Monday, September 8, 2014

Messianic Sex Cult - that required prostitution with Arabs - exposed

Arutz 7   A media gag order was lifted on Monday on the testimony of the main complainant against the extremist Messianic cult exposed the day before, which brain-washed Jewish women into taking drugs and having sex with Arab men in order to "bring the redemption."

The Lehava anti-assimilation organization led police in gathering evidence and exposing the cult, which has led to the arrest of at least six key figures on suspicion of pressuring women into prostitution, trafficking of women, rape, providing drugs and holding people in conditions of slavery.

"I was so captive, I didn't have the option to get out of there," revealed the main complainant in her chilling testimony. "I don't know how many (other women) were in my condition, I do know of two others. Not everyone can reach such places, to reach the situation I was in is to be completely erased." [...]

Recalling her experiences with the cult, the woman stated "one time I met someone and told him everything, and he told me 'you have no idea where you are, I've never seen anyone with brain-washing on this kind of level. I've seen everything in my life but I've never seen anything like this - when you get out you'll understand.'"

"Afterwards, a friend saw how G. treated me," said the victim, referring to the main suspect who headed the cult. "He wouldn't speak, instead he whistled at me, and when he whistled I'd come and (my friend) didn't know what was going on."

The woman lived with G. before escaping two years ago. In order to entrap her, she reports that G. promised to marry her, but said he would do so "only after you finish all the spiritual sparks" - namely having sex with Arab men to "purify the non-Jews" under the warped ideology he brain-washed her with.

At one point she recalls "I left, but I returned to live with him. My brain was trapped there. ...That a woman reaches a point where she's with eight Arabs she needs to be at a stage of serious (spiritual) deletion - that a man would whistle and I would come, that a man would sleep on the bed and I would sleep underneath the bed (on the floor)."

"I asked him (G.) 'why can't I sleep with you on the bed?' He answered 'your brain disturbs my holy brain, sleep on the floor.' When I asked 'why on the floor? I can sleep in the other room on the bed,' he answered that my brain helped him, and that I need to be near him," she recalled. "When I remember these little examples it's horrifying." [...]

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The story of Big History - What would a Jewish version look like?


NY Times   As Gates was working his way through the series, he stumbled upon a set of DVDs titled “Big History” — an unusual college course taught by a jovial, gesticulating professor from Australia named David Christian. Unlike the previous DVDs, “Big History” did not confine itself to any particular topic, or even to a single academic discipline. Instead, it put forward a synthesis of history, biology, chemistry, astronomy and other disparate fields, which Christian wove together into nothing less than a unifying narrative of life on earth. Standing inside a small “Mr. Rogers"-style set, flanked by an imitation ivy-covered brick wall, Christian explained to the camera that he was influenced by the Annales School, a group of early-20th-century French historians who insisted that history be explored on multiple scales of time and space. Christian had subsequently divided the history of the world into eight separate “thresholds,” beginning with the Big Bang, 13 billion years ago (Threshold 1), moving through to the origin of Homo sapiens (Threshold 6), the appearance of agriculture (Threshold 7) and, finally, the forces that gave birth to our modern world (Threshold 8).

Christian’s aim was not to offer discrete accounts of each period so much as to integrate them all into vertiginous conceptual narratives, sweeping through billions of years in the span of a single semester. A lecture on the Big Bang, for instance, offered a complete history of cosmology, starting with the ancient God-centered view of the universe and proceeding through Ptolemy’s Earth-based model, through the heliocentric versions advanced by thinkers from Copernicus to Galileo and eventually arriving at Hubble’s idea of an expanding universe. In the worldview of “Big History,” a discussion about the formation of stars cannot help including Einstein and the hydrogen bomb; a lesson on the rise of life will find its way to Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. “I hope by the end of this course, you will also have a much better sense of the underlying unity of modern knowledge,” Christian said at the close of the first lecture. “There is a unified account.”

