Sunday, October 31, 2010

PA upset over UNRWA official’s remark on refugees


JPost


The Palestinian Authority is extremely disappointed with a senior UNRWA official who recently said that Palestinian refugees should acknowledge that they will almost certainly not be returning to Israel, officials said last week.

Andrew Whitley, outgoing director of the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency's New York office, was quoted earlier this month as saying, "If one doesn't start a discussion soon with the refugees for them to consider what their own future might be – for them to start debating their own role in the societies where they are rather than being left in a state of limbo where they are helpless but preserve rather the cruel illusions that perhaps they will return one day to their homes – then we are storing up trouble for ourselves." [...]

Martin Gilert - corrective history of Jewish-Islam "coexistence"


Jerusalem Post

Under Muslim rule, Jews have been a ‘protected’ group, but have nonetheless endured intolerable suffering.
 
Martin Gilbert’s In Ishmael’s House is a good corrective to all the ink that has been spilled to fabricate and deny history relating to the supposed coexistence between Jews and Muslims under Muslim rule. British-born Gilbert, a biographer of Winston Churchill and prolific writer on the Jews and the Holocaust, has only rarely directed his lens on the Jews who lived under Islam.

The subject has generally been left to Jewish Orientalists who, in the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th century, wrote about the wondrous tolerance that Islam showed Jews in contrast to the brutality meted out to them in Russia and Europe.[...]

Friday, October 29, 2010

Child & Domestic Abuse Book - Almost there

The book is finished. Files need some technical corrections to pass
Amazon's test which should be next week.

The book is being published in two volumes. The second volume consists
of the halachic material (and Hebrew sources) that is the basis for the
conclusions presented in Volume I.

Rav Sternbuch: Considering others

4-Year-Old Can Be Sued, Judge Rules in Bike Case


New York Times

Citing cases dating back as far as 1928, a judge has ruled that a young girl accused of running down an elderly woman while racing a bicycle with training wheels on a Manhattan sidewalk two years ago can be sued for negligence.
The ruling by the judge, Justice Paul Wooten of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, did not find that the girl was liable, but merely permitted a lawsuit brought against her, another boy and their parents to move forward.
The suit that Justice Wooten allowed to proceed claims that in April 2009, Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn, who were both 4, were racing their bicycles, under the supervision of their mothers, Dana Breitman and Rachel Kohn, on the sidewalk of a building on East 52nd Street. At some point in the race, they struck an 87-year-old woman named Claire Menagh, who was walking in front of the building and, according to the complaint, was “seriously and severely injured,” suffering a hip fracture that required surgery. She died three weeks later. [...]

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Breaking the Silence: Review by Jewish Star


Has the Jewish community finally come to terms with sexual abuse? That is the question raised by the publication of a controversial new book, “Breaking the Silence: Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community.” It is the first extensive treatment of sexual abuse among Jews aimed at a religious audience, and it faces the explosive topic head on — from advice on contacting police to filing abuse reports to halachic arguments about why reporting molesters is in keeping with Jewish law.
The editors, Dr. David Pelcovitz, the Straus Professor of Psychology and Education at the Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University, and David Mandel, the CEO of Ohel, the largest Jewish social service agency, have no doubt about the book’s importance.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eternal Jewish Family is now Tiferes Bais Yisrael of One Jewish Family


Eternal Jewish Family is now Tiferes Bais Yisrael and is holding a conference in Newark, New Jersey in December.

They state:The Role of Tiferes Bais Yisrael

           

                Well over half of all Jews worldwide choose to intermarry, yet some of these couples eventually decide to raise Jewish families.

                Proper guidance is crucial when a non-Jewish spouse sincerely seeks a halachic conversion.


                To assure full acceptance into any Jewish educational system or community throughout the world, including Israel, the conversion must adhere to the requirements and standards of Jewish law, as established by recognized Torah authorities.

                   

                TBY assists intermarried couples who display a sincere and strong commitment to live a Jewish lifestyle, in accordance with Torah and halacha.

                In this situation, the Jewish spouse is becoming a fully observant Jew while the non-Jewish partner is committed to become a sincere and fully observant convert.

           


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Science Research- Dr. Hauser of Harvard - fraud or errors of judgment


New York Times

The still unresolved case of Marc Hauser, the researcher accused by Harvard of scientific misconduct, points to the painful slowness of the government-university procedure for resolving such charges. It also underscores the difficulty of defining error in a field like animal cognition where inconsistent results are common.

