Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Skillah is illegal in Canada

Immigrants wishing to live in the small Canadian town of Herouxville, Quebec, must not stone women to death in public, burn them alive or throw acid on them, according to an extraordinary set of rules released by the local council.

The declaration, published on the town's website, has deepened tensions in the predominantly French-speaking province over how tolerant Quebecers should be toward the customs and traditions of immigrants.

"We wish to inform these new arrivals that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here," said the declaration, which makes it clear women are allowed to drive, vote, dance, write cheques, dress how they want, work and own property. "Therefore we consider it completely outside these norms to ... kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them, etc."

No one on the town council was available for comment yesterday. Herouxville, with a population of 1300, is about 160km northeast of Montreal.

Andre Drouin, the councillor who devised the declaration, told the National Post the town was not racist.

"We invite people from all nationalities, all languages, all sexual orientations, whatever, to come live with us, but we want them to know ahead of time how we live," he said.

The declaration is part of a wider debate over "reasonable accommodation", or how far Quebecers should be prepared to change their customs so as not to offend immigrants. Figures from the 2001 Census show that around 10 per cent of Quebec's 7.5 million population were born outside Canada.

Last month the Journal de Montreal newspaper published a poll of Quebecers showing that 59 per cent admitted to harbouring some kind of racist feelings.

The regulations say girls and boys can exercise together and people should only be allowed to cover their faces at Halloween. Children must not take weapons to school, although the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Sikh boys have the right to carry ceremonial daggers. Muslim Council of Montreal president Salam Elmenyawi said the declaration had "set the clock back for decades" for race relations.

"I was shocked and insulted to see these kinds of false stereotypes and ignorance about Islam and our religion ... in a public document written by people in authority who discriminate openly," he said.

Last year a Montreal gym agreed to install frosted windows after a nearby Hasidic synagogue said it was offended by the sight of adults exercising.

Newspapers say a Montreal community centre banned men from prenatal classes to respect Hindu and Sikh traditions and an internal police magazine suggested women police officers allow their male colleagues to interview Hasidic Jews.

Montreal's police force is investigating one of its officers after he posted an anti-immigrant song called That's Enough Already on the internet.

"We want to accept ethnics, but not at any price ... if you're not happy with your fate, there's a place called the airport," the officer sings in a video clip showing Muslims and Hasidic Jews.



Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kiryas Joel school evacuated 

About 200 boys were evacuated from a middle school this morning after two of them fainted, triggering fears of a carbon monoxide leak in the building, authorities said.
Those fears turned out to be unfounded. Kiryas Joel firefighters are still checking the vacated Riminev Court boys' school, but no trace of a gas leak has been found, according to the state police and Moses Witriol, the village's public safety director.
Witriol said the two boys — one of whom had strep throat — were taken to a doctor in Kiryas Joel. Stifling heat in the room where the boys were gathered is suspected to have played a role in the episode.
The initial report — which came a little after 9 a.m. — of "a large gas leak" with four or five children down sparked a massive emergency response. Ambulances, the personal vehicles of emergency medical technicians and Kiryas Joel fire trucks lined the blocked-off street.

Renowned Rabbi Uses Internet to Slam Jews for Yoshke

Outreach Judaism, a leading counter- missionary organization based in New York today launched its new website, http://www.outreachjudaism.org, offering a free, exhaustive library of information regarding Jews for Jesus' multimillion dollar worldwide missionary campaigns, including a point-by-point audio response to their plans to convert Jews to Christianity. In the last year alone, Jews for Jesus engaged in a 65-city tour -- any city that has more than 25,000 Jews within it -- targeting the most vulnerable Jews for conversion: Jewish youth and the elderly. In an effort to combat this disturbing and aggressive assault on Jewish communities worldwide, Rabbi Tovia Singer, founder of Outreach Judaism and renowned radio show host on Israel National Radio, is now making available his notorious tape series, "Let's get Biblical(TM)" free to anyone seeking answers to questions posed by Christian missionaries who engage in evangelism targeting Jews. "Jews for Jesus has launched a deceptive campaign to convert the most susceptible segments of our community to their ranks," said Rabbi Singer. "In their unrelenting spiritual assault on Jewish communities in the US, Israel and Europe, Jews for Jesus deliberately blurs the distinctions between Judaism and Christianity in order to lure Jews who would otherwise resist a straightforward Christian message. Now, Jews worldwide finally have the answers to Jews for Jesus' claims at their fingertips." "Jews for Jesus has stated their staggering goals," stated Rabbi Singer. According to their marketing materials, Jews for Jesus exists, "To make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide." Moreover, as part of their recent effort to convert the Jewish elderly in New York, Jews for Jesus distributed more than 80,000 copies of a conversionist film translated into Yiddish to homes in Brooklyn, Queens and Monsey, New York. Furthermore, Jews for Jesus is expanding its efforts to convert survivors of the Holocaust. The testimonials of those who managed to survive the Holocaust, yet became ensnared by the Baptist missionary group are broadcast on the Jews for Jesus website. "This spiritual war against the most vulnerable members of our community is deeply troubling, and cannot go unanswered," says Rabbi Singer. "Outreach Judaism, a leading counter-missionary organization based in New York, is responding to Jews for Jesus' unyielding assault upon the Jewish faith with point-by-point answers to their arguments. This is an all-out, no-holds-barred spiritual war instigated by Jews for Jesus that Outreach Judaism is responding to with an effective response.

Fast Facts:

-- Jews for Jesus visited 65 cities around the world during its $18 million Behold Your God campaign

-- Jews for Jesus distributed its Jesus film in Yiddish to 80,000 Hasidic homes in New York City

-- They distributed 1 million tracts and collected contact information for more than 5,000 people


Orthodox Jews pulled into cell tower dialogue

The horrifying ordeal of a Brooklyn couple trapped inside their car for 32 hours on a remote stretch of the Adirondack Northway has rallied their Orthodox Jewish family and neighbors.

The story of Alfred Langer, 63, who froze to death while his wife, Barbara, 59, lay immobilized while waiting for help, is the focal point of a new push to get cellphone towers built in the Adirondack Park along one of the state's most desolate highways.

"The Orthodox community is roaring mad. Everyone is extremely angry," said Benzion Herbst, the Langers' son-in-law.

The anger has turned an Adirondack issue into a downstate issue as well. Some lawmakers predict the tragedy may finally force some kind of deal allowing the construction of cellphone towers.

Thousands of people attended Alfred Langer's funeral on Sunday. They were furious, saying the couple's suffering could have been prevented. "If there were cell towers, I'm convinced my father-in-law would be alive," Herbst said.

The Langers, on their way back from a friend's wedding in Montreal, crashed their car sometime after 1 a.m. Thursday near North Hudson, about 75 miles south of the Canadian border.

