Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ktzarim - Deals with a difficult transgender problem

This clip illustrates a serious problem of true identity - which is illustrated by the following article where a woman becomes surgically transformed into a man - but then she uses her female biology to have a child.

This is an era of gender revolutions, and the Jewish community is racing to keep up. Enter Yuval Topper. Topper, who comes from an Orthodox family, was born female, underwent a sex reassignment surgery to become male, discovered that he’s gay, married a gay man, and in 2011 became the first Israeli transgender man to conceive and give birth to a baby.  [...]

“There’s a growing number of trans-male Jews who are getting pregnant and having babies. Finding ways to sanctify and welcome men who are having babies into the community, which is something previous generations of Jews could never dream of, is increasingly becoming part of modern Jewish life,” Kukla tells the Times of Israel.[...]

“People tend to like having things in nice, tidy boxes, of men do this, and women do that, and challenging these notions can create anxieties,” explains Kukla. “To make room for transgender Jews round the table, we have to expand some of our notions around gender and sexuality. For starters, normalizing the fact that people can have different life-cycles and choices, ones that don’t necessarily conform to the binary reality of male/female, mother/father… to my understanding, gender is a lot more complex than that.” [...]

Topper’s decision to get pregnant was one of simple practicality: In line with the rabbinical courts, the State of Israel does not officially allow same-sex couples to adopt. Only one parent may adopt, then the other may file for secondary custody, and all this with the caveat that adoption be recognized as being within “the child’s best interest,” an often discriminatory clause. It was much easier to simply stop taking testosterone for a while. [...]

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Marriage Annuled after Groom Turns Out to be a Woman

Rav Yigal Shafran (Techumin #21):

פוסקי דורנו נחלקו בשאלה האם יש השלכות הלכתיות לניתוח לשינוי המין' ומה הן השלכות אלו, כגון : האם מי שעשה כן חייב לברך "שעשני כרצונו", או "שלא עשני אשה"? האם פוקעים מגבר מצוות שחייב בהם, והאם פוקעות מנשים מצוות שרק הן חייבות בהך?

הרב עובדיה חדאיה זצ"ל (שו"ת ישכיל-עבדי ח"ז אה"ע סי' ד) סבר שאין לניתוח כזה משמעויות של שינוי, וכל אחד נשאר במינו. כשיטה זו סברו עוד הרבה, למשל :הרב חירש ב 'נועם' חט"ז (תשל"ג) עמ' קנב (שו"ת לב-אריה ח"ב סי' מט ; בקובץ אסיא ח ' וא עמ' 144,     נשמת-אברהם א"ע סי מד אות ג, ועוד .

אכן הרב וולדנברג בשו"ת ציץ-אליעזר (חי"א סי' עח) סובר שיש מצבים בהם ניתן לשנות את המין, וכוונתו לתינוק שנולד עם סימנים כפולים, ואם יתערבו ויבטלו בניתוח את אותם חלקים של סימני זכרות שעימם נולד - יועיל הדבר לתחשיבו כנקנה. על סמך דבריו יש שטעו לקבוע באופן גורף שמינו של אדם נקבע על סמך מראהו החיצוני (ודבריהם הובאו באנציקלופדיה רפואית הלכתית, בסוף הערך 'ניתוחים' ח"ד עמ'  611 הע' 78 ). 
אולם דומני שדיוק זה אינו נכון, והרב וולדנברג שליט"א כלל לא דיבר במי שהחליט מיוזמתו להפוך את מינו. סימוכיך לכך ניתן למצוא בתשובה נוספת של הרב רולדנברג שליט"א (ציץ-אליעזר חכ"ב סי' ב) בפנייתו אל הראשל"צ הרב מרדכי אליהו שליט"א בעניו דומה. שם העלה, שגם מי שהתחלף מינו מנקבה לזכר בדרך נס, דינו כאנדרוגינוס ולא כזכר, וזאת למרות מראהו החיצוני.

מסתבר שגם במקרה שתואר בראשית דברינו, גם הרב וולדנברג יודה שאין להחשיב את הגברת הזו לגבר כלל ועיקר ,שכן בתשובה בחי"א הנ"ל הוא עצמו דיבר רק על מצב המבוסס על הכפילות שתיתה בסימני הילד כשנולד, ומשום שמדובר היה בתינוק. אבל בבוגרת שהחליטה לעשות מעשה ולחבול באבריה - על מנת לתחשיבה אחר כך כזכר, ושתיטול הורמונים זיכויים - לא מצינו מי שיקל בזה, ובטוחני שגם הרב וולדנברג שליט"א היה מורה בזה לאיסור מוחלט ,ושלא כדברי מי שהבין בדבריו ההיפך , כנ"ל.

