Sunday, July 03, 2022

The "Kaddish" of common sense & בחירה - “Nekadesh rallies” using the Hebrew word meaning “make holy,” Women with children in the Bais Yaakov network of schools received text messages and letters saying that the school rabbis urged them to attend; one mother told JTA that she was told her children would be expelled if she did not attend the rally, where tickets cost $54.

 *Yisgadal V'Yiskadash to Reality & Common Sense*


1 -  All Men (even dummies) Learn Full Time - Handouts From The Government (Welfare) & Fundraising -  The Wife is Suppose To Support Them & Be The Breadwinner In Toto. Break the Back of Their Parents Who Can Never Retire. 


 1A - "The "Losers" That Are Not Fortunate and Smart Enough To Learn Torah Full Time - You Are Privileged To Give Your Money To Those Who Do." Ephraim Mechutzef Wachsman -

 2 - Women Can't be too Successful - Force Them To Abandon The Technology That Supports Their Husbands and Families.


3 - Rely on The Yeshivas and Bitachon --- More OTD kids than ever before!


4 - Yeshivas Businesses Build Fortunes In Real Estate Off The Idiots That Are Conned Into Supporting This Insanity! Millions of your dollars to buy out family members they don't get along with....


Orthodox women built businesses and friendships online. They’re being told to sign off.

One rabbi who spoke even instructed women not to speak on the street, except in cases of emergency.

(JTA) — Shaindy Braun and her wig business had nearly 40,000 followers on Instagram, amassed over nine years, when she abruptly announced her departure from the social media platform.

“I choose to leave this world of likes, followers and filters,” Braun wrote last week. “I will be leaving Instagram to live in the real world. I want to focus on curating my real life, filtering my thoughts and speech and sending love and likes to the important people in my life.”

Then she deleted her profile, cutting off a major line of communication to clients — and potential buyers — of Sary Wigs, a Lakewood-based company providing human-hair wigs to Orthodox Jewish women in New Jersey and beyond.

She wasn’t the only one: Moonlight Layette, a baby clothing brand, announced it would stop engaging actively on Instagram, directing customers to a WhatsApp number instead. So did Rivka Dayan, a resin artist who makes Judaica products, and others.

Their decisions might have come as a surprise to the brands’ followers — except that many of them had also tuned into two massive gatherings in Newark last week exhorting Orthodox Jewish women to put away their phones and disconnect from social networks.

Coming a decade after a landmark rally aimed at warning Orthodox men about the dangers of the internet, the rallies were meant to inspire women to spend more time away from their cell phones, according to its organizers. But critics in the Hasidic Orthodox community, including women who attended or listened in via a special phone line for remote participation, said pressure to attend was intense — and that the message was far from uplifting.

“They force themselves to sit through this, being told how evil they are, how decadent they are today with their obsessions with ridiculous things and how spiritually inferior they are,” one Hasidic woman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on the condition of anonymity because she still lives in a Hasidic community in Borough Park. “And they sit there and they listen to it and they nod and they accept it all and they internalize it.”

Known as an asifa or kinus (Hebrew words for gathering), the rallies drew tens of thousands of Hasidic Orthodox women to the Prudential Center in Newark last week, many transported on charter buses from Orthodox areas such as Lakewood, New Jersey, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Women with children in the Bais Yaakov network of schools received text messages and letters saying that the school rabbis urged them to attend; one mother told JTA that she was told her children would be expelled if she did not attend the rally, where tickets cost $54.


One rally was in English, while the other was in Yiddish, the dominant language spoken in many of New York’s Hasidic communities. The events, widely referred to as “nekadesh rallies” using the Hebrew word meaning “make holy,” appealed to women’s maternal instincts — a winning line in a community where fertility is prized and women typically have many children and are responsible for their education.

“I miss the great times that we used to have before you got the cell phone that your boss gave you,” a young boy said during a speech at the Yiddish rally, according to a recording of the event. “I miss your sweet smile. Do you remember our conversations, when we used to laugh at our own stories, and not because we were listening to silly jokes on the little black box?”

At the English-language rally, half of the speakers were women, and at one point, the male rabbis who spoke left the arena so the women could sing together. The speakers presented the issue of social media as one where Orthodox women can choose more or less pious ways to engage with the internet. Among the speakers was Rina Tarshish, a rebbetzin and the director of a women’s seminary in Israel who is widely respected in the Hasidic world.

The rally was intense at times, with attendees being told at one point that technology is a manifestation of Satan’s efforts to spread rot in the world, according to a Twitter thread by someone who transcribed much of the event. But the Yiddish-language rally was more strident in tone and tackled women’s participation in civic life offline as well, according to people who were present. One rabbi who spoke even instructed women not to speak on the street, except in cases of emergency.

The event came 10 years after 40,000 Orthodox men were similarly exhorted to give up their smartphones at a major anti-internet asifa at Citi Field in New York City. Then, the message was about insulating the community from outside influences.


Some 40,000 Haredi Orthodox men filled Citi Field in New York 


Ayala Fader, an anthropology professor at Fordham University who studies Hasidic communities, said what happened next helps explain the latest rallies.

“Men were refusing to give up their smartphones,” she said. “So leadership decided to focus on women and their responsibility for rearing kids and keeping the home and really protecting the next generation.”

Many Orthodox women who have found homes on social media built connections within their own extended communities. Instagram in particular has been both a tool for building businesses in a community where working outside the home can be discouraged and logistically challenging. Orthodox women have also used social media for activism, such as to share experiences with infertility, combat racism and fight antisemitism. Some, seeking to comply with expectations around modesty, have even operated women-only accounts.

Hearing that they should set all of that aside struck some women who were invited to the rally as offensive. Compounding their frustration was the fact that attendees were prohibited from bringing cell phones, taking pictures and sharing the event on social media, and Orthodox media covered the rallies without printing pictures of the women who attended.

