Friday, August 31, 2018


Drunk-Hasidic pilgrims staged a brawl on Board the flight operated by UIA at the airport "Ben Gurion" in tel Aviv.

This was reported Іsraelinfo. Eight pilgrims, who were going to Uman for the celebration of the Jewish New year, went up in the plane drunk. There they first started to argue with the flight attendants, and after he got into a fight with the crew. In the end, the commander of the flight was forced to call the police. Bullies were removed from the aircraft and returned to the airport, but the flight was delayed for three hours.

According to the representative of the airport "Ben Gurion", such incidents occur during the Exodus to Uman every year. Many of the pilgrims are at the airport drunk, under the influence of drugs, begging for free tickets, arrange quarrels and fights.

According to preliminary data, this year for New year celebrations, Rosh Hashanah and worship the tomb of Rabbi Nachman, founder of Hasidism of Bratslav, in Uman will go about 30 thousand Hasidim and other religious Jews.



Thursday, August 30, 2018

Protest Targets Chicken Sacrifice For Hasidic Ceremony Kaporos 

Donny Moss watched in horror as he said children stuffed dying chickens into hundreds of black garbage bags already stuffed full with feathery carcasses stained with blood.

"It was such a factory of throat slicing," said Moss. "What a grisly way to go."

The children were taking part in Kaporos, a Yom Kippur ritual performed by Hasidic Jews who believe their sins have been transferred into the body of a bird and that Moss says is a mass slaughter endangering the health of New Yorkers who are forced to foot the bill.

"NYPD provides security, the Department of Sanitation cleans it up," said Moss, one of many grassroots activists trying to get the city to crack down on the ceremony. "Taxpayers are underwriting the cost of this massacre and the city just turns a blind eye."

During the upcoming Kaporos, which is slated for mid-September, roughly 50,000 chickens will be killed in in the streets of Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park for the public sacrifice.

Participants say the ritual is a sacred element of Yom Kippur, a day of atonement, that many believe will protect their families in the new year to come.

"This is my substitute, this is my exchange, this is my atonement," participants will pray during the ritual. "This fowl will go to death, and I will enter upon a good and long life."

Williamsburg resident Joel Lubin told the New York Times that to him, the prayer meant, "If you're going to die during the year, maybe the chicken will die instead."

Yossi Ibrahim, 27, a Hasidic man from Crown Heights, said in an interview with the New York Post, "No one has the right to change our religion."

But some protesters worry about what happened in 2017, when hundreds of crates were stacked on the streets of Brooklyn in conditions Moss said caused thousands of the birds to die.

"They died on the streets with no food or water," said Moss, who has been protesting the "pop-up slaughterhouses" since 2010. "To die of hunger or thirst, to be surrounded by the bodies of others who have died?

"It's just so shocking that this happens in modern times."

Moss and his fellow activists want city agencies to enforce laws that forbid slaughterhouses being erected in residential areas and have mounted a pressure campaign against the Health Department and filed suit against the city. 

But they've been without much success, so far.

"We have not found Kaporos to be a significant public health threat," a city spokesperson said. "Our surveillance has shown no increase in illness — and this ritual is an important practice for some Orthodox Jews."

And lawsuit filed by protesters hit a hurdle last June when an appellate panel ruled 3-to-2 against them, the Daily News reported.

"The United States Supreme Court has recognized animal sacrifice as a religious sacrament," Justice Judith Gische wrote in her ruling, "although they may be upsetting to non-adherents of such practice."

That suit is now pending at the New York State Court of Appeals, according to Moss. 

Moss believes city officials are ignoring the ritual because of they fear backlash on Election Day, he said.

"They just don't want to touch this issue," said Moss. "This community is such a powerful voting bloc."

That won't stop him and hundreds of fellow protesters from taking to the streets of Brooklyn on Sept. 15, when the 2018 Kaporos is slated to start.

As members from the Hasidic community complete the ritual — which involves swinging a chicken overhead while repeating the prayer, then slitting the bird's throat in accordance with kosher law — Moss and fellow advocates from The Save Movement, Jewish Veg and United Poultry Concerns will pass water around to birds waiting in stacked crates. 

"It's gonna be bigger this year, a love-based approach," he said.

In the past they've tried holding up signs and pleading with the participants to stop, but with little success, Moss said.

"We haven't really gotten through to them," Moss admitted. "They think this is god wants them to do."


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

7 Charged With Stealing Millions In School Tech Funds In Hasidic New York Town 

Federal prosecutors are charging seven men with stealing millions of dollars in federal funds intended for Orthodox yeshivas in Rockland County, New York.

The alleged scheme was to bilk a federal subsidy program called E-Rate, which is meant to pay for internet services for schools and libraries, by billing the program for services that were never delivered to Rockland County yeshivas.

Some of the internet services paid for by E-Rate had been requested by schools that ban internet use for religious reasons.

"For years, these defendants stole money from the E‑rate program, billing the E-rate program for equipment and services which were not in fact provided," said Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "In doing so, the defendants fraudulently obtained millions of dollars in E rate funds to which they were not entitled, and which should lawfully have been spent to help provide access to technology to educate underprivileged children."

According to NBC, the people indicted Wednesday are residents of Monsey, New York, and Kiryas Joel, the Rockland County village dominated by the Satmar Hasidic group.

The Forward reported in 2013 on exploitation of the E-Rate program by Orthodox groups in Brooklyn and New Jersey. The Forward reported at the time that schools in the heavily Orthodox Jewish town of Lakewood, N.J. had received more funding through the E-Rate program than schools in any other municipality in the entire state of New Jersey.


Hasidic Rapper: My Kids Weren’t Accepted Because They’re Black 

Hasidic rapper Nissim Black is concerned his children haven't been accepted to yeshivas because of their skin color, he told Radio Kol Chai.

"People know me as a rapper, but I'm on the road all the time for Klal Yisrael," Black said in the interview, quoted by Yeshiva World News. "I heard from many people before that it would be a problem because I was dark, but I responded that I was strengthening people precisely because of my skin color."

He said his children don't know that their skin color is the reason they haven't begun school.

"We tried to get our 10-year-old into a school that fits our hashkafa [worldview] and they rejected us because of our skin color," he said. "They can ask my Rav [rabbi] about me, or even say it's because of my profession. But to reject us for our skin color, is unacceptable."

Black said he's not angry at the school principals, nor those who don't accept his children. He plans to continue looking for the best school, one that will fit his beliefs but also treat his children equally.

He told Radio Kol Chai that he visited renowned Israeli rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a leader within Haredi Jewish society, on Monday to discuss the issue.

Keeping details mum, Black said Rav Chaim told him, "Being 'Black' is your Mayla [virtue] not a Chesaron [Lacking]."


In first, Israel sets up temporary consulate in Uman for Rosh Hashanah 

Israel will open a temporary consulate in Uman during Rosh Hashanah, when at least 30,000 Jews perform a pilgrimage in that Ukrainian city.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem announced the move Tuesday, stating the diplomat working from the temporary consulate will "address urgent consular matters like stolen or lost travel documents and any other emergency assistance extended by Israeli embassies worldwide."

The temporary consulate is located at the compound containing what many believe is the burial site of Rabbi Nachman, an 18th-century luminary whose supposed gravesite is the focal point of the celebration.

As in previous years, Israeli police will also send officers to Uman for the duration of the holiday to help local authorities maintain order.

Authorities in Ukraine have improved access to Uman in recent years, and plans are underway for reopening an unused military airport near the city for direct flights. Uman, a city of 70,000 residents, is located in central Ukraine, 150 miles south of Kiev and 200 miles north of Odessa.

Last year, a record 40,000 pilgrims made the trek to Uman.

The pilgrimage has created frequent friction between the predominantly Israeli pilgrims and locals, many of whom resent the cordoning off of neighborhoods by police.

Street brawls are not uncommon during the holiday, when Uman attracts many followers of the Breslov Hasidic sect. In Israel, that movement is known for its outreach to prison inmates.

Another issue is the internal trade that develops among pilgrims, which some locals say eliminates the benefits that come with conventional tourism.

