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

Saturday, November 06, 2004  

My Shabbos reading list:

The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield: C
Natasha by David Bezmozgis: B
Properties of Light by Rebecca Goldstein: D
Next Year I Will Know More by Tamar El-Or: B
Rabbis: The Many Faces of Judaism by George Kalinsky: B
Hollywood Animal by Joe Esterhas: A
Jorge Luis Borge's short stories: I gave up.

posted by LukeFord | 11:59 PM |

Dana Milbank screwed up in this Washington Post article:

Leaders of Christian political organizations have spoken of Tuesday's results as providential. "Only the Lord could have orchestrated an election in which the president got a wonderful majority vote and at the same time we had a basic Christian institution of marriage on the ballot," Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family's vice president of public policy, said on the group's radio show this week.

The organization's head, James Dobson, said, "I think God has honored" Bush because "the president did acknowledge Jesus Christ." The same program broadcast a statement by Dennis Prager, a Christian commentator, saying "civilization as we understand it was in the balance" in the election, and "a beautiful man has been vindicated."

Prager is about as public a figure as Judaism has in North America. He has a nationally syndicated radio show and is the author of four acclaimed books.
I love the ignorance and condescension of the media elite towards those who take religion seriously.

posted by LukeFord | 11:55 PM |

Is Yassir Arafat dying of AIDS?

posted by LukeFord | 10:00 PM |

NYT weighs in on city's kosher water controversy:

The issue has created the perfect conditions for a Talmudic tempest, allowing rabbis here and in Israel to render sometimes conflicting and paradoxical rulings on whether New York City water is drinkable if it is not filtered. As with the original Talmudic debates, the distinctions rendered for various situations have been super-fine, with clashing judgments on whether unfiltered water can be used to cook, wash dishes, or brush teeth, and whether filtering water on the Sabbath violates an obscure prohibition.

This seems to be the best article yet on the matter.

posted by LukeFord | 9:59 PM |

Sigmund Freud and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

posted by LukeFord | 9:41 PM |

Friday, November 05, 2004  

Inspired by our president, I'm launching a brand new dating campaign -- leave no chick behind. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Let's study Torah together tonight.

posted by LukeFord | 6:46 PM |

Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women's Ordination, 1889-1985 by Pamela S. Nadell

Nadell puts it all together like nobody has done but the book is a one-sided pollyanish read. All women who want to be rabbis are portrayed as good and the men who stand in their way are portrayed as either not getting an obvious truth (like civil rights) or are weak of will. That there might be legitimate arguments against ordaining women (see the declining rate of male participation in movements that ordain women) is never considered in this book. Shallow. Dull. Insufferably smug in its conviction of feminist righteousness.

I don't care that the author supports female ordination. I do care that the book lacks nuance. The account is one sided. All the women who wanted to be rabbis are heroines and those who stood in their way were at best fools. There is no depth and texture to the book. It is not human. The book is propaganda. One side is with the angels and the other with the donkeys.

How would I have written the book? I would've tried to capture the humanity of the participants rather than to write hagiographies.

posted by LukeFord | 2:11 PM |

He reads Protocols so you don't have to.

posted by LukeFord | 11:58 AM |

I feel that I can tell when I'm reading Alana Newhouse, Ari Goes Down, Chanandler Bong, Teresa Strasser, Candice Bushnell, my ex-girlfriend Tiffany Stone (I became attracted to her through her writing, I found it alluring) and Lisa On The Face that I am reading the words of a beautiful woman. There's a certain confidence in them. Meanwhile, I read another blogger who seems bitterly homely. Can you sense beauty on the basis of a person's words?

I sometimes fear that my perceptions are so keen that I can tell a woman's womanly shape by her prose. Cathy Seipp, for instance, writes like a woman who has everything a woman should have (a natural C-cup plus rather than some boyish A-cup). I could be more specific about the depth of my insights in this matter but the Torah does not permit me to do so.

Post-Jewish advice columnist Amy Alkon wouldn't be Amy Alkon without her outrageous curves.

A beautiful woman such as Alana Newhouse is more likely to support a free market in dating, sex roles, romance, and marriage. Give women freedom.

Beauty conveys a confidence that you will have a high demand in the marketplace of dating.

More homely women tend to be more supportive of traditional mores, that a community should uphold traditional sex roles and distinctions between men and women, that it should look after women paternalistically so they do not fall prey to the naturally predatory male, and that the community should do everything it can to minimize the value of looks and to avoid a free market in dating but instead push people to pair up early (soon after 18) and have kids so that the concerns of young people will be for practical matters such as child-rearing rather than the glamorous but dangerous world of free dating.

Homely women frequently fear that beautiful women will steal the best men. They frequently resent the unfairness of life and they often want more communal regulation.

A single attractive woman is a threat to the peace of a traditional community. For rational reasons, women with BFs and husbands fear that their men lust for her. It is disturbing to the equilibrium.

If a man can possibly view a woman as a sexual object, he will (unless he is a particularly elevated sort like me). That will be his primary way of viewing her. A beautiful woman writing on sex will usually be viewed as a dumb slut unless her work is of soaring beauty or importance, such as a Mary McCarthy (wife of Edmund Wilson) etc...

But it is better to be a beautiful female writer, where beauty adds to the allure, than a handsome male writer where his beauty causes people to take his work less seriously?

Beauty like ugliness like robust health like sickliness like wealth like poverty shapes who we are.

