Monday, December 11, 2017

Why this obsession with education that has stayed with us from that day to this? Because to defend a country you need an army. But to defend a civilisation you need schools. You need education as the conversation between the generations....

The world our children will inherit tomorrow is born in the schools we build today
On Friday 8th December 2017, I spoke in a debate in the House of Lords on Education. The debate was initiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and focused on the role of education in building a flourishing and skilled society.

I took the opportunity to talk about the contribution that faith schools have made, and continue to make, to the education system and to wider society, and especially about the values they give our children. Below is a video and transcript of my remarks.

My Lords. I am grateful to the most Rev Primate for initiating this debate on a subject vital to the future flourishing of our children and grandchildren.

My Lords, allow me to speak personally as a Jew. Something about our faith moves me greatly, and goes to the heart of this debate. At the dawn of our people’s history, Moses assembled the Israelites on the brink of the Exodus.

He didn’t talk about the long walk to freedom. He didn’t speak about the land flowing with milk and honey. Instead, repeatedly, he turned to the far horizon of the future and spoke about the duty of parents to educate their children. He did it again at the end of his life, commanding: “You shall teach these things repeatedly to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.

Why this obsession with education that has stayed with us from that day to this? Because to defend a country you need an army. But to defend a civilisation you need schools. You need education as the conversation between the generations.

Whatever the society, the culture or the faith, we need to teach our children, and they theirs, what we aspire to and the ideals we were bequeathed by those who came before us. We need to teach our children the story of which we and they are a part, and we need to trust them to go further than we did, when they come to write their own chapter.

We make a grave mistake if we think of education only in terms of knowledge and skills – what the American writer David Brooks calls the resume virtues as opposed to the eulogy virtues.

And this is not woolly idealism. It’s hard-headed pragmatism. Never has the world changed so fast, and it’s getting faster each year. We have no idea what patterns of employment will look like in 2, let alone 20 years from now, what skills will be valued, and which done instead by artificially intelligent, preternaturally polite robots.

We need to give our children an internalised moral Satellite Navigation System so that they can find their way across the undiscovered country called the future. We need to give them the strongest possible sense of collective responsibility for the common good, because we don’t know who will be the winners and losers in the lottery of the global economy and we need to ensure its blessings are shared. There is too much “I” and too little “We” in our culture and we need to teach our children to care for others, especially those not like us.

We work for all these things in our Jewish schools. We give our children confidence in who they are, so that they can handle change without fear and keep learning through a lifetime. We teach them not just to be proud Jews, but proud to be English, British, defenders of democratic freedom and active citizens helping those in need.

Schools are about more than what we know and what we can do. They are about who we are and what we must do to help others become what they might be. The world our children will inherit tomorrow is born in the schools we build today.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Can the national outpouring of sexual abuse claims help move recalcitrant mountains in Albany?

A New Push to Expand New York’s Childhood Sex Assault Law

Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, a Democrat who represents Manhattan’s Upper West Side, is part of an effort to raise the limits on when victims of child sex abuse can sue.

Can the national outpouring of sexual abuse claims help move recalcitrant mountains in Albany?

For 11 years, activists and lawmakers in New York have tried and failed to pass the Child Victims Act, which would expand the legal recourse available to people who say they were sexually abused as children, who now face some of the most restrictive laws in the country. As the national conversation bursts with a reckoning over sexual misconduct, activists hope that this year they will succeed and are advancing a new, more aggressive strategy to pass the bill.

“Now is the time,” said Bridie Farrell, a competitive speed skater who was abused by an older teammate and has been pushing the bill in Albany for years. “The people who are speaking up are famous people, with fortunes and legal teams and PR teams,” she said. And yet for years, she continued, “they were too scared to talk. So how do you expect a child to do it?”

Under New York State law, victims of childhood sexual abuse have until they are 21 to sue the institution where the abuse took place, like a church or a school, and until 23 to sue their attacker. Criminal charges, with the exception of rape, must be filed before a survivor turns 23. Activists say New York, along with a handful of other states like Alabama and Michigan, has some of the least victim-friendly laws in the country.

