Wednesday, December 31, 2014

An Oasis of Care for People With Intellectual Disabilities

NY Times   LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A mother needs to get her son out the door. Thick white socks cover his contorted feet, a coat drapes his twisted shoulders, a water bottle with a straw nestles in the concave of his chest, and black straps on his wheelchair secure his wrists. He is 33 years old, and she has to get him to an appointment.

“I always forget something,” the mother, Mimi Kramer, says, looking about her small, immaculate house. “Oh. A change of pants, just in case.”

Her son, Trey, has intellectual disability, autism and cerebral palsy. He was a joy as a child, she says, but with puberty came violent acts of frustration: biting himself until he bleeds, raging against sounds as faint as a fork scrape on a plate, lashing out with his muscular right arm. He nearly bit her finger off one Kentucky Derby Day when she tried to swipe away foam that he had gnawed from his wheelchair’s armrest.

“But he’ll also definitely make you smile when he’s happy,” says Ms. Kramer, 52, a slight, divorced woman who has raised her son mostly alone. “His smile will light up the room.”

For years, parents like Ms. Kramer have struggled to find compassionate health care for their adult children with profound disability, among the most medically underserved populations in the country. They are told their children are not welcome: too disruptive in the waiting room, too long in the examining room — beyond the abilities of doctors who have no experience with intellectual disability.

“It’s been really hard to find anyone to even take him,” Ms. Kramer says. “Much less the experience when you go into a waiting room with someone as challenging as Trey.”

Now, though, Ms. Kramer has a place to go. A motorized lift raises her son into her customized Ford Econoline van, where a home care aide named David Stodghill keeps some fudge cookies nearby as positive reinforcement for Mr. Kramer. [...]

Off they go into the wintry Kentucky rain, bound for refuge on the other side of Louisville: the Lee Specialty Clinic, one of the very few free-standing facilities designed exclusively to provide medical and dental treatment — and a sense of welcome — to people with intellectual disability.

The 17,000-square-foot clinic, which opened in June, offers certain amenities. A reception area with natural light and easy-to-clean cushions. Extra-wide halls. Scales designed to weigh people in wheelchairs. An overhead tram to lift patients into dental chairs.

Just as important, say the clinic’s co-directors, Dr. Henry Hood and Dr. Matthew Holder, is its staff, trained to understand what their patients and families have been through. For example, Dr. Hood says, parents will often recall being told at the last medical clinic “to get your son or daughter out of here, and don’t ever bring them back.”

Monday, December 29, 2014

Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

Wall Street Journal    In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story asking: Is God Dead? Many have accepted the cultural narrative that he’s obsolete—that as science progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe. Yet it turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place—science itself. 

Here’s the story: The same year Time featured the now-famous headline, the astronomer Carl Sagan announced that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the roughly octillion—1 followed by 24 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 21 zeros—planets capable of supporting life.

With such spectacular odds, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a large, expensive collection of private and publicly funded projects launched in the 1960s, was sure to turn up something soon. Scientists listened with a vast radio telescopic network for signals that resembled coded intelligence and were not merely random. But as years passed, the silence from the rest of the universe was deafening. Congress defunded SETI in 1993, but the search continues with private funds. As of 2014, researches have discovered precisely bubkis—0 followed by nothing. 

What happened? As our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. His two parameters grew to 10 and then 20 and then 50, and so the number of potentially life-supporting planets decreased accordingly. The number dropped to a few thousand planets and kept on plummeting.

Even SETI proponents acknowledged the problem. Peter Schenkel wrote in a 2006 piece for Skeptical Inquirer magazine: “In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest . . . . We should quietly admit that the early estimates . . . may no longer be tenable.”

As factors continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here. [...]

Sunday, December 28, 2014

One in five women in college sexually assaulted: an update on this statistic

Washington Post     “We know the numbers: one in five of every one of those young women who is dropped off for that first day of school, before they finish school, will be assaulted, will be assaulted in her college years.”
–Vice President Biden, remarks on the release of a White House report on sexual assault, April 29, 2014

“It is estimated that 1 in 5 women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there — 1 in 5.” 

–President Obama, remarks at White House, Jan. 22, 2014

This is an update of an article that originally appeared on May 1, 2014. It now has a Pinocchio rating.

Reports of sexual assault on college campuses spurred the White House early in 2014 to launch a task force to examine the issue. The group’s report was issued on April 29, and the first sentence of the report echoes what both the president and vice president have asserted in public: “One in five women is sexually assaulted in college.”

Where does this oft-repeated statistic come from? We dug into the data so you don’t have to.

The Facts

This statistic is derived from a 2007 study, The Campus Sexual Assault Study, which was conducted for the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice. The researchers, led by Christopher Krebs of RTI International, also surveyed men, but the statistic cited by the administration focuses on women so we will look carefully at that part of the study.

In the winter of 2006, researchers used a Web-based survey to interview undergraduates at two large public universities, one in the Midwest and one in the South. A total of 5,446 undergraduate women, between the ages of 18-25, participated as part of a random sample. The survey was anonymous and took about 15 minutes to complete. (Participants received a $10 certificate for participating.)

So, first of all, it’s important to remember that this is a single survey, based on the experiences of students at two universities. As the researchers acknowledged, these results clearly can be generalized to those two large four-year universities, but not necessarily elsewhere. Moreover, the response rate was relatively low:
“Another limitation of the CSA study, inherent with Web-based survey, is that the response rates were relatively low. Although the response rates were not lower than what most Web-based surveys achieve, they are lower than what we typically achieve using a different mode of data collection (e.g. face-to-face interviewing).”
The survey found that 1,073 women, or 19 percent, said that they experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college. The actual breakdown was that 12.6 percent experienced attempted sexual assault and 13.7 percent experienced actual sexual assault. (There was some overlap.) [...]