But according to operativno.net, Ukrainian business owners in Uman overcharge pilgrims as a matter of policy. While Ukrainian customers pay 70 cents for a dozen eggs, pilgrims are charged $10, according to the news website.



Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Orthodox Jewish organizations reach $14.5 million settlement with victims of voyeur-rabbi Barry Freundel 

Victims of a prominent Orthodox rabbi who spied for years on women in a ritual bath in Washington, D.C., have reached a $14.5 million settlement with four Jewish organizations, the rabbi's former synagogue announced Tuesday.

The settlement, which must be approved by a judge, could close a legal chapter in the scandal that rocked the Orthodox Jewish community, regionally and nationally, because of the prominence of Barry Freundel, and victims' allegations that national Orthodox rabbinical bodies could have done more.

Freundel placed a hidden camera in a mikvah, a ritual bath Jews use for various purposes, including as part of the conversion process. Many of the victims were conversion students of Freundel, who had a reputation as one of the most stringent and impeccable rabbis for conversion in the modern Orthodox movement, a more liberal segment of Orthodox Judaism.

The scandal sent Freundel to prison and left the Orthodox community reeling over converts' allegation that they are often treated disrespectfully in the community — which they said allowed Freundel to exploit his power over them.

According to a news release Tuesday from Kesher Israel, the Georgetown synagogue that Freundel led, victims had sought $100 million. It said some of the Jewish organizations had sought to dismiss the cases, arguing that they had "no prior knowledge of Freundel's illegal actions" and were not at fault. The release stated that after the Jewish groups sought to dismiss the case, the victims entered into settlement discussions.

Freundel's victims were not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

The Jewish groups named in the suit were: Kesher Israel Congregation, the National Capital Mikvah, the Rabbinical Council of America, and the Beth Din of America, according to a letter from Rabbi Elazar Muskin, president of the Rabbinical Council, and Rabbi Mark Dratch, its executive vice president, that was addressed to victims. It wasn't immediately clear if that letter, which was provided to the Post, had been sent or if it was a draft.

Kesher and the National Mikvah — located adjacent to the synagogue — argued in the release that they were the ones who brought to light Freundel's crimes. A woman cleaning the mikvah discovered the camera in 2014.

The letter was addressed to: "All females who were videotaped by Rabbi Bernard Freundel AND/OR who disrobed, either partially or completely, in the ritual bath and/or associated facilities operated by the National Capital Mikvah, Inc. (regardless of whether they were videotaped) between July 1, 2005, and October 14, 2014."

The letter says there are classes of victims who will get different payments, including $25,000 for people who federal prosecutors confirmed had been videotaped, and $2,500 for people who took off their clothes in the mikvah "one or more times" between 2005 and 2014 "and suffered actual emotional distress after learning of Freundel's videotaping."

Freundel was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for videotaping without their knowledge 52 women. His release is expected in 2021.



Mayor of ultra-Orthodox settlement charged with buying votes 

The mayor of an Israeli West Bank settlement was indicted Tuesday for allegedly bribing local members of the Chabad Hasidic movement and illegally influencing the outcome of the 2013 municipal elections.

Ezra Gershi, mayor of the ultra-Orthodox town in the northern West Bank, was charged at the Kfar Saba Magistrate's Court along with a senior Chabad official whose name is gagged by a court order.

The decision came after the state attorney rejected Gershi's arguments in a recent hearing.

According to the charge sheet, Gershi made unlawful commitments to local Chabad members to secure their votes in the 2013 election in Emmanuel, which he eventually won.

Gershi allegedly promised to employ Chabad members in paid positions in the local council, to fund the movement and provide benefits to top officials. He handed over a NIS 300,000 ($82,000) guarantee he would fulfill those commitments.

According to the indictment, the mayor kept that agreement secret and failed to disclose it as legally required.

With these actions, Gershi and the unnamed Chabad member "compromised the local council election's integrity and unlawfully affected them," the indictment added.

Residents of the settlement, population 3,000, have suspected Gershi of abusing his position. There has been a video circulating over the past year in Emmanuel of what appears to be the mayor turning off the street lamps via a switch inside his house before going to bed so that he ostensibly can get a better night's rest.



Monday, August 27, 2018

Suspect Identified In Anti-Semitic Graffiti Attack On Jewish Center In Russia 

Russian authorities identified a suspect in the scrawling of anti-Semitic graffiti on the wall of a Jewish center in the Russian village of Lyubavichi, the cradle of the Chabad Hasidic movement.

The suspect was a man from Murmansk, a city located hundreds of miles north of Lyubavichi, according to Yuri Ivashkin, the mayor of the village in western Russia.

"We knew immediately this was not the work of a local," Ivashkin told JTA. "Police are still working on identifying an accomplice."

The inscriptions, reading "Jews out of Russia, our land" and featuring the Baltic variant of the swastika, were spray-painted on the wall of the Hatzer Raboteinu Nesieinu Belubavitch earlier this month.

Ivashkin's statement followed a ceremony in which several of Russia's senior-most rabbis attended the dedication of a perimeter fence around one of the Jewish cemeteries in and around Lyubavichi.

The rabbis, including Yitzhak Kogan of the Moscow synagogue Bolshaya Bronnaya, and Jehoshua Raskin, traveled Sunday from Moscow to the village of 200 people to celebrate the completion there of a preservation project headed by the European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative, or ESJF, a nonprofit organization that has completed similar projects in 102 cemeteries across Eastern Europe with funding from the German government.

"Initiatives like these are vital because of neglect, economic and agricultural development, and vandalism," said Rabbi Isaac Schapira, the founder and chairman of the ESJF board. The project in Lyubavichi was his organization's first in Russia since its founding in 2015.

Joseph Popack, a Jewish-American donor, funded the new fencing at a cost of $100,000.



Sunday, August 26, 2018

Titanic victim’s Hebrew-letter watch sells for $57,500 

A pocket watch with Hebrew letters on its face that belonged to a Jewish Russian immigrant who died aboard the Titanic. (Twitter via JTA)

A pocket watch with Hebrew letters on its face that belonged to a Jewish Russian immigrant who died aboard the Titanic sold at auction for $57,500.

Heritage Auctions offered the pocket watch at its headquarters in Dallas on Saturday in a public auction of important Americana memorabilia.

The watch, which features Moses holding the Ten Commandments on its back, was purchased by John Miottel, a collector of timepieces relating to the Titanic disaster.

Miottel operates the Miottel Museum and already owns timepieces from Titanic victims Col. John Jacob Astor, the liner’s richest passenger and the era’s richest person in the world, as well as a watch formerly owned by Oscar Woody, the Titanic’s US Postal Clerk. Miottel also holds the timepiece once owned by the first person to receive the distress call from the Titanic, Harold Thomas Cottam, who served as a wireless operator on the rescue ship RMS Carpathia.

“It will take one of the primary spots in our collection,” Miottel said, where it will be added to the museum’s Ocean Liner Section, which is comprised of thousands of historic maritime artifacts and memorabilia.

The watch’s original owner, Sinai Kantor, was an immigrant from Russia bound for New York with his wife, Miriam, who survived the accident aboard the Titanic when it sank during the cruise ship’s maiden voyage in 1912. Dozens of Jews were among the 1,503 passengers who died. The British liner had a kosher kitchen.

The pocket watch was sold by a direct descendant of Miriam and Sinai Kantor, who provided a letter of provenance and who does not wish to be identified. The couple, who paid 26 pounds sterling (approximately $3,666 today) for their ticket, were among 285 Second Class passengers and boarded the ship together in Southampton, England.

Kantor, a furrier who wanted to study dentistry or medicine in America, was 34 when he and his wife, 24, also an aspiring doctor, boarded the Titanic. They hailed from Vitebsk, today a city in northwest Belarus.

Miriam Kantor received her husband’s clothing, Russian passport, notebook, telescope, corkscrew, silver pocket watch, and Russian, German and English currency on May 24, 1912.

Sinai Kantor is buried in Mount Zion Cemetery in Queens, according to Israeli Titanic researcher Eli Moskowitz, author of a book on the Jews of the Titanic.



