Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"That the Jews in Israel, mostly white, and the Palestinians are browner, so they must be innocent and correct, and the Jews must be wrong,"

Bill Maher called the anti-Israel boycott movement 'A bulls--- purity test' after Israel barred supporters Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting

Bill Maher criticized the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel on his show Friday night, following Israel's ban on permitting Democratic representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting the country. 

"It's a bulls--- purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class," Maher said on HBO's "Real Time."

Following pressure from President Donald Trump, Israel on Thursday banned reps. Omar and Tlaib, both of whom are vocal supporters of the BDS movement, from visiting the country. Tlaib asked Israel to allow her to visit her 90-year-old grandmother living in the West Bank, promising to "respect any restrictions and will not promote any boycotts against Israel." But when Israel accepted her offer, she rejected it

The BDS campaign seeks to further isolate Israel from the international community under the charge that Israel's treatment of Palestinians is akin to apartheid. It's supported by a minority of Democratic lawmakers — the House of Representatives in July passed a measure to condemn it by a vote of 398 to 117. But Trump has sought to make it a wedge issue as part of his political strategy to erode bipartisan support for Israel, and to make Tlaib, Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayana Pressley — four Democratic representatives on the left — the face of the Democratic party

Maher, who has a history of inflammatory comments about Muslims, suggested that the occupation of Palestinian territory arose from violent uprisings, referring to the history of Palestinian suicide bombings and intifadas — organized grassroots violent attacks on Israelis

"It's predicated on this notion, I think — it's very shallow thinking — that the Jews in Israel, mostly white, and the Palestinians are browner, so they must be innocent and correct, and the Jews must be wrong," he said. "As if the occupation came right out of the blue, that this completely peaceful people found themselves occupied." 

The current conflict between Jewish and Arab populations in the region dates back to as early as the 1920s, when large groups of Jews migrated to the area in reaction to worldwide anti-Semitism.
Maher also criticized Omar's history of antisemitic comments, for which she's apologized

"She apologized for it, but it's out there: Jews control the world, control the money," he said, adding of the lawmakers: "I can see why they don't get a hero's welcome." 

Tlaib's grandmother, Muftia Tlaib, criticized Trump after he pressured Israel to bar her granddaughter from visiting. 

"Trump tells me I should be happy Rashida is not coming," the elder Tlaib said. "May God ruin him." 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Our kids are not O.K.!

We Have Ruined Childhood

For youngsters these days, an hour of free play is like a drop of water in the desert. Of course they’re miserable. 

According to the psychologist Peter Gray, children today are more depressed than they were during the Great Depression and more anxious than they were at the height of the Cold War. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that between 2009 and 2017, rates of depression rose by more than 60 percent among those ages 14 to 17, and 47 percent among those ages 12 to 13. This isn’t just a matter of increased diagnoses. The number of children and teenagers who were seen in emergency rooms with suicidal thoughts or having attempted suicide doubled between 2007 and 2015.
To put it simply, our kids are not O.K. 

For a long time, as a mother and as a writer, I searched for a single culprit. Was it the screens? The food? The lack of fresh air and free time, the rise of the overscheduled, overprotected child, the overarching culture of anxiety and fear?

Those things might all contribute. But I’ve come to believe that the problems with children’s mental and emotional health are caused not by any single change in kids’ environment but by a fundamental shift in the way we view children and child-rearing, and the way this shift has transformed our schools, our neighborhoods and our relationships to one another and our communities.

The work of raising children, once seen as socially necessary labor benefiting the common good, is an isolated endeavor for all but the most well-off parents. Parents are entirely on their own when it comes to their offspring’s well-being. Many have had to prioritize physical safety and adult supervision over healthy emotional and social development. 

No longer able to rely on communal structures for child care or allow children time alone, parents who need to work are forced to warehouse their youngsters for long stretches of time. School days are longer and more regimented. Kindergarten, which used to be focused on play, is now an academic training ground for the first grade. Young children are assigned homework even though numerous studies have found it harmful. STEM, standardized testing and active-shooter drills have largely replaced recess, leisurely lunches, art and music.

The role of school stress in mental distress is backed up by data on the timing of child suicide. “The suicide rate for children is twice what it is for children during months when school is in session than when it’s not in session,” according to Dr. Gray. “That’s true for suicide completion, suicide attempts and suicidal ideation, whereas for adults, it’s higher in the summer.” But the problems with kids’ mental and emotional health are not only caused by what goes on in the classroom. They also reflect what’s happening in our communities. The scarcity of resources of every kind, including but not limited to access to mental health services, health care, affordable housing and higher education, means that many parents are working longer and harder than ever. At the same time that more is demanded of parents, childhood free time and self-directed activities have become taboo.

And so for many children, when the school day is over, it hardly matters; the hours outside school are more like school than ever. Children spend afternoons, weekends and summers in aftercare and camps while their parents work. The areas where children once congregated for unstructured, unsupervised play are now often off limits. And so those who can afford it drive their children from one structured activity to another. Those who can’t keep them inside. Free play and childhood independence have become relics, insurance risks, at times criminal offenses.

