Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Rosh Yeshivas--You Are Killing Our Children & Grandchildren

The UOJ Archives....July 2005

Rosh Yeshivas, Menahalim & Mashgichim.

You sleep well at night because you have parnassah and your children and grandchildren will have jobs waiting for them in your respective (not respectful) institutions, regardless if they are qualified or not.

You guys read this story, and if after you read it you are able to sleep at night, then you are much worse people than I thought.

Recently, I sat next to a respected Lakewood resident at a simcha. He spent a total of fifteen years in the yeshiva/kollel.

Every time he went to you explaining what a difficult time he was having, you encouraged him to stay in kollel, Hashem will provide.

Eleven children later, without any financial means whatsoever and deep in debt, he was forced to look for a job. He would not take any job, after all he was a talmud chochom, and should be a rosh yeshiva.

After two years looking for a SUITABLE job, he begrudgingly took a job in a local talmud torah. Although considered by many as an Iluy, that was the best and only job he was able to get. He came from a baalibatashe family, with no money or yeshiva connections.

I was introduced to his wife who I guestimate was about forty, going on sixty.

We have common friends so I assume he felt comfortable talking to me, and of course I would never divulge his identity.

He asked me if I knew of a job for his son who was twenty years old. He told me that although he wanted his son to stay in yeshiva, he was not cut out for it. I asked a few basic questions, like how much of a secular education did he have. I just wanted to confirm that, at the minimum, he had a high school education.

He related to me that none of his sons had gone past the eighth grade. I asked him what kind of job was his son looking for?

Now the guy I am talking to is a real bright guy, so he knew where I was going.

He asked if his son was able to work in the real estate industry. I told him to get anywhere, he would have to get a real estate license. This is where he came apart.

We walked outside and this grown man with eleven children started bawling. He said his son can hardly read and he was hiring a tutor to TEACH HIS TWENTY YEAR OLD SON TO READ ENGLISH!!!!!!

Do you guys get it??

This is America in the twenty first century, and his twenty year old son can hardly read the language of the land where he lives!

I asked him to be in touch, and we exchanged phone numbers.

We did keep in touch and the story unfolded.

He, the father, was a prodigy in an IVY LEAGUE yeshiva, and was encouraged to continue learning. Hashem would provide, and certainly he would be grabbed up by a gvir (rich guy) for his daughter, and he would live happily ever after.

If he ever decided that he would want to go into chinuch, the yeshivas would line up to grab him as well. Well, no gvir grabbed him, and he wound up marrying a nice girl, BUT NO GELT. His chashuvah rosh yeshiva encouraged him to marry this girl, gave him a brocho,and assured him that Hashem will provide.

Life moves along, the kids keep coming, and this guy is struggling big time. His shalom bayis is seriously affected, and the rosh yeshiva who is consulted and asked to intercede, starts questioning his talmid's bitachon and emunah. This idiot rosh yeshiva, a member of the Moetzes, whose yeshiva mortgage is completely paid off, is questioning his talmid's bitachon, because there is NO MONEY FOR FOOD AND NO SHALOM BAYIS!!!!!!!!

This filthy behaima, mushchas, destroyer of our future generations, puts his own son in a rosh mesifta position, who if had to look for a job without his father, would be shoveling zevel for the local sanitation department.



The BIG LIE is, that there are no jobs waiting for anyone in kollel, unless they have very close family in the yeshiva business.


How does one have bitachon when his life is coming apart based on false notions of what Hashem will or will not do? How do you behaimas take vulnerable kids and savage their minds the way you do? Have you no shame? You turn them into emotional cripples!

This story has been repeated thousands of times in different variations. These rosh yeshivas are perpetuating this fraud because this is what keeps their businesses going. If there were no customers for their fraud, there would be no business.



Sure, there are SOME honest rosh yeshivas, BUT THEY ARE IN THE MINORITY OF MINORITIES.

Any rosh yeshiva that encourages a "regular guy" to stay in kollel until he is old and gray should be sent to the frontlines in Iraq with his black camouflage clothing.


Some suggestions.

All yeshivas should be subject to an audit conducted by a lay persons' vaad, who will hire frum accountants to check the books. Every single mosad gets audited, no exceptions.

All hiring of rebbes should be done by an impartial vaad of rabbonim and rosh yeshivas.

Why Not?


Why not hire the absolute best rebbeim for our kids?

Why should we automatically hire and pay for your kids?

Enough with hiring ZEVEL to teach and mislead our kids. There is a pool of thousands of men to pick from, let us get the absolute best.

Enough with concealing the amounts of PUBLIC MONEY used in excesses for your personal luxuries.





Let this be a call for all well meaning TRUE ehrliche Jews to rise up against this cancer that is metasticising throughout our communities.

They are cult leaders who rule by mental intimidation.

To hell with these destroyers of meaningful life for our children.

Rise up and drive out these charlatans and purveyors of fraud from our communities, they are destroying the vestiges of our sanity!


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, UOJ, this situation will continue.

The Kool-Aid has been absorbed so well and Parents seeking Shidduchim have swallowed the bait. Even those who realize that they are lemmings marching to oblivion are powerless to stop this force; for if they do, wind up on the outside looking "in".

This Matzav will be getting a whole lot worse.

Anonymous said...

Who is the Moetzes member in this sad story?

Anonymous said...

What's UOJ's problem? He holds no hopes for me, yet I still managed to get a top job at 42 Broadway.

onlyajew said...

Avi L. Shafran said...
What's UOJ's problem? He holds no hopes for me, yet I still managed to get a top job at 42 Broadway.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day....

OUJ you are right on the money. Keep making them fear you...one day soon they will wake up....

Anonymous said...