The case is unusual because Dr. Hauser is such a prominent researcher in his field, and is known to a wider audience through his writings on morality. There seemed little doubt of the seriousness of the case when Harvard announced on Aug. 20 that he had been found solely responsible for eight counts of scientific misconduct.

But last month two former colleagues, Bert Vaux and Jeffrey Watumull, both now at the University of Cambridge in England, wrote in the Harvard Crimson of Dr. Hauser’s “unimpeachable scientific integrity” and charged that his critics were “scholars known to be virulently opposed to his research program.” [...]

Monday, October 25, 2010

Obama claims political woes are result of neurological problem


JPost

In an increasingly desperate attempt to develop a narrative for their coming collapse, the Democrats have indulged themselves in what for half a century they’ve habitually attributed to the American Right – the paranoid style in American politics. The talk is of dark conspiracies – secret money, foreign influence, big corporations, with Karl Rove and, yes, Ed Gillespie lurking ominously behind the scenes. The only thing missing is the Halliburton-Cheney angle.

But after trotting out some of these with a noticeable lack of success, President Barack Obama has come up with something new, something less common, something more befitting his stature and intellect. He’s now offering a scientific, indeed neurological, explanation for his current political troubles. The electorate apparently is deranged by its anxieties and fears to the point where it can’t think straight. Part of the reason “facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time,” he explained to a Massachusetts audience, “is because we’re hardwired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country is scared.” Opening a whole new branch of cognitive science – liberal psychology – Obama has discovered a new principle: The fearful brain is hardwired to act befuddled, i.e., vote Republican. [...]

Defriending electonically on Facebook


New York Times

ENDING a friendship takes many forms: an ugly confrontation, a polite “I don’t think this is working out,” or just the fade-out with not returning phone calls or responding to e-mail.

Or it can be a simple click on your Facebook page.

As many know, it’s called “defriending,” a term that the New Oxford American Dictionary formally acknowledged this summer. But can technology mitigate the complicated emotions that are associated with a failed friendship? Maybe not.

What is a Jewish State?


New York Times

The more stridently Israel insists on Palestinian recognition of it as the nation-state of the Jewish people, the more adamantly the Palestinian leadership seems to refuse.

As a result, some senior Israeli officials are beginning to question the wisdom of the policy of their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made recognition of the legitimacy of the Jewish nation-state a prerequisite for any final agreement with the Palestinians.

More recently, Mr. Netanyahu offered it as a quid pro quo for a temporary extension of a moratorium on building in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have stalled since the moratorium expired last month.

Abuse Book - Sending it to Amazon by Wednesday for printing

There are more twists and dead ends in this journey then in the 5 other books I have published. I decided not to produce an ebook. I discovered that removing copy protection from an ebook is very simple and that there are hundreds of sites on the internet that describe the process.
While I am aware of the issue of DRM and music - I think this would be different because of the subject of the book. I am concerned that it would become viral amongst those who are more concerned with the problem then finding a constructive solution.
Therefore I am left with the path of publishing on demand. I am just finishing editing the last essay which I got yesterday. Then some basic formatting and just need to approve a prototype and that's it. The cover took another reitieration. Hopefully this is the final version. I will be publishing it in two volumes - the essays and the halachic sources in Hebrew and English.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

R' Avi Shafran on Mendelsoh, Science & Slikin Affair

On the Main Line


http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2010/10/interview-with-rabbi-avi-shafran-about.html


Here's a guest post consisting of a very interesting interview with Rabbi Avi Shafran conducted by Baruch Pelta. Below is the interview transcript. I will post another post shortly which will give some of the background info regarding the Mendelssohn article published in the Jewish Observer nearly 25 years ago, which may or may not be known to readers - but see this post for some of that background, as well as links to the relevant articles.[...]

Yisroel Meir Bricksman


Kikar HaShabbat


סיפור גירושי בריסקמן-שכטר מסתבך: עסקנים הפועלים בארה"ב בענייני עגונות, שהצליחו בשבוע האחרון להוציא גט מישראל בריסקמן, נעצרו באשמת חטיפה והכאה.


מדובר בבני זוג מוכרים מליקווד - ר´ דוד ווקס ואשתו. כזכור, בתחילת השבוע חשף "כיכר השבת" כי סיפור העיגון בפרשת בריסקמן-שכטר הסתיים, והאשה קיבלה את גטה בארה"ב בעקבות מעורבותם של חברי "מאפיה" מקומיים.


