Sunday, December 21, 2014

High Court of Justice says rabbinical court can annul conversions retroactively

JPost     The High Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that a rabbinical court was within its rights to retroactively annul a conversion because the convert in question had deceived the court when she said she undertook to observe Jewish law.

The ruling could reopen the wounds of the conversion crisis in 2008 when the Supreme Rabbinical Court upheld a decision of a lower court that invalidated a woman’s conversion because it said she never intended to observe Jewish law when she converted. The ruling endangered the 40,000 conversions conducted under the state-conversion system.

On Thursday, Deputy President of the Supreme Court Justice Miriam Naor, with Justices Esther Hayut and Neal Hendel ruled on a case concerning a woman born in Romania to a Christian family who converted in Israel in the state conversion system. Two years later, the rabbinical court annulled her conversion because, according to the court, doubts had been raised as to the sincerity of the convert when she converted.

She petitioned the High Court saying the rabbinical court did not have the authority to retroactively invalidate her conversion and that its decision violated the principles of natural justice.

The Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group criticized the decision saying it opened up “a Pandora’s box,” the results of which could be calamitous.

Hiddush director and Reform rabbi Uri Regev said it would require “extreme detachment from reality not to know that the majority of converts from the immigrant community from the former Soviet Union do this [conversion] without true intent to accept Torah and commandments upon themselves and are forced to promise false promises that they will observe the religious commandments.” [...]

2 months ago Frum Follies predicted that the IBD would be forced to accept the CBD's view. - Why did the reverse happen?

In late November the CBD joined the IBD forming a joint beis din [see post]  that on December 1 publicly accepted the IBD's viewpoint.(see Frum Follies negative response)

This event directly refuted the following analysis that  Frum Follies published only  2 months before.

Frum Follies (Yerachmiel Lopin) wrote: 
Meanwhile, the greater dispute about the seminaries continues. The CBD is not backing down from blocking accreditation for the seminaries. Without accreditation the seminaries will not be able to successfully recruit for the 2015-2016 academic year. The recruitment season starts in a few weeks and typically closes around the end of the calendar year.
The CBD is demanding authentic proof that Meisels has no organizational or financial connection to the seminaries. They are also demanding the dismissal of some staff involved in covering up abuse including some of the principals.
We have not heard a peep from the Israeli Beis Din or their PR vehicle, the Daas Torah blog of Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn, since the CBD issued its unusually detailed letter about the abuse and cover-ups at the seminaries. I think they have concluded that they cannot intimidate the CBD and they will just have to find a way to meet their terms.[emphasis added]

Friday, December 19, 2014

Visiting New York

For the next few weeks I will be in New York
My main reason for announcing this is that are certain evil people whose main happiness in life is claiming that I have committed various sins.

I have gotten gleeful messages when they have misread the time on some of my postings claiming that as proof that I am not shomer Shabbos.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Schlesinger Twins: Scrooge lives in Austria - Beth denied extra holiday time with her kids

Why is Michael smiling? Could it be because he succeeded in blocking any extra time for Beth during Chanukah?

Divided custody is rough on the children and rough on the parents. It is especially rough on the children when they are given only very limited time with their mother and are condemned by the courts to be raised primarily by 2 non-Jewish women whose native language is neither German or English. One constant in custody division is that courts usually are concerned that children spend equal quality time with their parents over a holiday period.

Beth was given a clearly unjust ruling concerning her time that she is allowed to spend with her sons - but it has improved over the outrageous ruling that took full custody away from her and gave it to Michael - who had previously been allowed limited supervised visits.

Austrian friends of Beth have informed me - (remember the courts have blocked Beth from publicizing any information about her children) - that while Chanukah goes from Tuesday night (16th) to Wednesday (24th) - the courts are not changing Beth's access to her children and she got to see them Tuesday (16th) and will see them next Tuesday (24th). 

Typically courts divide custody during the holiday period rather than keep to the non-holiday division. Courts around the world recognize how important it is for the children to spend equal time during a holiday season - why doesn't the Vienna court?

