Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Predators are great at sniffing out the kids who are already having trouble in other areas of their lives and who may be vulnerable. Still, there are many things that parents and caregivers can do to protect children!

Give Your Child the Tools to Recognize Sexual Abuse

Talk to kids about their bodies and empower them to speak out.

It seems that every day we open our newspapers, go on social media or watch the news, there’s a horrific new story of child exploitation and abuse. In my role as a counselor and educator who focuses on prevention of child sexual abuse, people often ask me, “Is sexual abuse more rampant today than in the past?” Caregivers and teachers want to know why it seems as if there is an explosion of new allegations.

It’s a legitimate question and one that’s not easy to answer: Sexual abuse remains an underreported crime, yet there are more outlets than ever for survivors to talk about traumatic experiences. Light is slowly shining into the dark places where predators have always hidden and on those who harbor and aid them. So while stories of abuse by trusted clergy or even family members are difficult to read and painful to witness, I am elated to know that we are finally giving a voice to the voiceless. Statistics show at least one in 10 children in the United States will be sexually abused before their 18th birthdays — it’s a topic we cannot ignore.

With a spotlight shining on survivors’ stories, today is a new day. The Child Victims Act was signed into law in New York in February, extending the statute of limitations under which child abusers can be held criminally and civilly liable and giving survivors a broader path to justice. In June, New York’s state Assembly passed Erin’s Law, which mandates sex abuse education in public schools. Now is the time to focus on prevention. Predators are great at sniffing out the kids who are already having trouble in other areas of their lives and who may be vulnerable. Still, there are many things that parents and caregivers can do to protect children:
  • Teach children that their feelings matter and that they deserve respect. For parents, this does not mean that children get to run the house or do whatever they please, but it does mean that when a child shares a feeling, we validate it. Many parents can relate to the classic scenario of preparing a wonderful dinner, with a main course and side dishes and even dessert. Then, shortly after dinner and right before bedtime, as your child is putting on PJ’s, you hear: “I’m hungry.” We all know that we would love to say, “That’s just not possible” or “No you’re not,” or maybe something not as PG. But it takes just a little tweaking to validate a child and still hold our place at the top of the household hierarchy. Try something like, “I’m sorry you’re hungry, but you will have to wait for breakfast,” or “Oh, you’re hungry … there’s a carrot in the fridge for you,” to maintain the validity of your child’s feelings.
    Respect for a child and validation of her feelings gives her a sense of self and helps a child recognize her emotions. Being able to recognize our feelings is the first step in knowing when something doesn’t feel right. Predators rely on the fact that children can be easily manipulated. Children who have a better sense of what feels O.K. and what doesn’t — and are able to receive validation by communicating those feelings to trusted adults — are at a big advantage.

  • Emphasize that children’s bodies belong to them. Kids need to understand that no one is allowed to touch their private parts, look at their private parts or talk to them about their private parts outside of appropriate settings, such as a doctor’s office. Communicate this concept to your kids as early as 2 years old. You can start while giving them a bath or during toilet training. Keep your language simple and age appropriate: “Mommy is washing your eyes and ears and back and your penis. Your body is so special and it belongs to you, no one is allowed to touch you because this is your body. If anyone does, you tell Mommy right away because my job is to keep you safe and touching, especially on your private parts, can be unsafe.”
    As your child gets older, the conversation should get more detailed and can include using “what if” scenarios, dialogue and even role playing. Ensure your child knows that these rules apply for everyone. That means using sentences like, “No one is allowed to make you feel uncomfortable, even if that person is your cousin, uncle, aunt or neighbor. It’s never O.K., and I will always believe you.” Many children will not know this unless you tell them.

  • Make sure kids understand the difference between secrets and surprises. Teach children that a secret should never be kept about their private parts. An example you can use is a doctor’s visit, where someone is looking at and possibly touching private parts. Tell them that it is O.K. because the doctor is making sure the child is healthy, but most importantly it is not a secret. Parents should be in the room with a child when he is getting checked or know of the visit and then discuss what occurred with the child.
    As a counterbalance, help kids understand the nuance between secrets and surprises. Asking a child to keep a surprise party or gift under wraps could be confusing, so emphasize that there’s a difference between secrets and surprises. A gift’s recipient will eventually know of the surprise and will most likely feel comfortable and happy. On the other hand, a secret that can never be told is not O.K. and can make us feel yucky, confused or sad. This is a crucial concept for children, because predators will try to have children keep their secret.

  • Share your own stories, and include as many feelings and sensations as you can. Children look to adults who are close to them to figure out the meaning of what they are experiencing, so it’s helpful to share our own experiences. This will help kids learn what it means to express what they are feeling and it will put words to things they don’t understand. Your stories do not have to be abuse-related; the important thing is to model what it means to listen to our gut feelings. Stories can be as simple as: “I was so frustrated this morning, because I got stuck in traffic and I knew I would be late to work. My stomach felt like there were butterflies in it, and my hands were so tight I was gripping the steering wheel.” Communicating these things with our children gives them permission to share their own feelings of anger, confusion, happiness and sadness and to understand that someone else can feel this way.

  • Ask for permission to touch a child. When we ask children for small permissions, we are giving them the sense that they have control over their bodies. This way, if a predator walks into their life, they will have a reference to pull from that what they are experiencing feels different. Something as small as asking, “Is it O.K. if I fix your collar? It’s turned up,” sends a message to a child that he has some autonomy over his body. Practicing dialogue like this can go a long way in helping a child realize that a predator will not ask permission, and it will help him spot those tricky people.

  • Empower kids to say “no” and talk openly. Encouraging emotional honesty and physical boundaries helps kids gain some control over their bodies. Letting a child say, “No, I don’t want a hug, but a handshake is O.K.” shows her that she has choices. Still, children may not be able to say “no” to their abuser or stop the abuse. Most children who are sexually abused do not disclose their abuse, so we need to tell children that even if they can’t say “no,” even if they can’t get away, the most important thing to do is to tell someone about the abuse. Tell them that you will believe them no matter what happens, and they will not get into trouble for telling you.
Parents and caregivers can help children come forward with stories of abuse, and get the validation and help they need. Preventing abuse is equally important: By giving children the necessary tools, we can help them learn how to stay safer and support them should they face a traumatic situation.

