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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why Israel Needs a Sex Offender Registry

Identify Sexual Offenders
In Your Area
 at the
Click of a Button
: http://www.kidslivesafe.com/signup/default.aspx?c=19&scn=adwordsKLS&sca=Master&vid=eb963a90c6604e9b81f7826956c0de1e



In 1989, a young boy named Jacob Wetterling went missing in St. Joseph, MN in the United States. A  massive search was conducted and numerous leads were generated and logged. These leads became the foundation of a massive database that brought about the development of a sex offender list in Minnesota.
Ever since then, every state in the United States has instituted a Sex Offender Registry that is open to the public. The contents of such a registry make public offenders names, pictures, form of offense, jail time and–most importantly–where they live. You might think that once a person has been convicted, let’s say, of pedophilia, he or she will find a hole to crawl into and not see the light of day again. Wrong! They move into communities, “normal” every-day communities. If neighbors are unaware of the presence of a pedophile in their neighborhood, there is nothing that they can do to protect themselves or their children. (There are over 750,000 [!] registered sex offenders in the USA; granted not all of them are predatory).
Over the years, since this move was taken of building such national and international databases, there have been arguments both in favor of and against such a registry. Before speaking about Israel, let’s take a brief look at some of the arguments, in general, both pro and con.
THE DEBATE IN THE UNITED STATES
  • PRO:
    Awareness of who is in your neighborhood and one can be careful and warn others.Registries are for protection. They let you know if there is anybody in your area who you need to watch out for.
  • They let people know what the person looks like and whom they target as victims. (If they target four year old girls, and you have a four year old girl, you know to take even greater precautions)
  •  Acts as a possible deterrent to future crimes.
  •  More easily monitored by Law Enforcement officials

CON:
  • It is a form of dehumanization and becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy
    People who read the list, fearful and ignorant, ostracize the offenders, mock them, drive them away. Society shuns the offenders and hurts them emotionally. Their offense becomes a scar FOR LIFE.
  •  For no other crime  does there exist a similar registry of offenders.
  • Often individuals take it upon themselves to eradicate these offenders. There are numerous cases where sexual offenders, even years after their crime, get murdered by their neighbors because they saw the offender’s name in an online registry.

What about Israel?
These are merely a small sampling of the various arguments on both sides of the issue. When you are speaking about Israel and Jewish neighborhoods, there are additional “negatives” that are raised:
  • It’s Lashon Hara (evil speech)
  • It will hurt a family’s chance for a shidduch (match) for their child
  • You are not providing a chance for the offender to do Teshuva (repent).

And yes, this list also can be longer.
Before addressing the need in Israel for such a registry, I want to address that last list of negatives. In the Halachot of Lashon Hara, one has the right (obligation) to protect his fellow man from injury, both physical and monetary. If, for example, you know an electrician does shoddy work or cheats, and a friend of your’s is going to use this individual, you have the right/obligation to inform him. (You may not exaggerate, but must just state the facts.) It is the same in this case: a pedophile can NEVER be rehabilitated…never. Therefore, that individual has put him/herself in the situation wherein the public may be informed of their presence.
The next argument against such a registry is it will make it more difficult to get a shiduch for the family members. This old canard has been brought out nearly any time there is an issue regarding “sex.” Be it child sex abuse, spousal sex abuse, etc. there are always those wishing to sweep it under the rug so as not to make it difficult to get that shiduch. While I GREATLY sympathize with the sentiment (after all, the offender’s daughter was not at fault!), we need to look at the ramifications: If a community is unaware of an offender for this reason and the individual continues to offend, he/she has created more and more VICTIMS, who will carry that with them for the rest of their lives! Balance that injury, pain and suffering with the difficulty in getting a shiduch to reportage and it seems to me that the solution is obvious.
As far as Teshuva–no one is beyond Teshuva and it eludes NO ONE. Every single Jew can repent. While the offender can not be cured, he can be monitored and can protect not only society, but also himself on his quest to do Teshuva.
So, why does Israel need a National Sex Offender Registry? Many reasons: Due to the taboo of the subject in so many circles (shiduch talk, etc)  it will finally bring the offenders out to the public eye and BY LAW require information to be public knowledge. The wrong of damaging someone’s ability to find a shidduch is much less than the damage done by a sex offender.
This is not a small, minor problem. There are weekly reports of new allegations, charges and convictions all the time against offenders.  As of 2009, there were 1300 sex offenders IN PRISON in Israel with no real numbers as to how many were not in prison. [See the formal website of the Israeli Prison Service. Available atwww.ips.gov.il (in Hebrew).] About 60 percent of convicted sex offenders in Israel have committed offenses against children under the age of 13. (ibid.)
It would give law enforcement officers a better handle on their ability to protect the public as the monitoring and reporting system would require compliance from the offenders. It helps to inform on a suspect pool in a certain area, in case of (G-d forbid), an attack. [While much of the above information relates to pedophilia, there is an equal amount of information regarding rape in Israel and the numbers continue to climb. As of 2007, the amount of rapes reported per year was over 3,000. (http://www.1202.org.il/English/template/default.asp?siteId=1&maincat=18)]
A brief article such as this is in no way meant to be an all-encompassing article to present all the arguments for such a registry. It is meant to raise a level of awareness and hopefully bring a dialogue on the subject to the Knesset. Remember, much of what has happened over the last 66 years in the Knesset has been due to social action and raising consciousness levels.
It is my hope that there are others out there who will read this, agree with it and be willing to also make the effort that this topic become part of the national agenda.
We need to protect our citizens from known terrorists, from unknown terrorists and from all other forms of violence. This is one area that has gone long enough with no “official” methods of protecting our citizens.
It is time to change that!