The Child Victims Act would allow survivors to sue until they turn 50 and let criminal charges be filed until they are 28. It would also create a one-year window during which cases from any time could proceed in court.

Some two dozen advocacy organizations and survivor groups are coordinating their efforts this year with the twin goals of convincing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to put the Child Victims Act in the budget and creating the political space for it to succeed. A member of the coalition, Child USA, a nonprofit group led by Marci Hamilton, a legal expert in child sex abuse cases, has hired the strategic communications firm SKDKnickerbocker to coordinate the campaign. SKD has enjoyed a close relationship with Mr. Cuomo’s office, and oversaw the successful effort in 2011 to legalize gay marriage in the state.

Child USA says that the law belongs in the governor’s budget because current laws cost the state money. Some survivors of childhood sexual assault, who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other difficulties like addiction, often end up depending on state programs like Medicaid. 

Child USA argues that the Child Victims Act would shift that financial burden to the abusers and responsible institutions.

Last year, the bill passed in the Assembly by a vote of 139-7, and Mr. Cuomo offered his endorsement by introducing it as well. But the Senate speaker, John J. Flanagan, a Republican, has declined to bring it up for a vote in that chamber. A key piece of the proponents’ strategy will be to aggressively target specific state senators, especially in competitive suburban districts, with efforts like digital advertising to get their support. Carl L. Marcellino and Elaine Phillips, Republicans from Long Island who won narrow victories in recent elections, are two senators on their list, according to coalition representatives.

I think we realize now that they really need to be called out,” said Stephen Jimenez, an abuse survivor who has been advocating for the bill for more than 10 years.

“The question for us now is really blunt: Why are you protecting predators?”

Mr. Flanagan did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

Those pushing the legislation have met with Mr. Cuomo and his staff over the past year and a half, and they say that communication continues.

“It is outrageous that as a result of arcane laws, these victims have been denied their day in court,” Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said in an email. “We are working with the advocates to determine the most effective way to achieve these much needed reforms.”

The measure, which has been spearheaded by the victim organization Safe Horizon for over a decade, has faced consistent opposition from the Catholic church and other groups that serve young people. Dennis Poust, the director of communications for the New York State Catholic Conference, said that while the state’s bishops support forward-looking legislation to raise the statute of limitations, they opposed the window that might open the church up to decades worth of claims.

Activists say such a window is an important way to flush out predators who may have evaded detection, who may even still have access to children, and Linda B. Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan and the bill’s sponsor in the Assembly, called it a “moral responsibility” to allow victims the chance to seek justice. But Mr. Poust said that dioceses in Minnesota and Delaware had filed for bankruptcy after a flood of sexual abuse claims.

“We have to ensure that the church can continue to provide essential services, be it charitable, educational or sacramental,” Mr. Poust said.

As both sides gear up for the legislative session, the drum beat of assault allegations seems to quicken every day. Time Magazine named “The Silence Breakers,” who have called out abuse, its person of the year.

“I’m hopeful that because of revelation about widespread sexual abuse, the dam of resistance has been broken — there are no more sacred cows,” Ms. Rosenthal said. “If this isn’t the moment,” she continued, “then we’re doomed.”



Thursday, December 07, 2017

Three of Sheinberg's victims spoke to Israel Hayom about how he used his influence to demand they perform sexual acts on themselves while speaking to him via video chat and later that they meet with him privately....

Women sexually abused by senior rabbi speak out for first time 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

“How far will this ostensibly religious extremism go?" This Is NOT A JOKE ANYMORE!

Ultra-Orthodox singer tapes eyes shut to avoid seeing women dancing in audience


At Jerusalem concert for female-only crowd, American-born Yonatan Razel takes drastic action to block the sight of women boogieing in front of the stage

Ultra-Orthodox singer Yonatan Razel covers his eyes with masking tape to avoid seeing women dancing at the foot of the stage on December 3, 2017. (Screen capture: Twitter video)
Ultra-Orthodox singer Yonatan Razel covers his eyes with masking tape to avoid seeing women dancing at the foot of the stage on December 3, 2017

An ultra-Orthodox singer covered his eyes with masking tape in the middle of a concert for women only in order not to see audience members who were dancing in front of the stage.

