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

Saturday, October 23, 2004  

Chicago Orthodox rabbi Jeremy Hershie Worch writes in HonestDS [D stands for dominance, and S for submission] 5/10/04:

I am known as Moonish here in the Live Journal community, but Chapt Schleck in the BDSM scene.

I am a man, twice divorced and 49 years old.

I am a gentle sadist, an articulate and intense dominant with a penchant for edgy behavior.

I will look in your eyes as you begin to groan and I will smile.

'I'm situated on the north side of Chicago I've been around a good few years, around and in the Leather Rose and other play spaces.

-Interests (BDSM):I'm especially turned on by the uses of hypnotism, suggestion, mind control and the trance experience. I can be quite adept at it. I have a voice and am not afraid to use it. I was in a posiition of social influence and prominence and found people trying to hand me their power. I gravitated to those who wanted me to abuse, hurt, control, use and humiliate them. After a time I realised that the needs were sexual and the thrill was sexual and the payoffs were sexual and the right place to act it out was the sexual... yeah, well, long story... I owned the fact that I can get a thril out of hurting another person, humiliating another person, owning another person...

posted by LukeFord | 11:51 PM |

Friday, October 22, 2004  

Am Haaretz believes it has disproven the Oral Law.

posted by LukeFord | 4:45 PM |

So Suzanne Schlossberg has written a new book: "1001 Nights Without Sex And Other Amazing Feats Of Endurance".

As is usual with Jewish women bewailing their lack of action, she seems to place most of the blame for her lack of romantic success on factors outside of her.

I'm not impressed by her number of days without sex. I've gone far longer because of my deeply-held religious values.

posted by LukeFord | 1:44 PM |

Thursday, October 21, 2004  

I keep going on dates with women who own cats. I don't think it is healthy.
A recent blog entry of YML counseled single women against keeping cats, unless a rodent problem was in evidence. Of course, it did not occur to me that any woman would consider sleeping with a cat, until I received the following fairly horrifying response from a dear friend who I shall not name here:
"What if she's a divorced or widowed woman? What if the dog sleeps on the bed and the cat sleeps on a chair in the kitchen? Is that OK with you, Luke?"

posted by LukeFord | 10:16 PM |

Orthodox singles, help is on the way from Dr. Janice D. Bennett, relationship coach:

What singles need is straight talk about what they realistically have to offer a partner and what they can realistically receive in return. And guidance on how to figure this out and then implement it. Rabbis have failed and psychotherapists only help those who come to them distraught and depressed. Coaching is the only solution to help healthy singles figure out how to finally get themselves married.

A few weeks ago, Janice critiqued me for Jewlicious. Now she's critiquing singlegalnyc's blog.
Janice is steamed at that Diehl guy and doesn't think his remarks are funny.
I suggest that she critique the protagonist of There's Something About Mary to see whether he went about getting married the right way.
Janice is peeved with men who can't find time for three weeks to meet a woman.
That is a simple matter. It simply means he's not that into her. She is not a high value for him. If he was really into her, he'd find a way to meet her more quickly.
This ain't rocket science and it doesn't need a PhD.
Just like a guy who says, I was too busy to return your call. He's not that into her.
Also, smart men realize that they are more attractive to women if they are not too available. We need input here from Mike da Kike.

posted by LukeFord | 10:10 PM |

Rabbi Jeremy Hershie Worch writes on his journal about Vicki Polin of The Awareness Center:

I would have been satisfied to have Holy Sister Vikele remove me from her awareness website, I would have breathed a sigh of relief, but no longer. No. The website has to come down. Mostly it has to come down because it is a shaming thing, a shameless, shameful thing, an ERVA where vicki exposes her privates and plays with herself in our faces. But, equally important, it is time to celebrate the good things Reb Shlomo Carlebach gave us all. Next week will be his tenth Yahrzeit - Aniversary. Let's celebrate it with the joy it deserves.

posted by LukeFord | 9:57 PM |

Hamas holds competition to select movement's anthem

posted by LukeFord | 8:21 PM |

Recently Married Man Ready To Start Dating Again

"This past year has been an incredible drain on my time, energy, and emotions," Diehl said. "Now that Karen and I have unwrapped all the gifts, opened a joint checking account, and bought a house, I finally have some time to focus on me—on what I want. And what I want right now is hot, attachment-free sex with young, good-looking women."

posted by LukeFord | 7:57 PM |

Baltimore Jewish Times on domestic abuse.

posted by LukeFord | 7:02 PM |

John Kerry's forced tears about Israel.

posted by LukeFord | 6:51 PM |

Eve Kessler on the GOP intermarriage factory

Why have I not mentioned Malcolm Hoenlein's lack of support for Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement plan and near loss of control of the President's Conference as reported in the Forward and earlier this week in Haaretz?

Whoah, I'm falling down on the job. I really should put aside one day a week to not chase shiksas but to do the right and the good. Just one day for pete's sake.

posted by LukeFord | 6:37 PM |

Me contrasts R. Saul Berman's silence on Charles Kushner with his public support for Mordecai Gafni.

posted by LukeFord | 3:28 PM |

Responding to widespread concern about the plight of single Orthodox Jews, nine influential Orthodox rabbis have endorsed an Internet dating site.
Here's another article in The Jewish Week:

The 'new' Orthodox lonely hearts

With community's rightward turn, singles are having a harder time

By: JULIE WIENER New York Jewish Week

It's 8:30 on a Saturday night and 29-year-old "Ilana," dressed in a
sweater set and skirt that falls just below the knees, is in the
hallway of a Brooklyn synagogue, its faded cappuccino-colored walls
decorated with black-and-white photos from the 1950s and '60s.

