; son Rabbi Yossef Yitschok Pinson, director of Habad Loubavitch of Nice Côte d'Azur; son Rabbi Shmuel Pinson, co-director of Ohel Menachem in Brussels, Belgium; and son Rabbi Nachum Pinson, a teacher in the Lubavitch seminary in Brunoy.

FORWARD said...

Chabad Leaders in Israel Arrested on Fraud Charges

By Anthony Weiss
Wed. Nov 21, 2007

In the midst of a massive raid on the main Israeli enclave of the Chabad-Lubavitch ultra-Orthodox sect, police arrested a number of the sect’s top local leaders.

Among those arrested on Wednesday was Rabbi Yosef Aharonov, the chairman of the Chabad Youth Organization in Israel, who was charged with tax evasion. On that same day, Israeli police arrested several other members of the organization and staged a raid on the town of Kfar Chabad, seizing documents and detaining several people for questioning.

Chabad has gained prominence in America, where it is known for its outreach to unaffiliated Jews. But the arrests bring new attention to the group’s operations in Israel and potentially imperils the standing of Aharonov, a prominent and divisive figure in Chabad’s activities outside the U.S.

“He has a lot of power because he has a lot of money to spread,” said Menachem Friedman, a sociologist at Bar-Ilan University who studies ultra-Orthodox society in Israel. “The youth movement is the most active part of Chabad, because all the activities of Chabad are done through the youth.”

Israeli newspapers reported that the Chabad Youth Organization’s budget is 30 million shekels, or $7.7 million, of which 7 million shekels, or $1.8 million comes from the Israeli government. The organization also controls the country’s 220 Chabad houses, which are funded separately. Ha’aretz reported last year that the youth organization and the houses together receive about 100 million shekels, or $25.8 million, per year from the government.

Aharonov’s power has already caused internal rifts within Chabad. Last year, a yeshiva in Israel went to court in an attempt to block the Chabad Youth Organization from taking over the organization and selling its assets.

More recently, Aharonov was at the center of a spat with the chief rabbi of Russia, who is a member of Chabad, involving a yeshiva that Aharonov runs in Rostov, Russia. The yeshiva was shut down by the local authorities and 13 students were imprisoned, then released.

Aharonov has long been a political player in Israel. He was widely reported to be one of the main forces behind Israeli Chabad’s controversial decision in 1996 to support Benjamin Netanyahu’s candidacy for prime minister, and there is a picture of him with Netanyahu on Netanyahu’s website.

Aharonov also leads the Israeli branch of Agudas Chassidei Chabad, the umbrella organization for the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

Also arrested on Wednesday was George Segal, the former financial manager for the Chabad Youth Organization, who is accused of embezzling 17.5 million shekels from the organization. Last year, the Chabad Youth Organization sued Segal for 17 million shekels and Segal responded with his own accusations that Aharonov had pocketed organization money and was paying salaries in cash to avoid taxes and save money.

The police announced the arrests last week in a press conference with Israeli media.

“We discovered that money was changing hands left and right, and it seems that the suspects were treating the money as though it belonged to them personally,” investigating officer Avi Mantzour told Ha’aretz.

In the wake of the arrests, the central organization of Chabad is awaiting further developments before making any moves, according to Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, the chairman of Agudas Chassidei Chabad in New York.

“It’s all being handled inside, and that’s where it remains so far,” said Shemtov, who declined to elaborate further on Agudas Chabad’s handling of the matter.

In the wake of the arrests, Agudas Chassidei Chabad issued a carefully worded statement that expressed support for the embattled Israeli organization while keeping a distance.

“We are deeply troubled by news reports concerning allegations against certain personnel of Israel’s Chabad Youth Organization,” said the statement, issued the day the arrests were announced. “Like Chabad-Lubavitch offices everywhere, the Chabad Youth Organization in Israel is fiscally independent. However, its noble social service programs and educational outreach are legendary and a source of pride to the Jewish people everywhere.”

Shemtov said that despite the arrests, he expects the Chabad Youth Organization to continue with its work as normal.

“It’s disappointing to have this confusion, especially at this time, as they prepare for Hannukah,” he said. “But I don’t think it will affect the effort.”

CORRECTION: Arkady Gaidamek is not under suspicion in the investigation that was originally reported in this article. We regret the error.
Wed. Nov 21, 2007

exposemolesters said...

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

What Jews believe

There's a famous story in the Talmud about a smart aleck who asks the sages Hillel and Shammai to teach him all of Torah while he stands on one foot. Hillel's response is well known: "What is hateful to you, do not do unto others. All the rest is commentary."

Shammai, however, wasn't nearly as solicitous. "Do you think I have time to waste on people who mock our holy Torah?" he asks, and swings a stick at him.

I wonder if any of the Republican candidates felt an urge like Shammai's during last week's CNN-YouTube debate, when Joseph Dearing from Dallas asked his question. "How you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you," said Dearing, brandishing a Bible. "Do you believe every word of this book? And I mean specifically this book that I'm holding in my hand. Do you believe this book?"

It was kind of fun to watch the candidates squirm. You could guess they were struggling between the urge to pander to the evangelical "base" and their own intellectual honesty, or whatever is left of it after months on the campaign trail. I imagine it is a more difficult question for Christians than it is for Jews, whose tradition of interpretation and exegesis puts less emphasis on the "literalness" of the Five Books of Moses than it does on the authority of the Torah's subsequent interpreters.

But I wasn't sure, so I decided to ask a few friends, rabbis all, how they might have answered the question in the candidates' place. I gave them a little more time than the candidates (about 12 hours) but no more space. None of them shook a stick at me.

Their answers appear below.

Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America: I believe that every word in that book (assuming it's a Hebrew Jewish Bible) is holy. The Torah represents the word of God as transmitted to Moses. But if by "believe every word" you mean "believe that all of its words are intended by their Author to be taken literally or in their simplest sense," then no, I do not believe that. Because my belief - the Jewish belief since Sinai - is that, in addition to the Written Law of the Torah, there is an indispensable Oral Law that accompanied it and has been handed down by Jewish scribes and scholars through the generations. That Oral Law acts as the key to unlocking the intent of the written word, and its teachings underlie how Jews like me endeavor to live their lives to this day. But I have a question for you, Joseph: What does your question have to do with my qualifications for the presidency?

Rabbi Richard Hirsh is the executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association: I don't like the way the question is worded. It is, as Lenny Bruce might have said, a "goyish" question. First, whether traditional or modern, Jews assign different degrees of sanctity to the Pentateuch than we do the entire Hebrew Bible (gee, I'd love to hear that in a debate: "Rev. Huckabee, do you believe in the TaNaCH?"). The Prophets and the Writings contain sacred literature, but tradition does not claim Sinaitic origin for them. Second, Jews don't "believe" in the Torah, we try to live by it as it is interpreted and applied. The whole point of Halacha is to spell out what it means - for example, to honor one's parents, or to observe the Sabbath, or what constitutes "murder" as in "Thou shalt not murder" (note to those who can't read "The Bible" in the original language: It's "murder," not "kill").

Third, since the Tanach is an anthology of collected writings of human beings over a period of a thousand years, we should not expect and will not find consistency, and we often find contradictions, which sort of makes it hard "to believe" in every word. And last, there are parts of scripture from which I happily dissent, such as stories that imagine God commanding the Israelites to commit genocide (see Deuteronomy 20:17) or parents to stone a rebellious child (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). A better question would be "What rights and respect should a president ensure for those Americans who do not believe in this book?"

Rabbi Alan Brill holds the Cooperman/Ross Faculty Chair in Honor of Sister Rose Thering at Seton Hall University: "When the blessed Holy One gave the Torah, it was entirely of fire." (Tanhuma) When Jews point to the Bible, we tend to show a special reverence to the written form of Torah and write the Torah as a scroll to show its special holiness. However, Jews believe in the Bible as understood through the intrinsically interpretive Oral Rabbinic tradition. The Bible and the rabbinic texts are further explained by scholars of the law, biblical exegetes, philosophers, kabalists, and contemporary rabbinic figures. We also assume that the text has "70 facets," an intellectual range of opposing opinions, and even the potential for opposite interpretations in certain cases.

Judaism usually distinguishes between different levels of authority of the rabbinic tradition and the commentaries. We ask how the text is related to the interpretive community and the status of the interpreter. Belief in the Bible, as much as it does point to divine will and wisdom, also points to Sinai, the formative event creating the Jewish people, and to the potential to experience Sinai through the study of Torah. According to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the infinite contradictory potentials of Torah are not just found in the fullness of the community, but also in the individuality of the soul.

Rabbi David W. Nelson is associate director of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America: I think the sense of the question, though it was not made explicit, was, "Do you believe the Bible literally?" If that is the question, my answer is: Certainly not. I believe that the Bible is a product of human authorship, and to the extent that all human creativity is driven by God, then I see "God's hand" in its pages. But that does not make it all "true."

On the other hand, I do believe it is all sacred, or holy, by which I mean that it has become the foundation of Jewish society, narrative, history, culture, and law. The sanctity of the book comes in how it is read by later generations, not by who (or Who) wrote it. When we sit around a table on a Shabbat morning and argue about the meaning of a verse of Torah, digging deep to understand how, if at all, it can apply to our contemporary world, or trying to understand ourselves by understanding the words of the text, that discussion sanctifies us, our lives, and the words. This notion that the sanctity comes from us, in our use of the text, is an ancient Jewish notion. I believe that few (if any) Jews have ever believed that the entire Tanach is of supernatural origin and literally true.

Rabbi Joyce Newmark is a Conservative rabbi who formerly led congregations in Leonia, NJ, and Lancaster, Pa.: I believe the Torah is true, that it is God's book, that no matter how it came to be it is the book God wants us to have. However, I don't believe that the Torah is necessarily factual. I certainly don't believe that the world was created in seven days some 6,000 ago. I do believe that God created the world and everything in it and that the specific process He used and the exact time frame aren't really important.

As a student of Torah I also know that it is not a book that lends itself to literal, simple, or superficial understanding. Jews read the Torah through the eyes of the rabbis. We have been studying the Torah for millennia, and we still continue to find new subtleties and insights. So yes, the Torah is true, but it is also much greater than what is found on the pages of a single book.

The writer is editor in chief of the New Jersey Jewish News.

autonomous Jewish state said...

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Rabbi plans for autonomous Jewish state
Tovah Lazaroff , THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 6, 2007

The time has come to prepare to secede from the State of Israel and to present initial steps for the creation of an autonomous state in Judea and Samaria, should the government move forward with plans to withdraw from those areas, Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

"If the government withdraws from Judea and Samaria, then we will start a new state," said Wolpe.

He plans to publish his views in an article that will appear this Shabbat in a weekly pamphlet called Our Land of Israel that is distributed to synagogues.

Wolpe is the founder of Ha'Matteh L'Hatzolat Ha'Am V'Ha'Aretz - SOS Israel, a grassroots umbrella organization of right-wing groups who believe that Judea and Samaria belong to Jews and should remain in Jewish hands.

SOS has joined Wolpe in this initiative and, as an initial step, SOS has organized a contest to choose a flag and a national anthem for the autonomous state.

Following the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and four communities in Samaria, Wolpe concluded that it would be best to organize early, and to take more dramatic steps.

"Why should we wait until soldiers come to people's homes," said Wolpe.

He shied away from answering concrete questions as to how such a state would be organized or how it would defend itself.

In a separate campaign, he and the head of the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, Rabbi Dov Lior, embarked this week on a effort to encourage newly drafted soldiers to place a letter in their files upon entering the army in which they state that they would not participate in activities relating to the evacuation of Jews from their homes.

Wolpe said that soldiers who agree to take this step are not disobeying orders, but rather showing their faith and their commitment to the people of Israel.

It is forbidden to give the Land of Israel away to non-Jews, Wolpe said. Such actions also endanger lives, he added.

Avi Shafran said...

A boxing Rabbi? Is this Jewish wannabe boxer Rabbi for real? This is not exactly the Torah way. I am personally offended by this on two levels; as a Jew, and also from being the official Agudas Yisroel of Americas spokesperson!,0,6629230.story
Bklyn man wants to become a boxing rabbi

By Izyaslav Koza

Special to amNewYork

December 6, 2007
Click here to find out more!

