Simchat Torah night. 6-9 pm. Modern Orthodox shul. Women dancing with Torah scrolls. They don't hold them right. They cradle them like they are babies.
I spot the NYT Hollywood correspondent and family.
Alcohol is banned.
At 9pm, I wander over to the shtible minyan at Workman's Circle. It's jammed. Average age is about 30. About half the crowd is from the University of Judaism and Hebrew Union College Los Angeles (mainly rabbinical students). Mixed dancing. I leave my shomer negiya status at the door and hold hands with fertile chicks and twirl around.
I see History prof Dr. David Myers from UCLA. A philosophy professor from UCI. The beautiful female rabbi of Ikar. About 20% of the crowd was at my Orthodox shul earlier. Lots of drinking. Finishes at midnight. Sin never felt so good.
I was at Temple Sinai (C) in Westwood the other day talking to two women. They were disappointed that rabbi David Wolpe had not stopped by the room so they could talk to him.
Rabbi Wolpe is such a great orator that he can't help but go through life disappointing people. There were over 1000 Jews in the house and I bet half of them would've enjoyed talking to him.
My father is a great orator. When some people listen to him, they feel like they can close their eyes and think they are listening to the voice of God. They feel like he is speaking to them individually even when he is addressing a thousand people at once. They feel like he truly understands them and holds the keys to their salvation.
Jewish speakers in Los Angeles who have this similar star quality include rabbi Mordecai Finley, rabbi Yitzhok Adlerstein, Dennis Prager and Wolpe. Prager and R. Adlerstein are pretty much the same in one-on-one interaction as they are from the pulpit.
Still, their oratorical abilities stimulate such enormous longings for wholeness and healing in people that they raise impossible expectations. Thus, a certain type of follower of their's is always disappointed. People wrongly expect that because somebody is a great speaker, he is the answer to their problems. That he truly understands them. That he has the time to listen to their problems. That he truly cares what they have to say.
Now, almost everybody appreciates appreciation. But unless you are on the level of rabbis Finley and Adlerstein and Wolpe, as well as Prager, in their chosen fields, you should not expect these speakers to be as interested in what you have to say as you are in what they have to say. Yet I sense that many people, including myself, sometimes get so excited about learning from these teachers, that they want to give something back by instructing their teachers in some narrow area to prove to themselves that they can "give" too. This is setting oneself up for disappointment.
I saw a troubled woman I used to date dissolve in tears in front of R. Wolpe and dozens of other people at Friday Night Live. His sermon had obviously touched the deepest recesses of her soul. He was gracious and told her to call him during the week. But I doubt that he's going to be able to solve her problems. Just by giving her a few minutes of his time, however, I'm sure he could give her a great gift.
I used to ask my father why he took so much time counseling individuals. Why not just concentrate on his speeches to a wider audience? He answered with a metaphor. Speaking before a thousand people is like pouring a jug of water into one thousand glasses. Each glass only gets a few drops. Counseling someone individually is like pouring the water into one glass.
12:30 p.m. -- Unity rally for Israeli Jews brings together protesters against the expulsion of Jews in Gush Katif and other lands; Dag Hammerskjold Plaza opposite the United Nations, Manhattan.
This is being organized -- at least in part -- by Americans for a Safe Israel. One wonders whether there might be a counter-protest by Israeli Jews who don't feel so "unified" with this message.
Stop by there to see whether the term "rodef" appears more often among right-wing Zionists or lefty Jewish renewal types.
2:30 p.m. -- The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music sponsors at concert of music by Florence-born composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, as part of the ``Splendor of Florence'' exhibition in lower Manhattan. The concert highlight is Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Sacred Service for the Sabbath Eve, performed by the Riverside Choral Society, cantors Raphael Frieder and Shimon Craimer and organist Justin Bischof; Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan.