Homely poor females in particular know that they are not going to be able to coast through life on their looks and money. People like me who dropped out of university know that they are going to have to work extra hard and perhaps take some unconventional routes to success. People like myself who have struggled with chronic illness for many years (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in my case) tend to be much more conservative in our outlook on the world than those who feel robust.

Beauty, particularly combined with smarts and yichus and good education, conveys a certain confidence. Homeliness, particularly in one who has never married, can leave one with a chip on the shoulder, a need to prove to the world that one is still a worthy person even though strangers who encounter one are not initially dazzled by one.

Everything that makes us who we are, including our looks, shapes our writing. In the end, we can not help but write what we are. It is not coincidental that I am obsessed with writing about sin, particularly certain sexual sins, as well as with God, morality and a stern moral code that I frequently flout.

I'm not talking about us fantasizing about a perfect world, in which "beauty (pretty words) stems from beauty (pretty face)?"

I am primarily interested in what is true, rather than what should be. What is true is that we are powerfully attracted to the attractive, much more so than most people want to admit. Handsome charming people can get away with writing and saying outrageous things that an ugly prosaic person could not.

I agree with Tom Wolfe that much of human motivation is about striving for status. It is hard to underestimate the power of jealousy (particularly among writers), and much of jealousy is over looks.

I find many reporters blunt. I just got off the phone with one who wanted my help. If I had been on his side of the phone, I would've tried to be much more charming so I could've elicited a better interview. I don't understand all the people who interview me who are boorish and insensitive during the interview. Afterwards, fine, write what you like. But while you want something from me, why would a journalist, or anybody, not be real nice?

posted by LukeFord | 10:33 AM |

I'll be speaking Wednesday, November 10th, at NYU's Bronfman Center for New Voices event entitled "The Jewish Media Conspiracy -- Behind the Myth." Which, of course, assumes it's a myth...or does it? You have to come to find out.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:24 AM |

Book sales for Yesterday's News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism have suddenly gone through the roof. It is my best selling book on Amazon and ranked 173,122 overall.

posted by LukeFord | 1:42 AM |

Chakira does restaurant reviews.

posted by LukeFord | 1:29 AM |

Wilderness rabbi brings Jewish shamanism to Berkeley

posted by LukeFord | 1:27 AM |

Thursday, November 04, 2004  

Salman Rushdie will be speaking at YU November 10 at 7pm (Weissberg Commons, Belfer Hall).

posted by LukeFord | 11:00 PM |

YU's (Yeshiva University, Orthodox) new Israel advisor and Manager of Gruss Kolel Elyon in Har Nof, Jerusalem has a masters degree from HUC (Reform seminary).

posted by LukeFord | 10:57 PM |

Marvin Shick takes Edgar Bronfman to task:

Mr. Bronfman's sin has been multiplied by the skimpy coverage given to his
remarks by the American Jewish media and by the corollary absence of sharp
editorial criticism. Our publications have much to say when a solitary rabbi
says or does something foolish or offensive or when an inconsequential
incident occurs in a small shul. Why the timidity when a man at the top of
our massive organizational heap behaves in a wrongful manner?

posted by LukeFord | 10:29 PM |

The next step in the Star-K's plan to rule the world

posted by LukeFord | 9:08 PM |

If rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's smicha was revoked, does that mean these people don't actually have a smicha? Are there others?

Top seven rabbis who claim they got their smicha from Carlebach:

1. Carlebach Smicha - Rabbi Yitzhak Buxbaum

2. Carlebach smicha - Rabbi Shalom Brodt

3. Carlebach Smicha - J. Hershy Worch

4. Carlebach Smicha - Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein

5. Carlebach Smicha - Rabbi Mimi Feigelson
Outed as a rabbi, Orthodox woman to speak here (March 08, 2002)

6. Carlebach Smicha - Rabbi Menashe Bovit

7. Carlebach Smicha - Rav Simcha Hochbaum

posted by LukeFord | 1:52 AM |

Rabbi Worch posts under name Moonish:

2003-08-29 17:16 (link)
Ever since childhood, the only purpose to which I have considered putting 'rules' is so as to have something to break, or, preferably, shatter, smash, rend, sunder
or destroy. Ignoring the rules has never really seemed sufficient, you know.

Hasidism is almost defined by the copiousness of its rules of thought, attitude, speech and behavior.

I was perceived as ultra chutzpadik, whereas I just thought myself misunderstood and victimised.

The dean of the Sunderland Yeshivah (#2) once asked me what I had done so bad in the yeshivah in London (#1) to cause the dean of the Manchester Yeshivah (pre #1)
to advise a young scholar to avoid Sunderland because I was there?

Which only happened a year and a half before he, the dean at Sunderland wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation to the dean of the Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, Israel (#3)in a successful bid to transfer me hither.

The one I wrote about yesterday, Gateshead Yeshiva (#4) came later.

My favorite phrase was, "But you don't understand."