You didn't hear this from me but Shafran supplements his income by hawking filthy, old Borsalinos on eBay.

Anonymous said...

R' Shmuel Berenbaum tells yungerleit who need parnossa to go to private Jewish or Christian colleges. He says public institutions are a bad sevivah.

The yungerman in Lakewood that was meabed atzmo al hadaas because he couldn't feed his family was getting aitzah from one of the Philly roshei yeshiva, who said post mortem / post chainsaw massacre that he "didn't realize the matzav was so bad."

Anonymous said...


Haifa chief rabbi suspected of accepting bribes

Shlomo Shlush investigated over suspicions he received bribes in exchange for approving conversion, adoption requests

Haifa’s chief Sephardic rabbi, Shlomo Shlush, was questioned on Thursday over allegations he received bribes in exchange for approving conversion and adoption requests.

The rabbi, who also serves as the head of the Rabbinical Court in the city, has denied any wrongdoing.

The investigation followed the recent arrest of one of the court’s secretaries and a kashrut supervisor.

The two are suspected of offering to advance portfolios at the rabbinical court in exchange for bribes.

The kashrut supervisor, who had served in the past as Shlush’s driver, claimed during the court hearings that the rabbi ‘framed him’ when they fell out.

In the framework of the investigation, police searched the home of the rabbi’s daughter and detained her for questioning.

It is suspected that the bribes received by Shlush were funneled to the yeshiva he headed.

Anonymous said...


In a change of course, the organization that disperses Holocaust restitution funds has decided to review the past financial practices of March of the Living, a Holocaust education group dogged by allegations of financial impropriety.

The Conference on Material Claims Against Germany confirmed Monday that it had instructed its chief auditor to examine allegations that March of the Living wrongly dispersed $709,000 to a politically connected consultant from 2002 through 2005.

The new mandate to the conference’s auditor expanded the scope of a previously ordered audit. After a May 4 article in The Jewish Week raised questions about March of the Living’s outlays to public relations consultant Curtis Hoxter, the conference ordered an audit of the group, one of its major grant recipients — but not for the period in question.

Claims Conference spokesperson Hillary Kessler Godin said at the time that the audit would look only at “procedures of March of the Living that are currently in place.”

It is not clear what prompted the change in instructions. But one key member of the conference’s control committee was reportedly “outraged” by the conference’s initial position, according to a source monitoring the situation. The source spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve his relationship with the committee member.

According to Godin, the control committee instructed its chief auditor to “carry out an in-depth review” of March of the Living that “will also cover the recent accusations” against the group. She confirmed this would encompass review of March of the Living’s outlays to Hoxter from 2003 through 2005.

In the May 4 Jewish Week article, neither Hoxter nor March of the Living officials were able to explain what Hoxter did for the money. The article noted that Hoxter was a longtime associate of Israeli Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson and former World Jewish Congress and current Claims Conference president Israel Singer. It also noted that Singer had been in discussions with Hoxter about becoming a partner in his public relations firm.

Singer was ousted from the WJC last March amid charges he had mishandled or misappropriated millions of dollars. He has admitted some of these charges but denied others. He remains president of the Claims Conference until July, when new elections are scheduled; Singer will not seek re-election.

Hirschson is currently on leave from his Finance Ministry post due to a police investigation into charges that he earlier embezzled union funds.

The March of the Living outlays to Hoxter began the same year Singer was ordered to stop channeling earlier WJC expenditures to him. The WJC funds to Hoxter were never reported on the group’s tax reports, as required by law, and were, according to WJC leaders, unknown to them until their accidental discovery in 2003.

That same year, Hirschson, a longtime Singer associate who founded and, for many years, led March of the Living, introduced Hoxter to the group’s current leaders and urged them to hire him.

Singer has denied exerting any influence to get Hoxter hired by March of the Living.

Anonymous said...


After a long debate Tuesday night, the Democrat-led state Assembly voted 85-65 to legalize same-sex marriage. But the bill won’t become law as long as the Senate is controlled by Republicans, whose leaders refuse to vote on the measure.

The program bill was written by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and introduced by Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell of Manhattan.

“The governor’s support totally changed the climate in the state,” said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the gay and lesbian synagogue. “This is a great step forward.”

Speaker Sheldon Silver, who had not previously expressed a position on gay marriage, allowed the bill to be released from a committee to the full Assembly and voted in favor. Silver is Orthodox but has said in the past he does not seek to impose his religious beliefs on others. A spokesman on Wednesday said he would have no statement on the matter.

Anonymous said...


Israel Singer’s statements to The Jewish Week last week (“Lauder’s Challenge: Where To Lead WJC?”) are hopelessly false and are a sad attempt to blame others for his improper behavior. First, despite Mr. Singer’s assertion that there was no improper activity, the Assurance of Discontinuance clearly states that he and Mr. Steinberg violated the law concerning the dispensation and care of charitable assets.

Second, despite Mr. Singer’s attempt to blame the non-disclosure of evidence on the World Jewish Congress, it is Mr. Singer who on Feb. 22, 2002, signed a document ordering the transfer of $1.5 million to a numbered Swiss bank account that had no connection to the WJC. In all of the preparation, conversation and testimony, Mr. Singer never disclosed to the WJC, our attorneys, or the NYSAG this attempt to transfer money from the WJC to a private Swiss bank account. Mr. Singer did this. Not the WJC.