Saturday, August 25, 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Jewish woman asked police to intervene after she was called 'a piece of s***' at tense 'anti-Semitic' meeting hosted by Jeremy Corbyn in Parliament where speaker said 'Israel go to hell' 

This is the moment police intervened at a Parliamentary meeting hosted by Jeremy Corbyn where Israel was described as 'evil' and a Jewish woman said she was called a 'piece of sh**'.

The unrest began when a British Jewish member of the audience complained that she had not been allowed to challenge the speakers' anti-Israel views. 'You're trying to shut everybody else up, in the house of commons that we fought for,' she said.

Corbyn refused to accept her questions and tried to close the meeting. Then it descended into chaos. On the video, one woman cries: 'The Holocaust issue, Jeremy. Why? Why do you do this? Why?' She then adds ironically, 'I like Jeremy Corbyn.'

A Jewish lady is then seen complaining to a police officer that she had been called 'filthy names' and 'a piece of sh**' as anger spilled over.

On the panel were three politicians who were suspended from their parties on charges of anti-Semitism, including the former Labour peer Lord Ahmed, who blamed a Jewish conspiracy for his driving conviction.

The two other disgraced politicians were Jenny Tonge and David Ward, both of whom were expelled from the Liberal Democrats for allegedly anti-Semitic remarks.

The new footage of the rowdy meeting in Parliament emerges after Corbyn was reported to the MPs’ standards watchdog for causing ‘significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons’.

It raises questions about the Labour leader’s use of parliamentary facilities over many years.

In the past he has provocatively offered to bring Islamic extremists and IRA terrorists to ‘tea on the terrace’ of the House of Commons, and has hosted numerous events there where extremists made speeches.

The event, which took place in 2013, was sponsored by the Palestine Return Centre, which also staged the conference where Corbyn said that British Zionists had 'no sense of English irony', as MailOnline revealed last week.

The footage has sparked a fresh row which reportedly led Labour MP Mike Gapes to tell colleagues on Thursday that it was 'over' and he was leaving the party. He did not deny the claim when approached by MailOnline.

Mr Gapes, who earlier called Mr Corbyn a 'racist antisemite', is said to have posted in a WhatsApp group on Thursday to say he would leave the party, adding: 'all that remains is the timing of my announcement'.

In a statement released on Friday evening, Mr Corbyn said he had been defending the ambassador from 'what I thought were deliberate misrepresentations' by people 'for whom English was a first language, when it isn't for the ambassador'.

He said: 'I described those pro-Israel activists as Zionists, in the accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people – and that is made clear in the rest of my speech that day.

'I am now more careful with how I might use the term 'Zionist' because a once self-identifying political term has been increasingly hijacked by anti-Semites as code for Jews.' 

Far-right leaders backed Mr Corbyn with former BNP leader Nick Griffin and the former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke posting supportive messages. 

'Go Jezza! I wonder how many Labour activists the hysterical Zionist media campaign against Corbyn is re-pilling?' Mr Griffin wrote.



Friday, August 24, 2018

NYPD corruption defendants want jurors asked about bias over hooker romp 

Two men headed to trial in October for an NYPD bribery scandal want potential jurors to be asked if hearing evidence about cops having sex with prostitutes would make them unable to be fair jurors.

Lawyers for ex-NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant and de Blasio donor Jeremy Reichberg ask in a proposed jury questionnaire: "You may hear evidence or testimony from one or more individuals in this case about police officers having sex with prostitutes. Do you have strong feelings about such evidence or testimony that would make it difficult for you to render a fair and impartial verdict?"

Prosecutors don't want the question to be included. Manhattan judge Gregory Woods is expected to rule at a later date.

Grant and ex-NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Harrington — who previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation — are accused of acting like rent-a-cops for Reichberg and another de Blasio donor and government witness Jona Rechnitz.

As part of an alleged bribe, Reichberg and Rechnitz flew a group of officers on a private plane to Las Vegas to watch Super Bowl XLVII with prostitute-turned-aspiring rapper Gabi Grecko, who provided escort services to them aboard the plane, officials have said.

Grant had a romp with Grecko on that flight but claims it wasn't a bribe because he paid for her services himself.

Defense attorneys also want jurors to be asked about their feelings towards Hasidic Jews. Rechnitz and Reichberg are both Jewish.

"Have you, a family member, or anyone close to you had any experiences, feelings or impressions about Hasidic Jews that were particularly positive or negative?" the defense's proposed question states.

At a brief appearance in Manhattan federal court on Thursday it was revealed that Grant's lawyer, John Meringolo, has a heart condition the treatment for which could delay trial again.

The lawyers will discuss how to proceed at the next calendar date on Sept. 4.



Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hasidic property owners sue Mamakating over ‘discriminatory’ assessments 

Property owners in the Chestnut Ridge development are challenging the Town of Mamakating on its property assessments, claiming they are selective, unequal and part of an effort to keep Hasidic Jews out of town.

More than 40 plaintiffs — including developer Shalom Lamm's company, Sullivan Farms II Inc. — filed a tax certiorari suit against Mamakating and its assessor at the end of July.

The lawyer representing the plaintiffs declined to comment on the case.

Mamakating Supervisor Bill Herrmann said the lawsuit isn't unusual.

"People challenge their taxes," Herrmann said. "It's their right. We don't really pay that much attention to it because it's their right to do it. We have to defend it."

As properties in the development were being sold for more than the town's assessed values, he said, the assessments were increased to reflect that.

"We feel the assessor is doing a great job and it's fairly valued," he added.

The plaintiffs own a total of 106 properties in the development, of which 51 have been sold, according to the petition.

They're seeking the cancellation of any tax assessment or charge based on what they consider invalid assessments, the correction of the tax roll, refunds of excess taxes and fees paid, as well as compensatory damages to be proved at trial.

The homes were the beginning of a planned development of 396 townhouses geared toward Hasidic Jewish buyers before Lamm and two of his associates conspired to fraudulently register voters for the March 2014 Bloomingburg village election to further their own interests.

All of the properties in the suit are assessed at $200,800 for the 2018-19 tax year.

The plaintiffs argue the assessment should be reduced to $147,397, and that the town selectively raised the assessments despite no significant improvements, but instead based on market value of sold homes.

From March 2015 and May 2018, homes in Chestnut Ridge sold at a median price of $305,216.

The plaintiffs argue the town has not done this with other properties and that it also used a "discriminatory" methodology.

Such a disparity in the treatment of properties creates multiple classes of property owners and violates the U.S. and state Constitutions, the lawsuit says.

According to the state Department of Taxation and Finance, when assessors update assessments, they should look at all of the parcels in a community and maintain all of the assessments at market value or a uniform percentage each year.

As a result, valuations may remain the same, be adjusted through the use of market trends or be adjusted based on a physical reappraisal.

The lawsuit cites previous litigation as evidence that the reassessment of the Chestnut Ridge properties was in "furtherance of the town's illegal and unconstitutional efforts to prevent development of the project ... and is likewise motivated by religious discrimination."

In 2016, the Village of Bloomingburg and Mamakating agreed to a settlement of $2.9 million with Sullivan Farms II to avoid a trial that accused the municipalities of religious discrimination in attempting to block building projects.

All of the money came from insurance carriers and neither party admitted fault.



Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Simcha Felder: Give Our Kids a Chance to Learn 

For centuries in Europe, education among Jews kept them ahead of the growth in industry and the industrial revolution. The abilities of the Jews to read, write and to calculate made them a necessary factor to their respective governments and were a major force in keeping our people's heads above water.

Once they migrated to the United States, they immediately jumped on the free education bandwagon afforded them by the government. We benefited from the secular studies required by our educational metric and guidelines. The authorities and Jewish families knew what they were doing. And look where we are today. As Archie Bunker said, "You gotta go to a Jewish doctor." That goes for Jewish lawyers, accountants, professors, scientists and so on. We have earned the reputation of being America's best educated minority.

So why are parents of boys attending yeshivas in Brooklyn and other locations in New York City ignoring the obvious–that their kids are not getting a thorough education in the basics for their future survival, namely English, science and mathematics.

