The internet and the streets simply must open up the world to Charedim

Here is a fascinating story of the grandson of the Satmar Rebbe who joined the Israeli army. Yes, it’s true, that there is no family that is immune from a child taking a different direction. This is a fact of life.

I don’t like the word blame in the context. I prefer to think that the concept where ‘one size fits all’ and clueless teachers and/or parents cause much of this reality. חנוך על פי דרכו teach according to their acuities, is something harder to achieve in a “my way or the highway” approach.

You should read the article HERE [hat time CMW]

Another article, of interest, describes what appears to be a growing phenomenon is from the Huffington Post, and reproduced here [Hat tip Krakower]

I Escaped Hasidic Judaism and Went From Living on the Streets to Being a Hollywood Actor

In June 2008, exactly three years after I got married, I decided to get a divorce. I didn’t fall out of love with my wife. In fact, I never fell in love with her in the first place. I simply no longer wanted to have the life I had with her and everyone surrounding her.

My wife was a Hasidic Jew, and when I married her, so was I. But that was no longer the case. I was a 22-year-old man with a long beard and side curls (payes) and all the other markings of a Hasid, but I was an atheist. An atheist surrounded by Orthodox Hasidic Jews. Surrounded by their certainty, their food, their self-righteousness and their minivans.

I hated all of it, so I left and entered a world full of uncertainty and a broad spectrum of ideas about right and wrong.

I had no idea what I was going to do. I had no education beyond Jewish Talmudic studies. I had no friends outside of the Hasidic world beyond a few I met at Footsteps, an organization that supports Orthodox Jews attempting to escape. I had no marketable skill beyond being able to charm your pants off. I had never been on a date. I had never heard of The Beatles. And I thought, “May the Force be with you” meant “May God be with you.”

“For most of my life, I believed that all non-Jews hate us and want to kill us.”

After leaving the Hasidic world, I spent seven years in various stages of decay. I slept in a tent in Bushwick for several months, lived in a rented Volkswagen Jetta for as long as my credit card limit allowed and crashed with friends. I starved in the harsh street of New York City. When I used my last subway fare to make my way to my sister’s (one of eleven siblings) house for leftovers from Shabbat meals, she wouldn’t let me in the house because I was wearing jeans.

When I went on dates, I had nothing in common with the women. I knew nothing about their culture, and they knew nothing about mine. I thought all shiksas were prostitutes, and they thought all Hasidim were landlords and diamond dealers.

Let me answer some revealing questions about Hasidic Judaism. Does it withhold a broad education from their children in order to keep the children narrow-minded and uneducated? Yes. Does it vilify the outside world in order to keep its members from joining it? Definitely. Does it have a fear and/or doomsday element to it? Of course. Is there ex-communication for those who dare to leave? Oh yeah.

I still have not received anything past a 5th grade education. In fact, since I never attended a regular school, I don’t actually know what a 5th grade education is — I just picked a grade that seemed right. I don’t know what algebra is; I know I can Google it but I wasn’t made to care enough to do so.

“After leaving the Hasidic world, I spent seven years in various stages of decay.”

For most of my life, I believed that all non-Jews hate us and want to kill us. I believed that all goyim are murderers, rapists, degenerates and dirty second-class citizens. Of course, they/we aren’t but I was taught that in order to make the secular lifestyle less appealing. I was told horrible things would happen to me in this world and the “next world” if I leave. I was told I would end up a criminal or drug addict. Many members of my family refuse to speak to me to this day.

I have had to transition both out of Hasidism and transition into mainstream culture. I have had to find a replacement for the void left by the lack of community and warmth. I had to replace my family, my friends and my moral compass. It was hard leaving everything behind but it was even harder to find something to replace it all with.

Thankfully, as an actor, my professional community is very friendly and inclusive (albeit competitive). I’ve replaced my biological family with actors and Footsteps members. I have managed to date, to have my heart broken, to have broken some hearts and to grow because of all of it.

I get asked all the time: “Are you happy now?” The answer is an unequivocal, “Yes!” I have friends who love me for who I am, for who I was and for who I am trying to become.

“I had to replace my family, my friends and my moral compass.”

Career-wise, it seems I have sought the path of most resistance, deciding to work in a field full of multi-talented human specimens with high cheekbones and jaguar physiques. I’m five foot seven inches, unathletic and have a heavy Yiddish accent. And yet, I’ve been getting work. My latest film, “Felix and Meira,” just beat David Cronenberg at the Toronto International Film Festival for “Best Canadian Feature Film,” and I won “Best Actor” at the Torino Film Festival. Next, I will appear in a recurring role in the upcoming season of “Transparent” on Amazon Prime.