As Gates sweated away on his treadmill, he found himself marveling at the class’s ability to connect complex concepts. “I just loved it,” he said. “It was very clarifying for me. I thought, God, everybody should watch this thing!” At the time, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had donated hundreds of millions of dollars to educational initiatives, but many of these were high-level policy projects, like the Common Core Standards Initiative, which the foundation was instrumental in pushing through. And Gates, who had recently decided to become a full-time philanthropist, seemed to pine for a project that was a little more tangible. He was frustrated with the state of interactive coursework and classroom technology since before he dropped out of Harvard in the mid-1970s; he yearned to experiment with entirely new approaches. “I wanted to explore how you did digital things,” he told me. “That was a big issue for me in terms of where education was going — taking my previous skills and applying them to education.” Soon after getting off the treadmill, he asked an assistant to set a meeting with Christian. [...]

Christian began wondering if he could apply this everything-is-connected idea to a larger scale: “I began thinking, Could I teach a course not of Russia but of humanity?” He soon became infatuated with the concept. “I remember the chain of thought,” he said. “I had to do prehistory, so I have to do some archaeology. But to do it seriously, I’m going to talk about how humans evolved, so, yikes, I’m in biology now. I thought: To do it seriously, I have to talk about how mammals evolved, how primates evolved. I have to go back to multicelled organisms, I have to go back to primeval slime. And then I thought: I have to talk about how life was created, how life appeared on earth! I have to talk geology, the history of the planet. And so you can see, this is pushing me back and back and back, until I realized there’s a stopping point — which is the Big Bang.” He paused. “I thought, Boy, would that be exciting to teach a course like this!” [...]

Saturday, September 6, 2014

NY Times coverage of Gaza war was biased against Israel (surprise?!)


Tablet Magazine    I am a lifelong Democrat, a political liberal, a Reform rabbi, and for four decades, until last week, a New York Times subscriber. What drove me away was the paper’s incessant denigration of Israel, a torrent of articles, photographs, and op-ed columns that consistently present the Jewish State in the worst possible light.

This phenomenon is not new. Knowledgeable observers have long assailed the Times lack of objectivity and absence of journalistic integrity in reporting on Israel. My chronic irritation finally morphed into alienation and then to visceral disgust this summer, after Hamas renewed its terrorist assaults upon Israel and the Times launched what can only be described as a campaign to delegitimize the Jewish State. 

The Middle East conflict is complex, but the root cause of Israel’s confrontation with Hamas is not. Committed by its charter to “obliterate” Israel and kill all Jews everywhere, Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S., Britain, and the European Union, a designation substantiated by its raining rockets down on Israel’s civilians and tunneling under its border to kill and kidnap, indisputable war crimes.

Renowned Israeli novelist, leftist, and self-declared “Israeli peacenik” Amos Oz captured the essence of the conflict in two questions he posed to a German radio audience. “What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery? What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?”

The answers are self-evident to everyone except the New York Times. Its obsessive focus is on Palestinian civilian casualties, especially children, publishing photos of their corpses and little else, as if they tell the whole story. The deaths of innocents in wartime are tragic and heartbreaking; they diminish us all. But a newspaper committed to balance and fairness would provide context and perspective. It would show traumatized Israeli children running to shelters, cowering, wetting their beds, and suffering nightmares. It would publish photos and accounts of militants launching rockets from the roofs of mosques, a church, and a media hotel, alongside schools, refugee shelters, clinics and hospitals, and of weapons concealed by Hamas in UN facilities. It would substantiate casualty figures from Hamas, which is known to have falsified them in the past, before reporting them as fact. It would highlight Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields, its urging civilians to ignore Israel’s advance warnings to depart, so that Gazans would be killed and inflict PR damage on Israel. Such a paper would cover the threats of death that inhibited reporters and photojournalists from telling the true, full story. But the Times did not.