The accident happened on a 70-mile stretch where there is no cellphone service. Even though emergency call boxes dot the highway, both were too injured to venture out. Trees obscured their car from passing motorists.

While they awaited rescue, Alfred Langer tried to keep his wife's spirits up. "We're not going to die. No way. We're going to live," Langer told her.

Thirteen hours after the crash, he slipped into unconsciousness and died of hypothermia. His wife shouted to try to keep him awake, Herbst said.

It was another 19 hours before a state trooper finally spotted their vehicle.

Barbara Langer is still in Fletcher Allen Medical Center in Burlington, Vt. Doctors have told the family they expect her to make a full recovery, according to Herbst.

The family is dealing with its grief, which is compounded by the agony of the ordeal.



Monday, January 29, 2007

Outrage at death for lack of signal

The tragic death of a 63-year-old man who was unable to get cellphone service and was stranded for about 32 hours after his car went off the Adirondack Northway may be the event that finally prompts legislative action on a deal to bring cell towers to that remote northern stretch of I-87, a state lawmaker said Sunday.

"But it should not have come to this. This could have been prevented," said Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury.

She and her North Country legislative counterpart, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, have been working for years on a deal that would allow cellphone towers on a 70-mile stretch of I-87 that is currently a zone where cellphone service doesn't exist.

Little said she was outraged when she learned about the ordeal of Alfred Langer and his wife, Barbara, 59. The Brooklyn couple were returning from a wedding in Montreal on Thursday when their car went off the road in the town of North Hudson, Essex County, sometime after 1 a.m. The temperature in the Adirondacks at the time was below zero.

Barbara Langer tried to summon help but couldn't get cellphone service. She and her husband were too injured to leave the car, and their vehicle was off the road and hidden by trees.

A State Trooper finally found their Lincoln Town Car some 32 hours later. By that time, Alfred Langer, recalled by friends as a sweet man who worked for the state Insurance Department for 37 years, had died of hypothermia.

Barbara Langer had a broken back, her feet were frozen, and she sat helpless as she watched her husband die. She was listed in fair condition Sunday at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt.

The incident has incensed the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, where the Langers were active members.

"You mean we can talk to people on the moon, but we can't talk to people on Interstate 87?" said Abraham Isaac, a community activist who operates a blog called Voz Iz Neias, which is aimed at the Jewish community.

The blog has attracted dozens of comments on the incident, most expressing anger that Langer's death could have been prevented.

He said besides Langer's death, there were larger issues that should have spurred the construction of cell towers years ago.

"What if, God forbid, a truck carrying hazardous material should spring a leak in North Hudson? You never know what is coming across the border from Canada," he said.

Many Orthodox Jews travel the Northway between New York and Montreal because of family ties between the faith's large communities in those cities. Noah Zablotsky of Brooklyn makes the trip several times a year to visit a son and his family. He and his neighbors have had close calls on the lonely stretch between Warrensburg and Plattsburgh.

"I was running out of gas. It was dark out. I've never been so scared," he said. "I have a cellphone but I couldn't use it to call Triple-A."



Sunday, January 28, 2007

An Urgent Mitzvah about Cell Phone Coverage In Upstate New York - Pass this on and post

In light of the recent New York State Thruway tragedy which could have been avoided had there been cell phone coverage in the area, we would like to ensure that coverage be made available immediately.

Please write or contact those two upstanding government officials for their support in this matter: Senator Elizabeth Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward. Mrs. Little and Ms. Sayward are from upstate New York, and have reacted with outrage to this story. They have started a massive campaign in Albany to build cell towers in the area immediately.

The cell phone tower issue is going to be debated this week in the NYS Senate, with Governor Elliot Spitzer, and many other of our representatives.

We need to show them our support and acknowledgment for taking care of this urgent matter. Let us all do our part in saving more Yiddish lives from such tzaros in the future.

State Senator
Mrs. Elizabeth Little
305 West Bay Plaza
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
(518) 561-2430
E-mail Senator Elizabeth

Mrs. Teresa R. Sayward
113th Assembly District7559 Court St. Rm. 203
PO Box 217
Elizabethtown, NY 12932
email: saywart@assembly.state.ny.us

Eliot Spitzer
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Senetor Schumer's Office
Phone: 212-486-4430

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Phone: (212) 688-6262


A Brooklyn woman helplessly watched her husband slowly freeze to death as they lay trapped in their car for 32 hours after sliding off an icy upstate road, police said yesterday.

Barbara Langner, 58, told rescuers she had desperately yelled at her husband, Alfred, to wake up as he slipped into unconsciousness.

Barbara Langner, who broke her back, sat powerless in the passenger seat as Alfred, 63, died about 13 hours after they drove off the Interstate 87 Northway in North Hudson about 2 a.m. Thursday.

Temperatures dipped to 7 degrees below zero during the harrowing ordeal.

Langner tried to call for help on her cellphone - but there was no reception in the mountainous terrain in Adirondack Park, about 250 miles north of New York City.

An autopsy yesterday revealed Alfred, a retiree who worked for the state Department of Insurance, died of hypothermia.

The couple's maroon 1989 Lincoln Town Car sat pinned in by trees and a boulder, hidden from the view of state troopers.

Relatives began calling cops in Plattsburgh on Friday morning to report that the couple, who were driving back from a wedding in Montreal, had not returned home as expected.

An eagle-eyed trooper spotted the Lincoln only after he pulled over another car nearby.

Troopers discovered the conscious wife at about 10 a.m. Friday in the front seat. She was wearing a down coat, winter boots and earmuffs, with a blanket wrapped around her.

"She was pinned," said an in-law who asked not to be named. "She broke her back. She couldn't move. He tried to get out, but he was bleeding."

Rescuers found Alfred's body in the back seat - halfway out of the door.

Devastated members of the couple's Brooklyn Hasidic community gathered at the Beth Torrah synagogue in Borough Park, across the road from where the couple had lived for 15 years.

Rabbi Morton Pupko said the Langners brought up two sons, now living in Jerusalem, and a daughter who lives in Borough Park.

"He was a great man - there was no better," said a longtime friend in Montreal who was with the couple at the wedding.

Barbara Langner was in stable condition yesterday at the Fletcher Allan Health Care Center in Burlington, Vt.

Emergency Medical Technician Patty Bashaw spoke to the woman as she was being freed.

"She told me he was speaking to her husband up until 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon," she said. "She told me, 'When I screamed about my back, he would apologize.' "

Alfred's funeral was set for 1 p.m. today in Brooklyn at Shomrei Hadas Chapels on 14th Avenue and 38th Street.


In the Wee Hours, Worship and More

AT 10 o’clock on a recent Thursday night, the corner of 53rd Street and 13th Avenue in the heart of Borough Park was bustling with traffic. In this neighborhood, an ultra-Orthodox stronghold for the past decade, a sea of religious Jews clad in traditional black and white garb scurried in every direction for late-night prayer, shopping or something to eat. This corner of Brooklyn never sleeps, or so it seems.

