Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Taliban lady wears funnel to disguise shape of head

Manny's concedes defeat to extortion of Sikrikim

After 20 months of attacks and a quarter million shekels in damage, a religious bookstore in the ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood of Jerusalem decided on Monday to accede to the demands of extremists responsible for the violence.

Under the terms of the compromise, Ohr Hachaim/Manny’s put up a large sign requesting that all customers dress modestly. A mashgiach, who checks the store’s inventory to make sure there are no controversial books, will go over the books in the coming week and require that some books be removed from the shelves, though they will not be permitted to remove any English books, said Marlene Samuels, one of the store’s managers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Video expose of leaders & education of Taliban Ladies

Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky's Torah Declaration on Homosexualtiy

[...] Like all communities, the Orthodox Jewish one is comprised of many layers. In July 2010, Modern Orthodox rabbis around the country signed a groundbreaking Statement of Principles in "regard to the place of Jews with a homosexual orientation" in their community. While clearly stating that the parameters of Halacha (Jewish Law) prohibit same-sex sexual intercourse, the Principles still offered a message of compassion, empathy and inclusiveness of gay and lesbian Jews within the Orthodox community. It was a huge step forward for the Jewish community.

However, many ultra-Orthodox leaders felt that these Principles were too affirming of homosexuality. So this Declaration currently making rounds will serve as their official response in regards to guiding individuals with same-sex attractions. The endorser, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, urges all rabbis and mental health professionals to sign this Declaration, which offers modification and healing through reparative therapy as the sole option.

The full text of this secret Declaration, which has not been released to the public -- until now -- is posted below. I am releasing it here because I am certain that despite the signatures already included, plenty of other ultra-Orthodox rabbis will disagree. More importantly, this Declaration -- and these rabbis endorsing it -- will certainly cause anguish to the gay and lesbian Orthodox Jewish community, which has fought so hard for acceptance. Finally, I am certain that if reparative therapy is presented as the sole option, many individuals seeking guidance from rabbis or mental health professionals will be harmed -- indirectly by others, and perhaps even directly by harming themselves.[...]

Are kids with Down's Syndrome on the road to extinction?

When a distraught pregnant woman phones a Massachusetts hotline for Down syndrome, agonizing over what to do with an unexpected prenatal diagnosis, she will be routed to Perkins McLaughlin, who went through the same awful calculations in 2007. When Perkins McLaughlin learned halfway through her pregnancy that her daughter would have Down syndrome, she nearly decided to end the pregnancy for fear of what it would do to her marriage and her two older children. [...]

But now, increasingly, parents do. Recent advances in prenatal screening are upending the way pregnant women learn about the genetic makeup of their unborn babies. In October, a San Diego biotech company began offering an exceptionally accurate maternal blood test for Down syndrome that can be administered as early as 10 weeks, long before a woman looks visibly pregnant. A study published last month in the journal Genetics in Medicine found that the DNA-based test, called MaterniT21, identifies 98.6% of Down syndrome pregnancies, with a false-positive rate of 0.2%, an achievement that study author and Brown University professor Jacob Canick hailed as a "major step for prenatal diagnosis."

Haredim step up war on 'Taliban women'


Until recently, the haredi society found no interest in launching a battle, but recent evidence on the actions of the "Taliban women" ignited a war. The Eda Haredit rabbis realized that those women had blown the modesty issue out of proportions.

Sexual abuse of children by other children increasing

A significant percentage of Israel's children are exposed to violence and sexual abuse, a new report commissioned by the Knesset's Committee on the Rights of the Child revealed.

While the report suggests an overall drop in violence among children, it states that the number of children subjected to sexual abuse by other children is on the rise.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Women seek to Join Hatzalah for the sake of Modesty

“I think that a woman who has to give birth at home should at least have the comfort of another woman at her side,” she said.

Now, if a group of women in Brooklyn has its way, Miriam’s wish will come true. Calling themselves Ezras Nashim — an informal term for the women’s section of a synagogue — the group of 60 has been agitating since last year to join the ranks of the Brooklyn branch of the Hatzalah, one of the most venerated Orthodox institutions in America. Though the women are engaged in a seemingly feminist act by clamoring to join a boy’s club, they don’t see it that way. Instead, they say, they are modesty crusaders, speaking out for the cause of decency.[...]

Fighting the Internet - Rav Matisyahu Soloman

Fighting the Internet - no holds barred & any twisting of truth is permitted!

Disclaimer: I agree that there are severe dangers of the Internet. I do, however, believe that discussion of the issue should be honest and deal with the full picture of reality. The following is an example of cherry picking to make for the worse case scenario.

