Sunday, July 31, 2011

The chareidi man behind the Anti-Shariah Movement


NYTimes

Tennessee’s latest woes include high unemployment, continuing foreclosures and a battle over collective-bargaining rights for teachers. But when a Republican representative took the Statehouse floor during a recent hearing, he warned of a new threat to his constituents’ way of life: Islamic law.

The representative, a former fighter pilot named Rick Womick, said he had been studying the Koran. He declared that Shariah, the Islamic code that guides Muslim beliefs and actions, is not just an expression of faith but a political and legal system that seeks world domination. “Folks,” Mr. Womick, 53, said with a sudden pause, “this is not what I call ‘Do unto others what you’d have them do unto you.’ ”

Similar warnings are being issued across the country as Republican presidential candidates, elected officials and activists mobilize against what they describe as the menace of Islamic law in the United States.

Since last year, more than two dozen states have considered measures to restrict judges from consulting Shariah, or foreign and religious laws more generally. The statutes have been enacted in three states so far. [...]


Chareidi Internet cafe opens in Israel


The ultra-Orthodox city of Modiin Illit has got its own Internet café for the very first time. The café, an initiative of haredi businessman Yehuda Weisfish, was opened after he received rabbinical approval.
 
The new experimental store is called "Gilad Net" and is strictly kosher. For the haredi public this is a real revolution, as the Internet has been considered abominable by rabbis for years.

Every passing day, Weisfish says, proves that progress cannot be made without the worldwide computer network. "We are becoming a small global village, and one can no longer do with just faxes and telephones."

Every passing day, Weisfish says, proves that progress cannot be made without the worldwide computer network. "We are becoming a small global village, and one can no longer do with just faxes and telephones." [...]

Crisis in medical care: Hundreds of doctors rally at Knesset


YNet

Hundreds of doctors, medical residents and interns from hospitals around the country marched Sunday from Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center to the Whol Rose Park near the Knesset, where they held a mass rally demanding "to save the collapsing health system."

During the rally, Israeli Medical Association Chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who also serves as the health minister – to intervene.






Finance Minister: Growing calls for reform could lead to 'anarchy' in Israel

          Haaretz

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz hit back on Sunday at the growing national protests over the rising cost of living, saying some reforms being demanded might lead to economic crises like those besetting parts of Europe and the United States.

The warnings followed marches by some 150,000 demonstrators, the resignation of a top treasury official and questions from leading commentators over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ability to ride out a revolt by the middle class.

"We see the talk about the debt crisis in Europe. We are even hearing talk of a possible default in the United States,"Steinitz said. "My supreme duty is to ensure we do not reach this situation in the State of Israel."

He rejected calls for the authorities to curb industry leaders who are often accused of artificially inflating the price of consumer goods through cartels tolerated by Netanyahu and his predecessors.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Shocking discovery! Psychology doesn't always help & sometimes makes it worse

Some given treatment undoubtedly benefited, researchers say, but others became annoyed or more upset. At least one commentator referred to therapists’ response as “trauma tourism.”

“We did a case study in New York and couldn’t really tell if people had been helped by the providers — but the providers felt great about it,” said Patricia Watson, a co-author of one of the articles and associate director of the terrorism and disaster programs at the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. “It makes sense; we know that altruism makes people feel better.”

But researchers later discovered that the standard approach at the time, in which the therapist urges a distressed person to talk through the experience and emotions, backfires for many people. They plunge even deeper into anxiety and depression when forced to relive the mayhem.

Crisis response teams now take a much less intense approach called psychological first aid, teaching basic coping skills and having victims recount experiences only if it seems helpful. [...]

The hidden beauty of pollination

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sydney's top rabbi urged to resign over views of reporting abuse to police


 
SYDNEY’S top rabbi has been urged to resign after he said it should be up to rabbis to decide whether allegations of child abuse should be reported to police.

In a series of emails that contradicted the recommendations from other rabbinical authorities around Australia in the wake of claims of abuse at Melbourne’s Yeshivah College, Rabbinical Council of NSW (RCNSW) president Rabbi Yosef Feldman outlined his views to fellow members of the rabbinate.

Among his assertions were that anyone who reported a paedophile would be responsible if the paedophile was raped in prison.

He also said abuse should be dealt with, when legally possible, outside the Australian legal system.

“I really don’t understand why as soon as something of serious loshon horo (evil talk) is heard about someone of even child molestation should we immediately go to the secular authorities (sic),” Rabbi Feldman wrote.

The truth about the West Bank: Israel PR video irks Arabs

ynet

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Technology transforms Jewish education


As rapidly advancing technology transforms virtually every sector of society, a diverse group of Jewish educational institutions — not generally thought of as early adapters — are increasingly turning their attention to digital tools and resources.

Whether distance learning or online gaming, Skype or Twitter, Google Earth (and a plethora of other free educational apps available at the click of a mouse) or iPads, SMART boards or Smartphones, QR codes or robotics, Jewish day schools and supplementary schools — and their funders — are struggling to sort the useful, cost-effective and engaging from the gimmicky, expensive and simply overwhelming.

