Monday, December 8, 2014

Rolling Stone's disastrous story of gang rape and R Gottesman, Chicago Beis Din & the bloggers Lopin, Maryles and Morris

Now that the Seminary scandal is winding down or rather unraveling from a story of a massive sex scandal where a respected rabbi was accused in federal court of  running four seminaries for the sole purpose of  having girls available for his sexual satisfaction to a growing realization that it was only an inexcusable hug given by a respected rabbi to a student  after which he was promptly kicked out by the staff and he readily acknowledged his misdeed in front of beis din. Headlines of seminaries being run as houses of prostitution has become nothing more than  an inappropriate hug.

The question is why has such a relatively minor - though inexcusable transgression - triggered such strong emotions. Why have sincere and intelligent people believed the worst - even in the face of clear unambiguous facts? A similar thing happened in American in the 1970's and 1980's where thousands were falsely accused of child abuse in a hysteric atmosphere based on no evidence. Many reputations were destroyed and some spent many years in jail. See   Modern Day Witch Trial
 Father Goron Macrae..  Nachlaot     Tablet Magazine regarding Nachlaot

Part of the answer is that serious abuse does occur.  Abuse is so horrible and disgusting that it and the abuser have to be destroyed.  Lives have in fact been ruined by abuse and the betrayal of family and community when the abuse was reported. The reality is that Orthodox community - like the rest of the world - has until recently not dealt properly with abuse. But that is not enough to explain what has happened in terms of peoples emotion and propagation of baseless accusations

I would like to suggest another dynamic. There seems to be the need for people to not only have abuse prevented and abusers jailed - but that they have to be the ones who save the world from abuse. These people lose all objectively when dealing with abuse. They lose all ability to consider alternative explanations of events. They take an extreme position - if there is smoke if there are rumors if there was an over friendly personality - he must have done it.  It is a lynch mob attitude combined with being a savior of mankind from abuse.

Over and over in the comments on the blogs and in the comments of certain people who have led the attack on the seminaries we hear:
"He must have been guilty - did you see the way he conducted himself?"  Of course he is guilty of rape - my wife heard that 40 girls were raped." He must have been guilty if the beis din has suspicions - they would not publicize suspicions unless it really happened." " I am going to close down those seminaries - there is no such thing as a seminary where staff failed to stop abuse that can serve as an educational institution and even if the accusations aren't true but we can't allow a seminary where such rumors exist." "Don't confuse the issue by demanding evidence - everyone knows that in rape cases the girls don't say anything - but he is guilty and the seminaries were guilty because that's what everyone says." "Not only is he guilty of the worst that everyone says - but given the enormity of what is claimed about him the staff obviously knew about it and not only did nothing but they facilitated his abuse - don't defend him by saying there is no evidence. Commonsense tells you that he is guilty and if you don't believe it you are also a facilitator of abuse." "It is better that a 1000 innocent people lives be destroyed if it prevents an abuser from getting away with his crime."
Following is another example where a distinguished University accepted the gang rape charges made by a student because of the investigation of a reporter who wanted to believe it happened and ignored anything which would have ruined her "righteous" expose. Fortunately the Washington Post took the time to check the facts and the "facts" unraveled. The accused must be given the chance to self-defense and the lynch mob must be replaced by a calm and rational evaluation of the evidence

Washington Post   On Slate’s DoubleX Gabfest podcast last month, reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely explained why she had settled on the University of Virginia as the focus for her investigative story on a horrific 2012 gang rape of a freshman named Jackie at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. “First I looked around at a number of different campuses,” said Erdely. “It took me a while to figure out where I wanted to focus on. But when I finally decided on the University of Virginia — one of the compelling reasons that made me focus on the University of Virginia was when I found Jackie. I made contact with a student activist at the school who told me a lot about the culture of the school — that was one of the important things, sort of criteria that I wanted when I was looking for the right school to focus on.”

Rolling Stone thought it had found the “right” campus and the right alleged crime: Following her Nov. 19 story on Jackie’s alleged assault in a dark room at the Phi Kappa Psi house, the university suspended all fraternity activities and a national spotlight fell on the issue of campus rape.

Now it’s all falling apart. Thanks to several days of reporting by the Washington Post’s T. Rees Shapiro, Rolling Stone’s account is not even a semester away from becoming part of journalism classes around the country. Jackie’s friends now doubt her account of the traumatic event, reports Shapiro, and the fraternity insists it never held a “a date function or social event” on the weekend of Sept. 28, 2012, which is the date cited by Jackie in the Rolling Stone story.