Tali Raviv, the associate director of the Center for Childhood Resilience, says many children today are suffering a social-skills deficit. She told me kids today “have fewer opportunities to practice social-emotional skills, whether it’s because they live in a violent community where they can’t go outside, or whether it’s because there’s overprotection of kids and they don’t get the independence to walk down to the corner store.” They don’t learn “how to start a friendship, how to start a relationship, what to do when someone’s bothering you, how to solve a problem.”

Many parents and pediatricians speculate about the role that screen time and social media might play in this social deficit. But it’s important to acknowledge that simply taking away or limiting screens is not enough. Children turn to screens because opportunities for real-life human interaction have vanished; the public places and spaces where kids used to learn to be people have been decimated or deemed too dangerous for those under 18.

And so for many Americans, the nuclear family has become a lonely institution — and childhood, one long unpaid internship meant to secure a spot in a dwindling middle class.

Something has to change, says Denise Pope, a co-founder of Challenge Success, an organization based in Palo Alto, Calif., that helps schools make research-backed changes to improve children’s mental health. Kids need recess. They need longer lunches. They need free play, family time, meal time. They need less homework, fewer tests, a greater emphasis on social-emotional learning.

Challenge Success also works with parents, encouraging them to get together with their neighbors and organize things like extracurricular-free days when kids can simply play, and teaching them how not to intervene in normal peer conflict so that children can build problem-solving skills themselves. A similar organization, Let Grow, helps schools set up unstructured free play before and after the school day. 

Dr. Gray told me it’s no surprise that the program, which he consults for, has been well received. “Children are willing to get up an hour early to have free play, one hour a week,” he said. “It’s like a drop of water if you’ve been in the desert.”

These groups are doing important work, but if that kind of desperation is any indication, we shouldn’t be surprised that so many kids are so unhappy. Investing in a segment of the population means finding a way to make them both safe and free. When it comes to kids, we too often fall short. It’s no wonder so many are succumbing to despair. In many ways, America has given up on childhood, and on children.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Where, though, are the boundaries? At what point does charisma become dangerous? In a community (and a wider world) where an elusive quality called “spirituality” is constantly sought as representing the “authentic” in the religious quest, how can the individual, or the community, or the responsible leader, distinguish the teacher with integrity from the predator?

Charisma: A Note on the Dangerous Outer Boundary of Spirituality

For the past several years, I have contributed postings to a number of websites on the subject of the dangerously charismatic teacher in schools. The material was based on my book on Jewish school management that was published at the beginning of 2010. The section on the charismatic teacher was entitled “The Pied Piper.”’[i]

Tragically, between the time that the section was originally written (in 2007) and the time the book was published, a former Jewish Studies teacher at our school was arrested on very serious charges of sexual molestation and assault. His alleged offenses were committed in Israel. Following his arrest, an investigation in Toronto unearthed many issues of concern. He had exemplified many of the good and many of the bad characteristics of the charismatic teacher, especially one active in the religious life of the school. While in Toronto (as a shaliah) he had been immensely popular; had been idolized by students and by some staff; was a talented musician, much in demand locally as a singer at weddings and other community celebrations; and was also used by NCSY as a youth leader and resource. Many former students testified to the profound religious influence he had on their lives. Others—as it emerged—had far darker, tragic, and damaging memories.

The whole episode and its aftermath caused me many hours of reflection, and made me reconsider fundamentally many other encounters throughout my life with charismatic rabbis and teachers—in both personal and professional capacities.

 I concluded that although many good teachers and rabbis have elements of charisma in their personalities and style, the overtly charismatic personality almost always masks far more sinister agendas, and must be treated and managed with the utmost caution. 

The tipping point is where the personality of the teacher/rabbi is more important than the content of his message or teaching. Sadly, most readers of this article will be familiar with examples from within our own community, let alone examples from other educational and religious communities.

Where, though, are the boundaries? At what point does charisma become dangerous? In a community (and a wider world) where an elusive quality called “spirituality” is constantly sought as representing the “authentic” in the religious quest, how can the individual, or the community, or the responsible leader, distinguish the teacher with integrity from the predator?

It can be difficult; but there are some obvious danger signs. They may be present in different combinations, and seem to have some degree of overlap with recognized patterns of cult behavior, although they are rarely so blatant. They may include, but are not limited to:

The personality of the rabbi/teacher becomes the most important part of his presence, rather than the content of what he is teaching. When people go to a shiur, or a workshop, or a lesson, to see what “X” is doing or saying—rather than what “X” is teaching—a personality cult is in the making. The same applies when their conversation is about X’s latest action, or remark, or appearance—rather than X’s “Torah.” A truly spiritual personality, in a Jewish context, is concerned to bring people to God, not to himself (more rarely—herself).

Extreme emotional or pseudo-intellectual manipulations are being used to demonstrate that X, and only X, has “the answer.” A spiritually and intellectually honest teacher will rarely deal in absolutes. The teachings and views of others—particularly rivals for the charismatic teacher’s popularity—are openly disparaged or undermined.

In an institutional or community setting, the followers of the charismatic rabbi/teacher become a group within a group. They do not mix with others, and see themselves as an elite.