Technology has headlined almost every major Jewish education gathering this year, from the North American Jewish Day School Conference (“The High Performance, High-Tech Jewish Day School of the Very Near Future”) to the Conservative movement’s Jewish Educators Assembly (“From Sinai to Cyberspace”) and Reform movement’s North American Association of Temple Educators (“Imagineering Jewish Education for the 21st Century”).

In June, both the Avi Chai Foundation, a major supporter of day schools, and PELIE, a group seeking to improve “complementary” Jewish education (better known as Hebrew school), for the first time sent delegations of teachers to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference. Avi Chai also sent 10 educators to Games For Change, a conference promoting the use of computer games in education.

Orthodox groups clarify stance on reporting child abuse


Two Orthodox Jewish groups have released statements attempting to clarify their positions on reporting child abuse.

Agudath Israel of America and the Rabbinical Council of America were responding to what the former called “misleading claims about our stance on reporting suspected child abusers to law enforcement agencies.”

The statements come in the wake of criticism over comments by a leading American Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Kamenetsky, that abuse should be reported to rabbis rather than police. Kamenetsky is the vice president of Agudah's Supreme Council of Rabbinic Sages.

Agudah in its statement referred to rabbinic arguments that authorities should be notified when a certain threshold of evidence is met, but “where the circumstances of the case do not rise to threshold level … the matter should not be reported to authorities.”

However, in order to distinguish whether the threshold has been met, the statement continued, “the individual shouldn’t rely exclusively on their own judgment … rather, he should present the facts to a Rabbi.” [...]

Jewish group promoting polygamy?

YNET

Synagogues across Israel flooded with tens of thousands of leaflets calling on Sephardic men to marry several women, claiming ancient custom now permissible under Jewish Law[...]

RCA requires reporting abuse to secular authorities



RCA Reaffirms Halachic Requirement to Report Knowledge or Suspicion of Abuse or Endangerment to Secular Authorities Without Delay The Rabbinical Council of America has today reaffirmed its position that those with reasonable suspicion or first hand knowledge of abuse or endangerment have a religious obligation to report that abuse to the secular legal authorities without delay. One of the unique features of Jewish law is that it imposes upon every member of the community an obligation to help others avoid danger. The biblical verse “do not stand by while your neighbor’s blood is shed" is understood by Jewish Law to mandate that one must do all in one’s power to prevent harm to others - even if monetary harm, but certainly physical harm.

Consistent with that Torah obligation, if one becomes aware of an instance of child abuse or endangerment, one is obligated to refer the matter to the secular authorities immediately, as the prohibition of mesirah (i.e., referring an allegation against a fellow Jew to government authority) does not apply in such a case.

As always where the facts are uncertain one should use common sense and consultations with experts, both lay and rabbinic, to determine how and when to report such matters to the authorities. False accusations are harmful to those falsely accused – but unreported abuse

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Talking to strangers? Rewriting the rules of childhood


Long before Leiby Kletzky was gruesomely murdered in Brooklyn after the lost 8-year-old asked a man he didn't know for help earlier this month, I made sure my three kids knew my cell phone number my heart. Even the 4-year-old can rattle off the digits, but Leiby's death changed everything I thought I knew about stranger danger.

We teach our children not to talk to strangers, but — as in Leiby's case —sometimes they have to. After all, if they're lost, how are my kids ever going to be found unless they first approach a stranger to lend them a cell phone so they can call me?

 Perhaps, I realized — even as I wincingly told my kids that a boy my oldest child's age had been killed by a stranger — that “don't talk to strangers” truism needs to be revised.


I didn't tell my kids about Leiby's fate to scare them. I used it as an excuse to talk to them about strangers and how to interact with them. Because it's inevitable that they'll have to. My children don't have their own phones, so if they were ever lost, they'd have to ask a stranger for help. Look for someone in uniform is a tough concept for a 4-year-old to grasp; to her, a uniform could be a princess outfit. In fact, when recently discussing a fire escape plan for our family, I explained to her that although generally she shouldn't leap into the arms of muscular men she doesn't know, if one comes stomping through her house in the event of a fire, she shouldn't run and hide. It was all very confusing.

Intermarried couples try to raise Jewish children



Lisa Shimel, who is not Jewish, celebrated Christmas with her Jewish husband until their first child was born; now they’ve added Chanukah. Deb Morandi works at Jewish Family Services, where she introduces intermarried families to Judaism, though she is not Jewish.

Pat Luftman was a committee co-chair in her son’s Jewish preschool, but her Jewish husband was denied a board position because the couple was intermarried. The Rev. Eleanor Harrison Bregman accompanies her children and Jewish husband to synagogue on Saturday, then goes to church the next day on her own.

A growing number of non-Jewish parents in America who have no plans to convert are raising Jewish children, marrying Jewish spouses, building Jewish homes and playing active roles in the Jewish community. But without plans to join the faith officially, their place in the Jewish community can be a bit complicated.

