Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Hempstead moves to close religious schoolNew Hempstead moves to close religious school 

After coming under fierce criticism from Hillcrest firefighters, the
mayor today will begin the legal process to shut down a Route 306
religious school that continues teaching children amid what firefighters consider unsafe conditions.

Mayor Lawrence Dessau instructed the village attorney last week to take steps to make sure the building is vacated.

The village's code enforcement officer did not work Friday, but the mayor said he would visit the school today.

Hillcrest Fire Chief Lloyd Hovelmann said the school is operating without any
village approvals for the construction of the building or an addition.

"It was unacceptable as far as the village letting this go on," said
Hovelmann, who was among the 10 volunteer firefighters to express
outrage about village inaction at a New Hempstead Board of Trustees
meeting on Thursday night.

While the lawyer for Ohr Torah and the New Hempstead mayor contend the school has installed adequate fire safety equipment since buying the
10-year-old property in March, the Hillcrest fire chief and other
officials countered that's not enough to ensure the safety of students.
All of the interested parties are expected to meet Wednesday.

"I am concerned about the violations, the lack of certificate of occupancy and no permits for construction," said Hovelmann, adding the school
should be closed until it gets proper inspections and approvals. "I am
concerned for the children."

Dessau had hoped to work out an agreement with school administrators to bring
it up to standards, but Trustee Michael Koplen said the village should
not make special exemptions because it risked traveling down a slippery

Koplen said the firefighters on Thursday "excoriated" the board, particularly the
mayor, for allowing the building to operate without a certificate of
"It was one of the more intense board meetings that I've attended, and I've been on the board for more than 10 years," he said.
Before the meeting, Dessau said he had given the congregation a "little slack" since "they are working on a site plan."



Monday, January 30, 2012

The Allure of the Burka 

Why do fundamentalists always end up wrapping women in shmattes?

I ask because, as we've seen in Israel's Beit Shemesh
recently, ultra-uber-Orthodox men have been spitting on
less-ultra-but-still-Orthodox girls as young as age 8 for wearing
clothes that aren't "modest" enough. The fact that the girls' outfits
seem very modest to most of us just means that the fundamentalists are
seeing something the rest of us don't. Something sexy. Something scary.
Something so shocking that the men scream, "Whores!" and demand that the girls cover themselves more completely.

Which, of course, sounds a lot like the Taliban (not to mention the religious fanatics in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan.…).
Why, in this age of boob jobs and thongs, are some women forced to wrap
up like never before? Ask around, and you hear a lot of theories.

Theory No. 1 involves power.
"Basically, demanding that women dress more and more modestly is a form
of bullying," said Constance Talmadge, Dallas-based author of the "Green Stone of Healing" series of novels, about an evil theocracy. "Society
still has ambivalent feelings about women's roles, so it's a great place to start making demands." If and when those demands are met, she says,
the leaders feel emboldened to impose some more, because now they have a "track record" of success.

While men in many religious sects are often required to dress a certain way, too — think of the Amish with their beards, or
Hasidic men wearing sidelocks — women's dress is bound up with their
sexual appeal, which brings us to Theory No. 2 of burka-dom: Guilt. Religious male guilt.

Many religious guys feel guilty when their bodies react to women in a way they think is not only unspiritual, but also sinful.
There are two ways to remedy this. One is just to feel less guilty,
which is what most psychologists, sex ed teachers and anyone who lived
through the 1960s recommends: a modern-day shrug. The other remedy,
California author and artist Nancy Hand explained, "is to remove the
temptation that prompted the natural but unwanted reaction." Hide away
the women, or at least cover them up.

Alas, for the distraught males — and ever-more-hidden
females — that doesn't work. "Men who grow up seeing women all wrapped
up learn to 'see' the body through the wrappings," Hand said "So they
will still react to a woman, and that will result in ever more calls to
hide temptation." This leads to a sort of modesty arms race.

Fraidy Reiss, founder of the not-for-profit
organization Unchained at Last, which helps women leave arranged
marriages, watched that modesty race escalate as she was growing up an
Orthodox Jew. Her mom was allowed to wear ankle socks until about age
12, Reiss says. By the time Reiss herself came along, girls were
expected to switch to leg-covering tights at age 3. And today, in the
New Jersey Orthodox community Reiss eventually abandoned, girls wear
tights starting at, she said, "basically age 2. What scares me is men
making rules about these little girls, because what does it show you
that they're thinking? Would you trust this rabbi around your daughter
if he thought your 2-year-old's legs were too sexy to be around? Would
you trust him to baby-sit?"

That's the strange thing about fundamentalists; while
the rest of the world is downloading porn and popping Viagra to get
excited, all the zealots need to do is glimpse an elbow, or a wisp of
hair. Which brings us to Theory No. 3: When you do live in a world of dot-XXX sites, women's rights and every kind of social,
sexual and religious liberation, fundamentalism actually flourishes,
because it is the yin to society's ever more open-minded yang.

"For the majority of history except the last 200 years, culture changed very slowly. You didn't have much to react to," said
Don Nations, a United Methodist minister and adjunct professor at Argosy University, in Florida. You dressed and ate and prayed the same way as
the people around you. Your religious life and your day-to-day life were not separate.

Then came the Enlightenment, and everything fractured.
There were new religious denominations, new human rights, new scientific explanations. Gender roles changed. Secular life became possible. And
pretty soon, life had become a smorgasbord of options — liberating but,
to some, unsettling. How could they know exactly how to live anymore?
They had to separate from modernity itself. That's what fundamentalism

To make this separation clear and complete,
fundamentalists flamboyantly reject the things that are most obviously
modern, like women's rights — and especially women's fashion. "One of
the symbols of the Enlightenment is the liberation of women, so that
would be one area where you'd really signal to the mainstream that you
were dissenting," said Eric Kaufmann, a professor of politics at the
University of London and the author of the 2011 book "Shall the
Religious Inherit the Earth?" "It's not the only way — there's also a
men's dress code," he added. But by aiming for women's clothing along
with their rights, fundamentalists get a twofer.

Why reject the clothing that seems already modest, like the little Beit Shemesh schoolgirls' outfits? Because fundamentalists
believe that anyone who has made any concession to modernity (even
teaching girls!) is on the slippery slope toward secularism. When a
traditional religious group tries to make peace with the surrounding
society, it is more threatening to fundamentalists than, say, a Reform
Jew eating a BLT, because it is someone just like them starting to
"stray." The fundamentalists must draw a line in the sand.

So they spit and swear.
"It's designed in some ways to get other people's backs up," Kaufmann said. "It's what's called 'creating tension' with the
surrounding society." The "us vs. them" mentality reinvigorates the
fundamentalists. And, confoundingly enough, the more we react, the more
resolved they become: They must be doing something right if the fallen
world sees them as wrong.

Considering that fundamentalists are motivated by
power, shame and/or the deep desire to be different from even the most
orthodox of others, the way to defeat them isn't clear. I'd love to hear some ideas, because the one thing that is clear is that defeat them we

Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/150252/#ixzz1kws4QizY


Hasids can use former synagogue building in Uman 

Cherkassy, January 30, Interfax - Hasids who come to Uman, Cherkassy
region of Ukraine, to visit the grave of their spiritual leader tsadik
Nahman every year can now use the building of a former synagogue, Sergey Tulub, the head of the Cherkassy Region's administration, said.

"The Hasidic religious community has full rights to use the building of
the former synagogue in which tsadik Nahman used as a prayer house,"
Tulub was quoted by the administration as saying.

The land site, which has an area of four hectares, is located in Uman, 49 Ulitsa Sovetskaya, where the instrument-making plant Megommetr has been located since 1957. On December 22, 2011, the Cherkassy
Region's Economic Court invalidated the sale by the city council of the
four-hectare land site with the building of the former synagogue on it
to the plant, granting a lawsuit filed by the local culture department.

The court also ordered the enterprise to return the land site to the
city and the state council to return the money paid for the land site to
the enterprise.

