Monday, October 31, 2011

Case against convicted molester Leibovits crumbles


One of the most high-profile convictions of an ultra-Orthodox rabbi for sexual abuse in recent times may be in danger of reversal, according to new disclosures in court records obtained by the Forward.

When Baruch Lebovits was sentenced last year to up to 32 years in jail, victims’ rights advocates hailed it as a turning point in the battle against sexual abuse in the insular Orthodox community. [...]
But Lebovits’s 2010 conviction is now unraveling amid allegations of perjury, conspiracy and extortion.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Was Steve Jobs Smart? Nature of genius

So was Mr. Jobs smart? Not conventionally. Instead, he was a genius. That may seem like a silly word game, but in fact his success dramatizes an interesting distinction between intelligence and genius. His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical. They were sparked by intuition, not analytic rigor. Trained in Zen Buddhism, Mr. Jobs came to value experiential wisdom over empirical analysis. He didn’t study data or crunch numbers but like a pathfinder, he could sniff the winds and sense what lay ahead.

He told me he began to appreciate the power of intuition, in contrast to what he called “Western rational thought,” when he wandered around India after dropping out of college. “The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do,” he said. “They use their intuition instead ... Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.”

Mr. Jobs’s intuition was based not on conventional learning but on experiential wisdom. He also had a lot of imagination and knew how to apply it. As Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Rav Moshe Sternbuch: Parshas Bereishis

Rav Moshe Sternbuch: Halachic discussion of Shalit exchange

Abuse: Incredible institutional coverup by the Boy Scouts of America

Rick Turley was 18 when he learned that Scouting offered a unique opportunity to meet boys.

He would show up in a uniform with a sash full of merit badges, charm parents with claims of being a "top" leader and offer to take their preteen boys out for a swim or drive. Then, often after plying them with alcohol, he would fondle or rape them — once going so far as to kidnap a boy in a stolen plane.

Over nearly two decades, Turley molested at least 15 children in Southern California and British Columbia, most of whom he met through American and Canadian Scouting, a Los Angeles Times and Canadian Broadcasting Corp. investigation has found.

Scouting officials on both sides of the border not only failed to stop him, but sometimes helped cover his tracks, according to confidential Scouting records, court files and interviews with victims, families and Scout leaders.

At one point in 1979, Boy Scouts of America officials decided not to call police after Turley admitted molesting three Orange County boys, the organization's records show.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Violence between ultra-Orthodox sects rocks Jerusalem neighborhood

The Batei Warsaw quarter in Mea She'arim was built in the Ottoman period as a hostel for yeshiva students from Poland. Their families receive tiny apartments for key money or low rent. The Polish Gerrer dynasty, which always had people in the neighborhood committee, has gained almost complete control of it in recent years and is now planning to expand the quarter.

Although they do not recognize the state or its institutions, the Batei Warsaw tenants, most of whom belong to other ultra-Orthodox factions, have filed a court suit to stop the Gerrer Hasids' expansion. This move is believed to have sparked the recent hostilities.

Nobody was surprised by the attack this week. A week and a half ago vandals spread glue on Gerrer Rabbi David Alter's door, preventing him from going out to Hoshana Rabbah prayers. Everyone knew the Gerrer Hasids were out for revenge.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Scandal of Kabbala Center - Philip Berg & I.R.S.

Philip Berg’s new wife was young, beautiful and worldly, everything that he, a middle-aged orthodox rabbi, wasn’t. Karen Berg could be pushy too. She brought a television into their home over his objections. She tossed out his traditional black fur hat, and pressured him to teach ancient Jewish mysticism -- known as kabbalah -- to the public.

“Men and women together?” Philip said.
“Yeah, sure, men and women,” she replied.

Philip understood how radical her proposition was. For centuries, elite rabbinical scholars -- all of them men -- had guarded like rare gems the spiritual secrets believed to be encoded in the Torah. Karen was an outsider to this culture. Entrepreneurial and unimpressed by religious authority, she saw no reason why such valuable teachings shouldn’t be offered on the open market.

