A group of Jews endeavors towards total domination of the blogosphere.

Friday, October 15, 2004  

Legends of Luke's Fall.

posted by LukeFord | 4:09 PM |

Vicki Pollin writes:

Below are some of the comments I've been getting regarding the Ma'ariv article on rabbi Mordechai Gafni that came out today in Israel. I've been told it's extremely long, has lots of pictures and is in the cover story of the magazine section of the paper. As soon as we get a translation I will send it out to everyone. It may not be until Sunday or Monday.

It is an unbelievable thing. He actually curses in the article and says the slang words for breasts. Very unrabinnical but that I think is his idea. I have not read the whole thing through and there are plenty of words I do not understand.
Ways of pleasantness
I touched her so what?
Mordechai Gafni who smiles on television loves his flock, so why are people associating him with being a serial sexual offender.
This is the first few paragraphs of the article:
Ways of Pleasantness
Charismatic, Media-Savvy, Original, Loathes the Religious Establishment, Heads the “New Home” Congregation and Unabashedly Politically Ambitious. Also, a Great Advocate of Petting and Touching, all out of Botherly Love, Of Course. For the First Time, Rabbi Mordechai Gafni Steps Up to Face Off With the Many Unresolved Episodes from His Past That Attribute Him with Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harrassment, From Which he has managed to escape Uncharged but not Unhurt. “I believe that every person should decide where to take risks. And I prefer to take risks with love.”

By Sherri Makover-Balikov

Rabbi Mordechai Gafni, the God-fearing leader of the “Bayit Hadash” (New Home) Movement, receives me in his bohemian-elegant beit midrash in Jaffa,; he sits ensconsed among colorful embroidered cushions, barefoot, meditating young ladies and crystals. I greet him modestly with halom” and tentatively extend my hand. Gafni the altruist is deeply offended. Hy shake hands, sweetie? Come, give me a hug,” he says, and embraces me with great emotion, drawing me to him in paroxysms of affection.

posted by LukeFord | 2:38 PM |

Case of Cantor - Michael Segelstein

posted by LukeFord | 2:07 PM |

The Town Crier has a significant post decrying (natch) what he perceives as a lack of proper attention paid by "J-Media, J-Orgs, J-Schools and American Jewry" toward the situation of Israel's MIA soldiers. He says that:

If American Jewish organizations and activists spent a fraction of the disproportionate amount of time and energy as they do on the cause of Jonathan Pollard, and use it to increase awareness and activism on behalf of the plight of the MIA's, we can surely secure their release.
For as long as I've been hearing about the MIA's -- from sessions in youth groups as a child to requests to sign petitions as a collegiate -- I've just never really believed they are alive. It's with a great degree of sadness that I say that, and a true care for those who've devoted themselves to the cause. I agree with Ephraim that this is a more worthy endeavor than pursuing the release of Jonathan Pollard, it's just that I think the endeavor being pursued is an exchange of bodies, not persons.
I couldn't care less if I never heard Jonathan Pollard's name again, but I can't imagine not feeling sadness whenever the MIA issue is discussed.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:22 PM |

I want to do my new book on Orthodox rabbis who cross the line sexually and become predators. I need a title. Maybe:

* Sinning for the Sake of Heaven

* Taking a Chance for Love

* She Offered Her Hand And I Took Her Whole

* Mordecai Gafni

posted by LukeFord | 2:58 AM |

Maimonides’ Sons: Episodes In Modern Jewish Thought

Chakira says: This dude from florida did a paper on the rav, yeshaya leibowitz and david hartman. I think he's a non-Jew and I dont think he is proficient in hebrew. he has nothing to do with any of these people.

Luke says: Why would a goy study this? Because there is stuff in there that can move goyim too. Judaism has something to say to the world.

posted by LukeFord | 2:16 AM |

Maariv article is out on Mordecai Gafni. It makes him look bad. The reporter Sari Makover is clearly creeped out by him.

She starts the article with Judy's complaint (from the Gary Rosenblatt article). She says how old she was (below the age of consent) when he walked in and did various things to her.

When Sari Makover visited Gafni's house, there were five women sitting on the floor barefoot meditating. She hestitatingly sticks out her hand to shake his hand. He says, 'Why have a handshake when we can have a hug?'

Gafni says that he believes it is good for people to marry and divorce. He used to deny he was married three times. After being corrected numerous times, he's turned divorce into a mitzvah.

It's good to fall in love. It's good to marry. It's good to divorce. Different souls are for different people at different times. He quotes Rebbe Nahum of Bretslav -- sometimes love is right for a minute. I'm sure the good rebbe had Mordecai Gafni in mind when he said that.

Mordecai says Rabbi Blau has a vendetta against him and his critics are jealous of him.

The article says rabbi Mordecai Gafni is trying to be a media star and has political ambitions but now has to face sexual harassment stories from his past. One of his defenses is that he likes to take chances for love. Therefore, he's going to hug people and do whatever he needs to do, because he's taking chances for love.

It appears that Mordecai has developed a theology of eros to defend his sexual indiscretions. Reminds me of Jacob Frank.

Maariv article says that Mordecai Gafni's third wife, his present wife, lives in San Francisco. It sounds like a marriage of convenience.

