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

Saturday, May 22, 2004  

I sat at home Friday night reading a novel on Vietnam, Fields of Fire. I heard strange noises outside. I felt nervous. I tried to ignore them.

Then I heard my landlady screaming from the main house that there was a stranger in the backyard. A motion-sensor light flicked on.

I poked my head out of my door and saw nobody. The lady said he was hiding behind a tree. She screamed she was calling the police.

I saw a young black man stand up and run away across the neighbor's roof. He appeared about 6' tall, about 18, wearing a black backpack, white t-shirt, and black pants.

My landlady screamed for me to dial 9-1-1.

I dove inside my hovel, locked my door, and reached for my gun. I loaded it on lap, then dialed. The police arrived 20 minutes later. We never saw the intruder again.

I'm sure that if George Bush only spent more money on social welfare
programs like midnight basketball, the black man wouldn't have danced
on my roof. It was his lonely protest against white racism.

About two years ago, several black men trashed the main house. Many of my Orthodox friends in the community have been robbed, or held up at knife point or gun point by young black men.

posted by LukeFord | 11:44 PM |

A guide to Los Angeles synagogues. Let's do one for New York.

posted by LukeFord | 11:42 PM |

So I was at my parents' house in Lawrence, NY for shabbos. I hadn't been home for weeks, and I seemed to have missed quite a good gossip item. Apparently, while the sheitel was hitting the fan last week, another remarkable halachic question surfaced in Far Rockaway. My sister and brother-in-law, members of the Agudath Israel of Long Island (Rabbi Yaakov Reisman, mara d'atra), report getting a recorded phone call from their shul informing them that "there are sheratzim (bugs, insects - ss) in the tap water in Far Rockaway, so do not drink tap water until further notice." The message went on to note that this prohibition only applied to water in Far Rockaway, and not in the neighboring Lawrence, an addendum laden with far more meaning than its speaker knew.
I have not adequately investigated this matter, but it seems that someone discovered that there were borderline microscopic critters swimming around in the NYC tap water (but not in the Nassau County water, which supplies Lawrence), and that drinking this water violated all sorts of biblical prohibitions. The solution? Filters, which to many of the yungeleit in FR meant a cloth or a sock over the tap. Lovely. Mi Keamcha Yisrael.
Here's my question: if the bugs aren't particularly visible (and I'm assuming they aren't since no one has noticed them before), shouldn't this not be an issue? I mean, as far as I know, there are microscopic organisms everywhere. I'm pretty sure there are no rabbinical prohibitions against drinking random pond water, which is teeming with small but not microscopic organisms (ever been in bio class?) - and I doubt they had Evian in Poland.
So, as it turns out, you can't wear sheitlach, and you can't drink NYC tap water. What's next?

posted by Sam | 9:35 PM |

Friday, May 21, 2004  

P.S.A.: Cicadas aren't kosher.

posted by radosh | 4:30 PM |

This week's online poll in the Jewish Week asks:

Should Ariel Sharon scale back his Gaza disengagement plan to include the evacuation of just a handful of settlements?

It's like an "all Cretes are liars" logic question. "No" means what, he shouldn't scale it back, or he shouldn't touch any settlements? Next week's poll: Do you think Yossi Beilin is as crazy as he seems?

posted by Silow-Carroll | 2:52 PM |

The father of the late Ner Israel yeshiva bocher Ariel Avrech, Robert, has started a blog in his son's memory.
In most of Robert's movies, he has a character named after a child of his:
"The problem," said Ariel, "was that there were not enough novels written specifically for observant Jewish kids. Dad, he said, you should start a publishing company. Publish fiction that is of the highest quality, yet is also suitable for kids who hold Torah values."
And so, to honor Ariel and his wonderful idea Karen and I have founded Seraphic Press. Already we have four superb novels in various stages of development. We expect to publish our first book, The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden in January 2005. It is the story of an observant Jewish boy in the old West, his determination to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, his friendship with the notorious gunfighter Doc Holliday, and his touching relationship with Lozen, a legendary Apache warrior girl. The book is a wonderful reimagining of the wild west. To pay tribute to Ariel, The Hebrew Kid's name is... Ariel.

posted by LukeFord | 2:20 PM |

Let the goyishe kids throw tea parties for their stuffed animals. Your little ones can host a Shabbat dinner with this charming toy Shabbat set. Best of all, everything's made of wood. Even the challah, so it tastes just like the ones from Gourmet Garage.

posted by radosh | 1:59 PM |

According to this appreciation of Tony Randall, z"l, and Jack Klugman on the "Odd Couple":

...many of the two-minute "tags," short scenes that preceded the final credits, were made up on the spot—took the sitcom far beyond the simple slob-vs.-neatnik dialectic of the Neil Simon play that inspired it."

Who knew that the short bits before sitcoms credits were called tags? I always referred to them as "comebackeeos."

posted by Silow-Carroll | 1:56 PM |

Is a key to Jewish success in America the large number of schvartzes that the goyim could hate more?

posted by LukeFord | 1:13 PM |

Shrek's Orthodox author. Gush piece.

posted by LukeFord | 10:42 AM |

Thursday, May 20, 2004  

From the people who brought you Renee Zellwegger as a Chasid and Anthony Hopkins as black man passing as a Jew....

A few years ago, my friend Myla Goldberg wrote an amazing novel called Bee Season. You probably read it. It was more or less mandatory for Jewish book groups (and others), and if you haven't read it, I strongly recommend that you do before the movie comes out.

I could be wrong. Maybe the film will be great. But let me ask you this: who in all of Hollywood would you cast as the father -- a cantor and a scholar of Kabbalah (the real kind)?

How far down the list would you have to go before you got to Richard Gere?

posted by radosh | 9:18 PM |

Dennis Prager says we should seek the convert. Beware, some Luke Fords out there might heed the call. At one point, I wanted to be the poster child for converts.

posted by LukeFord | 7:41 PM |

The Jewish Reconstructionist Federationis closing its Israel office.

posted by Silow-Carroll | 5:46 PM |

My friend Louis wants to make sure I give a shout out to the Sephardim while I'm here, so here's an intriguing item from the Jerusalem Post: "Researchers at the Rabin Medical Center, Bar-Ilan University and Tel Aviv University have found that Greek Jews who survived the Holocaust and were imprisoned in concentration camps are much more resilient physically and emotionally to the current terror campaign against Israel than those who grew up in Eastern and Western Europe."

[I have come to understand Luke's dislike of block quotes]

"They found that the average levels of distress and anxiety was significantly lower among Greek survivors living in Israel than among the other survivors. They also had significantly more trust in Israeli security forces and a lower perception of danger. The former Greeks were less ready to emigrate from Israel than former European Holocaust survivors."

Assuming this study is accurate (from what we're told, it seems carefully designed), what accounts for this? The authors note of Greek Jews, "Their strength of spirit, encouraging them to rebel and resist, as well as their physical strength, were renowned in the concentration camps. Each of these traits has been supported by documentation in history books dealing with the Jews of Greece during the Holocaust."

But that's conjecture, and if we accept it, it leaves us in the somewhat uncomfortable position of implicitly saying that European Jews have less "strength of spirit." I have no conclusions of my own, not being familiar with the Greek Jewish community in Israel. Perhaps others have some ideas?

Update: New Yorkers -- Louis informs me that Kehila Kedosha Janina on Boome and Allen is showing the documentary We Are Not Alone: Greek Jews and the Holocaust this Sunday at 1. Info: 516-221-2712

posted by radosh | 11:06 AM |

Wednesday, May 19, 2004  

Daniel, Hi. Welcome aboard. Can’t tell you how happy I am to see your posts.

But on to business. In your last post (the one about Rafah), you poke holes in the “IDF’s explanation for the tragedy in Rafah” – namely, that “the helicopter fired one missile at a nearby empty area to disperse the crowd.”