Rolling Stone has issued a statement apologizing for the story, which includes this misogynistic, victim-blaming line: “In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.” But Jackie was a freshman in college when her episode allegedly took place; the story itself references her misgivings about putting her life into the public realm; she requested that Rolling Stone not contact “Drew,” the ringleader of the alleged assault; the alleged sequence of events — nine college men conspiring to attack a freshman and sexually assaulting her for three hours — should have triggered every skeptical twitch in the Rolling Stone staff. This disaster is the sole property of editors and a reporter. [...]

A therapist goes to middle school and tries to sit still and focus. She can’t. Neither can the kids.

Washington Post   This is a follow-up to two popular posts about the problems kids face when they are forced to sit still in school for hours on end without a break. The first, written by pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom, was titled “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today” and discussed how being inactive affects students’ ability to stay focused and learn, and in some cases leads to improper diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. The next piece was titled
The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class.”

Hanscom has now written a third related piece, this one specifically about middle-schoolers. Hanscom told me that she was curious about the effects of restricted movement on students in middle school, so she went to a local middle school to observe what was going on inside classrooms and talk to teachers and parents. The following post explains Hanscom’s experience and findings at the middle school she visited.  Hanscom is the founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England. [...]

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Yoel Weiss & Rivky Stein: Court throws out most of RICO claims

 As further evidence of the weakness of Rivky's case, the court recently threw out most of the RICO claims. The rest will eventually also be rejected. In a separate action, the court has also rejected her requests for $25,000 maintainance and child support and $30,000 moving expenses

The Pygmalion Effect - the importance of positive attitudes towards others

Allan Katz    There is a lot of thought and psychology   behind Ya'akov's – Jacob's display of vulnerability, respect and servitude when he bowed 7 times before Eisav-Esau and called him my master. He bowed 7 times until he reached his brother and he certainly reached him. Eisav's compassion and mercy was aroused and he embraced and kissed Ya'akov and then he together with his brother cried. R' Hirsch explains that tears flow from the innermost feelings, so one can only cry if he is genuinely moved.

כַּמַּיִם, הַפָּנִים לַפָּנִים--    כֵּן לֵב-הָאָדָם, לָאָדָם. as in water, face to face, so too, is the heart of one person to another.  When one has positive thoughts and feelings about another person, these feelings will be reflected back to you as the other person will tend to feel positively about you too. A negative response from a person is a generally a reflection of how you feel about them. The feelings have to be genuine, coming from the heart and lightening up the face. These positive thoughts and feelings will lead us to act accordingly, with more empathy, compassion and kindness..

The idea in Proverbs precedes the so-called Pygmalion effect, documented in the 1960's, which showed how positive teachers'   assumptions, expectations and beliefs about student's intellectual potential affected student's performances in a positive way. Parents and teachers who believe that children have also a brighter side to their human nature and can behave in a virtuous and altruistic way can likewise impact on children and set into motion a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How we view children, our beliefs and subsequent expectations about them will guide and dictate our interventions and interactions with them. Parents and teachers who have a dark view of human nature and only see the negative side as in the verse -' since the imagery of man's heart is evil from his youth' –   כי יצר לב האדם רע מנעוריו  
 will resort to very controlling environments with rewards, consequences and punishments. The message to kids is that you can't be trusted to learn or behave unless you are given rewards or threatened with punishments. And then we see how kids become so addicted to and dependent on rewards and punishments.  When we write off kids as disruptive, defiant, manipulative or destructive they are likely to 'live down' to these expectations.

 The key to a parent-child or teacher-child relationship is the child learning to trust the parent and teacher, so that kids want 'relationship', sees  them as  guides and someone to come to , especially when they ' screw up' and make mistakes. Rav Pam relates that as a 'Rebbi and teacher' - a kid came late for class and offered some excuse adding that he could bring a note from his parents. Rav Pam responded that he had already explained why he came late, why  would he need a note from his parents.'' In truth, I wasn’t sure if he told me the truth, but I couldn’t let him feel that I don’t trust him.”  Most teachers would be much more focused on their fear that the student will feel he put one over on the teacher.  They probably wouldn’t even consider the harm that distrusting their student would cause. 