But those achievements pale in comparison to the responses I get from people within the Hasidic community who have snuck out to go see the film. They have been yearning to break away but have been told that if they do, they will end up in jail or in rehab, and they believed it. But now, they can counter that with success stories like mine and those of others like me.

The Hasidic community isn’t what it used to be even five years ago. With the Internet, every person has access to every flavor of every forbidden fruit his or her heart desires, including my story. It won’t be long before the Empire falls. It might not fall completely, but it certainly will be forced to adapt to the 21st century.

The Empire won’t go down easy. The Empire will strike back. For evidence, watch the comments section below.

Follow Luzer Twersky on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@twersky

In my opinion unless subtle changes are introduced into Charedi education this will become more prevalent. It is nigh on impossible to live in a Cocoon these days. I know of schools that redact every book with pen or gluing pages together. The effect is that the students are more certain to find the original text and be exposed. I’m not sure that approach works. Kids are far more connected than they ever were.

Indeed, there has been a new (undesirable) ban now on whatsapp [Hat tip BA]. I surmise this is because the kosher filters cannot filter such messages. whatsapp is wonderful, it keeps families closer and informed, especially when they are spread around the world. Anything can be used for bad or for good. That is the central tenet in my understanding.

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

Don’t give Satmar a cent

From Ha’aretz. Be under NO illusion. There are many in Melbourne’s Adass Community who support this group completely. Others are even more right-wing.

Why would you say anything, even if you disagreed. They are the right-wing version of J-Street.

They live separate lives to the rest of us. They should not come to my door whether brought by master driver Osher Ehrlichster and others, all whom make a nice commission from these collectors. I will give them a dollar if they sing HaTikvah even with modified words (like I do).

If you expect a rebuttsl or disagreement with Rabbi Beck, forget it,

If it wasn’t for the fact that Yankel Unfanger was such a Tzadik, I’d have nothing to do with their products. He’s normal. Many of the rest are not. They are extreme zealots who should live on Gibraltar. They have a monopoly on Chalav Yisrael. That’s life.

Sicko Satmars

Some 3,000 followers of the Satmar Rebbe in Williamsburg took it to the streets of Manhattan Tuesday evening to protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his speech to Congress and his claim that he’s an emissary on behalf of world Jewry to warn of a nuclear Iran.

The protest, held outside the Israeli Consulate on 2nd avenue and 42nd street in Midtown Manhattan, was organized by the Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada and attended by the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum.

Signs at the protest included statements such as “Bibi – don’t drag American Jewry into your provocative politics”, “”Bibi Netanyahu does not speak for us”, and “we are ably represented, we don’t need a Bibi-sitter.”

“When Netanyahu professes to speak on our behalf, we have to speak out and say this is not the case,” Rabbi David Neiderman told the thousands assembled. “Benjamin Netanyahu, stop speaking on our behalf and directing us what to do.”

“We in America and Jews all over the world are loyal citizens in the respective countries we reside in, and no other foreign government can claim to represent us or speak on our behalf,” he proclaimed.

Rabbi Neiderman went on to thank President Obama – whose name mentioning drew thunderous cheers – together with the Republican congressional leadership. “We are well represented and don’t need Netanyahu and his government’s representation,” he stated.

The speakers preceding Rabbi Neiderman were harsher in their attacks against the Israeli leader. They called him “Haman” and Amalek” and accused him of igniting antisemitism by his ‘reckless’ actions. One Rabbi went a step further to claim that he’s sacrificing the well-being of world Jewry for his political survival. The Satmar Shita against Zionism and the formation of a state in the land of Israel was only mentioned as a secondary reason to protest.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro, a spokesperson for ‘Natruna’ and the “True Torah Jews” website, told JP that the protest was only aimed to contradict what Netanyahu said that he’s speaking in the name of all Jewish people. “Besides this being a lie, it’s a very dangerous thing for him to say,” Rabbi Shapiro asserted. “He wants to get into some brouhaha with the president, he’s a foreign minister, he can do whatever he wants. But why bring in the Jewish people into this? So, we are here contradicting what he said about us, and if somebody has a problem with what Netanyahu said he shouldn’t blame the Jewish people.”

“We are here to disassociate ourselves from the dangerous statements he’s making – statement that puts Jews in danger,” he added.

Rabbi Shapiro also lambasted those who compare Satmar – who is against Zionism – to Neturei Karta, who associate themselves with Iran and the Palestinians. “We don’t believe that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. And when a leader of a foreign country comes to America to trash the president and says he’s our representative, the question is not why us but where is everybody else?” he explained.