Back in the days when the photos were taken and the now-shabby
building was constructed, this synagogue might have hosted a dance
where singles like Ilana could socialize. But today, such events are
largely taboo in the Orthodox community.

posted by LukeFord | 11:37 AM |

I email Shmarya: "I just read Louis Rappoport's book on the Ethiopian Jews... And there doesn't seem to be any strong evidence that they are Jews... I understand various Chief Rabbis declaring them Jews and Israel rescuing them for humanitarian and PR reasons."

Shmarya replies:

They were considered Jews by the Chief Rabbi of Cairo, the RaDBaZ, in the 1500's. He had contact with them. All major poskim agree that they had to be rescued just like any other Jews. Rappoport, o.h., was not familiar with the Halakhic ins and outs of this. R. Ovaida Yosef has a long teshuva about this issue. Some of it (in Hebrew) is up on my site. See here.

While you're there, take a look at the lead story on the blog about corruption in Kfar Chabad.

Well before DNA testing, a leader of the Ethiopian Jews told me that, of the different theories of how Jews got to Ethiopia, the following theory made the most sense to him:

Not wanting to fight in a civil war (north against south) after Shlomo HaMelekh's passing, the Danites (or some of them) fled to Egypt and from there over many years ended up in Ethiopia.

DNA testing shows no 'Kohain gene' among Ethiopian Jews. By contrast, the Lemba Tribe of Southern Africa does have the 'Kohain gene.' The Lemba claim to be descended from Jews. The Falasha's claim (and the Rabbis assert) to be descended from the Tribe of Dan before tribal intermarriage was allowed.

What does this prove? Nothing. But it certainly is interesting.

Simcha writes that the issue the is much more complicated than Shmarya is representing.

Shmarya writes:

Simcha is wrong. He also edited the comments to his articles so that contrasting opinions are limited.

As for the claim (quoted out of context by Simcha) of Chabad's R. Yeruslavski that Ethiopians are not singled out and are treated just as Chabad treats Russians of questionable descent, one can easily note that Chabad has **NO ETHIOPIANS IN THEIR SCHOOLS**, not even Ethiopians that converted. Chabad demands a full individual conversion that takes years to complete, even though the Rebbe referred this issue to Rav Moshe Feinstein who ruled that Ethiopian Jews only needed a pro forma conversion which takes a few moments to do. And even so, no "fully converted" Ethiopian is learning or has learned in Chabad schools. Offers to place such "fully converted" Ethiopian Jews in Chabad schools have been turned down by Chabad.

You can read the Rebbe's 'position' on Ethiopian Jews here --- and here.

On Chabad schools and Ethiopians see here --- and here.

For Chabad and Holocaust Rescue

posted by LukeFord | 2:32 AM |

Haaretz reports on what looks like more rabbinic corruption

posted by LukeFord | 2:32 AM |

Shabbes Cholent in Uganda?
By Rabbi J. Hershy Worch

(Worch, a Lubavitch rabbi living in Australia, visited the Abayudaya in Uganda last August. Following, in Part II, are excerpts from his writings. Part I , describing his discovery of a 70-year-old mikveh, appeared in the previous newsletter.)

It was more than three hours past midnight on a Friday night. I am in Africa, a few minutes north of the Equator, close to the source of the River Nile. I am sitting on a wicker chair with my friends the Bayudaya. As I told a story, all around me on the red earthen floor they were taut with listening. The oldest and youngest of the group snored softly on their bamboo mats. I finished my story.
The dark was overwhelming, palpable; I could not make out a hand in front of my face. It was time for us to retire, to rest, to sleep. But we were much too excited.
"Shall we dance?" I asked. For an answer there came a swish, a rustling of clothing, shuffling feet, and we were dancing. Mine were the only feet in shoes that night as we all danced and danced.

posted by LukeFord | 2:29 AM |

Jewish Women International's 2nd International Conference, Pursuing Truth, Justice and Righteousness: A Call to Action, is a forum to discuss, to learn, to share and to commit to ending violence against all women.

posted by LukeFord | 2:28 AM |

Forward reports: New Books Blend Kabbalah, Psychotherapy and Self-Help

For several decades, Kabbalah remained primarily an academic interest. But as the 1960s wreaked their own anti-rationalistic revolution in the Jewish community, Kabbalah enjoyed a "second wave" of revival, and began to spread outside academic walls and into popular Jewish culture. Scholars like Arthur Green, teachers like Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the chavurah movement — all these drew on Kabbalah not as an academic interest, but as a source for personal transformation. Academic Kabbalah was like reading the recipe; these people wanted to taste the meal.

posted by LukeFord | 2:26 AM | "It has been Jerusalem's dirty little secret for decades: Orthodox yeshiva students and other Jewish residents vandalizing churches and spitting on Christian clergyman as they walk along the narrow, ancient stone streets of the Old City."

posted by LukeFord | 2:22 AM |

Wednesday, October 20, 2004  

Good Torah events in New York on six straight Monday nights, kicking off with Saul Berman of Edah.

posted by LukeFord | 8:04 PM |

Roberta from London suggests we boot the arabs out of Israel so we can have more room to bury our dead.

posted by LukeFord | 7:58 PM |

Chakira recalls his only Brim job.

posted by LukeFord | 7:54 PM |

Screenwriter Robert J. Avrech writes:

