Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rabbinic Infallibility

The UOJ Archives: May 24, 2010

"Today, unfortunately, the majority of Jews have abandoned the Torah as their primary guide in life, rather than finding meaning and inspiration in its profound philosophical, psychological and moral lessons. Many of them will not turn to Judaism unless they find the system of studying its primary texts sound and responsive to reality".

There has been much discussion in the Orthodox Jewish world recently about the question of rabbinic authority. Yeshiva University published a book on the subject, the journal Tradition devoted an issue to the topic and there have been numerous postings in "Mail Jewish", an e-mail forum on the Internet, regarding various facets of the topic.

This paper is written to address one important aspect of the topic only - the opinion that holds Talmudic sages to have been infallible and that all their statements, including those of a factual type, whether they relate to history, geography, medicine, astronomy, biology, etc., to be absolutely true.

The objective of this paper is to demonstrate that such an opinion is logically untenable and a misunderstanding of the sources.

If the above opinion meant that in many areas the sages had exceedingly great insight surpassing others of their time, it would be fine. If it meant that in certain cases the sages had a tradition originating from a Divinely-inspired source, that would be a different matter. If it meant that Halacha, even in those instances when apparently based upon factual insights of the sages, remains binding regardless of present-day scientific opinion, until a future Sanhedrin exercises its duly-authorized power to reevaluate matters, it would be correct. However, some present-day yeshiva authorities mean actual infallibility and absolute truth in all Talmudic statements.

This position cannot be accepted. Its negative effects cannot be overstated.

A clarification of this matter is called for not only to improve the quality of our own Torah study, but also to remove a stumbling block from the path of many who might thus find their way to Orthodox Judaism. It is not only the opinion in and of itself, but its consequences that are particularly injurious, as will be briefly touched upon further in this paper....

 Read the entire essay click the link:

Friday, September 19, 2014

“Perspectives of a Survivor.”... “We as a community cannot be afraid to address this terrible demon. We must face it head on.”