Theirs was invariably, "Oh, but we do, we really do."

posted by LukeFord | 1:47 AM |

Orthodox paper The Jewish Press reviews the latest book by bad boy Philip Roth.

posted by LukeFord | 1:03 AM |

Wednesday, November 03, 2004  

Chakira writes:

Richard Joel spoke tonight in the YU BM. His Mussar exhortation focused on the atmosphere of cynicism and vilification at Yeshiva. Joel said that we need to cut down on cynicism which he defined as “a destructive skepticism.” He also said that we need to stop conflating people and their ideological convictions. We can, according to Joel, disagree. We shouldn’t let our disagreements turn into ad hominems and vilifying personal attacks.

posted by LukeFord | 10:57 PM |

Dov Bear writes:

HEY I'M FAMOUS I was so distracted by Bush's doofy grin, I failed to notice
that Luke Ford had linked me. You know what this means, don't you? It means
I'm a star. A glorious, brilliant star. And I'm better than you.

But I won't let fame change me. Yes, I crashed my Hummer (yellow, with chrone wheels) into the line waiting outside FLoat last night, killing three people (all of whom probably had webpages with far fewer hits than mine, so no big loss). Yes, I dumped my girlfriend after she caught me snorting coke off the bald head of my new Senegalese model/roommate/singer. And, yes, I got in a fistfight with Courtny Love over Kurt's legacy. The wench scratches.

Otherwise, I'm still the same. Mostly. I still have a goldfish, but now she swims in Evian. My cellphone is unchanged, only now it rings much, much lounder, and to the tune of Usher's "My Boo." I've begun double-parking, I admit, talking boorishly during davening, and pushing ahead of lines. But I am a Jewish man, so that might have happened even if Luke had continued to ignore me.

Most important, I won't change my approach to DovBear. It will only be slightly modified. I'll still blog about politics and the Jewish world. I'll still post any damn thing I see, I'll still say anything I damn well please, and I'll still insult other bloggers whenever I can. Only now I pledge to have a damn good reason.

posted by LukeFord | 10:32 PM |

Vicki Pollin from The Awareness Center writes:

Pay attention to the individuals named in the following article. Several of them are individuals that were quoted in The Jewish Week's article this week on Conference and Memory of Shlomo Carlebach.
Most of which are closely tied to the Jewish Renewal Movement, and are strong supporters of rabbi Mordechai Gafni (who confessed to molesting a 13 year old girl).

Some of you may be aware of the fact that for the last 10 years there has been a movement to glorify the accomplishments of a man named Shlomo Carlebach. The Awareness Center firmly believes there is a problem in doing this. There have been numerous accusations that Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach sexually harassed and assaulted many young women, and sexually assaulted/abused a few teenage girls.
This week The Jewish Week published an article that barely mentioned these facts. In the article that was written by Jonathan Mark he quoted his sister Naomi Mark and her colleague Michelle Friedman, with the following:
"Dr. Michelle Friedman, who teaches pastoral counseling at the rabbinical seminary Yeshiva Chovevei Torah and with Naomi Mark, a psychotherapist in the Orthodox community, led a workshop at the conference on rabbinical boundaries, said: “Where there is smoke there may not be fire, but there’s an issue. Shlomo was known to be very charismatic and seductive. To the degree that these stories come up, I have to respect that something happened to somebody. It’s sad. But I think it’s great that this next generation of Carlebach people included this issue in the conference.”
Mark said in the workshop that it wasn’t fair to view the allegations of events in the 1960s with the moral perspective of 2004. "
Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi states:
"Zalman advised the participants, “I beg of you, in the name of [Shlomo] … that you should keep your heart open” and be as inviting and as generous as Shlomo was."
Rabbi Avi Weiss added, “I believe no Jew has met more Jews in his or her lifetime than Shlomo Carlebach. And yes, I remember the way he was shunned, the way he was maligned. Many people promised they would pay him and didn’t pay him.”
Please note that Marks, Weiss and Shachter area also very strong supporters of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni who confessed publically that he had sexual relations with a 13 year old girl.

posted by LukeFord | 9:11 PM |

I've been communicating for several weeks with a woman who knew R. Jeremy Hershy Worch intimately for several months and grew concerned about his behavior. She writes:

Dear Luke,

Thank you for the work you have been doing on exposing J.Hershy Worch for the fraud and misogynist he is. (I won't use the rabbi title for him---there is not one
ounce of anything spiritual to him beyond his talents and well-crafted writing skills.)

I am one---of many, it turns out---women who have come forward to file complaints on him.

First, it needs to be made ABSOLUTELY clear that this is NOT merely about the exposing of some poor benign rabbi with a taste for kinky sex. (whatever two people
do in private, etc. etc.)

This is about a man who is an internet PREDATOR, who intentionally uses his Rabbi title to prey on novices to Judaism, novices to bdsm, women with histories of
childhood abuse and emotional vulnerabilities. His only interest in God and Judaism is in how he can use them to be in power-over-others to serve his narcissism and sadistic ego. He preys on vulnerable novices via seduction, romance, kabbalah, to lead into BDSM experiences with him---because we don't have the experience to know about SSC--Safe, Sane, Consensual, the general 'law' of the BDSM world--until we're
already in too deep. He manipulates and utilizes trance states and 'hypnoeroticism'(hypnomanipulation) to push and bend our boundaries of Consensuality. You know what non-consensual sex is, don't you? Sure, some
of us have said, "Well, we willingly entered into his madness." Of course: initially we did. But remember: even within a marriage, a husband has no right to manipulate, abuse, nor rape a wife---nor in any romantic/teacher-student/ relationship.