Read more: Why Israel Needs a Sex Offender Registry | Zev Shandalov | The Blogs | The Times of Israel http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/why-israel-needs-a-sex-offender-registry/#ixzz3KP3BIpHH
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

DISGRACEFUL!


OU Still Sponsoring Molester Defender Belsky in Passaic Thanksgiving Talk

Rabbi Yisroel Belsky
Yisroel Belsky
 Yisroel Belsky is notorious for collusion in kidnapping/torture, defending two generations of Kolko family molesters and Lawrence’s sex-abusing Rabbi (sic)Dovid Weinberger,  libeling parents of victims of abuse who report the crimes to the police, and issuing a kosher ruling that benefited his son-in-law. Nevertheless the OU retains him as a senior posek and is yet again sponsoring a talk in Passaic, NJ at 9:45 on Thursday, November 27. The event is co-sponsored by Passaic Clifton Community Kollel in the building of the more “modern” of Passaic’s two yeshivas, YBH (aka Hillel).

READ MUCH MORE:
http://frumfollies.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/ou-still-sponsoring-molester-defender-belsky-in-passaic-
thanksgiving-talk/

Modern Orthodox Day School, Kollel Invites Haredi "Protector Of Pedophiles" To Speak

Rabbi Yisroel BelskyThe Hillel Modern Orthodox day school in Passaic, New Jersey and its affiliated kollel (advanced yeshiva for married students, in this case, more of a community education and outreach organization rather than a traditional stand alone kollel) the Passaic Clifton Community Kollel (PCCK) has invited Rabbi Yisroel Belsky to speak and won't rescind the invitation, even though some parents complained.
READ MORE:
http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2014/11/modern-orthodox-day-school-kollel-invites-haredi-protector-of-pedophiles-to-speak-234.html

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

.....And Now The Bottom-Dwellers of Society --- Well, Reach For New Bottoms!