Yonatan Razel was playing his keyboard and singing at Jerusalem’s International Conference Center on Sunday night when he put the tape over his eyes during one song. Video of the incident was played on Hadashot television news.
Razel is an American-born musician, and one of most popular ultra-Orthodox performers in Israel. He recently released his third album.

An organizer of the concert, which was part of a festival of ultra-Orthodox music for women, said that Razel covered his eyes for a few minutes.

Yonatan Razel, with masking tape over his eyes, at a Jerusalem concert for women on December 3, 2017 

“The scene in which he is seen to be covering his eyes took place for only a few minutes, when there were circles of women dancing at the foot of the stage,” he told the Ynet news site. “It was his personal decision, so as not to sit with his eyes open in front of the dancing women. Then he removed the tape and continued the concert normally.”

The act was considered unusual, even among the ultra-Orthodox who practice strict adherence to modesty laws. There have not been other incidents of Haredi singers covering their eyes in this way in front of the all-female crowd.

Galia Wolloch, president of Israeli women’s rights organization Na’amat, slammed the singer for his extreme behavior.

“How far will this ostensibly religious extremism go?” she wrote on Facebook. “And who are the religious authorities who encourage this bizarre behavior?”

A representative of Razel downplayed the incident.

“Razel wants to say that he has appeared regularly for years before women and respects them, and his actions yesterday should not be given any other significance,” he told the news site.


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Godol b'Yisroel Really Upset He Was Not Seated At The Dais At The Recent Agudah Convention...

Rav Pinchos Tumtum Shlita

 Lunatic Goes On Anti-Semitic Rampage At Jewish Nursing Home 



Bronx, NY - A man shouting a Jewish slur attacked the resident of a New York City Jewish nursing home after trying to rob him.

The alleged attacker, Harav Hagadol Hatzadik, Hagaon, Pinchos Tumtum of Brooklyn, New York, was allowed in the New Jewish Home in the Bronx on Shabbos koidesh afternoon after telling the security guard he needed to use the bathroom after a bad cholent. (Mishpocho With The Asher Yatzer Rebbe)

But Tumtum entered the room of a resident, where he lit a marijuana cigarette and trashed the room, according to the New York Post. He then entered the room of an 84-year-old Jewish man and demanded his money before hitting him with a fire extinguisher. He also shouted, “I’m going to kill you, you mother f***ing  secular Jew,” according to the report.

Benjamin Adroygonus, Tumtum's lawyer, said Tumtum  was charged with robbery, burglary, a hate crime, assault, criminal possession of a very little weapon and possession of marijuana, police told WUOJ TV. Androygonus was preparing the "Kool-Aid" defense saying that nobody that gets out of an Agudah Convention can possibly have their sanity intact. "I will pursue this defense vigorously" said Androygonus. He gave out his cell phone for anyone else that was in attendance that will need legal assistance. He warned secular Jews particularly to be on the lookout for Agudah members that want to beat up secular Jews, and all Jews of a different outlook on Judaism than the Aguda rabbis.

The nursing home fired the security guard, he went back to being the Satmar Rebbe.

The victim reportedly spent Sunday, his birthday, with his family.

Rabbi Avi Shafran, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, Rabbi Perlow were not available for comment, they were eating the leftovers from Thanksgiving.


UOJ was available for comment - He said NO COMMENT!

Monday, December 04, 2017

The fact that Inzoli used the Jewish religion as a way of targeting his victims is utterly horrifying, and deserves remarking upon by Jewish sources ---- UOJ The Ultimate Jewish Source Remarks --- OK he may have gotten it wrong about being an "OLD" Jewish ritual....

Paedophile Priest told victim his crimes were an “old Jewish ritual”


Mauro Inzoli, a Catholic Priest recently convicted of child sex offences, claimed that his abhorrent crimes were merely an “old Jewish ritual”.

