Friday, July 3, 2015

Transgender Issues - halachic analysis regarding Bruce Jenner

 This is a shiur that was given recently by Rav Sholom Shuchat at Mayan Yisroel of Flatbush (Rabbi Vigler) regarding transgender people and their Halachic status. Includes topic of 1) Is the procedure and cross dressing permitted 2) does gender change 2) is a Get required if a married person has operation after marriage 4) conversion after 5) yichud 6) which side of the mechitza 7) Tefillin

Polygamous Montana trio applies for wedding license

Fox News  A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife.

Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage. Montana, like all 50 states, outlaws bigamy — holding multiple marriage licenses — but Collier said he plans to sue if the application is denied.

"It's about marriage equality," Collier told The Associated Press Wednesday. "You can't have this without polygamy."

County clerk officials initially denied Collier's application, then said they would consult with the county attorney's office before giving him a final answer, Collier said.

Yellowstone County chief civil litigator Kevin Gillen said he is reviewing Montana's bigamy laws and expected to send a formal response to Collier by next week.

"I think he deserves an answer," Gillen said, but added his review is finding that "the law simply doesn't provide for that yet."

The Supreme Court's ruling on Friday made gay marriages legal nationwide. Chief Justice John Roberts said in his dissent that people in polygamous relationships could make the same legal argument that not having the opportunity to marry disrespects and subordinates them. [...]

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rabbi Charged With Sexual Abuse Arrested Fleeing Israel

Arutz 7   A rabbi from the north of Israel, who was distanced from his city due to sexual abuse complaints filed against him by several women, was arrested on Thursday morning as he was on his way to Ben-Gurion International Airport.

The rabbi, who was the dean of a yeshiva and whose identity has not been revealed, was taken in for investigation by the northern district police. A request to extend his detention will be heard on Thursday.

Women who arrived to consult with the rabbi have complained to police, with one claiming he sexually abused her several years ago and another charging him with rape.

A number of high-ranking rabbis had requested that the rabbi step down due to the complaints against him, and he recently gave in to the demands and stepped down as dean of the yeshiva that he founded, and likewise distanced himself from its associated institutions.

The rabbi also was a community rabbi, and distanced himself from his city until the accusations against him were resolved in response to the request of the rabbis.

A group of rabbis consisting of Tzfat (Safed) Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi Avraham Engel and Rabbi Gad Cohen investigated the complaints filed against the rabbi accusing him of improper conduct.

After thoroughly examining the issue and meeting with additional sources, psychologists and professional advisers, the rabbis asked him to suspend himself. He has been forbidden from coming in contact with the public, including his students. [...]

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How I Joined Teach for America—and Got Sued for $20 Million

City Journal    Winter 2003 by Joshua Kaplowitz

An idealistic new Yale grad learns up close and personal just how bad inner-city schools can be—and why.

I didn’t want to devote my life to helping the rich get richer or crunching numbers to see what views were most popular for the vice president to adopt. This wasn’t what my 17 years of education were for.

My doctor parents had drummed into me that education was the key to every door, the one thing they couldn’t take away from my ancestors during pogroms and persecutions. They had also filled me with a strong sense of social justice. I couldn’t help feeling guilty dismay when I thought of the millions of kids who’d never even tasted the great teaching—not to mention the supportive family—I’d enjoyed for my entire life. [...]

Five weeks later, I found myself steering my parents’ old Volvo off R Street and into a one-block cul-de-sac. There it was: Emery Elementary School, a 1950s-ugly building tucked behind a dead-end street—an apt metaphor, I thought, for the lives of many of the children in this almost all-black neighborhood a mile north of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. I had seen signs of inner-city blight all over the neighborhood, from the grown men who skulked in the afternoon streets to the bulletproof glass that sealed off the cashier at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. This was the “other half” of Washington, the part of the city I had missed during my grade-school field trips to the Smithsonian and my two summers as a Capitol Hill intern. v[...]

As the tour ended and I was about to leave, Mr. Bledsoe pulled me aside. “The one thing you need to do above all else is to have your children under control. Once you have done that, you’ll be fine.”
Fine. But as I learned to my great cost, that was easier said than done.[...]