This transfer document, which was not disclosed by Mr. Singer during the over two years that this subject was being investigated and discussed, undermines the entire premise of the WJC’s defense of Mr. Singer’s handling of the money that went to Geneva, then into private hands in London and then returned to New York after being discovered by others. The New York State Attorney General has this evidence and it is now up to the Charities Bureau to determine the criminality and the punishment for Mr. Singer’s deceit, abuse of his position and misuse of charitable assets. No amount of obfuscation or political machination can explain why Mr. Singer sought to transfer $1.5 million of charitable assets to a non-WJC bank account in Switzerland and then failed to disclose it to anyone, including the WJC and the AG.

Mr. Singer was truly a hero of the Jewish people. Only his terrible actions relating to the abuse of his position and misuse of the WJC’s charitable assets have led to this point. He still owes the WJC and its donors tens of thousands of dollars that he improperly took.

The continued public airing of this is most unfortunate, but perhaps it will prevent such abuses from occurring elsewhere in the future.

Stephen E. Herbits
Secretary General World Jewish Congress

Anonymous said...

SIW looks like the shmuck he is.

Anonymous said...


Tibor Karancsi, the former chief inspector of Szeghalom, took part in the making of a documentary by Iren Karman, the journalist who investigated the oil bleaching affairs of the 1990s and who has recently been severely beaten.

Oil bleaching was one of the most profitable illegal 'businesses' in Hungary in the years after the regime change, costing the budget an estimated several hundred billion forints over the 1990s.

On 8 June, Zsolt Nogradi, who claimed to be a member of the Bacs-Kiskun county oil mafia, came out with astonishing allegations at a committee hearing. He said several leading politicians and three parliamentary parties, as well as the customs agency, the financial inspectorate and the police were all involved. He accused Sandor Pinter, the Interior Minister and former national police chief, Ivan Szabo, the former finance minister, and Sandor Lezsak, the former Hungarian Democratic Forum chairman, of being involved.

A report by the Highest Prosecutor in 2000 found that 4,300 crimes had been committed in the course of oil smuggling activities between 1991 and 1999. Most of the 340 accused were sentenced to prison.

Anonymous said...

Did Sruly Singer really think that the AG wouldn't uncover bank transfers? That's almost as ridiculous as when Yankel Applegrad lied on national TV.

"At no time ..."

Anonymous said...

In my son's yeshiva all the Rebbe's are related. I thought this was just a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Really sad story. So many victims out there... WE NEED NAMES OF THE CRIMINALS.

Anonymous said...

The recent story of a Rebbi in a Torah Temimah who has been accused sexual misconduct with students over a period of many years was first brought up in a blog called Un-Orthodox Jew (UOJ). Without getting into the details of this particular case or the cover-up (which I covered in an earlier post) I am outraged by what I saw on that blog. Someone sent me one of his earlier posts where-in good people were besmirched without a shred of evidence. Now I don’t know which if any of his accusations are true or false. There seems to be much evidence of truth in the Torah Temimah case but that does not mean he is to be trusted in every accusation he makes.

I have very mixed feelings about this fellow. On the one hand he has done a very great service in exposing a cancer in our midst. On the other hand his "shoot from the hip"... scatter gun approach can do much harm to innocent Mechanchim who have been falsely accused. In one case he lumps together a Menahel of one popular seminary who has been accused of specific sexual deviance, with the Menahel of another one who he accuses of sexual misconduct simply because of the close relationships he maintains with these girls.

Having a close relationship with a student does not automatically make someone a pervert. But UOJ doesn’t make that distinction. In his zeal he does not mind smearing good people.

In his bio UOJ states that he was raised in a prominent Orthodox Jewish home, was privileged to get a wonderful education and that he has a legitimate Smicha.

But I question his integrity. To state that he has Smicha in his blog where he constantly uses Nivul Peh and gives very expicit descriptions of sexual misconduct puts to shame his Smicha, the person who gave it to him, and his entire family. The descriptions don't have to be so explicit. That they are shows at best a certain lack of refinement in character. Using Nivul Peh and such explicit sexual illustrarions on so regular a basis may be more dramatic, but it undermines his credibility, besmirches his title, and in the process it besmirches the Torah he supposedly observes as well. I therefore would not put much credence in what he says. Even if the recent exposé in New York Magazine (stemmimg from his blog) seems to be legitimate, that does not give him license to falsely accuse innocent people with lies and innuendo.

This fellow accuses innocent people of being Menuvalim?! Let him look in the mirror.

posted by Harry Maryles |

Anonymous said...


Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the Frumest of them all? The problem today, is that the Torah is not sufficiently Frum enough! Why, it even says 'Shaishes Yamim Ta'avod!' How totally un-Yeshivish!

Paul Mendlowitz said...


When your "sewer system" is overflowing in Chicago, call Matthew Salomon to fix it.

The Roto Rooter Guy!

Anonymous said...

William Horsley, a long-time observer of Europe's political scene, says Mr Blair made powerful enemies, but his real legacy is to have changed Europe beyond recognition over the past 10 years.

Anonymous said...

uoj harry does not live in Chicago, he live in NJ


Anonymous said...

The sewer system in Chicago overflowed a long time ago. Only problem is that Harry's using the sewage for his pathetic blog.

Anonymous said...

Uoj has more brains in his pinky than harry has in his head.

Anonymous said...

"You are either with The Un-Orthodox Jew - "UOJ"- or against him!"....... said...

When your "sewer system" is overflowing in Chicago, call Matthew Salomon to fix it.

The Roto Rooter Guy!

Please dont call salomon, he will only shove the drek under the closest rug he finds.

Anonymous said...

BRAVO! I have been following your blogs for over a year and I think this is your best post yet. The current Yeshivish mehalach is doomed to failure.

Anonymous said...

Very powerful UOJ. Grabs you by the heart and forces you to realize that we have been sold a bill of goods.

Anonymous said...


Mondrowitz victims should sue him.