Binah magazine's recent edition (page 36 Nov. 21, 2011) dedicated to convincing its readers of the evils of the Internet has a lead of story of the tragic story of a "good, clean-cut guy with an mba" who was destroyed by Internet access. However contrary to Binah’s self-serving presentation,  the story is not about a good guy destroyed. Rather it is about an Orthodox Jewish pervert who was caught by cops monitoring the chat rooms. What was his crime? 

The “clean-cut” victim of internet writes: 
Somehow, I carried on the appearance that everything was okay, until I was arrested this past January for chatting with young women who were really undercover officers posing as minors. (I never paid any attention to details since in the world of the internet, everybody makes stuff up, including me.) things began to fall apart quickly. I lost my job, and the next month I was extradited to another state where charges were filed against me… I am currently facing over 24 felony counts in two counts. I was released on $80,000 bail with a GPS monitor on my ankle. You can't imagine what suffering this is. Please help me do teshuvah. Help me warn others not to fall into this trap. The internet is like a cancer. I was a good, clean-cut guy with an MBA from one of America's best-known colleges of business. I passed my CPA on the first try. I had my choice of great jobs. It's all blown away. I'm now jobless and penniless, and we're soon expecting child number four. I can't explain what has happened, as it all seems like a blur, but I was living two lives... And what I thought was a secret life has now become an open book..”
In other words he was having sexually explicit conversations with a number of different minors. His actual lament is that he was caught because of the internet - not that the internet made him do something perverted. One does not get busted for communicating with a minor on the internet about politics or any other normal topic. He is a pervert who is being portrayed by Binah as a victim. Binah is in effect claiming that this pervert would have led a pure life of Torah & mitzos – except for the internet. This is outrageous!

An analogous story would be about a “clean-cut” Talmid Chachom who loved Torah – but he met his downfall because he became a rebbe in yeshiva and he just couldn’t control his lust for sex with children. Therefore this teaches us that we should ban yeshivos and day camps where these type of "innocent" people are tempted to sin.

Rabbi Meiselman - Kiruv: Torah & Science - Rejecting apologetics

There are those who argue that perhaps we should teach that the Torah is allegorical for the purposes of kiruv. Wouldn’t a non-affiliated Jew be more receptive to the Torah if he didn’t have to believe in a worldwide flood? This is not a new approach, and Rabbi Meiselman felt that this was the wrong approach.

This same argument was made in the past when Torah was confronted by a challenge from a different culture and/or discipline. Some felt that Torah is in an intellectually inferior position when confronting modern intellectual theories and discussion. Hence, these people developed a need to reinterpret Torah concepts to fit an intellectual worldview to which they accorded respect and veneration. This is being done today to accommodate modern academia.

For years, people looked the other way when kiruv workers and others expounded theories about Torah and science that were unacceptable to the world of talmidei chachamim. Some looked away because they did not want to interfere with otherwise important work. Some were not sufficiently sophisticated in the various disciplines to navigate properly and give the proper Torah response. However, this silence should not be interpreted as acquiescence or agreement to these positions. Some talmidei chachamim who had not sufficiently understood these areas and were expert elsewhere may even have consented. What changed recently is the attempt by some contemporary authors to make these accommodating theories mainstream. While in the past some have looked the other way, this can now no longer be continued. Torah can defend itself. The most potent kiruv tool is to expose the uninitiated to the depth and sweep of authentic Torah.

Syracuse fires basketball coach over sexual abuse accusations

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Birth coaches (doulas) halachic differential between Chassidic & Litvishe poskim

One of the important considerations in dealing with women's concern about modesty in child birth is the question of pikuach nefesh. While everyone seems to hold that child birth is pikuach nefesh - there is no consensus on what is permitted. Rav Moshe Feinstein permits her husband to go to the hospital with her on Shabbos as well as to travel to a more distant hospital - to avoid upsetting her.

In regard to birth couches (doulas) the Chassidic poskim allow a woman to call her coach on Shabbos and for the coach to take a cab to the hospital to assist and also for the coach to wear a beeper. In other words Chassidic poskim treat birth coaches as they would members of hatzola. It would follow from this fact that the Chassidic poskim should be more willing to permit female emts for child birth than a Litvishe posek. At this point I am only providing conjecture. But it would be ironic if the Chassidic poskim are more sensitive and concerned with female concerns.

Hatzola & Chassidic women concerned for tznius

Most Orthodox Jewish women avoid touching men except direct relatives. They don't sit next to men on buses or even at weddings. They have separate swimming hours at indoor pools. But for an emergency birth, Orthodox Jewish women will usually turn to the all-male volunteer ambulance corps known as Hatzolah.

Now a group of women in one of the country's largest Orthodox Jewish communities is proposing to join up with Hatzolah as emergency medical technicians to respond in cases of labor or gynecological emergencies.

The proposal for a women's division has stirred up criticism within Orthodox Jewish circles, with one well-known blog editorializing that it amounts to a "new radical feminist agenda." And when a prominent elected local official, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, spoke about it on his weekly radio show, he was criticized for even bringing the subject up.