A litmus test for Shules regarding the IDF vs Torah study issue

[Please note: I will keep this list updated as information comes in]

 

Phew. I’m physically wasted. Baruch Hashem, our daughter was married last night, and apart from the usual responsibilities of being the “father of the bride” and all that goes with it, I sang and danced during the evening with my great band, Schnapps. That’s not an advertisement. They were simply magnificent last night.

Someone drew my attention to an interesting point which then had me think of the following hypothetical:

If you received an Aliya on Shabbos, and asked the Gabbay to make a Misheberach for Tzahal (Tzva Hagana L’Yisrael) what would the different attitudes be in different Orthodox Shules. I will list those that I believe will have and do have no problem with such a benign (Zionistically speaking) request (and donation)

  • Elwood
  • Caulfield
  • Mizrachi
  • South Caulfield
  • St. Kilda
  • Kew
  • Brighton
  • Ohel Dvora
  • Yeshiva
  • Da Minyan
  • Moorabbin Shule
  • HaMerkaz Shelanu (Rabbi Liberow)
  • SpiritGrow

I do not know what the attitude would be at the following Shules. I accept of course that there may be differing practices within, say, some Chabad Houses

  1. Rabbi Kohn’s Shule
  2. Russian Chabad Shule (FREE)
  3. Central Chabad
  4. Chabad Sephardi Shule
  5. Glen Eira Chabad
  6. Malvern Chabad
  7. East Brighton Chabad
  8. Other Chabad Houses
  9. Rabbi Donnenbaum’s Heichal HaTorah
  10. Rabbi Berlin’s Shule
  11. Rabbi Wurtzberger’s Lakewood Kollel Beth HaTalmud

Perhaps readers can enlighten me on these and any that I inadvertently forgot. I haven’t mentioned Adass yet. I will relay, though, a true occurrence which was at a public gathering of prayer which might shed light on their view.

During the time when those three Charedi Yeshivah Bochurim were arrested and incarcerated in Japan, Adass organised a public gathering to say Tehillim to beseech God to release those boys. At that public gathering, it was suggested (quite vocally) that since Gilad Shalit was incarcerated by Hamas in Gazastan, that he also be included in the Tefillos. I’m advised that the response was like

You can organise your own Tehillim if you want to daven for him

If this is true, it’s an outrageous view. Now, I know this isn’t a universally held opinion. Adass certainly has various categories of views and it’s quite remarkable that those views can co-exist in the one place, however, if Adass President Binyomin Koppel could enlighten  the official view about such a Misheberach, I would be obliged.

Certainly, I have been at Chabad Shules, notably Yeshivah where special Tehillim is said for Israel when it faces many of its challenges.

I raise this because if a Shule does not allow a Misheberach or special Tehillim or similar for Tzahal, then, frankly, I do not want to hear about their special Torah learning protecting the Chayalim. It’s incongruous, is it not?

Similar questions could be asked in respect of Jewish Schools and their allowable activities.

picture from Haaretz

Adass vs Mizrachi

The following correspondence is making the rounds of email on the internet. It sheds light on the basis of the disagreement.

Disclaimer: Ian is my brother-in-law

First, we have a letter from Adass

Dear Ian
I am receipt of your email statement of behalf of the Mizrachi Organisation.
I am astounded that you would issue such a notice without the courtesy of enquiring about the aim of this gathering
You labelled this “a protest” which was “designed to attract the attention of the general community and the media” organised by opponents of the state of Israel
Unfortunately your statement is totally incorrect.
This was not a “protest” but rather a gathering of Jews – Shomrei Torah uMitzvos from most communities – to say Tehilim and Tefillos against recent decrees aimed at harming the Torah world.
We mirrored the call of the ENTIRE Torah leadership worldwide – Chassidim and Litvaks, Ashkenazim and Sfardim.
The Gedolei Hador are pained at new legislation which further erodes Achdus and Shalom between fellow Jews.
How can anyone sit back and watch as a Jewish State legislates that one Jew will put another Jew into jail for studying Torah?
This is something that saddens all of us and we pray that Hashem should bring us together as one people.

This was not a protest. No one spoke, there was no speeches. No banners or signs – Just tehillim and tefila

It was most specifically NOT done to attract the media. It took place inside a Shul – the most appropriate place for prayer.
There was no contact with the media and no street signs.

You have stated the exact opposite of what we were aiming.   We came for prayer for unity peace and you interpreted it as the opposite.