Inzoli, who was condemned by Pope Francis, as found guilty of eight counts of sexual abuse of children aged 12 to 16 years old between 2004 and 2008. He molested children during confession, away on camps, and even at hospital.

He told one victim that his actions “referred to a sort of ‘baptism of the testicles’ which he said was a Jewish ritual found in the Old Testament as a sign of affection between father and son”. None such ritual exists in Jewish practice.

Inzoli was sentenced to five years in jail, and has been defrocked by Pope Francis, meaning he will not be able to serve as a Priest in any capacity. He was also ordered to pay damages to his victims.

Whilst this is not necessarily an antisemitic incident, the fact that Inzoli used the Jewish religion as a way of targeting his victims is utterly horrifying, and deserves remarking upon by Jewish sources.


Sunday, December 03, 2017

Something About This Does Not Seem, Well, Jewish....

Rabbi forbids looking at NIS 50 bill featuring poet who married a Christian


Sephardic Rabbi Benzion Mutzafi says he folds note face down in pocket to avoid seeing visage of 'apostate' Saul Tchernichovsky

The front of the NIS 50 banknote featuring the late poet Saul Tchernichovsky. (Courtesy)
The front of the NIS 50 banknote featuring the late poet Saul Tchernichovsky. (Courtesy)

Followers of an influential Sephardic rabbi will from now have to avoid looking at the country’s NIS 50 banknote because the poet whose image adorns the bill was married to a Christian woman.

Rabbi Benzion Mutzafi issued his ruling after pulling the offending note out of his pocket during a weekend lesson he was giving, the ultra-Orthodox news site Kikar HaShabbat reported Sunday.

After one of his students asked for a fuller explanation for the ban, the rabbi — a senior adjudicator of Jewish law in the Sephardic community — wrote, “As regards the illustrated image: It is known he [Tchernichovsky] was ‘married’ to a devout Christian woman who every Sunday would ‘pray’ in church.

“They say that at the time, the late Rabbi [Abraham Isaac] Kook [the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine] pleaded with him, requested of him and tried to convince him that she convert to Judaism. And he refused.”

Sephardic rabbi Benzion Mutzafi, who reportedly told his students not to look at the NIS 50 bank note because it carries the image of a man — the poet Saul Tchernichovsky– who was married to a Christian. 
Tchernichovsky was married to Russian-born Christian Melania Karlova, with whom he had a daughter, Isolda.

He was one of four poets chosen in 2011 to appear on Israeli banknotes, together with Nathan Alterman, Leah Goldberg and Rachel Bluwstein.

The issuing of the NIS 50 note was met with anger by religious and other figures in Israel, when it was unveiled in September 2014.

Dr. Hagi Ben-Artzi, brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, said that the use of the Russian-born poet’s image on the bill was “an outrage.”

“Shaul Tchernichovsky has become a symbol of assimilation, of assimilation ideology,” he said at the time, according to Israel National News. “It is inconceivable that such a person, as important a poet as he may be, should become a symbol in the State of Israel.”

Bentzi Gopstein, director of the violent anti-assimilation group Lehava, told Kikar HaShabat at the time that avoiding using the new notes was unrealistic.

“I could say (that) but no one would do it,” he said, though he too lamented the use of the poet. “We should learn who the real role models are.”

Prominent Orthodox rabbi Shlomo Aviner said Tchernichovsky’s portrait on an official bill of the Jewish state was “horribly grating.”

“Tchernichovsky was indeed an incredibly talented author and poet, and is tied to the people of Israel, but a terrible dishonor was deeply imprinted on his life, as he was married to a gentile woman, a very religious Christian,” Aviner, head of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, told the NRG news website, adding that it was unthinkable that an intermarried poet should be “glorified on the nation’s banknote.”

Last month saw the introduction of the new NIS 100 and NIS 20 banknotes featuring Leah Goldberg and Rachel Bluwstein, better known simply as Rachel the Poet.