Dr. Shani Zoldan-Verschleiser, AuD., L.M.S.W., an alumna of the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work in New York City, is the CEO of Magenu, an organization dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

“Aleinu means ‘it’s on us’ or, ‘it is our duty.’ We believe that it is our collective responsibility, as a Jewish community, to protect the children in our care from abuse or harm.”

Danielle Pitkoff, program coordinator at Sacred Spaces.

Danielle Sara Pitkoff is passionate about her work, her studies, her Judaism and in “making a difference” in the world. Pitkoff who is 24 years old, is the program coordinator  at Sacred Spaces, a non-profit that builds healthy Jewish communities by partnering with Jewish institutions to prevent and respond to sexual abuse and other abuses of power. A core member of the organization’s consulting team, she is coordinating “Aleinu: Safeguarding Our Children,” an initiative funded by UJA Federation of New York, which will give youth-serving organizations the tools to implement child protection policies and best practices. She also works on policy development and program assessment.

Pitkoff, who lives in Manhattan, grew up in Pound Ridge, New York,  attended the Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy in Stamford, Connecticut, and SAR High School in Riverdale. Before matriculating at Johns Hopkins University, she attended Midreshet Ein Hanatziv in Israel.

After arriving at Johns Hopkins University in 2014, Pitkoff started to volunteer at the university’s crisis intervention hotline for victims of sexual assault. She was soon working shifts on the hotline on her own and by her senior year, she was the co-director of Johns Hopkin’s Sexual Assault Resource Unit (SARU), where she was on call for all of her peers. In her role as co-director , she trained staff and student organizations, led campaigns for policy reform, developed workshops for survivor healing and support and partnered with government agencies to improve access to and quality of resources for victims. 

Pitkoff explained, “Sexual assault, harassment and abuse affect so, so many individuals and, upon realizing the high prevalence of these issues on college campuses in particular, I felt deeply compelled to help address them.”

The Hopkins’ hotline is a peer-to-peer crisis intervention resource which requires careful training. Pitkoff explained the importance of training volunteers in empathetic listening, crisis response, and resource referral. By her senior year, Pitkoff was accompanying survivors to the hospital and remaining with them throughout the university investigations. 

Pitkoff shared her thoughts,“I try to honor the voices and experiences of survivors in all of my work, because I firmly believe that doing so is the only way to create lasting culture change and effectively prevent continued abuse.”

Pitkoff noted, “Both of my parents have given so much of their time, both professionally and voluntarily, to their Jewish communities, modeling for my siblings and me real leadership and dedication. I am grateful to them for framing my upbringing in Jewish values that emphasize treating others with kindness and sensitivity. I was fortunate to have teachers, counselors and mentors who inspired in me a strong foundation in Judaism and community. Just as they impacted me, I feel a responsibility to give back to my community, to create spaces for others to safely question and challenge norms and to offer and receive support.”

Pitkoff was a women, gender and sexuality research fellow while at Hopkins, and her work with survivors became her calling. She explained, “My work with Sacred Spaces is an opportunity to take the training and experience that I gained in college and apply it to the communities that I am most intimately familiar with. Our work is guided by the unique needs of Jewish institutions, and we view the building of safe and sacred community spaces as a moral Jewish imperative. It is at the core of what it means to really live our Jewish values.”

Pitkoff cites Dr. Shira Berkovits, founder and CEO of Sacred Spaces, as a significant mentor. Pitkoff elaborated on the importance of Sacred Spaces working within organizations in developing a proper organizational policy on prevention and responsible protocols. “Often, organizations and their leadership want to do the right thing but do not have the tools, knowledge, or resources necessary to properly protect their constituents from abuse or respond appropriately when abuse occurs. It can be hard for organizational leaders and constituents to recognize that their community faces the same unique risks as all faith-based institutions. It is also difficult to reconcile that someone they know and love, and who may have otherwise made great contributions to their community, could also be able to perpetrate harm.”

Sacred Spaces offers “Case Consults” where individual organizations are guided in responding, in a holistic manner, to the cases that they are dealing with. Consults include explaining the relevant legal and mandated reporting requirements, demonstrating how to support survivors and their families, how to communicate about the processes with the wider community, how to establish policies for preventing future incidents, and how to create opportunities for institutional healing.

“Aleinu: Safeguarding Our Children,” is a groundbreaking educational campaign that provides Jewish youth-serving organizations with the much-needed tools and resources to guide them in implementing 10 best practices in child protection. Explained Pitkoff, “Aleinu means ‘it’s on us’ or, ‘it is our duty.’ We believe that it is our collective responsibility, as a Jewish community, to protect the children in our care from abuse or harm.” 

The campaign is meant to standardize child protection in our Jewish organizations by asking each participating institution to commit to implementing at least two best practices each year for five years. Upon committing to incorporate a best practice step, institutions will receive tools in the form of how-to guides, worksheets, video tutorials and sample policy language to assist them in their implementation.

Through all the efforts to reform policy and advocate for survivors, Pitkoff emphasized that it is critical to show compassion to ourselves and each other. We have to have ways of showing publicly, “I am here with you, I see you. You are not alone.”

For information or support, please call the National Sexual Assault hotline operated by RAINN at 800.656.HOPE.


Monday, July 29, 2019

When sex offenders are treated as innocent and women are rendered invisible, the Orthodox community needs deep and wide repair...

The rotten state of Orthodoxy ---- When sex offenders are treated as innocent and women are rendered invisible, the Orthodox community needs deep and wide repair

Men's access to the grave of Rabbi Yosef Caro zt"l, in Tsfat, Israel. The men are able to draw close enough to even kiss the grave. (Laura Ben David)
Men's access to the grave of Rabbi Yosef Caro zt"l, in Tsfat, Israel. The men are able to draw close enough to even kiss the grave. (Laura Ben David)

If a picture speaks a thousand words, these images scream volumes. Taken a few weeks ago in the ancient cemetery of Tsfat, they show two sides of the same grave. Rav Yosef Caro zt”l was a mystic, and the author of the Shulchan Aruch, among other works. Thousands come to pray at his graveside. Some have total access to the monument. They can touch it, kiss it, cry on it. Others can talk to the wall behind it. 