Gafni says that R. Blau and Vicki Polin are traveling around the country saying bad things about him. I believe R. Blau and Vicki have met only once.

posted by LukeFord | 2:08 AM |

An hilariously indignant e-mail making the rounds:

Thought you might be interested to know that YU has hired a gentleman by the name of Anthony S. (Ozer)
Glickman who received ordination from JTS and was very active in the Institute of Traditional Judaism to give lectures in Halakha at YU's rabbinical school. Though
he has supposedly repudiated his JTS ordination this is the first time such an individual has been hired by YU. Furthermore, YU gave him an ordination withoutrequiring him to take any examinations or any of the other requirements imposed on its students. Though he has been teaching quietly since 2000, this individual now calls himself a "rosh yeshiva" and has been quietly trying to make himself into a major power at YU. Also, you may wish to check out rumors of attempts
to get rid of Rabbis Mordechai Willig and Hershel Schachter and replace them with this person.
Also, check out Jeremy Weider's connection to Davar, the left wing modern-orthodox synagogue & think tank.
I'm not gonna try to fact-check this at all. I assume the comments will be quite a free-for-all entanglement on this one.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:06 AM |

Thursday, October 14, 2004  

Me writes to Bloghead (and Protocols) about rabbinic sex abuse:

The problem is that not only has the problem been ignored so long but community leaders and rabbonim actually took it upon themselves to silence victims and protect prominant rabbis and community leaders who were preying on women and children.

Virtually every editor of any Jewish paper of substance has been told by the Rabbinical leaders of their community to suppress specific stories of this nature.

Victims have been routinely silenced.

The scope is horrifying. If you think the disclosures are bad now. You have no idea about what is to come.

Only half of my original list I approached Gary Rosenblatt 4 years ago with have been outed.

There are communities like your Toronto where people have yet to stand and tell their stories. When they finally do you will only begin to understand the true scope of what has happened in our institutions over the past decades. And how despicable our leadership is.

posted by LukeFord | 10:09 PM |

Phil Jacobs writes in the Baltimore Jewish Times:

Rabbi Porter brought in innovative thinker Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, author of such books as "The Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Survival Kit" and "The Passover Survival Kit," to come up with programming that is as out of the box as his books are. Rabbi Apisdorf was asked to cast a critical eye on the organization. He also surveyed current and former students asking for honest opinions on Etz Chaim. He wanted to know what was working and what wasn't.

I see and hear: They call the fire at Etz Chaim an accident. It was an arson fire, set by troubled Orthodox teen. The teen set a fire to Etz Chaim a few weeks before the building was burnt so badly it had to be torn down. The teen also set a fire to a shul a few blocks away. They are trying to re-write history

posted by LukeFord | 9:50 PM |

Information I seek about R. Jeremy Hershie Worch:

--the dates of the years he lived in Israel
--why he was fired from the Hillel of the University
of Illinois
--(he's been fired from most of the jobs he's held,
including a Hillel in Melbourne Austrlia, and
somewhere up in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan).
--where he went to Yeshiva

posted by LukeFord | 8:39 PM |

I'm getting questions from friendly and unfriendly persons about why I write so much about rabbinic sex abuse. Friends want assurance that I have noble motives. That I am doing it because I care so much about the victims or because I wish to further a particular Jewish value or because I want to better the Jewish community.

I don't like to claim noble motives. Most journalists don't. We're not good at explaining why we do what we do. We say our work should speak for itself.

A major purpose for journalism is that people make better decisions if they have better information. That's why we have a First Amendment.

Just because I do not phrase my motivations in noble terms does not mean I am not doing good. Let actions speak. Motives are murky. I have been a journalist for more than 20 years. Whether I care for the victims and if that can even be measured is esoteric. I like to tell to people's stories. I prefer that they be compelling and important. Thus I seek out compelling and important stories, many of which revolve around sex and Orthodox Judaism.

posted by LukeFord | 8:34 PM |

Noon -- Dedication ceremony for Hanukkah postage stamp; Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Hall E, Room 1E02, 655 West 34th St.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:01 PM |

Case of Unnamed Rabbi in West Rogers Park, Chicago, IL

posted by LukeFord | 7:50 PM |

More on the Shlomo Carlebach connection to rabbis like Mordecai Gafni accused ofsexual abuse. Though I understand that Gafni never meant Carlebach, Gafni certainly went through a stage where he tried to be like Carlebach.

According to this post: Shlomo's widow Neila Carlebach is on the faculty of Elat Chayyim, along with Marc Gafni. She's got approval for her teaching from Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, and she was married to Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.

Elat Chayyim faculty page

A testimonial from rabbi Mordecai Tendler of Kehilath New Hempstead, NY:

“Rebbitzen Neila is the most extraordinary teacher. Hashem has blessed her with an unusual ability to convey complex and deep hashkafah (concepts) and kabbalah in a way that makes them understandable and relevant to the general public.”

R. Hershie Worch and R. Mordecai Gafni have a Carlebach connection in common. Gafni is theoretically working on his dissertation on the Izbicer Rebbe. Worch gives classes on the Izbicer rebbe.

They both probably got this from Shlomo Carlebach.

If you put "Sacred Fire" into Google, you get results from all sorts of occultic and S-M sites.

Worch helped translate Sacred Fire: Torah from the Years of Fury 1939-1942.

MoChassid corrects my mistakes here.

A rabbinic source writes:

There is no connection between Aish Kodesh, written by R. Kolonymous Kalman Shapira, the Piaczezna Rebbe, in the Warsaw Ghetto and the Izhbitzer. Other than Rav Shlomo taught both.

There could be a pun with sacred fire – or it could be a coincidence – a guy like Worsh probably believes that it is Divine providence.

Izhbitz is interesting – I have the books at home very difficult very obscure – you can claim that he is saying almost anything. He writes tersely and expects the reader to understand.