I don't think for a second that women qua women are incapable of teaching Torah to men, or are incapable of leading men. I do believe that for sociological (not to mention halakhic) reasons that society and religion need to set aside certain things just for men. I believe in separate but equal in many things (not based on race but based on sex and other valid distinctions). That women are allowed to do anything a man can do in Conservative and Reform Judaism is an important reason why men are dropping out of participating in those denominations. Male identity is much more fragile than female identity and certain rituals need to be set aside just for men to keep them on a good derech.
Normally I never read books about suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders and other such self-destructive behavior.
I suspect that these are primarily secular problems. I find it hard to believe that religious homes that do not have a television have the same percentage of daughters with eating disorders (I understand that anorexia nervosa and the like is primarily a white disease).
I heard Dennis Prager citing his wife Fran as saying that anorexia nervosa and the like are primarily attempts to avoid growing up and taking on adult responsibility.
For months now, I've been enjoying Lori Gottlieb's columns in the Jewish Journal. It's the best stuff these days in the Journal.
One night when I couldn't sleep, I began listening.
It starts out thus: "I'm Lori Gottlieb and what you are about to hear are entries from my diaries when I was eleven years old."
I immediately thought, "No way!" No way could this book be entries from her diaries when she was eleven years old.
As I got caught up in the book's vivid scene-by-scene construction, I was renewed in my belief that there is no way that there is more than a paragraph or two in what I had heard that was unchanged from her diary. This book, as many reviewers point out, reads like a novel. As many of the customer reviews on Amazon put it, it reads like the sensibility of an accomplished woman in her twenties writing a novel.
So I arose at about 3 a.m. and Googled the book. In all the press about the book, I couldn't find any examples of a reporter looking at Gottlieb's original diary and comparing it the published book. Instead, in every interview on this, Gottlieb sticks to her claim that the writing is from when she was 11. It was then edited by her to form a narrative.
Then I thought - what's the big deal? Memoir is a genre that exists between fact and fiction.
But it still bothers me that the book presents itself as the diary of an eleven year old girl when it reads like the novel of an accomplished writer of, say, 27.
Maybe I am so bothered because I'm jealous. Because I still can't write as well as Lori does in this book, let alone when when I was eleven.
She relates this comment from somebody looking at her book: "Wow, this picture's so glamorous. It doesn't look like you at all."
While that remark was rude and I don't think I would ever say something like that, Lori does look completely different in person from her press photos. In her press picture, she has chubby cheeks. In person, she's slender (which is why she still gets bothered by boors asking if she's eating enough).
The pictures I use on the top of this blog and in my books are all from 1994-95 (the last time I was professionally photographed (for my acting head shots) and got a copy). When you put yourself out there as much as I do, and Lori does, one has to expect comments on one's looks and if one's pictures are misrepresenting one's reality.
I wholeheartedly agree with Lori that just because one publishes intimate and touchy information about oneself, that does not make it ok for others to throw it in your face. Publishing sensitive information about oneself does not make it significantly less sensitive for oneself. Good manners requires that you use the same tact in dealing with a person's personal stuff whether it is published or not.
Now I'm off to read Lori's latest book -- Inside the Cult of Kibu.
Shmarya writes: Don't you think it's time for rabbis on the right to loudly and clearly condemn this insane nonsense? Or will we have to wait for a tragedy, God forbid, to again hear a bleating chorus of rabbis claiming that it isn't their fault. Wouldn't proactive actions by those rabbis be the smarter course to take? Or am I expecting way too much from our leaders?
"The purpose of the ceremony is to remove the current government, and in order to do so we need to draw strength from the pools of salvation," Weiss said. "If we want to make a revolution, then we need to change the course of the winds blowing among the people."
Weiss, who recently published a book calling for the institution of a Jewish monarchy in the State of Israel, refrained from spelling out how he intends to "remove Sharon," but did say that the "religious powers will grant us the strength to do so."
Dayan, rabbi of the settlement of Psagot, was not so reluctant.
"Sharon's plan is insane and I wish for his death," he said. "We want a Jewish monarchy in Israel and not a secular government with secular political parties. The decisions made by the majority are not decisions since the majority is stupid."