I'm writing two screenplays for cable TV. Normally, these two projects would keep me occupied 24/7. But Karen and I are also getting The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden ready for its January '05 publication date. We are mailing out review copies to Jewish newspapers, magazines and book clubs. We are also arranging through our distributor, Jonathan David Publishers, for showcasing in the big chain bookstores. However, Borders, Barnes & Noble and all the huge chains are reluctant to take a chance on ordering more than one or two copies from a new independent publisher with a book by an unknown author--no matter how well written it is.

posted by LukeFord | 7:48 PM |

6 p.m. -- New York University hosts discussion with Ron Zweig, author of ``The Gold Train: The Destruction of the Jews and the Second World War's Most Terrible Robbery''; NYU's Kimmel Center for University Life, Room 914, 60 Washington Square South at LaGuardia Place.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 5:25 PM |

Paul Shaviv writes about anti-missionary crusader Shmuel Golding:

The most outrageous, still hanging around [Jerusalem] I believe, claimed (claims?) to be a survivor of Babi Yar who was smuggled into England in the middle of the war, became an Anglican vicar and then mysteriously 'discovered his roots' and became an anti-missionary campaigner. Despite compiling a formidable file on this character -- who, for various reasons I believe to be the most far-out Evangelical Christian you will ever meet -- the one thing I never found out was his real name, which is certainly not S****l *****ng. (Anyone have info? is the address, or post here).

Shmuel Golding shows up in the Avigdor Eskin article on rabbi David Rosen.
What do you guys know about Shmuel Golding?

posted by LukeFord | 3:56 PM |

Rabbi David Rosen of the AJC is the brother of Rabbi Mickey Rosen of the liberal Jerusalem synagogue Yakar, and Rabbi Jeremy Rosen (London-NY).

The Yakar web site describes both Mickey and Jeremy as "Rabbi Dr."

R. Jeremy Rosen says his PhD was supervised by Dr Pinchas Peli at Ben Gurion University in Israel in 1984.

Yakar's publicist says that R. Mickey Rosen received his PhD from London University in 1994 for a commentary on Job attributed to Rashbam.

posted by LukeFord | 3:41 PM |

This is a surprise announcement that we have been holding back for some time.

Vicki Polin and I are getting married next month at Ner Israel in Baltimore. We want you all to come dance at our chupah. Applying our philosophy of forgive-and-forget, we're having rabbi Mordecai Gafni oversee our nuptials, and rabbis Joseph Telushkin and Saul Berman sign our ketuba, and I want cantor Michael Segelstein to render the chazzanut. Put Sunday, November 14, at 7 pm on your calendars, and God bless you in all of your legitimate endeavors.

Free childcare will be provided by rabbi Ephraim Bryks.

Vicki writes:

We are having a despute over the cantor and melodies.
Should we have Shlomo Carlebach music or not?
We also have the following cantors to choose from, I'm really not into Chabad, and Segelstein is a chabadnik:
Case of Cantor Joel Gordon
Case of Cantor Stuart Friedman (Halifax, Canada-Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, Los Angeles, Baltimore)
Case of Cantor Phillip Wittlin
Case of Cantor Stanley Rosenfeld - Warkwick, RI
But to be honest Howard Nevision is supposed to have the most beautiful voice of them all. I think he [was featured in "The Papal Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust," in April 1994, becoming the first cantor to sing in the Vatican.] Wouldn't he be the best choice of them all? Or am I getting him confused with someone else?
Luke what do you think of Rabbi Benyamin Fleischman - Photographer (Baltimore, MD) take our photo's? We can't forget to have video too.
Someone asked me if you are really marrying the "ME" poster on the blog. I wonder if ME is male or female? Ever see the movie Victor/Victoria? hmmm, maybe he/she really is me?
You'll only know for sure when you lift the veil at our wedding. . . . the saga continues...

Rabbi Sidney Goldenberg will look after the pre-teen girls.

posted by LukeFord | 3:34 PM |

Vatican, Chief Rabbinate slam assault on Armenian Patriarch:

The Vatican delegation to the meetings this week was headed by Cardinal Jorge Meija, the former Vatican archivist. The Israeli delegation was lead by Sha'ar Yashuv Cohen, the chief rabbi of Haifa, and its members included Rabbi David Rosen, from the American Jewish Committee, and chief rabbis of several other Israeli cities.

posted by LukeFord | 1:21 PM |

"This revolutionary range of hijabs has been created by Dutch designer, Cindy Van Den Breman to give Muslim girls and their gym teachers a safe alternative from the traditional hijab when taking part in sport. These stylish and non-fussy hijabs will ensure that Muslim girls are able to comfortably and safely participate in sports and physical activities without having to worry about their hijabs shifting and tearing apart!"

Link thanks to Druce

posted by LukeFord | 1:07 PM |

"A week of politics continues on baynonim. The man in the middle wants help
choosing between the candidates. This is your chance to influence a swing
voter - and his readers."

posted by LukeFord | 11:06 AM |

I resent that FOX's Bill O'Reilly is trying to muscle into my turf (phrase stolen from friend).

posted by LukeFord | 1:00 AM |

Tuesday, October 19, 2004  

I called Shmarya Rosenberg today for the first time.

"I'm busy," he mumbled.

"Busy with what?"

"I'm closing my eyes and consulting the rebbe about shiduchim I've been set up with."

"Which volume of the rebbe's work?"

"They Must Go," said Shmarya.

"But that's by rabbi Meir Kahane."