He has some strange claims in the book which have gotten him in trouble – for example in Parshas Pinchas in the Mei Shiloch he says Pinchas was wrong for killing Zimri – who was actually performing a mitzvah by having illicit sexual relations (in public?) with kozbi. Pinchas the student of moshe (prototype of the well meaning zealous yeshiva student) doesn’t understand the deeper spiritual Zimri, who has mystic calculations for his sordid behavior. Interesting that Gafni and Worsh may be attracted to such a Rebbi

posted by LukeFord | 6:30 PM |

Evan Gahr writes: Michael Kelly was fired for much less seriou stuff that what I've compiled regarding Precious Peter Beinart and his gang of three, Frank Foer (rhymes with liar), Jon-boy Chait and Lawerence "the girl" Kaplan.

posted by LukeFord | 4:16 PM |

BTW: I get occasional e-mails requesting the XML feed for this site. I believe the URL -- -- is standard Blogger boilerplate.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:15 PM |

Check out the deal for this student journalism workshop, which takes place amidst a large conference of Jewish leaders, and compensates the students only after they write a publish an article about the conference.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 4:13 PM |

Still sorting through the arguments about hard liquor [1, 2], but not really putting much effort into it yet. Might send both articles to some liquor industry types; we'll see.
The one thing that immediately struck me as odd was how the Orthodox Union story deals seriously with the question of batel b'shishim (when a non-kosher ingredient is considered null for comprising less than one-sixtieth of the volume) for liquors that have a blender consisting of as much as 2% of the total volume. Last I checked, 2/100, or 1/50, is undeniably greater than 1/60. Is this rudimentary math just escaping those discussing the issue?

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:44 PM |

An interview with rabbi Yosef Blau of YU on Mordecai Gafni.

posted by LukeFord | 1:57 PM |

A press release from The Awareness Center:

There have been some serious allegations made regarding a rabbi who resides in (West Rogers Park) Chicago, IL.

The alleged offender originally meets his victims on line, and then after time connects with them in person. The allegations that have been made include the rabbi using a form of hypnosis and then sexually assaulting his alleged victims.

If you or anyone you or anyone you know has been victimized by this man, please call the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline and let them know your story. Tell them that The Awareness Center suggested you call. The Rape Crisis Hotline is being made aware of the situation and are extremely sensitive to the issues that are involved in this case.

The Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline's phone number is: 1(888) 293-2080.

posted by LukeFord | 1:14 PM |

Hollywood stars honor Jewish film.

posted by LukeFord | 11:40 AM |

"Former Ashekenzi chief rabbi Avraham Shapira called Thursday for soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate settlements."

posted by LukeFord | 11:37 AM |

Star-K article on hard liquor, comes to very different conclusions than those reached by the Orthodox Union.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 9:49 AM |

Cecile du Bois, Cathy Seipp's 15yo daughter, writes me: "Can you have Mordecai Gafni teach me the proper ideas of Jewish Orthodoxy? If not, I shall become a pagan Christian and join a "mystery" religion!"

The Jewish Week gets letters on Gafni, including this one from Judy Klitsner from the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem:

After reading the letter signed by Rabbis Berman, Telushkin and Firestone, I wonder if they read the same column (“The Reinvented Rabbi, Sept. 24) that I did.

Gary Rosenblatt cites three women who claim they were victimized by Rabbi Gafni. It is difficult to recognize these allegations in the version of these incidents presented by the three rabbis; they refer to the women’s accusations as a “gulf in understandings” between the women and Rabbi Gafni, as “recycled allegations,” and “way[s] in which [alleged victims] felt hurt.” The rabbis inform us that they have conducted their own exhaustive investigation and have found all allegations to be “totally unconvincing.”

The perplexed reader is left wondering, are these comments a response to the quotes offered by Rosenblatt, or did the rabbis conduct a different investigation? If they did not question these women, on what basis did they conclude that all allegations are totally unconvincing? If they did question them, are we to understand that the rabbis have judged the women to be untruthful? Or are the rabbis asserting that the women are so obtuse as to misconstrue consensual acts of love for abuse and harassment?

And what of the rabbis’ own colleague, Rabbi Riskin, whom Rosenblatt reports was approached by many additional women over the course of years “with similar patterns of complaints of seductive and harassing behavior toward young women, charges which he takes seriously”? Was Rabbi Riskin included in the rabbis’ thorough investigation of Rabbi Gafni’s background? If not, why not? And if so, did the rabbis conclude that all those women must also have suffered from gulfs in understanding with Rabbi Gafni? Or are they implying that the women lied? Or that Rabbi Riskin lied?

Rabbis Berman, Telushkin and Firestone accuse Rosenblatt of succumbing to an overreaction to previous incidents of rabbinic abuse. I fear that in their haste to vindicate their colleague, the rabbis have chosen the much more dangerous and well-tread path of underreaction. It is always easier to accept the claims of the charismatic and powerful religious leader while agreeing to participate in delegitimizing the accuser.

posted by LukeFord | 2:37 AM |

I am in touch with people who describe harrowing experiences with Rabbi Hershey Worch.

You can have your own experience with him at Young Israel of West Rogers Park.

Is this the same Hershey Worch at Hillel House in Melbourne, Australia, in 1995?

I returned from Australia, and found Kulanu's FAX on the matter of the Abayudaya. Evidently, it was arranged by Providence that I should be at the home of a special person, a Jew named Hershey Worch, who is the Rabbi of Hillel House in Melbourne. The reason for my acquaintance with him and my stay at his home was the Abayudaya. He traveled (to Uganda) after the delegation of Kulanu and conveyed information about them to me.

I know R. Worch is a 12 stepper, so I"m guessing this is the same person:

It’s only a cartoon caption, but Hershey Worch’s words on the Web site of JACS (Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others) summarize the ambivalent feelings of America’s Jewish community toward the recovery community — and the importance of its chief guru, Rabbi Abraham Twerski...