Indeed, that would be a pretty lame explanation by the IDF for the deaths in Rafah. But what you quoted from CNN was not the IDF’s explanation for the deaths at Rafah. The very article you quote says that the “Israeli military denied its helicopter fired on the crowd,” and later, “An Israeli Apache helicopter was seen overhead, but the Israel Defense Forces said it did not target or hit [my emphasis] the crowd.”

In fact, in the first part of the CNN article, the one thing the IDF insists upon is that the “one missile” fired by the IDF helicopter does not explain the deaths in Rafah.

Ok, so the IDF is just whitewashing its role entirely, right?

Well, no. According to the article, “The IDF also said it fired tank shells at an abandoned building -- a maneuver that may have led to the deaths.”

In fact, then, the IDF does offer an explanation of what IDF action “may” have been a factor in the deaths, but it is not – apparently – one that represents “our worst fears.” (Our second-worst fear, perhaps?)

Again, good to have you here. Enjoy,

posted by Deranged GOT Fan | 10:52 PM |

There's an old Doonesbury strip where Duke greets a visitor with a hail of gunfire from another room. When he realizes that it's someone he knows, he apologizes, saying, "I like to soften up a room before I enter it." "You know of course that's insane," says the guest. "Is it?" asks Duke.

I was reminded of this when I read that the IDF's explanation for the tragedy in Rafah -- the justification that it believes to be perfectly sane -- is, "the helicopter fired one missile at a nearby empty area to disperse the crowd."

I bet even Amnesty International didn't imagine this report would be bumped from the top story slot so quickly.

"Our worst fears have been realized," indeed.

Oh, by the way, I'm already on the Self-Hating, Israel-Threatening list, thank you.

posted by radosh | 8:21 PM |

George Tabb, the so-called David Sedaris of Punk and a columnist for the New York Press who stuck with that paper long after I bailed, has a new book out.

Playing Right Field: A Jew Grows in Greenwich

"You’re nothing but a dirty Jew," Mark would say to me most weekday mornings. Thankfully, we had the weekends off.

"Dirty?" I would ask him, totally confused.

I could understand the "Jew" part. A little. My grandfather once explained to me why we had to wear those funny little hats at some family get togethers. But the "dirty" part threw me for a loop.

I took lots of showers. And still do. Filth and I don’t get along .

"Yeah," Mark would sneer, "you’re nothing but a low-down, curly haired, hook-nosed dirty Jew boy!"

And every time I’d try to ask him what he meant, it was always too late. He’d grab my Batman lunch box, with the Bat-Cycle on the outside of the thermos, and smash it open on the concrete of Londonderry Drive.

posted by radosh | 5:46 PM |

I'm hoping Luke continues to post all week, if only to draw fire away from me in the comments.

I knew mentioning that I am a Humanistic Jew would be red meat for the trolls. I assure you I have no interest in persuading anyone that my beliefs are right or that theirs are wrong. One time a couple of Orthodox kids showed up at services at our shul for the sole purpose of picking a fight. I think we can all agree that's horribly uncouth. But a blog is not a sacred space, it's a forum for sharing ideas, and since a few people did pose civil questions, I'll go ahead and share some of mine.

Predictably, the first question I was asked is if I am an atheist. Let me answer that with a direct evasion. Many Humanistic Jews do not believe in God, many are agnostic, some have a concept of God that does not square with the interventionist, miracle-performing God of the Bible, and others are "ignostic"; they believe that the existence or non-existence of God is not relevant to their lives. And if we're honest with ourselves, the same can be said of a fair number of members of all branches of Judaism -- certainly Reform and Reconstructionist, but Conservative and Orthodox too. There are a lot of practicing Jews out there who don't believe in God, or don't know if they do -- who may not believe every word of the prayers they say, or even any of them, but who find joy and fulfillment in saying them anyway. That's fine with me, and fine with most traditionally religious Jews too, I think. As a Conservative rabbi I studied with put it, God does not care what we think about him, he cares how we treat each other.

And of course there are a great many Jews who choose not to affiliate or practice at all, and when this is a well-informed decision (rather than one made out of default due to feelings of alienation), that's all good too.

But neither of those options is right for me (or for 50,000 Humanistic Jews around the world). I want to observe holidays and lifecycle events, celebrate Shabbat, belong to a congregation, give my children (and myself) a Jewish education. And I want my whole heart to be in it, which means observing in a manner that is entirely consistent with what I actually believe. Some have proposed, quite plausibly, that given the growing numbers of secular Jews, a movement we can call our own is essential to the perpetuation of Jewish identity. But even if that's not true, I'll champion Humanistic Judaism on purely selfish grounds: it is essential to my own Jewish identity.

If I know some of the folks who post in the comments here, many of you are champing at the bit right now to criticize or even mock Humanistic Judaism. Believe me, I could do the same right back if I wanted to. But I talked about building bridges, and I meant it. Let's focus on everything we share -- a history, a future, a love of the Jewish people, -- and unite against the common enemy: the Judean People's Front.

Further reading:
An Unabashed Secular Jew by Yair Tzaban

posted by radosh | 2:51 PM |

Dennis Prager asks if the average Reform Jew would prefer his kid to marry a Republican Jew or a Gentile Democract? How about an Orthodox Jew or a liberal goy?

posted by LukeFord | 12:43 PM |

Is a Ben Torah permitted to dye his hair to maintain a youthful look? Did any of the gedolim do this? I've been pouring on the Grecian Formula for a decade now.

posted by LukeFord | 11:03 AM |

Phillip Roth got his head handed to him circa 1960 when he spoke at Yeshiva University, following on the success of his book Goodbye Columbus. He was accused of anti-Semitism by much of the Jewish establishment. Discuss.

posted by LukeFord | 10:12 AM |

"Tanis development proceeding. Acquire headpiece, Staff of Ra. Abner Ravenwood, U.S."

They should have checked e-bay.

posted by radosh | 9:54 AM |

I know, I know, you begged Luke Ford to come back for an encore week as guest blogger, but I'm afraid you're stuck with me instead. My name is Daniel Radosh, and to answer your first question, No, there is no reason you should have heard of me. I'm a journalist, but other than a summer internship at The Forward right out of college, I haven't worked in the Jewish press, nor do I often write on specifically Jewish subjects. I'm currently a freelance writer for a variety of publications and a contributing editor at The Week. I also have a blog, and if my name sounds at all familiar it's probably because Steve was kind enough to add me to the Protocols list of "Jews who blog" a few months back.

And while I certainly am that, I wouldn't say that it's a particularly Jewish blog, if you follow. I read very few J-blogs as it happens, so I have very little to say about J-blogging or the role of blogs in the Jewish community as has been requested of me. More broadly, however, I'm a blog-realist. I don't see them utterly transforming journalism or much else, but I think any tool that allows more people to express more opinions can only be a good thing.