Ohioan, 57, directed woman to perform sex acts

Attorney Probed For Hypnotizing Female Clients
Hypnosis

View Document

Hypnotizing Attorney

  • Hypnotizing Attorney
NOVEMBER 19--An Ohio lawyer is under criminal investigation for hypnotizing a female client during meetings and directing her to engage in a series of sexual activities while in a trance and under his control, police report.
The probe of Michael Fine, 57, was detailed yesterday in an emergency court motion filed by the Lorain County Bar association, which is seeking an immediatesuspension of the lawyer, who has been practicing for more than 30 years.
According to the court records, a second woman recently told police that she believed that Fine sought to hypnotize her during meetings in his office (where the pair discussed the woman’s divorce case).
As detailed in an affidavit prepared by an investigator with the Lorain County prosecutor, “Jane Doe” hired Fine last year to represent her in a child custody matter. The woman recently contacted cops to report that she had “strange memories and feelings” after a series of meetings with Fine that occurred in his office and in a conference room at the county courthouse.
“She would be unable to recall substantial portions of the meetings, and afterwards she would realize her clothes and bra were out of place and moved, and her vagina was wet,” reported investigator Richard Thomas.
After being told by cops that “more definite evidence” was needed, the woman recorded her next two telephone conversations with Fine, and provided the tapes to police. As described by Thomas, one of the October recordings begins with a discussion of the woman’s court case, “but when Fine learns she is alone, he places her in a trance.” What follows, Thomas noted, “is of an explicit sexual nature, wherein he induces her into multiple orgasms.”
The bar association motion charges that Fine (pictured above) used “code” words to induce “Jane Doe” to “enter a trance-like stage.” While his client was hypnotized, Fine told her that she was “being made love to by the world’s greatest lover” and that he was her “teacher.” The attorney also assured “Jane Doe” that she “will appear normal and only remember their discussions regarding legal matters,” Thomas stated.
An October 21 phone call followed a similar script, with Fine inducing “Jane Doe” into a trance after a “short conversation about her case.” During the call, Thomas reported, Fine told the woman he would cause her “horniness and arousal and excitement” and a “life-changing experience.” The bar association complaint adds Fine told the woman that their encounters were “a secret and no one’s going to know, right.” Fine, who directed the woman to bring a vibrator to their next office meeting, ended the call by saying, “You’ll only recollect what we were talking about your case until we see each other tomorrow. Do you understand?”
Armed with the audio recordings, criminal investigators fitted “Jane Doe” withaudio and video recording devices in advance of a November 7 meeting in Fine’s office.
As agents monitored the sting operation, Fine hypnotized “Jane Doe” and directed her to sit on a couch. “Fine begins sexual dialogue, explaining sexual acts that he will do for her,” Thomas reported. Cops busted into the room as Fine was seated next to the woman “holding and massages her hand and rubs her shoulders.”
As recounted in the bar association motion, Fine told the woman that “you will insist to me that I touch you in any way that brings you pleasure,” and that “you are free to touch yourself. To play with yourself. To get yourself off. Have every experience that you so crave and desire.” The lawyer also told “Jane Doe” that “you are going to demand that I touch you and you touch me. Do you understand?”
State investigators provided bar association officials with copies of telephone recordings made by “Jane Doe” and a DVD of her November 7 office meeting with Fine.
A second female client, identified in court filings as “Jane Doe 2,” has alleged that Fine “was attempting to hypnotize her” during meetings in his office. The woman, who hired Fine in September to represent her in a divorce action, told bar officials that he repeatedly discussed “relaxation and meditation techniques” with her.
During one meeting, “Jane Doe 2” recalled, Fine sat beside her and touched her fingers, forearm, and forehead. He asked if her arms felt “weightless” and directed her to “place her finger tips together and imagine two green dots coming together.” Fine then told her to focus on his voice while he counted down from ten, saying that she would experience a “wave of relaxation” that would cause leave her eyes feeling heavy. He added that she should “think of a happy place--the sounds, the smell, etc..”
The woman reported that in her after-hours meetings with Fine he would comment on “her looks and physical appearance” and asked about the nature of her sexual activity with her husband, including whether they had “rough sex.”
“Jane Doe 2” added that she “felt the loss of time during her meetings…as she cannot recall how so much time passed during the meetings for what she remembers discussing.”
After recently learning that Fine no longer worked at his law firm, “Jane Doe 2” told one of Fine’s former partners that she “felt as though she might have been hypnotized,” the attorney recommended that she contact the local prosecutor’s office (where she subsequently met with Investigator Thomas).
“Jane Doe 2” told bar association officials that she felt “creepy and disgusted” by Fine’s conduct, and was sick that he “picked her out” after she was “so upset and distraught about her marital situation when she went to him.”
In seeking Fine’s immediate suspension, the Lorain bar association argues in its Ohio Supreme Court that the attorney “poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public.” Fine is married to a court reporter and is the father of two daughters. (13 pages)

Monday, November 24, 2014

"Through the years I’ve supported women who have had to sit and watch their rapists lead tefillot, or suffer as their abusers are celebrated as among the great Jewish leaders."...