Women’s ‘access’ to the same grave, from behind a wall. They are unable to even see the grave, let alone approach it, or touch it. (Laura Ben-David)

I cannot think of a better pair of images to illustrate the state of Orthodoxy today, where there is one open accessed reality for men, and one increasingly restrictive reality for women. 
You see, today, in Orthodoxy, a man can:
  • seduce a woman to leave her husband by claiming that his is the soul of King David and hers of Batsheva. He can promise to marry her upon the (according to him) imminent death of his wife, and still maintain his position, prestige, and influence as head of a yeshiva, having been granted forgiveness by a religious court of his peers (Rav Shmuel Tal). Some brave souls speak out, but they go unheeded.
  • be convicted of sex offenses, spend time in jail for them, and still be revered by thousands of followers and honored with the lighting of a torch at a government sponsored event (Rabbi Eliezer Berland).
  • confess to having touched students inappropriately (and gone beyond that too), and still teach at prestigious yeshivot, and be defended by some leading rabbis in the community (Rav Motti Elon).
  • protect and defend sex offenders, strong-arm professionals to lie about the mental health of accused abusers, stymie investigations into abuse allegations, and work towards the early release of predators and still serve as (deputy) health minister in the Israeli government (Rabbi Yaakov Litzman).
  • be accused of molestation and rape for decades, preying on the weakest in the community, threaten victims and their families and still be honored and respected as the chief rabbi of Ukraine (Rabbi Yaakov Bleich).
And a woman can:
  • have her motivations questioned and her learning belittled, even while her opportunities to learn are more numerous than ever before.
  • expect all male committees to be the ones who define her communal roles and opportunities to participate in ritual.
  • be increasingly shut out of holy spaces. The Kotel, Kever Rachel, the ancient cemetery of Tsfat, and more holy sites have smaller and inferior women’s spaces.
  • be required to give up her rights, dignity, and possessions in exchange for freedom, in the event that her husband refuses her a divorce.
  • hear from rabbis in positions of authority that spousal abuse is not grounds for divorce.
  • see no images of women, even at an all-women conference.
And she cannot:
  • use her own face to advertise her business.
  • see images of other women like her in advertisements or publications.
  • read an Orthodox publication that uses the correct words for BREAST CANCER or discusses what it may look and feel like.
  • Participate alongside men in setting policy for communal issues.
  • influence the determination and execution of policies that affect her.
Should she seek to change these policies, and ask:
  • for women to be included in conversations and decisions that affect them…
  • to have a headshot in her bio…
  • to have a seat in shul where she can see and hear…
…she can expect to be called a “feminist with an agenda.”

Why are God fearing, religious women being increasingly shut out? Why are our motivations constantly and consistently questioned?

Why are the things that mean so much to us, walled off from us? And who gave the wall- builders that right?

Why is male access guaranteed, while female access shrinks?

The contrast between the way that the Orthodox community in general treats men with the way it treats women has never been stronger. Time and again, we see that men are “innocent until proven guilty.” It might be more accurate to say “innocent even when proven guilty.” 

Yet for women, it is almost the opposite: women are “presumed guilty until proven innocent.” Even the wish to dance with a Torah scroll on Simchat Torah is considered subversive unless it can be “proven” to come from a pure, spiritual place. 

Once we stood at Sinai together, men and women, “like one person with one heart.” Today, the heart of Orthodoxy is broken, splintered into a dangerous and gaping divide. 

About the Author
Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll is a writer and an activist. Cofounder of chochmatnashim.org She loves her people enough to call out the nonsense. See her work at skjaskoll.com 

Thursday, July 25, 2019


Disgraced millionaire Jeffrey Epstein was found injured and in a fetal position in his cell at a New York City jail, sources close to the investigation told NBC News on Wednesday.

Epstein, 66, was found semi-conscious with marks on his neck in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan some time in the last two days, the sources said. Epstein is on suicide watch.

Two sources told NBC News that Epstein may have tried to hang himself, while a third source cautioned that the injuries weren't serious, questioning whether Epstein might have staged an attack or a suicide attempt to get a transfer to another facility.

Another source said that an assault hadn't been ruled out and that another inmate had been questioned.

Attorneys for Epstein did not immediately return calls for comment. A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons didn't return calls, and spokesmen for the US Marshals and US attorney's office declined to comment.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Accepting the all-knowing religious leader whose path will lead to redemption frees one from confronting a world of confusion and inconsistencies...

On charismatic rabbis and cults 

Judaism has many models of rabbinic leadership, but none of them legitimately requires followers to stop thinking for themselves

Illustrative. Ultra-Orthodox men gather in front of the Embassy of South Africa in Ramat Gan, during a demonstration in support of Eliezer Berland, who was then jailed in South Africa, , on April 25, 2016. (Roni Schutzer/Flash90/File)
Ultra-Orthodox men gather in front of the Embassy of South Africa in Ramat Gan, during a demonstration in support of Eliezer Berland, who was then jailed in South Africa, , on April 25, 2016 
by Rabbi Yosef Blau

The term “cult” is associated with religious movements led by a charismatic leader who controls the behavior of the cult’s members. Orthodox Judaism, where religious behavior is determined by adherence to Halakha (Jewish law), should be immune to any internal cults. Yet in recent years, there have been a number of stories of charismatic rabbis who have created communities of Orthodox Jews under their respective absolute control. Inevitably, there arises a scandal involving the leader that many of his followers refuse to acknowledge. The leader has convinced his followers of his extraordinary mystical powers. 

Often a talmudic scholar, the leader sometimes claims a unique approach to learning that outside rabbis do not understand.