So what will I talk about here? Well, I'm a pop culture junkie, so I'm certainly hoping that Britney gets another Kabbalah tattoo (hell, she's got 71 names to go and more canvas space every day). In a slightly deeper vein, I'm an active member of a Humanistic congregation and am dedicated to the growth and success of this young movement. One thing HJ needs to do is build bridges with the more established branches of Judaism, so to the extent my time here can help accomplish that, I'll be very pleased. Beyond that my goals are modest: to have some fun, make more friends than enemies, and be half as entertaining as Luke and at least three times more succinct. Don't get me wrong. I love Luke Ford. He's a madman in the best sense of the word. But I get winded just reading his posts. So, yeah, I can pretty much guarantee this will be the longest thing I write all week.

posted by radosh | 8:57 AM |

Dear friends, our time together has been far too short. Your generosity and kindness has been untold. Perhaps only a picture can give you an idea of the way I've experienced this past week (from the documentary GIVE ME YOUR SOUL).
The most surprising thing about this past week has been how nuts I went. The least surprising was the hostile reaction. Where do we go from here?
Fellow Torah Jews, our time together has inspired me to undertake a mammoth project. I am in the process of gathering together all ethical Jewish laws (I know you'd rather discuss kashering plastics in boiling water) to publish in a slim pocket-sized book. To do this, I will need time to digest the Tanach, Talmud, and law codes of our sacred faith. I must therefore set aside more lucrative and pleasurable pursuits for my focused journey into Torah. You can send your Paypal donations to this email.
I want to convey a single dramatic unity to my varied posts. I can do this in only two words: Andy Kaufman.

posted by LukeFord | 1:19 AM |

vsfdb'pvsiojgpfob ijsvgfbojvprgkonjbvprg

pkb vpok

couldn't stand looking at that shit anymore.

posted by Deranged GOT Fan | 12:41 AM |

Tuesday, May 18, 2004  

The following pictures are not safe for religious people, women, children, and those at work. Therefore I will not post them.
But Jews should own guns.

posted by LukeFord | 12:03 PM |


posted by LukeFord | 11:06 AM |

Miriam writes: According to a new ruling from the Edah Charedit,
“It is [forbidden] for women to drive taxis... It is pritzut [licentiousness]. The Beit Din ruled two weeks ago that women are not allowed to work as taxi drivers.”
This has been my psak for years now. I'm surprised the rabbis are only now following in my stead.
Chaim Amalek writes (my rav won't permit me to use blockquotes because doing so follows in the ways of the goyim): "It's about time someone put their foot down. Frankly, all these Jewesses driving cabs has given the Jewish people a black eye, especially in the eyes of the Muslims, who do not let their women do this or (as in the case of Saudi Arabia) even drive. And you won't find a Muslima wearing a fancy wig made from Hindu hair. The Muslim woman knows that she can be modest merely by wearing a cloth scarf or other head covering. Would that our rabbinate were as sensible."
Mike Da Kike writes: "Luke Ford is to Protocols as Crazy Cabbie was to the Howard Stern show. V'hameivinim yavinu."
What does that Hebrew mean?
Button writes: "Wrong-wrong-wrong! If a woman has to earn a living and this is the only viable way to support her family, then that's what she has to do. Slandering and maligning her as promiscuous or a whore only doubles her burden and adds to her tsuros-- it isn't fair. Better to supply her with pepper spray so she can protect herself from noodniks."

posted by LukeFord | 10:43 AM |

Comments to live by. Sick writes Luke: Not only are you a sick F---, youre a goy, so its muttar to make fun of you. Go consult ur local igros mosshe as to why your conversion didnt work. Shayg.
Mnuez writes: You use the word 'f---' in a fantastic context making it clear that it's a very welcome member of your lexicon so I figure you're a regular YU type but than you get all halachic and send me for the Igros. R ya the frummie or tha all around MO? I really laughed, it looked like a well written purim shpiel. Hey, and for the record I agree with points one and three, Luke should go f--- off and he's a goy d'oraiysa. Now that he's been here a while, he'll probably go around calling himself a Reform or Conservative convert, or something. Too bad, I spose he'll bring closer the day when the Orthos finally get the guts to stand up and say that the Conservs & Refos are so full of goyim, they're B'chezkas Goyin.
Hey, and point two is for Luke. Luke, you've violated us all by imposing your sick self upon us and by misrepresenting yourself as a frum jew when really you're a very very sick man. But! Your tenacity is extraordinary. A lesser man would have committed suicide by now or at least have fled this blog, or at least would have pulled his d--- back in and zipped up, but no, you're still here, still sick.
But more importantly, I gotta give credit where credit is do, your comments in the comments section (I mean those where you write under your own name) can be really Funny! Your martyr, self deprecating and self righteous attitudes are pure jew, too bad the rest of you is pure goy. oh well.
Luke says: I try to follow the teaching of R. Shammai in Pirke Arvot: "Greet everyone with a friendly countenance, even in cyberspace."
The funny thing is, when I went into his office and said I wanted to convert to Judaism if he could explain the whole Torah to me while standing on one foot, he chased me out with a stick. Judaism is a bewildering religion. Luckily, I've made lots of new friends on Protocols who kindly and simply explain things to me and give me Maftir when I visit their shuls to give drashot.
PS. I've never posted to this site under any name but my own.

posted by LukeFord | 10:37 AM |

How does rabbinics connect with today's young Christians?

posted by LukeFord | 10:27 AM |

After a fun week blogging on Protocols, I'm starting my own blog. It's only in initial stages, but please check it out -- Bloghead.

posted by Miriam | 10:26 AM |

When I was reading this profile of the late Ner Israel yeshiva bocher Ariel Avrech, I was especially struck how this person tried to provoke Ariel and connect to him in ways that were foreign to Ariel but Ariel stayed completely true to himself as a Ben Torah.
Then tonight, I went to my usual Monday night shiur and amazingly this personality trait came up in our learning. Gemorah Chagigah 13 A, discussing who can be taught the mysteries of the 'chariot,' you know from Ezekiel. So 20 lines from the bottom, there's an opinion that this knowledge can only be taught to someone 'shelibo doeg b'kirbo' (what does this mean?). The interesting part of this phrase is what the word 'doeg' means in this context (what does it mean?). If you look at Rashi on this (9 lines from the top) he in explaining these lines, seemed to me to be describing the traits that Luke thought he found in Ariel.
I had to stop the shiur and tell the group about Ariel and this incredible trait that I had just read about today that the Gemerah and rashi held in such high esteem that it made the person worthy of understanding the highest mysteries.

posted by LukeFord | 10:21 AM |

Perceptive readers may have noticed that part of this article on NRO by Michael Ledeen has a passing resemblance to a post by yours truly from Thursday May 13.

Consider these two passages:

a) Kraut

Having amassed all of this evidence, having determined that enlightened Iranians will not allow the fetid regime to remain, Kristof is set to deliver the culmination - the climax - of his noble expose. And he doesn't disappoint:

"There's a useful lesson here for George Bush's America as well as for the ayatollahs' Iran: when a religion is imposed on people, when a government tries too ostentatiously to put itself "under God," the effect is often not to prop up religious faith but to undermine it. Nothing is more lethal to religious faith than having self-righteous, intolerant politicians...drag God into politics."

Ah, but of course. The unmistakable, inexorable lesson to be learned from all of those oppressed Iranians - whose government dictates what they learn in school; what religion they practice; what clothing they are permitted to wear; what words they are permitted to utter; which people will be their unelected leaders - is that America's political leaders (well, actually just one leader) are too fundamentally religious for the good of the American people, who apparently long for the enlightened godlessness that the Republican regime denies them.

b) Ledeen:

Kristof's trip was worth the expense for that one quote alone. But instead of following the logic of the Iranian people's enmity to the Islamic Republic — will the "Arab street" not be influenced by the utter failure of Islam in the region's largest and most powerful country? — he lapses into politically correct dithering: "There's a useful lesson here for George Bush's America as well as for the ayatollahs' Iran: when a religion is imposed on people, when a government tries too ostentatiously to put itself 'under God,' the effect is often not to prop up religious faith but to undermine it."

Huh? Islam has failed in Iran, so utterly and dramatically that even the most senior religious leaders are attacking the theocracy. Has anything of the sort happened in America? No. Is religion "imposed on people" in America? No, indeed the opposite takes place; religion is banished from the public square and the faithful are disparaged as ignorant rednecks. Moreover, in America church and state are separate, while Iran is a theocracy. The two systems have nothing in common, except the New York Times's party line, that religion is a bad thing and religious people are dangerous.

Kristof's feeble attempt at moral equivalence (Bush=mullah) is embarrassingly silly.

[I called it a "faux-comparison," but I guess "moral equivalence" does the job. Also, my adjectives differed slightly: "The sheer inanity of Kristof's comparison - between Iran's tyrannical, self-appointed ayatollahs and the elected leader of the world's staunchest advocate of freedom and democracy - is astounding, and not a little insulting."]

