Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Obama's plan for schools


A suggested lesson plan that calls on school kids to write letters to themselves about what they can do to help President Obama is troubling some education experts, who say it establishes the president as a "superintendent in chief" and may indoctrinate children to support him politically.

Obama will deliver a national address directly to students on Tuesday, which will be the first day of classes for many children across the country. The address, to be broadcast live on the White House's Web site, was announced in a letter to school principals last week by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Obama intends to "challenge students to work hard, set educational goals and take responsibility for their learning," Duncan wrote. Obama will also call for a "shared responsibility" among students, parents and educators to maximize learning potential. [...]

Abuse: Failure of sex offender alert programs


In all 50 states, registries of sex offenders have grown sophisticated and accessible in recent years, a response to high-profile attacks on children. People can search their neighborhoods for former convicts on state-run Web sites, sign up for private services that alert them if an offender moves nearby, even download an iPhone application, "Offender Locator."

But the case of Phillip Garrido, the California man accused of kidnapping a young girl and holding her captive for 18 years, is reigniting a debate about the usefulness of the government-managed lists and whether they might create a false sense of public safety.

Mr. Garrido, who had been convicted of kidnapping and rape in the 1970s, was listed, as required, on California's sex-offender registry (complete with a description of the surgical scar on his abdomen and his 196-pound weight) and had dutifully checked in with the local authorities each year for the past decade — all while, officials say, his victim and the two children he is accused of fathering with her were living in his backyard.

Sex offender lists have made far more information readily available to the public and the police than before, but experts say little research is available to suggest that the registries have actually discouraged offenders from committing new crimes.

And some experts say that the lists may lead people to presume that anyone registered must also be elaborately monitored, when, in truth, monitoring ranges enormously from place to place and state to state. In some cases, it amounts to little more than an offender mailing a postcard with his address to a police department once a year.[...]

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Orthodox Judaism - is it a cult?

Rick Ross accuses Orthodox Judaism of being a cult

What makes a religious group a cult?

Experts also have differing opinions about what puts a group into the question mark category. A few give the label to any religious group that doesn’t hold a specific set of doctrinal beliefs. Others say the only reliable dividing line is whether a group obeys the law. A lot linger somewhere in the middle.

Rick Ross, who heads up a religious research institute in New Jersey, is one expert who sees no problem in using the word cult. To him, there’s no reason not to use the term except for political correctness.

“Whether they call them cults, new religious movements or whatever, you see the same structure in behavior, the same structure in dynamics,” Ross said. “Groups that fit this pattern are very often unstable.”

France debates banning the burqa


PARIS — It is a measure of France's confusion about Islam and its own Muslim citizens that in the political furor here over "banning the burqa," as the argument goes, the garment at issue is not really the burqa at all, but the niqab.

A burqa is the all-enveloping cloak, often blue, with a woven grill over the eyes, that many Afghan women wear, and it is almost never seen in France. The niqab, often black, leaves the eyes uncovered.

Still, a movement against it that started with a Communist mayor near Lyon has gotten traction within France's ruling center-right party, which claims to be defending French values, and among many on the left, who say they are defending women's rights. A parliamentary commission will soon meet to investigate whether to ban the burqa — in other words, any cloak that covers most of the face.

The debate is indicative of the deep ambivalence about social customs among even a small minority of France's Muslim citizens, and of the signal fear that France's principles of citizens' rights, equality and secularism are being undermined. [....]

Abuse - psychological consequences 1

Jaycee Dugard has suffered sexual abuse, neglect and emotional manipulation to an extent hard to imagine, according to the charges in the case involving her abduction. But therapists say the biggest challenge facing Ms. Dugard, who was found last week after 18 years in captivity, may be switching families.

“Her captor was her primary relationship, and the father of her two children, and at some level separation may be difficult for all of them,” said Douglas F. Goldsmith, executive director of the Children’s Center in Salt Lake City. Dr. Goldsmith added that any therapy “has to be mindful that there are three victims, not one, and that they will be entering a new life together.”

About two-thirds of children who are kidnapped or abused suffer lingering mental problems, most often symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression.

Recent studies have found that about 80 percent of victims do show significant improvement in mood after three to four months of trauma-focused weekly therapy. Still, given the information available so far, experts say Ms. Dugard and her two children face an unusually complex task. [...]

