Friday, June 28, 2019

Yeah....Be Animals At Home, But Not In The Catskills! “The Jew invasion.”

Chillul Hashem Alert!

Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss

Every summer, Orthodox Jews descend upon quiet rural towns like an avalanche with over half a million people driving up to the Catskills and filling places like Monticello, Woodbourne, Fallsburg, Ellenville, Kiamesha, Swan Lake, and Hurleyville.

With the summer having begun, now is a good time to remind ourselves how grave the sin of chillul Hashem (desecrating Hashem’s Name in front of others) is. The Gemara says this aveirah is so heinous that even repentance, suffering, and Yom Kippur combined do not fully atone for it. Only death does.

To convey how horrible chillul Hashem is, the Aleinu L’shabei’ach relates the following anecdote: A couple in Eretz Yisrael was suffering from terrible marital discord, and the husband, wanting to hurt his wife, decided to send their son to a monastery in Italy. Horrified, friends of the family decided to go to the government to foil his plans. Some were concerned that major news outlets would get hold of the story, which would result in a chillul Hashem, but others felt the risk was justified.

They consulted with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l. To their surprise, he told them they could not risk the chillul Hashem – even to prevent the loss of a Yiddishe neshama.

I know a family that was attacked in the newspaper over a nasty custody battle. The papers asked if they wanted to comment, but Rav Dovid Feinstein, shlit”a, ruled they couldn’t since it would create more of a chillul Hashem. It’s a lot to ask from a person – not to defend himself against public humiliation – but that’s how high the stakes are when it comes to chillul Hashem.

So let’s talk about how this subject applies to the many city folk who invade the peaceful mountains during the summer. First, we must eliminate honking. Many rural folk follow the rule of “early to bed and early to rise”; we have to be aware of their habits and, at night, avoid honking horns, slamming car doors, or just carrying on too loudly in a boisterous summer way.


Then there’s our behavior in the supermarkets. If you ever visit the Catskills in the winter, you’ll see how nicely the shelves are set up and how orderly the store looks. So if you’re shopping and decide not to take an item, put it back in its place – especially if it needs refrigeration. Try to bring your cart back to the store or its designated spot so all the carts are gathered neatly and not left helter-skelter all over the parking lot.


And here’s something to really think about: Don’t go around tasting grapes or having your kids taste them in the supermarket. If there’s no sign posted that permits tasting fruit, doing so is theft. Even if some stores let you get away with sampling and won’t escort you out, it certainly is not the behavior of the Am Segula, a nation that is supposed to behave in a model fashion.


When I see a gentile in line who has only two items, I always let him go ahead of me so he doesn’t mutter under his breath about “the Jewish invasion.” Right or wrong, we need to be sensitive when trampling on others’ peace and quiet. Yes, some are looking for things to blame us for – but that just means we must be doubly careful not to give them ammunition.


In the car, we shouldn’t drive like we’re playing a video game, and we should shut off our bright headlights so as not to blind oncoming traffic. Let’s also remember that the locals are very proud of their pristine unpolluted environment, so don’t open the car window and carelessly toss a leftover drink, a bag with a dirty diaper, or a candy wrapper.

I can give many more examples, but the main thing is to heighten our awareness of possibly causing a chillul Hashem.

Finally, I’m sorry there’s a need to say this, but it should be obvious that before letting your children be around other children, they must be properly vaccinated. In Yiddishkeit, we follow the majority, especially in matters of danger and chillul Hashem. The overwhelming majority – over 90 percent of master physicians and gedolei Yisrael maintain that vaccinating is mandatory. We must repair the massive chillul Hashem that has already resulted because of the measles epidemic. Incidentally, as someone who had rubella, measles, and mumps as a child, I can say that only a criminally-negligent parent would abstain from vaccinating his or her children.

Smile at Your
Neighbors - & Invite Them For Shabbat Lunch
 One last point: A smile goes a long way towards improving relationships. When you pass a gentile in a store or parking lot, tilt your head in greeting or smile. If thousands of us took this not-so-little step, we would make a huge difference in others’ attitude towards us.

May Hashem bless us with the smarts to avoid chillul Hashem, and in that merit may we be blessed with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Megan Twohey, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, spoke with Ms. Carroll, Lisa Birnbach and Carol Martin. Listen To The Podcast - You Decide!

E. Jean Carroll told two women that Donald J. Trump assaulted her in the 1990s. On "The Daily," the women discuss it publicly for the first time.

The writer E. Jean Carroll came forward last week with explosive accusations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s. Today, the two women she privately confided in after the alleged attack discuss it publicly for the first time with our colleague.

On today’s episode:
  • Megan Twohey, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, spoke with Ms. Carroll, Lisa Birnbach and Carol Martin.

E. Jean Carroll in New York this week. She says that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s, and that she told two close friends at the time. He denies the accusation\

CreditCraig Ruttle/Associated Press
Background reading:

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

And I Thought 95% of Americans Are Idiots!

Surprising Survey Shows 45% Of Americans Doubt Safety Of Vaccines

CHICAGO — The latest measles outbreak that’s gripped communities across the country in recent months pushed the topic of vaccinations (and those who choose to forgo them) right back onto centerstage for many Americans. Now a new survey delving into feelings over immunizations finds the country may be more split on the issue than believed, with 45% of adults admitting to harboring some doubt about the safety of vaccines.

That said, the vast majority — more than eight in 10 surveyed — still view vaccines as effective and continue to support them, despite their concerns.