What it did instead is revealed by a sample of headlines: “As Israel Hits Mosque and Clinic, Air Campaign’s Risks Come Home;” “Israelis Watch Bombs Drop on Gaza From Front-Row Seats;” “Questions About Tactics and Targets as Civilian Toll Climbs in Israeli Strikes;” “Foreign Correspondents in Israel Complain of Intimidation;” “Israeli Shells are Said to Hit UN School;” “Military Censorship in Israel;” “A Boy at Play in Gaza, a Renewal of War, A Family in Mourning;” “Israel’s Supporters Try to Come to Terms with the Killing of Children in Gaza;” “Israel Braces for War Crimes Inquiries on Gaza;” “Resisting Nazis, He Saw Need for Israel. Now He Is Its Critic.” [...]

Friday, September 5, 2014

Appeals court upholds dismissal of lawsuit regarding sexaul abuse at Yeshiva University

NY Times     A federal appeals court panel ruled on Thursday that dozens of men who say Yeshiva University covered up their sexual abuse at the hands of rabbis cannot sue for damages because too many years had elapsed since the abuse took place.

In upholding the dismissal of the lawsuit, the three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, placed responsibility for pursuing signs of a cover-up sooner on the 34 men, who say they were abused from the 1970s through early 1990s by two rabbis at the university’s high school in Washington Heights.

At the time the students graduated from Yeshiva University High School, more than 20 years ago, their knowledge that the rabbis who abused them were still allowed to teach at the school “was sufficient to put them on at least inquiry notice as to the school’s awareness of and indifference to the abusive conduct by its teachers,” the judges wrote in their decision.

The plaintiffs argued that the clock did not start ticking on their case until Yeshiva’s role in hiding the rabbis’ conduct was revealed in a December 2012 article in The Daily Forward. But, the judges wrote, when “administrators rebuffed their complaints or otherwise failed to take remedial action” after some of the men reported their abuse, they should have realized that they could have filed suit against the school.

In a statement on Thursday, Yeshiva lauded its current sexual abuse policies for creating a “safe and inspiring” atmosphere, saying that “our thoughts remain with anyone who may have been harmed by actions that occurred many years ago.”

“Today’s decision concludes a legal proceeding that has been trying for all involved,” the statement said. [...]

Rivky Stein & Yoel Weiss: Before Rosh HaShana all those who mistakenly believed Rivky and slandered Yoel should ask him for forgiveness

As everyone knows by now, Rivky perpetrated a massive fraud and chillul hashem. In particular she tried to destroy her husband by having a non-existent beis din issue a seruv and put him in cherem and "posken" that he was obligated to give her a Get. She has a $480 million dollar RICO claim against him. Even worse is the slander she spread in her public appearances and interviews with the news media - and her face book page.I think most people believed her claim until recently when Yoel produced an affidavit that showed the beis din was phony. You can see from the comments on her Facebook page that her followers have turned against her.

However because they believed her and sympathized with her - there was a massive campaign of lashon harah and slander against Yoel. He became one of the most hated people because of the campaign. His denials of the charges only made people angrier and spread more lashon harah about him.

I have been having a debate with myself. However many of the thousands of people who have slandered Yoel - are going to ask him for forgiveness before Rosh Hashanna? The answer I think is at most 5 people.  After all they were only being righteous people defending a helpless "aguna" - why should they have to apologize for showing mercy to what seemed like horrible domestic violence. After all she did have the documents from the beis din. She did have the legal papers. She did have many YouTube videos and she did seem that she was telling the truth.

I am giving all those who slandered Yoel the chance to ask him for forgiveness here on my blog. All it will take is to write a brief comment acknowledging that you slandered him and ask for forgiveness. It will take about 2 minutes.  Hopefully there will be more than 5 responses.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Seminary Scandal: Harry Maryles fails to get his facts and halacha straight before he pontificates

While it is true that I said that it is time to move on in dealing with the Seminary scandal, Harry Maryles just posted an article attacking me that is so full of false analogies and distorted facts that I can't ignore it. Harry Maryles demands justice - but so does the IBD and myself. What is it that Harry doesn't understand? Because I respect Harry as a sincere person I will try explaining the facts one more time - in clear style with my point repeated a couple times - and hopefully this time he will understand.

