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

Saturday, November 13, 2004  

I heard that Rebbetzin Weinberg of Aish HaTorah discourages girls from hugging each other because a couple of girls hugged each other too much and began exploring each other sexually.
That's the way it is in Orthodoxy. Someone misbehaves and it ruins the fun for the rest of us.
I hug you.

posted by LukeFord | 10:12 PM |

Rabbi Mordecai Tendler timeline:

Early in 2003 - Women who say they were sexually abused by Rabbi Mordecai Tendler contacted Rabbi Dovid Cohen (of Ohel) for help regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct. Nothing was done.

August 2003 - An anonymous letter went out to various members of the community of New Hempstead/Monsey, NY regarding allegations of sexual misconduct made against Rabbi Mordecai Tendler. Nothing was done.

December, 2003 - During the question-and-answer session of a Makor forum on rabbinical abuse, several female health-care professionals in the audience spoke with frustration about Tendler and made accusations of rabbinical sexual misconduct, which they reported has been going on for years.

I've been told that there are many ads in The Jewish Press to buy Mordecai Tendlers a settlement in Israel. Is Tendler going to be moving soon?

He had a settlement 2 years ago outside in the territories. It fell through (his wife? a real estate agent) Michelle Tendler. It was advertised in The Jewish Press, asking people to join inside the green line.

Rabbi Mordecai Tendler is still on the board of directors of the Rockland Jewish Family Services (JFS). Rockland JFS are aware of the allegations made against Tendler. If Rabbi Tendler met any of his alleged victims through JFS, does that make JFS liable?

Me writes:

I actually agree with both Dratch's and Polin's positions.

Dratch has worked hard on this issue but it's clear his colleagues are at least a decade behind. Remember, Dratch published his RCA Roudtable document a decade ago.

The problem is that the Rabbanute is not taking steps to deal with errent colleagues. No one is taking responsibility, no one is taking steps to address the issue.

Who is to substantiate the allegations and how? Until the Rabbanute want to address this and take care of the cracks (grand canyon sized cracks) they shoulder the blame for the necessity of what The Awareness Center does.

If the Rabbanute:
1) set up a registry like the mamzerut registry in Israel to deal with sexual predators,
2) ensured vivtims of abuse received proper resources

there would be no need for the Awareness Center or Polin's efforts.

Because the Rabbanute continues to look the other way, measures are needed.

Other religions have taken similar steps to put public materials in easy to search webpages. Why should we tolerate fewer protections?

The curent Tendler case is an example of why you need the Awareness Center:

1) Tendler was not suspended during the investigation. No protections for potential victims in the interim.
2) Rabbanim knew of his abusive behavior going back years and took no action.
3) Agunot and women's groups are silent as they are beholden to him.
4) Decades of delay and an investigation that has stretched on 10 months.
5) I'm told that proper resources (counselling and legal) are not being provided to victims.

Until the Rabbanute truly addresses the issue, I support more rather than less information.

This reminds me of a tshuva by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein on the death penalty:

Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig take on this.

"This week I revisited a fascinating responsa written by the greatest halakhic authority of this generation, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. On Purim day of 1981, Reb Moshe responded to a question by the Governor of the State of New York, Hugh L. Carey (Hugh Carey was governor at this time, although his name does not appear in the Teshuvah. Igrot Moshe, Chosen Mishpat 2:68). The question was: what is the Jewish view of the death penalty? Reb Moshe begins by expressing his feelings of love and awe to the Governor because of his desire to know the opinion of the Torah on the matter. Reb Moshe points out that the Torah specifies the death penalty only for the most heinous of sins -- murder, kidnapping, forbidden sexual relations and idol worship -- because by committing these crimes a person abandons goodness and follows a path of cruelty. This being said, the Torah is extremely limiting on who may be killed, and by whom. First of all, a Sanhedrin of 23 men must be present, and must consist of only the most proficient and sensitive of Sages, who have received semikhah -- ordination -- which comes from Moshe Rabbenu. This court can only judge capital cases when the Temple is standing and the great Sanhedrin of 71 is in place. The crime must have been witnessed by two individuals, who are not be related to one another or the assailant, and who must be thoroughly interrogated and informed about the gravity of their testimony. There must have been a warning, detailing the prohibition that was about to be transgressed and the punishment such a transgression would incur. Finally, exact procedure must be followed as specifically laid out in the Halakhah. Only under these circumstances can the death penalty be imposed. But Reb Moshe concludes with an incredible about face. He tells the Governor that when we live in a society where cruelty pervades and killing is rampant, and where murderers and those who commit acts of evil are abundant, it is most proper for the government to protect its citizens and to check lawlessness (See also Makkot 1:10; Rambam, Hilkhot Melachim 3:10). So concludes his responsa on the death penalty."

If Rabbanim continue to:
1. prevent Clergy mandated abuse reporting laws
2. ignore the problem
3. continue to actively silence victims
4. protect predators and
5. leave our communities without any mechanisms to deal with such predators.

Then these Rabbonim create an atmosphere where "...we live in a society where cruelty pervades ...and where ... those who commit acts of evil are abundant,"

and these Rabbonim are preventing and hindering the government from:
"... protect(ing) its citizens and ... check(ing) lawlessness."

posted by LukeFord | 9:24 PM |

Friday, November 12, 2004  

Rabbi J. Hershy Worsh has a new book deal. I wonder what it is called? What is it about? I hope it is a memoir.

I believe Rabbi Ayla Grafstein is the publisher of Worch's new book. A participant in the Renewal movement for 25 years, she's a follower of R. Shlomo Carlebach and R. Zalman Shachter-Shalomi. I wonder if she's aware that Worch's new book --The Torah of Desire -- is a BDSM Kabbalah?

posted by LukeFord | 5:42 PM |

Jewish Journal editor Rob Eshman shoots me a girl.

posted by LukeFord | 4:47 PM |

A profile of James Dobsen - the leader of the Christian right.

posted by LukeFord | 3:43 PM |

The 1997 Russian movie The Thief is heartbreakingly great:

In 1946, a soldier fathers a child then dies before its birth. Jump to 1952: on a train, the child and his mother meet a handsome soldier who makes a play for her. She accepts. Posing as a married family, the soldier finds them a rooming house where he becomes everyone's favorite through his good looks and generosity. Meanwhile he gives the boy, Sanya, lessons in life: to fight back, to win at all costs. The child's mother, Katya, is head-over-heels in love with Tolyan, the soldier, but the relationship becomes rocky when Tolyan's true plans for the rooming house become clear. It starts them on a treadmill of flight that risks Katya's life, Tolyan's liberty, and Sanya's trust.

posted by LukeFord | 2:55 PM |

According to a source in the frum world, rabbi Mordecai Willig says rabbi Yosef Blau has gone off the deep end pursuing sex abuse cases and supporting The Awareness Center. Willig says Blau has gone too far trying to do teshuva for the Baruch Lanner debacle.

posted by LukeFord | 2:21 PM |

Lori Gottlieb's singles profile:

I’m supersexy, supersilly, supersmart, and superself-deprecating. Intellectual but not bookish. Curious but not lost. Grounded but not boring. Passionate but not delusional. Nerdy yet stylish. Edgy yet warm. Neurotic yet self-confident. Quirky yet responsible. Charismatic yet real. Goofy yet mature. Exceptional yet modest.
I’m also an online dating virgin – so be gentle.

I want a man who can expand both my mind and my vagina. Someone soulful, creative, irreverent, honest, compassionate, passionate, confident, humble, open-minded, and self-aware, with expertise as a masseur, and a soupcon of geekiness. Bonus for the willingness to take big, hairy spiders outside.

posted by LukeFord | 1:32 PM |

An interview with rabbi Mark Dratch, the point man for the Rabbinical Council of America's investigations of rabbinic abuse.
Steven I. Weiss writes: "Luke - Dratch's argument against Polin, that she should remove old stories that have not been substantiated, comes in pretty neatly with the
Michael Ozair story. Remember that in that case, only allegations against him had been printed, and the fact that he pleaded no contest in 2001 would have made the allegations three years old with no follow-up. It was precisely because his file was maintained on The Awareness Center's Website that we matched him up as Michael Ezra of, and that we did further inquiry into the matter, reporting his plea for the first time."

posted by LukeFord | 11:54 AM |

In time for Shabbos, some Torah-centered commentary from Chicago Orthodox rabbi J. Hershy Worch, which he posted to OBDSMC (Orthodox Bondage Domination Sadism Masochism Connection) in 2000:

This is a Torah for all of us, but especially for susie who yearns for her
chains. It is based upon the words of Psalm 116:16. We read it in the
second half of Hallel after the meal.

Please, O Lord, I am truly thy servant; I am thy
servant, the son of thy
handmaid; Thou has loosened my bonds.

The above is not a particularly infelicitous translation, but almost devoid of real inflection.