Anonymous said...

when will the unemployed and harried men stand up and speak their minds loud and clear. Till then, your post will sound like a fantasy or science fiction movie.

Anonymous said...

"We've made contacts with several victims of sexual abuse. It's extraordinary to see how little people get punished for it. I've met people who''ve gotten years in jail for snatching purses and writing bad checks, yet these guys get probation. Justice is wrong somewhere."

James Nelson

Anonymous said...

When will UOJ finaly expose Ohel Family services. Families are being broken up in the jewish community by the social workers, therapists and counslers. UOJ should start posting the names and deeds of all Ohels therapists counslers and social workers.

Anonymous said...

Who is the mechanech that Harry Maryles is trying to protect? He's been whining about this for about a year now.

Anonymous said...



But I would like to address the issue of closeness with girls.

Why should a rabbi be close to a female? You would find it strange if your local rav developed a close relationship with your wife.

Please explain the difference.

A rebbi should never ever be alone with a teenage girl. Any sexual questions issues should be done by women moreh.
These girls are vulnerable and confused.
The gemerah in shekalim says a Jew should be above reproach.

Being too close to a girl is not listed anywhere in the gemera as a suggested
Way to mekariv
happywithhislot | Homepage | 05.31.06 - 6:45 pm

These girls are vulnerable, and they dont need rabbis who think they are psycologist. What is the rabbis professional training that he might think he can play god with these confused girls.

where in the gemera does it say a rabbi should put himself in a position that is not beyond reproach.
happywithhislot | Homepage | 05.31.06 - 8:10 pm

just to re enforce.
Rabbis have become arrogant to think their reputation precedes them.

Sorry, reputation doesnt cut it anymore.
Actions does.

The gemera suggests that a kohen who went to the treasury should go as far as filling his mouth with water so that he couldnt be accused.

The bnei yisroel needs to be nekiim.
Beyone reproach.

The gemera doesnt say, well we ignore the reproach of the hamon am. No, they say its the responsiblity of our leaders to not allow themselves to be in situations that can comprimise them.
I know at work i am careful. Common sense. Yet these rabbis display a remarkable lack of common sense.
sorry for being tough, but enough.

Everyone is expected to have common sense except idealistic rabbis.

not anymore.
happywithhislot | Homepage | 05.31.06 - 8:16 pm

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Harry :o)


"Preferably women should run seminaries. But sometimes a man will have better Hashpo'ah on young women."

Harry Maryles | Homepage | 05.31.06 - 8:41 pm

Paul Mendlowitz said...

Who is the mechanech that Harry Maryles is trying to protect? He's been whining about this for about a year now.

I had invited a guest to post this incident by a person who had first hand knowledge of the story in Israel. He swears the story is true until today. Harry can't handle the truth! Just as he thinks that the Kolko/Margulies story could have been exposed without the outrage that was expressed here, with all the victims'detailed accounts of the events, and all the colorful language used to be certain that the international media would pick it up.

I have NO regrets...I would NOT change a word or a tactic!

Ultimately, "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish to have".

The results vindicate me...the ends justifies the means when our entire education system is broken, corrupt, and our childrens' lives are in danger!

Anonymous said...


The only thing I would change is policies with respect to Yichud. I would make violations of Yichud by Menahalim a Yehoreg v’Al Ya’avor. Even if were not Halacha, the world we live in now demands it. In the current climate, any Menahel who puts himself into a closed room with a female student should be thrown out of Chinuch, even if he can prove it was innocently done. Zero tolerance.
Harry Maryles | Homepage | 06.01.06 - 12:55 pm

Anonymous said...

Pay no attention to Harry, he's a flunky who never amounted to anything. He's envious of UOJ's accomplishments, and would do anything to try to undermine him. The proof is in the pudding, UOJ changed the landscape of Orthodox Judaism, and leveled the playing field for the masses. The victims have a voice as well as the emet. Finally - we have been lied to, cheated, our families savaged by the rabbinical frauds that constitute the leadership of Judaism. I wish UOJ arichat yomim and the strength to lead us to the emet.

Proud UOJ Groupie

Anonymous said...

"First they (42 Broadway) ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you (UOJ) win."

Anonymous said...

From "The What's Wrong With This Picture" department:


One of the major reasons for this crisis is not even mentioned.

Can you guess what it is?

Anonymous said...

"OUJ you are right on the money. Keep making them fear you...one day soon they will wake up...."

Keep dreaming, dude.

Let's look at the fact: Are there any individuals in their 20's that are productive members of society that still live in the yeshivish world? I can't think of any that I know of though I'm sure there must be some (more likely outside NYC, where the need to integrate with others is greater due to the smaller yeshivaish communities). The lack of social skills and xenophobic 'better-than-everyone-else' culture that these yeshivas foster leads to two possible outcomes: either you stay in the community and flounder or you leave the community and succeed. Those that leaves are denigrated as deserters to the cause of Torah.

There's no reason for the heads of these schools to wake up. So long as they are able to use peer pressure to perpetuate silly ideas and take religious extremism to new heights, these yeshivas will only get stronger while the middle ground of people who work and follow black-hat Judaism shrinks. As the baby boomer generation - those who grew up with more contact with the real world as a function of the economic necessity of the community of the day ( i.e. post-war survivors that were too busy trying to make a living to worry about religious trivialities that are today's rage) - ages and gets replaced by a new breed of Jewish leaders that have no real education or leadership skills because they've lived in a bubble, the power that the Roshei Yeshivas wield will only grow stronger. The heads of the schools will be relied on because the leaders will understand, deep down, that they don't have the capabilities to adequately direct the community in the right path. The doctor or lawyer or investor that acts a lay leader today will die out and be replaced by the children of these lay leaders - many of whom were taught to be risk-averse students of halacha, catering to the whims of their parents, who dreamed that they had the opportunity to have done the same. And as these individuals need to distinguish themselves in some way, shape, or form, new methods of isolationism will emerge - new takanas that didn't exist will spring up and peer pressure will dictate that the new takana represents the true way of the Torah.