The main attraction is Congregation Shomrei Shabbos, a 24-hour synagogue where a service begins every 15 minutes. What started more than three-quarters of a century ago as a tiny congregation has grown into a mainstay of this community: transit hub, soup kitchen, community center, bookstore and prayer hall all in one.

The late-night traffic generated by the synagogue has spilled onto the streets, so much so that over the past few years a neighborhood has literally grown up around it. Restaurants and stores are open long past midnight. Peddlers vie for street space in the wee hours. Religious music streams from a small boombox. Men stop their cars in the middle of darkened streets to announce the birth of a child.

Even in a city renowned for the hours it keeps, the late-night liveliness here is remarkable.

“Some people here have begun to call this corner a mini-Times Square,” said Alexander Rapaport, a longtime resident of Borough Park who attends the synagogue.

Standing outside the synagogue one recent evening at 11:30, he pointed across the street to the neighborhood’s first large billboard, a bright green ad that arrived two months ago and hovers above this corner. It advertises a concert by the popular religious singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer, outfitted in a fur hat, side locks and thick glasses.

Men coming home late from work, passing through on business or returning from a wedding know that at Shomrei Shabbos they will be guaranteed a minyan, a quorum of 10 men required by Jewish law for communal prayer, until 2 a.m. — a major benefit for observant Jews who pray together three times a day. Unofficial services continue through the night. Thanks to this nonstop traffic, much of it generated by the synagogue’s embrace of worshipers of various Orthodox groups, the building resembles nothing so much as a busy bus station, with people wandering in and out at all hours of the day and night.

Between 10 p.m. and midnight, the place is so crowded that it is hard to find space to sit or even stand. Men come at night to daven Maariv — recite the evening prayers — which can be done any time from sundown to sunrise. Religious men who work often miss the window of opportunity at synagogues where services are held only once an evening.

“Other shuls only have a minyan at certain times,” said Moshe Metzger, who has volunteered at Shomrei Shabbos for 35 years. “Here you can come whenever.”



Saturday, January 27, 2007

Board 12 blocks Boro-Park Lag B'Omer parade

Community board 12 is attempting to block Boro-Park from going along with their plans for their Lag B'Omer parade. Board 12, who is responsible for granting community permits in Boro-Park, is denying to issue a permit to shut down the street in order for the parade to take place. The board has so far not come up with any justifiable reason for not granting the permit which has never been an issue in the years before. The single person who is reportedly responsible for spearheading this permit block is District Manager Wolf Sender. He has reportedly told community leaders that he has no interest in granting the permit since he will get no personal or political gain from it. Councilman Simcha Felder has reportedly been contacted to intervene on behalf of the community to ascertain the permit.


Friday, January 26, 2007

BEWARE Extreme choking hazard

The fancy pacifier holders, which are now the must-have for every baby and are being sold all over Boro-Park and Williamsburg for about $20, pose an extreme choking hazard for children. As can be seen in the pictures, the wire can burst leaving all the little beads around the baby who can put them in their mouth.

If you own one of these stop using it immediately and take it back to where you bought it from for a full refund.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Kosher grocer, eatery revolve around family life

Mayeer Schwarzbaum, 19, kicked around an idea with friends of having a grocery store in the Des Moines area that would specialize in kosher foods. Not long after that conversation, he was the owner of not just a small grocery, but a kosher restaurant as well.

Kosher Express Restaurant & Grocery opened Oct. 31 at 2687 N.W. 86th St. in Urbandale, behind Vision Park.

Schwarzbaum's father is Rabbi Aaron Schwarzbaum of Beth El Jacob Synagogue in Des Moines. The Schwarzbaums are Orthodox Jews and they do not mix dairy and meat products in preparation or in eating.

The restaurant serves all vegetarian foods. Entrees range from $5.50 for macaroni and cheese to $12.95 for salmon. No meat is cooked in the restaurant, although it serves fish and soy meat products in its pepper steak dish, soy burgers and soy pepperoni and sausage on the pizza.

The grocery sells kosher meats and other certified kosher products.



Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The new Israeli school tznius rules and what they mean for us

Just a little while ago the new school tznius rules were instituted by Rabbonim in Israel for Israeli high school girls to follow. According to the new guidelines girls must now wear shirts that, although tucked into their skirts, reach close to their knees. Only shirts with collars are allowed to be worn. Also, a new type of special chareidi underwear with snaps (don't even ask) is being sold for high school girls to wear in order to be 'fully tzniusdik'. According to Israeli news sources, burqas are soon arriving for the next school year.

Anyway, where is this coming from?

Where will this churban hit next?

Are the frum Israeli high school girls that bad that all these rules are needed? And if they are, will they even help?

Further, who is coming up with all these rules?

Will the Rabbonim who came up with these sodomite rules be wearing these snap underwear too? Or do they only have this sadistic enjoyment from making others wear them?

These new guidelines make you wonder who has the problem and who is the cause for this, is it the girls who never did anything wrong and have always been tzniusdik, or is it the men who do nothing all day besides roam the streets thinking up such rules that need to practice some impulse control?


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Exclusive Pictures of an accident on 13th Avenue and 54th Street


Monday, January 22, 2007

Israeli-Arabs want end of Jewish state

There was no way of accommodating the demands of Israeli-Arabs, short of the destruction of Israel and its replacement with an Arab state, a senior Israeli academic told a stormy session of the Herzliya Conference Monday, held to discuss the Arab minority in Israel.

Dr. Dan Schueftan, deputy director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, said a document recently released by Israeli- Arab leaders called for "nothing short of the destruction of Jewish national state."

Schueftan said the consensus position of Israeli -Arabs, as reflected in the document "The future vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel,' was that Israel should be "replaced with a bi-national state, alongside a mechanism to turn it into an Arab state, adding: "Otherwise, we (Israelis) are automatically not legitimate (in their eyes)." The document was published by the Higher Monitoring Committee for the Arab Population in Israel, a forum of Israeli-Arab leaders.

Schueftan said: "The signal is that even if inequality is bridged, it won't solve the problem. The lack of legitimacy of the national Jewish state is the source of the problem."

The recent Lebanon war also showed that a majority of Israeli-Arabs thought "every enemy of State of Israel should at least be understood," Schueftan emphasized. He added that the document released by the Higher Monitoring Committee said "the Jews rose as a colonialist phenomenon… who expelled… butchered… and the Palestinians have only fought for peace."



Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sounds like Arabs

Kiryas Joel’s leaders enjoy newfound ties with Democrats

Since hooking their wagon to the victorious Democratic train in November, Kiryas Joel’s formerly Republican leaders have been on an extended schmooze­fest with their new friends in high office in Albany and Washington.
They made all the parties – Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s first State of the State address, swearing-in ceremonies for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton D-N.Y., and Rep. John Hall, D-Dover Plains, their new congressman.
Many important backs were slapped (Spitzer, Hall, Bill Clinton, Sen. Chuck Schumer) and laughs exchanged, judging from schmooze shots posted on the Internet.
The networking continues today with a breakfast in New York City being held to honor another Democrat, Charles Rangel, the longtime Harlem congressman who has just become chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
Kiryas Joel joins three New York City-based Jewish organizations in co-sponsoring the 9 a.m. event. The invitation calls Rangel “a long-standing friend and advocate of the Jewish community for over three decades.”



Saturday, January 20, 2007

Orthodox Jewish girls will get school

An Orthodox Jewish school for girls will open in this South Florida city later this year.

The local Chabad Lubavitch community has agreed to pay $4 million for an old, three-story bank building. Classes are set to begin in the fall, pending a city permit for remodeling.

Many of the students are expected to come from Coral Springs, home to one of the largest Chabad Lubavitch communities in Broward County. Chabad Lubavitch is an Orthodox, Hasidic branch of Judaism that has several synagogues in the county, including one each in Coconut Creek, Plantation and Weston, two in Fort Lauderdale and three in Hollywood.

The Hebrew Academy Community School in Margate, which is run by Chabad, has provided co-educational classes from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade for 20 years.

After eighth grade, girls have been shuttled to private schools in Miami or out of state.

The schools teach secular subjects such as chemistry, algebra and trigonometry, but there is an emphasis on religious studies.

"We called Tampa, Clearwater, Daytona, Orlando, Arkansas, these small Jewish towns that don't have a high school, and we asked, 'What do you do with your girls when they graduate?' " said Rabbi Yossie Denburg of Coral Springs. "They were going to Toronto and Chicago, and then you have to find a place for your child to board."



Friday, January 19, 2007

Exclusive Pictures of a man on a bicycle hit by a car


Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Secret Behind a Rocker’s Election to Congress: Hasidim

Rep. John Hall has plenty of supporters to thank for his transformation from rocker to congressman. But his most important — and seemingly most unlikely — backer may have been Abraham Wieder, mayor of Kiryas Joel, an insular Hasidic enclave in New York’s Orange County.

Hall first gained a degree of fame as a founding member of the rock band Orleans, best known for the catchy and kitschy ’70s hit “Still The One.” He posed topless with his four shirtless band mates for the cover of their best-known album. Now he is one of the most liberal Democrats in the new class of congressional freshmen.

Wieder, on the other hand, wears the traditional garb of a Satmar Hasid — black hat, black coat and a yarmulke. He is a registered Republican.

Despite such differences, Wieder can reasonably claim that he was singularly responsible for Hall’s narrow 4,760-vote upset of six-term Republican congresswoman Sue Kelly. There aren’t many towns whose partisan affiliation swung as much from 2004 to 2006 as Kiryas Joel’s did. Two years ago, voters in the village cast a remarkable 92% of their ballots for President Bush and 67% for Kelly. Had Kelly performed as well in Kiryas Joel this time around, she would have won reelection. This past November, however, Hall won 88% of the village’s votes.

What changed? This time around Wieder decided to back the Democrat.

Kiryas Joel, home to some 18,000 individuals, members of the Satmar Hasidic sect, is one of the few communities left where the local leaders’ endorsements matter — each election the village gives the vast majority of its votes to a single candidate. Thus Wieder’s endorsement carries the same weight as the larger-than-life party bosses of generations past.

“The rabbis basically hand out pieces of paper and tell people how to vote,” said Hall’s spokesman, Tom Staudter. “They have a history of wanting to vote with winners. In close campaigns, they hold out to the end to see which way the wind is blowing.”


Must See TV: 1 vs. 99 + Shmuley

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, host of the Learning Channel’s “Shalom in the Home” and author of “Kosher Sex,” recently added a few feathers to his multimedia hat.

The bearded Hasidic rabbi logged a stint as a celebrity guest on NBC’s game show “1 vs. 100” and won $10,000, which he plans to donate to Jewish Family Service of New Jersey, a nonsectarian social service agency.

As the host of “Shalom in the Home,” Boteach dispenses advice on marriage, parenting and relationships to families in crisis. “Out of the blue, Jewish wisdom is being sought by the wider world,” he said. Of course, the level of wisdom needed for “1 vs. 100” — a show with multiple-choice questions — may not be what the rabbi had in mind.

On the show, the main contestant is pitted against 100 other participants, known as “the mob,” winning money for each correct answer. Mob members are eliminated if they guess wrong. But those who are still around when the contestant blows a question get to divvy up his winnings.

“I never expected to win anything,” Boteach told the Shmooze. “I thought I would be knocked out on the first question.” But rather than face national humiliation, he went on to win a cash prize that will assist an organization dedicated to providing family counseling, substance-abuse prevention and domestic violence services. “I host a show where I help families in need, so I am thrilled to give my winnings to an organization that helps families in crisis.” The episode in question will air in March.

Quiz shows aren’t the only national publicity Boteach is getting these days. On January 10, he made his third appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to talk about his advice program. “When you’re invited on to Oprah’s show, that’s an honor,” he said. “She is an incredible listener and is very spiritual.”

Boteach clearly enjoys his television appearances (and certainly isn’t shy about promoting them), but now he’s also considering a more conventional gig. This week he issued a statement declaring his willingness to accept a part-time congregational post, assuming his schedule can accommodate a return to the pulpit. Too bad Oprah’s not part of the package. She’d make a great rebbetzin.



Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Arab woman antagonizing Jewish woman


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Anti-Semitism threatens Germany's Jewish life-rabbi

The first rabbi to be ordained in Germany since the Holocaust is so worried about being identified as a Jew that he often wears a baseball hat over his skull cap.

'It's a fact – it isn't smart to display I'm Jewish. This is a problem and we have to face it,' German-born Daniel Alter, 47, told Reuters in an interview.

He is worried about neo-Nazi attacks and says anti-Semitism in Germany – still tortured by memories of the Holocaust in which Nazis wiped out 6 million Jews – puts the growth of Jewish communities here at risk.

As a Jew he feels unsafe in several German cities, not all in former communist east Germany where the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) has made electoral gains recently.

Alter, whose father survived Auschwitz concentration camp, dismissed talk in the German media of a possible blossoming of Jewish life in Germany.

Jewish schools, theatres and shops have sprung up but Germany's Jewish communities will never compare to those in Britain or the United States, says Alter, who serves in the northern towns of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst.

'We are building something on the ruins, on the scars left behind but it'll be something different,' he said.

'I don't think there is any way to bring back the Jewish life and culture we had here. Ever.'



Monday, January 15, 2007

Was this the reason for the divorce?

