Monday, February 28, 2011

Chabad Seminar: identifying, reporting and preventing child indecent abuse


As part of a series on protecting children, an educational seminar to take place March 8th, 2011, at 8:00 PM, at Bais Rivka, 310 Crown Street, Brooklyn, is going to revolve around identifying, reporting and preventing child indecent abuse - a largely unaddressed issue in our community.

Noted lecturer and columnist Mrs. Bronya Shaffer is coordinating the event and believes it should be mandatory given the necessity to address child indecent abuse issues.

(As of now, participating schools include Bais Rivka High School, Bnos Menachem, Darchei Menachem, Bnos Yisroel, Beis Chaya Mushka, Oholei Torah, Lubavitch Yeshiva and is being endorsed by Igud Hamenahalim.)

In an article titled Creating a Sane Environment: Protecting the Innocence of Children, Rabbi Manis Friedman chillingly surmises that close to half the people he has met were abused.

That is a staggering figure from someone who has been working in our educational system for decades and certainly reflects national survey averages of a 25% rate of childhood indecent abuse (this is an average of slightly varying statistics from different agencies and includes both men and women).

The panel will consist of Dr. David Pelcovitz, Rabbi Shloime Sternberg, Professor Gavriel Fagin and Assistant District Attorney Henna White. Mrs. Shaffer will emcee.

Union Education,What Wisconsin reveals about public workers & political power.

Wall Street Journal

It's important to understand how revolutionary this change was. For decades as the private union movement rose in power, even left-of-center politicians resisted collective bargaining for public unions. We've previously mentioned FDR and Fiorello La Guardia. But George Meany, the legendary AFL-CIO president during the Cold War, also opposed the right to bargain collectively with the government.

Why? Because unlike in the private economy, a public union has a natural monopoly over government services. An industrial union will fight for a greater share of corporate profits, but it also knows that a business must make profits or it will move or shut down. The union chief for teachers, transit workers or firemen knows that the city is not going to close the schools, buses or firehouses.

This monopoly power, in turn, gives public unions inordinate sway over elected officials. The money they collect from member dues helps to elect politicians who are then supposed to represent the taxpayers during the next round of collective bargaining. In effect union representatives sit on both sides of the bargaining table, with no one sitting in for taxpayers. In 2006 in New Jersey, this led to the preposterous episode in which Governor Jon Corzine addressed a Trenton rally of thousands of public workers and shouted, "We will fight for a fair contract." He was promising to fight himself.[...]

child abuser Elior Chen defended by misguided individuals

"הרב המתעלל" שעינה שני אחים קטנים חויב לפצות את המשפחה ב-700 אלף שקלים. השופט: "מעשי ההתעללות הם אכזריים, מחרידים ומזעזעים". התובע: העונש הולם את מעשיו. אביו של חן: "השופט כתב את מה שהתקשורת הכתיבה לו". נציג העדה החרדית: "זה משפט דרייפוס". הסנגור הבטיח לערער לעליון

Techeles rediscovered?


The scholar, Zvi C. Koren, a professor specializing in the analytical chemistry of ancient colorants, says he has identified the first known physical sample of tekhelet in a tiny, 2,000-year-old patch of dyed fabric recovered from Masada, King Herod’s Judean Desert fortress, later the site of a mass suicide by Jewish zealots after a long standoff against the Romans. [...]

Objective behavioral test accurately diagnoses ADHD,,


Does your child have ADHD, or is he merely rambunctious? Few questions divide parents, teachers, and mental-health professionals as often as this one. Some 5.4 million children ages 4 to 17 had ever been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2007, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The previous year, the total was 4.6 million, meaning 17.4% of all recorded ADHD cases were diagnosed in a single calendar year. There is little hard evidence to suggest that the pace of growth since 2007 has slowed.

The surge in ADHD diagnoses has worried mental-health clinicians because diagnosis of the disorder can be highly subjective. And yet between 1992 and 2000, production of the stimulant methylphenidate — which is marketed as Ritalin — increased 730%, according to the British Medical Journal. But there is a better way to diagnose ADHD — an objective, widely available test developed at McLean Hospital, the psychiatric arm of Harvard Medical School. The test is so good that it could settle the ADHD-diagnosis debate. [...]

Child Abuser Elior Chen sentenced to 24 years in jail


Judge Yoram Noam wrote in the verdict that "the crimes Chen committed were committed together with others – group members – who congregated in his shadow and worshipped him. The defendant employed a reign of terror over the children which included violence, contempt, and degradation."

"The personal circumstances of the defendant, as well as his wife and children's place of residence abroad, are pushed aside before the public interest in a severe penalty," the judge wrote of his sentence. [...]

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pediatrician in Abuse Case Killed Himself


Dr. Melvin D. Levine, a nationally known pediatrician who was found dead last week, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a medical examiner said on Friday.

Dr. Levine, 71, was found in the woods near his Rougemont, N.C., home with a gunshot wound to his forehead. His death was reported a day after a class-action sexual abuse and malpractice suit was filed against him in Boston. [...]

Rabbi Akiva said not to live in community run by rabbis

Pesachim (112a): There were seven things that Rabbi Akiva instructed his son Rabbi Yehoshua,…Do not live in a town whose leaders are Torah scholars [because they are absorbed in their studies and not with community affairs – Rashi]…

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brooklyn Rabbi-Therapist Accused Of Molesting client Since She Was 12

CBS News

A father was convinced his 16-year-old daughter was having a relationship with a 17-year-old boy, so the father set up a hidden camera in the house. What he recorded shocked him — what he saw the daughter doing to please the young man.

They are Orthodox Jews, in Brooklyn. The father had already taken the daughter to seek counseling with Rabbi Nechemya Weberman in years past. Just as he had taken her older sister. It is a common practice in the community for a respected person to be a counselor, or serve as a therapist. Weberman is affiliated, police said, with Brooklyn’s United Talmudic Community, a yeshiva.