“Let’s give it to the people,” she insisted.

Philip was torn between tradition and his soul mate. He chose Karen.

‘Dangerous Instincts’: Ex-FBI profiler explains dangers of that ‘nice’ neighbor

The man sitting in front of Mary Ellen O’Toole was, she says, a well-mannered guy. “He was low-key. He was nice. He didn’t swear.” He was very proud of his work, which he described in polite, pleasant tones.

His name was Gary Ridgway. His other name was the Green River Killer. His work was killing at least 49 women in Washington state throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He did it all while maintaining marriages, parenting and church-going, and he seemed very much the word neighbors often use to describe men who turn out to have headless torsos in their freezers. Which is to say, he seemed very, very nice

The niceness paradox. O’Toole worked as a profiler for the FBI for 30 years, headquartered in Quantico. She interviewed the Unabomber. She worked on the Polly Klaas abduction, the Red Lake school shooting and the investigation of David Parker Ray — the Toy-Box Killer who tortured women in a high-tech homemade dungeon. What she found was that the most dangerous criminals were often the ones who came across as the most harmless. That’s how they were able to continue harming people..

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monsey man charged with sexually abusing a boy, 14


A 58-year-old Monsey man has been charged with sexually molesting a 14-year-old boy, Ramapo police said today. Police accused Moishe Turner of 5 Dana Road of having anal and oral sex on seven occasions throughout Ramapo and Spring Valley. The investigation led to Turner's arrest last week on seven felony counts of second-degree criminal sex act and one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Shalit Exchange:Halachic Analysis

The recent exchange of Gilad Schalit for over 1000 Palestinian prisoners, many with blood on their hands, has sparked much debate in the Jewish community. Is this exchange wise?  Is it permitted according to Halacha?  Are we not endangering the lives of so many others in this move?

Many of the Rabbis who have discussed the issue thus far have come out that the exchange is a violation of halacha.  Among them were Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the son of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu zt”l the former Sefardic Chief Rabbi of Israel (see  It seems that at least initially, Rabbi Amar the current Sefardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, was also in agreement with them. Respectfully, however, this may not necessarily be the last word on the subject. 

Let us not forget that often, halacha is not so clear cut.  Every case in halacha must be examined upon its own merits and the specifics of each case.  We must do the same here.

Real 'Sybil' Admits Multiple Personalities Were Fake

When Sybil first came out in 1973, not only did it shoot to the top of the best-seller lists — it manufactured a psychiatric phenomenon. The book was billed as the true story of a woman who suffered from multiple personality disorder. Within a few years of its publication, reported cases of multiple personality disorder — now known as dissociative identity disorder — leapt from fewer than 100 to thousands. But in a new book, Sybil Exposed, writer Debbie Nathan argues that most of the story is based on a lie.

Rav Dovid Katz of Baltimore:Keynote speech Ner Israel

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A High-Profile Executive Job as Defense Against Mental Ills

Researchers have conducted more than 100,000 studies on schizophrenia since its symptoms were first characterized. They have tested patients’ blood. They have analyzed their genes. They have measured perceptual skills, I.Q. and memory, and have tried perhaps thousands of drug treatments. 

Now, a group of people with the diagnosis is showing researchers a previously hidden dimension of the story: how the disorder can be managed while people build full, successful lives. The continuing study — a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Southern California; and the Department of Veterans Affairs — follows a group of 20 people with the diagnosis, including two doctors, a lawyer and a chief executive, Ms. Myrick. 