However, after giving the words of the bracha to those who agreed to use the lulav and esrog and before telling them to shake the lulav, the Lubavitcher had the passengers say "Yechi adoneinu, moreinu v'rabeinu, melech hamoshiach l'olam vaed." (English translation: May our Master, Teacher and Rebbe, the King Moshiach, live forever.)
It's one thing for Lubavitch chasidim to believe in the rebbe as moshiach and shout out "yechi," but I found telling naive secular Israelis to say it as part of the blessing of the lulav to be quite offensive.
There's a new single woman in Young Israel of Century City who has all the single men totally ga-ga. She's beautiful, dresses invariably in hot pink and is so religious that she even comes to mincha and shalosh seudos on Shabbos. This woman is the Jewish Cameron Diaz and only 22 or so.
Due to an expansion in its membership, Beth Jacob had to move the Happy Minyan on and out. The HM now meets at Magen David, which became Orthodox about four years ago.
Jacob Ner-David, Avraham Leader, Neil Markowitz -- board members of Bayit Chadash -- emailed board members of American Friends of Bayit Chadash:
As we shared with you recently a group of people -who for the past twenty years have been sadly but determinedly antagonistic to Rabbi Gafni and all he represents - viewing him as a threat to the future of Orthodoxy - have done all they could to remove him from public discourse. Their accusations are simply not true; they have been looked at carefully and dismissed by every fair minded person who has encountered them.
Attached please find a letter to the Editor written by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Rabbi Saul Berman and Rabbi Tirzah Firestone which summarized and rebuffs the false accusations leveled in the Jewish Week article.
We are in fully constructive Bayit Chadash mode...engaging in all of our forms of teaching; television production, student classes, book projects, public festivals and events and of course funding raising as well.
As you can imagine - in this trying time your support of Bayit Chadash in general and of Rabbi Gafni personally is essential. We will walk past this break in the road, gently and confidently and with God’s help reach heights we never dreamed were possible.
Here's the letter from rabbis Telushkin, Berman and Firestone:
To the Editor,
Words can elevate and words can destroy.
There was a time when the Jewish community too glibly and carelessly disregarded words of accusation of sexual abuse against clergy. That was clearly wrong, and Gary Rosenblatt of The Jewish Week helped to correct that. The pendulum has now
swung to the opposite extreme, as evidenced in Rosenblatt’s column (The Re-Invented Rabbi, 9/24/04).
The column reports an allegation concerning a relationship from twenty-five years ago – when Rabbi Mordechai Gafni was 19 and 20 and not yet a rabbi – in a situation where he had no pastoral relationship with the person in question. Rabbi Gafni has a completely different account of what happened which was not clearly related in the article (including the fact that nothing even vaguely resembling sexual relations took place).
Furthermore, we can attest first hand that several years ago Rabbi Gafni made serious attempts to contact this woman in a therapeutically-mediated context—to clarify the huge gulf in their understandings of what happened and, if necessary, to apologize for any way in which she felt hurt. This offer was rejected and the decision was apparently made that the press was a more appropriate vehicle for conversation.
The story also reports unsubstantiated allegations which are twenty-years old. The story critically omits the fact that the professional to whom Rabbi Gafni (then Winiarz) was responsible at the time conducted an investigation, and drew the following conclusions in a formal report which was accepted by his superiors:
“I’ve known Rabbi Winiarz for the past six years, and I believe I speak of his character from a position of knowledge and reliability… In his work as director of Jewish Public School Youth, allegations were made as to his improper conduct with a teenage girl and a young female adult [referred to in the article as Judy and Susan]… For several months, in the spring and summer of 1986, I delved into the accusations and had numerous conversations with a number of people who were associated with Rabbi Winiarz both professionally and personally. I also talked to the accusing parties as well as members of their families, rabbis close to them and agency personnel involved in the work of JPSY. I also, of course, spoke at length to Rabbi Winiarz about these matters. It was my conclusion, based on clear and compelling reasons, that the accusations were not true and were not substantiated. I might add that this was also the view of a clinical psychologist who interviewed Rabbi Winiarz and the teenager after the alleged incident.”