Internet Filtering: The false sense of security

There has been much discussion in the Orthodox world regarding the Internet and its dangers. Internet is high on everyone's list of dangerous technology

For those who need the Internet there has been grudging rabbinic permission granted - but only if is is properly filtered. The assumption is that the average religious Jew does not have the ability to withstand the temptations of pornography and heresy and well as bitul Torah or Internet addiction.

The Boro Park residence where I am staying of course has the latest and strongest filtering program. Therefore it came as no surprise when I discovered that my email and a number of other programs no longer worked. 

What did surprise me was the simple activation of a free VPN program removed all blockages -  both for my computer and my Android tablet. VPN programs are widely used either for security when using public wifi networks or for creating a false IP address in the country of your choice. The later is useful when using Internet sites that only work in the USA.

I have not checked whether VPN removes every type of filtering. So far I have only tried it on perhaps the most popular one. I tried two different free VPN programs - and they both worked.

According to this article in PC World - what I accidentally discovered is in fact a well known realty - except to the computer illiterate older generations.
I am also not advocating removing filtering. My purpose is simply to warn parents and spouses as well as schools - that they have a false sense of security when they use filtered Internet services.

Why I’m now a former Conservative Jew - because Interdating is now permitted

Times of Israel    My name is Jesse Arm. I am a grandson of a former Conservative rabbi, a former student of a Conservative Jewish day school, a former president of the Detroit chapter of USY, and a former Conservative Jew.

The last of those characteristics is the newest one attached to my identity. In fact, I made the decision to no longer classify myself in this fashion less than 24 hours ago, upon reading of the recent change in standards decided upon at USY’s international convention. Formerly, to take on a leadership position in the USY youth movement, it was considered a requirement that board members commit themselves to refrain from, “relationships which can be construed as interdating.” The language was changed to, “The Officers will strive to model healthy Jewish dating choices. These include recognizing the importance of dating within the Jewish community and treating each person with the recognition that they were created Betzelem Elohim (in the image of God).” The change was made in an attempt to become a more inclusive youth group within a more inclusive movement

Perhaps the crux of why this change so fundamentally irks me is in its lack of forthcoming language. If my former youth group, and in essence my former movement, is willing to compromise its commitment to the preservation of Jewish nationhood in the name of inclusivity, then why doesn’t it just say so? It is clear that this movement is on a path of setting its commitment to its original, cardinal principles aside in an effort to salvage some of its continually dwindling membership and “changing with the times.” The addition of Hebrew words in the language which adopts the permissibility of interdating is truly laughable. Saying that recognition of all humans being created betzelem elohim serves as a justification for interdating and eventually intermarriage, makes about as much sense as me arguing I should be eating delicious bacon in my Sukkah because the Torah says v’samachta b’chageicha, v’hayita ach sameach (we should rejoice in our holiday and we should feel nothing but total happiness). [...]

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wife who used child porn to frame husband gets jail time

Fox News   A Pennsylvania woman convicted of downloading child pornography to frame her estranged husband must spend six months to two years in county jail.

The Indiana Gazette reports 43-year-old Meri Jane Woods was sentenced Monday by an Indiana County judge who rejected her attorney's request for leniency and flexibility to start serving the sentence after the holidays.

A jury previously found Woods downloaded 40 images to the family computer, took it to police in August 2013 and blamed Matthew Woods for the material.[...]

Nachlaot Case: Questions raised regarding conviction of Zalman Cohen

Guest Post

Was the Honorable Judge Amnon Cohen biased in the judgment of Zalman Cohen?

Recently, Zalman Cohen was convicted and sentenced to 9 years as one of the Nachlaot Pedophiles from the alleged "Nachlaot Pedophile Ring".

All of the material in this article is taken from either the Court Document of Zalman Cohen's verdict, or as a comparison, from the Court Document of Ben Tzion P. who was acquitted of all charges against him.

The verdict for Zalman Cohen was based entirely on the testimony of four minors who testified against him, along with their parents, the child investigators, and psychologists. There was no physical evidence of molestation (such as the presence of DNA or doctors' findings of physical damage to the bodies of the children). The type of evidence presented against him was quite similar in nature to what was presented against Ben Tzion. The children spoke in a way that seemed believable; that is, they did not appear to be intentionally lying. However, there were contradictions and impossibilities in the children's testimonies. The judges in Ben Tzion's case felt that this presented a doubt as to whether Ben Tzion ought to be convicted, and therefore acquitted him.

In the case of Zalman, the Honorable Judge Amnon Cohen explained away any problems with the children's testimonies as being due to their confusion since they must have been traumatized by experiencing the sexual molestation that had allegedly occurred.

The defense did not bring any personal eye witnesses in Zalman's favor. Zalman claimed that no one wanted to endanger themselves by testifying, but the judge dismissed that. (However, it is understandable that people would not want to get involved out of fear that they would also be accused of being members of the "Nachlaot Pedophile Ring".) The defense also brought two expert witnesses, who stated that children under pressure are likely to generate false memories that are indistinguishable from memories of actual events which transpired. The judge also dismissed the expert witnesses' statements about false memories.

The judge acknowledged that there had been some contamination of the children's testimonies in the Nachlaot Pedophile Case, and that there had been panic and gossip in the neighborhood, but decided that this did not invalidate the testimony of the four children who testified against Zalman in the case. The four minors who testified against Zalman were:

1. "Dalet", who also testified against Ben Tzion. She was the child who testified that the children undressed outside Ben Tzion's house. The judge decided that since she did not live in the neighborhood, but only came to visit her cousin, she would not have been exposed to the gossip. That is simply not true. She definitely heard the gossip from her cousins and relatives, regarding Zalman and others. Here is a quote regarding her testimony with regards to Zalman which appeared in the decision made by the judges in Ben Tzion's trial:

בתשובה לשאלות נוספות התבקשה לתת תיאור של זלמן שהיה בחדר ואמרה שהוא נראה חרדי מחופש. כאשר נשאלה מנין היא יודעת שהוא מחופש, אמרה: "אבא של בת דודה שלי אמר" (עמ' 18, שורה 29).