Now, the father went to the Brooklyn DA’s office with the tape, and Rabbi Weberman. The Brooklyn DA’s office has set up special channels of communication to bridge cultural gaps that might be beneficial to both sides. However, the more that investigators talked to the parties involved — especially when they spoke with them separately — the more that there were questions which indicated something was not right. Around Feb. 16, the girl told a counselor at school that the rabbi has been raping her for years. The counselor reported it, and when the investigators talked to her again, she claimed there were at least 16 incidents at 263 Classon Avenue, in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, which serves as Weberman’s home and office. It is where the counseling sessions took place. The girl told investigators it began in 2007, when she was 12; and continued through 2010. [...]

Abuse Suspects, Your Calls Are Taped. Speak Up.


The men charged with beating, stabbing or burning their wives or girlfriends have plenty to say. Lately, their words have been used against them in New York courts as never before.

“I need you to prepare the kids to start lying,” one man said to his girlfriend. He had been charged with burning her face with a hot iron as she knelt in view of their children.

Another cooed “baby” to the girlfriend he was charged with grabbing by the hair and scratching with keys. “Whatever you do,” he directed, “do not speak to the D.A.”

A third insisted to his brother that he was surprised at all the blood after he used a kitchen knife on the woman he had been with since they were teenagers. “I just stuck her like a little,” he said. [...]

Foster care is not the best choice for most children with problem families


In my column this week I examined the work of an organization called Youth Villages, which offers intensive in-home services to help children in the foster care system return to their families, or extended families, wherever it is possible to do so safely. My point was to highlight the fact that this approach, which is vastly underutilized and underfunded, is proving to be superior to the current practices in the child welfare system. It’s now common for youth to remain in foster care or residential treatment for years. When they age out of these systems, many are unable to live successfully as adults.

Readers raised legitimate questions, including whether this strategy is safe. A number expressed doubts — even consternation — at the idea that Youth Villages could consider the troubled families who get entangled in the child welfare, mental health and juvenile justice systems as suitable for raising children. “For those hundreds of thousands of cases in which the parents create the unsafe environment, children should be removed from homes” explained Lucas from Champaign, Ill. (48). “[T]hat is, unless the author can justify leaving infants in the care of low-functioning addicts or toddlers in the care of convicted child sex offenders.” [...]

Internet:Human moderation for children's sites


Recently, though, the Webosaurs founder, Jacques Panis, decided that leather armor should be available only to premium members, who pay about $6 a month. Players with free membership would be denied that attire.

Then the Metaverse Mod Squad stepped in. The company employs moderators around the country who monitor the Webosaurs site to keep its users safe and happy.

In this instance, it told Webosaurs that if the change were made, the free users might abandon the Webosaurs world or turn on one another. In the end, the dinosaurs kept their armor, and Webosaurs avoided the possibility of alienating some of its 1.5 million registered users. [...]

Inside the private world of London's ultra-Orthodox Jews


On my way to meet Isaac Kornbluh, who runs the Schomrim neighbourhood patrol (the word means 'guardians’) in the Haredi Jewish enclave in Stamford Hill, I managed to misplace his address and found myself lost.

The Haredi – strictly-Orthodox Jews who trace their ancestry to 18th-century Eastern Euope – are one of the most close-knit, insular and private communities in Britain. More than 20,000 live in Stamford Hill, in north-east London. But it is a community, it seems, in which everybody knows everybody, and where a stranger is noticed.

As I fumbled through my notebook, a woman stopped. 'You look lost,’ she said helpfully. Ah, I wanted Isaac? First left, then right, number 16. [...]

Friday, February 25, 2011

Religious gays offered subsidized therapy to change sexual tendencies


Association of religious homosexuals sets up fund subsidizing treatments aimed at changing sexual tendencies. 'There is no clear ruling in the world of research that one can or cannot change,' explains organization's director [...]

Rav Sternbuch: Worthy Investments

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chazal have disputes only on correct viewpoint - all they say is true

From Daas Torah - translation copyrighted

Shomer Emunim Hakadmon (Second Introduction First Principle):… Included in our faith (emuna) is to believe in all the words of the Talmudic Sages – even if some of their words appear unlikely and against the laws of nature. We are to ascribe the problem to our understanding and not them. That is because all their words were said with ruach hakodesh that was within them. Therefore all those who ridicule any aspect of their words is severely punished as we see in Eiruvin (21b), Gittin (57a), “All those who ridicule the words of the Sages are punished in Hell in boiling excrement.” Bava Basra (75a) relates that a certain student ridiculed words of the Sages [and was turned into a heap of bones]. And this prohibition also applies in the case of midrashim where there is a dispute between the Sages. That is because there is nothing in the words of the Sages that is insignificant or meaningless. All that they say is true (eilu v’eilu) and therefore both sides are saying something of value… For example Rav and Shmuel have a dispute in Berachos (61a). One says that Eve was a attached to Adam (like Siamese twins) while the other said she was simply an insignificant appendage like a tail. In fact both views are true from different perspectives as we know from the teachings of the Arizal. This is the way it is for all other matters which two Sages disagree – both sides are true and correct depending on the place and time or world and perspective. You should know that even those matters mentioned in the Talmud which appear to be unnecessary or imprecise – that is simply not true. In fact these matters have esoteric meaning or important allusions…

Fish & Milk: Scribal Error determines halacha?