We can help students develop good values and middot by attributing to the students the best possible motive consistent with the facts. So when they are generous and pro-social we do not say they were motivated by self-interest. When  they don't meet our expectations it could be that that they are good kids but were unaware of how their actions impact on others and are lacking skills rather than being selfish, defiant aggressive and lacking in compassion. And we would then  in a collaborative way, ' work with' kids to   teach important life lessons and solve problems by finding mutually satisfying solutions .In this way the kid contributes to the solution, learns important life skills and a trusting relationship with the parent or teacher is enhanced. 'Treat kids 'as if they need to be controlled' we may well undermine their natural predispositions to develop self-controls and internalize commitments to upholding cultural norms and values' – Marilyn Watson. 'Doing to ' kids with rewards and punishments just teaches them to ask – what's in it for me and feel sorry for themselves. It does not help kids to reflect on what type of person they want to be and how their actions impact on others.

Higher expectations of kids are positive, but we need to ask ' higher expectations for what'? If our expectations for academics are higher test scores, we will teach to test .If we expect more engagement, curiosity, and self-directed learning we will teach accordingly. If our high expectations for kids behaving themselves and being responsible is being compliant and following instructions we will be controlling. But if we understand that kids learn to be responsible by making decisions and acting in a pro-social way, we will allow them to participate in making decisions and solve problems in a collaborative way.

We all have a brighter and a darker side to our human natures, capable of being generous and selfish, helpful or hurting. But the good news is that if we follow the advice in the words of Proverbs- Mishlei and take into account the Pygmalion effect we can help ourselves and those we interact with to become more positive and caring people.

Pearl Harbor Day: December 7, 1941

 This is an excerpt from Manchester's memoirs of his return to the battlefields of the Pacific in 1978 - taking a tour of Pearl Harbor
Manchester, William (2008-12-02). Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War (Kindle Locations 784-799). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition
Historical shrines often become diminished by mundane surroundings. One thinks of Saint Peter's in Rome and Boston's Bunker Hill. Still , it is jarring, when driving to the port where the United States entered World War II, to find a prosaic green-and-white freeway sign, exactly like those on the American mainland, directing drivers to: 90 EAST PEARL HARBOR Following it, and instructions phoned to me at the Halekulani by CINCPAC, I come to a naval complex of moors and piers, fringed by palms warped by millennia of offshore winds. Elsewhere commercial launches leave hourly for tours of the harbor, but I am booked on a military VIP junket....

The movie, an NBC documentary, is suggestive of the March -of-Time style and was probably spliced from film clips shortly after the war. The narrator's voice is stentorian; the crashing score is by Richard Rodgers; there is a lot of Japanese footage captured after the war. Its chief interest is in what it omits. There isn't a single reference to U.S. bungling. Much is made of the fact that the Japs missed U.S. oil reserves, enough for two years, and dockyard repair facilities. At the end, with Rodgers's music soaring triumphantly, American warships steam out into the twilight to wreak vengeance on the deceitful enemy. As the lights are turned up, one almost feels that the Pearl Harbor raid was an American victory. Judging by their comments as we file out, the other VIPs are impressed. One recalls that the American navy has always been attentive to its reputation. Especially remembered is the alacrity with which , after the raid, the title of the commanding admiral here was changed to Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC), from Commander in Chief, United States (CINCUS)...
 ... But I jerk upright as we dart by one inlet. Moored there are the last ships I expected to see in Pearl Harbor — two spanking-new destroyers flying the Rising Sun battle ensign of the Empire of Japan . Ashore, I make inquiries and am told that , yes, I saw what I thought I saw. In fact, Japanese naval officers in dress whites are frequent guests at Pearl's officers' mess. And, my informant adds, they are very polite. Naturally. They always were. Except, of course, for that little interval there between 1941 and 1945. At 3: 00 A.M. in my comfortable Halekulani bed, my eyes pop open. The lean, hard, dreamland Sergeant in me has been leering sardonically, recalling the loudmouthed tourists , Hotel Street's smut, the navy's cover-up movie , and the welcome mat for Hirohito's seafarers. That will be the Sergeant's attitude every night — and he will come every night — during the early stages of my trip. If I rarely mention him, it is because his performance has become as unvaried as a cult rite. He gloats and glares and smirks cynically. I have begun to realize that it will take a great deal, a fire storm of passion, to exorcise him. In Honolulu the old man has no answer for the Sergeant . His experiences here have shaken him. Somehow Hawaii hasn't stirred memories of the blows inflicted on that distant day of infamy. And I think I know why. The answer, I believe, is that there was virtually no opposition to the Japanese, and therefore no fight. Like Fort Sumter, like Sarajevo, the disaster at Pearl is best remembered as a curtain raiser, largely irrelevant to the drama which followed. We were prepared to visit retribution on the enemy tenfold , but we didn't identify with the victims. Few had fought back. And as professionals they should have been ready to fight . Now we, the amateurs , had to do the job. And though we mourned them, the very brevity of the December 7 attack meant that there hadn't been time to hang breathless on their fate....