Rachel Freier, a Hasidic attorney who is representing the women in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, said there is a need for emergency services that adhere to the community's customs of modesty, calling for the sexes to avoid physical contact unless they are related.
"It has nothing to do with feminism," Freier said. "It has to do with the dignity of women and their modesty."

Loving a suicidal, psychotic spouse

Two years ago, when Giulia and I were 27 and in our third year of marriage, she suffered a psychotic break. She had no history of mental illness preceding the abrupt arrival of delusions and paranoia. It was a bewildering decline that snowballed from typical work stress to mild depression to sleeplessness to voices speaking to her in the night. [...]

Giulia has since gotten better. She no longer takes the medicine. We don’t live in a “Yes” or “No” existence anymore. We now live with bills and iPhones and deadlines.  [....]

BUT I do miss how much we talked about life and love that year. It seemed like all we ever talked about. In one sense we have never communicated less in our relationship and never been in such different mental spaces, yet in another sense we were closer emotionally than we have ever been and more deeply connected. Her mental illness cast such a strange web of paradoxes into our life together. 

Nowadays we bicker about things like doing the dishes.[...]

For Some, Psychiatric Trouble May Start in Thyroid

In patients with depression, anxiety and other psychiatric problems, doctors often find abnormal blood levels of thyroid hormone. Treating the problem, they have found, can lead to improvements in mood, memory and cognition. 

Now researchers are exploring a somewhat controversial link between minor, or subclinical, thyroid problems and some patients’ psychiatric difficulties. After reviewing the literature on subclinical hypothyroidism and mood, Dr. Russell Joffe, a psychiatrist at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, and colleagues recently concluded that treating the condition, which affects about 2 percent of Americans, could alleviate some patients’ psychiatric symptoms and might even prevent future cognitive decline.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Battle for Apartments in Mea Shearim between Gur & Neteurei Karta

Sikrikim member Yosef Hazan arrested in Jerusalem

Jerusalem Post

Yosef Meir Hazan, a member of the Sikrikim (Sicarii) extremist ultra-Orthodox group, was arrested this week in the capital’s Geula neighborhood as part of a special operation by the Jerusalem Police.

According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, Hazan was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of causing public disturbances, damaging property and assaulting a police officer attempting to arrest him

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rabbi Berel Wein: The widening disconnect between masses & rabbinic leaders

Jerusalem Post

I think that one of the more difficult situations that exists in the Jewish world of today, especially, in my humble opinion, in the Diaspora, is the widening disconnect between the vast bulk of the population and the rabbinic leadership. While there are many rabbinic pronouncements on the minutiae of Jewish law, customs and observance there is very little that is said and heard about the major problems that face the Jewish world – the security of the Jewish state, the dire financial situation that threatens the entire system of Jewish education, the astounding rate of poverty and unemployment (voluntary and involuntary) in religious Jewish society, children at risk because of one-size-fits-all educational institutions, growing rates of divorce and family dysfunction, an unhealthy and misogynic system of dating and marriage, growing anti-Semitism and a seemingly unstoppable rate of assimilation, secularization and intermarriage that guarantees a shrinking Jewish population in a few generations.
Rather than address these terribly difficult issues, Jewish leadership is engaged in fighting over – again - the battles that destroyed the Jewish world of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[...]

Abuse: Law to make everyone a mandated reporter

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Value of Gratitude is finally discovered by Psychology

New York Times

...Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners. A new study shows that feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked, which helps explain why so many brothers-in-law survive Thanksgiving without serious injury. ...Religious individuals don’t necessarily act with more gratitude in a specific situation, but thinking about religion can cause people to feel and act more gratefully, as demonstrated in experiments by Jo-Ann Tsang and colleagues at Baylor University. Other research shows that praying can increase gratitude.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Six Day War - Miraculous or Natural? Video History

There is no question that highly intelligent planning was done by the Israelis- in terms of strategy, psychology, troop training,intelligence and weapons. But the fact that this extremely complex operation was so successful in spite of the high risk of failure - obviously places it in the realm of the miraculous. In other words it would have been totally natural for Israel to have failed. It was not inevitable that they would win. In fact a friend of mine who was there and fought in the war said the atmosphere was extremely pessimistic and the Israelis were expecting huge casualties and that their highest expectation was to avoid defeat.

