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Monday, May 22, 2017

The path they advocate is no less delusional than that of abused children who blame themselves for the abuse they experience. All too often such children doom themselves psychologically to lives of self-abnegation and misery.

The Psychology of Jews Who Embrace Their Enemies

 


Interview Series: Psychiatrist-author Kenneth Levin: "Those of the Jewish community who live and work in environments hostile to Israel, commonly embrace the anti-Israel bias around them. And they often insist they are being virtuous by doing so." 

  A number of Jews and Israelis embrace criticism coming from anti-Semites and extreme anti-Israelis. They have many precursors in the lengthy history of the Jewish Diaspora.


“This phenomenon reveals great similarity, at the level of human psychology, to the response of children subjected to chronic abuse. Such children tend to blame themselves for their suffering. In their helpless condition, they have two alternatives. They can either acknowledge they are being unfairly victimized and reconcile themselves to being powerless, or they can blame themselves for their predicament. The attraction of the latter - ‘I suffer because I am bad’ - is that it serves the desire of being in control, fantasies that by becoming ‘good’ will elicit a more benign response from their tormentors. Both children and adults invariably seek to avoid hopelessness.”

In The Oslo Syndrome, Levin explains the attitude of Israeli self-haters: [There is] “a wish to believe Israel is in control of profoundly stressful circumstances over which, unfortunately, it has no real control. Genuine peace will come to the Middle East when the Arab world, by far the dominant party in the region, perceives such a peace as in its interest. Israeli policies have in fact, very little impact on Arab perceptions in this regard, much less than the dynamics of domestic politics in the Arab states and of inter-Arab rivalries.”

Levin adds now: “Popular hatred for Israel, which is fanned by Arab governments, education systems, media and Muslim clerics, runs deep in Arab opinion. This is not a totally isolated phenomenon, but fits into a much broader framework. Since the earliest days of the existence of the Arab-Muslim world, there has been widespread animosity against both religious and ethnic minorities in the region. It would be a mistake to attribute, for instance, the pressure on Christian minorities exclusively to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Popular Muslim-Arab hostility has also led to pressures on non-Arab Muslims such as the Berber populations in North Africa.

“While those Jews and Israelis who embrace anti-Jewish arguments typically do so in the hope of ingratiating themselves with the Jews’ enemies, they will rarely acknowledge this motive. Rather, they typically claim that their position reflects a higher moral or ethical position.

“In the past and present, a common claim by anti-Semites has been that Jews are interested exclusively in their own well-being. This has led many Jews to focus their energies on broader social causes, even as the Jewish community suffered unique disabilities. Jews who take this course typically do not admit they are doing so to avoid being accused of Jewish parochialism. Rather, they claim to be righteously transcending narrow concerns to address more universal needs.

“During World War II, particularly after the Nazi extermination program was revealed in late 1942, many American Jewish leaders sought to raise public awareness of the plight of Europe’s Jews and promote rescue efforts. Yet they also limited their campaign out of fear of arousing public anger over Jewish concern with a Jewish issue, and they often rationalized their doing so as reflecting devotion to the greater patriotic task of winning the war. It was largely non-Jewish voices which insisted the Nazi extermination program was not only a crime against the Jews but a crime against civilization and all of humanity and therefore should be of concern to everyone.”

Levin observes: “In the last sixty years, the American Jewish community at large has energetically embraced support for Israel. This has been made much easier by the fact that the wider American public has traditionally been sympathetic toward the Jewish state.

“On the other hand, Israel has come under much criticism in certain American media, on many American campuses and in several mainstream liberal churches. Those segments of the Jewish community who live and work in environments hostile to Israel, commonly embrace the anti-Israel bias around them. And they often insist they are being virtuous by doing so.

“The psychological dynamics of communities under attack explain why, both abroad and in Israel, the virtual siege placed upon the Jewish state will continue to lead segments of Jewish communities to support the besiegers and to urge Jewish self-reform as the path to winning relief. Yet the path they advocate is no less delusional than that of abused children who blame themselves for the abuse they experience. All too often such children doom themselves psychologically to lives of self-abnegation and misery. In the case of Jews indicting Israel for the hatred directed against it, the misery they cultivate goes far beyond themselves and ultimately, undermines Israel’s very survival.”


1 Ken Levin, The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege (Hanover, NH: Smith & Kraus, 2005).

Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist, historian and author of several books, among which is The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege.1 He is a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

The writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America.He is board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and recipient of the LIfetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein states the very marriage of a gentile woman to a non observant Jew, is equivalent to an open declaration that she will not observe the precepts. This is so, because it is highly unlikely that the gentile member of such a union, will be more committed to Judaism than her remiss Jewish husband...


Rabbi Moshe Feinstein states the very marriage of a gentile woman to a non observant Jew, is equivalent to an open declaration that she will not observe the precepts. This is so, because it is highly unlikely that the gentile member of such a union, will be more committed to Judaism than her remiss Jewish husband (certainly when they are living together prior to their marriage and throughout the "conversion" process.) Unlike mental or tacit negations, explains Rav Feinstein, open declarations do invalidate conversions. When such cases appear before a rabbinical court, its members actually become witnesses to an acceptance declaration that is not sincere. Therefore, it is no longer a tacit insincerity, but rather an obvious one. (As such, they are forbidden to sanction the conversion. ) (Regardless of what this Jewish court may declare,) the conversion is invalid and the person is not deemed a member of the Jewish nation - not l'chatchila and not b'dieved (NEVER). In Iggros Moshe, Letters of Moshe (Yoreh De’ah, no. 157), he writes that “According to the Law, it is certain that one who converts for the sake of marriage, does not intend to keep the commandments, and is not a proselyte at all.” "It is beyond my comprehension why any (legitimate) rabbi would want to include such people amongst the Jewish nation."

(Language simplified and clarified for the vast majority of idiots among us)

CLICK:

אגרות משה - חלק ב - פיינשטיין, משה בן דוד,  1895-1986 (page 1 of 554)




Friday, May 19, 2017

The eight jurors slapped Greer with the eight-figure bill for the emotional suffering he caused Mirlis by assaulting and battering the boy over a three-year period, from his sophomore to senior years at the high school. The panel calculated the total after also concluding that Greer and the yeshiva had shown recklessness and intentional infliction of emotional distress and the school separately had displayed negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Jury Awards Rabbi’s Rape Victim $20M




 



















Hartford A federal jury Thursday ordered prominent Rabbi Daniel Greer and his Elm Street yeshiva to pay a former student $15 million in compensatory damages because the rabbi raped and repeatedly abused him 15 years ago.
The jury awarded an additional $5 million in punitive damages, to pay the lawyers.

In adjudicating a civil lawsuit brought by Eliyahu Mirlis, a former high school student at the Yeshiva of New Haven, the jury deliberated in U.S. District Court here for 12 hours over two days before coming to its unanimous decision.

The eight jurors slapped Greer with the eight-figure bill for the emotional suffering he caused Mirlis by assaulting and battering the boy over a three-year period, from his sophomore to senior years at the high school. The panel calculated the total after also concluding that Greer and the yeshiva had shown recklessness and intentional infliction of emotional distress and the school separately had displayed negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

That sum was less than half of the $38 million that the plaintiff’s attorney, Antonio Ponvert III, had requested.

