Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Australia Says Jewish Community ‘Discouraged’ Reporting Child Sex Abuse 

An Australian government report found that some members of the Jewish community had been "discouraged from reporting" allegations of child sexual abuse against employees of two yeshivas.

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse published its report Tuesday on the response of Yeshiva Bondi and Yeshivah Melbourne to allegations of child sexual abuse made against people associated with those institutions.

The report follows a public hearing in February 2015 which investigated the response of the Yeshivah Centre and the Yeshivah College in Melbourne to allegations of child sexual abuse made against David Cyprys, David Kramer and Aaron Kestecher. The hearing also investigated the response of the Yeshiva Centre and the Yeshiva College Bondi to allegations of child sexual abuse made against Daniel Hayman.

The Royal Commission heard evidence that a Jewish law, known as mesirah, forbids a Jew from informing upon, or handing over another Jew to a secular authority, particularly where criminal conduct is alleged. Under Jewish law gossiping, or speaking negatively of another Jew, Jewish institution or place, is discouraged, even if what is said is objectively true.

The Royal Commission also received evidence that in 2010 the Rabbinical Council of Victoria had issued an advisory resolution that the prohibition of mesirah did not apply to child sexual abuse and that it was an obligation of Jewish law to report such abuse.

The Executive of the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand, The Rabbinical Council of New South Wales and the Rabbinical Council of Victoria have expressed their deep distress at the contents of the report by the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse at Yeshiva Bondi  in Sydney and Yeshivah Melbourne.

In a joint statement the rabbis of the councils said: "Child sexual abuse has caused unimaginable suffering to the victims in our community, and RCANZ, RCNSW and RCV and their members are totally committed to removing this scourge from our community and from our institutions. We offer our deepest sympathies to the victims and commit ourselves to learning from the failures of the past."

"As the Royal Commission has made clear, child sexual abuse was allowed to continue because of actions and inaction by some rabbis and community leaders. Victims were not always believed or supported, adding to the trauma," the statement also said, adding: "We call on those who have been identified in the report as not fulfilling their legal obligations to protect children to stand down from their public positions. We believe that those who denigrated or undermined the victims have lost their moral right to serve as leaders in our communities."

Victim and co-founder of the child sexual abuse advocacy group Tzedek, Manny Waks, said: "The Rabbinate must demonstrate that Judaism and the Jewish community will not tolerate child sexual abuse and those who perpetrate it, and must support those who have suffered."


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Woman Groped Outside Boro-Park Synagogue 


The NYPD is looking for a man they say groped a 21-year-old woman outside a Borough Park synagogue last week.

According to police, the incident occurred at approximately 12:25 p.m. on Friday, outside Congregation Sanz at 50th St near 14th Avenue.

Police say the suspected groper, who was wearing traditional Hasidic garb, walked up to the victim and touched her crotch before fleeing.

The victim, who was uninjured, was able to snap the above photograph of the man before he fled.

The suspect was last seen wearing all black clothing and eye glasses, according to police.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
All calls are kept confidential.


New York No. 1 Subway Hit With Swastikas and ‘White Power’ Graffiti 

The country's post-election hate crime wave again visited itself upon New York last weekend, after the discovery of swastikas and other white supremacist graffiti on the inside of a subway car in Manhattan, according to a Monday report in DNAInfo.

In addition to the swastikas, the scrawlings on the No. 1 train featured the "white power" slogan and hateful words directed at President Barack Obama and his family, with statements like "finally we have a white man in the White House," and "pray that Obama's daughter gets raped." The graffiti was discovered Saturday night by an elderly man riding the train in midtown Manhattan, near Columbus Circle. Police were looking into the incident as of press time.

Since the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a rise in bias incidents, with hundreds occurring in the week after the results were announced. Some of the episodes have taken place even in liberal bastions like New York, including anti-Semitic vandalism against a Brooklyn park named for Beastie Boys star Adam Yauch, swastikas found in the lobby of New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman's apartment building and similar graffiti discovered in an apartment building in the Hasidic section of Williamsburg.

In response to the incidents, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced the creation of a new unit within the state police to investigate hate crimes, which said he said his administration will not tolerate. "We will prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, the perpetrators of any of this ugliness and divisiveness. Because it's not happening in this state," he promised, speaking at a black church in Harlem in November.


Two-Building, 296-Unit Residential Project On Flushing Avenue Near Brooklyn Navy Yard 

376-378 Flushing Avenue. image via DCP

Two South Williamsburg-based investors hope to rezone three industrial properties in northern Bedford-Stuyvesant to make way for a large residential project with nearly 300 apartments spread across two buildings. Today we have the first look at the development, which will rise near the Brooklyn Navy Yard at 376-378 Flushing Avenue and 43 Franklin Avenue.