First of all my statement that is was time to end the discussion of this scandal and get on with life is simple a recognition that the discussion has become repetition, shrill and is not accomplishing anything. It is not, contrary to Harry Maryles, comparable to Hillary Clinton's attempt to avoid facing facts and cover up events - before facts were known. That should be obvious to anybody who has read my many posts on the subjects and the comments that I have spent countless hours responding to all type of questions and criticism. That is called a cover up? Ridiculous!

Secondly it is elementary that a judge needs to pasken on the information he has been presented. When no new information is forthcoming the judge needs to make a decision based on the available evidence. This doesn't mean that he refuses to consider information that comes later. The Sanhedrin, acknowledging the possibility of error even in capital cases, even after they sentenced someone to death - still remained open to the possibility that new information would exonerate the one found guilty. They set up a communication system - that could stop his execution up to the last instant. Would Harry Maryles claim that the Sanhedrin was acting like Hillary Clinton because they said that they needed to arrive at a pask after no new information was forthcoming ?!

Thirdly a stalemate had developed in the situation between the CBD and IBD. The IBD requested the information that CBD had collected and the CBD refused.  The CBD issued a advisory not to go to the seminaries because they claimed some staff was complicit - but at the same time they refused the IBD's request to see the information needed to pasken whether  in fact any staff was complicit. The CBD has no ability to resolve this issue because the seminaries have signed a shtar with the IBD. (The CBD is in America and the seminaries are in Israel.That is why the CBD asked the IBD to take the case.) The seminaries thus could not clear their names according to the demands of the CBD but the CBD did not have the authority or ability to fire staff they claim had to go.

Contrary to Harry Maryles repeated claims, the IBD is not letting the seminaries go ahead knowing that there was staff that enabled  Meisels misdeeds. The CBD has not produced the evidence they claim incriminates some staff members. At this point, the IBD says the CBD lacks credibility. A beis din can only act on evidence that it has. Unsubstantiated claims of evidence that are not produced despite repeated requests - does not influence the judgment of beis din. Elementary rule of beis din.

Thus the CBD was holding the seminaries and the students hostage unless they were given total control. The seminaries and the IBD refused. Finally the stalemate was broken by the letter from the 5 American gedolim - including Rav Levine - who is a member of the CBD. The message was clear. Based on their intimate knowledge of the situation they declared - contrary to the CBD - that the seminaries were fine places to learn and safe. They added a Vaad hachinuch and Reb Birnbaum as overall director for added protection beyond what other seminaries have.

Again contrary to Harry Maryles' faulty understanding - this is no way comparable to Hillary Clinton's cover up. This was a move taken by 5 gedolim after careful consideration - that it was time to get on with life. His criticism of me is misplaced. I was simply reporting the message that is inherent in the letter of these gedolim. Harry doesn't like this or understand it because he is so committed to the CBD that anything against them has to be a signs of corruption, moral blindness or maybe plain stupidity. 
 Harry Maryles is wrong!

Until the CBD has produced evidence that the staff were Meisels enablers - these 5 gedolim are supporting the view of the  IBD  that the seminaries are safe. They are saying the CBD can not hold the seminaries hostage for their own selfish purposes. 

 I am capitalizing the following statement because Harry Maryles seems to have problem reading.  As I have stated this idea a number of times already in different posts.

 IF AND WHEN THE CBD PRODUCES EVIDENCE THAT THERE WERE ENABLERS AMONGST THE STAFF - THEY WILL BE FIRED IF THE ALLEGATIONS ARE CONFIRMED BY THE  ISRAELI BEIS DIN. FURTHERMORE IF AND WHEN EVIDENCE COMES FROM OTHERS SOURCES REGARDING THE STAFF OR VICTIMS - IT WILL BE EXAMINED CAREFULLY AND ACTED UPON ACCORDING TO THE HALACHA.

Contrary to Harry Maryles, this is not a cover up to save the jobs of kollel couples, it is not a cover up to prevent embarrassing the frum community, it is not a cover up for the sake of shidduchin - IT IS SIMPLY NOT A COVERUP BUT ELEMENTARY HALACHA!