New York Rabbi Finds Friends in Iran and Enemies at Home

It was a bizarre sight: a cadre of Orthodox Jews, with their distinctive hats, beards and sidelocks, standing alongside President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran last month at a conference in Tehran debating the Holocaust.

Among them was Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, spokesman and assistant director of a small anti-Zionist group with a foothold in this town in Rockland County, home to one of the nation’s largest communities of Hasidic Jews.

Unlike Mr. Ahmadinejad and most of the others present, including the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Rabbi Weiss does not deny or question the Holocaust; his grandparents died at Auschwitz, as did several of his aunts and uncles, he said. What he and the Iranian president have in common, he explained, is their belief that the Holocaust has been exploited to justify the existence of Israel.

“We went to Iran because we had to let the world know, especially the Arab world and the Muslim world, that we are not their enemies,” he said in an interview, a Palestinian flag with the phrase “A Jew Not a Zionist,” written in Hebrew, English and Arabic pinned to the lapel of his coat. Below the Palestinian flag was an Israeli flag with a red line across it.

Rabbi Weiss and four other members of his group, Neturei Karta, received a warm reception in Iran, he said, dining with state officials and posing for photographs with Mr. Ahmadinejad, whom Rabbi Weiss had met at least twice before.

Back home, Rabbi Weiss and the others were met with anger and scorn. Since their return, they have been ostracized by synagogues, denied service at kosher stores and vilified in Jewish discussion boards on the Web. Posters have surfaced in the Satmar Hasidic enclaves of Brooklyn, calling the members of Neturei Karta “rebels” and “outcasts” and asking Orthodox Jews to “totally cut off ties with this gang.”



Sunday, January 14, 2007

Scandals and disputes plague ultra-Orthodox circles in the U.S.

Disgraceful scandals have been shaking up and embarrassing the Hasidic-Haredi camp in the American Orthodox community. These are what the rabbis describe as "impure incidents" that have recently occurred in Hasidic-Haredi circles to an extent that is mortifying community leaders and activists.

The famous incident that took place recently, and will not soon be forgotten in the Orthodox community, is that of a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) butcher shop owner from Monsey, New York who knowingly sold non-kosher meat to thousands of town residents, most of whom are Haredi. The man, who regularly taught a daily Talmud class and led prayers on the High Holy days, sold treife (non-kosher) meat to yeshivas and other religious institutions. After the shocking story was exposed, a day of fasting and prayer was declared in the town, "to absolve the terrible impediment of eating treife, which carries a severe punishment even when done unintentionally."

Shock and disgust of a kind the American Haredi community has not experienced for years were stirred by photographs published in the media worldwide, of a group of Hasidim with beards and side locks hugging and kissing the president of Iran. The Hasidim who participated in the Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran were not Israeli, and some of them were identified as belonging to a small circle of extremist Hasidim active in New York.

Haredi rabbis and activists in New York are astonished, and hard put to explain how an internal quarrel in the Hasidic Satmar community between the two sons of the previous admor (Hasidic leader), who are each fighting to succeed their father as the head of the Satmar Hasids, reached a non-Jewish court of law. "Heaven forfend," shouted a Hasidic rabbi in a closed meeting of Haredi rabbis that recently took place in Brooklyn. "In our worst nightmares we never imagined that two well-known Hasidic figures would ask for a ruling on their conflict outside a rabbinical court, and would prefer a state court." After all, the rabbi explained, this is a serious prohibition that is defined in the Jewish sources as a desecration of God's name.

The Orthodox community is trying to prevent many serious problems from being publicized. One problem that is arousing great concern is the spreading incidence of drunkenness in Orthodox synagogues. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (the OU) recently sent out an internal flier warning about the unacceptable practice by worshippers who drink large quantities of hard liquor in synagogue before the end of Sabbath morning prayers; this leads to drunkenness and the disgrace of their places of worship.

But what is seen as having the potential for catastrophe, with an immediate and tangible threat to the character and status of the large Hasidic community in New York, are the bitter disputes and conflicts taking place within the large and important Hasidic courts in the United States. In the wake of internal conflicts, which in some cases have spilled over into violence, the two famous Hasidic dynasties - Satmar and Bobov - recently split. Each of these communities is now headed by two rabbinical leaders, who are at odds with one another and whose followers have turned into rival and hostile camps. Lubavitch Hasidism (Chabad), on the other hand, in contrast to its great influence during the lifetime of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, has become mainly an organizational framework that is represented by the thousands of shluhim (emissaries) who operate under its auspices all over the world.

Behind a facade of success and power, major Hasidic courts in the U.S. have recently become arenas for internecine struggles for power and prestige. Factions and rival groups are fighting, sometimes using physical violence, with the declared aim of glorifying the name of the Hasidic leader they favor and insulting the leader they have abandoned.

"It's impossible to exaggerate," complain activists in the Hasidic sector in off-the-record conversations. "The mutual accusations and slander and the acts of subterfuge designed to undermine the authority of the admors, which are taking place today within the two great Hasidic movements in America, have the nature of divine punishment."

"The serious quarrels among Satmar and Bobov Hasidim have released destructive energies that our ancestors never dreamed of," said a Hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn.

Conversations with rabbis and activists in the Hasidic community reveal their discomfort and serious concern. According to them, the Hasidic movement in America is in the throes of its most serious crisis since it began to take root in the reality of the new world in the early 1960s and to become involved as a unique stream in the Jewish community.

The expansion and strengthening of American Hasidism was led by the heads of the three major courts - the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum; the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneerson; and the Bobover Rebbe, Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam.

The disputes that erupted occasionally in the past between the Lubavitch and Satmar Hasidim were mainly ideological in nature and touched on the issue of relations with Israel, which were nurtured by the Lubavitch and rejected by the Satmar. But both of the admors were cautious and did not allow the hotheads among their followers to overstep the boundary they had drawn for the disputes. The Bobover Rebbe made sure not to intervene in any dispute and warned his followers not to become involved in fights and conflicts between the followers of other courts.

The affair of the Hasidim who met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran is dismissed by the leaders of the Satmar Hasidim as an event that was inflated by the media in order to undermine the Satmar Hasidim. "It's not even a group, but a small number of sick and crazy individuals who have no connection with Satmar Hasidism," says Rabbi Hertz Frankel, a well-known figure in Brooklyn, who is among the leaders of the Satmar educational network.

"Their meeting with the Iranian president is not their first embarrassing act, or even their worst," explains Frankel. "The old admor, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, was known for avoiding any appearance of cooperation with Arabs. Many years ago, the rabbi cancelled a demonstration in New York against Golda Meir after it became known that Arabs were planning to demonstrate against her."

The real distress felt by the Satmar Hasidim is a result of the irreversible rift between the two brothers, each of whom has designated himself the heir of their late father. Each is serving as admor of one of the two Satmar factions created as a result of the conflict between them. Although one faction, under the leadership of Rabbi Zalman Leib, is based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the other, headed by Rabbi Aharon, is based in Kiryas Joel in upstate New York - the conflicts between the two camps continue, and the fights between them are described as venomous.