Friday, December 5, 2014

Arab mother whose son was treated free in Israeli hospital for fatal heart condition - hopes he grows up to be a martyr to kill Jews

Blame only the man who tragically decided to resist

NY Post    Eric Garner and Michael Brown had much in common, not the least of which was this: On the last day of their lives, they made bad decisions. Epically bad decisions.

Each broke the law — petty offenses, to be sure, but sufficient to attract the attention of the police.

And then — tragically, stupidly, fatally, inexplicably — each fought the law.
The law won, of course, as it almost always does.

This was underscored yet again Wednesday when a Staten Island grand jury chose not to indict any of the arresting officers in the death in police custody of Garner last July.

Just as a grand jury last week declined to indict the police officer who shot a violently resisting Michael Brown to death in Ferguson, Mo., in August.

Demagoguery rises to an art form in such cases — because, again, the police generally win. (Though not always, as a moment’s reflection before the Police Memorial in lower Manhattan will underscore.) And because those who advocate for cop-fighters are so often such accomplished beguilers.

They cast these tragedies as, if not outright murder, then invincible evidence of an enduringly racist society.

No such thing, as a matter of fact. Virtually always, these cases represent sad, low-impact collisions of cops and criminals — routine in every respect except for an outlier conclusion.

The Garner case is textbook.
Eric Garner was a career petty criminal who’d experienced dozens of arrests, but had learned nothing from them. He was on the street July 17, selling untaxed cigarettes one at a time — which, as inconsequential as it seems, happens to be a crime.

Yet another arrest was under way when, suddenly, Garner balked. “This ends here,” he shouted — as it turned out, tragically prophetic words — as he began struggling with the arresting officer.

Again, this was a bad decision. Garner suffered from a range of medical ailments — advanced diabetes, plus heart disease and asthma so severe that either malady might have killed him, it was said at the time.

Still, he fought — and at one point during the struggle, a cop wrapped his arm around Garner’s neck.

That image was captured on bystander video and later presented as irrefutable evidence of an “illegal” chokehold and, therefore, grounds for a criminal indictment against the cop.
That charge fails, and here’s why. [...]

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December 4th, V’Sain Tal uMatar, Pope Gregory, and Halacha

5 Towns Jewish Times     By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Generally speaking, the Pope who is the head of the Roman Catholic Church, does not affect the observance of Orthodox Jewish halachic practice.

In 1582, however, Pope Gregory XIII’s changes to the calendar did have some repercussions in our halachic observance, at least in the way we record the secular date as to when in the year we begin amending one line in the Shmoneh Esreh in Chutz La”aretz. In Israel itself we began saying it at Maariv of the 7th of Cheshvan.

The Pope made three changes to the Julian Calendar, but at first, only the Catholic countries followed it.

1] He fast-forwarded the calendar ten days. In 1582, there was no October 5th through October 14th.

2] He ruled that every 100 years there would not be a leap year. There was no February 29th in the year 1900.

3] He ruled that every 400 years there would be a leap year and that rule number two would not apply. Rule #3 has only be used twice in the year 1600 and in the year 2000.

What this boils down to is that until the year 2101 we begin saying v’sain tal umatar on the night of December 4th and before a leap year we begin saying it on the night of December 5th.

As an interesting note, if ArtScroll would have existed in the 1800’s it would have said to add in v’sain tal uMatar on December 3rd and before a leap year on December 4th.

What happens if you forgot to add it in?
There are actually two major brachos of the 19 brachos in Shmoneh Esreh where it can be added in – Baraich Alainu and Shmah Kolainu. Ideally we shoot for the first, but if not we can do it in the later one.

So the answer to what you should do if you did forget, depends upon when you remembered that you did not add it in. If you remembered before saying Hashem’s name at the end of the bracha of Baraich Alaynu, then just go back to v’sain tal umatar and continue from there (MB 117:15).