Eventually, the madness will end. It will probably be through economic necessity -- a culture that looks down at a strong work ethic and a secular education cannot possibly survive in perpetuity - but I don't think it will happen in our lifetimes. Only once individuals are forced to deal with common sense in order to feed their families will a return to normalcy pervade. Until then, this is what the yeshivaish world is going to have to learn to live with.

Anonymous said...

Harry misses the objective,

In a dark, evil, and cruel world - playing nice with words doesn't exactly achieve great results.

The mean spiritedness, blurring of the truth, hiding of the facts, and bullying of abuse victims in Jewish circles, deserve a harsh and bold response. Especially the denials and threats from the rabbinical faculty - because all they're really interested in doing is saving their own behinds.

They have interior motives and interests to preserve, and I assure ever Harry out there that they care not one iota about the victims they leave in their

As far as using expletives and detailed and graphic language concerning sexual abuse by UOJ - That's just the nature of the beast. People's ears perk up more when they experience a strong conviction of moral belief - even if swearing and cursing, and a certain sense of ugliness is portrayed in the process.

At the end you have to ask yourself this question. Which would you rather have - a nivel peh, brutally honest and caring individual who genuinely cares about Judiasim and our future generations - OR

A masquerade of so called talmidei chachomim and Rabonim who speak in an erliche and nice tone of voice who lie constantly to your face when they claim they TRULY CARE ABOUT YOUR CHILD WHO WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED.

You like nice words, read a nice Kosher book, You want great results for our future generations, read this blog and pass it on to your friends.

UOJ and others DO give a shi*t about Klal Yisroel, Can't say that about Harry and the gedolim!

''' Unforgiven '''

Anonymous said...

The complexity of Judaism is lost; the contributions of general culture are often denied. The only concerns are those that are the fundamentals of the faith. Whether this guarantees the continuity of Judaism and the Jewish people is of course subject to debate. The Jewish people has throughout the millennia of its existence managed both to retain some key elements of its identity while also adapting to the societies and cultures in which it found itself. That ability to rebuild and recreate itself was what allowed a people that began as a Temple cult and became a people of books to survive exile and dispersion. It was nothing less than the capacity to be different in different times and places, even as it remained attached to a covenant and a history, that enabled the Jews to endure. To those who argue today that all this complexity can be devolved into a few fundamentals, one can only say time will tell. If one considers what has happened to the rich culture of Islam as it has devolved into Islamist fundamentalism as a model, the Jews who espouse this option would do well to rethink their strategy.

Anonymous said...

Prof. Heilman,

Is there really a difference between Chassidic or, to a lesser extent, Yeshivish Judaism, and Wahabi Islam?

Yes, we don't preach death cults because it isn't in the nature of the religion (save for Amalek) but what really distinguishes the isolationism of extremist Islam with the close-minded beliefs of Chasidic Judiasm, as it pertains to interaction with the outside world.

Do you ever watch the HBO 'Big Love'? Can't you envision the polygamy sect leader (Roman) as the Chasidic Rebbe or the Rosh HaYeshiva, whose distorted, antiquated view of religion is shunned by all but a few of his followers?

Anonymous said...

The differences between active and quiescent fundamentalism, two stages of the phenomenon, help explain developments among contemporary Orthodox Jewry, which is also divided along these lines.

Included in the former category are Orthodox Jewish settlers in the Land of Israel as well as Chabad Hasidim who are on a mission to transform Jewish life. Those who make up haredi Jewry, and in particular those in the world of the yeshivas, constitute the latter category. The year of yeshiva study spent in Israel by young Orthodox Jews from America plays an important role in shaping these categories.

The fundamentalist view is that there is a single truth, that the people who share this truth are tied in an unbroken chain to the past, and that this truth is not limited to the private domain but can and should be imposed on the public square. This truth is articulated as fundamentals of the faith, which must be practiced or believed if one is truly to be among God's defenders.

Of course, despite the fundamentalist assertion that these essentials are tied to tradition, and often demanded by an inerrant text, fundamentalism reinvents that past by selectively retrieving from it those elements that challenge alternative truths that are offered by contemporary culture. As such it constitutes a kind of counterculture and society. Fundamentalism is therefore often engaged in an intense battle against forces in the contemporary world that, in its view, seek to undermine or to defile the world as it sees it.

This culture war can essentially be conducted in two different modes. One can be called active fundamentalism, in which the battle is waged aggressively, taken to the enemy who is to be completely obliterated. Sometimes fundamentalists become active because they believe they have no choice. The enemy is at their gates and about to enter into and defile their world; they cannot keep the enemy out and so they are forced to fight back. Other times they become intensely engaged in the culture war because they think the enemy has been weakened and this is an opportunity to finally, apocalyptically, liquidate those forces that oppose the truth.

A second phase of fundamentalism is its quiescent or passive stage. Adherents believe they are in possession of the truth that will ultimately triumph and dominate the public square but for the moment must remain in protected waiting. Although the alternative ways of living are seductive and dangerous, these quiescent fundamentalists argue, they are ultimately doomed. All true believers have to do is to insulate themselves from becoming defiled until that judgment day, when history will right itself as stated in the prophecies of the inerrant text. The key is to remain behind a wall of virtue, protected, waiting for the day that all true believers know is coming and for whose signs they are constantly on guard.