Brooklyn State Senator Simcha Felder (D) spearheads a drive to protect Jewish religious schools from following educational guidelines set down by the states' educational bureaucracy. He is paving the road for these kids to experience devastating career failures throughout the course of their lives. Back in April of this year, the Boro Park elected official stubbornly refused to sign off on the state budget unless yeshivas were given more autonomy over curricula.

In other words, this politician would exempt these private religious schools from the state's requirements to provide their students with adequate educations in the basic areas of English, math, science and history. Currently, these kids intensely study religious texts such as the Torah and Talmud. Hasidic boys are prepared to be rabbis in later life but opponents of Felder and his yeshiva "clients" point out that roughly 5 percent of yeshiva graduates become rabbis. The other 95 % enter the real world unprepared to become self sufficient and lack the basic skills required in today's high tech jobs market.

New York's ultra-orthodox communities are heavily dependent on taxpayer handouts. According to a recent 24/7 Wall Street report, the Hasidic village of New Square is the poorest in NY state with a 70% poverty rate.

If families wish for their young men to become rabbis, let them launch a campaign to compel the yeshivas they would attend to comply with New York State educational mandates and have the schools maintain the same standards that public schools are required to adhere to. They must permit educational audits from the state, and there are no two ways about it.

For Simcha Felder to advocate for Jewish religious schools to continue to offer inferior educations to their students is basically criminal and he must be outed and removed from office if he does not cease and desist in this grossly misguided stance. Denying these kids the educations they deserve under the law is not only illegal but it smacks of the highest form of immorality.



Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Swastikas daubed on Chabad center at movement’s cradle in Lyubavichi 

Unidentified individuals wrote anti-Semitic slogans on the fence of a Jewish cultural center in the Russian village of Lyubavichi, the cradle of the Chabad Hasidic movement.

The inscriptions, reading "Jews out of Russia, our land" and featuring the Baltic variant of the swastika, were spray-painted on the wall of the Hatzer Raboteinu Nesieinu Belubavitch last week but reported in Russian-language media Tuesday, the news site Cursor reported.

Police is looking for suspects, according to Gavriel Gordon, a Chabad rabbi tasked with preserving the movement's heritage sites in what used to be its center over a century.

Situated near Smolensk and the border with Belarus, Lyubavichi became a major Jewish hub following the settling there in 1813 of Rabbi Dovber Schneuri, a leader of the Chabad movement of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Chabad is the acronym of the Hebrew-language words for wisdom, intelligence and knowledge.

The movement, one of the main forces in Orthodox Judaism, also refers to itself as Chabad-Lubavitch in reference to how the town's name is pronounced in Yiddish.

By 1857, Lyubavichi was a large Jewish town, or shtetl, with 2,500 residents. But most left during the Communist Revolution of 1917. Those who remained were murdered in the Holocaust.

The incident occurred amid preparations for a major international event due to be held in Lyubavichi on Sunday.

The European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative and Chabad plan to unveil the new fencing and preservation project at the Jewish cemetery in Lyubavichi, where several Chabad sages are buried. Joseph Popack, a Jewish-American donor, funded the new fencing.

Set up in 2015, the ESJF has preserved and built fences in more than 100 Jewish cemeteries in seven countries in Central and Eastern Europe, mostly in the towns and villages whose centuries-old Jewish communities were destroyed in the Holocaust.

Separately, graffiti reading "death to Jews" was sprayed for the second time this year in Odessa, Ukraine, Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, wrote on Facebook this week, adding pictures of the graffiti. Following his post, Facebook suspended his account for 30 days for sharing anti-Semitic content, he wrote on Twitter on Monday.



Monday, August 20, 2018

Simcha Eichenstein: Boro Park’s Changing Of The Political Guard 

Walking the Borough Park streets with Simcha Eichenstein, it’s easy to see why he’s the consensus pick among the largely orthodox Jewish and Hasidic neighborhood to replace longtime Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

He listens politely when people stop him on the street to voice their concerns. He’ll  point out new residential buildings and explain how the state affordable housing subsidy known as 421a needs inclusion for larger units with three or more bedrooms to accommodate the large, but often impoverished Jewish families. He’ll nod at a clothes rack in front of a small shop on 13th Avenue and voice empathy for the merchant who is constantly getting tickets for it as he struggles to eke out a living.

“This is my community. I was born and raised in Borough Park on 53rd Street, and now my wife and I are raising our own family with four kids right here. I wouldn’t live anywhere else for anything,” said Eichenstein, who has no opponent in the upcoming Democratic Party primary for the 48th Assembly District seat representing Borough Park and Midwood.

The son of a prominent rabbi and from a scholarly Talmudic family, Eichenstein, 35, is also a pioneer in that if elected as expected in November he will become the borough’s first Hasidic lawmaker at any level. And as such, he wants to help dispel any preconceived stereotypes the secular community may have towards this insular community.

Among these is the notion of late in the media that yeshivas (private Jewish day schools) are not giving a well-rounded secular education in such subjects as math, science and English.

“It’s time to call it [the yeshiva issue] what it is. You have a group of disgruntled individuals who are on a smear mongering campaign of the yeshiva  and broader Hasidic  community. They’ve been on this campaign now for three years trying to paint this very dark picture of what’s happening in the yeshiva community, even releasing a report completely based on lies and on false narratives,” said Eichenstein.

“The bottom line is the New York City Department of Education visited schools, and the city draws the conclusion in their report that they were pretty satisfied with what they saw at these schools. Now I know the press has been trying to nitpick particular criticisms where they can, and I get it. I just wish we would have seen some reasonable reporters read the 14-page DOE report and focus on the positive because there actually is a lot of positive on this report,” he added.

In particular, Eichenstein said when looking at yeshiva education, people should also keep in mind something the DOE agreed with in the report by writing, “A strong argument has been made that Judaic studies can be a powerful context in which to cultivate critical thinking and textual analysis skills.”

“Aside from what everyone is saying, it’s not like the other half of the day, the non-secular side doesn’t have excellent academic and rigorous merit. It teaches how to debate Judaic law, build on it, interpret it, to understand when is it relevant and when is it potentially non-relevant. A lot of these teaching methods are skills that are taught in law school. So there are serious studies throughout the day as well.

“The second point is I am a product of the yeshiva system. I really believe my yeshiva education is what prepared me for my professional life,” he added.

And Eichenstein’s professional life makes him well-suited to serve in the state assembly. This includes a stint working as a senior advisor to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for several years, and then working for several years in the de Blasio Administration as part of the mayor’s intergovernmental team.

This role included working in Albany on behalf of the mayor and the city, and being tasked with carrying out legislative, budgetary and regulatory matters as they pertain to the city. In this position, Eichenstein’s portfolio included all health and human services agencies as well as transportation.

“This has given me a tremendous amount of exposure in Albany, working with members, leadership and staff. It actually taught me the legislative process. Getting legislation passed is not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight. In some instances it can take years for a piece of legislation to come to fruition,” he said.

As far as big-ticket legislative items, Eichenstein said he is a realist.

“I’m not here to sell my future constituents a bag of goods. Here’s what I’m here for. We as a community have been under attack. We are often viewed with suspicion. There are those that don’t begin to understand our lifestyle. I believe we need to hit a rest button,” said Eichenstein.

“We need to engage with all communities, even those completely on the opposite ideological aisle from us. There’s a lot of common ground we can find. I’m not naive. I get it. True there are certain issues that we will never agree upon, but I do believe that we can find common ground in more places than what people think,”  he said.

While Eichenstein does not have a primary, he may have an opponent in the Nov. 6 general election.



Sunday, August 19, 2018

Stop smearing N.Y. yeshivas: They provide a quality education to their students 

During my quarter-century practicing law, I have defended a broad range of clients and activities: the state’s anti-smoking laws from cigarette companies, the Working Families Party from an improperly appointed special prosecutor, and numerous insurers, banks, and developers.

None of my clients has been as misunderstood and negatively stereotyped as the Hasidic schools and community I now represent.

For the past three years, they have been forced to endure a relentless campaign against their schools and way of life. The onslaught was triggered by a letter complaining about the education at Brooklyn yeshivas by a group called Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED) that was short on specifics but alleged that these schools did not teach in “English from English language textbooks,” and was followed by a public relations campaign meant to harden public opinion against an insular community with a unique culture.

