Friday, August 31, 2012

Beracha "Didn't make me a woman" - Magen Avraham

Magen Avraham (O.C. 46:9):... The Bach asks why we don’t say a beracha “that G‑d has made me a Jew” [rather than the negative version that He hasn’t made us a non-Jew] which would be similar in structure to the other morning berachos such as “gives sight to the blind” in which we bless the good? Some answer it is because our Sages concluded that it would have been better that Man had not been created. Thus we are say it would have been better if we hadn’t been created but now that we exist I bless G‑d that at least He did not make me a non-Jew, slave or woman. In addition I think that if a person said “Who has made me a Jew” he would not be able to also say “Who has made me a free man” or “Who has made me a man” because that would be included. The intent therefore is to say a blessing on each detail.... These are the words of the Bach. His words imply that if a person erred and said “Who has made me a Jew” - that he would no longer be able to say the beracha of not being made a slave or a woman. It also seems to me that even if he said Yisroel or Jew – a woman is included. That is because the entire Torah is expressed in the masculine form and nevertheless it includes women. We see this from Tosfos who says that only when the Torah says the Children of Israel it implies an exclusion of the Daughters of Israel. Nevertheless Sanhedrin (84) implies that this is because the Torah equates a woman to a man. In Bava Kama (15), Menachos (93) and the beginning of Erachin – it indicates that “slave” should be said before “woman” since it states that a slave is inferior to a woman. It is also implied in the Bach according to what is says in Sefer Chassidim concerning “freeing the prisoners that it is the same here. If a person says “who has not made me a woman” first he can no longer say the beracha concerning a non-Jew or a slave.

Mitt Romney at Yeshiva University

The Left fears Israel's demographics

Haaretz   This week, as children returned to school, another public servant, Deputy Education Minister Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Moses, was quoted at a gathering of Haredi school principals saying with satisfaction that this year, for the first time, a majority of children in Israeli kindergartens are either ultra-Orthodox or religious. It was a misleading statistic - Moses was not including Arab children in his calculations and not all the children enrolled in religious kindergartens are actually religious. Many parents place them there for the longer hours or simply because they are closer to their homes and next year they will continue in secular schools. But the Haredi rabbis who privately despise the national-religious for their compromises with modernity are happy to include them in their camp when it pushes secular Israelis into a minority. Today the kindergarten - tomorrow the Knesset. 

But despite Malthusian demographic trends indicating a joint Haredi-settler majority in Israel by 2050, both Moses and Levanon are aware how tenuous their advantage could be. None of the current trends are inexorable. As the Haredi community grows, the hold of its ancient leaders over a generation who have grown up in the 21st Century is rapidly eroding and the trickle of defections will increase to a torrent. The growing number of West Bank settlers is also misleading. Three-quarters live in comfortable suburbs by the Green Line, easily absorbed into the sovereign Israeli state as part of a two-state solution which a clear majority of Israelis still support. 

The fundamentalists see their majority beckoning on the horizon if only they can hold on for another 20 years, perpetuating the settlement program and shutting off their young from outside influences. It is impossible to foresee whether they will prevail, but we are giving them a much better chance of success by not listening to what they say.

Priest-Therapist blames some Victims of Sexual Abuse

NYTimes   A prominent Roman Catholic spiritual leader who has spent decades counseling wayward priests for the archdiocese provoked shock and outrage on Thursday as word spread of a recent interview he did with a Catholic newspaper during which he said that “youngsters” were often to blame when priests sexually abused them and that priests should not be jailed for such abuse on their first offense.

“Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him,” Father Groeschel, now 79, said in the interview. “A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.”

He added that he was “inclined to think” that priests who were first-time abusers should not be jailed because “their intention was not committing a crime.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Modesty in requesting marital relations

 This is material that I am trying to understand for my latest sefer on the Torah understanding of gender and sexuality. The point is that we have what is an accepted halacha and yet the Seforno, Malbim and Torah Temima acknowledge the pshat of the verse is against the halacha.

Leah is used in Eiruvin 100b as proof that a woman is not supposed to verbalize her desires - and yet Leah apparently did. The gemora indicates that are apparently two views in Chazal and yet it concludes there is only one.
Meiri (Eiruvin 100b):  Even though the attribute of modesty (tznius) is praiseworthy for everyone – nevertheless it is more praiseworthy for women.  In spite of this whoever makes themselves beloved to their husbands and entice them to the mitzva of sexual relations – this is not considered pritzus (immodesty) but rather zariz (alacrity) to do the mitzva and it is a desirable characteristic. She is rewarded for her concern with this mitzva by having proper children. That is because her intent is only for children. The Torah has already given an example of the appropriateness of this concerning Leah, And Leah went out to meet Yaakov and told him that he was to sleep with her that night instead of Rachel (Bereishis 30:16).

Bereishis (30:16):  And Yaakov came from the field in the evening and Leah went out to meet him. And she said to him, You shall come to me [tonight] because I have paid for you with the mandrakes of my son. And he lay with her that night.

Eiruvin (100b): R. Samuel b. Nahmani citing R. Johanan stated: A woman who solicits her husband to the [marital] obligation will have children the like of whom did not exist even in the generation of Moses. For of the generation of Moses it is written: Get you from each one of your tribes, wise men and understanding, and full of knowledge, and then it follows: So I took the heads of your tribes, wise men and full of knowledge. while men of ‘understanding’ he could not find, whereas in the case of Leah it is written in Scripture, ‘And Leah went out to meet him, and said: Thou must come unto me, for I have surely hired thee, and subsequently it is written, ‘And of the children of Issachar, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, the heads of them were two hundred, and all their brethren were at their commandment. But can that be right? seeing that R. Isaac b. Abdimi stated: Eve was cursed with ten curses, ... ’ And he shall rule over you - this teaches that a woman asks with her heart while her husband asks directly for intercourse. This is a good attribute in women. In other words she acts seductive and ingratiates herself with him but does not directly say what she wants.

Torah Temima (Bereishis 9:16.4): In other words from this pregnancy Yissachar was born as is states explicitly in the Torah. The gemora (Eiruvin 100b)  asserts  that she didn’t ask Yaakov directly for sexual intercourse because to do so is a disgusting behavior and her children would have been called the children of brazeness [ instead of praising her]. In fact she seduced him by showing her strong feelings of love. But the language of the Torah apparently contradicts this explanation since she is quoted as saying, “You shall come to me [i.e., have sexual relations]”. However this phrase is to be understood that she meant that he should come to her tent but not that she was saying she wanted sexual intercourse....

