Sunday, February 24, 2008


Published: March 4, 2008

BAGHDAD — After almost five years of war, many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach.

(The complete article is available at The New York Times site)

In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.

“I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us,” said Sara, a high school student in Basra. “Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don’t deserve to be rulers.”

Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, said: “The religion men are liars. Young people don’t believe them. Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore.”

The shift in Iraq runs counter to trends of rising religious practice among young people across much of the Middle East, where religion has replaced nationalism as a unifying ideology.

While religious extremists are admired by a number of young people in other parts of the Arab world, Iraq offers a test case of what could happen when extremist theories are applied. Fingers caught in the act of smoking were broken. Long hair was cut and force-fed to its wearer. In that laboratory, disillusionment with Islamic leaders took hold.

It is far from clear whether the shift means a wholesale turn away from religion. A tremendous piety still predominates in the private lives of young Iraqis, and religious leaders, despite the increased skepticism, still wield tremendous power. Measuring religious adherence, furthermore, is a tricky business in Iraq, where access to cities and towns far from Baghdad is limited.

But a shift seems to be registering, at least anecdotally, in the choices some young Iraqis are making.

Professors reported difficulty in recruiting graduate students for religion classes. Attendance at weekly prayers appears to be down, even in areas where the violence has largely subsided, according to worshipers and imams in Baghdad and Falluja. In two visits to the weekly prayer session in Baghdad of the followers of the militant Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr this fall, vastly smaller crowds attended than had in 2004 or 2005.

Such patterns, if lasting, could lead to a weakening of the political power of religious leaders in Iraq. In a nod to those changing tastes, political parties are dropping overt references to religion.

‘You Cost Us This’

“In the beginning, they gave their eyes and minds to the clerics; they trusted them,” said Abu Mahmoud, a moderate Sunni cleric in Baghdad, who now works deprogramming religious extremists in American detention. “It’s painful to admit, but it’s changed. People have lost too much. They say to the clerics and the parties: You cost us this.”

“When they behead someone, they say ‘Allahu akbar,’ they read Koranic verse,” said a moderate Shiite sheik from Baghdad, using the phrase for “God is great.”

“The young people, they think that is Islam,” he said. “So Islam is a failure, not only in the students’ minds, but also in the community.”

A professor at Baghdad University’s School of Law, who identified herself only as Bushra, said of her students: “They have changed their views about religion. They started to hate religious men. They make jokes about them because they feel disgusted by them.”

That was not always the case. Saddam Hussein encouraged religion in Iraqi society in his later years, building Sunni mosques and injecting more religion into the public school curriculum, but always made sure it served his authoritarian needs.

Shiites, considered to be an opposing political force and a threat to Mr. Hussein’s power, were kept under close watch. Young Shiites who worshiped were seen as political subversives and risked attracting the attention of the police.

For that reason, the American liberation tasted sweetest to the Shiites, who for the first time were able to worship freely. They soon became a potent political force, as religious political leaders appealed to their shared and painful past and their respect for the Shiite religious hierarchy.

“After 2003, you couldn’t put your foot into the husseiniya, it was so crowded with worshipers,” said Sayeed Sabah, a Shiite religious leader from Baghdad, referring to a Shiite place of prayer.

Religion had moved abruptly into the Shiite public space, but often in ways that made educated, religious Iraqis uncomfortable. Militias were offering Koran courses. Titles came cheaply. In Mr. Mahmoud’s neighborhood, a butcher with no knowledge of Islam became the leader of a mosque.

A moderate Shiite cleric, Sheik Qasim, recalled watching in amazement as a former student, who never earned more than mediocre marks, whizzed by stalled traffic in a long convoy of sport utility vehicles in central Baghdad. He had become a religious leader.

“I thought I would get out of the car, grab him and slap him!” said the sheik. “These people don’t deserve their positions.”

An official for the Ministry of Education in Baghdad, a secular Shiite, described the newfound faith like this: “It was like they wanted to put on a new, stylish outfit.”

Religious Sunnis, for their part, also experienced a heady swell in mosque attendance, but soon became the hosts for groups of religious extremists, foreign and Iraqi, who were preparing to fight the United States.

Zane Mohammed, a gangly 19-year-old with an earnest face, watched with curiosity as the first Islamists in his Baghdad neighborhood came to barbershops, tea parlors and carpentry stores before taking over the mosques. They were neither uneducated nor poor, he said, though they focused on those who were.

Then, one morning while waiting for a bus to school, he watched a man walk up to a neighbor, a college professor whose sect Mr. Mohammed did not know, shoot the neighbor at point blank range three times, and walk back to his car as calmly “as if he was leaving a grocery store.”

“Nobody is thinking,” Mr. Mohammed said in an interview in October. “We use our minds just to know what to eat. This is something I am very sad about. We hear things and just believe them.”...............................


survivor said...

Rabbi Hopfer is the head of the vaad harabanim

He is speaking to 500 people about a tremendously sensitive and highly charged topic.

He makes the most unbelievable, outrageous, damaging comment one can make...

and his answer is "I should have been more careful with my wording"

If you listen to his entire diatribe - you will see that his underlying theme is - life is tough - bad things happen - you need to "rough it out" (direct quote)

He has absolutely no formal training in this area - if anything I believe he himself is starting to realize how inept he is in dealing with these issues

Yet he presumes to lecture the crowd on the what a victim feels and what implications it has on his life -

He authoritatively tells us there a different levels of abuse some more serious than others. Who is he to determine what abuse is more serious or detremental to a victim?

How much research has he done?
How many studies has he analyzed?
How many classes has he taken in this field?

I do applaud the very few Rabbi's (most of the vaad harrabonim did not show up)that made that night happen but that doesn't diminish the glaring problems of what was said.

what a putz! said...