Hey, you know what'd be really cool? If I had emailed Michael Ledeen with my post (or, more correctly, a slight variation of it), on May 13.

Needless to say, I am extremely flattered to have inspired Ledeen (even a little) in his writing; the man makes a consistently lucid and compelling case that American pressure of Iran is a necessary precursor to reform in the terrorist Islamic theocracy.

But fear not, dear readers. My duties as a ghost writer for NRO should not impede my blogging too much.

posted by Deranged GOT Fan | 9:28 AM |

I'm suffering from terrible longing right now about a journalist I met a few weeks ago. I've given you guys tons of Torah. May I tell you about my longings?
I had a chat with Cecile du Bois, 15, tonight via IM and told her she was a slut. It's important to be firm with these girls when they ask you moral questions.
I hate it when chicks think they can flaunt what they've got, wear tank tops and eat pork. It makes me very angry and I want to lash out like Uncle Charley (Shadow of a Doubt) and Norman Bates (Psycho).
Her mom Cathy Seipp writes: "Cecile's orchestra teacher -- the one who wanted the kids to play the Palestinian national anthem for Diversity Day (or as Cecile put it on her blog, Tolerate C**p Day) -- informed her this afternoon that she is going to have an "awful life" because of all her "wrong opinions.""
What Sam Fuller Might've Said (I don't like using block quotes, they offend me with their big thrusting type) writes: "I always thought that the whole idea of using American blood to bring the blessings of democracy to Muslims or Arabs to be utterly insane and divorced from reality. Democracy is for the West and its progeny: Christians, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, White people (who invented it in Greece) and those of other races and creeds who decide to adopt it on their own. We have no business forcing it down any other group's throat, least of all Muslims or Arabs. Better that we not let these people into our world than that we enter theirs with the idea of changing them. It just won't work."
Concerned citizen Dave Deutsch writes: "The Jews of Los Angeles should be very concerned about Luke Ford's recent foray into child-friendliness-it is generally does not bode well when moral authorities like you suddenly begin to insert themselves into the company of children.
"Have you ever known a successful child molester who was bad with kids? "Oh, there's my neighbor, Mr. Peters. He's so creepy and nasty. I'm so glad that Timmy spends his afternoons with Father Flanagan at the rectory. He's so wonderful and attentive to the boys in the parish.""

posted by LukeFord | 1:47 AM |

Monday, May 17, 2004  

Dave Deutsch says: "The guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps."

posted by LukeFord | 8:51 PM |

I've devoted my life to studying the thought of Rav Rabbi Dr Yosef B. Soloveitchik (learning Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and that click click language in Africa in the process).
I hate to say this about a Torah scholar, but I am troubled.
I look around me today and I see that in co-ed purportedly Orthodox day schools, drug use and sexual immorality are rife.
The Rav was a champion of co-ed schools (though, thank G-d, not of drug use and sexual immorality).
Many "talmidim" of Rabbi S. say that he approved of mixed boys and girls education! An obvious abomination which even many goyim are strongly against (see Even Haezer 21:1). It's know that Rabbi S. gave regular lectures at the co-ed Maimonides school in Boston, which remains defiantly and even proudly co-ed to this day!!!
It seems that the masses of the Modern Orthodox go to movies (see Mishnah Berurah 307:59) and that the Rav himself went to movies (see Yoreah Deah 246:8).
Many "talmidim" of Rabbi Soloveitchik, and almost all Modern Orthodox, see no problem at all with reading any kind of sifrei minut and apikorsut. They say that "The Rav" expected that we know "Rudolf Otto and Immanuel Kant as well as (lehavdil) Nachmanides and Maimonides! (Haskel Lookstein in Jewish Action, Spring 2003). This despite the severity of the Rambam AZ 2:2-3!
A few weeks ago, I was given a book called "Five Drashot" by Rabbi S. and to this day I had been unable to look at it because of many pressing concerns. Just today, through Protocols, I was asked to look at it by students who learned in Eretz Yisrael and they are surprised to discover an entire bold hashkafah which is at odds with all of the Gedolei Yisrael (such as the holy Chofetz Chaim, R. Chaim Ozer, the Chazon Ish) and especially at odds with his entire family (the Bais Halevi, Rav Chaim Brisker, and the Brisker Rav at"l). This hashkafa differs as regards to the entire existence of Am Yisrael as guided by Hasehm, as well as the life of the individual, and you have asked what one should think of this.
I must say that after I have had the opportunity to read this book, I am sorry that I had not read these things earlier (because much harm and weakening of Am Yisrael would have thereby been avoided). I am astonished at those who saw these ideas and did not protest, and thereby gave many people room to err. Silence implies consent. (Gitten 56A)
Rabbi S.'s shittah and psak are an utter distortion of Da'as Torah. Moreover, he simply invented from his heart a bizarre idea of drush about Yosef HaTzaddik who represented the Mizrachi or Modern Orthodox, and the shevatim who represented Agudas Yisrael were wrong, adn what would the entire Olam Hatorah and all the holy Gedolei Yisrael have done after the war without the Mizrachi who are famous for their desecration of Torah.
Although it is difficult for me to write this, it is even more difficult for me to be silent in the face of the desecration of Torah rampant on this very website.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Rav Shach's lecture True Ahavat Yisrael from Michtavim U'Maamarim (vol. 4, #320) for giving me the strength to persevere in these trying times.
PS. I get numerous questions from am haaretzim (did I spell that right?) about my source for the above. Anyone who does not know the source for this will have no share of the world to come. An ignorant Jew can not be a good Jew.

posted by LukeFord | 5:51 PM |

I've received numerous discrete inquiries for my thoughts on what makes a talmid chacham (Talmud scholar) and gadol (great man).
In no particular order:
* Constantly reviews shas, learns many blatt per day, and knows how to quote it.
* Constantly reviews Tanach and Misnayot
* Versatility, all-round (bikuyus, lomdus, psak).
* Devotes time each day to Shulchan Aruch.
* Knows limudei chol reasonably
* Is not comformist in personality and knows the difference between frum, charedi and Torah. He fights constantly against his nature. Doesn't equate yeshivish with correct. Knows that today's yeshivos are for the masses.
* Is not afraid to stand up for the honor of the Torah and give mussar. Feels a responsibility to teach others. Lives with passion.
* Gets things done fast. Doesn't waste time explaining.
* Correct emphasis. Knows that ehrilich is more important than frum.
* Admits the truth, even when he goes against his earlier opinion.
* Follows my example.
I want to thank Rabbi Gadol for the excellent points above. Please add your own thoughts in the comments.

posted by LukeFord | 4:52 PM |

I've finally had a chance to read the comments on this blog. I detect, however subtly disguised, a certain rage.
It came as a shock as my Messianic synagogue has a more Christlike tone.
I have a solution I'd like to offer those of you lacking peace of mind -- my mother. Yes, my mom will be glad to soothe your raging hormones.
"Gillian Ford is a physician-trained hormonal health educator with over 20 years' experience in counseling individuals."
Her books include: What's Wrong With My Hormones, Listening To Your Hormones, Managing Terminal Illness.
My sister, Elenne Ford, a barrister in Brisbane, will sell you soothing mangoes.
My brother, Paul Ford, will sell you a shrubbery. Tannum Garden Centre. "Not just a nursery, but an experience."
My father, Dr. Desmond Ford, has a message for you: "The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let those who hear say, “Come!” Let those who are thirsty come; and let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life."
"A voluminous reader from childhood, Dr. Ford's interests include religion, history, current affairs, biography, science, and health. Ford was a bright student but left high school early because Australia was at war. At age 14, he started working at Associated Newspapers in Sydney, Australia. It was at this time that he developed a life-long interest in the subject of evolution versus creationism.
"Ford excels at expository preaching and practical admonition on how to live a sanctified, Christ-filled life. He is, as mentioned, an expert on eschatology. This subject looms in importance as we have enter the second millenium. While many groups are focused on setting dates for the return of the Messiah, Ford reminds us that Scripture clearly forbids all attempts at date-setting, including the year ushering in the new millennium."
Ask the Pastor here.
"Seven Trumpets of Revelation" is one of my dad's best sermons.
My dad's books include: Physicians of the soul: God's prophets through the ages. It ranks right up there with Abraham Joshua Heschel's work but with a different, more Christlike, tone.
Scroll to bottom of this page to see pictures of the happy Ford family.
Remember, all my family are goyim and they are not used to rude Jews. They never met one until I became one.

posted by LukeFord | 4:30 PM |

Henry Copeland of BlogAds is hosting a blog readership survey. Filling it out will get better demographics for blogging, so that more ads can be sold and more content produced.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:07 PM |

Jewsweek is looking for people to sell ads on a commission basis; if interested, e-mail .