“Women finally found an outlet where they can network and it lets you build successful businesses via the internet,” said one Hasidic woman who works in digital marketing and is the sole breadwinner for her family. “And now the men realize, ‘hey, this is terrible! Women having access to other women that are talented, successful, powerful businesswomen. So let’s condense them even more, make them into mere shadows.’”

The rallies were organized by the Technology Awareness Group, or TAG, a nonprofit founded in 2011, shortly before the men’s rally, with a mission of helping Jewish internet users avoid pornography and other harmful influences online. Shmuli Rosenberg, a marketing executive who promoted the event as well as many others targeting Orthodox Jews, said the goal was not to ask women to eschew the Internet or having a public profile.

“It’s far from cutting people off,” he said. “It’s helping people find, in their own life, what will allow them to be more connected to their families and their children and themselves and feel uplifted and elevated and happy.”

Rosenberg said the rallies were limited to women only because the organizers wanted to offer some programming, including women’s singing, that would not be possible under communal norms in a mixed-gender setting.

“This wasn’t specifically targeting women versus men,” he said. “This was targeting everyone. And in our communities, it would be totally unacceptable to say that men can access the internet or information more than women.”

Some women who attended, like Braun, the wigmaker, found the events inspiring.

“I know, it’s kinda contradictory to talk about it here, online,” one woman wrote on the Orthodox women’s forum ImaMother. “But those who were there, in a positive mind, understood that it wasn’t about all or nothing.”

But others said they saw in the events a dangerous tendency in Orthodox communities to set rules far beyond what is required by Jewish law. On their way out of the rallies, women were handed cards that they could give to their taxi drivers and housekeepers to explain why they cannot touch smartphones to type in their address and to ask that smartphones not be used in their homes.

“Dear cleaning lady,” one of the cards read, “In accordance with our religion, most of our community refrains from smartphone usage. I can give you the details in writing. Please keep your smartphone out of sight inside our home.”

Women were handed cards to be given to their taxi drivers and maids

Nothing in Jewish law, known as halacha, prohibits a woman from typing in her address on a phone or creates any obligation for non-Jews. But Rayne Lunger, a woman who grew up Hasidic and is now active on social media, said she was familiar with the impulse to observe more than the letter of the law.

She likened the call for women not to use smartphones to what has happened with expectations around skirt length. In the past, women were considered modest if their skirts covered their knees, she said, but over time, 4 inches below the knee became the norm, and now women can face criticism if their skirts do not reach at least 6 inches below the knee.

“People want to be good and do the right thing,” Lunger said. “And they’re sometimes building stringencies on top of stringencies on top of stringencies that make no sense because they have no reference point.”

Not all Hasidic Jews are wrestling with the issue of internet use in the same way. The Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, for example, has embraced new technologies and uses social media in its outreach, and was not involved in any of these events.

But for women who do choose to roll back their internet usage, groups such as TAG stand ready to install “kosher” filters on their phones and computers.

“The ultra-Orthodox mostly think that the medium is fine wherever you use it in the clean way, or kosher way,” said Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar, a professor at Sapir Academic College in Israel who studies haredi Orthodox approaches to media. “They feel very safe once they can control the content.”

Like parental controls on an iPad or television, kosher filters typically block access to websites or content that is considered inappropriate in the community, such as pornography, gambling sites, or anything related to violence or drugs. They also may block secular content and, separately, can sometimes be glitchy and block content that is not actually out of bounds in the Hasidic world, including health and safety information that women need.

Exactly how many women will install filters, cede their cell phones or cut communications with their customers as a result of the recent gatherings remains to be seen. But what’s clear is that the press to get New York-area Orthodox women to reconsider their internet use continues, even as the latest events themselves fade into the past.

Women are still closing their accounts, according to participants on Orthodox Instagram, and now another event has been scheduled: A replay of the asifa is set for Monday at Tiferes Bais Yaakov School in Lakewood. The school’s website says its ballroom can accommodate 4,600, and tickets are $20.

Friday, July 01, 2022

"The Mouth That Prohibits Is the Mouth That Permits" Mesechta Kesubos 28b.... Just Sayin'...


 הפה שהיתר---הפה שאסור- The Gemara in reverse!


Synagogue sues Florida over abortion ban, saying it violates freedom of religion for Jews 


Advocating for abortion access is not the religious argument we usually hear, but it is no less valid than religious arguments against it.

abortion, jewish, florida

Jewish leaders are explaining that abortion is a religious right.

Debate over legal access to abortion has long been a part of social and political discourse, but increasing state-level restrictions and a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that threatens to overturn five decades of legal precedent have propelled abortion directly into the spotlight once again.

While we're accustomed to seeing religious arguments against abortion from Christian organizations, a synagogue in Florida is flipping the script, making the argument that banning abortion actually violates Jewish religious liberty.

In a lawsuit against the Florida government, Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor of Boynton Beach says that the state's pending abortion law, which prohibits abortion after 15 weeks with few exceptions, violates the Jewish teaching that abortion "is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman.” Citing the constitutional right to freedom of religion, the lawsuit states that the act "prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and this violates their privacy rights and religious freedom."


The Florida 15-week abortion ban only grants exceptions if the mother's life is at risk, if she is at risk of "irreversible physical impairment" or if the fetus is found to have a fatal abnormality. There are no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking.

If Jewish law stipulates that access to abortion is required not only for a woman's physical well-being but also her mental well-being, then laws that criminalize such access are violating religious freedom, Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor contends.

Advocating for abortion access is not the religious argument we usually hear, but it is on equal footing with religious arguments against it. (It's worth pointing out that Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida abortion act into law not at his office, but rather at a church.)