We have collectively looked at this issue again in the last six months, and come to a similar conclusion. Further, Rabbi Gafni has long expressed his desire to meet with any of the parties who feel he has wronged them—even when he has a completely different account of the situation.
We, like Gary Rosenblatt, have struggled with the question of what gravity to assign to persistent rumors. Our conclusion differs from that of Mr. Rosenblatt. We have collectively, over many years, spoken to virtually everyone who would speak to us who was directly involved in order to examine the accusations against Rabbi Gafni. We have found them totally not convincing. Further, there is simply no evidence that Rabbi Gafni’s public role constitutes a risk to Jewish women, or to anyone for that matter.
We pray that this unfair scandalous moment will soon be forgotten and that Rabbi Gafni will be able to free his spiritual energy and formidable intellect in order to help build Jewish consciousness and commitment.
Rabbi Saul J. Berman, Director of Edah
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Jewish Literacy and The Book of Jewish Values
Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, Congregation Nevei Kodesh, author of With Roots in Heaven and
Re Gafni's claims:
1) teaching graduate seminars on mysticism at Oxford University in England Gafni has spoken on mysticism at my seminar, at my invitation. It could be misleading to describe this as "teaching graduate seminars", since this might be taken to imply that he is or has been a member of staff here, which is incorrect.
2) a fellow at the Oriental Institute of Oxford University Gafni is not and never has been a fellow at the Oriental Institute (in fact there is no such category).
3) an Oxford-trained scholar He has worked towards a D.Phil (we have no degree of Ph.D.) under my supervision, but has not not submitted.
4) he also holds a Ph.D. from Oxford He does not hold a Ph.D. from Oxford. Should it be confirmed that he has made such a spurious claim it would be regarded here as an extremely serious breach of discipline.
Oxford professor Joanna Weinberg emails me back:
Gafni taught a seminar which was not part of the university curriculum - he simply used the premises of the Oriental Institute. He is not a fellow at the Oriental Institute - we don't have fellows.
He is writing his Ph. D at Oxford under the supervision of Rabbi Norman Solomon. As far as I know, he has not yet received his doctorate.
Well, it seems that no J-pub has as yet had the guts to try to report out this Arthur Green business. He's presently on sabbatical from his position at Brandeis, so I reached him at home.
I opened by asking him who he thinks are the ones leading the charge against Gafni, to which he replied, "I just don’t want to have this conversation, I don't want to put my foot in my mouth," saying that he didn't know enough about the situation and those involved to comment, and that I should contact Gafni for that information.
I then asked him to address his use of the term "rodfim," of which he said "I certainly didn’t mean it in any kind of technical halachic sense." He said he was using the term to mean "pursuers," declaring that those going after Gafni are "certainly pursuers."
I then emphasized to him the heat of the term "rodef" as part of the present discussion regarding Ariel Sharon, and in recollection of the discussion regarding Yitzchak Rabin, to which he replied that the situations have "no connection whatsoever," that rodfim is "a Hebrew word" and that "I use it as a Hebrew term, they are certainly pursuing him."
What do those people whom the term would most likely be applying to think of his usage and explanation? More to come.
Clean out your desk. Via Jewschool comes news that Jennifer Crisafulli, aka "Jennifer C." of "The Apprentice" got canned from her real estate job after her not-positive Jewish reference aired on Wednesday. Catching the rerun of the show -- which originally ran on a Jewish holiday, so many Jewish zealots didn't see it when it first happened -- on Saturday night, the big question was how Stacy R. -- who revealed the absolutely obvious fact that she is Jewish -- would approach the topic in the boardroom. In the end, she didn't -- or at least they didn't show us her doing so -- and she still got what she wanted.
This becomes a big morality question for us Jews: was Stacy right or wrong, better or worse off, in not bringing it up? And is it good for the Jews?
Din rodef rears its ugly head, as Luke has noted below, against those accusing Mordechai Gafni, aka Marc Winiarz, of abuses as detailed in a recent article in the NYJWeek. Indeed, Rabbi Arthur Green wrote in to the paper this week stating in no uncertain terms:
He has been relentlessly persecuted for those deeds by a small band of fanatically committed rodfim, in whom proper disapproval of those misdeeds combines with jealously, anger at his swerving from Orthodoxy, and a range of other emotions.