Jurors also requested that the court nail Greer with extra punitive charges to pay Mirlis’s lawyers. That added another $5 million to the bill.

“This completely justified all my faith in the justice system. Even an incredibly difficult case can be resolved fairly on the facts,” Ponvert said. “What the plaintiff suffered and what has been suffered by children for generations need to stop, period. Child abuse, in all forms, is a plague that we all need to work together to stop.”

When asked why he believed his side prevailed, Ponvert responded, “The truth.”

Greer’s defense said the rabbi plans to appeal the verdict.

“We are extremely disappointed by the jury’s verdict, and intend to pursue all potential options to set it aside, including an appeal,” defense attorney David Grudberg wrote in an email.

The verdict followed a suspenseful four-day trial here at U.S. District Court, with a cliff-hanger ending about whether the yeshiva was also liable.

Two victims — Mirlis and the yeshiva’s assistant dean, Aviad Hack — both described their underaged sexual encounters with Greer in graphic detail. Shira Mirlis, the victim’s wife, said the abuse had hardened her partner, preventing him being vulnerable. An expert in childhood sexual abuse and a University of Connecticut professor, Julian Ford, explained to jurors that the inability to trust was an normal response to “betrayal trauma,” as he diagnosed Mirlis with post-traumatic stress disorder.

From Greer’s side, the jurors didn’t hear much of a denial. The rabbi repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. (He denied only one accusation: That he’d had sex with Mirlis on a forested parcel of land in Hamden.) The defense’s other witnesses presented only mitigating evidence: Neither the rabbi’s wife, Sarah Greer, nor his secretary, Jean Leadbury, had noticed anything unusual, they testified. The team’s defense instead, relied heavily on a set of cheery wedding photos showing Mirlis continued to maintain a relationship with his abuser, honoring the rabbi at life milestones.
Final Stabs At Character Assassination


Antonio Ponvert and his paralegal, Julie Vassar, outside court.
The final day in federal court Wednesday wrapped up with attorneys presenting 40-minute closing arguments from a podium arms-length from the jury box. The lawyers’ summations of the case volleyed from high-minded (with references to the Founding Fathers) to ad hominem (with accusations of deception and cheating).
Ponvert, Mirlis’s counsel, said the two victims’ testimony and an expert’s diagnosis proved the accusations against Greer were more likely than not true — meeting the lower standard, a preponderance of the evidence, used in civil suits as opposed to in criminal trials.

Ponvert, from the firm Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, argued that the yeshiva also deserved blame. Hack, effectively the school’s manager, had suspected the rabbi was abusing Mirlis, once even trying to beat down a locked door where Greer was having sex with the boy inside. He failed to report his suspicions to child welfare and law enforcement authorities as required by law.

The defense, Ponvert added, still hadn’t fleshed out its counter-arguments: why Greer couldn’t deny the accusations, why Mirlis would want to attack someone he revered, why Hack admitted to only one sexual encounter as a student if he truly wanted to bring down the rabbi, and why the University of Connecticut pyschiatry professor might have been so “duped” by his client.

In closing, Ponvert asked for $38 million in damages to repay Mirlis for his stolen childhood and his pain since. He argued that Mirlis’s first experience with intimacy should have been dating a girl he loved. “Not a forced kiss, not fellatio, not anal sex. Not with a man and not with a rabbi. Not pseudo-romantic nights in motels with alcohol and hot tubs. Not coerced intimacy but real intimacy,” Ponvert said. “What this man did to Eli Mirlis has affected him in such a way that he cannot have a trusting relationship. And at the end of our lives, ladies and gentlemen, what do we all have but relationships with people that love us and the people we love, the moments we share with them and the experiences that bond us? Eli doesn’t have that.”

When defense attorney William Ward stood up, he first thanked the jury for being in attendance —  “more than I can say for the plaintiff,” the lawyer added, pointing out that Mirlis had been largely absent throughout the trial aside from a few hours on the stand Monday afternoon. He then argued there was no hard evidence of abuse in the exhibits. He called Mirlis a “liar” and a “cheat.”
“That’s not even an inference; it’s an admission,” Ward said. Mirlis “told you some other lies, big or small.”

The defense attorney made one last attempt to explain why Greer hadn’t denied the accusations. Because Mirlis had spoken with police a year ago, keeping silent on “anything that tends to incriminate you” by pleading the Fifth would be “wise,” Ward explained. “That could mean anything that puts Mr. Mirlis or Mr. Greer alone in the same room during four years in high school, anything.” He added that Ponvert had fired “loaded questions” throughout the trial, cornering Greer into remaining silent. (Local police decided not to pursue a criminal investigation of Greer, concluding that the statute of limitations had expired, according to law-enforcement officials familiar with the matter.)

Ward repeatedly sought to impeach Mirlis’s credibility. Mirlis, for example, testified that his grades suffered when he rebuffed Greer’s entreaties, but Ward pointed out that his report card didn’t reflect this, with five As and two B-pluses in classes Greer supposedly taught.

Several times, though, Ward himself twisted Mirlis’s testimony to make it sound deceptive. In one misrepresentation, Ward claimed Mirlis had lied about when he first informed his wife about Greer’s abuse. Ford, the UConn psychiatrist whom Ward described as a “hired gun,” said Mirlis kept the molestation secret during couples counseling —  a fact that wasn’t incompatible with Mirlis’s account of first telling his wife when they were dating. But Ward conflated the two, making it sounds like Mirlis had misled someone. That’s despite the fact that Mirlis testified, under oath, that Ford didn’t ask when he first confessed to his wife, so he didn’t tell the psychiatrist.

In another attempt to portray Mirlis as dishonest, Ward said Mirlis had lied about having sex with Greer repeatedly for 26 hours at a hotel in Paoli, Pennsylvania. Ponvert had indeed tried to portray the stay as an overnight orgy, but Mirlis had corrected him on the stand. To avoid violating the Sabbath, Mirlis indicated that they had sex only before Friday’s sundown and after Saturday’s sundown. By closing statements, Ward had reshaped that exchange to look dishonest. “It’s not ‘the 26-hour sex-fest’ that he told you in direct, isn’t it? It’s a lie, it’s a lie,” Ward claimed.

Ponvert fired back with a seven-minute rebuttal, calling Ward’s speech the “most bizarre and inaccurate” closing statement he’d heard in his career. Flustered with anger, he paused once to compose himself.

“I’m so frustrated I don’t know what to say at this point. Everyone wants this man out of here!” he exclaimed, his voice rising. “He’s [Greer’s] a child molester.”

Ponvert ended by saying it had been an honor to represent Mirlis, as well as a weighty responsibility. “I share that with you,” he said. “I ask you to accept that burden.”
“Dunkin’ Donuts Please”


Defense attorneys David Grudberg, William Ward and Amanda Nugent.
During the two full days that jurors argued in a locked room, starting at 11:35 a.m. on Wednesday, the rabbi paced around the courtroom, asking his lawyers about court procedure, gossiping with his wife about spectators and making several trips to the bathroom. Sarah Greer serenely read a book in the stands.
At 3:03 p.m. on Wednesday, jurors knocked on the door to indicate they had a question. They handed an unsigned, yellow sheet of paper to the marshal. It read, “If we finish this evening, will [we] be able to render a decision tonight or still have to come back tomorrow?” Judge Michael P. Shea sent his deputy into the room to let them know that if the court accepts their verdict tonight, they wouldn’t have to return.

