Alex Fein is defamatory; so what’s news?

  1. I never knew her husband prayed at Emmy Monash before the question was asked
  2. I was approached by the Rabbi of that institution, to ask a revered Modern Orthodox Rabbi (not Chareidi or Chabad) to get an unbiased view given the Rabbi was Chabad (I’m not, of course) but I happened to be learning Torah close to that Rabbi for a few months and he knew I regularly was in touch with Rav Schachter based on other discussions that arose daily. Rav Schachter was not told any names as it is not relevant and in fact, it wasn’t the only question asked. Rav Schachter was quick and firm in his response (he’d obviously come across it). Guess what? Mizrachi had this same Psak from their Rabbi at the time (no, not Rabbi Sprung) about a different functionary, so it’s hardly a new issue.
  3. There is no line about female circumcision and is just some inflammatory nonsense from someone purposefully deflecting from the issue because she has been exposed. She also knows that what I was asking her, was about whether should she should have a SON and whether she would offer the choice of him having a circumcision or she would force him, like the fundamentalist she accuses me, and my Rabbi and others to be, and have it at eight days. I simply noted that she didn’t have to face that question because she has only females to date. It is rather sick to contort that in the way that she has, but on the other hand, it is revealing, because anyone normal can read what she has written and seen what I have written and see immediately the falsehood she spreads.
  4. Alex is ageist. That is clear in her response as sent to me by someone.
  5. She wouldn’t have a clue, but I visited old people in those homes every week for over two decades (they are dead now), so don’t think I’m some person who hangs around with youngsters like Alex only.
  6. Frankly, if she wants to defame me in public and get excited about that, good luck to her. I am not responding to her gutter sniping, foul language, and lies.

Ho Hum. Take a Bex and lie down for a rest Alex.

Oh Yvonne Fein, you can do a lot better better than that pithy response

Someone just sent me your response to what I wrote. (I will reproduce it below) I understand that a mother, like a lion, looks after her cubs; one has a natural inclination to protect, but I can assure you that:

a) It didn’t take me long to write; and

b) I have read gone with the wind; and

c) I have four University degrees, including a PhD, so please don’t place me in your preconceived bed pan of medieval street sweepers; and

d) I have met you and found you pleasant and have actually written a piece in Generation which I believe you were involved with; and

e) A cousin of Yaron is a cousin of mine.

If you want to argue facts or claim I have been unkind, then I’m all ears.

Failing that, enjoy your Matza Balls (if you are allowed them … I have to wait till the last day)

My goodness, Cousin of Yaron. It was such a pleasure to read your response to Alex’s post. The fact that it was only slightly shorter than “Gone With the Wind” (that’s a secular book you may have been forbidden to read) is a clear indicator of how much you respect her thoughts and ideas. Taking so
much time to reply – and I’m a writer so I know these things -must have
taken you hours. We are indeed privileged to share your acumen and erudition. I hope there’s more on the way. Also, if you feel compelled to reply, please know that I will not re-engage. I’ve said my piece.
(Disclosure: I am Mother of Alex.)

Can Chabad do ANYTHING right?

[I didn’t want to write on this topic as it’s too depressing and generates spite and heat. That’s not my intention. I won’t publish comments unless they are sufficiently motivated by language that is positive and helpful. I’m not writing to create a huge argument. Like all my posts, I just write what’s on my mind at some time]

There has been a lot of press and talk about the happenings (hopefully soon in the past) of a lack of requisite and proper immediate action in respect of cases of sexual abuse which occurred over time, some years ago. People certainly made horrid mistakes: sometimes it was out of sheer unbelievable ignorance about the ways of the world (sheltered lives void of Western Morals, which are Halachically mandated in such cases according to the Ramban as a Torah command?), and other times it was a clumsy or “too clever” misguided attempt to cover up, in the hope that it will “just go away”. Neither reason is an excuse or acceptable. Unfortunately, victims often take years to tell their stories. That’s apparently a known side-effect and a sad one as it means things are dealt with years later. Pedophiles spread their sick urges like uncontrollable vermin, wherever you place them. I do not know if they can be cured. This is not my area. Nor do I know the confidence intervals of such “cures”. I’m not sure if anyone knows.

Certainly, those who are and have been friends with a victim, and are able to express social compassion and support, outside of any governance structures, should continue to do so or see if they can commence doing so. [For my part, I spent many hours helping to out  a shocking, perhaps the worst, pedophile (and those in the know, are well aware), and I really didn’t and don’t know victims on any personal let alone social level.] I hope there are many people of their age group, peers and friends, and I hope those people make an extra point engaging them, as I’m confident that can only contribute to them feeling less ostracised.

Those who were part of the YBR governance structure and knew of wrong doings, ought to move out of any governance role in any and all committee or decision-making roles. How long do they stay out of such positions or roles? I do not know. I expect it depends on the person and any metamorphosis they may undergo due to education and sincere Tshuva and Kapporo (accepted atonement).  I’m not sure they have to be banished to a pseudo city of refuge, but they do need to undertake continuing education and deep introspection and I would go as far as suggesting they undertake voluntary pastoral roles where appropriate counselling and helping general victims (they don’t have to be Jewish) or if they are Jewish, we know that there were victims from a number of Schools in Melbourne that they can try to show they have acquired the requisite understanding and skills to empathise and support such people cope with living. Ultimately, I mean a pastoral role. Most victims will, I suspect, require psychological and/or psychiatric assistance to get them through the damage they experienced. I’d avoid counsellors. There are a myriad ways anyone can become a counsellor (you can even take a quick course for $900) and these courses lack scientific rigour or a proper roof body that can punish people for ethical breaches. There are many shonks out there.

That the Jewish News focusses negatively almost solely on Chabad is not surprising. Their approach has long been considered  (on unrelated happenings) as anti-Orthodox and they have no qualms using a JEWISH News to advertise anti-Jewish practice. When Judaism morphs to solely Zionism, or some other single mode of expression more akin to culture, then the Jewish News will be part culpable for the alarming assimilation rate. In the USA it is, I believe 70% assimilation. Think about it. It’s an epic disaster

Today, Love conquers all. “What can I do?” you hear the mother or Booba saying … When a boy brings home someone from another religion in a relationship, it no longer has stigma because “what can I do“. Once upon a time a kid knew they couldn’t do this and this actually prevented the mountain of growth of questionable conversions for a relationship. Once upon a time the boy was not permitted to come to the front door with that intention and was told by his parents to “fly a kite”. People were even afraid to consider assimilation because it meant saying goodbye to family. Yes, there is more to it, especially the new religions of egalitarianism, equality, “tikkun olam” and social justice and that’s that. Ironically, many who do convert sincerely, can’t get their husbands to go along with them. A house of holes and hypocrisy is born, and children who see this are statistically known to be more likely to intermarry or become fundamentalist.

When a girl is allowed to bring home a boy from another religion, then it’s “not so bad” (at least, the kids they might have are Jewish so all is “good”) although you won’t hear the champions of egalitarian approaches complaining about that. Matrilineal descent is fine, its only been Halacha for thousands of years. Reform recognise patrilineal descent, and we know that they are now forced to move more and more to tradition in order to proffer some Tachlis to their communities (who intermarry more than any; patrilineal descent has not helped at all). It is a plain fact that most households assume that to compromise for “family unity” is the answer. “What can I do?” is the refrain. What they are doing, is setting up a framework for Judaism to die in the ensuing generations just so they can eat a Seder together or Latkes on Chanuka and in some cases delude themselves that their grandchildren are Jewish. They don’t see that far ahead. Why? That’s a complex answer and another post. As to Yohr Tzeit and Yizkor? The next generation seems to take the money and run.

So how does Chabad fall into this discussion?  I sense a reaction to the debacle of the pedophile issue, which also seeks to minimise all the good that Chabad has done and continues to do in preserving Jewish identity, by sparingly reporting positively on their work (save the usual pictures of an event). Chabad literally built Judaism in Melbourne. They are ubiquitous. They are unceasing in their efforts, non judgemental with irreligious people, but won’t leave you alone. They are nudniks when it comes to Jewish observance. They want you to connect to your roots so you can light up the world. That’s their way. You can’t change it, and there is no point even wanting or trying to change that approach.

I’m not a Chabad (or any) Chassid (I don’t fit) and am wary of any underlying philosophy proclaiming that there is only one way, but I am also loathe to support an undercurrent of “anti” Chabad to persist, even after they (hopefully) sort out their issues, and yes, it’s taking way too long because of a void in leadership.

Chabad don’t in general join other Rabbinic Organisations; Melbourne was exceptional because that’s just about all there was,  so perhaps we’ve reached a point where they aren’t worried they don’t dominate these and don’t care if they resign. Those Rabbinic Organisations however are a reflection of what we are. The best they seem to be able to do is issue statements. Contrast this to the RCA and OU where education is at the forefront even though statements are made. Don’t even mention the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria, apart from the Eruv. That organisation is also crying out for new authentic leadership.

Where is the weekly lesson from the members of these  Rabbinic organisations? Why aren’t sermons and shiurim podcasted later or published? Much more can be done.

I detect, with few exceptions, that Jewish Education, and here I mean the type which doesn’t just seek to indoctrinate, but simply learn for learning’s sake so that people can see the incredible beauty of the written and oral law and the commentaries surrounding these, has fallen by the wayside. It is the essence of Judaism, not the Kreplach, Choolent, Gefilte Fish and Chicken Soup.

I’d like a dollar for every Bar Mitzvah boy’s speech which isn’t about sport. Judaism just seems to have disappeared (together with the Rabbis who used to be at these events, and the Kosher Food that was a must at any Jewish Simcha … and yes, there are Jewish Simchas hosted by the very wealthy which are simply Trayf … uber fancy cuisine or the use of custom herds comes before heritage and tradition: great-grandparents turn in their graves).

Today, we see new ways (mostly copied) to draw people into a Shule, through some type of “program” which includes kids and food. For the older generation, it’s enough to offer whisky and herring and they flock. This is all fine. If, however, it doesn’t lead to further involvement, sans these ingredients, it has a limited shelf life and a shallow precarious continuation. Torah Education must be the cornerstone.

Many Rabbis, non Chabad and some Chabad, simply don’t engage their congregational youth in a serious study of Torah. Some can’t relate to the kids because they haven’t lived in a Western world or understand it. They need to. The Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rav Soloveitchik certainly understood the need to understand the Western worlds they lived in and studied in University. It’s not just about classes for a bride before she gets married.

Kids break their heads so that they can get an Aliya on their Bar Mitzvah and learn Haftora like a parrot. Would it not be better to have a policy in a Shule, in fact all Orthodox shules, that they only need to get an Aliyah without Haftorah, but should attend a weekly one hour shiur with the Rabbi (or some proper assistant) for a year to augment what they may (or may not study at School). Parents should be encouraged to attend too. This should also be provided to Bat Mitzvah girls (who I understand in many cases already have privately done such things) but they too should have a year-long initiation to Jewish Orthodox Learning, which after all, is the basis for everything and represents the true tradition from Moses to this day. The other flavours are western influenced portable religions that don’t survive the test of time. The USA experience has taught us that.

Chabad has done and continues to do much good. The Jewish News (and some blogs, and I honestly haven’t read these blogs, nor seek Facebook posts on the topic because I get too upset with the often generated unnecessary, anonymous and ad hominem attacks) really should also undergo a Bar Mitzvah for their staff journalists. I challenge them to have a weekly column which describes something a Chabadnik has done to touch and ignite Jewish souls in our community. There is plenty of material. Is it not newsworthy? It’s at least as newsworthy as pictures at a cultural event. Alternatively, let a capable Chabadnik give a weekly Shiur to journalists of the Jewish News?

My own feeling is that most want Chabad to get its house in order and continue the overwhelming good that they achieved. If they have papers like the Jewish News (and various web sites, and of course the left-wing Jewish Friendly “the Age”) seeking to minimise their enormous contribution to the community over decades, they will still survive, whether they are part of a Rabbinic Board or not. They will still have a profound positive effect. But, and I caution this most seriously: they must remove the stains, and embrace the reforms that are necessary, as we’ve seen across the spectrum of various Jewish and non-Jewish communities, and recognise that protection of children and education of educators and staff, are simply not negotiable and must be taken as seriously, if not more, than an infraction of eating Ham. If they do that effectively, and manage to sideline those who should have known better, and seek to re-engage (not just for PR) with victims (not all will want or be able to) of the past, then they will effectively continue their efforts to bring the redemption earlier. Jewish studies teachers without degrees should at least undertake correspondence courses in formal Education if they can’t/won’t attend University personally. I don’t see why it’s different to Kashrus, where Kosher Australia sponsored staff to undertake a Food Science degree at RMIT.