[Translation: In answer to additional questions, she was asked to give a description of Zalman who was in the room, and said that he looked like he was disguising himself as a Chareidi. When she was asked from where she knows that he

In contrast, in his statement regarding the conviction of Zalman, the Honorable Judge Amnon Cohen did not even mention the above statement.

"Dalet" also contradicted herself on the two occasions in which she was interrogated regarding Zalman. The first time she said he didn't do anything but just watched. The second time, she said he did participate to some extent. The judge, in point 37, dismissed the contradiction and stated that the fact that she contradicted herself increased her reliability as an witness.

The judge did mention the fact that "Dalet" was discussing the events with others in between the interrogation sessions by the child investigators (in point 46). Also, he mentioned how the mother of "Dalet" pressured her to say something about the possibility of being molested (in point 47). But in the end, in his point 48, he decided that the contamination of "Dalet's" testimony by these outside factors was not of any significance.

2. "Yud" was the second child who testified. He stated that he was forced to touch a girl's genitalia during an event when boys and girls were paired up. When asked what the girl's genitals were like, he said they were just like a boy's genitals. The expert child investigator expressed his opinion that at least this part of the boy's testimony represented an event which had not occurred. However, the judge decided to disagree with the expert child investigator's opinion in this instance, and stated that he believed the event must have really occurred but that since the child was so traumatized he didn't remember that a girl's parts are different from a boy's parts.

3. "Shin" was the third child who testified.  The mother of Shin admitted to trying to force her child to say something for several hours, with such force that "Shin" ultimately had her eyes roll back and fainted. Subsequently, the mother took "Shin" to repeated therapy sessions in order to get her to talk about being molested. Although initially "Shin" denied being molested and said she didn't remember anything ever occurring, after the extreme pressure from her mother, and the repeated pressure from the therapist, "Shin" finally said that she "remembers". Rather than recognize that the mother was putting a strong amount of pressure on her child, which in and of itself was a traumatic experience which would be a strong inducement to generate a false memory, the judge felt that the child's fainting must be evidence that she had undergone sexual molestation by Zalman Cohen and others.

The judge's reasoning was that the mother and therapist didn't tell her what to say specifically, but just asked her to tell about being molested. Also the judge decided that because of the numerous details that "Shin" gave when she "remembered" the alleged molestation, it was unlikely that she had made it up. However, the research on false memory generation indicates that it is not necessary to ask specific questions in order to generate richly detailed false memories of events which did not occur in young children, and that the children actually believe the richly detailed stories that they tell. For example, some research was done in which it was suggested to children that they had experienced a number of events, some true and some false. One of the false events was the experience of having a finger caught in a mouse trap and having to go to the hospital to be treated for that. A number of children generated richly detailed storied about having their finger caught in a mouse trap even though the event had never occurred. (See the scientific research article: s/psych209/Documents/Ceci% 20and%20Loftus.pdf)
"Shin" described in detail how she went from one apartment (Ben Tzion's) to another apartment (Binyamin's) and then a third apartment (Zalman's). The judge felt that the detail of how she went from one house to the next was quite impressive. But almost every child in the neighborhood would have been able to describe how to go to each of those houses (regardless of whether they had been molested or not), even if their parents had not taken them on a tour to see where they were. And the parents did take the neighborhood children on tours to ask them if they had been in those houses (as the judge mentioned at several places in his statement). The neighborhood is quite small, and gossips a lot. It would be amazing if there would be any resident of the neighborhood, child or adult, who didn't know exactly where those three individuals lived.

In addition "Shin" described in detail similar though not identical events that allegedly occurred in all three apartments. In all three apartments, there were similar details about watching a soccer movie, being in a bathtub, and the presence of a stick of some kind. (See point 112 in the judge's statement.) The events seem absurd and pointless. The judge stated that the reason for the similarity was that the three individuals, Ben Tzion, Binyamin, and Zalman acted together in most circumstances and that is why the events described are similar. However, nowhere did "Shin" say that all three men were present together at the time of watching the soccer movies, sitting in the bathtub, or during any of the alleged events. So I don't know how the judge arrived at that conclusion. Also, the judge made much of the fact that "Shin" did not say that Ben Tzion tried to sit on the stick "Eastern style", but instead used the stick to hit her, while the other two men sat on the stick. Therefore since the events she described were similar but not identical, they must be true, according to the judge.

4. "Mem" was the fourth child who testified. "Mem" stated that he was in Binyamin's house and that many of the other alleged pedophiles who were on the "list" were there, including Zalman. A movie was watched in which there was "Pritzut" (in English: "Immodesty"). One has to be knowledgeable about the Chareidi outlook to understand what "Immodesty" means to them. A movie with "Immodesty" would not necessarily mean a pornographic movie, but could simply be a movie in which girls were wearing short sleeved shirts and pants. Also, perhaps this is not common knowledge, but most Chareidim forbid the watching of any movies whatsoever, which makes it much more tempting for a child to want to go to someone else who has a computer where he can watch a movie for entertainment. I have no doubt that many Chareidi children whose parents forbid the watching of movies, probably do go to the houses of other people to watch movies.

"Mem" also acknowledged that there was extensive discussion of all the alleged pedophiles in the neighborhood, between himself and others.

The judge discounted the possibility that the panic and discussions in the neighborhood could have caused "Mem" to have a false memory. However, he didn't discuss at all the possibility that there could have been a real memory that was distorted. Perhaps at some time "Mem" did go to Binyamin's house, and watched a movie. But were all those other people (including Zalman) present? Did they undress?