A few of us escapees from his manipulation and abuse found each other. He has been manipulating and sexually abusing women worldwide since he was a teenager---and there are scores of women out there, who, as we all begin to come forward to tell our
stories, will show the world for what he really is. All of those lackeys and supporters need to prepare for the shock when they wake up to the fact they've
been enablers of a very disturbed, out-of-control and dangerous man with a severe lack of boundaries. And those remaining silent on this are being compliant to
his continued abuse of more women.

I encourage every woman who has been psychologically, mentally, spiritually, sexually manipulated and abused by this man in any way, to please contact all
of the following:

Vicki Polin

Lynne Johnson
YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago Loop Women's Services
(312) 762-2772
360 North Michigan Avenue
8th floor
Chicago, IL 60601
Counties Served:Â Chicago Loop

Note: It's important that your abuse be made note of through the Rape Crisis Hotline (888) 293-2080 as well.
Whether or not your experience was 'rape', the abuse still needs to be reported. I was informed by one of the Victim's Advocates that, due to the bizarre nature
of it all, it will be the number of women's voices that come forward that will further get the attention of the Illinois State Attorney General's Office.

Rape Victim Advocates (RVA)
(888) 293-2080
228 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 240
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 663-6303

Rabbi Mark Dratch (203) 358-2200
(worked to push through the Sex Abuse Resolution for
the Rabbinical Council of America)

posted by LukeFord | 7:51 PM |

The Rabbinical Council of America report on R. Mordecai Tendler came back Friday. Let's just say it did not find him innocent. Now the RCA does not know what to do.

posted by LukeFord | 7:49 PM |

Tuesday, November 02, 2004  

President Bush has been reelected. He's clinched Ohio and Florida. You heard it here first. Thanks to Chakira, distinguished YU political analyst. Republicans retain Senate and House.

posted by LukeFord | 11:52 PM |

Reader mail:

Dear Mr Weiss,

As owner of the blog, please be informed that the webpage at this address:

is slanderous and libelous and catastrophically damaging to me. My lawers have suggested that as a first step I contact you and warn you of the action we are taking, and ask that you remove this material immediately. We can argue about responsibility for damages at another time. Now, our primary goal is to minimize and contain the damage.

Time is of the essence in this matter.

Yours etc,

J. Hershy Worch

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 7:19 PM |

More teachings from rabbi Jeremy Hershy Worch:

From: "just Sir will do..."
Date: July 27, 2001 4:14 pm
Subject: Sex and the Churban Beit HaMikdash

...[W]ith the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem approxmiately 1930 years ago our Jewish joy in sex was withdrawn, reduced or otherwise interfered with. That somehow, having access to the temple also gave us access to our profoundest most joyous sexuality as well. The implication is that there is a Jewish way of f------ [dashes inserted by LF for original profanity] just as there is a Jewish way of dressing, praying, worshipping and eating etc. Now it's gone and we are reduced to imitating the Goyim.

If the temple will be rebuilt in the merit of our fervid f------, I have definitely done my bit. If it is going to require modesty and restraint, I hope they are not waiting on me. Remember children, sperm is holy so don't waste it, swallow.

Do it Jewish. May your moon shine, red and smart. Whip him with his Tzitzith and tie him to the chair with his T'fillin straps. Beat her with her leather shoes and gag her with Bedikah cloths.

Have Milchig and Fleishig sex without waiting six hours and eat it without making a proper Bracha.


From: "just Sir will do.."
Date: 03 May 2004
Subject: I'm still not used to the idea that... may go straight from Shabbes Havdala to a BDSM party; to tell my bitch to take her clothes off in a gathering of nearly a hundred people; and then thrash her soundly, and do the same to another one who just happened to need it too, you know, just for the sake of the mitzvah...

It's too much, isn't it?

Oh, but what a thrill. To feel her body juddering and shuddering in the aftershocks of her screams and seizure-like spasm of pain/pleasure. It's such a power rush to the heart and genitals, can you blame me for loving it?

We Jews who take pleasure in pain, in our own and that of others, know the taste of paganism, for its power is akin to worship, the seductive allure to that of the most unholy dread. At that moment my slave bows to worship me, to prostrate herself abject in pleasure and terror, I am acting god. It's heady wine we drink who get high on the fizz of sexandpain, of pleasureandshame. When I humiliate a grown woman in public and see her writhe in unfettered slavery, when the blood crackles like a bushfire with the heat and accelereant of lustpower, when I thrill huge with the force of all her surrenders not so long a jump to proclaiming myself a deity, to her, to me.

And the Shabbes queen abandoned with the havdala candle and the incense box and the half drunk grape juice.

And on Sunday morning, the deep satisfaction hearing her wince as she sits on the toilet seat. Those weals from where I hit her with the wooden spoon, she'll be feeling those a few days yet...


From: "just Sir will do..."
Date: Aug 1, 2003
Subject: Notice of Sale of Slave
To: OBDSM Connection

In my capacity as immoderator, dungeon-meister, Rosh Yeshiva and Av Beth-Din at OBDSM, I have been engaged to oversee the sale and settlement of the slave woman known as SHIFCHA-ISHA.

The slave, an orthodox, Jewish woman in her mid twenties, of Sefaradi family, without children or encumberance will be available for viewing from August 15th 2003.

Properly trained and with a natural proclivity for abject slavery, SHIFCHA-ISHA has been preparing herself to a life of submission and slavery for some considerable time. Her training and mentoring has been in formal Leather surroundings with emphasis on discipline, compliance, correction, humility, forebearance, patience and obedience. Her demeanor is bright, friendly, quickwitted, humorous and engaging. She is well educated, and thoughtful, and has graduated with a Bachelors of Science.