Igros Moshe(Y.D. 4:8.2): Concerning the matter of the Jews who were hijacked in Uganda and then were saved by [Israeli] soldiers who went to Uganda. It is reasonable that this should be considered an open miracle. That is because in the normal course of events it would not be possible that such a thing be successful. Whatever is done in the world is only by the hand of G‑d – whether it is for the good or whether it is – G‑d forbid - ! the opposite. He causes the blow and the cure. He caused that these Jews be captured. But He also caused that they were rescued by means of giving these soldiers special courage and motivation so that they were able to save the captives. He also arranged circumstances so the soldiers in fact were successful. Nevertheless the reasons that G‑d did a miracle through sinners are hidden from us. Furthermore it is prohibited for any man to be “wise” and raise question against G‑d’s actions. Rather it is necessary for us to be innocent and accepting whatever G‑d does as it explicity says in the Torah (Devarim 18:13)

Supreme Court upholds conviction of Shmuel Veisfish - a member of Sikrikim gang - for extortion, assault and grievous bodily harm.

The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Shmuel Veisfish, an activist in the extremist Sikrikim group, who was sentenced by the Jerusalem District Court in January this year to two years imprisonment for rioting, extortion, assault and grievous bodily harm.

Veisfish was convicted for his participation in the harassment and assault of the owner of the “Space” electronics store in the haredi neighborhood of Geula in Jerusalem 2008, but lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court over the severity of his sentence.

Veisfish, and other Sikrikim militants, had objected to the sale of portable video players in the store, which they claimed corrupted haredi youth. They arranged dozens of protests demanding that “Space” stop stocking such items and would drive customers out of the store and block the entrance. The group’s members also threatened to kill the employees and burn the store unless they stopped working there.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dr. Salamon (psychologist), R Frankfurter (editor of Ami magazine) & Pinny Taub (survivor and advocate) - discuss dealing with abuse while avoiding vilifying Orthodox community

Talkline Communications
         Complete Show mp3   Sunday, November 20, 2011 3:00 AM Dr. Michael J. Salamon, Woodmere Psychologist Tackling Abuse in Orthodox Jewish Community, Pini Taub abused around 1990 abused by Rebbe in Yeshiva

This is an important event. Dr. Salomon is an Orthodox therapist who deals with abuse victims and has written a book about the unique issues of dealing with abuse in the Orthodox community. Pinny Taub is a chassidic victim who has been an eloquent advocate for victims. He recent stopped attacking the rabbis and institutions who have not helped or have obstructed help for victims. He now feels it is necessary to focus exclusively on change which doesn't involve criticism of rabbinic authority or the Orthodox community. Rabbi Frankfurter is the editor and publisher of Ami Magazine - who constantly attacked Dr. Salamon for vilifying the Orthodox community over the abuse issue - even though he admits he didn't read his book and later apologized to Dr Salamon -  if it were true that he wasn't vilifying the community.

The issue of course is the old one of what is more important - to protect the victims of abuse or to preserve the perception of authority and integrity of the rabbis and community leaders. Everyone would agree if you can have both - than go for it. The issue is when you have to decide between the two which side to you chose. Can you only help the victims to the degree that it doesn't embarrass the community?  Or is helping the victims the prime value - even when it causes embarrassment and reduced respect for the rabbis. 

It is interesting that the main villain according to Rabbi Frankfurter, Pinny Taub and Dr Salamon is the bloggers. They all seem to assume that there are no good blogs or that no good comes from even bad blogs. In this they are both clearly mistaken.

The following was from a  discussion I had on Cross-Currents  with Pinny Taub (who contributed a chapter to my book) on this issue

Pinny Taub wrote to me:
I really have a lot of respect for you. I did not include you in my letter and I did not include most activists. I specifically wrote hate-filled. I agree that whatever has changed for the better came because of the constructive criticism and you deserve a great deal of credit for that. Regarding your book I have no regret that I added my story. If my story helped only one person become more aware, then I thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Author of Hush speaking in Chicago

Author of Hush - speaking at Y.I. of Long Beach

In recognition of the Second National Jewish Week for the Prevention of Child Abuse, the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, and the Young Israel of Long Beach are pleased to announce the first New York public appearance of Judith Brown, the acclaimed author of the award-winning book, "Hush", which is based upon the story of a case of child sex abuse in Brooklyn's Chassidic community.

The lecture, free of charge, is scheduled for Sunday, November 27, 2011, at 7:30 p.m. at Young Israel of Long Beach, 120 Long Beach Boulevard Long Beach, NY

Introductory remarks will also be made by Jewish Board of Advocates for Children (JBAC) president Elliot Pasik, Esq., who will give an update as to ongoing progress in making our yeshivas and all nonpublic schools safer and better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is a parent who had incestual relations - decades ago - still a danger to family?

Received this letter today with permission to post it. Any constructive suggestions welcome. I don't deal with this type of assessment - and I am not sure it is even is valid. Therefore I think the family needs to be informed as a first step - and the father evaluated by an experienced professional. Since he hasn't molested anybody recently - there is no requirement either according to halacha or secular law to report him. The issue is entirely whether he is dangerous.