Jewish Men Behaving Badly
By  | Tagged 

“Wear red lipstick when you meet with him,” warned a grad student. I only vaguely understood what she meant. The man in question was a revered academic scholar. His taking time to meet with a lowly undergraduate was an honor. His advanced years and disheveled fashion clouded my naïve ability to see him as a sexual predator. 

But after he began calling me sweetheart, asking me to sit up in the front row during class, and putting his hands on my thighs under the table, the meaning of her warning became crystal clear. I always wore lipstick and stopped going to closed door meetings.
The arrest and charging of Rabbi Barry Freundel was a terrible shock to most. But in reading some of the first-person accounts of encounters with Freundel, a pattern has emerged of a man whose abuse of power was not entirely unknown but never publicly challenged.

 From Toronto, in the county in which I grew up and love, similarly the story of Jian Ghomeshi, a former rock star turned popular radio host, has uncovered tales of years of abuse and exploitation spoken about quietly and never explicitly published or charged.
Reading these now public accounts has opened up floodgates of personal memory and laid open the implicit challenge that comes when men in power abuse or harass women, in particular young or vulnerable ones.

 And having grown up in and become a professional in the inner circles of the Jewish community, the memories and stories come from inside our “kodosh kodoshim,” our holiest of places and institutions.
When I was 19, I was invited to a high-level meeting of my student group being held in the Old City in Jerusalem. As Shabbat descended, I found myself in a small private bedroom where the only other female leader was sleeping soundly.

 I was flattered that our executive director had sought me out to discuss some of the upcoming business; I was political, ambitious and believed in the causes we were activists for. But at some point he began undoing the zipper on my dress and pushing me down on the bed. I told him to cut it out but that was only mildly effective. I remember my confusion. Young and sexually inexperienced, I was not attracted to this man. He was someone I respected. I did not want to wake my roommate.

 He told me not to fuss. The Shabbat siren wailed; my roommate woke and we went to pray. Over the mechitzah, he continued to leer at me and my confusion turned to anger.
At dinner, I made sure not to be seated with him, but at some point when he made a comment about changing that, I stood up and said before all assembled that I had not come to be physically or religiously pressured. All conversation stopped. I looked a fool, I am sure, but the harassment stopped there.
I was proud of myself. I felt empowered. But it was no easy feat. No one, not even the other female on the board, ever asked about my outburst. This was not surprising. At other retreats I had seen board members stick their penises in the faces of sleeping friends, and others prey on underage girls.

Sexualization and harassment were part of the culture, and if I wanted to play in the big leagues I had to be strong enough to deal with it. So as hard as it was, I internally spun the story as one of pride for my ability to talk up, playing down the utter humiliation and isolation.
My brashness came in no small part from an understanding of my self worth (thanks to my ima for that) and the Jewish values that were part of the same education package the men I knew had grown up with. But there was also a piece that I would come to understand only with time. The stakes were low and the violation, while upsetting, relatively minor. I had little to lose by speaking up.

 The harassment, while troubling, had not crossed in my mind that imaginary line that often makes the shame too hard to overcome for the sake of reporting. This man, while in a position of power, was of increasingly little consequence in my life and I did not worry about direct retribution. And finally, I was young and still not fully aware that holding men accountable for abuse of power could and often does have repercussions that can add layers of trauma.
I wish I could say that that is the end of this story. Through the years I’ve supported women who have had to sit and watch their rapists lead tefillot, or suffer as their abusers are celebrated as among the great Jewish leaders. I personally have had to face inappropriate behavior from men in the Jewish community. Sometimes I’ve spoken out, and sometimes not. I’ve avoided some very bad situations because even when women don’t speak up publicly they share information quietly. With the help of this informal network, I’ve avoided getting into elevators alone with particular men. I’ve chosen not to engage in conversations with certain men or pursue specific opportunities.
The good men of the Jewish world far outweigh those who abuse their power. But abuses, small and large, exist and come at a cost. Women rarely have the opportunity to speak up and push back, for when we do, we risk at best being told that we are too sensitive (what I was once told by a colleague when I objected to being told to “stop acting like a wife”) or at worst that we brought it on ourselves (what I was told when I recounted the Old City story to a loved one). We risk being labeled as difficult, getting a reputation as too outspoken or jeopardizing employment if we challenge the wrong people.