Whether quiescent or active, cultural and social struggle is at the heart of fundamentalism.
There must be an enemy. Fundamentalists are much better at fighting against something than at simply defining what it is they stand for.

And that is why they often thrive precisely where they can perceive themselves as surrounded by enemies. The promise of a better time is always easier to live with than the need to deliver on the promise when the time has come, as the fundamentalist regimes that come to power soon discover.

Hence, it is not surprising that at least in the case of Jewish fundamentalism, one finds its adherents in two of the most visible precincts of secularity and modernity: the United States and especially New York, as well as the modern state of Israel. In both these locales, the enemy and the counterculture are quite close and visible.

Active fundamentalists among the Jews have largely been confined to those religiously inclined messianists who believe that through a particular set of activities they can hasten the day of redemption. For some these activities mainly involve religiously settling what they consider the biblical Land of Israel. Having elevated this "commandment" above nearly all the other 612, they are convinced that by doing so they are being true to the fundamentals of Judaism. Their conviction that this activity not only sets them apart from Jews who have hopelessly compromised God's will but also is indispensable for righting history and saving the world often places them in opposition to the rest of Jewry, whose Judaism is more complex and less essentialist. This is the fundamentalism of the religious bloc that once called themselves Gush Emunim. For these Jews any compromise in settlement activities, especially within the territories conquered in 1967, is tantamount to retarding the redemption and a propaedeutic to Jewish destruction. For them nothing more than settlement in the Holy Land, particularly when accompanied by religious faith and practice, is a full expression of Judaism. This activity is fundamental for assuring Jewish continuity.

There are other active fundamentalists for whom the redemption can be hastened not by settlements but by acts of Jewish ritual activity. For these fundamentalists, Judaism is boiled down not to the need to establish settlements in the God-promised land but to the practice of a set of ritual acts - lighting Sabbath candles, donning phylacteries, giving charity, and so on - whose performance by all Jews - and in some cases also by non-Jews - will hasten the day of the Messiah's return and hence the redemption. This is the approach of Chabad Lubavitch. For them the religious transformation of the nonobservant and secular Jews into Lubavitcher Hasidim as well as the assurance that the "Seventy Nations" - that is, the non-Jewish world - abides by the seven Noahide commandments is the key mission of Judaism.

Both these groups are engaged in an active struggle to bring about as soon as possible the time of redemption, a utopian messianic age, and to dominate the public square with their beliefs and practices. They believe they are absolutely right in their emphases, that God is on their side and abetting their activities, that they are fulfilling His commandments as presented in holy writ, and that history is close to the day of judgment and the "first flowers of redemption," when the world - and particularly those who currently fail to see the truth in this way - will recognize that they are right. They are often willing to challenge the status quo and engage in world-transforming activities, regardless of the this-worldly consequences. For these active fundamentalists, the world is divided in a Manichean way between those who are joined with them and those who are their opponents. The fact that they see enemies nearby, both from within and without, only encourages them to continue in the struggle and trust that history will vindicate their efforts.

Quiescent fundamentalists also believe that the world will someday learn the truth. They too emphasize certain essentials of the faith. But they are ready to wait patiently. In the meantime, they build the walls of their fortress, remain within their enclaves, and construct a corps of believers and defenders of the faith. This is largely the strategy of the haredi world. They too see themselves in a struggle, but most consists of keeping the secular, contemporary, seductive West at bay. This is a society that has used the yeshiva as its instrument of choice, raising study in it and life around its strictures and leaders to the highest level.

The yeshiva is viewed as a protective and insulated environment in which Torah Judaism can grow. Secular learning is regarded as not having particular ontological value; it may have pedagogic value of a very limited sort. Those who abandon yeshiva life or are unwilling to support it are portrayed as Jews who contribute to the undoing of Judaism at worst and as hopeless compromisers who have endangered Jewish continuity at best. The quiescent fundamentalist Jews who are, in contrast, willing to make the material sacrifice and embrace what one haredi rabbi called the "heroic retreat" from concerns and entanglements, to be in contemporary society but not caught up by it, are the ones who assure Jewish continuity.

Fundamentalism is essentially an illness of the mind, regardless of the "religion".

Anonymous said...

As someone whose late husband was one of those allergic-to-gainful-employment guys, I can assure you that there's nothing noble or uplifting about living on peanut butter for six weeks at a time. All this extreme poverty does is foster a latent hatred for the "god" who supposedly wants you to live this way. Figuring out I didn't have to buy that line of garbage was one of the most liberating experiences of my life - but so many others are still trying to live in fantasy land that it will take a serious economic upheaval to change anything - and even then the casualties will far outnumber the survivors.

And yes, it will be in our lifetime - it is nearly upon us now. The price of oil has nowhere to go but up (china and india certainly aren't going to stop their expansion and development for the sake of the American public, much less the orthodox communities). The saudis are pumping seawater into the oil fields to flush out more crude as fast as they can, but production still dropped over 6% last year and will continue to drop from this point forward. Ditto Mexico, etc.

We are only at the tip of the iceburg in the housing bubble meltdown, too, so what little equity we think we have we actually don't - aside from the inevitable doubling of the price of gasoline. And with that goes the price of food, medicine, transportation, and even clothing - and any household good made from plastic.

Most families are on the brink as it is - there isn't any room for all these price increases. These young men are contributing nothing to the economic well-being of their wives and children, parents and extended families, their shuls and children's schools, or the community at large. Instead, the Rabbis are bleeding them dry and living like high rollers while the families of the young men are near bankruptcy. It has to stop. The young men must learn trades and skills and crafts so that our communities can be self-sufficient for all our needs - personal items, household items, and items for the welfare of the community, as well as professional white-collar jobs that actually serve the people instead of just being fraud funnels and "unconventional" accountants for the Rabbis scams.