“My husband has never asked me to convert, and I feel strongly that I won’t, so this is as far as it will go,” Morandi, an active member of her Reform congregation, Temple Etz Chaim in Franklin, Mass., said of her synagogue work.[...]

Vatican's plan for dealing with abuse fails in Ireland


The Vatican on Monday recalled its envoy to Ireland in the wake of a blistering report accusing church leaders of covering up extensive abuse of young people by priests.


Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza was recalled to Rome "for consultations with the (Vatican) Secretariat of State," the official Vatican Information Service said in citing a statement from the Roman Catholic Church's leadership.
The move came in reaction to this month's release of the Cloyne report about "allegations of abuse of minors by clergy ... and, in particular, in the wake of subsequent reactions."

Released July 13, the 421-page report into abuses in the diocese of Cloyne -- near the southern city of Cork -- demolished claims by the Catholic Church in Ireland that policies it put in place in 1996 had enabled it to get a handle on the problem. It details how complaints against 19 clerics in the diocese were dealt with between 1996 and 2009.

It also accused Bishop John Magee, who was responsible for policing abuse in his diocese, of not backing the policy himself and failing to take action against abusers.[...]

Rabbinical court wants woman jailed for refusing to accept divorce



In a rare move, the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court ordered a 59-year-old woman jailed this week for refusing for 15 years to accept a ritual divorce from her husband and release him from their marriage. 

Disputes over refusals to grant a get, or Jewish religious separation, are common, but usually involve a husband holding back the bill of divorce, making this a rare case. 

The woman, who lives in the center of the country, is refusing to accept the divorce from her husband because of an ongoing property dispute between the two. 

“I won’t take the get under any circumstances, even if they take me to jail,” the woman told Haaretz Monday. “I’m made of steel, you can’t break me.”[...]

Rav Shteinman opposed to elitist non-Beis Yaakov schools


Rav Shteinman, upon seeing the list of students, asked why these particular young ladies were not accepted into the local Bais Yaakov.  The Avreichim quickly corrected Rav Shteinman and stated that it was not that they were not accepted.   Au contraire, these young ladies were from the finer families, a cut above the standard “Bais Yaakov” family.  The parents had willingly registered them in this elite school.

Rav Shteinman responded that, if that is the case, the plans for the school should be negated immediately.  The group attempted to explain to the Rosh Yeshiva the dire need for the new type of institution, but they were unable to budge Rav Shteinman.  They were stuck and had to scramble to register their daughters in the other Bais Yaakov institutions.

Word quickly spread throughout Yerushalayim.  There were other elite schools too, that were established for the same purpose.  Kollel Yungerleit flocked to Rav Shteinman, only to receive the same response, “There is no inyan whatsoever to be frummer than Bais Yaakov.  Anyone who registered their daughter at an elite school should negate the matter and re-register in the Bais Yaakov schools.”


Monday, July 25, 2011

Religious parties want inspection of secular institutions


 
Deputy Finance Minister Itzhak Cohen (Shas) is demanding that the Finance Ministry conduct inspections to secular cultural and educational institutions that receive state funding, in the same manner as is done to yeshivot.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Cohen's call came in the wake of a recent inspection at the Beit Shmaya yeshiva in Bnei Brak, where two men walked in on the head of the yeshiva in the middle of his weekly lesson to the entire student body, in what was perceived as a highly insensitive and disrespectful move. Following the incident, heads of yeshivot and haredi Knesset members convened on Saturday night and issued a call to the Finance Ministry, under which the inspections take place, to freeze the inspections for a week and draw up clear and respectful procedures for the inspections.[...]




Michael Specter: The danger of science denial

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Briskman case: Reasons to refuse to give Get



Yisrael Briskman’s wife in Israel wanted a divorce, and a rabbinical court decided she should be granted one. But Briskman refused and fled to the United States, where the FBI says an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and his wife lured him to their New Jersey home, kidnapped him and said they’d bury him alive in the Pocono Mountains if he didn’t relent.

Briskman said he was kicked repeatedly in the ribs at the home in Lakewood, robbed and shown the dark body bag he’d soon inhabit if he didn’t free his wife from their marital bonds.
“For you to get used to the size,” Rabbi David Wax is quoted as saying in the criminal complaint leading to his surrender to the FBI this month.

If this Sopranos-style plot is true — which the Waxes deny — it is an anomaly. But it’s not uncommon for religious communities to use coercive tactics to pressure recalcitrant husbands into granting their wives a “get,” or religious divorce. Tactics run the gamut from denying social and religious privileges to using financial and legal leverage. [...]



Should sperm & egg donors remain anonymous?


Traditionally, the identities of egg and sperm donors have been tightly guarded secrets, numbers with no names attached, making it difficult for their biological offspring to ever make contact. Today, that changes as Washington becomes the first state to chip away at that anonymity, with a controversial new law that guarantees children conceived with gametes from Washington sperm banks and egg donation agencies access -- when they're 18 -- to their donors' medical histories and their full names— unless the donors specifically opt out of being identified.