Yuri Foreman is not the only religious fighter cracking fists and turning heads in boxing today, but the junior middleweight is trying to do them all one better.

If he can just pass a tricky religious examination three years from now, Foreman will become perhaps the only combination rabbi/boxer in fist-flying history.

"Trying to become a rabbi is just something I feel being right for myself," said Foreman, born in Gomel, Belarus, who moved at age nine to Haifa, Israel, and now resides in Brooklyn. "It is more part of my personal life, and not my public career as a fighter."

A career that could lead the 27-year-old to a world title shot if he can win his bout at at the Paradise Theatre in the Bronx Thursday(9 p.m., Versus network).

Foreman (23-0, 8 KOs) faces a fellow ex-Soviet, Andrey Tsurkan, a Bronx resident from Lugansk, Ukraine, in a 10-round bout for the 154-pound North American Boxing Federation title.

Foreman, who shares his surname with legendary powerhouse preacher George Foreman, said the integration of rabbinical study and boxing can help influence younger orthodox Jews to stay true to their faith.

Though not yet a rabbi, Foreman volunteers one day a week in between preparation for his professional bouts to train younger orthodox teenagers in the art of hitting and not getting hit.

"It was something my rabbi suggested I do, and I agreed," Foreman said. "In fighting professionally, I do something kids generally admire. So, by utilizing it, I can help them stay on the right moral path."

In Yuri's path stands Tsurkan (25-2-1), a brawler-before-boxer-style fighter who holds a wealth of amateur experience, as well as a stoppage victory over contender Hector Camacho Jr. in Atlantic City last year.

Foreman has decent amateur credentials and a New York Golden Gloves championship to show for it, plus numerous amateur titles in Israel. His toughest win came at Madison Square Garden on June 7, when Foreman defeated sizzling contender Anthony "The Messenger" Thompson via decision in a not-so-sizzling bout dubbed "The Battle for Jerusalem."

Foreman will hold a three-inch height advantage tonight, while power will likely be on the side of Tsurkan, 30.

shimon peres said...

President Shimon Peres Agrees to Keep Shabbat--Once
29 Kislev 5768, 09 December 07 07:26
by Hana Levi Julian

( President Shimon Peres has agreed with the Chief Rabbi of France to keep the Sabbath according to Jewish law, something he has not done since abandoning the influence of his grandfather, a Torah scholar and a descendant of a Torah sage.

Peres's concession to abide by Sabbath laws came in response to a request by Chief Rabbi Yosef Sitruk of France as part of an outreach effort to the approximately 600,000-strong Jewish community of France, according to a report by Israeli religious radio station Kol Chai.

Rabbi Sitruk called on the international Jewish public to unite in prayer and observe the Sabbath.

A spokesman for Peres said Thursday that the president responded with a call to worldwide Jewry to come to the synagogue on the Sabbath to pray for State of Israel on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish State.

Peres's spokesman added in a statement that the president would like to extend the initiative to include Muslims and Christians as well.

The Polish-born 84-year-old president is avowedly secular. However, his grandfather, Rabbi Tzvi Meltzer studied at the Volozhin yeshiva (rabbinical seminary) and was a grandson of institution's founder, Rabbi Chaim Volozhim.

Peres grew up in his grandparents' home and learned Talmud from Rabbi Meltzer, according to a biography published by Wikpedia. "He looked after my education," Peres, born Szymon Perski, once said.

"It wasn't as easy as it sounds. I didn't come from an observant home. My parents were not Orthodox. But I was very religious. Once I found my parents listening to the radio on the Sabbath so I smashed it. But to my father's credit, let it be said, I received a blessing from the Chofetz Chaim in Radin when I was a child. My father took me to see him."

Peres, however, eventually abandoned observance of Jewish law and has maintained a secular home.

Jewish tradition maintains that the Messiah will come when all the Jews in the world observe two Sabbaths.

Romney, religion & R.I. said...

M. Charles Bakst

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Governor Carcieri at Wednesday’s lighting of a menorah at the State House.

The Providence Journal / M. Charles Bakst

“We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders — in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and, during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places.”

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that last Thursday. But he’s wrong — certainly the part about Christmas and Chanukah icons on public property.

I watched his televised speech with images fresh in my mind of an event the night before at the State House. There, in a building with at least 21 Christmas trees on display inside, Governor Carcieri, who is Romney’s top backer here, stood near a gorgeous silver menorah and participated in a ceremony lighting the Chanukah candles. On Friday night he was to participate in an outdoor tree-lighting ceremony.

The Chanukah event was organized by Rhode Island members of the international Chabad-Lubavitch Movement, which is aggressively religious. Rabbi Yehoshua Laufer, its leader here, calls it close to Orthodox but reaching out to all Jews.

Carcieri, who is Catholic, said he was happy to be part of the celebration.

He declared, “Long before I got into this role, I had enormous respect and admiration for the Jewish faith, the Jewish history, the Jewish people. You are a people that has known persecution, difficulties, sacrifice, lived in terrorism.”

And he said of the State House, “This is everyone’s home. This is the home for all of our citizens, and it’s the cradle of religious freedom for all of us.”

So why did I feel so not at home?

Don’t misunderstand me. I appreciate Carcieri’s interest in things Jewish and his identification with the themes and joy of Chanukah.

He not only lit a candle, he seemed genuinely moved by the occasion, at times closing his eyes and letting the moment wash over him, and afterward he was the picture of a friendly grandfather as he helped distribute to children the holiday’s traditional chocolate coins, and he was every bit the schmoozy politician — and gourmet — as he downed a potato pancake and insisted I have one too. (Okay, I let him twist my arm.)

But I have a fierce belief in the separation of church and state, and I don’t believe government buildings, parks, or lawns are appropriate settings for religious displays or observances. Those locations include the Town Hall in Barrington, my home town, where, thanks to Chabad, menorah lightings this year have become a part of the holiday scene. I did not welcome that either.

And, as I have said before, I don’t believe government officials should arrange or promote religious services in churches, as, for example, Attorney General Patrick Lynch did when he honored his predecessors in a 2004 program in the First Baptist Church in America.

Romney himself praised church-state separation. “No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion,” he said in his speech. But he criticized those who would have religion be “merely a private affair with no place in public life.” He said it is as if they want to establish a new religion, “the religion of secularism.”

I can assure you the State House was not looking at all secular on Wednesday night. There was a sea of Christmas trees, many of them sponsored by ethnic heritage groups.

A large tree stood in the middle of the rotunda. There were 18 smaller ones right near it and in front of the House and Senate. Another large tree and small tree adorned the governor’s reception room.

I acknowledge the beauty and meaning many people find in such tableaus.

But what I saw Wednesday summoned for me some of the most uncomfortable moments of my 1950s childhood, being in public grade school and, along with other Jewish students, having to join in the singing of Christmas carols.

One of the first people I saw in the State House was GOP Rep. Bruce Long, who belongs to Temple Shalom, a Conservative congregation in his home town of Middletown. Long, 56, who was to join in the menorah lighting, told me, “As I get older, I find myself growing closer to my religion. My mom, who’s still alive — it makes her feel better, and it makes me feel better too.”

I asked what he thought of the forest of Christmas trees. “We live in a Christian state,” he said matter of factly. He noted that Chabad was putting up a tall menorah, to remain on display for the rest of the holiday.

As Rabbi Laufer prepared to preside over the lighting of the smaller menorah set up on an aluminum-foil-covered table near Rhode Island’s 1663 Royal Charter, he told me Chabad does these things to spread light and the message of religious freedom.

But, I said, you don’t see mainstream temples going to the State House or city halls to celebrate Chanukah. He said many temples have begun placing menorahs outside their buildings, where everyone can see them. “That’s a good step,” he said.

“But they don’t do this,” I said.

“Not yet,” he said cheerfully.

Chanukah — this was the second of eight nights — is a special time for children, a happy family time and, of course, there are gifts. (When my grandfather gave me $10, I considered it a fortune.)

At the State House, youngsters, including many boys in yarmulkes, gathered close to the table. There were remarks, the lighting itself, and traditional Chanukah songs.

Who can retell the things that befell us,

Who can count them? In every age a hero or sage came to our aid.

Hark! In days of yore, in Israel’s ancient land,

Brave Maccabeus led his faithful band…

It was nice, and yet I felt apart.

These Jews are much more observant — indeed, messianic. The black hats and the beards I saw reminded me, superficially, of the old men in my grandfather’s traditional Orthodox synagogue, men whose piety I admired but could never hope to emulate. But in the case of the Lubavitchers, as with so many Christian groups, especially in the South, it’s hard for me to identify with people who, with religion in their heart, go into the public square and wear it on their sleeve.

Rabbi Laufer exulted in Rhode Island’s heritage of religious freedom. He alluded to Roger Williams, someone Romney also mentioned in his speech. The rabbi said he hoped and prayed that the light from the candles lit this night would brighten the world outside.

The blessings over the candles, and certainly the old songs I remember from Sunday School, tugged at me, but I did not emotionally plunge into the ceremony, and not just because of a journalist’s professional distance. I thought it would be odd to celebrate Judaism in these halls of government or, looked at another way, surrounded by Christmas trees. What would I be trying to prove? I was very disappointed when last year First Lady Sue Carcieri immersed herself in an anti-abortion Rosary for Life prayer service in this building. I don’t think the antidote to misuse of the building is more misuse.

The governor told me, “This is a place for freedom of expression of all faiths.”

But I don’t want religious groups to vie to make the State House their own, or to carve out turf within it.

As for Chanukah, the place to celebrate it — and I do — is at home, or temple, or other private locale.

I spoke with Carcieri about his friend, former Massachusetts Governor Romney, feeling the need to give a speech on religion. Carcieri said, “It’s sad, at one level, that you’ve got to talk about faith and Mormonism today. In the 21st century we shouldn’t have to be doing that.”

Carcieri added, “He’s obviously somebody who has great values and his value system of the Mormon faith has driven his life.”

I applaud much of Romney’s address. In an echo of a 1960 speech by John F. Kennedy, Romney was right to say no one should be elected or rejected because of his faith. And it was good to hear him say he would not take orders from church authorities.

I admire the fact that, even in the face of strong competition from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister with strong appeal for evangelical Christians, Romney said he would not distance himself from his religion or disavow one or another of its precepts.

Still, in a move designed to reassure the evangelicals, he made a point of saying, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.” This is a fine sentiment, but it seems sad to me that a presidential candidate would feel this is necessary to say in a political speech. It’s an example of what I fear mixing church and state, even in what most people might consider harmless holiday settings, can lead to.

There also were ironies in Romney’s comments on religion. He said, “Americans do not respect believers of convenience. Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.”

This from a man who has changed his views on several key political topics as he moved toward a presidential run.

I welcome Romney’s statement that every human being is a child of God and that he is moved by the Lord’s words: “I was ahungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in…”

In reality, like many politicians who express such ideals, Romney’s actual policies, especially the views he voices about immigrants, do not always reflect such lofty sentiments.

He needs to work on that.

M. Charles Bakst is The Journal’s political columnist.

exposemolesters said...

What this girl is real smart. She snapped a picture of an alleged Boston molester. Now hopefully the police will find this creep and get him off the streets.

If you are being stalked or abused by someone you don't know, do what this brave girl did, pull out a cell phone or camera and press 'capture image'.

Girl photographs alleged T molester

By Maria Cramer, Globe Staff | December 7, 2007

The terrified 16-year-old decided she had had enough.

For about a year, the white-haired, middle-aged man had been harassing high school girls on the trolley, groping them, and exposing himself as they rode the Green Line home from Boston Latin School near Brigham Circle.

Last Tuesday, the 16-year-old, a junior, took a step that MBTA police say will help them catch the perpetrator.

She pulled out her camera cellphone and waved it high in the air, as though she had no reception. Then, she snapped a photo, capturing an image of the man in sunglasses, beige dress shirt, and beige coat.

"I decided it was time to do this," she said. "When I saw him, this thing kicked in me and said 'Do it, you have to do it.' "

Yesterday the MBTA released the photo of the man, who has not been identified, and said he was wanted for indecent assault and battery.

Sergeant Michael Rutledge, the lead investigator on the case, praised the girl's quick thinking.

"Very brave," Rutledge said. "She's very smart."

The junior, whose name the Globe is withholding because of its policy of not naming victims of sex crimes, first saw the perpetrator last winter. As she rode the train, he walked behind her and seemed to reach for the pole. Then he groped her.