Are there specific factors that gave rise to an increase in this troubling phenomenon? Perhaps the impact of the radical changes in the experience of the Jewish people, from the devastation of the Holocaust to the re-establishment of the Jewish state has increased confusion, leading to an openness to a charismatic religious figure who can explain the events and give them meaning. In the 71 years of the State of Israel, there has been a lack of security caused by wars and terrorism, accompanied by extraordinary events that imply Messianic significance. The euphoria following the Six Day War was tempered by the complexity of the Yom Kippur War. The ingathering of the the exiles, including the Russian Aliyah from the “Jews of Silence,” as well as that of Ethiopian Jews, whose very existence was barely known, was all followed by a limited integration. Israeli society is split on the most basic issues.

There is a consensus that the official rabbinic leadership has declined and is mired in politics. Within both the religious Zionist community and the Haredi world, there are endless subdivisions. It is an era ripe for those who claim to have the answers. Joining a small but united community creates a sense of security. Accepting the all-knowing religious leader whose path will lead to redemption frees one from confronting a world of confusion and inconsistencies.

Since this kind of  rabbinic leader claims to function within Orthodox tradition, many, including rabbis, do not see the potential danger. For those who look, however, there are clear warning signs.

For example: any deviation from loyalty to the leader leads to shunning, if not expulsion. The leader’s behavior is not subject to the same scrutiny as that of his followers because he has established himself as beyond the understanding of others. While listening to rabbinic authority is an integral element in Orthodox Judaism, traditionally, that applied to areas of religious law. Even in the Hasidic world, where the rebbe is consulted on all kinds of matters, the rebbe does not force his followers to ask for his direction, nor does he check on their loyalty.

The growing acceptance of the doctrine of Daat Torah, which assign superior knowledge in non-halakhic matters to great rabbis, makes the line separating normative Orthodox Judaism from rabbinic cult leaders less clear. Neo-Hasidism, which in effect is creating new Hasidic rebbes, has yielded groups of followers who assume that the assertion of ruach hakodesh (divine inspiration) is standard for a rebbe. The dangers associated with religious cults warrants a healthy dose of skepticism.

I hesitate to tread on questions of whether we are on a clear Messianic path and how close, but I encourage skepticism of anyone who claims to know particularly if he will play a major role in the process. Precisely because we live in an extraordinary time in Jewish history, we have to be particularly alert to the danger of one who has all the answers — as long as we follow only his leadership. It is irrelevant whether the charismatic leader is manipulative or delusional, sincere or a fraud, one should never give up his or her right to make one’s own choices.

Rabbi Yosef Blau is the Senior Mashgiach Ruchani (spiritual advisor) at Yeshiva University, and a partial resident in Jerusalem. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

How we edit reality and form a story -- and then mistake that story for the truth," says psychological illusionist Derren Brown

Remember this "made-up" reality --- Before you spend your hard-earned money on phony mekubalim, segulas....and the "others" that rob you blind --- because you let them!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Rabbi Marc Angel Paraphrased in Summary - "To Reduce the Amount of Jewish Boys Marrying Gentile Women (intermarriage), Have More Jewish Boys Marry Gentile Women"....(Just Don't Call Them Gentiles)

 photos of a woman from the adult film industry very recently converted to "Orthodox Judaism"

"We live at a time when intermarriage rates in the diaspora are at an astronomical level and show no signs of declining. We live at a time when thousands of people would be willing to turn to Orthodox rabbis for halakhic conversion-if only we presented a halakhic framework for giyyur that is meaningful, accessible, and respectful to the needs and concerns of the proselytes themselves. Local Orthodox rabbis, using their own knowledge of each case on a personal basis, are far better equipped to deal with the challenges of giyyur today than rabbinic bureaucracies."

The Jewish community underwent cataclysmic changes during the course of the nineteenth century. While most of world Jewry was religiously observant in 1800, a large majority were no longer devoted to halakhic tradition by 1900. Nineteenth-century Orthodox rabbinic leadership had to cope with the rise of Reform Judaism, the spread of Haskala, the breakdown of communal authority over its members, the defection of Jews from Torah and mitzvoth-and from Judaism altogether.

The dramatic erosion in religious observance led to various responses among 19th century Orthodox rabbis. Rabbi Moses Sofer (1762-1839), known as the Hatam Sofer, was recognized as the most authoritative Orthodox voice who shaped traditionalist opposition to Reform Judaism and, indeed, to all those who challenged the hegemony of halakha. He believed that deviators forfeited their right to be considered as proper Jews.[1]

He wrote: "If we had the power over them, my opinion would be to separate them from us [our borders], we should not give our daughters to their sons and their daughters should not be accepted for our sons so as not to be drawn after them. Their sect should be considered like those of Zadok and Boethus, Anan, and Saul, they among themselves and we among ourselves." [2]

The Hatam Sofer argued forcefully for maintaining the sanctity of every law and tradition. He is famed for his aphorism "hadash assur min haTorah", by which he meant that the Torah forbids innovations i.e. reforms. His hashkafa (religious worldview) identified Jewishness with scrupulous observance of Torah and mitzvoth and acceptance of the halakhic way of life.

Although the Hatam Sofer's position was dominant, other Orthodox voices called for a more tolerant attitude toward those who veered away from the halakhic way of life. Rabbi David Zvi Hoffman (1843-1921), the leading figure in Berlin's Adass Jisroel Orthodox community, favored a "cooperative separatism" i.e. the Orthodox needed to maintain their distinctiveness, but also had to find ways of cooperating with the non-Orthodox. [3] In an earlier generation, Rabbi Yaacov Ettlinger (1798-1871) had sought to ameliorate the halakhic status of the non-observant Jew through the classification of "tinok shenishba"-comparing the non-observant Jew to a Jewish child who had been captured and raised by non-Jews and who therefore could not be held responsible for ignorance of Jewish laws and customs.[4] Thus, while the non-Orthodox masses certainly fell short of Jewish religious requirements, they should not be rejected out of hand; they simply did not know any better. This halakhic argument fostered a more sympathetic approach than that taken by Orthodox isolationists.