TEN TIPS TO SAVE MONEY - Don't waste money on extravagances, such as electricity. Keep those lights off, even in the dark.
Skyrocketing prices for fuel, food, and even dental floss have everybody scrambling for ways to save greenbacks. But remember: tough economic times don't last; people who aren't embarrassed to rinse out plastic bags do. Both my grandmothers came from "the old country," and trust me, there is no word for "disposable" in Yiddish. These Bubbies (Yiddish for "Grandma") never met a piece of wrapping paper that they couldn't use at least fifteen times. In fact, through her judicious use, rinsing, and re-use of aluminum foil, one of my Bubbies only used two rolls of foil during her entire life!

With this kind of training, who better to offer money-saving tips than moi?
So read on, be of good cheer, and for gosh sakes, don't waste an entire sheet of fabric softener when you can cut the thing in half. Happy savings!

1. Don't waste money on extravagances, such as electricity. Keep those lights off, even in the dark. You can save thousands, maybe even millions of dollars on electricity bills by using night vision glasses, which can be bought for cheap at any military hardware store. If a neighbor comes over to borrow a cup of flour and asks why everyone in your family is wearing night vision goggles in your dark house, just tell him you are practicing your emergency preparedness drills, recommended by a leading survivalist guru in Idaho.

2. Warm your house with black-out curtains. They keep out the cold and give your night vision goggles a real test of endurance, too. Look, if they were good enough for Londoners during the blitz, they ought to be good enough for you, too.

3. Mold soap slithers into memorable bar mitzvah centerpieces, such as swans or models of the Ten Commandments. As a bonus, guests can use the centerpieces when they wash their hands. You'll be the talk of the town with these!

4. With rocketing inflation, it's also time to resurrect the fine art of haggling. Why not go "mano a mano" with those little credit card machines in the stores? After the register has tallied your groceries and the credit card machine screen asks, "Is $231.98 okay?" don't just press the "okay" button like a patsy, make a deal! Start your counteroffer at $17.54 and test your money-saving mettle. 


5. Cancel that spendy African safari you've been planning and go to the zoo this summer instead. Look, when you've seen one giraffe, you've seen them all. What, were you planning to count how many spots each one had? And let's be honest: how many people do you know who like sleeping under mosquito netting?

6. Sell most of your worldly possessions on eBay. You know you'll never wear that horrendous orange striped tie your mother-in-law gave you, and that set of Boggle that's missing half the letter cubes? Fuhgettabouit! Turn your junk into impressive cashola on eBay, where you'll find buyers for the dumbest things on earth. After Passover, my friend Harry sold his swept up matzah crumbs in a Ziploc bag for eighteen bucks! I don't know what's up with these eBay shoppers, but if they're dumb enough to buy matzah crumbs from the floor, they'll buy your broken toys, your van with no engine, and all your mate-less socks, too. Heck, offer that folding chair held together with only duct tape and with the screw sticking out of the seat pad, and see what you get!

7. Shop at stores no smaller than football stadiums. Now that you've cleared out the clutter, you'll have room for twenty five pound sacks of rice, gallon containers of mystery shampoo whose ingredients are listed in Armenian, and vats of freeze-dried coffee. In addition to never having to shop for non-perishables again until you're one hundred and eight, you'll get a great workout dodging those forklifts in these megastores zooming toward you. Worst case scenario? If everyone hates the weird-smelling Armenian shampoo, just sell it on eBay.

8. Empty your car of non-essential weight, such as family members. The heavier your car is, the more gas you burn driving around, so leave snow chains, shovels, sand bags, and relatives at home when you go out. This way, you can even sidle into a bargain matinee without having relatives whisper their running commentary throughout the movie. A win-win!


9. Cook creatively, especially if you have more days in the week than grocery money. Concoct visionary meals such as "refrigerator soup," a hodgepodge of anything you can find in the back of the fridge or freezer that doesn't yet have anything growing on it. Be daring! Toss in the last few frozen fish sticks, half a can of kidney beans, flaccid celery (I think it may still have vitamins even in this aged state), Tabasco sauce, the unrecognizable leftovers with freezer burn, and you're in business. If your family complains, channel my long-departed Bubbie, who would say, "You want fancy? Okay, tomorrow we'll have borsht."