Arutz 7   The Jerusalem Rabbinate was forced this week to announce the nullification of a marriage it had performed, when it became clear that the groom was actually a transgender man, thus making the marriage invalid according to Jewish law. 

The saga began when the couple approached the Rabbinate to register for marriage. The Rabbinate saw that the woman was pregnant, and the man claimed the fetus was his child. 

Approval for the marriage was then granted. 

The couple request a modest wedding ceremony to be held at the Rabbinate's office, and the Rabbinate complied with the request. The ceremony took place and one of the rabbis on the Religious Council officiated. 

However, two weeks later, the Rabbinate received information that the man married had not actually been born a man, and was previously a woman who had sex reassignment surgery in 2013.[...]

update - see Tzitz Eliezar who holds that sex change operations change the halachic gender
Tzitz Eliezar(10:25.26):

See Rabbi J. Wiesen's discussion

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide

NY Times   In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.

“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the historic decision. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

Marriage is a “keystone of our social order,” Justice Kennedy said, adding that the plaintiffs in the case were seeking “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”[...]

The court’s four more liberal justices joined Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion. Each member of the court’s conservative wing filed a separate dissent, in tones ranging from resigned dismay to bitter scorn.

In dissent, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Constitution had nothing to say on the subject of same-sex marriage.

“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

In a second dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia mocked the soaring language of Justice Kennedy, who has become the nation’s most important judicial champion of gay rights.

“The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic,” Justice Scalia wrote of his colleague’s work. “Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

In a First, New Jersey Jury Says Group Selling Gay Cure Committed Fraud

NY Times In the first court verdict of its kind, a jury in New Jersey on Thursday found that a prominent group offering gay “conversion therapy” violated the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by claiming it could help men overcome unwanted homosexual urges.

Gay-rights groups hailed the decision as an important advance in their growing national campaign to discredit and ban so-called reparative therapy, which is based on the theory that homosexuality is rooted in childhood trauma, often caused by distant fathers, overbearing mothers or early sexual abuse, and can be overcome with extended therapy.

Leading psychiatric and medical groups, which stopped branding homosexuality a disorder in the 1970s, have called the theory unfounded and say such therapy is potentially dangerous because it can produce agonizing guilt in young people and turn them against their parents.

In recent years, California, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, D.C., have banned conversion therapy for minors; a bill that would do so in Illinois awaits the governor’s signature. At a White House Pride reception on Wednesday, President Obama said he supported “efforts to ban conversion therapy for minors.”

But the verdict by the seven-member jury on Thursday, which described as fraudulent claims that the therapy has a basis in science and a proven record of success, is the first that could restrict it from being offered to adults as well. [...]

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Temple Mount activists Glick and Etzion meet with Justice Minister regarding ongoing violence on Temple Mount’s jus

Breaking Israeli News   Temple Mount activists Yehuda Glick and Yehuda Etzion met with Israel’s justice minister on Wednesday to confer over the ongoing tensions and violent acts on the holy site, Arutz Sheva reported.

Glick and Etzion called on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to ensure that rule of law was applied on the Temple Mount against violent Islamists who attack Jewish visitors as well as allowing Jews, who are routinely banned by the Muslim Waqf, from praying at the holy site.

Despite court orders allowing Jews to visit and pray at Judaism’s most holy site, Israeli Police have ignored and violated the judicial decisions.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

UN report denies Israel's right of self-defense, advocates arrest of Israelis instead

Fox News   Arrest Benjamin Netanyahu and any other “suspected” Israeli war criminals wherever and whenever you can get your hands on them. That is the shocking bottom line of a scandalous report released today from the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The board “calls upon the international community … to support actively the work of the International Criminal Court in relation to the Occupied Palestinian Territory; to exercise universal jurisdiction to try international crimes in national courts; and to comply with extradition requests pertaining to suspects of such crimes to countries where they would face a fair trial.”
To be fair, the U.N. report says this could apply to both parties. In other words, the democratic state of Israel, with a moral and legal obligation to defend its citizens, and the Palestinian attackers bent on genocide are moral equals. Throughout the 183-page tome, the U.N. council “experts” play the old “cycle of violence” trick, otherwise known as “it all started when you hit me back.” [...]

When Israel responds to Palestinian rocket fire – 750 rockets in 2014 alone prior to the war’s start – or Palestinian terrorists emerging from tunnels into Israel bent on carnage, it is Israel who is accused of war crimes. The only acceptable response, apparently, is to hang their heads or make a U.N. speech. [...]