כעת אנו מביאים, לראשונה, את פרטי הסיפור המלא
....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Audiotape of the Chicago JBAC Event this past Sunday

Chicago
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JBAC.WMA
Size: 95.32 MB Content will be available for download until October 26,
2010 20:44 PDT.
Download
<https://rcpt.yousendit.com/971584683/afb51dc42f80a3d027e762f08e8c27ec>

If the above link does not work, you can paste the following address into
your browser:
https://rcpt.yousendit.com/971584683/afb51dc42f80a3d027e762f08e8c27ec

Yisroel Bryskman assaulted in Lakewood


APP.COM

LAKEWOOD — A local couple were arrested after police say they kidnapped a man and beat him before dropping him off in New York. David Wax, 48, and Judy Wax, 46, both of Somerset Avenue, here, were charged with kidnapping. David Wax was also charged with criminal restraint, luring, aggravated assault, theft and robbery, and Judy Wax was charged with conspiracy.

Sometime after 9 p.m. Saturday, David and Judy Wax handcuffed Yisrael Bryskman, 36, and moved him into a room at their home on Somerset Avenue before beating him and ordering him to call his family and demand money, according to Lt. William Addison.

Bryskman, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was staying in Lakewood, and was seeking employment with the Waxes when they assaulted him, said Addison. [...]

Petition supporting Rabi Elon



YNET

Some 300 former students of Rabbi Mordechai Elon, who has been accused  of sexually harassing his underlings, have signed a petition in his favor. The young men say they have never been abused or harassed by the rabbi.


Rabbi Elon is being charged with sexually abusing and committing indecent acts on underage students who sought his advice. The Takana forum, which has been accused of protecting Elon, announced recently that it would soon release the details of the allegations against him.


The forum says it has documents signed by the rabbi, in which he admits to the allegations and accepts sanctions imposed on him by the members – including a prohibition to meet with students.[...]

CAUTION – EXPLICIT CONTENT & LANGUAGE

The following has been inserted at the beginning of the book

The subject matter of this book is one that is inherently upsetting and unpleasant. Consequently much consideration was given to what to describe and what type of language to use. It is typical in the Orthodox community that these things are not talked about and when they are talked about euphemisms are typically used (Pesachim 3a). Even the word "sexual" is rarely used. The Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3:8) in fact asserts that is why Hebrew is called the holy language. [The Ramban (Shemos 30:13) disputes this view however]. Most of the material in this book is in fact presented in a neutral manner and the word "abuse" is typically used to describe the issue under discussion. However there are discussions which are more graphic and language which is more explicit. Some of this is simply the translation of classic sources such as the Talmud or Rambam (See for example Commentary on Mishna Sanhedrin 7:4). In Hebrew the descriptions are much more modest and acceptable and the terms are not explicit as they are in English i.e., they are not as shocking.

However it is impossible to adequately educate parents and educators as to how to protect children without explaining what the danger is. Euphemisms are appropriate when the reality is known but someone wants to allude to it rather then use lurid details. In fact much of what goes on is not known by the average person and therefore the horror can only be conveyed by more explicit language and detail. Much of the psychological damage is the result of abuse by those who are known and trusted by the victim. This betrayal must be described to be properly understood.

One of my early supporters backed out when he saw some of the essays. He said, " I thought that you would simply say abuse happens and is bad and therefore we need to protect our children. I thought you were writing a book that the typical Beis Yaakov graduate or Chassidic mother can read." Hopefully they will in fact read this book – despite it being an unpleasant experience - for the sake of their children

Therefore if you do not want to deal with these types of descriptions and language – don't read this book – or at least be prepared to skip or skim some of the material. This also means that one needs to be careful who will read it.

This concern is not so simple however. I once mentioned to the Noviminsker Rebbe that Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky had stated that children should be educated about sexual matters at the age of 16. His reply was, "It is too late for children today (this was 25 years ago). Even some 8 year olds know more than I do."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Court in UAE says beating wife, child OK if no marks are left


CNN

A court in the United Arab Emirates says a man is permitted under Islamic law to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he leaves no marks and has tried other methods of punishment, the country's top court ruled.

The ruling came in the case of a man who slapped his wife and slapped and kicked his 23-year-old daughter, the document said. [...]

Dead Sea Scrolls to be put online

CNN

In an ambitious application of 21st century technology to a first century wonder, the Israel Antiquities Authority and internet search giant Google announced a plan Tuesday to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls and make the entire collection available to the public online.

The authority's general director, Shuka Dorfman, called the project a milestone that will enhance the field of biblical studies and people's understanding of Judaism and early Christianity.

"We have succeeded in recruiting the best minds and technological means to preserve this unrivaled cultural heritage treasure, which belongs to all of us, so that the public with a click of the mouse will be able to access history in its fullest glamour"

Made up of 30,000 fragments from 900 manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered by many historians to be one of the most important archaeological finds ever made.