10. Don't skimp on the essentials. With all this Draconian belt-tightening, make sure you still buy yourself an overpriced latte every day. Ignore that little voice in your head reminding you that over a year's time, you will spend nearly eight hundred bucks on these drinks, money that could otherwise have filled your gas tank four or five times. But what seems like an indulgence is really just a way to ensure you're still getting essential vitamins and nutrients -- especially if you are living off of that cheap rice and "refrigerator soup."

Friday, December 01, 2017

The Haredi community is comprised largely of hundreds of thousands of young men and women, trying to build their new families while being cut off from the opportunities the Israeli economy affords bright and eager people like them. Despite the rabbis’ edicts against using the internet, many of these young Haredim are fully exposed to the world outside and yearn to have some connection with it, especially through their workplaces.

Analysis Israel's Shabbat Wars Are a Symptom of a Much Deeper Crisis Among ultra-Orthodox Jews

Many young Haredim may not be happy about work being carried out on Saturday, but the real rage is the one building up against their leaders, rabbis seventy years older than them, who have no comprehension of the obstacles they face.

Behind the scenes, even the most devout ultra-Orthodox politician will admit that in reality, it is impossible to enforce a Shabbat standstill on the economy. After all, Haredim make up only a minority of Israeli society. They also understand that any Haredi attempt to do so would dramatically decrease their power to influence other matters close to their hearts. That’s not news and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman’s announcement on Friday that he would be resigning over weekend work on the railway network is an anomaly.

Crucial infrastructure maintenance has been taking place on Saturdays for decades, without causing tension – as long as the work was going on quietly, far from public view. When the Israel Electric Corporation transported a massive turbine on Highway 2 on Shabbat in 2001, it was a public event that the Haredim could not ignore and the ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism left Ehud Barak’s coalition in protest. But week after week, the low-profile maintenance work on the railway and power lines has on the whole been ignored.

This has all changed over the last couple of years. Haredi websites and social media, not beholden to the “spiritual committees” that supervise the mainstream Haredi media and ensure the journalists serve the rabbis’ agenda, have reported every permit to work on Shabbat and captured the Haredi public’s attention. The rabbis have been forced, against their will, to stake out more radical positions.

It’s not just the power of the Haredi websites to enforce the agenda, but the transparency they have created in the murky world of Haredi politics. Decisions can no longer be made quietly behind closed doors. Every consultation between Knesset members and their rabbis is noted in the cramped courtyards and immediately broadcasted online. It’s all out in the open and the rabbis’ room for maneuvers and compromise, and with it their power, has been dramatically eroded. In public, they cannot show pragmatism, and are pushed instead into competition over who is more devoted to the sanctity of the Shabbat.

It's not only the intrusive internet that has eroded rabbinical authority. It has weakened because the upper layer of Maranim and Poskei Ha’Dor (halakhic arbiters of the generation) are never replaced, not even when they reach 100. Modern medicine has extended their life spans, but not enhanced their ability to understand contemporary politics and technology. Today’s Haredi leaders are detached from the goings-on within their own communities and in the wider society. Haredi theology is still stuck on the legend of Moses at 120 “his sight undimmed, his vigor unimpaired.” Not for them is the pragmatism of Pope Benedict XVI, who at 85 acknowledged that he could no longer lead and resigned from the papacy.

The ultra-Orthodox are stuck with an elderly, failing leadership, incapable of grasping the challenges their communities are facing, both in daily and political life. Neither are they capable of creating unity within the Haredi public. After the death of Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach in 2001, at the age of 103, the cracks were beginning to show in the Lithuanian community, which has long served as the ideological vanguard of ultra-Orthodoxy. Shach’s successor, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, failed to paper over the cracks and with his death at 102, five years ago, a rift opened between the more moderate leadership based in Bnei Berak and the radical Jerusalem faction, which has been behind the recent violent demonstrations in the capital.