We've already had lots of discussions about what din rodef means, and the post below does an adequate job of explaining it.
But let's focus for a minute on how significant J-media, and J-leaders, have considered the term in the past. Take, as one example, the statement by Rav Neventzal that disengagers are notrodfim, and how simply the fact that he allowed for the theoretical possibility that they could be in a different situation -- while explicitly saying that they weren't in the present one -- and how the former was played up all over so many J-media publications while the latter was stuffed. Take as a second the Forward's lead story this week (to which I contributed), which contains a discussion about rabbinic responses to the present discourse on Israel -- carrying with it the very explicit recollection of how the term rodef was applied to Rabin.
When one rabbi in Massachusetts calls out other American Jews -- and likely rabbis and communal leaders among them -- as rodfim, that seems something worth a helluva lot of front-page play. If Gary Rosenblatt had wanted to deal responsibly with this, he would have made the letter into a front-page news story, and required Green to go on the record with specific names of whom he was meaning to implicate, and to gather the responses of those individuals and fair-minded community leaders.
Now, someone -- the Forward, the Jewish Press, somebody -- should be picking up where Rosenblatt slacked off and reporting this out. Because if Neventzal was news, this certainly is.
posted by Steven I. Weiss |
11:36 PM |
I am so powerfully attracted to a girl that it hurts me. It hurts me in such a tender spot that I am embarrassed to talk about it. I can only write about it. Unfortunately for my health (mental and physical), my Torah observance does not allow me to do anything about my attraction for this woman as we are not yet married. I had to take two Advils today just to be able to walk. I wonder if my life is at stake, pikuah nefesh, and if so, if that would sanction a little fooling with her around short of biah (penetration)? Your help urgently needed. I feel like I am about to explode. May God have mercy on me and bring the redemption soon.
I think this comes from The Awareness Center crowd: Please be advised that Rabbi Arthur Green, a Lown Professor of Jewish Thought at Brandeis University, past President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and a leading figure in the Jewish Renewal movement published a letter in the October 1, 2004 edition of the NY Jewish Week (copy at bottom of letter) which was in response to an editorial in the
previous week's edition of the Jewish Week regarding a colleague Rabbi Mordechai Gafni/Marc Winiarz (see http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/Gafni_Mordechai.html#The ).
In this letter Rabbi Arthur Green refers to "a small band of fanatically committed rodfim". That "small band" apparently includes Vicki Polin of the Awareness Center ( http://www.theawarenesscenter.org ), Rabbi Yosef Blau of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Heshie Billet former President of the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Chief Rabbi of Efrat, a young women raped by Rabbi Gafni when she was 13 years-old, a young women allegedly sexually assaulted by Rabbi Gafni when she was 16 year-old and a young women who Rabbi Gafni allegedly attempted to rape, among others.
For a person to use his title as rabbi to refer to such people using the term "rodfim" is both irresponsible and reprehensible. A "Rodef" is a Hebrew
term that refers to the Jewish legal term of a "pursuer". A "Rodef" can be killed on sight and it is forbidden to even break the Jewish Sabbath to save the life of a "Rodef". This language was invoked to advocate and justify the murder of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin by his murderer and his murderer's supporters. By using this term, Rabbi Green has invoked "Din Rodef" (law of the pursuer) in a similar murderous fashion.
While I believe in a free society with free speech and free exchange of ideas and appreciate and cherish the academic freedom we enjoy in this free country, Rabbi Arthur Green's use of the Jewish legal term "Rodef" is outrageous.
I call on Rabbi Arthur Green to immediately withdraw and apologize for the use of the term "Rodef". I call on Gary Rosenblatt to print an apology for allowing his newspaper to be used to print such a murderous libel. I call on Brandeis University, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Jewish Renewal movement to immediately and publicly condemn such comments and make it clear that such comments do not represent their institutions and are utterly unacceptable in a free society.