Nothing in the program simulated what I soon learned to be the life of a teacher. Though I didn’t know it, I was completely ill equipped when I stepped into my own fifth-grade classroom at Emery Elementary in September 2000. [...]

My optimism and naiveté evaporated within hours. I tried my best to be strict and set limits with my new students; but I wore my inexperience on my sleeve, and several of the kids jumped at the opportunity to misbehave. I could see clearly enough that the vast majority of my fifth-graders genuinely wanted to learn—but all it took to subvert the whole enterprise were a few cutups.

To gain control, I tried imposing the kinds of consequences that the classroom-management handbooks recommend. None worked. My classroom was too small to give my students “time out.” I tried to take away their recess, but depriving them of their one sanctioned time to blow off steam just increased their penchant to use my classroom as a playground. When I called parents, they were often mistrustful and tended to question or even disbelieve outright what I told them about their children. It was sometimes worse when they believed me, though; the tenth time I heard a mother swear that her child was going to “get a beating for this one,” I almost decided not to call parents. By contrast, I saw immediate behavioral and academic improvement in students whose parents had come to trust me.

I quickly learned from such experiences how essential parental support is in determining whether a school succeeds in educating a child. And of course, parental support not just of the teachers but of the kids: as I came to know my students better, I saw that those who had seen violence, neglect, or drug abuse at home were usually the uncontrollable ones, while my best-behaved, hardest-working kids were typically those with the most nurturing home environments.

Being a white teacher in a mostly black school unquestionably hindered my ability to teach. Certain students hurled racial slurs with impunity; several of their parents intimated to my colleagues that they didn’t think a white teacher had any business teaching their children—and a number of my colleagues agreed. One parent who was also a teacher’s aide threatened to “kick my white ass” in front of my class and received no punishment from the principal, beyond being told to stay out of my classroom. The failure of the principal, parents, and teachers to react more decisively to racist disrespect emboldened students to behave worse. Such poisonous bigotry directed at a black teacher at a mostly white school would of course have created a federal case.[...]

When I asked other teachers to come help me stop a fight, they shook their heads and reminded me that D.C. Public Schools banned teachers from laying hands on students for any reason, even to protect other children. When a fight brewed, I was faced with a Catch-22. I could call the office and wait ten minutes for the security guard to arrive, by which point blood could have been shed and students injured. Or I could intervene physically, in violation of school policy.

Believe me, you have to be made of iron, or something other than flesh and blood, to stand by passively while some enraged child is trying to inflict real harm on another eight-year-old. I couldn’t do it. And each time I let normal human instinct get the best of me and broke up a fight, one of the combatants would go home and fabricate a story about how I had hurt him or her. The parent, already suspicious of me, would report this accusation to Ms. Savoy, who would in turn call in a private investigative firm employed by D.C. Public Schools. Investigators would come to Emery and interview me, as well as several students whom the security guard thought might tell the truth about the alleged incident of corporal punishment.[...]

After 15 minutes, the school security guard appeared at the door and beckoned for me. My stomach hit the floor, as I guessed what this meant: yet another corporal-punishment charge. But this time was different. Chaos reigned in the main entranceway as police officers swarmed into the building. Raynard’s mother, I was told, had been in school for a meeting to place her son in a class for emotionally disturbed children. Raynard had told her that I had violently shoved him in the chest out the door of my classroom, injuring his head and back. His mother had dialed 911 and summoned the cops and the fire department. The police hustled me into the principal’s office, where I sat in bewilderment and desperately denied I had hurt Raynard in any way. [...]

Two months later, Raynard’s mother filed a $20 million lawsuit against the school district, Ms. Savoy, and myself—and the D.C. police charged me with a misdemeanor count of simple assault against my former student. Thus ended my first and last year as a public school teacher. [...]