Both the hard-line and the more tolerant Orthodox rabbis were pious and learned Torah scholars. Both groups sought support for their views in the Talmud and halakhic literature. Why did they come to different conclusions? Their differences did not stem, I believe, from different interpretations of halakhic texts. Rather, their halakhic stances reflected different hashkafot (religious worldviews) and different evaluations of how to address the challenges that faced them. The Hatam Sofer viewed Torah-observant Jews as the "real" Jews, and the non-observant Jews as betrayers of Judaism who had to be de-legitimatized. For true Judaism to flourish, it was necessary for Orthodoxy to separate itself to the extent possible from the non-Orthodox. The spokesmen for a more conciliatory Orthodoxy focused on the principle that all Jews-religiously observant or not-are part of the Jewish people and need to see themselves as members of one peoplehood. Thus, ways had to be found to bridge the gaps between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox.

As Orthodoxy continued to lose ground to the non-observant Jewish population, the rejectionist position gained traction within the mitzvah-centered community. The opinion hardened that strong measures were needed to insulate Torah-true Jews from their sinful brethren, and to distinguish between those who observed the mitzvoth and those who rebelled against Torah.

As the hard-line position gained sway regarding non-Orthodox Jews, it also had a profound impact on Orthodox views relating to the acceptance of non-Jews as converts. Since Orthodox rabbis increasingly emphasized mitzvah observance as the essence of Judaism-in order to differentiate clearly between themselves and the reformers-- they came to see the conversion process as entailing a full commitment by the convert to observe all the mitzvoth. Eventually, the position arose that any conversion that took place without the convert's total mitzvah commitment-was not a valid conversion at all....


Shedding Light On The Conversion Racket! The Facts Of The "Jewish Converts" Industry - The Vast Majority Do It For Personal Reasons Totally Unrelated To Becoming Jews!


Monday, July 15, 2019

The Dangers Of Orthodox Jews Becoming Too Tolerant....

A Physician Loses His Job for Questioning the Wisdom of Sex Changes for Children

July 15 2019

Two years ago, Allan Josephson, a psychiatrist at the University of Louisville, participated in a panel at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, where he criticized the emerging consensus that children who feel themselves to belong to the opposite sex should receive psychological and medical treatment based on “gender affirmation”: that is, they should be treated as members of the sex to which they wish to belong and receive hormonal and eventually surgical interventions. Josephson was thereafter demoted by the university and eventually removed from the position he had held for over fifteen years. In an interview with Madeleine Kearns, he explains:
I had built [the university’s child- and adolescent-psychiatry program] up from a few people to probably fifteen and we had a clinic of almost 30. [After word of the panel got out], I was banned from faculty meetings. I was banned from certain kinds of interactions with staff and told what I could and couldn’t say to people. . . .
I’ve spoken with colleagues on various campuses who have been in similar situations, and someone will come into their offices, close the door, and say something to the effect of, “You know, I really agree with you, but for various reasons I can’t speak out.” . . . But I can assure you since the Heritage Foundation [panel], I’ve had many supportive calls from parents of children experiencing gender dysphoria, etc.
As for the decision of the American Academy of Pediatrics to endorse “gender affirmation” for minors, Josephson sees this as a case of ideology trumping medical science:
It’s a political process. . . . [T]he way committees are formed [at such professional organizations], various people who have various interests get on them. They do intense work, and sometimes very good work, but it often doesn’t meet the scrutiny of a scientific statement. An organization affirming a position is not necessarily science, but it is a group of people agreeing to say something. . . .
I saw parents and children being hurt by [gender affirmation]. These kids are, for the most part, very vulnerable people. You can see that when you spend time with them. Certainly, the teenagers have multiple problems. Most of the time, 60 or 70 percent of the time, [they suffer from] depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse. . . . And parents are confused because they’re basically getting one message from medical and mental-health professionals, and that is “affirm people.”
One of the ways to diagnose transgenderism, according to the [official] lingo, is that if a child is “persistent, consistent, and insistent” in the demand that he or she belongs to a sex other than his or her biological sex, then [his or her claim] must be true. When I saw that, my knee-jerk response was, “Do these people have children?” Because in the process of raising children, they insistently, persistently, consistently demand lots of things that are not good for them, whether it’s turning off the computer, eating healthy food, or not staying up too late, and it’s the parents’ job then to guide them to say, “This is what you need to do to be healthy.”


Friday, July 12, 2019

Acosta Gave Epstein 12 More Years To Rape .....God Knows How Many More Kids! Acosta Now Has The Credentials To Be a Featured Keynote Speaker At The Next Agudah Convention...

BREAKING: Labor Secretary Alex Acosta announced he will resign from his post in one week amid controversy over Jeffrey Epstein plea deal ! https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/452184-acosta-out-as-trump-labor-secretary


Alex Acosta’s Team ‘Bent Over Backwards’ For Accused Child Sex Trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, 2007 Letter Said


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Alexander Acosta Is A Liar!

Examining Acosta’s Claims on the Epstein Prosecution

R. Alexander Acosta, the labor secretary, defended his handling of a sex crimes case against the financier Jeffrey Epstein over a decade ago. 

The labor secretary, R. Alexander Acosta, rebuffed calls for his resignation by Democrats, who criticized his decision as a prosecutor in 2008 to accept a lenient sentence for the financier Jeffrey Epstein.

At a news conference in Washington, R. Alexander Acosta, the labor secretary and a former United States attorney in Florida, on Wednesday gave his account of how federal prosecutors dealt with allegations that Jeffrey Epstein had abused young women and girls, a case first handled by state prosecutors. Here’s how his version of events stacks up against what we know.
What Mr. Acosta Said
“Simply put, the Palm Beach state attorney’s office was ready to let Epstein walk free, no jail time, nothing.”
Prosecutors who worked with Mr. Acosta said that the federal case presented them with legal challenges that made the matter more suited to a state court. Federal laws, they said, would have required the United States attorney’s office to prove that Mr. Epstein, a financier, crossed state lines with the intent to commit the acts.

Nonetheless, federal prosecutors had legal firepower and resources not available to a local prosecutor. That was especially important for a case that presented such complex legal and logistical challenges, involved a large number of victims — up to 40 at the time of the deal — and the prospect of facing the best defense lawyers and private investigators Mr. Epstein’s money could buy. Local law enforcement officials and the F.B.I. referred the case to Mr. Acosta, in part because they feared Mr. Epstein would face no more than a single state charge related to prostitution, which warranted a fine and no jail time.