Monday, December 15, 2014


I just received the following letter:

Dear  Rav  Daniel Eidensohn

I send you the news about the new law about the Portuguese Nacionality for Sephardic Jews that will start at the beginning of the 2015. Can you publish it at Daat Torah_

Best regards and Kol tuv

Daniel Litvak
By Jewish Community of Oporto, Portugal

In early 2015, the Portuguese Government may grant Portuguese nationality to the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, who demonstrate a traditional connection to a Sephardic Community of Portuguese origin.

How to Obtain Portuguese Nationality and Passport?
  • Step 1: Certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community
  • Step 2: Application for Portuguese Nationality
  • Step 3: Obtaining a Portuguese Passport

Information about the step 1:
The applicant for Portuguese Nationality must first obtain a Certificate from the Portuguese Jewish Community which attests to his/her ties to a Sephardic Jewish Community of Portuguese origin. A request for this Certificate must be addressed to the Jewish Community of Oporto or to the Jewish Community of Lisbon.
From today, 15th December 2014, the Jewish Community of Oporto is ready to receive requests from descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who wish to obtain a certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community attesting this status.
The request for a Certificate issued by the Committee of the Jewish Community of Oporto should be addressed by the applicant, or an attorney acting for the applicant, by digital means to the following email address:, together with the following documents:
·   Contact details;
·   Copy of passport;
·  Birth certificate or similar document that contains applicant’s date of birth, place of birth and names of parents;
·   Proof of residence;
·   Payment of the Committee’s fee (€150,00 - one hundred and fifty euros); and
·  All of the supporting documentary evidence as may required for a proper evaluation of the matter and decision. Evidence of the applicant’s family history of connection to a Sephardic Community of Portuguese origin may be direct and circumstantial.
Payment of the Committee’s fee to review the request, in the amount of €150,00 (one hundred and fifty euros), must be made by bank transfer to the account of the Jewish Community of Oporto.

Information about the step 2 and step 3
Please visit the official website or blog of the Jewish Community of Oporto -

If you need an opinion or statement of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community of Oporto. By Debora Elijah:
“The new legislation corrects a moral wrong. The long centuries of antisemitism in Portugal and the expulsions decreed by King D. Manuel I in 1496 cannot be denied.”
(Deborah Elijah is member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community of Oporto. She is also member of the Committee of the Jewish Community of Oporto which issues Certificates.)

In Portugal, the Jewish Community of Oporto, founded 90 years ago, is the organization that unites local communal groups of the city of Oporto and its environs, while the Jewish Community of Lisbon, recognized 102 years ago, is the organization that unites local communal groups of Lisbon and its environs. (For more information about the Portuguese communities, please visit the website of the World Jewish Congress -

Wishing you a very happy, healthy and light-filled Chanukah,
Best regards.

By Jewish Community of Oporto
Board of Directors
Official website:          
Official blog:

Saving individuals from punishment by blogging about their faults or How to have enemies suffer Divine punishment instead of you.

Berachos (55b) states that when a person becomes sick - he should keep it a secret for the first day. That is in order to not give Satan an excuse to harm him - by giving himself the status of a sick person. [See the Marhasha]  On the other hand if the sickness does not go away and he is in fact a sick person the gemora suggests a different strategy to bring about a cure. Instead of keeping his weakened state a secret to protect against Satan - the gemora says he should now publicize his misfortune. Rashi says that the sickness is viewed in the first place as punishment from G-d (see Shabbos 55a). Their are two reason for now publicizing one's misfortune. The first is obvious - so that his friends will pray for him. The second is not obvious - that his enemies will be happy to see him suffering. And it is known that one should not rejoice at the suffering of an enemy (Mishlei 24:17-18) Therefore  G-d will get angry at his enemy for being happy about his suffering and will take it away from the sick person and give the sickness to the enemy (Ibn Ezra and Malbim Mishlei 24:18).

It is interesting to note that this gemora clearly indicates that one should be concerned about suffering coming apparently independent of G-d - from bad luck and Satan. [Don't open your mouth to Satan]. The best way to deal with suffering from those sources is to simply conceal the misfortune and hope that it goes away quickly. There is no mention of repentance or that the sickness is a punishment from G-d except in Rashi.