The judge found support for "Mem's" testimony, from his mother's testimony. His mother said that "Mem" used to wet his bed up until the age of 12 years, and that after he gave his testimony, he was able to get over that problem. Therefore, the judge concluded that this proves he must have been molested and that giving his testimony made him feel better. However, there could be other explanations for why "Mem" got over his bed-wetting problem. Perhaps he simply matured and grew out of it.

In contrast, the judge also found support from the fact that after "Mem's" siblings testified, their mother stated that they seemed to get worse and develop more emotional problems than they had before. According to the judge, if a child's behavior and emotional state improved after giving testimony, that meant the child must have been molested. But if a child's behavior and emotional state got worse after giving testimony, that also meant the child must have been molested.

Although the Honorable Judge Amnon Cohen does not mention Ritual Abuse, he does mention the strange nature of the abuse as seen in the testimony of "Shin" but this does not seem to bother him. What is not seen in the Court Document of Zalman Cohen is what the parents claim occurred.

In order to understand the underlying point of view of the parents making the accusations against Zalman Cohen and the other alleged "Nachlaot Pedophile Ring" members, I think it is important to look at the lengthy documents which have been published by someone on the "" website, under the pseudonym "Sheleg". In particular, the claim is made that the purpose of the "Nachlaot Pedophile Ring" was to perform ritual child abuse in order to convert the children to Christianity. The reason to understand the underlying point of view of the parents is to truly understand that either: 1) everything they say is true (including the claims of tunnels and secret rooms) and the Nachlaot Pedophile Ring really exists and the diabolical purpose of it all is to try to convert their children to Christianity, or 2) nothing they say is true at all and they are totally insane in their beliefs and outlooks, or 3) some of what they say is true, but their beliefs are mixed with a lot of crazy thoughts and one must be very careful before condemning anyone based on the testimony of these parents and their children.

What also needs to be looked at is not only the evidence presented regarding these four children who testified in the case against Zalman, but also the testimonies given by the other children which were not presented. These four children were among approximately 80 children that testified, and only these four were accepted by the child investigators. (In Ben Tzion's trial the judges requested to look at the testimony of the other children which the child investigators had rejected, in order to get a better overall picture of what actually happened.) The parents claim that all of these children were also molested, as well as others that did not testify. This supposedly went on for years. Nachlaot was one busy place and yet no one noticed.

Makes me wonder.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

High Court of Justice says rabbinical court can annul conversions retroactively

JPost     The High Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that a rabbinical court was within its rights to retroactively annul a conversion because the convert in question had deceived the court when she said she undertook to observe Jewish law.

The ruling could reopen the wounds of the conversion crisis in 2008 when the Supreme Rabbinical Court upheld a decision of a lower court that invalidated a woman’s conversion because it said she never intended to observe Jewish law when she converted. The ruling endangered the 40,000 conversions conducted under the state-conversion system.

On Thursday, Deputy President of the Supreme Court Justice Miriam Naor, with Justices Esther Hayut and Neal Hendel ruled on a case concerning a woman born in Romania to a Christian family who converted in Israel in the state conversion system. Two years later, the rabbinical court annulled her conversion because, according to the court, doubts had been raised as to the sincerity of the convert when she converted.

She petitioned the High Court saying the rabbinical court did not have the authority to retroactively invalidate her conversion and that its decision violated the principles of natural justice.

The Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group criticized the decision saying it opened up “a Pandora’s box,” the results of which could be calamitous.

Hiddush director and Reform rabbi Uri Regev said it would require “extreme detachment from reality not to know that the majority of converts from the immigrant community from the former Soviet Union do this [conversion] without true intent to accept Torah and commandments upon themselves and are forced to promise false promises that they will observe the religious commandments.” [...]

2 months ago Frum Follies predicted that the IBD would be forced to accept the CBD's view. - Why did the reverse happen?

In late November the CBD joined the IBD forming a joint beis din [see post]  that on December 1 publicly accepted the IBD's viewpoint.(see Frum Follies negative response)

This event directly refuted the following analysis that  Frum Follies published only  2 months before.

Frum Follies (Yerachmiel Lopin) wrote: 
Meanwhile, the greater dispute about the seminaries continues. The CBD is not backing down from blocking accreditation for the seminaries. Without accreditation the seminaries will not be able to successfully recruit for the 2015-2016 academic year. The recruitment season starts in a few weeks and typically closes around the end of the calendar year.
The CBD is demanding authentic proof that Meisels has no organizational or financial connection to the seminaries. They are also demanding the dismissal of some staff involved in covering up abuse including some of the principals.
We have not heard a peep from the Israeli Beis Din or their PR vehicle, the Daas Torah blog of Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn, since the CBD issued its unusually detailed letter about the abuse and cover-ups at the seminaries. I think they have concluded that they cannot intimidate the CBD and they will just have to find a way to meet their terms.[emphasis added]

Friday, December 19, 2014

Visiting New York

For the next few weeks I will be in New York
My main reason for announcing this is that are certain evil people whose main happiness in life is claiming that I have committed various sins.

I have gotten gleeful messages when they have misread the time on some of my postings claiming that as proof that I am not shomer Shabbos.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Schlesinger Twins: Scrooge lives in Austria - Beth denied extra holiday time with her kids

Why is Michael smiling? Could it be because he succeeded in blocking any extra time for Beth during Chanukah?

Divided custody is rough on the children and rough on the parents. It is especially rough on the children when they are given only very limited time with their mother and are condemned by the courts to be raised primarily by 2 non-Jewish women whose native language is neither German or English. One constant in custody division is that courts usually are concerned that children spend equal quality time with their parents over a holiday period.

Beth was given a clearly unjust ruling concerning her time that she is allowed to spend with her sons - but it has improved over the outrageous ruling that took full custody away from her and gave it to Michael - who had previously been allowed limited supervised visits.