The survey, funded by the American Osteopathic Association, questioned 2,000 adults and asked doubters the source of their suspicions of the science-supported, long-established safety and importance of vaccinations. Of the nearly half who listed at least one source of doubt over vaccine safety, researchers found the most common sources came from online articles (16%), distrust of the pharmaceutical industry (16%), and information from medical experts (12%).

According to lead researcher Rachel Shmuts, a perinatal psychiatrist, widespread negative attitudes towards vaccines has become a phenomenon caused by human psychology and amplified by social media.

“From an evolutionary perspective, humans are primed to pay attention to threats or negative information,” Dr. Shmuts explains in a media release. “So it makes sense that people hold onto fears that vaccines are harmful, especially when they believe their children are in danger.”

Another factor in this phenomenon is that, since vaccines have effectively banished many once-common and deadly diseases, people fear possible side effects from the vaccines more than the diseases themselves.

“For some, it really might be that vaccines are viewed as the more salient threat,” says Shmuts.
Despite these concerns, 82% of respondents were still generally in favor of vaccines, while 8% showed serious doubts, and 9% said they were unsure.

Many people are uninformed about vaccines. The state of Michigan, for example, ended public education for vaccines in the mid-2000s. This, combined with legislation that allows for vaccine exemptions for religious and philosophical beliefs, led to Michigan being ranked 44th in the country in the number of vaccinated children between the ages of 19 and 35 months in 2015. In 2017, the state launched a new education program about vaccines, and immunization rates increased across all demographics.

Doctors warn that people with doubt only breed more people with doubt, and that can be dangerous when certain diseases require up to 95% of the population to be vaccinated in order to eliminate the threat of those diseases.

“Beliefs are hard to change especially when they’re based in fear,” adds osteopathic family physician Paul Ehrmann. “But, being responsible for our patients’ health and the public’s health, we can’t afford to give in to those fears. We must insist on evidence-based medicine.”

The survey was conducted on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association by the Harris Poll.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article that mentioned a measles “epidemic” was corrected to measles “outbreak.”


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Ladies & Gentlemen ----- The President of the United States...

Trump sexual assault accuser: He pinned me against the wall

E. Jean Carroll recounts her alleged encounter with Donald Trump, who she says sexually assaulted her in a dressing room 23 years ago.


 “I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” the president said while seated behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.


Monday, June 24, 2019

A legal official told The Times of Israel that police suspect Charnes changed his medical conclusion after being contacted by officials in Littzman’s office. Charnes has been interrogated under caution in the case against the deputy health minister.

Police said gearing up to indict minister suspected of aiding alleged pedophiles

Law enforcement slated to recommend Yaakov Litzman be charged for pressuring employees to prevent extradition of Malka Leifer, who faces 74 child sex abuse charges in Australia

The Godfather Of The Gur Crime Family
(R) Deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman seen during a press conference after meeting with president Reuven Rivlin at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on April 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90); (L) A private investigator tagged Malka Leifer as she spoke on the phone, while sitting on a bench in Bnei Brak, on December 14, 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Leifer & Litzman
The Israel Police are gearing up to recommend that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman be indicted for using his office to illicitly provide assistance to alleged sex offenders, according to a report released Friday by the Kan public broadcaster.

Israeli law enforcement intends to indict the United Torah Judaism party chairman in two cases, the report said.

The first case involves Malka Leifer, a former ultra-Orthodox girls’ school principal charged in Australia with 74 counts of child sex abuse. The police announced in February that they were investigating Litzman on suspicion that he pressured employees in his office to change the conclusions of their psychiatric evaluations to deem Leifer unfit for extradition.
In the second one, Litzman is accused of aiding other alleged sexual predators in a manner that was against the law, Kan reported.

Litzman has denied any wrongdoing, maintaining that he responds without prejudice to all pleas for assistance his office receives.

The deputy minister is also being probed in a third case, but the likelihood of him being charged appears slim, according to the public broadcaster. It gave no details on the case.

Protesters demonstrate on March 13, 2019, outside the Jerusalem District Court during extradition hearings for Malka Leifer, a former girls school principal wanted for sexual abuse in Australia. 

The police are slate to hand down their decision ahead of the September elections, but their recommendation to indict is expected to be pending a hearing, which would be held after Israelis head to the polls.

Last month, Channel 13 news reported that Litzman helped at least 10 serious sex offenders obtain improved conditions, including home visits and other benefits, by pressuring state psychiatrists and prisons service officials.

In March, Channel 13 news reported that police were investigating suspicions that Litzman and his chief of staff pressured a psychiatrist, Moshe Birger, to ensure that another imprisoned sex offender close to Litzman’s Gur sect was placed in a rehabilitation program. Participation in the program can lead to home visit rights and early release from prison.

Leifer is known to have links to the Gur community, having once taught at a school in Israel affiliated with the branch.

A Justice Ministry official told The Times of Israel in February that police had recordings of Litzman and officials in his office speaking to Health Ministry employees and pressing them to act on Leifer’s behalf.

In this February 27, 2018, file photo, Malka Leifer, center, is brought to a courtroom in Jerusalem. 

In 2000, Leifer was recruited from Israel to work at the Adass Israel ultra-Orthodox girls school in Melbourne. When allegations of sexual abuse against her began to surface eight years later, members of the school board purchased the mother of eight a red-eye plane ticket back to Israel, allowing her to avoid being charged.

After authorities in Melbourne filed charges against her, Australia officially filed an extradition request in 2012. Leifer was arrested in Israel two years later, but released to house arrest shortly thereafter.

Judges deemed her mentally unfit to stand trial and eventually removed all restrictions against her, concluding that she was too ill to even leave her bed.