The synagogue's lawsuit raises the question of which religion takes precedence when it comes to legislation. It also highlights the difference between "This is against my religion, therefore no one can do it" and "This is part of my religious tradition, therefore I legally have a right to access it." The former really has no place in U.S. law, as it violates the traditional separation of church and state, and the latter is a prime example of the purpose of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

Part of what makes legislating abortion so messy is that the questions at the heart of the debate are actually largely religious in nature. What is the true nature of human life and when does life begin? At what point is a zygote, an embryo, a fetus considered a full human being with the same rights as the rest of us? What is the relationship between a human (or potential human) in the womb and the person whose body is building it? What responsibilities does the person who is building it have toward that life, and what responsibility does society and/or the government have in holding the human accountable for those responsibilities?

These are all legitimate questions that don't have easy, straightforward answers, no matter how simplistic and undernuanced people try to make them. They may be simple questions for some people to answer individually, but collectively? No. We all make those determinations based on different criteria, different beliefs, different values and different understandings of the nature of life. There is no way for "we the people" as a whole to answer those questions definitively.

And the implications of those questions extend far beyond the abortion debate. The Cleveland Clinic states that one-third to a half of pregnancies end in miscarriage before a person even knows they're pregnant. For those who believe that life begins at conception or fertilization, should every death in the womb be considered a tragedy? Should we mourn the loss of lives we carried that we never even knew existed?

There are the slippery slopes that stem from those questions as well. Some religious people may see a miscarriage as God's will, but what if it was caused by something a woman did? What if a miscarriage occurred because of an action taken of her own free will? Is she culpable for that loss using the same logic we use to criminalize abortion? At what point do we start policing women's behaviors—what she eats or drinks, what medications she takes, whether she's around smokers, and so on—at all times in order to protect a life she may potentially be carrying? We're already seeing women being jailed for miscarriages. How far will we go with it?

What about things like child support payments and government benefits? Why we do not expect child support to be paid from the moment a pregnancy is detected? Why do we not give Social Security numbers to Americans in the womb? Why can we not claim a child on our taxes until they are born? If there is genuinely no difference between a life being grown inside a uterus at 12 or 15 or 20 weeks and a life outside a uterus, why does the law treat them differently?

How do we begin to answer these questions when the heart of them always circles back to individual beliefs?

The synagogue's religious freedom argument is compelling for sure, but the bottom line is we shouldn't be legislating on something based on religious beliefs in the first place. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" That's literally the opening line of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Banning abortion is, in effect, establishing a particular religious belief as law and prohibiting the free exercise of religion for an entire group of people.

At a basic level, abortion is 1) a medical event that entails far too many individual factors that are not the business of the government to judge, and 2) a choice that is determined to be valid or invalid, right or wrong, based largely on individual religious beliefs. Both of those realities are reason enough for legislators, who are neither medical professionals nor religious leaders, to stay out of people's uteruses and leave these incredibly personal medical and religious decisions to the individual.


Leading Orthodox groups cheered the end of Roe v. Wade. Many Orthodox women are panicking.




Thursday, June 30, 2022

Evil Update...

30 Years in the slammer

DEAD --- 20 years in the slammer



Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Maimonides and the sciences


No single person had as great an impact on Jewish thought as did Moses Maimonides (1138-1204).

 In addition to his tremendous accomplishments in the fields of philosophy and law, Maimonides was thoroughly versed in the sciences of his day, and the sciences were fully integrated into his view of Judaism; indeed, Maimonides' outlook was guided in large part by the scientific opinion of his day.

 His philosophy asserts the unity of all truth, that the deity, in keeping with Arabic usage, is in fact The Truth (al-haqq), and that the religious imperative to know God is essentially the same as the philosophical imperative to determine the truth. Many statements issuing from the different branches of knowledge claim to be true. However, Maimonides affirms, the strongest and securest claims to truth are made by the sciences, most especially the mathematical sciences, whose statements are demonstrated with logical rigor. Moreover, of all the components of the cosmos, it is the heavenly bodies, with their regular motion and subtle physics, that disclose something approaching the nature of the divine.

 Furthermore, the human body is marvelously constructed, and its study is also useful for the religious quest. The science of medicine, which conducts this investigation, is also important as a guide for the conduct of a healthy life – a life as free as possible from the physical and emotional disturbances that interfere with the religious quest. *

In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan





Friday, June 24, 2022

The "Hoax" Arrives In London - Before a vaccine was introduced in the 1950s, epidemics would result in thousands of people being paralysed annually and hundreds of deaths.

95 year old high school graduate - class of  1945 - has not read a science book since, if ever, claims to know better than the entire world medical & scientific community! 

First outbreak of highly infectious polio detected in UK since 1984 – the 6 signs to know

POLIO is spreading in the UK for the first time in decades, officials claim.


Health bosses urged Brits to check their children's jabs are up to date after picking up signs of the virus being passed between individuals.

Polio is an infectious disease that can spread from person to person
Polio is an infectious disease that can spread from person to person

Experts have detected the same bug in London sewage samples since April – a clear signal of a community outbreak.

The last case of polio being contracted in Britain was in 1984 and the country was declared polio-free in 2003.

Before a vaccine was introduced in the 1950s, epidemics would result in thousands of people being paralysed annually and hundreds of deaths.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) experts believe a traveller – likely from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Nigeria - shed the virus in their stools after being given the oral polio inoculation.

But the bug has now spread to others after mutating, with the same strain being repeatedly detected in sewage samples since May.

Health bosses have now launched an urgent investigation to pin-point the source and boost vaccination in affected areas.

Despite clear evidence of an outbreak, no cases have yet come forward.

And officials insist the overall risk to the public remains very low.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA said: “Vaccine-derived poliovirus is rare and the risk to the public overall is extremely low.

“Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, particularly in communities where vaccine uptake is lower.

“On rare occasions it can cause paralysis in people who are not fully vaccinated so if you or your child are not up to date with your polio vaccinations it’s important you contact your GP to catch up or if unsure check your red book.”