Individuals or small groups regard themselves as favored protégés of the teacher. When they no longer uncritically accept the teacher’s philosophy or Torah, they are quickly dropped; disillusion—often accompanied by feelings of betrayal—sets in.

Counseling, advice and guidance are being given on deeply personal, perhaps intimate matters, far beyond the training and competence of the rabbi/teacher. The personalities we are describing will often invite such disclosures.

There is one clear sign that should immediately raise red flags:

The rabbi/teacher teaches, or shows by behavior, that he or she is exempt from the rules that apply to others. Mesmerized followers accept that “it”—whatever “it” is—is permissible or not problematic because the rabbi/teacher has special reasons, or a special argument, or special circumstances, or special authority, to justify the behavior. Often, there is an accompanying condition: Don’t tell anyone about this, because no one else can understand.

This is most obvious in a sexual context, but any and every such instance is suspect. Are meetings and encounters taking place at times, places, and in circumstances that violate accepted norms and practices? Are improper communications passed between individuals? Are money, gifts, favors, special treatment being exchanged?

The sad list goes on. Unfortunately, in our community context, too many people who should know better willfully ignore such danger signs, arguing that the ends justify the means. The word “kiruv” frequently figures in such discussions. It takes a great deal of courage, and a great deal of conviction, to stand up against this type of activity.

We live in a time of extremes. Some of the religious leaders of our age have embarked on a battle against the world we live in. The argument that to be a loyal Jew (a “Torah Jew”) involves rejection of science and culture has to involve an emotional, not an intellectual position, and ipso facto it has to involve rejection—usually vehement rejection—of others. Parallel or analogous political positions and beliefs will generate similar behaviors. They all encourage extreme personalities. Tolerating, let alone encouraging, extreme personalities makes the group vulnerable to unhealthy influence and behavior.

We need charisma—it has an honorable history in leadership, certainly including models of Jewish leadership—but we need it to be combined with uncompromising, uncompromised, and comprehensive integrity. That integrity has to be religious, emotional, behavioral, and intellectual.

But it is very difficult to be a charismatic moderate!

[i]The character of the Pied Piper remains a seductive and sinister figure in folklore. According to legend, in 1284 130 children mysteriously disappeared from the medieval German city of Hamelin (Hameln). A man dressed in colorful (“pied”) clothing, and playing a pipe mesmerized the city’s children with his music. Bewitched, and entirely under his control, they blindly followed him out of the city to an unknown destination, and were never seen again. (Also by playing his pipe, he had lured the rats that plagued the city to their deaths by drowning in the local river. The town council refused to pay him for his services. In an act of revenge, he worked his magic on the children.) The poet Robert Browning (1812–1889) immortalized the story in verse (“The Pied Piper of Hamelin”).

Paul Shaviv had been the Director of Education at TanenbaumCHAT, the community high school of the Toronto Jewish community, since 1998. The school is the largest Jewish high school in the Diaspora, with almost 1,500 students (G9-G12) on two campuses. He subsequently served at Ramaz High School in New York, and currently is a highly regarded education consultant. He is originally from the UK, and was educated at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. In 2010 he published The Jewish High School: A Complete Management Guide. This article appears in issue 9 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

For God, For Country, For freedom from abuse from the Church, Yeshivas, summer camps, Jeffrey Epstein, the Boy Scouts, donkeys, camels and goats ---- Moshiach NOW!

NY Courts Flooded With New Child Rape Cases Filed Today

Today was the first day to file molestation cases against your Priest, Rabbi, or Scout Master under New York’s Child Victim’s Act which has NO statute of limitations for a one year period
Agudath Israel and the Catholic Church for many years were the biggest lobbyists in the New York legislature trying to stop the State of New York from passing laws to extend the statute of limitations in child rape cases. This year New York passed a law that gives victims one year to file any lawsuit for molestation, with no limitation. After the one year window closes a victim can sue until he reaches the age of 55. The Catholic Church dropped opposition to these new laws when it was clear they would pass. 

 Agudath Israel, on the other hand, has engaged in fear mongering, publicly stating that Jewish day schools will face bankruptcy and close down if victims come forward and sue. Schools that harbor pedophiles should be shut down. Had the Catholic Church and Agudath reported pedophiles to the police, rather than protected them for all these years, there wouldn’t be rampant abuse and molestation in the Catholic, Jewish day schools and summer camps. 

Today the New York courts were swamped with new molestation filings under the Child Victim’s Act. Most of the cases were brought against the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese, the Boy Scouts and Jeffrey Epstein. I haven’t seen any new cases filed against Jewish institutions or Rabbis. If you have been molested by your rabbi thirty years ago I would suggest you contact Nahid A. Shaikh, of the giant powerhouse law firm of Robins Kaplan. Shaikh is an associate there and has been filing most of the cases against the Archdiocese. Shaikh graduated top in her class at Cordozo Law School, of Yeshiva University, and made Magna Cum Laude, and the Order of the Coif, whatever that is. According to Webster’s Dictionary a coif is a yarmulke for women. Shaikh is a common name in India. I don’t think Nahid is a Jewess, but you never know.