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 3:00 PM |

I’m not going to comment on Luke, except in one respect. No matter what you think of him, there’s one thing which should disturb you just as much as, maybe even more than, his posts: the string of reactions which use the terms “goy” or “shaygetz” as a pejorative (not that you can use the word “shaygetz” in any other way).
It is staggering that in a society where it’s beyond the pale to call someone a “yid” or “kike,” some Jews still feel it’s acceptable to use terms like “shaygetz” – in any context. Even more staggering is that, as far as I can see, no one has yet objected to the vile use of these words. Perhaps the tone of the conversation has been cheapened to such a degree that these terms no longer seem remarkable or objectionable. They still are.

posted by Miriam | 2:50 PM |

Ok, Steven I.

Now I think I understand. I am, admittedly, embarrassed that it took me so long to figure it out, but I have never claimed to possess the blog-savvy that would have clued me in much earlier.

I (along with others, I presume) had been wondering what would possess you to invite Luke Ford, who - despite his many good qualities - is so "Lukeford" (I hereby dub this an adjective, due to the inability of any/all other adjectives to describe him), to contribute to the blog that you have nurtured with such care and attention this last while.

But now I guess we know. If this blog sucks, perhaps another blog will benefit. Which blog? I don't know...maybe one called FIDDISH.

I'm just messing, dude. Good luck with it!!!


p.s. I have no idea how many readers Protocols has gained/lost during the last week, but please don't respond to this post by telling me that Protocols has received more hits than ever during the past week, even if it's true. I just don't want to know.

posted by Deranged GOT Fan | 2:35 PM |

New York war blogger Michele Catalano goes after Toronto's Marc Weisblott. In reaction to this piece by ANTONIA ZERBISIAS.

posted by LukeFord | 2:18 PM |

The OU and Agudah dinners, sheitels, your chance to make it as a fiction writer, and more, over at Fiddish.

posted by Steven I. Weiss | 2:06 PM |

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has joined international criticism of the demolition plan, saying on a weekend visit to Jordan that Washington opposed ``wholesale bulldozing of houses'' in Rafah.
I loathe this man. He's now apologizing to the Arab world for the abuse of a few Iraqi prisoners by Americans in the Abu Ghraib prison.
"I understand apologies to all Iraqis, but not to all Arabs," says Dennis Prager. "This [reflects] the contempt that many in the West feel for the Arab. They are children. We don't have the same moral demands of them than we do of Americans. I respect the Arab world. Therefore, I make the same moral demands on them that I do on us."
If the Arab world is a collective that needs to be apologized to, then the Arab world is a collective that has much to apologize for, notes Dennis Prager on his radio show today. The Arab world has far more to apologize to the West for than vice versa. Except for the US, Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak would be strung up in Cairo like Mussolini. It was the US that rescued Kuwait in 1991 from Saddam Hussein.
Powell opposed both wars against Iraq (1991, 2003). He's an appeaser of evil.
Is the Arab world embarrassed about what Saudis did to America on 9/11? Where are the Islamic protests against terrorism?
We should stop cowering before the Arab Islamic world. They are our enemy.
Where are the honorable Muslims? Why aren't they demonstrating against the slaughter of Nick Berg? If Christians or Jews did anything similar, Christians and Jews would fall all over themselves to say this is not authentic religion.
Author Karen Armstrong and her ilk expect nothing of Muslims. Only of Christians and Jews.
To scream "God is great," while slowly severing the head of a man who came to Iraq to help Iraqis... Why is there no Islamic protest?
Why is the liberal news media more obsessed with the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by Americans than the beheading of an American by Islamic terrorists?

posted by LukeFord | 12:33 PM |

In loving memory of yeshiva bocher Ariel Avrech of Baltimore's Ner Israel
Straight Talk: My Dilemma As an Orthodox Jewish Woman. An interview with Sally Berkovic.
Israelis (Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus) and Russian Jews in Hollywood
Jewish journalist Ivor Davis
The Rebbe's Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch. An interview with author Sue Fishkoff.
Jews vs Jew. An interview with author Samuel Freedman.
What The New York Times Tells Us About Ourselves. Chats with Ari L. Goldman.
The Ultimate Mickey Kaus Interview. A peak at the secret life of a tzaddik.
Amy Klein, managing editor of the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.
Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald. My best interview ever.
Douglas Rushkoff, Nothing Sacred.
Catherine Seipp, Jewish journalist.
Israel Shahak, critic of Orthodox Judaism.
Journalist Sheldon Teitelbaum reflects on working for Virtual Jerusalem.
Johnathan Tobin, editor of Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.
Jewish author, screenwriter, essayist Michael Tolkin.
Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic.
Paul Wilkes, author of the 1994 book, And They Shall Be My People: An American Rabbi and His Congregation.
Author Lauren Winner - convert to Orthodox Judaism who moved on to Christianity.
Jews in Hollywood.

posted by LukeFord | 12:20 PM |

Lie down with shiksas, wake up with credibility problems...

posted by LukeFord | 10:33 AM |

My dear readers, I am a troubled man. Until recently, I began each day in the company of my fellow Jews, engaged in communal prayer. Among the joyous rituals that this entailed was the laying of tefillin, an act that bound me to my adopted faith and provided me with the structure in life I've sorely lacked.
As each of you knows, I was expelled from that comfortable world for being associated with the world of pornography, even if only as a journalist famously hostile to it. Without the benefit of a trial and without being given the opportunity to explain myself, I was ejected from my shul, and my tefillin were taken away from me.
Now, like a lone piece of coal, my faith grows cold and old. I know that I must rekindle it by finding new Jews with whom to pray in the morning, but with various shuls having taken the rare step of banning me, I do not know where to turn.
But then I had an epiphany -- why not commune with Jews and Noahidic Gentiles in prayer to God via the Internet! If one of you would be so kind as to donate the necessary equipment, I shall install a daven-cam that will be turned on when I am engaged in prayer and other rituals. Spiritually inclined readers of, won't you please help me to become the good Jew that I know I could be by purchasing for me a high quality daven-cam? I cannot pay you in money for this mitzva, but trust that in the hereafter, you shall be rewarded for your acts of kindness. God bless you all.
The following is so sick, that I have aborted my writing on it and insist that it not be published. The only impediment to my plan to broadcast morning prayers from my home is that I no longer own a pair of tefillin. But I know where I can get some. The graveyard. Now that I have been abandoned by the rabbenim of Kehila Los Angeles, I am reduced to digging. Frightful image just came to me of impoverished Jews trying to obtain the tefillin and holy books necessary to be good Jews. Unable to buy them and unwilling to steal them, they go to graveyards where they have been disposed of via burial and dig them up. A Jewish frankenstein horror could be constructed of this imagery. Really very terrifying. And the source of this semantic pollution? The rabbenim who stole my tefillin.
PS. Thank you gentle Protocol readers. Because of your generosity, the Daven cam is now operational.