Austrian friends of Beth have informed me - (remember the courts have blocked Beth from publicizing any information about her children) - that while Chanukah goes from Tuesday night (16th) to Wednesday (24th) - the courts are not changing Beth's access to her children and she got to see them Tuesday (16th) and will see them next Tuesday (24th). 

Typically courts divide custody during the holiday period rather than keep to the non-holiday division. Courts around the world recognize how important it is for the children to spend equal time during a holiday season - why doesn't the Vienna court?

Monday, December 15, 2014


I just received the following letter:

Dear  Rav  Daniel Eidensohn

I send you the news about the new law about the Portuguese Nacionality for Sephardic Jews that will start at the beginning of the 2015. Can you publish it at Daat Torah_

Best regards and Kol tuv

Daniel Litvak
By Jewish Community of Oporto, Portugal

In early 2015, the Portuguese Government may grant Portuguese nationality to the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, who demonstrate a traditional connection to a Sephardic Community of Portuguese origin.

How to Obtain Portuguese Nationality and Passport?
  • Step 1: Certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community
  • Step 2: Application for Portuguese Nationality
  • Step 3: Obtaining a Portuguese Passport

Information about the step 1:
The applicant for Portuguese Nationality must first obtain a Certificate from the Portuguese Jewish Community which attests to his/her ties to a Sephardic Jewish Community of Portuguese origin. A request for this Certificate must be addressed to the Jewish Community of Oporto or to the Jewish Community of Lisbon.
From today, 15th December 2014, the Jewish Community of Oporto is ready to receive requests from descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who wish to obtain a certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community attesting this status.
The request for a Certificate issued by the Committee of the Jewish Community of Oporto should be addressed by the applicant, or an attorney acting for the applicant, by digital means to the following email address:, together with the following documents:
·   Contact details;
·   Copy of passport;
·  Birth certificate or similar document that contains applicant’s date of birth, place of birth and names of parents;
·   Proof of residence;
·   Payment of the Committee’s fee (€150,00 - one hundred and fifty euros); and
·  All of the supporting documentary evidence as may required for a proper evaluation of the matter and decision. Evidence of the applicant’s family history of connection to a Sephardic Community of Portuguese origin may be direct and circumstantial.
Payment of the Committee’s fee to review the request, in the amount of €150,00 (one hundred and fifty euros), must be made by bank transfer to the account of the Jewish Community of Oporto.

Information about the step 2 and step 3
Please visit the official website or blog of the Jewish Community of Oporto -

If you need an opinion or statement of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community of Oporto. By Debora Elijah:
“The new legislation corrects a moral wrong. The long centuries of antisemitism in Portugal and the expulsions decreed by King D. Manuel I in 1496 cannot be denied.”
(Deborah Elijah is member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community of Oporto. She is also member of the Committee of the Jewish Community of Oporto which issues Certificates.)

In Portugal, the Jewish Community of Oporto, founded 90 years ago, is the organization that unites local communal groups of the city of Oporto and its environs, while the Jewish Community of Lisbon, recognized 102 years ago, is the organization that unites local communal groups of Lisbon and its environs. (For more information about the Portuguese communities, please visit the website of the World Jewish Congress -

Wishing you a very happy, healthy and light-filled Chanukah,
Best regards.

By Jewish Community of Oporto
Board of Directors
Official website:          
Official blog:

Saving individuals from punishment by blogging about their faults or How to have enemies suffer Divine punishment instead of you.

Berachos (55b) states that when a person becomes sick - he should keep it a secret for the first day. That is in order to not give Satan an excuse to harm him - by giving himself the status of a sick person. [See the Marhasha]  On the other hand if the sickness does not go away and he is in fact a sick person the gemora suggests a different strategy to bring about a cure. Instead of keeping his weakened state a secret to protect against Satan - the gemora says he should now publicize his misfortune. Rashi says that the sickness is viewed in the first place as punishment from G-d (see Shabbos 55a). Their are two reason for now publicizing one's misfortune. The first is obvious - so that his friends will pray for him. The second is not obvious - that his enemies will be happy to see him suffering. And it is known that one should not rejoice at the suffering of an enemy (Mishlei 24:17-18) Therefore  G-d will get angry at his enemy for being happy about his suffering and will take it away from the sick person and give the sickness to the enemy (Ibn Ezra and Malbim Mishlei 24:18).

It is interesting to note that this gemora clearly indicates that one should be concerned about suffering coming apparently independent of G-d - from bad luck and Satan. [Don't open your mouth to Satan]. The best way to deal with suffering from those sources is to simply conceal the misfortune and hope that it goes away quickly. There is no mention of repentance or that the sickness is a punishment from G-d except in Rashi.

The second strategy - when a person realizes he is a sick person and his suffering is not transient  - also doesn't involve repentance. Rather it is to reveal to the public that he is sick - and hope that his weakened state and misfortune will elicit laughter from an enemy. That laughter will cause G-d to stop punishing him and to punish his enemy.

Based on the gemora, I know people who do not want it publicized that they have serious aliments such as cancer. But I am not aware of anyone who is hoping to elicit a cruel rejoicing in his enemy so that the illness will be transferred to this enemy. However why is there is no mention of repentance when this is such an important issue mentioned elsewhere (Berachos 5a, Shabbos 55a, Yoma 86a, Rambam Hilchos Taanis 1:1-3, Ramban Shaar HaGemul 120:6)? Perhaps this is dealing with sickness which he knows is not the result of sin. (Ramban Shaar HaGemul 118, Berachos 5a, Shabbos 55a, Yerushalmi Shabbos 14:3, Kesubos 19a).

Is anybody aware of similar cases where the cause of  suffering (i.e., sin) is not dealt with directly by repenting but it is hoped that it can simply be transferred to someone else? [Scapegoat] Again we are dealing with a passive aggressive approach to enemies. Destroy them by showing them your weakness and failures so that they will rejoice. 