From Daas Torah - translation copyrighted

Aruch HaShulchan (Y.D. 87:15): ... Both fish and grasshoppers are not prohibited to be eaten together with milk – even rabbinically. It is clear that it is permitted to cook fish together with milk and eat the combination. In fact is the established practice in all Jewish communities to do. However you should be aware that there is a textual error that occured in the great halachic work, the Beis Yosef, which mistakenly states that one should not eat fish and milk together because it is dangerous (Orech Chaim 173:2). There the Beis Yosef had in fact intended to mention that meat and milk is dangerous together (not fish and milk). This textual error has already been pointed out by the Rema in Darchei Moshe. However some authorities wish to rule according to this error because they say that in fact in medical books it states that fish and milk are an unhealthy combination. But in fact that is not so, because Rabbeinu Bachye writes in his commentary to Mishpatim that the danger is eating fish together with cheese because it causes leprosy – and not fish and milk. Furthermore if fish and milk were dangerous than why wasn’t this mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch? Furthermore the whole world eats fish and milk and it is considered a quality meal. There is fact is no one who is concerned for this and it is possible to eat them together without any concern. [See Tosfos at the end of the first chapter of Mo’ed Koton]

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Police captain reassigned for refusing to attend Islamic event

Fox News

The Tulsa Police Department is investigating a captain who refused an order to assign officers to attend an upcoming Islamic event because he said it would violate his religious beliefs.

Capt. Paul Fields was reassigned after he refused to order officers under his command to attend the Islamic Center of Tulsa’s Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, a spokesman for the department said.

“It is my opinion and that of my legal counsel that forcing me to enter a Mosque when it is not directly related to a police call for service is a violation of my Civil Rights,” Fields wrote in an internal police department memo obtained by Fox News. [...]

Abuse Case Tests Ohel’s Adherence To Reporting Laws

Jewish Week

As the story of child sexual abuse in the Orthodox community has unfolded over the last several years, the issue of when, and even whether, to report such allegations to law enforcement has emerged as perhaps the most important and the most complicated.

One of the focal points of this debate — report to secular authorities or deal with the problem from inside the community — has become Ohel Children's Home and Family Services, a social service agency based in Brooklyn. Ohel has earned high praise in the community for the services it provides for foster children. Its work dealing with sexual abusers, however, is much more controversial, with many advocates and observers accusing the agency of functioning in a way that does more to protect the reputation of the community than the safety of its children. [...]

Many Locked-In Syndrome Patients Happy


You are awake, aware and probably unable to move or talk — but you are not necessarily unhappy, says the largest study of locked-in syndrome ever conducted.

A surprising number of patients with the condition, known as locked-in syndrome, say they are happy, despite being paralyzed and having to communicate mainly by moving their eyes. Most cases are caused by major brain damage, often sustained in traumatic accidents.[...]

Sexual abuse: New Treatment program at Abarbanel Hospital


לפני שיהיה מאוחר מדי: מטפלים במכורים למין

התחככות בנשים באוטובוס, צריכה של חומרים פדופיליים ואוננות יתרה - כל אלו הן התנהגויות מיניות המצביעות על כך שאדם עלול להפוך לעבריין מין. מרכז חדש שנפתח בביה"ח "אברבנאל" שם לו למטרה לטפל באותם אנשים, רגע לפני שההפרעה תהפוך לעבירה
ליאת רותם מלמד

עבריינות מין נחשבת בחברה המערבית לאחת העברות הקשות שיש. פדופילים, אנסים ואפילו מציצנים - כולם מוקעים מהחברה במקרה והם נתפסים. אך אדם צריך לעבור דרך ארוכה מהיותו בעל סטייה מינית עד להפיכתו לעבריין מין. וכך, למרות שמדינת ישראל משקיעה כספים רבים בטיפול ובענישה של עברייני המין, היא לא מתייחסת כלל לניסיון למנוע את המעשה באמצעות טיפול באותם אנשים.

Prof Marc Shapiro: Rav Meir Triebitz & Chareidi thought

Seforim Blog by Dr. Marc Shapiro

[...] Returning to Maimonides and creation, I want to call attention to a very interesting article by R Meir Triebitz. It appears in Reshimu, vol. 1 no. 2 (2008), the journal of the so-called Hashkafa Circle. See here.

As explained in the preface to the first volume, this “Circle” aims to fill a gap in haredi yeshiva education by focusing on the classics of medieval Jewish philosophy which are pretty much ignored in contemporary haredi society. We thus have a situation where great talmudists and halakhists ignore major themes of Jewish philosophy, which were dealt with at length by the medieval sages. When there are theological discussions in haredi literature, they invariably reflect a very conservative position, often at variance with the major rishonim. I already touched on this issue in my conclusion to The Limits of Orthodox Theology, and if Triebitz and his group are successful this situation could be reversed.

However, they won’t be successful for the simple reason that the outlook of the medieval Jewish philosophers is opposed in so many ways to haredi ideology that it will never become part of the haredi curriculum. In fact, I don’t think it is possible to be a serious student of medieval Jewish philosophy and at the same time identify with any of the regnant haredi worldviews. (You might dress the part and send your children to haredi schools, but that is not the same thing as identifying with a worldview.) This is so for many reasons, primary of which is that medieval Jewish philosophy is about the search for truth. The papal model of haredi society, where the quest for truth is subordinated to the dictates of the religious authority figure, is diametrically opposed to what our great medieval philosophers taught.

Furthermore, the haredi notion that contemporary gedolim can sit in judgment of the views of the Rambam and other greats, and determine that their views are no longer “acceptable”, will be rejected out of hand by all followers of the philosophic tradition. It is therefore not surprising that when Artscroll was presented with a plan to publish Maimonides’ Guide in English, the response was a resounding no, with the explanation given that the Guide should not be found in a haredi home.[17]

US rabbis demand recognition of their conversions


Dozens of Orthodox rabbis send letter to Interior Minister Yishai, demanding that converts be allowed to make aliyah under Law of Return. ITIM institute: Current reality a slap in Orthodox communities' face. [...]