Rabbi Worch comes to Adams Street Synagogue

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

"Not your usual suburban rabbi" would be a good description of Rabbi Hershy Worch. Although he was the rabbi of a congregation in Rhode Island, he has also been the rabbi of a congregation in Uganda and a Hillel rabbi in Australia and Illinois.
In addition to that unusual combination of venues, Rabbi Worch is a professional artist and musician as well as a published author. He received his rabbinic ordination from the late Rabbi Schlomo Carlebach.
You will have the opportunity to meet, talk with, study with and sing with Rabbi Worch at the Adams Street Synagogue in Newton the weekend of Jan. 9-11.
Rabbi Worch will speak at Friday night services (services at 4). He will speak at Saturday morning services (starting promptly at 9) on the topic "The End of Genesis." Saturday afternoon services begin at 3:45, and the rabbi will speak on the subject "Time of Desire." Saturday at 8 p.m. is a concert of Hasidic music, combined with a malava malka. The suggested donation for the concert is $10. Sunday morning services at 8 will be followed by breakfast and a lecture on "Exile and Exodus."
The public is cordially invited to all events. Further information can be provided if you call 617-527-7967 or 617-244-3775.
The Adams Street Synagogue is a community synagogue, more than 90 years old, which welcomes Jews of all backgrounds and traditions. The synagogue is the first and oldest synagogue in Newton and is proud to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Make RABBI J. HERSHY WORCH your new rabbi

He is the author of three books and numerous articles. Rabbi Worch is a teacher whose weekly “dial-in” Torah classes include students from all over America. Additionally, he is an artist, photographer, poet and musician. He has conducted Shabbatonim all over the US, Europe and Australia.

See Reb Hershy's picture here.

Last night was a very successful class, especially when Reb Hershy introduced the Izbicer’s remarkable notions on the nature of the higher three spheres. I, personally, was touched by the idea of God as a pregnant entity, giving birth to the world and nurturing it along until it, too, can make a world (or, as Hershy put it, until the human race evolves from Homo Sapiens to Homo Spiritualis).

Rabbi Worch is willing to help with foreign conversions.

posted by LukeFord | 2:15 AM |

Interesting rumors are coming out of Boston's synagogue Talner Beis Midrash, where congregants are saying that they entered the shul to find that Rabbi Mayer Twersky, --- who inherited the pulpit in 1997 from his father, Rabbi Yitzchok Twersky -- had removed the sculpted lions on the sanctuary's ark. I haven't heard from anyone who asked Twersky about the issue, so it's at least conceivable that no congregants have asked him why he did this. There'd seem to be a pretty obvious reason relating to idol worship, but anything obvious along those lines is problematized by the history of the synagogue itself and Judaism in general.
The second rumor is that he's removed all whiskey from the synagogue and forbidden the bringing in of any more after the publication of this article in the Orthodox Union's Jewish Action magazine. This would seem to be more likely to have broader implications, since presumably at least some other rabbis are following suit. I'm immediately skeptical of this article, but haven't read the entire thing through yet.
Thoughts and comments on both are encouraged.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:20 AM |

Wednesday, October 13, 2004  

Tzemach Atlas reports on a $45-million gift to Boston's Jewish schools.

posted by LukeFord | 7:34 PM |

Chicago Orthodox rabbi J. (Jeremy) Hershy Worch is being investigated for allegedly using his hypnoeroticism techniques to rape women. Though he has a cult-like following, a string of women have come forward to complain about him.

Born in Manchester, England, R. Worch used to live in Israel. Like his mentor Carlebach who ordained him, sexual scandal has long dogged R. Worch. He's had to move several times to make a fresh start.

I got this comment: I was wondering how many orthodox rabbis who are accused or convicted of sexual offenses used Carlebach as a mentor? I can come up with 4, are there more?

1. HershyWorch
2. Marc Gafni
3. Michael Ozair
4. Mordechai Tendler

Luke says: A friend pointed out to me that R. Shlomo Carlebach shattered Orthodoxy's ban on sexual sin for a practicing Orthodox rabbi. My friend argued that prior to Carlebach, an Orthodox rabbi guilty of sexual sins could no longer work as an Orthodox rabbi. But Shlomo broke that mold, and many others.

Shmarya writes: "If R. Worch is accused of sexual assult -- and it seems that he is and has been so accused before -- then his 'private' sexual fantasies acted out on the web are absolutely germaine. If R. Worch had no assault accusations against him, and if he had kept his sexual deviances to himself and his leather-clad, whip-toting mistress, then an argument can be made for **not** outing him. But since neither situation is the case here, it seems that, al pi din, Luke is correct."

Luke says: That is just how I looked at the matter. A person's sex life or gambling life or drinking life is a private matter until they act in a way that makes it public.

posted by LukeFord | 6:10 PM |

I plagiarized a large portion of one sentence in my introduction to my Jewish journalism book (and I've used a variation of this sentence in my blogging as well).

I wrote: "Most American Jewish newspapers (the Forward is the big exception) suck. They're controlled by the Jewish Federation and their idea of reporting is reprinting press releases. I'd rather be sodomized by ten of the surliest inmates of the California Penal System than praise such crap."

I plagiarized that line about being sodomized by surly inmates in the California Penal System from sentences Mike Albo wrote in various issues of Hustler Erotic Video Guide. I'm sorry.