It even goes so far as to lament that Palestinian “armed groups” don’t have more room for their criminal enterprise: “…the obligation to avoid locating military objectives within densely populated areas is not absolute. The small size of Gaza and its population density make it difficult for armed groups to always comply with this requirement.” [...]

How the Talmud Became a Best-Seller in South Korea

New Yorker    About an hour’s drive north of Seoul, in the Gwangju Mountains, nearly fifty South Korean children pore over a book. The text is an unlikely choice: the Talmud, the fifteen-hundred-year-old book of Jewish laws. The students are not Jewish, nor are their teachers, and they have no interest in converting. Most have never met a Jew before. But, according to the founder of their school, the students enrolled with the goal of receiving a “Jewish education” in addition to a Korean one.

When I toured the boarding school last year, the students, who ranged in age from four to nineteen, were seated cross-legged on the floor of a small tentlike auditorium. Standing in front of a whiteboard, their teacher, Park Hyunjun, was explaining that Jews pray wearing two small black boxes, known as tefillin, to help them remember God’s word. He used the Hebrew words shel rosh (“on the head”) and shel yad (“on the arm”) to describe where the boxes are worn. Inside these boxes, he said, was parchment that contained verses from one of the holiest Jewish prayers, the Shema, which Jews recite daily. As the room filled with murmurings of the Shema in Korean, the dean of the school leaned over to me and said that the students recited the prayer daily, too, “with the goal of memorizing it.”

Park Hyunjun founded the school in 2013, and now runs it with his son, the dean. The two were trained at the Shema Education Institute, which was started by a Korean reverend and brings Christians from South Korea to Los Angeles, so that they can witness firsthand how Jews study, pray, and live. The reverend’s thesis is that the Jews have thrived for so many years because of certain educational and cultural practices, and that such benefits can be unlocked for Christians if those practices are taught to their children. During the drive from Seoul, the dean told me that he was worried about what I would think of his school’s Jewish classes. “I don’t always know exactly what Jewish education is,” he said.

In the classroom, the students paired up for “Talmudic debate.” Their dialectic centered on a paraphrased verse from Deuteronomy: “Money improperly earned may not be donated to church.” The room erupted into impassioned pleas and gesticulations, then two students were chosen to debate in front of the class. Sanguk Bae, seventeen, sat with one palm on the ground and the other hand waving a Bible in the air, arguing that the law was the law, and the Bible was not open to interpretation. Min Kwon, sixteen, countered that God loves everyone and forgives easily. The class concluded with a recitation of a psalm.

Outside, over bulgogi, Park Hyunjun laid out the goals behind his curriculum. “I would like to make our students to be people of God and to have charity just like Jewish people,” he said. Before I left, the dean pulled out a crate of Talmud books in Korean that the school used. There were forty-page books with more cartoons than words and two-hundred-and-fifty-page books that included lesson plans and study questions. He conceded that he wasn’t sure if they had “the same concept of Talmud” as the Jews do. “Our Talmud book,” he said, “is kind of a story about our life.” [...]

It was hard to imagine South Koreans halfway around the world deriving any value from this book without a guide like the rabbi at my Jewish day school. But, as it happens, they do have a guide: a seventy-eight-year-old rabbi named Marvin Tokayer, who lives in Great Neck. [...]

Jewish Agency proposes independent conversion courts for immigrants

Times of Israel  Reform and Conservative conversions completed outside of the State of Israel are accepted by the country’s Interior Ministry as grounds for application for citizenship. On the other hand and quite confusingly, only a select number of Orthodox rabbis abroad are authorized by the Israeli chief rabbinate to sit on a conversion court for kosher Orthodox conversions. 

Further muddling the who-has-a-right-to-convert-non-Jews issue, there are cases of Orthodox rabbis who hold two pulpits — one abroad and one in Israel — who are only authorized to adjudicate on conversions overseas. 

In a step to rectify this conversion confusion, the Jewish Agency’s Unity of the Jewish People Committee proposed a resolution calling for the organization’s support for the establishment of an independent conversion court at Wednesday afternoon’s closing plenary in Tel Aviv of the summer Board of Governors meetings. The resolution was adopted overwhelmingly by the full board. [...]

The proposal is framed as a way for interfaith families, as well as individuals, to become fully integrated into the Jewish people through conversion, and through the possibility of immigration to Israel. [...]