Sometimes we walk away from the Jewish world, because it is just too hard to live in close quarters with those who betray our trust or because the values that are supposed to come from the holiest place are the same ones that are used to overlook deplorable behavior.
As I watch a new generation of young women begin to take their places in the Jewish world, I wish for them more safety and less exploitation. But barring that, I pray that they have the strength to find the support that they need when they need it, so that they remain safe and holy in body and spirit. In lieu of protection I cannot guarantee, I offer this advice: take the rumors to heart.

No level of observance, power, or privilege is immune to men who exploit their manhood. And if bad things happen, do not blame yourselves. It is not your fault. You did not bring it on yourselves. You are holy, created in the image of God. No one has the right to treat you otherwise.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Moster was a senior at the College of Staten Island when he first heard the word “molecule.” Perplexed, he looked around the classroom. Nobody else seemed confused."

Yiddish Isn’t Enough

A Yeshiva Graduate Fights for Secular Studies in Hasidic Education



Naftuli Moster was a senior at the College of Staten Island when he first heard the word “molecule.” Perplexed, he looked around the classroom. Nobody else seemed confused. Yet again, because of gaps in his early education, Mr. Moster was ignorant of a basic concept that everybody else knew.“I felt embarrassed and ashamed,” he said. “Every single time I didn’t know something, I thought, ‘I’m too crippled to make it through.’ ”Mr. Moster had grown up one of 17 children in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Borough Park, Brooklyn, where most Hasidic men marry young and, right after finishing yeshiva, or high school, either immediately enter the work force or dedicate themselves to Talmudic studies.

 But if Mr. Moster’s educational ambitions were unusual among his peers, his limited grasp of English was not.There are 250 Jewish private schools in New York City, and though some schools, like Ramaz on the Upper East Side, have intensive secular curriculums, many do not. Nearly one-third of all students in Jewish schools are “English language learners,” according to the city’s Department of Education. Yiddish is the Hasidic community’s first language, and both parents and educators report that many boys’ schools do not teach the A B C’s until children are 7 or 8 years old. Boys in elementary and middle school study religious subjects from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. followed by approximately 90 minutes of English and math. At 13, when boys formally enter yeshiva, most stop receiving any English instruction.




This has been true for decades, even though Hasidic schools receive millions of dollars in government funds and are required by state law to teach a curriculum that is “equivalent” to what public schools offer.Mr. Moster, worried that the next generation of Hasidic Jews, plagued by high poverty and scant opportunities, will be ill prepared to provide for themselves, is calling attention to the problem with activism and possible legal action against the New York State Education Department. But the odds are against him.

 What Mr. Moster needs most is a groundswell of support, yet he has been marked as a renegade by the very community he says he is fighting for.Mr. Moster, now 28, is working toward a master’s degree in social work from Hunter College. He attributes some of his success to early exposure to English. His parents spoke English between themselves, though they exclusively used Yiddish with their children. Mr. Moster’s sisters spoke English when they were growing up, he said, because Hasidic girls generally receive a better secular education than the boys.

 He was also a curious child. As a boy, he became interested in psychology after an Israeli psychologist came to Brooklyn. The community “really bragged about it, so I became intrigued in that field,” he said.Though Mr. Moster was eager to know about the outside world, he did not realize that secular education could open those doors. In his school, he said, English, math and science were considered “profane.” When Yeshiva Machzikei Hadas Belz, the school on 16th Avenue in Borough Park where Mr. Moster was one of about 1,500 boys, added an extra year of secular studies, the students rebelled. 