Already before the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, passed away last April, there were signs of the dispute between his two sons, Rabbi Aharon, 52, and Rabbi Zalman Leib, 50, who is also known as Yekusiel Yehudah. Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum convened the entire family in his home in Williamsburg on Pesah in 1999, and declared, "I'm not getting any younger and I want to appoint a rabbi in Williamsburg to replace me."

According to people who were close to the late rabbi, his elder son, Aharon, refrained from replying to his father's proposal, and at the same time took steps that were interpreted as a deliberate attempt on his part to take over the leadership of Satmar after his father's death.

On the other hand, his brother, Zalman Leib, remained close to his father. According to his followers, the father showed special signs of affection toward his younger son, and made it clear in various ways that he preferred him to his eldest as the leader of the community.

"The serious dispute in Satmar Hasidism is also perhaps an unavoidable outcome of the significant growth in the number of Hasidim and disciples of this Hasidic court," explains a veteran community activist in Williamsburg.

"Today there is a huge reservoir of Hasidim among the Satmars, which could suffice for five or even seven admors," said a Williamsburg activist. "For the most part, the Hasidim today are American born, and many of them are wealthy even by international standards.

"The disputes cost money, a lot of money," says the man. And in both groups there are elements who are funding the ongoing dispute between the two admors. "Lawyers who represent the two rival brothers in court receive huge fees for professional services, which to date amount to millions of dollars." These huge sums were raised from the donations of wealthy Hasidim.

The quarrel in Bobov Hasidism erupted after the death over a year ago of the previous admor, Rabbi Naftali Halberstam, who was the eldest son of the Admor Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, the man who rehabilitated Bobov Hasidism in the U.S. and turned it into a leading and influential Hasidic center.

Most of the Hasidim designated Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam, the brother of the late admor, who already during the lifetime of his father and his brother was an admired and beloved Hasidic figure. However, the son-in-law of the late admor, Rabbi Mordechai David Ungar, refused to accept his uncle's authority, and declared that he was the heir of the late admor, and the current head of Bobov Hasidism.

Older Hasidim who follow Rabbi Ben Zion claim that his father Rabbi Shlomo used to say that he preferred his son to his son-in-law as his successor and heir to the leadership. That is why in their opinion Ungar is "brazen and quarrelsome."

"It is possible that the splits in the Hasidic courts are not such a bad thing," said a Hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn. "The courts have tens of thousands of Hasidim, and they are growing and multiplying. It is possible that the continuing growth will lead to a situation where the admors will not be capable of leading such large communities, and it is a good thing that young people will emerge from these courts and participate in the leadership. The problem is that the splits are accompanied by disputes."



Saturday, January 13, 2007

Anti Neturei Karta rally in Boro-Park tonight

An unofficial and impromptu anti Neturei Karta rally will be held on the corner of 12th Avenue and 48th Street in front of the Park House hotel in Boro-Park tonight at 9 p.m. where Neturei Karta member Moshe Aryeh Friedman is staying.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Neturei Karta on 13th Avenue in Boro-Park

A member of Neturei Karta, Moshe Aryeh Friedman, showed his ugly face on 13th Avenue in Boro-Park. Police arrived at the scene to stop what had almost turned into a lynching.

Sweeping Jewish sex abuse under the carpet?

Within Jewish circles, much of the focus on sexual predators has centered on the Orthodox community, particularly its more fervently religious precincts, where some contend that clergy sex abuse is more hidden — and possibly more widespread — than elsewhere.

Whether or not those contentions are true, the problem in that community was spotlighted by two recent episodes. They are among several incidents, emanating from across the denominational spectrum, that JTA examined in its investigation of the Jewish community’s response to clergy sex abuse.

The first of two episodes that JTA tracked in the fervently Orthodox, or haredi, community involved a fierce debate over remarks by a haredi rabbi who reportedly suggested that his community sweeps the issue "under the carpet." The second involved the arrest of a haredi rabbi and teacher, who was charged with sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor.

On Thanksgiving, at the annual national convention of Agudath Israel of America, a haredi advocacy organization, Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, a featured speaker, ignited a controversy with his discussion of the haredi response to clergy sex abuse.

Salomon, a dean of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, one of the world’s largest yeshivas, said, according to an Agudath Israel spokesman, that haredim are indeed guilty of "sweeping things under the carpet." What he meant was open to interpretation. Salomon declined comment, but according to the Agudath Israel spokesman, Rabbi Avi Shafran, Salomon meant that rather than ignoring or covering up sexual misconduct, as detractors maintain, haredi officials deal with it discreetly to protect the dignity of the families of perpetrators and victims.

The response to Salomon’s remarks was swift and often heated, with several Website and blog contributors arguing that the rabbi’s comments should be taken literally — that is, haredi officials often look the other way when clergy sex abuse takes place in their midst.

Shafran, who accused the online detractors of making glib and sweeping generalizations without corroborating evidence, termed the comments "abhorrent."



Thursday, January 11, 2007

What will be with Dov?

Israel's favorite Assemblyman, Dov Hikind, is now the center of a charity scandal. What should be done to deal with this? Removal from office? Censured? Jailed? Sent to Israel?

What's your opinion?


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Swastikas spray-painted on Jewish buildings

The Jewish Community Campus and a nearby synagogue in Snowdon were spray-painted with anti-Semitic graffiti over the holidays.

Sometime during the night of Dec. 27-28, two large swastikas and three slogans in Cyrillic script were spray-painted on buildings that house FEDERATION CJA, the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors and the Saidye Bronfman Centre, attached to the YM-YWHA.

All but one of the marks appeared on the Mountain Sights Avenue side of the structures, said Bram Freedman, the federation’s director of external relations. The other was on Westbury Avenue.

Several blocks to the south, a swastika was discovered at Congregation Zichron Kedoshim.

“In the past, this happened in the back of the synagogue or in alleyways. This time, it was more bold and threatening,” said Leah Berger of B’nai Brith Canada’s Eastern region.

According to Rabbi Reuben Poupko, co-chair of the Montreal Jewish Security Advisory Committee, the presence of Russian-language slogans suggests that the daubs were “probably an extension” of similar incidents in the area dating back a year and linked to neo-Nazi ultra-nationalists of Russian origin.

However, he cautioned that such incidents are usually best fully understood “in retrospect… if it persists from that community. Right now it seems isolated.”

Rabbi Poupko said it was the first time in his memory that anti-Semitic graffiti had appeared at the federation itself.

Berger noted that unlike a year ago, this time the perpetrator(s) left no signature linked to a specific group. In early January, 2006, a rash of swastikas, also large, appeared on several non-Jewish sites close in proximity to the community campus – one of them across the street at Mackenzie King Park. Those seven daubs included Nazi swastikas and the letters “HCO,” the Cyrillic acronym for New Free Society, an ultra-nationalist Russian organization.