Childhood Abuse Survivor Highlights Panel Discussion at Rinat

Teaneck–September 15–About 200 people from Bergen County and the surrounding metro area attended last night’s panel discussion “Protecting Our Children from Sexual Abuse,” hosted by Congregation Rinat Yisrael’s Adult Education Program. The event was co-sponsored by Teaneck’s Congregation Keter Torah, Congregation Netivot Shalom, and Lubavitch of Bergen County. The interactive presentation, which was open to the entire community, focused on increasing awareness of the scope and ramifications of sexual abuse (SA) within the Orthodox community as well as preventing and dealing with the SA of minors.
Present were such notable supporters as Benny Forer, Assistant District Attorney of LA County; Chris Anderson, executive director of MaleSurvivor (www.malesurvivor.org), an association that helps address the therapeutic needs of adult male survivors of SA, and Mayer Seewald, a Crown Heights resident who founded a recognized organization dedicated to eradicating child SA within the community called Jewish Community Watch (www.Jewish CommunityWatch.org).
This initiative comes in light of recently exposed cases, including the latest charges against the head of four Orthodox seminaries in Israel. Rinat’s leadership determined it was time to highlight the issue to empower parents to better protect their children while encouraging communal organizations to adopt more effective preventive policies. Thursday’s event was spearheaded by Rinat member David Cheifetz, an outspoken adult survivor of childhood SA in an Orthodox summer camp.
Cheifetz publicly revealed last year that he was a survivor and has since founded Mi Li, an organization dedicated to preventing child SA and helping survivors deal with ongoing trauma as well as advocating for the community to take stronger measures to protect children. “This is a much bigger problem in the Orthodox community than people realize,” said Cheifetz. “We hope our event will serve as a model for other communities to expose this important issue to the light of day.”
The panel commenced with comments from the moderator, Seymour Adler, Ph.D and was followed by an introduction from Rabbi Yosef Adler, Rinat’s rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC). Rabbi Adler stressed the crucial nature of the topic, and referenced the posuk in Devarim: “Arur makeh rayeihu b’seter–Cursed be he that smites his neighbor secretly,” explaining: “Sexual abusers strike in secret, behind closed doors. The abuser is often known to the victim and is abusing someone vulnerable, with terrible ramifications.”
Rabbi Yosef Blau, an internationally recognized advocate for victims of SA, provided an “Overview of the Scope and Scale of Abuse in the Jewish Community.” Rabbi Blau explained that referencing a survivor’s status often frightens people off from associating with them, thinking of them as “damaged goods,” and affecting their shidduch prospects. “That’s a problem,” said Rabbi Blau. “With proper help and crucial support from the family and community, many survivors go on to have good lives.” But getting it can present a challenge even though reliable studies in the US reveal that SA statistics among all streams of the orthodox community, including modern Orthodox, are the same those in the general population.
According to the U.S. State Department’s National Sex Offender Website (www.nsopw.gov), one in three girls and one in seven boys in the U.S. are sexually abused during their childhood, and in more than 90% of cases the victim knows their abuser. These statistics highlight a major issue equally affecting the Jewish community.
“The Orthodox community likes to believe we are different,” said Blau.”We are not. I was given the job of responding to a report on a study conducted in Israel in the Charedi community. When the results were collected, I was told that there was good news and bad news. The bad news? The numbers are the same as everyone else’s. The good news? They’re not worse.”
Rabbi Blau was asked why the Orthodox community has such a difficult time in responding to this issue. He replied: “We find it difficult to believe because we believe that followers of the dictates of the Torah are much better because of it.”
Rabbi Blau was followed by David Cheifetz speaking about “Perspectives of a Survivor.” Cheifetz’s presentation was, for many, the highlight of the evening. He said: “I am standing here not as David Cheifetz, but as one nameless, faceless victim who has chosen to share his name and show his face. I stand here and look out at this audience... and I know that I am not speaking only for myself, but for the twenty percent of people in our community, including numerous people in this room right now, who were sexually abused as children.” (See his speech on page 30.)
Audience members were noticeably moved and impressed by Cheifetz. After he described the trauma, shame, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that resulted from being abused and the failure of others to properly respond, Cheifetz concluded: “The most important take away from my own recovery, the key for me, was dealing with my own sense of guilt and my own fear. And I say to you today that I was a victim of a terrible crime. It was not my fault. And I am no longer afraid.” He continued: “We as a community cannot be afraid to address this terrible demon. We must face it head on.”
Meyer Seewald said: “David’s bravery and courage last night was remarkable. He stood in front of a crowd of his peers and his community, and shared his story. He did it, not for himself, but for all the other people and their children, to save them from the pain he suffered. He is one of the few to give a voice to the voiceless and a face to the faceless. As the lone soldier David Gordon once wrote ‘he blushed for a few so others won’t have to bleed.’ David is a hero.”
Benny Forer said “I have worked alongside David and Rabbi Blau for a number of years. I deeply admire both for their stance on this issue and I fully support their perspectives, designed to effectuate a positive change in the community, support survivors of abuse and their families and educate the community on the particular issues. It is of utmost importance that we protect our children, and the way to do so is by having open and honest dialogues regarding these issues–both with our own families and with the community at large. In balancing the interests of the survivor and the protection of the community versus the privacy or comfort of a perpetrator, the former is far more important and should be supported wholeheartedly, regardless of its detriment to the abuser.”
Chris Anderson commented: “I was tremendously impressed by the community’s support for David in particular. It was also especially heartening to see people’s willingness to openly discuss and learn about SA. There are relatively few faith communities that have been so proactive in seeking information that will help them better protect children and support survivors. This is a deeply divisive and difficult issue, and I feel all those who had a hand in making last night’s event happen are to be commended. I hope the information and lessons from last night will spread through other Jewish communities and as well to all other faith communities. We can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to abuse, nor a deaf ear to survivors.”
The panel discussion concluded with “Parenting and Protocols: Protecting Children from Abusers” by Dr. Shira Berkovits, a youth consultant for the Orthodox Union’s WINGS (We Inspire New Growth Synagogues) program and a Global Justice Fellow with the American Jewish World Service, working to combat trafficking and sexual violence against women and children. She provided concrete guidelines for appropriate individual and communal response to suspicion of “risky behavior.” Berkovitz explained that “there is no prototype. Child molesters look and act like everyone else... they are just really good at picking children with holes in their hearts.”
In addition to tips for educating children such as teaching respect for personal space and putting children in charge of the giving and receiving of physical affection, Berkovitz provided resources for individuals and the community at large, and recommended the website www.d2l.org.
When the floor was opened up to questions, topics discussed included encouraging youth-serving institutions such as camps and schools do extensive background checks, screening, and in-service training. Dr. Berkovitz suggested that rabbis give talks about the topic. “We see the clergy show up to support the offender, but never once to support the victims. What message does that send?”
Cheifetz agrees that the message must be changed, saying that we need to change a culture that downplays SA, to provide support for current victims and their families, and to create mechanisms to supply ongoing support for victims and survivors of all ages. Rabbi Adler advises: “Believe the person, and demonstrate that as a community, we care about this issue. Ask institutions about their policy.” Said one audience member: “This is a good beginning.”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I See Shmuel Kaminetzky as a Huge Problem!