Although Washington doesn't go as far as Sweden, Austria or the United Kingdom, which abolished anonymous donations, it's still a significant step for many parents of donor-conceived children who yearn to answer that question most kids ask at one time or another: where did I come from?

“It's a good step in the right direction,” says Jennifer McCarty, a Seattle mom of a donor-conceived 3-year-old daughter and an adopted 4-year-old son. “As a parent, I want to be able to provide a way for them to find out who they are and dig into their origins."[...]

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Aguda attempts to clarify views on reporting child abuse to police

 There are couple of unclarified issues 1) what does the rabbi do that necessitates asking permission. Is this a question of psak or of objectivity. If it a question of rodef there is no need for a psak and if it objectivity then why is a rabbi considered more objective than non rabbis. 2) what happens when there is mandated reporting and the rabbi says not to report it 3) where does rodef enter here - it was declared to be an unnecessary concept at the Aguda Conference. 4) What do you do when the  rabbi you consulted says not to report to the police but you feel otherwise?
 ------------------------------

Agudath Israel of America has received several inquiries in the wake of misleading claims that have recently been made about our stance on reporting suspected child abusers to law enforcement authorities. We take the opportunity to clarify our position.

As Torah Jews we live our live our lives in accordance with halacha. The question of whether and under what circumstances one is halachically permitted or required to report to the authorities suspicions of child abuse (including sexual molestation) has attracted the attention of a number of our generation’s most prominent rabbinic authorities. Many of their responsa have been collected in the respected Torah journal Yeshurun, Volumes 15 and 22.

As elaborated at a recent Halacha Conference sponsored by Agudath Israel of America, these responsa make clear that when certain standards have been met it is not only permitted but in fact obligatory to report suspicions of abuse or molestation. The general principles that emerge from these responsa are as follows:

1. Where there is “raglayim la’davar” (roughly, reason to believe) that a child has been abused or molested, the matter should be reported to the authorities. In such situations, considerations of “tikun ha’olam” (the halachic authority to take steps necessary to “repair the world”), as well as other halachic concepts, override all other considerations.[...]




Wednesday, July 20, 2011

IDF general causes storm after calling to curtail religiosity in army



The former Israel Defense Forces Human Resources head called on the army to halt its tendency to religious extremism and renegotiate the relationship between secular and religious soldiers. 

Avi Zamir, who finished his tenure a month ago, sent Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and his General Staff colleagues a letter concluding his tenure at Human Resources. In the document, which spans nearly 30 pages, he details the struggle between the Education Corps and the Military Rabbinate, and says rabbinic demands for modesty undermine the standing of female officers and soldiers.[...]

Couple Sues a Vermont Inn for Rejecting Gay Wedding



A lesbian couple is suing a Vermont inn, claiming it refused to host their fall wedding reception because of their sexual orientation. 

Kate Baker and Ming Linsley filed the suit on Tuesday in Vermont Superior Court, accusing the Wildflower Inn of Lyndonville of abruptly turning them away after learning they are lesbians.

They claim the inn violated Vermont’s Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act, which prohibits inns, hotels, motels and other establishments with five or more rooms from turning away patrons based on sexual orientation. The law makes an exemption for religious organizations.[...]

Tragedy In Borough Park Puts Shomrim Under Scrutiny


As the Borough Park community struggles with the brutal murder of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, and as more information surfaces about the history and emotional state of his accused killer, the tragedy is shining a light on the neighborhood watch groups that operate within the strictly Orthodox communities — and the largely under-the-surface tensions between these groups and the NYPD.

Those tensions became more apparent in recent days as sources in the community and the NYPD expressed frustration with how the Shomrim (Hebrew for “guardians”) operate – however well intentioned – with little accountability, sometimes hindering the work of the police.

The heartbreaking outcome in the Leiby case is seen by some in these circles as a dramatic case in point.
The Shomrim, who respond to calls about everything from vandalism to missing persons, domestic violence and sexual abuse, are highly respected in their communities. While they don’t have the power to make arrests, they tend to be trusted more than police in these tight-knit communities, as they have a reputation for responding quickly to calls and taking care of their own.

They have also been criticized at times for overzealousness bordering on vigilantism. [...]

Molestation investigation shuts private school



For some observers, the case evoked memories of the notorious McMartin preschool trial of the 1980s. The McMartin family operated a preschool in Southern California, and seven people initially were charged with numerous acts of sexual abuse of children in their care. 

Years of criminal trials produced no convictions, and all charges were dropped in 1990. 

The case was spawned by a mother who told police that her son had been sodomized at the school, and the allegations grew from there. Police sent a letter to about 200 parents of students at the McMartin school, asking them to question their children about abuse. Critics have said that children were asked leading questions, some of which produced bizarre accusations including travels in hot air balloons and trips through secret tunnels.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Segula for husband to be boss - and why not to use it


Briefly the following is taken from Minhag Yisroel Torah. There is a segula for the husband to be the boss of the family mentioned in Chesed L'Avraham. The chasan should step with his right foot on his wife's left foot. If he fails to do so she will be the boss.