My own view is that they need to import a very talented, world standard, and worldly, Chabad Rabbi to re-invigorate and re-align the institutions. Yes, it will cost, but in the long run, it’s either that, or they will wallow in mediocrity.

If they do not do this, and continue to over argue little points that really should not be on the table, and keep faceless people and rampant nepotism, they will remain in this state of constant flux.

Chabad have done too much for Australia to stay in such a continued state of harmful flux, and I dare say, that some of the victims may actually agree with me. There were some aspects of their education and certain educators that left them with positive outcomes (at least I hope so! … their friends and family will know).

Here is something [Hat tip NB] just written by a Conservative rabbi (I don’t know the source)

Last Sunday night I checked the annual Chabad Kinus Sheluchim off of my bucket list – the annual gathering of Chabad emissaries from around the world. Over 4,500 rabbis from 90 countries convening for what is considered to be the largest such annual gathering of Jews in North America. Seventy-five years since the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson of blessed memory, arrived in America from war-torn Europe, Chabad is the fastest growing Jewish religious movement of our time. From Bangkok to Kenya, UCLA to Middlebury, Chabad houses, schools and mitzva tanks abound in numbers and vitality. The big announcement of the dinner was the appointment of Mendel and Mussie Alperowitz to Sioux Falls, South Dakota – a placement that secures a full-time Chabad presence in every single state.

As a Conservative rabbi I sat there marveling at the wonder that is Chabad. Not just its meteoric growth and ubiquitous presence, or its impassioned focus on the Rebbe.

Chabad’s secret sauce is personal relationships – on a street corner, a heimischy Friday night campus meal, or a one-on-one study session in a downtown office. The mission of a Chabad rabbi or rebbetzin is to draw out the pintele yid – the divine spark embedded in each and every Jew. What became clear to me last Sunday night is that the institution Chabad cares most about is not 770 Eastern Parkway or any campus Chabad; rather it is the institution of each and every unique Jewish soul yearning for expression.

The target audience of Chabad and the Conservative Movement is one and the same, our tactics are just different. The recently published Hertog study on Chabad on Campus makes clear that Chabad’s impact is greatest for those raised in Conservative and Reform households.

On a certain level, it makes no sense. Why would a movement that overlooks the Enlightenment, promotes a non-egalitarian expression of Jewish practice, is positively parochial in its posture and small “c” conservative in its politics captivate a liberally minded and often disengaged American Jewry? And yet, as the Hertog study explains, it is precisely these elements that help explain Chabad’s appeal.

In a frenetically paced world of online and superficial connection, where all of us stand to be alienated from each other and ourselves, Chabad provides an intimacy that is a deeply valued commodity. The free food and drink on campus undoubtedly doesn’t hurt, but it is the prospect of a finding a personal connection, the belief that you matter to someone that speaks to the soul of American Jewry. One does not need to be a chabadnik or social scientist to understand the importance of cultivating individual relationships; that community building is a retail business, one person, one Shabbat table at a time.

And yet for all its successes, it is also by understanding Chabad’s limitations that one sheds light on the distinctive role of the Conservative Movement. The Hertog study documents that virtually no students affected positively by Chabad choose a Chabad lifestyle after college. Why? Because sensitive as Chabad may be to the soul of American Jewry, neither its theology nor its lifestyle reflect the hyphenated lives that American Jews actually lead. Chabad does not embrace the non-Jewish members of our Jewish families. Chabad does not seek to draw in Jews of patrilineal descent.

Chabad does not engage with all the counterclaims, intellectual and otherwise, that modernity brings.

Embracing as Chabad may be, it is not pluralistic.

These observations are not meant to be criticisms. They merely signal the need for a religious movement that can walk side-by-side with American Jewry throughout their Jewish journey; a religious movement both single-minded and open-minded in its efforts to draw out the pintele yid hidden within.

Conservative rabbis complain when their lay leaders provide financial support for Chabad when neither they, nor their children have any intention or desire to live a Chabad lifestyle. What we fail to see in our kvetching is that we ourselves have failed to provide a compelling alternative worthy of our leaders’ investment.

What if the Conservative Movement were able to adopt some of Chabad’s insights? What if we were able to corral an army of Jewish educators and set in motion home study sessions; for singles, young couples, empty nesters, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons or home-bound seniors? What if the Conservative Movement redoubled its outreach to interfaith couples, individuals exploring Judaism, considering conversion or maybe just trying to figure out how to get a foothold in the Jewish community? What if our community were able to rethink congregational education to include opportunities for families to learn with each other – building both Jewish literacy and community at the same time, one living room at a time? What if there were hours enough in a day that Conservative congregational rabbis could enter the offices, homes and lives of our congregants campaigning for nothing other than their Jewish souls? It would require a dramatic rethinking of how we conducted business and allocated resources.
But given the stakes – the infinite value of a Jewish soul – why wouldn’t we be filled with a mesirus nefesh, a missionary zeal for the Jewish future? The Jewish world would be strengthened by way of having parallel efforts working in concert with each other. As my Chabad friend said to me at the dinner the other night: “Elliot, you and I are traveling down the same highway, but our windows are rolled up.” Lets roll down the windows and work together, learn from each other, respect each other, celebrating each other’s achievements even as we recognize our differences. There is room enough for us all, more than enough lost sparks looking to light up the dark. Most of all, let’s recognize that we are all on the same team looking to build up the individual and collective soul of American Jewry.

The author is the senior rabbi of Park Avenue Synagogue, Manhattan.

More child abuse … in Israel

I don’t know how much of this is true; it may all well be true, and not all of it be found guilty. I’m not being judge. But, where there is smoke there is fire. These stories and accusations do not just come into existence יש מאין, ex nihilo. This report is from Yediot and made me feel ill.

Teachers at Hasidic school accused of sexually abusing students

Six teachers from a Talmud Torah school (“Cheder”) belonging to the Belz Hasidic dynasty were indicted on Tuesday for the abuse and assault of minors, with the main defendant accused of many cases of sodomy with minors, indecent assault, and extortion.
According to the indictments, the offenses were allegedly committed over the course of 11 years from 2000 to 2011 against 22 complainants aged 3-10, who were taught by the defendants. During that time, the defendants committed daily physical and emotional violence against the students, which was characterized by cruelty, humiliation, and intimidation.

According to the indictments, the students called the school “Bergen-Belsen,” referring to the Nazi concentration camp, while the main defendant, 49-year-old Avraham Mordechai Rosenfeld, was dubbed “Rosenazi.” Rosenfeld, the indictment states, brought students to a lounge at the school that contained beds and a closet in which he kept sweets, some of which he confiscated from the students. He allegedly ordered the students to come with him into the room, where he sexually assaulted them. After they stopped crying, he gave them sweets and sent them on their way. In many of the cases, Rosenfeld beat the students using wooden sticks or planks that he ordered the students to gather during recess. The indictment also details some instances in which Rosenfeld tied the students to chairs or desks using ropes or cable ties and had them stand in class with their hands and feet bound. While tied, he force-fed them a spoonful of black pepper or soap and forbade them from washing their mouths after. In other cases, he forbade students from going to the bathroom, or otherwise forced them to relieve themselves in their pants while sitting in class. Rosenfeld is also charged with animal abuse. In one instance, when a cat entered the classroom in which Rosenfeld was teaching, he beat it in front of the students with an umbrella or wooden sticks, and eventually shoved it out of the window, killing the cat. Additionally, Rosenfeld is suspected of terrorizing his wife and children at home. He allegedly subjected one of his children to abuse for years until the child left home. His wife claimed he threatened to keep her from their children, threatened to divorce her, and controlled the food in the house. The other five defendants are Yisrael Haim Shapira, 65, Haim Fishgrond, 69, Moshe Hirsch, 39, Menachem Alberstein, 63, and Avraham Pinchas Deytsch, 53. The six defendants denied the offenses attributed to them, with each providing explanations and interpretations of the incidents, claiming they did not intend to harm the minors. Some admitted to some of the less serious incidents, while presenting them as mere jokes. Apart from Rosenfeld, the other five teachers were released from detention under restrictive conditions. Zion Amir, who also represented former president and convicted rapist Moshe Katsav, now represents some of the defendants. “Some of the people I represent completely deny the allegations against them,” he said. “There is going to be a long trial that will acquit whoever needs to be acquitted from this important community.” Rosenfeld’s lawyer, Yehuda Fried, claimed that “the acts described in the indictment are exaggerated. Regarding his family, the accusations are completely made up by those seeking to get between him and his wife.”

Leifer again, sigh

[Hat tip NB]

Adass Yisroel “unaware” of Leifer funding

by Henry Benjamin

A member of Melbourne’s Adass Yisroel community has told J-Wire that no-one is aware of anyone within the community funding Malka Leifer who lives in Israel but is wanted by authorities in Australia to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse.

The offences took place when Leifer was employed by the Adass Yisroel school as its principal . She fled Melbourne in 2008 when allegations were surfacing and has avoided extradition on ten occasions to Australia failing to appear in court on psychiatric grounds.

Melbourne’s “The Herald Sun” has reported that it “can reveal a bank account linked to Mrs Leifer is being topped up by Adass community members here”.

The report stated that “deposits are being made over the counter at a bank in Elsternwick”. Elsternwick borders the suburb of Ripponlea, home to the Adass community.

Leifer has been ordered to undergo psychiatric assessment in Israel…a process which could take up to ten years. The court has ordered assessments to be produced every six months.

Malka Leifer
Shlomo Abelesz, featured in the recent SBS documentary on Melbourne’s Adass community Untold Story – Strictly Jewish.

He told J-Wire: “No-one I have spoken to within Adass is aware of this and we are as shocked as the rest of the community. If someone is doing it privately, it is possible. We would be surprised if it is true.”

Ablest said that if it were true someone, somewhere “had broken privacy laws”. He added: “I haven’t heard of one person within Adass who has heard of this account. Mrs Leifer was not very popular. There would be very people who would be wanting to support her within Adass. The story sounds to me like fabrication and until I see proof of it I would say it’s a beat-up. Everyone is disgusted with her. No-one in any official position in Adass has ever heard of this account.”

It’s interesting to see secular privacy laws of the country allegedly being mentioned. Torah Law may say something else. Check with your own Rabbi.

Prayers for Malka Leifer

If you haven’t read ‘she’s free to go’ in Israel until she gets better.

I’m waiting for the Adass Israel community to call for a day of prayer, so that Leifer, accused of 72 accounts of pedophilia gets better sooner so that her continued existence in this sick mental state subsides and the daily profanation of God’s name doesn’t continue to recur.

Does anybody want to take betting odds that this prayer day won’t occur and that it didn’t occur on the last prayer-filled event last week at the Hungarian Ultra Orthodox Haredi establishment in Melbourne? 

I will bet her name wasn’t even mentioned in a prayer for a Refuah Shelema.

Let justice take its path.

If she God forbids, lures a victim, now that she is free to roam, I’d be applying to have her institutionalised in an asylum with appropriate mental care.

The Israeli court system is to blame for Malka Leifer?

Watch this. I do not understand how the Israeli secular court system has done anything wrong except uphold the law of Israel. In this case it has conflicting evidence of Leifer’s alleged mental condition and is now seeking a court-based independent assessment before extradition. Is that not proper? Will the psychiatrist be considered biased if he/she concludes that Leifer is some sort of unfit mental maniac?

Video below from the ABC. It took a long time till victims came forward, and it takes a long bow to allege that Israel is dragging its feet on this and to say so on television. The case is proceeding as it should, and my expectation is that she will be found to be fit and extradited for trial. If it wasn’t a  Jew who made this claim about the Israeli Court System, some might call the comments anti-semitic. There are processes, and they must be followed. Prime Ministers and Presidents are put in prison in Israel.

It takes time.