"He's still my rebbe," said Shmarya. "He was an actor on a stage. He believed (and I know this because I asked him) that his image as a ruthless man would cause Arabs to flee Israel and the shtakhim when Kahane would be elected Prime Minister. They wouldn't even wait for the government to change hands, they'd run immediately. Having said that, most of the guys around him absolutely creeped me out.

"I publicly supported his right to speak and urged that to be done in debate form with a qualified opponent. I also helped bring him to Minnesota to speak 13 days before he was assassinated. I had a panel of leftist students on the stage with him to challenge him. I also had an open microphone in the audience and encouraged opponents to ask questions and challenge him."

"So what did the pasuk of rabbi Kahane say about your shiduchim?"

"They must go."

posted by LukeFord | 9:14 PM |

What do you guys know about this guy?

Rabbi David Rosen has been director of AJC's Interreligious Affairs department since 2001. Based in Israel, he also heads the Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding.

I'm reading a translation of a 1987 article in Hebrew by Avigdor Eskin, "Ha Rav L'inyan Acher," which demolishes rabbi David Rosen (the former chief rabbi of Ireland).

I believe Avigdor Eskin is a former Russian refusenik and follower of Meir Kahane's Kach Party. Eskin is favorably mentioned on this page by conspiracy theorist Barry Chamish.

A source writes: "I remember him from Moscow. Anatoly Eskin. He is a ger like you. In Moscow he had a class in Tehillim. His grandfather was Jewish. He was very active in Moscow. Left to Israel in 1979 where he became very close to Meir Kahane. He mastered Ivrit and became an accomplished and prolific journalist with a significant readership. He was always consistently far right and has been in the Israeli prison at least two times that I know of. Among other things he gave regular interviews to a Russian Jewish radio station in NY from prison!

"A lot of people respect him. I remember he was ideologically uncompromising rather than crazy. He is normal looking, clean shaven, handsome journalist popular with women."

posted by LukeFord | 8:04 PM |

Chakira writes:

The Aruch HaShulchan (AS) is a substantively different work than the Mishnah Berura (MB). While AS and MB are Halachic compendia, and both address contemporary Halacha in particular, only the AS covers the entire ambit of Halacha.[1] Rabbi S.Y. Weinberg is supposed to have said that “only the AS and the Rambam address the entirety of Torah.”

posted by LukeFord | 6:38 PM |

Letter from: Rabbi Saul J. Berman & Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

September 13, 2004

Dear Rabbi [Yosef] Blau,

Since we met some months ago to discuss some issues related to sexual abuse and the role of The Awareness Center, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and I have been maintaining a continuing interest in the activities of The Awareness Center.

My recent letter to Vicki Polin and the members of the Executive Committee of The Awareness Center included a list of suggested policy recommendations which would have made the operation of The Awareness Center website a fair and effective instrument in the battle against sexual abuse in the Jewish community. Unfortunately, Vicki, in the name of the Executive Committee, dismissed all of the suggestions with a single condescending brush stroke.

Permit us to be perfectly blunt. The Awareness Center website as it currently stands is often misleading, its truthfulness cannot be assumed, and, in the name of justice, it has itself become an instrument of vicious abuse. We are moved to make this harsh evaluation in the light of the following points and more:

The claim that the site will only report previously published accusations is an outright lie.

Vicki has herself sent anonymous slanderous postings to web blogs and then cited them on The Awareness Center site as the basis for serious accusations.

The Awareness Center posts and distributes material which is totally false, describing as fact occurrences which simply never took place. The clear intent is the character assassination of those whom Vicki has decided are deserving of public defamation.

The site does not remove accusatory material even after full and multiple investigations have concluded that they are false.

The Awareness Center has initiated campaigns to destroy the reputation and work prospects of accused persons, even after their names have been formally cleared and/or full resolution between the parties has been achieved.

The site will provide no opportunity for response by accused persons, other than an admission of guilt.

The attempt to destroy people's reputations long after their death is not the pursuit of justice, it is journalistic pornography.

These and many other serious offenses (of which we have extensive substantiation) have made The Awareness Center an untrustworthy and deplorable repository of falsehoods, innuendoes, and scandal mongering. It is a disgrace to the Jewish community and we will not abide its continued destructive activities.

We fear that your own reputation for probity and for responsible communal response to the vital issue of sexual abuse may be seriously injured by your continued association with The Awareness Center. We urge you, as we will be strongly urging all others connected with it, to disassociate your name from The Awareness Center until such time as responsible policies and honest procedures are implemented for its future operation.


Rabbi Saul J. Berman

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

posted by LukeFord | 6:35 PM |

Shmarya Rosenberg gas gone crazy with his spoofs on None of the ones I've seen concern Chabad.

posted by LukeFord | 4:06 PM |

My always-growing profile of Chicago Orthodox rabbi Jeremy Hershie Worch.

Based on my sources and my knowledge of my subject, I believe that at least one of the posters defending Worch on Protocols is R. Worch.

He's now started a Yahoo club: Have you been abused by Vicki Polin (of The Awareness Center).

I've read postings by "ScrawnyBuddha" [using the posting name of hydrargirium] on R. Worch-related BDSM sites. I contacted "ScrawnyBuddha" and this is part of what "ScrawnyBuddha" emailed me back:

Just to clear the ground from misconceptions, since my spiritual standing seems to have been mistaken in several instances. I am not a Jew, I am not a Christian and I am not a Muslim, was raised as none, and the link you sent me brought me to places that remind me of the reason why I stand in so much abhorrence of the Religions of the Book. Groups who appear to be only concerned with themselves, deaf to all but
their own language. Like I said once to the object of your inquiry, your language is not inclusive but exclusive, and even when you are an apostate you (Jews, Christians, Muslims) are and remain the followers of a jealous god, bound by chains.