However the Chemdas Shaul says that in fact experience shows that the family functions best -both spiritually and psychologically - when the wife runs the household. In fact Avraham was told to listen to his wife and they had a very successful househould

מנהג ישראל תורה (חלק ד' עמוד קצא): כתב בספר חסד לאברהם מעין ריביעי נהר מ"ח (הו"ד במדרש תלפיטות ענפ חתן וכלה) שאם החתן נזהר לשים רגלו הימינית על רגל הכלה השמאלית בשעת ז' ברכות מסוגל שישלוט עלי' כל ימיו ונשמעת לכל דבריו ולהיפך היא תשלוט עליו כל ימיה והביא שם ענין לבטל הסגולה עי"ש, ובס' זכירה כתב דיש אומרים דאחר החופה כשישב אצל הכלה יעשה כן, אולם בשו"ת חמדת שאול (מהג' מו"ה שואל ראזענבערגער אבד"ק ראצפערטא) סימן מ"ג אחר שדן בעינן סגולה זו דאין היתר לעשות כן אם היא נדה הוא מסיים וז"ל, ובגוף הסגולה לא ראיתי נוהגין כן וישראל קדושים הן מקיימין תמים תהי' עם ה' אלקיך ואין עושין שום סגולות רק מה שירצה הקב"ה יעשה, והגם שאין לי עסק בנסתרות מ"מ מצינו בביתו של אאע"ה שהי' מתנהג עפ"י אשתו שרה שא"ל כל אשר תאמר אליך שרה שמע בקולה, ואעפ"כ ביתו הי' מלא חסדים גמורים, והנסיון מלמדנו שברוב הבתים של המון עם הבית מתנהג בכשרות ויראת ה' רק ע"י האשה והיא שולטת בבעלה להדריכו ג"כ בדרך ישרה ואשה יראת ה' היא תתהלל ע"כ אין מוכרח שיותר טוב להתנהג הבית ע"י האיש, והרבה פעמים האשה מונעת הבעל מלבוא לידי עבירה, ואותם הגדולים והצדיקים שכתבו לעשות סגולה כדי שיתנהג הבית ע"י האיש בשכמותם דברו ואין מביאין מהם ראי' ע"כ.

Alleged kidnappers of Meir Briskman surrender to FBI



A New Jersey couple surrendered themselves to the FBI on Monday, and were subsequently charged with abducting an Israeli man last year.
The FBI says the couple abducted the man, beat him and threatened to bury him alive if he didn't grant his wife a religious divorce.
Federal authorities say the victim had refused to give his wife a ‘get,’ or a divorce sanctioned by the Rabbinical Court, preventing her from remarrying. The man also fought for custody of the children, and moved from Israel to New York.[...]

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sexual abuse by internet hacker


A central Israel resident in his 20s was detained on suspicion of hacking the computers of US girls and threatening to circulate their intimate photos, unless they perform indecent acts on their webcam.

The story was cleared for publication Thursday. 

Almost 100 girls aged 12 to 17 were allegedly victimized by the suspect. He is believed to have hacked their computers, seeking embarrassing photographs and later approaching them on online social networks and threatening them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yadeinu Shafchu Es Hadam Hazeh



After the horror, the disbelief, the shock, the emptiness, I next thought what many others must have.

He had to have been a pedophile. I messaged a colleague, a respected rov, and asked what he thought. I will post it anonymously; I haven’t gotten to him yet to ask to use his name:
I am sure he was, and I am sure he molested many others, and i am sure that there were people that knew and hushed it.
It is time to forever bury the myth that reports of pedophilia can be managed and dealt with by committees of rabbonim, even for a short time. It is time to bury the myth that there is a serious halachic barrier to going to authorities to deal with credible reports of such behavior. Enough baalei halacha have told us that there is no barrier.

Choshen Mishpat 358:12 tells us that those who vex the public can be handed over. Any pedophile does at least that, and poses a danger of doing much more. Moreover, mesirah of a molester exposes him to a safek of danger; pedophiles pose a much greater danger level to many more victims.[...]

“Thank G‑d I have no need for knowledge about child abuse!” – the mitzva to use seichal


I was recently asked by a young talmid chachom what I had published recently. He told me that he regularly utilizes my seforim -  Yad Moshe and Yad Yisroel and has thoroughly studied the sources in Daas Torah and had found them useful sources of necessary information. When I said that I had just published three volumes on the issue of child abuse  he responded, “Thank G‑d I have no need for knowledge about child abuse for my children!”

This was a disturbing assertion but one which is fairly common in our community. He was saying that child abuse is something that happens to others and that since his children weren’t molested and not likely to be – he didn’t want to hear about the topic. He was also implying that child abuse was not common and therefore he didn’t have to worry about guarding against it or being concerned that someone he knew – was a victim of chid abuse or was an abuser.

The Chofetz Chaim made a similar observation about the common attitude towards misfortune and death. He said people viewed tragedies as something which only happened to those who belong to an exclusive group – the sufferers/mourners. It wasn’t of concern or relevance to the average person since he obviously didn’t belong to the group. Therefore there was no need to prepare or even think about such things. 