The law isn’t the fastest runner on the block and these are weighty issues.

People need to choose their words more carefully.

 

Sometimes victims of crime behave in strange ways

I have always had sympathy for victims of crime, with a special emphasis on the horrid crime of pedophilia as it has been in the news for long, with history now being revealed, and now we have the Pell fiasco. My blog stands testimony to my revulsion. Recently, I had a victim come to my house and share an entire bottle of whisky (and herring) with me. I did not even know he was a victim. In fact, I had only met him once overseas for a very short moment and he just seemed like a nice bloke. He reached out to me for some reason and said he needed to drink. It was in the mid-morning, after davening, but I can’t say no if someone reaches out to me in that way. He cried and cried in the middle of our chit-chat in our backyard (the whisky must have caused him to let his guard down) and I felt great pain and empathy for him. What could I do? I could only offer moral support, and keep him happy with a drink and excellent herring (thanks to my wonderful wife who was on hand to replenish).

I was reading the papers, and I’m on record on my blog (right from the beginning) as being someone who demanded long ago that Malka Leifer be brought to answer the court. (Believe me, I got lots of hate comments from fake names when I did that, with some personal and disgusting comments).

I noticed some people have the view that they found it bizarre that Leifer could get anxious before going to a court. I re-thought this, and realised that unless people are being misquoted (and yes, they are welcome to correct the record)  I find the thought itself bizarre. I can not get my head around someone not understanding that even a criminal does get anxious and could even suffer an attack of severe anxiety when they face a court/police and the like. Even if someone was completely innocent (which I’m not implying at all in this case) they would have to be a really detached person, or have a mental condition to not be severely anxious.

I’m aware that one such convicted criminal was seemingly detached. I find that bizarre and worrying. It means he hasn’t yet understood what he did. That is a starting point. Him saying Tehillim, as he purportedly did is sheerly cruel and beyond me.  I still can’t begin to understand that person’s disease  and believe me, I faced up to him nose to nose on these issues and made enemies for having the guts to do so.

There is medication to help someone overcome their anxiety short-term during such  proceedings, and ultimately, the Israeli court Psychiatrist will decide if Laufer is mad or normal and just a terribly afraid person. Given her cloistered world I’d imagine she’d be terrified. However, to say that it is bizarre that she is anxious is itself bizarre in the extreme! I would like to see her face the music, and if she has to be calmed to not get frazzled, so be it. Do it! Give her prescribed Benzodiazepines and she should be okay for that period of her trial. Humans, even some criminals, do get frazzled when under pressure. It’s human nature, no?

This is also a sad side effect of these types of events. Those who have been wronged sometimes can err and also say bizarre things, or act in bizarre ways. Alas, there probably isn’t a quick pill they can take to “fix” the damage. I just pray that they regularly see professionals who will help them renormalise their lives so that their scars don’t manifest themselves by making bizarre statements (or acting in a bizarre fashion … which I am not saying about anyone in particular).

Victims deserve great Rachmonus from God, to heal them immediately from the after effects of what was a horrid experience. I sincerely hope each victim does see skilled professionals regularly, and doesn’t just try to heal themselves through home-brewed approaches or life-long vengeance that won’t ever be quelled even when the perpetrator is behind bars and compensation is paid and apologies made.

This is serious stuff and requires skilled psychiatrists or (when no medication is needed) psychologists. And please, forget dubious counsellors. They are not the right people for these things. They don’t have a formal association or a code of conduct, let alone the proper level of training. Moishe Kapoyer can become a counsellor just because he thinks he is. Sadly, I know some very dubious counsellors in Melbourne, and some good ones. Unfortunately, many people are taken in by dubious counsellors who themselves need help.

Let’s hope that victims seek the best medical attention regularly. Statements that Malka Laufer should not be expected to be panicked are not edifying in the least and probably do more harm than good.

George Pell and his band of merry men

This editorial is well worth reading. The fact that the papacy apparently praised his appearance is astounding. The criminals need to be locked up. The title is irrelevant. We don’t stop going to doctors because some are crooks and have perpetrated horrible crimes including rape and fondling. This is about people. Some don’t seem to understand the difference between crooked and sick people and philosophies that are absolutely above-board and to be lauded. I’m sure there are lots of really good Roman Catholics. I hope they aren’t tarnished by the sins of some of their pathetic colleagues.

A cardinal grapples with ‘the indefensible’
ON THE same day Hollywood conferred its most prestigious prize on “Spotlight,” the newsroom drama about the Boston Globe’s reporting on the Catholic Church’s complicity in the sexual abuse of children by priests, a related drama was unfolding near the Vatican itself. For hours, Cardinal George Pell, the Holy See’s treasurer and one of its top-ranking clerics, answered questions posed by an Australian commission that quizzed the cardinal on the extent of his knowledge about pedophile priests he knew decades ago.

Cardinal Pell, the most senior Australian Catholic, stayed mainly on message, the message from the Vatican for years having been one of carefully couched contrition in the face of incontrovertible evidence that the church enabled and covered up for sex abuse by clergy. “I’m not here to defend the indefensible,” said the cardinal.

But under polite and sustained grilling, the 74-year-old cardinal, who testified in Rome by video link to Australia, stumbled on several occasions, revealing the shortcomings in the church’s response to revelations of misconduct.

He referred to having heard rumors, during his years as a young clergyman, of “eccentricities” among priests teaching at Australian Catholic schools, a case of whitewash by euphemism. He pleaded a “senior moment” to explain away his failure to recall various allegations and the church’s response. While discussing a notorious priest who was widely known as a serial abuser by the early 1990s, when Cardinal Pell was a high-ranking church official in Melbourne, he said: “I didn’t know whether it was common knowledge or whether it wasn’t. It’s a sad story and [the extent to which it was known publicly] wasn’t of much interest to me.”

The cardinal went on to say he was kept in the dark on the wrongdoing by a lower-ranking cleric and that “There’s tendency to evil in the Catholic Church too and sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse but for good or for ill the Church follows the patterns of the societies in which it lives.”

That formulation, often heard from church officials, seeks obliquely to airbrush the church’s staggering lapses and reflects the Vatican’s ongoing failure to come fully to terms with the pattern of abuse. The fact is that the church was institutionally complicit in allowing men in positions of authority, in hundreds of dioceses worldwide, to abuse children, thereby damaging or wrecking their lives.

Even now, the church’s foot-dragging continues. While hundreds of priests have been defrocked and disciplined, bishops — the princes of the Catholic Church, sovereign in their dioceses — have only rarely been held to account, despite constant demands by victims’ groups and reformers.

Mindful of that criticism, the Vatican last summer announced that Pope Francis would establish a tribunal to judge bishops who enabled or turned a blind eye to pedophile priests. But nothing has been heard from the tribunal since, and the impunity of all but a handful of bishops remains a fact.[my emphasis]

Jorge Mario Bergoglio (aka pope francis) needs to get his act together … yesterday.

Pope Francis and the eery silence!

I’ve watched with interest, as not only those under Pell, but Pell himself has now had a leak alleging abuse he may have allegedly perpetrated. It’s apparently a year-long police investigation which has correctly been kept under wraps. Whoever leaked it really needs to look at themselves in case Pell is proved innocent. Victims will be reticent, and the police have to be careful. These things have to be done in secrecy. Pell is not like a teacher, but like the headmasters’ chief headmaster, the number 3 in the Avoda Zora of the vatican facing allegations. The Pope is of course “infallible” so can be expected to do the right thing?

My only question is this: given the leak (which shouldn’t have happened both for Pell’s sake since he may be innocent, and the victims who may face all manner of trials and tribulations and retribution) the Pope, who nobly stands like a proud socialist, shoulder to shoulder with Palestinian “victims blaming occupation” for murderous terrorism of men, women and children, should be making an urgent enquiry to Victoria Police. If it is true that George is being investigated, the infallible pope should tap George on the shoulder and say

“stand aside until such time as your name is cleared or otherwise”

It might be a beat up, but it might very well be sadly true. I’ve read some editorials and reports, and admittedly I haven’t read many. My editorial is simply this:

Forget Pell for a minute and interview the pope and ask him if he has made discrete enquiries and then asked Pell to stand aside until the Victoria Police finish their investigation?

If not, why not? I would have thought this is an issue where victims of all faiths would either voice their opinion or travel to Rome and demand such from a pope who is meant to represent millions.

Have I missed something? Perhaps the Rabbis who engage in “interfaith dialogue” can push for this too?

Jewish Care Responds to Article Published in The Age Feb 10 2016

Bill Appleby, Jewish Care CEO formally responds to an article that has been published in The Age newspaper on February 10, 2016 entitled Yeshivah Centre Abuse Victims Fear Bullying, Intimidation:

Last December, we announced that we would assist the Yeshivah Centre in the operation of their Redress Scheme which was established to offer assistance to victims of child sexual abuse.
Jewish Care agreed to operate a confidential 1800 number and email address for abuse victims. In addition, our President Mike Debinski was engaged in a personal and separate capacity to oversee the operation of the Scheme.
Our Board agreed to assist Yeshivah because we felt that we were uniquely and appropriately placed to offer assistance to the victims and that we have the relevant expertise in the area to most effectively respond to survivors of abuse; ensuring a caring and empathetic initial response to what is no doubt a traumatic disclosure.
The Board and I are extremely disappointed with the article as it contains a number of serious factual errors. Unfortunately, Jewish Care has been mentioned in The Age article as having breached a victim’s trust after an email sent to the Board of Jewish Care was sent to a member of the Committee of Management at the Yeshivah Centre.
It is absolutely vital to understand that the author of the email mentioned in the article did not identify as a victim, nor did the email contain any victim information. The content of the email only raised an issue of perceived governance concerns. Those concerns have been clarified by the Board with the assistance of independent legal advice.
The article also stated that Jewish Care is the administrator of the new sexual abuse Redress Scheme. This is incorrect. Jewish Care is not the administrator of the Yeshivah Redress Scheme. The Scheme is administered independently of Jewish Care and I have previously described our limited role above.
We believe the implication that Jewish Care Directors released information about a victim to another body is defamatory and formally requested The Age newspaper on the 9th February to immediately retract these inaccuracies.

In closing, I want to give our community, clients, residents, staff and volunteers absolute confidence that we respect and keep confidential all client information in accordance with our statutory responsibilities. This is as you would expect.
As we have done for 168 years, we continue to serve the community professionally, providing vital support for those who are most in need.We remain ready to assist and continue with our efforts on behalf of all those in the Victorian Jewish community who need our assistance.

We believe the implication that Jewish Care Directors released information about a victim to another body is defamatory and formally requested The Age newspaper on the 9th February to immediately retract these inaccuracies.
In closing, I want to give our community, clients, residents, staff and volunteers absolute confidence that we respect and keep confidential all client information in accordance with our statutory responsibilities. This is as you would expect.

Carlebach, R’ Moshe Feinstein and Chabad

I know there are many people who feel uplifted by his tunes. However, the Halachic perspective on this controversial figure, needs to be known.  I am aware that Vicki Polin had been accused of many things including hyperbole, but it cannot be argued by anyone who has a fidelity to historical fact, that as years progressed he became more “progressive” and there were serious accusations.

Reb Moshe Feinstein wrote an opinion in among a section of his writings one would not normally read Igros Moshe, Even HaEzer Vol. 1, No 96. In that, my reading is that until he became more progressive, his songs were fine. After that, they were to be avoided.

One Shabbos Shachris, without much forethought, I chose a Carlebach tune for Kel Adon. (Let me say that it is Halachically very problematic to sing Kel Adon in any tune, unless one does this in a form of Aniya (answering). The Chazan says a stanza and the Kahal repeat it. The same is true of Lecha Dodi. There is a special Kedusha and Mesora to this form of Answering which is an endangered species and I urge Ba’alei Tefilla and Chazonim to re-introduce it, even with song. This was the very strong opinion of the Rav).

I finished davening, and Rabbi Groner ז’ל as was his custom, thanked me for the שחרית and then asked me to sit down. He relayed a story between he, the LR and R’ Shlomo Carlebach. Rabbi Groner had been a friend of Carlebach, and had learned with him. After Shlomo went down certain paths, Rabbi Groner wondered what approach he should take vis a vis his relationship with Shlomo and inter alia his music/influence.