At 3:19, they sent out another note. “We could use fresh coffee and donuts. Dunkin’ Donuts, please.”
The jurors sent out a note at 4:35 p.m. asking to replay Hack’s deposition. At 5:01 p.m., a second note said they’d finish deliberations on Thursday.

Back in the courtroom at 9:10 a.m. on Thursday, jurors examined the last 20 minutes of Hack’s deposition. Under pressure by Ward to name exact dates when Greer had sex with him as a student, Hack said he could not remember a single instance, aside from the first fondling. In the same clip, Hack said he knew about mandatory reporter laws, “certainly by 2007” — two years after Mirlis graduated.

For nearly four hours, the jury discussed whether the yeshiva had been negligent. After lunch, they wrote in a note that they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict on that specific charge.

At 12:51 p.m., Judge Shea asked them to shrug off any fixed conclusions and reassess the evidence. “This is an important case for all parties. Therefore it’s important for you to reach a verdict without anyone surrendering a conscientiously held view,” Shea said. “There does not appear to be a reason why this case could be tried better or more exhaustively on either side, nor that any other men or women will be more intelligent, more impartially chosen or more competent to decide the case than you.” He added that jurors in the minority, in particular, should reexamine why more of their colleagues had tipped to the other side. “Take as much time as you need to discuss things; there is no rush.”

At 3:39 p.m., the jury handed back their ruling. After reading through verdict form, count by count, each juror stood individually to affirm agreement with the decision.

The defense team left silently, hurrying outside into oncoming traffic. Red-faced, Greer hugged Ward in the parking lot behind the courthouse, then slid into his minivan.

Beginning in the 1980s, Rabbi Greer oversaw the revival of the neighborhood around his yeshiva at the corner of Norton and Elm streets, renovating neglected historic homes.

Over the years, Greer has also crusaded against gay rights in Connecticut, at times played an active role in politics and government, and advocated for keeping nuisance businesses out of the Whalley Avenue commercial corridor. He and his family earned national attention for exposing johns who patronized street prostitutes in the neighborhood, for filing suit against Yale University over a requirement that students live in coed dorms, and then in 2007 for launching an armed neighborhood “defense” patrol and then calling in the Guardian Angels for assistance to combat crime. In the 1970s, Greer also led a successful campaign to force the United States to pressure the Soviet Union into allowing Jewish “refuseniks” to emigrate here and start new, freer lives.

New Haven Rabbi Daniel Greer found liable for $20 million in civil trial alleging he sexually abused a student




http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20170518/new-haven-rabbi-daniel-greer-found-liable-for-20-million-in-civil-trial-alleging-he-sexually-abused-a-student

Previous coverage of this case:
Suit: Rabbi Molested, Raped Students
Greer’s Housing Corporations Added To Sex Abuse Lawsuit
2nd Ex-Student Accuses Rabbi Of Sex Assault
2nd Rabbi Accuser Details Alleged Abuse
Rabbi Sexual Abuse Jury Picked
On Stand, Greer Invokes 5th On Sex Abuse
Rabbi Seeks To Bar Blogger from Court
Trial Mines How Victims Process Trauma
Wife, Secretary Come To Rabbi Greer’s Defense

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http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/jury_returns_verdict_rabbi/

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Another Fake Chief Rabbi Found Guilty of Corruption



Former chief rabbi of Israel convicted of corruption 

Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron found guilty of knowingly providing false education documentation to members of the security forces, thus making them eligible for extra pay; crimes occurred during Bakshi-Doron's tenure as chief rabbi.
Former Chief Rabbi of Israel Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron was convicted Monday of fraudulently obtaining benefits, attempting to fraudulently obtain benefits, providing false identification and breach of trust.
Bakshi-Doron was indicted in 2012 along with several other Chief Rabbinate officials for issuing 1,500 false Torah education certificates to members of the security forces, making them eligible for pay raises.

Bakshi-Doron's trial lasted for more than four years and the offenses attributed to him were committed more than 15 years ago, during his tenure as Chief Rabbi of Israel.



Former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg) (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron
In Court On Monday














Throughout the trial, Bakshi-Doron and his defense have maintained his innocence and have been trying to have the charges against him dropped for a variety of reasons, including the rabbi's medical condition.

The indictment alleges that from 1999-2003, Rabbi Yitzhak Ohana, Director of the Rabbinical Examinations and Accreditation Department, was asked either directly or through intermediaries to issue certificates to members of the security forces who studied at various colleges.

The fraudulent documents contained false information regarding the true scope of the supposed studies, including credits, hours studied, and past and future academic activities.

According to the indictment, Rabbi Ohana eventually approached Rabbi Bakshi-Doron and requested assistance in dealing with the issuing of the fake certificates. Bakshi-Doron instructed Ohana to issue members of the security forces certificates for higher-level religious education and "turn a blind eye" to the criteria in order to "close the matter."

Initially, the State Attorney's Office cleared Bakshi-Doron of the suspicions against him and informed him that the case had been closed.

However, five years later, following trials of additional suspects and new information related to Bakshi-Doron, the State Attorney's Office reopened the case against him, leading to Monday's conviction.

He is the second former chief rabbi to be convicted of fraud this year after former Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger pleaded guilty to fraud, theft, conspiracy, breach of trust, money laundering, tax offenses and accepting bribes involving some NIS 10 million ($2.6 million) under a plea bargain. Metzger is currently serving a 3.5-year prison sentence at Ma’asiyahu Prison in the central Israeli town of Ramle.

Former Israel chief rabbi Yona Metzger at the Jerusalem District Court on Monday, January 30, 2017 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former Israel chief rabbi Yona Metzger at the Jerusalem District Court


http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4962516,00.html

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The victim alleges that Chinn touched him inappropriately on one occasion in 2012 at the rabbi’s residence, according to a press release issued by the Office of the Mercer County Prosecutor, which conducted a joint investigation between its special victims unit and the East Windsor police.


Second victim alleges sexual assault by local rabbi

Youth leader charged with abusing boys between 2010-2012


Rabbi Menachem Chinn was arrested on April 20th for allegedly sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy in 2012. A second boy came forward 13 days later, alleging that he was similarly assaulted by Chinn in 2010 and 2011. Photo courtesy Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office 
Rabbi Menachem Chinn was arrested on April 20th for allegedly sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy in 2012. A second boy came forward 13 days later, alleging that he was similarly assaulted by Chinn in 2010 and 2011. Photo courtesy Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office

Less than two weeks after an East Windsor rabbi and youth educator in Marlboro was charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy in 2012, a second alleged victim came forward and accused the rabbi of similar charges regarding incidents that occurred between 2010 and 2011.

Rabbi Menachem Chinn, 36, a teacher at Shalom Torah Academy in Morganville and director of the Twin Rivers chapter of the National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), has been held in the Mercer County Correctional Center since April 20 when he was arrested in his home and charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of sexual assault.