Perhaps this can be used is a justification for bloggers exposing the problems of the community so that the community will not suffer but rather those bloggers or readers who rejoice seeing the problems of others.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Title IX's Impact :College (Seminary) sexual abuse programs are replacing the police & criminal system with psychotherapy and expulsion - strongly reducing a man's presumed status of innocence

Slate    The College Rape Overcorrection  SEE article which refutes the statistical claims that are used to justify this policy
Sexual assault on campus is a serious problem. But efforts to protect women from a putative epidemic of violence have led to misguided policies that infringe on the civil rights of men.
We are told that one of the most dangerous places for a young woman in America today is a college campus. As President Obama said at a White House event in September, where he announced a campaign to address campus violence, “An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years—one in five.” (At an earlier White House event on the issue, the president declared of sexual violence, “It threatens our families, it threatens our communities; ultimately, it threatens the entire country.”) In recent weeks, Rolling Stone’s lurid account of a premeditated gang rape at the University of Virginia has made the issue of campus sexual violence front-page news. (The reporting and the allegations in the article have since been called into question, and Rolling Stone has issued a statement acknowledging that the magazine failed to properly investigate and corroborate the story.)

Sexual assault at colleges and universities is indeed a serious problem. The attention it’s receiving today—on campus, at the White House, in the media—is a direct result of the often callous and dismissive treatment of victims. For too long, women who were assaulted on campus and came forward were doubted or dismissed, and the men responsible were given a mild rebuke or none at all. Those who commit serious sexual crimes on campus must be held to account.

In recent years, young activists, many of them women angry about their treatment after reporting an assault, have created new organizations and networks in an effort to reform the way colleges handle sexual violence. They recognized they had a powerful weapon in that fight: Title IX, the federal law that protects against discrimination in education. Schools are legally required by that law to address sexual harassment and violence on campus, and these activists filed complaints with the federal government about what they describe as lax enforcement by schools. The current administration has taken up the cause—the Chronicle of Higher Education describes it as “a marquee issue for the Obama administration”—and praised these young women for spurring political action. “A new generation of student activists is effectively pressing for change,” read a statement this spring announcing new policies to address campus violence. The Department of Education has drafted new rules to address women’s safety, some of which have been enshrined into law by Congress, with more legislation likely on the way.

Unfortunately, under the worthy mandate of protecting victims of sexual assault, procedures are being put in place at colleges that presume the guilt of the accused. Colleges, encouraged by federal officials, are instituting solutions to sexual violence against women that abrogate the civil rights of men. Schools that hold hearings to adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct allow the accuser and the accused to be accompanied by legal counsel. But as Judith Shulevitz noted in the New Republic in October, many schools ban lawyers from speaking to their clients (only notes can be passed). During these proceedings, the two parties are not supposed to question or cross examine each other, a prohibition recommended by the federal government in order to protect the accuser. And by federal requirement, students can be found guilty under the lowest standard of proof: preponderance of the evidence, meaning just a 51 percent certainty is all that’s needed for a finding that can permanently alter the life of the accused.

More than two dozen Harvard Law School professors recently wrote a statement protesting the university’s new rules for handling sexual assault claims. “Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process,” they wrote. The professors note that the new rules call for a Title IX compliance officer who will be in charge of “investigation, prosecution, fact-finding, and appellate review.” Under the new system, there will be no hearing for the accused, and thus no opportunity to question witnesses and mount a defense. Harvard University, the professors wrote, is “jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials.” But to push back against Department of Education edicts means potentially putting a school’s federal funding in jeopardy, and no college, not even Harvard, the country’s richest, is willing to do that.

Hard-line policies like Harvard’s are necessary, government officials say, because undergraduate women are in unique peril. Often-cited studies of sexual violence at colleges describe an epidemic. But each of these studies has serious methodological limitations. In some cases, the studies make sensational assertions that are not supported by the underlying data. In others, the experiences of one or two campuses have been made to stand in for the entirety of America’s higher education system. [...]

This is one of the frequently made assertions about campus violence, but the evidence to back it up is lacking. Being young does make people more vulnerable to serious violent crime, including sexual assault; according to government statistics those aged 18 to 24 have the highest rates of such victimization. But most studies don’t compare the victimization rates of students to nonstudents of the same age. One recent paper that does make that comparison, “Violence Against College Women” by Callie Marie Rennison and Lynn Addington, compares the crime experienced by college students and their peers who are not in college, using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey. What the researchers found was the opposite of what Gillibrand says about the dangers of campuses: “Non-student females are victims of violence at rates 1.7 times greater than are college females,” the authors wrote, and this greater victimization holds true for sex crimes: “Even if the definition of violence were limited to sexual assaults, these crimes are more pervasive for young adult women who are not in college.”[...]

Any woman who is raped, on campus or off, deserves a fair and thorough investigation of her claim, and those found guilty should be punished. But the new rules—rules often put in place hastily and in response to the idea of a rape epidemic on campus—have left some young men saying they are the ones who have been victimized. They are starting to push back. In the past three years, men found responsible for sexual assault on campus have filed more than three dozen cases against schools. They argue that their due process rights have been violated and say they have been victims of gender discrimination under Title IX. Their complaints are starting to cost universities. The higher education insurance group United Educators did a study of the 262 insurance claims it paid to students between 2006 and 2010 because of campus sexual assault, at a cost to the group of $36 million. The vast majority of the payouts, 72 percent, went to the accused—young men who protested their treatment by universities. [...]

Carol Tavris is a social psychologist and author of the feminist classic, The Mismeasure of Woman, and, with Elliot Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me). She says she is troubled by the blurring of distinctions between rape (notably by predatory males), unwanted sex (where one party agrees to sex not out of desire but to please or placate the partner), and the kind of consensual sex where both parties are so drunk they can barely remember what happened—and one of them later regrets it. She says, “Calling all of these kinds of sexual encounters ‘rape’ or ‘sexual assault’ doesn’t teach young women how to learn what they want sexually, let alone how to communicate what they want, or don’t want. It doesn’t teach them to take responsibility for their decisions, for their reluctance to speak up. Sexual communication is really hard—you don’t learn how to do it in a few weekends.” [...]