With extreme masochistic tendencies and high tolerance for both pain and humiliation, she is comfortable in most controntive and demanding situations.


From: Chapt-Schleck
Date: May 1, 2002
Subject: Kinky Shiduchim

I'm Chapt Schleck the founder, instigator and immoderator of OBDSM. I'm a grandfather. I have children who are Rabbonim, Talmidei Chachamim, Erenster Youngerleit and all that good stuff. But that doesn't stop me getting a thrill from hurting my bitch and undressing her in front of other perverts and hitting her with sticks and pinching her nipples 'till they bruise.

posted by LukeFord | 4:31 PM |

Adam Kirsch (son of author Jonathan Kirsch?) writes in the NY Sun a negative review of Tom Wolfe's new novel:

It is one of the unlovely features of this book, and of Mr. Wolfe's writing in general, that the men most likely to be humiliated in his fiction are Jewish. This seems to have less to do with outright anti-Semitism than with Mr. Wolfe's typical recourse to stereotypes of all kinds: just as his black characters are generally brutal and violent, and his women are generally manipulative sexpots, so his Jewish characters are usually weak, ambitious, resentful, and hypersensitive. That certainly describes the two most repellent characters in "Charlotte Simmons," the football-hating Professor Quat and Charlotte's suitor Adam Gellin. In both cases, Mr. Wolfe leaves no doubt of the relationship between their Jewishness and their moral flaws (and even their physical ones - Adam is a skinny weakling, Quat is fat and womanish). Indeed, he goes out of his way to tell us that both of them harbor an unbecoming admiration of Israel and a suspicious hostility to Christians.

posted by LukeFord | 3:32 PM |

Monday, November 01, 2004  

Haredim riot at Jerusalem intersection

posted by LukeFord | 8:00 PM |

Poster Son of Tzvi writes: "I'd ask Luke to report on your IP number, which he can examine and compare to Vicki's. Simple enough, Luke. Have you the needed honesty?"

I do not have access to that information. Only the owner of the blog does -- Steven I Weiss. Ask him. I may do most of the posting on here the past six months but I don't own the blog, and when Steven asks me to adjust my postings, I do. I even indent stuff even though I think it looks awful.

Steven never tells me not to quote somebody or not to link to somebody or not to write about something. His concerns are stylistic and journalistic, not censorious.

posted by LukeFord | 7:56 PM |

Chakira issues a Retraction, Apology, and Thanks: A Brief Comment on The Mechina Brouhaha.

posted by LukeFord | 1:42 PM |

Questions for rabbi Jeremy Hershy Worch (I also posted them on his Reb Hershy blog, and here is his Kaballah 101 blog):

Sources tell me that your Torah of Desire is 'the first BDSM Kabbalah ever written'; yet you do not advertise it as such here. Why not? I also have a few more questions:

-----Since you don't advertise your Torah of Desire as being a "BDSM Kabbalah", at what point in their studies do you share this information with your students? Or is that after you've used hypnoeroticism on them first?
-----How exactly does a BDSM Kabbalah work?
-----Do you use rope bondage on your students in patterns of the ten Sefirot?
-----Do you really believe you can induce Chokmah Consciousness in your students and lovers via beatings and hypnoeroticism ?
-----Would you explain precisely what you mean by the following from your entry:

"More Knowing, More Pain
"But there is another way. The mating of Keter - Crown and Malkhut - Sovereignty, of God and humanity, the ultimate, the vertical coupling. Heaven and Earth, Good and Evil, Beginning and End. Oh, it's much more dramatic, infinitely more dramatic. And more fun."

----What do you mean by more fun, infinitely more dramatic? Is that the point where you get out the whips and floggers?

----Did you learn this particular BDSM Kabbalah from your mentor, Carlebach?

posted by LukeFord | 1:11 PM |

Jonathan Mark, Associate Editor of The Jewish Week, writes:

Dear Luke,
Let me set the rumor to rest: Nothing is further from the truth than the rumor that I tried to influence Gary [Rosenblatt] for even a second, regarding [rabbi Mordecai] Gafni. While my sister was friends with Gafni and was a very good friend of one of the accuser's sisters, and was therefore familar with this sad story for several decades, I -- on the other hand -- am far from involved with Gafni, having met him only once at a conference, and over the phone several years ago when the Jewish Week first began looking into this. I have not tried to influence Gary one way or the other, as I didn't even have any idea that there was any controversy until Gary starting writing about it. In other words, I didn't influence Gary but he influenced me by writing about something that I knew nothing about. Other than meeting Gafni at that one conference, I never heard Gafni teach, I never read anything he wrote, I wasn't part of his social circle or his religious circle, and I wouldnt have known who Gafni was if we were alone in an elevator. My connection to both my sister and Gary prompt some to imagine some kind of link or involvement on my part, but I give you my word: Both my sister and Gary came to the Gafni story, and to their conclusions, without me. I have a world of respect and admiration for both Gary and Naomi and trust the integrity of their conclusions.

posted by LukeFord | 1:05 PM |

Andrew Silow-Carroll writes:

Status details are simply what good writers use to "show" rather than "tell" you something about their subject: the pie-sized knitted kippah and rolled up sleeves of a settler; the large Bukharan kippah and Land's End style dress of a Renewal rabbi; the tiny increments of sleeve length that tell you where an Orthodox woman sits on the Modern to haredi continuum; the white shirt, khakis and sandal get-up worn by Jerusalem Anglos on Shabbat.

posted by LukeFord | 11:56 AM |

Dov Bear writes a provocative new blog:

What must I do to get the attention of uber-blogger, Luke Ford? From the looks of his recent posts, the recipe for attention looks something like this (1)acquire ordination (2) take a prestigious pulpit (3) sexually abuse a congregant.

posted by LukeFord | 11:07 AM |

Me writes:

Luke, it's a little known fact that the Israeli Rabbanute maintains a secret Mamzerim database. Once you're on that registry forget about getting a marriage in Israel.