I don't know how it can be done, but if this too-good-to-work attitude doesn't change and the young men step up and accept their God-given role to support their families, it's going to be a bloodbath. And it's all the Rabbis fault.

Anonymous said...

Heilman, give it up. No one takes your babbling seriously except a few of the freshmen at Queens College, Gary Rosenblatt and the NY Times.

Anonymous said...


Anything new in Chicagoland with Jacob Perlow's shvogger Eichenstein?

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable blog. In my experience, the level of cynicism and bitterness some people feel toward the "yeshiva velt", is directly proportional to the lack of personal success they experienced within that system. Logically speaking, the yeshiva world is in no way more corrupt or plagued with problems than any other society. This indicates that personal insecurity and perhaps a subtle inferiority complex is the driving emotion in blogs such as these. My advice: do as I do; attempt to maintain a personal relationship with the noisen torah, and cleanse yourself of festering and self-destructive feelings about the yeshivish. shykee

Paul Mendlowitz said...

That's exactly the brainwashing/cultist ideology that "they" succeeded with people like yourself. Some of the best and brightest former yeshiva guys, including myself, see it for what it really is/became.

Therefore the outrage; a beautiful system run amok with thieves and bogus ideologies.

Anonymous said...

Up in Monsey Ir Hakoidish you see exactly what a few bucks can do when a stam bochur marries a PHD, Pappa Has Dough...you can buy my tatties' Yeshiva! Check out Shaarei Torah. Could there be a bigger schmuck than Wollmark? I mean, this guy couldn't teach a dog to sniff its own nuts before Old Man Wolfson laid some gelt on the table. Morty would be picking his dandruff off his shoulder in the back of the beis medrish if he hadn't tapped the mother load. Honestly, the smartest part of Mordechai Wollmark became a stain on a bedsheet about nine months before his bris. And he has access to untold lives to destroy, which is actually the one thing he's really good at. Keep on keepin on UOJ, you DA MAN!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Gimpel" Wollmark was involved with Belsky and Peretz Steinberg in the bittul kiddushin scam.

Anonymous said...

your right on target uoj keep it up

Anonymous said...

I recently taught "secular studies" (which should be called "parnassah necessities") in a local "Talmud Torah" with a long and distinguished history. I was shocked to discover how far behind all of the students were in their reading, math, and writing skills. Their proudest accomplishments are the large numbers of teachers they have driven from the classroom through a combination of rude, rebellious, and passive-aggressive behaviors. The "Rabbeim" stand by and do nothing. (Shtikah k'hoda'a, DUMMIE!) The parents who want to see change are stonewalled or browbeaten into submission. The students who want to learn are frustrated and are being denied an adequate education.

In the coming years, without remedial education, many of these boys will be incapable of finding economically sufficient employment outside the "yeshivishe velt."
Too few people are asking the question, "Who is going to support 'the Velt' in the future?" Tragically, I see a great economic collapse looming within the "frum" community, and the people who run the system are not only doing nothing about it, they are bringing it about through their attitude toward "secular studies." When will they realize the damage they are doing?

Anonymous said...

Our son-in-law stayed in Yeshivah for over 21 years, subsequently got his GED, was accepted at Law School without a formal secular undergraduate degree and is today a successful practicing attorney.

What's wrong with such a scenario?

Anonymous said...


As an average jew living in Brooklyn and davening at one of the local shtiblach I have seen the progression of the yeshiva world rightward over the last two decades. Other than the annoying chumra du jour, it doesn't really affect my life. However, I find the axiomatic rejection of secular education problematic as a long term strategy for a sustainable and healthy community. When I was in high school in the 80's, the Rabbeim and yeshiva did not emphasize the importance of basic competency in secular subjects. This has progressed to the extent that a secular education is viewed as undesirable in some circles. The emphasis on learning to the exclusion of all other endeavors has resulted in a financial reliance on parents well into young adulthood without providing the basic tools for self reliance. While the emphasis on Torah learning is understandable and has resulted in more sophisticated halachic knowledge and observance it has resulted in a community with an impending financial crisis that will not be resolved by bitachon alone. There is currently an astounding amount of poverty within the Frum community. This is sure to get worse in the near future as the Baby Boomer parents age and are unable to support their children's families. The children will then be unable to support themselves adequately, resulting in decreased shalom bayis and the attendant risks of divorce and traumatized grandchildren. It will also result in less support for torah institutions, more financial strain on the community at large to support the unemployed and in the end, a backlash against the leaders of our community who encouraged the philosophy of learning without a long term plan. It is likely that the next generation will not have the luxury of learning rather than working. They may even reject the notion due to the trauma they endured as children which they will associate with a learning lifestyle. Even mature children who recognize the underlying ideals will feel uncomfortable with a learning lifestyle if they associate it with a lack of security at a young age.
It is difficult to advocate decreasing the emphasis on learning when it is the ultimate goal of every jew. It is even more difficult for our leaders to do so in a public setting given the importance of learning in our lives. However, it is their responsibility to do so. I recently became aware of an incident 10 years ago in which a major brooklyn institution was prepared to offer two tracks, one that was exclusively learning and one that allowed one day a week for vocational training. The details had been arranged. The individual spearheading the program was threatened by a major torah personality that if he put the program into effect, the torah personality would ensure that his children never got married. The reasoning was that one of these children who would have become a Rosh Yeshiva would become an auto mechanic instead. I find this attitude counterproductive and heartless. Presumably, any Rosh Yeshiva would sacrifice his own learning to save hundreds of families from poverty. In addition, you seldom find Roshei Yeshiva who could have been auto mechanics. People tend to be one or the other. It is the responsibility of the torah leadership to look out for all jews in every aspect of their lives. The number of hours spent learning is just part of the picture. The fact that this is not the pre-eminent issue among the Gedolei Hatorah and the community at large is a condemnation of our concern for our fellow jew. We are not concerned enough about people,families, children, to address this issue seriously and to solve it before it becomes an unmitigated disaster. And time is running out.
I started this blog in an effort to discuss this issue in a socially acceptable manner, and to organize a grass-roots effort to have it addressed formally and publicly by our leaders,to force them to formulate a workable strategy for sustainable growth in learning and fulfillment in yiddishkeit for the next fifty years.