Every fall, pilgrims go to Uman to visit the grave of Rabi Nahman. Their
number is increasing now that the visa regime has been lifted between
Ukraine and Israel.



Saturday, January 28, 2012

Torah Burned in Second Synagogue Fire in Old Ramle 

Jewish congregants arrived at the Algriva synagogue in Old Ramle on Saturday morning to find fire fighters trying to put out a blaze that had erupted inside their house of worship.

By the time the fire was subdued a Torah scroll, a pair of tefillin [phylacteries – ed], the library of holy books, and seating inside had been ravaged by the flames.

Fire officials declared the synagogue sealed to the public and fire investigators began searching the building for clues as to what caused the fire to start.

Worshippers now suspect arson since no Shabbat candles were lit inside and fire investigators did not discover an electrical fault.

Another congregant who spoke to Arutz Sheva on Saturday evening after Shabbat said the situation in Old Ramle is complex due to the presence of Arab crime families in the neighborhood.

Speaking on condition of anonymity he said, "These families host the numerous criminal elements, there drugs and celebrations into the night with disorderly conduct. The police are working to end this phenomenon."

Saturday morning’s fire is the second at the Algriva synagogue in Old Ramle. A month ago Arabs set fire to the second floor of the building where religious supplies are kept.

At the time Israeli police officials blamed the fire on an electrical short, but congregants pointed to bars on the windows of the room where the fire started being cut saying police did not want to admit it was arson.

Two weeks ago vandals broke into the synagogue in Emek Lod in Judea. Congregants were shocked to find the ark desecrated and the Torah scrolls thrown in the mud and trampled upon.

In that incident, burglars removed the silver plate from the Sephardic case for the Torah scrolls, stole the decorative pomegranates made of pure silver, and robbed the charity fund.



Friday, January 27, 2012

Read the new Chaptzem article in the Country Yossi Family Magazine 

Make sure to pick up your free copy of the Country Yossi Family Magazine and read the brand new original article 'The Dirtiest Job Ever' written by Chaptzem, the only Heimishe blogger to make the transition from cyberspace to print.


Man, 53, dies after getting hit by 2 vehicles 

A 53-year-old man, Noah Foxman, was left to die on a Brooklyn street after two
motorists plowed into him in a grisly hit-and-run Thursday night, police sources and witnesses said.

A white van first hit the man, clipping him while he was in the
crosswalk at Coney Island Ave. and Avenue K in Midwood, witnesses said.
As he struggled to get up, a dark-colored sedan mowed him down and kept
on going, according to bystanders.

"A guy was on the floor in the crosswalk," said another motorist who pulled over after he saw the 10:13 p.m. accident.

The good Samaritan, who declined to be named, recalled the victim saying, "The guy hit my leg a little but I'm okay."

While the Samaritan dialed 911, the second car came barreling through the intersection.

"The light turned green and a sedan slammed into him," he said. "I saw the fender hit his face - it was not good."

The impact was so hard it sent the man flying from one crosswalk to another across the road, witnesses said.

"The sedan didn't even slow down," the Samaritan said.

The unidentified victim was taken to Coney Island Hospital in traumatic arrest, fire officials said. He died at the hospital 45 minutes later,
another police source said.

The driver of the van initially stopped to check on the pedestrian but
took off after he was hit the second time, a witness said. It was
unclear if the van had returned to the scene.

Police are investigating the crash and no arrests have been made.



Orthodox Jews in United Kingdom offer 'kosher' certified cell phones 

Friday afternoon can be a stressful time in Stamford Hill, a working class neighborhood in northern London.

The ultra orthodox Jews, are in a rush to buy challah, rugalach and
other Jewish baked goods so they can take it easy after sunset, when the Sabbath starts. Resting on the Sabbath is part of an effort to live as
closely as possible to Jewish law.

But despite the community's traditional ways, the members aren't opposed to new things.

"Anything that can be used to enhance Judaism is welcomed," said
Rabbi Chanoch Kesselman. "But like so many things there are uses and

Rabbi Chanoch Kesselman represents the British rabbinate, the main
Jewish authority in Britain. Kesselman said the Internet, for example,
offers access to valuable religious texts and discussions. But the rabbi said it can also lead to immodesty. He said in the same way, cell
phones can help people do business or help parents keep track of their
children. But they also can lead children astray.

"The rabbinate was very concerned that cell phones with texting facility should not be used by youngsters," said Kesselman.

Texting is not only a waste of time, the authorities decided, but it
also encourages "immodest" exchanges that would not happen on the
telephone or face-to-face. So the rabbinate decided to grant certain
cell phones official approval, calling them kosher — a system that has
been most well-known for its use in food. The kosher phones are stripped down devices that can only receive and make calls. It helps the
community feel more comfortable about choosing a phone, he said, much
like shopping for kosher food.

"Using a phone with a similar seal on is similar to buying any article that is certified as kosher," Kesselman said.

The pace of passersby becomes more hectic as the Sabbath approaches.
Menachem Weinstein is smoking a cigarette outside a synagogue. Before
rushing off, he said not all Ultra-Orthodox agree on the need for kosher cell phones.

"I think in this day and age they should be more focusing on, not
disallowing stuff, but finding out why the teenagers, because that's why they made the kosher phone, why the teenagers are abusing it,"
Weinstein said.

Shortly afterwards speakers blasted out music, telling the neighborhood that the Sabbath was about to start.

At Rose Communications, the company which sells the phones, Maxi Rose said there are only about 20,000 to 30,000 Ultra-Orthodox families in
the U.K., not enough to make it practical for a cellular network to
offer Kosher phone service.

"So no network would come really and make those changes," Rose said.
"So the changes had to made from the hardware and software in the
device, rather than from network level. So the devices are modified. No
cameras allowed, no SMS allowed, no Internet allowed."

Rose says the phones have been a big hit. Not just to protect
children, but among adults who prefer the simplicity. He said there's
also been a kind of crossover appeal. Most of his online sales are to
non-Jewish customers around the world, in places like Saudi Arabia.

Kesselmen said British Muslims tell him they too are concerned about
the decline in moral standards among Muslim youth. Just as halal or
Islamic dietary laws are very similar to kosher, the rabbi said Muslims
and other non-Jews have no problem following the lead of "kosher"



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Haredi sector cutting wedding costs 

The cost of an average wedding in Israel may reach some NIS 100,000 (about $26,750) – a sum not every family can afford, especially with the recent social protest. The ultra-Orthodox sector has found a way to cut these expenses. Large Hasidic movements – such as Ger, Vizhnitz, Satmar, Sanz and Belz – recently issued special rules aimed at cutting wedding costs. The Sanz movement, for example, released a book of rules presenting the maximum prices the bride and groom's families should pay for each wedding clause in order to save tens of thousands of shekels.

The expenses begin as early as the matchmaking stage. Matchmaking fees, for example, have been limited to NIS 3,700 ($990), and the engagement party must cost up to NIS 800 ($215). Up to NIS 500 ($135) can be spent on a bouquet of flowers for Shabbat, preferably a synthetic one. So far, the families have saved some NIS 6,500-7,500 ($1,740-2,010).

In the groom's gifts chapter, the maximum sums are NIS 400 ($110) for a luxury watch, NIS 2,490 ($665) for the Orders of the Mishna, NIS 950 ($255) for a set of Shulchan Aruch books, NIS 800 ($215) for a goblet with a saucer and NIS 400 ($110) for a Passover set of books or a tefillin and tallit case. 

There is a general restriction of six gifts and NIS 7,000 ($1,870) for the groom, and the bride's parents are expected to save NIS 12,000-15,000 ($3,200-4,000). 