There are all kinds of stories of abuses as to who gets put on and the lack of recourse to challenge false claims that have been submitted.

No one knows the extent of the database because frankly no one trusts the numbers coming from the Rabbanute.

My point?

The Rabbanute could address the problem of sexual predators today. They simply have no will or desire to do so. They just shift the problem from community to community, country to country.

posted by LukeFord | 10:40 AM |

Haaretz on Arafat:

… In any event, [Arafat spokesman] Shakur continued, "From the
political standpoint, Arafat's situation has already changed. The
ailing Arafat is not the healthy Arafat we knew until two weeks ago.

"Even if he returns, and I hope that he will, he will not be the same
Arafat, not for us, not for Israel, not even for himself. An old, sick
man, who has different needs."

Miriam writes that money makes Arafat's world go round.

posted by LukeFord | 3:07 AM |

DALLAS - A lawyer has compiled a list of 2,600 Roman Catholic priests nationwide who have been accused of sexual misconduct against children and plans to post it online by early next year.

Sylvia Demarest, a Dallas lawyer, and her staff spent 11 years on the list, which a victims' rights advocate says may encourage those who were abused to come forward.

There's a breathtaking and delusional attitude in much of Orthodox life that Jewish automatically means better than goyish. Numerous Orthodox Jews have told me that the sex scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic church could never happen in Judaism. I was not so sure.
Then in 2001, three Orthodox rabbis pled guilty in Los Angeles to molesting kids. And it seems that overall the rate of sexual abuse in Orthodox Judaism is pretty darn close to what it is in Catholicism.
Shmarya writes: "Catholics make up 25% of the population. Jews make up 2%. So 190 rabbis, cantors, etc. would be a rough equivalent. But the Church scandals have been better-tracked for a longer period of time by **many** sources. Figuring that into the mix, I would think about 100 or so rabbis, etc. would be the equivalent, but then you have celibacy, which lures abusers to the Church. When all is said and done, it seems to me that we have as many sex-offender-clergy per capita as the Catholic Church does. What we don't have is a central orginization to

posted by LukeFord | 2:21 AM |

Here's the scoop on the Luke Ford - Shabbat - Halloween experience.

Friday night. I attend special minyan marking the tenth anniversary of rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's passing. The crowd is three times the size of normal. There's excitement in the air. Five guys are on the bima leading the davening. The guy who sits next to me on Shabbos mornings appears in shul on a Friday night for the first time I remember (aside from Yom Kippur).

The singing leads me to book down my book and participate.

Afterwards, a friend asks me if I have a place for Shabbat dinner. I say no. I feel embarrassed. He says he'll fix me up.

I wait with him at the back of the shul feeling clingy. After five minutes, I slip away and go home alone.

The next day, I notice my shul has the pretty security guard. I meet the guy who was going to host me last night before I fled. I read my books. I walk my community. I nap.

Saturday night, I drive an hour to Santa Clarita and the high desert to celebrate Halloween at the home of a Gentile couple who have been very kind to me over the years. Seems to be all locals at the party. Nobody is Jewish. There is a straightforward Mid-Western type of kindness to them. It's a relatively small community and people are friendly and unpretentious.

There are lots of dogs around. My allergies act up. I'm sneezing and wheezing and blowing my nose all night. It's cold. Most people are busy preparing the scary Halloween accoutrement.

I feel awkward and out of place. I retreat to a corner and study a book on Monet. I leave at 9:30pm and feel safe only when I am back in my hovel.

An Orthodox friend asks me what is Halloween. I reply: "It is held on October 31st every year and has become the most observed holiday in America after Christmas. Halloween is a combination pagan/Christian holiday that today is 99.9% pagan but still many churches and Christians participate in it for the fun. Children go around to homes in their neighborhood, dressed in costumes that are frequently meant to be scary, and say "trick or treat!" The homes then give them a treat, such as candy, lest they be the recipient of a nasty trick (which almost never happens)."

Sunday morning, I get an extra hour in bed before going to minyan. The Cowboys win 31-21 over Detroit. My headache lifts.

An attractive female friend says she has an extra ticket to tonight's concert (Rich Recht Band from St. Louis and the Moshav Band from a Shlomo Carleback hippie-style commune in Israel) at the University of Judaism.

Twelve years ago I was a goy and living in an isolated part of Northern California (45 minutes drive north of Sacramento). I wanted to be Jewish. I was developing Jewish friends and Jewish practice. I read R. Yosef Blau, Jonathan Sarna, Gary Rosenblatt.

Now I can talk to those guys. I can lead a Jewish life. I live in a town rich with Jewish religion and culture. To be within 30 minutes drive of something called the University of Judaism is awesome.