The study has already forced its authors to discard some of their assumptions about living with schizophrenia. “It’s just embarrassing,” said Dr. Stephen R. Marder, director of the psychosis section at U.C.L.A.’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, a psychiatrist with the V.A. Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and one of the authors of the study. “For years, we as psychiatrists have been telling people with a diagnosis what to expect; we’ve been telling them who they are, how to change their lives — and it was bad information” for many people.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lesbian parents give gender blocking treatment to son

A lesbian couple in California who say their 11-year-old son Tommy who wants to be a girl named Tammy are giving their child hormone blockers that delay the onset of puberty -- so that he can have more time that he can have more time to decide if he wants to change his gender.

The couple’s supporters say the Hormone Blocking Therapy has only minor side effects and is appropriate for a child who is unsure of his gender. "This is definitely a changing landscape for transgender youth," said Joel Baum, director of education and training for Gender Spectrum, a California-based non-profit group. "This is about giving kids and their families the opportunity to make the right decision."

But critics of the treatment say 11-year-olds are not old enough to make life-altering decisions about changing their gender, and parents should not be encouraging them. They say it’s too soon to tell what the side effects of the treatments may be, and they say Tommy’s parents, Pauline Moreno and Debra Lobel, are irresponsible for seeking them and allowing them to be administered.

Bishop charged with violating mandatory reporting laws

The news that an American bishop had been charged with failing to report child abuse should have been collosal news in the Vatican. But the response has been as if the case is far away and far removed from the Holy See — and the Papacy that is so quick to come down on questions of celibacy, women priests and the rights of gay Catholics appears to regard the American scandal, involving a priest and what seems to be child pornography, as a matter for local jurisprudence.[....]

The news that an American bishop had been charged with failing to report child abuse should have been collosal news in the Vatican. But the response has been as if the case is far away and far removed from the Holy See — and the Papacy that is so quick to come down on questions of celibacy, women priests and the rights of gay Catholics appears to regard the American scandal, involving a priest and what seems to be child pornography, as a matter for local jurisprudence.[...]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dragon Mother: Living with a Tay-Sachs baby

MY son, Ronan, looks at me and raises one eyebrow. His eyes are bright and focused. Ronan means “little seal” in Irish and it suits him. 

I want to stop here, before the dreadful hitch: my son is 18 months old and will likely die before his third birthday. Ronan was born with Tay-Sachs, a rare genetic disorder. He is slowly regressing into a vegetative state.  He’ll become paralyzed, experience seizures, lose all of his senses before he dies. There is no treatment and no cure. 

How do you parent without a net, without a future, knowing that you will lose your child, bit by torturous bit?
Depressing? Sure. But not without wisdom, not without a profound understanding of the human experience or without hard-won lessons, forged through grief and helplessness and deeply committed love about how to be not just a mother or a father but how to be human.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Character assassination: Professor Defends Treatment of Stutterer

Calling herself “the victim of a character assassination,” the college professor who asked a student with a severe stutter not to pose questions in class said that her actions were misinterpreted, and that she did not mean to silence him. 

In an interview, the professor, Elizabeth Snyder, said Thursday that since the dispute was first reported this week in The New York Times, “I’ve gotten the most hateful, vile, vicious e-mails,” making her fear for her safety. 

The student, Philip Garber Jr., is a 10th grader taking courses at the County College of Morris, in Randolph, N.J., but talking for him is slow and difficult. He was enrolled in a history course taught by Ms. Snyder, an adjunct professor. After a few classes, she sent him an e-mail asking that he pose questions after class, “so we do not infringe on other students’ time,” and that he write answers to her questions rather than try to reply out loud.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sefer HaIkkarim: Prophet can misunderstand his prophetic vision

Sefer HaIkkarim(3:17)  Even though that all the words of the prophets are true with out any doubt, nevertheless according to the greatness of the prophet and his level of prophecy will the truth that comes from his words be stronger. Because many prophets due to the weakness of their comprehension did not comprehend the clear facts properly. This is because what happens to the perception of the prophets is that which happens to perception of our physical senses. One whose senses are healthy and strong perceives things the way they truly are and one whose sense are weak will not perceive things the way they truly are but will only be aware of the general type or category and not the full details. Someone with healthy vision will see things according to the way they really are for example red or green and will perceive the hue of red or green. However the one who has weak vision will only perceive things in general. Even if he perceives the category i.e., red or green he will not perceive which hue or red or green. This is true also with the sense of hearing and the other senses.