[Update 11/16/2011]. I discussed this issue with a number of psychologists who deal with abuse. The consensus was that while testing can be useful -  there in no test which can establish that a person is not a threat. So while it does happen that an abuser stops - it is difficult to determine whether a particular abuser has permanently stopped and is no longer a danger. Often it simply means that he choses his victims more carefully so that he doesn't get caught. Therefore this abuser can not be trusted and care must always be taken not to leave him alone with children. So while there is no requirement to report him to the police in the absence of any known abuse in many years - he is a major concern. However how to inform others is not a simple matter - especially where no one is willing to file a complaint. Therefore an expert in child abuse should be consulted for advice how to proceed. It is important to know that sometimes an abuser will abstain for 20 or 30 years and then start again.

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,
I am writing because of the work you have done into the problem of pedophilia, etc. My question is as follows.

A (female) student/friend of mine was incested as a child by her father, a rabbi from a prominent Chassidic family. She knows of cousins who were also abused by him, many years earlier, when he was still a bochur.  (These cousins include two women and a man). She (my student) has reason to believe that her brother and another sister were also incested. My student is now over forty and the abuse occurred between age 2 and 12.; Her father admitted to it. Until last night she had not spoken with anyone in the family about it (except her mother).

My friend has distanced herself from her family (gently but firmly with no explanation) starting about 10 years ago, but in the course of her own healing process she realized that her nieces and nephews are likely in danger for the scientific research suggests that a pedophile rarely ceases his predatory behavior at his own initiative, even in elder years (her father is probably in his late sixties). So yesterday she spoke with her brother, and told him her story, and charged him with informing their other siblings to be cautious with their children and to not leave them alone on any regular basis, with their grandfather.

The brother took it in, and then said that there is this therapist who gives people a test that is supposed to distinguish between pedophiles who are likely to be still dangerous and those who are probably not. He wants to ask his father to take this test to see if it is really necessary to inform his siblings. (Also if his father is really a danger than maybe he must inform the next generation his own children, nieces and nephews to watch their children).

My question is,: Do you know anything about this test. Do you think it is reliable. What if the perpetrator lies about the extent of his previous offences, can it detect that. Do you know about this therapist. Is there someone you can refer me to who might help me sort this out. My friend/student does not want to be involved any more.  She feels like she did her bit by telling her brother, and feels that further involvement would be harmful to her, so she has dropped the ball in my court.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.  Many thanks

Penn Scandal: Aish HaTorah did not publish my criticism of their article

Yesterday I submitted my criticism of Aish HaTorah - The_Penn_State_Scandal article to their comment section-  it has so far not appeared. I assume it was rejected. See my post- Penn-state-scandal-learning-torah-from goyim

Positive feedback from a reader regarding my books on abuse

little sheep wrote:
As a survivor of child sexual abuse, as well as someone who runs an online support group and an educator of young children, I want to commend you for the sensitivity you displayed in your book. I borrowed volume one from a friend (also a survivor and educator) and have just ordered volumes two and three.
You may not get this response often, therefore I feel compelled to send it to you. After staying up all night last night reading your book, I ultimately realized that I had enough information about a certain member of my support site indicating that she and a sibling are in imminent danger and was able to contact people  to help her get started on the process of reporting her abuse. Unfortunately, she is still at a stage of extreme fear (rightly so-the last attack she experienced was on Yom Kippur, after she refused to forgive the perpetrator for a previous attack), and says she will not talk to the authorities if they speak to her. Therefore, two therapists and a rav are now working with her to get her into counseling and hopefully help her leave the house and report the abuse.
Thank you so much for all the work you do for k'lal yisroel!

Catholic bishop who violated mandated reporting - gets a deal

In a deal to avoid a second round of criminal charges, a Roman Catholic bishop in Kansas City has agreed to meet monthly with a county prosecutor to detail every suspicious episode involving abuse of a child in his diocese for the next five years. 

Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was indicted in October by a grand jury in neighboring Jackson County for failure to report suspected child abuse by a priest he supervised. He is the first American bishop to face indictment on charges of mishandling an abuse case. [...]

But victims’ advocates criticized the deal because it essentially allows Bishop Finn to avoid prosecution and relies on him to volunteer information to the prosecutor. 

“There’s no one else that they would make this kind of a deal with but a bishop,” said Marci Hamilton, a professor of public law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, who has written about the church and child abuse cases. “There’s always all this maneuvering to avoid having bishops testify in child sex abuse cases, or in any case.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crown Heights Beis Din: Must report abuse claims to secular authorities.

In the past four months the Crown Heights Jewish Community has seen as many sexual abuse-related arrests and reports as there have been in the past 20 years. A Crown Heights victims’ advocacy group called CH Watch has documented at least four arrests in the past four months. What has lead to this drastic upsurge in reporting child sexual abuse? What was the game changer that turned the tide, leaving the offenders running for cover and the victims openly speaking to the police? In a courageous move on July 11, 2011, the Crown Heights Rabbinical Court (Beit Din) issued a public letter requiring its members to report credible claims of sexual abuse to the police.