At first she thought it was an accident, but in the months that followed she heard from friends at Boston Latin that a man that looked like the one who had assaulted her had also molested them. They noticed a pattern: He would get on the train at the Brigham Circle or Longwood Avenue stop about 2 p.m. and ride the Green Line all the way to Copley Square.

"I noticed him more and more. My friends noticed him," the junior said. "That's why we decided it was time to say something."

When she saw him last week, she immediately recognized him.

"He wears the same thing every day," she said. "Same sunglasses, same coat, same jeans, same everything. Someone does that to you, you remember them for a while."

After she took the photo, she and three other friends who had been his victims approached the school's assistant headmaster, Malcolm Flynn, and told him they had a picture of the perpetrator.

Flynn asked them to e-mail him the photo, which he quickly sent to the police.

"I think they're glad they did this because something may be done now," Flynn said yesterday. "I hope they find this guy."

Rutledge said police released the photo yesterday because they have been unable to find the perpetrator on the train and believe he may have changed his pattern. Rutledge said he is hopeful that the photo will generate tips and compel other people who may have been victimized to come forward.

"When something like this happens, you feel uncomfortable, you question whether this is really happening, and you want to give people the benefit of the doubt," he said. "Unfortunately that's what people prey upon. There are predators out there that hope that people will be so embarrassed or unsure of themselves they won't say anything."

Yesterday afternoon, students waiting near the Longwood Avenue T stop said they admired the junior's actions.

"I think it's really brave to do that," said Bonnie Ho, a Boston Latin student from the South End. "I wouldn't have. I would have been scared."

The junior said she was frightened. She was sure the perpetrator noticed, because after she snapped the photo he took a couple of steps back. He made no other movements, but the junior was still nervous.

"I didn't know what was going to happen and I was so scared something was going to happen. What if he follows me home?" she said.

She even felt some guilt about playing a role in what might lead to an arrest.

"I didn't want to make such a big deal about it," she said. "I didn't want to tell everybody and get people in trouble."

Then she thought about it.

And she was happy that she had acted.

"It came to me that I had to do it," she said. "I decided I don't care. This guy has to get in trouble."

Maria Cramer can be reached at

Anonymous said...

You helped me out immensely EM. From that day I confided in you about the terrible abuse until now. We need more people like you, uoj, vicky, shmarya, and others. Keep strong and let's keep steamrolling over all these lowlife Rabbis and enablers of abuse. Amen!

Harav Hagoan Elazar Menachem Man Shach Zt'l said...

Elazar Shach
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elazar Menachem Man Shach (אלעזר מנחם מן שך) (or Rav Leizer Shach, at times his name is written as Eliezer Schach in English publications) (January 22, 1898 - November 2, 2001), was a leading Eastern European-born and educated Haredi rabbi who settled and lived in modern Israel.

He was the rosh yeshiva ("dean") of the Ponevezh yeshiva in Bnei Brak, and founded the Degel HaTorah political party representing Lithuanian Ashkenazi Jews in the Israeli Knesset, many of whom considered him to be the Gadol HaDor ("great one of the generation") and used the honorific Maran ("[our] master") when referring to him.

He was recognized as a Talmudic scholar par excellence by scholars such as Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik (the Brisker Rav) and Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer in their approbations to his works; he authored the Avi Ezri a commentary on the Mishneh Torah.

Life in Europe

Rabbi Shach was born in Wabolnick (Vabalninkas, pronounced Vaboilnik in Yiddish), a rural village in northern Lithuania to Rabbi Ezriel and Batsheva Shach. The Shach family had been merchants for generations but Batsheva's family, the Levitans, were religious scholars who served various Lithuanian communities. Batsheva's brother, Rabbi Nisan Levitan, later became an important figure in the Union of Orthodox Rabbis. Elazar was a child prodigy, and was sent to study in the Ponevezh yeshiva at age seven. At thirteen he moved on to the Slabodka yeshiva, where he caught the attention of its dean, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, as well as Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, dean of the Slutsk yeshiva. Shach soon became one of Rabbi Meltzer's favorite pupils, beginning a lifelong relationship of friendship and respect.

When World War I began in 1914, many of the Slabodka yeshiva students scattered across Europe. Shach initially returned to his family but then began traveling across Lithuania from town to town, sleeping and eating wherever he could and studying in local synagogues, continuing to study Torah "as if there were no war" [1]. After the war Shach rejoined Rabbi Meltzer and his son-in-law, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, in Kletsk, Poland. When Rabbi Meltzer returned to Slutsk, Shach followed him (the Slutsk yeshiva later gained fame as the Lakewood yeshiva in America).

Rabbi Meltzer became both a father figure and patron to the young Shach, even arranging his marriage with his niece, Guttel, in 1923. Shach received rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Meltzer and began teaching in the Kletsk yeshiva in 1927, where he taught for five years. He served as rosh yeshiva in Lublin, then taught Talmud at the Novardok yeshiva as well. In 1936 he became rosh yeshiva at Karlin yeshiva in Luninets.

Escaping to the British Mandate of Palestine

Shortly before the start of World War II and the Holocaust, several yeshivas began considering evacuating their rabbis, students and families.Rabbi Kotler eventually left for America, travelling across Siberia and arriving in the United States during the war. In 1939,Rav Shach first went to Vilna, where he stayed with Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski. Later that year both Rav Shach's mother and eldest daughter fell ill and died. In early 1940 the Shach family decided to leave Lithuania. Rav Shach's maternal uncle, Rabbi Aron Levitan, had helped Rabbi Kotler get emigration visas, but Rav Shach instead decided to go to Palestine, where Meltzer was serving as Rosh Yeshiva at Etz Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem, (Rav Shach would later serve as Rosh Yeshiva there as well). His uncle helped Rav Shach and his family get emigration certificates and took them in after they arrived at his doorstep, destitute.

Several years after the re-establishment of the Ponevezh yeshiva in Bnei Brak, he was asked to be one of its deans. He remained in the position until his passing. At this Yeshiva, Rav Shach taught many thousands of students, many of whom eventually assumed prominent positions as Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbis.

Rabbinical career

Shach was credited by many for helping revolutionize the concept of the "society of learners" in the post-war Haredi world. Under his leadership, the phenomenon of Haredi men studying in yeshivas and kollels full-time, something that had been comparatively rare in Europe before World War II, became the standard in many Haredi communities in Israel, with the financial backing of Haredi communities and subsidies to young families with many children from the Israeli government.

[edit] Political life

Shach was a member of the Agudat Israel Council of Torah Sages beginning the 1970s, during which time he began to take special notice of the second-class situation of Sephardim in Israel, including Haredi Sephardim, who at that time were without any real political representation and generally voted for the Likud or Agudat Israel. In an attempt to give the Sephardim more political influence, Shach encouraged and guided the formation of the Sephardi Shas party, under the spiritual leadership of his ally, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Shas ran for the 11th Knesset in 1984, and Shach called upon his "Lithuanian" followers to vote for it in the polls, a move that many saw as key political and religious move in Rav Shach's split with Agudat Israel. While initially Shas was largely under the aegis of Shach -- who capitalized on his influence with the Sephardic party in order to pressure Agudat Israel -- Yosef gradually exerted control over the party and moved it away from Shach, culminating with Shas' decision to support the Labor party in the 13th Knesset in 1992, something both Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel opposed.

In 1988, citing disagreements in leadership style with the various Hasidic rebbes in the Agudat Israel party, Shach officially broke away from Agudat Israel and formed the Degel HaTorah ("Flag of Torah") party to represent the non-Hasidic Ashkenazi Haredim. He nevertheless encouraged Degel HaTorah to work in an alliance with Agudat Israel under the name of United Torah Judaism, an agreement which has continued until the present.

Around 1995 Shach's political involvement slowed down, following deterioration in his health, and ceased altogether afterward. Since then, his followers do not have a strong leading authority, and the two main leaders are Rabbi Elyashiv, and Rabbi Shteinman, of which Elyashiv is more dominant.

Shach was deeply opposed to Zionism, both religious and secular. He was fiercely dismissive of secular Israeli culture. For example, during a 1990 speech he derided kibbutzniks as "breeders of rabbits and pigs" who did not "know what Yom Kippur is". In the same speech he said that the Labor Party had cut themselves off from their Jewish past and wished to "seek a new Torah". Shach was also critical of democracy, once referring to it "cancer", adding that "only the sacred Torah is the true democracy." [2]

However, on diplomatic issues many considered Shach comparatively moderate, though "pragmatic" would be a more accurate description. Shach quickly realized the tangible political benefits that Haredi society could reap if it cultivated relationships with both poles of the Israeli political spectrum, and also supported the withdrawal from land, in principle, under the Halakhic teaching of Pikuach Nefesh ("the saving of a life"), in which the preservation of lives takes precedence over nearly all other obligations in the Torah, including those pertaining to the sanctity of land. Shach criticized Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (at that time mainly settled by secular and Religious Zionist Jews) as "a blatant attempt to provoke the international community", and called on Haredim to avoid moving to such communities.

Opposition to the Lubavitcher Rebbe[3]

Shach was involved in a number of public disputes with Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson the Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement from the 1970s through Schneerson's death in 1994. Shach accused his followers of false Messianism. When once asked which religion was theologically closest to Judaism, Shach responded "Chabad".[4] He objected to the call for "forcing" the Messiah's appearance, an idea avocated by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. When certain elements in Chabad actually identified Rabbi Schneerson as the possible Messiah, Rabbi Shach advocated a complete boycott of Chabad, its institutions and projects by its constituents. [5] Shach also compared Chabad and Schneerson to the followers of the 17th century false messiah Sabbatai Zevi, a comparison disputed by Chabad representatives.[6]

Pointing to an assertion by the Rebbe in a passage dealing primarily with his predecessor that a rebbe is ‘the Essence and Being [of G-d] placed into a body,’ Rabbi Schach spoke of nothing less than Avodah Zara [idol worship]. His followers refused to eat meat slaughtered by Lubavich shochetim or to recognize Chabad Hasidim as adherents of authentic Judaism.[7]

Shach once described Schneerson as "the madman who sits in New York and drives the whole world crazy."[8].

In addition to Shach's objections to some Chabad members venerating Schneerson as the Messiah (both before and after his death), the two also disagreed on various issues of Jewish law and philosophy, but particularly politics. Chabad strongly opposed peace talks with the Palestinians or to relinquishing any Israeli territory under any circumstance, while Shach alternately supported both left and right-wing parties in the Israeli elections[citation needed]. During the 1988 elections, Schneerson endorsed Agudat Israel over Shach's newly-formed Degel HaTorah party, and instructed Israeli Chabad to campaign for it. Shach's newspaper, Yated Ne'eman, ran several articles documenting various Chabad writings and statements which described Lubavitch as becoming a breakaway sect of Judaism focused around Schneerson as the Messiah.

It should be noted that in spite of his pitched battle against Lubavitch, Rabbi Shach nevertheless recited Tehillim when Rabbi Schneerson became sick. At the time he was asked for an explanation, and he obliged, “My battle is against his erroneous approach, against the movement, but not against the people in any personal way. I pray for the Rebbe’s recovery and simultaneously, also pray that he abandon his invalid way.” [9]

Rabbi Shach often clarified his stand, both in speech and in writing, that the slander spread against him about his persecution of chassidim was something he could never forgive, for it had transformed him into a baal machlokes, a hate-monger, at a time when he loved peace and pursued it to the nth degree.[10]

Rabbi Elya Svei, one of the rosh yeshivas of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, said in his eulogy for Rabbi Shach, "Another area in which Rav Shach took the sole initiative and responsibility was in the less than popular task of protesting Messianic proclivities within Lubavitch. Rav Shach assumed the responsibility of decrying this perversion. Rav Shach started to fight this battle alone. He illuminated the truth so that others could also see the posed threat and follow his lead." [11]


Shach had three children, all born in Kletsk in the 1920s: Miriam Raisel, Devorah, and Ephraim. Miriam Raisel died as a teenager in 1939 of pneumonia. Devorah married Rabbi Meir Tzvi Bergman, a Torah scholar in Israel, and had several children. Ephraim was unsatisfied with the Haredi lifestyle and eventually became a member of the Religious Zionist camp. He served in the Israel Defense Forces, received a doctorate in history and philosophy, and presently works as a supervisor for the Israel Ministry of Education.