Investigators involved in the case were hoping Mr. Acosta could pursue a case that would impose a more substantial penalty on Mr. Epstein. The outcome negotiated by Mr. Acosta’s office was a plea deal with state prosecutors on two prostitution charges that led Mr. Epstein to serve 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail and be registered as a sex offender. During his sentence, he was permitted to participate in a work-release program that allowed him to go to his office six days a week for 12 hours a day. 

Barry Krischer, the former top prosecutor for Palm Beach County, said on Wednesday that Mr. Acosta was trying to “rewrite history” by suggesting that state prosecutors were going to be even more lenient toward Mr. Epstein.

“I can emphatically state that Mr. Acosta’s recollection of this matter is completely wrong,” Mr. Krischer said in a statement. “Federal prosecutors do not take a back seat to state prosecutors. That’s not how the system works in the real world.”

If Mr. Acosta believed the state deal was so terrible, he should have filed a federal indictment instead of conducting “secret negotiations,” Mr. Krischer said.
What Mr. Acosta Said
“She talks about the challenges faced, she talks about the victims being scared and traumatized, refusing to testify, and how some victims actually exonerated Epstein. Most had significant concerns about their identities being revealed. The acts that they had faced were horrible and they didn’t want people to know about them.”
Mr. Acosta was referring to a federal prosecutor on his staff and the possibility that victims might not be willing to testify against Mr. Epstein. Adam Horowitz, a lawyer who represented some of the victims, said that Mr. Acosta’s arguments at the news conference were disingenuous.
He said that the young women were scared to testify, but that it was because the prosecutors had terrified them.

“The prosecutors were saying, ‘These defense lawyers are going to go through your whole personal life, dig up your bad acts and your sex life. When they heard that from prosecutors, sure, they were intimidated,” Mr. Horowitz said. “They kept saying, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’”

Eventually, after years and under different circumstances, many of the victims did talk — to a Miami Herald reporter — telling the paper that they were dissatisfied with the efforts of Mr. Acosta’s office. 

In a pool of victims so large, it is inevitable that some of them will resist going through to trial, said Spencer Kuvin, a lawyer for three of the victims. But two of his three clients gave depositions and were “willing and ready” to testify, he said.
What Mr. Acosta Said
“We believe that we proceeded appropriately, that based on the evidence and not just my opinion but I have shared the affidavit. Based on the evidence, there was value to getting a guilty plea and having him register.”
It is impossible to know how members of a jury might have responded to the evidence if it had been presented to them in a federal trial — or whether efforts by Mr. Epstein’s team to pressure the victims or intimidate prosecutors would have worked. But Mr. Acosta’s decision to accept a plea deal was widely — but not universally — supported by his own team at the time.
A. Marie Villafaña, the lead prosecutor in the case and one of the few women in Mr. Acosta’s leadership team, pushed him to bring charges even if it risked losing in court. She was eventually overruled, and helped Mr. Acosta work out the logistics of the plea deal.
What Mr. Acosta Said
“When it was finally clear that Epstein would comply with the agreement, she talks about how she made efforts to notify the victims, how that was a Friday afternoon at 4:15 and that she learned that the state had scheduled the plea for 8:30 the following Monday. And she talks about how over the weekend, she made every effort to notify the victims at that time.”
Mr. Acosta was referring to efforts by Ms. Villafaña to reach the victims. His office began directly negotiating a plea agreement with Mr. Epstein’s lawyers in August 2007, according to The Miami Herald. They reached an agreement on Sept. 24 of that year, but talks continued until June 2008, when Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty in court.

From the time the F.B.I. began investigating Mr. Epstein in 2006 to Sept. 24, 2007, Mr. Acosta’s office “never conferred with the victims” or informed them that such an agreement was under consideration, a 2019 federal court ruling shows. The ruling notes that Mr. Epstein’s lawyers sought assurances that the victims would be kept in the dark.

Mr. Acosta cited an affidavit from Ms. Villafaña, who stated that she did not notify victims because she was worried about negotiations over a provision that would allow the victims to obtain monetary damages. She said she was concerned that Mr. Epstein’s lawyers would undermine the credibility of the victims if negotiations fell through and the case went to trial.

Even after the agreement was reached with Mr. Epstein, the prosecutors kept the details from victims.
The victims received letters from the F.B.I. in January 2008 informing them that the case was still under investigation, but not disclosing the agreement. Six months later, a lawyer for the victims, Bradley Edwards, met with a prosecutor to discuss the case — again, the agreement was left unmentioned.

On June 27, 2008, Mr. Edwards was informed that Mr. Epstein would plead guilty in court, but was not told that the state plea would be the resolution to the federal case. Mr. Horowitz said nobody reached out to any of his seven clients before Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty on June 30, 2008. And Mr. Kuvin said that lawyers had to fight in court for months to learn the details of the deal.
What Mr. Acosta Said
“The meeting that was alleged was a breakfast meeting that took place after the agreement was negotiated, not before. The agreement was signed in September.”
Mr. Acosta is correct that the meeting he had with Jay Lefkowitz, one of Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, took place about two weeks after the plea agreement was reached in September 2007. It is less clear what they discussed.

In a letter to Mr. Acosta, Mr. Lefkowitz noted the meeting took place on Oct. 12, 2007, and thanked Mr. Acosta for his “commitment” to not contact any victims or witnesses.

After the meeting, Mr. Epstein’s lawyers continued to negotiate an addendum and objected repeatedly to notifying the victims.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sexual assault of children “like an epidemic,” rape crisis centers says ---- The Association of Rape Crisis Centers runs about 100,000 education workshops each year to teach students how to respond to sexual assault.

One out of every five children in Israel is a victim of sexual assault, according to Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel.

Of the 50,000 calls Israel’s rape crisis centers receive annually, Sulitzeanu said 60% are from people who were assaulted as minors and are reporting a case years later, reflecting the inadequacy of support systems in communities and school.