Anonymous said...

I have an existential question for UOJ.

This particular thread, as well as the entire blog, on one level resonates strongly.

On the other hand, the criticism is so ferocious and un-nuanced that credibility is strained. According to this blog, virtually all contemporary gedolim are complicit in covering up crimes of sexual predators, gladly sending them off with glowing recommendations to "other" yeshivos. The Yeshiva system itself is corrupt to the core: nothing less than a conspiracy by the greatest gedolim to impoverish an entire generation while their nepotism enriches their own families. Revered gedolim of the previous generation are equally as guilty. (After all, who is the present Rosh Yeshiva of MTJ?).

So here is my question to UOJ: what people or institutions are left in this religion to believe in? For UOJ, what existential alternative is there to atheism?

Paul Mendlowitz said...

So here is my question to UOJ:

What people or institutions are left in this religion to believe in? For UOJ, what existential alternative is there to atheism?


I find myself in the Torah and its relevance to us as a people and a society, not in the bogus messengers that are destroying the beauty of our Mesorah. I find myself very much alone. I'm not certain what lies ahead for the future of the Jews as a viable religion. Orthodoxy turning radically right is no different than Fundamentalists in any other faith...Christian or Islam. The world can not survive as a civilization should they prevail!

Anonymous said...

In your opinion, are there any "non-bogus" messengers at all? Can Orthodoxy continue in any way when it is morally leaderless?

Does the YU model perhaps present an alternative?

Paul Mendlowitz said...

There are many elements of the YU model that are certainly worthwhile. Rabbi Schachter certainly stands out as a giant of Jewish thought and practice.

My intellect tells me that no one person has all the answers. Some have vast Torah knowledge, but no real-life experience and wisdom.

Some have wisdom but it is not rooted in reason.

Certainly, Fundamentalists' ideology, based on myth, usually without any shards of reason, need to be discarded.

In brief---choose your rav with the expectation that he is a flawed human like all of us. If something sounds unreasonable, generally speaking, it is.

And then of course...are the crooks and gangsters disguised in black.

Anonymous said...

The Ramban provides the following ta'am for the negative mitzvah of esnan zonah= the prohibition of offering a sacrifice from kosher animals and or flour that was bartered for a prostitutes services: We didn't want to provide the prostitute with a rationalization for her sins and a salve for her conscience. We didn't want her to be able to say "Well I understand that it's not the kosher-ist way to earn a living but at least I'm doing it for a good cause".

There are Mafiosi who use their ill-gotten gains to build Basilicas and put their priest brother through seminary. Shouldn't Jewish philanthropists hew to a higher moral-ethical level?

Honoring these guys at dinners and through naming of buildings and Seforim editions after them sends the completely wrong message to our already under-secular-educated youth. To wit: "You can make it big time as a hustler and wheeler -dealer, even a totally dishonest one. Just as long as you give big money to good causes." What a deal! I can grow up to be a gonif-a BIG one- keep 80-90% of my ill-gotten gains to myself and live large. Just as long as I give 10-20% to the right causes.

Sick and perverse..really.

Chaim Dovid Zweibel said...

UOJ thought he was making choyzek out of me but little did he know that my favorite galich that I used to rub shoulders with is doch a meyuchess!


Holy cow!

John Cardinal O’Connor, the beloved late archbishop of New York, had a grandfather who was likely a rabbi and a kosher butcher.

The astonishing revelation comes after a Long Island genealogist pulled century-old records to reveal the cardinal’s grandpa, Gustav Gumple, was listed the “second rabbi” at a synagogue in Bridgeport, Conn., The Jewish Week reported.

Gumple worked at a “meat market” and may have also been a shochet — a worker trained and licensed to slaughter animals in a manner prescribed by Jewish law, according to the genealogist, Renee Steinig.

Steinig was inspired to dig through old records — including 19th century Census data and Hamburg emigration papers — “out of curiosity” after the cardinal’s 87-year-old sister, Mary O’Connor Ward, learned recently their mother was born Jewish.

She had converted to Catholicism at age 19

Executive Dreck-tor said...


Is Tzvi Belsky crowing over real success or is there maybe a catch why so many people are flying in for the Telzer dinner, like is Rechnitz subsidizing airplane tickets?

Anonymous said...

well belsky in Telz is just another atrocity these telzers are doing. how do you keep a guy like that ? how can they ignore the fact he only had the job because he married the Rosh Yeshiva grand daughter ? how do you ignore his ex father in law a rebbi there for 40 years ??
we do know the "bus" for all the hundreds of Talmidim that were looking to come from Lakewood was canceled due to no sign ups, a few people that did go from lakewood were given tickets(payed for by ???) they also are taking all the boys from the mesivta and yeshiva to the dinner to try and fill it up !!!

Anonymous said...

I heard that Belsky ex father in law, rabbi Levin that has been a rebbi for 40 years in telshe was told he should leave if he doesn't like it. This morning he had a heart attack and is in the hospital.