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dr. Nathanson, 84, Dies; Changed Sides on Abortion


Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, a campaigner for abortion rights who, after experiencing a change of heart in the 1970s became a prominent opponent of abortion and the on-screen narrator of the anti-abortion film “The Silent Scream,” died on Monday at his home in Manhattan. ...

In a widely reported 1974 article in The New England Journal of Medicine, “Deeper into Abortion,” Dr. Nathanson described his growing moral and medical qualms about abortion. “I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths.”

His unease was intensified by the images made available by the new technologies of fetoscopy and ultrasound. [...]

Ecuadorean Villagers May Hold Secret to Longevity

NYTimes hat tip to Joseph

People living in remote villages in Ecuador have a mutation that some biologists say may throw light on human longevity and ways to increase it.

The villagers are very small, generally less than three and a half feet tall, and have a rare condition known as Laron syndrome or Laron-type dwarfism. They are probably the descendants of conversos, Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal who were forced to convert to Christianity in the 1490s but were nonetheless persecuted in the Inquisition. They are also almost completely free of two age-related diseases, cancer and diabetes. [...]

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rav Ovadia Yosef backs down on Army conversions


In order to prevent haredi protests, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef says convert who did not intend on observing mitzvot while undergoing conversion process will not be recognized as a Jew

Shas spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, authorized a number of senior rabbis on Sunday to add clarifications on his behalf to his controversial ruling which legitimized conversions performed in the Israel Defense Forces.

 The addition is said to be accepted by leaders of the Eda Haredit movement, including head of the Lithuanian Orthodox faction Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who are expected to call off the mass protest against Rabbi Yosef planned for Wednesday.

According to the compromise – brokered by former Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri – Rabbi Yosef added a restriction to his ruling, stating that a convert who did not really intend on adopting a religious lifestyle while undergoing the conversion process would not be recognized as a Jew. [...]

Igros Moshe: Can Yeshiva students take food without permission from the yeshiva kitchen?

It was brought to my attention that there are yeshiva bochrim who steal food from the yeshiva kitchen falsely claiming that this was permitted by a teshuva of Rav Moshe Feinstein. Therefore I am presenting my translation of the teshuva where it is obvious that Reb Moshe allowed no such practice. He did say where it is financially possible that the yeshiva should provide food "even in the middle of the night" but he clearly states it is the job of the administration to decide this and not for the bochrim to take the initiative.

Furthermore my brother-in-law told me that when he was in Lakewood that Rav Schneur Kotler had him install video cameras in the kitchen to catch some very agressive bochrim - who subsequently left Lakewood after they were caught and confronted by Rav Kotler.

Igros Moshe (Y.D. 4:39): Addressed to R Yitzchok Chevroni – Nasi of Yeshiva Chevron.

It is clear that this question is a general one that is relevant to all yeshiva including mine. After considerable thought I decided many years ago that the administrators of the yeshiva have the responsibility and the authority to distribute the money which is donated to the yeshiva   because it is reasonable to assume that this is the desire of the donors. Thus the money was donated to the yeshiva by the donors with the understanding that it would be administered by the staff of the yeshiva because the donors know that the administrators of the yeshiva are responsible people who will utilize the money in a proper manner.

On the other hand it is necessary that the administrators know that the purpose of the yeshiva is for the students. Thus they need to be aware that the money has been given for the students’ welfare and benefit. It is prohibited for the administrator to conduct the yeshiva in a manner that seems cruel and unmerciful. Thus the administration needs to utilize the money for the good of the students according to the financial capabilities of the yeshiva. For example it should provide sufficient food to all the students and even to provide extra portions to those who want it. The yeshiva should even to arrange for some food in the middle of the night to those who want to eat a snack. Of course there is a distinction between a wealthy yeshiva and a poor yeshiva. Therefore it is possible that the administration might have to place restrictions according to their understanding of the needs of the yeshiva. In this manner the administration needs to balance the resources of the yeshiva with the benefits to the students also concerning things such as the use of electricity and other matters.

Rabbi in SAC Extortion Plot Sentenced to 4 Years


Milton Balkany, a Brooklyn, New York, rabbi, was ordered to serve four years in prison for trying to extort $4 million from Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors LP.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote sentenced Balkany today in Manhattan. Balkany, 64, was convicted by a federal jury in November of extortion and blackmail charges after he threatened to disclose insider trading by SAC. There was no evidence at the trial that he had any such evidence.

“Just because you lead a charitable institution doesn’t give you a pass to commit extortion and fraud,” Cote told Balkany in court. “You tried to extort $4 million from a hedge fund.” [...]

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Abuse: The Parent Trapped


I WANT to believe I have little in common with Julie Schenecker, who the police say confessed to killing her two “mouthy” teenagers.

Ms. Schenecker, who was indicted on charges of first-degree murder on Thursday, lives in Tampa, and is married to an Army colonel. I live near San Francisco, and am married to a newspaper editor.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Relationship between G-d & man/Man being god over lower realms

Bereishis Rabbah[1](79:8): He set up an altar and he called it G‑d, the G‑d of Israel (Bereishis 33:20). … Yaakov said to G‑d, “You are G‑d in Heaven and I am god in the lower realm. Reish Lakish said that G‑d criticized him saying, “Even the supervisor of a synagogue does not take authority by himself. However you have taken power to yourself by this statement. Tomorrow your daughter will go out and be raped.” That happened as we see in Bereishis (34:1).