The victim alleges that Chinn touched him inappropriately on one occasion in 2012 at the rabbi’s residence, according to a press release issued by the Office of the Mercer County Prosecutor, which conducted a joint investigation between its special victims unit and the East Windsor police. No reason was given for why the boy was at Chinn’s home that evening, and NJ1015.com reported that it was unclear if the boy was a student at Shalom Torah. A detention hearing was held April 26 in Mercer County Superior Court where a judge ordered that Chinn remain in prison.

New charges against Chinn — an additional count of endangering the welfare of a child and another of sexual assault — were filed May 2 after the second victim, now an adult, told authorities Chinn had inappropriate sexual contact with him at Chinn’s home numerous times between July 2010 and May 2011, according to a press release from Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri and East Windsor Police Chief James A. Geary. Chinn was the victim’s teacher and the youth had also been a member of Chinn’s NCSY chapter.

NJJN left multiple voicemail messages at the Chinn’s home, but the calls were not returned as of press time.

NCSY, the youth movement affiliated with the Orthodox Union, placed Chinn on leave immediately after he was arrested, pending the results of the investigation. An NCSY New Jersey website that had listed him as “Twin Rivers Director” was taken down some days later. In a statement released shortly thereafter, NCSY wrote that it was “shocked” to learn of his arrest.

“The safety and well-being of NCSY participants is the organization’s utmost priority at all times,” according to the statement. “NCSY has zero tolerance whatsoever for improper or illegal behavior. Toward that end, NCSY maintains robust policies and procedures for its entire staff, including appropriate behavioral standards, criminal background checks, and an ombudsmen hotline that is checked multiple times daily, and extensive staff training. Any and all complaints are thoroughly investigated by seasoned professionals, who at all times are prepared to refer matters to the criminal justice system.”

Chinn had been affiliated with NCSY for 15 years, during which time the organization said it had not been made aware of any complaints about his conduct.

Avital Chizhik, director of media strategy for the OU, said the “first priority was to send a letter out to parents.” She said an interim advisor will be appointed in Chinn’s place and NCSY will cooperate with the investigation.

Chizhik and NCSY New Jersey regional director Rabbi Ethan Katz held an event in East Windsor on May 4 to discuss the situation with parents and youth in the community, and to respond to any questions or concerns they might have. A few days after the meeting, Chizhik released the following statement: “Last week’s event was a regularly scheduled evening learning program, with a professional social worker present. Concerns were expressed and discussed, but no further complaints were received.”

Katz said he will be in contact with local religious and lay leaders and will be prepared to discuss future programming.

NCSY adopted strict standards of conduct in the wake of a scandal involving Rabbi Baruch Lanner, the former NJ regional NCSY director and principal at Hillel Yeshiva High School in Deal. In 2000, Lanner resigned from the OU following a New York Jewish Week report documenting his long history of emotional and sexual abuse of young people of both genders. In an earlier version of this story, NJJN reported that Lanner was convicted of sexually abusing two teenage girls at the Deal school 2002, however an appellate court ruled in 2005 that he should only have been convicted of abusing one of the girls. The other abuse conviction was upheld and Lanner served three years of a seven-year sentence beginning in 2005 before he was released on parole in 2008.

A subsequent investigation by the OU found the abuse had gone on for decades and had been covered up by religious authorities.

 The organization now has an extensive manual of conduct, standards, and behavior, last updated in September, which includes detailed descriptions of inappropriate actions that constitute sexual harassment or abuse. According to the statement, it’s commitment to the “physical, psychological, and emotional well-being of all NCSY professionals, volunteers, and NCSYers is non-negotiable.”

“In both word and deed, all persons involved with NCSY are expected to comport themselves according to halakhic [Jewish law] standards regarding modesty and matters of a personal or sexual nature. Moreover, involvement with NCSY demands a commitment to refrain from any action or word that is injurious or demeaning toward a person of the same or opposite gender.”

The school’s website had listed him as a youth advisor and instructor for sixth- and seventh-grade boys. The entire staff listing has since been taken down and the school failed to return repeated calls for comment.

Anyone with information on the Chinn case should contact Mercer County Prosecutor’s Detective Alicia Bergondo at 609 989-6568 or East Windsor Detective Thomas Meyer at 609 448-5678. 

http://njjewishnews.com/article/34246/second-victim-alleges-sexual-assault-by-local-rabbi#.WRsfTca1s1N

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Then, under further questioning, Greer refused to say whether he took Mirlis to motels overnight, showed him porn, plied him with alcohol, molested him in the bedroom where he sleeps with his wife and fondled him at several other rental properties he controls throughout the Edgewood neighborhood.

On Stand, Greer Invokes 5th On Sex Abuse


Rabbi Daniel Greer

Hartford — Speaking publicly for the first time about sexual abuse allegations that have ripped apart the Orthodox Jewish community he built in New Haven, Rabbi Daniel Greer denied under oath ever having counseled a teenaged yeshiva student named Eliyahu Mirlis about spiritual matters.

Then, under further questioning, Greer refused to say whether he took Mirlis to motels overnight, showed him porn, plied him with alcohol, molested him in the bedroom where he sleeps with his wife and fondled him at several other rental properties he controls throughout the Edgewood neighborhood.

“Did you force Eli Mirlis to have sex with you when he was a child?” Antonio Ponvert, Mirlis’s attorney, questioned after Greer took the stand here Thursday in a civil lawsuit here in U.S. District Court.

“I advise Mr. Greer to invoke his privilege”  —  the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination —  David Grudberg, one of the rabbi’s three defense attorneys, interrupted.

“I invoke the right to privilege,” Greer said. Ponvert moved on to the next allegation.

That back-and-forth — an accusation of sexual assault and silence from the alleged perpetrator — characterized a significant portion of the Thursday testimony in Mirlis’s civil suit. (Greer explicitly denied only one allegation: having sex with Mirlis on a parcel of land in Hamden.) The federal suit seeks damages from Greer, who revived a struggling portion of the Edgewood neighborhood and is known statewide and nationally for advocacy on social issues; Yeshiva of New Haven and several Greer-controlled housing not-for-profits for allegedly allowing Mirlis to endure sexual abuse for three years as a boarding student.

In a packed, five-hour day, jurors heard from three witnesses. Greer drew the contours of his relationship with Mirlis —  that is, when he chose to answer. Jurors watched the deposition of Aviad Hack, the yeshiva’s assistant dean who claimed Greer also sexually abused him. (The Independent wrote about the deposition at length in this story; jurors watched a video of that depisition, because Hack dodged a process server on four occasions across two states.) And finally, the plaintiff’s wife, Shira Mirlis, recounted how the couple fought over why Greer continued to be involved in Mirlis’s adult life, despite alleged childhood abuse.
Adverse Inferences


Christopher Peak Photo
Christopher Peak Photo
Antonio Ponvert outside court.
Absent a confession, Greer’s pleading the Fifth was almost exactly what Ponvert, of the firm Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, expected to hear. In his opening statement, the lawyer readied the jury for Greer’s non-answers.
“He will take the Fifth Amendment about every substantive question. He will not deny anything, but he will not answer either. He will not deny that he abused Eli. He will not deny that he brought him to hotels and his bedroom, that he fondled him and raped him,” Ponvert said, speaking so faintly it was difficult to hear at times from behind the bar. “On the one hand, you’ll hear direct testimony from Eli and Aviad Hack about what this man did to them. On the other side, you will hear silence, evasion and a refusal to testify.”