In the bride's gifts chapter, the maximum tariff is NIS 600 ($160) for a watch, NIS 2,600 ($700) for a gold necklace, NIS 2,400 ($642) for a bracelet, NIS 1,500 ($400) for a gold ring with a semi-precious stone, NIS 500 ($135) for pearls and NIS 600 ($160) for a set of holiday prayer books. And there is a non-financial restriction on a pair of candlesticks: They must weigh up to half a kilogram (1.1 pounds) and be up to 33 centimeters (13 inches) high. 

The total sum spent on gifts is limited to NIS 10,000 ($2,675). The groom's parents are expected to save NIS 15,000-17,000 ($4,014-4,550). Other gifts between the in-laws have also been limited. In the Shabbat Chatan and Shabbat Kallah customs, the restrictions include throwing small bags with a selection of almonds, raisins and sweets when the groom is called up to read from the Torah; the groom's family will have the Shabbat meals at its own house; the Friday night meal will not include any guests, or only the father of the bride and grandfathers; the other family members may join the end of the meal with some refreshments. The family is expected to save NIS 10,000-13,000 ($2,670-3,480) on this clause.

In the wedding party chapter, the maximum price for the wedding dress is NIS 3,500 ($935), renting clothes for schoolgirls – NIS 200 ($55), renting clothes for high school or seminary girls – NIS 300 ($80), a chair for the bride – NIS 450 ($120), a bouquet of flowers for the bride – NIS 200 ($55), drinks – NIS 4,000 ($1,070), a photographer – NIS 2,500 ($670), and a band (including a singer and equipment) – NIS 3,300 ($885). Some NIS 19,000-23,000 ($5,085-6,155) are saved in this chapter.

Rabbi Avi Zarki of north Tel Aviv has convinced couples to have a relatively modest wedding more than once. "I've conducted weddings which cost millions of dollars, just to make others jealous," he says.

"It's unnecessary. When I see people investing money in a wedding instead of in an apartment, leading to debts, I ask the permission of the parents and the young couple and advise them to change their list of priorities."


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hasidic Landlord Sick Of "Sun Tanning Goyim" In Crown Heights 

The yuppie goyim are TAKING OVER Crown Heights, turning the once idyllic neighborhood into a wicked G-dless hellhole known among interlopers as "ProCro," a veritable Sodom where they party half-naked on rooftops and corrupt
the area youth! So says one local landlord, who has fired off an open
letter begging fellow property owners not to rent to these licentious
libertines. In a desperate missive titled "Take Back Our Neighborhood," the anonymous landlord writes:
Demographic changes are swiftly changing the culture of our
neighborhood. Local Lubavitch landowners and outside chassidic investors are making Crown Heights an attractive location for young, non Jewish
tenants. In fact, it has come to attention that some investors are
specifically targeting their advertising for this purpose. This is
clearly seen with the new PLEX building Montgomery Street and Nostrand
>Young, upwardly mobile professionals may seem to be pleasant tenants
who bring in reliable income, but they also introduce a very different
way of life: new nightclubs and bars, sun tanning on rooftops, bike
lanes and an increasing amount of immodesty on our streets. Some of
these changes are hard to ignore; for instance, one of the sun tanning
parties are visible for our young children to see from the window of a
local school.
>Rising rent compounds the problem and makes it even harder for our
young couples and families to compete in the rental market. Friends, we
pay a premium to live in this neighborhood, and we strive to create an
atmosphere of holiness and kedusha for our children and teens. These
yuppies bring pritzus to our neighborhood. They come out at night to our restaurants and act inappropriately while waiting on line etc.
We're guessing "pritzus" is a strain of particularly potent
marijuana? Anyway, the letter's author finds it deeply troubling that
"some young agents and landlords will specifically rent to these goyim
instead of a fellow Jewish family." His solution? "We must form a group
to come up with effective ways to reinforce the observant Jewish
character of crown heights. The Satmars in Williamsburg are faced with
the same problem and have made a successful committee to curb this
issue. This could include meeting with investors from our own community
and possibly outside, subsidizing rent for our own community members."

For perspective, we spoke with one non-Orthodox Crown Heights resident, who tells us, "I do think this guy's 'fears' are reasonable. There have been so many new businesses opening; there's a place called Owl and Thistle that opened up and my first thought when I walked in was 'who the hell in this neighborhood is going to pay $70 for a pizza stone.' But I'm guessing places like that are getting in while the rents are still cheap, anticipating a boom in 3-4 years. The neighborhood has beautiful brownstones and it's going to get yuppified, no doubt." Crown Heights resident Tien Mao adds, "I know I sunbathe nude and ride my bike topless all the time." JUST TRY TO STOP HIM! (Seriously, please try to stop him.) 



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Attack on Chabad Emissaries Thwarted 

It was revealed, this week, that the security forces of Azerbaijan arrested three Azerbi citizens on suspicion of planning to attack Rabbi Shneor Segal of the Chabad Lubavitch hasidic movement and Rabbi Mati Lewis, principal of the Or Avner school in Baku. The national security office said the three were sent by Iran in revenge for the recent deaths of Iranian nuclear scientists.

During the investigation of the suspects, pictures were found of Rabbi Segal's house and of the school. Authorities warned the emissaries and during the weekend, the rabbis were accompanied by security guards out of concern for additional terrorists.



Monday, January 23, 2012

IDF personnel chief: All Israelis including ultra-Orthodox should serve in military 

Head of the Israel Defense Forces' personnel directorate Major-General Orna Barbibai said on Monday that the IDF should enlist every Israel "into meaningful service."

Barbibai was speaking at a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to discuss the "Tal Law," which deals with exceptions from compulsory military service granted to ultra-Orthodox Jews.

"There is no dispute that the challenging security reality demands that we enlist everyone into meaningful service," Barbai said.

According to Barbibai, one out of every four Israeli men and almost half of Israeli women are not drafted into military or national service. "These statistics indicate a need to conduct a thorough re-evaluation of the universal requirement to serve and equal distribution of the burden [of service]."

National Economic Council head Eugene Kandel, who represented the government in the discussion, took issue with Barbibai's statements, claiming the IDF would have difficulty absorbing additional ultra-Orthodox conscripts.

According to official IDF statistics presented by Kandel, the number of ultra-Orthodox conscripts to the IDF rose from 288 in 2007 to 1,282 in 2011, which he said exceeded goals set by the government.

Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) criticized the law and called to abandon it in its present form. According to Mofaz, only half of young people of draft age in Israel are actually drafted into service, and the number is expected to fall to forty percent by 2020.

"We cannot accept the norm that the peoples' army will become the army of half the people, and in eight years, the army of the minority of the people," he said.
MK Yohanan Plessner (Kadima), who heads the team charged with monitoring the law's implementation on behalf of the committee, said that instead of increasing equality, the law was bolstering inequality.

"We must put forward an alternative to the existing legislation, and we have a window of opportunity to create a new agenda," he said.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the law, which expires in the summer, will not be extended for another five years. However, following a disagreement with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, Netanyahu later announced that the law would be extended for another five years.

Barack recently called to extend the law for one year, while formulating an alternative framework in the interim period. Under such a framework, he said, the IDF would choose who to draft, while everyone else would be required to complete a year of national service.



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Suspended Amsterdam rabbi won't visit out of fears for his life 

Amsterdam’s chief rabbi who was suspended last week because of his controversial views on homosexuality believes his life would be in danger if he came to the Netherlands, the NRC reports on Sunday.

Aryeh Ralbag told the paper: ‘I have strong indications that my wife and I would not be sure of our lives if we came to the Netherlands now.’ He declined to say what the threats were but did say he took them ‘extremely seriously’, the paper reported.

Amsterdam's orthodox Jewish community (NIHS) suspended rabbi Ralbag as its nominal chief last week after the New York-based official signed a statement describing homosexuality as an illness which can be cured.


Ralbag will remain suspended until he and community leaders have spoken about the issue, but it is unclear when this will happen now the rabbi has said he will not visit the Netherlands.

The declaration, signed by 162 rabbis and mental health practitioners last year, states that 'homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle' and that 'behaviours are changeable'.