Polio is an infectious disease that can spread from person to person and most commonly affects children under the age of five.

The disease attacks the nervous system and in some extreme cases can lead to paralysis.

Polio is very contagious, and a person can transmit it even when they aren't sick.

What are the 6 signs of polio you need to know

The majority of people who get infected with poliovirus will not have any visible symptoms.

About one in four people with poliovirus infection will have flu-like symptoms that may include:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Fever
  3. Tiredness
  4. Nausea
  5. Headache
  6. Stomach pain

Symptoms usually last anywhere between two to 10 days before they go away on their own.

In very rare cases, polio can cause difficulty using your muscles, usually in the legs.

This is not usually permanent and movement should slowly return over the next few weeks or months.

In the UK, the polio vaccine is part of the NHS routine childhood vaccination schedule.

It's given as a jab when a child is 8, 12 and 16 weeks old. And two further shots are administered at 3 years and 4 months old, and at 14 years old.

However, one in ten kids in London aged five are not fully vaccinated against the bug.

Jane Clegg, Chief nurse for the NHS in London, said: “The majority of Londoners are fully protected against Polio and won’t need to take any further action, but the NHS will begin reaching out to parents of children aged under five in London who are not up-to-date with their Polio vaccinations to invite them to get protected.

“Meanwhile, parents can also check their child’s vaccination status in their Red Book and people should contact their GP Practice to book a vaccination should they or their child not be fully up-to-date.”



Thursday, June 23, 2022

Five planets align perfectly, visible until end of June


Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible every morning until the end of June in an alignment not seen since 1864.

 The solar system. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have lined up in a rare alignment that won't occur again until 2040, according to AccuWeather.

While it is common to view a couple of planets together at any given time, the alignment of five planets simultaneously is a rare phenomenon which last occurred in 1864 and won't occur again for almost 20 years.

The alignment is best viewed in the early morning around an hour before sunrise and will remain as is until the end of June.

What to look for

A woman looks through a telescope  the evening before a solar eclipse in Madras, Oregon, U.S. (credit: JASON REDMOND/REUTERS)


While a telescope is not essential to view the alignment, some of the planets may be hard to spot with the naked eye – like Mercury which is not clearly visible because of its proximity to the sun and may be harder to spot because it is situated lower in the horizon.

According to AccuWeather, the easiest planets to spot will be Mars, Jupiter and Saturn because they were higher in the sky and will therefore not be impeded by trees and buildings.

While Uranus and Neptune will not be visible to the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope and sky charts will reveal the other two planets in the solar system.

Mercury will leave the morning sky when July arrives, but the rest of the planets will remain for the beginning and will spread further apart as the month progresses. 



Wednesday, June 22, 2022

To be clear, they are not the same as Charedi or other Jewish schools which are registered and which do conform to basic minimum standards. It is also worth noting that this is not exclusively a Jewish issue. There are also other unregistered faith schools - largely within the Muslim community, but also some Christian ones.


The Charedi protests against the Schools Bill are a desecration of Jewish values


It is wrong to defend illegal schools which do not teach even basic English, maths or other vital subjects


The Charedi protests against the Schools Bill are a desecration of Jewish values 

Let’s do a quick sanity check. If you had a teenage child, would you send him or her to a school where there was virtually no English or maths taught, certainly no history or sciences, while sports, drama and art were absent too?

What is more, how would you feel if it was a school where health and safety regulations did not apply, be it checks on bullying by other pupils or abuse by teachers, while fire escapes and hydrants were woefully inadequate?

On top of this, would you mind if there was no monitoring of the school by Ofsted, who were never admitted for any inspections, be it academic standards or the well-being of pupils?

If your answer was along the lines of  “This sounds appalling - Dickensian - of course I would not send any child of mine to such a school - why do you even bother asking such a question - no way - in fact, such schools should not be allowed to exist in the first place”, then I would agree with you, as I suspect would most other JC readers.

But what is astonishing is that such places do exist. What is even worse is that they are Jewish schools. Most reprehensible of all, there are an estimated 1,500 Jewish children attending them in England today.

These are the unregistered schools for 13-16 year olds used by the Charedi community, sometimes called yeshiva ketana, which currently do not fall under the category of state or private education and therefore are completely unregulated and do not have to uphold any external standards.

To be clear, they are not the same as Charedi or other Jewish schools which are registered and which do conform to basic minimum standards. It is also worth noting that this is not exclusively a Jewish issue. There are also other unregistered faith schools - largely within the Muslim community, but also some Christian ones.

Precisely because they are all unregistered - which is a another term for illegal - they are often held in buildings not designed for schoolchildren, with cramped conditions, overcrowded, inadequate light, little fresh air, narrow corridors and without any regard to fire hazards.

But if they are all equally guilty of denying their pupils access to wider education, or potentially putting them in physical danger, we must be particularly concerned with the Jewish ones.

They bring the Jewish community into disrepute but, far more importantly, they do a massive disservice to Jewish children.

Such lack of education not only stifles their present but also stunts their future. It means that if any of the pupils wish to move away from full-time study in later life, they will find it hard to obtain employment and even harder to earn sufficient income to support any family of their own.

What is such a puzzle is that they have long been known about, yet have been allowed to exist, under the state radar, but with everyone knowing about them.

The issue has surfaced thanks to the demonstration outside the House of Commons last week by some 200 Stamford Hill Chasidim protesting against the Schools Bill, which seeks to impose state oversight on their schools.

It may be tempting to side with co-religionists, as well as to admire their dedication to Jewish studies, but surely not if it means depriving the children in their care of safeguards.

It may be moving to hear them speak of how they suffered in the Holocaust and are trying to rebuild Jewish life, but many non-Charedi families also lost relatives yet manage to both perpetuate Jewish life and abide by the law of the land in terms of children’s education.