Minutes into the cross-examination, that’s exactly what happened. Ponvert explicitly asked Greer if he had assaulted Mirlis, and he invoked his right to not answer.

Judge Micheal P. Shea halted the proceedings to clarify what had happened. Each time the Fifth Amendment shielded Greer from answering, he explained, jurors “may, but are not required to, infer from such a refusal that the answers would have been adverse to the witness’s interests and any party’s interests.”

Ponvert appeared unprepared for just how often Greer chose to keep mum.

Ponvert: “Did you teach them religious and secular studies?”
Greer: “I invoke my privilege.”
Ponvert: “You’re really saying you take the Fifth when saying whether you taught religious or secular studies?”
Greer: “Yes.”
Ponvert produced a copy of Mirlis’s report cards from his four years at the yeshiva and handed them to the witness. Peering through his glasses, Greer flipped through each page, hitting the microphone with the papers.
Ponvert: “It’s true, is it not, rabbi, that you taught ethics and theology?”
Greer: “I invoke my privilege.”

Throughout his hours on the stand, Greer attempted to minimize his role in the yeshiva he created. He claimed his title of dean was really just an honorific, that the school was actually run by his assistant Hack.

Without resorting to the Fifth Amendment, Greer did deny speaking to Mirlis about faith or his family. The rabbi said the only conversations he had with the teenage student were to encourage him to improve his grades, to take the requisite standardized tests and get into a good college.

“Your statement to the jury is that never on one occasion did you have one conversation about anything personal to his life, other than his education?” Ponvert asked.
“Not while he was in school,” Greer answered.
How Bad Can It Be?


Defense attorneys David Grudberg, William Ward and Amanda Nugent.
Given the damaging inferences jurors may draw from Greer’s invocation of the Fifth Amendment, the defense has already ceded much ground.
 
That’s partly because the standards for how jurors will weigh evidence when testimony concludes next week differ from criminal trials. “Those of you who have sat on a jury in a criminal case or watched one on television may have heard of ‘proof beyond a reasonable doubt.’ That does not apply to a civil case,” Shea instructed jurors. “The burden is different: It’s called proof by a preponderance of the evidence.” Simply put, are the allegations more likely to have happened than not?

Picture a scale, Shea continued. Stack up all the credible, relevant and supportive evidence for each side. If the scales are equal and it’s truly unclear who’s right, Greer gets off. But if the scale tips, even in the slightest, toward proof of sexual abuse, Mirlis has met his burden.

Without a direct denial from Greer, the defense attorneys can concede sexual abuse occurred but question whether it was emotionally distressing enough to be worthy of damages.

Grudberg hinted at this strategy in his opening statements, pointing out that Mirlis had brought legal action nearly 15 years after the abuse first occurred. He questioned whether Mirlis was suffering, painting him as well-adjusted with a “very active, thriving career” as a nursing home administrator.

“I think the statement I heard in the opening was that Mr. Mirlis continued for a number of years before the full impact became known to known to him,” Grudberg said. “You will learn that [Mirlis] did not seek any treatment of any kind for his claimed abuse until after he had retained counsel and entered as a plaintiff. Except marriage counseling, the only treatment he ever got was after a lawyer got involved.”

Throughout the day, the defense team repeatedly called attention to the fact that Mirlis invited Greer to play a key role at several milestones in his adult life: delivering an elegy at his father’s memorial service, acting as a witness to the signing of a marriage contract and holding his firstborn son during a circumcision ceremony.

Grudberg added that any psychological issues Mirlis displayed could be attributed to a difficult upbringing, long before being dropped off at the yeshiva, that included frequent interaction with New Jersey’s child welfare department.

“You will have to consider all of that in deciding what — if something did happen here, if you get to the point where something did happen — what has been the impact on his life?” Grudberg closed.

The strategy’s outcome will likely depend on how jurors perceive Mirlis’s behavior when he takes the stand on Monday afternoon.

Greer’s lawyers previously stated in a motion that the rabbi planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, in part because he has “discussed his allegations with the police authorities” and therefore “may be the subject of an ongoing police investigation.” However, law-enforcement officials familiar with those discussions told the Independent that those discussions took place last year and New Haven police decided not to pursue an investigation.

Beginning in the 1980s, Rabbi Greer oversaw the revival of the neighborhood around his yeshiva at the corner of Norton and Elm streets, renovating neglected historic homes.

Over the years, Greer has also crusaded against gay rights in Connecticut, at times played an active role in politics and government, and advocated for keeping nuisance businesses out of the Whalley Avenue commercial corridor. He and his family earned national attention for exposing johns who patronized street prostitutes in the neighborhood, for filing suit against Yale University over a requirement that students live in coed dorms, and then in 2007 for launching an armed neighborhood “defense” patrol and then calling in the Guardian Angels for assistance to combat crime. In the 1970s, Greer also led a successful campaign to force the United States to pressure the Soviet Union into allowing Jewish “refuseniks” to emigrate here and start new, freer lives.

Previous coverage of this case:
Suit: Rabbi Molested, Raped Students
Greer’s Housing Corporations Added To Sex Abuse Lawsuit
2nd Ex-Student Accuses Rabbi Of Sex Assault
2nd Rabbi Accuser Details Alleged Abuse
Rabbi Sexual Abuse Jury Picked

Tags: , , , ,

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/greer_sex_abuse/

Monday, May 15, 2017

When a 14-year-old who had suffered greatly at the hands of the rabbi decided to speak up, the head of the yeshiva used every manipulation in the book to control him, even taking the boy to a psychiatrist to have him declared mentally unfit....


The founders of 'Lo Tishtok': Tzviki Fleishman, Avigail Karlinsky and Racheli Roshgold

The Crusaders Fighting Sex Abuse in the Underbelly of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Community. The practice was simple: If you don't speak about sexual violence, it doesn't exist. Then these three started a Haredi awareness revolution

Jerusalem in late 2015 was a place marked by fear. It was mainly fear of lone wolf terrorists with knives, but Avigail Karlinsky thought it time to explain something to men: Maybe they weren’t used to constantly being alert, warily looking left and right for attackers, but women were. “I hereby tell you that a woman walking in the street alone at night walks just like that,” the 28-year-old Karlinsky, who is ultra-Orthodox, wrote on Facebook. “Every woman knows what I’m talking about. There isn’t a single one who doesn’t.”

Publishing a post like that in October 2015 was highly unusual in the Haredi community. Sexual violence isn’t a topic for conversation, certainly not something to be spoken about out loud. It turned out she had touched a very sore nerve.

“I wasn’t prepared for what happened after I posted that,” says Karlinsky, who belongs to the non-Hasidic (Lithuanian) ultra-Orthodox community. “I had entered a vacuum so immense in the Haredi community that everybody who had anything to say about sexual harassment, a personal story or somebody near them – everybody came to me. Dreadful stories started to pour in. I was inundated. It affected me physically. For two weeks I was just sick. I couldn’t stand on my feet.”