Riverside Developers USA, led by Zelig Weiss, recently filed zoning documents with the Department of City Planning. The plans include these diagrams and details for the partially-affordable, 296-unit project. An eight-story, 168-unit mixed-use building will rise at 376-378 Flushing Avenue, at the corner of Franklin Avenue. 50 apartments will rent for below-market rates. And a six-story, 128-unit development will sprout around the corner at 43 Franklin Avenue, between Flushing and Park avenues. That building will include 38 affordable apartments. The pair of projects will span 176,671 square feet and 126,839 square feet respectively.

Since these sites are being rezoned from heavy manufacturing to mixed-use residential, they will be subject to the city's new Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy. Thirty percent of the units, or 88 apartments total, will rent to families making up to 80 percent of the Area Median Income, or $78,336 for a three-person household.

The Flushing Avenue site is currently home to the four-story Rose Castle banquet hall, which is used by the growing Hasidic community in northern Bedford-Stuyvesant and South Williamsburg. The Franklin Avenue property is a parking lot.

Zelig Weiss teamed up with investor Fedor Itskovitch and Yoel Goldman's All Year Management to purchase the property, under the guise of Lotus Residences LLC, for an undisclosed amount in 2014. However, Goldman alleged in a lawsuit filed earlier this year that his two partners in the LLC tried to cut him out of the deal, The Real Deal reported in April.

Rabbi Isaac Rosenberg, a Satmar community leader and owner of Certified Lumber around the corner on Kent Avenue, had owned the properties for nearly 30 years before unloading them to Weiss and his crew of investors. He died in May, leaving behind a synagogue he helped construct on Hooper Street and several valuable real estate holdings in Williamsburg and Borough Park.


Father who left Orthodox community ‘must see children’ 

A father of two who left his Orthodox religious community must be allowed to continue seeing his children , a Family Court Judge has ruled.

The case concerned a former couple living in London. Their two children are still quite young.. After their separation, they lived with the mother.

The whole family had practised  Satmar Hasidic Judaism until 2013 when the father suddenly decided to leave. At the West London Family Court sitting at Barnet, Her Honour Judge Rowe QC noted that:

"This was a seismic event for the family. The father continued thereafter to follow his Jewish faith but at least for a time he did not practise within a settled Jewish religious community. The court had, at previous hearings, to contend with the mother's distress and fear of the children being exposed to an alien way of life on the one hand, and the father's impatience at having to continue to follow the Satmar way of life during his time with the children on the other hand."

The couple struggled to reach agreement regarding arrangements for the children. While the father was able to see them, the mother continued to object to his rejection of Satmar practices and pushed for the cessation of all contact, claiming he did not meet her religious expectations during the visits. Arguments over the frequency and length of his time with the youngsters and what should occur during the visits returned to court on several occasions. The parents faced the difficulty of helping the children "move between two different worlds" explained the Judge, and also argued over which schools they should attend.

Despite the continuing disagreements the father continued to see the children on prescribed days, including the Sabbath over alternative weekends. He made no attempt to become the resident parent and the children continue to live with the mother most of the time.

Their time at home included all Jewish religious festivals since the couple's separation, despite a previous order specifying that they should spend some festivals with their father. He applied to have this order enforced while she countered with an application for Sabbath days to be entirely excluded from the father's contact schedule, along with all festival days.

Judge Row explained:

"The mother's case is that the father has shown a disregard for the rules of the Sabbath, by allowing the children to see and do things forbidden to them – and which the father knew full well was forbidden to them – such as seeing electronic devices, pressing switches and riding their bikes. Further she says that he has allowed the children to eat non kosher food, and he has refused to wear the kippah [traditional brimless cap] at all times when the children are with him."

The father no longer cared about the religious festivals he had previously observed she claimed.

The Judge rejected the mother's application, on the grounds that:

"I find that there have probably been occasional deviations from the Satmar rules for reasons including mistakes and occasional carelessness of the father or others, however I do not find that the father has deliberately or intentionally flouted the expectations on him or, in any event, that these have been either frequent or generalised."

Religious tensions between the erstwhile couple made it especially important, the Judge explained, that the children continue to see their father on a regular basis and that time must include religious holidays she concluded.