גדולי הדור אינם, והאינדיבידואליזם החרדי מרים ראש

The Marker

"התרבות החרדית משתנה", קובע ידידיה שטרן מהמכון הישראלי לדמוקרטיה. "לא רק שהם מתחילים לצאת לעבוד - פתאום יש תרבות של צריכה, של יציאה לנופש, ואפילו אינטרנט" ■ האם דווקא השאיפה למותרות תשכנע את החרדים בנחיצות היציאה לעבודה?

"לאור החשיבות שרואה הממשלה בעידוד התעסוקה ובהגברת שילוב המגזר החרדי בשוק התעסוקה, יוקם מטה לעידוד תעסוקת חרדים במשרד הכלכלה שיפעל לשילוב בתעסוקה מלאה ואיכותית של האוכלוסייה החרדית".
המשפט הזה הופיע בהסכמים הקואליציוניים שחתמו המפלגות החרדיות, יהדות התורה וגם ש"ס, עם הליכוד. הוא הופיע מיד לאחר משפט קודם, שבו התחייבה הממשלה לפעול "לעידוד קליטה בשירות הציבורי של עובדים חדשים מקרב האוכלוסייה החרדית, בין השאר באמצעות חקיקה".
אם תשאלו את צוות החרדים של המכון הישראלי לדמוקרטיה - סגן הנשיא פרופ' ידידיה שטרן, דורון כהן, גלעד מלאך וחיים זיכרמן - שני הציטוטים האלה הם רעידת אדמה. לא בגלל הניסוח שלהם, שנראה כמעט מובן מאליו, אלא בשל העובדה שהיו אלה המפלגות החרדיות שדרשו את הכנסתם. "מפלגות חרדיות דורשות מהממשלה לדאוג לתעסוקה איכותית של חרדים?" שואל שטרן. "זה בהחלט תקדים".
המכון הישראלי לדמוקרטיה, העוסק בשלל בעיותיה הדמוקרטיות של ישראל, הפנה בשנים האחרונות את מבטו גם לשאלת השילוב בחברה של האוכלוסייה החרדית. אין מחלוקת שהיעדר השילוב של החרדים בחברה הישראלית פוגע בה אנושות. רק לפני כמה שבועות פורסמה תחזית ארוכת טווח של הכלכלן הראשי באוצר, שממנה עולה כי אם דפוסי העבודה של החרדים והערבים לא ישתנו - כלומר אם הם לא יעבדו יותר, ויעבדו בשכר ובפריון גבוהים יותר - מדינת ישראל תגיע לקריסה.
האזהרה ההיסטורית של משרד האוצר, שכמותה לא נכתבה מעולם, נראית קודרת במיוחד על רקע ההסכמים הקואליציוניים של הממשלה 
ה–34, שבמסגרתם ויתר ראש הממשלה, בנימין נתניהו, על כל ההישגים של הממשלה הקודמת שלו בתחום הפעלת הלחץ על החרדים להשתלב בשוק העבודה

Monday, June 22, 2015

שקט, מטייחים. מקריבים את הנפגעים החרדים


פנינו ל-27 רבני ערים ושכונות וביקשנו את עצתם במקרה של נערה שנפלה קורבן לעבירת מין ואימא שבנה הוטרד על ידי פדופיל. למרבה ההפתעה, רובם ביקשו לסגור את זה בתוך הקהילה מחשש להרס חייהם של שני הצדדים. התיעוד המלא בפרשה שנחשפה הבוקר ב"ידיעות אחרונות" - לפניכם

שיטות טיפול מפוקפקות, טיוח, האשמה בוטה של הקורבנות ומניפולציות כדי למנוע תלונות במשטרה. זה מה שקרה כששלחנו נערה חרדית שעברה אונס או אם שילדיה הותקפו על ידי פדופיל לספר על כך לרבני ערים, שכונות וקהילות ולשאול בעצתם. התגובות, ברובן, היו מזעזעות. הן מעידות כי אין לדעת כמה עברייני מין מסתובבים באופן חופשי ברחובות הערים החרדיות בגלל טיפול גרוע, פוגעים בעוד נשים, ילדים וילדות.

שבוע לאחר שבנה הותקף מינית על ידי אחד השכנים, פנתה חנה (שם בדוי) לרב הקהילה כדי להתייעץ איתו כיצד לנהוג. למרות שכבר שמע בעבר את שם התוקף, ביקש ממנה הרב לשתוק ולתת לו לטפל בבעיה. כמעט שלוש שנים אחרי, הפדופיל עדיין מסתובב חופשי. לא מן הנמנע שפגע בילדים נוספים.