Last week, the city’s Department of Education sent a letter to the state Education Department that was meant to summarize its findings.

Read fairly, the DOE letter confirms that the allegations against the yeshivas are false, and that yeshiva students receive an enriching education in a quality learning environment.

The letter also discussed a unified effort that created a “new, more rigorous secular studies curriculum” that has been widely adopted in Hasidic schools. This curriculum is embodied in textbooks published by Houghton Mifflin and Sadlier Oxford, and has been accompanied by professional development and teacher training to ensure effective implementation.

The DOE has already visited 15 of the 23 elementary schools listed in YAFFED’s complaint, educating more than 13,000 students, and observed serious teaching and learning in each of those schools. The remaining elementary schools, which enroll about 3,000 students, will be visited this fall.

There was one false note in the DOE letter, which was the suggestion that it was denied access to the remaining schools. As the lawyer for all the schools — those visited to date and those to be visited in the coming months — I can state unequivocally that access was not and will not be denied.

For years, news reports cited that YAFFED’s complaint listed 39 yeshivas; the DOE letter reveals that there are only 29. YAFFED alleged that its signatories were current or former parents, students or teachers at all the yeshivas they listed; the DOE letter reveals that they had information about only 11 of the schools. Several of the “schools” listed do not even exist.

These may seem like trivial details, but they remind us how easily misinformation can be mistaken for truth when those being targeted are unpopular.

There is also a misconception that yeshivas are government funded. They are not. Qualifying students receive taxpayer-funded transportation, textbooks and lunches, but yeshivas do not receive financial support for teachers, educational activities, buildings or maintenance.

Ironically — or hypocritically — those who most loudly demand government intervention in yeshiva curriculum are also the quickest to oppose any state aid to yeshivas as an impermissible and excessive entanglement between church and state.

The U.S. Supreme Court has guaranteed “the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children,” and New York’s highest court has affirmed their constitutional right to choose private schools for their children.

Hasidic parents care about their children, and Hasidic schools care for their students. They respect the DOE and will continue to work with them in the spirit of collaboration that has long characterized their relationship. All they ask is that their rights be respected as well.



Saturday, August 18, 2018

Jewish donations save persecuted Christians in Mideast 

Carlos Barbar will never forget the moment he was saved from execution in the "Valley of Death" near Mosul, Iraq. On August 6, 2014, ISIS took control of his village Batnaya. The neighbors managed to flee, but Carlos' father wasn't able to walk and the family didn't have a car. The ISIS terrorists demanded that they decide whether to convert to Islam, pay huge fines or leave. Carlos asked his brother to leave, while he stayed behind to protect his parents.

One of the ISIS terrorists ripped the cross from his neck, threw it on the floor and demanded that he step on it. "I told him, 'I'll put my foot on your neck, but never on the cross. I have my God and he's also your God,'" Carlos recalls.

The barrel of a rifle landed on his head and he collapsed. When he woke up, he discovered that he was hanging from the ceiling by one leg. "They immersed my head in dirty water, beat me with a stick full of nails, tied me with wire and put salt on my wounds," he remembers and shudders. "I screamed in pain, they demanded that I promise to convert to Islam, but I said that I would be happy to die like a proud Christian."

He was brought to trial before an ISIS leader in the region who sentenced him to execution by firing squad. Six ISIS men took him to the "Valley of Death," the execution point. They blindfolded him and cocked their Kalashnikov rifles.

But then, suddenly, the group's commander's cell phone rang. On the other side of line was the man who had sentenced him to death. "Leave him and return immediately," he instructed. They dropped him to the ground, left the site and he lost consciousness. When he awoke, everything around him was white: "I thought I was in heaven. But then I saw a nurse and she told me: 'You're in a medical clinic in a church in Baghdad.'"

Carlos fled from Iraq and didn't return. Today, in a rented apartment in Amman, he's waiting for a response to his asylum applications, which he filed to Canada, Australia, and the US. His mother joined him, and they're paying for rent and food with the money they received for her jewelry. The money is running out.

Like Carlos, there are 12,000 Christian refugees living in Amman, Jordan's capital, who fled from Iraq. Jordan is indeed one of the only countries that has agreed to accept them, but they can't work and they live in abject poverty. Many of them suffered torture, lost relatives, and saw death stare them in the face.

This is also the case for Yitzhak Bahanam, a resident of the Christian village Bartella. In 2010, members of Al Qaeda kidnapped him because his brother was a soldier in the Iraqi army. He was beaten and thrown into a small, dark and filthy pit. "You'll never leave here alive," they told him before they closed and locked the cage with an iron door. They didn't leave him food or water.

Miraculously, three days later, a group of American and Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers received a report about him, came to the site, and rescued him.

The rescue was recorded on video and Isaac shows it to everyone as proof of the hell he experienced. In the video, you can see him being pulled out of the ground, handcuffed and trembling. He asks for a cigarette, lights it and cries.

I met Carlos and Isaac at the "Mother Maria Church" in Amman. The church, surrounded by a wall, is the only place of refuge for the Christian refugees in Amman. The church takes care of them, and tries to help them find asylum in the West.

Father Halil Jahar, a Palestinian from Bethlehem who once served as the priest at the church in Eilat, heads the "Mother Maria Church."

"You, the Jews, have suffered, you know what persecution is," he says.

Before the Christians arrived from Iraq, his church was empty. "On Sundays, 20-25 people would come for Mass, but today, thanks to the refugees, hundreds of Christian families come. The church has never thrived like this," he says.

On Sundays, the church distributes food. The refugees eat in the church courtyard and take meals home. They're all poor, but in Iraq, at another time in their lives, they would come to church in their Sunday Best. They kneel on the wooden benches and pray to God who delivered them from their homeland.

Envelopes with money at a church
A few weeks ago, two important guests came to the church: Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of The Fellowship from Israel, and the British pastor Canon Andrew White, president of a charitable association that provides aid to persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

In recent months, The Fellowship started assisting 12,000 Christian refugees from Iraq who live in Jorden. Through White's association, The Fellowship donated $125,000 in food vouchers, money for rent and funding for the operation of a medical clinic and medicine.



Friday, August 17, 2018

Cloverdale man arrested in connection to vandalism at Carmel synagogue 

A 20-year-old Cloverdale man evoked the name of Adolf Hitler and told investigators he painted swastikas at a Carmel synagogue because the place was "full of ethnic Jews," according to a criminal complaint released as he was charged Thursday.

Nolan Brewer was charged with conspiracy to violate civil rights in the July 28 defacement of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla.

"His intention was not a prank," U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said. 

Brewer and a 17-year-old girl are accused of painting Nazi flags and iron crosses on the walls of a trash enclosure at the synagogue at 3085 W. 116th St., federal and Hamilton County authorities said.

The Hamilton County prosecutor's office said the girl is accused of criminal mischief and arson. A small fire was set at the synagogue, as well. Arson, the most serious charge, is a Level 6 felony punishable by up to two and half years in prison when committed by an adult.

Vandals spray painted a pair of Nazi flags and iron crosses on the property of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in Carmel, Ind., in late July 2018. U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said arrests have been made in the case. Dwight Adams, dwight.adams@indystar.com

Further details on her alleged involvement in the vandalism weren't immediately available.

Minkler said there was no evidence that Brewer was involved with a larger or more organized group. Brewer faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Authorities said Brewer wanted to intimidate the congregation. Jews are too influential, he told investigators, according to the documents. He wanted them to "back down."

"They utterly failed," Benjamin Sendrow, rabbi at Shaarey Tefilla, told IndyStar on Thursday.

"They tried to evoke hatred and fear," he said. "And what they produced was an outpouring of love and support and solidarity."

Authorities say surveillance video showed Brewer and the accomplice buying spray paint and materials for an improvised bomb from a Greencastle Walmart on July 27, the day before the synagogue was defaced.

He was arrested Wednesday morning in a traffic stop after he left the Cloverdale home he shares with his mother, according to the documents.

A search of the home and a Chevrolet Impala found found red and black spray paint and other items believed to have been linked to the vandalism.

Investigators found pictures on his phone taken just after he and the accomplice painted the red-and-black symbols, documents said.