Harry I think it is time that you move on from the rut you are in with your mistaken views that are based on your intense loyalty to the CBD.

Defeat and victory is in the eyes of the beholder - or why Palestinians think Hamas won

Contrary to what is typically understood - victory or defeat is not dependent on objective reality but the subjective reality. What is required for the Palestinians to acknowledge they were defeated - is it the number of dead, number of buildings destroyed or perhaps it is the failure to inflict significant harm to Israel. Answer it is none of the above. They know they won because Israel stopped fighting.


An overwhelming majority of Palestinians believe Hamas defeated Israel in the recent Gaza operation, and support the continuation of rocket attacks if Israel does not remove the blockade on Gaza, a new Palestinian poll revealed.

According to the data collected on August 26-30 by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) headed by pollster Khalil Shikaki, 79 percent of Palestinians questioned in Gaza and the West Bank said that Hamas had won the war against Israel, while only 3% said Israel had won. A similar majority believed that Israel was responsible for the breakout of the war. 

In stark contrast to predictions voiced during Operation Protective Edge by senior Israeli military officers saying the extent of damage in Gaza would likely turn the civilian population against Hamas, 94% of respondents said they were satisfied with Hamas’s performance in confronting the IDF and 78% were pleased with the movement’s defense of civilians in Gaza. Eighty-six percent of the 1,270 adults questioned in the survey said they supported the continuation of rocket attacks at Israel as long as the blockade on Gaza is maintained. [...]

Judges slam Yeshiva University in $680 million abuse case- Title IX - defining statute of limitation

Forward  Imagine you are in a car accident. It’s the other guy’s fault, and you know your insurance company will sue his. But should you then and there investigate the car manufacturer for deliberately ignoring a mechanical fault, even if you have no reason to know that’s true?

That’s essentially the question United States Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi asked August 28 as he lambasted a Yeshiva University lawyer for claiming that dozens of former schoolboys ought to have sued Y.U. decades ago for a sexual abuse cover-up. 

Y.U.’s lawyer, Karen Bitar, argued that students should have found out soon after they were assaulted, during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, that Y.U. was deliberately indifferent to the fact that it employed abusive staff. Calabresi said: “It seems to me that’s a mighty hard way to look at this.” 

Thirty-four former students of Yeshiva University High School for Boys sued Y.U. for $680 million in 2013. They claimed Y.U. administrators, trustees, and other staff, facilitated a massive, decades-long cover-up of abuse at the Y.U.-run high school.  [....] 

 Under Title IX, students have three years from the time they become aware of a school’s deliberate indifference to their abuse to file a suit. To prove deliberate indifference, students must show that before they were abused, a high-ranking official knew that the school employed an abusive staff member and did not act appropriately. Calabresi, part of a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, reminded Y.U.’s lawyer that not even Koeltl believed the statute of limitations began as far back as the time each of the students was abused. [...]

A United Family or a United Front - the lesson of the rebellious child (Devarim 21:18) by Allan Katz

guest post by  Allan Katz 
Many parenting experts cite a verse from our weekly parasha-portion in order to encourage parents to keep a ' united front' against their' ben sorer u'moreh' - rebellious and challenging child. The verses Devarim 21:18-21 speak of parents who report their son to the elders of the city - that despite attempts to discipline him, he does not listen to the voice of his father or mother. The parents claim that their parenting is not the problem because they do not convey contradicting and mix messages to the kid, but it is the kid who is at fault as he does not listen to their  ' singular' voice.

Everyone agrees that parental and marital harmony is crucial for raising kids in a peaceful, loving and cooperative environment.  And children do better when there is some degree of consistency and predictability. But the overriding question is what are we being consistent about and whether we can overdo or misapply the consistency by following the widespread parenting advice of ' keeping a united front'.