In the widely followed investigation into the rape of a seven-year-old girl from a West Bank settlement whose main suspect was released on Tuesday due to a lack of evidence, 10 days passed between the time the girl first reported the incident to her mother, her mother reported it to the school, and the case reached the police.

“We are going to approach the minister of education very urgently because we think there’s a big failure in the system,” Sulitzeanu said. “We want him to have a very clear protocol so every teacher will know exactly how to behave.”

In Israel, 84% of sexual assault cases that are reported to the police are closed without indictments, with more than two-thirds of those cases closed due to a lack of sound evidence.

In the recent case, five days passed between the time the girl reported the assault to her parents and a doctor at a local clinic examined her.

“You need all of the systems to synchronize in order to help this child,” Sulitzeanu said, emphasizing that the quicker a school reports a sexual assault case to the police, the quicker the victim can be supported, evidence can be collected, and the perpetrator can be located.

According to the Association of Rape Crisis Centers, which runs just nine centers across Israel and is one of the few organizations in Israel collecting data on sexual assault, only 30% of callers file a report with the police, and fewer than that number reach the legal system.

“The numbers are very, very low,” Sulitzeanu said. “People are ashamed. People sometimes take many years to report. All of these things deter many, many women and men to report to the police.

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers runs about 100,000 education workshops each year to teach students how to respond to sexual assault, but courses that address sexual assault are not mandatory for students studying to be teachers, social workers or psychologists in Israel, she said.

“If the Ministry of Education would indeed open the schools and let our workshops enter all of the schools in Israel, it will be very, very helpful,” said Sulitzeanu, noting that the high-profile nature of the case involving the seven-year-old may spur governmental action.

“In Israel today, there is no systematic, governmental plan to prevent sexual abuse and detection of children who are abused, and this is a must,” she said. “I really hope that this child gets care and a lot of emotional support from her surroundings because this is the most important thing.”


Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Thus, if you must focus on a California earthquake, that is where the focus should lie. The Democrats have destroyed so much that once was Golden. They have micturated our money on Trains-to-Nowhere, on medicare and medicaid and medics for Imported Voters....

The 6.4 California earthquake that should have been getting covered

Decades of Illegal Immigration changed California,perhaps irrevocably. For once and for all, let’s stop calling them “Illegals.” They are not “Illegals.” Let’s start calling them what they really are:  Imported Voters.

Friends call. Acquaintances email. (I don’t text, Facebook, or Tweet.) (But my students still are shocked that I know what’s what.) The message of concern: “Dov, I heard about the earthquake. Are you OK?”

Yes, I’m OK.

It was a 6.4, but I slept through this one.  Before I moved from the New York City area to The Homeless State thirty-some years ago, back when it was called The Golden State, I used to think that earthquakes were like the Torah’s description of what became of Korach and his rebellion against Moses:

Scarcely had he finished speaking all these words when the ground under them split asunder, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their households, all Korach’s people and all their possessions. They went down alive into Sheol, with all that belonged to them; the earth closed over them, and they vanished from the midst of the congregation. (Numbers 16:31-33)

I thought — no fault of mine — that was how California earthquakes were: the earth splits and opens, and buildings and houses fall in. I arrived here and — whew! — learned quickly enough: Not so!  Rather, the earth shakes a few moments, sometimes for seconds, rarely even a minute.  And then it is over.  The game then immediately begins, as we argue with each other and even lay bets over the exact number: Was it a 2.8?  A 3.2?  No way over a 4.0!

Well, this one was a 6.4, but its epicenter was outside California’s largest media markets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.

When I first moved here, I remember walking one day in a multi-level indoor parking lot to retrieve my car. As I walked along the ramp, I felt the floor rattling, hovering up and down a bit, as each car raced by, some driving up the ramps, others down. I immediately hustled to the security station to report my sense that the ramps and the structure were about to collapse.  The security guard knowingly laughed:

“You’re new to California, huh?” he giggled.
“Yeah, how did you know?”
He laughed.

It turns out that California really has earthquakes figured out.  The parking lots, the bridges, the roadways, residential buildings — all are built on a foundation and with construction that is ever-so-slightly less rigid than elsewhere in the universe. It is constructed with a bit of “give” so that any time the earth shakes, the ramp / bridge / building can rattle a bit and yet not crack from rigidity. It really is brilliant.  That is why earthquakes of such smaller magnitude kill so many hundreds and thousands in India, Iran, Iraq, and other places spelled that way, as well as in Mexico and other places to our south, while they barely register on the catastrophe scale in California. California learned from the Great San Francisco quake and others later how to alleviate the quakes.

Likewise, the way we set up and furnish our homes.  I have a personal library of more than 4,000 books — Torah, Talmud, Judaic Legal Code (halakhic), and Rabbinic Responsa literature in Hebrew, Aramaic, and English; scores of secular American law horn books and legal treatises; a full library of American history and American civics; another of Jewish history and sociology; another of broad-based theology; and a copy of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” that I keep amid a shelf of books about the Irgun and the Jewish Underground’s fight for Israel independence.

 That means I have approximately 15-20 full-height bookcases. In California, the day after the movers settle you into a home with such a library, you have the Handyman or Earthquake Guy come over and bolt each bookcase into the wall.  They find the wall’s wood beams with the “geiger counter” thing a person can buy in any hardware store. They nail one end of a very strong strap or other slightly flexible securing device into the beam, and they nail the other end into the bookcase. 

When a shaker hits, the bookcase maybe rattles a bit, maybe a few books fall out, but it withstands the quake because the bookcase is secured firmly even as the strap has that flexible “give” that prevents it from snapping.  Likewise, you keep your expensive Baccarat crystal vases and Kosta Boda crystal bowls away from the edges of your surfaces.  That’s it.

The only ones who take a really nasty hit are the owners of liquor stores. Ouch!