The nighttime photos were illuminated, Brewer said, because his partner lit a fire on the ground using a mix of Styrofoam and gasoline he called homemade napalm, documents said.

"We made CNN, Fox, IndyStar, WTHR, etc.," someone said in a July 30 text message found on Brewer's phone, according to the documents. "Mike Pence even tweeted about us."

Brewer said he committed the crime because the synagogue was "full of ethnic Jews," documents said.

The graffiti drew widespread outrage from many beyond the Jewish community.

More than 1,000 community leaders, faith leaders and residents showed up to support the synagogue on the Monday after the vandalism.



Thursday, August 16, 2018

Woodcliff Lake denies illegally stopping Jewish group from building a bigger temple 

Borough officials in Woodcliff Lake say they didn't discriminate against an Orthodox Jewish group that attempted to construct a larger synagogue.

The borough filed an answer on Tuesday in U.S. District Court, asking the court to dismiss a federal lawsuit the U.S. Department of Justice brought against Woodcliff Lake and its Zoning Board of Adjustment, alleging the borough changed zoning laws to keep Valley Chabad from expanding its facility.

The lawsuit also alleges the borough improperly rejected requests Valley Chabad made to modify zoning rules and regulations so it could expand its existing facility.

"Woodcliff Lake handled the Valley Chabad request for various property uses in a legal and businesslike fashion," said Henry Klingeman, Woodcliff Lake Borough Attorney for this case.

"There was no improper treatment or improper discriminatory treatment by Woodcliff Lake," Klingeman said. "Woodcliff Lake has consistently treated Valley Chabad like any other property owner."

Valley Chabad had proposed to construct a house of worship on a 1.27-acre residential lot at 100 Overlook Drive almost four years ago. The application was for making Valley Chabad a fully functioning outreach center with a temple, a school and a banquet hall.

The zoning board denied the application along with eight variances and four waivers because the lot size was less than 3 acres as required under the borough's zoning laws. Valley Chabad had operated in a 3,194 square foot building on a 1.27-acre sit in Woodcliff Lake since 1998.

Originally, the application proposed to construct a 20,924-square foot building at 100 Overlook Drive and tear down the house that was there. Then a revised plan reduced the size of the building to 12,427-square feet.

That wasn't the first time Valley Chabad considered expanding onto another property in Woodcliff Lake.

The Jewish group, which is affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, started its quest to find a new space in 2005.

In 2007, Valley Chabad cancelled a contract it had for a property on Werimus Road over a dispute about oil contamination on the property.

Valley Chabad tried to purchase a property on County Road, but the seller of that property cancelled a contract of sale in 2012 with the group, according to the Woodcliff Lake answer.

In 2013, Valley Chabad showed interest in purchasing Galaxy Gardens, a landscaping center on Woodcliff Avenue. According to the answer, Valley Chabad "voluntarily terminated the contract to purchase Galaxy Gardens."

The borough paid $1.65 million in February to buy Galaxy Gardens through a purchase agreement with the property's owner. According to the answer, the borough "never instituted eminent domain proceedings with regard to the property." The borough closed the deal to purchase the property on June 29.

Earlier that month on June 13, the Department of Justice filed the federal lawsuit against Woodcliff Lake and the Woodcliff Lake Zoning Board, claiming Woodcliff Lake and its zoning board improperly rejected the group's attempts to expand its house of worship.

The borough permits houses of worship in all residential zones as a conditional use as long as they met the requirements to include a minimum lot size of 3 acres, one parking space for every three seats, one space for each staff member, a 400-foot-wide lot, as well as other requirements regarding building setbacks, building height and surface coverage, according to the answer.

"Woodcliff Lake has always been willing to consider variances. What the parties have not been able to agree upon is variances to the extent and to the degree that Valley Chabad has proposed," said Klingeman.

Some of the variances were to put a 20-foot retaining wall within one foot of a 24-inch storm sewer "making it virtually-impossible to construct the retaining wall," a proposed front yard setback of 48.5 feet when 50 feet was required, a proposed rear yard setback of 49 feet when 50 feet was required, and a proposed side yard requirement of 47.3 feet when 50 feet was required, according to the answer.

An email sent to the Department of Justice seeking comment wasn't returned Wednesday. A message sent to Valley Chabad seeking comment also wasn't returned.



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Katz JCC Counselor Under Investigation 

A former assistant counselor at the Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill has been let go as prosecutors investigate allegations of inappropriate touching of a minor.

Per CBS Philly, the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey released a statement following the allegations:

"Allegations have been made against an assistant counselor, a minor, formerly employed at the Early Childhood Camps at the Katz JCC. Upon learning about the allegations, this person was immediately separated from all children and the allegations were reported to the state agency responsible. Thereafter, this person's employment was terminated.

The Katz Jewish Community Center is cooperating fully with law enforcement and cannot share any additional information given this is an ongoing investigation. We are continuing to work with the investigators for the safety and security of our children, which is always our priority. Our commitment is to provide a safe and secure environment for all children and families."

They reported the allegations to the state, fired the employee, and are cooperating with the investigation, according to CBS.



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Hasidic Comedian Shows LGBTQ Support At Jerusalem Pride March 

On Thursday, August 2, Hasidic comedian Yisrael Campbell left his home in Jerusalem and headed to the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance. He's been going since 2016, the year after ultra-Orthodox Jew Yishai Schlissel stabbed and murdered 16-year-old Shira Banki, and wounded six others at the parade. Campbell made his way to the memorial site for Banki, which was set up during the event, to say a prayer — and to say sorry.

"It's not that I did anything wrong, but perhaps in a way I'm part of a religious community that would think that was an acceptable way of behaving," he said, in a phone interview with the Forward. "I wanted to say sorry for the tremendous loss to her family and to her."

Campbell, who is known for his comedic one-man show about his conversion to Judaism called "Circumcise Me," had picked up a sign at the parade that said, "You will love your neighbor as yourself" in Hebrew. It had the gay pride rainbow in the background. He was holding the sign at the memorial when someone asked him to turn around. "I did, and there were 20 cameras and a couple of video cameras," he said. "I thought, 'Wow, ok,' and suddenly it felt weird. I thought, 'What am I going to do now?'"

He stood there with a solemn look on his face and let people take their pictures and video. Later, when he got a copy of the picture, he posted it to Facebook, and it went viral, with hundreds of shares, likes and comments.

Overall, the feedback has been positive, with posts from religious and secular Jews praising Campbell's actions. He said, "I've received a lot of comments that say, 'Kol hakavod, you're honoring God's name.' It's really sweet."

When people started sharing it, someone wrote in Hebrew that the picture was obviously fake news, because they thought it looked as if Campbell's beard was glued on. "It's a little sad that we are in a place where people can't believe anything because it is or it should be fake," Campbell said. "That's kind of sad, but kind of funny too. I wanted to invite them over to pull on my beard."

One Facebook commenter called Campbell "sick," and an Orthodox rabbi messaged the comedian privately. "The rabbi said that if I didn't feel like answering him, he would understand," said Campbell. "He said, 'Do you feel like you're actually endorsing this behavior?' I wanted to answer him in a serious way and I haven't yet because it's been a crazy week. But I don't consider that pushback or criticism."

When Campbell was at the parade, he saw some people wearing kippot, but he was the only one in a long black coat and black hat. Though the authorities searched him multiple times throughout each pride parade he attended, he wasn't discouraged from going back and voicing his support.

"What Jews should do should do is support one another," said Campbell. "We Jews get locked into a feeling that everyone is attacking us and we are really small and powerless. Nothing can be further from the truth in Israel and America. We are strong and powerful."

Campbell said he believes we should use our power to look out for each other. "It's a Jewish value to protect the other and try and make life easier for people. I don't pretend to know how to read that verse to love your neighbor as yourself, but I do feel that God wants for us to treat each other with empathy and respect and honor. Everything else can be worked out along the way."



Monday, August 13, 2018

Will Netanyahu Call Early Elections? Hasidic Rabbi to Decide 

Within a matter of days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made two contradictory statements regarding the military conscription bill.