This time, the Russian-language slogans this time at the campus, while not including that acronym, did have the phrase, “Death to the dirty Jews,” Berger said.

Another Jewish site was targeted last March. An anti-Semitic daub was found at the C.H.A.I. Centre on de Courtrai Avenue. Also located in the Snowdon area are a number of Jewish schools, synagogues, and community and religious institutions.

Berger said as soon as her organization heard about this year’s graffiti over its hotline the morning of Dec. 28, B’nai Brith was in contact with Police Station 25, which serves the area, as well as with the police’s Hate Crimes Unit and the terrorism unit of the Sûreté du Québec.

Similarly, Freedman said the police were called as soon as the graffiti were discovered early in the morning of Dec. 28. Overall Jewish community security is co-ordinated by FEDERATION CJA. Its security director, Michel Bujold, referred The CJN to Freedman for comment, as did Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec region interim communications director Nili Berner.

“We appreciated the gravity of the situation,” Freedman said. “The police took a detailed report and pictures were taken. Then we erased the graffiti. It was a workday, but very quiet. We’re satisfied with the way things were handled.”

Freedman said no additional security measures have been put into place since the incident, and declined to comment on whether any surveillance cameras used by the campus captured any suspects on video.

Simonetta Barth, commander of Police Station 25, could not be reached for comment. But police spokesperson Melanie Lajoie told The CJN that according to what Barth told her, the investigation was ongoing and nothing concrete had yet developed.



Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Chabad hosts Hasidic artist's exhibition

For Michoel Muchnik, art and faith are inextricably intertwined.

In dreamy, soft pastels, Muchnik creates intricate paintings and bas-relief mosaics that explore themes of Jewish faith and mysticism.

Over the past 30 years, Muchnik has become a leading Hasidic artist, creating art with multiple levels of symbolism illustrating the depth of his faith's teachings.

"I try to imbue my work with the light and joy of the Hasidic or Kabbalistic explanations on the Torah's wisdom," Muchnik said in a telephone interview from his home in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"Where there may just be a scene or an urn at first glance, with a closer look you'll notice intricate details with layers of Jewish symbolism," he said.

St. Louisans will get the chance to view over 40 examples of Muchnik's work at a one-day exhibition called "Art & Soul," held by Chabad of Greater St. Louis.

The event takes place on Sunday, Jan. 14 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Center Court of Plaza Frontenac.

Muchnik will attend the event, and speak about the extensive use of parables and symbolism in his work. All of the work presented will be for sale, and proceeds support Chabad.

Muchnik said while he has always been involved in art, and received formal training at the Rhode Island Institute of Design, the defining moment for his art came when he began studying Chassidic teachings.



Monday, January 08, 2007

Jews rally vs. Jews

Several hundred Jewish demonstrators taunted members of a small Hasidic sect yesterday for attending a recent Holocaust denial conference in Iran.

"Nazi traitors! Go back to Iran! You are killing Jews!" the protesters yelled at members of Neturei Karta in the Rockland County community of Monsey.

About a dozen cops stood between the two groups and generally kept them from approaching one another. There were a few hand-to-hand skirmishes but no arrests, police said.

The protestors, mostly members of the Jewish Defense Organization, brandished bullhorns and waved signs, as did members of Neturei Karta.

"Your children should get cancer and die!" one demonstrator screamed across yellow police tape to members of the sect.

Neturei Karta's Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss outraged Jews worldwide by embracing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel's destruction, at the conference. Ahmadinejad has also called the Holocaust "a myth."

About 250 people, many bused up from New York City, crowded in front of the dilapidated Neturei Karta headquarters. Some waved Israeli flags as they sang the Israeli national anthem.

"We would like to talk to people and explain that all we want is peace," Weiss said.

Weiss believes that the Zionist State of Israel is to blame for much Middle East bloodshed.

But enraged protesters had no time for dialogue.

"Go Back to Iran! Nuclear Karta!"

Surrounded by about 50 Hasidim, Weiss countered with the chant: "Judaism - peace. Zionism - bloodshed!"

Monsey resident Zev Nudel, who came to observe the protest, sided with the demonstrators.

"It's as if an American went to a conference that said 911 didn't happen," he said. "That's how we feel about these guys."



Sunday, January 07, 2007

Rabbi ripped for embracing Ahmadinejad

It was an unbelievable image - especially for Jews.

There, on their televisions and in their papers, was a New York rabbi embracing the Iranian leader who wants Israel destroyed and calls the Holocaust a farce.

But Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, who has followers in Brooklyn and Rockland County, makes no apologies.

His outraged neighbors will protest today.

"You don't negotiate with Hitler and you don't negotiate with the president of Iran, who is out to destroy the Jews," said Carol King Berkman, who works with Holocaust survivors at Rockland's Jewish Family Service.

While Weiss, whose grandparents perished at Auschwitz, doesn't deny the Holocaust, he accuses his people of using it to justify decades of bloodshed in the Middle East.

Weiss said he and seven other rabbis from the Neturei Karta sect attended President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's huddle in Tehran last month to reach out to the Iranians.

"We tried to appease them," he told The News. "We explained how the Holocaust is used to intimidate people who want to speak against the unjust Zionist regime."

That stance only further infuriates his neighbors in Rockland's massive Hasidic community.

Malkie Zamore said she and her husband will be at today's 1p.m. protest outside Neturei headquarters in Monsey.

"We don't consider Weiss one of ours," she said. "What he did was very wrong."



Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Rabbinical Restrictions Against Haredi Women´s "Careerism"

Regulations by Israel’s Ministry of Education requiring that a significant portion of the instructors teaching would-be educators have a master’s degree or doctorate have set off a chain of events likely to lead to growing poverty in the hareidi-religious sector.

The Ministry of Education's policy impacts on the hareidi community; since there are a limited number of eligible hareidi professors with second or third degrees, hareidi education students have been exposed to a wide variety of teachers, some of whom were deemed not kosher enough by the hareidi rabbis.

Thus the Rabbinical Committee on Education, the official body that sets educational policy for most of the hareidi community’s institutions, recently issued new guidelines cancelling all academic programs resulting in a bachelor's degree. As well, a significant number of courses will be downgraded and a large number of lecturers fired.

The rabbinic ruling handed down recently is likely to dramatically impact on hareidi women in the workplace many of whom earn a living as teachers. They will no longer be able to pursue academic degrees in education in Beit Ya’akov, Israel's largest chain of educational institutions for women. The ruling is likely to limit their future earning capabilities, as teachers with advanced degrees earn more than those without them.

The cancellation resulted from a growing concern among rabbis that hareidi women were being taught inappropriate materials, or were being instructed by professors who are not sufficiently pious.