"I remain of the view that especially given the Satmar difficulty – and the mother's difficulty – in acknowledging that the father is still Jewish, it is vital for these children to see that he is. To that end they must spend important religious days with him just as with the mother. Both parents must be part of the fabric of the children's lives."


Monday, November 28, 2016

Brooklyn man set to become South Dakota’s only rabbi 

He's the Wild West's newest mensch, leaving behind Brooklyn's boulevards and brownstones for the plains of South Dakota — to become the only rabbi in the entire state.

Hasidic spiritual leader Mendel Alperowitz, of the Crown Heights-based Chabad Lubavitch movement, is packing up his wife and two daughters for a new homestead in Sioux Falls next month.

"We're excited to raise our children in South Dakota, and we're sure they're going to grow up to become proud South Dakotan Jews," Alperowitz said.

The move will make South Dakota the last state in the nation to get a rabbi from the Lubavitchers.

Alperowitz, 27, and his wife, Mussie, 26, visited Sioux Falls three times and fell in love with its tiny Jewish community, which has not had a permanent rabbi in 30 years.

"The people were so warm and inviting and very committed to Judaism," Mussie said.

Still, the family will face challenges inconceivable to their fellow Hasids back home: They will be forced to make monthly trips to Minneapolis for kosher meat, and have to enroll their kids in online schools for a Jewish education.

But the hardest part will be leaving loved ones behind.

"It's a little scary that we're leaving all our family and friends in Brooklyn, but I have a funny feeling that the group there will become almost like family," Mussie said.

The family's imminent departure was announced over the weekend to a standing ovation at an annual gathering in Brooklyn of some 5,600 Chabad rabbis from 90 countries.

Although Jews have lived in the Mount Rushmore State since the mid-1800s, their numbers have dwindled to some 400 spread across 77,000 square miles.

There are three synagogues in the state, but all they get is occasional visits from student rabbis out of Cincinnati.

Sioux Falls, the largest city, also has South Dakota's largest Jewish community — about 150 members.

One of them is Stephen Rosenthal, 64, who is excited over the novel newcomers making South Dakota their home.

"I think this will bring a traditional view of Judaism to our state that most people are unfamiliar with but will hopefully be happy to learn about," he said.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

The group photo of the Chabad emissaries 

The Chabad-Lubavitch hasidic movement opened its annual emissaries' conference in New York this weekend. About 4,000 Chabad emissaries are participating in the conference, during which they will engage in a range of issues affecting Jewish life around the world.

The Chabad-Lubavitch Headquarters published data on the initiative began by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to provide a place for Jews wherever they may be around the world.

Chabad currently has 4,552 emissaries operating in 90 countries around the world. There are 980 Chabad houses in the US and Canada alone.

There are currently 336 Chabad houses in the State of Israel. They are operated by 600 emissaries, and hold events for Jews around the year.

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, the director of the conference said: "In recent years the mission of the Chabad emissaries has emphasized depth, on campuses, with youth and children, and with adults. In many palces the Chabad emissaries are the only Jewish voices in the area, whcih makes them representatives of Judaism with regards to the reawakened anti-Semitism and and the increasing hostility to Israel. Chabad emissaries see the importance of instilling Jewish pride, along with providing information to students to help them withstand these attacks."



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Jewish students accuse Cambridge of hushing up anti-Semitic attack 

Three Jewish students were subjected to vile anti-Semitic abuse by members of a Cambridge University drinking society amid allegations of a cover up.

One of the victims has accused university authorities of failing to investigate the attack properly. Two members of Christ’s College have been disciplined for their part in the assault although they were cleared of anti-Semitism.

Christ’s College has declined to identify the perpetrators or reveal the punishment – if any – meted out to the drinking society members.

The students were set upon by a mob after they entered the graduate union building in Mill Lane, Cambridge, at the end of last month.

The bar area had been rented out for a party jointly held by the sporting societies of Christ’s College. One of the victims, Shlomo Roiter-Jesner, 25, who is studying politics at Hughes Hall, told The Telegraph: “It was a closed party so we walked out but as we did so these individuals started getting more physical and more vocal and they noticed our kippot [Jewish skullcaps].

“All of a sudden they were shouting: 'Jew, get f------ out of here’. We tried to leave but they were yelling at us.”

In an email to Professor Jane Stapleton, master of Christ’s College, sent a day after the attacks, another of the Jewish students, who does not wish to be named, wrote: “We heard shouting and were literally grabbed and pulled out of the building by about seven large, intimidating males.

“We, and other bystanders, heard a number of vicious anti-Semitic slurs including 'f------ Jew, you don’t belong here’, 'dirty Jew’ and to myself, 'f--- off, darkie’.