Are Ultra-Orthodox Turning Away From Vaccination?

Rabbi Who Denounces Practice Gains Some Backing

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published September 17, 2014.

A prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbi has drawn criticism for calling vaccines a “hoax,” but his beliefs are not uncommon in Orthodox circles.
“I see vaccinations as the problem,” Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky told the Baltimore Jewish Times in a story published in late August. “It’s a hoax. Even the Salk [polio] vaccine is a hoax. It’s just big business.”
Ultra-Orthodox Jews who declined to vaccinate their children have been at the center of a handful of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in recent years, including one large measles outbreak in Brooklyn in 2013, another in London the same year and an earlier outbreak in Jerusalem in 2007.
An anti-vaccine Orthodox glossy called P.E.A.CH. Magazine launched in April in English, with copies distributed in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn. “We have heard what the pro-vaccine side has to say, and we are decidedly opposed to their largely unfounded claims,” an introduction on the issue’s second page reads.
It’s unclear how many ultra-Orthodox parents skip vaccinations for their children. A representative for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that 96% of students at yeshivas in Brooklyn are vaccinated, and ultra-Orthodox insiders in Brooklyn say that vaccinations are near-universal in the community.
“Because we have so many kids, and we are concerned that if something happens… it can affect the entire family, people are going to (get) vaccinations in droves,” said Isaac Sofer, a Satmar leader in Williamsburg.
In Philadelphia, where Kamenetsky runs the prominent Talmudical Yeshiva, a spokesman for the city Department of Public Health said that the agency had a good relationship with the Orthodox community, and that during a 2011 mumps outbreak, city health workers were welcomed into an Orthodox boarding school to set up a vaccine clinic.
Yet, a letter from researchers that was  published in the medical journal Emerging Infectious Diseases in October 2013 reported that ultra-Orthodox 2-year-olds in Hackney, London are vaccinated at far lower rates than the general population.
Agudath Israel of America, the leading ultra-Orthodox umbrella group, does not promote or oppose vaccinations. Kamenetsky sits on the group’s rabbinical board.
“It’s a matter of some contention,” said Rabbi Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel. “There is a small, but not insignificant, part of the populace that is persuaded that vaccination can be a dangerous thing.”
Epidemiologists say that a failure to vaccinate can be dangerous, too. “If a population were entirely self-contained, like living on an island with a force field around it, then refusing vaccination against things like polio would be totally reasonable,” said Christopher Gill, who is an associate professor at Boston University’s Center for Global Health & Development and a specialist in infectious diseases and vaccines. Such populations don’t exist in the modern world, Gill said. “No community is entirely self-contained. No one actually lives on that island.”
Vaccines work on the theory of herd immunity, the notion that disease outbreaks can be prevented if a population has a high proportion of people who are immune to a given disease. Large numbers of people who opt out of vaccination lower a population’s level of herd immunity. “If you have a community where the herd immunity is very, very low and also if there’s crowding or very, very large families… then the disease could spread rapidly,” Gill said.
That appears to be what happened in ultra-Orthodox communities in Brooklyn in 2013, when 58 people were sickened in the largest measles outbreak since 1996. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on the incident, nearly 80% of the people who fell ill in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn were members of “three extended families whose members declined use of measles vaccine.” Nine of those who got sick in Williamsburg had also refused vaccination.
The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Hackney experienced a measles outbreak in 2013 that also spread among unvaccinated young people.
“Vaccination coverage within this community is lower than in the general population of London, causing low herd immunity and outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases,” read the letter from researchers that was published in the infectious disease journal, a CDC publication. Eighty-seven percent of the people infected in the first three months of the outbreak had never been vaccinated for measles. “This ongoing outbreak highlights continued health risks in communities with low vaccination coverage,” the researchers concluded.