The issue boils down to the following claim, “What is the problem with acting with great faith (bitachon) and not worrying about unpleasant events? Don’t we have a principle – ‘Don’t open your mouth to Satan?’ If we don’t talk about negative things – aren’t they less likely to happen?

In reply to this claim we might point out that in reality abuse is not a rare event in our community. Furthermore awareness is needed to protect one’s children against abuse or rescue them from a molester. But in addition to these issues of reality, there is also a major religious principle being violated here. Avoiding and not seeking out necessary information is itself a sin and the nullification of the G‑d given qualities which distinguishes man from animals. Our Sages tell us that it is a sin not to use one’s seichal and that one ends up with needless suffering as a result.

When Bilam was criticized by the angel after beating his donkey for not obeying him  - he stated, “I have sinned because I didn’t know (Bamidbar 22:34). The Sefer Chasidim, Shaloh, Netziv and others note that Bilam had not intentionally ignored the angel. He simply had other things on his mind and hadn’t thought about why his donkey was refusing to move forward. As the Shaloh asks, we have a principle that one is not accountable for events that are beyond our control – or done without intention – so why was this a sin?

The Shaloh (Parshas Balak Derech Chaim #21 and elsewhere) answers that a person is held accountable for events that he could have anticipated and didn’t. His reaction to his donkey should have been, “My donkey never betrayed me – what is the reason for his resistance?” The Shaloh states that a person has an absolute obligation to seek out information and analyze events to prevent harm and sin (Adam Mo'ad L'Olam Bava Kamma 26a). He is liable for that which he could have known and didn't try to find out or understand.. The commentaries to Berachos (33a) and Sanhedrin (92a) state that the essence of man is his intelligence and ability to anticipate the future. Failure to do so, not only is harmful but actually nullifies the G‑d given qualities of the essence of being man – his mind. Consequently the gemora (Sanhedrin 92) notes that it is prohibited to show mercy to one who doesn’t use his seichal, it is prohibited even to give him food and finally that the Jews were sent into exile because they didn’t use their seichal.

Being a Jew demands the full use of seichal!



Haredi entertainer convicted of indecent acts


The Jerusalem Magistrates Court on Tuesday convicted haredi entertainer David Bruckner of indecent acts against a 12-year-old boy. 

Bruckner was arrested in January 2010 over suspicions that he committed indecent acts against a 12-year-old. At the end of the investigation into the case he was indicted for four counts of indecent acts.


Hundreds riot in Mea Shearim after police raid


Tax Authority operation sees prominent Eda Haredit figures arrested for tax evasion suspicions. Six officers hurt during subsequent riots  

Six police officers were hurt Wednesday during haredi riots in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood. A joint Tax Authority-Jerusalem Municipality operation saw inspectors raiding local business whose owners were suspected of tax evasion. Police provided security.

Three business owners were arrested and their assets confiscated. Ultra-Orthodox elements accused the police of unnecessary provocation and claimed their deployment was disproportionate. Dozens of haredim rioted following the arrest and set trash cans on fire.[...]
 




Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Every parent's nightmare: A child z"l abducted & killed by a stranger



| The search for a missing 8-year-old Brooklyn boy ended early on Wednesday when investigators discovered what they believed to be his dismembered remains in a third-floor attic refrigerator of a Brooklyn man and in a trash bin on a street, the police said. The man, who made incriminating statements, was in custody and being questioned, the police said.

The grim discovery capped two days of intense searching for the boy, Leibby Kletzky, who had disappeared along a short walk between a Borough Park school and a meeting place with his parents on Monday. Police detectives searched around his neighborhood and used helicopters to find the boy, who was part of the Hasidic Jewish community. They recovered video clearly showing the boy alive.[...]

Crown Heights Beis Din says to report abusers to police

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hasidic Sleuth’s Beat: Mean Streets of Brooklyn


NYTimes

JOE LEVIN, a private investigator in Brooklyn, was waiting to meet a new client in the parking lot of a kosher supermarket in Borough Park one recent morning. Glancing in the side-view mirror of his chauffeured sport utility vehicle, Mr. Levin said he liked this particular spot because he knew the manager, the delivery man and the security guard, who lets him borrow footage from the lot's surveillance equipment.

Most of the time, though, Mr. Levin does his own snooping. On his iPad, he scrolled through photographs of people he was being paid about $100 an hour to follow, including a rebellious Hasidic girl in a white miniskirt and a long-bearded rabbi lighting a cigarette on the sidewalk.

"He's a bad guy," Mr. Levin said, enlarging the rabbi's image. "A very bad guy." [...]

Monday, July 11, 2011

Court orders mother to have child's hand amputated to save her life


YNet

A court ruled that a 13-year-old girl suffering from cancer must have her hand amputated – otherwise she will die. The ruling came after the girl's mother refused to authorize the operation, claiming the only treatment her daughter requires is fasting and prayer.

Three months ago, the Ministry of Social Affairs' legal adviser filed an urgent request with the Family Court, requesting permission to perform the urgent surgery.