Rabbi Groner told me that the LR was very firm. Although the LR always stressed Kiruv (bringing people closer to God), he did do so again in respect of Shlomo. The LR instructed Rabbi Groner that all efforts should be made to be warm to Shlomo, however, and this was a big however, this was never to be done within the Mosdos (institutions) of Chabad. One should find other ways.

Rabbi Groner then regaled me with stories of Shlomo and his brother’s brilliance in learning, but he asked me not to do this again. Suffice it to say, that within a Lubavitch Mosad, I never sang a Carlebach song during Tefilla. I admit, I was also influenced by R’ Moshe Feinstein’s Tshuvah, which although is kind, and doesn’t mention Shlomo by name, is known by his Talmidim, to have Shlomo in mind.

I’m not here to judge Shlomo. However, I do think that anyone with a fidelity to Chabad absolutely must follow the LR’s instructions. Some will not know, others I know ignore these instructions. I mentioned my conversation with Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner, and he affirmed that he had heard it from his father himself as well. R’ Chaim Tzvi will quietly discourage Shlomo’s tunes in his Chabad House.

Make up your own mind about those who choose to not follow the LR’s very clear dictum. Do they know better?

Breslov Charlatan

He has a white beard and Peyos. That means nothing. He has accusations that he “fiddled” with women in Israel. That means something. He exclaimed that if the Moshiach didn’t come on Tu Bishvat, then everyone would know he is a charlatan. Moshiach didn’t come. He is a charlatan. It is a small step, it seems for a charlatan to oversee a dangerous cult that now issues death threats against South Africa’s Chief Rabbi. In South Africa, don’t hold your breath waiting for him to be arrested and exported to Israel. This is a dangerous man. Whether he is a Rabbi or not, I do not know. Whether he is a Rabbi who deserves that title, I do know. He does not. He is contemptuous and should be deported to face charges.

The Mossad have a long arm in saving Jews. The South African Government is anti-Semitic because they erroneously think that the Bedouins in Yehuda and Shomron somehow constitute a latter day indigenous nation. That Government is itself unable to create an environment of law and order, and it preaches to Jews. The Mossad should pick up Berland and bring him to justice.

Eliezer Berland should be put in chains and dragged back to Israel to face a court of law. His brand of pseudo chassidism is nothing more than a perverse fiction. Don’t hold your breath for the socialist Pope to call for Berland’s arrest. The Pope has a global swag of perverted pedophiles under his purvey.

Berland argued that he shouldn’t be returned to Israel because he is from the West Bank. Heck, South Africa supports the BDS so why don’t they return him unopened to Israel as illegal produce?

But what about “counsellors?”

[Hat tip BA]

From the Herald Sun.

CHURCHES and religious organisations would lose millions of dollars in tax breaks, concessions and hand outs under a radical plan to force priests, rabbis and imams to sign up to a national faith register.
Under the bold proposal clergy would for the first time be forced to undergo government-specified training and security checks and would be monitored by a national body, or risk losing government funding.
Former premier Ted Baillieu has backed the plan that has been put to federal and state leaders including the Prime Minister’s office, and Premier Daniel Andrews.
It is understood a number of high-profile politicians have also privately backed the proposed reforms saying ministers of religion should be subject to more stringent compliance.
The proposals have been tendered to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse amid concerns about the lack of scrutiny of some religious institutions.

The proposals would see clergy accredited in the same way as lawyers, doctors and teachers by an independent federal statutory body charged with registering all clergy for practice in Australia.
They would be subjected to government-specified training in Australian law, child sexual abuse, family violence, women’s rights, and children’s rights.
They would also be forced to renew a “licence” to practice annually, which would require meeting ongoing educational training requirements.
A complaint process through an independent third party would be setup for any complaints against any minister of religion.
Only accredited ministers would be entitled to current special tax benefits and exemptions afforded to religious practitioners.
And religious institutions would be required to employ only registered ministers or lose government funding.
Mr Baillieu, who launched a parliamentary inquiry into child sexual abuse while Premier, said a national code of conduct could also be introduced.
“I think there’s a strong case for ministers of religion to be regulated in the same way as workers in other professions,” Mr Baillieu said.
The plan also has the backing of leaders from Melbourne’s religious community.
Leading Melbourne Rabbi James Kennard said greater professionalism for clergy would bring great benefit to both the priests, rabbis, imams and others and to the congregations they serve.
“A key element of such a strategy would be for an independent and external body to grant registration to members of the clergy conditional on their adhering to a set of professional standards,” he said.
“To make the current tax benefits for clergy dependent on such registration is an idea that has much merit.”
A Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne spokesman said the church would have no trouble complying with a national faith register.
He said Catholic schools were already regulated, priests received seven years of training, and child protection education was non negotiable.

Bit of a silly comment from the Catholic Archdiocese. So you had seven years of training when you were 21 and that means that non yearly professional development is unnecessary. I think the wake up call for clergy all around the country, with the exception of Muslims and marriage of minors, has been well and truly brought into the spot light, and I can only see things getting better, both in educational terms and in terms of vigilance. We need to now look into Family Abuse and the things this can cause. That’s on our front pages, daily.

More importantly we have a band of merry men and women, who act as COUNSELLORS and I dare say some of them are recidivist abusers of varying nature. They do not come under any umbrella, and are in the perfect position to groom people who are not in the know and are vulnerable. It’s time for there to be a formal association for which counsellors have to answer questions of their own alleged abuse. Is it not?

Move over Sodom and Gemora

We have enough lying fakers in our midst. Out them and stuff their “holy” surnames and moralistic bull-dust.

See here for some distasteful reality. Warning. If you are sincerely frum, better you don’t look

Of course there are enough pathetic men and women who fool nobody except their fake “holy”
names and it’s not a female phenomenon by any stretch.

The sordid affair(s) of Malka Leifer

Removed immediately at the request of the poor girl who had to suffer this HELL

I was SO incensed by the lies revealed by the judge from so called frum yidden, that I initially just cut and pasted. That was a mistake; poor judgement due to my disgust at the “Klei Kodesh” and the “Askonim” and then forgetting there was a name in there as well. If Rabbi Telsner resigned, there are PLENTY at Adass/Beis HaTalmud who should also resign immediately. They won’t, is my bet. To think there are schools who have “teachers” who aren’t registered with VIT is outrageous. This is not the 1700’s and neither are the kids from that era. Get your qualifications and THEN teach. There is more to it than translating Chumash and Rashi. If you don’t like it, go to Israel, the country you love to hate. And how do they get around דינא דמלכותא דינא here in Australia? Through lies and games?

Thanks to those who noted what I had missed in my haste and alerting me.

The ‘anti Jewish’ News and Rabbi Telsner

It’s not just the anti-Jewish News otherwise known as the AJN that is guilty of poor journalism. I won’t expand on that.

What I will say is the following (and these are my personal views)

  1. Rabbi Telsner is highly versed in Torah
  2. Rabbi Telsner and his wife have worked tirelessly often behind the scenes to help anyone in a rut
  3. Rabbi Telsner and his wife have a home which supports people who don’t have a place to sleep or eat, any time any day
  4. Rabbi Telsner and his wife have no car, and walk by foot to perform outstanding pastoral care at all times of the day and night
  5. Rabbi Telsner was born to be either a Rosh Yeshivah or Rosh Kollel, I am not sure why he didn’t go down those lines.
  6. Rabbi Telsner is NOT the Rabbi of the Shule. He was appointed as a Dayan (Judge). I don’t know the Beth Din, but that’s the title.
  7. There are many Shules at the Yeshivah Centre. In fact the main one probably has one of the smaller attendances. His approach isn’t followed uniformly by any stretch.
  8. Rabbi Telsner is an emotional man, He cares.
  9. Rabbi Telsner cries at the drop of a hat when he talks about things affecting the community, Jewry, or about his father in law
  10. Rabbi Telsner is not a diplomat
  11. Rabbi Telsner is not a politician
  12. Rabbi Telsner is not a singing and dancing pulpit Rabbi.
  13. Rabbi Telsner gives a good shiur but is not what one would call an orator of note.
  14. Rabbi Telsner is prone to old-fashioned responses to halachic issues. The Responsa literature makes him look mild* in comparison. The AJN wouldn’t know what Responsa are. That’s too Jewish for the AJN.
  15. Rabbi Telsner is fully devoted to Torah and Mitzvos. The notion of a Chilul Hashem made him resign. I have no doubt whatsoever. He put himself second, and the Yeshivah first.
  16. Rabbi Telsner is a Meshichist who believes that the Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed memory is the only person who can redeem Jews as the Messiah
  17. Rabbi Telsner hasn’t got a bad bone in his body. He sometimes shoots back too quickly before an extra moment of contemplation would be better advised. I suffer from the same.
  18. Rabbi Telsner protects the rights of women with vigour.
  19. Rabbi Telsner cares about Jews and Judaism with enormous passion
  20. Rabbi Telsner over-worried that some people might succeed in destroying the Yeshiva Centre. Those people cannot and will not. They do have their legitimate issues, and those will and should be dealt with. Some may have already. Others need to be. The centre will flourish once more. There is no doubt whatsoever.
  21. Rabbi Telsner is often misunderstood because he is goaded by those who know he can be goaded
  22. I have goaded Rabbi Telsner on Halachic issues and he has yelled and screamed at me in Shule. I don’t get offended. I’m not thin-skinned and I know where he comes from. He screams Torah, but some take it as insults.
  23. Rabbi Telsner and his wife have done more than plenty of good. I doubt many Rabbis in Melbourne have the open home that they do. He doesn’t quote Plato or fancy poets: his is the Torah only way. It’s an approach. It may not be everyone’s approach, but I’d be embarrassed if my Rabbi quoted more poets and philosophers than he did real Torah.
  24. There is, to my knowledge, zero evidence that has been tendered that Rabbi Telsner sent Malka Leifer away (as the AJN wrote). The courts may decide how that happened, but I don’t believe Rabbi Telsner opined that she should be sent away. The AJN of course knows better.
  25. Rabbi Telsner has always supported women’s activities and shiurim and ensured they are accorded respect through their own functions at Yeshivah mirroring ones which in the past were just the domain of males.
  26. It is not a sin to hold a view that same gender preference is something that may be addressed (successfully or otherwise). There are a few respected experts in the field who do have such a view under particular conditions and have a PhD and peer-reviewed papers in the area, including people who see them. One can disagree with such approaches, but one can’t condemn a person for subscribing to such  (unless they are Fascists or Communists who condemn discourse and dialogue and want to shut up everyone’s mouth). Only a fool thinks that advances in Science and Medicine are frozen in 2015.
  27. Rabbi Telsner should have a special Kiddush thanking him for the many fantastic things that he has achieved, and for putting himself second when he could easily have revealed some troubling things in context.
  • On the matter of the sharpness of Rabbinic tongues, check this out from a great of the greats, Rav Yaakov Emden. He would have been sacked in a minute!

    “One time I heard a learned chazzan who wanted to show off the great precision with which he led the prayers. When he reached the blessing of ‘Hashkiveinu’ he said ‘shemor tzei’atecha‘ (meaning ‘your excrement’ instead of ‘your travels’). I said to him, ‘You watch over what comes out of your mouth, and ‘go back and cover your excrement’ [Devarim 23:14].

More on Same Gender issues

There is an interesting piece in Tablet Magazine where Rabbi Benny Lau, considered a moderate by many, makes a powerful speech.

Like many, I am horrified that anyone should seek to murder another over this (or indeed any other reason except for self-defence). I wonder, though, what his speech would have been had nobody been murdered. He would have needed to “tip toe through the tulips”. Indeed, one wonders whether he would directly answer the question of whether such marches are appropriate in the Holiest City of Jerusalem? Would he approve of these at the Kotel or Har Habayis? Would he speak at a March there?

Make no mistake. I do not conjure hatred or invoke enmity against those with disposition towards the same gender. At the same time, I am completely bound to the Torah prohibition regarding the actualisation of such a disposition. That is inescapable for any Orthodox Jew. Though Rabbi Benny Lau certainly agrees with that, I think he would choose not to mention it. He would have halachic precedent to not mention it. The command to admonish is not in effect:

  1. Where one will definitely not be listened to; and
  2. Unless someone knows “the way” to admonish.

On the second point, many Acharonim say that we do not know the way to admonish any longer. That should not be equated with silence. This post is not silence. In any democracy, the only way to foster love of Torah is to teach authentic Torah according to one’s audience’s level. This is inescapable.