In contrast others sources seem to assume Leah spoke bluntly and directly - but since she was on a much higher spiritual level - we can not learn that it is permitted for women today to speak this way.

Rashi (Bereishis 30:16): I hired you tonight – I paid Rachel [to be with you tonight]. 

Malbim (Bereishis 30:16): And she said to Yaakov , You are to come to me. This teaches that her intent was solely for the sake of Heaven. Therefore she wasn’t embarrassed to speak this way. That is because she had no lust which would have caused her embarrassment. This was like Adam prior to the Sin that he and Eve were naked and did not feel shame.

Seforno (Bereishis 30:16): You are to come to me since I hired you. And she did not do an injustice with her behavior in taking away the sexual rights of her sister since it was done with her knowledge and agreement. At first glance this story seems to be disgusting to those who look for excuses to say negative things about the Torah. In fact we learn from this that the Avos were similar to Adam and Eve prior to the Sin. Their intent was not at all for their own pleasure but was solely for the sake of Heaven to establish descendants for the honor of G‑d and to serve Him. We learn from this that since the intent of the Matriarchs was pleasing to G‑d in their efforts ... Their prayers were accepted. That is because it is appropriate for a tzadik to make efforts according to nature as much as possible to obtain that which he desires and to also pray that he succeed. Our Sages note that G‑d desires the prayers of Tzadikim (Yevamos 64a).

Religious leaders decree tight clothing inappropriate for men

YNet  A new decree signed by top Israeli rabbis this week prohibits devout men from wearing tight pants.

"Every Jewish man is mandated by the holy Torah to dress modestly in loose-fitting clothing," read the edict, which was published in the ultra-Orthodox media. 

The public service messages were accompanied by pictures of Jewish men in times of old dressed in loose, gown-like attire.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fluff allegation about Mary Murphy's reporting on Bobov - Rejoinder

I would like to take up your offer to post my rejoinder [to your post about Mary Murphy].
You have my full permission to post it, in its entirety, as long as I am credited and there is a link to my posting.
Thanking you in advance,

Yerachmiel Lopin
Just a couple of observations.
 1) Lopin is the one who concluded that there was a coverup - not Mary Murphy. He claims based on earlier reports - her report confirms that there was a coverup.

2) Lopin states, I keep saying, “If true,” because Rabbi Eidensohn bases his dismissal of the story on the premise that Mary Murphy is a dumb, sloppy or dishonest reporter. He doesn’t explicitly say it but why else would he dismiss a report that documents molesting and a cover-up. Lopin is correct I never said that Mary Murphy is a dumb, sloppy or dishonest reporter. I did say that the report on this topic was a poor job and that certain facts were not verified and those that were presented were not clearly presented in context. This is especially problematic for a reporter who has won 18 emmies for her reporting! He says ,"why else would he dismiss a report that documents molestering and a coverup". It is strange because in my post I explained very clearly why I dismissed the report. She never confirmed that her informant was a parent as he claimed. If she had evidence of a coverup why didn't she present it to the police? If she did why did they dismiss it and concluded that there was no basis for the allegations?  My point is that is one must conclude either the police or Mary Murphy is wrong. I accept the conclusions of the police.

3) The police investigated the allegations and reported that there were no basis to the allegations. If there is evidence presented that makes the police change their minds -I would have no problem of accepting that there was abuse and a coverup. However Mary Murphy has only reported allegations,rumors and an anonymous person claiming to be a father who said that the kids were told not to talk to each other. That is not a coverup but is excellent advise to prevent interfering with the police investigation. If it was claimed that the kids were told not to speak to the police - then that would indicate a coverup. Mary Murphy did not reach such a conclusion.[to be continued]


Did Bobov Cover Up Molesting at Shalvah, Its Boys Camp?

August 27, 2012
I say there was a cover up based on earlier reports which were confirmed by Mary Murphy’s report on WPIX 11.

Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn used his blog Daas Torah to disparage her report as,
A fluff piece on alleged abuse at Camp Shalva. . . . An embarrassingly poor job of reporting which serves primarily to convey rumors and hearsay.

WPIX 11 reporter Mary Murphy said she interviewed the father of one camper, who spoke to his son who was in the camp. This father shared this communication from a camper.

Boys are saying they were tickled on their legs and you know what that means. . . . . . The kids were warned that morning that they should not be talking to each other about the incident.

This is shocking. If true, there was a cover up. If true, the reason the police had no allegations of molesting is because the boys were intimidated into lying to the police. If true, the police may have been quite competent but they were stymied by the same forces that routinely protect ultra orthodox molesters. If true, Jewish children are being endangered because a molester is not being prosecuted.  If true, this news report is not a fluff piece. If true, the only fluff is the Shalvah party line that tranquility reigns and the kids were safe that night.

I keep saying, “If true,” because Rabbi Eidensohn bases his dismissal of the story on the premise that Mary Murphy is a dumb, sloppy or dishonest reporter. He doesn’t explicitly say it but why else would he dismiss a report that documents molesting and a cover-up.

I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. She is a professional with 30 years experience in NYC who has won 18 Emmy awards for reporting. Someone in her position does not take the risk of fabricating a story. In fact we can safely assume she followed the professional protocol of confirming that the interviewee was indeed a father of a camper. This was a minor story for a major media figure. Why would she run such a story unless she did her homework and was convinced it was true and was convinced that she could not be sued for recklessly besmirching Camp Shalvah?

So I think the story is true, kids were sexually molested, someone in Camp Shalvah obstructed reporting, and Yoel Oberlander will get another chance. The slap on the wrist for a minor trespass will not do much to protect children. The kids will also be harmed by the knowledge that grown ups belittle and lie about their experiences. They will learn to “Not to make trouble.”

Rabbi Eidensohn, you have no grounds for questioning Mary Murphy’s integrity as a reporter. On these matters, I would say she has a chezkas kashrus (a presumption of trustworthiness). Regrettably, the administrators of most frum camps and yeshivas cannot be trusted to report molesting to the police. I see no proof that they reported this intrusion by a registered sex offender.

Rabbi Eidensohn, I hope you will reconsider your posting and correct it to reflect the significance of the father’s allegation and Mary Murphy’s professional credibility.