As I had surmised, this whole case finally came down to money. Even after my acquittal, even after the accuracy of Raynard’s story had been seriously undermined, his mother and her big-firm lawyers aggressively pursued multi-million-dollar damage claims on the civil side. Yet even as the lawsuit dragged on and the legal cloud over me caused me to lose a job opportunity I really wanted, I refused to entertain Raynard’s mother’s offers to settle the case by my paying her $200,000—a demand that ultimately diminished to $40,000. The school system had no such scruples; it settled the mother’s tort claim in October 2002 for $75,000 (plus $15,000 from the teachers’ union’s insurance company—chump change compared with the cost of defending the litigation). It wasn’t $20 million, but it was still more money than I imagine this woman had seen in her life—a pretty good payout and hardly deterrence to other parents in the neighborhood who felt entitled to shanghai the system. [...]

Jewish Group, With Hired Protesters, Opposes the Gay Pride Parade

NY Times    New York City’s annual Gay Pride Parade has long been one of the city’s more festive celebrations. 

Today’s parade, in the glow of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling that the right to same-sex marriage is guaranteed by the Constitution, carried an extra burst of energy and emotion. The parade in San Francisco was similarly exuberant. See full story.
Some of the most curious costumes worn along the parade route belonged to protesters.

Behind a barricade, a group of men wore the fringed Jewish prayer garment known as the tzitzit and held up anti-gay signs bearing the logo of a group calling itself the Jewish Political Action Committee.

“Judaism prohibits homosexuality,” one sign read.

But the men were not Jewish. They were Mexican laborers, protesting because they were paid to protest, said one of the men, who would not give his name.

Heshie Freed, a member of the political action committee, an Orthodox Jewish group based in Brooklyn, said that the men were supplementary troops, filling in for the Jewish students who would normally be called upon to demonstrate.

Girl Scouts reject $100G donation over anti-transgender provision

Fox News   The Girl Scouts of Western Washington said it refunded a $100,000 donation because it came with a provision that the money couldn’t be used to support transgender girls.

The group said it sent the money back in May after the donor had asked that the gift be returned unless the group guaranteed it would not be used to benefit transgender girls.

"Girl Scouts is for every girl, and that is every girl regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion. Every girl is every girl," Megan Ferland, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, said in an interview Tuesday. "It was a sad decision, but it was not a difficult decision. There was no way I would be put in a situation of refusing a girl participating because of a gift. It was really that quick."

The local council has transgender girls participating in Girl Scouts, said Kate Dabe, the council’s vice president of marketing and communications. Dabe declined to provide additional details about them.

On Monday, the group set up a crowdfunding campaign asking for help to fill the gap. "Help us raise back the $100,000 a donor asked us to return because we welcome transgender girls," it said on its fundraising page on

By Tuesday afternoon, thousands had given more than $185,000.

"We are astounded," Dabe said. "We were prepared for a 30-day campaign. We raised our goal in a day." [....]

Dutch Supreme Court: Extradite Sex-Offender Rabbi Berland to Israel

Arutz 7   Overturning an appeal on a local court ruling in February, the Dutch Supreme Court on Tuesday authorized the extradition of the leader of a Jewish hassidic sect wanted in Israel for alleged indecent assault of women and girls.

"Rabbi (Eliezer) Berland, currently living in the Netherlands, can be extradited to Israel," the Supreme Court said in a statement.

The extradition process has been dragged out over recent months, as Berland was hospitalized in January for heart-related illness even before his petition of the ruling.

The rabbi has opposed his extradition, claiming the alleged assaults happened over the 1949 Armistice lines and that Israel has no jurisdiction, and that he was not an Israeli citizen. [...]

Step Aside, Freud: Josef Breuer Is the True Father of Modern Psychotherapy

The Viennese physician Josef Breuer (1842-1925) has a unique and prominent place in the history of psychotherapy. From 1880-82, while treating a patient known as Anna O., Breuer developed the cathartic method, or talking cure, for treating nervous disorders. As a result of that treatment, he formulated many of the key concepts that laid the foundation for modern psychotherapy. This month marked the 90th anniversary of Breuer’s death, offering an opportunity to reflect on the value of his contributions.

Breuer is best known for his collaboration with Sigmund Freud and for introducing Freud to the case of Anna O. (whose real name was Bertha Pappenheim). The ideas emerging from that case so fascinated Freud that he devoted the rest of his career to developing them, in the form of psychoanalysis. The two men co-authored Studies on Hysteria, published in 1895, which is considered the founding text of psychoanalysis. However, the significance of Breuer’s contributions goes well beyond his role as Freud’s mentor and collaborator. In fact, Breuer laid the groundwork for modern talk therapy by, for example, considering all aspects of his patients's life and personality and focusing on emotional expression as opposed to the Freudian emphasis on insight and interpretation.