She was rearrested in February 2018 following a police undercover operation that cast doubts on her claims regarding her mental state, and has remained in custody since. The operation was launched after the Jewish Community Watch NGO hired private investigators who placed hidden cameras in the Emmanuel settlement, a Haredi community in the northern West Bank, where Leifer had been living, which showed the alleged sex abuser roaming around the town without any apparent difficulty.

Despite the seemingly damning footage, the trial has dragged on for an additional year, as the court continues to debate her mental fitness. The Jerusalem District Psychiatrist responsible for evaluating Leifer, Dr. Jacob Charnes, has changed his mind three separate times regarding whether Leifer is fit for extradition.

Jerusalem District Psychiatrist Jacob Charnes in 2016

In April 2015, Charnes signed off on a legal opinion affirming that she was fit to be sent back to Australia.

In December of that year, he signed off on another legal opinion, which reached a contrary conclusion.

After Leifer was rearrested in 2018, state psychiatrists put together an updated legal opinion in which they once again found her fit for extradition. Charnes refused to sign off on the document for several months, but eventually did so.

However, when the psychiatrist was cross-examined by the defense on the evaluation late last year, he told the court that he recommended an additional evaluation of Leifer be carried out — a proposal that both sides have rejected.

A legal official told The Times of Israel that police suspect Charnes changed his medical conclusion after being contacted by officials in Littzman’s office. Charnes has been interrogated under caution in the case against the deputy health minister.
The Jerusalem District Court will hand down a final decision regarding Leifer’s mental fitness for extradition on September 23.


Friday, June 21, 2019

Coffee Houses Open on Shabbat… With Rabbinic Approval

Records from 18th century Prague show that the opening of Jewish coffee houses on Shabbat enjoyed the approval of the city’s rabbinic leadership.

A Game of Draughts at Cafe Lamblin by Louis Leopold Boilly

In the middle of the eighteenth century, religious life in the Jewish community of Prague was at its high point, with nine well-known synagogues and dozens of study houses. But at the same time that the learned men of Prague were producing vast Torah scholarship and the yeshivas were bustling with students, another institution was gaining popularity – the coffee house. Coffee houses became popular soon after coffee’s arrival in Western Europe, and often offered more than just a drink; they were a place to spend leisure time playing games and discussing current events with friends and strangers. Rabbinic sermons and writings from this period warn of the spiritual threat posed by the coffee house.  These establishments’ diverse environment and leisure culture competed with the traditional Jewish lifestyle of worship and study.

In spite of this potential culture clash, the records from that time period in the Pinkas Beit Din – the minute book of the rabbinic court of Prague – show that the opening of Jewish coffee houses on weekdays and, shockingly to modern ears, even on Shabbat, enjoyed the approval of the city’s rabbinic leadership, along with careful, detailed rabbinic-halachic regulation.

The Pinkas (minute book) of the Rabbinic Court of the Holy Congregation of Prague, currently preserved in the Jewish Museum of Prague, is a hand written book which, records the decisions of the rabbinic court, one of the most important governing bodies of the Prague Jewish community. This pinkas, written in a mix of Hebrew and Yiddish, begins in 1755 and survived the Holocaust even as the community it records was wiped out, provides important testimony to Jewish daily life in Europe.
A pinkas from 18th century Prague, the National Library collections
A pinkas from Halberstadt, the National Library collections
In the Prague Pinkas Beit Din, the numbers alone – seven discussions about coffee houses within fifteen years – tell us how pressing and how complex this issue was. The entries show a swift progression, from disapproval and severe limitations to support with minimal caveats. Evidently community members had embraced coffee-house culture and were not about to give it up. The pinkas entries also show the style of religious leadership adopted by the rabbinic courts of Prague in this case: instead of opposing a cultural trend that threatened traditional life, the rabbis accepted the new trend, which gave them the opportunity to regulate and contain its impact, and to integrate the new institution into the traditional mode of Jewish life.

One of the first discussions in the pinkas, from around 1757, begins by taking a hard line – Ideally the coffee houses in the Jewish ghetto should be closed, and people should instead dedicate their time to Torah study. Since that is impossible, they should open only for an hour in the morning, after morning services at synagogue, and then for an hour following afternoon services. Women should never enter coffee houses. With regard to Shabbat, “no man should dare to go to the coffee house and drink coffee there on the holy Sabbath. This is punishable with a large fine!

This discussion is followed by another paragraph, presumably added days or weeks later:
However, due to the travails of war (presumably the siege of Prague in the spring of 1757, part of the Seven Years War) and other concerns, many have protested that we cannot be so stringent on this matter… the way to distance from sin will be that on the holy Sabbath, no one should go to the coffee houses to drink coffee, but anyone who wishes to drink should bring it to his home. And on weekdays, any time they are praying in the Old New Synagogue (Altneuschul), no man should dare go drink in the coffee house.

The added paragraph shifts the balance significantly, permitting Jews to frequent coffee houses at all times except during prayers; allowances are made for procuring coffee on Shabbat as well. Apparently the Jewish coffee sellers had an arrangement in which customers paid before or after Shabbat, and they could prepare the coffee without violating Shabbat laws about cooking, perhaps with the help of non-Jewish workers. The main concern is the propriety of spending time in the coffee house on Shabbat, so getting the coffee as takeout is a suitable compromise, but not one that lasted long.
The famous bridges over the River Vltava, Prague.
The famous bridges over the River Vltava, Prague.
The next two entries on this topic in the pinkas, dated 1758 and 1761, are each signed by eight Jewish coffee house owners. One declares that coffee will be sold only until noon on Shabbat, and one states that coffee will be sold without milk on Shabbat, presumably in order to avoid serving dairy to customers who had just eaten a meat meal.