If you remembered after saying Hashem’s Name, then you just continue on until the Bracha of Shma Koleinu and add the words, “v’sain tal umatar livracha” right after “vkabel berachamim veratzon es tfilasainu” and before “ki attah shomaya tfilas” (MB 117:16). If one still forgot and did not yet say Hashem’s name at the end of the bracha, then just say “v’sain tal umatar livracha and continue saying Ki Attah shomaya.

If you have already said Hashem’s Name – then we have a debate between the Mishna Brurah and Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l as to what to do. The Mishna Brurah (117:19) says to say “Lamdeini chukecha” – a Pasuk in TaNach and then to say v’sain Tal uMatar livracha and finish with Ki Attah Shomaya.

Rav Moshe Feinstein questions this and asks how it is possible to just recite random Psukim in the Shmoneh Esreh? [He recommends that one just finish up the bracha and add it before one says Retzai, like the Shulchan Aruch recommends to do if you did end up finishing Shma Kolainu.] Unless you are a talmid of Rav Moshe, most people follow the Mishna Brurah.
If one has already completed the entire Shmah koleinu bracha without having said v’sain tal uMatar, then the Shulchan Aruch rules that you just say it then and recite Retzai.
If you forgot to say it before then and actually started retzai – then you are now in for some major repeating. You have to stop where you are and just go back to the beginning of Baraich Aleinu and continue saying the Shmoneh Esreh from there.

If you forgot it and completed the Shmoneh Esreh – then repeat the entire Shmoneh Esreh from the beginning (See SA 117).

If you are not sure what you said, we assume you didn’t say it for the first 30 days. After 30 days, we assume that you did say it properly. The Mishna Brurah (114:40) suggests that if you sing the words “v’es kol minei s’vu’asah l’tova v’sain Tal uMatar livracha” 90 times then the assumption changes. We assume that you did say it. On Maariv of January 3rd (or January 4th of a leap year) is the day when the assumption changes if you did not end up following the 90 times recommendation.

My father-in-law, Rabbi Yaakov Hirch z”l, used to keep a piece of paper in his siddur at Baraich Aleinu for those thirty days in order to remind him to add it in. This is a good idea. It also saves on not having to say the formula 90 times.

For the record, the changes were not Pope Gregory’s original idea. The idea first came from an Italian doctor named Aloysius Lilius. Most of what was to become America did not adopt it, however, until 1752

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It is official!: Chicago Beis Din and Israeli Beis Din agree 4 seminaries are o.k.

update: The recent post by Frum Follies contains significant distortions and lies regarding this psak.  His statements regarding Rabbi Meir Kahane and Rebbetzin Ullman in particular are egregious lies aimed at obtaining through slander that which could not be obtained by open means.
"Seminary principals Rabbi Meir Kahane and Mrs Hindy Ullman are being demoted but this will not be stated officially."
I have clarified with a member of the beis din that neither has been demoted or punished in anyway - officially or unofficially-  nor were there any findings or information to warrant it on any level whatsoever.

Let Lopin produce evidence to support his slander. It is clear that the original claims of the Chicago Beis Din - that he constantly repeated in his condescending and derogatory attacks on the Israeli Beis Din -  have been shown to not be supported by the facts. This psak could have been obtained a long time ago. Now that it has been obtained - the obvious question is who is feeding Lopin the information he is publishing - in order to undermine it?

How Debbie Gross "saved" me from being abused physically and emotionally at her Convention dealing with abuse and violence in the religious community

update: Times of Israel Orthodox Jews convene to stop domestic and sexual abuse
What I am about to describe is the ironic story of abuse by the organizers of a convention dedicated to preventing and dealing with abuse. It also is also another example of well meaning laymen who are genuinely trying to help the Jewish community - insisting on imposing their innovations and distortions of halacha by strong armed tactics and blocking the voices of those that disagree with them.

As I have mentioned previously, I had been approved by the organizers to give two short presentations at next week's International Conference dealing with violence and abuse in the religious community. One of the presentations dealt with the problem of get meusa resulting from putting pressure on the husband to give a divorce the other with insensitivity to abuse by using halacha as a barrier to investigating the allegations of abuse

Also as noted in a previous post last Friday the 21st, I received a letter from Debbie Gross - the organizer of the convention - that she had received  many threatening emails against me from people saying they were coming to the convention specifically to attack me. She said there were no security guards to protect me and she would understand if I withdrew from the convention. This is the letter
Rabbi Eidensohn
Shalom u’vracha.