Ironically, Religious Zionists in Israel as opposed to Centrist/Modern Zionists around the world, are far less equipped to deal with the new generation. I have witnessed a profound lack of sophistication in their educational approach. The preponderance of attention to land over people is only partially to blame. The other part is the feeling that they need to strive to be “like” Charedim. There is no need to do so and there never has. One ought not be concerned by what cloistered enclaves choose to do or not do. That is their approach.

One does as the Torah commands, and speaks בדרכי נועם.

As Chacham Ovadya Yosef taught:

אין טעם כלל לזעוק בקריאות כל שהן כלפי מחללי שבת בפרהסיא, הנוסעים במכוניתם בשבת, שהרי בקריאות “שבת! שבת!” כנגדם לא מתקיימת מצות תוכחה, אם מפני שאינם מבינים כלל את דברי הזועק, ואם מפני שחונכו בדרך לא טובה, ועל כן לא השכילו להבין את חומרת הדבר של חילול שבת. וכל שכן אם הם אנשים יודעי תורה, ואף על פי כן הם מרשיעים ונוסעים בשבת, שבודאי אין חיוב כלל להוכיחם

Win some, lose some. Chabadnik dons Tefillin on ex-Charedi lady

Some find this funny. For me it epitomises גלות. Here we have a well-meaning boy, who is trying to ignite a spark within Jews. His mode, is that of his Rebbe זי’’ע and that includes igniting the Neshoma through a Mitzvah, the Mitzvah of Hanochas Tefillin.

The only problem is, in this case it was a woman. She had buzzed hair, and to top it off had a strong Charedi broken English accent, full of the usual errors. She obviously enjoyed her moment in the sun of egalitarianism.

I feel sad that she obviously hates her heritage so much, that she is ready to mislead this well-meaning בחור. She’s no daughter of Rashi.

אוי מה היה לנו

Woe unto what we have become

IMG_2800

50 years after: a monk is forced to apologise for rape in Japan

This is a very crude translation adapted from the google translation from Yediot in Hebrew [hat tip RDS]

You can make out what happened. Terrible, horrible, are the only words I can utter.

When he was 11, the son of a diplomat, was attacked in a chapel where he studied, in Japan. Fifty years he remained silent – until recently. A Monk hit him, and he was appointed principal of the school in the meantime – the Monk apologized in the synagogue of the Jewish community in Tokyo, in the presence of multi-community. “There is a global awakening on the subject strikes children in religious educational institutions,” says Dr. Yitzhak Kadman

The story of a Jewish boy of fifty years ago, was recently uncovered by the Times, “the Japanese – raises the long-standing silence surrounding sexual abuse of clergy apprentices.
Jacob Bernstein – the pseudonym of a victim – has won an apology, but Dr. Yitzhak Kadman said this was preceded by death threats.
Bernstein was the son of an Australian diplomat of Jewish origin, he arrived in Tokyo in 1964 on a diplomatic mission.
Jacob was sent to the local Catholic school, “Saint Mary”, and since the Bernstein family maintained a kosher food – brought with him from home lunch ready, and he could not eat with the other children in the dining room.

In the afternoon, when he was 11 – he decided to enter the church, and eat lunch alone.
When he came into the abandoned church two clerics, Bernstein recognised – Brother Lawrence Lambert.
“Brother Lawrence said that I should be punished because I are in a church,” he recalls.
“I thought I would get lashes, although I can not remember who used physical punishment at school.”

The monks carried the young Bernstein and committed brutal sodomy.
Only after the two left together the church, they noticed that his mother gave him a toothpick for fish that was his favorite lunch, and he pierced it deep into the Monk’s hand.
“I pressed him so hard that the splinter pierced my hand and I had to pull it out.”
The doctor revealed the secret
Traumatic incident Bernstein pursued since. He remembers that one of the monks who took part in performing the act,

Full Story
They Threatened him to be quiet, but he does not remember any of them. Only a few days after, his mother noticed that something was amiss. The documented written statement was published two years ago, and said: “In 1965, I can not remember the date, but it was the middle of the year, our maid Mottzoko-san brought me a pair of Jacob’s underpants and they  were stained with blood.
“I took him immediately to the doctor, Dr. Pierre, who was from New Zealand and lives in Tokyo.
He was the official doctor of the Embassy (Australia).
Jacob did not say what was wrong.
Earlier that day he did not want to go to school, and said he had a stomach infection, I assumed a problem of gastroenteritis.
He went unwillingly to the car. ”
According to the mother, Dr. Pierre prescribed medication and sent the two men, without telling them the real reason for his condition. But she says her husband then immediately returned home, and told that the Doctor called him and told him that his son had been a sexual assault.
“Immediately we thought it might have been one of the drivers or the gardener,” says the mother deposition.
“We talked with Jacob and did not tell immediately what had happened, but hinted that it was in school, and if you don’t tell us, Reverend Lawrence would do the same to the end, to your younger brother. Then we realized who the offender was.”
Jacob and his younger brother were immediately removed from that institution.
The matter with the school was handled through the embassy, ​​while the school management undertook that the attacker priest, Lawrence Lambert, will be sent back to Canada, and no longer allowed to teach children.
“Later,” the mother said, “We realized that this promise has been violated”.
The church flew to Bernstein and his family for a ritual apology
Indeed, according to school records, appeared in The Japan Times, his teaching career had not stopped
it also has been upgraded. After a short period in Canada he returned to Japan, and in 1982 even became its director of school education “St. Mary” – a position he held for many years, until his retirement. Even after it went live on the school premises.
Bernstein tried to put an end to his trauma at the age of 12, and has a complex and difficult adolescence.
It took him 49 years to make a call to the educational institution and its leader today, for one requirement – a written apology by four people – led by Brother Lawrence.
Only recently, at the age of 61, did he receive a public direct apology.
Bernstein, his wife and son were flown to Tokyo at the expense of the church, and two monks, Lawrence and current headmaster, showed up in the synagogue, in the presence of the local community and apologized.
On that occasion Brother Lawrence turned to Bernstein, and said: “The truth of the matter is I still do not understand the fact that I raped you. This was the first time in my life I did it, and I did it again … Suddenly passion took over, and I did something I’d never have thought to do, and in selfishness and violence hurt your body and hurt your soul for life “.
So far, despite the entreaties of the “Japan Times” Other media outlets in the country, school and church officially refused to comment on the case.
Publication of the article led to threats against the victim’s life

Common to all the victims is that it is always the children who are weak, and always attacker has the status and authority, and the odds were rejected are slim. When it starts to float, there is a pressure roller Everything causes tremendous silence. ”
“Bernstein wanted more than the apology received from two priests. He wanted to take responsibility on the part of the order, but did not receive it. Exchange of emails between us, said that since the publication of the article he received death threats from various parties, demanding that he stop his struggle”.
“Ostensibly, you say: After fifty years, what do you care? But the important thing to understand with victims of sexual assault, that they live with a sense of unfinished business. They want people to know that it happened, and it was not the fruit of their imagination. They want that anyone should admit their crime. It’s important for them extraordinarily, to know the truth came out and that it was right. ”
The case also sparked interest in Japan?
“I do not know enough about the system there, but Japan is a country closed and very conservative. They do not talk.
Abuse within the family, as well as less serious things covered in silence.
This is a very different culture.
I have not heard that they woke up. ”
“On the other hand, in Israel, there is now an awakening in the very large ultra-Orthodox public. Only recently passed there have been seminars in the Seminary. There is a lot of silence around the issue, but that’s really not what it was twenty years ago. A lot of rabbis refer parents to the police to complain, when arriving with a history of abuse. Long ago in Orthodox Jerusalem they decided to subtly talk about it in religious schools. Once it was impossible to imagine such a thing.”
Kedman says that these days the Child Welfare Council is working on an explanatory booklet for detecting the effects of sexual abuse for the broad audience, including sports coaches and therapists and for dorms.
“I did not have to wait fifty years before people will gather up the pieces, and will rise to scream what was done to them.”

This is how they deal with pedophilia in China

I’m not an advocate of the death penalty but can identify with why they did this. It’s also disturbing that it seems to be a world wide phenomenon that cuts across cultures and religions. If he wasn’t caught but was dobbed in, kudos to the one or more who had the guts to name him to authorities.

Read it Here

I said it would happen, and it will become more common

With militant anti-specist vegans growing in numbers, and the charismatic Peter Singer’s of this world, it’s only a matter of time before:

  1. Someone starts pushing for legality because the animal is enjoying it and not showing signs of distress ( definition of “no” will have to be proven) and is therefore not rape
  2. The human has a genetic predilection to such things called zoophilia, so it can’t be called an illness
  3. Jews will lead the way in arguing for marriage to בהמות with Reform leading the way, followed by tree-huggers
  4. Others will claim it goes against the Judeo/Xtian ethic (but that has little clout now)

Warning: this is a disgusting story. See here if you can stomach it.

I once debated this issue with one of my alumni, and whilst she wouldn’t engage in such behaviour,  she was absolutely militant about the issue, calling me all sorts of names etc because I dared eat meat, or drink milk etc. She even called on people to be killed on sight for eating meat and she wasn’t kidding. I knew her when she was quiet and would never have dreamed that she would become a priestess of this movement.

I’m not getting into the latest abomination any further

It’s become a horribly repetitive and deflating refrain. Children abused, abused unfairly treated and often ostracised, all sorts of Askonim and Rabonim are accused and shown to have done the wrong thing. Papers such as the AJN have a field day.

Some get away with it, others are punished accordingly. Psychologically, the Chillul Hashem is all too heavy to carry at the minute. I feel embarrassed to be a Jew in רשות הרבים when it’s pasted all over the Sun and AJN.

One thing though: if anyone even remotely tries to pressure the courageous girl who came forward and lifted the lid on probably the most closed community in Melbourne, they should be sent לעזאזל with due legislated gusto.

I’m not taking comments on this post. The matter is before the courts and will be decided appropriately.

Where are you Immanuel, Israel?

We will now have daily descriptions of a Chillul Hashem, but what is Leifer doing and has she been doing since then. לא תעמד על דם רעך. She is clearly a danger to society. This is so depressing to read, both from the victims side and the obvious  חילול ה. No institution is above these low lives lurking in their midst or taking advantage of their then lack of protocol, but there is no excuse for any institution religious or otherwise to adopt worlds best practice (which includes reporting directly to Police). Will we hear Rabbi Beck announce such?

Today’s Herald Sun, read

GIRLS from an ultra orthodox Jewish school were routinely sexually abused by their headmistress who told them she was preparing them for marriage, a court has heard.

Explosive allegations against former Adass Israel School principal Malka Leifer were aired publicly for the first time today in a lawsuit brought against her and the school by a former student.

The student alleges she and two of her sisters were abused by Mrs Leifer who “ruled the school with an iron rod” while she was principal between 2002 and 2008.

She told the Supreme Court today she was too fearful to complain about the abuse because of the power the former principal wielded in the ultra-orthodox community.

“She was seen as the head of the school and the whole community looked up to her and basically idolised her,” she said.

“She was seen as someone who was holier than holy,” she said.

The plaintiff, now 27, said she had complete trust in Ms Leifer and had felt “special” after the principal took a liking to her and offered to give her private tuition.

She said she was told not to disclose the tuition to other students and said Mrs Leifer would take her out of class to abuse her at her home.

“I remember her being very scared her husband would come home and find us there. I remember her locking the doors.

“She I remember wondering if she realised what she was doing.

“She would tell me that she loved me and that she really cared for me.

“She would tell me it was her way of telling me she loved me.”

The Supreme Court heard that in line with strict orthodox beliefs the girl had never watched TV, listened to the radio, used the internet or read a newspaper.

She was segregated from males outside of her immediate family and had no sex education.

The girl said she was abused in Mrs Leifer’s office, her home and on school camps.

She said she believed other teachers knew about the abuse.

“She liked to hug me like a baby, and rock me,” she said.

“She said I should consider her like a mother who loved me, and that I was special.”