A fourth entry, dated 1764, declares:
From this day onwards, on Shabbat and holidays, women are not to enter coffee houses to drink coffee at all. And even on weekdays, from 6 PM onwards, no woman or women should be found in the coffee house…

These entries assume that, despite earlier restrictions, women are indeed entering coffee houses. Moreover, coffee houses are not only providing coffee for takeout on Shabbat, customers are sitting and drinking coffee there, and the rabbinic court is only trying to limit that clientele to men.

A fifth entry, dates 1774, states:
The owners of the coffee houses stood before the rabbi and the rabbinic court, who warned them that they should be careful to avoid selling coffee on Shabbat and holidays to non-Jews, as the prohibition of commerce on the Sabbath applies. They are permitted to sell only to Jews, for the sake of Oneg Shabbat, delighting in the Sabbath day, since not everyone is able to prepare coffee for himself on Shabbat at home.
A pinkas from 18th century Prague, the National Library collections. Click to enlarge.
A pinkas from Zülz, the National Library collections
To the rabbis of eighteenth century Prague, the coffee house’s ambiance of levity and cultural exchange competed with the traditional understanding of the proper Shabbat atmosphere. The rabbinic court therefore made efforts to restrict Jewish coffee houses’ activity on Shabbat, with limited success. But in their final entry on this topic, the Prague Beit Din provided the coffee houses with a religious stamp of approval, pointing out that Jews attending coffee houses on Shabbat was in fact a fulfillment of the religious injunction to delight in the Sabbath day. The rising cultural significance of coffee in European regions, since its import a few decades ago, is now reflected in the the pinkas; the new product is incorporated into halachic language, labeled, for the first time, as “Oneg Shabbat” – a positive value which should be carefully considered.  The coffee house and the synagogue need not always be rivals: within certain parameters, both could be part of a meaningful and enjoyable Sabbath day in Prague.

The National Library of Israel, together with the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem, holds the largest collection of pinkasim in the world. Through international academic co-operation, the Pinkasim Collection aims at locating, cataloguing, and digitizing all surviving record books, making them freely available. At the first stage of the project, the focus is on pinkasei kahal, the pinkasim of the central governing body of Jewish communities. On June 20th, the National Library will host an event marking the launch of the Pinkasim Collection, which will feature experts from around the world, and will include a lecture by Maoz Kahana about coffee houses in Prague.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

The State of Israel has become a safe haven for perpetrators of child sexual abuse. Just a few months ago, we learned that the deputy health minister, Yaakov Litzman, obstructed the extradition of a woman accused of 74 accounts of child sexual abuse — and that she was only one of at least 10 cases.

The enemy in our own backyard

This country protects child sex abusers and silences their victims -- and the vast majority of perpetrators are not Arabs, but Jews!
Illustrative. Courtesy of Pixabay

When the news broke yesterday about the alleged horrific rape of a 7-year-old girl, allegedly by a Palestinian janitor, my WhatsApp groups and Facebook feeds were inundated with outraged and horrified posts. On several local groups in my community, parents were calling for the schools to stop employing Palestinians in order to protect our children.

On the one hand, I understand this instinct. Police insist that they are investigating the crime as criminally motivated, but it is hard to untangle criminal from nationalist motivations in a case like this one. Rape is the expression of a desire for dominance; to assert control over another, weaker human being. It has been used as a tool of war since the dawn of humanity. Even if this alleged rapist selected his victim because she was convenient, and not because she was Jewish, how can we really know that the cultural atmosphere in which he lives didn’t contribute to his perception of her as an easy and desirable target? Especially in light of the brutal rape and murder of Ori Ansbacher just months ago, it seems disingenuous not to factor in the routine dehumanization of Jews and Israelis that takes place in Palestinian society when considering his motivations.

And yet, if we reserve our outrage concerning the sexual violation of our children for Arab perpetrators only, we are doing ourselves and our children a grave injustice — not to mention becoming guilty of dehumanization and prejudice ourselves.

The State of Israel has become a safe haven for perpetrators of child sexual abuse. Just a few months ago, we learned that the deputy health minister, Yaakov Litzman, obstructed the extradition of a woman accused of 74 accounts of child sexual abuse — and that she was only one of at least 10 cases. Moti Elon, a so-called rabbi who was convicted of molesting a minor, was welcomed back by his community and allowed to continue teaching; unsurprisingly, he recently confessed to new misconduct. Eliezer Berland, another so-called rabbi who was convicted of sexual assault, is still revered and seen as a misunderstood martyr in his community, and his business is thriving.

A couple weeks ago, I spent Shabbat with a friend in Ramat Beit Shemesh, who matter-of-factly informed me that parents are wary of letting their kids go to the playground at certain hours because there have been “incidents.” The perpetrators of those “incidents” still walk free.

We live in a country where child sexual abusers are protected and their victims are silenced.

And the vast majority of these perpetrators are not Arabs. They are Jews.

We should not ban Arabs from coming in contact with our children in our schools. That would be racist and wrong, and it would deprive our children of a valuable opportunity to learn from and befriend people from other cultures.

What we should do is insist that anyone — Arab or Jew — who comes in regular contact with our children be properly vetted and screened before being hired. There should be rigorous background checks. Multiple references should be consulted. Candidates should be thoroughly interviewed by someone who knows how to recognize warning signs.

Most importantly, we need to start holding our own communities accountable and stop allowing known sexual predators to thrive in our midst.

We need to take reports of sexual abuse seriously and have systems in place for investigating and addressing them. We need to train teachers and parents to recognize grooming patterns and inappropriate behavior of adults toward children. We need to teach our children to discern safe touch from unsafe touch and good secrets from bad secrets, and show them how to respond when someone violates the safety rules.