posted by LukeFord | 12:03 AM |

Sunday, May 16, 2004  

Chaim Amalek writes: On my way to shul this morning to meet rich Jews, I had an epiphany. Perhaps the All-Mighty, Blessed be He, has given the Jews control over Hollywood, Big Media and banking so that association with Jews (never an easy thing) will be more palatable for Jews.
You are proof of this, Luke. But for the social bonding aspect to your practice of Judaism, would you still attend that cold unwelcoming Orthodox shul when so many friendlier Christian churches would otherwise welcome you with open arms? I think all shuls should embrace the social aspect of being a Jew with far greater force than they have, so that it will be seen as THE place to be seen and advance one's social prospects, even if one does not really believe.
I know that this will sound somewhat cynical to believing Jews, to say nothing of Christian folk, but it WILL bring the current generation of busy professional Jews (the least churched people in America) in, where at least some of them will find religion.
Luke, embrace my wisdom. Stand up in shul at the next suitable moment and declare these truths to be self evident, that God chose the Jews to rule the goyim through control over banking and pornography, and that the sweetness of this position is partial recompense both for the harshness of the Oral Law and an expression of the Holy One's regret over the Holocaust.
God chose the Jews to be the Master Race of mankind. However, He soon realized that this had cruel consequences for the less intelligent goyim of creation, so to protect them from the depredations of the Jews while still providing free will to one and all, he gave the Jews the Torah (both written and oral) by which they might be fenced in. Rest assured that those Jews who today live on the Torah Corral (like Chaim Amalek) are no threat to the gentle gentiles of the world. It is the secular liberal Jew, with his notions of Marxism, tolerance of the sodomite and the transgendered, creator both of socialism and feminism, who is the mortal enemy of the gentile world. I say this in the hope that when you goyim awake from your deep moral stupor (an increasingly unlikely event) and begin dealing with the Jew problem in your midst, you will leave me alone.

posted by LukeFord | 11:59 PM |

"On May 16, 1836, after they had been living together in Richmond for seven months, the twenty-seven-year-old [Edgar Allan] Poe married the nearly fourteen-year-old Virginia. A witness swore she that she was twenty-one... Despite her childlike qualities, Virginia must have had a well-developed figure..." He did not assume the position of husband for two years. (Pg. 86 of Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy)

posted by LukeFord | 11:22 PM |

It's Time To Beat People Up For The Glory Of God.
In many parts of Israel, Jews won't violate the Torah publicly for fear of being beaten up. This has a wonderful ability to concentrate the mind.
I'm starting up a gang of Torah-observant Jews who will beat up other Jews who violate the Torah. Up with Torah vigilantism. Thus Torah observance and fear of God will flourish.
I'm not yet sure of our outfits. Outfits are very important for an effective gang.
Most charedim won't commit violence against Torah desecrators these days because they are too apathetic, just like most Christians won't go out of their way to save the souls of non-Christians. Even though they go around in long coats and beards, they don't truly care about Torah.
The late Rabbi Meir Kahane was a great Torah scholar. He studied at Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn. I've learned to think better of the man. It's all very well for us Jews living in luxury in the diaspora to proclaim ourselves to be following Isaiah in our concern for Palestinian refugees.
Rabbi Avigdor Miller said publicly that Rabbi Meir Kahane was killed by the Reform. It was a put-up job to make it look like an Arab. The Reform were his sworn enemies. I dunno if it were the Jewish Federation or some radical left wing advocates of assimilation.
The LA Hasidim in many ways are stronger than the Ashkenazi LA Kollel but the LA Kollel (centrist Orthodox) is stronger with fundraising. They bring in Israelis strong in learning and pay them well ($40k plus a year).
I'm wondering if the Jewish Federations are buying off the Orthodox rabbis to go out on a limb for gay marriage. I found this shocking in the Jewish
Journal cover story

And some who might never have considered civil unions are now open to it. [Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, rabbi of the Orthodox Kehillat Yavneh], the Orthodox rabbi from Hancock Park who is firmly against gay marriage, not only believes the Orthodox community should be more tolerant and sensitive to gays, but he is open to the idea of giving loving partners legal status other than marriage to afford them rights and protections.
"If two people have committed themselves to each other as partners,
they should have a right to designate another person of whatever gender
as the primary caregiver or life partner, and I think that person should have special privileges," he said. "I think it would be a callous society that would deny a homosexual the comfort and consolation of his life partner."

No Orthodox synagogues can allow members to live together out of wedlock or to publicly practice homosexuality.

posted by LukeFord | 7:31 PM |

In Memory Of R. Elchonon Wasserman zt"l (1875-1941), the Rosh Yeshivah in Baranovich and the foremost talmid of the Chofetz Chaim zt"l
The following letter was written by R. Wasserman from Toledo, Ohio, in 1938, to a young student (R. Elchonon Hertzman, from Mir and later of New York) requesting his help in escaping the Nazis. It's a famous letter written shortly before WWII:
1. "I received your letter, but unfortunately there is nothing I can do. The yeshivos in America which can bring talmidim from overseas are the yeshivah of Dr. Revel (YU) and [HTC in Chicago]. However, both are places of spiritual danger because they are run in a spirit of disloyalty to the Torah. Therefore, of what benefit would it be to escape [Europe] from physical danger to spiritual danger."
The letter is quoted in Hebrew in the excellent and inspiring Art Scroll history series book: Reb Elchonon: The Life and Ideals of Rabbi Elchonon Bunim Wasserman of Baranovich by Aharon Sorski.
I do not want to give the impression that R. Wasserman was being heartless. Later on in the letter, he refers the talmid to Rabbi Shlomo Hymen at Torah Va Das (where Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky was Rosh Yeshiva) in Brooklyn, who will help.
Another good book: Silver Era in American Jewish Orthodoxy: Rabbi Eliezer and His Generation by Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff.
There were only two Torah sages willing to stand up to YU before WWII. R. Wasserman and R. Aharon Kotler. YU sent over the pious rabbi (R. Henkin, good friend of R. Moshe Feinstein, grandfather of the R. Henkin (Nishmat feminist leader) training these putatively Orthodox women rabbis) to R. Wasserman to bring him to YU.
Torah scholar Amitai Bin-Nun writes: "I'm ashamed to admit reading this blog, especially in its current state, but I recall this letter (not to escape Europe to go to YU) being quoted in Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff's book "Bernard Revel: Builder of American Orthodoxy", so it should be easily verifiable. The other Yeshiva, if I recall correctly, was HTC in Skokie.
"Rabbi Wasserman could well be considered the individual who most contributed to the perception of YU as 'separate' from the Yeshiva world. He was the first to refuse to walk into the building on principle (this occurred during his 1937 visit to America). This is now the accepted modus operandi in yeshivishe circles."
Around 1960, R. M. Feinstein and other Torah sages decreed that you should not let your kids go to college because of the rampant atheism and naked women. Until then, all the American yeshivas allowed the kids to go to college at night.
R. Wasserman's son Simcha lived in Los Angeles for many years. Two of his sons were killed in the Holocaust.
More teachings from R. Wasserman:
2. "My great rebbe (R. Chaim Soloveitchik zt"l) permitted chillul Shabbos (in a consulate) to avoid the army in wartime, but refused to permit another person to go to a university, and said it was preferable to risk being killed because of the severity of minut (atheism). [AZ 27b, YD 155:1] (Berkat Shmuel Kiddushin 27, citing R. Chaim Ozer zt"l)
3. "Regarding implying legitimacy or respect for Torah violaters (let alone Conservative "rabbis" who are not just apikorsim, but defiant and aggressive meitim u'medichim, which is far, far worse), I heard from the holy mouth of the Chofetz Chaim z"l as follows: 'I was once at a gathering in Vilna with all the Gedolim, including R. Yisrael Salanter z"l. I asked a question, and all of them had no answer. I said, 'Perhaps we don't have the power to openly wage war against the evildoers who oppose Torah, but where did we get the hetter (permit) to give them respect?' This I asked, and they were all quiet. He (the Chofezt Chaim) told me this with a rare severity which astonished me.'
4. "Due to a fire in Radin, the Chofetz Chaim had to write a letter to a newspaper editor asking him to print a request to help the townspeople. The editor was a Shabbos transgresser, and the kadosh put all his thought into how he could address him in the most minimal fashion without a single unneccesary word. This deliberation took him a few days until he reached a decision. Even so, after he sent the letter he was in distress and fear for a few more days, out of worry he had transgressed the severe prohibition of giving undue respect to a rasha. (YD 151:14, Rambam Edut 11:10).
5. "One who says it is necessary to be 'National Religious' (Mizrachi or Modern Orthodox) because religion is not enough show that they believe the Torah needs additions. We know that whoever adds unnecessarily ultimately subtracts (Sanhedrin29A). The famous one said 2000 years ago that he didn't come to subtract even a jot or tittle from the Torah, but just to add (more 'love of mankind'), and look what happened to him and his followers." (Yoma 38b)
Thanks to Rabbi Gadol for the above. May we merit a speedy redemption.