[1]  בראשית רבה (עט:ח): ויצב שם מזבח ויקרא לו אל [בראשית לג:כ] אר"ל ויקרא לו אל אלהי ישראל אמר אתה אלוה בעליונים ואני אלוה בתחתונים ר' הונא בשם ריש לקיש אמר אפילו חזן הכנסת אינו נוטל שררה לעצמו ואתה היית נוטל שררה לעצמך מחר בתך יוצאה ומתענה הה"ד ותצא דינה בת לאה:

Army conversions - attempts to resolving dispute


הפשרה החרדית: נכיר במתגיירים - אם לא יתחתנו

ניסיונות פשרה ערב הפגנת ההמונים נגד ההכרה בגיור: מן הצד הספרדי - דרישה לבדיקה מדוקדקת של פסיקת הרב עובדיה. מן הצד האשכנזי - דרישה להכרה בגיור "לחומרא". המשמעות: הגרים ייאלצו להתגרש בבתי הדין הרבניים, אך לא יוכלו להינשא

Rav Sternbuch: Giving it All

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rebtzn Ruth Blau:No stranger to controversy

Jerusalem Post

 The son of Ruth Blau, one of the most colorful figures in Natorei Karta, breaks his silence after her death --

For some 40 years, Uriel Ben-David has lived in the shadow of notoriety while carefully guarding his privacy and that of his family, and stubbornly resisting all attempts by the media to interview him. Only after the death of his 80-year-old mother in January did Ben-David agree to lift the veil of silence.

His mother was Ruth Blau who became infamous worldwide in the early 1960s for her role in what become known as the "Yossele Affair." The story of Yossele Schuchmacher revolved around the kidnapping of the young son of Russian immigrants at the behest of his haredi grandfather, Nahman Shtarkes, who feared the boy's Communist-influenced parents would not provide the child with an adequate Jewish environment and education. It was Blau, at the behest of Shtarke's friend Rabbi Maisels, who spirited the six-year-old boy out of the country, dressed up as a little girl and traveling as her daughter on a false passport.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rav Eliashiv & Rav Yosef unite against girls seminary alleged to be cult

סערה חרדית: בכירי הרבנים נגד "מיני גואל רצון"

שילוב כוחות של הרבנים יוסף שלום אלישיב ועובדיה יוסף נחשב בציבור החרדי לדבר נדיר ביותר, ואתמול (ג') הוא קרה במסגרת מאבק משותף נגד מנהל מדרשה תורנית לבנות בירושלים, שלטענתם "תמהוני" המזכיר להם "כתות מסוכנות".

 במודעות ענק שהופצו ברחבי העיר מאשימים מנהיגי הציבור החרדי את הרב אהרון רמתי ממדרשת "באר מרים" בכך שהוא נוקט שיטות חינוכיות פסולות המנתקות את התלמידות ממשפחותיהן, גר עמן באותו בית ומטיף להן שלא להתחתן – הכל ב"אצטלה מזויפת של קדושה"

Rabbi Elyashiv: Protest IDF conversions


Leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox faction Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv has called on the public to take part in a mass protest to be staged following Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's ruling legitimizing Israel Defense Forces conversions. Sources close to Elyashiv confirmed the report.

Shortly after Shas' spiritual leader ruled that army conversions were valid, those opposed to the decision announced they will hold a mass rally against the ruling. It has since been postponed several times. It is currently scheduled for next Wednesday. [...]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rav Eliashiv calls for demonstrations against the army conversions הרב אלישיב: לצאת להפגין נגד גיורי צה"ל

הרב אלישיב: לצאת להפגין נגד גיורי צה"ל

"פוסק הדור" של הזרם החרדי-ליטאי חתם על "קול קורא" להשתתף בהפגנה נגד הכשרת הגיורים הצה"ליים בידי הרב עובדיה יוסף. משתתפי העצרת המתוכננת יערכו "קריעה" בבגדם, כפי שנהוג בדיני אבלות

המאבק החרדי נגד גיורי צה"ל מתחדש, וגם עולה מדרגה: "פוסק הדור" הליטאי, הרב יוסף שלום אלישיב, קורא לציבור להשתתף בהפגנת ענק הנערכת בעקבות פסיקת הרב עובדיה יוסף לפיה הגיורים שנערכו בצה"ל - כשרים. בבית הרב אלישיב אישרו את הדברים, שפורסמו לראשונה הערב (יום ג') בקו החדשות הטלפוני (נייעס) "הקול החרדי". 


Abuse: Reducing chemical straitjackets in nursing homes


The Two Harbors home happened to be where Ecumen, which operates 16 nonprofit Minnesota nursing homes, was preparing an experiment to see if behavioral rather than pharmacological approaches could help wean residents off antipsychotic medications. They called it the Awakenings program.

“What’s people’s biggest fear? Being a ‘zombie’ in a nursing home,” said Laurel Baxter, the Awakenings project manager.

Any visitor can see what she means. Even in quality nursing homes, some residents sit impassively in wheelchairs or nod off in front of televisions, apparently unable to interact with others or to summon much interest in their lives. Nursing home reformers and regulators have long believed that this disengagement results in part from the overuse of psychotropic medication to quell the troublesome behaviors that can accompany dementia — yelling, wandering, aggression, resisting care. For nearly 25 years, federal law has required that psychotropic drugs (which critics call “chemical restraints”) be used only when necessary to ensure the safety of a resident or those around her. [...]

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Fight to Win the Future: Computers vs. Humans


At the dawn of the modern computer era, two Pentagon-financed laboratories bracketed Stanford University. At one laboratory, a small group of scientists and engineers worked to replace the human mind, while at the other, a similar group worked to augment it.

In 1963 the mathematician-turned-computer scientist John McCarthy started the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The researchers believed that it would take only a decade to create a thinking machine.

Also that year the computer scientist Douglas Engelbart formed what would become the Augmentation Research Center to pursue a radically different goal — designing a computing system that would instead “bootstrap” the human intelligence of small groups of scientists and engineers. [...]