The ancient manuscripts, made of leather, papyrus and copper, were first discovered in 1947 by a nomadic shepherd in a cave near the Dead Sea. In the years that followed, more scroll fragments were located. [...]

Child & Domestic Abuse - paperback version

This is the tentative cover for the paper back version. If you look
carefully you will see that the back cover is one of the pages of the
Synopsis that was heavily edited by Rav Sternbuch. The front cover may
still end up being the original one - however I just don't have access
to photoshop right now.

Certain European communities in grave danger

YNET
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) said Thursday that certain Jewish communities in Europe are in grave danger after a recent wave of  anti-Semitism, some of it  officially sanctioned.
Recently, the organization said, a respected and government-funded Catholic school, the College of the Sacred Heart, in Antwerp, hosted a 'Palestine Day', which was replete with anti-Semitic references and activities for youngsters. One stall at the event was titled "Throw the soldiers into the sea" where children were invited to throw replicas of  Jewish and Israeli soldiers into two large tanks, EJC said. [...]

Jewish Comic Novelist wins Man Booker Prize


New York Times

A funny thing happened when Howard Jacobson won the Man Booker Prize last Tuesday. Instead of the traditional audience reaction — euphoria from the winner's entourage, anemic clapping underpinned by envy and bitterness from everyone else — the announcement, over dinner at the Guildhall here, was greeted by loud, sustained applause. A smattering of people who were not even related to Mr. Jacobson stood and cheered.

"I think it's that I'm someone who's been around for a long time," Mr. Jacobson, exhausted but excited, said in an interview two days after. "There was also the feeling that, 'Thank God an old man's won it.' " (He is 68).

The winning book, "The Finkler Question," is Mr. Jacobson's 11th novel; it was published in the United States as a paperback original by Bloomsbury on the same day that the prize was announced. It is an unusual Booker choice, both because it delves into the heart of the British Jewish experience, something that few contemporary British novels try to do, and because it is, on its surface at least, so ebulliently comic. It tells the story of three friends, two Jewish and one, Julian Treslove, who longs to be. [...]

Part III Saga of publishing Abuse Book - End Game

After being rejected by the frum book stores. I looked into ebooks. I rejected that path because I failed to produce an error free ePub file.
Plan B was to publish through a publish on demand service. But that would cost more than I could sell the book. However I discovered that Amazon has a very reasonably service Createspace which produces books at an affordable price. The only downside is that it only produces paperback. Similarly I discovered that Amazon's ebook division e.g., Kindle readily converted my files into Kindle books and it is also reasonably priced.
So if all goes well I will be producing an ebook version of my book this week and a paper back version in the next week or two.
The kindle ebook will consist of the basic issues and halachic concerns, the 25 essays as well as the Synopsis which was reviewed and annotated by Rav Sternbuch. It will also have a concise 25 point practical guide. About 260 pages of the original book. I plan to sell it for $9.99 .

The detailed halachic discussions will be published in a separate volume. A third volume will include the Hebrew footnotes as well translations of the major sources in the literature arranged by author each for $9.99 a book. This arrangement also allows easier navigation in the ebook format as well as allowing flexibility in buying as much as you want.
These will be accessible on the Amazon website. I will also have links from my blog. The paperback sold on Amazon is eligible for free shipping in USA when the total reaches $25. I plan to sell it slightly discounted on my Amazon estore.
I am not sure whether or not to publish the paperback in 2 or 3 volumes. I also haven't decided on the pricing - but the volume with the essays will definitely not be above $25. I am just not certain whether to include the halachic discussions with the Hebrew footnotes or to include it with the essays.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The ultimate toy - the iPhone


New York Times

THE bedroom door opened and a light went on, signaling an end to nap time. The toddler, tousle-haired and sleepy-eyed, clambered to a wobbly stand in his crib. He smiled, reached out to his father, and uttered what is fast becoming the cry of his generation: “iPhone!”THE bedroom door opened and a light went on, signaling an end to nap time. The toddler, tousle-haired and sleepy-eyed, clambered to a wobbly stand in his crib. He smiled, reached out to his father, and uttered what is fast becoming the cry of his generation: “iPhone!”

The iPhone has revolutionized telecommunications. It has also become the most effective tool in human history to mollify a fussy toddler, much to the delight of parents reveling in their newfound freedom to have a conversation in a restaurant or roam the supermarket aisles in peace. But just as adults have a hard time putting down their iPhones, so the device is now the Toy of Choice — akin to a treasured stuffed animal — for many 1-, 2- and 3-year-olds. It’s a phenomenon that is attracting the attention and concern of some childhood development specialists.[...]