The third in the series of centenarians, Rabbi Aron Steinman, now 104 and between frequent bouts of hospitalization, has proven unable to restore any sense of unity. Neither does there seem to be a unifying figure among the younger generation of ninety-something Lithuanian rabbis.

The situation is even worse among the Sephardi Haredim – those with Spainish and Portuguese roots. Though the rabbis there are relatively younger and less detached than their Lithuanian colleagues, ever since the death of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef four years ago, there has been all-out war for supremacy, drummed on by Shas’ political leader, Interior Minister Arye Dery. The struggle has already torn Shas into two competing parties in the last election and regularly spills out on to the news, with scandalous tapes of Sephardi rabbis and politicians slagging each other off. The titular president of Shas’ Council of Torah Sages, Chacham Shalom Cohen, who replaced Rabbi Ovadia, was widely regarded as Dery's patsy, and neither he nor any of his rabbinical brothers have a chance of attaining anything nearing Ovadia’s dominance.

The third main component of the Haredisphere, the Hassidic courts, have a much wider variety of rabbis, but none of the AdMoRim (Hasidic spiritual leaders) have much influence beyond their own particular group of followers. The rabbi behind the current Shabbat controversy, the Gerrer Rebbe Yaakov Alter, political patron of Health Minister Litzman, is the most powerful of the Hassidic rabbis, but unlike his uncle and predecessor, who was also a crafty and gregarious politician, Alter is a secretive and divisive character who refuses to meet secular politicians. He rules his unhappy Hassidim with an iron fist, issuing his edicts through a tiny circle of loyalists, of whom Litzman is but one. Alter can force Litzman to resign from the cabinet, but he probably cannot bring down the government. For that he would need to create a consensus among the disparate wings of ultra-Orthodoxy.

The failure of the rabbis to articulate a clear position on the Shabbat issue is just a symptom of the much deeper malaise. The Haredi community is comprised largely of hundreds of thousands of young men and women, trying to build their new families while being cut off from the opportunities the Israeli economy affords bright and eager people like them. Despite the rabbis’ edicts against using the internet, many of these young Haredim are fully exposed to the world outside and yearn to have some connection with it, especially through their workplaces. Secular Israelis may be angry at Haredi attempts to impose religious strictures on public life, but the real rage is the one that is building up among young Haredim at their leaders, rabbis seventy years older than them, who have no comprehension of the obstacles facing them.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Behadrei Haredim reports that a 24 year old married man will be indicted today on charges of molesting three girls in Modin Ilit.

Serial abuser gets another victim after parents won’t cooperate with police

Behadrei Haredim reports that a 24 year old married man will be indicted today on charges of molesting three girls in Modin Ilit.

According to the report, approximately two weeks ago, the suspect was arrested a day after molesting a 13-year-old girl in a stairwell.

Upon his arrest, it became clear that the same man had been detained three weeks earlier for molesting another girl in similar circumstances. In that case, the parents refused to allow the police to interview their daughter and the suspect had to be released.

You can read the full report in Hebrew here.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Opinion #MeToo in Israel's ultra-Orthodox World

Two young girls from an unregulated school, in a Haredi neighborhood of Jerusalem
Opinion #MeToo in Israel's ultra-Orthodox World

“The guy who attacked me sexually a number of times when I was 11 years old is a married ultra-Orthodox man. I was dressed with extreme modesty. After my bat mitzvah I visited them on Shabbat, and he asked his wife to go to bed and leave me with him. She shouted, ‘She’s a bat mitzvah! You can’t touch her anymore!’

“And why is it impossible to tell and to complain? Ninth-grade girls in a Bais Yaakov school can answer that. The homeroom teacher told them about a student who was attacked in the street and stayed home for a few days to recover. She went to visit her and told her, ‘It’s your fault!’ The student defended herself, after all she observes all the rules and wears very thick stockings. The teacher answered her, ‘Yes, but there’s something about you!’”

That’s what Racheli Bass, a married ultra-Orthodox woman and mother of three who provides emotional therapy and assistance to victims of sexual assault, writes me.