IDF to send out draft notices to ultra-Orthodox Jews

Haaretz  The army will be sending first draft notices to some 7,500 ultra-Orthodox men in early September.

The notices will ask 17- and 18-year-old Haredim eligible to be drafted in 2013 to report to draft offices to begin the process of determining where they will serve. The notices are being sent because the Tal Law, which governed draft deferrals for Haredi yeshiva students, expired in August and the government hasn't yet managed to pass alternative legislation.

However, the chances that the army will actually enforce the draft notices are considered very low.

In 2013, Haredim will constitute 13 percent of all draft-age males. Currently, however, only about 30 percent of Haredim do either military service or alternative civilian service; most don't serve at all.

Monday, August 27, 2012

An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism

A subtitle might be -  cleanliness and vaccines increase autoimmune disorders

NYTimes   So here’s the short of it: At least a subset of autism — perhaps one-third, and very likely more — looks like a type of inflammatory disease. And it begins in the womb.[...]

The lesson here isn’t necessarily that viruses and bacteria directly damage the fetus. Rather, the mother’s attempt to repel invaders — her inflammatory response — seems at fault. Research by Paul Patterson, an expert in neuroimmunity at Caltech, demonstrates this important principle. Inflaming pregnant mice artificially — without a living infective agent — prompts behavioral problems in the young. In this model, autism results from collateral damage. It’s an unintended consequence of self-defense during pregnancy. [...]

YET when you consider that, as a whole, diseases of immune dysregulation have increased in the past 60 years — and that these disorders are linked to autism — the question seems a little moot. The better question is: Why are we so prone to inflammatory disorders? What has happened to the modern immune system?

There’s a good evolutionary answer to that query, it turns out. Scientists have repeatedly observed that people living in environments that resemble our evolutionary past, full of microbes and parasites, don’t suffer from inflammatory diseases as frequently as we do.  [...]

Generally speaking, autism also follows this pattern. It seems to be less prevalent in the developing world. Usually, epidemiologists fault lack of diagnosis for the apparent absence. A dearth of expertise in the disorder, the argument goes, gives a false impression of scarcity. Yet at least one Western doctor who specializes in autism has explicitly noted that, in a Cambodian population rife with parasites and acute infections, autism was nearly nonexistent. [...]

Chareidi solider allegedly kicked out of shul

Jewish Press based on this bhol  Hebrew article

A Haredi IDF soldier was chased out of the Toldos Avraham Yitzchak shul on Monday morning, in the Beit Shemesh neighborhood of Nachala U’menucha, after appearing at Shacharit services in his uniform.

B’Hadrei Haredim reported that the soldier arrived at the shul, located at Hazon Ish Street, at about 10 AM, looking to participate in the morning service there.

Before entering the shul, he sat outside the building. One of the Chassidim passing by requested that the soldier “keep out.”

He explained to the soldier that since he was wearing the uniform of the “Army of the Zionist State,” he was not permitted to enter a shul whose members strongly advocate an anti-Zionist ideology.

Benefits of Circumcision Outweigh Risks, Pediatric Group Says

The nation's most influential pediatricians group says the health benefits of circumcision in newborn boys outweigh any risks and insurance companies should pay for it.

In its latest policy statement on circumcision, a procedure that has been declining nationwide, the American Academy of Pediatrics moves closer to an endorsement but says the decision should be up to parents.

"It's not a verdict from on high," said policy co-author Dr. Andrew Freedman. "There's not a one-size-fits-all-answer." But from a medical standpoint, circumcision's benefits in reducing risk of disease outweigh its small risks, said Freedman, a pediatric urologist in Los Angeles.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Reasons a wife refuses marital relations & possible solutions

Guest Post: by Bunsa Bayis

Please excuse my nonsequitor, but in connection to a previous post several days ago, the term "force" was debated in respect to compelling a woman to sleep with her husband. The Torah teaches that a woman's desire is for her husband, and the Torah is emes. So I've been mulling it over and, excuse my impertinence, but based on my twenty years plus of marriage and a wide circle of talkative friends, I've come up with a list of reasons why a woman would refuse relations and possible solutions to the problems. 

Note: NONE of the solutions include using force:

1) she feels physical pain before, during, or after intimacy = she should see a doctor
2) she has an aversion/fear of sex = she should see a psychiatrist
3) she is trying to manipulate her husband = he should see a divorce lawyer
4) she is angry with him = if it's a mutual quarrel, then he is forbidden to have relations with her anyway. If she's angry about something - whether its justifiable or not - she's probably not withholding sex as a means of punishment. She probably just can't bear to touch him in that emotional state. Remember, for women, the sex/love relationship is indivisible. First work out your conflicts, then get physical.
5) she feels hurt = if you know she's upset, then say the magic words. Something that seems small to you might loom large in her mind. It's not worth being insensitive. If you don't know that you hurt her feelings then she needs to learn a better way to communicate. But, "having a headache" may be her way of telling you that something is amiss.
6) she is exhausted = whether she works outside or not, the kids, the house, the mother-in-law.... Fatigue is the most common cause of "not tonight, dear", and it's legitimate = Use some sense. If she was up all last night with a colicky baby, don't take it personally if sleep is far more appealing to her than you are. If you can afford to get her cleaning help, then why haven't you yet? If you can, bring home takeout for supper once a week. If your budget can't afford it, then pick up a dishtowel or bathe the kids. I promise it won't emasculate you. Give her a neck-rub. Both of you get to bed earlier.
7) She doesn't feel romantic towards you= If the first quiet moments you spent together are when you get to bed, then you owe it to her to first connect emotionally and talk nicely to her (the gemara's words, not just mine!) and not about the kids or bills. Take her out to dinner once in a while. Flirt with her. Notice how she looks and compliment her. Give her a neckrub, or a spontaneous kiss when you're nowhere near the bedroom.
8) she's no longer attracted to you = well, did you shower and brush your teeth before you climbed into bed? Ask her to buy you a cologne that she likes. Make an effort to look good for her.
You see how many productive steps can be taken in a healthy marriage that don't require force? Just as a man craves respect, a woman wants to feel cherished.
I'll welcome any additions to my list but I'll bet there will be accompanying solutions that don't require force.