A problem with the advice of having an united front against your challenging child is that it describes the 'parent-child ' dynamic a 'war'  against the kid where parents are ' doing to ' the child , imposing parental will using power  and authority. In a war, you may win the battle, but lose the war and your child. This advice blinds and deafens parents to asking important questions – what kind of relationship do I have with my child and/or is my child's lagging skills causing his challenging behaviors. A parent cannot report a rebellious or wayward son if they are' blind ', as they are also blind to the needs of their kid.  I often hear how a kid runs away from home, at best to his grandparents, after having an argument with one of his parents. Instead of maintaining the ' united front ' and backing up the father for eg , the mother who  has not been involved emotively in the argument and confrontation can step in as a third party and try to reconcile the parties by using Collaborative problem solving techniques. The concerns of the father and the child are put on the table and attempts are made to find mutually satisfying solutions or at least an attempt to try and compensate the child. When reasons are given for decisions and the concerns of kids are taken into account, kids are more likely to trust parents' decisions even when they are not so happy about them. A United front can cause even more damage. So  often with a challenging kid or  even with  a typical kid ,a spouse and it is usually the father  is more demanding, strict , critical and very confrontational with a child. The kid becomes more reactive, defiant, oppositional, explosive or implosive. The wife who disagrees with this approach is given the advice to maintain the united front and back the husband. This is the perfect 'recipe' for continued abuse and trauma. Constant confrontation, criticism and put downs is abuse and traumatic even if it is low level. Kids will either leave the home or be kicked out, drop religious practices and their emotional connection with their parents. Instead the other spouse or mother should see her role as primarily protecting her child and not sticking with her husband. The wife can show the husband that they are 'losing' and ' hurting ' their child and that the husband's concerns can be addressed by ' working with the child 'and solving problems in a collaborative way.  And if he continues, she should leave the home with the kids if he is not willing to follow her lead, instead of kicking out the kid. 

The verse talks about the kid not listening to the parents' voice', not just the words. This implies that the unified message must be honest and authentic. Although parents may easily share the same values, beliefs and dreams for their children, being human with different personalities they may have different perspective of the abilities of their children and interventions appropriate to the child. When parents feel compelled to take the same position on every issue in front of kids, they are being dishonest with themselves and certainly not authentic. Kids see through this, so it is better for kids to see that adults sometimes disagree and yet resolve their disagreements in a respectful way or even in some cases learn to tolerate differences. Instead of a ' unified front' parents should aim for a' unified family', where the kids participate with parents to form a family mission statement and problems are solved in a collaborative way taking into account the concerns of all. When parents ' concerns are addressed, the solutions not only address the kids concerns but also set limits. In this way parents can still be honest to them and authentic and work together for the unity of the family and not just keep a united front against their children.

Seminary Scandals: It's not over till it's over VS it's time to move on.- the END!

 update - see my rebuttal to Harry Maryles egregious misunderstanding of this post

Having spent many hours in the last few weeks responding to questions about the seminary scandal or processes information about it, I think it is time to get on with life. I agree that there has been a need to explain and discuss this disturbing case. However the point has been reached where the same questions are brought up or baseless conjecture is tossed out to try and discredit the resolution - and that is where we are now.

The chareidi system - which includes the Chicago Beis Din and the Israeli Beis Din - typically work privately - out of the awareness of the public. The Chicago Beis Din is part of a system set up to decide whether allegations or rumors of abuse should be reported to the police or dealt with in house. Inherent in their mandate is the attempt to minimize chilul hashem while at the same time providing maximum  help to victims and potential victims.

Recent history is full of attempted cover ups of abuse in our community and the resulting scandals when the cover up failed e.g., Kolko, Weberman, Tropper, Kolko, Mondrowitz, Weingarten, Elon, etc etc etc. Therefore it is quite understandable why the public is suspicious of rabbinic pronouncements such as "Don't worry about it", "Everything is fine", Don't speak lashon harah". The community gets even more suspicious when one beis din dealing with abuse is attacked by another beis din concerning how things should be handled. Beis Din - by and large are not oriented to public relations and are not willing to accept the chutzpa of the masses  questioning their every move and pronouncement. Add to this the various blogs which have a long history of trying to undermine rabbinic authority - often with solid justification - but at other times simply functioning as a lynch mob. Toss in the strong attention of the secular media- and you have an explosive situation.