I discovered Breuer early in my training as a therapist, after I realized that helping my clients gain insight into their problems, as the principal focus of treatment, was rarely effective in causing fundamental change. I found Freud’s technique of free association unhelpful, because many clients who are anxious or depressed have difficulty associating freely. The most therapeutic sessions were the ones that elicited an emotional response from my clients. If I could guide them to access feelings and memories, relevant to their area of concern, they would often report a sense of something shifting inside them, which dramatically accelerated the process of growth and change. [...]

If we compare Breuer’s theory with Freud’s formulation of psychoanalysis, there are three main differences: psychic trauma (Breuer) vs. sexual conflict (Freud) as the primary cause of psychopathology, hypnoid states (dissociation) vs. repression (defense) as the primary mechanism, and emotional expression (catharsis) vs. interpretation (analysis) as the primary means of recovery. Ironically, in each of those points, the modern view of psychotherapy has increasingly come to favor Breuer.[...]

Setting aside personal details, the key question is whose ideas were more valid, and in that regard history is squarely on the side of Breuer. Freud’s emphasis on sexuality as the dominant factor shaping human development and causing psychopathology is no longer taken seriously today. Instead, the role of dissociation due to trauma is increasingly recognized as more fundamental. Also, most therapists today realize the importance of helping clients access and integrate painful emotions due to past trauma, which is the essence of Breuer’s cathartic method. [...]

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ktzarim - Deals with a difficult transgender problem

This clip illustrates a serious problem of true identity - which is illustrated by the following article where a woman becomes surgically transformed into a man - but then she uses her female biology to have a child.

This is an era of gender revolutions, and the Jewish community is racing to keep up. Enter Yuval Topper. Topper, who comes from an Orthodox family, was born female, underwent a sex reassignment surgery to become male, discovered that he’s gay, married a gay man, and in 2011 became the first Israeli transgender man to conceive and give birth to a baby.  [...]

“There’s a growing number of trans-male Jews who are getting pregnant and having babies. Finding ways to sanctify and welcome men who are having babies into the community, which is something previous generations of Jews could never dream of, is increasingly becoming part of modern Jewish life,” Kukla tells the Times of Israel.[...]

“People tend to like having things in nice, tidy boxes, of men do this, and women do that, and challenging these notions can create anxieties,” explains Kukla. “To make room for transgender Jews round the table, we have to expand some of our notions around gender and sexuality. For starters, normalizing the fact that people can have different life-cycles and choices, ones that don’t necessarily conform to the binary reality of male/female, mother/father… to my understanding, gender is a lot more complex than that.” [...]

Topper’s decision to get pregnant was one of simple practicality: In line with the rabbinical courts, the State of Israel does not officially allow same-sex couples to adopt. Only one parent may adopt, then the other may file for secondary custody, and all this with the caveat that adoption be recognized as being within “the child’s best interest,” an often discriminatory clause. It was much easier to simply stop taking testosterone for a while. [...]

Efraim Cray acquitted of charges of sexually abusing 14 year old girl

Efraim Cray, 32, was accused of abusing the girl between January 2012 and January 2013.

Cray, of Wellington Drive, South Tottenham, faced three charges of sexual assault by touching at his trial last year, but was acquitted of one charge on the directions of the judge.

He was cleared of the remaining charges at Snaresbrook Crown Court today after the complainant withdrew her allegations, writing a seven-page retraction statement in the presence of an independently-appointed solicitor.

During Cray’s first trial in November, prosecutor Roger Smith-Daniels said they both lived “in a closed community” and the victim, although aged almost 15 at the time, “knew very little about sexual matters... she didn’t know, for example, what the word vagina meant”.

Cray’s first trial collapsed when the girl admitted she had become confused and told lies during her police interview.