After recovering, she asked some people for help to set up the Facebook page “Lo Tishtok” – “Thou Shalt Not Be Silent.” The page marks a revolution in the ultra-Orthodox world. The magnitude of the drama set off by Karlinsky, with two partners, Tzviki Fleishman and Racheli Roshgold, who are also Haredi, is hard to comprehend.

It took them time to understand it, but there is an ultra-Orthodox underbelly, the three say.

Until Lo Tishtok, the practice in the Haredi world was simple: If you don’t speak about it, it doesn’t exist. As a topic, sexual predators was not talked about. Even serious cases were concealed, handled and resolved within the community. The established media of the ultra-Orthodox world does not discuss it and neither do the schools, at least until recently.

But the internet is the ultimate force. For the first time in ultra-Orthodox history, those behind Lo Tishtok could conduct a dialogue directly with people in their community, beyond the watchful eye of the establishment.

Karlinsky, Fleishman and Roshgold spend hours each day running their Facebook page. Sometimes people send their hair-raising stories to their personal inboxes, and they post them online for others to read. Sometimes they meet with the victims and sometimes try to persuade them to file a complaint with the police. They also publish pictures and video clips, including difficult-to-watch ones of ultra-Orthodox men sexually abusing teenage girls or children. The purpose is for the community to identify the men and give their details to the police.

If Lo Tishtok has an overarching purpose, it is to increase awareness among Haredim. There are community organizations and rabbis whose job is to help people with problems, but Lo Tishtok is sick of sexual assaults being handled silently, behind closed doors. For instance, some incidents culminate in supervision for the attacker, or exile from the community.

“We want to give the victims back their pride,” says Karlinsky. “We are increasing awareness of sexual assaults and giving the victims the feeling that they have nothing to be ashamed about.”

Lo Tishtok became involved in the case of a 14-year old boy who had been attacked by the head of his yeshiva.

“There were rabbis who stopped us from handling complaints,” the student wrote in rhyme (in Hebrew) on the Facebook page. “An innocent boy around 14 years of age… the sound of study rises and penetrates the room / I am in my bed, my limbs are paralyzed / while the hands of the representative of God violate my body / his cold hands take my hands and put them in his trousers / my wounded soul wants to shriek / my blood boils on the floor… here is the fire and the wood, and I am the sacrificial lamb / where are you, Lord, as my soul and body rise.”

The yeshiva, in the ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlement of Modi’in Ilit, had an excellent reputation, but underneath its leader’s elegant suit lurked a pedophile. He would summon boys to his chamber, strip them and molest them. Some people in the city who knew; a number even confronted him, but the abuse continued.

When a 14-year-old who had suffered greatly at the hands of the rabbi decided to speak up, the head of the yeshiva used every manipulation in the book to control him, even taking the boy to a psychiatrist to have him declared mentally unfit. The boy felt confused and bereft, until coming across Lo Tishtok – whose organizers took him to the police. Then the extent of the rabbi’s misdeed with other children came to light. The head of the yeshiva fled abroad, but then returned. The chief rabbi of the city realized that it was necessary to act decisively and involve the police. The rabbi is now facing serious charges.


The lack of awareness creates perfect conditions for criminal activity to flourish, says Roshgold: Sexual predators in an ultra-Orthodox city simply aren’t under threat. She points out that there are Haredi pedophiles who, when caught abroad, simply move to Israel, knowing they’ll be safe from prosecution. “There is no awareness of what is prohibited and what is permissible,” she says. “We have to start an awareness revolution.”

A Jerusalem woman who had been raped for years by her brother-in-law didn’t go to the police for fear of hurting the family. Lo Tishtok consulted with a rabbi on whether to go to the police, and his answer was that the man has atoned, so there is no need.

But the silence goes farther. “We had a case of mothers who met every day in a public park, who told us about a man hurting the children there. They all knew each other but never talked about it among themselves,” says Roshgold. The group intervened to connect the mothers over their complaints, which were about the same man.

Their shared goal is so important that the people behind Lo Tishtok, men and women, cooperate despite coming from all over the ultra-Orthodox political spectrum – no trivial thing. Karlinsky is a married student with two children. Fleishman, 27, is affiliated with the Hasidic Chabad movement and is studying for an M.A. in psychology. For him, this is a mission comparable to Chabad’s practice of providing Jews around the world with kosher food. Thirty-year-old Roshgold, a nurse at a center for sexual assault victims, comes from the rigid Gur Hasidic sect and is also studying for a master’s degree.

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis claim that simply talking about sexual assault increases harassment because it gives people ideas. (IDIOTS)

Karlinsky: “Studies from around the world show that there are more sexual attacks in closed hierarchical communities… modest women don’t get raped less. That claim is factually untrue.”

Roshgold: “Many rabbis understand the gravity of the problem, some also talk with us and encourage our activity.”

Karlinsky: “There were grave cases where the rabbis blocked us from acting. In one case a woman lodged a complaint and the rabbis said we were committing the sin of humiliating another person for our own gain… in another case, by the time the rabbi permitted filing a complaint, the pedophile had fled the country.”

Roshgold: “Others don’t ask the rabbi whether a child with a cut should be taken to the doctor, and in cases of sexual injury, the rabbis shouldn’t be the first point of call. This is about saving lives.”

There is an opposite argument, that since the religious community has no outlet for release, there are more sex crimes.

Fleishman: “Sexual urges and sexual violence aren’t even on the same scale. They are not connected. Sexual violence is on the scale of a disease, hurting the other, criminal activity.”

Letter from a daughter to her father, from the Lo Tishtok Facebook page: ”You are so weak and despicable / You have compassion, but only for yourself / For only didn’t you manage to protect the girl you brought into this world / You hurt her yourself! In the worst way possible / There are no words to describe your cruelty, wrapped in compassion / You are the scum of the human race / I have mercy and compassion. Even towards you! How absurd.”

Not all secular rape victims go to the police, but they at least know it’s an option. Ultra-Orthodox victims may not know that, Karlinsky says. Lo Tishtok can introduce them to the possibility but the police officers and Haredim don’t speak the same language. The police has been trying to recruit Haredi investigators, but difficulties remain. An ultra-Orthodox boy who tried to file a complaint completely shut down when the female detective insisted on full details of the assault and said the word “penis,” Roshgold relates. “You have to know how to talk with Haredim,” she says.

Lo Tishtok intends to train people to help members of the ultra-Orthodox community handle the interaction with the secular authorities, and ultimately, adds Fleishman, to establish a crisis center, with outreach to the Haredi community at large.

While recommending police involvement, the group respects the victims’ right to settle the cases in a different way. For instance, one woman agreed to accept financial compensation from a public figure who abused her.

That enables him to go on hurting others.

Roshgold: “When a victim arrives, the paramount thing is their well-being… if a victim gets money, who am I to tell her what to do? Sometimes they only come 25 years after the event and all they want to do is share it.”