Mike brought this to my attention this afternoon. He added: "May your wish come true."

posted by LukeFord | 3:58 PM |

"In a groundbreaking court case, the South African High Court authority has upheld the authority of the South African Beth Din to enforce discipline within the Jewish community."

posted by LukeFord | 3:03 PM |

Rabbi Mordecai Gafni's Teachings to a Teenage Girl:

Week after week, he would come into my bedroom and woke me up in the middle of the night, and I would fight to keep him from touching me. Every time, I was overcome by him physically. He had already done the job of convincing me that if I told one I would be shamed by my family and my community, so I kept silent about what was going on. I hated it, was disgusted by it, and I was terrified, but there was no place I could talk about it or get help. I also had no words for what was happening to me, it was horrible and indescribable. I think of myself back then as a 13 year old girl who had to become disconnected from the world around her, it was full of contradiction and betrayal, and I had been trapped in this horrible situation with, as far as I could see, no way out. I walked around my neighborhood, a place that had always been familiar and safe for me, and I no longer felt connected to anything.

posted by LukeFord | 2:32 PM |

A very sexy woman (the Jenna Jameson of Jewish journalists) asked me with genuine confusion: Who is the true Steven I. Weiss? The long-haired wildman in this Gothamist interview or the tame yeshiva boy on Frumster?

posted by LukeFord | 1:56 PM |

This foreword was too hot for me to include in the print publication of my new book:

By Chaim Amalek

One of the advantage of writing under a pseudonym is that one can say pretty much whatever he damn well feels like saying without fear of the consequences of offending others. It takes a man with tefillim (read “balls,” for the unchurched amongst you) of steel to use his true Christian name to do otherwise and, as became clear to me years ago, Luke Ford is that man.

Just consider this: here before you is a Jew who more than anything else in the world, craves acceptance by the Gedolim of American Jewish life, followed only at some remove by his desire for acceptance as a journalist among journalists. So what does he do? He writes a book that is guaranteed to piss off exactly these groups, and all for the greater good of each. How can you not respect that?

Likely the Gedolim of American Jewish life will not. I first became dimly aware of them when I was a yeshiva bachur (student at a Jewish Madrassa studying Midrash), working a day joy in Mendal Slutsky’s Coital Clothery on New York’s fabled Lower East Side. My job entailed drilling holes into the boards of wood then favored by the hyper-Orthodox as a means of introducing modesty into the marital bed. Less religious Jews favored mere cloth; the genius of my boss was in realizing that in the endless struggle to prove oneself more observant than the tzadik next door, Orthodox Jews would move past billowing cloth to more rigid, modest materials like plywood. For this to function, holes had to be drilled (and oh but their size was a contentious matter!), and I was the man with the surest means for drilling such holes into coital modesty shields.

But the work was, of course, nothing if not boring, so I started reading the old Jewish newspapers that were lying about. I began with The Jewish Press out of Brooklyn, and then graduated to the more mainstream papers based in Manhattan. They were all the same: worshipful of power, boring, afraid to tell the truth to the masses of generally ignorant Jews. Luke Ford is none of these things. He tells it like it is no matter what the consequences. But don’t you take my word for it – turn the page, and see for yourself.


“Chaim Amalek” is a Jewish apostate living on the Upper West Side.

posted by LukeFord | 1:46 PM |

I still want to talk to Cynthia Mann, former editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times who writes for JTA. I emailed her via JTA but they evidently did not pass on my email or she did not want to talk to me, a problem I often have with women.

posted by LukeFord | 1:44 PM |

NOVEL JEWS Literary Series at KGB BAR

Novel Jews monthly literary series featuring Rebecca Goldstein and Adam Langer.

Wednesday, October 13, 7- 9pm
Admission is always free.

KGB Bar 85 East 4th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenues) and can be reached by taking the F Train to Second Avenue or the 6 Train to Astor Place.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 1:43 PM |

The Underwhelming Kabbalah Centre Red String Billboard

posted by LukeFord | 1:31 PM |

My latest book has been published and is available for purchase -- $35:95 for hardcover, $25:95 for paperback and $6 for the ebook.

Yesterday's News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism is the first book-length examination of contemporary American Jewish journalism.

Book Description
“The history of Jewish journalism in the United States presents something of a challenge. Traditionally, historians like to recount the story of progress: development onward and upward from primitive origins to flourishing contemporary success. The history of Jewish journalism in the US, by contrast, represents, at least until recently, a story of marked decay.”
—Dr. Jonathan Sarna, Brandeis University

“Jewish newspapers would be more compelling if Jewish readers wanted a more compelling paper. I can’t tell you how many times over the years that I’ve heard readers say, ‘I read your paper on Shabbat. I don’t want to be disturbed. I just want to read nice Jewish news. I don’t want things to make me angry.’ That makes our role that much more difficult.”
—Marc S. Klein, editor of j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California

posted by LukeFord | 11:01 AM |

Here's an excerpt of my interview (I had to make a few edits to the original one posted Sunday night, not for accuracy, but to protect people) with the Susan in Gary Rosenblatt's article on rabbi Mordecai Gafni:

We were having a meeting at my home at 6 p.m. one Sunday in May 1986. Mordecai was supposed to be there as the head of JPSY along with several other advisers and me. About 4:30 p.m., I was the only one at home. I hadn't gotten ready yet. I was wearing a robe. Just a regular robe. And the doorbell rang. I got the door. Mordecai was standing at my front door in a dark suit with a yarmulke on his head, holding a large gemara in his hand. I just looked at him, 'Mordecai, what are you doing here? Our meeting is at six o'clock.' He said, 'Oh, I was the neighborhood. I figured I'd stop by early. Don't mind me. I have my gemara. I'll just learn while you're getting ready.'