Government rape statistic for coeds is 0.61 percent, not widely claimed 20 percent.


The campus rape crusade, which yielded positively Orwellian "consent rules"  at some institutions, was driven in part by an oft-repeated, jaw-dropping statistic that one in five women are victimized by sexual assault during their time at college.  The Justice Department just published a study on the matter, and they found the actual figure to be not one in five, but rather 6.1 per thousand.  In other words, the percentage of coeds exposed to sexual assault is 0.61 percent, not 20 percent.[...]

Whatever else is going on with young men and women on college campuses, the hysterical politically-driven crusade against "rape culture" has long since gotten so out of hand that it's become a crisis in its own right.  It's no surprise that there's keen interest in teaching young women to think of themselves as victims, and young men to see themselves as beasts.  That agenda found fertile ground in a neurotic groupthink culture that has lately taken to demanding a cocoon of "trigger warnings" around any idea that might make them so upset they can't function, and demanding time off from important coursework to deal with the emotional fallout from controversial news stories.  It would be far more useful to teach young people not to abandon their critical faculties even when dealing with the most sensational claims of crisis.

Perspectives on Disclosing Rape Victims' Names By Deborah Denno

The recent issue of shielding or revealing the names of  abuse victims - raised a number of questions. What in fact are the halachic, legal and moral perspectives. What if the court doesn't believe her story? Is there a difference if her name is known in the community already? The following article which was published in the Fordham Law Review - reviews the issues and states the law regarding rape victims as of 1993 in America. Apparently the law is much stricter elsewhere e.g., England and India. I could not find any sources dealing with victims of abuse which doesn't involve rape.  To download the article use this link or search with Google
Helen Boyle in  Rape and the Media: Victim's Rights to Anonymity and Effects of Technology on the Standard of Rape Coverage', European Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2012 wrote:
In the UK, victims of rape or serious sexual assault have unequivocal anonymity and protection from media intrusion under section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992. This is a statutory exception under Art 10(2) which allows for derogations on the basis of protecting the rights and freedoms of others. This means the names of victims of rape or sexual assault cannot be reported by the media. In the United States, no equivalent law exists; victims of sexual assault rely on a 'conspiracy of silence' in the media to protect their privacy according to Denno. [13] This is based on the media's recognition that rape is more 'personal, traumatic, and stigmatizing than most crimes' [Denno, p1113, 1992]. If the media decide to break this rule of silence the courts will defend their right to do so. The US Supreme Court, to date, has always protected the media's right to release the name of a victim of sexual assault under the First Amendment.  [...]

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind

NY Times    Working, in America, is in decline. The share of prime-age men — those 25 to 54 years old — who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s, to 16 percent. More recently, since the turn of the century, the share of women without paying jobs has been rising, too. The United States, which had one of the highest employment rates among developed nations as recently as 2000, has fallen toward the bottom of the list.

As the economy slowly recovers from the Great Recession, many of those men and women are eager to find work and willing to make large sacrifices to do so. Many others, however, are choosing not to work, according to a New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll that provides a detailed look at the lives of the 30 million Americans 25 to 54 who are without jobs.

Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working. These changes include the availability of federal disability benefits; the decline of marriage, which means fewer men provide for children; and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment.

At the same time, it has become harder for men to find higher-paying jobs. Foreign competition and technological advances have eliminated many of the jobs in which high school graduates like Mr. Walsh once could earn $40 an hour, or more. The poll found that 85 percent of prime-age men without jobs do not have bachelor’s degrees. And 34 percent said they had criminal records, making it hard to find any work.

The resulting absence of millions of potential workers has serious consequences not just for the men and their families but for the nation as a whole. A smaller work force is likely to lead to a slower-growing economy, and will leave a smaller share of the population to cover the cost of government, even as a larger share seeks help.

Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind

NY Times     Since Kerry Devine, 32, and her friends began having children, she has noticed a stark difference between her female friends in Auburn, Wash., where she lives, and those in England and Cyprus, where she grew up. In the United States, they almost all stopped working outside the home, at least until their children were in school. Yet, she says, she can’t think of a friend in Europe who left work after her children were born. [...]

Her story would have played out differently, she said, if she had been living in her native England. Like many European countries, Britain offers a year of maternity leave, much of it paid, and protections for part-time workers, among other policies aimed at keeping women employed.

“I would have been O.K. putting a 1-year-old baby in day care, but not a 12-week-old,” Ms. Devine said. “More flexible hours and being able to work from home part of the time definitely would have made a big difference.”
Her thinking is shared by many American women — and plays a role in a significant economic reversal. As recently as 1990, the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, but it has now fallen behind many European countries. After climbing for six decades, the percentage of women in the American work force peaked in 1999, at 74 percent for women between 25 and 54. It has fallen since, to 69 percent today. [...]

Female haredi activists to haredi factions: Allow us to run, or we'll boycott

YNET   A large number of haredi women are demanding that the political parties representing their sector allow women on their electoral lists for the first time in Israel's history.

The struggle began on Facebook – under the slogan "no votes without representation", around 3,000 members of the social network have called for women to boycott the haredi factions in their current formulation.

The feminist campaign was ramped up Friday morning by an open letter from a prominent public action group to the leaders of Shas and United Torah Judaism that formally outlined demands. [...]

Some haredi women are active in the political arena, but not as MKs. Menachem Moses of United Torah Judaism has a female haredi aide, and even President Reuven Rivlin has a female haredi bureau chief – Rivka Ravitz, widow of the late MK Avraham Ravitz.

Will female MKs from the haredi sector join them in March? Time will tell. Meanwhile, Shas and United Torah Judaism refused to react to the open letter.