This exact thing occurs also with the prophets and their perceptions. One who has strong perception will perceive things the way they are without illusion and his words will be clear without vagueness and thus his understanding will be true the way things are. A prophet who is on a lower level will perceive things as vague or as a puzzle or metaphors that are unclear. Therefore he won't see the truth as it is but only according to the appearance of the metaphor. He will thus confuse the metaphor with that which it alludes to and thus will fail to be aware of actual reality i.e., the message that he was sent. [Ohel Yaakov: for example Zecharya saw a man riding on a horse...That in itself was meaningless...what was to be seen by the prophet in this vision was that he was being sent by G-d to travel all over the land.]...

Therefore the words of all the prophets are of necessity subordinate to that of Moshe Rabbeinu. In other words the prophesy of a lesser prophets needs to be made totally consistent with that which a greater prophet said.

To clarify this matter we find for example that Yeshaya (6:1) said And I saw G‑d sitting on a throne elevated and transcendent. In contrast Moshe said G-d said that no man can see Me and live. If we didn't know the relative greatness of these two prophets we might have thought that the words of Yeshaya are correct. We would have assumed that because of his great prophetic ability that he perceived from G-d that which he was capable of seeing and therefore his words are to be taken literally And I saw G-d.  We would have assumed that Moshe had not reached the level of Yeshaya and therefore could not perceive G-d to any significant degree and thus he said No one can see G‑d and live.  But now that we know that Moshe was the epitome of the prophets...we know that Moshe's statements have to be taken as literally true and the words of Yeshaya are on a lower level and are not literally true. In fact according to his lower level the words I saw G-d which indicated he thought he saw G-d are not correct and are the result of his imagination. Moshe in contrast did not utilize the power of imagination in his prophecy at all. His prophecy was to report things exactly as they were and thus No one can see G-d and live is literally true.

Yeshaya who utilized his power of imagination in his prophecies that is called by our sages (Yevamos 49b) the unclear lenses - was brought to err by means of his imagination to think that he actually saw G-d. The explanation of this is that the physical essence of Yeshaya was not as refined as that of Moshe as Yeshaya (6:5) said I am a man of impure lips. Even his moral qualities were not proper as he said (6:5) In the midst of a people of impure lips I dwell. Dwelling amongst people with made moral qualities degrades the moral qualities of a good person. That is why he said (6:5) Woe is me that I have imagined. In other words I have been brought to error by my imagination I didn't prophesize with a clear lens like the prophesy of Moshe who heard the voice speaking to him without needing the image in from of his eyes. But I - said Yeshaya - prophesize with an unclear lens which is through the power of imagination I am not able to proper comprehend what I hear without seeing what I am being told and this causes me to be a man of impure lips and that I dwell amongst a nation of impure lips. And I know that this activates my imagination because concerning G-d it is impossible to associate any clear description or image even in a prophetic vision for one who has a clear lens.

This is what our sages (Yevamos 49b) say that Menashe killed Yeshaya because he had said I have seen G-d while Moshe Rabbeinu had said it is impossible to see G-d... He could however have defended himself by saying that even in the time of Moshe the people said they saw the G-d of Israel (Shemos 24:10).

What is learned from all this is that a prophet can never disagree with a prophet who is on a higher level. Instead he must interpret his own words in such a way that there is no conflict between them. Since the Torah has stated that the prophecy of Moshe Rabbeinu was on the highest level of all the prophets, it is impossible for any prophet to disagree with him or nullify his words. However if it is possible to reconcile the apparent disagreement by saying that there were additional factors not mentioned explicitly that is also acceptable.