The second strategy - when a person realizes he is a sick person and his suffering is not transient  - also doesn't involve repentance. Rather it is to reveal to the public that he is sick - and hope that his weakened state and misfortune will elicit laughter from an enemy. That laughter will cause G-d to stop punishing him and to punish his enemy.

Based on the gemora, I know people who do not want it publicized that they have serious aliments such as cancer. But I am not aware of anyone who is hoping to elicit a cruel rejoicing in his enemy so that the illness will be transferred to this enemy. However why is there is no mention of repentance when this is such an important issue mentioned elsewhere (Berachos 5a, Shabbos 55a, Yoma 86a, Rambam Hilchos Taanis 1:1-3, Ramban Shaar HaGemul 120:6)? Perhaps this is dealing with sickness which he knows is not the result of sin. (Ramban Shaar HaGemul 118, Berachos 5a, Shabbos 55a, Yerushalmi Shabbos 14:3, Kesubos 19a).

Is anybody aware of similar cases where the cause of  suffering (i.e., sin) is not dealt with directly by repenting but it is hoped that it can simply be transferred to someone else? [Scapegoat] Again we are dealing with a passive aggressive approach to enemies. Destroy them by showing them your weakness and failures so that they will rejoice. 

Perhaps this can be used is a justification for bloggers exposing the problems of the community so that the community will not suffer but rather those bloggers or readers who rejoice seeing the problems of others.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Title IX's Impact :College (Seminary) sexual abuse programs are replacing the police & criminal system with psychotherapy and expulsion - strongly reducing a man's presumed status of innocence

Slate    The College Rape Overcorrection  SEE article which refutes the statistical claims that are used to justify this policy
Sexual assault on campus is a serious problem. But efforts to protect women from a putative epidemic of violence have led to misguided policies that infringe on the civil rights of men.
We are told that one of the most dangerous places for a young woman in America today is a college campus. As President Obama said at a White House event in September, where he announced a campaign to address campus violence, “An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years—one in five.” (At an earlier White House event on the issue, the president declared of sexual violence, “It threatens our families, it threatens our communities; ultimately, it threatens the entire country.”) In recent weeks, Rolling Stone’s lurid account of a premeditated gang rape at the University of Virginia has made the issue of campus sexual violence front-page news. (The reporting and the allegations in the article have since been called into question, and Rolling Stone has issued a statement acknowledging that the magazine failed to properly investigate and corroborate the story.)

Sexual assault at colleges and universities is indeed a serious problem. The attention it’s receiving today—on campus, at the White House, in the media—is a direct result of the often callous and dismissive treatment of victims. For too long, women who were assaulted on campus and came forward were doubted or dismissed, and the men responsible were given a mild rebuke or none at all. Those who commit serious sexual crimes on campus must be held to account.

In recent years, young activists, many of them women angry about their treatment after reporting an assault, have created new organizations and networks in an effort to reform the way colleges handle sexual violence. They recognized they had a powerful weapon in that fight: Title IX, the federal law that protects against discrimination in education. Schools are legally required by that law to address sexual harassment and violence on campus, and these activists filed complaints with the federal government about what they describe as lax enforcement by schools. The current administration has taken up the cause—the Chronicle of Higher Education describes it as “a marquee issue for the Obama administration”—and praised these young women for spurring political action. “A new generation of student activists is effectively pressing for change,” read a statement this spring announcing new policies to address campus violence. The Department of Education has drafted new rules to address women’s safety, some of which have been enshrined into law by Congress, with more legislation likely on the way.

Unfortunately, under the worthy mandate of protecting victims of sexual assault, procedures are being put in place at colleges that presume the guilt of the accused. Colleges, encouraged by federal officials, are instituting solutions to sexual violence against women that abrogate the civil rights of men. Schools that hold hearings to adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct allow the accuser and the accused to be accompanied by legal counsel. But as Judith Shulevitz noted in the New Republic in October, many schools ban lawyers from speaking to their clients (only notes can be passed). During these proceedings, the two parties are not supposed to question or cross examine each other, a prohibition recommended by the federal government in order to protect the accuser. And by federal requirement, students can be found guilty under the lowest standard of proof: preponderance of the evidence, meaning just a 51 percent certainty is all that’s needed for a finding that can permanently alter the life of the accused.