Germany chancellor criticizes multicultural approach to Islam


YNET

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Saturday that the multicultural model for integration in Germany has "miserably failed." For the first time, Merkel expressed a clear position in an ongoing debate over the integration of immigrants – especially Muslims – into German society, stressing that the current situation must be changed.

According to Merkel, immigrants should be required to integrate in society, by committing to learn the German language – and not only be allowed to do so voluntarily, as has been the policy up until now. [...]

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rav Sternbuch: Acting out of love

Rav Sternbuch:Getting started

An End to Israel’s Invisibility


New York Times

NEARLY 63 years after the United Nations recognized the right of the Jewish people to independence in their homeland — and more than 62 years since Israel's creation — the Palestinians are still denying the Jewish nature of the state. "Israel can name itself whatever it wants," said the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, while, according to the newspaper Haaretz, his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said that the Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state. Back in 1948, opposition to the legitimacy of a Jewish state ignited a war. Today it threatens peace.

Mr. Abbas and Mr. Erekat were responding to the call by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, enabling his government to consider extending the moratorium on West Bank construction. "Such a step by the Palestinian Authority would be a confidence-building measure," Mr. Netanyahu explained, noting that Israel was not demanding recognition as a prerequisite for direct talks. It would "open a new horizon of hope as well as trust among broad parts of the Israeli public."[...]

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thoughts about sinning are worse than doing the sin

Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3:8): It is a well‑known saying of our Sages (Yoma 29a) that the thoughts about sinning are more harmful than the sin itself.” I have a very good explanation of this. When a person transgresses or is disobedient it is typically because of accidents or physical lusts that are characteristic of his animal nature. However the power of thought is his most elevated aspect and is actually an aspect of the human essence. Therefore a person who sins in thought sins by means of his most elevated aspect. There is no comparison of the severity of sin of someone who wrongly causes a foolish slave to work as he who wrongly causes a distinguished free man to do the work of a slave…Therefore this gift of thought which G‑d gave to us in order to perfect ourselves and to learn and to teach must not be used in doing that which is the most degrading and disgraceful aspect of ourselves. We must not imitate the songs and stories of the foolish lustful nations of the world which are suitable for them but not for us - the kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Shemos 19:6). Therefore all those who utilize the faculty of thought or speech in matters which are disgraceful to us, or who thinks more than necessary about drinking or sexual relations or who gets involved in singing about these lowly things – is taking and utilizing divine gifts in rebellion against G‑d and His commandments.


9th volume of Igros Moshe to be published soon


The Jewish Star

A new volume of the halachic responsa and letters of HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt”l will see the light of day thanks to his grandchildren.

The Belarus-born gadol hador, the greatest Torah leader of his generation, was 91 when he passed away on Ta’anis Esther in 1986. Rav Moshe’s reputation as the foremost posek, halachic decisor, and a beloved leader, radiated from the Lower East Side of Manhattan where he led Mesivta Tiferes Jerusalem for half a century while answering an unending stream of halachic questions from all over the world. Many of his decisions were published in a seven-volume collection of halachic responsa titled “Igros Moshe,” the “Answers of Moshe.” He resolved questions on an almost unimaginable array of subjects, from business and ethical disputes to complex medical issues and matters of life and death. One of Rav Moshe’s most famous opinions, still discussed at length today, permitted consumption of non-cholov yisroel milk, unsupervised during the milking process — though only in the United States.[...]

Part II The continuing saga of trying to produce the Abuse book

Yesterday I reported my decision to publish my book as an ebook because  of the refusal of the traditional stores to carry it. However that too has turned into a dead end. After about 10 hours of unsuccessfully trying to convert my files into errorless ePUb files I have simply given up. On the surface the process is very simple. A word document is fed into a conversion program. 5 minutes later it produce an ePub formatted file. That file must be checked with ePubcheck to make sure that it has no errors. If there are any errors Barnes and Noble will not publish it. However since I have not succeeded in producing errorless files that is simply the end of that alternative. I am not so upset about this as ebooks are very difficult to navigate for large and complex books such as mine. Also most people would prefer to have a physical book.

Fortunately I discovered what seems to be a viable alternative - publishing on demand with Createspace (an Amazon company). They store your files and produce one book at a time and ship it anywhere in the world. The production cost is lower than other publishing on demand companies and it is very easy to do. They collect sales tax and there is an option of listing it on Amazon. The only downside is that they only produce softcover works.