March 4, 2008

Lipa - Response to Readers

by Yitzchok Adlerstein

I asked a local posek who is highly regarded in the chareidi world and he told me that if everything is prohibited and there are no kosher outlets for our youth, then we are driving them to go off the derech. It seems that Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky made the same comment that kids need an outlet. Yet, he also said that he felt obliged to follow the lead of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Shteinman and therefore had to go along with the very last minute ban on the Lipa Concert.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that the complete disappearance of mega-concerts for all times would drive kids off the derech. (Note: I am not advocating or defending, just presenting a thought arguendo.) Kids (and adults) who need outlets need them on a regular basis, not twice a year. Banning music or mp3 players might help push hundreds of kids over the brink, but not banning concerts. (I will admit to harboring questions for decades about the permissibility of attending mass concerts because of the zecher l’churban halacha.) Perhaps they are contemplating a full music ban as the next move, but the way to handle that responsibly is for you to quietly and forcefully relay those impressions to Torah leaders that you know. It is not as satisfying to many people, and lacks the cathartic release of a good zinger in the blogosphere, but it will likely do more good.

I don’t understand why people cannot read between the lines of Rav Shmuel’s shlit”a words. I know very few of the other signatories; Rav Shmuel’s integrity I can swear by. I am obligated – and many of our readers as well – to bend over backwards to judge him favorably. (That is not an opinion, but a halachic requirement!) Rav Shmuel, even as one of the reigning gedolim of America, has his own obligation of kavod haTorah in regard to iconic representatives of Torah learning at its greatest in Israel . He has to discharge this both on a personal level, and to prevent anything that he does to be seen as slighting their honor – even if he disagrees. If you think about it, what he did makes ironic sense to people who can bottle up their rage for a while.

What follows is a guess, nothing more. I have not spoken with Rav Shmuel, neither directly nor indirectly. If I am completely wrong, I hope he will be mochel; my intention is to be mindful of his kavod and that of the Torah. Many leaders of groups – nations and others – must learn the language of diplomacy. This does not mean hypocrisy, but articulating in a manner that will send different messages simultaneously to different people. Rav Shmuel was beset by the kanoim on the one hand, the requirement of kavod haTorah on the other. Think of what he did. He paid the kavod HaTorah debt, and then effectively let the word out that this is not the way he would have preferred to see the matter handled. Why doesn’t anyone get it? He unmasked the kanaim! He essentially told people that when kanaim do this kind of thing, people have to be a bit more astute and probing, and make subtle inquiries, directly or through others, about what their own individual Torah authorities really think. Perhaps he actually meant what everyone is frothing at the mouth about: don’t take Kol Korehs at face value! He said it, not you!

Why did he not stand up to everyone, instead of going along with the group? Why does he not get up and clearly articulate his position? Why does he not publicly reassert the need for gedolim in America to make their own decisions instead of asking all questions thousands of miles away? (I will put money on Rav Elyashiv shlit”a and Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a looking approvingly at such a proposal, just like in the old days of a few years ago.) I do not know. I can think of many reasons, and I’m sure I’m missing many more. There are times you can get up and fight, and times when you lose more in the long run. If I myself can understand such possibilities, I am certainly obligated to give Rav Shmuel the benefit of the doubt. So should many others.

One point of this article seems to be that some producers/musicians may be creating public spectacles which in themselves promote values foreign to Judaism. To me, this suggests there are hashkafah problems within the target audience. Nobody would put on a mega-event that was unlikely to fill up the house. What factors, then, have created the audience for these things, among the very group brought up to resist alien/pop culture the most? This may show the futility of a purely defensive strategy against the lures of our golus.

I’m not sure why. Certainly, there is a gradient of infection. While it may be too late for some, it will not be too late for others, both present and future. I am not saying that this was behind the ban. As I said, despite all the comments that we have printed and those we have not, I do not know what was really behind this. Perhaps in a few weeks we will find out.

I am traveling and cannot remember the name of the rav who gave the psak, but I believe Elbogen quotes a tshuva about chazannim that went MaiAchora HaKotel at the vatican to find musical inspiration; their actions were praised, I believe.

If memory serves me correctly (I should be in bed by now), Rav Ovadya shlit”a completely dismisses this report in his teshuva about non-Jewish music in Yabia Omer.

The people who signed the ban are “Chareidi” Gedolim. If NCSY followed the Hashkafa of Chareidi Gedolim it would not exist.

This is historical revisionism. NCSY had the support and participation of many, many gedolei Yisrael of the charedi world. When I worked as an advisor, the administration was top-heavy with Chaim Berliners, acting with the guidance and blessing of Rav Hutner. Eastern Seaboard region was called “Ner Israel Region” colloquially. Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, acting as the head of the Bais Yaakov of Balitmore education committee, issued a ruling about girls participating in NCSY and Bnei Akiva. He banned the latter (not out of any anti-Zionism – while he was alive the school had an Israeli flag and recognized Yom Ha’atzmaut to some extent, or so I was told), but permitted the former to girls who had become observant through it. He once said (in Yiddish), “I am an NCSY’er.” The NCSYers out there will back me up with recollections of a host of black-frocked charedi leaders who visited National Convention.

I understand that you don’t have the inside facts, but you surely know the “Zealots” who are involved, and whose name(s) have been openly mentioned on the Yeshiva World web site. Here is your chance to expose them. Will you take advantage of this opportunity? (Don’t forget that in previous posts you have mentioned that these zealots represent a tremendous danger to Klal Yisroel).

I think I did! Read again. If a Kol Koreh seems bizarre, check it out. Don’t demand instant gratification. It may take a while. Find the most significant bnei Torah you know, and push them for an explanation. They will push others. In time you will learn the truth.

What would you say to those that felt no impact by the Slifkin banning? Yet you were quite horrified by that and the direction things were going. Do you not see this as the next step in that same direction?

Sorry, my friend. I cannot get as exercised over losing some moments of musical entertainment as over the delegitimizing of the works of geonim, rishonim and acharonim, particularly since said works were the lifeline to all the scientifically engaged people I had worked with in decades in kiruv. Besides, the problem you point to is not the here and now, but the “What will they think of next????” You are anticipating, perhaps rightfully so. My solution for the moment was clear. Ignore the work of the kanaim. Pick a responsible Torah authority of the highest caliber, and learn to get his opinion, quietly and discretely. And then follow it, whether it is comfortable or not.