It is also alleged school officials failed to report allegations of abuse to police but instead allowed Ms Leifer to flee to Israel with her family just days after allegations were levelled at her in 2008.

She is currently under house arrest in Israel where extradition proceedings at the request of Victoria Police have started in an attempt to have her returned to Melbourne to face criminal charges.

It is understood Ms Leifer could face dozens of charges of indecent assault and rape.

The trial continues.

This article from the age concerning Malka Leifer upset me

I can’t say how low I felt about reading this article. All I can pray is that people wake up finally that this is an area where there can be no compromise and where someone even appears to have offended, we don’t cover up. Go straight to the police and let them sort out guilt or otherwise.

This is most upsetting to read. Again, I wonder if Mrs Leifer teaches at all at Immanuel in Israel or has contact with kids. Even if it’s not proven (yet) can someone please assure me that this is not the case and the community leaves her in the kitchen baking challahs

Another Shande and Charpe.

My Whys over Pesach?

The AJN target Yeshivah and are not at all even handed.

[UPDATED: I was not aware that my post (in good faith, by a friend) was published on Facebook. I don’t use Facebook except in a private professional capacity to stay in touch with my 450+ postgraduate alumni of nearly 3 decades as it is a most convenient forum.

I understand some people had nice, not nice, and some scathing comments to make about my “Whys”. It’s only a relatively a free country, however, and as author of my thoughts I reserve the right to publish and/or respond to anyone reacting to these. Accordingly, if you feel like it (and frankly it is not my aim to attract comments) and are ready to put a real name to your comment (unless you are, of course a victim of crime) I will moderate your comment according to my understanding of Halacha and common law. If such an arrangement does not suit you, go ahead and write a critique. I won’t be engaging in debate, as this is not why I write. If I want my blood pressure to rise, I have a myriad of better techniques at my disposal 🙂 ]

Onto the article, which I will now proof-read in anticipation of a wider audience than I would normally expect.

Both before and during Pesach I found myself full of pitputim that I needed to express. I held myself back for reasons that aren’t worth recording. One of these was that I didn’t think it was permitted on Chol Hamoed. Maybe I was the proverbial תם (simpleton) of the Hagadda and should have fired thoughts as soon as they occupied my neurones, but, for various reasons, I held back and wrote them immediately after Pesach (when I undoubtedly should have helped my wife). Undoubtedly that was not the right timing, but let’s not go there (thanks CBN).

Some of the responses to these questions need people to retrospect through new glasses; as such I was reticent. This is a hard job, Accordingly, I’m going to frame some of my thoughts as a series of why’s as opposed to proffering cheap advice.

  1. Why has the disgraceful Australian Jewish News continued to remain the mouthpiece of few, as opposed to a faithful unbiased reporter of Jewish news allowing for a wider range of reporting of fact. To give but one example, anyone on Facebook (and I am not on Facebook except with my University alumni although I have an account I originally set up to see pics of my grandchildren) can look up Avi Yemini and find most serious accusations which he apparently alleges will now be formalised via the police against his father Steven (aka Tzefania) Waks. Why Steve? Well, he has clearly shown a preference to a centrist orthodox way of life, dispensing with charedi garb and beard. For the record, I am often regarded as centrist and my name is Isaac. Some persist in calling me יצחק and from my perspective both are quite ok. Indeed, halachically speaking one cannot will away a name that one was called formally even if done via deed but lets not go to that area of Halacha. More to the point:Why is the Australian Jewish News seemingly ignorant of Avi Yemini and his siblings and their views of the father of Manny Waks? I met his siblings in Miami and it wasn’t a pretty description, and backed up Avi. Indeed, they don’t like to talk about it. Guess what AJN? That (comparative silence) in of itself is news, and should be reported. Why didn’t you do that? There is more, but I won’t write it.
  2. Why is Tzedek “off the map?” I did see an advertisement this week, which is good but there is no denying the demise of Tzedek and it worries me. At best, it served as an important encouragement to those who have been abused (earlier in their lives) to give voice to that abuse; and encourage others to give voice. This is critical to unveiling the mask of perpetrators and ensuring educational programs become de jure in organisations to recognise and prevent such perverts. We don’t hear comparatively less from Tzedek since their controversial CEO resigned, although I have absolutely nothing against those running it now and I am sure they are as committed to the cause as those who preceded them; irrespective of whether some were victims. I am not a victim of abuse, but I pursued Cyprys until his veil was lifted. I believe Kramer was after my time, and I certainly didn’t experience any abuse from any of my teachers, be they religious or secular in my 12 years in the School and neither did my siblings.
  3. Why are victims creating websites? The manifestation of private websites authored by professed victims serves good in my eyes only if it’s cathartic for them and not investigative. I’m not a psychiatrist but I’d hope their psychiatric advice would be to pursue such channels only if it was part of their healing. There are existing channels. I’m not sure why they aren’t apparently being used. Shouldn’t they channel their life long challenges to established professionals and professional organisations? I don’t think personabused.com.au is the best idea on the planet and furthermore many will see it as self-serving gold-digging. There are formal community and private bodies to help deal with these life long issues and give aid using the best professional methods, as they are developed. At worst it may give the impression that those abused seek to make a career from being abused and I doubt that this is their intention. Well, I hope not. If it indeed is their sublime intention, then I suggest they need even more professional help than they realise.
  4. Why is it that The Australian Jewish News seems to only report one school and institution-the Yeshivah Centre. We all know that the Yeshivah Centre and Chabad in general have done more than arguably any group for Torah observance, Kiruv, and the welfare of those in need. They are not judgemental. Their mantra is love albeit played through the love strings of their Rebbe’s violin. This is their great strength. They do, in the main follow, a system which was typified by their late and great Rebbe. They have rotten apples. No group is immune from that reality. The last Lubavitcher Rebbe (and his father in law) didn’t join groups (e.g. Aguda) and felt they could achieve their aims through an independent well-structured agenda: bringing Jews and Judaism to Torah and Mitzvos through spreading Chassidus Chabad. He rarely (to my knowledge) interfered with the nitty-gritty of problems in his myriad of institutions but was surely bombarded by such (indeed I once did so). He expected that same independence and intellectual purity to be demonstrated by his trained and faithful emissaries. Sure, they asked his advice, but he wasn’t aware of cleaners and locksmiths and groomers of kids in Mikvaos irrespective of the stories you hear of his greatness and vision.Now, it is clear to all, that the SCHOOLS, (Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah) which are really the raison d’être of the entire organisation are employing best practice, to the extent that they are perhaps overly strict. It is known that they are allegedly being sued by some employees who step out of a very strict line and who don’t allegedly practice world’s best standards. This was instituted before the Royal Commission and as soon as word of the criminals Cyprys and Kramer became love children for the reporters of “the Age”. The other love children of “the Age” are Israel and the “Palestinians”. I know some of the reporters from the Age. They hunkered for Jewish stories and used to call me (and read my blog) as I am straight on these matters and always tried to be. Indeed Mr Waks senior rang me almost daily in my pursuit of Cyprys. As a board member of Elwood Shule, I felt an extreme responsibility to stop this pariah from parading in the way he did.
  5. Why is Yeshivah singled out for its particular mode of governance, when all Chabad Houses still function in a similar way and have not been abandoned in any way. Few complain, because they trust the Rabbi and his advisors and they all benefit. Are some going to conduct an audit of a Rabbi Raskin/Engel/You-name-them and their specialised Chabad Houses, or, say Rabbi Lieder who works tirelessly for Israeli back packers (and ironically leave Melbourne with more knowledge of Judaism than what they learned when in Tel Aviv?) No. I don’t hear any call from the Jewish News or the holier than thou’s asking for a different form of transparent governance. Why not? Is it a matter of amount or principle? Don’t get me wrong here. I think they should all, without exception, including Adass’s offshoot extreme school, subscribe to the strictest codes especially given the Chillul Hashem we have endured. I also happen to disagree with the mode of governance but having grown up witnessing the hopeless squalor that Rabbi Groner lived in, I never considered him to have anything other than the institution in his mind. Indeed, when my father gave him some money before Pesach, the next day there was a receipt from the Yeshivah Centre.
  6. [Please note] The information about Heichal Hatorah (Rabbi Donnenbaum) was miscommunicated. It isn’t based on video surveillance. There is a policy, as I understand it being developed by professionals which as I am informed will be an approved policy that can stand up to accepted standards.  We apologise for that previous innacuracy.
  7. Why only Chabad? It’s not just Chabad. Rabbi Kohn, a controversial figure himself, runs what is effectively the identical model of a Chabad house, except that his is a private business like Meir Gershon Rabi. Will anyone ever know the finances? Cyprys went to Kohn’s minyan! I heard Rabbi Kohn say he learnt his craft from R’ Nochum Zalman Gurevich, who we all knew and loved. Well he learned some of it, the bits that garnered donations. Yes, Kohn’s bent could be described as non Hasidic or anti Hasidic, but who audits his books? What real governance exists? What standards do they use there? Is there a community list—even a Shomer Shabbos list—of every single place that has an acceptable verifiable standard. Let’s not forget, people like Cyprys would try to hire a Shule Hall or a Youth Hall and use that as their modus operandi. He worked for the CSG no less and they had no clue.2015 is not 1985 or 1995 or earlier. The world has changed we must completely eradicate this scourge of scum. It is in fact far worse overseas, if you can believe it because they are so much “holier” and use cattle prongs to elicit a gett as long as you pay through your teeth.
  8. Why are Adass Israel ignored? Peyos don’t make the man. Malka Leifer, has strangely not been a constant focus of those affected by Cyprys and/or Kramer and she runs free allegedly in Immanuel in Israel. Credible rumors abound that she is seeking to avoid extradition to face serious charges on the grounds that the “West Bank” where she resides is not Israel! and Australia has no extradition treaty. Can you believe such a Chutzpah? If true, this is a clever but grossly offensive defence by smart attorneys. I ask why the silence from the Adass Congregation that provides us with so many products and producers. Is it only about food and profit? You cannot get Adass to do anything until you hit their hip pocket. The rest of us are unwanted pimples of the Sitra Achra. Don’t be mistaken. This is what they are taught. I have heard it from the number 2 in the Rabbinic side of the organisation. The youth of Adass are not the old generation. They have little love and are taught thatAhavasYisroel only exists for aShomer Shabbos.There are some wealthy people in Adass. Why isn’t Leifer’s picture in the local Immanuel paper weekly saying “Beware of this person. There are serious allegations of lesbian pedophilia against her”. Should she be teaching or ever left alone even with her own children? Has she even admitted she was wrong, short of fleeing the next day. I asked arguably the third most senior Rabbi at Adass and he shrugged his shoulders saying “What can we do”. I urge you to ask them when you bump into them at various establishments. Ask at the bakeries, ask at the fish shops, ask at the next function you attend. You can do plenty Adass but you thumb your nose at the non charedi community and now also deny that many of your own are “off the derech” something you prided yourself with and now send away so “nobody will notice”.
  9. Why aren’t other schools in the frame? I was informed reliably by someone at the Royal Commission that there were n students of Mt Scopus abused some time ago and a then headmaster was approached and said “Shoosh” it will cause a Chillul Hashem. Sound familiar? I know the AJN were at the Royal Commission. Was there an order barring the names of other schools affected by the despicable reprehensible pedophiles to be reported. I had wondered about the timing of a later letter by Rabbi Kennard (who reads my blog). He didn’t reply. Why? Rabbi Kennards letter was correct and proper but should have been written at least 6 months earlier.
  10. Why don’t people re-internalise that Yeshivah was a one man band. An incredibly wonderful one-man band with more success than people could ever imagine. It was the late and great Rabbi Groner, who whilst consulting with professionals, would not today remotely repeat his approach if he had his time again. Is there anyone game enough to say he would? There was always a committee, but they were and are toothless tigers who took ultimate direction from Rabbi Groner. If he said “no” the committee could proverbially jump. He told them what he thought they needed to know. I have no doubt there were many private things he took his grave. Tonight is his birthday as I just saw from an email.Much was in his head and certainly never on paper. He was the Shaliach. People were only too happy to call him their friend and get his calls in hospital while he was in hospital himself, and come to functions in his honour and he is on the record as vociferously castigating some of the parents whose children became victims (and they ignored him on occasion). Is there a real need to destroy the man after his passing, together with his significant life work, now, while the place has initiated a process to modernise its governance when ill-timed votes threaten its existence financially? Sure, if their new governance is a façade, go for it, but for crying out loud, give them a chance to go through a process. It doesn’t happen over night.
  11. I know of another very well-known (real) clergy (not charedi) who the Jewish News chose NOT to name over allegations of past pedophilia. The name would shock. He was by no means “ultra” orthodox. In that case the AJN (correctly) did not name the person because he couldn’t defend himself against the odious claims. Why only Yeshivah? Because some Rabbis showed themselves to be second-rate and/or clever by half?
  12. Why are there so many (self-proclaimed) counsellors permitted to discuss all manner of most serious topics to congregations and groups “as if” they are experts. If you are a counsellor, then register with the Australian Counselling Association and/or other similar bodies. Your commerce degree isn’t enough. There are enough complaints about counsellors themselves but if, unlike psychologists, some can get away with a load of ill-advised counselling, and more, without being answerable to a formal board, then no Jewish organisation should let them into their four walls to speak and nobody should seek them for any advice except which chewing gum to buy. Some maybe okay, but others are straight out charlatans, Register! Did victims go to a psychiatrist and spill their guts out and get medication where indicated or did they run rings around the counselling option of people who don’t answer to a board of counsellors.
  13. Why are people skeptical about those who sit on Yeshiva’s board or sat on that board? I have emails from about a decade ago where (it now turns out) some victims and others were looking to change things while Rabbi Groner was alive. One hears all types of stories of “this board member” being stubborn, “that one” being nepotistic etc. Some of it is true especially in a vacuüm. I know three former board members and I don’t think they aligned with any of the above. I know they gave thousands of hours of their lives to keep the institutions above water and growing in a way that no Jewish child was ever turned away. Remember, I happen NOT to be a card-carrying member of the “Chabad only” approach to Judaism, although members of my family happen do. We live in peace and in harmony. It’s not hard.There is a review of governance allegedly taking place. It doesn’t and can’t take 5 minutes. Instead, I hear people saying “it’s a PR trick”. How do they know that? I know a serious person who is looking at the structure and they are definitely not looking at it from a PR point of view. Yeshivah is in transition. It had to happen after Rabbi Groner’s passing following that of his mentor. It’s a shock and terrible that the spectre of pedophilia needed to be the back-breaking catalyst, but in the words of a good friend “it is what it is”. So people why don’t you sit back and see what comes forth. By all means if it isn’t transparent and in keeping with the law, bleat and bleat and bleat. Until then, surely wait a little while.
  14. Why do people feel that beating Rabbi Telsner or Rabbi Glick is the answer? It isn’t. It’s 2015. I especially rang Rabbi Telsner because I wanted to know exactly what he said that got the Jewish news positively apoplectic on their front page and what was said to him. How the AJN could then say “tell us it’s not so Rabbi Telsner” is beyond me. Rabbi Telsner and I have a love/less love relationship. He doesn’t like it when I raise Chabad issues with him (halachic) and he’s not my Posek but he doesn’t deserve to be manipulated.
  15. Why isn’t the Association of Jewish Psychologists being used more. They respond. They don’t go looking for work. I went to a talk and was very impressed with Dr Dan Gordon. He is someone who every School should use for an in-service for their teachers. Why was this a well attended event by Rabbis and religious people and yet so poorly attended by others including headmasters and/or vice-principals? I have a feeling my wife may have been the only senior teacher there. These are specialist psychologists, with PhDs and experience; they have authority and wisdom and aren’t running shonky practices. Listen to their professional wisdom.
  16. Why is the AJN becoming more of a left-wing “Age” newspaper seemingly only haranguing religious institutions (except Adass who don’t buy their paper and buy Hamodia). Religious groups certainly deserve it in some cases, but as I’ve pointed out the AJN are transparently biased. I dislike Hamodia with a passion because it is such a fake fairy tale “feel good” paper full of omissions. I saw a new paper emerge over the break. I hope it takes form. To be honest, I wouldn’t be unhappy if the AJN disappeared if it didn’t seriously reform to become a properly neutral paper instead of a harbinger of an agenda together with pictures of who attended what. I’m tempted to cancel my subscription and my advertising. If it’s possible and the AJN is listening, let me know and I will cancel. Call me tomorrow. My blood pressure will be healthier without your articles and the predictable Henry Herzog et al propaganda that we all skip and are sick to death of.