Rebbetzin Guttel Schach died in 1969 from complications relating to diabetes.


* "I remember how I was educated in my parents' home: when my yarmulke fell off my head, I was taught that you had to cry from distress. They were guided by a concern for the punctilious observance of mitzvos. Once I woke up after the zman Krias Shema according to the Magen Avraham and I burst out crying and continued to cry about it all day long."

Anonymous said...

UOJ posted a very strong threat today to Shlomo Mandel. It's at the top of the blog sidebar.

Is Nussbaum still working in the YOB building? Or is Mandel still sending kids to him?

exposemolesters said...

Anonymous said...

" UOJ posted a very strong threat today to Shlomo Mandel. It's at the top of the blog sidebar.

Is Nussbaum still working in the YOB building? Or is Mandel still sending kids to him?
December 10, 2007

The answer is yes to both questions. Yes, Yehudah Nussbaum is still working in the YOB building, 1200 Ocean Parkway, as the resource room rebbe. Meaning, weaker kids are sent to Nussbaum for private one on one tutoring.

And yes, Shlomo Mandel still refers boys over for tutoring to his good child molesting buddy, Yehudah Nussbaum. The tutoring takes place at Nussbaums house, and sometimes Nussbaum travels to them.

Nussbaum also checks Shatnez in his basement where many children are left alone with him.

Yehudah Nussbaum

1854 47th St

Brooklyn, NY 11204-1235

(718) 851-2622


Shlomo Mandel; When some teacher in your girls school was abusing kids and locking them up in closets; parents were outraged. That teacher was eventually fired because you and your father couldn't take the negative publicity at the time. You have a history of violence yourself. You're a spineless, gutless, weasel. You never fooled me with your fake cries and wicked behavior.

YOB is making their 100th Anniversary Dinner on Sunday, March 9th, 2008.

Call, Fax, or write these hoodlums, these loathsome, deplorable mental midgets, and express your outrage at their sexual abuse cover-up and denials:

Administrative Office and Girls Division: 1470 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11230
Tel: 718 376-3775
Fax: 718 376-4280

Boys Division: 1200 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11230

Tel: 718 252-9500
Fax: 718 252-1883

exposemolesters said...

UOJ is king and will always be king in my book. His critics can never take away the fact that UOJ saves lives. He's the modern day Rabbi Meir Kahane Zt'l.

exposemolesters said...

There are many other worthy bloggers, commentators, yidden, and people working behind the scenes - who are also very deserving of a round of applause and a standing ovation for their commitment and dedication to saving lives. May the Ribono Shel Olam ravish upon them all that is good!

Shaul Mofaz said...

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Mofaz to flex his muscles, challenge Olmert
Gil Hoffman , THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 9, 2007

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz intends to use the Hanukka holiday that celebrates the heroism of the Maccabees to demonstrate his political might as a leader and as a potential challenger in Kadima to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mofaz invited more than 200 supporters to light candles with him at Kadima's Petah Tikva headquarters on Monday in an effort to spark his run for the Kadima chairmanship in a race that could be decided in the party's membership drive that is currently taking place and ends in March.

Over the past few weeks, Mofaz's opposition to Olmert has intensified and the two men have made no effort to sugarcoat their animosity.

Mofaz angered Olmert last Wednesday when he visited Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and warned against the Annapolis process in a meeting the rabbi initiated.

"Olmert's diplomatic path is dangerous," Mofaz told the rabbi, according to people present at the meeting. "He is letting Hamas people into the heart of Jerusalem."

Mofaz blasted Olmert for releasing so many Palestinian prisoners and not leaving enough potential bargaining chips to use to bring home kidnapped corporal Gilad Schalit. He said Olmert was mistaken for negotiating with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and that any promise Israel received from him was a check that would bounce.

Yosef asked Mofaz in the meeting why he did not say such things to Olmert's face. Mofaz responded that he did, and the following day he did just that.

At Olmert's Hanukkah party, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made a point of speaking for less than a minute. She recalled the wars of the past marked on the holiday and said that the government was working to prevent the wars of the future. In his speech, Olmert apologized to the crowd for speaking only about education and not diplomatic issues.

Mofaz, by contrast, gave a political speech in which he warned Olmert not to discuss the core issues of the conflict unless Abbas gained control over all the cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He also spoke about Jerusalem in a way that made him sound like he fit more in the Right's protest against dividing the capital that was taking place at the same time at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

Olmert's opponents in the opposition have tried to exploit the rivalry between the two men, eagerly seeking Mofaz's signature for every petition against the prime minister, no matter what the issue. Mofaz signed one petition vowing to vote to keep Jerusalem undivided and another calling for the removal of Education Minister Yuli Tamir.

At a meeting of Kadima ministers, Olmert said it was "improper" of Mofaz to sign the anti-Tamir petition circulated by the Likud, and he repeated his criticism to reporters in Annapolis. Sources close to the prime minister were later quoted as accusing Mofaz of "dancing at two weddings simultaneously" by running against Olmert in Kadima while trying to pave his way back to the Likud. That charge angered Mofaz.

"[Such attacks] are intended to weaken Mofaz's standing in Kadima, and there is no truth to it at all," a Mofaz associate said. "To say that he is dancing at two weddings? What weddings? His situation in Kadima is not bad and that will be clear from his event [Monday], which will be impressive."

Mofaz has told Likud officials to stop openly courting him. He has told them that they were damaging him in Kadima, where he vows to stay.

Likud officials said that Mofaz also vowed to stay in their party before jumping ship to Kadima. They urged him to come to the Likud sooner rather than later and said the later he comes, the less he would be worth to them.

"The longer Olmert's government lasts, the less important it is for Mofaz to bring it down, because it will already fall without him," a senior Likud source said. "But he belongs in the Likud, and he has credentials as a former IDF chief of General Staff that make him valuable. Valuable, but not at any price."

850 Rabbis Emergency Chanukah Message said...

850 Rabbis Emergency Chanukah Message to President and Mrs. Bush: Don't Visit Israel Now, Jews will Suffer!

NEW YORK, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sunday evening, December
9, 2007, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, a 60-year-old National
Rabbinic Organization with over 860 members, issued a statement calling on
President Bush and the First Lady to postpone any plans to visit Israel in
January. The plea was made over YouTube by the spokesman for the Rabbinical
Alliance, Rabbi Yehuda Levin. Because of this grave situation the
Rabbinical Alliance is holding an emergency Chanukah meeting to be followed
by a press conference today on Monday December 10th.

Said Rabbi Levin:

"Amongst the recent occurrences that have dimmed the Chanukah
festivities for many Jews is the assassination of Ido Zoldan an Israeli
citizen, on the eve of Annapolis by Abbas controlled, Al Aksa Brigade. The
Israeli government covered up the I.D. of the assassins, which we now know
are Palestinian Authority policemen.

"While the Olmert Government is authorizing the Palestinians to receive
50 armored vehicles, 1,000 rifles and two million rounds of ammunition;
concomitantly the Israel Defense Forces are disarming hundreds of thousands
of settlers, thus making them, G-d forbid, sitting ducks or dead ducks.

"We believe the Israeli government would not be acting so rashly in
this situation if not for the pressure of Annapolis. A Presidential visit
now could quantify that pressure, and who will apologize for the ensuing
causalities or fatalities, G-d forbid."

This conference will be attended by 25-50 Rabbis and will deliberate
the steps to take in communicating to the President and First Lady the
potential danger that their visit can cause to the lives and limbs of
hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews. There are currently three responses
on the agenda:

1. A "Jew-Tube" campaign. Young and old, Jew and Gentile, will be asked to
sign a petition and to create their own YouTube video explaining to
the First Couple why they should not travel to Israel at this time.
2. The possibility of organizing an international fast day with millions
fasting and praying for the First Couple to change their plans, to
understand the heightened dangers to residents of Israel caused by any
"fast-tracking" or perceived pressure. Furthermore, any peace deal must
be truly fair, equitable and secure for each one of the hundreds of
thousands who may be displaced.
3. The possibility of having a historic Rabbinical March on Washington
modeled after the one during World War II. In that march the Rabbis
were asking President Franklin Roosevelt to rescue Jews during the
Holocaust. However, the President heeded bad advice and left the White
House through a back door. If this plan is adopted, Rabbis who
participated in the original March, 64 years ago would be asked to lead
the current march to call attention to the blatant danger to Jewish
life and limb in Israel.
In conclusion, Rabbi Levin stated: "Any Presidential visit at this time
is bound to have a deleterious effect on the Israeli populace, as Israeli
leaders hasten to comply with the pressure they are made to feel. Because
things are being rushed precipitously at the end of the Bush
Administration, G-d forbid many innocent civilian lives may be sacrificed
this year or in the future."

The Press Conference will begin at 12:00 noon on Monday, December 10,
2007. It will be held on the ground floor of: Kehilas Mevakshai Hashem
Outreach Center located at 3011 Avenue K, Brooklyn, NY 11210.

SOURCE Rabbinical Alliance of America

Anonymous said...

Child molester gets 13 years
Judge: Amend Sexual Offences Act
Imran Ali
Tuesday, December 11th 2007

Government should make psychological counselling available to all victims of sexual abuse, a High Court judge said yesterday as he sent a Caroni man to jail for 13 years for molesting a six-year-old girl.

Justice Mark Mohammed also called on Government to move immediately to amend the Sexual Offences Act as it related to the registration of convicted sex offenders.

According to the judge, that part of the Act was so badly written that orders made under it cannot be properly carried out.

"I make the call for this to be done as a matter of urgency. One hopes that it will not take a tragedy... for one to realise that the need (for the relevant amendments)," he said.

In addition to sending 40-year-old Jimmy Gopaul to jail, Justice Mohammed ordered that he be placed on the registry of sexual offenders for a period of five years, which is expected to start running from the date of his release from prison.

Gopaul pleaded guilty on December 5, to a charge of grievous sexual assault against a six-year-old girl on June 22, 2004.

His guilty plea came after he heard that the girl, now nine years old, tried to kill herself as the trial date neared. His mother also convinced him to take responsibility for his actions.

Justice Mohammed had ordered an assessment of how the assault has impacted on the victim, and referring to the report yesterday, he said it was clear that the girl had been sent into a "psychological abyss" which would require long-term counselling to help her recover.

"Physical injury is one aspect (of a sexual assault). Psychological wounds may last a lifetime," the judge said, adding that it was time that counselling services should be more widely available, especially for child victims.

Acting Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Jeron Joseph, who represented the State, told the judge the girl was expected start free counselling sessions this week.

Regarding the sexual offenders registry, which the Sexual Offences Act provides for, Justice Mohammed said many sections of that part of the Act needed simple amendments to "tidy them up".

Gopaul was represented by attorney Larry Williams, and the case was heard in the Port of Spain Second Criminal Court, at the Hall of Justice.

Child molester sentenced to 40 years in prison said...

Child molester sentenced to 40 years in prison
Friday, December 7, 2007

Monico Gonzales of Leander was sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Monico Gonzalez

Gonzales, 34, was convicted and sentenced by Judge Ken Anderson.

In July 2007, a 12-year old Leander girl told her mother that Gonzales had been forcing her to perform oral sex on him. Leander police investigated, and Gonzales eventually confessed to police that he had been sexually abusing the child for several months.

Gonzales also admitted to police that he had been giving rides to school to a middle school girl in the neighborhood. Police have not been able to identify that child in order to investigate the case further. “We are hoping that anyone with information about this unknown child will come forward,” said District Attorney John Bradley. “Any other child harmed by this criminal should no longer be afraid and can be kept safe through the Children’s Advocacy Center.”

Anyone with information about Monico Gonzales can call Det. A.J. Keirn with the Leander Police Department. Gonzales is not eligible for parole for at least 20 years.

Avrohm Mondrowitz said...

This guy is stealing my tricks. Counseling boys and then molesting them.

Porn lands child molester back in jail

Staff Writer Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 12/07/2007

SKOWHEGAN -- A former Pittsfield psychologist and convicted child molester was sent back to jail Wednesday for violating probation less than two months after he was released from prison.

Mark Morin, 48, was sentenced to six additional months in Somerset County Jail after being found with pornographic material, according to Somerset County District Attorney Evert N. Fowle.