Bitul Seruv: Aharon Friedman/ Rav Gestetner

Defining Onas (force) by others

The issue of onas (force) is an important one in a number of halachic areas. I would like to review a number of relevant sources to get a clearer understanding of what onas means. Onas also needs to be distinguished from forcing oneself. This is a critical issue for the case of get me'usa as well as whether  a wife is prohibited to her husband after rape as well as defining rape itself. I will make a separate post of sources where the force is described as forcing oneself.

Kesubos (51b): Shmuel’s father said that the wife of a Jew who has been raped – is forbidden to her husband since we are concerned about the likelihood that even though she was forced to have sexual intercourse but at the end she willing enjoyed it. Rav raised an objection to Shmuel’s father, It says in her kesuba “that if you are captured I will redeem you and take you back as my wife”? Shmuel father was silent…. What could he have replied? That the law was relaxed in the case of a captive since her rape is only suspected. According to Shmuel father, what circumstances would a raped woman be permitted by the Torah to her husband? If there were witnesses that she cried during the rape - from the beginning to the end - she would be permitted to her husband. However this ruling differs from Rava. Rava ruled that even when intercourse began by compulsion but ended with consent and even if she said to not harm her assailant and even if he had not attacked her she would have hired him to do it – she is permitted to her husband. What is the reason? – He aroused in her an uncontrollable passion – which is a form of compulsion. There is a braissa which is in aggreement with Rava. It says in Bamidbar (5:13): That a woman is prohibited to her husband if she had intercouse without being seized. It follows from this that if she was seized than she is permitted to her husband. But there is another case that even though she wasn’t seized she is permitted. What is that? Any woman who began intercouse under compulsion but at the end was willing.
Beis Shaarim(O.H. 283):  The Ra’ah learned this din from the case of the women who was originally raped but at the end she was willing. In that case whether the beginning of the intercouse was forced by rape or by threatening to kill her – she did not get pleasure from the beginning of the intercourse but rather suffered… And at the end of the intercourse in which she has pleasure, that pleasure is itself forced as is stated in Kesubos (51b) because the lust is aroused. Rashi explains that it means that the pleasure is also forced… So that is true here where he is forced to eat i.e., the food is forced down his throat to a point it can’t come back. In such a case even though he gets pleasure from the food – he does not have to say a beracha on this pleasure  since it was forced and he can’t help but having pleasure. Similarly if they say he will be killed if he doesn’t eat so he is obligated to eat because of “Chai bahem” (You shall live by them) he is being forced to have this pleasure and therefore doesn’t have to say a beracha. However if they beat him to force him to eat and he has the ability to withstand the beating and not to eat but he decides he would rather eat then to received the blows – he is not considered as being forced to have the pleasure.
Rambam (Hilchos Sanhedrin 20:2): Whoever is forced to do something which is punishable by the death penalty – the court does not kill him. Even though it is for a matter for which he should rather die rather than transgress and even if his transgression caused a profanation of G‑d’s name but since he was forced he is not killed for it. This is learned from the case of a betrothed woman who is raped the verse says “Do not do anything to the woman.” This is a warning to the beis din not to punish someone who was forced to do the act.
Panim Yofas (Bamidbar 5:19): It says in Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 178:3) that if a woman was secluded with a man who subsequently raped her – she is prohibited to her husband since she caused the rape by being secluded with him. Also look at my comments to Kesubos (51b) where Shmuel’s father said that a married women who is raped is prohibited to her husband because we are concerning that while the beginning of intercourse was with force but she participated willingly at the end. The gemora there concludes however that she is permitted to her husband because uncontrollable lust was aroused by the forced intercourse. We prove there that she has a presumption of innocence. However when she transgresses the prohibition against seclusion with another man she loses that presumption of innocence because of the suspicion that she willing participated at the end…

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Orthodox and Anorexic

Tablet Mag  By the time Chaya Faigie Jundef was accepted into an eating-disorder treatment program in 2007, she weighed 52 pounds. Too weak to walk, she was carried in. Her hair and teeth had fallen out, and her pulse was a dangerously low 28, less than half a normal reading. Everything sounded like a shriek or a whisper to her, because the thin membrane of fat around the neurons in her ear had dissolved. Her eyesight faded in and out.   And then her heart stopped.

Jundef, an Orthodox woman whose anorexia had brought her to the brink of death, recovered after her stint in the treatment program—but her harrowing experience was far from over. Her story is not unique: The Orthodox community has begun to grapple openly with eating disorders in recent years. In 2008, the Orthodox Union released a documentary film to be shown in Jewish schools called Hungry To Be Heard, about eating disorders among observant Jews. And treatment programs that cater to Orthodox women have opened.[...]

Chasam Sofer: Why tuma is less for male child

Chasam Sofer (Vayikra 12:2): A woman who produces seed and gives birth to a boy. Rashi explains that if the woman produces seed first then she will have a boy... Also what is the reason that there is less spiritual impurity with the birth of a boy than for a girl? There is a need to examine  this since the impurity of nida and birth resulted from the sin of the Tree of Knowledge which is obviously relevant only for women and not men. So why do males  have the foreskin which is also from the sin of the Tree of Knowledge and not females? A possible answer is that the reason that the woman who gives seed first will give birth to a boy is because material from the woman and the man are intrinsically unique and distinct from each other. The nature of the male child is determined by the mother and that of the female by the father. Therefore when the woman gives seed first it is from the material that the woman received from the spiritual contamination resulting from the sin of the Tree of Knowledge which dominates the woman. It is from this impure material of the mother that the foreskin grows and therefore the male has the foreskin since the male is created from the material of the mother. This contribution of material by the mother has the consequence of reducing somewhat the mother’s spiritual contamination which resulted from the Tree of Knowledge. That is why after the birth of a male child she is spiritually impure for fewer days than after the birth of a female child. In contrast the material of a female child which comes from the father when he produces seed first does not contain any spiritual sickness from the Serpent and therefore the female child has no foreskin and thus the spiritual contamination resulting from the Tree of Knowledge is not reduced for the mother when she gives birth to a female child. That is why she is spiritually impure for twice as many days for giving birth to a girl than she is for a boy.

Prohibiting giving free water - restriction of religion?

ABC15  The City of Phoenix could face a lawsuit if the city doesn’t apologize to a Valley woman for telling her she could not hand out free bottled water to people in the summer heat.

Dana Crow-Smith said a City of Phoenix worker came up to her during the First Friday festival in downtown Phoenix last month and told her she was violating city code by handing out free water because she did not have a permit.

Crow-Smith and a group of others were there exercising their Christian beliefs by engaging people to talk about religion if they wanted.