Nahid alleged in every one of her lawsuits, possibly hundreds, the following: “The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and, by implication these Defendants, have been aware of the serious problem of clergy sexual abuse of children since at least the 1800s.” You can read one of the many child abuse complaints she filed in New York County court today:

A woman named Jennifer Araoz filed a case against Jeffrey Epstein today, in which she alleged she was raped by him as a high school student when she was 14. She alleged that Epstein had a room filled with stuffed animals which he claimed he shot. She stated that Epstein had a room modeled after a room in the White House which he called “the Blue Room.” She also said that his bathroom had a pair of fake boobs on the wall so that he could look at them or play with them while he was in his bathtub. You can read her complaint below:

For God, For Country, For freedom from abuse from the Church, Yeshivas, summer camps, Jeffrey Epstein, the Boy Scouts,  donkeys, camels and goats --- Moshiach NOW! 


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Looks like another child-rapist slipped through Mattisyahu Salomon's fingers! That makes at least 2 --- Right Matt?


West Bank man indicted in sexual abuse of 45 underage girls

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A West Bank man was arrested and indicted in the sexual abuse of 45 underage girls.

Uriah Assis, 26, of the haredi Orthodox Emmanuel settlement was indicted Sunday in Tel Aviv District Court. He allegedly used pseudonyms – including a swimming coach, a wealthy businessman and a woman — and contacted the girls on the internet over the last four years, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

The charges against Assis include rape or sodomy of a minor, indecent assault, sexual harassment, making threats, obstruction of justice and the possession and production of child pornography.

He is alleged to have asked the girls to send him nude or semi-nude photos, which he then threatened to post online if they went to the authorities. In some cases he asked them to sodomize themselves. He also met several of the girls in person, forcing himself on them, Ynet reported.

Assis’ attorney claimed that he suffered from schizophrenia. A psychiatric examination found that he was faking the mental illness and is fit to stand trial, The Times of Israel reported.
The prosecutor’s office asked that Assis remain in jail until trial.

Malka Leifer, who is accused of molesting several girls while the principal of a haredi Orthodox girls’ school in Australia, lived in Emmanuel for several years, feigning mental illness to prevent being extradited to Australia to stand trial. She has been in prison for over a year but has yet to be extradited.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

“Where I come from, it’s really stuffed under the rug, though it’s starting to change,” she said matter-of-factly. Her wide, blue eyes stared straight ahead. She cited the case of another young woman in her community who accused her father of molesting her. “The whole community shut her up; they told her to leave in silence, so she left for Israel”


Orthodox Survivor Of Sex Abuse Exposes Traumas In New Film

You wouldn’t believe she’s only 20.

With no film schooling or experience, Baltimore native Miryam Rabinowitz has thrown herself into a film project that tells the story of sexual abuse — or rather, its lonely, complex aftermath.

“Still Feeling” tells the story of Yuval Goldenberg, a young woman who was abused during her childhood in an Israeli national religious community. Goldenberg, no longer Orthodox, is a singer and composer now. With an earthy voice, standing rather awkwardly, eyes half-closed, she lets song tell her pain.

Rabinowitz is a survivor of sexual abuse herself — and a graduate of the ultra-Orthodox Bais Yaakov girls school system.

“Most people around me don’t acknowledge the fact that I was abused at all,” she told me in an interview. “I have close friends who don’t acknowledge it. My film trailer was the first time I said it publicly. I’m making this documentary for my friends and family to be able to say, ‘This is for you to know how to talk about it with me.’

“I know it’s hard for people to process. When someone says they were raped by a family member, you’ll never be able to understand what that feels like, but you do understand that basic feeling of shame and suffering. It’s by empathy — through art and music — that we can come to understand another’s pain, rather than through intellectual understanding.”

In her forthcoming film, shot mostly in Tel Aviv, Rabinowitz shows Goldenberg talking about her music and her dissociation, as she bounces between her Orthodox family and her artist friends, many of whom are also survivors of abuse.

“Don’t assume that people are normal and happy,” Rabinowitz said. “My friend and I went along the same path. We wore the same school uniform. I went home and I was abused. She went home and she wasn’t. We lived parallel lives, except mine was covered in soot. I looked the same, but I may not have acted the same. Understand that I was in an upside-down world.”

Her film, now in postproduction, is a window into this world of childhood trauma.

“Where I come from, it’s really stuffed under the rug, though it’s starting to change,” she said matter-of-factly. Her wide, blue eyes stared straight ahead. She cited the case of another young woman in her community who accused her father of molesting her. “The whole community shut her up; they told her to leave in silence, so she left for Israel,” Rabinowitz said. “People say, ‘She’s crazy’; no one believed her. Yeah, she’s crazy. If your father is lying on top of you every night, suffocating you and raping you, of course you’re crazy. When you survive abuse, there’s always someone else in your head. You see it in Yuval.”

Rabinowitz didn’t go into too much detail about her own story, but years of abuse, and her subsequent turn to substance abuse, landed her in Retorno, an Israeli religious drug rehab center.

When she returned to the States, “straightened out” and “frum again,” her past as a vulnerable young woman continued to haunt her. When she was 18, a community member drove her home from an event and said he had to stop at his house to “get something,” inviting her in.