"I was shocked. I was uncomfortable. I had no idea what it would be like to have him waiting in the living room while I was getting ready for the meeting. It seemed very odd (and somewhat rude) to me that he had come by so early, but. I didn't know how to say that his presence made me feel uncomfortable and that I would have preferred that he leave. Afterall, he I worked for him, and he was 'the rabbi,' so I said, ok, Mordecai. Please stay in the living room. I didn't know you were coming this early, so I need you to stay put here.

"I ushered him into the living room. I closed the french doors .I went back to my room to get dressed. No sooner did I get to my room than I turned around because he had left the living room and walked all the way to my bedroom , opened the door and said, 'Susan, Male Sexual Health,' as he pointed to a book he had taken from a shelf in in the corridor near my room.

"He had taken a book off the shelf right near my room. My father is a psychologist and had many books in the hallway right near my room. Mordecai had taken a book off the shelf entitled, Male Sexual Health. He held it in front of me and said, 'Male Sexual Health. I bet there's a lot you could teach me about that.'"

posted by LukeFord | 1:46 AM |

I had a long talk with rabbi Yosef Blau of YU today. I'll let him read the transcript and then I'll post it later this week.

posted by LukeFord | 1:40 AM |

Rabbi Hershie Worch based in Chicago is an interesting man with an interesting following. I believe he may have been ordained by R. Shlomo Carlebach but in some ways he outdoes his mentor. Any and all information on this rabbi is welcome. His ability to put people into a trance is amazing and the places he takes them -- is it into or out of the land of bondage?

R. Worch tranlsated the sefer Aish Kodesh by Kalman Kolonymous Shapira, the Piaczezna Rebbe (a series of discources given by the Rebbe in the Warsaw Ghetto), called 'Sacred Fire'.

Here's R. Worch's Yahoo group for Orthodox-Jewish Bondage-Domination Sado-Masochism Connection.

His Livejournal "hypnoeroticism" community

His Livejournal "kaballah_101" community

"Moonish" and "Chapt Schleck"/"The Chief" are J. Hershy Worch

His Livejournal profile has been deleted, but luckily I saved it last night:

Volkischer Beobachter
tagbuch der oberabiner
Name: Moonish Lunar
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Birthdate: 05-20
Bio: I'm an out-of-the-closet-Jewish man; (no, not gay, dummy, out-of-the-closet-Jewish!) single, unattached, available and not currently cheating on anyone, even myself.

I will not get into another long-distance relationshit...
I will not get into another long-distance relationshit...
I will not get into another long-distance relationshit...
I will not get into another long-distance relationshit...
I will not get into another long-distance relationshit...

I am easily distracted and have the attention span of a common or garden butterfly. I have a soul from the Olam HaTohu World of Chaos, and I hate rules, on principle.

I'm a musician and singer and I'm trying to assemble a band interested in developing music performances on BDSM themes, in Chicago.

What else?

I aspire to kewl, to sardonic, to couldn't-care-lessness, but it's all a facade. Don't be fooled. Inside it's all slave.
Interests: 55: abayudaya, bashert, body modification and halacha, cabala, chassidism, d/s, discworld, dried frog pills, erotic mind control, face slapping, feminist kabbalah, frum sadism, georgette heyer, golem making, hebrew, hypnoeroticism, i am lonely, izbicy, jpex, judaism, kabala, kabalah, kabbala, kabbalah, kulanu, merkaba, mysticism, nachman of breslov, nashga"z, niddah, obdsm, onemorealias, orangutans, pashtu, qabalah, qabbalah, rincewind, rogers park, ruach, s&m, sefer yetzirah, sepher yetzirah, sonnets, strathnairn, susan death, talmud, terry pratchett, torah, trance, tree of life, wooden boats, writing, zawel kwartin, zohar, ????.

posted by LukeFord | 1:38 AM |

From the CBC in 1994: "This is the story of a powerful man, and the shocking accusations that he abused that power with children he was supposed to protect. For more than 10 years, Rabbi Ephraim Bryks was the spiritual leader of a small synagogue in Winnipeg and principal of its school."

posted by LukeFord | 1:26 AM |

Tzemach Atlas writes: In this weeks PC Magazine there is this John Dvorak's attack against blogs. The article is not on the web yet so I scanned it in. Enjoy.

posted by LukeFord | 1:04 AM |

Tuesday, October 12, 2004  

Tonight, Yeshiva University Professor Joanne Jacobson reads from her memoir, "Hunger Artist," at 266 Broome Street.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:55 PM |

Who are novelists voting for?

posted by LukeFord | 3:58 PM |

What makes a person "Fit" to be a Jewish leader? Does a past like Gafni's disqualify one?

posted by LukeFord | 3:47 PM |

Ma'ariv's article on R. Mordecai Gafni comes out Friday. Some of those who have talked to the reporter are not expecting much.

posted by LukeFord | 2:57 PM |

"SAVE A JEW, SAVE YOURSELF! Sixty-five million Evangelicals can't be wrong."

posted by LukeFord | 2:13 PM |

Forward editor J.J. Goldberg debated nationally syndicated conservative talk show host Dennis Prager Monday night.

posted by LukeFord | 1:55 AM |

Village Idiots on Edah vs YU

posted by LukeFord | 1:53 AM |

Tzemach Atlas writes on the state of Lubavitch.