"They then proceeded to try and choke my friend with his scarf, leaving him gasping for oxygen, and to push me and the third friend around, despite our attempts to de-escalate the situation. They eventually went back in after threatening to 'smash our faces in’.”

Prof Stapleton wrote in response that the trio had every right to take the matter to police but if they chose not to do so the college would order an immediate inquiry.

“I assure you that Christ’s would regard any conduct of the type that you report as wholly unacceptable, deplorable and worthy of appropriate disciplinary action,” she wrote on October 31. The college obtained CCTV footage of the attack but it contained no audio recording.

Then on November 18, Mr Roiter-Jesner received a perfunctory response from Prof Stapleton. “The internal disciplinary process of the tutors is now concluded and two students have been disciplined. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention,” she wrote.

The reply has dismayed the students, who now feel that the anti-Semitic attack has gone unrecognised. “The college has not confronted the issue at all,” said Mr Roiter-Jesner, “They have brushed it under the carpet.”

Prof Stapleton told the The Telegraph: “The internal investigation did succeed in identifying two Christ’s students who admitted using foul language and participating in a scuffle but they denied initiating the physical hostility and denied using any anti-Semitic or racist language. In relation to the former they were disciplined.”

She added: “I reject categorically that Christ’s has engaged in a cover-up on this matter.”



Friday, November 25, 2016

Shabbat Observers & The Google Interstitials Mobile Penalty 

As you all know, on January 10, 2017, Google is releasing their intrusive interstitial mobile penalty - where if your site loads an interstitial that is super annoying and gets in the way of using your mobile site, then Google will slap you with a penalty.

What many of you probably don't know is that some Jewish Shabbat observers do not allow users to browse and shop from their web sites on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. That means, ever Friday night (sundown) through Saturday night (stars up), they intentionally place an interstitial that prevents use of their web site on the Shabbat. Even worse, on Jewish holidays, the interstitial can last for 48 to 72 hours or so, depending on when the holiday falls out.

The most popular site that does this is B&H, which is owned and operated by mostly Hasidic Jews. Here is what you'd see if you go to the site tonight, after sundown:

B&H on Shabbat

Fay, an SEO for another Jewish observant web site owner who requires his site to not be consumed on Shabbat, asked John Mueller about what they can do with regards to this penalty. She posted the question on Twitter.

John responded to do the 503 error code, so Google knows to check back in 24 hours or so.

But if your site is showing a 503 every week for a 24 hour period, that can't be great. Plus, what about those 48-72 hour time slots that happen several times a year?

Here is what the site looks like on mobile, generated via the mobile-friendly test, when the shabbat notification is up:

There is really no great solution but to pray and use the 503 command. When this interstitial penalty comes, I wonder how Google will deal with these sites that show these interstitials one day out of every week?

John Mueller didn't really have a solid answer on this because it really probably only impacts less than 0.00005% of the web.



‘Death to Jews’ sprayed on Ukrainian synagogue 

Unidentified individuals wrote “death to the Jews” on the main synagogue of a city in Ukraine that earlier this month saw the rededication of another Jewish house of worship.

The hateful graffiti was discovered last week on the façade of the Central Synagogue in Chernivtsi, a city located 255 miles southwest of Kiev, a leader of the local Jewish community said.

Earlier this month, hundreds of Orthodox Jews convened at the Chernivtsi district of Sadhora of for the rededication of a synagogue that was built in the 19th century by followers of the influential Hasidic rabbi Israel Friedman of Ruzhyn. It had fallen into disrepair decades ago.

“It’s a shame to admit that when the country is dealing with war, instead of uniting society, some provocateurs are trying to sow ethnic hatred,” Ilya Hoach, leader of the local Jewish charity Miriam, wrote on Facebook, along with photos of the vandalism. The perpetrators also drew a cross on the synagogue.

Also this month, work began on the construction near the local Jewish cemetery of a memorial museum for the Jews of the Chernivtsi area, the Vaad group of Ukrainian Jews announced.

Separately, on Nov. 19, black paint was poured on a monument for Holocaust victims on Mogilev, a city in Belarus located 150 miles east of the capital Minsk, the Belapan news agency reported. The monument was in memory of at least 6,000 Jews that German troops murdered at the Mogilev Ghetto in 1941.

A similar incident occurred in 2012, when brown paint was poured on the same monument, according to Belapan. Police said the 2012 incident was the result of an accident but the local community disputes this, the report said.



Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ben Zion Shenker, Rabbi Who Wrote Prayer Melodies, Dies at 91 

Rabbi Ben Zion Shenker, regarded as perhaps the leading composer of Hasidic prayer melodies, whose music flavored the religious life of Orthodox Jews and influenced popular klezmer bands, died on Sunday in Brooklyn. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by Sruly Fischer, the husband of one of his granddaughters, who said Rabbi Shenker had a heart ailment.

Rabbi Shenker was the foremost composer and singer of the Modzitzer Hasidim, a Polish-rooted Hasidic sect that is known for melodies composed for the texts of Sabbath and holiday prayers, and for humming at moments of spiritual expression.

For the Modzitzer, as for all Hasidim, music and dance are vehicles to bring Jews closer to God, in accord with a philosophy expounded in the 18th century by the founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov.

Rabbi Shenker composed more than 500 melodies, and they have been recorded not only by him, but also by other musicians, including the violinist Itzhak Perlman; Andy Statman, the klezmer clarinetist and bluegrass mandolinist; and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

He also influenced the music of Shlomo Carlebach, regarded by many as the foremost songwriter of Jewish religious music and a leading figure in the movement to bring secular Jews back to religious observance.

Rabbi Shenker’s most widely heard compositions are the melodies for “Eshes Hayil” (“Woman of Valor”), sung at dinner tables after sundown to welcome the arrival of the Sabbath, and for the 23rd Psalm, “Mizmor L’David” (“A Psalm of David”), sung at the last meal of the Sabbath. His “Yasis Alayich” (“Rejoice Over Thee”) is played at most Hasidic weddings.

“After the Hasidim fled Europe, he became the repository of all that music,” said Mr. Statman, who was working with Rabbi Shenker on a recording just days before his death. “He was a supremely musical person, and his understanding of how to sing a melody, color it and ornament it was just incredible.”

Rabbi Shenker was born on May 12, 1925, in Brooklyn, four years after his Hasidic parents, Mordechai and Miriam Shenker, emigrated from Poland.

From childhood, he was enchanted by the singing of cantors like the great Yossele Rosenblatt, whom he heard on his parents’ phonograph. At 12 he joined a choir conducted by a prominent cantor, Joshua Samuel Weisser, who featured him as a soloist on a Yiddish-language radio program.

He began studying composition and music theory at 14, but his musical path was determined shortly after that, when he encountered Rabbi Shaul Yedidya Elazar Taub, the rebbe, or chief rabbi, of the Hasidim whose roots were in Modrzyce (Modzitz in Yiddish), a borough in the town of Deblin, near Lublin, Poland.

Rabbi Taub had escaped from Nazi-occupied Poland and made his way to Brooklyn in 1940 by way of Lithuania and Japan. Virtually every chief rabbi in the Modzitz dynastic line composed music, and Rabbi Taub was said to have written a thousand religious melodies.

On a visit to his house, the young Rabbi Shenker picked up a book of sheet music containing some of his compositions and quietly hummed the melodies. Since few Hasidim were trained musicians, the surprised rebbe asked, “You can read notes?” When Rabbi Shenker said he could, the rebbe asked him to sing the melodies out loud and was so taken with his talents that he asked him to be his musical secretary.

“Anything he composed, I used to notate,” Rabbi Shenker said in an interview on NPR in 2013. “And he used to sing for me things that he had in mind.”

Soon he was composing his own melodies and, with his reedy tenor, singing songs beloved by the sect for their tenderness, gracefulness and fervor. In 1956, he established his own label, Neginah, to record his first album of Modzitz melodies. He was backed on it by the all-male Modzitzer Choral Ensemble in a program of music composed for the post-Sabbath meal known as Melave Malke.

It was one of the first collections of religious melodies by an ultra-Orthodox musician, and it prompted other Hasidic dynasties to record their own melodies.

He eventually produced nine more records of Modzitzer music, including his own compositions. Since klezmer music, as Mr. Statman explained, is “really Hasidic vocal music played instrumentally,” Rabbi Shenker’s tunes also influenced klezmer performers.

Rabbi Shenker sometimes conceived his melodies sitting at a piano with a prayer book in front of him, sometimes while reading a religious text on the subway. But he earned most of his living in business, first in a family-owned sweater company and more recently as a partner in a small diamond business on West 47th Street in Manhattan.

His wife, the former Dina Lustig, died three years ago. He lived in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. He is survived by his daughters, Esther Reifman, Adele Newmark and Broche Weinberger; a brother, Rabbi Chaim Boruch Shenker; 23 grandchildren; and more than 90 great-grandchildren.