Rav Amsalem acknowledges Army converts don't accept mitzva observance - but says they are Jewish anyway


גרים - גם אם לא מקיימים מצוות

הליטאים ממשיכים לתקוף את פסק ההלכה של הרב עובדיה יוסף, שהכשיר את גיורי צה"ל, בטענה שהגרים לא מקבלים על עצמם עול מצוות. הגיע הזמן להרמת מסך: נכון, הם לא מתכוונים להיות דתיים, אבל גיורם תקף - אפילו מלכתחילה

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Abuse: Psychotherapist seduction of clients - Yes frum therapists do it also!

It is necessary to be aware of one of the clear and established dangers of psychotherapy. That is the therapeutic relationship makes it relatively easy for a therapist to seduce his/her client. Therapist and client  spend much secluded time together discussing very personal matters and often this involves intense emotion.

Even frum therapists - including rabbis - have seduced their clients. While it is clearly against the law - but this applies primarily to licensed therapists. Seduction by unlicensed therapists apparently is viewed as two consenting adults . While for licensed therapists it is acknowledged that the therapist has a position of authority and  thus sexual relationship with a client is viewed as an abuse of that authority. There is also a halachic problem. A married woman who has sexual relationship with a therapist is committing adultery and her husband needs to divorce her. When a frum married woman is seduced by her therapist - if she files a complaint her husband will most likely believe her and thus must divorce her.  The case if the husband doesn't know or doesn't believe his wife must be handled by a major posek. Because of this halachic problem - as well as the disgrace to the family - seduction often goes unreported in the frum community.

A woman (or man) who has been seduced by their therapist or rabbi needs to speak to a competent Rav who has the ability to organize community resources - including the police - to stop the therapist
This page of Dr. Ken Pope provides some information. Aside from the terrible sin - there is the likelihood of serious psychological damage.
  1. When people are hurting, unhappy, frightened, or confused, they may seek help from a therapist. They may be depressed, perhaps thinking of killing themselves. They may be unhappy in their work or relationships, and not know how to bring about change. They may be suffering trauma from rape, incest, or domestic violence. They may be bingeing and purging, abusing drugs and alcohol, or engaging in other behaviors that can destroy health and sometimes be fatal.
  2. The therapeutic relationship is a special one, characterized by exceptional vulnerability and trust. People may talk to their therapists about thoughts, feelings, events, and behaviors that they would never disclose to anyone else. Every state in the United States has recognized the special nature of the therapeutic relationship and the special responsibilities that therapists have in relation to their clients by requiring special training and licensure for therapists, and by recognizing a therapist-patient privilege which safeguards the privacy of what patients talk about to their therapist.
  3. A relatively small minority of therapists take advantage of the client's trust and vulnerability and of the power inherent in the therapist's role by sexually exploiting the client. Each state has prohibited this abuse of trust, vulnerability, and power through licensing regulations. Therapist-patient sex is also subject to civil law as a tort (i.e., offenders may be sued for malpractice), and some states have criminalized the offense. The ethics codes of all major mental health professionals prohibit the offense.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Parkinson drug causes compulsive behavior such as gambling


 A drug fact-sheet put together by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists says that before taking ropinirole: should know that some people who took medications such as ropinirole developed gambling problems or other intense urges or behaviors that were compulsive or unusual for them, such as increased sexual urges or behaviors. There is not enough information to tell whether the people developed these problems because they took the medication or for other reasons. Call your doctor if you have an urge to gamble that is difficult to control, you have intense urges, or you are unable to control your behavior.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Battle over televised kiruv המאבק הבא: הרב אמנון יצחק גם נגד 'הידברות

מזה חודשים ארוכים, מתנהל מאבק שקט בבתי הרבנים והעסקנים נגד ערוץ הטלוויזיה 'הידברות'.

אולם, עוד בטרם יצא המאבק לדרכו באופן רשמי, ביום ג' האחרון, נשא הרב אמנון יצחק דברים חריפים בגנות הערוץ – והעלה את המאבק לכותרות 'בדלת האחורית'.

מה הבעיה בערוץ 'הידברות'?

ובכן, המתנגדים טוענים בתוקף, כי 'פעילות התשובה' עליה מספרים מנהלי הערוץ, היא רק תירוץ לבקשת תרומות ולהחתמת גדולי ישראל.

לדברי המתנגדים, ראשי הערוץ מסתירים מגדולי ישראל, שחתמו לטובת פעילות 'הידברות', את המידע החשוב לפיו מדובר בערוץ טלוויזיה לכל דבר, שניתן לצפות בו דרך הכבלים. בפני גדולי ישראל, מוצג 'הידברות' כ'ארגון תשובה' במסגרתו מועברות הרצאות - ולא כערוץ טלוויזיה.

"אם גדולי ישראל היו יודעים שמדובר בערוץ טלויזיה, לא רק שלא היו תומכים בו – אלא היו יוצאים נגדו חוצץ", טוענים עסקנים עמם שוחחנו.

Genetic Tests Can Unearth Family Secrets, Such as Incest

ABC News

The genetic tests that have revolutionized the identification and treatment of many illnesses can also unearth family secrets like incest, sparking an ethical discussion in the medical community over how these inadvertent findings should be handled.

At Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, sophisticated DNA analyses used to diagnose such disabilities as birth defects, epilepsy or developmental delays revealed that in some children, about 25 percent of genetic material inherited from their mother was the same as material inherited from their father. That suggested their parents were first-degree relatives -- father and daughter, brother and sister, or mother and son. Children who inherited half as much identical DNA from both parents likely were the offspring of second-degree relatives, such as an uncle and niece. Had the mothers and fathers of these youngsters been unrelated, those same stretches of DNA would have differed.