“For some reason, we have found, in recent years, that courses are taught by foreign lecturers,” ran an editorial in Beit Ne’eman, Yated Ne’eman’s women’s supplement. “Some of these lecturers belong to the Mizrahi stream, and others, to great shame, are secular through and through ... there is danger here of contamination.”

The entry of large numbers of hareidi women into the workforce followed the bankruptcy in 1992 of Olympia & York Developments - the privately-owned Toronto, Canada-based real estate firm whch was building the huge Canary Wharf project in London, Britain. As a result the Reichmann family, the billionaire patrons who had subsidized much of Israel's hareidi world, were compelled to curtail their once vast philanthropy.

That historic bankruptcy and shutting of the cash spigot engendered a subtle revolution in the hareidi sector in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and elsewhere. Pressed to support their Torah-studying husbands and large families, increasing numbers of ultra-Orthodox women joined the workforce, a trend endorsed by several key rabbis and seen by many as essential to the community’s economic health.

The recent decree against higher education, described as “an earthquake” by Yated Ne’eman, Israel’s largest circulation hareidi newspaper, was issued by a group of rabbis who set the community’s educational policies, and was led by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv of Jerusalem (pictured above).

Rabbi Elyashiv, 96, is the paramount leader of Israel's Lithuanian non-Hasidic hareidi Ashkenazi Jews (sometimes called by the old label of misnagdim) who regard him as the posek ha-dor (Hebrew: "decisor [of] the generation"), the modern leading authority on halacha, or Jewish law.



Friday, January 05, 2007

The NEW and Improved VOS IZ NEIAS is back and is better than ever

The VOS IZ NEIAS blog is now back and promises to be better than ever before.


Kosher Tax!?


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jewish food: the best of Hungary 

As Mindel Appel showed me the contents of her freezer, my pulse began to race.

Out came her homemade kokosh cake, similar to babka. Next were shlishkes, little potato dumplings that can be tossed in sugar, breadcrumbs and butter, or stuffed with lekvar, a kind of prune preserve.

As a writer concentrating on Jewish food, I always get letters and e-mail asking for old recipes from Hungary. Most of what I know about these foods I have read in books. Some are still made in Hungary, and I've come across Americans who make noodles and cabbage with poppy seeds or who remember shlishkes. But with assimilation, shortcuts, the passage of time and the passing of old cooks, many of these recipes may soon be lost.

So I was thrilled to find these famous dishes in Kiryas Joel, a village about 45 miles north of Manhattan. The women of the Satmar Hasidic community here have preserved shlishkes and many other staples of the Hungarian Jewish kitchen.

One of the world's largest groups of Hasidic Jews, the Satmar originated in Szatmarnemeti, Hungary (now Satu Mare, Romania). There are communities in Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn; Monsey in Rockland County; and in Orange County.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Borough Park Riot Lawsuit Over Police Brutality

I think he could use such a shirt.

Remember last year's crazy Borough Park riot when police arrested a 75 year old Hasidic man for talking on a cellphone while driving? The police tried to arrested Arthur Schick, who resisted, and other Hasids got involved, started a protest and fires and trapped a cop in a car? Many Hasids were arrested, two cops were injured, and there were claims that police used racial epithets ("This is how we treat niggers" and "Get the f---ing Jews out of here") during the incident. Well, now one of the Hasidic men arrested is suing the NYPD for $11 million.

The Post reports that Chaim Appel's court papers say "he was tossed against the hood of a car, his face bruised and his glasses smashed, before he was cuffed and hauled off to jail while his 9-year-old son looked on." And what's more, a sergeant allegedly partially yanked his beard off (ouch!). Apple's lawyer, who says Appel and his son were pushed into the crowd, added that everyone points him out as the man who got "arrested during the riots," causing him great embarrassment.

The police contended that Appel tried to trip the sergeant, Thomas Gulotta, but the Brooklyn DA's office ended up dropping charges against Appel. And since discussions wiht the Civilian Complaint Review Board led to nothing, Appel is suing.


18th Avenue Park in Boro-Park to be renovated

A three-acre Brooklyn park is about to be renovated over the objections of neighborhood handball and basketball players who will lose half their courts in the process.

"I think it stinks in plain English. It stinks," said 56-year-old handball player Peter Tartulli.

The city park is Gravesend Park, located in the Mapleton section of Brooklyn at 56th Street and 18th Avenue, bordering Borough Park and Bensonhurst.

The eastern half of the park, with its two basball fields, outdoor hockey rink, four handball courts and basketball court will be left alone. The portion at issue is the western half of the park which is currently part children's park and part playing courts.

There are four handball courts and one and-a-half basketball courts slated to be demolished. In fact, a bulldozer and an end locader were in action today, fecing off the area for demolition. What's on the drawing board is to replace the current children's park with a green space that includes trees. And where the adjacent courts are will be one of the largest playgrounds in the city.

City Council member Simcha Felder is behind the changes, saying it will make the playground area twice the existing size, "which will mean both play activity, room for running around, for children of all ages will be doubled," he said.

But opponents wonder, why eliminate playing courts that are a popular attraction for young adults and teens? One handball player, Mo Johnson, said "They're great teenagers. There's a high school right here. They all come here, they have decent fun, they don't have trouble.They all play in the park," handball player Mo Johnson said.

While there's a signature petition drive underway, trying to stop what's already started, approval was granted by both the community board and the arts council. Felder said construction should take less than six months to complete.



Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Orthodox Jews trash prison vehicle over electronic tagging

Crowds trashed a prison vehicle in an Israeli city in a row over the electronic tagging of an Orthodox Jewish man.

Prison officers went to Bnei Brak after they stopped receiving signals from the high-tech device that local rabbis decreed could not be worn on a Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper said Tuesday.

Confronted by an angry mob, the prison offers fled the city -- a stronghold of Haredi Judaism, the most conservative branch of the Jewish faith -- on foot, leaving their vehicle to be smashed and overturned with its windows broken.

The man had been electronically tagged as a form of house arrest for his role in a recent violent demonstration against a gay pride parade in Jerusalem that was subsequently canceled.



Monday, January 01, 2007


Muslims are required by their faith to pray to Mecca five times a day. There is nothing sinister or criminal about people peacefully carrying out the obligations of their faith. Airlines that single out praying Muslims and deny them flight privileges permanently are no different than the five-and-dime stores that once prevented black people from eating at luncheonette counters.

It is as unthinkable to ban praying Muslims from a flight, as it would be to deny boarding to a group of praying Hasidic Jews. Both sects engage in public group prayers. Both are exercising their constitutional rights as U.S. citizens.

Persecution of religious minorities by the majority is nothing new in the United States. Nor is an attempt by the majority to link religious minorities to some grandiose and evil global plot against America.

We must ensure that the United States does not fall victim to their militaristic designs by becoming an intolerant religious war zone.



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