According to the Volkskrant, the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), has criticized the Amsterdam organization for suspending Ralbag. The rabbi has done ‘nothing more than restate what the Torah says about homosexualilty,’ the paper quoted CER as saying.


British rabbi Dayan Lichtenstein has mailed Ronnie Eisemann, who chairs the NIHS saying if this ‘scandalous’ decision is not overturned, the group would no longer represent orthodox Jews, the paper says.

Historian Bart Wallet told the paper the NIHS board is a difficult position on a local and international level. ‘The NIHS is formally orthodox but has a broad following. Naming Ralbag took care of the right wing but the declaration on homosexuality has upset the majority of its supporters. There is a real threat [the organisation] may splinter.’



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Orthodox Rabbis Rack Up Megillah of Charges 

A drive through this picturesque central New Jersey “shore” town (pop. 750) leaves many with a puzzling thought: How can these people afford such grandeur? The latest fallout from Operation Bid Rig (OBR), a joint Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey sting investigation provides the answer. While honest, hard-working Americans are finding it harder than ever to stay afloat financially, a segment of the “chosen” population will do just about anything for a buck.

Bid Rig’s latest victim: Rabbi Eliahu Ben Haim, a prominent Syrian Orthodox Jew here, or Sephardic, who headed a local house of worship, known as a shul by those of the Jewish faith, was sentenced to five years in federal prison for his role in a sophisticated “international underground money transfer network” spanning six countries, a Swiss banker, charity fronts and several unlicensed money transmitting businesses in Brooklyn, N.Y. Ben Haim’s co-conspirator “resided in Israel and was the principal source of cash” for the operation, according to court documents. The assistant U.S. Attorney said that “the crime was particularly egregious because Ben Haim was not concerned the money was ostensibly from illegal activities and would be used to fund criminal enterprises.” In all, 15 Orthodox Jews were arrested for money laundering.

OBR, which is still ongoing, has nailed the indictments of over 60 public officials and associates since its inception in 2002. The investigation is a three-pronged massive sting which had as its original focus political corruption (OBR and OBR II). Operation Bid Rig III began in June 2007 after another prominent Syrian Jew tried to get a worthless $50 million check cashed in May 2006 at a local bank and became the subject of intense local media interest. He was charged with bank fraud and became a cooperating witness (CW) for the FBI. OBR’s third prong focused on human organ trafficking and nailed another Brooklyn-based Orthodox Jew, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, who pleaded guilty in October to brokering three illegal kidney transplants and pocketing over $120,000.

Here’s how the OBR III sting worked, in the case of the good rabbi.

The “wired” CW, Solomon Dwek, whose troubles were no secret to locals, approached Ben Haim claiming he was bankrupt and needed to conceal his assets, which he acquired illegally from insurance scams, bank frauds and the sale of counterfeit Gucci and Prada handbags. Ben Haim agreed to receive checks from Dwek made out to “purported charities” that the rabbi controlled in return for a 10 percent fee. The money then made its way to the co-conspirator in Israel, who kept a 1.5 percent fee for himself, and then distributed the remaining funds to three Brooklyn-based Orthodox Jews operating illegal money transmitting businesses, known as “cash houses.” All that was left to do was for either Ben Haim or Dwek to take a trip to Brooklyn to pick up the cash.

In all, Ben Haim completed “more than 35…money laundering transactions” with Dwek, valued at $1.5 million. Ben Haim’s cut for a little talking and driving was a cool $150,000, an amount that would take your average, working American nearly five years to earn. According to the Criminal Complaint, Ben Haim told Dwek that “‘the most I ever [laundered] was seven to eight’ million dollars in a year, and…earned ‘a million dollars a year’ during that period.”

Although much of the cash came from Israel, money traveled around the globe. This international and intricate nature of money laundering was on display during a taped conversation Ben Haim had with Dwek. Discussing his interactions with his Israeli co-conspirator, Ben Haim said “[d]id you know that he had me in the last 4 years send out wires every time to a different place in the world to a different name? It’s unbelievable. I never saw anything like it.” After Dwek asked whether he was referring to different locations in only Israel, Ben Haim said “[n]o, all over the world. . . All over the world. From Australia to New Zealand to Uganda. I mean every country imaginable. Turkey, you can’t believe it. . . . All different names. It’s never the same name. . . . Switzerland, everywhere, France, everywhere, Spain . . . . China, Japan.”

Interestingly, Israel is not a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Paris-based intergovernmental organization that combats money laundering and terrorism financing.



Bridge at Rabbi Bar Yochai’s grave demolished without protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews 

A bridge built illegally at the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was demolished without incident on Thursday.

Some 100 policemen came to guard the operation, fearing violent ultra-Orthodox protests, but no demonstrators showed up and the demolition was completed in an hour.

The bridge was built to enable cohanim, members of the Jewish priestly caste, to access the popular site without passing a burial cave located on the regular path and thereby violating the religious prohibition against cohanim coming into contact with a dead body.

It was built without the necessary permits - even though the state encouraged its construction and even committed to paying half the NIS 500,000 cost.

The 300-meter long bridge was built from the rear of the grave along the side of the hill and the Meron Stream. The traditional route for the Cohanim was ruled out two and a half years ago when a Hassidic sect claimed the old path passed by ancient burial caves.

The Merom Galil Local Planning and Building Committee ordered the bridge destroyed as it was built without proper approval.

The state's participation in building the bridge received widespread coverage in ultra-Orthodox newspapers. The reports emphasized the cooperation between the state and the Hassidic sect Toldot Avraham Yitzhak, which demanded the building of the bridge. A petition to the Safed Magistrate's Court by the Hassidic group and 12 cohanim against the demolition order was rejected in mid-December.



Friday, January 20, 2012

Kars4Kids Charity Loses Big on Real Estate 

A multimillion dollar nationwide advertising campaign featuring an inescapable radio jingle and a freckle-faced boy in a convertible has brought the Orthodox Jewish charity known as Kars4Kids more than 60,000 donated vehicles a year.

Those gifts, worth $29 million, support Orthodox outreach to non-Orthodox Jews, including a fancy summer camp for Jewish children.

But Kars4Kids and Oorah Inc., an affiliated not-for-profit organization, lost nearly as much speculating on real estate in 2010 as they spent on programming.

The two closely linked organizations wrote off a combined $5.25 million in losses that year after lenders foreclosed on three separate real estate developments. A fourth development, foreclosed on in 2009, had earlier wiped out $3 million in donated funds.

Meanwhile, Oorah, the operation's program arm, spent only $6.3 million of the $29 million collected by Kars4Kids on program expenses in 2010, despite the fact that the organizations hold a combined $39 million in assets.
"[Kars4Kids] promotional materials say that the donation will benefit children," wrote Sarah Holloway, an expert at not-for-profit management and a professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, in an email to the Forward. "I don't think donors would be pleased if they found out that some of these monies were going toward anything other than that programming and reasonable overhead."

Jeffrey Stern, Oorah controller and chief financial officer, defended the organization's financial practices. "We do keep our promise to donors that their gifts will benefit children, and we are proud of the fact that one way we do it is by planning and investing in the long term," Stern wrote in an email to the Forward. He said that his organization's investment program "actually exceeded" not-for-profit oversight standards.

This high-profile charity campaign has made news before. Kars4Kids has previously paid cash settlements to attorneys general in two states over its failure to identify its activities in advertisements as benefiting a specific religious group. In early January, a federal jury found that Oorah owed more than $300,000 in scholarships to a Staten Island Jewish day school.

Based in Lakewood, N.J., Oorah operates summer camps for boys and girls and offers mentorships, scholarships to Jewish day schools and other programs that seek to bring Orthodox Jewish life to non-observant Jews. The organization actively serves 2,000 families, according to Yehoshua B. Weinstein, Oorah's director of outreach development.

"Our goal is to be able to offer them opportunities," Weinstein said. "I think anybody who comes to an Oorah program — you would be touched, and it would make a difference in your life. That's the point of what we're doing. We're not here to particularly change people, we're here to be able to offer them different opportunities."