The group brought several cases of bottled water to give away in the 112-degree heat, but said a Neighborhood Preservation Inspector told the group they had to stop handing out the water or would be cited.

“It was really hot and yeah we wanted to show God's love and a small act of kindness is a great way to do that without shoving it down someone's throat,” said Crow-Smith.

The Rutherford Institute , a non-profit civil liberties organization, stepped in to represent Crow-Smith and calls this is “a violation of Crow-Smith's First Amendment right to freely exercise her religion, her Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, as well as Arizona's Free Exercise of Religion Act.”

"It is a sad day when local government officials prohibit Americans from such charitable acts as giving water to the thirsty in their city," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.

From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader

NY Times  Not long ago, the atheist movement was the preserve of a few eccentric gadflies like Madalyn Murray O’Hair, whose endless lawsuits helped earn her the title “the most hated woman in America.” But over the past decade it has matured into something much larger and less cranky. In March of this year, some 20,000 people marched through a cold drizzle at the “Reason Rally” in Washington, billed as a political debut for the movement. A string of best-selling atheist polemics by the “four horsemen” — Hitchens and Dawkins, as well as Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett — has provided new intellectual fuel. Secular-themed organizations and clubs have begun to permeate small-town America and college campuses, helping to foot the bill for bus and billboard ad campaigns with messages like “Are You Good Without God? Millions Are.”

The reasons for this secular revival are varied, but it seems clear that the Internet has helped, and many younger atheists cite the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a watershed moment of disgust with religious zealotry in any form. It is hard to say how many people are involved; avowed atheists are still a tiny sliver of the population. But people with no religious affiliation are the country’s fastest-growing religious category. When asked about religious affiliation in a Pew poll published this summer, nearly 20 percent of Americans chose “none,” the highest number the center has recorded. Many of those people would not call themselves atheists; “agnostic,” which technically refers to people who believe that the existence of a higher being can’t be known by the human mind, remains the safer option. The godless are now younger and more diverse than in the past, with blacks and Hispanics — once vanishingly rare — starting to appear in the ranks of national groups like the United Coalition of Reason and the Secular Student Alliance.

The movement has also begun cultivating a new breed of guru in men like DeWitt and Nate Phelps, the son of Fred Phelps, the leader of Westboro Baptist Church, which pickets military funerals and gay-pride events with signs declaring “God Hates Fags.” Nate Phelps, a big, barrel-chested man who delivers fierce rebuttals of his father’s theology and narrates the agonies of his fundamentalist upbringing, has become a star speaker at atheist rallies and gay-pride events around the country. At the Reason Rally, crowds cheered as he declared that the Sept. 11 attacks played a critical role in blasting away his lingering belief in any sort of deity. [...]

“This story has kept you feeling that God has a destiny for you,” DeWitt said. “So now how do you reconcile that? How do you make sense of your life? It’s not easy.”

I heard parallel stories from a number of other participants in post-religion networks. “People have a really difficult time making decisions after they’ve lost their faith,” said Amanda Schneider, who organized a local Recovering From Religion group in Santa Fe (and also helps manage the broader organization). “They used to always base it on ‘What is God’s plan for me?’ They are still looking for something miraculous to guide them.” 

Should infiltrators' children be kept separate in schools?

Haaretz  Immigrant children should be separated from others in the school system, the Education Ministry believes, according to the State Prosecution’s appeal to the Supreme Court submitted earlier this week. The state appealed against the Be’er Sheva District Court, which had ordered Eilat two weeks ago to admit the children of African asylum-seekers to city schools. [...]

“As we see, the de facto attempt detailed above indicates that integrating infiltrators’ children into the regular education system does not give a proper answer to the infiltrators’ children and harms them,” the state’s appeal says.

“Placing those students in the usual schools, without taking into account relevant considerations, deepens the gaps between them and other students in the school,” the appeal says.

“The overwhelming majority of infiltrators’ children in Tel Aviv studies de facto in two schools − Bialik Rogozin and Hayarden. ... Experience indicates that the said integration is severly damaging, causing harm to the other children studying at the school, and does not enable them and the teaching and administrative staff [to operate] a functioning, advanced educational and learning framework.” 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dropping circumcision rates will cost billions of dollars

LA Times  Declining rates of circumcision among infants will translate into billions of dollars of unnecessary medical costs in the U.S. as these boys grow up and become sexually active men, researchers at Johns Hopkins University warned.

In a study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, a team of economists and epidemiologists estimated that every circumcision not performed would lead to significant increases in lifetime medical expenses to treat sexually transmitted diseases and related cancers — increases that far surpass the costs associated with the procedure.

Circumcision is a hotly debated and emotional issue in the U.S., where rates have been falling for decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, about 80% of baby boys were routinely circumcised in hospitals or during religious ceremonies; by 2010, that figure had dropped below 55%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [...]

But in the last decade, studies have increasingly shown that removing the foreskin of the penis has significant health benefits, said Dr. Aaron Tobian, senior author of the new study.

Three randomized trials in Africa have demonstrated that circumcision was associated with a reduced risk of contracting HIV, human papillomavirus and herpes simplex in men. One of those studies documented a reduced risk of HPV, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis in the female partners of men who were circumcised. [...]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WPIX fluff piece on alleged abuse at Camp Shalva

 What follows is an embarrassingly poor job of reporting which serves primarily to conveying rumors and hearsay. For example they quote an alleged parent as saying the kids were told not to talk with each other about the incident. Why is that presented as something wrong? If he claimed they were not to speak with anyone - especially the police then that would be significant. In fact in investigation it is helpful if kids were not interviewed by non-professionals even by parents. Such activity makes fact finding very difficult as we saw in the botched Nachliot investigation. In fact the only helpful information presented was the map showing that the delivery area and the bunks are at opposite ends of the camp. There prime informant is Ben Hirsh who has been leading the charge from the beginning But he also did not present any clear evidence that abuse took place or that the police were incompetent or that the Camp officials were covering up the facts.

Monday, August 20, 2012

An online semicha program

 On 8/16/2012 10:12 PM, onlinesmicha wrote:  BS"D

Shalom,  Perhaps you would be interested in covering this on your blog.  Thanks for your consideration.  Kol Tuv,

Friday, August 17, 2012

Police reject allegations of camper abuse

The following is an example of hysteria concerning claims of abuse and abuse coverups that turns out to be false.
NY Post  A registered sex offender delivering milk to an Orthodox Jewish summer camp for Brooklyn boys was arrested yesterday -- a week after he was caught by cameras sneaking into buildings where kids were sleeping, state police said.