Sure, when the epicenter is closer to a heavily populated and more concentrated metropolis — like the 6.9 Great World Series Quake of 1989 that hit, of all times, amid the Fall Classic’s third game between the San Francisco Giants and the neighboring Oakland Athletics — that has a more devastating impact. Likewise, the 6.7 Northridge Quake of 1994 that hit the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles particularly hard.  But even then, even with bridge and road damage, with structures ruined and injuries, the sophistication in earthquake preparedness alleviates catastrophe and  results in comparatively minimal human loss of life.

We Californians are amazed, given the relative infrequency of earthquakes here and even greater infrequency of destructive ones, how our non-California friends, relatives, and associates get freaked-out when they hear about a quake.  We look at each other and wonder how people, whose truly deadly and perilously fatal Midwestern tornadoes, Southeastern hurricanes, Heartland floods, Northeastern ice storms and blizzards, and Urban Democrat-Controlled Inner-City Mass Shootings can sit there, fretting over a shaker that comes once every, oh, whenever.

The reality is that people concerned about California earthquakes focus on the wrong 6.4 temblor.  Don’t worry about the shakers; they can be minimized, and they pass. The ones that are toxic and endemic are the Democrats who turned California into a one-dog town and destroyed the Golden State.
The reality is that people concerned about California earthquakes focus on the wrong 6.4 temblor.  Don’t worry about the shakers; they can be minimized, and they pass. The ones that are toxic and endemic are the Democrats who turned California into a one-dog town and destroyed the Golden State.  Not all that long ago, California elected great governors like George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, and they gave us great judges and courts. This state elected Ronald Reagan as governor. If he does get elected governor, he does not emerge with the “bona fides” to make it to President. If he does not make it to President, we now could be in either our tenth or twentieth year under some Ayatollah or President Vladimir Putin or in the eighth term of Tsar Bernie the Breadline. (Breadlines are a good thing.)

When I arrived here in 1987 to become rabbi of, like, a congregation in, like, Woodland Hills in, like, The Valley — What . . . eh . . . ver! — Southern California still had its Golden sheen. People were so polite that they did not even jaywalk; they were not in such a rush anyway.  And if some visiting rude New Yorker did jaywalk, cars stopped in the middle of the street to let them cross. It was not New York City. It really was La-dee-da.  La-La Land.

Decades of Illegal Immigration changed all that. In fact, for once and for all, let’s stop calling them “Illegals.” They are not “Illegals.” Let’s start calling them what they really are:  Imported Voters.

Imported Voters changed all that.  The Imported Voters came from dire poverty, with limited English skills and limited passion for our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. They came to escape the dregs amid them in search of safety, free food, free shelter, free healthcare, free education, free college, free-free-free.  The Democrats promised them all that, and the Imported Voters reciprocated by giving the Democrats the only thing required: their votes. As a result, California underwent a 6.4 social earthquake — and the epicenter was anywhere and everywhere that people live.

When you offer free food, people lacking food flood in. Get it?  Offer free medical care, and guess what? Offer free this and free that, and guess what?

In the end, the Streets of San Francisco today are not what Karl Malden encountered in his 1970s TV show.  Rather, today’s modern Frisco is comprised of sidewalks filled with the mentally ill and the addicted — people to whom Lombardi Street seems straight. Likewise in Los Angeles.  Instead of extending compassion to The Homeless and bringing them in for mental care and addiction treatment, the Compassionate Progressives throw money at them on the sidewalks. Free needles. Free this, free that.

And guess what? The Sanctuary City Mayors can’t figure out why — but instead of the massive money allocations curing and reducing the homeless epidemics here, the cash infusions instead have attracted even more homeless from everywhere else, doubling and even trebling the street situation.  They are humans, and they need to defecate and micturate. Without toilets, they do so on the streets.  Their food left-overs, with their excretory by-products, brings rats and even typhus.

Remember when Hyphen-Cortez complained about that?  I don’t either.

This is the state that Gavin Newsom (rhymes with “gruesome”) governs and that Kamala Harris would ride to the White House.  They destroyed something beautiful for all but the wealthy. Under their Progressive Caring, The Homeless State now is populated primarily by the Very Wealthy and the Profoundly Destitute. The Middle Class has fled the high taxes, the crazy gasoline prices, the insane home costs exacerbated by the most exacting of zoning laws that the Very Wealthy impose to minimize new home construction in their neighborhoods and thereby maintain exorbitant real estate values.  In Silicon Valley, the very wealthy flourish.  They eat their meals in their high-tech facilities to avoid the “riff raff” they Progressively and Compassionately despise.  They live in lily-white neighborhoods, surrounded by big beautiful walls and armed guards, to keep out the “riff-raff” and to assure that their children never have to encounter them in exclusive school.

They make movies in Georgia. Think about that Alyssa Milano boycott thing: The boycott threat arises because Hollywood makes its movies and TV shows in Georgia. Why? Does Idaho grow its potatoes in Florida? Why doesn’t Hollywood make films in Hollywood anymore?  Answer: Because they refuse to pay the exorbitant taxes they and their Compassionate Progressive failed social programs have imposed on everyone else. Therefore, they set up tax homes in nearby Arizona and Nevada, both tax-free states.

There remain pockets of California that remain what was.  Many parts of San Diego. And despite the ballot-harvesting fiasco of the 2018 bi-election, Orange County is Republican and conservative, except for a few pockets. I insisted this after the Democrats ballot-harvested the Congressional seats, and some on the Left challenged my assertion. Then the 2019 elections came — less than a year later — and the Republican conservative handily won the election for Orange County supervisor, beating the very famous Democrat Left Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez along the way. His biggest problem was that five other conservative Republicans also ran and split votes. The Democrat Sanchez? A bare 37 percent. The rest went to Republicans.

Thus, if you must focus on a California earthquake, that is where the focus should lie. The Democrats have destroyed so much that once was Golden. They have micturated our money on Trains-to-Nowhere, on medicare and medicaid and medics for Imported Voters, on free college for Imported Voters — at the expense of the children of taxpaying citizens who sustain those colleges, but who must either send their kids to colleges out of state or bribe athletic coaches to put their kids on the rowing teams. It is a shame that what once was, no longer is, and perhaps never shall be again.


The writer is adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, congregational rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations.  Other writings are collected at www.rabbidov.com