Large new study: Mutivitamins & supplements don't help & may be harmful

Multivitamins and many other dietary supplements provide little benefit for most people and may be harmful, according to researchers behind a large new study.

The researchers tracked nearly 39,000 women for an average of 19 years. They found a small increase in the risk of death among older women who took dietary supplements compared with those who didn't, according to the study, released Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. 

An exception was calcium supplements, which are widely recommended to protect against bone fractures. They were associated with a slightly decreased risk of premature death.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Healing a broken brain


Fifty-nine months ago, I was wearing my seat belt and my car was stopped when another vehicle hit me, causing my head to fracture the windshield. That damaged my right temporal lobe, one of my neurologists explained when he told me I had a traumatic brain injury. I lost my long-term memory, and have been a brain injury patient within Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospitals ever since.

At 45, I was jolted into an entirely new existence. Memories that connected different parts of my life fragmented and vanished. It took 26 months before I was able to thread my way back unattended to the house I had lived in for 17 years.

I am often amazed to find that people recognize me when I have no recollection of them. People who love me grieve what they claim to experience as the loss of elements of my personality that I cannot recall having been part of me. Others tell me that I seem to have become an altogether different person. I am told that I used to be a real “people person.” Today, however, I can barely stand being around people. And I can get irritable in a nanosecond. I am told that my work before the accident pertained to the AIDS pandemic; I was a treatment activist, founder of several early AIDS organizations and a photojournalist, as well as an artist. But I have no more memory of a photo on the cover of The New York Times of an exhibition I curated 10 years ago than I do of a watercolor I painted when I was 3 years old. When I see my pre-accident work, I am introduced to it as if for the first time. As if it was created by anonymous. Did I make that? So I’m told. [...]

Friday, October 7, 2011


gmar chasima tova!
Annonymous wrote:
Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,
I just wrote this up, if you want, feel free to post it as you wish. No accreditation please.
Wishing you and yours a Shana Tova and a Gemar Chasima Tova!
Today's Drudge Report, Erev Yom Kippur, is sobering: "FINANCIAL CRISIS 'WORST WORLD HAS EVER FACED'"and it links to this story in the UK Telegraph (Friday 07 October 2011) : World facing worst financial crisis in history, Bank of England Governor says.
The world is facing the worst financial crisis since at least the 1930s “if not ever”, the Governor of the Bank of England said last night...after the decision by the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee to put £75billion of newly created money into the economy in a desperate effort to stave off a new credit crisis and a UK recession...the Bank had been driven by growing signs of a global economic disaster..."
The same thing is happening in the USA, and it has already happened in the "PIIGS" countries: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain and in almost all Western countries!
This is NOT how modern day Capitalism was supposed to work out.
After all, the recovery years after World War Two and during the Reagan Era, pure Capitalism with its free trade and enterprise, low taxes and less government bureaucracy, with proper care of the lower classes via Social Democratic benefits was supposed to help everyone in the West get along. But that is not how it has worked out and everyone is to blame, and then some.
First of all modern times have seen the utter collapse of Monarchies, Feudalism, Fascism, Imperialism, Communism and Liberalism -- their downfall all resulting in the betterment of humankind.
Capitalism was the last great hope of mankind, not because Ayn Rand said so, but because it's natural for people to both create and yes SHARE wealth. So far so good.
Along came the Shah of Iran and raised the price of crude oil, blackmailing the West. Thus began the transfer of untold trillions of petro-Dollars to the Muslim oil rich Islamic totalitarian states. Then, while Red Russia created Red China, along came Nixon and Kissinger and welcomed Red China into the family of nations. 40 years later, mainland China is still Red, a cruel dictatorship but it has prostituted and indentured its labor force and citizenry to factory owners from the West who produce goods for pennies and share the untold trillions of profits with the Peking Politburo. Added to which, defeated Japan and Nazi Germany instead of being demolished as states, as they would have done had they won WWII, were allowed to rebuild and focus on building machines which they are good at to sell to the West sucking in more untold trillions.
That was NOT meant to be the "high point" of Capitalism so that the Arabs, Chinese, Japanese and Germans become the modern world's economic superpowers. They are cruel to their own and do not share their wealth with any other nations, giving virtually no foreign aid like the US still does even though it's broke itself.
And in the West, greedy Labor Unions wanted more money for less work and not caring about shoddy performance. They want to be paid for sleeping and vacationing.
But, MOST guilty of all are what Tom Wolf, the writer, in his "Bonfire of the Vanities"
calls the "Masters of the Universe" the young punk financially savvy new super rich. Armed with MBAs and all sorts of fancy new-fangled financial and technological skills and education with access to esoteric financial arts known only to their initiated, often conjuring up masses of untold trillions of money like proverbial magicians pulling rabbits out hats, their education was just there to express their pure raw GREED, and THEY, being in the West and of the West, are the ones who bust the West's banks, financial houses, insurance companies, corporations, all manner of investments, and ultimately its governments. Like a "legal" Mafia and like swarms of locusts the very savvy young Capitalists who were supposedly at the helm of the West's economies pissed away its monies and stashed away the rest.
Ironically and cynically they were actually launched by the heavily Marxist influenced university faculties of the West's universities, who hated Capitalism and helped create the monsters who ultimately destroyed Capitalism from within! So of course they saw no reason or ECONOMIC MORALITY to stand up to the oil rich Arabs, the emboldened Chinese, the rebuilt Germans and Japanese, the corrupt Unions with untold trillions in "pension funds" at home, rather, they worked with THOSE powers because, hey, that's where the dough was right? and now see the results, the West is broke, its economies are BROKEN, and Capitalism is DEAD!
Mashiach is on his way, the last of the big "isms" is on its way out forever. No one should complain if ordinary people demand a fair share of life.
A Gemar Chatima Tova! May the coming year 5772 be a year of Shalom!