“I was 18 years old, and he was 70 years old, a very prominent person in the community,” she said. “He brought me to his house, and he did something to me.” After pausing, she continued, “When he drove me home, he said, ‘Wow, the things you make me do…. ’ I told a domestic abuse organization about what happened, and they told me, ‘If you go to the police, you have nothing on him; no one will believe you, and he will bury you.’”

That was the moment that she realized something needs to change. “I would be speaking to religious kids from different communities, from around the world, and everyone had a story, everyone knows someone who is affected by this,” she said. “We need everyone to finally be open and connect all those stories to make a difference.”

She rattles off harrowing story after story, name after name, with unnerving poise.

“My focus is not on the perpetrators. So instead I’ve turned to film to tell my story. My goal is to use Yuval’s story to de-stigmatize the issue of child sexual abuse. I hope to motivate people who have not experienced this trauma to take action to help victims.”

This story "Orthodox Survivor Of Sex Abuse Exposes Traumas In New Film" was written by Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt.


Monday, August 12, 2019

"These Jewish, false "profits", anti-Christian, anti-God… Listen, she is a witch, she is a jezebel, she is a God-hating whore of Zionism. I hope that God breaks her teeth out and she dies. She is a wicked person and she is, like, the perfect representation of religious Judaism."


Florida Pastor Calls On God To Kill Comedian Sarah Silverman For Being ‘A Witch’

Incitement to violence: Florida Pastor Adam Fannin calls on God to kill comedian Sarah Silverman because she is “a witch,” and “a Jezebel.”
Law and Crime reports:
Sarah Silverman on Thursday Tweeted a video clip of a Florida pastor delivering a vitriolic diatribe against the comedian to his congregation. In it, the pastor says he prays for her “untimely death” and adds that Silverman’s premature death would be the work of God. Silverman included a caption with the clip which read, “If I get murdered, start here,” and later wrote that the pastor “is going to get [her] killed.”
Silverman tweeted the following:
This is Adam Fannin of the Stedfast Baptist Church in Florida and he is going to get me killed.
Silverman should be alarmed. Fannin delivered a wildly anti-Semitic sermon in which he raged against the comedian for something she said in her comedy special “Jesus is Magic.”
In his sermon the raging baptist pastor declared:
These Jewish, false "profits", anti-Christian, anti-God… They’re willing to put Jesus to death again! Have you heard of this comedian Sarah Silverman? You guys know what I’m talking about? She brags about it! ‘I’d do it again!’ Listen, she is a witch, she is a jezebel, she is a God-hating whore of Zionism. I hope that God breaks her teeth out and she dies. She is a wicked person and she is, like, the perfect representation of religious Judaism.
Pastor Fannin continued:
I pray that God would give her an untimely death, and it would be evident that it’s at the hand of God. It would be obvious that God would judge her. I pray for the day.
Watch the video  Friendly Atheist:
Concerning Pastor Fannin, Newsweek reports:
Adam Fannin, formerly of the literalist Stedfast Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, is the preacher in the disturbing video.
He is now part of the Law of Liberty Baptist Church, also in Jacksonville, following a recent scandal involving Stedfast that saw its leader admit to using sex workers.
Bottom line: Florida Pastor Adam Fannin calls on God to kill comedian Sarah Silverman because she is “a witch,” and “a Jezebel.”

Florida Pastor Calls On God To Kill Comedian Sarah Silverman For Being ‘A Witch’  (Image via Twitter)
Florida Pastor Calls On God To Kill Comedian Sarah Silverman For Being ‘A Witch’ (Image via Twitter)

Friday, August 09, 2019

Jews of All Stripes --- Don't Get Too Comfortable: Vile, Diseased and Dangerous anti-Semitism Exists in Various Forms and Methodology!

He posed as a righteous Jewish convert for 19 years. Then he wrote a 2,000-page anti-Semitic screed.

NEW YORK (JTA) — “Eisenmenger belonged to the class of insects which sucks poison even out of flowers,” the 19th-century Jewish historian Heinrich Graetz wrote.

Graetz was referring to Johann Andreas Eisenmenger, a young 17th-century scholar from Mannheim, Germany, who dedicated some 19 years of his life to mastering the Talmud and presenting himself to the Jewish community as a prospective “ger tzedek,” or righteous convert. He learned Hebrew, Aramaic and even Arabic during his intellectual journey, and read the whole Talmud roughly three times.

And then, in 1700, Eisenmenger published “Judaism Unmasked,” one of the most noxious and highly influential anti-Semitic works ever written. 

During the Nine Days leading up to Tisha b’Av, during which Jews commemorate the saddest moments in Jewish history from the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem to the deportation of the Jews of Warsaw, we again have witnessed Eisenmenger’s contemporary descendants: gunmen who publish paranoid, hateful “manifestos” before embarking on horrific acts of  random violence. Those specifically targeting Jews, such as the shooters in Poway and Pittsburgh, often rely, consciously or otherwise, on the work of Johann Andreas Eisenmenger.

Spanning 2,000 pages over two brick-like volumes, “Entdecktes Judenthums” is an exhaustive survey of every possible passage from the Talmud that could be distorted to reflect badly on Jews and Judaism.