More than two dozen Harvard Law School professors recently wrote a statement protesting the university’s new rules for handling sexual assault claims. “Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process,” they wrote. The professors note that the new rules call for a Title IX compliance officer who will be in charge of “investigation, prosecution, fact-finding, and appellate review.” Under the new system, there will be no hearing for the accused, and thus no opportunity to question witnesses and mount a defense. Harvard University, the professors wrote, is “jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials.” But to push back against Department of Education edicts means potentially putting a school’s federal funding in jeopardy, and no college, not even Harvard, the country’s richest, is willing to do that.

Hard-line policies like Harvard’s are necessary, government officials say, because undergraduate women are in unique peril. Often-cited studies of sexual violence at colleges describe an epidemic. But each of these studies has serious methodological limitations. In some cases, the studies make sensational assertions that are not supported by the underlying data. In others, the experiences of one or two campuses have been made to stand in for the entirety of America’s higher education system. [...]

This is one of the frequently made assertions about campus violence, but the evidence to back it up is lacking. Being young does make people more vulnerable to serious violent crime, including sexual assault; according to government statistics those aged 18 to 24 have the highest rates of such victimization. But most studies don’t compare the victimization rates of students to nonstudents of the same age. One recent paper that does make that comparison, “Violence Against College Women” by Callie Marie Rennison and Lynn Addington, compares the crime experienced by college students and their peers who are not in college, using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey. What the researchers found was the opposite of what Gillibrand says about the dangers of campuses: “Non-student females are victims of violence at rates 1.7 times greater than are college females,” the authors wrote, and this greater victimization holds true for sex crimes: “Even if the definition of violence were limited to sexual assaults, these crimes are more pervasive for young adult women who are not in college.”[...]

Any woman who is raped, on campus or off, deserves a fair and thorough investigation of her claim, and those found guilty should be punished. But the new rules—rules often put in place hastily and in response to the idea of a rape epidemic on campus—have left some young men saying they are the ones who have been victimized. They are starting to push back. In the past three years, men found responsible for sexual assault on campus have filed more than three dozen cases against schools. They argue that their due process rights have been violated and say they have been victims of gender discrimination under Title IX. Their complaints are starting to cost universities. The higher education insurance group United Educators did a study of the 262 insurance claims it paid to students between 2006 and 2010 because of campus sexual assault, at a cost to the group of $36 million. The vast majority of the payouts, 72 percent, went to the accused—young men who protested their treatment by universities. [...]

Carol Tavris is a social psychologist and author of the feminist classic, The Mismeasure of Woman, and, with Elliot Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me). She says she is troubled by the blurring of distinctions between rape (notably by predatory males), unwanted sex (where one party agrees to sex not out of desire but to please or placate the partner), and the kind of consensual sex where both parties are so drunk they can barely remember what happened—and one of them later regrets it. She says, “Calling all of these kinds of sexual encounters ‘rape’ or ‘sexual assault’ doesn’t teach young women how to learn what they want sexually, let alone how to communicate what they want, or don’t want. It doesn’t teach them to take responsibility for their decisions, for their reluctance to speak up. Sexual communication is really hard—you don’t learn how to do it in a few weekends.” [...]

Government rape statistic for coeds is 0.61 percent, not widely claimed 20 percent.


The campus rape crusade, which yielded positively Orwellian "consent rules"  at some institutions, was driven in part by an oft-repeated, jaw-dropping statistic that one in five women are victimized by sexual assault during their time at college.  The Justice Department just published a study on the matter, and they found the actual figure to be not one in five, but rather 6.1 per thousand.  In other words, the percentage of coeds exposed to sexual assault is 0.61 percent, not 20 percent.[...]