Other rabbinical authorities have also encouraged their members to go the police, but what was unique here is the fact that the Crown Heights Beit Din made the matter public and not only allowed its members to report directly to the police, but required it.[...]

Penn State scandal: Learning Torah from the Goyim:

 One of the ironies of the Penn State scandal is the embarrasing spectacle of a Jewish writer trying to  show the superiority of Judaism by the misdeeds of non-Jews. He condemns certain non-Jews  - who while acting according to their legal obligations - failed to act on the highest moral level. This article unfortunately failed to note that in fact the widespread response of Jewish rabbis and communities in dealing with abuse is not only not in accord with the secular law - but it is not in accord with the halacha and is morally bankrupt.

I find it embarrassing as an observant Jew to acknowledge the shameful fact that in contrast to our rabbinical leadership - the Penn State trustees acted in accord with the highest moral standards in order to protect children and ensure that the college should be an example of moral leadership. They showed real moral courage by firing the extremely popular football coach and the popular president of the university - simply for failing to do what was right. In fact we need to understand that the Torah imperatives for these situations are those of the Penn State trustees - protect the children, to provide moral leadership - and accept full responsiblity to do everything possible to help others. 

So even though our Sages (Eicha Rabba 2:9) say if someone says that there is wisdom amongst the goyim you can believe it but not if they say there is Torah - in this case it is appropriate to  acknowledge in this abuse case that the goyim of Penn State have shown us what the Torah truly expects us to do.

When Paterno realized that the Penn State administration was not dealing with the situation (or perhaps covering it up), what should he have done? Was he under any further obligation? Even if he was under no legal obligation, is there a difference between the “letter of the law” and the “spirit of the law”?

The Torah states: “Do not stand idly on your brother’s blood” (Leviticus 19:16). This is an imperative to get involved when a situation goes awry. The Almighty created the world as a workshop for self-perfection. No matter what our station in life, no matter what our innate abilities, the Almighty puts us in a particular situation in order that we make the right choice – no matter how uncomfortable or how politically inexpedient.[...]

The Torah says that if you have a chance to fix something in the world – whether stopping your colleague from an illegal act, or helping to feed starving children – and you do not act, then you ultimately bear responsibility. Perhaps, for that reason alone, the firing of Joe Paterno was justified.

New York mandated reporting laws - limitations for yeshiva teachers

NY has two mandated reporting laws, one in the Social Service Law; and the other in the Education Law.

The Social Service Law lists school officials and teachers as mandated reporters of abuse. That type of abuse is limited to parent-child abuse, or guardian-child abuse.Also when I called the NYS hot line to ask whether the law means both public and private school officials and teachers, they said, yes.

The Education Law mandated reporting statute applies to abuse inflicted by school teachers and any other employees, and is specifically limited to public schools, no question about that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reinstating a physically abusive teacher

Bechoros(46a)/Gittin(36a)/(Makkos 16b): There was a case of a teacher of children who had physically abused his students [by beating them excessively – Rashi Gittin 36a] [ and some of them had died – Rashi Bechoros 46a] and as a result he had been made to take an oath by Rav Acha not to teacher children anymore [Rashi – Gittin 36a]. However Ravina had reinstated him because there was no other teacher who taught as precisely or as well.

Tzitz Eliezer( 22:59.2): You ask regarding Rashi (Bechoros 46a) who said that the students didn’t die immediately after the teacher beat him, “I don’t understand. Even if the students didn’t die immediately from the teachers blows, how could Ravina reinstate him just because he couldn’t find a better teacher – is it permitted to reinstate a teacher who causes his students to die? Furthermore you note that it doesn’t mention at all that the teacher promised to stop his evil ways?” It appears that this is a very serious question. In answer there are two issues 1) Rashi doesn’t have to be understood that it was typical that the students were hit harder than necessary that they eventually died but rather that it did happen. 2) It is also clear that after the teacher was removed from his position he repented of his evil ways. However he was not able to be reinstated because of the oath that Rav Acha had made until Ravina came and released him from the oath because there was need for this teacher and thus it was considered a mitzva. But this was only because he had already promised to turn over a new leaf.

Pedophiles infiltrate respected institutions to find victims

The Penn State allegations may seem unthinkable: revered assistant coach and prominent community activist Jerry Sandusky preying on eight children. But such abuses of trust play out in the USA over and over again.

Respected people who set up charitable or social groups for children, only to be implicated in some form of child sexual abuse, are a frightening reality.