His verbose subtitle thoroughly described his intent, which was to prove how “the stubborn Jews frightfully blaspheme and dishonor the Holy Trinity … and despise and curse to the uttermost extreme the whole of Christianity.” He also promised “ridiculous and amusing stories” to boot, “written for the honest information of all Christians.” 

Eisenmenger’s purpose and even methodology were hardly new. Jew-haters have been mining the Talmud for talking points since the 13th century, when the apostate Nicholas Donin first denounced it before Pope Innocent III. Few, however, were able to penetrate the depths of this massive, ancient text written in a mixture of highly coded Aramaic and Hebrew. 

But Eisenmenger was different. A man of considerable academic skills (he ultimately taught at the University of Heidelberg), Eisenmenger realized that the only way to seriously understand the Talmud was to become immersed in the world of the yeshiva, a world closed to non-Jews by custom and even Jewish law. To achieve his dark purpose, Eisenmenger had to present himself as a genuine spiritual seeker, perhaps modeling himself as a righteous convert like Onkelos, whose translation of the Torah into Aramaic enjoys primacy over even Rashi, or Bodo-Elazar, who ignored the anti-Semitic environment of medieval Europe to adopt the ancient faith.

Eisenmenger began his lifelong deception in 1680 at the age of 24. By the time he was ready to bring his malicious book to print, Eisenmenger could count many rabbis among his teachers, including the prolific David ben Aryeh Lieb of Lida, Lithuania — then chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Amsterdam.

News of Eisenmenger’s colossal betrayal leaked out before “Judaism Unmasked” was released. The Jewish community rapidly mobilized to prevent its distribution, persuading Emperor Leopold I that its publication might ignite the popular violence that had plagued the region in 1699. Eisenmenger protested and a lengthy court battle ensued. The Jewish community offered 12,000 florins (roughly $5,000) to cover his costs if he would withdraw publication. Surprisingly, Eisenmenger seemed agreeable, but demanded 30,000. Negotiations were cut short by Eisenmenger’s sudden death in 1704, at age 50, of a stroke. 

King Friedrich Wilhelm I of nearby Prussia circumvented the emperor by printing a second edition of 3,000 copies in 1711 in Berlin (although the title page listed “Koenigsburg” as the place of publication to reinforce that it was published outside the jurisdiction of Leopold I). For the past three centuries, from Stehelin’s English translation to the ugliest parts of the web, anti-Semites have relied on Eisenmenger’s distorted research to promote hatred.

Despite his incredibly profound impact on 300 years of anti-Semitic ideology, a shroud of scholarly silence descended over the man. With the exception of the great professor Jacob Katz’s exhaustive analysis of Eisenmenger’s methodology (Eisenmenger strove for accuracy in citation and translation, but criminally distorted the meaning of the passages in context with unacceptably tendentious commentary to promote awful lies like the infamous blood libel), the most extensive biography available is an impressive but brief study posted to Wikipedia by a 12th-grader in Braunschweig, Germany. 

As a historian of the Jewish people, writing during the Nine Days, I find myself awed by Eisenmenger’s pathological achievement for two reasons. First, whatever we think about this sick individual, he devoted himself to an overwhelming tour de force of twisted scholarship: nearly 20 years of solitary toil, exhaustively infiltrating an alien community in order to produce such a massive publication. 

Second, like Graetz, it is hard not to reflect on how Eisenmenger was “able to suck poison even out of flowers,” twisting and distorting the Talmud in such a hateful manner. Such, I suppose, is the power of Amalek, the ancient, eternal enemy of the Jewish people.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Let's Talk Crazzzyyyy.....

Abuse Victim’s 3 Billboards Called for Stronger Laws. Then the State Showed Up.


Because she rented the billboards, Kat Sullivan may face more than $40,000 in fines for not registering as a lobbyist.

When Kat Sullivan rented a billboard last year in upstate New York to call for stronger protections against child sex abusers, she believed she was engaging in the democratic process, using her own time and money to make her voice as an abuse survivor heard.

So she was shocked when state regulators afterward sent her a letter ordering her to register as a lobbyist.

New York State defines a lobbyist as, in part, someone who spends money to influence lawmakers. But Ms. Sullivan, a registered nurse, has argued that she was exercising her rights as a citizen.
She is now locked in a battle with the state’s ethics commission, which has warned that she could be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined more than $40,000 if she continues to refuse to register.

Ms. Sullivan’s case is unusual; few unpaid advocates spend more than $5,000 on an issue, the annual threshold for registering as a lobbyist in New York. Ms. Sullivan has said that she spent $14,000 on three billboards, plus about $2,000 on a website.

CreditValerie Chiang for The New York Times

But the case illuminates a larger conundrum facing lawmakers across the country: Who counts as a lobbyist in the age of social media and renewed grass-roots involvement, when it is easier than ever for people to make themselves heard? 

New York revised its lobbying guidelines this year to explicitly include grass-roots campaigns as well as meetings with officials, and to define when social media counts as lobbying. In California, lawmakers are weighing a proposal to increase regulation of online advertisements about legislation. On the federal level, where only direct contact with lawmakers must be reported, activists have pushed for disclosure of grass-roots activity, too.