It’s so easy to point fingers at the Other. But even if the allegations about this horrific rape are true, it was the exception, not the rule. It’s time we looked in our own backyard and protected our children from the people who are most likely to harm them.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

"Arsonists" R' Kamenetsky & Wife "Shout Fire" To a Crowd of Idiot Jews, and Expect a Different Reaction - For Shame on Him! ---- The original wording used in Holmes's opinion ----"falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic" --- highlights that speech that is dangerous and false is not protected!

"Shouting fire in a crowded theater" is a popular metaphor for speech or actions made for the principal purpose of creating panic. The phrase is a paraphrasing of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.'s opinion in the United States Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States in 1919, which held that the defendant's speech in opposition to the draft during World War I was not protected free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The paraphrasing differs from Holmes's original wording in that it typically does not include the word falsely, while also adding the word "crowded" to describe the theatre. The original wording used in Holmes's opinion ("falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic") highlights that speech that is dangerous and false is not protected.

“I see vaccinations as the problem. It’s a hoax. Even the Salk vaccine [against polio] is a hoax. It is just big business.” Shmuel Kamenetsky

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Call Speaker Heastie now! He is the only one in control of bill now to give it a hearing. 4 days left and New York will kill the bill for the 8th year. Speaker Heastie 518-455-3791 speaker@nyassembly.gov


Assembly Bill A2577B

2019-2020 Legislative Session
Requires the commissioner of education to make recommendations to the board of regents relating to instruction on preventing child sexual exploitation and abuse in grades K - 8
download bill text pdf

Sponsored By

Current Bill Status - In Assembly Committee

Monday, June 17, 2019

A Pathetic Group of Crackpot Anti-Vaxxers Storm Albany In Hopes Of Saving Religious Exemptions For Vaccines...One Commenter Says" Not Only Do Orthodox Jews Smell, They Are Dumb & Sick"

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Despite the worst outbreak of the measles in a generation, hundreds of parents and so-called anti-vaxxers rallied in Albany Tuesday.

They are urging lawmakers to stop a bill that would end religious exemptions for vaccinations.
Robert Kennedy Jr. was among the protesters questioning the safety of vaccines. Health authorities blame misinformation for the recent outbreak; predominately centered in the Tri-state area.
There have been more than 770 cases in New York State alone.

The CDC says the measles vaccine is safe and effective. Dr. Jon LaPook of CBS News asked demonstrators about their objections to the widely accepted science of vaccines.

”How many people in this room do not believe the information coming from the Centers for Disease Control,” LaPook asked a room of anti-vaxxing parents who all raised their hands.

“The rabbis tell us that there’s nothing in Judaism that prohibits vaccinations,” LaPook told a parent at the protest.

“It doesn’t matter,” she replied.

Most of New York’s measles cases have been traced to Orthodox Jewish communities in the state.



Friday, June 14, 2019

Anti-vaxxers lose minds after religious exemption bill gets pushed through - “And these are the religious people?!” Agudath Israel Worried About The Threat To The First Amendment!

“And these are the religious people?!”

The state Capitol turned into a chaotic scene Thursday as both houses of legislature — and eventually Gov. Cuomo — passed a bill that will end New York’s policy of allowing religious exemptions from vaccine requirements.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the bill’s sponsor, got cursed out and flat-out threatened at one point by opponents of the legislation after it got passed and sent to the Senate floor.

“We’ll be back for you Jeffrey!” shouted one man in Orthodox religious garb, who was fuming in the gallery with others, many of whom had children with them.

“Motherf–ker!” screamed another person. “Shame!”

Dinowitz and other lawmakers remained calm during the mayhem, but were on edge as they recessed for the day.

“I’m sure the hallways are very dangerous for me right now,” Dinowitz said afterward. “I think it’s very sad that people who are up here in the name of religion were acting anything but. Judging by the way some people behaved and judging by the threats that we heard from some people, it would be prudent to exercise some caution.”

Gov. Cuomo wound up signing the bill into law just hours later.

“The science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe,” the governor said in a statement. “This administration has taken aggressive action to contain the measles outbreak, but given its scale, additional steps are needed to end this public health crisis.”

The vaccine problem was witnessed first-hand Thursday at two schools in Williamsburg, which had to be closed by the Health Department for allowing dozens of unvaccinated students to attend classes, according to officials.

Cuomo said that while he understands and respects the right to freedom of religion, “our first job is to protect the public health and by signing this measure into law, we will help prevent further transmissions and stop this outbreak right in its tracks.”

Dinowitz’s bill had been approved by the Democrat-led Assembly by a 77-53 vote, though the tally was unofficial. The legislation will end non-medical exemptions for vaccines statewide.

“This bill was never about [religion], it was about public health, as I said on the floor,” Dinowitz explained. “It’s going to protect children’s health and we’ll never know which children don’t catch a terrible disease, but we know for this bill it will protect children.”

The lawmaker said he was disappointed by the behavior seen today in the Assembly chamber but was hopeful that the anti-vaxxers would “calm down” and “be a little more civilized.”

“I don’t ever remember in all my years here, the screaming in the Assembly chamber and the disruption in the Assembly chamber — people yell and scream outside and that’s fine, that’s fine — but the disrespect, not to me … Forget me … to the institution, to all the members of the state … was frankly a disgrace,” Dinowitz said. “And these are the religious people?! Shame on them. Shame on them.”

Any issue the Agudath Israel can not control entirely: Sexual abuse reporting, metziza b'peh, vaccinations, education..... "is a dire threat to the Jewish people!"