Battered-wife who executed husband acquitted of murder charge

Was Barbara Sheehan a battered wife who shot her husband, a retired police sergeant, in self-defense, or was she a calculating killer determined to collect on his life insurance? After three days of deliberations, a jury Thursday chose the former.

It acquitted Sheehan of murder in a trial that was seen by some people as a referendum on battered-woman syndrome.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs's message for Yom Kippur

Christian Science Monitor

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Rav Moshe Feinstein - untrue story being circulated

Yesterday on Tzom Gedaliya (Oct 2) I was at a well known shul where a well known Rav spoke between mincha & maariv. Amongst other things he was talked about the greatness and uniqueness of Rav Moshe Feinstein.  He said the following. There is a story in the Artscroll biography describing an incident in which Rav Moshe cited a Pri Megadin during a shiur. One of those present argued that the citation was off by one simon. Rav Moshe insisted on the spot that a sefer be brought and it be determined whether he was right. When he was asked why it was so important, he replied that since he poskened from memory - if his memory wasn't perfect he could no longer posken from memory.

The Rav who was speaking added that he had heard in the name of Rav Elimelech Bluth- who was Rav Moshe's shamash for 20 years - that he had not seen Rav Moshe learn from a sefer in the last 20 years of his life. He was so busy - he had to rely on his memory in order to posken.

Tonight I was a family simcha which was attended by Rav Bluth and I asked him whether he in fact had said that he hadn't seen Rav Moshe learn from a sefer in the last 20 years of his life. He responded, "I can't say it so because it isn't true."


I called the rav this morning ( Oct 4). He is truly an ish emes. He said he had heard directly from Rav Bluth that Reb Moshe hadn't looked in sefer for 20 years, I told him Rav Bluth denied it. He immediately called Rav Bluth and was told he had misunderstood him. Rav Bluth told him that Reb Moshe was not constantly looking in a sefer but was constantly writing but he did use seforim to look up issues. The rav called me back to explain his error and said he would publicly announce his error today in shul after mincha. I was astounded that the rav was so focused on emes and the effort to correct what seemed a relatively minor issue (though important to understand the derech of psak of Rav Moshe Feinstein) , he said the Chazon Ish and others said to be careful to tell the precise truth about gedolim. He thanked me for informing him of the error.