Halacha: Murder & autopsies -

Bartley Kulp

Does anybody have any comment on the Geula resident who was murdered Motzei Shabbat and was taken for autopsy sparking more riots?

What is the halacha regarding murder and autopsies(or should I ask what are the various opinions)?

Rabbi Fink Mayanot Yeshiva

Ya'acov Klein, 22, lay unconscious in intensive care at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center Monday afternoon with a punctured liver after he was run over by two police trucks during what is being called by veteran haredi activists the most violent street clash in Jerusalem's history.

Though his prone body was pale and frail, the result of many years spent indoors in the pursuit of Torah knowledge, Klein is being touted by the haredi community as a fearless holy warrior.

Klein on Sunday night tried unsuccessfully, but with surprising heroism and selfless ardor, to prevent police from removing the body of a 50-year-old homicide victim to take it for an autopsy. [...]

Monday, August 31, 2009

Shari Anderson - Israel's richest woman - says she sees future

Washington Post

But the biggest jolt comes from the woman in the executive chair: Arison -- billionaire ($2.7 by Forbes's most recent estimate), perhaps the richest woman in the Middle East, a major force in Israeli philanthropy -- claims that she can see the future.

This is much bigger than a parlor trick. In her new book published this summer in Israel, the 51-year-old Miami native says she felt the Indonesian tsunami sweeping over the land two months before it happened and sensed Hurricane Katrina pummeling New Orleans. In an interview, Arison says she also "saw the writing on the wall" before the global economic crash. Reading about Arison's extrasensory perception makes you ache for a heads-up, maybe a blog entry or a tweet or a phone call to Brownie or Greenspan or somebody who might have helped.

Arison explains that she has finally dropped the fear that has held her back from doing more about what she has perceived. Armed with the insight gained through work with Florida-based psychiatrist Brian Weiss, a proponent of regression therapy and the exploration of (take your pick) deep memories or past lives, she says she is ready to go public with her visions and bring together her spiritual and business goals.

"Dr. Weiss told me during these meetings that one day I will have a significant role in world peace, but at that time I did not know what he was talking about and I could not cope with the idea," Arison writes in "Birth: When the Material and Spiritual Come Together," published in Hebrew as a hybrid memoir, corporate vision statement and collection of speeches. A possible English edition is in negotiation, according to an Arison representative.[...]

Ethiopian crisis - halacha not racism

There are a number of conflicting versions of this story circulating. But so far it would seem that there is a major halachic problem - not racisim. Furthermore these are Falash Mura who had converted to Christianity in Ethiopia, not the Beta Yisroel See also Tzitz Eliezer

JPost is reporting that Rav Ovadiya Yosef is demanding that the students be accepted.

Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef threatened Monday to fire any school principal from Shas's school system who refused to receive Ethiopian students.

In parallel, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar announced that it was forbidden to send Ethiopian students to the secular school system.

"If I was brought into this world only to help the Ethiopians that is enough for me", said Yosef on Monday morning during a meeting with Amar in his home in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood, according to Amar's spokesman.

Amar's spokesman said that the chief rabbi ruled that it was forbidden to integrate the Ethiopians in secular state schools because many were Falashmura who were still in the process of converting to Judaism. [...]


Haaretz reports That Chief Rabbi Amar - says that they can't be accepted because of unnamed halachic reasons

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said Monday that Ethiopian students could not be accepted into religious schools in Petah Tikva because of "halakhic reasons." [...]

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Torah law is used as long as society functions properly/Igros Moshe