The demonstrators are not necessarily representative of all Chasidic Jews, and it is to be hoped that they will find a way of maintaining their traditions - but doing so within the law, remembering it is there solely to protect children.

Meanwhile Jewish representative bodies, be it the Board of Deputies or religious organisations, should take a stand, publicly backing the Schools Bill, whilst also privately helping to negotiate a way forward.

It may not be comfortable confronting fellow Jews, especially when they can be so vociferous, but when they are the ones guilty of Hillul HaShem (desecration of Jewish values) by putting the ways of the past above the needs of Jewish children today, then the rest of us have to remember the answer we gave to the sanity check above.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

“In the Talmud, a group of rabbis discuss who is to be considered rich,” he said. “Different rabbis suggest different answers, and one of them, Rabbi Yossi, says, ‘One who has a toilet next to his table.’”


2,700-year-old toilet reveal: First Temple Jews had gut parasites - Attn Shnorrers - Forget The Big House - Check The Table!


Researchers analyzing the content of the toilet could identify traces of eggs from four different types of parasites: roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm and pinworm.

The rare stone toilet is 2700 years old. Most likely used by one of the dignitaries of Jerusalem. (photo credit: YOLI SCHWARTZ/IAA)
The rare stone toilet is 2700 years old. Most likely used by one of the dignitaries of Jerusalem.
Ancient Israelites living in Jerusalem at the time of the First Temple suffered from infectious diseases caused by intestinal parasites, a study conducted by Tel Aviv University and the Antiquities Authority (IAA) on a 2,700-year-old toilet has revealed.
The toilet was recently uncovered in the remains of a luxurious palace offering a spectacular view over the Temple Mount in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood. Experts believe whoever lived there must have been a member of the elite, perhaps the royal family, because private toilets at the time were extremely rare.
In the palace, the cubicle was a rectangular cabin hewn in stone. The toilet seat, with a hole in the center, was designed to be very comfortable. A tank stood under it, where remains of pottery, animal bones, and soils were collected.
Researchers analyzing the content of the pit could identify traces of eggs from four different types of parasites: roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm, and pinworm.
“These are durable eggs, and under the special conditions provided by the cesspit, they survived for nearly 2,700 years,” she said. “Intestinal worms are parasites that cause symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and itching. Some of them are especially dangerous for children and can lead to malnutrition, developmental delays, nervous system damage and, in extreme cases, even death.”
In the absence of medical knowledge, it was almost impossible at that time to recover from the presence of these parasites, Langgut said, and therefore, the discovery likely points out that even the most privileged individuals permanently suffered from the diseases caused by them.
As for what caused the infections in the first place, it could have been due to poor hygienic conditions, including not washing hands regularly, food contaminated by feces, including due to their use as fertilizer, or food poisoning after eating meat not properly cooked.
“Studies like this one help us document the history of infectious diseases in our area and provide us with a window into the lives of people in ancient times,” Langgut said.
The researcher is also working on analyzing additional samples from the pit to discover more about the diet of people living in ancient Jerusalem.
Only a handful of toilets remain from the First Temple period have been found in Israel.
“In many cases, they were not complete toilets, but just toilet seats,” archaeologist Yaakov Billig, director of the excavation on behalf of the IAA, said after the discovery of the toilet was revealed in October.
“At the time, cesspits were also used as garbage cans,” he said. “The vast majority of the vessels found were bowls. It could be that they were some kind of disposable dishes, but also that they were used as containers for aromatic oil and were put in the toilet to improve the smell.”
Even a millennium later, access to a toilet was considered a rare privilege, Billig said.
“In the Talmud, a group of rabbis discuss who is to be considered rich,” he said. “Different rabbis suggest different answers, and one of them, Rabbi Yossi, says, ‘One who has a toilet next to his table.’”

Monday, June 20, 2022

When we swim against the tide to preserve and uphold values that we cherish and know to be right, we save ourselves from going down the drain to decadence. Heeding our conscience and acting by our best instincts enhances our moral strength and power of judgment.



The phrase ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ means it is polite and possibly advantageous to abide by the customs of a society when one is a visitor. It is also taken to mean following others for the sake of conformity and convenience, and to avoid unnecessary exertions. In the latter, loose interpretation, it is adopted as a philosophy of life by many people.

A lot of us believe in following current trends without using our scruples too much, as it is easier to go along with the crowd than invite curiosity, ridicule or opposition. It is an attractive proposition, as one can escape potential embarrassment and hostility. But such thinking, and course of action, also condemn us to mediocrity and are unlikely to help us achieve anything exceptional. Anyone who wishes to do something worthwhile in life has to do it on the foundation of sound principles and character. This may call for swimming against the tide.

It is values that make life worth living, and preserving them enriches life even if no one around us appreciates those values. One who embodies values is a source of strength and inspiration for others. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” Truth has such power that it manifests itself without anyone having to prove it. Living by high ideals may not be a bed of roses and one may have to face opposition for persisting on a path that looks irrational to others, but that is the price to pay for having a clear conscience and the knowledge and satisfaction that what one is doing is right.

There are examples in history of men and women whose ideas and actions were little appreciated in their lifetime, but were later recognised as outstanding. Even man’s scientific progress has been made possible by individuals who challenged prevailing dogmas and conventional ways of thinking to reveal the truth.

Modern scientific research and management practices encourage original and ‘out of the box’ thinking to find innovative and effective solutions to problems. But while such nonconformity is welcomed for the practical benefits it brings, when it comes to upholding values that may not be fashionable, surrender is the first choice of many. This is because we do not recognise the value of what we are giving up.

Certain principles and values are what keep us human. Their benefits may be intangible at times, but together they form the foundation of a civilised society. The gradual abandonment of values in the pursuit of unrestrained self-indulgence is now recognised as a contributory factor behind some of the social ills afflicting modern societies.