In the few months that Baylor has been performing these detailed genetic tests, there have been fewer than 10 cases of consanguinity -- the phenomenon of inheriting the same gene variations from two closely related people, said Dr. Arthur L. Beaudet, chairman of Baylor's department of molecular and human genetics. However, wider use of such testing in children with disabilities is expected to identify additional cases of incestuous parentage. [...]

Yeshiva Fair Is a Bastion for Jewish Books of the Printed Variety


There, in a cavernous hall on its campus, Yeshiva University is holding its annual seforim sale — its book fair. It offers 150,000 new and incontrovertibly genuine books — printed and bound — of 13,000 titles. They include gilded volumes of Torah and Talmud, novels, cookbooks, biographies, humor collections, self-help guides and children’s picture books, all Jewish-themed.

The fair opened on Sunday and ends on Feb. 27; 15,000 people are expected to visit and to spend a total of $1 million [...]

Director of National Intelligence says Muslim Brotherhood is "largely secular"


US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday that Egypt’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood movement was "a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam." [...]

Rav Ovadia Yosef's original letter validating army conversions

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Interior Ministry gets tough on int'l Orthodox conversions


Is the Interior Ministry attempting to encourage non-Orthodox conversions for people planning on making aliya? Probably not, but the ministry’s current conduct appears to make it far easier for Reform and Conservative converts to be recognized for the purpose of immigrating and receiving Israeli citizenship.

A recent letter sent by the ministry to Rabbi Seth Farber, head of the ITIM organization, states that its authority on determining the validity of Orthodox conversions from abroad for the purpose of granting Israeli citizenship is the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. This means that if the rabbinate does not recognize the Orthodox conversion court, not only will the convert be deemed non-Jewish in Israel, he or she will also not be recognized by the state for citizenship.[...]

Army Geirus - Psak of Rav Amar with comments by Rav Ovadiah Yosef

Rav Sternbuch: Expressing Humility

Rabbi Motti Elon to be indicted for sexual offences


Jerusalem Prosecutor's Office tells Rabbi Motti Elon that it is set to file indictment against him subject to hearing over alleged sexual offenses he carried out against two minors. Attorney general supports decision [...]

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Child abuse: The Irish Affliction


Of the various crises the Catholic Church is facing around the world, the central one — wave after wave of accounts of systemic sexual abuse of children by priests and other church figures — has affected Ireland more strikingly than anywhere else. And no place has reacted so aggressively. The Irish responded to the publication in 2009 of two lengthy, damning reports — detailing thousands of cases of rape, sexual molestation and lurid beatings, spanning Ireland’s entire history as an independent country, and the efforts of church officials to protect the abusers rather than the victims — with anger, disgust, vocal assaults on priests in public and demands that the government and society disentangle themselves from the church.

This past December a fresh bout of fury was touched off by the publication of the investigation into perhaps the worst clergy sex offender: the Rev. Tony Walsh, who raped and molested children while serving as a priest in Dublin and who was shielded by the Vatican even after Irish Church officials wanted him defrocked. Yet another large-scale report will be released shortly. And a 1997 letter — in which the papal nuncio to Ireland told Irish bishops that the Vatican had “serious reservations” about a plan for mandatory reporting of clergy sex-abuse cases to the police — came to light last month, causing further anger. [...]

British Muslim pupils learn Jews plotting to take over world


Up to 5,000 pupils attending weekend schools across Britain are being exposed to textbooks claiming that some Jews were transformed into pigs and apes, and that some offences could be punished with stoning. One book for six year-olds warns that those who do not believe in Islam will be condemned to “hellfire” in death.

Another text for 15 year-olds teaches that thieves who break Sharia law should have their hands cut off for a first offence and their feet amputated for a subsequent crime. Teenagers are presented with diagrams showing where the cuts should be made. [...]

In utero operation for Spina Bifida better for baby but more dangerous for mother


It's not unusual for a baby who has spina bifida to require a permanent shunt to drain fluid from her brain. Because the neural tube defect affects nerves in the lower back and pelvis, many such children are incontinent and never learn to walk. Then there's Anna Williamson, a basketball-playing, bike-riding, piano-playing 10-year-old.

Anna was operated on while still in the womb in an experimental fetal surgery that became the subject of an eight-year clinical trial designed to evaluate whether babies who receive corrective surgery prenatally have better outcomes than those who undergo the operation after birth.

The trial, led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), was stopped early because of clear evidence that operating in utero resulted in healthier children. Specifically, it led to a decreased need for permanent shunts to direct fluid away from the brain, improved mental development and motor function and a greater likelihood that some children with spina bifida will learn to walk. Results were published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.[...]

Rav Moshe Sternbuch - Protest against acceptance of invalid converts

My translation of a letter of Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita which appeared in the Yated. This is to protest the horrible decision to permit thousands of non-Jewish soldiers who serve in the Israeli army to be given the full status of Jews. This despite the indisputable fact that these soldiers have never agreed to observe mitzvos. In addition the majority of the conversion instructors are Reform or secular Jew who have taught them views that are total heresy. There is absolutely no justification to permit these conversions. In addition issuing a halachic ruling that these are valid converts is itself a terrible chillul haShem because it gives the false message that with proper pressure it is possible to change our holy eternal Torah We today are in great danger surrounded by enemies and therefore we are in great need of Heavenly mercy. Our Sages (Yevamos 109b) state that accepting gerim is an enterprise fraught with danger. And at a time when Jews do not have the proper relationship between them - the Divine Presence departs from us as is stated in the fourth chapter of Kiddushin. If we remain silent to this great travesty then we are truly endangering our existence in Israel. Therefore we need to be aware that if we stand by silently it is tantamount to not keeping the Torah. On the other hand all those who act and make efforts are included in those who are blessed. Therefore we need to encourage and praise all activities to ameliorate this matter and support those who make efforts to improve the situation. Our spiritual welfare is truly dependent upon how successful we are in dealing with this matter

Is Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, shlita pulling a Tropper?