Firstly, the Hebrew word EVED does not translate as servant. SHEIRUT is servitude. AVDUT connotes slavery. The difference between the two being more than simply a matter of word-choice - a servant has options, while a slave has none. A servant has ownership of self, while a slave has none. A servant expects some recompense, while a slave expects none. A servant counts time, hours, days, etc. A slave has no future
different from the present - time is not a factor worth measuring.

The translation should read.

O please O God, for I am Your slave, I am Your slave,
the son of Your

Now, sweetest Chevrah & Chevrettes allow me to give you over the secret of
the second half of the Pasuk-verse.

The Hebrew reads PITACHTA L'MOSEIROY; usually translated as, thou hast
loosened my bonds.


The Hebrew word PITACHTA can have as its root the word P'TACH meaning
'opening' hence 'loosening'. But, much more interestingly it can have as
its root the Hebrew word PITUACH meaning emblazon.

We find the word T'FATACH 'to emblazon' in the description of the
manufacture of the Choshen and Efod, the breastplate and epaulettes of the
High Priest's jewelry. It refers to the particular form of carving that
leaves the subject matter in relief like the design carved into a signet ring.

If we go back to the verse it now reads "You have emblazoned my chains."

Those of us who know anything about anything, know that our chains are our
greatest ornament. But ONLY when they have been carved into us by a Master,
and only when they are the apogee of our deepest most viscerally experienced desire, the desire to be owned and mastered and enslaved and dominated.

That was/is the gift we were/are given upon leaving Egypt. We are allowed
into bondage to the One, the Living God. And each of us must see our self
as coming out of Egypt and entering into this new liberating slavery, AVDUT
HASHEM. Freedom from the yoke of human exploitation, freedom from the yoke
of fear of dying, freedom, CHEIRUT.

Being a Jew is to revel in slavery and bondage to the One.

The problem is we are so detached. We are so unhappy. The two follow and
cause one-another.

I am so unhappy because I am detached from God and I am detached from God
because I am so unhappy.

I know that it is de-trop, but there is no more explicit poetic description
of this feeling than a poem by the Sixteenth century English metaphysical
poet John Donne. It is from a collection of Holy Sonnets. It begins with the

Batter my heart three personned God.

(Three personned God, Oy Gevalt! Nebish. what did he know?)

But it ends with this phrase:

Take me, to you
Imprison me
For I, except you enthrall me
never shall be free
nor ever chaste
except you ravish me!

Nomesayn, Chevrah?

I too have turned my hand to poesy from time to time, nebish. Here is #5
from my own collection of Holy Sonnets. It is entitled DO ME:

You don't have to strip me down
and f--- me from behind. Oh Lord,
to have me on my knees
and worship at the source.
You don't have to court affection
beat, ravish or seduce
make me come or make me bleed
sigh shriek or cry surrender.
When all I want is to want you
The way you say, you want me.

Chag SaMayach.



So, what d'you say chevra/ettes, is this bondage deal overrated or what?

Like, did these Egyptians actually know anything about bondage or were they
just in it for the pithom and rameses?

And like, was Pokoyd Yifkoyd a safe-word or what?

And the blood on the doorposts, are we talking primal or are we talking
jumpin' right over the top?

And the groaning, and the separation of husbands and wives....

Gim'me a break, I mean, if you're gonna' be in bondage at least let it be
to the ONE who does it proper.

To begin He as me slice the end of my dick off. And we moved on from there.

No messing with sphinxes and pyramids. It's all
mountains and barrels ready
to drop, right from the word go.

Ya' gotta do these things right, yes... no?

Ya' rin for a ride where gettin' stoned means somethin' entirely else
mon.... nomesayn?

Keep countin' them days and weeks - slaves don't get much opportunity to
count time and look forward.


an' don't crack the nuts too hard, or drown the sinnermen inna' Charoses,
and four cups a whinin can get on yer nerves.

And not in front of the kids....

Love, Schleck.

posted by LukeFord | 11:40 AM |

18-year-old son Moshe Khaver (went to Ner Israel) of a Baltimore rabbi & Juvenile justice panel member goes to jail.

Moshe was extraordinarily smart. He was kicked out of Ner Israel for having a porn video. The rabbis never caught his drug use or dealing. He became a big dealer while a bocher at Ner Israel.

Related articles:

When Aaron Goldberger was convicted of child molestation, Baltimore's Orthodox leadership (rabbis Heineman and Hopfer) intervened with the judge to make sure Goldberger could leave for Israel instead of serving time in prison. Then Goldberger remarried and he may now have kids.

posted by LukeFord | 10:40 AM |

Hollywood screenwriter Michael Tolkin reviews Philip Roth's new novel in the 11/12/04 Jewish Journal:

...George W. Bush is surrounded by a crowd who know that scientific creationism is superstition, but support him anyway. After all, their children get a private education based on science, not the public schools’ program of de-enlightenment. But they have sold their piety and conscience because he cut their taxes, or because they think he’s good for Israel — as though lowered taxes or chimerical support for Israel are worth the catastrophe in Iraq, the catastrophe in our drinking water, the catastrophe in public education or the catastrophe in the national debt. For this last catastrophe, his supporters are happily sacrificing their children and grandchildren by giving them the bill, and leaving them a future for this country that could look like Argentina without much more effort.

Robert J. Avrech writes about a book that changed his life when he was 12-years old: “The King’s Persons” by Joanne Greenberg. (Henry Holt, 1963).
Years ago, I complained that the Journal was not publishing a weekly commentary on the Torah portion. Now I agree with Rob Eshman's decision to replace that (the commentary was rarely illuminating and compelling) with a column on one book that has changed a person's life.

posted by LukeFord | 10:31 AM |

Steve(n) Zakheim and mysterious illegal campaign contributions.

His wife Faye is the coordinator on Domestic Violence for Metropolitan Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty in Brooklyn (NY).

Note see in 2nd article: In 1983, Zakheim was found guilty of misdemeanor sex abuse, a conviction he failed to report on his state license applications.
According to Aronofsky, Zakheim, an orthodox Jew, taunted her and others, saying: "Have you ever had Jewish meat before? Kosher meat is the best."

From Newsday:

A wealthy executive who was a major campaign contributor to top local
politicians, including former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has gotten probation
for violating federal election law.

Steve Zakheim had faced up to 6 months in jail when he appeared Tuesday
before U.S. Magistrate A. Simon Chrein in federal court in Brooklyn.

From the Village Voice 3/23/04:

Steve Zakheim and his private ambulance corps won acclaim for handling
delicate emergencies, like giving an ailing 800-pound man a free trip to the
hospital-via forklift. Zakheim also won notice when his firm, MetroCare,
received permission from a friendly Giuliani administration to install 911
radios in his fleet, a move that outraged city paramedic unions.

Busy as Zakheim was, however, according to a lawsuit quietly settled this
month, the ambulance tycoon also spent a good deal of time hitting on and
harassing his female employees. The suit, filed in State Supreme Court in
Brooklyn, was brought by 10 current and former staff members who worked for
MetroCare. The workers claimed that Zakheim often set upon employees from
the day they were hired, demanding sex in exchange for raises, boat rides,
and tickets to Yankee games.

One woman, an emergency medical technician, said in legal papers that
Zakheim and another company official called her to say that she "owed" them
a sexual favor because they had allowed her to transport Derek Jeter to the
hospital after he injured his knee in a July 4, 2002, game at Yankee
Stadium, where MetroCare provides ambulance service.

posted by LukeFord | 1:44 AM |

HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman Strengthens the Torah Community of the United States and Europe

It doesn't mention how he went to the hospital after fainting from exhaustion.

posted by LukeFord | 1:42 AM |

In truth, sex is a great mystery – a mysterium magnum. We constantly degrade sex into far less than it really is, but then we also build it up to be far more than it really is. To get it right, we just need to remember Whom we belong to.

posted by LukeFord | 1:17 AM |

Thursday, November 11, 2004  

A review of Robert J. Avrech's new book in The Ithica Journal:

My hands-down favorite book for middle school readers is "The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden," by Robert J. Avrech. This is an adventure story, set in the 1870s. Ariel Isaacson and his family are taking the dangerous trip through the Arizona desert after they were chased out of a small town because they were Jewish.

All 13-year-old Ariel wants is to become a bar mitzvah boy, but first the family had to find a place to settle. They were warned by the cavalry that they were heading right into Apache territory, where the feared Victorio and his sister, Lozen, killed white settlers. But Ariel's father is both a rabbi and a mystic who believes in prayer and his dreams. When they do meet up with Victorio and Lozen, a magical friendship develops between Lozen and Ariel. But before Ariel can have his bar mitzvah, he encounters gun slinger Doc Holliday, a band of thugs who kidnap his sister and other characters unsavory and otherwise.