When we swim against the tide to preserve and uphold values that we cherish and know to be right, we save ourselves from going down the drain to decadence. Heeding our conscience and acting by our best instincts enhances our moral strength and power of judgment. This enables us to make the right choices in situations that test our character and good sense.

A sound character and judgment help keep us on the right track in life, saving us from mistakes that can ruin the lives and reputations of even brilliant individuals.

Following one’s inner voice brings peace of mind as it averts inner conflict. This helps us remain stable, light and happy. And since truth cannot be hidden forever, siding with the truth ultimately, and always, brings victory.



Sunday, June 19, 2022

What exactly is this “Jewish thing?” We are a “thing” that stands up to corruption. We are a “thing” that believes in an old fashioned concept called integrity and honesty. We have a sense of shame. We speak truth to power.


Watergate’s Jewish ‘thing’ & Nixon’s thing for the Jews 


We won't accept a world where bad presidents happen to good people: we speak truth to power, and pursue justice - as this week's January 6 hearing reminds us 
Then-president Nixon, with edited transcripts of Nixon White House Tape conversations during broadcast of his address to the Nation, April 29, 1974. (WHPO C1269-20, via Wikipedia)
Then-president Nixon, with edited transcripts of Nixon White House Tape conversations during broadcast of his address to the Nation, April 29, 1974.    


Fifty years ago, on June 17, 1972, the Watergate break-in changed the world. Little did we know it at the time, or for months after, that this seemingly innocuous, two-bit trespass would transform how Americans would view the venerated institutions of our civic life. Many were tainted by the stench of the scandal, from the FBI to the CIA to the presidency itself. Other institutions, most notably the press, acquitted themselves quite well.

But what about the Jews — or as Nixon liked to call us, the Jewboys? Was Nixon the most antisemitic president ever? An argument can be made for that, but having had so many private conversations recorded probably gives him an unfair advantage. It’s hard to quantify such things, but it’s also hard to imagine American Jewry surviving someone who hated Jews more than Nixon did. Even before Watergate, there was Nixon’s “Jew Count.” discussed by Woodward and Bernstein in The Final Days. Nixon was convinced that Jews in the Labor Department were deliberately undermining his efforts by altering labor numbers, so he had some people with Jewish last names demoted. The plan has been called “the last known act of official anti-Semitism conducted by the United States government.” And wait, there’s more. President Nixon also pushed for tax audits of wealthy Jewish contributors to his Democratic rivals.

During Watergate, perhaps Nixon’s most vociferous defender was not only Jewish but a rabbi, Baruch Korff, whom Nixon introduced as “my rabbi.” Nixon’s speechwriter, William Safire, was also Jewish (Safire generously compared Nixon to a “layer cake”). They were not Nixon’s sole Jewish defenders — we can’t forget that many Jews considered Nixon heroic for airlifting assistance to Israel during those first precarious days of the Yom Kippur War. And there was Henry Kissinger, whose Jewish background was the source of some unease in an Oval Office suspicious of Jews. In one tape, Nixon blurts out to H.R. Haldeman, “The Jews are all over this government.” Nixon said the Jews needed to be brought under control by putting someone “in charge who is not Jewish” in key agencies. Washington “is full of Jews,” the president stated. “Most Jews are disloyal.” But he made exceptions, and for the most part, Kissinger was one of them. He even prayed with him as the walls closed in.

It’s clear that Nixon’s antisemitic proclivities went way beyond “Jewboy,” tax audits and labor statistics. He considered Jews to be “born spies.” Nixon conjured up Jewish demons even where there were none; his paranoia extended to non-Jews who seemed Jewish to him. His original enemies list and expanded master list of political opponents had plenty of Jewish sounding names. In the tapes, his response to the Pentagon Papers leak was to consider reviving the House Committee on Un-American Activities to investigate government whistleblowers — or in his words, “going after all these Jews. Just find one that is a Jew, will you.” But Daniel Ellsberg was not Jewish — he was raised as a Christian Scientist, though his parents were born Ashkenazi Jews.

Mark Felt, the great Watergate whistleblower of “Deep Throat” fame, was also not Jewish; nonetheless the Watergate tapes disclosed that Nixon was suspicious of him as he asked H.R. Haldeman, “Is he a Catholic?” Haldeman replied that Felt, who was of Irish descent, was Jewish, and Nixon replied: “It could be the Jewish thing. I don’t know. It’s always a possibility.”

What exactly is this “Jewish thing?” What is it that caused Nixon to assume that whistleblowers like Deep Throat and Ellsberg were Jewish?

Nixon would undoubtedly have invoked the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and spoken of dual loyalty, but I’d define the “Jewish Thing” as the prophetic instinct to speak truth to power, to seek justice and pursue it, following the calls of elders who speak on the pages of Isaiah 1:17, Deuteronomy 16:20, Micah 6:8 and Psalms 34:15 — and so many more ancient passages. We are obsessed with justice. The word for justice, tzedek, appears no fewer than 118 times in the Hebrew Bible. Click here to see over 4,000 usages of the term “justice” in the Sefaria database of traditional Jewish sources.

We won’t accept a world where bad presidents happen to good people. We are obsessed with getting it right. We are maniacal for justice — and we’re seeing it again this week with the January 6 investigation.

That’s the Jewish Thing.

Any nation can have kings and emperors. We have them too, but we also have prophets. Yes, we have our share of corrupt politicians, including two Israeli former prime ministers who are currently suing each other for slander in one of the most absurd trials of all time. We’ve had Olmert, who went to jail, and Bibi, who might, and King Ahab, who robbed a poor man of his livelihood and his life. We had a whole slew of corrupt Hasmonean rulers. But we also had Jeremiah. We had Nathan. We had Spinoza and Kafka and Reb Nachman. We are the people of Mike Wallace and Philip Roth and Arthur Miller and Boris Pasternak. We are the people of Carl Bernstein, along with a slew of great journalists and other truth tellers, and at least in H.R. Haldeman’s estimation, we are the people of “Deep Throat” too.