posted by LukeFord | 4:03 PM |

A southern soldier in Sudan believes George W. Bush is an "architect of peace," and asks that "God grant him many fertile women with firm bodies and an election victory without problems in Florida." Don't we all.

posted by LukeFord | 3:39 PM |

A Gentile goes into a clothing store and says:
"This is a very fine jacket. How much is it?"
The salesman says: "It's $500."
The Gentile says, "OK, I'll take it."


Two Gentiles meet on the street. The first one says,
"You own your own business, don't you? How's it going?"
The other Gentile says; "Just great! Thanks for asking!"


A Gentile is asked to guest-blog on a Gentile blog. He works hard and produces many amusing posts and links. The readers say, "Thank you."

posted by LukeFord | 2:40 PM |

A heartwarming story for the whole family about that nice Jewish girl turned movie producer, "Lynda Obst.

Sarah Grossman Lewis, now a book indexer in Maine, writes Your Moral Leader:

The year Lynda and her husband moved to LA, I was David's assistant. I had worked for Frank Yablans in the late Seventies (another bully) and he and David O. were golfing friends. David had a S&S imprint and was going to Hollywood to find talent. It was the year Cameron Crowe wrote Fast Times At Ridgemont High.

Anyway, to sum up. I was at the Obst residence one morning early on, and while Lynda was cooking scrambled eggs for her portly husband, she corners me and tells me that I have to "take care of him, cause he is disorganized, blah, blah, blah." It wasn't the content so much as the intrusiveness and the tone she always conveyed. Just, as all the comments in your piece confirm: total asshole.

I went to their house for Thanksgiving that year, and her mother said to me: "Sarah, you are just like Lynda, only nice." That always made me laugh.

I quit after a few months and did script reading and met some great writers who have gone onto have careers. But I left the biz, and never understood anyone putting up with Obst.

posted by LukeFord | 12:36 PM |

"When a University of Judaism (UJ) male administrator and a female student fell together from the second-story window of a Pico-Robertson apartment, hitting the concrete below and landing in the hospital, the story made the news and set community tongues wagging." (Jewish Journal)

The administrator was the swaggeringly macho Israeli Dean of admissions.

Reb writes: "Luke: Did you ever hear anything about a Dean at UJ in Bel Air sleeping with one of his female students, and not being penalized? Even after she was put into a coma by their frolicking? Anything?"

Look, he who has not knocked a chick into a coma during rough sex, let him throw the first stone.

Why this bloodthirsty quest for vengeance? So he had sex with a student and put her into a coma. Isn't it time for us to forgive and forget?

It sounds like this Dean really fell for the girl in a big way. Those who have never been a fool for love, let them throw the first stone. I know there have been fleeting moments in my life when I fell off the derech, and, frankly, it was only the inspiration of this blog, that brought me back.

This is not the first time I've heard about inappropriate relations between UJ leaders and female students. One woman told me she was in UJ's rabbinics program. She told me was abused by a leader in that program and consequently dropped out.

In its article, the Jewish Journal does not investigate inappropriate relationships between UJ faculty/staff and students. Instead it concentrates on how good institutions like UJ can survive scandal. I believe that is a much healthier focus and I would like to see our discussion shift in that direction.

So you have a sex scandal at your school or shul? You have students who make and distribute a porn video starring a freshman girl and two of her male friends, and your administrators don't find out until a year after the movie began distribution. Let's not point fingers. Let us rather try to improve the self esteem of our Jewish youth and our Jewish leaders so they will be less susceptible to the sins of the flesh.

Let's concentrate on the lessons in self esteem the Milken High scandal teaches.

Every day, in every way, we are getting better and better.

If we booted all these rabbis who sexually preyed on the vulnerable, we might not have many rabbis left. Perhaps we should consider these tawdry escapes as a just compensation for low rabbinic salaries?

If I were cynical, I would allege that in non-Orthodox institutions of higher learning, sexual access to the female students is one of the perqs of faculty and administration, along with a parking space and a faculty cafeteria. It's a compensation for the lack of salary and the lack of serious religious community. Hey, if you don't believe the Torah comes from God, why not? All is permitted.

But I'm not cynical.

posted by LukeFord | 11:53 AM |

Email: "What's the deal with R' Daniel Lapin. I have some relatives who adore him, but I've seen some posts hinting to some scandal involving him years ago in California. Is there basis to these claims?"

About 14 years ago while he lived in Venice, CA, Rabbi Daniel Lapin of the Pacific Jewish Center (started with Michael Medved) started a real estate trust. It went broke a couple of years later. Rabbi Lapin did nothing legally wrong. It was economic failure, not economic fraud.

Remember how the (Paul) Reichmans went bankrupt with Canary Wharf in London? That was failure, not fraud.

People tend to either love or hate Rabbi Daniel Lapin. He's a polarizer. I'm in the camp of those who adore him.

Some of the anger at Rabbi Lapin is because he marches to the beat of his own drummer and heartily criticizes liberal Jews and their organizations.

You can count me among those who adore the Rabbi Lapins (there are three rabbi brothers including David who heads a yeshiva in Washington DC and a brother who leads San Jose's Orthodox shul). Rabbi Daniel tends to attract an intense following that many would describe as a cult (charismatic leader who exerts unusual control over his followers based on his religious and personal powers). For those who've moved out of it, it has been painful and many are bitter. I've heard a similar sort of bitterness from those who've moved out of Aish HaTorah (usually not by their choice).

Author David Klinghoffer writes admiringly about Daniel Lapin in his book, Lord Will Gather Me in: My Journey to Jewish Orthodoxy.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin never took a salary while working for Pacific Jewish Center. He never told people to go sell flowers on the Venice Boardwalk to raise money or that sort of thing.

R. Lapin clashed with many rabbis because of his unique views and approach. He was beholden to nobody as he never took a salary from the Jewish community. He was friends with Jerry Falwell. He supported much of the Christian right. Obviously that is going to rub many rabbis the wrong way.

LL writes: "About the allegations against [R. Daniel] Lapin, check the LA Times, Bnei Brith Messenger (now defunct), and the Valley News and Greensheets from those years 1973-80."

Rabbi Lapin had ties to slum lord and Holocaust survivor Alexander Spitzer (LAT 3/29/89, 7/13/89, 7/22/89).

R. Lapin now runs

A poster claiming to be an ex-member of Rabbi Lapin's Pacific Jewish Center writes (and the following is my first successful use of blockquotes on this blog, Steven must be kvelling):

Daniel Lapin was a cult leader at the Pacific Jewish Center (Venice Shul) You couldn't join the shul unless you "tithed a certain percentage of your income to the shul. Not a problem, BUT you had to attend AT LEAST 4 evenings of classes a week to retain membership (a true problem if you have a job with long hours to bring in those bucks). What about family time? Oh thats right! Lapin believes that you leave your children to him and he will "teach them the true path of Torah." After all, he taught, he knows better. He is "the rabbi" and you are a seeking non-learned B'aal Tshuvah. Lapin must do the raising of the congregation's kids. All of these programming sessions, er a classes in torah were taught ONLY by Lapin. There was more Lapin torah going on than real torah.