Mr Smith-Daniels said: “The complainant in this case has grown up in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of Stamford Hill and went on to make allegations against other men, including her own brother. [...]

unfortunately the false accusations have not yet been retracted from Jewish Community Watch's Wall of Shame  and a number of blogs

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Marriage Annuled after Groom Turns Out to be a Woman

Rav Yigal Shafran (Techumin #21):

פוסקי דורנו נחלקו בשאלה האם יש השלכות הלכתיות לניתוח לשינוי המין' ומה הן השלכות אלו, כגון : האם מי שעשה כן חייב לברך "שעשני כרצונו", או "שלא עשני אשה"? האם פוקעים מגבר מצוות שחייב בהם, והאם פוקעות מנשים מצוות שרק הן חייבות בהך?

הרב עובדיה חדאיה זצ"ל (שו"ת ישכיל-עבדי ח"ז אה"ע סי' ד) סבר שאין לניתוח כזה משמעויות של שינוי, וכל אחד נשאר במינו. כשיטה זו סברו עוד הרבה, למשל :הרב חירש ב 'נועם' חט"ז (תשל"ג) עמ' קנב (שו"ת לב-אריה ח"ב סי' מט ; בקובץ אסיא ח ' וא עמ' 144,     נשמת-אברהם א"ע סי מד אות ג, ועוד .

אכן הרב וולדנברג בשו"ת ציץ-אליעזר (חי"א סי' עח) סובר שיש מצבים בהם ניתן לשנות את המין, וכוונתו לתינוק שנולד עם סימנים כפולים, ואם יתערבו ויבטלו בניתוח את אותם חלקים של סימני זכרות שעימם נולד - יועיל הדבר לתחשיבו כנקנה. על סמך דבריו יש שטעו לקבוע באופן גורף שמינו של אדם נקבע על סמך מראהו החיצוני (ודבריהם הובאו באנציקלופדיה רפואית הלכתית, בסוף הערך 'ניתוחים' ח"ד עמ'  611 הע' 78 ). 
אולם דומני שדיוק זה אינו נכון, והרב וולדנברג שליט"א כלל לא דיבר במי שהחליט מיוזמתו להפוך את מינו. סימוכיך לכך ניתן למצוא בתשובה נוספת של הרב רולדנברג שליט"א (ציץ-אליעזר חכ"ב סי' ב) בפנייתו אל הראשל"צ הרב מרדכי אליהו שליט"א בעניו דומה. שם העלה, שגם מי שהתחלף מינו מנקבה לזכר בדרך נס, דינו כאנדרוגינוס ולא כזכר, וזאת למרות מראהו החיצוני.

מסתבר שגם במקרה שתואר בראשית דברינו, גם הרב וולדנברג יודה שאין להחשיב את הגברת הזו לגבר כלל ועיקר ,שכן בתשובה בחי"א הנ"ל הוא עצמו דיבר רק על מצב המבוסס על הכפילות שתיתה בסימני הילד כשנולד, ומשום שמדובר היה בתינוק. אבל בבוגרת שהחליטה לעשות מעשה ולחבול באבריה - על מנת לתחשיבה אחר כך כזכר, ושתיטול הורמונים זיכויים - לא מצינו מי שיקל בזה, ובטוחני שגם הרב וולדנברג שליט"א היה מורה בזה לאיסור מוחלט ,ושלא כדברי מי שהבין בדבריו ההיפך , כנ"ל.

Arutz 7   The Jerusalem Rabbinate was forced this week to announce the nullification of a marriage it had performed, when it became clear that the groom was actually a transgender man, thus making the marriage invalid according to Jewish law. 

The saga began when the couple approached the Rabbinate to register for marriage. The Rabbinate saw that the woman was pregnant, and the man claimed the fetus was his child. 

Approval for the marriage was then granted. 

The couple request a modest wedding ceremony to be held at the Rabbinate's office, and the Rabbinate complied with the request. The ceremony took place and one of the rabbis on the Religious Council officiated. 

However, two weeks later, the Rabbinate received information that the man married had not actually been born a man, and was previously a woman who had sex reassignment surgery in 2013.[...]

update - see Tzitz Eliezar who holds that sex change operations change the halachic gender
Tzitz Eliezar(10:25.26):

See Rabbi J. Wiesen's discussion