"I call them 'institutions of trust,' " says Portland, Ore., attorney Kelly Clark, who has represented more than 300 sex abuse victims. Some predators are so tacitly trusted "that when something like this happens, the instinctive reaction is, 'That can't happen here. We can't allow the mission to be compromised,' " he says.

Abuse experts say the common denominators in many such crimes are parents willing to allow noted people to have unrestricted access to their kids. Among recent cases:[...]

Bedatz denounces Jewish Taliban ladies


The Bedatz condemned the extremists sect as an unacceptable deviation from Judaism. An example was a woman whose daughter's life was in danger. She took her daughter to the hospital for treatment. However the mother insisted that her daughter only be treated by female doctors and nurses. When this was not done she took her daughter from the hospital. Thus she held contrary to the Torah that modesty takes precedence over life.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kids react to parents eating their Halloween candy

Study Finds Signs of Awareness in 3 ‘Vegetative’ Patients

Three severely brain-injured people thought to be in an irreversible “vegetative” state showed signs of full consciousness when tested with a relatively inexpensive and commonly used method of measuring brain waves, doctors reported Wednesday. Experts said the findings, if replicated, would change standards in treating such patients. 

Scientists have seen meaningful, responsive brain activity in such patients before, using a high-tech magnetic resonance imaging scanner. But the new study, posted online Wednesday by the journal The Lancet, is the first to demonstrate that clear signs of conscious awareness can be detected on an electroencephalogram machine by using an innovative strategy. The EEG is a portable, widely available unit that picks up electrical brain activity through electrodes positioned on a person’s head. Clinics and homes treating people with severe brain injuries are far more likely to have access to an EEG than to an M.R.I. scanner.

Blind man sees by echolocating clicks


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gilad Shalit and the Rising Price of an Israeli Life

NY Times

They produced data showing that 45 percent of those released in previous prisoner exchanges returned to terrorist activity. One example was a member of Islamic Jihad, Luay Saadi, who was arrested in September 1999 for providing logistical assistance to terrorists in the West Bank. According to Shin Bet, after his release in the January 2004 Tannenbaum deal, Saadi set up a widespread terrorist network that led to the deaths of 30 Israelis and the wounding of 300. He was assassinated by Israel in 2005.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Widespread Sexual Harassment of Students in Grades 7 to 12

Nearly half of 7th to 12th graders experienced sexual harassment in the last school year, according to a study scheduled for release on Monday, with 87 percent of those who have been harassed reporting negative effects such as absenteeism, poor sleep and stomachaches.

On its survey of a nationally representative group of 1,965 students, the American Association of University Women, a nonprofit research organization, defined harassment as “unwelcome sexual behavior that takes place in person or electronically.” Over all, girls reported being harassed more than boys — 56 percent compared with 40 percent — though it was evenly divided during middle school. Boys were more likely to be the harassers, according to the study, and children from lower-income families reported more severe effects.

“It’s pervasive, and almost a normal part of the school day,” said Catherine Hill, the director of research at the association and one of the authors of the report.

Over all, 48 percent of students surveyed said they were harassed during the 2010-11 school year. Forty-four percent of students said they were harassed “in person” — being subjected to unwelcome comments or jokes, inappropriate touching or sexual intimidation — and 30 percent reported online harassment, like receiving unwelcome comments, jokes or pictures through texts, e-mail, Facebook and other tools, or having sexual rumors, information or pictures spread about them.

Preaching Virtue of Spanking, Even as Deaths Fuel Debate

The pastoral mood in the hills of Tennessee offered a stark contrast to the storm raging around the country over the Pearls’ teachings on child discipline, which advocate systematic use of “the rod” to teach toddlers to submit to authority. The methods, seen as common sense by some grateful parents and as horrific by others, are modeled, Mr. Pearl is fond of saying, on “the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules.”

Debate over the Pearls’ teachings, first seen on Christian Web sites, gained new intensity after the death of a third child, all allegedly at the hands of parents who kept the Pearls’ book, “To Train Up a Child,” in their homes. On Sept. 29, the parents were charged with homicide by abuse. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Former Penn State coach accused of abuse/Others with coverup

Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator for the Penn State football team once viewed as a favorite to succeed Joe Paterno as head coach, has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys, and the university’s athletic director and another university official were charged with perjury and failure to report after an investigation into the allegations.

Sandusky, 67, who had worked with at-risk children through his Second Mile foundation, was arraigned and released on $100,000 bail on Saturday after being charged with, among other offenses, seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, eight counts of corruption of minors, eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child and seven counts of indecent assault.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Judge whips his daughter/ abused wife participates

Time Magazine

Ultra-Orthodox spitting attacks on Old City clergymen becoming daily

Ultra-Orthodox young men curse and spit at Christian clergymen in the streets of Jerusalem's Old City as a matter of routine. In most cases the clergymen ignore the attacks, but sometimes they strike back. Last week the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court quashed the indictment against an Armenian priesthood student who had punched the man who spat at him.