“We kids were outraged,” Mr. Moster recalled ruefully. “We’d been waiting so many years to get rid of these nonimportant subjects.” The school soon reverted to its old curriculum.When Mr. Moster first applied to college, after yeshiva, he did not know what a high-school diploma was. He had never learned the word “essay,” let alone been taught to write one. “I know I sound articulate,” he said recently. But nine years after beginning higher education, he said, “there are still times where I’m completely stumped by a certain word or concept that is familiar to the average student.”The man behind the added year was a Yeshiva Belz board member named Jacob Ungar.

 Today, Mr. Ungar has high praise for his community’s educational standards. “It’s like at any school, where you have the main subjects and then the extracurriculars,” he said, adding: “Whatever a child usually gets in a public school, or Catholic parochial school or modern Jewish school — the yeshiva education is superior to that. Our students are as well educated as they were 100 years ago.”“Given basic tools, I could be a lot further in my education,” he said. “That’s true for every member of the Hasidic community.”In 2011, Mr. Moster founded Young Advocates for Fair Education, or Yaffed.

 Its aim was simple. The state’s Education Department requires the city’s nonpublic schools to teach a curriculum that is “substantially equivalent to that provided in the public schools,” and requires local school superintendents to ensure the standards are met. Mr. Moster says those standards are not being met.So he sat down with three superintendents in New York whose districts have large Hasidic populations. “Two of them had no idea it was their responsibility to enforce the law,” he said. 

“In one case I was pointing out the regulations online.”In a statement, the city’s Education Department said Mr. Moster needed to identify wrongdoing in specific schools for superintendents to investigate. “Superintendents cannot just show up at private schools for random inspections without a reason,” a department spokesman said.




The billboard that Mr. Moster’s advocacy group, Yaffed, sponsored in Brooklyn last year reads, in Hebrew: “You must provide your son a proper education.”CreditCourtesy of Naftuli MosterMr. Moster said his goal was to advocate systemic change, not to punish specific institutions. 

He also sent a concerned letter to the State Board of Regents, which oversees the State Education Department. He received a response that said that “although there is an equivalency of instruction requirement,” nonpublic schools “largely operate outside the scope of state-mandated general education requirements and oversight.”

To Mr. Moster, this meant that the state was acknowledging its responsibility and then willfully ignoring it.He went to Albany to plead his case in person but said the meetings were unproductive.The state department would not discuss Mr. Moster’s letter to the Board of Regents with The New York Times or speak about the equivalency mandate except to say that enforcement was the city’s responsibility. For its part, the city said the state was responsible.So now Mr. Moster is taking legal action. A handful of modern Orthodox supporters have agreed to cover the legal fees and, with Mr. Moster, are interviewing lawyers. The plaintiffs in a lawsuit, however, must be either students who are currently enrolled in Hasidic schools or their parents.

 Mr. Moster said many families in New York’s Hasidic enclaves were sympathetic to his cause. So far, a small number of parents have agreed to take part in a lawsuit if they can remain anonymous. They worry that the yeshivas will expel their children and that the community will ostracize them if their names are revealed.Today, instead of black trousers, a white shirt and a broad, black hat, Mr. Moster wears V-neck sweaters and plaid button-down shirts. He still considers himself “very Jewish,” but that’s not how many ultra-Orthodox Jews see him. Once, he said, on the subway, a Hasidic mother instructed her son to “stop looking at the goy” — the non-Jew. She was talking about Mr. Moster.

Mr. Moster is also a potential liability to his own project. Secular education pushed him away from his Hasidic roots. 

The formal break came after Mr. Moster filed for a “dependency override” from his family — proof that he was no longer a dependent — in order to apply for financial aid. In doing so, Mr. Moster went “off the derech,” or “off the path.” He said that he felt free but that his community considered him a disgrace.Last year, Yaffed sponsored a billboard near the Prospect Expressway in Brooklyn with a quotation in Hebrew from the Talmud, “You must provide your son a proper education.” Below that was a caveat in English. “It’s your mitzvah” — or religious commandment — it said. “It’s the law.”After the billboard went up, Mr. Moster said, Yaffed was bombarded with sympathetic emails and phone calls. Then word spread that Mr. Moster was off the path, and the response changed. “Suddenly it was, ‘We don’t want anything to do with you,’ ” he said.