Many kids raised in secular American homes found their way to Yiddishkeit via NCSY and Jewish music including songs which were based upon popular culture songs but “nitharu” with lyrics derived from Tanach or Jewish content. while, I’m sure that some of the kanoim who acted against Lipa might oppose these venues as well (and there is basis to do so) I suspect that the “over the top” nature of current “Big Events” type concerts which include You-Tube music video promotions is more likely the center of their ire.

I suspect that you are very correct.

It doesn’t affect you that the leaders of one part of American Orthodox Jewry willingly bow to the wills of others thousands of miles away (causing $1million of loss) without even investigating the situation or talking to those involved?

How do you know what they investigated and what they offered? Do we have no obligation at all to be dan lekaf zechus? If we can’t do it for the facts we believe we know, can’t we at least do it in the areas where we clearly don’t know? In the worst case scenario, I will admit that such action would indeed cause me great consternation – but only in the case of my personal rabbeim and mentors. I am not so heavily invested in the leaders of other parts of the community, may HKBH give them all long prosperous lives.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

What a tortured, twisted, misguided analysis of the horror show called "gedolim".

Anonymous said...

Let's add Alderstein to the list of Shafran and Horowitz as spinmeisters.

Malach HaMovies said...


You mentioned that R' Shraga Feivel zt"l kicke out r' gedalia's schorr's brother (Reb Yaakov Schorr) from YTV.

Well i heard from one of rav schorr's relative that some malochim were kicked out of YTV while others left on their own accord (including reb yakov schorr).

This relative also mentioned that Harav Nesanel Quinn ZT"L was the "hit man" for reb shraga feivel. And he was the one who actually "edged out" the malochim from torah voddath.

He also told me that in later years
harav quinn asked mechilla from reb yakov schorr. Can you confirm or deny any of this ?

Looking forward to your future posts re: your discussions with reb yakov zt'l in miami beach.

By the way, 2 of the famous malochim were reb zanvil gertner (i recall that he was one of those that were kicked out of ytv) who started the cholov yisroel milk company Golden Flow and Rabbi Bernard Levy head of OK labs (later he became a chabadzker).

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

Above Malach of a different sort:

The answer is --- You can't fire me --- I quit!

The Malachim were viewed as a danger to the zeitgeist of the American yeshiva bochur. Remember, there was no real American model other than the one created by RSFM, although there were other yeshivas.

They acted in a fashion that RSFM was convinced was outside the realm of Halacha, and was harmful to themselves --- and was not sustainable in the environment that he felt the Yeshiva, and American Jewry - could sustain for the generations.

As far as Rav Quinn zt"l asking mechila - I do not know - but if that was the request of the RSFM, to rid the yeshiva of these fanatics -- then he acted appropriately.

Yaakov Schorr was asked to leave - or he would have been fired!

Zanvil Gertner was part of the group.

Rav Yakov's piece will be forthcoming, I'm going through the editing phase --- and promises to be an eye-opener!

Anonymous said...

First they outlawed kite flying,
and I did not speak out
because I didn't have a kite and I don't live in Afghanistan.
Then they issued a fatwa against canaries,
and I did not speak out
because I had a goldfish in Brooklyn, not a bird in Kabul.
Then they outlawed copepods in the water,
and I did not speak out
because I own San Pelligrino shares.
Then they forbade the internet,
and I did not speak out
because I was sure this too shall pass.
Then they issued a fatwa against mannequins in windows,
and I did not speak out because I thought the insanity will blow over,
and the trend toward talibanization will fall out of favor on its own.
Then they banned any music, not just Lipa Schmeltzer,
and there was no one left
because when the mullah threaten expulsion of children from yeshivas,
that's when we realized, alas, too late, that we have given over our free will to the mullahs.

Anonymous said...

Baruch Hashem!!! Sharing a deepening concern about the waning spiritual state of Klal Yisroel, a group of our most prominent Gedolei Hador, shlitah, both in Eretz Yisroel and the United States, banded together this past week to establish a special website where poshute yiddin will have direct access to Daas Torah for the sake of strengthening their Yiras Shomayim.

Now, whenever any type of question should arise, in every mundane matter, any Ben Torah can quickly obtain a emesdike p'sak in the derech of authentic Daas Torah, such as that which motivates the actions and decisions of our beloved gedolim.

This is a true kiddush Hashem and restores my pride in the leadership of Klal Yisroel's gedolim!!!!

still Wondering Jew said...

Bomb the Ban

Being a grump has its privileges, because I just a received an email containing the straight dope about the thugs who maimed Lipa's Main Event and the rabbis who love them.

When I say dope, mind you, I sadly speak in specifics. The quotes in the article below, which appear in tomorrow's Jewish Star (www.thejewishstar.com), are pitiful.

Recent history shows that our current batch of brand name gedolim will gladly sign stupefying ban after stupefying ban -- yet care little to understand what they are signing or who gets hurt (or ruined) as a result.

This level of neglect by so-called luminaries is, for total lack of any other word, heartbreaking.

Any first year law student knows to confirm all relevant facts before signing a binding document -- particularly documents that carry the authority to enforce broad action or, as in most recent cases, inaction.

So how could any member of the chareidi community’s pantheon, of whom all presumably possess superhuman piety and polymorphous intellect, agree to sign a ban without making any effort to confirm facts?

Furthermore, any executive assistant knows how quickly the name and reputation of those in power can be exploited in the absence of specified parameters and vigilant oversight.

Is it acceptable for a "gadol" to be abdicate all responsibility of how his signature, which we are browbeaten to consider a holy imprimatur that precludes discussion or dissent, is being used, and for how long? Is it sane to not care?

Some may call this Kedusha, but I say it’s crap.

Because I imagine that a life steeped in boundless Torah learning is sufficient preparation to grasp the fundamental responsibilities of power and authority. If not, then what are we doing here?

For a moment, let's charitably allow -- as the many enabling apologists insist we must -- that "gedolim" err because they're befuddled giants being manipulated by dangerously zealous adherents who exploit their unique access to advance a dangerously zealous agenda.

Deluding myself to the point where such a laughably self-indicting explanation can be presented as a justifiable excuse, I ask: ‘Shouldn’t there come a point when we’re allowed to nod, wink, and politely refuse to follow the lead of known parasites who equate authentic Torah observance with engineered obsessive compulsion, suppression and isolation, masquerading as Torah leadership?’