Thursday, June 13, 2019

“What is the true test of someone’s character? It’s what you do when no one is looking,”

Why a judge called this pious sex offender ‘the most self-centered individual to ever testify in my courtroom’

Alexander Davis was convicted of enticing a minor over the internet to have sex with him and traveling across state lines to have sex with a minor. He arrives March 25, 2019, to be sentenced in federal court in Easton. (Rudy Miller | For lehighvalleylive.com)
Alexander Davis was convicted of enticing a minor over the internet to have sex with him and traveling across state lines to have sex with a minor. He arrives March 25, 2019, to be sentenced in federal court in Easton. (Rudy Miller | For lehighvalleylive.com)

To his family and his fellow congregants, Alexander Davis was the model parent, husband and Jew.
In letters to U.S. District Court Judge Edward G. Smith they described his generosity, his commitment to his wife and children and his devotion to Judaism.

But the letters failed to delve into his “secret life” on the road as a traveling salesman, according to the judge.

“It was as though he had no moral compass and he defaulted always to drugs and sex and alcohol in a fashion that was totally immoral,” Smith said in his federal courtroom in Easton.

Smith sentenced the 32-year-old Monsey, New York, man on Monday to 10 years and seven months in federal prison.

Davis was convicted at trial of using the internet and traveling across state lines with the intention of having sex with a 14-year-old in Bethlehem in December 2017. The girl he thought was “Marisa” was actually a federal agent who set up a sting to catch sexual predators. Davis testified he thought Marisa was an adult “role playing” as a teen.

Those who sent letters to the judge couldn’t believe Davis was capable of the crime. Some questioned the jury’s decision based on their knowledge of Davis.

A co-worker, Yehuda Herzig, wrote that Davis would read books on ethics and character in his spare time. He listened to inspirational and educational lectures in the car on their way to sales calls, Herzig wrote.

Davis’ father was a Rabbi, according to his mother, Madelaine Davis. She said her son embraces orthodox Judaism and called him a “devoted and selfless father” to his four children, all of whom are under age seven. Davis is the only person who can calm down his often-troubled son, according to the boy’s preschool teacher, Rachelle Frey.

But none of these people were aware of secrets made public during Davis’ courtroom testimony.

According to the judge, Davis testified he often visited massage parlors to satisfy his sex addiction. He solicited sex on the internet because he eventually found the masseurs “dirty.”

"He wanted someone younger,” according to court testimony.

Smith said Davis admitted he tried alcohol and drugs at age 13, was expelled from school and became addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling and sex. He kept his debauchery on the road a secret from his wife and family and felt justified in living a double life, Smith said. His complete lack of remorse factored into the sentencing decision, Smith said.

“He demonstrated himself to be perhaps the most self-centered individual to ever testify in my courtroom,” Smith said.

Nine friends and family members came to court to support Davis. His wife came late to court because she needed time to arrange for child care. She is a native of Israel and went from being a stay-at-home mother to being the sole breadwinner and parent following Davis’ incarceration. Davis smiled at her as he left court.

“We are still talking all the time. She made it clear she wants to stick it out for me,” Davis told Smith.
Defense attorney Maranna J. Meehan asked for the judge to limit the sentence to the mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. Guidelines called for a sentence anywhere between 10 years and one month to 12 years and seven months.

Meehan said Davis is already “humiliated, ashamed and disgraced” and shouldn’t be kept away from his family longer than absolutely necessary.

Smith said Davis only regrets getting caught, not committing the crime.

“You are the center of your own universe in a way you can’t even consider the interests of others,” the judge said.

This was this first-ever criminal conviction for Davis, although he discussed prior attempts to solicit sex from minors as authorities took him to prison after his arrest, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Davison. Smith said Davis is extremely likely to reoffend.

Davis’ supporters disagree that prison was warranted.

Raphael Gruenebaum said Davis served as cantor and sexton at the synagogue, has devoted hours to Talmudic studies and has always “stepped up to the plate” to fill any role needed at the temple.

“Alexander and all of us beg for your mercy, fairness and understanding so that Alexander can seek true repentance, the necessary professional help needed and be restored to being a righteous and law-abiding citizen of our great American society once again,” his mother told the judge in her letter.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Davison said Davis’ supporters either don’t see Davis’ dark side or willfully ignore it.

“What is the true test of someone’s character? It’s what you do when no one is looking,” Davison said.

Rudy Miller may be reached at rmiller@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow him on Twitter @RudyMillerLV. Find Easton area news on Facebook.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

There had been a critical flaw in their wedding ceremony: one of the witnesses was a convicted, self-admitted pedophile, who had served jail time for molesting a child. According to Jewish law, someone who sins egregiously is unfit to serve as a kosher witness, and absent kosher witnesses, a marriage is halakhically null. There was no need for a religious divorce because the couple had never been married.

Suffocating under the Rabbinate’s chokehold

When rabbis wield the Torah as a political weapon, instead of the tool of justice it should be, the innocent suffer

A war is raging in Israel, and women are the battleground.

Jerusalem’s Rabbinic High Court demonstrated a true feat of halakhic dexterity and masterful legal creativity in a recent decision it issued concerning a long-time agunah — a young woman denied a get (religious bill of divorce) for nine years by her husband, the latter having fled the country and disappeared. To make matters even more urgent, the woman was now pregnant, and her baby could be branded a mamzer — a child born from an illicit relationship, who is restricted from marrying other Jews for all future generations — if the Rabbinic Court did not act quickly.