Fleishman: “That’s part of the strategy. To return control to the victim. Nobody tells them what to do. The whole experience of rape is a loss of control, so we don’t force them to file a complaint.”

All three work as volunteers for the time being, devoting about three hours a day to Lo Tishtok’s operations. But they also spring into action when needed, for instance if a person calls in crisis at three in the morning. “By seven he may have changed his mind, so you have to work at odd hours,” says Roshgold. They are planning a fundraising drive to expand activity. “We are just three,” says Karlinsky. “We need social workers on salary and people who can do things that for now we’re somehow managing to handle.”

They know they’ll pay a price for their activity. Fleishman says he knows his son won’t be accepted to a heder (a religious elementary school). Roshgold had been attacked as a child by a family friend.

Her mother rebuked her for publicizing it in an interview on Army Radio. She told her mother that she has nothing to be ashamed of; if anything the man who hurt her should be ashamed. She says she isn’t afraid and is ready to pay any price. “If they spray-paint the walls of my home, I’ll kiss the vandalized walls. Even if they kill me, I want it written on my gravestone what price I paid for doing this.”


Read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.788744?&ts=_1494591977623

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Take Heed Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu --- This Guy is a Quart of Oil Short! Library is well stocked - with Dr. Zeuss books. Life by Norman Rockwell, screenplay by Stephen King. A few tiles missing from his Space Shuttle. An ego like a black hole..

He Shows He Is Unfit. Yet He's Still the President. 

 

 "Living proof of evolution. A hump short of a camel. Mentally qualified for handicapped parking. So dumb, blondes tell jokes about him. So stupid, mind readers charge him half price. A "crackpot" without the cholent" Takes him 1.5 hours to watch "60 Minutes".

 

The system can deal with a crooked president. But not a crazy one. 
 



Not reassuring.

President Donald Trump is not always crazy like a fox. And that -- more than obstruction of justice, or any potential criminality related to Russia -- is the greatest threat facing the U.S. It's also a threat that U.S. institutions are failing to acknowledge, let alone confront.

Trump is unlikely to succeed at completely derailing the FBI investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia. But he might undermine it enough to avoid any serious consequences. Even without his subterfuge, the investigation could prove inconclusive.

But at least there is an investigation into Russia, in addition to congressional inquiries, news reporting, and a general mobilization of expert opinion and institutions. The investigations are vital. Unless they are, ultimately, beside the point.

For two days early this week, Trump's staff went to great lengths to establish a plausible claim that Trump did not instigate the firing of FBI director James Comey. Instead, White House aides and Vice President Mike Pence insisted that Trump was responding to concerns raised in a memo by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

This White House has not assembled a highly competent or ethical team. So the explanations were pretty dodgy. But they nonetheless represented a coordinated effort to define Trump's actions and confine the political damage from firing Comey.

Then on Thursday Trump told NBC News anchor Lester Holt that Rosenstein's memo wasn't even significant. "I -- I was going to fire Comey," Trump said. Holt immediately questioned him on the issue, all but encouraging Trump to get his story aligned with the previous White House talking points. Trump wasn't having it.

"Oh, I was gonna fire regardless of recommendation," Trump said.

There is good reason for journalists and others to ask whether Trump's statements to Holt constitute something close to an admission that he fired Comey to impede the Russia investigation. (Trump said he was eager for the investigation to end.) There is good reason to use this interview as evidence that Trump's White House staff is often no more truthful than Trump himself.

But the issue of the motives and means of the Trump White House is small compared with the enduring madness of the man himself. Trump's admission to Holt was not an effort to distract from a bunch of bad news stories. Does Trump use such tactics? Frequently. And from this comes the notion that Trump is "crazy like a fox."

But the Holt interview wasn't evidence of being crazy like a fox. This was not a devious move. 

Trump can be cunning. But he also flails wildly, harming others often and himself occasionally. His recent interviews with the Economist and Time were bizarre and frequently incoherent.
As my colleague Jon Bernstein wrote:
Trump can't be bothered to even master his own talking points, even in something which could put his entire presidency at risk. Or perhaps he's intellectually incapable of doing so.
Trump is almost supernatural in his multivariate unfitness, combining combustible levels of ignorance, amorality, venality and mental imbalance in a way not seen even when Richard Nixon drank alone.

The Russia investigation serves as an outlet for collective anxiety about Trump's unfitness, just as the prospect of indictments offers a potential deus ex machina to resolve the dangers inherent in Trump's administration. But what if they resolve nothing? Or take too long doing so?

It's easy to miss the dense and haunted forest of Trump for all the trees. Speaking to National Public Radio, Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who has kept a safe distance from Trump, spoke of his concerns and lamented the state of American political conflict.
We have a crisis of public trust in this country that is much deeper than just the last four months or the last 18 months. We have an erosion of a shared narrative about what America is about. And we have the huge unpopularity of almost all of our governing institutions. That should trouble everybody.
Yes, indeed. That's all true. Meanwhile, however, we have a slightly more pressing problem. The president of the United States is mentally and morally unfit with a nuclear arsenal at his fingertips. And no one in Washington knows what to do about it.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners, but does reflect the opinion of this Blogger!


  • He told the Economist he invented the use of "priming the pump" with regard to the economy. It's probably most associated with Franklin Roosevelt, and even if Trump meant "came upon it" rather than "came up with it" it's remarkable for anyone in his position to be that ignorant of normal economics usage. Then again, he's never shown that he knows anything about economics.
  • He spoke gibberish about aircraft carriers to Time magazine: "I said what system are you going to be–'Sir, we’re staying with digital.' I said no you’re not. You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good." I know very little about aircraft carriers, but the people who do know this stuff confirm that he doesn't know what he's talking about. Not that he's wrong, mind you; he isn't coherent enough to be wrong.
  • Then he completely contradicted his own explanation on James Comey's firing to NBC News. The old story that Trump was reacting to a recommendation from the Department of Justice; the new story is that he was always going to fire Comey. 
Why does that fit in with the other two quotes? Because it demonstrates that Trump can't be bothered to even master his own talking points, even in something which could put his entire presidency at risk. Or perhaps he's intellectually incapable of doing so. Either way, the president talks and talks without showing any mastery -- any understanding -- of anything.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Real Simple Choice For The OU --- Money or Principle?

The Power of OU Kosher Certification


The U.S. kosher market has become an unheralded boom for food manufacturers. Today, consumers are concerned about more than just the kosher status of their food. Over 12 million American consumers choose Kosher food products for reasons related to health, food safety, taste, vegetarianism, lactose intolerance, and other dietary restrictions. Generating over $12 billion in annual sales, the kosher food industry has become big business.

 Certifying over 800,000 products produced in more than 8,500 plants located in 100 countries around the world, OU Kosher is the clear leader in the kosher food industry. As the world’s largest, most respected kosher certification agency, the OU certifies close to 70% of the kosher food sold worldwide. Increased industrialization of food production has boosted demand for kosher certification. 

Foods are increasingly produced using complex processing techniques and multiple additives, all of which require kosher certification services. The OU is at the forefront of this worldwide industrialization with Rabbis who have specialized expertise in all areas of food production.