The dialog flows smoothly, the scenes are memorable; it's a terrific story filled with the best of Judaism ... and the surprising Apache culture.

posted by LukeFord | 8:45 PM |

Chaim Amalek on what Jews must do to survive.

posted by LukeFord | 6:36 PM |

Vatican praises Arafat for Palestinian vision

Hospital concealment strengthens suspicion: Arafat died of AIDS

Dov Bear posts and again.

Dov writes me: "I love the way you undressed that idiot from yehupitz today!
How'd you find HIM?"

In a gay bathhouse.

Simcha says we shouldn't rejoice at Arafat's death.

An Orthodox rabbi responds:

A rasha who murdered many many Jews has died.

Your well-reasoned and impeccably researched analysis of why we should not rejoice is out of place at this time when his body hasn't even reached room temperature. The post is cold and reeks of a lack of Ahavas Yisroel.

Your post at this time is my answer to why misnagdus stinks. It is why I am
drawn to Chassidus despite the flaws in its implementation.

I realize that this is an emotionally based, not-well-thought-out e-mail.
That is my point.


Comments by Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, on the passing of Yassir Arafat:

Jews don't dance in the streets and fire weapons in celebration when their enemies die, but it would be disingenuous to say that there shouldn't be a feeling of gratitude to G-d in Jewish hearts for the passing from the scene of a man responsible for the murder of so many innocents. One thing is certain: the world is a better place today than it was yesterday.
Our gratification, though, is tempered by the fact that, unlike when Hitler or Stalin died and their reigns of terror largely perished with them, there is no assurance that Mr. Arafat's passing will bring any positive change in the calculus of Palestinian terror. But we hope and pray that it does.

posted by LukeFord | 2:23 PM |

Tonight, prayer gathering for the Bobover Rebbe of NY. His name is Naftali Zvi ben Bluma Rachel if you want to say tehillim.

A Crown Heights gathering of Lubavitch emissaries from around the world.

posted by LukeFord | 11:56 AM |

Haaretz on why the Orthodox voted for Bush.
I think the Orthodox were more likely to visit Israel (not to mention move to Israel) during the past four years while Reform pulled its youth trip at the height of the unrest.
In short, the Orthodox, in general, are more committed to leading Jewish lives, and hence more likely to vote for candidates who are good for Israel, for Jews and for Jewish values.
Jimmy Carter (one of Kerry's two proposed envoys to the Mid-East along with James Baker) praises Arafat.
Yassir Arafat, says Rush Limbaugh this morning, has received more positive coverage than John Ashcroft ever got, or President Bush during the campaign. Judith Miller of NYT writes: "No other individual so embodied the Palestinians' plight: their dispersal, their statelessness, their hunger for a return to a homeland lost to Israel. Mr. Arafat was once seen as a romantic hero and praised as a statesman, but his luster and reputation faded over time."
The media seem to be treating Arafat as a great statesman rather than an enemy of humanity who dedicated his life to murdering Jews.
Dan Savage writes in the Village Voice: "This is a disorienting time to be an American homo."
As Dennis Prager has written, advocates of gay marriage and advocates of Islamic terrorism are both attacks (though not equally dangerous) on America's Judeo-Christian fabric.

posted by LukeFord | 11:52 AM |

Bronfman speaks on intermarriage.

posted by LukeFord | 10:48 AM |

"The Rebbe ALWAYS responds!! It is us however who sometimes don't realize that it is his doing!"
This is another variation of -- God always answers prayer. It's just that his answer is always no.
Shmarya writes: Funny, isn't Chabad theology based on praying to and communicating with the dead? Didn't the Rebbe spend hours every week in a cemetery doing so? Could it be that Chabad is wrong? That the Rebbe was wrong?

NEW BOOK ON CHABAD – The Abandonment Of The Jews

posted by LukeFord | 10:33 AM |

Note the Ashkenazic/Sephardic split on disengagement from the Gaza Strip

posted by LukeFord | 10:25 AM |

JPost reports on a new film about the abuse of women by rabbinic courts.

posted by LukeFord | 10:25 AM |

A debate about Matis Weinberg between ME and an Orthodox rabbi:

Me writes:

DEC was told of the matter by YU and YU found out that despite its
discussion with DEC, students were still staying with Matis and his family
over the weekends.

YU also found out that DEC [a yeshiva in Israel that is home to Matis Weinberg] had been told by former students of Matis' behavior and ignored the allegations.

YU also found out that to begin with, one Matis's closest students is DEC
Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Aharon Katz, whom he effectively raised since Katz's
teenage years.

Basically, kids were in danger, DEC put it's head in the sand and YU was
forced to take action.

DEC had a website up where they posted letters in support of Matis and
attacked the victims who came forward.

It's a complicated case. This person is basically someone being fed nonsense.

I would note "Two of the eight rebbes at Derech Etz Chaim are said to have
left their posts over the controversy. One, Rabbi Avraham Schorr, gathered
his students at his home one morning last month to tell them he was leaving
because of the scandal, according to someone who was present. "

Those two rebbes did the right thing. They left. The remaing ones chose to
stand with supporters of Matis instead of students who were victimized. They
chose to associate with a horrible chilul Hashem. And now they cry about
their Yeshiva and parnasah? What nonsense

The two rebbes who left did so at a financial and professional cost. I have
sympathy for them. Not the six who stayed and associated with DEC's chilul.

>Blau et al. were so eager to prove their post-Lanner credentials that they
>resorted to destroying a yeshiva.

Nonsense, DEC did that all themselves.

> forget "resolve the matter". YU never even approached the DEC faculty to
>ask for their side of ANYHTING


>before giving them 24 hrs notice that they were going public.

DEC chose not to protect or support its students victimized by Matis.

>YU then REFUSED to go to Beis-Din.


What would be the point of going to a Beis-Din? YU had to act and act

YU protected it's students. DEC didn't.

That's why DEC never went to trial. They couldn't afford to put what they
did clearly on the record.

I think this person is completely oblivious to what was going on.

Aron Goldberger was clearly a child molester who got a great deal in court. There were also a number of substantial and credible allegations against rabbi Eliezer
Eisgrau. My understanding is they used Aron as a "fall-guy" for the allegations against rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau. But clearly Aron was a child molester. Anyone reading what you wrote as exonerating Aron in any way would be wrong.

>so how come this case fell >off of the radar screen?

1) DEC settled. DEC dropped its lawsuit, YU dropped its counter suit.

2) Statute of limitations on many of the serious allegations has run out.

3) Difficulty in bringing a case that has no witnesses.

4) Charges of criminal behavior against Rabbi Weinberg have been filed with Interpol, the international police, which is investigating the matter.

I don't know the status of this. Remember, these things drag on. For example, the Lanner has been out on appeal for over 2 years.

5) No Rabbinic authority has given victims permission for a civil suit. There is no indication that there is any money to go after anyway.

posted by LukeFord | 1:20 AM |

A friend came over tonight and we played this Pirkei Arvos parlor game. One of us would recite a saying from the Mishna, and the other person would have to say the name of the rabbi. If we got it wrong, there was a penalty. My friend is not Jewish, so I cleaned up.

posted by LukeFord | 1:15 AM |

Did Jewish women's liberation peak in the 12th Century?

posted by LukeFord | 1:10 AM |

Wednesday, November 10, 2004  

It's been two weeks since the RCA received its report on Mordecai Tendler. Obviously he is not innocent or they would've cleared him by now. Must be a lot of RCA infighting. There are calls for another investigation. Put the women through all the interviews again.

posted by LukeFord | 8:13 PM |

Jewish Rites of Exorcism

posted by LukeFord | 7:45 PM |

Molestation cases with connections to the Ohel Children's Home and Family Service Group Home Borough Park, Brooklyn (halachic advisor is rabbi Dovid Cohen):

Case of Ozzie Orbach, M.D.

Case of Simcha Adler - Counselor at Ohel Children's Home and Family Service Group Home

Case of Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz, M.Sc., Ph.D., L.N.H.A. (Jerusalem, Israel)

posted by LukeFord | 7:09 PM |

Me writes:

There have been several civil suits related to abuse in the Jewish community.

Usually the use of civil suits (and the threat of) and lawyers is more commonly used by predators to silence victims.

Confidentiality ageements are common.

Rabbi/Cantor cases:
1) Rabbi Ephraim Bryks filed civil lawsuits against CBC, CNN and against several journalists in Canada and the US.
He abandoned the one in Canada and lost in the US.

Over the years, he has used the threat of civil lawsuits to keep victims quiet.

When he was caught plagerizing articles in the local Jewish paper he sent legal letters threatening to sue the local Jewish paper and local rabbonim if the information was made public.

He had his lawyer personally phone and threaten every parent that removed their kids from his school. He also sent legal letters to anyone with information.

He also had a lawyer park his car right in front of the Child and Family Service Branch investigating him (lawyer sat in plain view taking note of people entering) so that victims and supporters would know that he knows they are talking to social workers.

2) Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg signed an out-of-court settlement with his victim. Presumably, there is a confidentiality agreement to silence her.

3) Rabbi Steven J. Kaplan is suing his former synagogue to keep them quiet.

4) Rabbi Mordecai Magencey was sued by several victims. I'm not sure what the outcome was. Likely confidentiality agreements.

5) Rabbi Michael David Mayersohn was sued civilly be his victim. He did not defend the suit and paid the judgement.

6) Cantor Michael Segelstein is being sued by woman he was convicted of abusing. Civil suit is ongoing.

7) Rabbi Mordecai Tendler paid off at least one victim with a 6 figure settlement and a confidentiality agreement.

8) Rabbi Matis Weinberg's former school DEC sued YU. This silenced people for months. In the end the suit was dropped.

9) Rabbi Yaakov Weiner was sued by a victim. The suit was settled with a confidentiality agreement.

10) Rabbi Don Well sued his former Yeshiva. The status of the case is unclear.

I don't believe there was an actual civil trial in any of the above cases.

posted by LukeFord | 7:08 PM |

Generosity index: Red or Blue?

Orthodox Jews demonstrate their concern for Palestinian president

posted by LukeFord | 7:02 PM |

Cathy Seipp writes about her parting with leftist alt-weekly paper City Beat:

I don't know if it's my laissez faire attitude about disagreeable commenters, or my relationship with Luke Ford, or whatever, but people sometimes assume that I'll put up with anything. But actually, there is one thing I really cannot stand, and that's presumptiousness -- especially when accompanied by the added kick of unwarranted familiarity.

There's a disturbing amount of relish that Cathy takes in telling people to ---- off.

posted by LukeFord | 4:30 PM |

I'd like to imagine that this comment was left on my blog by Alana Newhouse:

I have been called a chick numerous times when absolutely no offense was meant, nor did I take it as such. When used accompanied with a charming smile, a winning manner, and of course, a hot guy, the word chick can be a real turn on!

Cara writes:

I've called myself a chick many a time, and I don't think I'm at all misogynistic. I've also answered to "babe", "honey", "hot stuff" and "you sexy thing"...when the speaker happens to be a someone who respects me and who means it in an affectionate way.
Words like "chick" are only demeaning when they're intended to be demeaning. Or when the guy saying it thinks that calling you any of the above automatically means you have to go home with him at the end of the night.

Luke says: Almost any word or deed can be creepy or nice depending on the context. There are a million instances where the word "chick" is inappropriate, just like in much of Orthodox life is is inappropriate to shake hands with a woman or talk to somebody's wife.

posted by LukeFord | 3:27 PM |

Larry Yudelson writes:

If this is a Baltimore story, then learn all about how the Baltimore media and legal community dealt with the Catholic scandal. Was there a lawyer who won a large settlement in Baltimore? He would be very interested in getting another large settlement. A $5 million dollar settlement gives the firm maybe $2 million -- enough to pay for the case, and a couple of fulltime investigators.

Lanner was easy -- it's not hard to track down leading NCSY kids. Who were the kids in that yeshiva? Are there yearbooks? Are their class lists? Are there disgruntled former colleagues of the rebbe?

Whining that a journalist won't put his livelihood on the line is just that: whining. My guess is that if a suspect is indeed guilty of multiple crimes, then a year's worth of legwork should be enough to dig up some real evidence. Whining, cutting and pasting about the fact that other people are ignoring the problem doesn't solve anything. It just makes you sound like a crank.

Me writes:

A Civil lawsuit won't work with sexual predators in the Orthodox Jewish community.

1) Rabbis unlike Catholic priests are independent contractors. So no central Jewish body to sue.

2) The Catholic Church kept very detailed records. This made civil suits easier.

3) I'm aware of several Rabbonim who are "judgement proof". They maintain no substantial assets in their names. They're not worried about being sued.

4) Some institutions are now organized in a way that the assets (building etc.) are seperate from the school. Harder to get at assets.

5) Jewish institutions do not have large liquid assets. Try selling an old school.

6) There are more lawyers willing to do pro-bono work for Jewish institutions and Rabbinical figures than for victims.

7) Some of the predators have prominant families that will pay the legal bills.

8) Costs for medical (counselling etc.) for victims is high. No one covers it. Predators often prey on the vulnerable as they know the family doesn't have the resources to come after them.

9) You sue they claim it's just about money. You become a moser and you're excommunicated. See:

10) Rabbonim involved in civil lawsuits in this area have shown they are prepared to silence witnesses and subourned perjury (try proving it however, very hard).

11) These people can delay the process for years making it very expensive.

12) So you win.
a. Will it cover your legal bills?
b. Now, try to collect.

13) Often we're taking about young victims, it's hard for them to confront their abuser.

14) You threaten to sue, then they settle and require a non-disclosure agreement. No one's safer. That's what Rabbi Mordechai Tendler did with victims that he couldn't afford to have going public.

posted by LukeFord | 3:21 PM |

Norway forbids Jewish symbols on night commemorating Kristallnacht.
Aperpos of nothing, this is bringing back bad memories of the time I was ejected from the Museum of Tolerance for making out with a 14-year old girl by the Kristallnacht display.
I was only 12-years old at the time.

posted by LukeFord | 3:15 PM |

Zogby, Gallup, NYT/CBS and other pollsters note growing support for my "no chick left behind" dating campaign which should climax with Your Moral Leader firmly ensconced in the White House. Susan Sorrell writes:

I live in South Carolina and in the South, men call you "honey" and don't mean it as a pick up line. is my website....yes I am a woman (40 yrs. old) and don't mind being called a chick. (Unless you are a construction worker and are making rude comments.) I even have a blog, , where I ramble on about my artwork, other artists, and stuff.
Loved the "no Chick Left behind" web log!!!

Three exclamation points! That means her comment is three-times as good.

posted by LukeFord | 1:17 PM |

The sadness of Seraphic Press

posted by LukeFord | 1:44 AM |

Did the Lubavitcher Rebbe leave a will?

posted by LukeFord | 1:37 AM |

Breakdown in a girls' yeshiva Thursday morning:
i cant stop crying
Luzdedos1: why?
because i have now officially completely lost my marbles
Luzdedos1: why?
i want to stop and absolutely cant control it
Luzdedos1: do you have a good therapist?
its not that
its that i never sleep
i cant sleep here
im so agitated all the time because i never sleep
because i always get woken up
and no one effing cares that its 1 am and the middle of midterms
and like i literally do not ever sleep
i slept for like 2 hours last night
tonight i finally got to bed early at 1145 and almost fell asleep finally and then at 1 am people started screaming and banging and laughing and shrieking
and i had felt this anxiety rising and rising and they were so loud
and i went into their hallway and was like "guys..." and one of them saw me and suddenly it dawned on her that theyre being inconsiderate
and shes like "guys, its 1 am and people are trying to sleep"
and im like "people WERE sleeping" and i huffed back to my room and started crying and i cant stop
im running on fumes
i cant do this anymore
Luzdedos1: see a doc and get a prescription?
im going to have to
but it shouldnt be necessasry
these are like the nicest frummest girls, im friends with them
why dont they have clocks
this is a situation of anomie
breakdown of regulatory functioning in society

posted by LukeFord | 1:30 AM |

Tuesday, November 09, 2004  

Are you an undergraduate interested in the Jewish community on your campus? Do you think you're a good writer and reporter?
Do you want to be part of a project that will give you real training, real credentials, and a real future in journalism while allowing you to do real work about the Jewish community?
E-mail me with a resume and clips, if any.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 8:18 PM |

Larry Yudelson writes about a letter protesting sexual abuse in the Baltimore community, and mentions allegations against rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau:

If I was editor of the Jewish Times and received this letter, it would be a no-brainer not to pursue it. (I might publish it, after removing the paragraphs that named names.)

The letter claims that no sources will talk. What evidence can a reporter get that would convince my libel lawyers that the story was worth running? How much circulation would I lose if I did run the story? How many Pikesville establishments would stop advertising?

And -- equally important -- how long would it take to research the story? How many hundreds of hours of reporting is necessary? That equals how many months of work for one of my handful of reporters?

Now, if I was the author of this letter, if I was personally convinced of the claims in this letter, then rather than berating the Jewish Times for not researching the story, I would figure out how to research it myself.

Who else might have been abused? Who else was in the rabbi's classes? Which students have left the derech? Are their demographics different than others from other yeshivas that left the derech?

Research and package up all the information, wrap it up as a gift for the editor of the Baltimore Sun. They still have to worry about libel, but don't really care about losing advertisers or subscribers from the frum community.

Better yet: Present it to a lawyer. I haven't been following the Catholic cases closely at all, but I have the impression that much of the reporting reflected lawsuits and criminal investigations. As the myth of Woodward and Bernstein proved, the press is at its "best" when it's just leaking someone else's detective work.