Majorcan Descendants of Spanish Jews Who Converted Are Recognized as Jews


NYTimes

Centuries after the Spanish Inquisition led to the forced conversion of Jews to Catholicism, an ultra-orthodox rabbinical court in Israel has issued a religious ruling that recognizes descendants from the insular island of Majorca as Jews.

The opinion focused narrowly on the Majorcan community of about 20,000 people known as chuetas and did not apply to descendants of Sephardic Jewish converts in mainland Spain or the broader diaspora of thousands of others who scattered to the Ottoman Empire and the Spanish colonies in South and North America. [...]

Camp Agudah & Ohel: Advice to campers' parents regarding abuse

Friday, July 8, 2011

Jewish community leader tells of sex abuse


Australia The Age

MANNY Waks's behaviour started to change part-way through his schooling at Yeshivah College.

''I wasn't listening to the teachers and was getting into trouble,'' Mr Waks says.

Now, more than 20 years later, he believes his disruptive behaviour, his rebellion against his strict Hasidic upbringing, even the fact he is no longer an observant Jew, can potentially be linked to sexual abuse he says he was subjected to at the Orthodox Jewish school in St Kilda East.

Mr Waks claims he was repeatedly molested by a trusted figure of authority at the school who had unfettered access to the young boys.

"This was a man who was in a position of power and authority, who was trusted by the school and who repeatedly took advantage of his position in preying on young boys who looked up to him." The 35-year-old Canberra public servant says he was also abused by another member of the Chabad community. One of the alleged incidents is said to have occurred inside a synagogue.

''No wonder I feel so uncomfortable being in a synagogue, because it evokes in my subconscious some of these memories,'' Mr Waks says.[...]

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kiruv: Collecting neshamos on Facebook


bchol

"אהיה באינטרנט עד שאחרון הנשמות יעזוב" • 'הרב'ה של הפייסבוק' מדבר

יש לו אלפי 'חברים' בפייסבוק, המוני תלמידים במציאות - ולהט גדול: למגר את הנשירה • הכירו את הרב מוטה פראנק, ממשפיעי ברסלב, המלקט נשמות נושרות בפייסבוק • רגע לפני המראתו השנתית לאומן עם ליפא שמעלצר, מגיש 'בחדרי חרדים' ראיון מרתק עם הדמות שמושכת אלפים • לייק!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rockland lawmakers debate calling FBI in New Square arson case

cgpage

Arson attack and burn victim Aron Rottenberg stood before the Rockland County Legislature on Tuesday to publicly speak in support of an individual’s right to pray where he or she chooses.

“I’m greatly honored to be here tonight and to bring you a message of peace and good will,” Rottenberg said. “I believe a person should be able to engage in prayer in the privacy of his or her home or in a synagogue, church or mosque of his or her choice.”

Rottenberg was severely burned May 22, when an incendiary device exploded as he wrestled with 18-year-old Shaul Spitzer outside Rottenberg’s New Square home. Bandages were still visible on his arms as he spoke Tuesday.

The 43-year-old plumber and father of four offered the invocation at the start of the Legislature’s meeting after being invited by Legislator Joseph Meyers, D-Airmont. [...]


The Latest in the Anisakis Infested Fish Controversy


5tjt

There has been a new development in the controversy surrounding the consumption of kosher fish this week.  A new letter has been issued by Rav Elyashiv concerning his opinion about the consumption of fish with anisakis worm in the flesh.   The letter states Rav Elyashiv’s  unequivocal position that consuming the fish is a violation of a biblical prohibition.

There is something else in the letter, however, which is completely new.  The letter states that there is an obligation upon each Rabbiand Roshei Yeshiva  to promulgate and disseminate this information to their respective congregants.  The letter also contains a post-script penned by Rav Feivel Cohen that he was present and verifies the accuracy and veracity of the letter.

The letter was obtained by Rav Feivel Cohen Shlita last week when he visited Rav Elyashiv after his operation.  Rav Feivel suggested to Rav Elyashiv of the necessity of including the paragraph concerning the obligation to disseminate the information contained in the letter in order to counter the fact that numerous individuals were discounting the seriousness of the situation.

The letter is sharply worded against those authorities that permit the consumption of Anisakis infested fish. [...]

Audio- visual educational approach has Divine approval

This is an introductory essay written by Rav Shmuel Vosner's son that was added to a sefer using the latest modern educational techniques including pictures and exercises to make the gemora easier to learn. The sefer has the haskoma of Rav Shmuel Vosner.

There were three matters that were difficult for Moshe to understand until G-d showed him with His finger (Menachos 29 and Shemos Rabbah). G-d illuminated for us that the good way to bring about the understanding of difficult matters is using pictures and images. Even though the words of Chazal contain deep esoteric secrets, nevertheless the gemora is also to be understood literally as is obvious from the words of Tosfos on this gemora as well as in Chullin 42.  Therefore since Chazal as well as Rishonim and Achronim have utilized images and diagrams to explain difficult halachos as can readily be seen in mishnayos as well as the poskim one should not reject the use of images and diagrams to explain mishna and gemora with the claim that these are new progressive approaches based on modern attitudes and techniques. It is a major error to dismiss this approach as being an innovation which the truly religious reject and distance themselves from. In fact  these techniques  are consistent with the words of Chazal and the commentaries of the great Rishonim and Achronim that the technique of using images in fact was used by G-d to teach Torah to His people Israel.