In other words, do the new rules, demand of me to play fast and loose with my Ahavas Hashem because the "gadol" du jour, who in all other instances is infallible, isn't responsible for the actions of those who surround him—which only occur because they surround him?

Turning this exercise in self-delusion on its head, I was taught that one’s character is judged by the company one keeps. Am I to ignore the validity of this inalienable truth for those whose dubious omniscience I'm commanded to deify?

Must I ignore what their despicable company implies, yet endure having the chareidi perversion of the "judged by one's company" dictum rammed down my throat by “gedolim” whose insist that what I say, how I dress, who I talk to, and where I live is everything one needs to know about my character and potential?

This doesn’t sound like leadership ... more like a field day for Freud.

Then there are those who dismiss such questions, by way of justification, that we expect too much of our "gedolim." Doesn't this knife cut both ways?

If we're expected to feed our 'gedolim' some slack, then why should we have to stand being assurred into submission by dirtbag next-in-liners. Rather, if we're accepting that Yiddishkeit 2008-style is characterized by a brand of Daas Torah best discussed in the same breathless tones reserved for the second coming of Christworship, then we need to insist that those given the latitude to define and unimpeachably dispense Daas Torah deserve and remain worthy of that responsibility.

Conversely, if those most readily associated with the Daas Torah are reckless with their stature, as we see today, or negligently allow others to exploit that authority, then not only must we declare them eminently unworthy to dictate terms, we need to hold them liable for dragging the majesty of the Torah, along with all those who sacrifice so much on the Torah’s behalf, into the sewer.

There's a clear difference between rules presented and enforced in the course of loving interest and the ad hoc tyranny of those who cannot, will not, or simply forgot to see the people for the rules.

Which brings me full circle to the concert ban: if the "gedolim" were fully behind the most recent concert ban, they must know what a damaging, disgraceful spectacle they caused and bear responsibility. If the gedolim were not behind the ban, but rather their evil minions, then I want to know where the buck stops. Because I'm sick of being made to feel like a lesser Jew when, for the sake of my sanity and yiras shomayim, that it has to be me.

Seeking Information from UOJ & esteemed readers said...

A choshuve rov who supports what UOJ is doing asked me to post this here. 42 Broadway would probably have a collective heart attack if they know who it is.

Are you aware that the singer Michoel Streicher has recently been indicted for all kinds of con acts, and for some reason the usual sources of noise are not making any noise about it. What is going on with this one? Funny thing is he gave multiple names at his first hearing for the grand jury including that he had legally changed his name to Koneh (first name) Shem Tov (last name).

Let me know if you could help his victims by publicizing it.

Azoy hob ich gehert said...

That R' Yaakov zl also threw a bunch of guys out of YTV when they feifed on the seder halimud and started learning whatever masechta they wanted.

All Dreck Leads to Pinter said...


The scandal that almost ended the career of Sir John Gielgud is to be brought to the London stage in a new play about the actor.

In the autumn of 1953, the newly knighted actor was at the height of his fame and about to direct himself in a prestigious West End production when he was arrested in a public toilet in Chelsea.

Gielgud was charged with "persistently importuning men for immoral purposes", a crime that transgressed the social taboos of the era and threatened to ruin him.

Gielgud pleaded guilty and was fined £10. His conviction caused a sensation.

The script has been drawn in large part from de Jongh's own research with surviving friends and colleagues of Gielgud's and is set at the time of the arrest, then later in 1974, when the actor took his first gay role in Harold Pinter's play No Man's Land.

Conrad Black & James Cohen said...


Conrad Black's prison sentence begins today

If fallen baron goes to Florida facility, here's a couple of fraudsters he could meet at bocce

March 03, 2008

Rick Westhead
Staff Reporter

Black is scheduled to begin serving his 6 1/2-year sentence for defrauding the shareholders of his Hollinger International Inc. newspaper empire. He is expected to join Hogan and his fellow inmates inside the double barbed wire fences at the Coleman federal prison, a sprawling facility built on a former swamp north of Tampa, by 2 p.m.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons had not, as of last night, confirmed that Black will serve his time at Coleman, as Black has requested. The bureau does not comment in advance of inmates reporting.

Every type of criminal lives within Coleman's walls and is a potential bunkmate for Black.

Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and editor of a blog on white-collar crime, said regardless of bunkmate, the British lord is likely to face culture shock.

Potential bunkmates for Black

James A. Cohen
Inmate: # 14467-424
Age: 36
Projected release date: 01-22-2011
A former counsellor with a Jewish youth group, Cohen in 1997 admitted he performed a sex act on one boy and fondled three boys during a bus trip. Cohen's lawyer said his client has acknowledged he was the victim of sexual abuse as a child and asked for treatment.

Curious about Agudah Fressers said...

I recently found out that Moishe Scherer was Mike Tress's cousin. Does his replacement, Shmuel Bloom, wield the same kind of power?

Avi Shafran said...


I hope Avremel Schorr doesn't kill me for writing a chapter in my book about sex.

Anonymous said...

Still Wondering has done it again!
"Bomb the Ban" should be hung on the Mizrach Vant of every shul and kollel. Required recitation before all 3 daily tefillos.

Malach HaMovies said...


Thanks for the clarification !

Lakewood Talmid said...

I really fail to understand Adlerstein at all.

Didn't R' Shmuel Kaminetzky tell the Jewish Star that Friedman lied to him about Rav Elyashev's position? Most of what Adlerstein writes is to pay deference to Rav Elyashev.

And if Adlerstein knows R' Shmuel so well, could he not speak to him for a few minutes before going on with all kinds of postulations and psychobabble?

UOJ Started This All said...

Knesset Earmarks NIS 2 million to hunt pedophiles

(IsraelNN.com) The Knesset Finance Committee announced Tuesday it would provide NIS 2 million for Israel Police to develop computer programs that will help hunt down pedophiles and other sex offenders.

Finance Committee Chairman Stas Misezhnikov said the funding was necessary in order to fight a growing trend of child abuse via the internet. "The internet is a forum for pornography. The expansion of pornography on the internet means more and more children are at risk," he said.