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, shlita has accepted the validity of army converts based upon the ruling of Rav Ovadia Yosef, shlita. But Rav Ovadia Yosef, shlita has clearly poskened that a ger is only kosher if he fully accepts mitzvos. In reality the vast majority of army converts do not and on that fact there is no disagreement! Rav Yosef also writes in his teshuva that even though the Rambam says that a ger that reverts to non observance is still kosher - but that is only if there was a clear period where he was actually observant. But there is no doubt that the majority of these converts were never observant!

Generation net: The youngsters who prefer their virtual lives to the real world


Children are often happier with their online lives than they are with reality, a survey has revealed.

They say they can be exactly who they want to be – and as soon as something is no longer fun they can simply hit the quit button.

The study also shows that, despite concerns about online safety, one in eight young people is in contact with strangers when on the web and often lies about their appearance, age and background.

Researchers for children’s charity Kidscape assessed the online activities of 2,300 11- to 18-year-olds from across the UK and found that 45 per cent said they were sometimes happier online than in their real lives. [...]

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Maharam Schick - scientific facts are not final even for Chazal

from Daas Torah - translation copyrighted

Maharam Schick  (E.H. #7): My opinion is that these matters of planetary motion were not received by our Sages as halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai (Divinely given on Sinai) but rather were said according to their own reasoning. In such matters which are not part of our Tradition and have no root in our Torah but rather are the result of investigation and experience – it is difficult to determine if it is actually true. There are many times when sages decided matters according to their own intellects, but later generations investigated deeper and rejected the findings of the earlier generations. Therefore all matters that are based upon experience are impossible to decide unequivocally but can only be described in terms of whether most people agree with it. That is why in Pesachim (94b), Rebbe says that, “the view of the secular sages appears to be correct.” He did not simply say that they were correct. That is because they only produced logical proofs and thus it is impossible to declare that the matter is finally resolved…. Final resolutions are only relevant concerning the laws of the Torah where we are commanded to do according to that which appears correct – “a judge can only decide based on what he sees” – and G d agrees to the decision of man. This is not so concerning investigations of nature and science.

Hospital Under Fire for Discharging illegal alien Surgical Patient


A Texas hospital is under fire for allegedly telling a surgical patient she had to leave the hospital immediately because she was an illegal immigrant.

Maria Sanchez, 24, told the Houston Chronicle that she had been at John Sealy Hospital -- part of the University of Texas Medical system -- for six days when a doctor told her on Jan. 12 that she should go to Mexico to have surgery on her growing spinal tumor. The hospital discharged her that day, the paper reported. [...]

Romania may toughen its laws about witches


Legislation being debated in Romania would require witches to get a permit and make it possible to fine or even imprison one whose prediction turns out to be false.

The draft bill has just started its way through Parliament in Romania, where witchcraft has been part of its culture for centuries.

On Jan. 1, Romania changed its labor laws to officially recognize witchcraft as a profession, angering some witches.

Why Kids Bully: Because They're Popular

Time Magazine

Mean kids, mothers tell their wounded young, behave that way because they have unhappy home lives, or feel inadequate, or don't have enough friends or because they somehow lack empathy. But a new study suggests some mean kids actually behave that way simply because they can.

Contrary to accepted ruffian-scholarship, the more popular a middle- or high-school kid becomes, the more central to the social network of the school, the more aggressive the behavior he or she engages in. At least, that was the case in North Carolina, where students from 19 middle and high schools were studied for 4.5 years by researchers at the University of California-Davis.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Creationism rather than evolution still be taught in public schools


Teaching creationism in public schools has consistently been ruled unconstitutional in federal courts, but according to a national survey of more than 900 public high school biology teachers, it continues to flourish in the nation’s classrooms.

Researchers found that only 28 percent of biology teachers consistently follow the recommendations of the National Research Council to describe straightforwardly the evidence for evolution and explain the ways in which it is a unifying theme in all of biology. At the other extreme, 13 percent explicitly advocate creationism, and spend at least an hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.

That leaves what the authors call “the cautious 60 percent,” who avoid controversy by endorsing neither evolution nor its unscientific alternatives. In various ways, they compromise. [...]

Donators as investors:Donors Demand a Bigger Voice in Catholic Schools


Private philanthropists have changed the face of public education over the last decade, underwriting the rise of charter schools and promoting remedies that rely heavily on student testing and teacher evaluation.

But with much less fanfare, wealthy donors have begun playing a parallel role in the country’s next-largest educational network: Roman Catholic schools.

In New York — as in Boston, Baltimore and Chicago — shrinking enrollment and rising school deficits in recent years have deepened the church’s dependence on its cadres of longtime benefactors. Donors have responded generously, but many who were once content to write checks and attend student pageants are now asking to see school budgets, student reading scores and principals’ job evaluations. [...]

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rabbis condemn growing trend of 'Jewish "Taliban women'


Newly-religious women walking around covered head-to-toe in black clothes are growing in numbers. Even six-year-old girls are made to hide their faces. Haredi rabbis finally condemn growing trend

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Conservative Judaism is dying


A joint commission of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Hayom: The Coalition for the Transformation of Conservative Judaism has gone public with a draft strategic plan meant to change Conservative communities and synagogues.

The plan “calls for significant changes in focus and leadership and dramatic improvement in the way United Synagogue partners with its congregations and others across North America,” United Synagogue’s chief executive officer and executive vice president Rabbi Steven Wernick said.

“The strategic plan emphasizes tangible change, organizational transparency, openness, and a new way of doing things.” According to the new plan, USCJ will focus on strengthening synagogues, cultivating new leadership and creating a more unified and integrated educational system from early childhood through college years.