Yes, it’s nice to know that, to Richard Nixon, Jews were a “thing.” We are a “thing” that stands up to corruption. We are a “thing” that believes in an old fashioned concept called integrity and honesty. We have a sense of shame. We speak truth to power. Even when there are political differences, how could a Jew not admire someone who stands up to power even at the risk of their political future. That happened so often in Watergate — it has rarely happened after January 6. Our “thing” is why he feared us — and why extremists, liars and cheats continue to today.

Fifty years later, Nixon and Deep Throat and many of the other key players are gone. Nixon never went to jail, but neither did he get away with it. Meanwhile, the Jewish Thing lives on and on.

May it — and we — continue to spread the light of justice throughout the world. 


Friday, June 17, 2022

Oh Boy!!!! The appeals court based in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday said in its decision that girls at the school were excluded from educational opportunities and experienced "emotional and dignitary harm" when they were not allowed to wear pants while boys at the school were.


WILMINGTON, N.C. – A federal appeals court has ruled that a North Carolina charter school violated female students' rights by requiring them to wear skirts, reversing a previous decision.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled 10-6 that the dress code at Charter Day School in Leland is a violation of Title IX – a federal law protecting students in public schools from gender-based discrimination.

The school opened in 2000 to teach students from kindergarten through 8th grade and to promote "traditional values."

In 2016, guardians of three girls attending Charter filed a lawsuit against the school claiming that its dress code prohibiting female students from wearing shorts or pants, was discrimination.

In 2019, a district court found that as a state actor, the school was in violation of the Equal Protections Clause of the constitution.

That ruling was sent to a court of appeals panel last August and was overruled, 2-1.

The panel sent the ruling back to the district court to consider whether the school violated the Title IX federal protections of students in public schools from gender-based discrimination.

The district court ruled that the dress code did not violate Title IX because the law does not apply to dress codes, but the full appeals court overturned that in a 10-6 ruling.

"I'm glad the girls at Charter Day School will now be able to learn, move, and play on equal terms as the boys in school," Bonnie Peltier, a plaintiff whose daughter attended the school, said in a statement. "In 2022, girls shouldn't have to decide between wearing something that makes them uncomfortable or missing classroom instruction time."

The appeals court based in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday said in its decision that girls at the school were excluded from educational opportunities and experienced "emotional and dignitary harm" when they were not allowed to wear pants while boys at the school were.

It also upheld the district court's decision that the charter school is a state actor and is therefore subject to the Equal Protections Clause, despite being run by a private entity, Roger Bacon Academy.

"By implementing the skirts requirement based on blatant gender stereotypes about the 'proper place' for girls and women in society, CDS has acted in clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause," the court ruling says.

The dress code, according to the school, was put in place to instill chivalry and respect between boys and girls. It promotes that girls are “a fragile vessel that men are supposed to take care of and honor,” said the school’s director Baker Mitchell, who was quoted in the lawsuit.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: North Carolina school can't require girls to wear skirts, court rules

Thursday, June 16, 2022

GREAT STORY TO TELL YOUR KIDS AT BEDTIME!---- Bleich told Haaretz that the misconduct allegations are part of a smear campaign against him by members of the Karlin-Stolin Hasidic dynasty, with which Bleich used to be affiliated. He has fallen out with the movement and has a real estate dispute with it, he told the Israeli newspaper.


A chief rabbi in Ukraine denies sexual misconduct allegations - I say put him on the frontlines against Russia in a mitzva tank permanently, with glatt kosher food and tefillin of course!


Yaakov Dov Bleich, a chief rabbi of Ukraine.

(JTA) — The main organization representing British Jews has suspended its ties with the European Jewish Congress over unspecified “misconduct” allegations against the Congress’ treasurer, Yaakov Dov Bleich, a chief rabbi of Ukraine.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews announced the move on Twitter May 31 without naming Bleich. In the tweet, the group said the EJC did not respond satisfactorily to “misconduct allegations,” whose exact nature has not been reported in the media or specified by the Board.

Bleich, who has been featured in news coverage of the war in Ukraine, has denied all allegations against him, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

“Anyone in public life, over five to six years, you’re going to make changes, especially at my age, where I am less active,” Bleich told Haaretz. “If you come with something concrete, OK, but everybody who investigated said there’s nothing concrete behind these allegations.”

The Haaretz report was based on correspondence between EJC interim president Ariel Muzicant and Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board. Those emails, obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, neither name Bleich directly as the accused nor specify the nature of the allegations.

The Jerusalem Post reported June 2 that the British Board of Deputies had acted over sexual abuse allegations, also without naming Bleich. On social media, reports have swirled before and after the board’s announcement alleging sexual misconduct by Bleich, an American citizen who lives mostly in Monsey, New York. 

Bleich told Haaretz that the misconduct allegations are part of a smear campaign against him by members of the Karlin-Stolin Hasidic dynasty, with which Bleich used to be affiliated. He has fallen out with the movement and has a real estate dispute with it, he told the Israeli newspaper.

Another email obtained by JTA, by Jonathan Arkush, a former president of the Board of Deputies, does name Bleich as the reason for the board’s suspension of ties with the EJC.

“The correct action would have been to suspended [sic] R Bleich immediately if he did not agree to step aside and then consider any representation from him against the evidence,” Arkush wrote to EJC President Muzicant on June 1. In the email, Arkush said he supported the board’s suspension of ties with EJC, citing how “troubling matters circulating publicly” create the impression that the EJC is ignoring the problem.

Arkush’s email was in response to an earlier email sent by Muzicant to van der Zyl, who had demanded Muzicant “carry out an internal investigation into these serious allegations against an officeholder” at EJC. Van der Zyl threatened to go public about the issue.