WJC imbroglio in the Swiss press

posted by LukeFord | 1:51 AM |

Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them

posted by LukeFord | 1:49 AM |

Got some new satire on "Riot Breaks Out At Dangerfiled Funeral," "Studies on Prayer Flawed, Critics Say," "George Soros Starts Fund To Have Narcissistic Megalomania Declared Non-Illness," "Movement Afoot To Declare late Rebbe Saint -- Would Be Only 2nd Canonized Jew Since Apostles."

posted by LukeFord | 1:49 AM |

Chakira writes: Shirkin' Responsibility With the Legacy of the Rav

posted by LukeFord | 1:48 AM |

Vicki Polin writes from The Awareness Center: Clarification regarding the use of the term rodef:

Some have questioned why the Awareness Center posted a very strong, immediate and public response to Rabbi Arthur Green’s public letter stating:

“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.”

It is the position of the Awareness Center that the use of such language to designate an alleged victim of any form of violence that seeks justice against their abuser as a rodef is utterly irresponsible and unacceptable. It is also a dangerous event to allow to pass without unequivocal public condemnation. This is a term which as we have seen in Israel with Prime Minister Rabin can lead to tragic consequences. Such language cannot be ignored or tolerated by advocates of victims of sexual or physical violence.

We cannot allow victims, their families, friends and supporters to be labeled as rodfim. A reckless public libel such as Rabbi Arthur Green’s must be responded to with in an unequivocal public condemnation. It is a dangerous thing to let stand or ignore. This type of language has no place
in civilized discourse.

“Rodef” or the plural form “rodfim” when used as a noun has one meaning “a pursuer with murderous intention”. A person who meets the definition of a rodef/rodfim is subject to din rodef / law of the pursuer and is subject to death on sight. It is forbidden to transgress the sabbath to save the life
of a rodef/rodfim.

The term rodef/rodfim is commonly known due to its use in rationalizing and excusing of the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. It is claimed that the use of the term rodef against Rabin by community leaders at the time contributed to the charged atmosphere in which Rabin was murdered.
His murderer uses that designation as justification for killing Rabin. Today the use of the term rodef in Israel is widely seen as “incitement for murder” and those who make such statements in public are reported to the police.

It has been suggested that rodef literally means pursuers in some benign, innocent way. That is incorrect. In Hebrew, many words have a three letter “shoresh” or root. There can be numerous words with differing yet similar root meanings that have the same derivation from the same shoresh. There are numerous words with the same shoresh as rodef but they are mainly adjectives, verbs and adverbs. There are a few nouns with the same shoresh.

They include:
Redifah = pursuit
Meradeh = one who pursues vanities
Mordaf = persecuted/pursued.

Rabbi Arthur Green used rodfim as a noun. As a noun, there is no modern Hebrew usage of the term rodef/rodfim. It is a biblical term and a Halachic designation. It does not mean a mere benign pursuer. It means “a pursuer(s) with murderous intention”. A person who meets the definition of a
rodef/rodfim is subject to din rodef / law of the pursuer and is subject to death on sight. It is forbidden to transgress the sabbath to save the life of a rodef/rodfim.

The average person in any hebrew speaking community in the entire world who saw a person shake his fist at a group of people and shout "RODFIM" would instantly recognize, understand and appreciate the "blood libel" being stated. That is exactly what Rabbi Arthur Green has done here.

We call on Rabbi Arthur Green to publicly withdraw his comment and issue a full public apology for the use of the term rodfim. We call on Jewish institutions affiliated with Rabbi Arthur Green and that work with victims of violence to condemn his comments and distance themselves from him until he takes those steps.

posted by LukeFord | 1:47 AM |

Tzemach Atlas writes: Jerusalem revealed: Noa tries her hand at Luke Ford imitation.

posted by LukeFord | 1:46 AM |

Menahem writes: I challenge the Protocols staff (you) to come up with a real piece on the late Derrida. The Times coverage has been absolutely awful. He was one of the most significant Jewish thinkers ever. Maybe Jewish media can do what the secular media scene can't seem to do.

posted by LukeFord | 1:43 AM |

Steven I. Weiss on Frumster

posted by LukeFord | 1:31 AM |

Shmarya suggests some nice Chabad links on Tanakh, Zohar, Bavli, Chassidut.

posted by LukeFord | 1:05 AM |

I sense the tide is turning against rabbi Mordecai Gafni. One of his major rabbinic supporters is confessing he may have made a big mistake. It is interesting that the YU block is solidly against Gafni while those outside of Orthodoxy, such as rabbis Joseph Telushkin and Saul Berman, support Gafni.

By writing such a mild article focusing on allegations of Gafni's sexual misconduct 20 years ago, The Jewish Week editor Gary Rosenblatt left the impression that this whole matter was over Gafni doing teshuva for long-ago things. But those who have known Gafni the longest say the issue is his creepy behavior which has continued into the past five years.

More bad stuff about Gafni is going to come to light in the days ahead. Much of it will be reported by me.

posted by LukeFord | 1:01 AM |

From Haaretz:

Nitzan Chen and Anshel Pfeffer have written a biography that is over 400 pages long, laden with information and anecdotes, in an attempt to portray the complexity of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The book explores Rabbi Ovadia as a religious leader, a political leader and a family man, delving into his childhood, his marriage and his relationship with his children. The authors have left no stone unturned. They have gathered data from every possible source - family archives, books and articles, newspaper reports and interviews. Future biographers will have to be very enterprising to come up with anything new on the subject.

posted by LukeFord | 1:00 AM |

Monday, October 11, 2004  

This video is making the rounds. I'm willing to make a large bet that it gets some mention in the Forward, as well as other J-pubs. Will they ask whether it's appropriate that it essentially advocates, as Jews, being "ashamed" of Richard Perl and Paul Wolfowitz?
My large bet would say not, as that would seem to damage the lock-step.
Either way, I find it pretty repulsive that the NJDC has singled out Perl and Wolfowitz as Jews and declared them something to be "ashamed" of.
This isn't to say that the piece isn't humorous -- certainly the Godzilla moment is -- but there are proper boundaries for political discourse which continue when participating in satire, and this goes outside of them.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:39 PM |