I am writing you concerning your email of a few weeks ago as to whether we will have some form of bodyguards at the conference to protect the speakers against “hecklers”.  Unfortunately, we do not have any funds or way to provide any form of protection to the speaker.  In these difficult security times in Jerusalem, we are hoping just to stay safe from the arab terrorists who seem to be everywhere.

I would like to alert you to the fact that we have been receiving numerous emails over the past week, from agunot and their families concerning your views and blogs about agunot and the use of the internet.  These emails have been very aggressive and threatening.  I would like to alert you to this fact so that you can reevaluate whether you are prepared both emotionally and physically to deal with what seems to be a large amount of angry participants who are specifically coming to the conference to denounce you and your views.  I am taking their anger quite seriously and relaying such to you.  I hope that you are prepared to deal with their anger and aggression.  I would like you to take all of this into consideration prior to coming to the conference.  I will certainly understand should you decide that this is not the right platform for you at this time.
With best regards,
Shabbat shalom
Debbie Gross
I replied to her that I was coming anyway. 
Thank you for the information. I am still planning on coming.  I am surprised given the emotion associated with the issue the conference is dealing with that there is no security - not even volunteers?
She replied:
May you be well. 
Shabbat shalom
 From her response it seemed that she was not happy with my answer. 

But I also received another email on Friday the 21st  from the Conference reminding me that I must register by Monday 24th.

Monday 24th morning I received an email from organizer Henry Horwitz of the Conference saying that since I hadn't registered they were removing me from the Conference speakers.

I called up Henry Horwitz and he told me that he had been told to remove all unregistered speakers on Sunday. I protested and said that I had emails stating that the deadline was Monday. He said I had to speak to Debbie Gross because there was nothing he could do.

While it is true I hadn't registered I had responded several times to the convention organizers that I was coming - and I knew that I could register until Monday 24th.

I registered on their website Monday anyway and paid the fee - the web form said that I was officially registered. I took a photo of the confirmation screen and sent it to the Debbie Gross and the convention organizers asking for clarification.


It was clear from Debbie's letter that she was not happy with my presentation about Agunos and was exaggerating her point about the "physical and emotional" dangers to me to scare me. Obviously nobody is coming to the conference and paying the hefty fee - specifically to attack me etc etc. Besides why would a convention about abuse allow a speaker to be abused and heckled?
The question is why she didn't want me speaking since I am merely stating mainstream halacha? I had clearly indicated that on my application which had been approved by the conference. Why had my Internet activity dealing with Dodelson, Epstein and Stein suddenly become an issue 2 weeks before the convention?

However someone at the conference slipped up and sent me a confirmation at 5 p.m. Monday - that I was speaking - but the time of my presentation had been changed to Wednesday. It again specifically said that the deadline for registration was Monday and requested that I register if I hadn't done so already.

 I looked at the session schedule that they sent me and discovered that Rabbi Jeremy Stern was scheduled to speak at that session. He of course is the head of ORA which is a feminist driven YU organization which holds massive demonstrations against husband who don't give their wives a get on demand. Such pressure produces an invalid get according to normative halacha. He has often been mentioned on my blog as we have taken opposing sides in a number of divorce cases. Rabbi Blau - mashgiach at YU - and Dayan with the new Kraus Beis Din [the new incarnation of the Rackman Beis Din] for freeing agunos is also presenting at the convention.

An hour later at 6 p.m. I received another email from the convention saying that the confirmation was a mistake and that I was not speaking because I hadn't registered in time. I still have not heard from Debbie Gross or the other organizers I spoke to as to why I am being excluded.

The reason for my exclusion is obviously not a concern that I might be abused at the abuse convention nor is it a bureaucratic error about registration deadlines. The first could have been solved simply by the standard announcement that anyone who interrupted the speakers would be kicked out of the convention and not allowed to return. The hotel does have security guards for that purpose. The registration deadline is also strange since I received 3 different emails stating it was Monday and in fact the registration for the general public is until today the 26th. I was told by Mr. Horwitz that the registration deadline for the speakers was imposed to ensure the schedules of speakers could be printed up in time. Assuming that is true - it is not big deal to have a session with one speaker not officially listed and it does not explain why Debbie Gross did not bother responding to my emails.

I wish Debbie Gross well with her work to help the community and abuse victims and hope that next week's convention meets her expectations and goals. Perhaps she will allow someone there  to mention the serious normative  halachic problem of get me'usa.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Modern day witch trial: Day care owners were falsely imprisoned for 21 years because of satanic abuse hysteria

 AP  Former day care owners who spent 21 years in prison before being freed amid questions over their convictions for child abuse involving satanic rituals are struggling to convince prosecutors that they should be fully exonerated.