I find myself uncomfortable with people who define themselves by a creed or a nationality and define the entire universe consequently. I find myself uncomfortable with people who belong too much, because I have seen it be cause of the worst that Man can do, to himself and others.

This said...

I am an analytical psychologist and my province is the care of souls in the manner of personal dialogue. This implies the opposite of group therapies of any kind, which seems much to be what is happening here.

I was contacted, because of my opinions on hypnosis and especially on the use of hypnosis in BDSM.

My acquaintance with Mr. Worch is limited. We had some exchanges starting with our disagreement on hypnosis and then about mystical things, not to great results as it is likely between people who speak really different tongues. I never met him and never spoke to him, and what I know of his life and practices is only what I read on his LJ journal and on his website, plus what some of his friends said about him. Nothing of what I know can be called sexual abuse; the use of hypnosis as a toy is in my view an irresponsible act, but one for which both parties bear the blame
unless the hypnotizee's suggestibility is one of the symptoms of mental illness.

It seems to me that this matter, as is presented, is an issue among Jews and of Jews, about the unorthodox teachings of what you call an Orthodox rabbi. Sexual (mis)conduct in this context certainly has a different meaning than for most other people, straight or kinky. But aliens cannot be invited to have a say, because they might well question the very tenets of your Weltanschauung.

I asked BDSM expert Ira Levine aka Ernest Greene (husband of Nina Hartley) what he thought about the practices imputed to R. Hershie Worch. He replied:

Wow. I thought I'd seen it all. Guess that's never a safe assumption. None of this stuff looks familiar to me, although some standard BDSM culture language is appropriated, weirdly indeed, along with religious terminology. It's strange enough that one warped mind could figure out how to reconcile all these contradictions, but the fact that this guy appears to have some kind of following truly amazing. Body-modification and Talmudic Law? I don't think so.

I suppose I have run onto some variation of the hynotism-sex thing. We had one very odd client who used to come into a pro-dom club where I worked as a manager when I first got out here. He used to pay girls to dress up like his mother and pretend to hypnotize him and order him to masturbate. Some sort of cripto-Freudian do-it-yourself-therapy kind of thing. Needless to say, not a lot of the girls would do him. Creepy to be sure, but harmless enough, and unlikely to inspire imitation.

I don't know, Luke. This is definitely a visit to an alternative universe
where I wouldn't want to spend much time.

The type of behavior you describe is exaclty the opposite of what's considered normal in the BDSM world. The leather community's entire ethic is built on informed consent. No situation in which an individual is drugged, hypnotized, coerced or otherwise made incapable of granting such consent and then subjected to sexual abuse is considered anything but criminal by any community standard.

Criminality of this kind is rare among BDSM people, who tend to be wary and alert with strangers and quick to call out what they regard as inappropriate conduct. This is supported by a close-knit social culture in which secretive activity is difficult. BDSM players don't tolerate predators and don't make good victims.

Not to evade your direct question, however, I think the kind of fantasy you're talking about is extremely rare, but not inconceivable. A younger generation of BDSM players in particular seems to enjoy some fantasy input from Clive Barker, et al, as a feature of their more goth-leaning conception of kinky eroticism. I have to say I don't get it myself, and I suspect some of it is affected for shock-value, but there is some overlap between the younger kinksters and gore-hounds.

posted by LukeFord | 1:20 PM |

Monday, October 18, 2004  

The Luke Ford Fan Blog has the first review of my new book:

A reader not familiar with the Luke Ford œuvre may wonder what he got for his $35.95 (hardcover), $25.95 (softcover) or $6 (eBook) after reading comments like: "I don't understand what you are doing here. Who's your publisher?" (Rabbi Shmuley Boteach), or "Dear Mr. Ford: I do not wish to be included in your book. If there is anything negative about me or my family in your book you will hear from my attorney” (Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman).

Such opening remarks don't inspire a lot of confidence in Mr Ford's stature as a player in the world of Jewish journalism. But they're not nearly as damning as Robert Avrech and Matt Welch's Forewords, which are brutal -- totally, absolutely, heartbreakingly brutal. Poor Mr Ford, I thought. These are your friends and yet they write terrible things about you...

posted by LukeFord | 5:48 PM |

YU press release on what Steven I. Weiss reported ten days ago: Rabbi Kenneth Brander to Lead Think-Tank for Education, Leadership, and Community Affairs

posted by LukeFord | 1:57 PM |

10 a.m. -- The UJA-Federation launches initiative to reach out to isolated seniors; the Jewish Museum, Fifth Avenue at 92nd St.
12:30 p.m. -- Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz joins Muslims to mark the first week of Ramadan; Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St.
3 p.m. -- The Simon Wiesenthal Center hails the condemnation of suicide bombings by Muslim clerics; New York Tolerance Center, 226 E. 42nd St.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 11:53 AM |

David Bernstein:

Jews and Republicans:Instapundit points to this very perceptive analysis of John Kerry's policies and attitudes toward Israel by Martin Peretz. But Peretz also begins his piece with this puzzling but accurate statement: "Like many American Jews, I was brought up to believe that if I pulled the Republican lever on the election machine my right hand would wither and, as the Psalmist says, my tongue would cleave to the roof of my mouth." I have never understood why Jews are so hostile to Republicans, as such. It is not as though the Republican Party has exactly led pogroms against the Jews over the years. Indeed, throughout the 20th-century, the most prominent anti-Semites--southern racists like Theodore Bilbo, Catholic fascists like Father Coughlin, and black demagogues like Al Sharpton--were Democrats. For that matter, the most anti-Semitic demographic groups, ranging from urban Catholics and rural fundamentalists in the early 20th-century to poorly educated and just plain poor whites, African-Americans, and Latinos today, have, and continue to be among the Democrats' primary constituencies. (The Republicans primary constituency today, evangelicals, are no more anti-Semitic than the population as a whole.). And of course, it was beloved Democrat Franklin Roosevelt who stifled most efforts to rescue Jews from the Shoah. I've often heard Jews say it was the Democrats' commitment to civil rights that made Jews hostile to Republicans. But until 1964, Republican politicians overall were more sympathetic to civil rights legislation than were Democrats, and the period that this was true was also the period during which Jews were most hostile to Republicans (if I'm not mistaken, Reagan and Nixon received higher percentages of the Jewish vote than did Eisenhower, Dewey, or Wilkie; Milton Friedman received much more flak for being a Republican around 1960 than any similarly-situated prominent Jewish intellectual would receive today; Peretz grew up in an era when the racist South was still a dominant force in the Democratic Party). Conclusion: The reflexive antipathy of Jews to Republicans per se (as opposed to specific policies pursued by Republicans) has been, and continues to be, irrational.
I'd imagine that FDR's New Deal programs, and then LBJ's New Society programs, would be particularly relevant. Also, the idea that the the Commie/Lefty types of old established and perpetuated a notion of their values being the exclusive ones available to Jews against rational argumentation doesn't seem awfully surprising. A dogmatic crew, them.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 10:23 AM |

Sanhedrin launched in Tiberias.

Simcha has more.

posted by LukeFord | 1:58 AM |

Sunday, October 17, 2004  

Rabbi Jeremy Hershy Worch has re-opened his Kaballah blog:

If only a fraction of the anecdotal evidence is to be credited I am endowed with awesome hypnotic powers that cause women to tear their clothes off and force me to take cold showers... I'm only sorry they never greatly affected either my previous landlords or employers, and have had precious little effect on either of my ex-wives.

posted by LukeFord | 11:13 PM |

Yeshiva student apologizes to archbishop for spitting

posted by LukeFord | 9:36 PM |

The Judy in the R. Mordecai Gafni story tells her side of things.

posted by LukeFord | 8:23 PM |

Tzemach Atlas on Twersky, lions, whiskey.


posted by LukeFord | 8:01 PM |

The tenth anniversary of R. Shlomo Carlebach. The Happy Minyan in Los Angeles is having an anniversary concert. Some of Shlomo's "survivors" go to that minyan.

posted by LukeFord | 5:38 PM |

"You're getting quite chummy with Rob Eshman," a pleased Cathy Seipp said to me over dinner Saturday night.

Well, access to greatness, Cathy, has not compromised my ability to speak truth to power.

Rob writes in his latest column in the Oct. 15 Jewish Journal of Los Angeles: "If it wasn't for the fact that Americans can't chew gum and hold an election at the same time..."

Why is it that whenever I read these sentiments, they come from leftists rather than rights by two-to-one?

I wonder which countries Eshman thinks can hold elections and chew gum at the same time? Israel? France? Sweden?

Eshman devotes his column to analyzing Bush's roadmap to peace and Israel's security. Rob has no comparative advantage in writing this stuff. It's already done better in The NYT. He should be writing about what he knows -- Jewish Los Angeles.

The cover of the October 15, 2004 issue of the Jewish Journal was a repetition of a theme played out endlessly at the left-of-center paper -- violence bad, peace good, Arab-Israeli cooperation good.

The cover read: "A Brutal Attack on a Symbol of Peace May Lead to More Israeli-Arab Cooperation."

Then there's the useless article by Janine Zacharia: "The vice president links Israel terror reduction to Saddam's removal."

If Janine (a beautiful and fascinating woman) wants to be truly happy, she should marry me, move into the hovel, and have my babies. Then she could exercise her influence on international relations in the kitchen and the bedroom (in my hovel, everything is the same room) as God and nature intended (credit for that pungent thought goes to Chaim Amalek).

I don't want to go this entire post without praising something in the Journal. There is a picture of a cute dog on the back.

posted by LukeFord | 1:43 PM |

Luke Launches Triumphant Anti-Inter-Dating Lecture Tour

"It all begins with a date."

The Luke Ford Family of Blogs has grown so large that, in light of my obligations as a Jew, I have chosen to farm out some of the work from time to time. In the case of this blog, much of the political commentary is provided by others. (In particular, Rabbi Gadol is the one who drafted the political platform, a platform that I heartily endorse - although I do not loath George Bush as much as he, and likely will vote for Bush.) However, my writings on personal matters remain personal to me, and your responses here do count, if you meet the base-line criteria I set forth. Please note that these criteria are mandated by the Torah, lest I find myself spilling seed where it cannot possibly do me or the Jewish people any good.

posted by LukeFord | 1:18 PM |

NYPost: "LOS ANGELES — Madonna's personal kabbalah guru Rabbi Philip Berg has suffered a stroke and is now wheelchair-bound, raising fears the controversial spiritual leader may not have long to live."

posted by LukeFord | 11:56 AM |

Tzemach Atlas on pre-WWII Warsaw.