הרבנים בקהילות החרדיות, וגם בחלק מהציבור החרדי לאומי, הם אלה שמתווים את הדרך ומייעצים לצאן מרעיתם כמעט בכל תחומי החיים. כשהם מבקשים לטייח, אין כמעט מי שיפעל באופן עצמי. בחודשים האחרונים, בעקבות יותר מדי סיפורים קשים, ביקשנו לבדוק ישירות מול הרבנים, חלקם רבני ערים שמתפרנסים מהמדינה, כיצד הם מטפלים בתלונות על עבריינות מין. כל אחד מהם קיבל פנייה מנערה שסיפרה על אונס או מעשים מגונים שבוצעו בה על ידי רב, מורה או אבא של חברה טובה. במקרה אחר, נשלחה "אימא". שביקשה להתייעץ לאחר שבנה או בתה הותקפו בידי פדופיל

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Kristen's secret:Sexual abuse by trusted teachers - coverup by administration

CBS News   Tormented by horrific memories of being sexually abused years before by a middle school gym teacher, Kristen Cunnane thought about killing herself -- but then she decided to fight back

[....] At the age of 32, Kristen seems to have life licked. But look closer and there is darkness around her, a residue of painful memories that were long buried.

"I really didn't know if I was going crazy," she told "48 Hours" correspondent Tracy Smith.
It was 2010 when Kristen began having disturbing flashbacks.

"When I first started going through the flashbacks and remembering everything that had happened to me, I didn't wanna live anymore," she said. "It was like I could see the stuff that had happened to me happening again ... stuff that I had been able to completely black out for more than 10 years."

The flood of memories transported Kristen back to Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School in the wealthy suburb of Moraga, in the San Francisco Bay area. Back in the mid-1990s, Kristen was a student there and her favorite teacher was Julie Correa, who taught physical education and coached the girl's sports teams.[...]

Julie Correa was a young married woman in her mid-20s. The girls looked up to her and Kristen trusted Correa implicitly. 

"I was ... taught that, 'Teachers are good. Respect them ... be a ... good student.' And so I think a lot of ... the things she did ... taking me to get a Slurpee or those little things ... I just trusted them because she's a teacher. And of course she has good intentions," said Kristen.

Correa was not the only standout teacher at Moraga. Her colleague, Dan Witters, also was a favorite -- at least to some students. [...]

Marquette University's decision to paint over mural of convicted cop killer draws protests

Fox News   More than 60 faculty and staff members at Marquette University are circulating an online petition against their own school for taking down a mural featuring convicted cop killer and the FBI’s first female most wanted terrorist, Joanne Deborah Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur.

Shakur was part of a revolutionary extremist organization called the “Black Liberation Army.” In 1973, she shot and killed a New Jersey State Trooper at point-blank range, according to the FBI. Then she escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba, where she is still believed to be living.

The mural showed Shakur’s face with two quotes on a wall inside the Catholic institution’s “Gender and Sexuality Resource Center,” which provides “a safe and welcoming space dedicated to dialogue, growth, and empowerment around gender, sex, and sexuality,” as noted on its Facebook page. [...]

When the university discovered there was a convicted cop-killer on the wall, they painted over it in May. A statement by the university said, “this is extremely disappointing as the mural does not reflect the Guiding Values of Marquette University.”

Stephen Franzoi, Professor Emeritus at Marquette’s Psychology Department, authored the petition and wrote the latest events “demand a response,” saying the university adopted “the narrative of pure vilification” by erasing the image.

“Did the administration consider the chilling impact of the erasure of the image within the context of present conversations about police brutality and black life?” the petition reads. “Were the students consulted? Were they offered an opportunity to engage? [...]

Friday, June 19, 2015

Supreme Court allows child’s statements to teachers in abuse case

The Supreme Court said Thursday that a defendant’s rights were not violated when he was precluded from cross-examining the 3-year-old boy he was accused of beating.

The court ruled unanimously that a lower court was right to allow a teacher to testify at Darius Clark’s trial about what the child had told her and that it did not violate Clark’s constitutional right to confront his accuser, because he could not cross-examine the child.

How Obama Abandoned Israel by Michael Oren - former Israeli ambassador

Wall Street Journal  by Michael Oren - former Israeli Ambassador to America

‘Nobody has a monopoly on making mistakes.” When I was Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to the end of 2013, that was my standard response to reporters asking who bore the greatest responsibility—President Barack Obama or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—for the crisis in U.S.-Israel relations.

I never felt like I was lying when I said it. But, in truth, while neither leader monopolized mistakes, only one leader made them deliberately.