“Almost every jurisdiction I can think of is grappling at some level with how much is covered and at what threshold,” Beth Rotman, the director of the Money in Politics and Ethics program at Common Cause, a government reform group, said of social media and grass-roots mobilization.

She called the dilemma the “million-dollar question” for ethics officials.

“At a certain smaller threshold, these activities are not the same as paid lobbyists,” Ms. Rotman said. “The challenge becomes how we as a democracy track this when it becomes more than small dollar.”

Ms. Sullivan’s activism stemmed from her experience as a student at the Emma Willard School in Troy, N.Y., where she says she was raped by a teacher in the 1990s, then forced out by administrators.

She did not speak publicly about her story until 2016. In response, the school commissioned a report that found numerous instances of abuse over the decades, including by a teacher, Scott Sargent, who was later fired for sexually abusing a student. That student was Ms. Sullivan.

The school settled with Ms. Sullivan, and Ms. Sullivan said she drew on those funds to pay for the billboards.

She rented them for one month last year to urge passage of the Child Victims Act, a proposal to extend the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse. The billboards — one in New York, near Ms. Sullivan’s former school, and one each in Massachusetts and Connecticut — criticized New York’s years of failure to pass the bill and directed observers to her website.

She also hired a pilot to fly over the State Capitol with a plane trailing a sign about the Child Victims Act.

Several months later, New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or Jcope, sent Ms. Sullivan a letter noting her failure to register as a lobbyist, citing her spending. Registration involves paperwork and a $200 fee.

But Ms. Sullivan balked. She told regulators that because only one of the billboards had been in New York, and because it was digital — and therefore showed some images that did not mention the Child Victims Act — she had not exceeded $5,000. 

In an interview, she declined to say how much she believed she had spent.

But, Ms. Sullivan said, even if she had reached the spending limit, she opposed being called a lobbyist.

She was representing only herself, not a client, she said. The state defines a lobbyist as someone “retained, employed or designated by any client to engage in lobbying.”

Nor did she stand to benefit financially from the Child Victims Act’s passage, as she had already settled her abuse allegations. (The bill failed last year but passed in January under the new Democratic-led State Legislature.)

“I just question how I, as a victim, am not able to say, ‘This is the best idea I’ve seen to be able to close these loopholes,’” Ms. Sullivan said. 

“I am not the problem with corruption with New York State politics.” 

The dispute escalated this month, when Jcope sent Ms. Sullivan a letter warning that the panel could open a formal investigation and fine her for as much as three times more than she spent. 

A Jcope spokesman declined to comment on any possible investigations. But he said the law requires disclosure about how much people are spending to persuade lawmakers.

“We have procedures for handling potential unregistered lobbying and treat all people and entities allegedly involved in that unregistered lobbying the same way,” the spokesman, Walter McClure, said in a statement. “We will enforce the law and pursue the required disclosure.”

Still, ethics experts acknowledged the challenge of disentangling lobbying, activism and normal speech.

New York’s law leaves a loophole for individuals who spend copiously on a campaign without tying it to a specific bill or call to action, Ms. Rotman said. If Ms. Sullivan had not identified the Child Victims Act and only mentioned sexual abuse broadly, she would not have fallen under the state’s definition of lobbying.

New York’s law also does not account for stature. Ms. Sullivan compared her efforts to those by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the leader of the Archdiocese of New York, which opposed the Child Victims Act for years. Cardinal Dolan is not considered a lobbyist, but Ms. Sullivan said his influence far outweighed hers, even after she rented billboards. (The archdiocese also pays registered lobbyists.)

“They can just walk right into the Capitol and say, ‘I want to talk to Cuomo,’” she said of church leaders, referring to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. “You can’t compete.”

But even relatively unknown activists can now shape public opinion in hard-to-measure ways, using social media.

Ms. Sullivan’s billboards earned stories in multiple news outlets, and she has also amplified her outrage on Facebook.

Still, even as modes of exerting influence have proliferated, regulators should be judicious with the label of lobbyist, said Susan Lerner, the director of Common Cause’s New York arm. Some experts have argued that overregulation strangles grass-roots activism.

“There’s been a long tradition of Americans being concerned about lobbyists,” Ms. Lerner said. But “there is a history here of a distinction between a paid lobbyist and a passionate citizen. And our laws properly should reflect that.”

But Alex Camarda, the senior policy adviser at Reinvent Albany, a government watchdog group, said the state’s money threshold was an “imperfect” but reasonable standard.

And, he added, the label of lobbyist should not carry such a stigma, as lobbyists provide expertise and diverse perspectives to lawmakers.

“That’s part of the democratic process,” Mr. Camarda said, “even though it has a negative connotation in some circumstances.”

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

A grandfather telling stories to a young boy may just nudge that boy to one day write his own stories, ones that help ease the burden on all our minds. An especially caring teacher may infect a little girl with an engineering passion that later gives her the vitality to make the breakthrough that permanently changes our relationship to outer space. And of course, both that boy and that girl may just inspire millions of other people, who may inspire many millions more, in a long, unbroken chain of interactions...