Not everyone is as courageous as Racheli, who agreed to reveal her horrible story. Women I turned to, who I knew had been attacked, said that it’s better to keep quiet, that they aren’t emotionally prepared for exposure. But here are a few real stories and statements – in some the identifying details have been changed at the request of the victims to preserve their safety and privacy – in response to an op-ed by Israel Cohen (“Learn from the ultra-Orthodox how to stop sexual harassment,” Haaretz.com, November 14) that denies the injustices, sexual attacks and harassment in Haredi society, and extols the policy of separation to prevent such behavior.

“I remember my male teacher welcoming me every morning with a blessing and placing his freezing hands inside my sweater and feeling me up, holding me close to him.” (Y., a male graduate of an ultra-Orthodox elementary school and yeshivas)

“I was sitting with an older Hasidic client, who had invited me to advise him about interior design for a new store. He examined me closely and began to ask questions, he misinterpreted my pleasantness: “Do you think I’m good-looking? Isn’t it true that you would like to be with me?” I smiled like an idiot and blushed. Needless to say I didn’t get the job and I didn’t bother to ask for explanations. When my husband tried to understand why, I explained to him that the price I suggested was too expensive for him.” (R., an architect)

“Yesterday I had a conversation with my little sister. She told me about the rape of a friend of hers. An ultra-Orthodox man dragged her behind a truck and raped her, and she didn’t dare to shout because she didn’t know exactly what was happening to her, what he was doing, and mainly she was afraid that if she shouted other people would come and ‘see her’ [body]. She didn’t know what to shout. How can a naïve seminary girl know how to deal with something that has no name? My sister told me about other instances of harassment, men who exposed themselves in front of girls, who didn’t know what the men were doing and why, and what to do about it.” (Natalie Rosenblum)

“I experienced a sexual attack in the family, which continued for years due to the habit of silence and the fact that the family ignored clear signs. When I recently heard about other attacks by the same man, I turned to the police. Rabbis told the complainants to testify, but later changed their minds so that he wouldn’t sit in prison for too long. Complainants were harassed. I was compared to a Nazi and to ISIS, and part of the family is still not speaking to me. At the start of my career I was sexually attacked several times in ultra-Orthodox places of work. I fled at the last moment from an attack by the founder of large charitable organizations in Jerusalem, who after the fact said that it was my fault because I fixed up my hair before leaving work.” (Shifra from Bnei Brak, a seminary graduate)

In the Facebook group I run, “Haredi Feminism,” Cohen’s article aroused a storm. Here are some of the reactions: “There are many reasons why Haredi women didn’t participate in the #MeToo campaign. Not because of what Cohen writes and not because the separated society helps to prevent sexual harassment and assault. The article is infuriating mainly because the Haredi media don’t report on the campaign at all and don’t offer the platform that the secular media gave the complainants. If anything brings on the flood of the Haredi ‘#Me too,’ and it will be a flood of sewage, it will be articles like Cohen’s.” (A.R.)

“Forget the exclusion that Cohen whitewashes so much in the article. But where’s the component of the victims, mainly among yeshiva students, despite and maybe even because of the separation?” (Chavi Blustein, a counselor for brides and married life)

All these are a miniscule sampling of authentic voices from among the public. All these quotes weren’t brought out to prove how sick Haredi society is, since the international #MeToo campaign exposes a human sickness that crosses cultures, ideologies and classes. These stories and quotes are being made public so that Saraleh and Yehuda and Chaimkeh and Menucha and Itamar and Yisrael Meir and Shira and Bracha will feel that they’re not alone and they’re not to blame.

In recent years organizations have begun to work inside the Haredi community, bringing the voices of the male and female victims to public awareness, and they are doing important work. In the Haredi media (the digital media only) they have started to discuss the subject, but for the most part the thundering silence, the fear, the embarrassment and the guilt prevail and reverberate. This has to be lifted, and those who deny the pain and suffering of the victims have to be confronted.

The writer is the founder and co-executive director of the organization Nivharot (Chosen) – Haredi women for representation, equality and a voice.