posted by LukeFord | 11:30 AM |

Janice Bennett on the top ten questions to ask a potential life partner.

posted by LukeFord | 3:09 AM |

A translation of the opening of the Maariv article on Mordecai Gafni:

Ways of Pleasantness

Charismatic, Media-Savvy and Original, he Loathes the Religious Establishment and is the leader of the "New Home" Congregation. He is Unabashedly Politically Ambitious. He is also a great advocate of petting and touching, all out of brotherly love, of course. For the first time, Rabbi Mordechai Gafni steps up to address the many unresolved episodes from his past that attribute him with sexual abuse and sexual harassment, 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 ensconced among colorful embroidered cushions, barefoot, meditating young ladies and crystals. I greet him modestly with "shalom" and tentatively extend my hand. Gafni the altruist is deeply offended. "Why shake hands, sweetie? Come, give me a hug," he says, and embraces me with great emotion, drawing me to him in paroxysms of affection.
From deep among the folds of the ADMOR (term used for Chassidic leader - here it is used cynically) Gafni's vest, I wonder: What is better, a hidden Tzaddik who speaks to women from behind a curtain, or a cheerful blue-eyed rabbi who gives out hugs for the sake of heaven?
We sit opposite one another, across an antique wood table laden with Chassidic tracts brimming with spiritual insight. But even from a distance the pious rabbi makes sure that I feel comfortable, so from time to time he places a hand on my shoulder. How fortunate I am - he even occasionally pats my head, which is humbly engrossed in my paper (for writing).
SMB: "With all due respect - this is not the way a rabbi behaves."
MG: "According to Halacha, hugging a woman without sexual intent is a legitimate option. Not all rabbis agree with me but modesty is always an interesting subject for debate. In my opinion, when a woman wears close-fitting charedi (ultra orthodox) garb, and her dress clings perfectly to her ass, it's as if the woman is broadcasting "fuck me" - despite her modest dress. On the other hand, a man can hug a woman according to halacha if his sexuality emanates from a deep pure place and flows naturally."
SMB: "Halacha allows hugging women?"
MG:"I know with 100% certainty that there are orthodox rabbis who shake hands with women, even in Israel. I won't name names, I will only say that they are among the greatest rabbis. I have seen some of them give hugs to women. I hug all men and women in my community, and I communicate the same love for an old woman of 97 as I would for a young lady of 18. I am not prepared to live in a world without hugs.
"In the charedi world all sexual energy is illegitimate. All erotic meaning is unacceptable. However even the Chassidic masters said that swaying during prayer is a mating gesture, a sexual gesture. Is it chutzpah to say this? The Baal Shem Tov himself said that prayer is mating. I am not saying that prayer is sex, I am only saying that prayer is an experience of complete presence, one that can only be achieved via the act of love. Both in prayer and in making love one achieves a situation of being completely inside and feels the other. [The individual can] leave narrow egocentrism and love another."
SMB: "That is how you feel when you pray?"
MG My entire congregation feels this way when they pray. We sit in pairs, men across from women, with no regard for marital status, and we start to read the words of the prayers. Then we look deep into each other's eyes and we feel great love. This is not a sexual act. It is an act of love between a man and a woman in prayer. In Bayit Chadash prayer is an erotic experience.
"I am not saying that you should get carried away. Even by us there are limits. I have heard of a religious movement that has nude cross gender mikvah bathing. This won't happen in our community. We all remain clothed, and all physical touch is a caress of love."
SMB: "Even this small (touch) is foreign and strange to the orthodox world."
MG: "I know, I know. But I believe everyone needs to decide where he will take
his risks. I prefer to take risks in love."
Why Are People Telling Stories about Him?
Perhaps Rabbi Gafni has taken his risks for love too far, for indeed, the reason for our meeting is the recent wave of persistent publicity tying him to harassment of a sexual nature. It should be said at the outset that two of the central episodes occurred around twenty years ago, and according to Gafni's statements and documents, they may well be the result of persecution by a group of people who envy his success. But it is very hard to justify (or, clear) the Rabbi who so gushes with love when his most pronounced behaviors are characterized by hugging and touching and his main topics of conversation revolve around sex, eros and erotica. In any case, as Gafni's successful Torah community expands, these episodes have emerged, and today they have began to bob to the surface once again, threatening to sully the
reputation of the man whose students consider him a great scholar of Torah and Halacha.
" There are people who say, 'Gafni has gone too far in loving his fellow man,'" says the blushing young leader of the community, bubbling over with sorrow and rustling documents that attest to his innocence. "There are those who try to invalidate me out of jealously and pettiness, and because you can't invalidate a person for their ideas, they say 'Rabbi Gafni is an egomaniac, there are stories about him and sexual abuse.' In order to destroy the Bayit Hadash Congregation and distance me from he Rabbinate, they dredge up these old episodes all over and each time add new, piquant
"We have no problem whatsoever with Rabbi Mordechai Gafni's success," says one Rabbi who presently resides in the U.S. (the name is withheld by the editor). "We have a very serious problem with the testimony of women who have been hurt by him. I have known Gafni for over thirty years, and we were once friends. Even when he was very young, all sorts of rumors surrounded him involving women, and especially young girls upon whom he put his rabbinic authority to ill use, harassing and abusing them sexually, but there was never any proof. Every complaint was explained away by documents Gafni presented to testify to his innocence.
"Several years ago, it became public knowledge that Rabbi Baruch Lanner, who was until that point considered a highly successful figure on the New York educational scene and who had worked with youth, had in fact been harassing girls for thirty years. A Jewish Week reporter succeeded in interviewing several of Lanner's victims and exposing this serial abuser. Lanner was fired, formal complaints were lodged with the police, and Rabbi Lanner is presently in prison. Immediately after this case came into the public eye, women were empowered, and began talking openly about other rabbis who abuse women. The first on the list was Rabbi Gafni.
"Three women approached Vicki Polin, an activist in the Baltimore Jewish community who assist charedi victims of rape and sexual assault, and lodged complaints against Rabbi Mordechai Gafni. Polin sought out Rabbi Yosef Blau, Mashgiach Ruchani at Yeshiva University, and we all spoke to these young women and helped them in their recovery. At the end of the process, we all understood that Rabbi Gafni had destroyed their lives.
"After this, I kept my distance from Gafni. Earlier, I had asked to meet with him and speak to him. We sat together for five hours. Gafni had begun to establish himself in Israel and maintained contacts with many women and girls as a Torah authority. I was afraid for them. But Gafni insisted that Vicki Polin is crazy, and that the girls who complained were in love with him and turned against him because he had rebuffed their advances. He went so far as to compare himself to our forefather Joseph the Tzadik who withstood the enticement of Potiphar's wife. He carried on al along, shouting at the top of his lungs that everyone was jealous of him and his success in Israel.
"I said to him, 'Mordechai, listen. There are a lot of rabbis who are successful in Israel and people are not jealous of them. Why is that only about you there are these ugly stories?' He had no response. At one point in our conversation, I looked at him and said, 'Gafni, you need help. You are a sick person.' He, of course, did not accept what I said, so I backed away from him and disengaged."
The first episode took place 23 years ago, when Gafni was 20 years old. "I fell in love with a 14 year old girl," he reconstructs. "There was an incredible spiritual connection between us. She wrote me a letter describing her gentle and beautiful love. We were young and did nothing wrong except for a little fooling around. You know, some kissing and tits. We broke up after a year. I was not yet a rabbi then, and I never heard from that girl again.
"Five years ago, when the Bayit Hadash Congregation began to develop and gain public recognition, suddenly I was told that the girl was spreading lies about me, saying that I took advantage of her sexually when she was underage. A group of people who don't care for my ideology and the (spiritual) path of Bayit Hadash is publicizing these stories. When I was asked to respond, I said that to the best of memory, I was young and foolish and in love, and she was old beyond her years, and still I didn't do anything bad to her, and I have never in my life assaulted a woman, not sexually or in any other way."
"I was 13 and Gafni was 20," says the girl in a phone conversation from New York. "I was a little girl and didn't understand much. Gafni offered to help me with Talmud studies. Then he began to tell me that I am very special and he likes me. He also warned me not to tell anyone about his love, because they would all think that I am crazy and imagining things.
"One month later, he asked my parents' permission to sleep at our house. He said he wanted to go to a shul in the neighborhood. At night, he came into my room and woke me. He began to touch me and forced me to touch him. I started to cry and pushed him away, but he was much stronger than me. He said that if I told anyone he would hurt me and my parents.
"He did it every week for eight months. And every Shabbat morning he would pray intently and tell me that I should repent for what we did at night, because he also had prayed and repented. He didn't have sex with me because he was afraid I would get pregnant. At a certain point he was offered various shiduchim (arranged marriages) and he told me he was going to get married and all his problems would be over. Then he left me. Only years later I found the strength to tell some of my friends what had happened to me. With their help, I wrote a letter to a well-known rabbi who was friendly with Gafni in Israeland told him what had happened. But the rabbi has not answered my letter to this day."