 I will be sending them the finished files next week - then they will produce a proof copy which I need to review and approve and then I am in business.

Because of their lower cost I will probably be selling the book at $25 or less. They also offer the service of selling the books to me  at cost amd shipping them to anyone I wish - so that I can sell it to any store which is brave enough to carry it. In essence they have eliminated the need for a distributor or middleman.

The only issue which I am still wrestling with is that of some of the descriptions and language used in the book. One suggestion is simply to place a warning on those chapters which would make some people blush or get sick. On the other hand that is the nature of the beast and too many people are naive and are ignorant of  what abuse is. They imagine some wild eyed psychotic monster attacking their child while he/she is walking down the wrong street late at night. David Morris has recently written about the issue of grooming. He has given me permission for that post to be included in my book. Others argue that any descriptions which upset people will sink the book so why sacrifice the whole project for the sake of realism? That is a good question which I am still wrestling with.

Pledge of allegiance is American idea


YNET

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stressed Thursday that "we did not invent the idea of pledging allegiance to the state," in response to criticism leveled at the Citizenship Act amendment.
Asked during a visit to Berlin of the essence of the amendment, which requires non-Jewish aspiring citizens to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic" state, Lieberman pointed to the American pledge of allegiance. He noted that the Yisrael Beiteinu party is "willing to adopt the American law word for word."[...]

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The publishing of my Child & Domestic Abuse book will be in a few days

Problem
My book is almost finished. I am just waiting for one final essay to be finished. However I have run into a major roadblock. I contacted three distributors/book sellers regarding the book. The first one said simply, "I can't have a book on abuse in my store." The second one said, "Of course I'll distribute the book. It is an important work that is needed by our community. However I don't know a single store that I supply that would take it." The third one said, "The book is important but I can't have a book which is so explicit in description and language. I need a book that any beis yaakov graduate would be comfortable with , a book that any chassidic woman would allow in her home. You need to just say there is an abuse problem and here are the solutions to prevent it - just don't describe what abuse is or use terms such as oral sex, sodomy or incest." LOL

Therefore the problem is how to produce and distribute a book that will be acceptable to the mainstream Orthodox stores. How do I produce a safe enough book which conveys the nature of abuse to those who have no idea of what it entails without describing what it is? Aside from the concerns with content the distributors  were also very concerned that the book would be banned and that they might suffer financially - but they all agreed that I have no way of protecting against this.

Solution
However I have a solution. The book will be initially released as an ebook from Barnes and Noble. This uses the ePub format which is readable on all computers as well as most ebook readers (Kindle is a major problem however.). The Nook free software works also on cell phones. It will also be copy protected (DRM) This produces some significant problems regarding format i.e., the pages are smaller and so navigating is a formidable problem. Formatting is limited and Hebrew can't be displayed. However it can have internal links in the text and so the Table of Contents (12 pages in book format) will provide hyperlinks to the relevant sections. The Nook software not only allows reading the ebook on many different devices but allows you to lend it to others for a 14 day period.

 Once I have a finished version I will also sell it through Amazon for the Kindle. If the ebook version is acceptable to the public then I will see about publishing it either as (publish on demand) or for the stores.

There is also a major advantage to this approach - aside from the fact that I don't need a store or pay for printing (for Barnes & Noble but not Amzaon) - I can update and correct the book free and purchasers can download the latest edition free (This is true only for Barnes & Noble but not Amazon). There is obviously no physical book so there is no problem that your mechutan might see that you are reading a book on abuse or your children might ask what child abuse is. So it won't produce problems for shidduchim.

The ebook of Child and Domestic Abuse hopefully will be available in a few days.

Long Recovery Looks Like Recession


New York Times

This is not what a recovery is supposed to look like.

In Atlanta, the Bank of America tower, the tallest in the Southeast, is nearly a fifth vacant, and bank officials just wrestled a rent cut from the developer. In Cherry Hill, N.J., 10 percent of the houses on the market are so-called short sales, in which sellers ask for less than they owe lenders. And in Arizona, in sun-blasted desert subdivisions, owners speak of hours cut, jobs lost and meals at soup kitchens.

Less than a month before November elections, the United States is mired in a grim New Normal that could last for years. That has policy makers, particularly the Federal Reserve, considering a range of ever more extreme measures, as noted in the minutes of its last meeting, released Tuesday. Call it recession or recovery, for tens of millions of Americans, there’s little difference. [...]