Oorah's summer camp facilities are relatively luxurious. The camps feature petting zoos, horseback riding and game rooms with video game systems. Oorah also offers a matchmaking program for the newly religious.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Orthodox Jews Outraged By Calvin Klein Naked Glamour Advert 

An official complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) by a man, described by LBC News, as an 'ultra-Orthodox Jew'. The complaint claimed that the poster was objectionable to himself and others of the Orthodox Jewish north London Community as their beliefs do not allow them to view pictures of women in lingerie.

The complaint went further saying that the advert was irresponsible because as the busses were travelling across London it exposed children from all communities to these images. Although the adverts are on busses that travel through many different communities, including many strict muslim areas, the ASA have only received a complaint from this particular North London Orthodox Jewish community.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected the complaint whilst at the same time admitting that the Naked Glamour Calvin Klein advert could be construed as 'mildly sexual'. The ASA went on to say that those with "strongly held religious views" could find the ad distasteful.

This said the ASA concluded that Calvin Klein and Transport for London were not socially irresponsible in running the ad on the side of London buses. The ad will continue to be seen on display across and through London on the side of its iconic red busses for the next few months.

If you want to make a complaint about any advert in the UK TV, Press, Billboard etc then you can go to this ASA make a complaint page.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shyne And Diddy Make Peace During A Phone Call 

At the height of his career Shyne was signed to a deal under Diddy's label Bad Boy Records, but things went sour when the "Bad Boyz" rapper had to serve an almost nine-year sentence in prison after assault and gun possession charges that stemmed from a club shooting in New York in 1999. Diddy was also charged in the incident but he was later acquitted leaving Shyne to sit still behind bars. Now, Shyne has buried the hatchet with Sean Combs. In a Skype call from Paris with MTV News on Tuesday (January 17), Shyne revealed that he and Diddy recently talked over the phone and plan to meet in the coming weeks.

"As far as Puff is concerned, that's been a long time coming," Shyne exclusively told MTV News of the conversation he and the Bad Boy CEO had earlier this month. "He had reached out to me twice while I was in the pen, but I just wasn't ready for it."

The Shyne we see today is a far cry from the suited-up, oversize-baseball-cap-wearing youth that the world watched strut in and out of court during his 2000 trial. Now Shyne — who legally changed his name to Moses Levi while he was in prison and has practiced Judaism for a number of years — wears a white robe with the Star of David on the chest and the long side curls often associated with Hasidic Jews. The rapper's physical appearance isn't the only difference: Over the years, Po hasn't talked about Puff in the most positive breath, often criticizing the music mogul and calling him a snitch during and after the Club New York trial.
"I felt how I felt, I said what I said. In retrospect, when you looked at the way he handled it, he held it down, he wore it," Shyne said of Diddy. "He ain't had nothing to say; always had good things to say. It was always, 'Yo, whatever Shyne need, we got him.' "

During his incarceration, Shyne wasn't ready to reconcile, but after he had a dream about their mutual friend Anthony "Wolf" Jones, he reached out to Diddy. "Our relationship wasn't just business; it wasn't me just being a rapper on Bad Boy. We had a solid relationship, we had a brotherhood, me, him and Wolf, and I just felt the need to just reach out, because again, he just kept it tall no matter what I said," Shyne explained.

Shyne wouldn't elaborate on the details of his and Combs' conversation, but he did walk away from the call in a much more positive place. "For me, the conversation was a confirmation of what I felt. Son kept it super tall, and that's what it's about. When a man says, 'Listen, as a man, I make mistakes and I own that.' What could you do?"

Well what can they do? Surely the two can get back into the studio, but Shyne didn't dish on any new musical developments. He did reveal that the two plan to have a second conversation, this time in person.

"I just feel real good about moving on with our relationship. Me and son, we gonna get together in Paris — I'm in Paris right now. We gonna get together in a couple of weeks, and we gonna sit at the roundtable."



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Historic Reconciliation between Hassidic Dynasties 

A wave of excitement is gripping parts of the hareidi religious world as a historic reconciliation between the hassidic dynasties of Belz and Satmar is underway.
The Admor of Belz sent a delegation of ten dayanim (rabbinic judges), headed by his personal assistant, to the graves of Satmar Admorim, Baal Ha"Divrei Yoel" and Baal Ha"Berach Moshe," at the Kiryas Yoel cemetery in New York City.

The dayanim read chapters of Tehillim (Psalms) and lit candles for the souls of the Admorim, in the name of the Admor of Belz, Rav Yissachar Dov ben Miriam. "We are emissaries of our Rabbi Yissachar Dov Ben Miriam, we have come to ask forgiveness and pardon for what has hurt your dignity," they said.

This request of forgiveness is expected to pave the way to the historic reconciliation between the dynasties. The Admor of Satmar is planning to visit Israel next month and a meeting between the two Admorim is expected.   

A blog called Shearim explains that at the beginning of the 1980s, the Belz dynasty left the anti-Zionist Edah Charedit and joined Agudat Yisrael, which has a Knesset party that is now called "Yahadut HaTorah" and is run by the Gur, Vishnitz and Belz dynasties as well as "some litvishe Rabbis."

"The Edah went wild because they considered the Belzer as [a] traitor who ran over to Zionism" and agreed to take part in the State of Israel. "A war took place between Satmar, the Toldot Aharon and Belz."

However, today the Vishnitzer Rebbe Moshe Yehoshua Hager has four daughters. "One daughter is married to the present Belzer Rebbe. Another daughter is married to the Satmarer Rebbe Aharon Teitelbaum. The third daughter is married to the Skverer Rebbe of New Square and the fourth daughter is married to the Vishnitzer Rosh Yeshiva (Bnei Brak), Rabbi Ernster."

"Lets thus have a look at the facts: The Belzer Rebbe as well as one of the two present Satmarer Rebbes, Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum, are related through their wives. Are they still enemies?"



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sheriff who arrested Mel Gibson will get day in court 

The sheriff's deputy who arrested actor Mel Gibson and was the subject of his anti-Semitic rant should be able to take his workplace discrimination case before a jury, a Los Angeles judge ruled.

James Mee, who is Jewish, says he was subject to religions discrimination and a hostile work environment after arresting Gibson in 2006. He wants to take his case before a judge and jury.

Mee claims that his supervisors ordered him to remove Gibson's anti-Semitic remarks from the official incident report, placing them instead in a confidential supplemental report. He claims he was passed over for promotions in the department because he complained about purging the report.

Mee was accused of leaking his original report to the media, but he was investigated and found to be not culpable.

The trial will begin next month. Gibson could potentially be called as a witness.



Saturday, January 14, 2012

Brother of sex offender busted for covering up alleged sibling crime 

The younger brother of a convicted sex offender was busted for destroying evidence that may have implicated his brother in another sex crime, said a police source.

Myer Zimmer, 37, was arrested on Friday after he allegedly trashed clothing that police believe was evidence in an investigation into his older brother, David Zimmer.

The big bro, 40, was arrested on January 2, after allegedly photographing a nine-year-old female neighbor inside his Borough Park building.

A registered sex offender, the elder Zimmer was collered in March 1999, after he sexually abused a 10- year-old girl, according to the NY State Sex Offender Registry.

He is not supposed to have contact with children, said cops.

On Thursday, cops released David Zimmer’s photo asking parents of children who may have had contact with him in the past to come forward.

Police did not specify the circumstances of the current investigation in which they say Myer Zimmer interfered.

He was charged with tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution, said police.