Longstanding Jewish tradition maintains that in cases like this one, regarding potential mamzerim and agunot, a rabbinic court will do everything in its power, including constructing sophisticated leaps of halakhic logic, in order to clear a mamzer’s status and free an agunah. And indeed, the Jerusalem Rabbinic High Court went to remarkably creative halakhic lengths in our case at hand.

There is one catch, though: their efforts went in the opposite direction, devising innovative ways to keep the agunah’s dead marriage intact and making sure that her child’s status would be cemented as a mamzer.

Wait, what?

The agunah’s lawyer discovered that years ago, when the couple married, there had been a critical flaw in their wedding ceremony: one of the witnesses was a convicted, self-admitted pedophile, who had served jail time for molesting a child. According to Jewish law, someone who sins egregiously is unfit to serve as a kosher witness, and absent kosher witnesses, a marriage is halakhically null. There was no need for a religious divorce because the couple had never been married.

Instead of seizing this opportunity to declare the woman free of her marriage and her baby clear of mamzer status, however, the Rabbinic Court doubled down and presented an exhaustive litany of creative reasons why, counterintuitively, the child molester should be accepted as a kosher witness and the marriage should remain intact.

The Rabbinic Court argued that the sexual abuse the former witness had committed wasn’t really so bad since he didn’t touch the child’s genitals directly, only through the child’s clothing; he had felt twinges of guilt about it on Yom Kippur, which consequently absolved him of his sins; he recites a prayer every night before bed asking general forgiveness from anyone he may have harmed, which counts as repentance; his plea bargain to commute his prison sentence — from five years to three-and-a-half years — included payment of NIS 50,000 ($13,888) to his victim, and that restitution proved that his victim had forgiven him; though he had confessed to the molestation, halakha rejects self-incriminating testimony; since no one in his current community knows that he is a pedophile, it must have been a one-time “slip up”; what he did to the boy didn’t count as forbidden homosexual relations, because hands touching genitals isn’t full-on mishkav zakhar — homosexual sex (note how these rabbis are suddenly eager to find halakhic grounds to tolerate sexual acts between males in the context of child sexual abuse, yet would never extend the same generosity to a consensual, adult gay relationship). The list went on and on.

Therefore, the Rabbinic Court concluded, the pedophile was a 100% kosher witness, and there was no room to declare the marriage null.

What a feat of halakhic creativity! What dedication and ingenuity! What an ambitious triumph of rabbinic rationalizing! All for the sake of making sure an agunah never goes free and to make sure her baby stays a mamzer.

Shkoyach. Bravo.

It gets curiouser, though. About a year ago, the state’s Rabbinic Court finally freed the agunah of infamous get-refuser Oded Guez via annulment, after their own mishandling of the case led him to flee the country. The grounds that they cited for annulling the marriage was that, among other factors, one of the witnesses was lax on the laws of negiyah — he failed to properly adhere to religious guidelines mandating against physical contact with the opposite sex. In the vernacular, he fooled around. That alone was sufficient to declare him “parutz ba’arayot”– in violation of sexual boundaries — and therefore an invalid witness.

This same institution has now classified child molestation as a “small slip-up” and not nearly as egregious a crime as being lax on shomer negiyah. They accept that sexual impropriety is grounds for retroactively disqualifying a witness and therefore annulling a marriage, but selectively define said impropriety, in bad faith.

The halakhic hoops that the Rabbinic Court jumped through in order to declare the pedophile kosher is more than just a twisted manifestation of Blu Greenberg’s famous dictum, “Where there’s a rabbinic will, there’s a halakhic way.” Her statement criticized the rabbinic institutions’ unwillingness to take action, their crimes of negligence. But our case at hand is a crime of deliberate malice, an active and intentional misconstruing of halakha in service of a political end.

The Jerusalem Rabbinic High Court isn’t acting out of malice toward the woman and her baby, per se; they’re just collateral damage. The real target is the private Orthodox rabbinic court headed by Rabbi Daniel Sperber, which had already freed this same woman, via annulment, last summer.

In their decision, the Rabbinic Court calls Rabbi Sperber and his court “little foxes spoiling the vineyard,” who are usurping the state’s rabbis’ authority. The Rabbinic Court presents its own claim to power as a direct and natural extension of Moshe Rabbenu, the biblical Moses himself, bolstered by an exclusivity conferred upon them by the state. They do not see Rabbi Sperber’s annulment as an agunah’s liberation and a mamzer’s redemption, or even as a divergent halakhic approach; it is wholly treated as an act of defiance, an affront to the state’s authority, and it cannot be abided — the ordinary people caught in the crossfire be damned.

What’s a woman’s freedom when the state’s monopoly on religious services is at stake?

In Israel, marriage and divorce are exclusively controlled by the State Rabbinate and state-run Rabbinic Courts. There is no such thing as civil marriage or divorce. Performing halakhic ceremonies like chuppot (Jewish marriages) outside the purview of the state’s institutions is illegal and even punishable with prison time. Ironically, Israel is the only country where Jewish ceremonies are penalized this way.

The state Rabbinic Courts’ notorious ineptitude and corruption have led to a proliferation of grassroots, private Orthodox religious services in recent years, bucking the state’s monopoly. As private kashrut certification, private wedding ceremonies, and private rabbinic courts have gained ground, so has the backlash against them.

Recall that just over a month ago, the Rabbinic Courts pulled out their biggest, most creative guns yet in order to punish the first beneficiary of Rabbi Sperber’s private Orthodox court, Tzviya Gorodetsky. Tzviya had been an agunah for over two decades and the state’s courts had given up on her, telling her that there was nothing more they could do and that she should simply wait for him to die. After Rabbi Sperber’s court found a way to annul Tzviya’s marriage, the Rabbinic Court moved to criminally convict her former husband as a get-refuser, as a way to reinstate her status as a married woman.