Whether or not me or Luke will be able to advance the story to a publishable point... well, that's the interesting question, isn't it?

I've spoken to the author of the letter. I've spoken to others who have researched this story. There was a police investigation (by detective Richard Hardick). The Baltimore Jewish Times editor Phil Jacobs interviewed at least one person who says he/she was molested by rabbi Eisgrau. Jacobs did further investigation. Jacobs got threatened by powerful members of the frum community and because of these threats, Jacobs backed off the story. One of Baltimore's leading rabbis told the Eisgrau family and the Baltimore frum community to put the daughter who alleged the sexual molestation into cherem. These are indisputable facts.

Phil Jacobs is a member of rabbi Menachem Goldberger's shul Tiferes Yisroel, which claims it is open to all Jews. All Jews except those who investigate this case. One such person has been banned from the shul and refused membership, even though the person is a Jew, born a Jew, and identifies Orthodox, solely because the person was looking into the Eisgrau story. Phil Jacobs and rabbi Goldberger know exactly what I am talking about.

Me, an anonymous poster on Protocols who I have gotten to know well over the past six months through private emails etc, and somebody with enormous credibility in these issues, writes on Protocols:

I have specific information regarding a relative of a victim of sexual molestation who approached Rav Dovid Cohen for help regarding a Rabbi who had a long documented history of sexual child abuse (not Eisgrau). Rav Dovid Cohen pretty much called this person a liar and refused to listen or help. Rav Dovid Cohen is just another protector of the abusers within the rabbinate.

One of the problems with the Shalom Task Force is that it is closely connected with its affiliate organization, Beit Shalom (Bukharian Jewish Women’s Organization). Ora Nisanov wife of Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov, runs Beit Shalom.

Ora Nisanov and her husband Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov also ran a Yeshiva called Berachel David. Both were directors of the Yeshiva according to public records. The principal at their school? Rabbi Ephraim Bryks, who had a long documented history of sexually molesting children. The Nisanov's were aware of Bryks' history at the time and still support him. The school has since closed.

These people are the problem not the solution.

posted by LukeFord | 6:13 PM |

Jihad at San Francisco State

posted by LukeFord | 5:12 PM |

R. Shlomo Aviner makes an important statement about how Jewish men should respond in the unfortunate case of a divorce

posted by LukeFord | 5:11 PM |

Chakira writes: One thing that the Jewish community really needs is a forum for objective book reviews. While journals like Tradition might do a passable job of reviewing books about Modern Orthodoxy and other such issues, there is a whole genre of Jewish literature that goes unreviewed.

posted by LukeFord | 5:10 PM |

David Berger is speaking in YU tonight. He will speak at 7 in Rubin Shul. He will address the topic of Jewish/Christian relations since the Shoah (including the Passion).

posted by LukeFord | 5:10 PM |

New protest in Israel on motzei Shabbos (competing with American Idol) against missionaries in Israel. Who will get more attendance this weekend? Haredi Idol, or AntiMissionary Protest?

posted by LukeFord | 2:35 PM |

Sheitel controversy. Article in Hebrew: Says wigs can be more attractive than real hair. Goes through the advantages and disadvantages. (Links courtesy of my wigger Chakira)

posted by LukeFord | 2:32 PM |

Israeli version of American Idol (in Hebrew)
They choose a new hassidic music star in Jerusalem: Mordechai Ben David, Adi Ran, Oif Simchas, Vishnitz, Avromy Roth....

posted by LukeFord | 2:28 PM |

Once a month, religious women in Ramat Beit Shemesh get together for a strictly kosher evening of letting loose.

It's late at night in a dimly lit room in the Ramat Beit Shemesh community center and women of this town are starting to let loose. With music blasting and bodies swaying, they are swinging their hips and moving their bottoms to hip hop, rap, salsa or whatever other music comes their way. Their children have been put to bed hours ago, their husbands are home and fed, and for dozens of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox women, the night is about to start.

posted by LukeFord | 2:27 PM |

The new ideology in health care… and how to survive it...By Rabbi Mordechai Biser
Shmarya writes:

This is a VERY flawed and one-dimensional article. I urge anyone in need of accurate information about the Halakhot of end-of-life medical care and related issues to speak directly with Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler.
(I have been told that RMDT is writing a response to the Agudah piece that appeared in Jewish World, and JWR will print it. The problem is RMDT's cramped schedule and the increasing time demands on him. His response may take months to complete, so again, anyone with decisions to make in this area should ask a sha'alah from a competent Rav – a Rav familiar with medical sha'alot and specific Halakhic issues related to the elderly.)

posted by LukeFord | 2:26 PM |

A conversation with a Stern hottie:
theres a very common phenomenon in young and/or immature women
i think stemming from low self esteem and the need to feel pursued and loved
girl picks an arbitrary or irrational or false reason to pick a fight- she may not even be conscious of it and the guy attributes it to PMS or overemotionality
Luzdedos1: yes
just to see if the guy will see whats wrong
and act all sweet
meanwhile shes saying "no, im fine"
so since the guy isnt a mindreader he says ok, and moves on
and then she gets ACTUALLY mad
and causes a big fight
just so that they can eventually reach a mushy catharsis
Luzdedos1: yes
Luzdedos1: ive experienced that
i think the problem is exacerbated because guys dont naturally express their emotions sufficiently for the girls to be reassured
so the girls contrive situations that will force it out of them
anyway this is my thought (-:
i.e. girls are dumb.
Luzdedos1: that's it?
girls = dumb
Luzdedos1: ok
its a big chiddush. really its just to tell guys that this may be unavoidable, and in situations where a girl seems to be angry for no reason, they should probably just cut out the fighting part and express extra affection

posted by LukeFord | 2:10 PM |

Dennis Prager says he has never been so optimistic about America. He went through the early '70s believing the country was going down a bad path (due to the behavior of student radicals on campuses and the professors and administrators who gave in to them). He saw the naive belief that men and women are the same (of course they are equal in value). He saw professional societies such as that of psychiatrists, lawyers and pediatricians were taken over by leftists. This election is undoing this.
Read what the Left has to say about the election -- that 59 million Americans are morons. That the Salem witch trials are being relived.
Dennis Prager writes: Why Dems are tagged as the party without values

posted by LukeFord | 1:36 PM |

Shmarya writes about this story: The experts told them that these were non-Jewish graves, but Haredim scoffed at the experts and rioted anyway. It turns out that the graves are of Roman soldiers who massacred tens of thousands of Jews. Of course, the Haredim still want a bridge over the 'Jewish' graves (that are not there!) and are willing to delay this much-needed road safety project by three years to get it. How many Jews will be maimed or killed at this intersection in those three years? Have the Haredim no shame?

posted by LukeFord | 1:18 PM |

NYT says sex research is only for the brave:

Pedophilia in particular is off-limits. Psychiatrists and psychologists have studied and tried to treat people imprisoned for sexual crimes, with limited success. But it is not clear whether these convicted felons are representative of all people who have sexual fantasies involving children.

People do not choose to become pedophiles, experts say, but usually discover as adults that they are afflicted with unusual desires, and many long resist the urge to act on them. Researchers know that boys who are sexually abused themselves may be at increased risk of developing pedophilia later on, but they still know little about how these urges develop, or in whom.

posted by LukeFord | 11:33 AM |

The Rabbi Baruch Lanner appeal is scheduled to be heard 10 AM Wednesday next
week in NJ:

A -000664-02-T3 10:00

posted by LukeFord | 10:50 AM |

Mrs. Arafat's rantings are more than just about money

posted by LukeFord | 1:57 AM |

The following has been circulated, and mailed to several different Jewish newspapers. As of today, no one has published it. Through my sources, I know who wrote this. The letter and its author are credible.

To the editors

I would like to address a very important and very troubling issue affecting our entire community and its future.

The taboo surrounding the issue of child sexual abuse in general, and even more so within our own community is very real and difficult to surmount for many reasons. Our silence is what child sexual offenders count on to enable them to continue abusing. We must break this silence and as a community begin to address this issue openly.

This sensitive issue becomes even harder to deal with when allegations are made against a rabbi or trusted leader within our community. Most of our rabbis and leaders are not child molesters, but most also have no training or expertise in this area. Most rabbonim confronted with allegations of abuse against a trusted and respected colleague are simply not equipped to deal with the situation. Obviously, they do not want to believe the allegations. It is a lot easier to stigmatize an obviously troubled or angry victim then to believe that a well respected, influential, colleague could be a sexual predator.

Instances of childhood sexual abuse are very hard to prove (or disprove), as there are rarely any witnesses, or visible scars. Training in recognizing the short and long-term effects affects of abuse is essential, and the responsibility of every Rabbi to obtain.