Israel blundered in how it announced the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods and communities in Jerusalem over the border lines that existed before the Six Day War in 1967. On two occasions, the news came out during Mr. Netanyahu’s meetings with Vice President Joe Biden. A solid friend of Israel, Mr. Biden understandably took offense. Even when the White House stood by Israel, blocking hostile resolutions in the United Nations, settlement expansion often continued.

In a May 2011 Oval Office meeting, Mr. Netanyahu purportedly “lectured” Obama about the peace process. Later that year, he was reported to be backing Republican contender Mitt Romney in the presidential elections. This spring, the prime minister criticized Mr. Obama’s Iran policy before a joint meeting of Congress that was arranged without even informing the president. 

Yet many of Israel’s bungles were not committed by Mr. Netanyahu personally. In both episodes with Mr. Biden, for example, the announcements were issued by midlevel officials who also caught the prime minister off-guard. Nevertheless, he personally apologized to the vice president.

Mr. Netanyahu’s only premeditated misstep was his speech to Congress, which I recommended against. Even that decision, though, came in reaction to a calculated mistake by President Obama. From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran. Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader. But Mr. Obama posed an even more fundamental challenge by abandoning the two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America.

The first principle was “no daylight.” The U.S. and Israel always could disagree but never openly. Doing so would encourage common enemies and render Israel vulnerable. Contrary to many of his detractors, Mr. Obama was never anti-Israel and, to his credit, he significantly strengthened security cooperation with the Jewish state. He rushed to help Israel in 2011 when the Carmel forest was devastated by fire. And yet, immediately after his first inauguration, Mr. Obama put daylight between Israel and America.

“When there is no daylight,” the president told American Jewish leaders in 2009, “Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs.” The explanation ignored Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and its two previous offers of Palestinian statehood in Gaza, almost the entire West Bank and half of Jerusalem—both offers rejected by the Palestinians.

Mr. Obama also voided President George W. Bush’s commitment to include the major settlement blocs and Jewish Jerusalem within Israel’s borders in any peace agreement. Instead, he insisted on a total freeze of Israeli construction in those areas—“not a single brick,” I later heard he ordered Mr. Netanyahu—while making no substantive demands of the Palestinians.

Consequently, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas boycotted negotiations, reconciled with Hamas and sought statehood in the U.N.—all in violation of his commitments to the U.S.—but he never paid a price. By contrast, the White House routinely condemned Mr. Netanyahu for building in areas that even Palestinian negotiators had agreed would remain part of Israel.

The other core principle was “no surprises.” President Obama discarded it in his first meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, in May 2009, by abruptly demanding a settlement freeze and Israeli acceptance of the two-state solution. The following month the president traveled to the Middle East, pointedly skipping Israel and addressing the Muslim world from Cairo.[...]

Gay conversion therapy trial in New Jersey - judges ruling

 NJ Today    A judge has ruled that a New Jersey conversion therapy organization is potentially liable for the costs to repair the damage it inflicted on four young people by using dangerous and discredited efforts it claimed can convert people from gay to straight. That ruling is the subject of a heated trial in Hudson County.

Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. ruled that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) and its co-defendants may be liable for three times the amounts the four men paid for subsequent, legitimate therapy to repair the psychological damage caused by the organization’s conversion therapy program. JONAH’s program included nude sessions with counselors and “father-son holding.”

“These self-proclaimed experts inflicted grave damage upon our clients, who believed JONAH’s claims that it could ‘cure’ them of being gay,” said David Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director. “These young men were left with guilt, shame and frustration. No amount of money can fix the damage JONAH caused, but recognizing that JONAH can be held accountable for the cost of repairing that damage is an important step.”[...]

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pisgat Ze'ev Parents: Keep Arab KIds Away From Ours

Arutz 7      Parents in the Pisgat Ze'ev are demanding that their teenage children be kept away from Arab youths who use the local .community center.

When they moved into the neighborhood, parents in the Pisgat Ze'ev probably never imagined they would have to face a dilemma that has recently crept up on them – joint activities at local youth center where Jewish and Arab youth mix freely.

The activities take place in the local community center, built with Israeli government funds, to service residents of the neighborhood.

In recent years, Arab families from traditionally Arab areas like Beit Hanina have been moving into Jewish neighborhoods in the city, especially Pisgat Ze'ev and French Hill, both of which are next to large Arab areas.

As a result, there is a large population of Arab teens in Pisgat Ze'ev, and they, like Jewish teens, flock to the community center.

But parents of the Jewish teens are very uncomfortable with the situation.