Seeking Information from UOJ & Esteemed readers said...

There is a young almonoh who gave Michoel Streicher $36000 to buy a Sefer Torah Lzecher nishmas her husband. Streicher ran off with the money. She discovered that he owes money all over the place and that there are long lists of people who claim he robbed them, that is the reason for his several name changes. There was a grand jury hearing 2 weeks ago. I have not seen any news articles about it. Part of her pain is that she feels nobody cares. I believe Rabbi Moshe Heineman and Rabbi Eli Teitlebaum were helpful to her in this matter and both know of other victims.

Belsky went there to hide his $$$ and be mattir the milk said...


29th February 2008

The cows seemed remarkably relaxed, even for animals free to roam lush, breathtaking Alpine pastures.

After rumours emerged about their strange behaviour, the Prince of Liechtenstein ordered official investigators to fan out across the mountains and inspect the country's dairy herds.

They returned with bad news: his farmers were feeding their cattle with cannabis.

Horrified, Prince Alois acted swiftly. Television crews from all over Europe were descending on the tiny Principality, nestling between Austria and Switzerland and the glare of publicity was the worst thing imaginable for its many investors who include some of the wealthiest - and most reclusive - individuals in the world.

They come to Liechtenstein to deposit vast amounts of cash. With the strictest financial confidentiality laws anywhere on the planet, this tiny country of just 35,000 people has become the place for the wealthy to bank.

They like to do so the way they live - away from prying eyes. Along with Monaco and Andorra, Liechtenstein has built its fortune on hiding billions of pounds from the taxman by setting up anonymous private "letter box" trusts which cannot be traced back to the individual investor. For a fee, this means that tax can be avoided by the person "hiding" the money.

Built using cash from its highly-secretive banking institutions, Liechtenstein is engulfed in a scandal involving Britain, Germany and America

But the "cannabis cows" brought too much attention to the country. Amid much sniggering at the notion of cattle getting "high" on illegal drugs - and to the fury of local farmers, who claimed that cannabis made their cows produce more milk because they were "less agitated" - the Prince issued a decree from his turreted castle perched atop the Alps.

"This must stop at once," he ordered. And it did. Since 2005, all Liechtenstein's cows have been banned from having hemp plants - the basis for cannabis - included in their daily feed.

The story over, the journalists and television cameras promptly departed. Not that they could fly out or even leave by train: Liechtenstein has refused to build either an airport or a railway station, preferring privacy before progress.

But now all roads once again lead to Liechtenstein. The country is facing the gravest crisis in its history, and one with costly implications for millionaires and billionaires throughout the world.

Built using cash from its highly-secretive banking institutions, Liechtenstein is engulfed in a scandal involving Britain, Germany and America.

To the dismay of Prince Alois and his rich clients, Liechtenstein - which, bizarrely, is also the world's largest producer of false teeth - is being targeted by tax investigators in an astonishing saga involving a disgruntled bank employee, secret computer discs, and claims that British and German intelligence agents have "stolen" the names and financial details of high-rolling investors.

To add to the heady mix of spying, blackmail and intrigue in this tiny Alpine state, the whistle-blowing bank worker, Heinrich Kieber, is this weekend living under an assumed identity in fear of his life.

For it transpires he also inadvertently passed on the financial details of notorious members of the Russian mafia when he accepted £5m from British and German authorities in return for the secrets on the computer discs.

A high-living fantasist and conman, Kieber was hired in 1999 by LGT bank, a company with assets of more than £50bn owned by Prince Alois. On the surface, Kieber had a menial, tedious job. His task was to scan paperwork onto computer discs.

After years of keeping old-fashioned ledgers, LGT was belatedly embracing the computer age.

Yet, crucially, bank officials did not carry out any background checks on their new employee. If they had, they would have discovered he was wanted in Spain after netting more than £600,000 in a property fraud.

But Kieber, the bachelor son of a photographer father and a Spanish mother, had an insurance policy in the event of his crimes ever being uncovered.

While scanning the details of the Prince's clients onto DVDs, he kept copies for himself. This was to prove a goldmine for the lowly computer worker, and an unfolding nightmare for the bank's secretive British, German and US customers.

After the Spanish authorities contacted the royal household of Liechtenstein about the property fraud, Kieber was arrested in 2001 and ordered to repay the money obtained in Spain.

After his appeal was rejected, Kieber fled Liechtenstein. But he still had his trump card: the computer discs.

He sent a letter and a cassette-recording to Prince Hans-Adam, the father of Prince Alois and the then leader of the country. The royal family was stunned. Kieber was demanding two false passports and "financial assistance" in return for the stolen discs. The computer programmer had turned to blackmail.

Fatally, because of the fear of worldwide publicity, the royal bank was ordered to make contact with Kieber. He was persuaded to return to Liechtenstein, with the promise that all his living costs would be "taken care of" and that he would be provided with the best legal assistance in the land.

Before transferring power to his son in 2004, Prince Hans-Adam wrote a personal letter to the blackmailer, promising that he had "never felt threatened" by him. In return, Kieber handed over the computer discs, appearing to hold up his side of the deal.

With both the bank and the courts effectively controlled by Liechtenstein royalty, the outcome of the case was a foregone conclusion: Kieber's sentence was reduced to one year, suspended for good behaviour.

The international arrest warrant from Spain was also quashed. Case closed - nice and quietly. Or so the Liechtenstein royal family thought. It was not to be.

Kieber, by now a familiar face in some of the Principality's most exclusive restaurants and bars, had kept another copy of the discs. After his "sentence", he fled the country again, moving to Australia.

This time, he wrote to Prince Alois, demanding a formal pardon. After consultations with legal advisors, Prince Alois turned down the request.

For years, Germany, Britain and America had been trying to "crack open" Liechtenstein's secretive banking system. As a haven for Nazi gold during World War II, Liechtenstein had refused to hand over any of the money until another whistle-blower revealed documents proving that millions was being held here.

Jewish Holocaust survivors finally got back their money less than ten years ago and Liechtenstein has remained a financial sanctuary for tyrants, tax evaders and money launderers.