Luke says: Good thing I got this email when I did, otherwise I was off to kill the leaders of The Awareness Center because Rabbi Arthur Green (who I look to for all my halakhic decision-making) called them pursuers in The Jewish Week (my primary source for Jewish news).
Janine Zacharia. I want to meet her. I want to interview her. I want to take her to dinner. She is the Washington correspondent for the Jerusalem Post.
My neshama heard her speak in Washington last Tuesday. Attractive, single,
New Yorkish though and through. 30-something is my guess. Talks fast. I found her fascinating to listen to. It wasn't so much her content as _her_. If you know what I mean... Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Say no more. A wink's as good as a billboard to a blind man, squire.
11 a.m. -- ``World of our Mothers,'' a symposium on Jewish immigrant women, pays tribute to one of the most vibrant chroniclers of their lives, Anzia Yezierska, while reconstructing the home, work and religious experiences of these early 20th century women; the Eldridge Street Synagogue, 1887 Eldridge Street Synangogue, Manhattan.
Pretty crazy. Caught in my spam filter was this 419 scam that claims to be from Ronald Lauder trying to rip off unclaimed Holocaust-related Swiss-bank funds. Interestingly, the e-mail address of the scammer has a domain name that leads one here.
My name is Mr. R. Lauder , a member of Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (ICEP), Switzerland. ICEP is charged with the responsibility of finding bank accounts in Switzerland belonging to non-Swiss indigenes, which have remained dormant since World War II.
It may interest you to know that in July of 1997, the Swiss Banker's Association published a list of dormant accounts originally opened by non-Swiss citizens. These accounts had been dormant since the end of World War II (May 9, 1945). Most belonged to Holocaust victims.
The continuing efforts of the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (ICEP) have since resulted in the discovery of additional dormant accounts - 54,000 in December, 1999.
The published lists contain all types of dormant accounts, including interest-bearing savings accounts, securities accounts, safe deposit boxes, custody accounts, and non-interest-bearing transaction accounts. Numbered accounts are also included. Interest is paid on accounts that were interest bearing when established.
The Claims Resolution Tribunal (CRT) handles processing of all claims on accounts due non-Swiss citizens. A dormant account of ORDNER ADELE with a credit balance of 35,000,000 US dollar plus accumulated interest was discovered by me. The beneficiary was murdered during the holocaust era, leaving no WILL and no possible records for trace of heirs.
The Claims Resolution Tribunal has been mandated to report all unclaimed funds for permanent closure of accounts and transfer of existing credit balance into the treasury of Switzerland government as provided by the law for management of assets of deceased beneficiaries who died interstate (living no wills).
Being a top executive at ICEP, I have all secret details and necessary contacts for claim of the funds without any hitch. The funds will be banked in the Cayman Island, being a tax free, safe haven for funds and we can share the funds and use in investment of our choice.
Due to the sensitive nature of my job, I need a foreigner to HELP claim the funds. All that is required is for you to provide me with your details for processing of the necessary legal and administrative claim documents for transfer of the funds in your name.
Kindly provide me with your full name, address, and telephone/fax. I will pay all required fees to ensure that the fund is transferred to a secure, numbered account in your name in the Cayman Island, of which you will be capable of accessing the funds gradually and transferring to your country and other banks of choice in the world. My share will be 60 percent and your share is 40 percent of the total amount. THERE IS NO RISK INVOLVED.
You can find additional information about unclaimed funds through the internet at the following websites:
The Holocaust Claims Processing Office has put funds in Escrow awaiting submission of valid claims for necessary disbursement.
I find myself privileged to have this information and this may be a great opportunity for a life time of success without risks.
Due to security reasons, reply to me via email only. You may reply to me securely on the following email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your prompt response.
Note:Yor response should go to this email account: email@example.com. for security reasons and not this account firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabbi Kenneth Brander of the Boca Raton Synagogue has been offered a position at Yeshiva University for the fall of 2005, and will discuss this matter with his congregation on the night of October 12th.
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