Morin, who served three years of a five-year sentence for a 2003 conviction for unlawful sexual contact with a 9-year-old boy whose mother Morin had counseled, was arrested for violating his probation on Oct. 19, just four days after being released from prison, Fowle said.

"He didn't waste any time violating his probation," Fowle said. "It doesn't bode well for his future. The probation officers tend to keep an extra close eye on people like Mr. Morin because of the risk they pose."

Janet Mills, who represented Morin during Wednesday's hearing, said Morin was found with copies of Playboy magazine, which violated his probation.

"He's not alleged to have committed any new crimes," Mills said.

Morin contended during Wednesday's hearing that he had told his probation officer about the magazines and was waiting until trash pick-up day to throw them out.

The claim did little to sway Justice Joseph Jabar, who had presided over Morin's trial in 2003, Fowle said.

The district attorney's office argued that Morin should spend another year in prison, while Mills argued for time served.

"I think the justice took Mr. Morin's protestations with several large grains of salt," Fowle said. "The judge did indicate if this had been child pornography he would have thrown the book at him."

The 9-year-old victim in the 2003 case had attended several counseling sessions with his mother. According to testimony given during the trial, in 2002, when the counseling sessions ended, the boy's mother sought a romantic relationship with Morin. Morin told the woman that ethics required he wait at least two years, but that they could be friends.

Between April and September 2002 the boy, his mother and Morin attended birthdays and barbecues together and the boy often spent the night at Morin's home.

During those sleep-overs, the boy testified, Morin molested him.

Craig Crosby -- 861-9253

exposemolesters said...


Original Content at

December 8, 2007

There are likely thousands more crime victims of pedophile priests in LA

By Kay Ebeling

Ongoing coverage of sex crimes in the Catholic Church
December 8, 2007

By Kay Ebeling

Ongoing coverage of sex crimes in the Catholic Church


By Kay Ebeling

My sister in is a news junkie. Every morning she goes out and walks up Haight St. to get the NY Times, the Chronicle, and a stack of the free dailies they have in San Francisco. Yet until we talked last week, she had never even heard about the one-year window in 2003 that allowed persons in California to file lawsuits against the Catholic Church, no matter how many years or decades back their rape by pedophile priests took place.

California Seminarians recruited boys into the priesthood and pedophilia at the same time. The older pedophiles developed younger pedophiles who then became parish priests around Southern California. Church hierarchy did not just allow pedophilia to take place, but they regularly promoted known perpetrators to high places in Education, Recruiting, and Advocacy, with titles such as Director of the Office of Family Life.

Known California pedophile priests instead of going to prisons, got new assignments where they’d have even more access to children, and more freedom to propagate their crimes. There was more going on here than benevolent neglect.

A quick read of just one complaint filed in the LA clergy cases leaves one thinking there are probably thousands more crime victims of Baker, Rucker, Boyer, Wempe, Loomis, Martini, Miani, Roemer, Hagenbach, Reilly, Burbank, Caffoe, Henry, Miani, Rodriguez, Falvey and the other Jesuits at Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood -- the list of perpetrator priests is lo-o-o-o-o-ong in LA alone.

Here are excerpts from the original complaint for just one of the 506 LA cases, written by plaintiff attorney Tony DeMarco of Kiesel, Boucher & Larson.

DeMarco, by the way, got a bachelor’s degree in Journalism before going on to law school. . .

Quotes from the Complaint # BC307934, filed December 17, 2003:

From 1955 through 2002 at least 28 high ranking priests within the LA Archdiocese inner circle who have been accused or convicted of sex abuse, occupied the highest positions.

Well placed priests including Bishops Juan Arzube and G. Patrick Ziemann “used their prominence in the archdiocese administration to cover up for other priests.

Priests involved in education such as Leland Boyer and Gerald Fessard utilized their positions of authority to gain access to victims and then to funnel the children they molested into seminaries and the priesthood.

These 26 priests and likely many others occupied positions such as Auxiliary Bishops, Vicar for Clergy, Vicars General, deans, and teachers at local seminaries and as recruiters for seminaries.

The elevation of child molesters to these positions helps explain why so many child molesting priests were protected by the Defendant Doe Archdiocese, how so many child molesters became priests, and how so many seminarians and priests became child molesters.

THE PRESENCE OF SUCH A HIGH NUMBER OF MOLESTERS IN THE ARCHDIOCESE underscores the institutional and cultural acceptance and acquiescence that is concordant with the systematic failure of the Defendant Doe Archdiocese to take appropriate action to prevent further abuse.


Child molester priests congregated in three arms of archdiocesan religious education. Administrators, faculty at the Junior Seminary, members of the Cocations Commission who acted as recruiters for Junior and Major Seminaries.

In these capacities child molester priests had increased opportunities to seek out additional victims who they then steered into the seminary.

Once they were preyed upon and, for too many, inculcated into a perverse lifestyle, the only thing unacceptable about molesting children was being caught by someone that might complain.

There can be little doubt that this systematic molestation of children at the seminaries, grade schools and parishes, was known within the community of priests. Fellow priests did nothing to prevent the continuation of abuse because they themselves were molesting, or they feared reprisal from the high ranking priests who were child molesters.

The complaint gives short bios on the following priests:

Leland Boyer
Joseph Sharpe
G. Patrick Ziemann
Gerald Fessard
Edward Dober
Richard Martini
John Farris
John Dougherty
Stephen Hernandez
Fidencio Silva
Patrick Roemer

All of these were associated with Our Lady Queen of Angels Junior Seminary


For much if not all of this time the Defendant Doe Archdiocese and the Vatican have been aware of priests’ sexual improprieties with young boys.

In his capacity as Auxiliary Bishop, Arzube exercised extraordinary influence in promoting other pedophiles within the priesthood and in aiding coverups and transfers of molesting priests. One such molester that Arzube had a direct part in promoting was Joseph Pina, who for many years served at St. Alphonsus parish in Los Angeles.


Richard Loomis: Vicar for Clergy, received complaints re priests.

Clinton Hagenbach:

Not less than 11 children at several different parishes and hospitals that were molested by Clinton Hagenbach throughout his career have come forward. At his parish assignment, Hagenbach regularly had boys alone with him in his rectory bedroom in which he maintained a fraternity house like environment that was obvious to parish staff and fellow priests. In 1978 he joined McLaughlin, the pastor at his parish, as an

(Hagenbach in 1981 was) elevated to being a Judge in the Synodal Tribunals of the defendant Doe Archdiocese, where he remained until 1986 shortly before his death.

Several other priests are listed:

Thomas Havel

Michael Wempe - Scores of children who were molested by Father Michael Wempe throughout the late 1960s through the 1980s have come forward. In the late 1960s Wempe was made an “Advocate and Notary for the Archdiocese Courts.”

Peter Garcia
George Scott
David Cousineau
George Gunst

All elevated to high positions

Theodore Llanos - was not removed after complaints were raised in the 1970s and 1980s. Rather in the early 1990s he was elevated to the personnel board.

On the Personnel Board Llanos could influence decisions regarding whether child molester priests should go to treatment or evaluation, whether they should be removed, or transferred, and if so to where.

Louis Stallkamp

Micahael Baker - after returning from Jemez Springs for treatment assigned to the Office of Vicar for Clergy under his friend timothy Dyer who was Vicar for Clergy.

Rene Carlos Rodriguez

After complaints about abuse of 4 children he was promoted to Director of the Office of Family Life in Santa Barbara for the Los Angeles archdiocese. “in that post he had regular contact with Catholic families and children, often visiting them in their homes.”

In at least one case “Rodriguez molested the three -- brothers 1988 - 1994

On page 41 of 47 of the complaint: Conclusions

“As a result of dangerous conditions created by Defendant Archdiocese Defendant Does 2 - 16

“The sexual abuse of plaintiffs by the perpetrators arose from, was incidental to, and was in the course and scope of the Perpatrators influence with defendant archdiocese, Defendant Doe Schools, parishes and orders and Doe’s 16 - 1000


“And each of these Defendants ratified or approved of that sexual contact.

(At all times Defendants) knew that the Perpetrators had a history of committing sexual assaults against children and that any child at, among other locations, Defendant Does 2-16 schools and parishes, and hospitals, were at risk to be sexually assaulted by the Perpetrators.

Archdiocese “Knew or should have known children were at risk to be sexually assaulted.”

More to come. . .

Coverage of sex crimes in the Catholic Church

Authors Website:

Authors Bio: Wordsmith working in TV production in Los Angeles. Also free lance journalist with an active blog. Old enough to have demonstrated against the Vietnam War but still young enough to dance.

Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz zt'l said...

Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz (1886 - 7 September 1948) was an early leader of American Orthodoxy and founder of key institutions such as Torah Vodaath, a Yeshiva in Brooklyn, and Torah U'Mesorah, an outreach and educational organization. He is credited by many to have pioneered authentic Jewish education in the United States. His policies were often informed by Torah im Derech Eretz[1] . In the words of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein: "Were it not for him, there would be no Torah study and no Fear of Heaven at all in America."


Mendlowitz was born in Világ, Hungary, a small town near the border of Poland. He pronounced his family name Mendelovich. His mother died when he was twelve, and shortly afterwards the family relocated to Mezõlabor, where he studied under the local rabbis. Having received semicha at 17, he continued his studies under Rabbi Simcha Bunim Schreiber (the Shevet Sofer, grandson of the Chatam Sofer). Throughout his life, however, he refused to use the title of Rabbi and insisted on being referred to as "Mr. Mendlowitz."

At 22 he married in the town of Humenné, and began to study several Jewish writings not well known in Hungary, including the works of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch; this briefly led to controversy until he could prove the relevance of Hirsch's work in defending the Orthodox viewpoint against attempts at reforming Jewish practice.


He actively sought positions in Germany and the United States, with the intention of disseminating knowledge of Judaism to Jews previously unexposed to their heritage, and in September 1913, he arrived alone in Philadelphia. He lived in Scranton, Pennsylvania for seven years, teaching in the local Talmud Torah (afternoon program in Jewish studies). In 1920 he was able to bring his family from Hungary, and settled in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The founding members of the yeshiva Torah Vodaath soon offered him the principalship of the institution. Originally starting off as an elementary school, Rabbi Shraga Feivel soon added the first Yeshiva high school in America. The yeshiva opened its mesivta in 1926 and then under Rabbi Mendlowitz' direction, another first in America, a post-graduate program. Rabbi Mendlowitz first appointed Rabbi Gedalia Schorr to the faculty of the Yeshiva, later to become its principal and Rosh Yeshiva.

Despite his devotion to Torah Vodaath he assisted in the founding (both personally and financially) of several similar institutions, such as Mesivta Chaim Berlin (to which he relinquished a number of his top pupils), Telshe Cleveland and Beis Medrash Gevoha. All grew to occupy important places in 20th century American Orthodoxy.

His work in Jewish education extended to several other organisations he founded. Aish Dos was a specialized institution that focused on teaching outreach skills, Torah Umesora was a nationwide umbrella organization for Jewish day schools, and Beis Medrash Elyon was one of America's first post-graduate yeshivas (which also included a kollel). In 1931 he founded Camp Mesivta, the first yeshiva day camp.


* Rosenblum, Yonason. Reb Shraga Feivel - The Life and Times of Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, the Architect of Torah in America. Brooklyn, NY: Artscroll Mesorah, 2001, (ISBN 1-57819-797-X).

Anonymous said...

My family used to live in Har Nof. I recall when people were frozen with fear that their children will become the next victim. I also recall the deadly silence, or a wave of the hand, when people tried to talk about it. The whole thing was surreal. I don't know if there were any new developments, but I thought this was some useful information to share.

The New York Times said...

The New York Times

December 10, 2007
As Orthodox Population Grows, So Do Tensions

LAKEWOOD, N.J. — A fault line runs through Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in Lakewood, dividing the black families that have lived here for years, many in run-down apartment complexes at one end of the street, from their new neighbors, the Orthodox Jewish families who mostly occupy a row of two-story houses on the other side.

The black families are slowly leaving this street, and the Orthodox Jewish families are moving in. Their lives barely intersect, though it is barely half a mile from one end of the drive to the other.

Motti Schwartz, a 26-year-old student at a large yeshiva here, rents an apartment on King Drive.