Kieber now approached the BND, Germany's intelligence service, offering a deal. In return for information about Germans on the discs - there were the names, addresses and financial details of more than 4,000 highprofile figures on them - the Germans gave Kieber £4m, two false passports and a new identity.

The BND couldn't believe their luck. The raids began. Last week, the head of the German post office was charged with salting away £10m in Liechtenstein.

Germany believes it will be able to recoup up to £1bn in lost taxes. Britain last week got in on the act, paying Kieber £100,000 for his information about Britons hiding cash here.

British tax sources claim this is good business: they believe they will be able to recoup almost £100m in tax hidden by some of the most famous - as well as notorious - figures living in the UK.

America, Australia and Belgium are also now focusing on Liechtenstein - raising the prospect that they may also do deals with Kieber.

All this has thrown an unwelcome spotlight on the country. Blink and you would miss Liechtenstein. Just 15 miles long, it has no border controls with neighbouring Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

Apart from its banks - and its denture factory - the only real reason to visit its 60 square miles is to be found in Vaduz, the capital.

Overlooked by Prince Alois's castle, the town of 5,000 people is keen not to draw attention to its charms.

While glamorous women browse in exclusive shops which sell Rolex and Cartier jewellery, cars with blacked out windows purr through the streets, stopping outside anonymous-looking buildings which house the country's 75,000 registered companies - two for each member of the population.

I approached two Spanish speaking men outside the Prince's bank this week. Looking flustered, both carried large black holdalls and were heading towards the door.

Asked what they were doing in Liechtenstein, one said: "We come on holiday, OK? That's all."

Three Americans walked past them. Asked if they spoke English, one replied: "Not much. We're here for the same reason: just a little break." He smiled and strolled with his friends into LGT bank.

Apart from visits to the denture factory, organized by the local tourist board, one of the favourite pastimes of Liechtenstein locals is watching for people arriving by bus and carrying bags of cash to the banks. Not that they do this out of envy.

With basic tax at 1.8 per cent, and zero unemployment, this is one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

Expensive cars purr through the streets. There are, officially, no drug users, tramps or thieves. There are not even any vehicles with dents. More than half the local people work in banks.

The average salary is £25,000 per man, woman and child. Indeed, the Principality seems to exist for the sole purpose of making money.

In a world first, Prince Alois even offers to rent out the entire country to businesses, offering them the keys to the local cathedral and castles, as well as the freedom to go tobogganing anywhere on the privately owned local mountains.

For a fee of £2, visitors can also have their passports stamped with the country's regal crest.

But, as spring arrived this week and cattle wearing cow bells were moved to the lower pastures, the mood at the bank owned by Prince Alois was grim.

"Are they going to make Kieber pay tax on the money he has received for stolen goods?" asked one senior bank official, between fielding calls from anxious British, German and American tax evaders.

"This cannot be right," the Prince's official added. "It's wrong to pay millions of pounds for stolen goods. This information is our property. We have strict checks and balances.

"These people are not tax evaders. They are tax refugees. Germany is a disgrace. As for Britain, they shouldn't have anything to do with Kieber. So much for British values. The man they are dealing with is a crook."

Crooks are something that Liechtenstein knows all about. While claiming that there has been a crackdown on money-laundering recently, the country has also "looked after" the finances of some of the biggest - and most murderous - villains on the planet.

Saddam Hussein banked here. So, too, did Pablo Escobar, the notorious boss of Colombia's Medellin drugs cartel. Slobodan Milosevic, the Serb war criminal, used the Principality's banking services.

Russian mafia figures have also been keen to take advantage of the tax benefits. Countless celebrities have also banked here, including Athina Roussel, the granddaughter of the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, who was spotted here just two days after she inherited a small fortune on her 18th birthday.

But Liechtenstein, which has no army and a token police force, is fighting back. After one high-ranking official denounced Germany for acting like the "Gestapo" by trampling all over the country's laws, bankers vowed to sue their bigger neighbour for handling stolen goods.

Germany countered, saying it would refuse to let Liechtenstein join schemes allowing the free movement of people within Europe's borders. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, believes her attack on Liechtenstein will prove popular with Left-wingers, who hate the rich for avoiding tax.

Yet Prince Alois, educated at Sandhurst and married to a Bavarian Princess, believes the investigation into more than £5bn held in his banks is virtually a declaration of war, threatening the very existence of the state. "Spying on our clients is unthinkable," the Prince said.

"We are going to see what we can do to protect our citizens and also our investors, who trust us, against such methods of investigation.

"The principle of confidentiality also applies to our foreign clients. Does a state have the right to obtain information by breaking the law in a friendly state and probably also contravening its own laws?"

That is a mere detail. When it comes to tax, Germany as well as Britain is as determined as a dog with a bone. They will not back off now.

"We are going to prise open the cracks we have already made," said one British official. "We have the right to use whatever means we want to root out cheats - and that includes paying for information."

With Kieber reputed to be in hiding in Australia after death threats from Russian mobsters, how Prince Alois - and his, as yet unnamed, millionaire clients - must now wish that the only scandal in his secretive state is cows getting "high" on Liechtenstein's Alpine pastures.

The country is now on the map, and that's the last thing that anyone here wants.

Baltimore, the city that breeds said...

Streicher moved to Baltimore some time ago. Now we know why.

Wonderful. When and where is he in court? NY or MD?

Gotta love this city. Statue of Liberty needs to be moved from New York Harbor to Exit 21 on the Baltimore Beltway.

Belsky Vanity said...


It's no secret that consumers are cutting back as they face a credit crunch, a housing slump and a surge inflation. But there's an economic indicator that is a well-kept secret- it's called the makeup index.

There are some things that people will buy even in difficult times and apparently makeup is of them.

When the going gets tough, the tough head to the makeup counter. The theory goes says that during economic uncertain times, women tend to splurge on affordable luxuries like: lipstick and eyeshadow.

"I think when things get a little dicey, it's nice to treat yourself," said Gail Belsky

Does he daven with the Molesters by Rabbi Hopfer? said...

Streicher is on trial in New York.

How do you spell Desperation? said...


Clinton Hints At Sharing Ticket With Obama

Belsky Denies Reality in the Bond Markets said...