Of well over 200,000 packaged food products on U.S. supermarket shelves, the OU kosher symbol is found on close to 70% of all products combined. OU certified companies know that having the OU symbol on their products immediately and universally enhances their marketability. That’s why they choose the OU.


Will OU Oust Shuls With Women Clergy?

Concern whether visits to four congregations will lead to compromise or punitive action.


01topright
Rabba Sara Hurwitz: “Glad to know that the OU is finally meeting a few of [Yeshivat Maharat’s] graduates.” Yeshivat Maharat


Less than three months after the Orthodox Union issued a halachic prohibition against women serving in clerical roles, three leaders of the influential national body have begun meeting with the rabbis of the four OU-member synagogues in the U.S. that employ women clergy, The Jewish Week has learned.

Some believe the visits may be a first step toward punitive measures, and possible expulsion, for congregations that do not conform with the OU’s decision. 

“It’s a threat, no question,” said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Sholom, also known as The National Synagogue, in Washington, D.C., which employs Maharat Ruth Friedman. (Maharat is a Hebrew acronym that translates as female leader of Jewish law, spirituality and Torah.)

But according to OU sources, the goal of the visits of OU’s executive vice president, Allen Fagin, its president, Mark Bane, and past president Martin Nachimson, is to look into the policies and practices related to women of the four congregations in question, and to report back to the OU board.

The OU, which serves some several hundred Modern Orthodox congregations around the country, hopes to find a path to ensure that the congregations remain member synagogues without violating its prohibition.


Yeshivat Maharat’s 2014 graduation. 
The four women serving in clerical roles around the country,
 who are now being scrutinized by the OU,
 were ordained at the Riverdale seminary.

The four congregations — the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Beth Sholom in Potomac, Md., Bnai David-Judea in Los Angeles and Ohev Sholom in Washington, D.C. — have women with various titles to indicate they serve rabbinic functions.

In February, the OU released a 17-page report by a nine-rabbi panel that praised advanced Torah study and teaching for women but stated that women cannot have the title of rabbi or the status of a clergy member.


The rabbinic statement, endorsed in an accompanying OU report, said that women in the clergy was contrary to the “halachic ethos,” and not in keeping with traditional Jewish gender roles.

Those close to the discussions, which are private and at an early stage, say some OU leaders want to “nip the problem in the bud” by removing the four synagogues from membership now rather than waiting until there are more congregations employing women in clerical positions. The belief is that a decisive action will dissuade other congregations from contemplating such a move.

Others within the OU camp believe its leaders hope compromises can be reached — such as changing the titles, roles or practices of the women clergy — that would allow the synagogues to retain their OU status. While the primary role of the women in question is Torah education and pastoral counseling, which is not only permissible but exemplary according to the OU report, the chief sticking point appears to be the women’s titles.

Any designation suggesting a rabbinic role, such as maharat, rabba (or assistant rabba) or rabbanit, is problematic, according to the OU, not so much for the title itself but for the context of how it is publicized and what it connotes in terms of duties and responsibilities. The real problem for the OU is if a woman is seen to be on a rabbinic track rather than an educational or pastoral role model.

The formation of the rabbinic panel, which was charged with determining whether it is acceptable under halacha (Jewish law) to “employ a woman in a rabbinic function,” was prompted by what the OU’s Fagin described to The Jewish Week in February as “an acceleration of shuls that hired or contemplated hiring female clergy in the last several years.”

Rabbi Herzfeld noted that in a survey taken by his D.C. synagogue among its membership of 400 families, 82 percent agreed that female spiritual leadership enhances members’ spiritual connection with Judaism; less than 4 percent disagreed.

Further, 90 percent felt the Orthodox community should have female spiritual leadership, and less than 2 percent disagreed.

Perhaps most significant, more than 68 percent of the respondents — about 37 percent of the membership — said that “the OU statement about female clergy makes me less likely to affiliate with Orthodox groups in other contexts.” Sixteen percent disagreed with that statement. And almost three-quarters of the members polled said the OU statement about female clergy “diminished” their view of Orthodox Judaism.

“That’s what makes me most sad,” said Rabbi Herzfeld, who is scheduled to meet, along with Maharat Friedman, with the three OU leaders later this month. “The survey demonstrates that this very aggressive position of the OU is causing people to be less likely to affiliate Orthodox.
“Many of our congregants,” he said, “and especially the younger ones, may conclude: ‘If this is Orthodoxy, I don’t want any part of it.’”

Traditionalists might well counter that if a synagogue permits women clergy, it’s not really Orthodoxy.

Jonathan Sarna, professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, put the issue in historical context, noting that “women’s issues have become defining ones for a Jewish religious movement. This has a long history — first, Orthodox debated the size and placement of the mechitza, then the question of mixed seating itself became a hotly debated issue, and now women clergy.”

The problem with making women clergy the dividing line between Orthodoxy and the other denominations, according to Sarna (whose daughter, Leah, is a student at Yeshivat Maharat), is three-fold: Orthodoxy has trained a significant number of well-educated women, some of whom are less willing to automatically accept interpretations of male rabbinic leaders on a given issue; the Orthodox movement has “greatly benefited from being inclusive” so that “some in the OU understand they are playing with fire when they start talking about expelling congregations over this issue”; and “women Orthodox clergy are becoming more and more prevalent in Israel,” where “the title of choice” has become rabbanit.

Sarna observed that as women clergy become increasingly accepted in Israel, “one suspects that the opposition in America will decline. But in the short term, some at the OU believe they can still stamp out the trend toward women clergy.”

It’s not hard to imagine a divide within Modern Orthodoxy on the issue of women’s ritual roles, but as Sarna points out: “The question that Orthodox leaders have to ask themselves is whether such a division would ultimately strengthen Orthodoxy in America or weaken it.”

For now, the OU leaders are set to hold meetings in the next week with the rabbinic team at Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, which is led by Rabbi Steven Exler and includes three women (full disclosure: I am a member there), and with Rabbi Nissan Antine of Beth Sholom in Potomac, Md., where Maharat Hadas Fruchter is assistant spiritual leader.

Rabba Sara Hurwitz, dean of Yeshivat Maharat, where each of the women at the four congregations received ordination, said she was pleased to learn the OU is “finally meeting a few of our graduates,” and noted that five more women will be ordained there next month. Ariel Groveman Weiner, chair of the board of the women’s yeshiva, said she was certain the OU leaders will hear “what Yeshivat Maharat knows to be true — that Orthodox female clergy are deeply embedded and respected, and have raised the level of Jewish commitment, engagement and connection in the communities they serve.”

The OU leaders met in Los Angeles in recent days with Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of Bnai David-Judea, where Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn serves.

The rabbis in question appear to want to remain within the OU, among whose many programs include the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), popular with teens, and Yachad, which offers a range of inclusion activities for children and adults with disabilities.

But the rabbis also believe that having women clergy enhances Orthodox Jewish life.

In an Opinion piece in The Jewish Week in February, in response to the OU rabbinic statement, Rabbi Kanefsky described it as “a leadership error of historic proportions.” He wrote: “I do not know what action the OU will take against us. But I do know that we will be strong, and that we will be resolute, because that’s what you do when you are right … [and] your driving value is the service of God and of the Jewish people.”

Gary@jewishweek.org