One Orthodox rabbi condemned Kamenetsky’s position. “This is an area in which medicine has made such tremendous progress for the benefit of humanity,” said Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a senior faculty member at Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school and an expert on bioethics. “I believe that there may very well be rabbis who agree with Kamenetsky, but they are not speaking under their authority as rabbis, they are speaking simply as uninformed laymen.
“I’m hoping that Rabbi Kamenetsky was misquoted,” Tendler said.
The Forward tried multiple times to reach Kamenetsky for comment, but he was not available.
Orthodox opposition to vaccines, where it exists, does not appear to be based on religious objections. Some vaccines do include gelatin, which is made from pig tissue. But Jewish law does not ban the injection of nonkosher meat such as pork, it bans actual consumption of it, according to Rabbi Menachem Genack, who runs the kosher division of the Orthodox Union.
Instead, ultra-Orthodox anti-vaccine advocates use language similar to that of secular anti-vaccine activists, such as former Playboy Playmate and talk show host Jenny McCarthy.
In his interview with the Baltimore Jewish Times, Kamenetsky suggested that vaccines don’t work, claiming that if they did, students would be getting diseases from school janitors. “They are mostly Mexican and are unvaccinated,” the rabbi said. “If there was a problem, the children would already have gotten sick.”
P.E.A.C.H. Magazine, which on its masthead lists a post office box and email address but no phone number,, focuses on “vaccine safety” and skepticism of the medical profession. The issue carries one article titled “The Autism Mystery” and another called “How To Prevent Your Children From Being Damaged by Vaccines.”
In the introductory note, the editors write: “Do not allow anyone to inject anything into your child unless all of your questions are answered…. You can always vaccinate later, you can never un-vaccinate.”
The magazine did not respond to an email sent to its listed address. The Centers for Disease Control says there is no link between vaccines and the development of autism.
Orthodox embrace of vaccine skepticism could be connected to a broader ultra-Orthodox cultural suspicion of the government at large, according to one expert.
“My impression is, from my research, that there are many ultra-Orthodox Jews who are interested in alternative medical treatments, including chiropracting and vitamins,” said Ayala Fader, an associate professor of anthropology at Fordham University who has done extensive fieldwork in ultra-Orthodox communities in Brooklyn. “The language is not necessarily halachic, it’s more anxiety with the state — distrust of the state,” she said.
Additional reporting by Frimet Goldberger
Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter @joshnathankazis

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/205801/are-ultra-orthodox-turning-away-from-


Developing immunity:
The immune system recognizes vaccine agents as foreign, destroys them, and "remembers" them. When the virulent version of an agent is encountered, the body recognizes the protein coat on the virus, and thus is prepared to respond, by (1) neutralizing the target agent before it can enter cells, and (2) recognizing and destroying infected cells before that agent can multiply to vast numbers.
When two or more vaccines are mixed together in the same formulation, the two vaccines can interfere. This most frequently occurs with live attenuated vaccines, where one of the vaccine components is more robust than the others and suppresses the growth and immune response to the other components. This phenomenon was first noted in the trivalent Sabin polio vaccine, where the amount of serotype 2 virus in the vaccine had to be reduced to stop it from interfering with the "take" of the serotype 1 and 3 viruses in the vaccine.[20] This phenomenon has also been found to be a problem with the denguevaccines currently being researched,[when?] where the DEN-3 serotype was found to predominate and suppress the response to DEN-1, −2 and −4 serotypes.[21]
Vaccines have contributed to the eradication of smallpox, one of the most contagious and deadly diseases known to man. Other diseases such as rubella, polio, measles, mumps, chickenpox, and typhoid are nowhere near as common as they were a hundred years ago. As long as the vast majority of people are vaccinated, it is much more difficult for an outbreak of disease to occur, let alone spread. This effect is called herd immunity. Polio, which is transmitted only between humans, is targeted by an extensive eradication campaign that has seen endemic polio restricted to only parts of four countries (AfghanistanIndiaNigeria, and Pakistan).[22] The difficulty of reaching all children as well as cultural misunderstandings, however, have caused the anticipated eradication date to be missed several times.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hundreds at Event Against Abuse