Someone tell me Charedi Shules are also involved?

i saw the following from the RCV and whilst not knowing the program details I must admit that places chock full of children such as Adass and Rabbi Kohns Torah centre, Rabbi Donnenbaums Heichal HaTorah and Beth Hatalmud have not signed up (yet?)

It is one thing not to be part of the RCV but it’s another to have your head buried in the sand and assume you don’t have lurking pedophiles. We know it’s likely not true in some of above. One can only hope they have or will join but simply didn’t want to be listed on an RCV press release (small minded in my view given the gravity of the issue)

RCV LAUNCHES CHILD PROTECTION PROJECT IN SHULES

 

The Rabbinical Council of Victoria Inc (RCV) has just launched its Child Protection Policy Program in Shules 

in partnership with Australian Childhood Foundation. This vital project will prioritise the rights of children to protection from abuse by employees and volunteers in member shules across the state. Working closely with the Australian Childhood Foundation, each participating shule will formulate an effective child protection policy and system to cover all of its programs and activities. .  

The member shules will be participating in the Foundation’s Safeguarding Children Accreditation Program, which systematically builds the capacity of organisations to keep children and young people through

•enhancing and maintaining a collective culture that promotes the safety of children and young people;

•reviewing, designing and executing specific policies and procedures to protect children and young people;

•providing relevant training to management, staff and volunteers;

•engaging the involvement of children, young people and their parents/carers in safeguarding practices;

•implementing a consistent set of endorsed operational standards at every level; and,

•responding effectively to situations in which a child is abused or exploited by an individual involved in the management or delivery of a service or activity.

Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation applauded the RCV for taking this initiative. “It is an important commitment by any organisation to become accredited under the Safeguarding Children Program. It will help everyone involved in shules to understand their responsibilities to protect children and keep them safe”.   

Dr Tucci said that “Safeguarding Children accreditation will demonstrate that each shule has achieved and maintained best practice standards for protecting children and young people from abuse and exploitation whilst they participate in the shule’s services and programs”.

Throughout 2015 the shules will be attending monthly Safeguarding Children Workshops in order to develop their policies and procedures in line with the seven standards.  The inaugural workshop was held this week.

Rabbi Moshe Kahn, Executive member of the RCV stated “The RCV is committed to safe guarding children, making sure that each and every child that enters our shules is protected and that both the child and parent can know with confidence that best practice child protection is in place.”

The following shules have joined this program:

          Aish HaTorah

          Chabad Bentleigh

          Blake Street Hebrew Congregation

          Brighton Hebrew Congregation

          Chabad on Carlisle (FREE) Inc

          Chabad Carnegie

          Chabad House of Caulfield

          Daminyan

          Chabad Glen Eira

          Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation

          Hamerkaz Shelanu, Lamdeni and KaTeeny

          Chabad Malvern

          Melbourne Hebrew Congregation

          Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation,

          L’Chaim Chabad Kingston

          Sha’arei Tefillah

          Shnei Ohr Chabad North Caulfield

          South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation

          Yeshivah Shule, including Young Yeshivah and Kollel Menachem

          Caulfield Hebrew Congregation, including Ohr Chadash

          East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation

This advice is shocking!

I cannot believe that female surgeons are giving other female internees this advice. Are males (still) that bad with sexism? I must be living in a fool’s paradise. The following is from the Age newspaper in Australia. Probably her intention was to shock everyone into realising this problem has not disappeared and something radical had to change, but I don’t think her advice is acceptable, either.

A senior surgeon has fired back at criticism that she’s offering “appalling” advice to young surgical trainees by suggesting they’re better off staying silent if they’re sexually assaulted by a colleague.

Dr Gabrielle McMullin, a Sydney vascular surgeon, said sexism is so rife among surgeons in Australia that young women in the field should probably just accept unwanted sexual advances because coming forward could ruin their careers.

The comments, made in an ABC radio interview after she helped launch a book about gender equality at Parliament House in Sydney on Friday night, triggered angry reactions from sex abuse and domestic violence campaigners.

“It’s a sad indictment on us and the community when this is what women are being advised to do to benefit their career,” said Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Fiona McCormack.

Centre Against Sexual Assault Victorian spokeswoman Carolyn Worth called the advice “appalling” and “irresponsible” because perpetrators thrive on not being challenged about their behaviour.

“I would have thought highly trained professionals would be able to operate a better system than that,” she said. “I actually don’t think that’s acceptable advice in this day and age.”

But Dr McMullin stood by her comments on Saturday, saying it was pragmatic advice which exposed the ugly reality of rampant sexism in male-dominated profession.

“I am so frustrated with what is going on that I really didn’t care, didn’t think what the reaction would be,” she said.

“All the phone calls that I have received since are from women saying, ‘Yes, thank you’. It’s been hidden and suppressed for so long and it’s only when it comes out in the open that you can do something about it. So, I guess this is my attempt to air it.”

Dr McMullin referred to the case of Dr Caroline Tan, who won a 2008 sexual harassment case against a surgeon while she was completing surgical training at a Melbourne hospital. Dr Tan was vilified and has been unable to find work at any public hospital in Australasia despite the legal victory, she said.

“Her career was ruined by this one guy asking for sex on this night. And, realistically, she would have been much better to have … ,” Dr McMullin said in the criticised ABC interview.

“What I tell my trainees is that, if you are approached for sex, probably the safest thing to do in terms of your career is to comply with the request; the worst thing you can possibly do is to complain to the supervising body because then, as in Caroline’s position, you can be sure that you will never be appointed to a major public hospital.”

When asked about those comments, Dr McMullin said: “Unfortunately, that’s true.”

She said new laws were needed to reward women for reporting sexual harassment rather than the current system of cash payouts and moral victories.

“My main advice would be do not put yourself in that situation, treat everybody as a potential attacker, and that’s a terrible thing to have to do,” she said.

Australian Medical Association Victoria president Dr Tony Bartone said he strongly disagreed with Dr McMullin’s advice to young women.

“This old view of acceptance needs to be eradicated,” he said.

“Sexual assault is a crime and will not be tolerated by our society. The medical profession is not exempt from this maxim.”

He said all public hospitals had procedures in place to allow employees to safely report everything from bullying to sexual assault. “There should not be negative consequences for reporting.”

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons released a brief statement saying there were strict measures in place to deal with harassment and abuse of any kind.

“The College actively encourages Trainees and Fellows to come forward in confidence with any such allegations, which will be thoroughly investigated,” a spokesman said.

Dr Tan did not respond to requests for comment.

 

Important Community Event on Recovering from Trauma

I am very supportive of professional psychologists, as they have a board which oversees their activities. If they do the wrong thing, they can be disbarred. It seems that so-called counsellors have an optional board. I’d recommend people never to see a counsellor whose ethics and practices aren’t overseen by a board which they subscribe to. There are some rotten counsellors out there, even criminal ones: avoid them like the plague. In general, go to a psychologist (or psychiatrist if you will need medication) but only interact with counsellors if they are moral enough to subscribe to a board that is able to disbar them for misdeeds.

So, in that spirit, I fully support attendance at the following event

Community Debrief flyer 150315

“Caring for our community and ourselves: recovering from the effects of Trauma”

Panel: Dr George Halasz, Dr Rob Gordon, Dr Nicky Jacobs

Chair: Nina Bassat AM

Date: Sunday MARCH 15

Time: 7:30pm to 9:30pm

Venue: St. Kilda Town Hall Auditorium, 99a Carlisle St, St. Kilda

Cost: (5$ to cover costs)

Contact: Fay Oberklaid FAPS, fayober@bigpond.net.au

This is very important. Many of us have been traumatised by recent events and Hashem has permission for professionals give advice and treat those in need.

Please spread the word

Priorities warped on Haredi websites?