We have recently read stories of perpetrators within our community who have used the silence of the community and its leaders to allow them to continue abusing children, sometimes for decades. Some say that it is a chillul Hashem for papers to have published such information. The sad truth is that going to the papers is the only thing that finally stopped the abuser and prevented future victims. The real chillul Hashem is that many Rabbonim knew of allegations for years and did nothing. The real chillul Hashem is that when a sexual abuse or assault victim dares to speak out publicly, instead of helping the victim, and confronting the issue, Rabbonim and community leaders rally around the accused perpetrator trying to protect the image of the community at the expense of his victims.

Many of our “at risk teens” who have gone “off the derech” are victims of childhood sexual abuse and have gotten the message loud and clear that they will not be helped or believed, and so have left the community.

When allegations are brought against a person who is in a position of authority over innocent children this person should very quickly be directed to another line of work. To date there is no known cure for pedophiles. The only way to manage these tendencies is for perpetrators to never be alone with a child.

Parents have a right to know about allegations made against those caring for their children and to make an informed decision about the risks that they are willing to expose their children to. The Baltimore community must be made aware of and take responsibility for any accused perpetrators in our mist, especially when they hold positions that enable them to continue to offend.

Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau, the principal of the Torah Institute, is one such individual. Rabbi Eisgrau has, on at least two known occasions, been accused of child sexual molestation and on at least one occasion of physical abuse. (He allegedly hit a child in the face and broke his glasses.) One of the accusations of sexual abuse was made by a former student, and the other by one of rabbi Eisgrau's own daughters. (Both of his alleged victims are now adults.)

The charges brought against Rabbi Eisgrau by his student were formally investigated and later dropped because of insufficient evidence. In the words of the investigator, Detective Richard Hardick, he was "stonewalled" by the community. Concerned and aware members of our community (including myself) who have tried to speak out about the potential danger to our children have been threatened with loss of their job, membership to shul, and even personal safety. Rabbi Eisgrau's rav has advised rabbi Eisgrau's other children to excommunicate their sister unless she agrees never to speak out about her experience. This, in my opinion, is a horrible chillul Hashem and abuse of rabbinic authority.

Let us, as a community, take responsibility for protecting our children and educating ourselves about sexual abuse. A good resource, which deals specifically with sexual abuse in the Jewish community, is The Awareness Center at, www.

Rabbi Yosef Blau (mashgiach Ruchani of the Rabbi Isacc Elchanan Theological Seminary) in his article, Confronting Abuse in The Orthodox Community, (Nefesh News, 7:9, July 2003) writes:

"Our community has not been educated to recognize abuse nor to appreciate the ongoing trauma of victims...Often the response is to express anger at the paper (publishing letters such as this one) and then ignore the abuse. Until the mentality of the community changes little progress will be made."

I hope everyone reading this will take his message to heart.

A concerned member of the Baltimore community.

posted by LukeFord | 1:27 AM |

Monday, November 08, 2004  

A list of those ordained by rabbi Shlomo Carlebach according to the rabbi Shlomo Carlebach Foundation.

posted by LukeFord | 10:06 PM |

Orthodox Couple sues IRS to win deduction for religious school tuition

posted by LukeFord | 8:55 PM |

Chaim Amalek, Upper West Side Jew, writes:

I think I know how both to revitalize the reform movement AND boost the number of Jews in America being born. Simply put, reform judaism should become the party of early reckless sex between jews, encouraging jewish teens (above the age of consent) to pop one out before starting college, and then to keep on popping them out on a biannual basis. Once word gets out that reform temple is the place for a young bachur to get laid, these places will be full to the balconies with young jews with fornication on their mind. Nature will take its course, and, absent birth control (which the Holy Father eschews) presto! More jewish babies.

We cannot count on the harridans and effeminate drama queen democrats now in charge of reform to do the needful here, but perhaps if some of your colleagues got involved, they could penetrate reform and make it the Jewish baby machine I think it could become.

(And you sensitive liberal drones who cluck your tongues at me can poopoo this all you like - you know I'm right.)

Publishing comments by Chaim Amalek should not be construed as an endorsement of them. In fact, I find his vulgarity offensive.

posted by LukeFord | 5:52 PM |

Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau is the principal of the Torah Institute of Baltimore. A couple of families were run out of Baltimore because they wanted to go to the authorities with accusations of child abuse against rabbi Eisgrau. One person who accuses the rabbi of sexual abuse is his daughter.

Torah Institute of Baltimore 35 Rosewood Lane Owings Mills, MD 21117 410-654-3500 Principal: Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau Orthodox boys school for nursery/preschool through grade 8. Intensive Judaic and secular studies. Summer camp program available. Located on 12-acre Owings Milll campus. (

On three occasions, rabbi Eisgrau has been accused of sexually molesting children. Two allegations were made by former students and one by his daughter. Some of the accusers have been run out of Baltimore and now live in Silver Spring, Maryland (the frum community south of Baltimore right outside DC).

Rabbi Eisgrau is protected by the two leading Orthodox rabbis in Baltimore.

As principal of the Torah Institute of Baltimore, rabbi Eisgrau retains ready access to kids.

His daughter has been excommunicated from his family and the Baltimore community and those who allege they were molested by Eisgrau have been labeled as crazy. Same old routine.

Police were stonewalled by the Orthodox community. Nobody would talk to him from within the community. They wouldn't acknowledge that they knew who the children were who accused the rabbi of molesting them.

An Aaron Goldberger ended up as the fall guy for many of these cases of sex abuse. He is the brother-in-law of rabbi Eisgrau. He was tried and convicted.

A pediatrician who did a medical exam on the kids (in the Goldberger case) who say they were molested was told, according to my sources, to get rid of the evidence.

Baltimore Jewish Times editor Phil Jacobs, Modern Orthodox, was working on a story on this and then he spiked it. My sources believe Jacobs is under the thumb of his rabbi Menachem Goldberger of Tiferes Yisroel.

Some of those who alleged that rabbi Eisgrau sexually molested them were devastated when Jacobs abandoned the story. "We know there will never be any justice in this life time," one person said.

A few months ago, Jacobs refused my interview request for my book on Jewish journalism. I guess he has good reason for fearing scrutiny. If I had spiked a story like this, I'd be embarrassed too.

I remember Gary Rosenblatt in 2001 decrying the pettiness he found in the religious leaders he got to know. I encountered the same thing when I examined Rosenblatt's record (he refuses to answer any tough questions, had Yossi Abramowitz reamed for his 1995 JNF scoop and then blackballed Yossi from The Jewish Week).

People are terrified about speaking up on the case of rabbi Eisgrau. They have been so threatened by the Orthodox powers that be in Baltimore, they won't even speak to the police, let alone journalists. Police have never seen a community so unwilling to speak up about such matters because of threats.

Just working to expose the story can be cause for having your life threatened by members of the Orthodox community. On the other hand, you can have people crying at your feet about Eisgrau -- that you've never met a holier man. He's so pure. Yadayada.

Eisgrau's daughter went to a world-renown American rabbi (circa 2002, Dovid Cohen on Ohel, friendly with Lewis Brenner's family), famous for fighting sexual abuse, with her story. He was nice. He said he would get back to her. He called the rabbis who rule the community in Baltimore. Several sources say he was threatened that if he got involved, all backing for his institutions would dry up. Another source in the Orthodox rabbinate say that serious Baltimore Orthodox rabbis investigated the charges against Eisgrau and found them baseless. They relayed this to rabbi Dovid Cohen who then dropped out of the case.

When Eisgrau's daughter called him back, rabbi Dovid Cohen said, I'm sorry. I can't have anything to do with you.

Rabbi Dovid Cohen spoke at a Nefesh convention circa 2000. He encouraged the therapists there to raise public awareness of sexual abuse.

posted by LukeFord | 11:25 AM |

1. Welcome to Yashar Books

Discover Yashar Books, the new publisher of Orthodox Jewish books for today's reader and thinker.. "Books for Life" will keep you up-to-date about new and rediscovered books that inform and inspire the mind and soul. "Books for Life" is a forum for scholars and students, the seekers and the simply inquisitive, all those who share a love of ideas. As new books become available, we will highlight the authors and give you previews, excerpts and exclusive interviews.

Yashar Books is dedicated to providing open access to the world of classical and contemporary Jewish ideas. Its goal is to publish affordable books of original Jewish scholarship and authoritative popularizations of Jewish classics.


2. The Pursuit of Justice and Jewish Law: Halakhic Perspectives on the Legal Profession by Michael J. Broyde

This issue's featured book is The Pursuit of Justice and Jewish Law: Halakhic Perspectives on the Legal Profession by Michael J. Broyde, a newly revised and expanded edition of Broyde's 1996 classic examining the issues and contrasts between Jewish and secular law. Broyde fearlessly tackles controversial issues that are vital to the professional life of every Jewish lawyer... as well as anyone caught up in the American legal system.