I'm on the old end of the Young Professionals event. There are lots of young women. I move with them during the concerts. I adore:

* Women with shiny lip gloss
* Women in tight blue jeans
* Persian women with their dark exotic looks and shapely bodies and traditional values
* Women with skirts near the floor
* Women with mini-skirts long enough to cover the essentials while short enough to keep your interest.

Beautiful women are great. I can't get enough of them. Particularly the smart ones.

Occasionally I meet dynamic attractive young women who don't look after themselves. They have dandruff. They're sloppily attired. Their make-up is sloppily applied. They are ten pounds overweight. I don't like this. So I'm no prize. A man can dream, can't he?

I couldn't write like this if I were a Seventh Day Adventist. As a Protestant, you are not supposed to admit to lustful thoughts. Judaism, on the other hand, focuses more on behavior than on motives. That enables me to be more honest about life as I encounter it, and my feelings as I encounter them, while maintaining clarity on what behavior is permissable.

I like to think of myself as a moralist. In many ways, I live a stern life. I'm poor. I sleep on the floor. I don't drink or gamble. My biggest vice is that I enjoy the attention of beautiful women.

The Rick Recht Band has a couple of guys (on bass guitar and drums) who appear to be Gentiles. Rick is short but filled with enthusiasm. He has a good soul. His lyrics are simple and easy. He intermixes pop songs. He says "Y'all."

It feels like Jewish camp. I never had a chance to go to Jewish camp, but this is must be what it is like -- swaying arm-in-arm singing the same song.

In Adventism, dancing is a sin. Though I've shaken off the religion of my childhood, it still affects me in many ways. I've never learned to dance comfortably. I'm awkward. I have no sense of rhythym.

I look at the young women gyrating around the floor and I'm amazed. Perhaps their moves are no big deal to somebody with a more normal upbringing than mine, but to me they are mindblowing. How do they coordinate their arms and legs and bodies like that?

A girl in a white singlet and faded blue jeans gets on stage with Rick and claps and sways and leads us in dancing. She's young. She's hot. She's acrobatic.

She inspires me.

I love the way these young women embrace each other. Totally hot.

This combination of the sensual and the spiritual, without the onerous demands of halacah, is a delightful part of Reform and Conservative.

The one downer in my UJ experience tonight -- my discovery that UJ has unisex bathrooms. Gross. Judaism believes in separation. Now I admit that I like shelving some of those separations at times, but not in this area. What God has put asunder (mens rooms, ladies rooms) let not man put together (to invert a favorite line of my father which he invoked to me about the unity of the Old Testament with the New Testament).

On the drive home, most of the lights are green.

posted by LukeFord | 2:05 AM |

Sunday, October 31, 2004  

The state of Lubavitch in California.

posted by LukeFord | 8:12 PM |

Tzemach Atlas posts:

What are we doing here? Do we strive for recognition, do we seek approval? Do we have a plan to influence the community we live in? Are we just observes of the Jewish chronology? Can we influence the course of our communities? Certainly the "mainstream press" thinks they are interpreting the course of history. They think of themselves as powerful enough to appoint presidents and assign success. What is the place and purpose of the Jewish blogosphere?

Blogging is just another form of communication. We are here for the same reason we talk to friends and strangers. We want to share our experience, teach others, and learn from them. We want to warn people away from danger and recommend good things. It is not the primary purpose of my blogging to morally improve the Jewish people. Just as it is not the purpose of driving to drive safely (to use an illustration of Dennis Prager). You drive to get somewhere. You blog to get somewhere.
The purpose of life and of blogging is to enjoy it (in the best and deepest and most meaningful sense of the word). I wish I had Tom Wolfe's eye for status details but I don't. My obsession is with meaning. I try to unlock and share what is meaningful to improve our lives (and morality is just one aspect, though the most important part, of a good life).
It is not the purpose of marriage to act ethically with each other. Though that is an indispensable part, it is not the end-all and be-all of the relationship. Same with blogging.
If I have a gift as an interviewer and a writer, it is opening people up and getting them to share what is deepest and most important. Moral inspiration is only a part of this process and it is not the part that I do best. I do best trying to reveal reality and to share a few laughs about it. Due to my colorful past and present, I can't help but bring disrepute to any cause I espouse. So I concentrate on telling the stories of our lives and leave the moral inspiration to those who do it better than I.
Here's one technique that I use with trying to understand people who say things that seem impossible.
What do we do as Orthodox Jews when we encounter Jewish text that says things that we can not fathom? That seems wrong. That violates our common sense. Do we dismiss the Torah as wrong? No. If we have texts that conflict, do we say that they were composed in different eras and reflect the differing perspectives of the different strands of Biblical thought? No.
We don't rest until we have reconciled seemingly irreconcilable texts, until we have made sense of texts that seem the opposite of sense.
A similar technique helps one understand and communicate more effectively with those who say things that you are sure are wrong.
If you really want to understand the Torah or another person, assume that what they are saying is true, and then seek ways for understanding how it could be true.
If you do that, you can come to understand almost anyone you want to understand.
If you say you can't understand a particular person or point of view, you are really saying that you don't want to go to the effort of understanding them.
One technique to better understand a blogger who seems outrageous is to ask whether they are being ironic, sarcastic, histrionic or humorous? Have they experienced a different emotional reality in Judaism than you have, things that have shaped the writer to express emotions and thoughts you find incomprehensible?
Now, understanding people is exhausting and time consuming. We only have finite resources to do this and we have to choose with care which persons we truly want to understand. Frankly, I don't try to understand most people I talk to. With the exception of charity cases, work and social obligations, I only want to understand people who are smarter and more learned than I am.