Friday, January 13, 2012

Russian culture minister slams US claims to sacred Jewish books 

U.S. claims to the Schneerson library are provocative and spoil
cultural ties with Russia as the sacred Jewish books are the unalienable property of the country, Russian Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev
said on Friday.
The Schneerson Library is a collection of books and religious
documents assembled by the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement over two
centuries prior to World War II in Belarus. It is one of the main Jewish religious relics.
Part of the collection amassed by Lubavitcher Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok
Schneerson was nationalized by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Later, about
25,000 pages of manuscripts fell into the hands of the Nazis, and were
later seized by the Red Army and handed over to the Russian State
Military Archive. This part of Schneerson's Library is now kept in the
archive of Lenin's Library in Moscow.
The other part was taken out of the Soviet Union by Schneerson, who emigrated in the 1930s.
Since 1991, the year of Schneerson's death, leaders of the
Brooklyn-based Orthodox Jewish movement have been trying to regain
possession of the library, saying that it was illegally held by the
Soviet authorities after the war.
In 1991, a court in Moscow agreed to turn over the library to Chabad. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the ruling was ignored. The Russian
government now says it wants to keep the archive for future scholars.
In 2010, a court in Washington confirmed the American Jewish
community's right to the library, but Russia called the court's decision illegitimate. In late 2011, a U.S. court ruled that Russia must return
about 12,00 books and 50,000 manuscripts from the library.
"The library forms part of the Russian library reserve and is
inalienable. The history of its claiming by U.S. plaintiffs appears to
us provocative," Avdeyev said at a press conference.
The request by U.S. plaintiffs "aims to spoil the bilateral relations between our countries and to undermine the political reset," the
culture minister said.
The complex legal dispute over Schneerson Library is causing Russian
art institutions to cancel scheduled loans of world-renowned artworks to U.S. art institutions. It has already turned into a full-scale
diplomatic feud between the United States and Russia.
"Only when the 2011 decision of the U.S. court is set aside will a dialogue become possible," Avdeev added.



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Straight Talk: A New Breed of Fashion Bloggers 

MORDECHAI RUBINSTEIN is the rare fashion blogger who first made a name for himself offline. Raised Hasidic, Mr. Rubinstein was in rabbinical school in Israel before moving to New York in 1994, where he fell in with a downtown street scene. He worked as a clerk at the now-shuttered New Republic Clothiers in SoHo, and then as a publicist for Jack Spade, where he made a colorful mark. One Father's Day, he set up a makeshift office (water cooler and all) on Greene Street to peddle bow ties and offer sartorial advice to passersby.

The blog came in 2008 as a way to organize all his Flickr photos — many of them stealth shots of subway riders' shoes. "I'd make goofy faces at people to distract them, have the camera hidden on my lap and just click away." He has gone on to document more than shoes, and can be spotted on the streets of San Francisco (where he now lives, consulting for Levi's) and New York (where he returns frequently), with an Olympus Pen camera around his neck.

Besides shooting the requisite Fashion Week crowd, it's regular guys "who don't realize how cool they are" (like the man at right) who are his bread and butter. His eyes light up, describing a man he photographed the other day. "He was in head-to-toe khaki, a red bandanna hanging out of his pocket," he said. "Now, that's my guy."



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Four Suspected in Swastika Graffiti Incident 

At least four perps were involved in the Sunday graffiti spree that left four Midtown storefronts vandalized with swastikas, cops say.

Now, police want your help finding them: Cops say that four suspects are responsible for what's now the most recent incident in the rash of anti-Semitic hate crimes that have taken place in the city since October -- such as an attack on Orthodox Jews in Midwood, graffiti in Brooklyn, and the destruction of cars.

The suspects hit 1071, 1073, 1077, and 1079 Avenue of the Americas -- near Bryant Park -- around 4:30 p.m, including Penguin Clothing Store and Books Kinokuniya. Cops are on the lookout for the alleged crims, described as two Asian females and two Asian males



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chabad Rabbi Donates Kidney 

A New Jersey Chabad rabbi's kidney donation to an Israeli living on a secular Moshav in central Israel didn't make news as the headline-grabbing, purportedly bitter religious vs. secular Jewish divide always does. But on Tuesday, Jan 3, Rabbi Avi Richler, 29, co-director of Chabad of Gloucester County, NJ, underwent a successful donation of his kidney to a Jewish man suffering from end stage renal disease. Both donor and recipient are
doing well as of this writing.

Rabbi Richler read about the recipient, who prefers to recuperate in anonymity, in an online article published by Ahavas Chesed Medical and Emergency Lifelines, based in Brooklyn, NY. Both men are Jewish, fathers of three children, enough of a common bond to motivate Rabbi Richler to contact the organization and sign up to be tested as a match. More than a handful of Chabad rabbis have donated kidneys in recent years, among them Rabbi Ephraim Simon of Teaneck, NJ; Rabbi Mendy Mathless of Albany, NY; and Rabbi Boruch Wolf of Brooklyn, NY.

"Our attitude is every Jew is our brother," said Rabbi Richler. That sense of brotherhood is not limited to helping another Jew put on tefillin or kosher his home." When wife and Chabad of Gloucester co-director Mina Richler fielded her husband's first mention of his intention to have his side sliced and diced to save a life, she was not surprised, and she supported his decision. "Some people are blessed financially, and they give charity. Some donate their time. We've been blessed with good health," and a healthy kidney to give to another. Did it matter that the recipient did not share their lifestyle? Not at all. Reading articles about friction between religious and secular Jews only reinforced Rabbi Richler's commitment to "show we really mean it when we say we care about all Jews."

They read up on the risks associated with donation. They asked Mrs. Richler's aunt who donated a kidney to her husband about life with one kidney, and when they got the news that a match had been found – this Yom Kippur eve – they started down the road to donation. Rabbi Richler drove up and back to New York, a six-hour round trip, for pre-donation tests: x-rays, EKGs, an MRI, CT-Scan, blood samples, psychological evaluations. A donor has to be able to handle the surgical stress and be infection free before handing over a kidney.

Chabad of Gloucester activities continued as the surgery date neared. Founded five years ago, Chabad of Gloucester runs a Hebrew school, regular Torah and classes and holiday events. Nine months ago, Chabad purchased a new building set on a half-acre plot, which is being renovated to accommodate the needs of the growing community.

Few community members in Gloucester who knew about their rabbi's kidney donation kept the Richlers' phone lines ringing with offers to help and prayerful wishes. It wasn't something the rabbi wanted to publicize, but when asked for permission to write about it, he agreed in the hopes that it will help encourage others to do the same.

Shai Amram, a community member born in Israel, did not find it hard to believe his rabbi was going to truly give of himself to another. Rabbi Richler "is always doing great things, the kidney is just one of them." Nor is he surprised that the rabbi was not particular about whether the recipient was religiously affiliated. "I once asked Rabbi Avi if he is religious, and he said, 'No, I am just a Jew.' I hold him in the highest regard." After several days in Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, Rabbi Richler returned home, taking it easier than his hectic pre-surgery schedule would normally allow. Full recovery takes about six weeks. But he plans on returning to the hospital soon. Mrs. Richler is due any day now with the couple's fourth child.



Doctors ordered to pull out of gender-separated conference 

The Israel Medical Association has barred its member physicians from participating in an infertility conference geared for haredi Orthodox men and women that did not invite female speakers.

The annual Innovations in Gynecology and Halacha conference of the Puah Institute for Medicine and Halacha is scheduled for Wednesday. Some 1,000 men and women are expected to attend the conference, which is geared to the Modern Orthodox and haredi Orthodox communities. Male and female participants are separated by dividers in the conference hall.

The conference has been held for the last 12 years, but this marks the first time that the absence of female speakers has become an issue. Women do not serve as speakers, according to the organization, in order to insure the participation of the haredi Orthodox, who are generally wary of medical advancements in fertility treatments.

In response to the criticism, the Institute announced Monday that it would hold an event for women only in the summer, and will make it an annual event tied to the existing conference.