Me writes:

A very interesting article in the Sofshavua (end of week) magazine supplement of the Friday Maariv. It seems Gafni intitiated this article to tell his side of the story. He does not come off well at all.

He basically claims everyone is jealous of his success.

Includes 2 huge giant color pictures (one is a 2 page photo spread, the other is the cover) that Gani posed for specifically for the story. I'm not sure what look Gafni was going for in these pictures. The cover has sitting in a chair arms and legs crossed with just a plain light bulb hanging from a wire in a completely empty blue room. He's wearing a white shirt and vest. He's not smiling. The 2 page spread has the same picture from his left side (no light bulb).

I don't know what he was going for, an intellectual look or the scary cult-leader in a blue prison cell look. I think he achieved the 2nd very well.

I would point out, as no one else has, that Gafni is also on the cover of the Friday Maariv (both the Israeli and international editions), he's right centre on the top cover under the Maariv header. With a caption for the article in the Sofshavua (end of week) magazine.



The Fondler
Rabbi Mordechai Gafni loves to hug and touch his flock.

posted by LukeFord | 3:03 AM |

From Haaretz:

But now along comes Rabbi Shapira, the former chief rabbi of Israel, who is considered the supreme spiritual leader of religious Zionism, and presumes to know the will of God. In the halakhic ruling that he published on refusing orders, he speaks dogmatically in the name of "Heaven."

posted by LukeFord | 3:01 AM |

Menahem Wecker: Why I Am Now an anti-Democracist

posted by LukeFord | 3:00 AM |

Sex in Tel Aviv column by Orit Arfa

I hosted her and our friend David in my hovel on Tishu B'Av 2001. She's long-legged and beautiful. She was attending a Conservative seminary in Jerusalem and planning a book on Genesis.

Later that day, I decided to sell

Orit's personal web site.

posted by LukeFord | 2:55 AM |
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