This passion for the truth that this rav demonstrated is the foundation of emunas chachomim. We presume that our sages have such a concern for truth. However if we see in otherwise - there is no mitzva to be stupid. Emunas chachomim is not a synonym for intellectual laziness and lack of concern for reality.

3rd indictment filed in Jerusalem pedophile case

Jerusalem Post

The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office announced on Sunday that an indictment has been filed charging a Jerusalem man with sexually abusing minors in the capital.

Zalman Cohen was one of five men arrested in September for allegedly sexually abusing dozens of minors in Jerusalem.

The indictment, filed by attorney Shulamit Ben-Yitzhak last Wednesday, describes how Cohen and another man allegedly abused several minors in a house in the Nahlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem in 2009 and 2010.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rav S. R.Hirsch - we can't emulate great men who are portrayed as flawless

Rav S. R. Hirsch(Bereishis 12: 10 – 13):.  The Torah does not seek to portray our great men  as perfectly ideal figures; it deifies no man. It says of no one: “Here you  have the ideal; in this man the Divine assumes human form!” It does  not set before us the life of any one person as the model from which  we might learn what is good and right, what we must do and what we  must refrain from doing. When the Torah wishes to put before us a  model to emulate, it does not present a man, who is born of dust.  Rather, God presents Himself as the model, saying: “Look upon Me!  Emulate Me! Walk in My ways!” We are never to say: “This must be  good and right, because so-and-so did it.” The Torah is not an “anthology  of good deeds.” It relates events not because they are necessarily  worthy of emulation, but because they took place.    The Torah does not hide from us the faults, errors, and weaknesses  of our great men, and this is precisely what gives its stories credibility.  The knowledge given us of their faults and weaknesses does not detract  from the stature of our great men; on the contrary, it adds to their  stature and makes their life stories even more instructive. Had they  been portrayed to us as shining models of perfection, flawless and  unblemished, we would have assumed that they had been endowed  with a higher nature, not given to us to attain. Had they been portrayed  free of passions and inner conflicts, their virtues would have seemed  to us as merely the consequence of their loftier nature, not acquired  by personal merit, and certainly no model we could ever hope to  emulate.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Manny's Book Store:The complex fear of temptations of the Chareidi world

Nevertheless, it could be that what rankles the zealots above all is the too-modern atmosphere that reigns in the store. Or Hachaim Center may not be the first shop to bring to Jerusalem the Haredi-but-glamorous store design that is more commonly found in the ultra-Orthodox Borough Park section of Brooklyn. But for whatever reason, it - like the Zisalik ice cream shop and the nearby Greentec computer store - has become a target for the holy wars of the zealots.

One of the latter explained to Haaretz: "The problem is that they are offering not only a purchase, but a 'shopping experience.' This is alien to Mea She'arim, where there have always been only small, humble shops."[....]

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hareidim capture molester in mikveh & hand him to police

An indictment was filed on Sunday in the Tel Aviv District Court, charging a Bnei Brak resident with sodomy and indecent assault against three boys aged under 16. [...]

According to that request, the defendant was arrested after a member of staff at the mikva noticed he had come to the mikva just before one of the minors. The witness informed a volunteer in a local Haredi organization, who held the defendant at the mikva until the police arrived.