Anyone who wanted to sample Rabbi Shenker’s works could go to the Modzitzer synagogue in Midwood. For more than five decades he led prayers there, including those that were shaped by his melodies. And when he walked home on a Friday evening after services, he could hear his melody for “Woman of Valor” sung in almost every Jewish home in his neighborhood.

He said in the NPR interview that he had composed seven new songs for the prayers of that year’s Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services.

“When those prayers come up, I’m the one that starts it, and the singing adds so much to the spirit of the prayers,” he said. “ I mean, when you sing it, you really understand it.”



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jewish Williamsburg Latest Target of Swastika Graffiti 

The country's post-election hate crime wave has now hit Williamsburg, where residents at the Independence Towers in the southern part of the Brooklyn neighborhood discovered swastikas and the slogan "KKK" and "Trump" graffitied on the stairwell Friday.

"Such messages are extremely painful and when dismissed and ignored, it can escalate into physical attacks, God forbid," Rabbi David Niederman, President of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, told DNAInfo. Williamsburg contains one of the largest Hasidic Jewish communities in the world.

Since the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a rise in bias incidents, with 700 of them occurring in the week after the results were announced. Some of the episodes have taken place even in liberal bastions like New York, including anti-Semitic vandalism against a Brooklyn park named for Beastie Boys star Adam Yauch and swastikas found in the lobby of New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman's apartment building.

"[W]e will prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, the perpetrators of any of this ugliness and divisiveness," he told a crowd at a church in Harlem. "Because it's not happening in this state."


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Rabbi Berland sentenced to 18 months in prison 

Rabbi Eliezer Berland sentenced (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)

Rabbi Eliezer Berland, a leader of the Breslov Hasidic community, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for a number of sexual assaults on Tuesday afternoon following a plea bargain reached between the courts and his defense team.
Moments before the Jerusalem Magistrates Court approved the plea bargain, Berland expressed his regret for his actions and requested forgiveness from his victims.

In doing so, he quoted from the week's Torah portion 'Vayesehv' from the book of Genesis in reference to the Yehudah's sexual transgressions against Tamar: "What I have admitted I have admitted and I have no further business with women," He said. "I ask for forgiveness from the entire people of Israel."  
He went on to say that nothing could detract from the severity of his actions. "I sincerely regret, from the bottom of my heart, all that I have done to harm a man or a woman, I regret every harmful act that was caused by me, whether directly or indirectly. My regret is sincere," Berland said.  
The women who filed complaints against Berland opposed the plea bargain reached by the courts and his lawyers and called on the justice system to disregard the plea and to impose a stricter sentence.
79-year-old Berland had founded the Shuvu Banim Yeshiva in Jerusalem and is considered a leading figure among the Breslov Hasidic community. In 2012, one of his followers claimed to have seen him in a compromising position with a girl from the local community.
The man was beaten by his other followers, which brought the incident to the police's attention. The ensuing investigation gathered testimonies from several women, accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Berland had fled from Israel to Morocco in 2013, after being requested to make himself available for police questioning on suspicion of sexual misconduct. King Mohammed VI expelled Berland from Morocco, and from there he travelled to Zimbabwe, the Netherlands, and South Africa.

He landed in Israel in July after being extradited by the South African authorities. Upon exiting the plane, he was arrested by Israel Police officers who were awaiting his arrival and who took him for investigation.


Montreal Hasidic community threatens lawsuit over ban on new places of worship 

Hasidic Jews in Montreal's tony Outremont borough are vowing to go to court after a referendum upheld a bylaw banning new places of worship.

"It's very disappointing," Hasidic leader Abraham Ekstein told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The bylaw, passed last year, was upheld Sunday by a vote of 1,561 to 1,202.

The basis for the court case, according to Ekstein, will be religious discrimination running counter to rights guaranteed under Canada's and Quebec's human rights charters.

While the bylaw prohibits any religion from establishing a new house of worship on a specific upscale street — ostensibly to promote local business activity — Ekstein and others feel the real target was the Hasidic community, which makes up one-quarter of the borough's population and is growing rapidly.

Mindy Pollak, a Hasidic Jew who is also an Outremont city councilor, also did not accept the pro-business argument for the bylaw, pointing to a nearby street where synagogues and business were thriving.

The argument "just doesn't hold water," she told CBC.

Over at least a decade, tensions have sporadically flared over issues ranging from complaints that Hasidic Jews block narrow streets with double-parked buses to a request for windows at a local Y to be glazed over so that exercising women would not be visible from the street.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Outremont residents vote to uphold bylaw banning places of worship 

On Sunday, Outremont residents flocked to a voting booth to decide whether or not to overturn a controversial bylaw.