Imagine if all of the same motivation, urgency, halachic prowess and legal power demonstrated by the Rabbinic Court in these stories had been used to find solutions to free the women.

Imagine how much good they could do if they used a fraction of this energy to wield Torah as a tool of justice, instead of as a weapon.

Imagine if the Rabbinic Court demonstrated caring for the Jewish people as much as it does fear for their own power.

Imagine if the women who stepped into the state Rabbinic Courts were treated as valuable human beings, deserving of freedom and dignity, instead of as pawns in a larger political game of religion and state.

On behalf of women, on behalf of children, on behalf of victims of sexual abuse, on behalf of Torah, on behalf of democracy, on behalf of every Israeli in this country who is suffocating under the Rabbinate’s chokehold on our lives and our liberty, we say:


Friday, June 07, 2019

Rabbi Dov Linzer of YCT and the de facto head of the Open Orthodox movement concludes and agrees with Rav Moshe Feinstein - that a person who converts for the sake of marriage to a non-observant Jew is not a convert at all - l'chatchila!

Accepting the Mitzvot as a Convert: Does it Matter What You’re Really Thinking?


by Rabbi Dov Linzer  - (Head of the Open Orthodox movement in the U.S.A., the equivalent of the  "Radical Left" of Jewish political movements --- Yet, he concludes and agrees with Rav Moshe Feinstein - that a person who converts for the sake of marriage to a non-observant Jew is not a convert at all - l'chatchila. Please click on the link below the post to see his intriguing Halachic sources)

Rabbi Yitzchak Yehuda Shmelkes (1828-1904) was one of the leading rabbis in the latter part of the 19th century in Eastern Europe. He was the head of the rabbinical court in Lvov (Lemberg) from 1869-1893. His Beit Yiẓḥak (6 vols., 1875–1908), on the four parts of the Shulkḥan Arukh, was widely acclaimed. His opinion on halakhic questions was sought by many prominent contemporary scholars.

Rabbi Schmelkes made a number of particularly influential rulings in new areas of Jewish law. Regarding copyrights, he argued that an author’s exclusive right to publish their manuscript derived from the Jewish law of unfair competition and the author’s property right in controlling access to the physical manuscript, a position held by many contemporary authorities in halakhic copyright law.

 Rabbi Shmelkes also dealt with the question of the use of electricity, other than electric lights, on Shabbat.  He ruled that one could apply the category of molid, creating something new, to the generating of electric current.  This position was widely adopted for many years, although recently it has been challenged by a number of contemporary poskim.

In the current teshuvah, Rabbi Shmelkes deals with a case of conversion for the sake of marriage where it is highly questionable if the prospective convert really intends to live an observant life.  Rabbi Shmelkes first rules in line with the Talmud and against certain other poskim of his time, that conversion for the sake of marriage is prohibited li’chatchilah.

The part that we have excerpted below focuses on his analysis regarding whether such a conversion works post facto.  The Talmud states that it does, but Rabbi Shmelkes questions whether this would apply even in cases where we know that the person is not sincerely accepting upon him- or herself the obligation to observe the mitzvot.  This question – what level of commitment of observance is required, and whether we need to concern ourselves about the person’s intentions or not, especially if as far as we can tell the person is, or may be, sincere – is one that is highly relevant today.

We have chosen this teshuvah for Shavuot, because of its connection both to the book of Ruth and to receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai.  In the Talmud, Ruth is seen as a paradigm for the righteous convert, one who sincerely commits to all the mitzvot, and who is not doing it for any ulterior motive (although, interestingly, her conversion seems to be motivated more from a love of Naomi than from a connection to the faith itself).  And the acceptance of the Torah and mitzvot at Mt. Sinai serves, in the Talmud, as a model for the various rituals of conversion (immersion, circumcision, and acceptance of mitzvot).

Rabbi Shmelkes draws on the Mt. Sinai example and the various midrashim that deal with the idea that the Israelites were coerced to accept the Torah, and raises questions as to whether we can derive from these midrashim that a verbal acceptance suffices even if a person’s commitment is not fully sincere.  He goes back and forth on this question, and although he seems at times to conclude decisively that a verbal commitment is not sufficient if we know or suspect that the person is not sincere, in the end he is prepared to recognize the conversion under discussion, at least post facto. In the end, the question remains: Does it suffice to say, as our foremothers and forefathers did at Mt. Sinai, “We will do and we will hear,” even if their hearts were not fully in it, or must we all have the sincerity and depth of commitment as Ruth did when she said to Naomi, “You nation is my nation, and your God is my God”?

In conclusion – behold, were your honor to permit this Gentile woman, who had intercourse with a Jew, to convert, and to allow this Jew to marry her, this is something that is not possible for two reasons. One, that as a matter of halakha, even were she have to already converted, it would be forbidden to marry her, as is stated in the Mishna and Tosefta, And two, if this Gentile wishes to convert for the sake of some benefit, i.e., for the sake of marriage, one should not agree to convert her li’chatchilah. However, were she to convert in the presence of three non-scholars who did not know that she was doing this for the sake of marriage, then post facto the conversion would be valid, and were he (her lover) to marry her, he would not be obligated to divorce her.  Speaking more generally, when it comes to converts nowadays, one needs to see that accept upon themselves, sincerely, to observe the foundations of faith and the rest of the mitzvot.  And Shabbat is a major foundation, for one who violates Shabbat is like one who worships idols.  And if a person converts himself and does not accept upon himself the observance of Shabbat and the mitzvot, he is not a convert.
I have written what appears to me in my humble opinion.