National Week for Prevention of Child Abuse

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why Barack Obama is losing the political war

Time Magazine

Barack Obama is being politically crushed in a vise. From above, by elite opinion about his competence. From below, by mass anger and anxiety over unemployment. And it is too late for him to do anything about this predicament until after November's elections.

With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters. This view is held by Fox News pundits, executives and anchors at the major old-media outlets, reporters who cover the White House, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and governors, many Democratic business people and lawyers who raised big money for Obama in 2008, and even some members of the Administration just beyond the inner circle. [...]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Boro Park as real estate


New York Times

IN late September, during the final days of the weeklong holiday of Sukkot, young boys in white shirts and black hats could often be seen lining the streets of Borough Park, a large neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn. Standing behind folding card tables arrayed with long, thin willow branches to be waved in synagogue, they called out in Yiddish, hoping to attract customers from among the crowds of shoppers who exited, bags in hand, the kosher markets of 13th Avenue.

The neighborhood is home to one of the largest Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish populations in the United States — “the Jewish capital of the United States” and a “kosher utopia,” according to David G. Greenfield, who lives and works in Borough Park, in addition to representing it in the City Council. [...]

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Israeli loyalty oath:Denounced by Arabs as racist


Voice of America

Israel's Cabinet approved a controversial loyalty oath that requires new citizens to pledge allegiance to a "Jewish and democratic" state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the oath reflects the essence of the State of Israel. Critics countered that it would widen the existing gap between Jews and Arabs.
Mr. Netanyahu told the Cabinet that many in the world are trying to blur the connection between the Jewish people and their national homeland. He said Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and there is no other Jewish state in the world.  "Those who wish to join us must recognize this," he said.
The bill, which must be passed by parliament to become law, is largely symbolic because it only applies to new citizens.  But Israeli Arabs, who make up 20 percent of the population, and who tend to identify with their Palestinian brothers, describe the loyalty oath as racist.[...]

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Medical training & high suicide rates of doctors

New York Times

Several years ago, I learned that a physician in a town not too far from where I was practicing had committed suicide. Neither I nor my hospital colleagues knew him, but according to the story we heard, he was the father of young children, was respected by doctors and patients alike and had struggled privately with mental illness since medical school.
But it was not the details of his life that haunted us; it was the details of his death. He had locked himself in a room in the hospital, placed a large needle in his vein and injected himself with a drug that so effectively paralyzed his muscles he was unable to breathe.[...]

Palestinians turn rock attack into car attacking innocent children

David Be'eri, head of a known settler group, hit two Palestinian children with his car on Friday, after they hurled rocks at his vehicle in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.[...]




Thursday, October 7, 2010

Crown Heights:Integrating a neighborhood with a restaurant


New York Times

“IS HE COMING BACK?” Clara Santos Perez was peering out the windows and across the street, where an imposing man in black stood, his face turned in her direction.
Was he watching? Waiting? Planning to confront her anew? Perez wondered aloud about all of this, wrung her hands and paced. In her agitation and dread she more closely resembled a criminal on the lam than what she really was: a restaurant manager rattled by an unusually troubling customer complaint.
It was a Sunday in late summer, and most of the night had gone smoothly. From 6 p.m. on, almost all of the 45 or so seats in the main dining room of Basil Pizza & Wine Bar were filled, primarily with its core clientele of Hasidic Jews from the restaurant’s neighborhood in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Their conversation and a soundtrack of merry classical music combined to form a pleasant din. [...]

Academic program for Chareidim


YNET

Much of the criticism leveled at Israel's haredi community pertains to the issue of employment. Yet at this time, more haredim choose to shatter the stigma and not only focus on Torah studies, as they increasingly seek to join the workforce.
 
"The way to make a dignified living – study and work," is the name of a special academic track for haredim offered by the Zefat Academic College and reflecting the new perception among haredim. The program aims to allow the ultra-Orthodox to combine Torah and academic studies in the aims of securing desirable jobs in the areas of economics, human resources, and business administration. [...]

Obama:Audacity of Hope - promise them the moon

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

 "She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican." "I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically Correct. However, I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be an Obama Democrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Breaking the Silence: Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community (Ktav)


YU Faculty

A decade after child sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community came to public light, there is a nascent but historic transformation taking place on the issue. Communal leaders, rabbis, mental health professionals, parents, school administrators and teachers, and survivors are ready to fully engage in dialogue, as well as work together to develop and implement definitive intervention and prevention strategies.  All they need is a blueprint to move forward.