“You come into a neighborhood that’s not really yours,” he said. “I think there’s probably a lot of animosity.”

Ronald Daye, who is black, lived in one of the apartment complexes but recently moved to another town. “There’s jealousy because they stick together,” he said, referring to the Orthodox Jews. “We all want our own schools. This town has too many people, and there will be problems.”

The problems, many people say, are already here. Black residents charge that new housing is being built only for Orthodox Jews, who, they say, are pushing black residents out and taking over the town. Members of the Jewish community say such accusations sometimes cloak anti-Semitic sentiments.

The tension has played out in a series of violent episodes over the last two years that have laid bare the strains in this town of 73,000 near the Jersey Shore.

In 2006, a black teenager and an Orthodox Jewish teacher got into a fight in an alley behind a synagogue, and the teacher’s trial on assault charges still divides the town into angry camps. In October, another Jewish teacher was beaten with a bat by a black man with a history of mental illness. Last month, there was another beating: a 14-year-old Orthodox Jewish boy was attacked by what he described as a gang of black and white teenagers. The attackers, the boy said, used the word “Jew.”

Lakewood reported 41 bias crimes to state authorities in 2005 and 26 in 2006, more than any other town in Ocean County. But officials say that this, in part, reflects Lakewood’s greater diversity, and no one believes that the relations between Lakewood’s black and Jewish residents have sunk to the depths that contributed to the 1991 riots in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Still, interviews with people living in the town suggest that black and Jewish relations are, for the most part, locked in a deep misunderstanding because of cultural differences, economic disparities, or complaints by some members of each group about unequal treatment by the town’s authorities.

“This is a divided town,” said Steve Sanders, who raked leaves on a recent afternoon at the home of his boss, an Orthodox Jew. Mr. Sanders, who is white, said he moved to Lakewood a year ago. Now, he said, he is considering moving to Freehold, N.J.

“It’s not segregated there,” he said.

There is a familiar ring to Lakewood’s story: One group arrives, another leaves, and in the upheaval, sparks fly. But town officials say that the changes here have been so rapid that they are struggling to keep up.

The town’s population has almost doubled since 1990 — the 2006 census put the population at 73,000 but town officials say that figure is low — and much of that growth has been in the insular, strictly Orthodox Jewish community, which has increased to an estimated 40,000 people, up from about 18,000 in 1995. Thousands of Hispanic immigrants have also moved to Lakewood in the last five years, township officials said.

Many Orthodox Jews have been drawn to Lakewood by the prestige of the town’s yeshiva, Beth Medrash Govoha, one of the largest rabbinical colleges in the world. The yeshiva was founded in 1943 by a Polish-born rabbi, Aaron Kotler. In 1962, when Rabbi Kotler died, the school had 250 students. It now has about 5,000.

The wider yeshiva community includes more than a hundred temples, and about 50 schools.

Large homes are sprouting everywhere. One development, called West Gate, will have room for 900 families when it is completed, along with its own shopping mall with businesses including Sinai Dental and Kosher West, a supermarket.

The Jewish community has also vigorously participated in local politics. Last year, Meir Lichtenstein became the town’s first Orthodox mayor. The majority of the school board members are Orthodox Jews.

Lakewood was a once a popular resort town, a winter retreat for wealthy New Yorkers on the edge of the Pine Barrens, and later, home to dozens of poultry farms. Many Jewish residents said they were drawn by the town’s bucolic character.

“The air is so good here,” said Orly Helwani, standing in the hallway of her house on King Drive. “There was too much action in Brooklyn.”

Some black residents say that the growing Orthodox population is displacing other groups. But town officials, including some black leaders, say the complaints ring hollow: Many long-term residents are selling their homes to developers or Orthodox families, often at a substantial profit. Black residents — who made up about 13 percent of the population in 2000, and about 9 percent now — are leaving every year and moving to other towns in Ocean County or to the South, leaders of the community say.

Last year, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the owner of a Lakewood apartment complex, charging discrimination against black and Hispanic tenants in favor of Jewish ones. The case is still pending.

And the increasing presence of Orthodox Jews in leadership positions — a point of pride for the Jewish community — is resented by some black residents.

“People don’t think the town is being run fairly,” said the Rev. Thomas E. Simpson Sr., the pastor at the Intercessory Tabernacle Ministries, a black church.

There have been fights about the administration of the school system. Orthodox Jewish students attend private schools, but are eligible for millions of dollars of public money for busing, according to the town’s current mayor, Ray Coles. Black residents have complained that decisions about public schools attended largely by black and Hispanic students are made by a school board where 5 of the 9 members are Orthodox Jews.

Warren A. Sherard, the head of the local N.A.A.C.P. branch, said he had tried to get black residents more invested in the politics of the town.

“I went to churches and told people, ‘We need to vote in school board elections,’ ” he said. “I know people want to throw stones, but everyone’s got to vote.”

Similar resentment festers among the Orthodox Jews: In interviews, some said housing inspectors were overzealous in citing violations in Orthodox homes, and others accused the police of singling out Jews at times for minor infractions.

Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, who runs a local social service agency and is a member of the Vaad, a council of Orthodox leaders, said members of his community were especially hurt by talk of Jews taking over Lakewood.

The recent episodes of violence have left scars on both sides.

Some black residents say it was unfair that the Jewish teacher’s fight with the black teenager, Jamarr Dickerson, was not officially termed a bias crime. While finding the teacher, Elchonon Zimmerman, not guilty of assault, a judge scolded him for singling out the teenager because he was black.

The two incidents involving attacks on Jews — the beating of Rabbi Mordechai Moskowitz, and the assault on a Jewish teenager, who has not been identified by officials — have reverberated in Jewish homes. “The beating of Rabbi Moskowitz was talked about at each and every dinner table,” said one Jewish resident.

Rabbi Weisberg, Mr. Sherard and town officials say they are working to help everyone get along, and, they say, they have already made great strides in nurturing tolerance.

At a monthly “dialogue” meeting, for example, representatives of the black, Orthodox Jewish and Hispanic communities try to work out problems. Orthodox Jewish voters helped elect a black school board member. Rabbi Moskowitz has been visiting Jewish schools and talking to students about improving relations with the black community. And the town has given its blessing to a nighttime civilian car patrol, to be staffed by blacks, Jews and Hispanics.

“These might just be the growing pains of every town,” Rabbi Weisberg said. “What bothers me is when each community retreats to itself, and there is a siege mentality. The goal is to be fully integrated.”

Reuters said...

By Wafa Amr

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinians warned on Monday they might boycott peace negotiations starting this week after Israel defied Washington and other international sponsors of the process by planning new homes on occupied land.

The chief negotiators, former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurie and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, met to prepare the relaunch of talks on Wednesday. The negotiations, after an often violent seven-year hiatus, follow two weeks after U.S. President George W. Bush hosted a conference at Annapolis.

Senior Palestinian officials said Qurie, insisting Israel honor a pledge renewed at Annapolis to end settlement activity, demanded it cancel a construction tender announced days after the conference. The plan is to build 307 homes and other units in an existing settlement near Jerusalem on land Israel annexed from the West Bank after it occupied the territory in 1967.

If not, they said, some leaders have proposed a boycott over construction at the site, which gained notoriety when the start of building in 1997 triggered a collapse in peace talks.

"There's a debate within the Palestinian leadership between those who call for boycotting talks on Wednesday and those who say go, but focus only on demanding a settlement freeze," said Azzam al-Ahmad from President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party.

Livni's spokesman said only that the meeting was to prepare talks on Wednesday between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He noted the Israeli position that the settlement at Har Homa, known as Abu Ghneim by Arabs, falls outside commitments in the 2003 road map peace plan because it was annexed to Israel.

The annexation of East Jerusalem and adjacent West Bank land is not recognized internationally and Palestinians see building at the site, just north of Bethlehem, as part of a plan to divide the West Bank in two and isolate Arab East Jerusalem, which Abbas wants as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters: "It's putting the negotiations and the peace process in jeopardy this time ... Qurie demanded that Israel revoke the tenders to build in Jabal Abu Ghneim and give peace the chance it deserves."


On Monday, the European Union joined the United States and United Nations in voicing concern about the new building plan.

"May I ... call on the Israeli government indeed to abide by all of its commitments being made before and at Annapolis and also to avoid any action that might put the process of building confidence on both sides into question," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in Brussels.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has invested much political capital in the process for the final year of the Bush administration, said the Har Homa tender "doesn't help build confidence". She warned Israel not to prejudge the outcome of talks intended to determine the fate of Jewish settlements.

Palestinian officials said Qurie and Livni discussed key issues that will be addressed in a negotiating process that Bush has said he hopes can conclude a deal on establishing a Palestinian state next year, before he steps down in 13 months.

These also include the future of Jerusalem, the borders of the two states, the fate of Palestinian refugees and water.

Few on either side are anything but skeptical of Abbas and Olmert's ability to deliver, given their weaknesses at home.

Olmert, in a speech that addressed widespread Israeli doubts that Abbas can meet his road map commitment to prevent attacks on the Jewish state, said on Monday: "This leadership is not strong enough ... However, there is a leadership which declares its desire to make peace with us. This is an opportunity."

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told EU ministers in Brussels he was committed to continuing efforts to establish new security forces and complained Israeli settlement activity was bolstering support for those who reject the peace process.

"How can we stem the tide of rejectionism and convince our people that the peace process will lead to our freedom when, at the same time, Israel continues to build and expand settlements?" Fayyad said, according a text of his speech.

Palestinian negotiators said they feared Israel was trying to avoid negotiating on Jerusalem for fear of a backlash among right-wing voters. Olmert's vice premier said on Sunday that Israel should hand over some occupied Arab areas to Palestinian control if it wanted to retain the support of its U.S. ally.

Alternative shmita kashrut supervision dismantled said...

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Alternative shmita kashrut supervision dismantled
Matthew Wagner , THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 11, 2007

Tzohar Rabbis and the Religious Kibbutz Movement announced Monday that they have dismantled their alternative kosher supervision apparatus that was set up for the shmita (Sabbatical) year.

The alternative kosher supervision was created in protest against the halachic policy of several chief rabbis of cities, including Herzliya, Hadera, Kfar Saba, Rehovot, Bat Yam and Petah Tikva.

These rabbis rescinded kashrut certificates of restaurants, hotels and caterers that sold Jewish-grown vegetables because they refused to recognize a halachic solution called heter mechira (authorized sale) in which Jewish-owned land was temporarily "sold" to a non-Jew.

This "sale" was supposed to circumvent the biblical prohibition against working the land of Israel in the shmita year by abrogating the sanctity of Jewish-owned land during that year.

Tzohar rabbis, many of whom are employed by the Chief Rabbinate, began issuing alternative kashrut certificates two months ago.

The Chief Rabbinate's governing body opposed the move and took the side of the local rabbis, who refused to recognize heter mechira. The Chief Rabbinate, which recognized in principle the legitimacy of heter mechira, nevertheless argued that local rabbis should be given full autonomy to rule in accordance with their conscience.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court - in a blatant intervention by a secular court on a religious matter - responding to a petition by wholesale suppliers and Jewish farmers who said they would lose millions of shekels worth of business if heter mechira were not recognized, ruled that the Chief Rabbinate was obligated to provide kashrut certificates to business that sold heter mechira vegetables. The Supreme Court argued that since the chief rabbinate itself recognized the legitimacy of heter mechira, it could not deny restaurants, hotels and caterers certificates for selling heter mechira vegetables.

Rabbi Moshe Rauchverger, a senior member of the chief rabbinate's governing body, said in response that Tzohar had never really established a significant kashrut supervision apparatus. Therefore, there was nothing to dismantle.

"The whole thing was a stunt to force the chief rabbinate to cave in to pressure to allow the sale of heter mechira products," said Rauchverger. "Even some of Tzohar's own rabbis do not recognize heter mechira as legitimate."

Rauchverger said that as a result of the Supreme Court decision, three rabbis were given authorization to provide kashrut certificates in cities where the local rabbis refused to.

Kiryat Arba-Hebron Chief Rabbi Dov Lior is responsible for central and southern Israel, including Judea and Samaria. Haifa Chief Rabbi Shear Yishuv Cohen is responsible for the North. Yosef Harel, the rabbi responsible for the Judea region, provides kashrut certificates to businesses in Jerusalem.

Avi Shafran said...