Professional Confidentiality

Jewish law requires one to inform a Jew of harm that might befall him and which could be avoided; this is based on the verse: "Do not stand by while your brother's blood is being shed." As has been noted by many, this obligation applies not only to saving lives, but also to preventing monetary losses. Thus, if there had been no secular regulation of this area and no contract between the lawyer and the client, a lawyer who learned that his client was planning to cause monetary loss through impropriety could be halakhically obligated to inform the potential victim, and thus prevent the loss...

In such a situation [of conflict between Jewish law and secular legal ethics] a lawyer must tread gingerly. The obligation to rescue a fellow Jew from harm is a very serious one. However, there is no obligation to rescue one from harm if the rescuer will suffer significant financial harm. As Rabbi Alfred Cohen has stated:

"Our research shows that the majority of halakhic authorities accept the position that a person whose livelihood depends upon maintaining the confidentiality of revelations made to him, need not jeopardize his position by telling those secrets. Although keeping silent might violate the negative mitzvah [commandmentl of not standing by and allowing another Jew to be harmed, yet as long as he is not violating the commandment by doing any action and, were he to act he would endanger his own livelihood, then he is permitted to remain silent."

When a lawyer knows that he will be disciplined by his fellow lawyers and thus lose his ability to earn a living, most agree that the obligation to rescue is suspended. For the same reason, the obligation to rescue is also suspended in a case where a lawyer will not be disciplined but will lose a significant percentage of his clients, (as his particular clients do not wish the services of a lawyer who reports clients' legal violations to the authorities), Lawyers concerned with Jewish law should, however, realize that the Model Rules enforce a regulation that can be contrary to Jewish law, and should work to see it changed -- at the very least -- to mandate disclosure in cases of harm to a third party.

In addition, there is the issue of the lawyer's agreement (explicit or implicit) with the client not to reveal the client's information improperly. Indeed, the essence of that agreement is to conduct oneself according to the secular legal rules. People would not discuss their legal problems absent such an agreement, and it is part of every private lawyer's contract with a client. Particularly when the client's violation poses no threat to the physical integrity of another, it is quite possible that the lawyer's contract binds him to keep silent.

In a case of future physical harm to another, in this author's opinion, a lawyer should report whatever plans of a client needed to prevent the violent act, since it is unlikely that such a person will, in fact, be disciplined or otherwise 'suffer a serious loss, and thus his silence cannot be justified by a fear of loss of livelihood. It appears that such disclosure would be compelled by Jewish law. (However, it is important to add that a survey of the various casebooks and hornbooks, as well as Westlaw reports, shows no occasion where a lawyer was disciplined for disclosing information improperly when Jewish law would compel the disclosure.)


Michael J. Broyde

Michael J. Broyde is Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law and the Academic Director of the Law and Religion Program at Emory University. His primary areas of interest are Law and Religion, Jewish law and ethics, and comparative religious law. Besides Jewish law and family law, Professor Broyde has taught Federal Courts, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Secured Credit, Bankruptcy and other courses. He received a juris doctor from New York University and published a note on the Law Review. He clerked for Judge Leonard I. Garth of the United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit. In addition, Professor Broyde is ordained (yoreh yoreh ve-yadin yadin) as a rabbi by Yeshiva University and is a dayan on the Beth Din of America, the largest Jewish law court in America. He is also the founding rabbi of the Young Israel of Atlanta synagogue and the dean of the Atlanta Torah Mitzion Kollel.

Professor Broyde published more than sixty articles in various aspects of law and religion and Jewish law, including "Error in Creation of Marriage in Modern Times under Jewish Law," Dinei Israel 22: 39-65 (2003). He has also published a number of articles in the area of Federal courts, including an article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy on the impeachment process. His first book, The Pursuit of Justice and Jewish Law, was published by Yeshiva University Press and his second, Human Rights and Judaism, by Aronson Publishing House. He is the author of a recent article in the Connecticut Law Review entitled "Cloning People: A Jewish View;" His most recent book is Marriage, Divorce and the Abandoned Wife in Jewish Law: A Conceptual Understanding of the Agunah Problems in America, 2003.

To order The Pursuit of Justice and Jewish Law: Halakhic Perspectives on the Legal Profession by Michael J. Broyde, click here: (Publication date December 2004. Orders received before December 15, 2004 will receive a 10% Advance Reservation Discount. Orders placed in Hebrew Bookstores will receive a special Bookstore Discount of 20%. Print and bring this newsletter to your favorite bookstore to be eligible.)


A related title currently in production, "Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law," by Dr. Aaron Levine, focuses on issues in business ethics that arise from the intricacies and subtleties of Jewish business law. Dr. Levine is a distinguished rabbinic and economic authority on matters of Jewish business ethics and has published a number of books and articles on this them. His latest book is an extension of his previous work that provides case studies relevant to everyday life and analyzes them from the perspectives of Jewish and secular law.

Other works in progress are Maimonides: A Man for All Ages, a two-volume work in preparation to mark the Jewish year 5765 (2004-2005) which is the 800th anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135-1204, physician and philosopher, considered the foremost Jewish scholar of the Middle Ages). The State of Israel has declared 5765 the Year of the Rambam (Maimonides). In conjunction with the Maimonides Heritage Center of Great Neck, New York, Yashar Books will publish a collection of articles by such leading Orthodox scholars as Dr. Arthur Hyman, Rabbi Shalom Carmy and the late Prof. Isadore Twersky. The essays are scholarly, yet clear and understandable to the non-specialist. The work is a unique opportunity for scholars to present somewhat obscure topics to non-academics in a format that will offer readers a clear window into the otherwise esoteric field of Maimonidean studies.

BETWEEN THE LINES OF THE BIBLE: Recapturing the Complete Meaning of the Text, by Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom, promises to be a major contribution to understanding the Bible. Rabbi Etshalom utilizes the modern tools of literary Biblical analysis to deepen understanding of the book of Genesis. In the process, he debunks many of the arguments and methods of Bible critics. Other books in progress include a translation and analysis of an 18th century defense of the Oral Torah, a study of the history and methodology of classical biblical commentators, fascinating academic biographies of famous Torah personalities and sociological studies of the Orthodox Jewish community.

For more information and orders, come to the reading room at Yashar Books,, 1548 E. 33rd St., Brooklyn, NY 11234, Phone: (718) 951-1254, Fax: (718) 228-5150,

posted by LukeFord | 10:06 AM |

Tzemach Atlas on the contrast between those who speak of peace and those who are labeled extremists.

posted by LukeFord | 1:56 AM |

I don't find "Jewish time" so amusing.
I arrived at 6:45pm to the West side branch of the Reform Wilshire Blvd Temple to take in a 7pm lecture by historian Jonathan Sarna. I owed him a copy of my new book, Yesterday's News Tomorrow.
I slip it to him while he's engaged in a conversation with two distinguished Jews. He holds my handshake and gives me his full attention for a minute. He talks about an article he'd read about my life. I was flattered.
The program began at 7:20pm. That is 20 minutes of theft from everybody who arrived on time. I have little patience for people who are five minutes late to appointments with me. Luckily I carry books with me everywhere so I don't waste this time. Still, I resent the theft.
There were three introductory speeches before Dr. Sarna took the stage. A bare-headed Harvey Fields (once the most highly paid rabbi in Los Angeles, about $300,000 annually counting allowances, until he stepped down a couple of years ago) gave a windy talk (read the whole thing) full of cliches and empty rhetoric about American Judaism's "magnificent history."
Rabbi Fields said that like most of the audience he was filled with worry for the future of America given Tuesday's elections.
The median age of the audience is about 60. Typical for a Reform crowd. A lot of old biddies with implausibly dyed hair.
As soon as rabbi Fields said about Dr. Sarna -- "he worked," I knew he would follow with the cliche "tirelessly," which he did.
I heard loud sighs around me as the rabbi wandered on.
Dr. Sarna takes the stage and immediately captivates with his energy and good humor. I'm disappointed that I've already heard many of his jokes. I've already read his book American Judaism. I fear the evening will be a waste, but Dr. Sarna pops in stuff I don't remember.
Peter Stuyvesent, the governor of New Amsterdam when Jews settled in the city in 1654, studied for the clergy in Holland until an incident with his landlady's daughter sent him fleeing back to the New World.
Dr. Sarna reads his speech but he knows it so well, and delivers it with so much energy and fun, that he holds my attention. He talks about Cohens coming to America and turning into Kerrys. "Remember him?"
I believe Dr. Sarna is a conservative, but I doubt that more than 1% of the audience knows that. Most of the crowd, I'm sure, assumes that any Jew who appears kind and decent is a liberal Democrat.
Dr. Sarna says that in 19th Century America, opponents of mixed seating called it promiscuous seating. Looking around at the crowd, I bet there's more action going on at an NCSY Shabbaton or a Stern College kiddish than here.
I'm hoping that Dr. Sarna winds up his speech with a hearty exhortation for Jews to have unprotected sex in hopes of replenishing our numbers (not that unprotected sex amongst 90% of tonight's crowd would result in anything more dramatic than a pulled muscle). Perhaps a bon mot from Chaim Amalek that hyper-educated Jewish women use their vaginas as toys while Palestinian women use their's as cannons. But no such luck.
During question time, an old woman rises and says all the Christian talk of the past election makes her nervous about American Judaism. If such Jews were truly nervous about such matters, they might try studying the Torah and observing the mitzvot as their Moral Leader does.
Dr. Sarna says culture is not an effective way of transmitting Jewishness over the generations. Religion is more effective. Yiddishism was one of the great failures of 20th Century American Jewish life.
He's asked about the vibrancy of American Orthodox Judaism. He says beware triumphalism from any of the denominations. We've seen Reform and Conservative triumphalism. Now we hear it from the Orthodox. But the Orthodox:
* Lose more of their young people than do Reform or Conservative (in percentage terms) because Orthodoxy is so hard and America so tempting
* Lose their best and brightest to Israel
* Fight amongst themselves