Yoel Oberlander, 31, of Monsey, was charged with trespassing Aug. 8 at Camp Shalva in South Fallsburg between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.

“He knowingly entered and unlawfully remained in the bunk, the sleeping quarters of the boys,” said State Police Capt. Joseph Tripodo.

Tripodo said an investigation found “no allegation of sexual abuse.”[....]

Arrests for alleged US-Israeli money laundering ring

NY Daily News Three Brooklyn men were charged Wednesday with participating in an international conspiracy to launder millions in drug money through local check cashing businesses.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Tehrani said that conspiracy touched cities in England, the U.S. and Israel and resulted in law enforcement seizures of more than $2.3 million in narcotics proceeds.

Tehrani said that acting on orders from two co-conspirators in Israel, Samuel Ashkenazi, 43, picked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in Boston and Hartford and brought it to The Money Spot, a Brooklyn check cashing business run by Samuel Goldberger, 34. [...]

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Security cameras delayed over police access

NYDaily News  A state-funded program expected to put 150 cameras in two Brooklyn neighborhoods has been stalled amid concerns that police may not have access to the footage of certain crimes, sources said.

In a recent interview with The Jewish Daily Forward, Jacob Daskal, who coordinates Shomrim in Borough Park, said cameras work best “if it’s a private thing.”

“If it’s a public thing, it might hurt a person who doesn’t want to arrest her husband for domestic violence,” he said.

The NYPD bristled at any suggestion that footage from security cameras wouldn’t be shared with police. “We don’t think there should be any filter between the police and a victim of a crime or evidence of a crime,’’ said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD’s top spokesman. “If there’s a crime, we’ll decide.”

See Forward article

Jewish Exponent reports Friedman assault

Jewish Exponent   The man who is at the center of a controversy for refusing to grant his ex-wife a get, or a Jewish divorce, was allegedly assaulted two weeks ago in Bala Cynwyd after dropping his 4-year-old daughter at her grandmother's house. 

At least one blogger has hinted that the alleged assailants may have been supporters of the victim's ex-wife, but a group that lobbies on behalf of agunot, or "chained women" who are denied divorces, says that's unlikely.

The alleged incident took place on a residential street at 6 p.m. on July 29, according to Tom Walsh, a spokesman for the Lower Merion Township. The police department does not release the names of victims, but Friedman told the Jewish Exponent that he was the one attacked. [...]

Rabbi David Eidensohn of Monsey, N.Y., who has spoken on behalf of Friedman, said the man has been shunned in the Orthodox establishment. His brother, Daniel Eidensohn, has blogged extensively about the alleged incident at

"There were two or three people dressed in black who attacked me, at least one of whom was wearing a mask," Friedman said of the incident, which occurred on Tisha B'Av. "I had to go to the hospital afterwards. I was hit pretty hard. I was able to get away."

Walsh said there were "no weapons seen and the victim said there was no verbal communication." He added that no one has been arrested and an investigation remains ongoing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Early Divorce for "trivialities" amongst Orthodox Jews

crosscurrents  Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein

Shaya Ostrov, an Orthodox marriage counselor, relates how he was told recently by someone he was counseling, “So what if I get divorced? Most of my friends already are, and they’re waiting for me to join them.” And this from a young kallah: “I’m not thrilled by his looks, and I don’t see why I should settle. Most of my friends have broken engagements and seem to be doing just fine. According to Rabbi Weinberger, a shocking percentage of the young divorces are over “trivialities,” not triggered by the serious issues that typically compromise marriages of middle-aged couples, such as familial trauma, unremitting financial pressure, or an affair. As an example of such “trivialities,” Shaya Ostrov cites a young kallah from a “heimish” background who decided her chosson was too boring because he did not fully appreciate her love of bungee jumping.

Rabbi Doniel Frank points out [that] for those couples who have not navigated the developmental stages leading to young adulthood, expanded pre-marital training will be neither welcome nor engaging, and is unlikely to have much impact. More and more of our young people have not passed those stages. In an era in which social scientists speak of a period of “emerging adulthood” (which resembles an extension of the teenage years) into the late twenties, it is hardly surprising that the Orthodox community should have been adversely affected, and with particularly tragic results due to the societal norm of comparatively early marriage.
As noted by Dr. Yitzchak Schechter and others, too many Orthodox young people enter marriage with unrealistic expectations of instantaneous bliss and without any commitment to the hard work necessary to build and sustain a marriage. They have never had to work hard for anything in their lives or been forced to deal with situations outside of their “comfort zone.”

Shmuli Margulies, the founder of MESILA, an organization that trains individuals and families in issues connected to money management, points out that even the basic principle of financial education – a person’s spending is determined by his income – is unfamiliar to many young couples. Spending decisions are dictated more often by what their friends and neighbors have than by what they can afford.
But the problem goes deeper than that many of our children are spoiled and overprotected, argues Rabbi Frank. Many Orthodox young people have never adequately developed a sense of their own individuality (Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky once described every yeshiva as, to a greater or lesser extent, a “S’dom bed,” in which students are cut to the needs of the institution). And this lack of self-knowledge is expressed in deficits in their ability to make decisions, set goals, establish priorities, and plan for the future – all of which are crucial to a successful marriage. When it comes to shidduchim, they have long lists of what they want but a much weaker sense of what they have to offer a spouse.

As summed up by Dina Schoonmaker’s title “Marriage Preparation Begins at Age Two,” children must learn early in life that their emotional state need not be determined by whether they attained some desired object or not, and taught techniques in controlling their emotional states.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rabbinic Court allegedly ignored testimony on pedophile rapist

Haaretz  The Jerusalem Rabbinic Court allegedly ignored evidence of serious sex crimes perpetrated by a teacher in an ultra-Orthodox elementary school for boys, Haaretz has learned.

The police found out about the alleged crimes only 18 months after the religious court was first informed of them, and indicted the teacher last month.

The teacher, Gil Goren, 45, lived and taught in a settlement in the northern West Bank. In 2010 a soldier living in the community said that Goren had raped him when he was a teen, but initially refused to file a police complaint.  [....]