At least eight doctors reportedly had pulled out of the conference prior to the medical association's announcement Monday, though replacements had been found, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Puah has in the past received subsidies from the Ministry of Health, but not this year, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"We are sorry that instead of appreciating the great advances we have merited to see in women's health in general, and in particular within the religious sector, as a result of our conferences, there are cynical, aggressive elements who try to block us by using the prevailing public ambience," the organization said on its website. "These elements are riding on the back of the Puah Institute in order to advance their personal agenda."

The Puah Institute, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1990 by former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu in an effort to help Orthodox couples overcome infertility. In the Bible, Puah is one of the midwives who continued to deliver Jewish babies in Egypt and save the males after Pharaoh decreed they should be drowned in the Nile at birth.



Monday, January 09, 2012

Three arrested in suspected pedophilia ring in Israel 

Israeli police say three men have been arrested in a suspected pedophilia ring thought to have preyed on dozens of Jerusalem children.

Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby says the ring is suspected of molesting 70 children between the ages of 2 and 7 in their religious Jewish neighborhood.
In all, six men have been arrested, including three on Sunday. Ben-Ruby says it's not clear whether more suspects and children are involved because the investigation is not finished.

Officials familiar with the investigation said parents tried to solve the problem themselves and took months to involve police.

But Yitzhak Kadman, a children's rights advocate, says ultra-Orthodox Jews are slowly beginning to seek authorities' help instead of trying to ignore or whitewash problems inside their cloistered community.



Sunday, January 08, 2012

Arab hackers targeting Israeli civilians 

Israel has vowed to crack down on cyber terrorists after hackers stole the credit card details of tens of thousands of Israeli consumers and posted them online.

Hackers claiming to be from a known Arab cyber group infiltrated various consumer websites to get the details.

A Saudi Arabian computer hacker, who goes by the name of Ox Omar and is reportedly just 19 years old, has apparently carried out the latest cyber attack on Israel.

Last week he posted thousands of Israeli credit card numbers on the internet as well as the personal details of cardholders and is claiming he has collected nearly a million numbers and plans to publish the lot.

"It's a little scary this whole phenomenon... How simple it is for your credit card details to be all over the internet," one Israeli victim, Tal Shai, said.

"Of course you're afraid, because you don't know how long will pass from when they use the card until it's blocked."

Israel's data protection authority has described the attack as a cyber crime, and the head of Israel's Visa card company, Israel David, says it is a "technological terror attack on the citizens of Israel".

"Their main interest was to embarrass us as a country... and we are embarrassed," he said.

The data theft appears to have targeted commercial websites, and although not new, is one of the worst such attacks Israel has faced.

Israelis were not the only targets - several hundred people worldwide who had bought Jewish art or objects online were also affected.

And while the financial damage so far is minimal, the security breach involved has heightened concerns in Israel about the potential use of stolen information by enemies of the Jewish state.
Worrying trend

Yael Shahar, an Israeli expert in cyber-intelligence and crime, says he does not consider the attack terrorism but it is a worrying trend.

"I guess it depends on how you would define cyber-terrorism. I mean obviously it is not terrorism in the conventional sense that society was not disrupted, people's routines were not disrupted. Nobody was terrorised," he said.

"It was very likely an opportunistic attack and almost more of a hacktivist attack than cyber-terrorism.

"It is definitely politically motivated. Jewish and Israeli sites have been singled out for political reasons."

Israel has now vowed to respond to cyber attacks like this exactly as if they were violent terror attacks.

"Such cyber attacks are a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation," deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said.

"Israel has active capabilities for striking at those who are trying to harm it, and no agency or hacker will be immune from retaliatory action."



Saturday, January 07, 2012

Neighbors Outraged After Vandal Scratches Swastikas Into Parked Car 

Nassau County Police are investigating swastikas on a 1998 Mercedes Benz parked at the Babylonian Jewish Center in Great Neck.

Police say they believe the two swastikas were scratched into the car sometime between 4:30 p.m. Friday and 11:00 a.m. Saturday.

According to detectives, a 39-year-old male victim left the car parked last night before attending services and his 16-year-old son made the discovery.

There are also a number of other scratch marks on the vehicle. Residents told CBS 2′s Ann Mercogliano that they were appalled.

“It’s horrible. It’s horrible,” said Gloria Guerra. “Whoever did it should be disciplined.”

Detectives are urging anyone with any information on this to call police. The investigation is ongoing.



Friday, January 06, 2012

Ex-jail rabbi pleads 'not guilty' in housing scam 

The former jailhouse rabbi who lost his job for granting favors to Jewish inmates pleaded not guilty this morning to charges he scammed more than $220,000 in federal housing benefits.

Rabbi Leib Glanz -- who quit as a corrections chaplain after The Post exposed a bar mitzvah bash he arranged inside the Tombs -- is accused with his younger brother of running a 15-year fraud on the Section 8 rent-subsidy program for the poor.

During their arraignment in Manhattan federal court, the bearded, yarmulke-wearing men said only two words: "Not guilty."

Prosecutor Justin Anderson said the evidence against them consisted of about 200 pages of documents, including bank statements, credit-card bills and employment records.

Anderson said he planned to hand over the papers to the defense within two weeks.

He also said sides planned to discuss a possible "pre-trial disposition" before the brothers' next court appearance in March.

According to the feds, Leib swindled up to $1,675 a month in taxpayer funds by illegally occupying a Brooklyn duplex that had been approved for his brother, Menashe, who actually lived in another home nearby.

The politically connected leader of the Satmar Hasidic community allegedly pulled off the scam by signing a housing contract on behalf of the building's owner, the United Talmudical Academy, which he once ran.

Meanwhile, Menashe allegedly paid the UTA less than $100 a month to cover the rest of the rent, in what the city Department of Investigation termed the "the largest individual case of tenant fraud" it has ever seen.

Outside court, Menashe's lawyer, Charles Stillman, said: "We're going to take a look at the documents and figure out the right way to go forward."
Leib's lawyer, Alan Vinegrad, declined to comment.



Thursday, January 05, 2012

Judge blocks city’s Broadway Triangle project in Williamsburg, calling it discriminatory 

A judge slammed the breaks on the city's controversial plan to build housing at Williamsburg's Broadway Triangle Wednesday. Opponents went to court to block the massive housing project, charging it illegally favored Hasidic families over blacks and Latinos. "The Court agrees," Judge Emily Goodman wrote in an injunction halting the project, saying the development  "will not only not foster integration of the neighborhood, but it will perpetuate segregation in the Broadway Triangle."

The city tapped the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg - two nonprofits with close ties to Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez, who made Broadway Triangle a pet project - to build about 1800 apartments on the mostly-barren 31-acre stretch near the Bedford Stuyvesant border.

Opponents objected that the plans for large apartments in low-rise buildings, and a special preference for residents of Williamsburg and Greenpoint that didn't include nearby Bedford Stuyvesant, illegally favored Hasidic residents who often have large families and can't use elevators on the sabbath. A demographer predicted that only three percent of residents in the new housing slated for Broadway Triangle would be black.

"The judge recognized what our clients have been saying really for two years, before the [plan ever passed], that there were serious discriminatory impacts here," said Taylor Pendergrass of the New York Civil Liberties Union, one of the attorneys for the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition. "The city ignored those concerns for years."

City officials have dismissed the discrimination charges, saying all they did is change zoning rules to allow low-rise apartment buildings, just as they've done in other neighborhoods across the outer boroughs. "We respectfully disagree with the judge's decision and will seek an immediate appeal," said city attorney Gabriel Taussig. "The court mistakenly discounted evidence submitted by the City. After a two-year long temporary restraining order, we are grateful the judge has finally made a decision which now allows us to refute these outlandish claims before an appellate court."

The project has been on hold since soon after it passed two years ago due to the litigation, and federal investigators have eyed the project as part of their probe into Lopez's nonprofit empire.



Wednesday, January 04, 2012

FBI Says Man Threatened to Kill Jews and Blacks 

Abraham Foxman, the leader of the Anti-Defamation League leader, may have been targeted by a white supremacist planning to kill Jews and blacks, the FBI said, according to the Jewish news website JTA.