posted by LukeFord | 1:32 AM |

A few months ago, I sent off an interview request to Joseph Aaron, editor and publisher of the Chicago Jewish News, the city's independent weekly, as well as the editor of Chicago's Federation monthly for my book on Jewish journalism. Like the folks at JTA, neither could be bothered to reply to me.
Sunday night I come home to a lengthy harangue on my voicemail and in my email box (shades of Benyamin Cohen) from Joseph Aaron threatening legal action if I attribute anything from a conversation I had with somebody he evidently feels like he owns.
I emailed him back that I am a man of my word (if I assure somebody our conversation is not for attribution, I abide by that) and that was all I wished to say to him on the matter.
What's the polite way of saying -- stick your lawyers where the sun don't shine?
When I hear someone I don't know threatening legal action over nothing, I immediately think the person is either a bully or clueless. It is particularly disturbing when it comes from the editor of a newspaper, who one would think would know better than to go flying off the handle threatening legal action over nothing.
I hate to traffic in stereotypes, but in my experience, Jews (from Orthodox rabbis to secular journalists) are far more likely to complain, bluster and threaten legal action than non-Jews. I've had Orthodox rabbis tell me that they would sue me (in a secular court) if I used their name in a story (after I assured them anonymity). Making such empty threats does not intimidate anyone with sechel (sense) and only diminishes the threatener's dignity and credibility.

posted by LukeFord | 1:27 AM |

Sunday, November 07, 2004  

I get all sorts of IMs. Here are two I got within a minute of each other Sunday just before Minchah:
From a Stern girl: "Do you have any idea where I could find the text of the Rambam's shmoneh prakim online?"
Amalekchai: "I don't mean any disrespect to you, but is your girlfriend a hooker? So there's no way I could fly out to LA and hook up with her for cash, right?"
The answer to both inquiries was no.

posted by LukeFord | 7:43 PM |

My new dating campaign is "no chick left behind. Let's study Torah together tonight."
The Teacher responds:

Luke, We all know how powerful a single word can be (i.e. freedom fighter/terrorist).
Keeping that in mind, I want you to answer a few questions. Is it appropriate to call a woman a chick? Are they baby chickens? Calling a woman a chick is derogatory.
Here's a homework assignment for you. I want you to make a list of every word you have to describe the word woman. After each word write down the definition as seen in a dictionary. Then share it with everyone on this blog.
Luke, I'll make it easier for you. Go to this website and learn. Memorize the terms, and use them.

Honey, the day I do that is the day I quit writing. The word "chick" in the context I used it was perfect for its purpose.
The Teacher replies:

Luke, I'm curious why it seems so disastrous to you to use terms that empower women, verses ones that are so derogatory?
Does it make you feel a sense of power when you use these sorts of terms?

Sweetie, you creep me out. I did not use the word "chick" to apply to all women. I used it specifically for single attractive cuddly cute playful women who'd like to hang out with me. Such chicks I don't want to leave behind (until I land in that one solid monogamous relationship that is going to the chuppah).
A "spunky sheila" is antiquated Australian slang for an attractive (usually applied to a single) woman. A "babe" is a "cutie" is a "hottie." These are words for single attractive women. My friends and I do not apply them to married women, nor to old women, nor to ugly chicks. We apply them to women we'd like to play with. They are complimentary terms, even "empowering," if we must use that loathsome term.
There are many instances when the use of these terms is inappropriate but there are also many instances when they convey our exact meaning.
I like to spend my dating time with hotties, babes, cuties, chicks, sheilas. They are more attractive to me than women who serve in the PC police or are eager to show you why they are smarter. Most men don't like to compete with women. We're looking for somebody cuddly and playful to settle down with and make a home. We want to come home to somebody who is cute and turns us on. We want a playmate in addition to someone with our values.
My friends and I like to date women who love sex. (Not that I ever have any of this mystical sex because the Torah forbids it.) We prefer women who enjoy being a sexual object at times. Sometimes we want to forget about their graduate degrees and concentrate on their tits.
Our words convey exactly what we seek. Breasts. Tits. Knockers. Curves. A full-and-natural C-cup. We like these things.
That our preferences, partly driven by our sexual urges, offend you, then it is not us that offends you so much as reality, a reality that you wish to legislate away through your word policing.
Do I believe that men should control themselves, sexually and otherwise? Yes. Do I think it is wrong to only want to relate to women for sex? Absolutely. Are women, attractive and ugly, equally made in God's image? Yes. When I am seated next to some homely chick, do I ignore her? No way. Do I subscribe to the Torah's prescriptions for how we should relate to others, sexually and otherwise? Yes. Will I always recite the shma before making love to my wife? Probably not.
Is our society better because we have stigmatized certain expressions that demean entire groups such as nigger, spic, kike, wop, dago? Sure. I don't think these words are appropriate for the public stage. In private, among people who won't be hurt, in the right context, I don't have a problem with these words.
Yeah baby, I wish I could discuss these weighty issues in greater depth, but I've got a hot chick waiting. We're going to Jonathan Sarna's (who is cute and cuddly and Donald Duckish in his own way) lecture tonight on American Judaism. I have an autographed copy of my book for him (my meager payment for the right to include his essay).

posted by LukeFord | 7:07 PM |

Guidelines for choosing your personal spiritual guide

posted by LukeFord | 7:02 PM |

In an unprecedented move, the Jerusalem municipality has removed a memorial plaque erected at the site of a Palestinian suicide bombing in the capital after suspected haredi extremists vandalized the sign, the city said Sunday.

posted by LukeFord | 7:00 PM |

Mark Steyn on what's wrong with Europe.

posted by LukeFord | 4:46 PM |

A source writes:

I suggest if you want to do a book about Orthodox Rabbonim gone bad, you
start with a Chapter which explains what an Orthodox Rabbi is. I don't
believe anything authoritative has been written on our modern "sham" smicha
This will require considerable effort and research to put together.
It's clear to me that journalists writing on this topic are clueless.

A more relevant question than what Carlebach smicha is worth (frankly
nothing in the Orthodox world, except the far-left reaches) would be what
smicha from Rabbi Mordechai Tendler is worth.

This is about to become an issue in the Orthodox world.

1) Rabbi Ross Singer

Singer decided to get a second ordination that would be accepted by some
parts of Orthodoxy that didn't accept his first one.

2) Rabbi Aaron Frank

posted by LukeFord | 4:44 PM |

Jerusalem goes Wi-Fi

posted by LukeFord | 11:04 AM |

I believe that my shyness is my greatest character flaw. But my friend John Douglas suggests: "I am sure that you can poll your readers and they can come up with a few greater flaws." I'm not so sure.

posted by LukeFord | 1:55 AM |

David Foster Wallace writes in NYT:

THERE'S an unhappy paradox about literary biographies. The majority of readers who will be interested in a writer's bio, especially one as long and exhaustive as Edwin Williamson's ''Borges: A Life,'' will be admirers of the writer's work. They will therefore usually be idealizers of that writer and perpetrators (consciously or not) of the intentional fallacy. Part of the appeal of the writer's work for these fans will be the distinctive stamp of that writer's personality, predilections, style, particular tics and obsessions -- the sense that these stories were written by this author and could have been done by no other.* And yet it often seems that the person we encounter in the literary biography could not possibly have written the works we admire. And the more intimate and thorough the bio, the stronger this feeling usually is. In the present case, the Jorge Luis Borges who emerges in Williamson's book -- a vain, timid, pompous mama's boy, given for much of his life to dithery romantic obsessions -- is about as different as one can get from the limpid, witty, pansophical, profoundly adult writer we know from his stories. Rightly or no, anyone who reveres Borges as one of the best and most important fiction writers of the last century will resist this dissonance, and will look, as a way to explain and mitigate it, for obvious defects in Williamson's life study. The book won't disappoint them.

posted by LukeFord | 1:15 AM |
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