An anti-king screed, by Baynonim

posted by LukeFord | 10:57 AM |

Sunday, October 10, 2004  

I talk by phone October 10, 2004 to the Susan in Gary Rosenblatt's article about rabbi Mordecai Gafni.

posted by LukeFord | 11:29 PM |

Reflecting on Simchat Torah, Chakira says don't drink and daven.

posted by LukeFord | 6:24 PM |

Vicki Polin from The Awareness Center writes:

Call to Action: In Honor of the Memory of Daniel Levin

Asking Herzlia - Adas Yeshurun Synagogue to have the plaque removed honoring Rabbi Ephraim Bryks

Please Contact:

Rabbi Tzvi Muller
Herzlia - Adas Yeshurun Synagogue
620 Brock St., Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3N 0Z4
Phone: (204) 489-6262
Fax: (204) 489-5899

This Yom Kippur marked the 11th anniversary of the suicide of Daniel Levin an alleged victim of Rabbi Ephraim Boruch Bryks. It is a difficult time in particular for his family and friends as Daniel's alleged abuser has never been brought to real justice (if such a thing is even possible at this point) and continues to thrive and work with women and children, not in some small Jewish community but in the New York Orthodox Jewish community.

The Winnipeg Jewish community and Bryks' former Orthodox Union affiliated synagogue, Herzlia Adas Yeshurun (the site of Daniel's abuse), continue to refuse any acknowledgment or responsibility. No apology, no compassion. A plaque honoring Rabbi Ephraim Boruch Bryks remains on the synagogue's "Tree of Life." All Daniel has is a tombstone in a cemetery.

The Awareness Center Has A Call to Action asking everyone to contact Herzlia Adas Yeshurun and ask them to remove the plaque, and perhaps replace it with a plaque honoring the memory of Daniel Levin (see contact information above).

The following event described in this recent article appears to show that Hashem in his mysterious ways did not let this anniversary pass unnoticed.

Sewer backup damages synagogue
Thu Sep 30 2004
Winnipeg Free Press

A late September heavy rainfall forced the members of a River Heights synagogue to scramble to find a new facility to host their faith's most important religious holiday.

Rabbi Tzvi Muller said he was proud of the hustle demonstrated by the members of the Herzlia-Adas Yeshurun Synagogue.

"We spent half a year preparing for Yom Kippur but then the rain came (Sept. 20) and our building was flooded," Muller said.

The heavy rains led to a serious sewer backup flood that damaged the three-storey synagogue, located on the corner of Brock Street and Fleet Avenue.

posted by LukeFord | 11:38 AM |

I plodded through the latest issue (Nov/Dec) of Moment. The magazine is pedestrian and predictable. Just what we need. Another article on domestic abuse. Wow, it even occurs in Jewish homes. Big news. Public service journalism is so exciting to read.

posted by LukeFord | 11:24 AM |

I Plead Guilty To Sins Of The Flesh... Because to plead guilty to sins of sloth, selfishness and narcissism are too painful for me.

posted by LukeFord | 1:26 AM |

Jeanette, the mother of Mobius of and, writes to the American Jewish Press Association re: their freelancers meeting in NYC next month:

In the mood I am in, you don't want me there, because I will expose the garbagists for what they are, editors and writers of garbage about garbage while the Jewish organized world is collapsing around them.

I am going to Israel on a press junket/business trip that I am paying for out of my own pocket. I am going to see David Bedein and to see if I can't find some publications that want some real news stories. I will be gone, happily, from the 3rd to the 22, missing all the important weapons of mass distraction, like the GA, another expensive and useless joke on the Jews, that we writers have to pay for out of our own pockets when we go. After all, expenses are NEVER covered.

Since our vaunted Jewish editors want everything for free, or pay TOPS, $30 for 1,000 words, I have to say I am really impressed that we writers all earn less than we pay our cleaning ladies. Mine gets $12.50 an hour. When I write for the Standard, I don't get paid at all. Cleveland Jewish News? $30. Someplace in Minnesota, $20. If you are a caring writer it makes you wish you were dead or a plumber.

BTW, the publisher who fired me for protesting his use of gentile women on the cover of what used to be a prestigious Jewish magazine and is now Tiger Beat for Hebes, has now issued an edict that if you want to write for him (under me, it was bad enough, from $300-$500 per 1500-3000 words), he is no longer going to pay anyone. If you want to be in, you will have to write for FREE. or you won't be in.

And in another btw, he is accepting, now that I am no longer editor, "interviews" done in instant messaging and email, where the writer doesn't know who is on the other end, and the so-called profilee just signs off on the emails. So when you see people on the cover of ..., as far as I am concerned, the interview is a fake, a phony, a charade and not anything anyone should read because it could be her assistant or an aide or even her cleaning lady on the other end of the machine. Some journalists. anything for a nickel. Feh.

But what the hell, it's all about making the advertisers happy and keeping the Jews ignorant, and the writers miserable and quiet, because they know too much.

After all, even you (the AJPA) didn't think that the email claims conference scam was important enough to even acknowlege, you dismissed it like it was nothing, when in fact, many survivors received it and began acting on it. But what the's REAL news and not a feature about a lifecycle event, therefore it doesn't need to be told.

Ugh and pfui on the editors and publishers purveyors of Jewish garbage. Someone ought to tell them that ignorance is not bliss. And that they have obligations to their readers and writers, not just to the advertisers.

posted by LukeFord | 1:16 AM |
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