“We do not want our kids interacting with them, at least under these circumstances,” one parent told Arutz Sheva. “The kids sit around and smoke and drink, and G-d knows what else. We do not go to Arab cultural or community institutions, I don't see why they should come to ours. We are very happy with the activities offered by the community center, but very unhappy about the Arab teens attendance.” [...]

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

'Stop Googling your symptoms', teenage cancer victim told before death


A teenager who begged doctors to take her health fears seriously in the months before she died from a rare cancer was told by medics to "stop Googling your symptoms".
Bronte Doyne died on March 23, 2013, aged 19 - just 16 months after she first complained of severe stomach pains.
In text messages, tweets and personal diary entries, the student expressed her worries that medics were not acting as her health deteriorated.
Doctors dismissed her concerns, leaving her desperate for someone to take her seriously. In one tweet in July 2012, Miss Doyne made a cry for help:
 Finally, after pleading to be taken seriously, she was admitted to hospital where she passed away 10 days later.
Now bosses at the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust have admitted they "did not listen with sufficient attention" and that they must embrace the "internet age".[...]

The new reality of Orthodox women rabbis

Cross-Currents  by Rabbi Avraham Gordimer

We’re going to blink and there’ll be 100 Orthodox women rabbis in America that have been given ordination”. –R. Adam Mintz, professor of Talmud, Yeshivat Maharat

Within the week, three Orthodox-identified rabbinical ordination programs for women granted semicha (ordination) to their graduating classes. (Please see here and here.) While the mainstream organs of Orthodoxy do not recognize or approve of the ordination of women (here are RCA statements about the matter), the reasons for not accepting the legitimacy of semicha for women remain a mystery to some.

Various articles have been published about the topic (please see here for R. Hershel Schachter’s article); I would like to take one approach and provide some elaboration.

Halachic analysis of contemporary rabbinical ordination of women was first put forth by R. Saul Lieberman (please see here for R. Gil Student’s important presentation thereof), who in 1979 expressed his opposition to such on the part of Jewish Theological Seminary.

Although R. Lieberman’s tenure at JTS was the subject of controversy and was certainly not viewed favorably by Orthodox leadership, R. Lieberman was Orthodox and was very well-versed in our topic; his ruling on it is thus quite pivotal and precedential. R. Lieberman’s position was discussed in my initial article on rabbinical ordination for women, but that article focused more on the definition of Mesorah (Torah tradition). Let us turn here to the actual issue of semicha for women.

R. Lieberman demonstrates that even though modern-day semicha is not the original semicha that was conferred by Moshe upon Yehoshua and that continued to be conferred upon subsequent scholars until one-and-a-half a millennia ago, modern-day semicha is most certainly a carryover and model of the original semicha. The original semicha empowered one to serve as dayan, rabbinic judge, and that is exactly what contemporary semicha represents, as evidenced in the earliest of rabbinic literature that discusses the purpose and function of contemporary semicha. Since women cannot serve as rabbinic judges (Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 7:4, with the exception of cases of binding arbitration, in which the status of dayan is forgone [Sanhedrin 24, Rambam Hil. Sanhederin 7:2] – and modern-day semicha is decidedly not modeled on this), the rabbinical ordination of women is not valid and is distortive of the very essence of semicha. To grant semicha to women makes no sense, and to do so would “make ourselves objects of derision and jest”, proclaimed R. Lieberman.
The end of the matter is that it is clear from the sources that being called by the title “rav” (“Rabbi he shall be called”) reflects on the fitness to issue legal decisions and to judge, and we should not empty the title “rav” of its meaning from the way it has been understood by the Jewish people throughout the generations. Since a woman is not fit to judge, and she cannot become qualified for this…
Those who promote the ordination of women as rabbis either erroneously assert that modern-day semicha is a novel contrivance that has no controlling precedent, or they turn to the example of Devorah the Prophetess, who judged the Jewish People. (Shoftim 4:4)  However, Devorah did not have semicha and did not sit on the Sanhedrin. Rishonim (medieval halachic authorities) explain that she either was a leader and teacher, that she practiced binding arbitration, that she provided instruction for dayanim, or the like. To use Devorah – someone who did not have semicha and did not qualify for it – as the precedent for women rabbis is quite a stretch.

Unfortunately, many of those involved with the ordination of women lack fealty to the fundamentals of Torah. For example, one of the women just ordained with “Maharat” semicha rejects halachic marriage, and she has created her own alternatives to Kiddushin and Nisu’in, halachic marriage, as presented in her book Tradition and Equality in Jewish Marriage: Beyond the Sanctification of Subordination.