His office announced midweek that the prime minister had spoken separately with both sides of the divide, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman. The announcement stated that both the advocate, Lieberman, and the opponent, Litzman, of the compromise plan had expressed a wish to reach a win-win solution that would allow the coalition to fulfill its electoral mandate through November 2019.

The tone changed on Sunday. Netanyahu put a loaded gun on the table at a meeting of the heads of the coalition partners. He allocated two weeks to find an agreeable formula and pass the bill. Otherwise, he threatened, he would call early elections.

The Prime Minister’s Office reported the truth the last time. Litzman truly and in good faith wanted the conscription bill, with minor changes, to be approved at last. However, his position and will are irrelevant. He has a rabbi above him, the Gerrer rebbe, who is in dubious touch with reality, and he is the one who dictates Litzman’s moves.

Litzman’s Haredi colleagues, Arye Deri of Shas and Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism, were also happy to sign the proposal by the Defense Ministry, almost word for word. However, Litzman’s Hasidic leader is digging in his heels. In the lunatic politics of Israel, four Knesset members can force premature elections.

If a compromise is not found, the elections will likely be held in February or March 2019.

The Knesset will return from its summer recess this October and dissolve itself within two weeks. Election campaigns traditionally take place about 100 days after the Knesset dissolves. Netanyahu, the greatest of politicians, will succeed for the second time in a decade to complete a four-year term.

The new draft bill will be one of the first and most pressing topics in the coalition negotiations. The High Court of Justice will refuse to let the Knesset tarry until the summer. The Haredim will not get a better offer than the one laid on the table before them today. Will Agudat Israel announce that it is reconciling itself to life in the opposition for an entire term because of “the preservation of the status of yeshiva students?” Please. Just wait and see.

With or without the conscription bill, the approaching elections will be felt in all their gravity in the last winter session of the 20th Knesset. This government has practically finished its agenda, and the nation-state bill is the final, grating, ugly chord of the entire concert.

“Decisive evidence of opposition against the existence of Israel and the victory of the nation-state law,” Netanyahu called the waving of 10 to 15 Palestinian flags during the march in Tel Aviv on Saturday night. (The flags were in direct contravention of the guidelines of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, which organized the event and prevailed upon participants not to wave flags.)

According to this twisted logic, the photomontages of Yitzhak Rabin in an SS uniform in Zion Square in Jerusalem under the balcony where Netanyahu spoke were “decisive evidence” that the head of the opposition was a full partner to the incitement to murder against the prime minister.

And the coffin at the demonstration in Ra’anana, which Netanyahu led, was unequivocal testimony that he hoped for Rabin’s death.



Sunday, August 12, 2018

Microsoft forces Gab social network to delete content threatening Jewish people with 'torture' 

Microsoft issued an ultimatum to a social network that it provides cloud services for after a user there posted comments threatening Jewish people with “ritual death by torture.”

Either Gab had to remove the offensive post, or Microsoft would terminate the site’s access to its cloud service known as Azure. The content “incites violence, is not protected by the First Amendment” and violated its own policies, Microsoft said, reports the Washington Post.

The demand from Microsoft is the latest incident as tech companies grapple with how to police hateful, abusive content and disinformation, while striking the right balance of facilitating a free expression of ideas.

In the weeks after the 2016 presidential election, Facebook was slammed for not taking Russia's use of its platform more seriously; since then, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues have beefed up the site's election security monitoring and made the removal of hate speech and fake accounts a bigger priority.

“We believe we have an important responsibility to ensure that our services are not abused by people and groups seeking to incite violence against others,” Microsoft said in a statement to the Post.

Although Gab did not respond to an email from the publication seeking comment, Andrew Torba, the founder of Gab, wrote in a post that the social network is seeking a new hosting provider and considering how to build “our own infrastructure.”

Unlike Facebook, Apple and YouTube, most cloud-hosting services tend to be less visible to the broader public and have taken more neutral stances in the debate thus far and don’t have teams of fact-checkers and content moderators to scan for issues.

Like its peers, Microsoft Azure provides the technical architecture to host websites without regard to their topic or purpose — so long as their makers are not engaged in illegal activity or intending to “violate the rights of others,” according to the company’s “acceptable use policy.” Other cloud providers, such as Google and Amazon, maintain similar rules on what is considered appropriate to save on their own servers.



Saturday, August 11, 2018

Antwerp Jews get city to refill dried up pond for Rosh Hashanah 

Fish in pond

Municipal authorities in Antwerp agreed to replenish the dried up pond of a centrally-located park so that local Jews can perform there tashlich, a ritual of atonement requiring a body of water.

The local fire department will pump thousands of gallons of water into the Stadspark pond in time for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), when tashlich is performed, the Lema’an Teda Jewish newspaper reported last week.

The pond had dried up because of the extreme heat wave recorded in recent weeks in Western Europe, where temperatures exceeded 100 °F.

Thousands of Jews perform tashlich at Stadspark each year on Rosh Hashanah because it is near the heavily-Jewish neighborhood of the Belgian city, where some 18,000 Jews live. Before its severe depletion, the pond also contained fish, which to some is a requirement for any body of water used for the ritual. However, following the drought it is not clear how many fish remain. Jewish community members plan to add fish to the Stadspark pond, with permission from the municipality, the report said.

The Scheldt river is located approximately a mile from Stadspark, but police would like to avoid a situation where thousands of haredi Jews walk that distance in groups over a small period of time, citing an elevated chance of anti-Semitic incidents, according to the report.

In addition to the fill up, local synagogues from the Machzike Hadas and Sjemiera congregations have been approached to install large basins with fish inside them to facilitate tashlich.

Rosh Hashanah this year begins on Sept. 9, ending two days later.



Friday, August 10, 2018

Jewish Podiatrist Found Slain In Suburban Cleveland Home 

A Jewish podiatrist was found dead Friday in a suspected homicide in a heavily Jewish suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland.com reported.

Richard Warn, 59, was found dead inside his home on Brentwood Road in Beachwood, Ohio. Police told local news outlets that they found no sign of forced entry on Warn’s home. Warn’s house is only a few steps from several Orthodox Jewish centers, including multiple synagogues and schools.

Authorities did not say what the apparent cause of death was, but emphasized that it is a homicide.

Warn was the father of three grown children and lived in the home with his wife.

Beachwood has been home to a large Jewish community for over six decades. The local public high school teaches Hebrew as a second language.



Thursday, August 09, 2018

Two Towns, Different Counties—Same Agenda? 

What little is left of the original bucolic Town of Ramapo and its tattered school district, East Ramapo, is a scenario that may be the same fate of a municipality in neighboring Orange County.

In 1977, the Town of Monroe permitted an all-Satmar Hasidic Village to be created within the town's borders, Kiryas Joel (Village of Joel), named for its Grand Rabbi, Joel Teitelbaum. Most of the village's children attend private yeshivas, but those who were physically or intellectually handicapped were sent to the secular school district of Monroe-Woodbury.

That didn't sit well with KJ residents, so a late-night provision in former Gov. Mario Cuomo's approved budget in 1989 allowed the Village of Kiryas Joel to form its own school district. That move, challenged in court by Louis Gromet of the NYS Education Department and deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, was tweaked continually by Cuomo's successors, including his son, Andrew Cuomo, and has helped the Ultra-Orthodox community flex its muscle in Albany, voting en masse for candidates who support their agenda.

In 2017, members of a grassroots group, United Monroe, carved an agreement out with Kiryas Joel to let it become the Town of Palm Tree, annexing dozens of acres into the new municipality in exchange for a pledge not to seek to form another village in the decade ahead and changing the boundaries of the Monroe-Woodbury School District.

With November mid-term elections coming up, Cuomo and legislators pushed the date for the creation of the town up from January 2020 to January 2019—perhaps to ensure the players who are running again this November will be re-elected with the help of the Hasidic "bloc" vote in Rockland, Orange and New York City.

However, before the ink even dries on a new sign for the Town of Palm Tree, 500 residents who own contiguous parcels totaling 1.7 miles of land in the Town of Monroe are petitioning to form another all-Hasidic municipality, the Village of Seven Springs.