Michael Belsky, the group managing director of the US public finance group at Fitch Ratings, suggested wholesale changes to the muni ratings scale are unnecessary.

Baltimore, the city that breeds said...

He used to live on 12 & 49th? Wife's name Surie?

Above links to foreclosure on the house he had if this is the one.

Someone please confirm

Low Klass Jewish Fress Idiots said...


Concert Ban Sounds Sour Note For Some

By:Elliot Resnick, Jewish Press Staff Reporter Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Two weeks after 33 rabbis banned a concert that was to feature chassidic singers Lipa Schmeltzer and Shloime Gertner, confusion and rumor continue to percolate. Many question the ban’s legitimacy and wonder what it may mean for the future of Jewish music.

In large bold letters, the ban declares in the name of "daas Torah" that attending or participating in the concert is "severely prohibited." The ban places Schmeltzer, Gertner, and the event’s organizers in the category of those who cause the public to stray and pronounces their sin "greater than they can bear."

Some of the most prominent American rabbis – including Rabbis Shmuel Kamenetzky, Malkiel Kotler, Yisroel Belsky and leaders from such chassidic communities as Bobov, Belz and Satmar – signed the ban.

But the question of "why?" remains. According to the text of the ban, the concert – originally scheduled for March 9 at Madison Square Garden but now canceled – would have inspired "ribaldry and light-headedness." Similar events in the past caused "great stumbling, may the Merciful one save us," it says.

However, while the ban specifically targets the Gertner/Schmeltzer concert (which was to have separate seating and entrances for men and women), many wonder if its logic does not apply to other Jewish concerts as well.

"There were two types of rabbanim," said Boro Park rav Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum who has spoken to several of the ban’s signatories. "Some were against concerts altogether and some were specifically against turning a concert into a moshav leitzim [session of scorners]…. One performer [Lipa Schmeltzer, who doubles as a jokester], they felt, was making fun of rabbanim in a way that couldn’t be tolerated."

On the Talkline With Zev Brenner radio program, Schmeltzer took a different view. Noting that the text of the ban closely mirrored that of an earlier Israeli ban of an Avraham Fried and Yaakov Shwekey Jerusalem concert in August 2007, Schmeltzer said it was only a matter of time before the ban came to America. His concert was targeted simply because of its prominence, he said.

"You try tomorrow to do a concert…with any singer – you can take the most heimishe, chassidishe singer – you advertise a concert in Madison Square Garden like that, I’m putting on the table $100,000 that all the rabbanim will come out against him.…"

Even those who understand the ban’s reasoning question its necessity. "While my sympathies lie with the prohibition, I would have preferred to have been taught that it is assur [prohibited] rather than to have been handed an edict without explanation," said Rabbi Gil Student, who maintains a popular blog on Jewish thought, hirhurim.blogspot.com. His post on the ban generated over 200 comments.

Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani of Yeshiva University, said that bans "cause resentment and are difficult to enforce. Unless they’re clearly explained… the people who are supposed to follow the bans…just feel being pressured into doing something, which I think is not a very healthy educational method."

Rabbi Teitelbaum, on the other hand, does not oppose bans on principle. "If there’s no other way to solve the problem, then you can ban something," he said. "But there are a lot of things we must do before banning things, such as solving the problem at beis din."

Both Schmeltzer and Sheya Mendlowitz, the event’s producer, said that no one contacted them before the issuance of the ban. Indeed, Schmeltzer said that several of the signatories apologized to him.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were lost as a result of the ban, Mendlowitz said. Some of the money was to benefit Simchat Tziyon, a charity organization that sponsors the weddings of poor Israeli orphans.

In comments to the Long-Island based Jewish Star, Rabbi Kamenetzky acknowledged that the ban was a rush job of sorts. "Usually we [the signatories] meet together," he said. "This time, with time pressing, we did not get together. And maybe it was not the right thing."

Rabbi Kamenetsky apparently signed on the instigation of Brooklyn’s Asher Friedman, who, together with Rabbi Avraham Schorr, were the driving force behind the ban. Some Internet commentators suggest that Rabbi Schorr and Frieidman misled some of the rabbis.

When contacted, Rabbi Schorr, who signed the ban as well, said his thinking is reflected in the ban’s text. Numerous attempts to reach or elicit comment from several of the other signatories were unsuccessful.

While the future for other Jewish singers is still uncertain, Rabbi Kamenetzky said he doesn’t "think [the ban] will refer to all concerts."

Rabbi Teitelbaum said, "I personally discussed [concerts] in years past with the gaon hador Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, Rav Pam, zt"l, and others…. They all clearly stated that as long as they were done in a proper Jewish manner and will bring about a true kiddush shem shomayim they see nothing wrong with them."

In the meantime, Mendlowitz told The Jewish Press that he asks the public to "please be patient and stop the rabbanim bashing…. There are rabbanim that are extremely concerned about the way this was handled and we will be addressing the issue very soon. We’re working around the clock"

He said that ticket holders would receive refunds.

Yaakov Klass's Big Fat Nephew said...

Kings County Civil Court
Index Number: CV-075060-06/KI


Case Type: Civil
Classification: Consumer Credit
Filing Date: 06/07/2006
Disposition Date: 02/23/2007
Calendar Number:
Jury Demand: No
Judge Name:

Attorney/Firm(s) For Plaintiff - HSBC BANK PLC:
RICHARD A. KLASS ESQ. Attorney Type: Attorney
BKLYN, New York 11241

Collection Agency said...

Kings County Civil Court
Index Number: CV-098090-05/KI


Case Type: Civil
Filing Date: 09/27/2005
Disposition Date: 03/10/2007
Calendar Number:
Jury Demand: No
Judge Name:

Attorney/Firm(s) For Plaintiff - PALISADES COLLECTION, L.L.C.:
Garden City, New York 11530

Low Klass Watch said...

The Jewish Press keeps giving puffy descriptions of Belsky, Yaakov Klass's friend from the Iggud Haganovim.

Vintage Gil Student said...

"While my sympathies lie with the prohibition, I would have preferred to have been taught that it is assur [prohibited] rather than to have been handed an edict without explanation,"

Gil always manages to agree with any & every opinion of every potential buyer of his books.