I have spent much time trying to understand what is going on. I have tried to clarify what has been done - to not only deal with the victims of this scandal - but what is being done to protect young ladies from having to deal with being abused by a charismatic talmid chachom who is also their mentor and perhaps closest confidante - in the context of a heady mixture of spiritualism and idealism in a bubble in Jerusalem - far from parents and normal protection.

I am not going to repeat all the facts of this case but I will just mention the dynamics that continue to drive it. There is a jurisdictional dispute which resulted from either a misunderstanding and/or the vanity and pride of a single individual. The  accepted normative halachic practices have failed to resolve the conflict. What started out as a partnership in the best sense of the word has degenerated into a dispute which serves neither the victims or the protection of the students. It was clear that the dispute could not be resolved by the two sides and thus threatened to continue for years. The result of this dispute would be harsh pressure and continued stigmatization of the victims. A lawsuit of outrageous claims threatens a tremendous chilul hashem. There is the reality of the blanket smearing of the reputation of hundreds of fine young ladies who have attended, are attending or will attend these seminaries. A serious loss of emunas chachomim ( lack of respect for all rabbis and Judaism - is occurring and threatens to get much worse..

The IBD has proposed and is instituting fundamental changes in the seminary culture - which are widely views as needed for all seminaries - not just these four. The new owner had hired Rebtzn Birnbaum - a widely respected educator - to supervise all 4 seminaries. However this wasn't enough to break the deadlock or to quiet the constant attacks and accusations of corruption and cover ups from the supporters of the CBD against the IBD. Finally the head of the IBD - Rav Shafran - traveled to America  and succeeded in convincing 5 American gedolim of the need of a letter publicly supporting the seminaries and indicating that they are safe and productive places of growth and spirituality.[I do not have any direct information that the letter was solicited by Rabbi Shafran. I do know that he presented IBD's case to various rabbis. - see update below] In addition, the Novominsker had a vaad hachinuch of the highest level rabbonim added to reinforce the work of the IBD and to ensure that things were properly supervised. With this letter, the fight should have ended - especially since one of the 5 is himself a member of the Chicago Beis Din - and is well aware of the views of both sides. 

However it is clear from the comments I have been receiving that the supporters of the CBD have entered a new phase - to look for any inconsistencies no matter how insignificant - that would justify their continued fight against the IBD. This is the well known psychological phenomenon of cognitive dissonance. For example, a certain messianic sect had predicted an invasion from outer space on a certain date and claimed salvation only for their sect. The sect simply made an announcement to that effect - and didn't seem to care if anyone took them seriously. However when the date of the invasion passed there was a decided change. Instead of acknowledging they were wrong they took to feverish missionizing to convince others of the truth of the invasion. The missionizing helped calm the anxiety from facing the unpleasant fact  that they were wrong. The more people they could convince the less anxiety from reality. The more fervent their support of the sect - the easier it was to ignore that they had made a mistake.

Similarly here, the battle between the two beis dins is over and no useful purpose is served by continuing it. It is clear that the seminaries are viable and safe environments to continue their successful work in chinuch as the IBD has stated. 5 gedolim including a member of the CBD have publicly supported the view of the IBD. It is time for all of us to get on with life and to acknowledge the view of the CBD has been rejected. It is time to understand that the victims and the community will receive no benefit from continued attacks on the IBD and the view of the 5 gedolim. The battle is over. It is time to stop the guerrilla warfare.