Dan and Fran Keller, who divorced in prison, were freed on bond last year when the only physical evidence against them was found to be a mistake. They had been convicted in 1992 after therapists testified that they helped three children recover memories of satanic rituals and sexual abuse at an Austin preschool the Kellers operated.

The Kellers, who always denied the charges, want the courts to throw out their convictions. But a year after they were freed from prison, Travis County prosecutors remain unwilling to proclaim them innocent, the Austin American-Statesman ( reported Sunday.[...]

"It's so hard to prove you're innocent when there was never a crime," she said.

The Kellers had been sentenced to 48 years in prison.

During their trial, the only physical evidence came from an emergency room doctor who testified that internal lacerations on one child were evidence of abuse. But in court documents filed in 2013, Dr. Michael Mouw says what he thought were lacerations were actually normal physiology.[...]
Psychologists were behind the accusations


That summer, a three-year-old girl at Fran’s Day Care in Oak Hill accused Dan of sexual abuse. Within weeks, more children, all patients of the same child psychologist, made similar claims against both of the Kellers. They were ultimately accused of the satanic, ritual abuse of the children in their care.

“I think they were coerced into making allegations,” said Fran. “Their parents, they were taking them to psychologists. I think the psychologists coerced them into thinking and saying things because the child is not going to say something that didn’t happen. The child is going to listen to who is talking and the seed is planted.”

During their six-day trial, an emergency room medical doctor testified as the prosecution’s expert and provided the only physical evidence in the case. Dr. Michael Mouw, who examined the three-year-old accuser, said she had internal injuries that could only be caused by physical abuse. [...]

Rav Moshe Twersky HY"D — Savior of the American Soloveitchik Dynasty by RaP

update: Sections that were seen as inappropriate have been removed.

Guest post by RaP

"Tzadikim Are Greater In Death Than In Life!" (Talmud) 

An incredible thing has just happened, but few realize it, admit it, or know what to call it. The name "Rabbi Moshe Twersky" ("RMT") was essentially unknown in the broader Haredi world  until the recent Har Nof Massacre. He was the son of the late Rav Yitzchok (Isadore) Twersky ZT"L, son of the Tolner Rebbe of Boston, and of Dr. Atara Soloveitchik, daughter of the famous Rav J.B. Soloveitchik ZT"L in America. RMT was among those murdered in cold blood while in deep prayer in a famous shull in Har Nof.< Within minutes of his murder everyone knew that someone famous was among those martyred on that terrible day. The irony is that until his death he made sure to maintain his "obscurity" and "anonymity" and it seems that really only his immediate family, a few of his elite teachers and mentors, only his very closest students at the Toras Moshe Yeshiva he taught at for at least 20 years, and maybe a handful of his neighbors and some select colleagues knew about him and who he REALLY was. RMT went to extraordinary lengths utilizing genuine humility to be a humble servant of the Lord, seeking no glory for himself, and making sure that to the world at large he was just another one among millions and billions of "everymen"! All of a sudden following his bloody death, the Jewish, Orthodox and Haredi media is paying attention to him in a way that would NEVER have happened in real life, and something he would evidently never had allowed let alone condoned.[...] 
Suddenly, for those who read the Yated, Hamodia, Jewish Press, Mishpacha, Ami, even the Jewish Week, Forward and many others like them, the name of Rav Moshe Twersky, heir to not one but two unique dynasties, the Soloveitchik Talmudic geniuses and the Twersky Hasidic Rebbes becomes known "overnight" and what is told about him is truly a great wonder that appears like a sudden blinding flash of light that is shockingly revealed – paradoxically not during his lifetime, but immediately following his dramatic death.

Suddenly the Haredi media mentions that he was the grandson of Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik (not Rabbi Dr. J. B. Soloveitchik of Yeshiva University as he was known) and the son of the previous Tolner Rebbe of Boston (not Dr. or Professor Isadore Twersky of Harvard University as he was known). [...]