Whatever else is going on with young men and women on college campuses, the hysterical politically-driven crusade against "rape culture" has long since gotten so out of hand that it's become a crisis in its own right.  It's no surprise that there's keen interest in teaching young women to think of themselves as victims, and young men to see themselves as beasts.  That agenda found fertile ground in a neurotic groupthink culture that has lately taken to demanding a cocoon of "trigger warnings" around any idea that might make them so upset they can't function, and demanding time off from important coursework to deal with the emotional fallout from controversial news stories.  It would be far more useful to teach young people not to abandon their critical faculties even when dealing with the most sensational claims of crisis.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Perspectives on Disclosing Rape Victims' Names By Deborah Denno

The recent issue of shielding or revealing the names of  abuse victims - raised a number of questions. What in fact are the halachic, legal and moral perspectives. What if the court doesn't believe her story? Is there a difference if her name is known in the community already? The following article which was published in the Fordham Law Review - reviews the issues and states the law regarding rape victims as of 1993 in America. Apparently the law is much stricter elsewhere e.g., England and India. I could not find any sources dealing with victims of abuse which doesn't involve rape.  To download the article use this link or search with Google
Helen Boyle in  Rape and the Media: Victim's Rights to Anonymity and Effects of Technology on the Standard of Rape Coverage', European Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2012 wrote:
In the UK, victims of rape or serious sexual assault have unequivocal anonymity and protection from media intrusion under section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992. This is a statutory exception under Art 10(2) which allows for derogations on the basis of protecting the rights and freedoms of others. This means the names of victims of rape or sexual assault cannot be reported by the media. In the United States, no equivalent law exists; victims of sexual assault rely on a 'conspiracy of silence' in the media to protect their privacy according to Denno. [13] This is based on the media's recognition that rape is more 'personal, traumatic, and stigmatizing than most crimes' [Denno, p1113, 1992]. If the media decide to break this rule of silence the courts will defend their right to do so. The US Supreme Court, to date, has always protected the media's right to release the name of a victim of sexual assault under the First Amendment.  [...]

The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind

NY Times    Working, in America, is in decline. The share of prime-age men — those 25 to 54 years old — who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s, to 16 percent. More recently, since the turn of the century, the share of women without paying jobs has been rising, too. The United States, which had one of the highest employment rates among developed nations as recently as 2000, has fallen toward the bottom of the list.

As the economy slowly recovers from the Great Recession, many of those men and women are eager to find work and willing to make large sacrifices to do so. Many others, however, are choosing not to work, according to a New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll that provides a detailed look at the lives of the 30 million Americans 25 to 54 who are without jobs.

Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working. These changes include the availability of federal disability benefits; the decline of marriage, which means fewer men provide for children; and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment.

At the same time, it has become harder for men to find higher-paying jobs. Foreign competition and technological advances have eliminated many of the jobs in which high school graduates like Mr. Walsh once could earn $40 an hour, or more. The poll found that 85 percent of prime-age men without jobs do not have bachelor’s degrees. And 34 percent said they had criminal records, making it hard to find any work.

The resulting absence of millions of potential workers has serious consequences not just for the men and their families but for the nation as a whole. A smaller work force is likely to lead to a slower-growing economy, and will leave a smaller share of the population to cover the cost of government, even as a larger share seeks help.

Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind

NY Times     Since Kerry Devine, 32, and her friends began having children, she has noticed a stark difference between her female friends in Auburn, Wash., where she lives, and those in England and Cyprus, where she grew up. In the United States, they almost all stopped working outside the home, at least until their children were in school. Yet, she says, she can’t think of a friend in Europe who left work after her children were born. [...]

Her story would have played out differently, she said, if she had been living in her native England. Like many European countries, Britain offers a year of maternity leave, much of it paid, and protections for part-time workers, among other policies aimed at keeping women employed.

“I would have been O.K. putting a 1-year-old baby in day care, but not a 12-week-old,” Ms. Devine said. “More flexible hours and being able to work from home part of the time definitely would have made a big difference.”
Her thinking is shared by many American women — and plays a role in a significant economic reversal. As recently as 1990, the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, but it has now fallen behind many European countries. After climbing for six decades, the percentage of women in the American work force peaked in 1999, at 74 percent for women between 25 and 54. It has fallen since, to 69 percent today. [...]