Nachlaot pedophile ring - parents' overinvolvement unwittingly interfered with legal case

The story of the pedophile network in Nahlaot exploded in August, with the arrest of four suspects. One of them had already been arrested several months earlier and subsequently released. S., who was arrested two weeks ago, was the fifth suspect, and the parents hoped that this was the start of a solution to the major crisis they had experienced. But this month, attorney Shlomit Ben-Yitzhak, of the Jerusalem District Prosecutors' Office, submitted indictments in the affair, and the parents discovered that their hopes had been dashed: Indictments were submitted only against two of those involved - B. and P. And although the indictments describe sodomy, indecent assaults and rape, they refer to only five children. Even the most skeptical of those involved in the investigation and in the welfare agencies admit that that number is only a small percentage of the attacks. The police themselves have interrogated over 40 children.[...]

Someone close to the investigation claims that the reason for the huge gap between the parents' stories and the harsh testimony on the one hand, and the legal outcome on the other, is the activity of the parents themselves. The parents, he says, unwittingly interfered with the investigation process. The conversations and "investigations" that they conducted with their own children undermined the reliability of the stories the children then told the juvenile investigators. There are parents who even showed their children pictures of the suspects so the children could identify them, an activity that invalidated their testimony. For their part, the parents stress the fact that they have cooperated with the authorities from the beginning. Many of them are ultra-Orthodox, but as opposed to the usual stereotype of this religious community, they did not hide anything, described what their children had told them without mincing words, and encouraged their children to talk. Only afterward, they say, did they discover that the problem was not a lack of cooperation, but on the contrary - their great desire to eliminate the problem.

Novominsker Rebbe:Most difficult thing in abuse cases is how to address these crimes publicly while preserving kedusha in homes

In the current edition of Mishpacha (Sept 26, 2011 page 17) is a noteworthy exchange between Mrs. Bella Tzibushkin and Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg regarding an article he had published in a previous edition  bemoaning the negative impact the knowledge of scandals had on the kedusha of the home. 

Mrs Tzibushkin writes a very cogent  letter strongly criticizing Rav Ginzberg for being more concerned for covering up scandals than dealing with them for blaming the messenger rather than dealing with the message. He replies that she had missed his point. He replies among other things:

When scandals lo aleinu do strike, they are addressed. The Novominsker Rebbe shlita told me that when the terribly painful abuse claims arose, the most difficult thing that the Moetzes Gedolei Torah had to deal with was how to address these horrific crimes in public and yet preserve the kedushah in our homes and in our lives. As difficult as that was, the claim that Mrs. Tsibushkin makes - that the scandals are ignored - is just not in line with the facts on the ground.
Given what we know about the history of the gedolim dealing with abuse - this simply boggles the mind.

For example 2009 in an editorial in the Yated (reprinted in my book on abuse) Rabbi Pinchus Lipshutz acknowledged the ignorance of the gedolim about how to deal with abuse cases and that they were typically ignored in the past:

Let us be clear: For too long, we weren’t tuned in to these innocent victims’ stories and their pain. For too long, we weren’t sufficiently aware that this problem existed and thus were able to ignore the quiet pleas, the sad eyes, the pained lives, and the personalities withdrawn. We didn’t recognize the warning signs and thus largely ignored the phenomenon. Equally clear, this inattention was not a function of some high level conspiracy to harm people or cover up for criminals or abet nefarious activities. It was simply a function of a lack of education about a complex and highly sophisticated problem. It was a result of our leadership simply being unaware of the depths that such sordid people could sink to, and the extreme skill perpetrators exhibit in covering their tracks. And yes, it was undeniably a gezera, which, as so often is the case, claims innocent holy souls - bikroyvai Ekodeish.
I am all too aware that it is fashionable in certain circles to blame this all on our rabbinic leadership. These people have yet to explain why our rabbanim, who devote their lives to serving people, would want to hurt anyone. The days when being a rav or rosh yeshiva meant strictly poskening shailos or teaching Torah are long gone. Rabbanim routinely spend an overwhelming portion of their time dealing with every type of personal problem imaginable. I don’t have to elaborate on this now, but suffice it to say that it defies logic to accuse our most choshuve leaders, who exhibit much mesiras nefesh, of coldhearted indifference. As I said, the problem was a lack of understanding.