posted by LukeFord | 4:35 PM |

There's a great profile of my favorite writer, Tom Wolfe, in The NYT Sunday Magazine:

Wolfe's theory, which has changed not at all over the decades, is Weberian, and he developed it in graduate school, when he found himself more interested in social science than in intellectual history. ''It all has to do with status,'' he says. ''Or STATE-us, which is the way you say it if you want more status.'' In this scheme of things, social behavior is almost always determined by status consciousness -- an instinct to preserve your place in the social pecking order. Our status awareness is so fundamental, Wolfe says, that there may even be a specific place in the brain that creates it. Status is neurological, in other words, and it's also fundamental to Wolfe's practice as a writer, his piling up of what he calls ''status details'': all the physical and material clues that indicate where a person thinks he belongs and, more important, where he wants to stay. In the Wolfean scheme, people aren't so much interested in scaling the social ladder as in clinging to their own, hard-earned rung.

What are the status details in Jewish life?

posted by LukeFord | 1:48 PM |

Rabbi J. Hershy Worch writes in his Livejournal as Moonish in July 2003:

4:02p pickin' threads

As a Jew I'm tuned into serving God who's the Ultimate Jealous Dom. Actually, jealous doesn't even begin to do it justice. Let's just say making eyes at another
will earn me more than some severe edge play or unscheduled dungeon time. When He makes me eat shit, I first have to line up all the little metaphorical turds to spell the words "this is for my own good".

But I am so highly sensitive to combinations of human sexual possibilities that no matter how Jewish and worshipful I may be feeling about God at any given moment, dangle some sexual bait in front of me and God can go hang. If there's a person I fancy or would like to impress in Shul, God is gonna have to shout pretty
loud to be heard over the noise of my heartbeat. One finely turned ankle, a whiff of perfume or the whisper of silk/nylon susurration and Anim Zemirot is just
background muzak.


I have yet to find the page of Talmud can hold my attention like the erotic mind-control stories webpage.

Add to all this the thrill I get from dominating, humiliating, castigating and controlling someone sexually, making the sexual domination filter thorough
every possible permutation of mundane activity, Ahh...

When did God last get my juices flowing like this? I bet He's pissed as all get-out. Yikes!

posted by LukeFord | 1:06 PM |

Me writes:

Although, I'm assured by many that Rabbi Kenneth Brander is neither a friend
or supporter of Rabbi Ephraim Boruch Bryks. I am deeply disturbed at the
judgement he demonstrated in his participation with Rabbi Bryks in a public
forum at an AJOP coinference a few years ago.

Rabbi Brander was brought in to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada over a decade ago
to run a YU Jewish awareness retreat through the Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate.
Due to Rabbi Bryks' position against the local Eruv set up by Rav Gavriel
Zinner (among other things), Brander was certainly made aware of Rabbi
Bryks' history and cannot claim ignorance.

I am also disturbed that AJOP continues to sell this tape despite assurances
personally made to me a few years back that it would be removed:

Bander and Bryks tape:
Rabbi Kenneth Brander & Rabbi Ephraim Bryks
WHERE ARE THEY COMING FROM? Outreach to Specific Groups

Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Dean of the Center for the Jewish Future at YU.

posted by LukeFord | 10:05 AM |

Reb Hershy Worch says I have a mental disorder. I confess to him my problems.

Chaim Amalek says I'm cured of my mental disorder.

posted by LukeFord | 1:30 AM |

A 72-year-old Clarkstown man has been indicted on 14 felony counts accusing him of posing as a rabbi and illegally marrying at least 30 couples during a nearly four-year period.

posted by LukeFord | 1:27 AM |

ME writes:

Luke, thought you may be interested in this story regarding Rabbi Lejzor Bryks, Rabbi Ephraim Bryks' father.

The founder of the despicable Jews for Jesus, Moishe Ronen (mach shmo) claims that he was married by Rabbi Lejzor Bryks in the 1950s in Denver, Colorado.

In an article a few years ago, he wrote about coming to Rabbi Bryks senior to discuss his wife's "budding faith in Jesus".

Boy, why am I suprised that a gnav like Rabbi Lejzor Bryks (who killed himself in 1971 after being caught stealing from insurance clients) wasn't able to instill in them Emunath Hashem.

I talked to a rabbi before I became a believer in Jesus-but not for myself,
you understand. I wanted him to help me dissuade my Jewish wife from her budding faith in Jesus. I chose Rabbi Brycks, the man who had officiated at our wedding. He was an Orthodox rabbi, good natured, easy to talk to - I liked him.

alternate version of article: 5761-08apr01/resreflections.htm

Moishe Rosen bio

Cases re: Rabbi Lejzor Bryks
1) (Cite as: 502 F.2d 1344)
Merritt Victor GILMORE and Rose L. Gilmore, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. CONSTITUTION LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant. No. 73-1963. United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
Argued July 11, 1974. Decided Sept. 12, 1974, Rehearing Denied Oct. 2, 1974.

posted by LukeFord | 1:13 AM |
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