How dare Israel allow this kind of religious insanity. I am emphatically against this. Throw in the part that they are of female gender. Are you kidding me?

Next. If you're going to ask me to comment on the sexual abuse accusations against some of our prestigious Rabbi's in the community - I would have no comment about such baseless claims.,7340,L-3481590,00.html

Conservatives ordain 3 female rabbis in Jerusalem

A significant event for the Conservative Movement in Israel: Three women and one man ordained Sunday; MK Melchior awarded prize for promoting religious tolerance
Neta Sela

Neta Sela
Published: 12.11.07
Israel Jewish Scene

Four new conservative rabbis, Chaya Rowel-Baker, Judith Rubin, Roni Boaz-Klein and Gali Snir were ordained Sunday in Jerusalem by the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary. At the ceremony in Jerusalem, Knesset Member Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) was awarded the Liebhaber Prize for Religious Tolerance.

The Marc and Henia Liebhaber Prize for Promotion of Religious Tolerance and Cultural Pluralism in Israel, which was first given 13 years ago following the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was awarded to MK Melchior for his role in "nurturing religious and secular dialogue and the nurturing of the relationship between the leaders of the three monotheistic religions".

Rabbi Marc Liebhaber presented the prize and told the audience about his three basic values: dialogue, multiculturalism and skepticism.

Liebhaber told a Yiddish tale about Jews who went to their rabbi and asked his permission to desecrate Shabbat in an emergency. The rabbis did not agree. According to Liebhaber, the rabbi did not understand that different people have different needs and different values. He said that Israel is powerful and prosperous because of its diversity, because of the combination of religious and secular, Zionists and non-Zionists.

Dial - a - Rabbi said...

by Lizzie Widdicombe December 17, 2007

Rabbi Stuart Shiff, one of six New York rabbis employed by Aish HaTorah, a nonprofit Jewish-education organization, carries two pieces of equipment: a BlackBerry and a book of the Torah. Weekdays, he treks to businesses around the city on behalf of Aish’s Executive Learning Program—for a voluntary donation (average: ten thousand dollars), bosses who are too busy to go to shul can have a rabbi meet them at the office. “Studying the Torah took my mind off the stress,” Lisa Shalett, the C.E.O. of Sanford Bernstein, says in an Aish brochure.

“What this program does is it blows away all the excuses,” Shiff explained recently, in one of Aish’s conference rooms in midtown. “We have almost a postal carrier’s motto: nothing stops us.” It was 9:30 A.M. on the day before Hanukkah, and Shiff—who was wearing a black velvet yarmulke—had a meeting with Seth Horowitz, the former chief executive of Everlast, the boxing-supply company (which he had just sold for a reported hundred and sixty-eight million dollars). Horowitz, who is thirty-one, started studying with Shiff eighteen months ago. “I just needed to talk to someone,” he said, turning off his iPhone. “I’ve gained so much knowledge. This is the beauty of the program—the rabbi comes to your office, you discuss the Torah, and you talk about life.”

They had been reading Genesis 37, where Jacob arrives with his sons in Canaan. “ ‘Jacob settled in the land of his father’s sojournings,’ ” Shiff read. “Now, there’s an interesting extrapolation in the rabbinic commentary. It says vayeshev—that Jacob wanted to dwell. The extrapolation is that he wanted to have a life of ease. He didn’t want to have pressure or issues.” Then disaster happens: Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, is sold as a slave into Egypt. “It’s a very strange thing here,” Shiff said. “All Jacob wanted was some peace and quiet. What’s so wrong with that?”

Horowitz leaned back in a swivel chair. “It’s kind of the opposite of what we’re here for? Free will? Our opportunity to choose between good and bad?”

Shiff’s exegesis abounded with business-world metaphors: in prison in Egypt, Joseph mistakenly puts “all his trust in his network,” but he later rises to become “like the vice-president” of a company. Shiff had an appointment at eleven, at Bear Stearns. He arrived in a cluttered corner office where an executive in pinstripes was yelling into a telephone. A secretary sat nearby. She explained that although she was not Jewish, she enjoyed listening in on Shiff’s weekly visits. “I love everything about the Jewish faith,” she said. “I think it has a lot of wisdom.” The executive hung up the phone. “Basically, I’m a quasi disbeliever,” he explained. “I like talking to the rabbi, because I challenge him on a lot of the stuff. I like to ask my questions, which are mostly about the rigidity of religious beliefs. I’m probably his worst patient, if you want to call me a patient.”

“Maybe we can talk a little bit about Hanukkah,” Shiff said.

“O.K.,” the executive said. “Seven candles?”

“Eight! We light eight candles to commemorate a miracle. What’s the miracle we’re commemorating?”

“I don’t know.”

“They found oil in a temple that was desecrated by the Syrian-Greek army,” Shiff began. He got as far as the eight days, and the executive interrupted. “Where did they get the idea in the first place? That’s my question—who wrote the book?”

“The Maccabees,” Shiff said. “It’s history.”

“Yeah,” the executive said. “History I can buy.” They discussed the Jewish calendar (it’s both lunar and solar), and got around to Hanukkah presents. “I didn’t have them when I grew up,” the executive said. “I don’t think you should have them.”

Shiff said, “It’s probably better that way.”

When the session was over, Shiff got on the No. 6 train and headed uptown, to meet his twelve-thirty—a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai who was looking to the Kabbalah to illuminate his findings on postpartum depression. (At his last session, the client had become fascinated by the decree, in Genesis, that “in sorrow thou shalt bear forth children.”) “We go everywhere,” Shiff said on the train. “We go to J. P. Morgan, Bear, Bloomberg, Goldman—and everybody is so different. It’s not about conforming to anything. That last guy, I think sometimes he thinks he’s not living up to my expectations of him. But I don’t have any expectations. My whole job is helping him to stay connected. We like questions.”

Anonymous said...

Will Your Grandchildren Be Jewish?
By Aaron Moss


I fear for the future of the Jewish people. When I look at my family and where they are headed it is not very promising. My grandfather was a rabbi, but I am not sure my grandchildren will even be Jewish. What is the secret to keeping Judaism alive?


I have yet to meet a Jew who doesn't proudly claim, "My grandfather was a rabbi." It seems that three generations ago everyone was a rabbi.

What they really mean is that their grandfather was an observant Jew. He probably had a beard, prayed every day, and was knowledgeable in Torah. He may have been a cobbler or merchant or baker, not a rabbi, but he was a committed Jew.

Anyone who identifies as Jewish today only need go back three or four generations to find observant Jews in their family. And from there an unbroken chain of Jewish living that goes back three thousand years. Not that everyone has always been observant. There were plenty of unobservant Jews. But we don't know their grandchildren. They have been lost to the Jewish community.

Jewishness without Jewish observance cannot last more than a couple of generations. Unless they return to living Jewishly, the children of unobservant Jews will stop being Jewish altogether and assimilate. A family of unobservant Jews will lose one or the other - either the Jewishness, or the unobservance. You can't have both.

This is not a new phenomenon. Throughout Jewish history there have been individuals and groups who tried to keep a Jewish identity without Jewish practice. It has never worked. A vague Jewish ethnic feeling, devoid of any spiritual purpose and with no compelling message that is relevant to life, cannot last long. Only proud and authentic Judaism, that offers relevance and meaning, direction and inspiration, will stand the test of time.

In the times of the Chanukah story, a small band of faithful Jews stood up against the vast majority of Jews who subscribed to Hellenism, the Greek way of life. We celebrate Chanukah today because we descend from the faithful few.

The solution to Jewish continuity is no secret, it's obvious. Living breathing Judaism produces living breathing Jews. Do for your grandchildren what your grandfather did for you - be a living example of what it means to live a vibrant Jewish life. They don't need their grandfather to be a rabbi, but they need him to be a proud and practicing Jew.

Posted on December 11, 2007

Forward said...

In Other Jewish Newspapers: Who’s a Hellenist?, Kabbalah Centre Reconsidered, Stripping for Charity
Posted by Daniel Treiman, December 10, 2007

TARSY SPLITS: After facing down Abe Foxman over the Armenian genocide issue, getting fired for it and then being reinstated following the ensuing uproar, the ADL’s New England regional director, Andrew Tarsy, is stepping down. Boston’s Jewish Advocate has the story.

WHO’S A HELLENIST?: Writing in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish Press, Rabbi Gil Student says you can embrace modern culture without becoming a Hellenist (a la the Hanukkah story). “When we replace our religion with foreign values and abandon our covenant with God, we are acting like Hellenists,” he explains. “When, however, we remain firmly entrenched in our Jewish beliefs and observances but expand our horizons with additional, religiously inoffensive culture, we are not acting like Hellenists at all.” He adds: “There may be ‘Hellenists’ today who try — through misinformation, intimidation and legislation — to remove Jews from their religious heritage. In my experience, however, the major Jewish movements and certainly the various segments of Orthodoxy do not conform to this description.”

KOUFAX KIPPAH: A yarmulke that was supposedly once worn by baseball legend Sandy Koufax nets $91 on E-Bay, The New Jersey Jewish News finds. The sale is not to be confused with the infamous Koufax kippah controversy of 1995.

‘JEWISH JORDAN’ HOMECOMING: Tamir Goodman, the kippah-clad teen basketball sensation who was over-optimistically dubbed the “Jewish Jordan,” has returned to his home state of Maryland to play ball, The Baltimore Jewish Times reports.

Also in the Jewish Times: A Jewish comedian cracks up our troops in Afghanistan, and a local rabbi has been arrested and charged with sex offenses.

KABBALAH CENTRE RECONSIDERED: L.A. Jewish Journal editor Rob Eshman makes a second visit to the Kabbalah Centre, and — much to his surprise — he likes it. What changed? For starters, he had read religious studies professor Jody Myers’s book, “Kabbalah and the Spiritual Quest: The Kabbalah Centre in America.” And now, Eshman feels compelled to ask: “What if we were to see the Centre not as a threat but as a model?”

Also in the Jewish Journal: Amy Klein investigates whether L.A. can support a second non-denominational mikveh, and Brad Greenberg profiles a judge known for his pro-Israel views who slammed U.S. government efforts to deport a group of Palestinians sympathetic to a radical group.

BEARD IS NO BARRIER: Like his uncle before him, Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum has been granted a beard exemption to allow him to serve as a military chaplain despite his facial hair. A shortage of chaplains may have helped the Chabad rabbi get the go-ahead from the Maryland Defense Force, The Washington Jewish Week reports. “The need today is great enough to afford us the opportunity to think outside the box,” Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hastings told the paper.

‘SHLEPPING TO THE SUBURBS:’ Detroit’s mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, swings by the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield to invite area Jews to revisit the city that many once called home. The Detroit Jewish News was on the scene to hear the mayor use words like “shmegegge” and “shlepping.”

SHOEBAT SPEAKS: Palestinian-terrorist-turned-Christian-pro-Israel-advocate Walid Shoebat speaks at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee — and draws some Jewish detractors, The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle reports.

HONORED AT THE END: Kansas City business magnate and Jewish community pillar Sherman Dreiseszun passes away the day after he was honored by 1,000 people at a local synagogue. The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle looks back on his life.

A BRIDGE TOO FAR: Pro-Palestinian activists commandeer a local highway overpass to display anti-Israel banners, Houston’s Jewish Herald-Voice reports.

CALENDAR BOYZ: A group of British Jewish businessmen show some skin to raise money for a community center. London’s Jewish Chronicle has the (illustrated) story of the Calendar Boyz.

Also in the J.C.: The J.C. reports that the businessman at the center of a Labor Party fundraising scandal told the paper that he donated anonymously to avoid talk of a Jewish conspiracy. But now, the J.C. reports, Abrahams is denying having given an interview to the paper — a development that left the paper’s editor feeling “bemused.”

DOUBLE THE HATE: Antisemitic incidents in Australia have more than doubled in the past year, according to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Acts of assault, harassment, intimidation and vandalism have surged, as have antisemitic e-mails and Internet activity. While Aussie antisemites are stepping up their online activities, there is a silver lining, according to The Australian Jewish News: “Bigots have begun to desert the older technologies. Telephone calls with extreme anti-Semitic abuse were at the fourth lowest rate in 18 years, as was hate mail.”

CANADIAN CAMPUS CONFLICT: Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students clash at two Toronto campuses, The Canadian Jewish News reports.