Muzicant replied that his group had in fact looked into the allegations and said that “going public is irresponsible.” (Muzicant was appointed interim president of the EJC in early May after the previous president, Moshe Kantor, resigned after being placed under sanctions in the United Kingdom over his ties to Russia.)

“The investigation we were able to do so far shows: There are no victims or first-hand witnesses which went to the police or to court,” he wrote. “The allegations are dramatic but are second and third parties (hearsay!) and they are three years old.”

Attempts by JTA in recent weeks to contact complainants have not been successful.

Contacted by JTA, Bleich declined to comment on the dispute. The British Board of Deputies has also declined to comment.

The scandal is not the only one unfolding in Europe right now over the handling of allegations against Jewish leaders. Liberal, or Reform, Judaism in Germany is also being roiled by allegations against Rabbi Walter Homolka, the founder and rector of the Abraham Geiger College, a 23-year-old rabbinical school, and against the college for how it has handled them.


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

‘I am just looking for a human being’


The Hypersane Are Among Us, If Only We Are Prepared to Look


Sometimes those who seem a little crazy are the ones who really get it.

‘Hypersanity’ is not a common or accepted term. But neither did I make it up. I first came across the concept while training in psychiatry, in The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise (1967) by R D Laing. In this book, the Scottish psychiatrist presented ‘madness’ as a voyage of discovery that could open out onto a free state of higher consciousness, or hypersanity. For Laing, the descent into madness could lead to a reckoning, to an awakening, to ‘break-through’ rather than ‘breakdown’.

A few months later, I read C G Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1962), which provided a vivid case in point. In 1913, on the eve of the Great War, Jung broke off his close friendship with Sigmund Freud, and spent the next few years in a troubled state of mind that led him to a ‘confrontation with the unconscious’.

As Europe tore itself apart, Jung gained first-hand experience of psychotic material in which he found ‘the matrix of a mythopoeic imagination which has vanished from our rational age’. Like Gilgamesh, Odysseus, Heracles, Orpheus and Aeneas before him, Jung travelled deep down into an underworld where he conversed with Salome, an attractive young woman, and with Philemon, an old man with a white beard, the wings of a kingfisher and the horns of a bull. Although Salome and Philemon were products of Jung’s unconscious, they had lives of their own and said things that he had not previously thought. In Philemon, Jung had at long last found the father-figure that both Freud and his own father had failed to be. More than that, Philemon was a guru, and prefigured what Jung himself was later to become: the wise old man of Zürich. As the war burnt out, Jung re-emerged into sanity, and considered that he had found in his madness ‘the primo materia for a lifetime’s work’.

The Laingian concept of hypersanity, though modern, has ancient roots. Once, upon being asked to name the most beautiful of all things, Diogenes the Cynic (412-323 BCE) replied parrhesia, which in Ancient Greek means something like ‘uninhibited thought’, ‘free speech’, or ‘full expression’. Diogenes used to stroll around Athens in broad daylight brandishing a lit lamp. Whenever curious people stopped to ask what he was doing, he would reply: ‘I am just looking for a human being’ – thereby insinuating that the people of Athens were not living up to, or even much aware of, their full human potential.


Jung and Diogenes came across as insane by the standards of their day. But both men had a depth and acuteness of vision that their contemporaries lacked, and that enabled them to see through their facades of ‘sanity’. Both psychosis and hypersanity place us outside society, making us seem ‘mad’ to the mainstream. Both states attract a heady mixture of fear and fascination. But whereas mental disorder is distressing and disabling, hypersanity is liberating and empowering.

After reading The Politics of Experience, the concept of hypersanity stuck in my mind, not least as something that I might aspire to for myself. But if there is such a thing as hypersanity, the implication is that mere sanity is not all it’s cracked up to be, a state of dormancy and dullness with less vital potential even than madness. This I think is most apparent in people’s frequently suboptimal – if not frankly inappropriate – responses, both verbal and behavioural, to the world around them. As Laing puts it:

The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man.
Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal.
Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last 50 years.

Many ‘normal’ people suffer from not being hypersane: they have a restricted worldview, confused priorities, and are wracked by stress, anxiety and self-deception. As a result, they sometimes do dangerous things, and become fanatics or fascists or otherwise destructive (or not constructive) people. In contrast, hypersane people are calm, contained and constructive. It is not just that the ‘sane’ are irrational but that they lack scope and range, as though they’ve grown into the prisoners of their arbitrary lives, locked up in their own dark and narrow subjectivity. Unable to take leave of their selves, they hardly look around them, barely see beauty and possibility, rarely contemplate the bigger picture – and all, ultimately, for fear of losing their selves, of breaking down, of going mad, using one form of extreme subjectivity to defend against another, as life – mysterious, magical life – slips through their fingers.

We could all go mad, in a way we already are, minus the promise. But what if there were another route to hypersanity, one that, compared with madness, was less fearsome, less dangerous, and less damaging? What if, as well as a backdoor way, there were also a royal road strewn with sweet-scented petals? After all, Diogenes did not exactly go mad. Neither did other hypersane people such as Socrates and Confucius, although the Buddha did suffer, in the beginning, with what might today be classed as depression.

Besides Jung, are there any modern examples of hypersanity? Those who escaped from Plato’s cave of shadows were reluctant to crawl back down and involve themselves in the affairs of men, and most hypersane people, rather than courting the limelight, might prefer to hide out in their back gardens. But a few do rise to prominence for the difference that they felt compelled to make, people such as Nelson Mandela and Temple Grandin. And the hypersane are still among us: from the Dalai Lama to Jane Goodall, there are many candidates. While they might seem to be living in a world of their own, this is only because they have delved more deeply into the way things are than those ‘sane’ people around them.

Neel Burton is a psychiatrist and philosopher. He is a fellow of Green Templeton College at the University of Oxford, and his most recent book is Hypersanity: Thinking Beyond Thinking (2019).