Nir Alfasa, the Public Defender's Office attorney representing Goren, said the evidence in the case was "old and very shaky by the time the rabbinic court was made aware of it and therefore the police were not involved, since the complaint was made anonymously."

Alfasa said his client would respond to the charges in court and that for the past two years "harmful behavior had not repeated itself."

Hassidic couple on cruise- documentary

YNet  Bedroom. An ultra-Orthodox couple belonging to the Hassidic Gur dynasty is packing for a two-week cruise in the Mediterranean. She complains he is squishing her wig; he chides her for taking too many hangers. The shtreimel fur hat, still carefully wrapped ahead of a romantic stroll in Venice, is proudly displayed on its new owner's head. All this takes place in front of a filmmaker who is, in any way, an "ultimate stranger."

That is the opening scene of the fascinating British documentary "Kosher Cruise," which aired on Israel's Yes Doco channel for the first time last week. As the film unfolds, that intimate scene will signify the beginning of an in-depth look into the relationship of an ultra-Orthodox couple – Gaby and Tikwah Lock, who have been married for 40 years.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

תקדים: ראב"ד העדה החרדית תוקף בחריפות את 'אתרא קדישא


ראב"ד 'העדה החרדית' הגאון רבי משה שטרנבוך תוקף בחריפות את ארגון "אתרא קדישא", שמארגן הפגנות סתמיות ומיותרות נגד חילולי קברים כביכול, ואף רומז כי אנשי הארגון שיקרו את מרן הגר"ש וואזנר וגרמו להוצאת נפטרים יהודים ממנוחתם. המכתב המלא (חדשות, חרדים)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Is the paiche fish kosher?

Time Magazine   The paiche, also known as pirarucu or by its scientific name, arapaima gigas, can grow up to 10 feet and weigh up to 500 pounds.  It is sought out for its tasty white meat. Barely changed from the Miocene era (which ended more than 5 million years ago), the living fossil is easy to catch with a harpoon or net because it has to come to the surface to breath. Other fish breathe underwater, taking oxygen from water through their gills.

The combination of taste and the ease with which it is landed nearly led to the demise of the paiche, which is included on a list of controlled species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Antipsychotic Prescriptions in Children Have Skyrocketed

Time Magazine  There is much evidence that the vast increases in atypical antipsychotic prescribing in recent decades were fueled by the aggressive marketing tactics of drug companies. In recent years, every major manufacturer of atypical antipsychotics has been involved in the illegal marketing of the drugs (while doctors can prescribe drugs off label, it is against the law for drug makers to market them for off-label uses), each ultimately paying hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in fines for their sales and marketing tactics. The settlements with the U.S. government were among the largest in history.

The new study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that in 2005-09 nearly two thirds of all antipsychotic prescriptions for youth were written for ADHD and other disruptive behavior disorders; these conditions accounted for 34% of all antipsychotic prescriptions for teens. Yet there is little data supporting the safety or efficacy of the drugs for those conditions. The drugs’ effect on children’s brain development is also not known, but their side effect profile is clear: aytpical antipsychotics are known to cause weight gain and diabetes, side effects to which children seem particularly prone.

“As the actual evidence base that would support [such off-label prescriptions of antipsychotics] is scant to non-existent, and the evidence of permeating undue influence of pharma on prescribing practices in psychiatry is abundant, one is led to the conclusion that this is another example of irrational prescribing that can be traced to both the overt and tacit influence of [drug companies] on practitioners,” says Dr. Bruce Perry, a senior fellow at the ChildTrauma Academy. [Full disclosure: Perry and I have co-authored two books.]

Perry testified for the state of Texas in a case that resulted in a $158 million settlement with Johnson and Johnson in January to resolve claims that it fraudulently marketed Risperdal and swindled the state’s Medicaid program. One aspect of the case involved misleading claims about the drug’s effectiveness for behavior disorders in children.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

First indictment in police pedophile sting operation

 YNet  Last month, police arrested more than 30 suspects as part of an extensive undercover investigation, headed by the National Fraud Unit, and described as the first and largest of its kind to ever take place in the country. 

The majority of the suspects have no criminal record; and include students, civil servants, a defense establishment official, a former police officer and an agronomist – to name a few.

According to the police, they range in age from 20-57 and reside all over Israel. "We can't put our finger on anything specific and say 'this is the profile,''" a source privy to the investigation said.

A first indictment was filed in the pedophile affair which was exposed through a police sting. A 57-year-old Jerusalem resident was accused of speaking to a police agent masquerading as a 12-year-old boy and setting up a meeting with the intention of having sexual intercourse.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Aharon Friedman beaten when returning child to wife

Washington Jewish Week by Suzanne Pollak  Aharon Friedman, the target of much criticism and ostracism for not giving his former wife a get, a Jewish religious divorce, was allegedly beaten up last Sunday as he returned their daughter to her mother's Pennsylvania home, according to several sources. 

A spokeswoman for the Lower Merion police department said the matter "was under investigation. There is a report out there, but we are unable to release it."

According to two people who telephoned Washington Jewish Week as well as a posting on the blog Daas Torah, Friedman went to the home of Cheryl Epstein, where his former wife, Tamar, and their child currently live. As he was leaving the property, Friedman was assaulted by two or three people, one of whom was wearing a mask.

Friedman, who lives in Silver Spring, is said to have been hit on the head and knocked to the ground, causing his glasses to be smashed.

Following the incident, Friedman went to the police department and to the hospital where he underwent a CT scan.

Rabbi David Eidensohn of Monsey, N.Y., who has written about Epstein's quest for a get, called WJW after learning of the incident. He stressed that a forced get is invalid. He called on those involved in the incident, in which he included anyone who egged people on to violence, to refrain.

He specifically pointed to Rabbi Hershel Schachter, one of the leading rabbis of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) at Yeshiva University in New York. Rabbi Schachter has come out strongly against men who refuse to give a get in letters, videos and audio tapes posted on the Internet.[...]

Livni to CNN: Netanyahu sold Israel to haredim

YNet  In the interview , Livni attacked the Likud party for "surrendering to the haredim" and granting them a monopoly on the Jewishness of the State of Israel.

"Politically speaking, Israel is being sold to the ultra-Orthodox," Livni told Amanpour, adding that "the ultra-Orthodox represent a small portion of the Israeli society. They represent part of our history and tradition, but unfortunately they now have more power than they should."