Hasidic parents who want better secular education for their children worry that any association with an outcast like Mr. Moster will do more harm than good. “Until the government is sued, they won’t do anything,” said one Borough Park mother who was furious about her sons’ poor English. Fearing opprobrium in the community, she would speak only anonymously. “This has to be done in a culturally sensitive way,” she added. “I care about the children.” But activists outside the community, she said, “care about how they were wronged.”That, Mr. Moster insisted, is not true. “We’re fighting the same battle,” he said. “We’re fighting the Department of Education, not the yeshivas. Every Hasidic boy deserves a minimum education, and the state has simply ignored us.”

Friday, November 21, 2014

What the Bible Teaches about Capitalism!

THE UOJ ARCHIVES - JUNE 2012:

As the Ten Commandments instruct, envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it.




Who would have expected that in a Republican primary campaign the single biggest complaint among candidates would be that the front-runner has taken capitalism too far? As if his success and achievement were evidence of something unethical and immoral? President Obama and other redistributionists must be rejoicing that their assumptions about rugged capitalism and the 1% have been given such legitimacy.

More than any other nation, the United States was founded on broad themes of morality rooted in a specific religious perspective. We call this the Judeo-Christian ethos, and within it resides a ringing endorsement of capitalism as a moral endeavor.

Regarding mankind, no theme is more salient in the Bible than the morality of personal responsibility, for it is through this that man cultivates the inner development leading to his own growth, good citizenship and happiness. The entitlement/welfare state is a paradigm that undermines that noble goal.

The Bible's proclamation that "Six days shall ye work" is its recognition that on a day-to-day basis work is the engine that brings about man's inner state of personal responsibility. Work develops the qualities of accountability and urgency, including the need for comity with others as a means for the accomplishment of tasks. With work, he becomes imbued with the knowledge that he is to be productive and that his well-being is not an entitlement. And work keeps him away from the idleness that Proverbs warns leads inevitably to actions and attitudes injurious to himself and those around him.

Yet capitalism is not content with people only being laborers and holders of jobs, indistinguishable members of the masses punching in and out of mammoth factories or functioning as service employees in government agencies. Nor is the Bible. Unlike socialism, mired as it is in the static reproduction of things already invented, capitalism is dynamic and energetic. It cheerfully fosters and encourages creativity, unspoken possibilities, and dreams of the individual. Because the Hebrew Bible sees us not simply as "workers" and members of the masses but, rather, as individuals, it heralds that characteristic which endows us with individuality: our creativity.

At the opening bell, Genesis announces: "Man is created in the image of God"—in other words, like Him, with individuality and creative intelligence. Unlike animals, the human being is not only a hunter and gatherer but a creative dreamer with the potential of unlocking all the hidden treasures implanted by God in our universe. The mechanism of capitalism, as manifest through investment and reasoned speculation, helps facilitate our partnership with God by bringing to the surface that which the Almighty embedded in nature for our eventual extraction and activation.

Capitalism makes possible entrepreneurship, which is the realization of an idea birthed in human creativity. Whereas statism demands that citizens think small and bow to a top-down conformity, capitalism, as has been practiced in the U.S., maximizes human potential. It provides a home for aspiration, referred to in the Bible as "the spirit of life."

The Bible speaks positively of payment and profit: "For why else should a man so labor but to receive reward?" Thus do laborers get paid wages for their hours of work and investors receive profit for their investment and risk.

The Bible is not a business-school manual. While it is comfortable with wealth creation and the need for speculation in economic markets, it has nothing to say about financial instruments and models such as private equity, hedge funds or other forms of monetary capitalization. What it does demand is honesty, fair weights and measures, respect for a borrower's collateral, timely payments of wages, resisting usury, and empathy for those injured by life's misfortunes and charity.

It also demands transparency and honesty regarding one's intentions. The command, "Thou shalt not place a stumbling block in front of the blind man" also means that you should not act deceitfully or obscure the truth from those whose choice depends upon the information you give them. There's nothing to indicate that Mitt Romney breached this biblical code of ethics, and his wealth and success should not be seen as automatic causes for suspicion.