The current law bans new places of worship on Bernard Ave., regardless of religion.

The final results of the vote saw 1,561 people vote in favor to uphold the law and 1,202 voted against the law.

The vote had a 60 percent turnout.

But the borough’s growing Hasidic Jewish community insist they feel targeted.

They represent roughly a quarter of Outremont’s population and they believe the ban is flat out racist.

“If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, it’s a duck,” Alex Werzberger, president of the Coalition of Outremont Hasidic Organizations told Global News on Thursday.

However, the borough has said the reason of the bylaw is to support economic development.

They decided to pass the new regulation last year, banning all new religious temples on both Laurier and Bernard avenues.

READ MORE: Outremont passes zoning bylaw that bans new places of worship

Bernard avenue in particular is a street filled with residential buildings, cafes, restaurants and shops.

So some residents say they don’t think places of worship mix well there.

“It’s not a cultural or religious thing,” said Outremont resident Jean-Yves Chartrand.

“It’s urban and commercial.”

But members of the Hasidic community say that argument doesn’t hold water.

They say, it’s simply a turf war.

“I just think that they’re taking too much space,” said resident Andre Gibeau.

“And we ain’t going anywhere.”



Haredim criticize Hamodia conference 

During Israeli newspaper Hamodia directors' conference on Monday morning, there was a good deal of internal criticism voiced.

Haim Epstein, vice-mayor of Jerusalem and a representative of Rabbi Auerbach's stringent Yerushalmi faction, told Kol Hai Radio on Monday morning that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech regarding the integration of haredim into the employment world was an instance of "blurred boundaries."

"When the Israeli Prime Minister is invited to a conference of a conservative paper, and speaks about integrating haredim into the rest of Israeli society and into the workforce, it hurts. It shows how the boundaries have blurred, how there are no clear lines," Epstein said.

Netanyahu spoke on Sunday at an economic and business conference held by Hamodia in Airport City about the haredi parties' place in the coalition, saying they were "true partners."

"We work together as true partners," said Netanyahu, explaining, "We're not brothers who share the same fate, we're brothers by choice. It's true love."

He also said, "Many haredim are now entering the workforce, working in hi-tech, law, and doing outstanding work. Not by force, not with threats, but by calmly and with a lot of goodwill."

Hamodia is a haredi-hasidic newspaper, appearing in both Hebrew and English, Israel and abroad.

Hamodia recently attacked Mishpacha, another haredi publication, for publishing a picture of Hillary Clinton on the front cover.



Famed Jewish composer Ben Zion Shenker passes away 

Ben Zion Shenker, the composer of hundreds of songs, including 'Eishes Chayil' and 'Mizmor L'Dovid,' passed away Sunday morning,

Jewish composer and singer Ben Zion Shenker passed away Sunday morning at the age of 92.

Shenker, one of the most prominent Jewish musical figures of the past century, was known for preserving the Modzitzer musical tradition. He composed hundres of songs during his career, some of which are sung by Jews every Sabbath, such as the Friday night song 'Eishes Chayil' ('A Woman of Valour'), and 'Mizmor L'Dovid' ('A Song of David')

He also introduce Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, another famous Jewish composer and singer who was two years Shenker's younger, to the Modzitzer tradition.

Shenker was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1925. His parents were immigrants from Poland. In the 1940s he annotated the music which the Modtizer Rebbe composed.

Shenker later graduated from the New York Conservatory of Music. He became the first person to produce authentic hasidic music professionally. More than 600 of his tunes have been distributed around h\the world.

Attorney David Zeira, the founder of the Modzitz Musical Heritage Institute, told Arutz Sheva "He was the greatest of the composers of the people of Israel. Every Jewish home sang at least two of his songs every Sabbath, 'Eishes Chayil' and 'Mizmor L'Dovid.'"

"He composed more than 500 songs. He composed melodies for weddings, sad melodies, and melodies designed for all the days of the year. Each was more beautiful than the last."



Sabra Hummus recall information 


Sabra Dipping Co., LLC is voluntarily recalling certain hummus products made prior to November 8, 2016 due to concerns over Listeria monocytogenes, which was identified at the manufacturing facility but not in tested finished product. The recall includes the products listed below; these were distributed to retail outlets, including food service accounts and supermarkets, in the U.S. and Canada.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.  Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.  The company is issuing this recall out of an abundance of caution.