I think you owe the organisers a public apology for your words.
Wishing you a Good Shabbos and Simchas Purim
BINYOMIN KOPPEL
President
Adass Israel
 
PS Please note that I am responding on behalf of our Shul.
Mizrachi’s response is produced below
Dear Binyomin,
I refer to your email of 14 March 2014.
Your letter raises a number of complaints concerning the statement I made on 13 March 2014 which I will attempt to deal with.
First, you say that you are astounded that I would issue such a notice without the courtesy of enquiring about the aim of this gathering.
The aim of the gathering was readily apparent from the poster that was widely distributed. The poster depicted a Sefer Torah wrapped in barbed wire conjuring up the very worst images from our recent history. It called upon men, women and children aged 9 and over to “show solidarity with our embattled brethren in Eretz Yisrael regarding the proposed new law”. It contained images of large outdoor rallies held in Jerusalem and New York.  Although you assert that I should have made enquiries about the aim of the gathering before making any statement, no attempt was made to consult with the Mizrachi Organisation (or to obtain Rabbi Sprung’s signature) prior to organising the event. Presumably that was because it was anticipated by the organisers that Mizrachi would have objected in the strongest terms to what was being planned.
Secondly, you say that I mischaracterised the event by calling it a protest.
When people are called upon to assemble in large numbers to voice their opposition to legislation enacted by a democratically elected government, they are in effect being called upon to protest. A protest need not involve speeches or banners, although I note that similar events held in other cities included such features. You say that the event “took place inside a Shul – the most appropriate place for prayer”. However the poster announced that the rally would take place in the Adass Gutnick Hall.
Thirdly, you state that in organising the gathering you “mirrored the call of the ENTIRE Torah leadership worldwide”.
It is disappointing and troubling that you do not consider Mizrachi and our ideological affiliates around the world, who did not participate in any such events, as part of the Torah leadership community.
Fourthly, you assert that the legislation will mean that “one Jew will put another Jew into jail for studying Torah”.
A cursory reading of the legislation or the available summaries of it will reveal that the law has no such purpose or effect. Its intent is to gradually implement a more equitable sharing of the responsibility for protecting and defending the State of Israel and all of its inhabitants. The law does not come into effect until at least 2017. In the meantime, there is a full exemption for anyone over 26 who did not register in the past and an exemption for anyone aged between 22-26. There will be an option to perform national service rather than serve in the armed forces. Exceptional students will be completely exempt.
Fifthly, you write “We came for prayer for unity (and) peace and you interpreted it as the opposite”.
Scheduling the event on Ta’anit Esther and using the words “Gezeirot Kashot” (ie. harsh decrees) to describe the legislation recently enacted by the State of Israel plainly sought to equate that legislation and those responsible for it with with the terrible edicts decreed against the Jews by Ahasuerus at the instigation of Haman. Actions and statements such as these are plainly calculated to erode achdut. Referring to the Government of the State of Israel as “Shevet HaRasha” (the evil tribe) erodes achdut. How can you claim that you were seeking “unity” and “peace” when you describe fellow Jews in these terms.
I note that, since receiving your letter, two of the seven Rabbis who signed the poster have since expressed deep regret and emphatically dissociated themselves from the document.
You conclude your letter by saying that I owe the organisers of the event a public apology. For the reasons set out above I am not able to apologise for the statement that I made on behalf of the Mizrachi Organisation.
Yours sincerely,
Ian
__________________
Ian Waller SC
President
Mizrachi Organisation

Where is the outrage and condemnation?

Hats off to Rabbi Telsner on Shabbos. In his Drosha at the Chabad Yeshivah Shule in Melbourne, he briefly vent his spleen regarding the Chillul Hashem being perpetrated in parts of Israel by the offshoots, weeds and seeds of the Eda Charedis. Rabbi Telsner’s point was that any “Chassidim” in those groups were not. They didn’t have or display the approach of the Baal Shem Tov on loving each Jew irrespective of the questionable activities those Jews were involved in. R’ Teslner added that the zealots couldn’t be learning Chassidus, and if they claimed that they were, nothing was internalised. Rabbi Telsner was scathing. He said that “all they seem to do is a Chilul Hashem and then they come Schnorring to our doors”. He’s right.

What is the reaction in Adass or Beis HaTalmud? Did Rabbis Beck or Wurzburger have anything to say about these issues? If not, why not? If yes, was it to a cloistered private circle or was it a public comment. If anyone knows, please do inform us. I’m sure many in the community would like to know where these organisations stand on this massive Chillul Hashem malaise.