Yeshiva University professor and nationally-prominent trauma psychologist Dr. David Pelcovitz, the Gwendolyn and Joseph Strauss Chair in Jewish Education at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration and David Mandel, longtime chief executive officer of OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services, have created this road map. They are the editors of Breaking the Silence: Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community (KTAV), the most comprehensive book on the issue. To be released October 2010, Breaking the Silence brings together for the first time the insights and experience of the professionals – psychologists, social workers, pediatricians, attorneys, educators and rabbis – who have been on the front lines dealing with the issue for years.

“The reality of sexual abuse in the Jewish community has necessitated a comprehensive nuts-and-bolts, hands-on guide for clinicians, community leaders, educators and parents outlining practical approaches to intervention and prevention,” said Dr. Pelcovitz. “This book is an essential resource for all those interested in learning how to better fulfill our responsibility to protect and nurture the next generation.” [...]

Parasitic worms cure autoimmune diseases?


Fox News

Tired of suffering from Crohn’s disease, Michael, a 31-year-old financial planner from New York City, turned to a last resort – an underground network of "worm pushers" in cyberspace.

Michael, who asked that his last name not be revealed, chose to undergo helminthic therapy – infecting himself with Necator Americanus, or microscopic hookworm larvae, in order to put his autoimmune disease into remission. Helminthic therapy, also called worm therapy, is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but it has seen significant success around the world. [,,,]

Experiment in Nihilism: Suicide as ideology


Boston Globe

In the end, no one really knows what led Mitchell Heisman, an erudite, wry, handsome 35-year-old, to walk into Harvard Yard on the holiest day in his faith and fire one shot from a silver revolver into his right temple, on the top step of Memorial Church, where hundreds gathered to observe the Jewish Day of Atonement.

But if the 1,905-page suicide note he left is to be believed — a work he spent five years honing and that his family and others received in a posthumous e-mail after his suicide last Saturday morning on Yom Kippur — Heisman took his life as part of a philosophical exploration he called “an experiment in nihilism.’’

At the end of his note, a dense, scholarly work with 1,433 footnotes, a 20-page bibliography, and more than 1,700 references to God and 200 references to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Heisman sums up his experiment:

“Every word, every thought, and every emotion come back to one core problem: life is meaningless,’’ he wrote. “The experiment in nihilism is to seek out and expose every illusion and every myth, wherever it may lead, no matter what, even if it kills us.’’[...]

Harvard Hillel: $780k embezzled by accountant


Boston Globe Sept 14, 2010

A Framingham man was sentenced to state prison Friday for stealing more than $780,000 from Harvard University’s Hillel House during five years as the accountant for the nonprofit’s books through a financial management firm, according to the attorney general’s office.

William O’Brien, 58, pleaded guilty in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn Thursday to three counts of larceny over $250 and one count each of forgery and making false entries in corporate books.

He was sentenced to two to three years in state prison to be followed by 10 years of probation.

O’Brien also was ordered to pay $783,489 in restitution. He could not be reached for comment.


Judaism & Justice: Chief Rabbi Lord,Jonathan Sacks & Professor Michael Sandel.

The following link will bring you to the video presentation of Judaism and Justice: Judaism and Justice - A Conversation Between Chief Rabbi Lord
Jonathan Sacks and Professor Michael Sandel. http://hillel.harvard.edu/media/videos/1535

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gay rights: Exclusion from common law rights

ynet

Same-sax couples suffer setback Tuesday: Beersheba Family Court Judge Yeshayahu Tischler ruled that the term "man and wife" will mean only one thing in the eyes of the law - "In my opinion, the only legitimate interoperation for this term is male and female," he said.

The ruling, which was given after a lengthy legal battle over the inheritance of an academic figure that passed away, negated several previous rulings recognizing long-term relationships between same-sex couples as equal to common law marriage, awarding partners the same legal rights. [...]

Monday, October 4, 2010

Comics & Jewish education


New York Times

For a quarter century, Jewish children have hungrily followed the kooky adventures of the Shpy, the adventurous hero of The Moshiach Times, a family-friendly magazine that is published six times a year in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. (Think Highlights, but Jewish.)

With a closet full of disguises and more gadgets than 007, the Shpy volunteers his services when innocent people or ancient traditions are imperiled. He escapes from a giant Mixmaster when investigating a case of stolen hamantaschen, and thwarts a mysterious bee infestation that nearly spoils the fall holiday of Sukkot. In one installment, he invents a repellent to keep the sinister Yetzer Hora at bay, complete with a catchy slogan: “Let us Shpray.” (The softening of the S, when the Shpy shpeaks, so to speak, is meant to evoke Humphrey Bogart.) [...]