Consumers with any product with a “Best Before” date up through January 23, 2017 are urged to discard it. Consumers can find code and “Best Before” date on the lid of each package.

040822014700300051Sabra Hummus Caramelized Onion 10OZ
040822000017300066Sabra Hummus Classic 7OZ
040822011143300067Sabra Hummus Classic 10OZ
040822017497300070Sabra Hummus Classic 17OZ
040822014687300074Sabra Hummus Classic 30OZ
040822431156300076Sabra Hummus Classic 5LB – 6ct
040822011112300079Sabra Hummus Classic 2OZ – 48ct: 3 x (16 x 2oz)
040822011952300080Sabra Hummus Classic with pretzels 4.56OZ
040822011235300094Sabra Hummus Garlic 7OZ
040822011242300095Sabra Hummus Garlic 10OZ
040822017510300097Sabra Hummus Garlic 17OZ
040822012256300099Sabra Hummus Garlic 32OZ
040822301121300100Sabra Hummus Garlic 30OZ
040822011990300104Sabra Hummus Garlic with pretzels 4.56OZ
040822011921300106Sabra Hummus Jalapeno 10OZ
040822011341300117Sabra Hummus Olive 10OZ
040822011747300132Sabra Hummus Pine Nut 10OZ
040822127530300134Sabra Hummus Pine Nut 7OZ
040822990011300136Sabra Hummus Pine Nut 17OZ
040822012157300139Sabra Hummus Pine Nut 32OZ
040822012430300142Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 7OZ
040822011549300143Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 10OZ
040822017503300146Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 17OZ
040822328647300148Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 32OZ
040822301114300150Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 30OZ
040822434553300151Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 5LB – 6ct
040822011969300153Sabra Hummus Red Pepper with pretzels 4.56OZ
040822011433300158Sabra Hummus Supremely Spicy 7OZ
040822011440300159Sabra Hummus Supremely Spicy 10OZ
040822017558300161Sabra Hummus Supremely Spicy 17OZ
040822027540300164Sabra Hummus Spinach & Artichoke 10OZ
040822014731300166Sabra Hummus Sun Dried Tomato 10OZ
040822027700300266Sabra Hummus Spinach & Artichoke 32OZ
040822027588300298Sabra Hummus Spinach & Artichoke 17OZ
040822990011300501Sabra Hummus Pine Nut 17OZ – 6ct
040822017503300502Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 17OZ – 6ct
040822020114300593Sabra Hummus Basil-Pesto 10OZ
040822330466300736Sabra Hummus Tuscan Herb Garden 32OZ
040822342049301216Sabra Hummus Classic 32OZ
040822342131301271Sabra Hummus Classic with pretzels 4.56OZ – 8ct
040822342209301283Sabra Hummus Garlic 23.5OZ
040822017497301290Sabra Hummus Classic 17OZ
040822342506301430Sabra Hummus Bold & Spicy with tortilla chips 4.56OZ
040822017510301480Sabra Hummus Garlic 17OZ – 6ct
040822342728301481Sabra Hummus Classic 2OZ – 6 x 2oz (12 x 6pks)
040822011648301483Sabra Hummus Lemon 10OZ
040822342735301484Sabra Hummus Red Pepper 2OZ – 6 x 2oz (12 x 6pks)
040822330381301485Sabra Hummus Tuscan Herb Garden 17OZ
040822010078301511Sabra Hummus Classic 2OZ  – 16 x 2oz – 12 ct
040822010047301512Sabra Hummus Classic 2OZ – 12 x 2oz – 12 ct
040822342988301566Sabra Hummus SF Rosemary/Sea Salt 10OZ
040822343145301585Sabra Spreads Spicy Chili 8.5OZ – 8ct
040822343138301586Sabra Spreads Garlic Herb 8.5OZ – 8ct
040822343121301587Sabra Spreads Honey Mustard 8.5OZ – 8ct
040822343114301588Sabra Spreads Salt & Pepper 8.5OZ – 8ct
040822343671301640Sabra Hummus Taco 10OZ
040822344043301705Sabra Hummus 3 Pepper Chili 10OZ

No other Sabra products are affected. In particular, Sabra products not included in the recall are: Sabra Organic Hummus, Sabra Salsa, Sabra Guacamole and Sabra Greek Yogurt Dips.

Consumers can contact Sabra Consumer Relations at 1-866-265-6761 for additional information from 9:00 am to 8:00 PM eastern time. For product reimbursement, consumers can contact www.sabrahummusrecall.com. Full list of impacted product is below. The company has subsequently taken steps to correct this matter.

The recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.



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