Anonymous said...

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

The bottom line

Director Paul Mazursky has had a long career making movies that both define their times and are a little bit ahead of them. His latest movie (and first documentary), Yippee: A Journey to Jewish Joy, an account of a journey he took with the Breslav Hassidim to Uman at Rosh Hashana, fits right into that pattern. The 77-year-old American filmmaker, who is here to present Yippee at the Ninth Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival and receive that festival's Lifetime Achievement Award, took some time out to reflect on what secular Jews can learn from hassidim and vice versa, working in Hollywood, dealing with the Holocaust on film and a variety of other topics. But no matter how serious the subject, Mazursky peppers the conversation with jokes and juicy anecdotes, mixing the serious and the comic, as he does in all his films.

"I really came here to buy underwear," he says over breakfast at Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the day after receiving his award at the opening of the festival. Come again? It seems he forgot to pack underwear when getting ready for his trip, so after he accepted his prize - he told the packed hall at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, "This is the only festival I would travel 17 hours to come to" - he stepped down from the stage and was handed another package, which he called "even more valuable," containing new underwear purchased by the Cinematheque staff.

"Why'd they ask, 'Are you large or extra large'?" he groused at the reception. "Why not 'small or medium'?" But although Mazursky, a born comedian and raconteur, won't stop with the jokes, he occupies a very serious place in the history of American film. The Brooklyn-born Mazursky started out as an actor, appearing as one of the streetwise kids in the Glenn Ford classic, Blackboard Jungle, and in one of Stanley Kubrick's first films, Fear and Desire (he still acts in movies and television series such as The Sopranos), but he's best known as a director. He burst onto the world film scene in 1969 with his feature film debut, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, which shocked many in the US with its depiction of a swinging, non-monogamous lifestyle, not among unwashed hippies, but with two upper-class California couples, one member of which was played by an American icon, movie star Natalie Wood. An Unmarried Woman (1978), starring Jill Clayburgh, defined the era of women becoming truly independent, without resorting to humorless gender politics.

In 1976, he made the semi-autobiographical Next Stop, Greenwich Village, which looked back at his birth as an artist in the 1950s and the sexual and social reality of the period with clear eyes, free of the foggy nostalgia that has clouded so many other films about this period. When most Americans weren't yet aware that a new breed of self-assured immigrants were doing anything they could to reach the US, Mazursky made Moscow on the Hudson (1984) about a Russian jazz musician, played by Robin Williams, who defects while shopping at Bloomingdale's. The issue of homelessness was just beginning to reach public consciousness in 1986, when Mazursky made Down and Out in Beverly Hills, starring Nick Nolte as a clever vagrant who stumbles into the yard of a crazy rich couple, played by Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler.

And in 1989, he was one of the first and perhaps the only director to look at victims of the Holocaust as flesh-and-blood human beings and not glorified martyrs, when he made Enemies: A Love Story.

AND NOW, when many directors would be resting on their laurels, he decided to head to Uman, to document the pilgrimage of 25,000 hassidic men to the grave of their spiritual leader, Rabbi Nahman of Breslav. He was introduced to the idea of this trek by his optometrist, David Miretsky, who accompanied him to Ukraine.

"I met people there who said, 'I couldn't live without it, I couldn't live without making this trip every year,'" he says. "You know, it's not a luxury vacation. There are hardships." He recalls the makeshift apartment he and his crew rented from a local man. "The food isn't good. I had one meal that was all right in goyishe Uman, but it's not good food." He also traveled with a broken arm, against doctor's orders.

Much of what he found in Uman surprised him. "There were about 10,000 Israelis, a lot of them were living in tents. And about 15,000 others. There were kids, they were so cute. Some of them were running around, running a little wild. And there was that ecstatic dancing, that's what they do, they pray and dance until two or three in the morning."

Although many Israelis are familiar with the joyful philosophy of the Breslav Hassidim, seeing the embodiment of this teaching was very moving for Mazursky, who quotes an interview he did in the film with Rabbi Ezriel Tauber, who says, "Better to wake up in the morning and instead of kvetching, say, 'Yippee! I'm alive!'"

Mazursky was also taken by surprise by the sophistication he encountered among some of the faithful (although some scenes from the film make it clear that many of them had no idea who he was). "David [Miretsky] asked me if I ever read Philip Roth. I was surprised that he had - he's a hassid. He said, 'Yes, I read him, but only in the bathroom.'" He also includes in the film a "serendipitous" encounter with an Orthodox British neurologist, Julian Unger, who credits his embrace of the hassidic philosophy with turning his life around. Recalls Mazursky, "Unger said, 'Why did Nahman ask to buried in Uman? He was from Breslav.'" The answer, according to the neurologist, is that Uman was the site of several massacres of Jews.

But Mazursky was also pleasantly surprised at the acceptance he encountered in what he describes as "goyishe Uman." "They think the hassidim are a little strange, OK. But they like it that they make all this money at Rosh Hashana. And I talked to that one man, he was a little drunk, and he said, 'They're here to reconnect with their roots.' He really understood."

The acceptance that he, as a secular Jew, met with among the hassidim was also very moving for him. "A lot of them asked me, 'How are you feeling?' like they wanted me to say my whole life had been changed or something. But when we went to film on Shabbos at the rabbi's apartment, they let the camera right in. They didn't say a word. I did tell them the camera crew was all non-Jews, but I was still very surprised."

MAZURSKY'S LIFE did change in some ways as a result of the film, although he hasn't become observant. "I'm more tolerant now. When I was a kid, I would see the boys with the payos and I would tease them, you know, 'Yeshiva bucher, yeshiva bucher!' But now, they were so tolerant to me, I learned to be tolerant to them."

Echoing the upbeat Breslav philosophy, Mazursky is also tolerant of Hollywood, although he has not been able to get a movie made in years. "Movies are made for kids these days. I think it's gotten worse. It's hard to make the kind of movies I make today," he says, meaning intelligent movies for thoughtful moviegoers and not big-budget special effects extravaganzas.

He recalls the difficulty he had, even back in 1989, getting the budget for Enemies approved. "[Movie executive] Michael Eisner said, 'Why is the budget so high?' It was $10 million. And I said, 'It's high because it's a period film.'" The movie, based on the Isaac Bashevis Singer novel about a Holocaust survivor living in New York who is married to the Polish woman who saved his life and having an affair with a gorgeous but depressed woman who is also a survivor, only to be blindsided by the discovery that the wife he thought perished in a concentration camp is still alive, is set in the late 1940s.

"Eisner said, 'Couldn't you update it?' 'Update it?' I said. 'OK, I'll make it with a Cambodian man and three Cambodian women.'" Eisner got the point and Mazursky got his budget.

Mazursky is now considering a script based on Singer's last book, Shadows on the Hudson, also about a Holocaust survivor. Singer feels an affinity for Singer's work, he says, because "there's no one else who writes that way, who combines those three elements: darkness, folklore and it's funny."

Mazursky recalls going to Miami to visit an ailing Singer in the early 1980s, when he was at work on the Enemies screenplay. Singer was dozing by the pool when Mazursky arrived and he told Alma, the author's wife, that he didn't want to wake him. "How will you talk to him if I don't wake him up?" she asked. She did, and Mazursky showed the writer photos of the stars he proposed for the movie. "When Singer saw the picture of Lena Olin, he almost dropped it, he was so excited," he recalls. But Singer warned him, "I didn't like Yentl with Barbra Streisand." Mazursky assured him no one in Enemies would sing.

In Mazursky's free-flowing conversation, this brings up another anecdote, about the time Streisand almost teamed up with Ingmar Bergman for a remake of The Merry Widow to be produced by Dino De Laurentiis. Bergman, a stickler for punctuality, grew upset when Streisand was late for their meeting. An assistant called her assistant, and it turned out the star was taking a shower.

According to Mazursky, Bergman remarked, "Tell her to take all the time she wants," then left the room and boarded a plane for Sweden. But that wasn't the end of the project, which was then offered to Mazursky. "But I couldn't do it, I couldn't direct a Bergman script with Streisand."

In his memoir Show Me the Magic, Mazursky, a prolific screenwriter, gives the outlines of half a dozen screenplays he never made. One of them, "My Friend, the Messiah," is a reworking of The Third Man, set in Jerusalem, about a Jewish New York mystery writer who goes to Israel to attend the funeral of his Catholic childhood friend, who has died here. It turns out that the friend isn't really dead, but is hiding out and has messianic aspirations. Asked if he is scouting locations for the project on this visit, he says, "I'd love to make it today. I think it would work." His ideal cast, he says, would be Johnny Depp for the Jew and Russell Crowe for the Catholic.

But Mazursky says his wife of 54 years, Betsy, was apprehensive about his safety on this visit and worried about this more than she did that he would become a hassid in Uman. A proud family man, Mazursky flips through a copy of Show Me the Magic and shows photos of his daughters and grandchildren, updating their ages and talking about what they're up to.

But now the clouds outside have lifted, and Mazursky is eager to get going on a tour of the Old City. "I hope I'll be back in Israel soon," Mazursky says, as he and his new underwear, head outside.

Yudi Kolko said...

At least I didn't kill anybody. You consider molesting boys - killing them? I sure as heck don't. They will live so get over it. No harm done!

Curtis Dean Anderson, who killed Xiana Fairchild, dies
By Scott Marshall

Article Launched: 12/11/2007 05:33:44 PM PST

Curtis Dean Anderson, who was serving a combined 301-year sentence for the 1999 kidnap and murder of 7-year-old Xiana Fairchild of Vallejo and a separate case involving another girl, died Tuesday, authorities said.

Anderson, 46, died at 6:41 a.m. at a Bakersfield hospital, where he had been admitted Nov. 28, said Lt. Brian Parriott, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections.

His death came two days after the anniversary of Xiana's abduction, which her loved ones marked Sunday with an annual pilgrimage to the site near the Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos where her skull was found in 2001.

"I just can't help but think that it was for Xiana, the way that it happened, the date that it happened, and it is for justice for Xiana," said her great-aunt, Stephanie Kahalekulu, with whom Xiana lived most of her life.

"Had it happened in any other part of the year, it would have been that he just died," she said.

Anderson had been held at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran.

The cause of death was not immediately disclosed, although Anderson had been frail and was wheelchair-bound.

He died of natural causes, Parriott said. "It was an ongoing illness."

Anderson was in California prisons 10 times between 1986 and 1999 for three convictions and parole violations, including a series of allegations of violence against women.

Then Anderson was arrested and charged with abducting and molesting an 8-year-old Vallejo girl in August
Click Here!
2000. The girl had escaped after two days in Anderson's vehicle.

That arrest was less than nine months after Anderson had been paroled for the abduction of a family friend.

Anderson went on to make a series of claims about involvement in Xiana's Dec. 9, 1999, disappearance.

In a series of taunting jailhouse meetings with Kahalekulu from October through December 2000 during an attempt to make a deal with prosecutors, Anderson insisted Xiana was alive.

"He would write to my (post office) box, just his own crazy mentally ill mind, basically tormenting and saying she would be hurt," Kahalekulu said. "For those two months, he kept claiming she was alive, that he had given her to someone else, and that he had contact and that he could tell them to torture her," she said.

At one point, police waited outside as Anderson met with her, in case he gave information they could act on immediately.

"I bought her new clothes and packed everything," Kahalekulu recalled. "We weren't sure. We all believed he had her and he was going to release her."

In 2001, Anderson was convicted and sentenced to 251 years in prison for kidnapping and molesting the 8-year-old Vallejo girl.

A special task force found witnesses and evidence that confirmed Anderson's previous claims about Xiana, and in May 2004 he was charged with her murder. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murder and was sentenced to 50 years to life.

Hours later, he recanted to reporters in a jailhouse interview.

Reach Scott Marshall at 925-945-4782 or

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It is unfortunate that it has come to this. It is a big darn shame it has come to this. It is very hurtful that it has come to this. But yet, IT HAS COME TO THIS. It has come at the price of a GREAT CHILUL HASHEM. It has come to Hashem having to allow his holy name to be DESECRATED so that his CHILDREN remain SAFE. Shame on all those responsible for enabling and permitting Hashem's name to be desecrated! When you save children you save the future. You save the future you save generations. You save generations you save lives. You save lives you have saved the world!!!!!!!