The purpose of life is right in front of us: It’s to create a reality we want to inhabit — to reach towards the better end of our conscious experience. At each moment, in every second of life, we are given a choice about how we want to conduct ourselves in this world, and though it might not always seem like it, each of these choices are of consequence. They each interact with culture to give it a new form; a form that we are responsible for creating by either doing what is right or doing what is wrong in that specific moment.

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”


Think you're a bigshot? Got to speak at an Agudah Convention? At a Lakewood asifa? Got a plaque at the Siyum HaShas?

What percentage of the universe does earth take up?

Julius Bier Kirkegaard, PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge

Anyway, let's just say that by universe you mean "the observable universe". The radius of this beast is 45.7 billion light years whereas earth only has a radius of 6.371 kilometres. Actually you don't even have to look that up, since wolframalpha already knows it.

Volume scales as radius cubed, so: (radius of earth)^3/(radius of universe)^3 =

0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000003 %


Tuesday, August 06, 2019

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 had pressured employees in his office to alter the conclusions of psychiatric evaluations that had deemed Leifer fit for extradition...

Police recommend Litzman stand trial for bribery, aiding alleged pedophile


Deputy health minister and UTJ party head could be charged over pressuring employees to prevent extradition of Malka Leifer to face 74 counts of child sex abuse in Australia

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at the ceremony for the opening of a new branch of his Agudath Israel party, ahead of the upcoming elections, in the northern city of Safed, July 4, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman at the ceremony for the opening of a new branch of his Agudath Israel party, ahead of the upcoming elections

Police recommended on Tuesday that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman be indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust for using his office to illicitly provide assistance to an alleged serial sex abuser, as well as on a separate bribery charge for helping to prevent the closure of a food business that his own ministry had deemed unsanitary.

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 had pressured employees in his office to alter the conclusions of psychiatric evaluations that had deemed Leifer fit for extradition.

In their statement, police said that the investigation, conducted by the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit and the National Fraud Investigation Unit, had found enough evidence to put Litzman on trial over his involvement in the Leifer case, as well as for intervening to help several other sex offenders obtain improved conditions, including prison furloughs and other benefits, by pressuring state psychiatrists and prisons service officials.
In the second case, police said that Litzman attempted to influence officials in the Health Ministry in order to prevent the closure of a food business whose owner “he is close to” — a closure that had been ordered due to “serious sanitary findings found that led to the sickness of a number of people who ate from its products.”

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

Kan reported that breakthroughs in the police’s case came from the testimonies of various state psychiatrists. One of them told investigators, “I’m just a bureaucrat. A senior minister is sitting in front of me [making requests]. I know my place and I know his place and what is expected of me.”

Several psychiatrists told police that they feared they’d be fired if they didn’t follow Litzman’s orders.

Litzman, who possesses many authorities of a full minister despite serving as a deputy, denied any wrongdoing, maintaining in a response to the police recommendation that his office has a “clear open-door policy for assisting members of the public. This is without discrimination between populations and without clarifying the status of those who call for assistance. The deputy minister expressed confidence that no charges would ultimately be filed.”

In the wake of the police recommendation, it will be up to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to determine whether or not to indict.

Dassi Erlich, a Leifer accuser who launched a campaign to extradite her former principal back to Australia, said in a statement Tuesday, “We are feeling so grateful that the questions we continually raised through the #BringLeiferBack campaign resulted in one more step to achieving justice.”

In May, 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.

Earlier in the year, the TV channel had 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 of Hasidim was placed in a rehabilitation program. Participation in the program can lead to furloughs and early release from prison.

Police said Tuesday that they had not found sufficient evidence to prosecute Litzman on his suspected assistance to other alleged pedophiles.

Leifer, a former school principal who is wanted for alleged sex crimes in Australia, is known to have links to the Gur community, having once taught at a school in Israel affiliated with the branch.

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.

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 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.

Jerusalem District Psychiatrist Jacob Charnes

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 times regarding whether Leifer was fit for extradition, ultimately signing off an a legal opinion in which state psychiatrists found her fit for extradition.

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 suspected Charnes changed his medical conclusion after being contacted by officials in Litzman’s office. Though Charnes has been interrogated under caution in the case against the deputy health minister, police on Tuesday said they did not recommend he be tried.

The Jerusalem District Court will hand down a final decision regarding Leifer’s mental fitness for an extradition hearing on September 23. The Times of Israel learned last month that a separate court appointed medical board is slated to officially concluce that Leifer has been feigning mental illness, in a ruling that would likely impact the Jerusalem District Court’s decision.

Jewish Community Watch founder of director Meyer Seewald said in a Tuesday statement, “Our private investigation in 2017 only clarified what was obvious to so many: that Malka Leifer was feigning mental illness to avoid extradition. Considering she was doing very little to hide her ruse, it was apparent that Leifer was being protected by very influential people. The police recommendation clarifies that it was allegedly Litzman and his office that were diligently working to make sure Malka Leifer’s victims never received justice.”

Seewald called on senior lawmakers to ensure that Litzman is not made a member of the next cabinet after the elections on September 17.