The owners of Harriman Commons, which straddles Monroe and Harriman and its big-box tenants, including Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target and Best Buy, are now petitioning the Town of Monroe to be included in its boundaries, so as not to be included in the proposed new village. (There is already a large yeshiva and a gated Satmar playground on Larkin Drive further down the service road that brings shoppers to the mega-mall.)

Since Monroe's Town Board has to have a public referendum to allow another village to form within its borders, one would hope, if the Hasidic petition is granted, voting will be held after the village of Kiryas Joel is dissolved, thus permitting Monroe residents to weigh in without having KJ's "bloc" vote making the decision for them.



Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Haredi dropouts battle Orthodox extremists in a divided Israeli city 

Built in the 1990s in part to ease crowding in haredi Orthodox neighborhoods elsewhere in Israel, Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet is both an Orthodox boom town and a site of ongoing tensions between different streams of religious Jews.

National-religious Jews have long complained of harassment by members of the haredi community, who style themselves as enforcers of strict codes for dress and conduct.

Now there is another front in the simmering battle: several dozen haredi dropouts, young men and women who shed their Orthodox identity in their teenage years and are rejected by many in their former communities.

Long simmering tensions between haredim and teenage dropouts recently erupted in violence, necessitating police intervention in a city known throughout Israel as a microcosm of the religious kulturkampf being waged across the country.

Most of the teens hang out in a shopping center on Rival Street, a few minutes walk from the more religiously moderate and Americanized Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph.

On July 16, a haredi mob attacked a teenage girl. In a video of the incident posted online and shared widely on social media, the girl could be seen running down Nahar Hayarden, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, chased by what appears to be dozens of men in black hats and black coats who could be heard screaming about her allegedly immodest attire.

Less than a week later, shortly after the end of the Tisha b’Av fast, a second incident led to clashes between residents and several dozen teenagers who had gathered in the neighborhood. The police were called and several teens were arrested.

“I saw the girls come to the square and the extremists were here and suddenly I heard yelling and saw the haredim chasing the girls,” recalled Rudi, a 17-year-old dropout who hangs out on the corner of Rival Street. “The cops didn’t do anything. They call the cops every time we sit.”

Others had a different perspective on that evening.

“It was like a pogrom,” said Avner Steinhalt, one of the small number of non-haredi residents left in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet. “It was one of the worst nights in this neighborhood.”

He recalled how tensions rose higher and higher during the days leading up to the Tisha b’Av fast day in July. Several days before the fast, a fight erupted between haredim and the teenagers, leading to the hospitalization of one of the teens. Finally, on the evening after the fast, some 60 young people gathered “to have revenge on the haredim.”

They found a small synagogue on Rival Street and “destroyed everything,” Steinhalt said. “Then they went out and started to hit some people in the road even though they did nothing.”

Videos of that evening posted online show a thin line of police separating howling mobs of teens and haredim. It wasn’t the first time. According to Steinhalt, a month and a half before the big Tisha b’Av brawl, the local “modesty patrol” attacked a group of teens hanging out outside a local falafel shop.

“The trigger that started it? They [the teens] had a dog — a small dog that barks — and they said something wrong to one of the ladies in the neighborhood and the husband came” and challenged them “and it escalated,” Steinhalt said.

While not afraid himself, Steinhalt said that his wife and daughters no longer walk alone at night because “they are afraid that something could happen to us.”

The teens can be aggressive, too.

“They [usually] sit on the bench there near the falafel place,” he said. “The main problem is shouting at night. They speak loudly and speak to girls, harassing the haredi girls passing by.”

The city, 19 miles west of Jerusalem, has long been known as a flashpoint. It rose to national prominence in 2011 when local extremists began harassing and spitting on young national-religious girls attending a school on territory they claimed belonged to the haredi community.

The differences between the camps may not be apparent to outsiders: Both are Orthodox, but haredi Orthodox tend to be more insular, non-Zionist and less forgiving of even slight deviations from their strict interpretation of Jewish law, including street attire. Haredi men, who are often but not exclusively members of various Hasidic movements, wear distinct black garb and hats. The women wear skirts, long-sleeve tops and head coverings that leave neither their hair nor much more than their hands and faces uncovered.

Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush’s car was mobbed in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet in April. Several months earlier a soldier driving through the city crashed into a lamppost after his car was pelted with stones and trash. Last month, a local extremist was arrested for breaking a woman’s iPhone.

Haredi residents complain that the teens have caused problems, harassing local residents and making noise late into the night.

“Some families in the area don’t take care of their kids. They’re problematic,” said Alexander, a local Hasid who claimed that the teens have broken windows, scared children with dogs and “sit around and yell in public squares until 3 in the morning.”

“They cause both spiritual and material problems,” he said. “They don’t act haredi. People pay a lot to live in a haredi neighborhood and they don’t behave well or act haredi in the street.”

Moshe, a short Hasid with a bushy blond beard, agreed, telling JTA that residents have worked hard to create an environment free of smartphones and the internet. The teens, he said, sit around watching movies and showing what he believed to be inappropriate content to religious children.

“We are fighting for our neighborhood,” he said.

According to Shlomit Kapach, founder of U’Vneh, a group dedicated to family rehabilitation, the local municipality has hampered efforts to reach out to the city’s street kids. She accused the head of the local welfare department of refusing to refer young men to Meitar, a Welfare Ministry program run through her group that is aimed at providing them with activities and treatments. Eventually, Kapach said, she gave up on the city’s cooperation.

One of the primary teenage rioters in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet was a former participant in her program, she said, describing him as “very broken” by the lack of continuing help.

“The continued decline to the street was an inevitable step,” Kapach said.

Down the block from Alexander and Moshe, Nachman, a young man wearing skinny jeans, a T-shirt and Hasidic sidelocks, sat on a bench outside the falafel store playing with his smartphone. He was skeptical of the Hasidic men’s claims.

“The extremists are looking for problems,” he said. “They are angry that there is a family with a dog. There are some teens who make problems that come here, but most are quiet.”

While the haredim claim that the teens are the biggest problem, some parents contend that the main issue is the extremists among the former.

Sivan Ruschinek is a member of the Chabad Hasidic movement who fled Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet two years ago after years of harassment by extremists. Hasidim from other movements would follow her daughters down the street screaming about modesty because the girls were wearing skirts they considered not long enough and declined to tie their hair in a ponytail.

“This went on for three years that they were harassing us. And each time it got worse and worse to the point that they put glue in our lock so we couldn’t close or open our door,” Ruschinek said. “They wrote on our entrance next to our door ‘get out of our neighborhood.’”

She recalled one incident in which an extremist behaved so aggressively that her 8-year-old daughter fainted in the street.

“We left to save our family and the sanity of the kids,” Ruschinek said.

Her 19-year-old daughter Shaina told a similar story, describing her time in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet as torturous.

“It was like going out of the house and feeling like I’m in Gaza,” Shaina said. “I don’t have words to tell you how bad it felt living there. There was always fear. The fear came out as soon as I went out the door. Will he scream at me or spit or hit or run after me? All the time.”

Since last month’s upheaval things have mostly calmed down, although the underlying tensions are still bubbling under the surface. Rudi, the 17-year-old dropout, believes it can be partly attributed to the vandalism of the synagogue. While he denied taking part in the incident, Rudi did voice a certain level of approval, stating that the haredim “now understand they can’t do what they want” with impunity.

According to Steinhalt, the non-haredi living in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, the local haredi-dominated municipality has “done nothing” for the teens, failing to engage them in programs that would get them off the street.

A city spokesman, Mati Rozensweig, contests the claim.

In a statement to JTA, Rozensweig asserted that “the residents of Beit Shemesh live with great security and quality of life,” and that the municipality was working “on a number of levels” to fix the problem, although he declined to offer any details.

Steinhalt believes that the very nature of the haredi community’s separatist lifestyle virtually ensures continued conflict.

“The problem isn’t haredim or Zionists,” he said. “It’s a problem between two ways of living, one in which we don’t want someone who isn’t like us and one where we welcome everyone even if he [doesn’t follow] in our ways.

“Most of the secular kids aren’t doing anything that bad,” Steinhalt said, “but even sitting on the street is bad” to the haredim.



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Chaptzem! Blog