I was looking for an article in either the Yeshivah World News or in Matzav for some coverage of the faults identified in the Royal Commission into abuse. Both of these publications are hardly pro Chabad, and yet, unless I missed it, I failed to see a single mention. That of itself, if I am correct (and I’d be happy to proved wrong) is an inditement on the Haredi world, where Chabad is considered on the left fringe anyway.

In what way is this not news? Why shouldn’t Haredi readers know about what is public knowledge? It’s simple. They deal with their problems “in-house”. Here, I don’t mean the Rabbi Groner approach of seeking out experts and not being aware that the proclivity might be described as a disease. No, in these communities nothing at all has changed.

And yet, sorry folks, if you are a Litvak, I am Posul as a witness according to the following from YWN

Maran HaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita spoke out regarding persons using iPhones, stating they are pasul l’eidus.

HaGaon HaRav Moshe Yehuda Schneider tells of the gadol hador’s words in the weekly Pri Chaim publication. He explains “we merited hearing Maran’s opinion regarding iPhones, the impure device, and I am presenting these words after Rabbeinu questioned regarding a bochur that R”L fell victim as a result”.

He begins by stating the Rosh Yeshiva was made aware of the high cost of such a phone, resulting in his response that it is quite costly to sin and people are willing to pay a great deal of money – the main thing is to sin. He adds that a good esrog is less expensive and when he heard one person say that one who spends so much on an iPhone will not buy an expensive esrog, Rav Shteinman stated this is not necessarily so, for there are those who will pay for an esrog, as well as for an iPhone l’havdil.

Rav Shteinman was informed that HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Halevy Wosner Shlita ruled one who possesses an iPhone is ‘pasul l’eidus’ as Rav Wosner disqualified a witness at a chupah when learning of his phone. Rav Shteinman stated “The Klall is a prohibition that incurs malkos renders one pasul from d’oraissa and a prohibition that does not incur malkos only pasuls d’rabbonon. Hence, one with an iPhone is pasul from eidus d’rabbonon since malkos are not involved here.

This reminds me of the farcical situation when Rabbi Benyamin Wurtzburger, Rosh Kollel of the Lakewood Kollel who was Mesader Kiddushin at a wedding, publicly attempted to make Dayan Telsner, Pasul as a witness, because of his contention (which is probably correct) that Dayan Telsner is a Meshichist. Ironically, phone calls to Rabbi Beck from Adass to Wurtzurger were needed to make him understand that one is not Pasul for having some far-flung view, which is out of touch with the Rambam and Mesora.

Where are our priorities? Will Rav Shteinman be happy with cheap Samsungs or HTC or ? Does have the remotest clue what the difference between this is?

Rabbi Wurtzburger seated left, next to Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner

 

A sensible start to Mikva reform

Dear Mispallelim,

Due to our concern for the safety of children, the Mikva will not be available for any children under 18 years old. This applies whether or not they are accompanied by an adult. Failure to adhere with this rule will result in the closure of our Mikva.

Mispalelim should remain cognizant of their responsibility to ensure their children’s safety. Parents are reminded to supervise and ensure the safety of their children while in our Chabad House

We would like to take this opportunity to again convey our unequivocal recommendation that anyone who has been abused, knows someone else who was abused or has concerns about inappropriate behaviour of an individual, should report it to the police immediately. If for any any reason, the individual is apprehensive about contacting the police directly, s/he may feel free to report it to myself or Rabbi Shmerling who will then pass on the information to the police, as we have indeed done recently.

With wishes for only good in the future,

Rabbi Y. Gutnick
Chabad House of Caulfield

I would say this is a proper position based on

  1. עת לעשות לה׳ הפירו תורתיך
  2. It’s a Middas Chassidus, which is outweighed by the scourge
  3. Some Poskim hold that a shower is a Mikva (for a male)
  4. They can get sound חינוך that they can’t go because of potential danger until they are older.
  5. It’s not a Chiyuv today anyway but a good הנהגה

On the Taskforce against family violence

I was interested to read it was over 20 years old and people with a bee up their bonnet should remember that and support their activities. They should not be trying to beat up frum women who have joined the taskforce with the excuse that their husbands are or were associated with organisations which had not dealt with problems properly especially at a time when people really didn’t appreciate the gravity of illness some perpetrators have.

I call on MORE women to join, and here I include women from Adass too. Anyone who thinks that there is no familial violence in the frum or ultra frum sector is a horse with blinkers. There is. Period.

On the Age of 20 in Judaism

One of my readers commented (with his usual vitriolic language) about this age in the context of halachic maturity (which was the essence I was discussing in that original article in respect of Yossi Feldman focussing on age 13 at the Royal Commission as being the transition from a minor to something else). I felt this was disingenuous, but be that as it may, another reader sent me the following which I present as of interest. If I find some time over Shabbos, I may add to this from the Tzitz Eliezer as I had mentioned in the comments section.

גיל הבגרות המלאה 

אף שהבגרות ההלכתית לזכרים הוא גיל 13, מצאנו במקורות רבים שגיל הבגרות המלאה הוא 20. 

בתנ”ך מצאנו במספר מקומות את גיל עשרים שנה כגיל הבגרות המלאה:

בתרומת מחצית השקל: שמות פרק ל פסוק יד, וכן בפרק לח פסוק כו.

בערכים: ויקרא פרק כז פסוקים ג, ה.

במפקדים: במדבר א, פסוקים ג-מה, פרק כו, ב, ד, דברי הימים א כז,כג, ב כה, ה.

בחטא המרגלים: במדבר פרק יד, כט, פרק לב, יא.

בגיל הלויים לעבודת המקדש: עזרא ג, ח, דברי הימים א כ, כד-כז, ב לא, יז, אך ראו במדבר ח פסוק כד: “זאת אשר ללוים מבן חמש ועשרים שנה ומעלה יבא לצבא צבא בעבודת אהל מועד”, חולין דף כד עמוד א, ורמב”ם כלי המקדש פרק ג הלכה ז.

ביוצאי מצרים מצאנו מחלוקת בין הפרשנים בגילם של ה”גברים” וה”טף” יוצאי מצרים:

“ויסעו בני ישראל מרעמסס סכתה כשש מאות אלף רגלי הגברים לבד מטף”. (שמות פרק יב פסוק לז). 

מה היה גילם של הגברים, ומה היה גילם של הטף?

בעוד האבן עזרא (בפירושיו הארוך והקצר) מתייחס לגילם של הטף:

“לבד מטף שהוא פחות מכ’ שנה”. 

הרי רש”י בפירושו מתייחס לגילם של הגברים:

“הגברים – מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה”. 

לדעת הרב מנחם כשר, (תורה שלמה חלק יב, הערה תקפ”ב), מקורם הוא במכילתא דרבי שמעון בר יוחאי פרק יב פסוק (לז) ויסעו:

“מטף מלמד שעשו עמהן פחות מבן [עשרים שנה]”. 

בשיר השירים רבה (וילנא) פרשה ג ד”ה ד ורבנן פתרי:

“ששים גבורים, אלו ששים רבוא שיצאו ממצרים מבן עשרים שנה ולמעלה. מגבורי ישראל, אלו ששים רבוא שיצאו ממצרים מבן עשרים שנה ולמטה”. 

הרמב”ן כתב, (שמות פרק ל פסוק יב):

“והנה ישראל כשיצאו ממצרים היו כשש מאות אלף רגלי (שמות יב לז), לא שש מאות, ומתו מהם עד המנין ההוא, ונתרבו במשלימים שנותיהם. ואולי “הגברים” אינם בני עשרים, אבל כל הנקרא איש מבן שלש עשרה שנה ומעלה בכלל, כי הוא להוציא הנשים והקטנים בלבד, כאשר אמר לבד מטף”. 

[בספרות החיצונית מצאנו שבהקרבת קרבן הפסח חייבים רק בני עשרים שנה ומעלה.

במגילת המקדש (יז, ח), נאמר:

“מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה יעשו אותו ואכלוהו בלילה”.

בספר היובלים (מט, א, יז) נאמר:

“בדבר הפסח לעשותו בעתו בארבעה עשר לחודש הראשון… כל איש אשר בא ביומו יאכלוהו בבית המקדש אלהיכם לפני ה’ מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה”].

בתלמוד מצאנו במספר מקומות איסור למלא תפקיד ציבורי על מי שאינו “בן עשרים”:

בעבודה במקדש:

מאימתי כשר לעבודה? משיביא שתי שערות, רבי אומר, אומר אני עד שיהיה בן עשרים … ת”ר: מאימתי כשר לעבודה, משיביא שתי שערות, אבל אחיו הכהנים אין מניחים לו לעבוד עד שיהא בן עשרים”. (ספרא אמור פרשה ג, חולין דף כד עמוד ב), וראו רמב”ם הלכות כלי המקדש פרק ה הט”ו.

כשליח-ציבור ועלייה לדוכן: 

“… אינו עובר לפני התיבה, ואינו נושא את כפיו, ואינו עומד על הדוכן עד שימלא זקנו. רבי אומר: וכולהם מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה, שנאמר ויעמידו את הלויים מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה”. (ירושלמי סוכה פ”ג הי”ב, וראו תוספתא כפשוטה (ליברמן), חגיגה פרק א הלכה ג, חולין דף כד ע”ב, מסכת סופרים פרק יד הלכה יג).

לדון דיני נפשות: 

לדברי רבי אבהו בשם ר’ יוחנן, מי שהוא פחות מגיל עשרים פסול לדון דיני נפשות (ירושלמי סנהדרין פ”ד ה”ז), וראו שו”ת הרשב”א חלק ו סימן קע”ט: “… לפי שעדיין אינו בשלימות דעתו … “.

אף אדם וחוה “כבן עשרים שנה נבראו”. (ב”ר פרשה יד ד”ה ז, שהש”ר פרשה ג),

אלא שמצאנו שאף שמשה היה בהגדרת “גדול” באותה עת, הוא לא היה “איש”.

על הפסוק “ויגדל משה ויצא אל אחיו” (שמות ב, יא), נאמר במדרש:

ויגדלבן עשרים שנה היה. (שמו”ר ( א, ד”ה כז).

את הפסוק (שמות פרק ב פסוק יד): “ויאמר מי שמך לאיש שר ושפט עלינו הלהרגני אתה אמר כאשר הרגת את המצרי …”, מפרש רש”י: “מי שמך לאיש – והרי עודך נער”.

במדרש תנחומא, (ורשא) שמות סימן ח:

” … א”ל אחד מהם מי שמך לאיש ועדיין אין אתה איש מלמד שהיה פחות מבן עשרים”.

במדרש שכל טוב, (שמות פ”ד):

“ומסורת בידינו שבן עשרים שנה היה משה כשהרג את הנפש … שדתן הרשע אמר לו מי שמך לאיש … כלומר עדיין לא הגעת להיות איש …”. 

לדברי המדרש שמות רבה (וילנא) פרשה א ד”ה ל, היה אז או בן עשרים ואיש הוא במשמעות מבוגר, או בן ארבעים, ואיש משמעותו שליט:

“ויאמר מי שמך לאיש שר וגו’, ר’ יהודה אומר בן כ’ שנה היה משה באותה שעה אמרו לו עדיין אין אתה ראוי להיות שר ושופט עלינו לפי שבן ארבעים שנה לבינה, ור’ נחמיה אמר בן ארבעים שנה היה, אמרו לו ודאי שאתה איש אלא שאי אתה ראוי להיות שר ושופט עלינו”. 

בילקוט שמעוני, (שמות רמז קסז, מקורו מדרש אבכיר) נאמר, שגיל הבגרות להקרא איש הוא 25:

“… שבאותה שעה לא היה כי אם בן עשרים שנה … ואמרו מי שמך לאיש, שאין אדם נקרא איש עד כ”ה שנים, כלומר עדיין לא הגעת לאיש …”.

הרב מנחם כשר מביא בתורה שלמה (שמות פ”ב סוף הערה פ”א) 9שיטות לגילו של משה באותה עת: בן 12, 18, 20, 21, 29, 32, 40, 50. 60.

ר”י אבן שועיב כותב בדרשותיו, (פרשת ויחי בד”ה בישישים חכמה), שגיל הבגרות הוא עשרים:

“… והילדות הוא מעט משנולד אדם עד עשרים שנה, ובזה הזמן יש בו גידול תמיד”.