Johannes Martarsian was walking in the Old City in May 2008 when an young ultra-Orthodox Jew spat at him. Maratersian punched the spitter in the face, making him bleed, and was charged for assault. But Judge Dov Pollock, who unexpectedly annulled the indictment, wrote in his verdict that "putting the defendant on trial for a single blow at a man who spat at his face, after suffering the degradation of being spat on for years while walking around in his church robes is a fundamental contravention of the principles of justice and decency." [...]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Well known psychologist found to have falsified research - major concern for field of psychology

A well-known psychologist in the Netherlands whose work has been published widely in professional journals falsified data and made up entire experiments, an investigating committee has found. Experts say the case exposes deep flaws in the way science is done in a field, psychology, that has only recently earned a fragile respectability.

The psychologist, Diederik Stapel, of Tilburg University, committed academic fraud in “several dozen” published papers, many accepted in respected journals and reported in the news media, according to a report released on Monday by the three Dutch institutions where he has worked: the University of Groningen, the University of Amsterdam, and Tilburg. The journal Science, which published one of Dr. Stapel’s papers in April, posted an “editorial expression of concern” about the research online on Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dismal Tale of Arrest for Tiniest of Crimes

Early in the morning on Oct. 22, a Saturday, Ms. Zucker, 21, and her friend Alex Fischer, also 21, were stopped by the police in Riverside Park and given tickets for trespassing. Mr. Fischer was permitted to leave after he produced his driver’s license. But Ms. Zucker, on a visit to New York City with a group of Carnegie Mellon University seniors looking for jobs in design industries, had left her wallet in a hotel two blocks away.

She was handcuffed. For the next 36 hours, she was moved from a cell in the 26th Precinct station house on West 126th Street to central booking in Lower Manhattan and then — because one of the officers was ending his shift before Ms. Zucker could be photographed for her court appearance, and you didn’t think he was going to take the subway uptown while his partner stayed with her at booking, did you? — she was brought back to Harlem. [...]

Rabbi Moti Elon indicted for indecent assault

The Jerusalem District Attorney's Office filed an indictment on Wednesday afternoon against Rabbi Moti Elon, charging him with indecent assault and indecent assault by force.

According to the indictment, which was filed in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, Elon is alleged to have carried out the offenses by exploiting two minors. [...]

‘Bank-fraud’ case jolts Satmar schools

A massive federal bankruptcy case threatens to cripple the school system of Brooklyn’s Satmar community, whose operator is accused of a huge money-laundering scam, court records show.

The United Talmudical Academy is being sued for $200 million by a bankruptcy trustee who claims the UTA helped a big donor conceal bank fraud at the contributor’s company -- and the case is expected to go to trial early next year.

The trustee claims in Brooklyn federal bankruptcy court records that as far back as 1997, the UTA was helping the family of Victor Jacobs hide the fact that his Allou Distributors was cooking its books to boost its line of credit from a lender.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Up to 50 free copies of Child & Domestic Abuse vol I - available to rabbis & organization heads

My 3 volumes of Child and Domestic Abuse were published about a year ago. It has been sold in seforim stores and Amazon and  distributed without much fan-fare around the world. I have received very positive feedback from those who have read it, and at the same time have not received any criticism of the content or conclusions.

Now the time is right to give it more publicity and make it available to rabbis, lay leaders and community organizations. A generous donor has offered to pay the printing costs for up to 50 copies of volume one.

If you know someone influential in the Jewish community who you think would benefit from it, please send me [] the name, address and reason you think he should get a free copy. Obviously not everyone suggested will receive a copy. In addition, volume II dealing with the rabbinic literature will not be included nor will the summary volume III - except in special circumstances. I also only want names of those who will read it

Hatzola & protecting women from embarrassment - guest post by Ruchi Freier esq.

This guest post deals with the delicate issue of women's embarrassment and degradation when treated by their well-meaning and purely motivated neighbors in Hatzalo. In my own recent investigation of the matter I have found that - contrary to the common belief of men - it is a traumatic experience for many women. One posek I asked whether it was permissible to have women members responded, "Why is their a need for this when they have been going to male doctors for many generations?"
When I explained the difference between a doctor and a neighbor - he told me to speak to the director of that communities Hatzalo concerning the practicability and only then would he evaluate the proposed solution in terms of halacha. The director told me he would bring it up at the next general meeting. I spoke to a senior Hatzaloa member in Lawrence who felt that the issue of modesty was not common. However he said that even if there were a need and there were no halachic objection - the proposal would be rejected because of a more serious barrier. He said that one of the most important factors in saving life is response time.
He said it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to add another level to the organization without significantly increasing the response time. But he also was open to suggestions that would accommodate women's feelings. In sum, this is a legitimate question and concern for the Jewish community.