“Netanyahu said himself, that for him politically, the ultra-Orthodox are his natural partners. And I believe that the raison d’etre of the State of Israel is to be the homeland of the Jewish People," she said adding that "for me being a Jewish state means something from a national perspective, not a religious one.”

Addressing the issue of the haredi military draft, Livni said that "each and every Israeli citizen needs to contribute to the society in which we live in. Unfortunately, because of political reasons, the State gives them (haredim) the monopoly, and this must be changed."

Hareidi radio fires talk show host who called Religious Zionism - "cancer"

YNet  Haredi radio station Kol Barama has decided to fire a radio talk show host after he offended leaders of the religious Zionist movement.

In his radio show, focusing on Jewish faith and national issues," anchor Avraham Tamir said that religious Zionism is "'a cancer at the body of the Jewish faith," and that "its rabbis are criminals, trying to bring down Jewish faith."

Tamir's radio program was part of a series of conversations about the "national rift" and the issue of the universal draft. Referring to Rabbi David Stav, who called upon haredim to enlist in the IDF, Tamir said he was "either a heretic or a fool, and most likely both." And to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, who also encouraged haredim to join the army, Tamir referred as a "brat" and a "fool."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chasidic hats - made in Spain

NYTimes  But despite the Spanish economic crisis, the hat company is thriving, thanks to an unlikely revenue base: the sales of thousands of black hats each year to Satmar Hasidic Jews in Jerusalem and Brooklyn.

“They are saving us in the crisis,” said Miguel García Gutiérrez, 35, the managing director of the Roche factory, officially known as Industrias Sombrereras Españolas, which operates in an industrial park in Salteras, about nine miles outside Seville. “We have an important market in Spain for traditional hats, but with the crisis those sales have fallen for the last three years, between 20 and 30 percent. But our exports are rising for hats for Orthodox Jews.”

Child prostitution ring & Islamophobia

BBC with background by  Skylar Curtis

The men, from Rochdale and Oldham, "groomed" girls, one as young as 13. 

Liverpool Crown Court heard the men plied their victims with drink and drugs so they could "pass them around" and use them for sex.

The case, involving Asian defendants and white victims, sparked protests by far-right groups but police insist the grooming was not "racially motivated".

The offences which centred on Heywood included rape, trafficking girls for sex and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.

A failed police investigation in 2008 allowed the abuse to go undetected for another two years. 

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of of the Ramadhan Foundation, accused Pakistani community elders of "burying their heads in the sand" on the issue of on-street grooming.

"There is a significant problem for the British Pakistani community," he said.

"There should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals.

"They think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought; it is this sort of behaviour that is bringing shame on our community."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Jerusalem Police commander & sexual harassment

YNet  Jerusalem District Police Commander Niso Shaham, who is suspected of sexual offences against seven female subordinates, was interrogated for hours by the Police Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the decision not to press criminal charges against Jerusalem Periphery Police Commander Nissim Edri, who failed to report the alleged sexual misconduct of Shaham, stirred controversy among top police officials.

"It's very difficult to understand this decision, especially since this is an officer who is supposed to be the leading authority of everything that has to do with ethics," a senior police officer told Ynet.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Stanley Levitt sentenced to 10 years probabtion

Boston Globe   One-time religious instructor for a prominent Brookline school today was sentenced to 10 years probation for sexually abusing three of his students in Boston during the 1975-1976 school year.

The probation sentence was imposed on Rabbi Stanley V. Levitt by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Geraldine Hines one day after Levitt pleaded guilty in the Boston courthouse to four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child. 

He faced up to 40 years imprisonment if given the maximum, and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office today asked Hines to imprison Levitt for 2½ years. But Hines refused the request from prosecutors, saying from the bench that she was going to adhere to a plea agreement that was reached last fall between prosecutors and Levitt’s defense attorney, Scott Curtis.

Gay rage against free-speech of Chic-Fil-A

Forbes   In case you missed it, about a week ago the CEO of the very popular fast food chain said “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit”. That comment started a firestorm for the chain.

The LBGT community began in full force to try to convince people to boycott the chain regardless of the fact that the popular chain doesn’t discriminate against gays as employees or patrons. That doesn’t seem to matter in this case. It appears as though they just want to punish someone for his protected free speech point of view. They apparently convinced some in Government to support the boycott. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said “Chic-Fil-A does not represent Chicago values”. I guess Chick-Fil-A needs to have a few murders per day in their stores to meet his standard? Not sure what “Chicago values” are but, right now isn’t the time to make Chicago the standard for values.

For the first time in my life, today I visited a Chick-Fil-A to show my support for the CEO’s right to free speech. Today was billed as “support Chick-Fil-A Day”. I live in LA so, I was not expecting much in way of support but, I was not just surprised, I was blown away. The Chic-Fil-A in Northridge, California had a line that twisted throughout the parking lot. It was almost 100 degrees but, that didn’t seem to deter anyone. They were peaceful and the demographic was wide ranged. Blacks, whites, teenagers, kids, Latino’s and all other categories you could imagine. At this location their there were no anti-Chick-Fil-A protesters.

When I returned home I turned on the news to see how this would be reported. NBC in Los Angeles chose to focus on the protesters. Not the ones supporting Chick-Fil-A but, the ones protesting the supporters. The protesters are a tiny fraction to the supporters yet the media focused 90% of their attention on those few. This does not represent the truth of the actual event.

Rav Shmuel Eliyahu: Police system & sexual harrassment

YNET Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu encourages women not to perform national service with police forces due to system that promotes sexual harassers such as former police commander Shaham 

Female police cadets tend to have a strong character. They know what they want and they know how to stand their ground. However, in the recent case involving Jerusalem District Police Commander Nisso Shaham's alleged sexual harassment of female subordinates, the situation was different. Even when one of the victims turned for help, it didn’t really do her much good and that might be the reason why the other cadets didn't dare complain, or why their close female friends, who knew of the continuous sexual harassment didn’t say anything.

I emphasize this point to all women who want to contribute to the State by serving in the police forces and I say to them: Don't do it. If the strong female police cadets felt weak when dealing with a higher authority and further felt that they would not receive the necessary backup from the police system – what will women serving in national service do?

One does not need to be too familiar with the police system to know that this incident was not uncommon. Over the past two years, two police commanders found themselves involved in cases linked to indecent sexual behavior towards women. These commanders were supposed to uphold the law and their virtue. Furthermore, they were required to protect these women from such harassment.