Igros Moshe(C.M. 2:68):
… The Torah reserves capital punishment for those sins which are very serious such as murder, kidnapping, sexually prohibited relations and idolatry. The perpetrator in these cases is unrestrained and is capable of doing whatever disgusting and cruel acts in the world that are in his heart that he thinks are for his benefit. However the death penalty is not administered out of hatred to evildoers or fear for the welfare of society because Bava Metzia (83b) tells us that G‑d will punish transgressors. That in fact is the halacha as poskened by the Rambam (Hilchos Chovel u’Mazik 8:9) as well as all other poskim. So on the one hand the purpose of capital punishment is to let people know the severity of these prohibitions so that they will not transgress them. On the other hand the laws of capital punishment emphasize the importance of each soul and other concerns. Therefore we are commanded that only the Sanhedrin with proper semicha can judge these cases. Only the greatest people in Torah scholarship and other knowledge receives this semicha. In addition to their knowledge they also need to have perfected their character and be very humble as well as G‑d fearing people. They also need to hate money and love the truth as well as wonderful people who are beloved by all…They don’t have any imperfections or bad reputations and they are very merciful. That is why very old people are not appointed judges because they have forgotten the stress of raising children. Also people without children are not appointed because they lack mercy to some degree and they will be too angry at those who have committed sins. Even these great and good people cannot judge unless they constitute a Sanhedrin of 23 people. However it is not enough there are 23 such people to make a Sanhedrin. They also need to have before them 3 rows of very great Torah scholars who are not yet great enough to be part of the Sanhedrin – but are almost great enough. This is to protect the Sanhedrin from making a mistake in judgment. That is because when these three rows of scholars think that the Sanhedrin is mistaken in their ruling of innocence they will protest and will not listen at all to their words. Another safeguard against making a mistake is that they do not convict based on circumstantial evidence – no matter how convincing. They only convict a person based on two valid witnesses who have not the slightest bias in the matter... Furthermore the witnesses are warned concerning the severity of the sin of false testimony as well as the seriousness of the sin of murder so that they are very afraid of mistakenly convicting or mistakenly declaring the suspected murderer innocent. Even with all of this the witnesses also have to warn the person against murder and the suspected murderer has to acknowledge the warning by saying that even though he is aware of the seriousness off the crime he is still doing it. As a consequence of all these safeguards, only once in many years would someone be convicted of murder. In addition it was impossible to judge capital cases unless the Temple existed and that the Sanhedrin of 71 of the greatest scholars was in session on the Temple Mount. In fact capital cases were not judged even in those countries where the king gave the Jews permission to judge their own people according to the law of the Torah. As a consequence of these two factors there were almost no Jewish murderers because of the awareness of the severity of the prohibition of murder and because they were educated by means of the Torah and the punishments of the Torah to understand the seriousness of the crime. They were not simply afraid of punishment in the sense of getting caught but were afraid of the crime itself. However this use of the Torah system to run society was only when the crime of murder was not common but was simply the result of someone’s great lust or some quarrel concerning money or honor. But when people killed simply because it was viewed as an insignificant thing and the murderer was simply a callous and cruel person or similarly if there was a great deal of murders and wickedness – then a different system of law was utilized that was concerned with the pragmatic question of stopping killing and the goal became saving the society

Chareidi parking lot protests

See also YNET

When will haredi protests in Jerusalem end?

Police refer to violent weekend in capital as 'a step up,' mayor and haredim holding steadfastly to their opinion in regards to opening of parking lot, but expert says there is a chance for calm after High Holidays

The haredi community's protests over the opening of a parking lot in Jerusalem on Shabbat continued this weekend, and as things look now, there is no end in sight. The past two days were particularly violent – a young ultra-Orthodox man was run over by a car, six policemen were lightly injured and about 16 demonstrators were arrested.

Haredi sources have vowed to "continue the protests until Nir Barkat capitulates and closes the parking lot," but one of the Jerusalem mayor's associates told Ynet on Saturday night that "the parking lot will remain open, and violence will definitely not change this."[...]

Insistence on only Torah law would destroy society

There are many sources which explicity reject Rav Menashe Klein's view

Beis Yosef(Choshen Mishpat 2:2): The Rashba (3:393) states: It appears to me that if the witnesses are believed by the judges then the judges are permitted to administer physical or monetary punishment according that which they deem appropriate. This is necessary to preserve society. Because if you would insist that everything has to follow the law of the Torah and only punish according to the Torah in cases of beatings and similar cases – the result is that the world would be destroyed. In other words, society would be destroyed if you were always required to have 2 male Jewish witnesses and forewarn the criminal in order to convict a person of a crime. This is what is meant in Bava Metzia (30b): Yerushalyaim was only destroyed because they insisted on following the Torah law. This is certainly true outside of Israel where monetary fines are not administered according to Torah law. As a consequence of the inability of Torah law to punish those who don’t take committing crimes seriously - they would break down the walls that protect society and as a result the world would become lawless and destroyed….

Fear of Chareidi takeover

For context, please note that this video originally appeared on July 19, 2009 on Israel TV Channel 1 &