Marine Park said...

Gil Student lives near Yaakov Klass in Marine Park, Brooklyn. I assume that's how Gil managed to get that dumb paper to recognize him as a somebody.

Sholom Rubashkin said...

What am I paying Lubinsky for if he's not giving me his undivided attention?

I'm trying to figure out why he's so busy lately. Does anyone know if he's negotiating to represent Michoel Streicher?

Feh said...

A rov who I previously had tremendous respect for made a really unwise comment to me. When I asked him why Margo was allowed to sign, he answered that Margo fort has an oylam that he represents.

Hey, why didn't Taliban Friedman go down to Corcoran State Prison and Charles Manson to sign? He also represents an oylam.

Gothamist said...


March 3, 2008
Rabbis Stop Hasidic Concert at Madison Square Garden

Two Brooklyn community leaders, Asher Friedman and Rabbi Avraham Shor, mobilized opposition to the concert late last month, warning that the concert would promote “ribaldry and lightheadedness… [and] strip the youth of every shred of fear of heaven.”

Hasidim don't want to express themselves unless it's during a happy ending with one of the millions of prostitutes they frequent.

Many of my friends that work in the adult industry will attest to this fact. Hypocrites to the MAX.

Reform Putz said...


Reform Jewish Leader Blasts Family Research Council’s Statement on Homosexuality and Child Molestation

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the
Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.

Zweibel is upset because Mondrowitz & Kolko don't use Condoms said...


The leading U.S. umbrella group of fervently Orthodox Jews accused New York City of promoting casual sex.

In a letter to the New York City Department of Health's assistant commissioner for AIDS prevention, Monica Sweeney, Agudath Israel of America objected to a new ad campaign designed to promote condom use. Aguda argues that the ad campaign "affirmatively encourages young people to engage in casual sex."

"In our community -- and, I am sure, in many others as well -- the message our clergy, educators and parents try to impart to our children is that a lifestyle of promiscuity is not only dangerous but also inappropriate," wrote David Zwiebel, Aguda's vice president for government and public affairs. "By what right does the New York City Health Department deign to undermine that message?"

New York City began free distribution of its own branded prophylactic, NYC Condom, last year, and according to the Department of Health, 36 million condoms have been distributed. A new condom was introduced on Valentine's Day, accompanied by a glitzy campaign of print and broadcast advertisements featuring the tagline "Get Some."

Aguda noted that it objected to the distribution of free condoms even without the sexy ads, which it implored the department to reconsider.

NY Sun said...


An Orthodox Jewish group is asking the city's health department to reconsider an advertising campaign that promotes condom use by urging New Yorkers to "get some."

The campaign, launched last week, "encourages young people to engage in casual sex" and is "grossly offensive," officials from Agudath Israel of America said in a letter sent yesterday to city health officials. The letter also was sent to Mayor Bloomberg; the city's health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Frieden; the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Dale Hemmerdinger, and the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Edward Cardinal Egan.

In the letter, Agudath's executive vice president for government and public affairs, David Zwiebel, said his group historically has opposed the distribution of free condoms but took particular offense at the "get some" campaign, which undermines "good health." "From a purely health perspective, is it not true that abstinence is still a safer course than protected promiscuity?" he said. Last week, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights also criticized the health department's slogan.

In a statement issued last night, the health department defended its campaign, which kicked off last week to coincide with a redesign of the New York City brand condom. "The NYC Condom has been extremely effective in increasing condom distribution throughout the City," officials said. "We hope to have the same success with this new campaign, which was designed to be fun and engaging in order to further increase condom distribution, prevent the spread of disease, and save lives."

Last year, the city distributed 36 million free condoms.

Chaim Dovid Zweibel said...


Tensions are running high between the Spitzer administration and the Catholic Church, which is mounting an unusually aggressive campaign to stop the state from enacting a law that would declare abortion a fundamental right for women.

The latest conflict has the potential to create "negative atmospherics between the Catholic community and the governor," said the executive vice president for government and public affairs of Agudath Israel of America, David Zwiebel, whose Orthodox Jewish organization has worked closely with the church to urge the Spitzer administration to boost support for parochial school families.

Still, he said, "It's not like all conversation has broken off. Like all relationships with government officials, it's complicated."

He noted that the governor's budget allocates $55 million for private and independent schools to pay for the cost of complying with state attendance requirements. Jewish and Catholic groups had sought the reimbursement money for several years.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

Zweibel and his gang of thugs have lost any seat at the morality table. You don't get to choose which "immoral" (and illegal/criminal - in child-rape) behavior you get to vote on!

Pathetic losers!

Alfonse D'Amato said...


Zweibel is what I would call a Putzhead. He should stretch a condom over his disingenious face.

Fartscroll said...


What do you expect when Adlerstein is one of our authors?

No Penetration said...

Adlerstein learned in Chofetz Chaim when Rabbi Scheinberg was the mashgiach.

Public Appeal said...

Does UOJ or anyone know which journalists would be interested in doing an investigation on Michoel Streicher and his host of legal name changes to aliases. It's about time someone reversed how he covers up his thieving tracks.

Mordechai Tendler, the Fake Rabbi that Breeds said...

I think using condoms are a great idea. What's the Agudah's problem?

Summa Cum Lousy said...

Adlerstein is a Queens College grad. Does Chofetz Chaim allow going to college?

Anonymous said...

The hypocrisy is incredible and just reeks!

Agudath Israel of America

1. which is major responsible for the the unfettered and continuous child molestation perpetrated by Kolko and Mondrowitz, with cover-ups; see/hear/and know no evil thereby destroying the lives of tyreh Yiddeshe neshomos,

2. which has actively worked to prevent the the NYS Legislature to implement Registries and Mandated fingerprinting of all Mosdos Personnel,

3. which turned a deaf ear to the Talibanic banning of a recent major musical concert designed to benefit Yesomim and which consequently resulted in hundreds of thousands dollars in losses and massive Chillul Hashem,

are now concerned about the issuance of Condoms in the Public Schools?? Vos Hut Ess Tzu Deer?

This would be hilariously funny if it were not so tragic.