One of the rabbis who ordained two women last week at an Orthodox-identified coed semicha program has written that one need not believe that the Torah reflects accurate facts and that it was dictated to Moshe via oral prophecy. This rabbi, who prominently touts his Orthodox credentials, has written that God did not necessarily speak to Moshe in a literal sense, but that the entirety of Torah was a non-historical development in which God communicated by placing His existence and truth in man’s heart:
The significance of the biblical narrative according to this tradition rests not in its historical accuracy but in the underlying spiritual content.
The purpose of the Torah, according to the “sod” tradition is not to convey historical truths but rather to gesture toward a deeper and more profound spiritual reality. It is possible, then, to accept that the Torah in its current form is the product of historical circumstance and a prolonged editorial process while simultaneously stubbornly asserting the religious belief that it none the less enshrouds Divine revelation.
God stirs our hearts and He stirs in our hearts; that is the revelation. The rest is interpretation.
This rabbi’s theology is extremely close, if not identical, to the Conservative movement’s notion of a divinely-inspired Torah – which is hence not literal, not fully binding, and is subject to evolving revelation/modification, for it was not actually commanded to Moshe at Sinai.

Inclusion and acceptance of rabbis who proffer heretical views has sadly become de rigueur in the “Open Orthodox” rabbinate, whether dealing with the ordination of women or anything else. One musmach of Open Orthodoxy, whose apostasy is well-known (please see here for older material, and here, here, here, etc. for more recent assertions of this rabbi that the Torah was written by men), was recently honored by International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), the Open Orthodox rabbinic organization (whose vice president is a female rabbi), to serve as editor of a new book about the halachic significance of brain death. Apparently, IRF is not bothered by the fact that the editor of its new halachic publication denies the Torah’s singular divine authorship.

The chair of the department of Talmud at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) recently reposted his approach to Torah She-b’al Peh, the Oral Law:
Chazal were the R. Riskin’s of their time. They too were committed to creating a yiddishkeit which is in constant dialogue with their ethical sensibilities. They read Torah with a critical lens and whenever they encountered a perceived injustice they did whatever they could (within legitimate boundaries) to undo the challenging misread.
This week’s parsha is a perfect example. 
Simply read, the biblical sotah procedure seems capricious and patriarchal. The rabbis, incorporating Divinely ordained hermeneutics, drastically revised the procedure. The result: a process that is sensitive and somewhat egalitarian. 
They were the progressives of their time, and, relative to their milieu, quite radical. They too were vilified, but in the end they prevailed. Ultimately their enterprise received the divine imprimatur. 
It is because of their courage that Rabbinic Judaism is still around today. Their interpretations allowed Judaism to survive, thrive and ultimately triumph.
This rabbi describes Chazal, the Sages of the Talmud, as revising Torah law to meet their own sense of ethics, and that the hermeneutic tools for this are divinely-sourced, granting Chazal poetic license, as it were, to reform Biblical Law that they find objectionable. This radical approach to halachic authorship is clearly contradicted by the Rambam in his Introduction to Mishneh Torah and his Introduction to Perek Chelek, Yes, Chazal have at their disposal certain legislative tools, but reforming the interpretation of Biblical Law to conform to human ethics is not in the arsenal and violates the divine character of Torah Law. Please read the referenced words of the Rambam and see for yourself.

Although it does not pose the stark theological objections discussed heretofore, a YCT rabbinical student and his bride recently created a novel wedding ceremony, whose link was proudly posted in various fora by YCT rabbinic leadership:
We made a list of particular needs that we had, and researched potential solutions. We wanted the women to feel involved during the tisch, we wanted the bedeken to be a moment where we each covered the other, and we wanted female participation under the chuppah. 
As I was marched in, on my brothers’ shoulders, for the bedeken I covered Marti’s face, and she too covered me. She replaced my regular kippah, with a new kippah that she made for me. As I kneeled in front of her, it was one of the holiest moments of my life. 
Our good friend, Rabbi Rachel Silverman, recited it (an eighth beracha, for the Sheva Berachos) for us under

It is regrettable that Open Orthodoxy is becoming the new Conservative movement, but that is precisely what is happening. Denial of a Singular Divine Author of the Torah, denial of the objective truth of Torah She-b’al Peh, ordaining women rabbis, creating gender-modified rituals, andso much more; the “Orthodoxy” has been swallowed up by the “Open”.

The Torah requires the Jew to subordinate his ideologies and actions to God, to the objectively true and authentic mandate of Sinai. Reshaping Judaism as we see fit has no place in this mandate. Let us recommit to Hashem and the eternal, unchanging charge of Sinai, and pray that all of our brothers and sisters will join us.