"A woman should not dare to approach a secular party"

Renowned educator Rabbi Mordechai Blau, a senior at Yahadut Hatorah, declares today (Sunday) that "Every woman who will approach a party other than those led by Gedolei Yisrael - will be divorced without a ketuba and her children will not be accepted to educational institutions, as well as to purchase any product from, and will be ordered to remove her children from institutions ". [...]

Friday, December 12, 2014

Frum Follies' lack of integrity in his slanderous claims against me

Frum Follies seems to have no more real issues to write about and has started attacking me with make-believe charges that arouse his groupies  like sharks smelling blood. It is not enough that he makes up lies in the Meisels case - as I have documented. It seems now that he is attacking me in retaliation for exposing his lies. lies 1   lies 2  lies 3

Yesterday he ran a post that falsely claimed that    I did not say that Meisels was guilty only of a hug and I didn't christen Meisels a respected rabbi. I said that despite the charges in the lawsuit that Meisels was running the seminaries solely to provide girls for his sexual appetites it seemed that he was only guilty of inexcusable hugs. The word "only" was clearly indicating that relative to the in initial charges the reality was much less. I clearly and repeated have said that Meisels misdeeds required that he be removed from the seminaries and educational activities. Lopin himself stated elsewhere on his blog that there was no such thing as "only a hug" for an Orthodox Jew - and yet said in this post that it was question as to whether I was saying it was only a hug or it an inexcusable hug. The answer was obvious to him - but it served the purpose of  inciting his readers to make derogatory comments about me - which is clearly reason why he wrote it.

I didn't "christen Meisels a respected Rabbi" - I stated the obvious that when he committed his crimes he was a respected rabbi. I nowhere stated that he is a respected rabbi now - I challenged him to produce evidence for such a claim - which he hasn't.

Today he is back with a claim that since I moderate all comments that maybe I approve of a comment which encourages harassment of witnesses! Stop the Witness Intimidation by Meisels Defenders    The comment that appears on my blog simply made a one line suggestion that if the anonymous plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Meisels are  found out to be liars their names should be exposed. I of course agree with the standard procedure of not publicizing the names of victims and witnesses. Furthermore I approve many comments which I don't agree with - such as the infantile slander from Truthseeker but this wasn't an outrageous comment. The comment wasn't a call to action of vigilantes to determine the validity of the lawsuit. it wasn't a call for a lynch mob to uncover the identity of victims and witnesses to silence them. It was simply a suggestion that if the lawsuit is judged by the court to be false  - that the plaintiffs names should be exposed.   Again the only justification for Lopin's making a post out of it was to slander me - not to discuss issues or protect anyone.

In both cases - despite my protests to him about the slanderous nature of these posts  and directly explaining why the posts are false - he still hasn't removed them. What slander will he figure out next. 

It is also interesting to note that there are no objections against what he is doing by fellow abuse activists such as Rabbi Yosef Blau, David Morris or Harry Maryles.  In fact the Chicago activist Dorron Katzin selected both the "only a hug" post and the "intimidation" post to distribute to his private group of abuse activists - without presenting any of my posts explaining my side of the story. It is clear that they have decided that I am a pariah for supporting the IBD beis din's activities in the Meisels scandal. It seems that slander and distorting the truth - in the name of "protecting all alleged abusive victims" - is no vice.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Filing papers of lawsuit against Meisels and Peninim Seminary for sexual abuse

update:  I just received the following allegations which were agreed to by two insiders that I know - that isn't absolute prove that they are true but are obviously something highly likely to be true. Will notify when I get final confirmation or dis-confirmation
1) "Just to clarify, these 2 girls are the same ones the CBD has been talking about since June. There is nothing new here- no new testimony or claimants. These are the same 2 girls that testified in front of the Beis Din Murchav, and it was determined that their claims were not enough to vilify the staff, hence the recent psak that the staff is clean and the schools are safe. Now these SAME 2 girls have decided to sue in secular courts since they lost in Beis Din. BUT ITS IMPORTANT TO NOTE, THERE IS NOTHING NEW HERE. No one should mistake this suit as 2 more girls coming out of the closet with claims. There have been NO OTHER STUDENTS other than the same 2 from June MAKING ANY CLAIMS."
דברי רוח
The Batei Dinim heard testimony regarding these girls as well, and nevertheless said what they said. I don't know who permitted or advised the girls to go to secular courts. These claims are no less fabricated or exaggerated in the public statement than in the public statement of the RICO suit.


These are the filing papers for a lawsuit against Meisels and Peninim Seminary and Peninim of America by two women alleging they suffered sexual abuse from Meisels -  including apparently rape.

Oddly rape is not stated explicitly in the charges but can be inferred from the request for anonymity where she says that revealing that she had sexual intercourse with Meisels - presumably against her will - would damage her marriage prospects.This is the exact quote from the filing:
 Jane Doe No. 2 asserts that she fears retaliation and ostracism by members of the Orthodox Jewish community if it is publicly disclosed that she is suing the defendants for alleged sexual harassmant and assault or that she had sexual relations with Meisels. Jane Doe. No. 2 Aff. at ¶¶ 10-15. She states that she may never be able to marry or have children if her identity is revealed, and that she and her family would be shunned in the community as a result. page 6
 Court granted them the right to be anonymous in this document due to alleged threats and severe negative consequences (e.g., shunning within the Orthodox Community and inability to marry) to them if their identity was generally known. Though it does acknowledge that their identify is known by the defendant and others already.

Plaintiffs further allege that Peninim of America and Peninim Seminary are liable for Meisels' conduct with the plaintiffs because they were "deliberately indifferent to known acts of discrimination, which occurred under their control."

The obvious and unanswered question is since  the charges apparently included serious sexual violence including rape - why didn't these young ladies go to the police? This is a civil suit which involves money - not a criminal case involving jail.