No country has achieved such broad-based prosperity as has America, or invented as many useful things, or seen as many people achieve personal promise. This is not an accident. It is the direct result of centuries lived by the free-market ethos embodied in the Judeo-Christian outlook.

Furthermore, only a prosperous nation can protect itself from outside threats, for without prosperity the funds to support a robust military are unavailable. Having radically enlarged the welfare state and hoping to further expand it, President Obama is attempting to justify his cuts to our military by asserting that defense needs must give way to domestic programs.

Both history and the Bible show the way that leads. Countries that were once economic powerhouses atrophied and declined, like England after World War II, once they began adopting socialism. Even King Solomon's thriving kingdom crashed once his son decided to impose onerous taxes.

At the end of Genesis, we hear how after years of famine the people in Egypt gave all their property to the government in return for the promise of food. The architect of this plan was Joseph, son of Jacob, who had risen to become the pharaoh's top official, thus: "Joseph exchanged all the land of Egypt for pharaoh and the land became pharaoh's." The result was that Egyptians became indentured to the ruler and state, and Joseph's descendants ended up enslaved to the state.

Many on the religious left criticize capitalism because all do not end up monetarily equal—or, as Churchill quipped, "all equally miserable." But the Bible's prescription of equality means equality under the law, as in Deuteronomy's saying that "Judges and officers . . . shall judge the people with a just judgment: Do not . . . favor one over the other." Nowhere does the Bible refer to a utopian equality that is contrary to human nature and has never been achieved.

The motive of capitalism's detractors is a quest for their own power and an envy of those who have more money. But envy is a cardinal sin and something that ought not to be.

God begins the Ten Commandments with "I am the Lord your God" and concludes with "Thou shalt not envy your neighbor, not for his wife, nor his house, nor for any of his holdings." Envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it. Nations that throw over capitalism for socialism have made an immoral choice.

Rabbi Spero has led congregations in Ohio and New York and is president of Caucus for America.


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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Satmar Rebbe blames observant Jews ascending Temple Mount for Har Nof massacre, says it 'costs lives.'

Satmar Rebbe Blames Massacre on Jews Visiting Temple Mount


Satmar Rebbe blames observant Jews ascending Temple Mount for Har Nof massacre, says it 'costs lives.'

The Satmar Rebbe eulogized the victims of the massacre in Har Nof Tuesday, pointing the blame not at the Palestinian Arabs who killed them, but at Jews who ascend the Temple Mount (Judaism's holiest site - ed.) as the cause. 

"These days, bad news comes from the holy city of Jerusalem," the Satmar Rebbe stated, as quoted by hareidi website Kikar Hashabbat. "Just today we heard terrifying news from Jerusalem of the loss of precious lives." 

Rebbe called to pray and study the Torah in wake of the massacre, ''and to teach the books of our holy Satmar teachers, to memorize the pure view in times like these."

He then pointed an accusatory finger at Jews ascending the Temple Mount. 

"Regarding the prohibition of ascending the Temple Mount, which all Jews who fear G-d know demands the punishment of karet [a severe punishment; open to interpretation, could mean premature death or spiritual excision - ed.], it has unfortunately become easy for people to take it lightly because of false beliefs," he stated. "Who knows how many victims were killed by observant Jews going up to the Temple Mount, and who knows what it will cost us, G-d have mercy, as a result of them."

Satmar hassidim believe, based on their interpretation of a Talmudic passage, that the State of Israel should have been established only after the coming of the Messiah.

The more stringent of the Satmar hassidic sect do not visit the Western Wall or Rachel's Tomb because Jews were killed in order to gain control of those sites. 

It should also be noted that the hareidi community at large disapproves ofascending the Temple Mount, the allowance of which in Jewish law constitutes a controversial debate among contemporary Torah sources. 

This, however, is not the first time the Satmar Rebbe has made controversial statements after a tragedy.

In July, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum of Satmar blamed the abduction of murdered teens Naftali Frankel (16), Gilad Sha'ar (16), and Eyal Yifrah (19) on the boys' parents for being "settlers" living beyond 1949 Armistice lines and the “evil inclination and the desire for Jews to inhabit the entire State of Israel.”
Several senior Satmar officials later condemned the statements. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014