הקדמת רב חיים מאיר הלוי וואזנער [בן של רב שמואל הלוי ואזנר] לספר אלו מציאות המפורש של בנו רב שלום שיש הסכמה מהסבה

שלשה דברים היו קשין לו למשה עד שהראה לו הקב"ה באצבעו (מנחות כ"ט ובש"מ) הקב"ה האיר לנו בזה שהדרך הנאה להביא לידי הבנת הדבר הקשה הוא ע"י הוראת ההלכה בתמונתו וצורתו ואף שבדברי חז"ל צפונים בהם צפונות ונבסתרות מ"מ אין מאמר זה יוצא מפשטותו כמו שנראה לכל מעיין בתוס' (שם ד"ה שלשה וחולין מ"ב ד"ה זאת) ואף חז"ל ורבותינו הראשוינים והאחרונים ליוו הרבה הלכות קשיי הבנה עם ציורין כמו שבאו בהרבה מקומות במשניות ש"ס ופוסקים ראשונים ואחרונים ועל כן אין להזניח את מציירי הציורין המלוין דברי המשניות והגמ', בטענה וקיטרוג של שיטות חדשות ומתקדמות לפי רוח הזמן. כי שגגה להכתים שיטה זה בכתם של התחדשות שהחרדים לדבר ה' סולידם ומתרחקים ממנה. כל זמן שהם תואמים עם דברי חז"ל ועם פירושי גדולי הראשונים והאחרונים כי המקור לשיטת הציורין מפי הגבורה יתברך ויתעלה המלמד תורה לעמו ישראל.

Malka Leifer - formerly principal in Australia - investigated as alleged abuser


Australian Age

A FORMER principal of a Jewish girls' school in Elsternwick is being investigated over claims she molested students, as the Victoria Police probe into alleged sexual abuse widens to take in a second school.

Malka Leifer, a former principal of the Adass Israel Girls' School, fled to Israel in 2008 after the school board sacked her following complaints of inappropriate conduct with students. At the time, parents told The Age that Ms Leifer, a mother of eight, had molested students at school, at her home and probably at school camps. They said one victim had attempted suicide.

Parents were critical of the Adass Israel School, claiming it allowed Ms Leifer to flee before notifying police. The school has denied this.
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Ms Leifer, who is still living in Israel, is now being investigated by police after people came forward with information when police began investigating a separate sex scandal at Yeshivah College in St Kilda East.


In Orthodox word the fact that news is reported is important news

Forbes

In the insular world of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, the fact that the news is being reported is itself important news.

A decade ago, brawling between two ultra-Orthodox factions over real estate in Jerusalem would almost certainly not have been reported in the community's media. Neither would a bitter debate over ethnic segregation in a girls' school, or an incident in which a member of a Hasidic sect in New York attacked and badly burned a community dissident.

All of these stories have appeared in the past year, part of a flowering of journalism that is both driving and being driven by a gradual opening in this stringently conservative world.

The ultra-Orthodox are experiencing an unprecedented proliferation of Internet sites, radio stations, call-in news lines and newspapers increasingly independent of rabbinic control and willing to touch topics that might seem entirely mundane to an outsider but which, in the confines of this religious community, have long been taboo.

"It used to be that people were happy to live in their little caves, but now we all need to know what's going on everywhere. It's like air," said Nachman Tubul, a lanky, bearded 27-year-old who runs a wire service called News 24 out of a tiny storefront in Jerusalem. [...]

Advice from Misaskim regarding your children: Is a Stranger a Danger?


Woodmere Shul's Treasurer Charged With $600G Theft


Jewish Week

When officers of Congregation Aish Kodesh, a popular Modern Orthodox shul in Woodmere, noticed that the the shul’s checks were bouncing, an investigation led to startling news.

After a brief meeting, the board members discovered that more than $500,00 had been wired from the shul’s bank account to the account belonging to the law firm of the shul’s treasurer, Isaac Zucker, a securities lawyer with a nearby practice.

“He was an upstanding member of the community,” said Azriel Ganz, the chairman of the shul’s board. “There wasn’t a scintilla of doubt on his trustworthiness.” [....]

Monday, July 4, 2011

Can a girl wound her legs to be able to dress modestly?


YNet

What should a girl do if she wishes to dress modestly but her parents won't let her? According to Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein she can injure herself in order to use it as an excuse for dressing modestly.
 
Last week Rabbi Zilberstein, the the son-in-law of prominent Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv, received an inquiry from a women's college coordinator about a student who is growing increasingly religious. The student said she wanted to dress modestly but her parents were preventing her from doing so, because they were not religious. [...]