Danny Lee Warner, 33, told his wife about the plan before being arrested on Dec. 28 outside of an Arizona McDonald's, according to the website. Warner's wife had received a letter postmarked Dec. 19 from Warner saying he planned to kill "niggers and Jews" until the government "stopped him," the report says.

His wife and his internet browser indicated  he may have possibly been planning a trip to New York to target  the ADL's Foxman,  police say. Warner had also been a leader of the white supremacist group the Silent Aryan Warriors during a 10-year stint in the Utan prison system, law enforcement officials said.



Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Never ride with Hasidic Handlebars 

Hasidic Handlebars? "Handlebars with loose, loopy bits of handlebar tape," says velominati.com, a blog for hardcore road bike riders. Think of the Profanisaurus dictionary of swear words from Viz, but for bikes.

As well as a funny lexicon of road bike speak, the Velominati blog has a list of 89 rules, first codified in 2009. It's a set of rules that went viral back in the day and crops up on Twitter and in forums on a regular basis.

"We are the Keepers of the Cog," say the four international writers of the blog, published from America.

"We maintain the sacred text wherein lie the simple truths of cycling etiquette known as The Rules. It is in our trust to maintain and endorse this list."



Monday, January 02, 2012

American Enclave Stands Up to Extremists 

Little Na’ama Margolese is not the first Israeli child to be harassed on her way to school by members of a fundamentalist ultra-Orthodox sect who resent her presence in or around their neighborhood. But the 8-year-old girl is the first to have her plight featured on Israeli television and turned into an international news story. And she is definitely the first to have a determined, organized group of politically and media savvy families behind her, a cohort made up almost entirely of Modern Orthodox immigrants from the United States.

“They messed with the wrong crowd this time,” my friend Sara Eisen, a marketing executive and member of that community, told me. “This time, the bullies came up against Americans.”

Since a television crew captured Na’ama’s fearful walk to school — in recent months, she and her peers have been called “whores,” spat on and had tomatoes thrown at them — the little girl’s story has been dominating national headlines. The attention culminated on December 27 with a Beit Shemesh rally that drew thousands, including members of my own family, and featured speeches by representatives of every major political party.

Less obvious to the casual observer have been the relentless behind-the-scenes efforts of Na’ama’s parents and a handful of friends and neighbors, many with marketing and public relations backgrounds, to prevent Beit Shemesh from becoming a place where only ultra-Orthodox Jews are welcome. The media exposure is the most conspicuous evidence of their work. But it has been backed up by months of letter-writing, phone calls, lobbying in the halls of the Knesset and offices of government ministers, and the filing of police complaints and civil lawsuits.

The English-speaking community in Beit Shemesh, where Eisen, a Baltimore native, has lived for the past 15 years, has been attracting American transplants like her since 1991. That’s when a group of families, looking to achieve an Israeli version of the American dream, began leaving their cramped city apartments and building houses with yards in the sleepy suburb. Situated 11 miles from Jerusalem and in commuting distance from Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh had been home to secular and traditional immigrants from North Africa since it was founded, back in the 1950s.

Eisen’s street, with its fences and manicured lawns, ends in a cul-de-sac. She likes to joke that she lives on the Modern Orthodox version of Wisteria Lane, the fictional suburban street where the TV show “Desperate Housewives” is set. If the homes weren’t built from classic Jerusalem stone, the neighborhood could easily be mistaken for the American suburbs; even the kids run around with baseball caps and jerseys.

Over the past two decades, many North American Jews mulling a move to Israel were lured to Beit Shemesh by its quality of life, relatively affordable housing stock and the chance to provide their children with a religious education at a fraction of the cost of American day school tuition. These English-speaking immigrants — they now number about 2,500 families — invested time, energy and money into building the local Orot national religious schools for boys and girls.

The new Orot Banot girls’ school is situated on a major road that is the seam between the city’s Modern Orthodox neighborhood and one that is home to members of violent ultra-Orthodox faction known as the “Sikrikim.” Between 100–150 Beit Shemesh families are thought to belong to this fringe sect. All told about 40,000 of the city’s 90,000 residents are ultra-Orthodox, and the vast majority of them, it must be said, are peaceful and not affiliated with the Sikrikim sect.

As for the fundamentalist ultra-Orthodox community, their rallying cry has been that religious Orot girls like Na’ama are immodest. But the real story, Eisen and her fellow activists say, is about real estate. The ultra-Orthodox wanted the building for themselves, according to members of the Modern Orthodox community. In September, on the eve of the new school year, the city’s ultra-Orthodox mayor came out against the opening of Orot Banot, on grounds that the city could not protect its students against the angry extremists and their violent tactics.

A weaker, more pliable group of parents might have walked away, as secular and Modern Orthodox populations have done in communities such as B’nai Brak and other now solidly Haredi enclaves in Israel.

But Beit Shemesh is different. The effort to “save Beit Shemesh” is spearheaded by teacher and community activist Rabbi Dov Lipman, the son of an administrative judge, originally from Silver Spring, Md., who brings his Beltway savvy to the fight. The community is in constant e-mail communication and has set up a Facebook group “We are All Orot Banot,” with more than 1,100 members.

They have had a patrol at the school every day since September. The moment extremists show up to harass students, phone calls go out to the police and reinforcements are brought in to confront them. Volunteers photograph and film demonstrators, hand their materials over to the police, and post the videos on YouTube. Complaints to the authorities and civil suits over the harassment have been filed, as well as action against the municipality’s plans to build new housing for tens of thousands more ultra-Orthodox residents, which would change the city’s demographic make-up permanently. They’ve also received some $20,000 in donations to their legal fund.

One soldier in the fight is Eisen’s brother, Elie Klein, an account executive at the Jerusalem offices of the public relations firm Ruder Finn, who has lent his expertise to the struggle for Beit Shemesh. He was attracted to the city because it was a diverse community where, until recently, secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews lived together.

Klein said that the Modern Orthodox community has no intention of letting Beit Shemesh become an ultra-Orthodox city. “We love this city, and we will fight for the right to live here,” he said. “Not because we want to fight, but because we have been given no other choice.”



Sunday, January 01, 2012

Holocaust survivors blast Nazi garb at protest 

Israeli Holocaust survivors and political leaders expressed outrage Sunday over a Jerusalem demonstration in which ultra-Orthodox Jews donned Star of David patches and uniforms similar to those the Nazis forced Jews to wear during World War II.

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered Saturday night to protest what they say is a nationwide campaign directed against their lifestyle. The practices, which call for strict separation of the sexes, are rejected by mainstream Israelis as religious coercion.

Ultra-Orthodox extremists have been under fire for their attempts to ban mixing of the sexes on buses, sidewalks and other public spaces. In one city, extremists have jeered and spit at girls walking to school, saying they are dressed immodestly. These practices, albeit by a fringe sect, have unleashed a backlash against the ultra-Orthodox in general.

At Saturday's protest, children with traditional sidelocks wore the striped black-and-white uniforms associated with Nazi concentration camps. One child's hands were raised in surrender — mimicking an iconic photo of a terrified Jewish boy in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial called the use of Nazi imagery "disgraceful," and several other survivors' groups and politicians condemned the acts.

Six million Jews were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. About 200,000 aging survivors of the Holocaust live in Israel.

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, an umbrella organization of survivors, expressed its "utter contempt at this disgraceful exploitation" of the Nazi symbols.

"We who survived and witnessed these Nazi crimes are particularly offended that demonstrators so blithely used children in this public outrage. They have insulted the memory of all the Jewish victims, including those who were ultra-Orthodox," the organization's vice president, Elan Steinberg, said in a statement.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni called on the ultra-Orthodox leadership to condemn the display.

"This is a terrible offense against the memory of the Holocaust victims who were forced, secular and Ultra-Orthodox alike, to wear the yellow star in the ghetto on their way to extermination, and there is no demonstration in the world that can justify this."



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