If your donations OOPS TITHES went down, you had to be "reexamined" at length by Lapin - privately to see why you weren't on the right level spiritually. This took many days and hours.

THe Young Israel of Santa Monica split with the Pacific Jewish center NOT because of the money issues, although there were money issues regarding the tithing, but because rational people with professional jobs and not stringing along lost souls realized that this was not true torah Judaism and Lapin scared the hell out of them.

Shall we now start talking about those from "his" community who spoke out against him - as it happenes in every shul? [A string of breathtaking allegations of illegality and gross immorality.]

Do some journalistic research. Contact the Beth Din of Los Angeles and find out why Lapin is banned from EVERY synagogue pulpit in California, actually the west coast but when scandal gets old, unless someone stays on top of it people get lax. Lapin was run out of town a step before the tar and feathers up to Seattle. The Seattle community will have nothing to do with him and he is exiled to Mercer Island with his top partner in crime Michael Medved. Where is the Awareness Center when you truly need them?

posted by LukeFord | 10:52 AM |

"I have never laughed so much from a blog as Protocols in the last five days." Marc Weisblott, the man behind Antonia's column below on Web guns fall silent.

You like me. You really like me.

posted by LukeFord | 10:41 AM |

Insult-happy Web guns fall quiet.

Charles Johnson at responds.

Marc Weisblott says: "I was at my friend's house who's a regular commenter on LGF. He reamed me out for the first 10 minutes but then we had a nice afternoon."

posted by LukeFord | 10:03 AM |

I've been deeply moved by the posts of ME in the comments section (not saying I agree with everything she writes).
I've just realized that I responded to one of her posts in a particularly stupid way.
I said that I've known a lot of women who had sex at 13 or 14 and they're fine.
A minute later it struck me that almost everyone I know who had sex this young is a whore (be it for video or just in private). So they're not fine.
When you get exposed to something a lot, it tends to become normal to you.
For years I interviewed for a living sex workers. My understanding of what is normal and fine got coarsened by this. I guess I know more whores (hundreds) and pimps (dozens, about half of the big ones are Jewish) than 99.99% of the population. A common factor in their degradation is exactly the early sex ME protests and that I tend to dismiss as not a big deal. She's more right than I am.
I do believe that many women who first had sex at age 14 are fine and many are not fine. I don't know what the percentages are.
Obviously, for an Orthodox Jew or anyone who aspires to holiness, sex outside of marriage is forbidden, and despoiling the innocence of minors is particularly heinous. And any adult who preys on kids, who has serial relationships with underage teens, should be driven out of the Jewish community.
Incidentally, it was depressing interviews with hundreds of sex workers that drove me back into the folds of Orthodox Judaism. There's a difference between the book-based beliefs I had in Orthodox Judaism in the early nineties and the empirical experiences I had following that that reconfirmed for me in a more powerful way the necessity of holding up marriage as the place for sex.
Let me put religion aside. I strongly believe that for civilization to perpetuate itself, it must stigmatize every form of sexual expression outside of heterosexual marriage. If it does not, men won't stick around to raise their kids. Men must understand that if they want regular sex, they must get married and commit to one woman. Every other outlet, from masturbation to porn to whores to homosexual practices to shacking up to premarital sex, must be stigmatized. If a society does not do this (look at Europe and university educated non-Orthodox Jews in the USA), it will not perpetuate itself.

posted by LukeFord | 3:50 AM |

A new generation is using pop culture to reinvent Judaism. Will t-shirts, think-tanks and 'tude reinvigorate a restless religion?

Christian Cool and the New Generation Gap (NYT)

Heeb magazine's Dave Deutsch

posted by LukeFord | 1:45 AM |

A primary justification for journalism is that we will make better decisions if we are better informed (e.g., The New Rabbi book). I hope people are reading the comments to my posts because they contain valuable corrections to my mistakes in facts and judgment. Together I think we are becoming better informed and can therefore lead more effective Jewish lives.

posted by LukeFord | 1:28 AM |

One Shabbos in the summer of 2001, I was at the Happy Minyan at Beth Jacob. The head rabbi, newcomer Steven Weil, came down and gave a talk on that week's Torah portion (where the elders of a community, after a stranger has been murdered in their midst, slaughter a heifer to atone for not having insured the sanctity of their community).
Rabbi Weil gave a convincing talk on how shul has to be a safe place. Those who endanger the community must be drummed out. I believe he is absolutely right. Predators must be drummed out.
Who is a predator? That is a tricky question.
Rabbi Weil detailed the extensive work his shul goes to investigate those who might pose a danger. Private detectives and psychologists are sometimes employed. The board fasts before decreeing that someone is to be banned from the shul.
At the time, about two dozen persons had been banned during Rabbi Weil's few months at the shul.
His predecessor, Abner Weiss, did not ban people at anything like this rate.
Ironically, after Rabbi Weiss (now looking after an Orthodox shul in Westwood) divorced his longtime wife and returned to Los Angeles, he too was banned from Beth Jacob by Rabbi Weil. Michael Ozair was banned. I was banned in the fall of 2001 because of my personality and past (I am also banned from three other Orthodox shuls in Los Angeles).
I will not claim I did not deserve my bans.
They remain the most painful thing in my life (and the feeling of betrayal many Orthodox felt when they learned about my former site
Rabbi Weil happens to be among my favorite teachers of Torah.
If you go in Rabbi Weil's office, you will see pictures of him covering two walls. I've never seen a rabbi with so many pictures of himself in his office. He has an MBA, six kids and a wife who wears such a long sheitel that she looks charedi (she published a superb essay in a new book about Orthodox women covering their hair).
Rabbi Weil grew up on a cow farm and his father is Conservative.
In his office, Rabbi Weil has two pictures of himself with Al Gore, one with Joseph Lieberman, one with President and Laura Bush. The most shocking thing is a picture of his father's marriage where the two bridesmaids are totally sleaveless. I've never seen such a thing, but then I've led a blessedly sheltered life.

posted by LukeFord | 12:57 AM |

I'm going to change a few facts around in this story to avoid accusations of lashon hara but the essence of this story is true.
Let's say you have a 16 year old girl who lives in a sex cult in Israel with her older sisters and mother. They're all sexually promiscuous.
They visit their married Orthodox friend Joe in Los Angeles. In the course of the visit, the 16 yo seduces Joe.
When the mother finds out, she tells Joe she wants $5000 or else she will go to the police. Joe ends up paying the girl a couple of thousand dollars. The mother claims it is needed for therapy but the girl spends it all on clothes and frivolous shopping. The girl does not feel traumatized as she initiated the sex. Who's the big sinner here? My heart is not going to bleed for a family that uses blackmail (though of course I do not condone any sex outside of Halachicly permitted marital sex, and certainly not between an adult and a minor).
I do not have kids. If I had a 16 yo daughter and she had sex with an adult, I would want to kill that adult (though I would not act on my feeling). If I found out that the adult had made a habit of such behavior, I would want him drummed out of the community. If I had found out my daughter was equally culpable, and I had no evidence that the man had acted this way with anyone else, then I would not go on a crusade against the man.
I believe there is giant difference between an adult having sex with a post-pubescent teen and an adult having sex with a pre-pubescent child. Only those who have sex with pre-pubescent would I call child-molesters. I, and Judaism, do not view teenagers as children.

posted by LukeFord | 12:12 AM |
previous endorsements
founding elder
guest bloggers
former elders
former guest bloggers
Support Protocols
posts on big stories
book discussions
jews who blog
past protocols