Update regarding the origins of the letter of the 5 Gedollim - by Arie B. Link to letter of 5 Gedolim
I was intending not to post anything further in light of the fact that the issue is essentially moot. But there's an inaccurate perception here.
Rav Shafran was coming to America for other reasons, his trip was scheduled before this entire fiasco. He even had a public speaking engagement advertised beforehand.
During his stay here, he was under continuing harassment by various interests, with various "suggestions" and "proposals." His basic response was that if Yarmish wants to sell it's Yarmish's business, but whatever happens would have to be agreed to by the entire Beis Din, and he is only one member of three.
Apparently, the askanim who were running this campaign got several Roshei Yeshiva involved, primarily the Novominsker Rebbe (who has a very close relationship with Gottesman, as does Rav Feldman).
From what I understand, this letter represents the backfiring of the efforts of those askanim, because the Roshei Yeshiva spoke to those involved and roundly rejected the CBD's position, approach, and efforts.
Take it or leave it.
The schools are opening. The safety of the students has been assured, the ashukim have been protected, and a steamrolling of halachah has been avoided.
Having no vested interest here, I have every right to say that I leave it to the One Above to deal with the bloggers and commenters.
I will now go back to the constructive use of my time as those who choose to jabber continue on their own missions.

Seminary Scandal: New letter from American Gedolim praises new spiritual supervisors of the 4 seminaries

A letter signed by American gedolim - including Rav Levin from Telz of Chicago, Rav Aharon Feldman of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel, Rav Aharon Schecter of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin, Rav Malkiel Kotler or Lakewood and Rav Yaakov Perlow - praises the four seminaries which were acquired by Yaakov Yarmish from Meisels. They express their clear approval of the new spiritual managment that will be closely supervising these seminaries. Certainly sounds that they do not agree with the psak of the Chicago Beis Din! I have verified that the letter is genuine.

update regarding the origin of this letter - by Arie B. Sept 2, 2014
I was intending not to post anything further in light of the fact that the issue is essentially moot. But there's an inaccurate perception here.
Rav Shafran was coming to America for other reasons, his trip was scheduled before this entire fiasco. He even had a public speaking engagement advertised beforehand.
During his stay here, he was under continuing harassment by various interests, with various "suggestions" and "proposals." His basic response was that if Yarmish wants to sell it's Yarmish's business, but whatever happens would have to be agreed to by the entire Beis Din, and he is only one member of three.
Apparently, the askanim who were running this campaign got several Roshei Yeshiva involved, primarily the Novominsker Rebbe (who has a very close relationship with Gottesman, as does Rav Feldman).
From what I understand, this letter represents the backfiring of the efforts of those askanim, because the Roshei Yeshiva spoke to those involved and roundly rejected the CBD's position, approach, and efforts.
Take it or leave it.
The schools are opening. The safety of the students has been assured, the ashukim have been protected, and a steamrolling of halachah has been avoided.
Having no vested interest here, I have every right to say that I leave it to the One Above to deal with the bloggers and commenters.
I will now go back to the constructive use of my time as those who choose to jabber continue on their own missions.
Official English Translation

Monday, September 1, 2014

Schlesinger Twins: Petition against Austria and Germany denying custody to non-native parents

Beth Alexander's loss of custody in not an isolated phenomenon but is in fact typical for non-native parents in Austria and Germany. She has requested that everyone sign the following  Petition  to change this practise



Dear President of the European Parliament,
Dear President of the European Commission,
Dear Commissioners and Members of the European Parliament,

As you already know, in binational separations or divorces, when non German or non Austrian fathers and mothers are concerned, they are almost systematically pushed aside and then deprived of any contact with their children by a German or Austrian administration (Jugendamt and Family Court) which uses inequitable, shameful means, which they denounce regularly, often supported by national and European members of parliament.

For twenty years, thousands of French-German, Italian-German, Spanish-German children, etc. have been abandoned in the hands of Germany and Austria. Their rights, as expressed by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Hague Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and other international conventions, are ignored and scoffed. The parents of these children are scattered throughout Europe and beyond.

They are terrorized by threats and blackmail of these member countries of the European Union. Disarmed, ruined, destroyed by a Kafkaesque system, they are then considered "isolated cases" in their country of origin and by European institutions, and eventually stigmatized and criminalized.

Whether the children live in Germany (or Austria) at the time of the separation or they have been removed from their country of residence and held as hostages in Germany or in Austria, the German and Austrian parents benefit from the support of the authorities of their country. Sometimes they are often even forced by them to cut any contact between their children and their non German or non Austrian ex partner.[...]