So the "frum" media meanders back and forth. So far not one has mentioned anything about the name of this great man: Moshe? Why? It is very strange indeed. First of all RMT was probably named for his own grandfather Rav "Moshe Soloveichik (1879–1941)...was the second son of renowned Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik and grandson of the Beis HaLevi. He married Pesya Feinstein, daughter of the renowned Rabbi of Pruzany, Rabbi Eliyahu Feinstein, and first cousins with Rabbi Moshe Feinstein" (Wikipedia) – so this is truly the aristocracy of the Torah world. Then there is the name of the yeshiva where RMT was a Rosh Yeshiva at Toras Moshe Yeshiva (affectionately known as "ToMo"), named for Rav Moshe Soloveitchik ZT"L.

So far, the Haredi media is printing a lot of stories and anecdotal tales from relatively minor and obscure sources and avoiding getting into almost any descriptions and history of exactly who and the stature of Rav Moshe Soloveitchik, son of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik ZT"L, and father of the famous Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik who was known as "the Rav" to his thousands of students. It is known in the Torah world that the "yerusha" of Rav Chaim of Brisk ZT"L was "split" between Rav Moshe Soloveitchik who "inherited" the "Nezikin" part of the family moving first to Warsaw and then to America, while the most famous Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik ZT"L, known as Rav Velvel, or the Brisker Rov took the "Kodshim" part and went to Eretz Yisroel and founded the well-known Brisker Yeshivos in Israel that still study only Kodshim.

RMT chose to be a disciple of both wings of his mother's family. While "informally" RMT delved into Kabbalah and became known as an informal "[Hasidic] Rebbe" to his students in the Yeshiva Toras Moshe where he taught. RMT was regarded by Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik as not just one of his four all-time greatest talmidim, but also by the current Brisker Yeshiva of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik SHLIT"A as one of its greatest talmidim.

Thus RMT bridged two continents and much more than that he healed and solidified and made respectable the bonds between the American and Israeli sides of Brisk that had been in a "stand-off" and even a war of words from the time the Israeli Briskers became the arch-Charedim so to speak in the Litvish Torah world, while in America, Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik who had once been a member of the original Agudah Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah in America left to become the arch-leader of Modern Orthodox Judaism and of the Mizrachi Religious Zionist movement, that split the Soloveitchik family in two distinct segments until now when Rav Moshe Twersky, IN HIS DEATH, has done the seemingly impossible of uniting the families as they move into the ;FUTURE realizing they have more in common than even they realized. This is no less than what happened in the time of Rebbi Akiva, who lost 24,000 students but his REAL "yerusha" and lineage continues through the five talmidim that TRULY continued his line. Rav Moshe Twersky seems to have died as a "korban" for something much greater much like Rebbi Akiva did Al Pi Kiddush HaShem Berabim in the midst of Holy Prayers!

Who would have thought that literally behind the scenes, that Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik while he was and is rightfully hailed as the rabbi who gave semicha to more Orthodox rabbis in his own lifetime than anyone else and who prided himself on his independence, was nurturing his own highly traditional grandson, the now martyred Rav Moshe Twersky in an entirely different image than what was assumed to be going on. RMT has been revealed for the whole world to see OPENLY as a genuine Illui, Tzadik, Nistar, Mekubal, someone well-versed in every part of the Torah and even in worldly matters on a standard higher than most Talmidei Chachomim of his generation (RMT was only 59 when he was murdered).< And then there is RMT's grandfather on his mother's side Rav Moshe Soloveitchik the leading Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivas Yitschak Elchonon (RIETS) brought there by the pioneering Rabbi Dr. Bernard Revel. Rav Moshe Soloveitchik was an undisputed great Gaon, Torah giant and all-around genius in his own right, whose sudden death in 1941 propelled his son Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik to assume the mantle of leadership at RIETS and as one of modernity's leading Talmudists, Jewish Philosophers and Halachists.

The Haredi and Orthodox media is not giving enough, if any, attention to Rav Moshe Soloveitchik and it is a great shame because they are missing a great link. It was Rav Moshe Soloveitchik who brought the Soloveitchik and Brisker dynasty to America.

Now it has been proven that for all the controversy about how and why to deal with the challenges to the Torah World posed by Modernity, Zionism, and Secular Knowledge, at the end of the day there is nothing to be ashamed of because the great "egg" that was finally "hatched" was none other than the greatest of all of this process that is embodied and now enshrined in the Holy Memory and Glowing Torah Light that was Rav Moshe Twersky ZT"L, HY"D, May HKB"H Avenge His Innocent and Pure Spilled Blood that Poured Out In a Sanctuary of Tefila, Avoda and Torah in the Holy City of Yerushalayim!