Photos: Itzik Roytman
A standing-room only crowd packed Lubavitch Yeshiva in Crown Heights for a powerful event Monday to combat child abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community.
By COLlive reporter
Photos: Itzik Roytman

A standing-room only crowd of 800 packed into Lubavitch Yeshiva hall in Crown Heights Monday for a historic event to combat child abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community.

The "Night of Education and Awareness" organized by the Jewish Community Watch organization was a powerful and eye-opening event, which highlighted the effects of child abuse on its victims and educated participants about abusers.

Participants were called upon by MC Zvi Gluck, director of operations of Zaka International, to stand up and take action to prevent abuse against children, because "any precious soul that is lost is on the hands of those who did nothing to stop it."

Benny Forer, a Deputy District Attorney for LA County who is on the board of the Jewish Community Watch organization, related surprising facts about accusations against an alleged abuser.

"People say it's a 'he said, she said' situation, that one person makes an accusation and it ruins a life," he said. "Not true. There are many steps taken and extensive investigation" before anyone is arrested, he said, noting that only 20% of the cases in California are filed, while the rest are rejected for lack of evidence to prosecute.

Brooklyn's recently elected District Attorney Ken Thompson made an appearance, telling the crowd that he is "determined to keep everyone in Brooklyn safe, and treat everyone fairly - and protect all of our children."

An emotional speech was given by a young woman who is a survivor of abuse, who urged victims to remember, "it's not you who should be ashamed, but the animal who did this to you."

"It may take millions of tears, but you will survive," she said, to a standing ovation.

Renowned orator Rabbi YY Jacobson spoke passionately about the organization, saying that he attended the event to "ask forgiveness for the fact that so many of us have ignored, willingly or inadvertently, the silent cry of so many young beautiful souls whose lives have been affected, and sometimes shattered" by abuse.

Rabbi Jacobson implored victims not to remain silent any longer. "Speak up, we will not blame you," he said. "Speak up - you will be embraced. And you will be loved," he said.

Other speakers included Eli Nash, a survivor of abuse, psychologist Rabbi Benzion TwerskiYocheved Sidoff, founder of Lamplighters Yeshiva and Chaim Drizin, marriage and family therapist.

The event marked the relaunch of the organization, founded and directed by Meyer Seewald, after it halted operations a year ago due to lack of funding. A crowd-funding campaign in July helped raise $150,000 in 24 hours to cover a major portion of JCW’s annual budget enabling it to recommence its services. 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Of Batei Din, Girls Seminaries, Vulnerable People and the Internet, Part 6

Guest post by RaP

An urgent appeal to parents of frum girls in the English-speaking world:


Dear parents, you are being taken for the rides of your lives by the owners of seminaries in Israel who treat them as pure cash-cows rather than getting real jobs for themselves, and by unscrupulous rabbis who need to breed and brainwash innocent frum girls into thinking that they "need" to become ultra-frum zombies in order to marry and support full-time Torah learning boys which most of the girls will never do!

Think of this: Do your fellow frum parents in Israel ever dream of sending their daughters away from home to far away America, which surely lots of the girls would love as fully-paid one year vacations in American seminaries as some sort of "higher" preparation in life for some "higher" calling of getting to know the world in order to know how to better live in it?

Obviously NOT!!!

So why have you dear English-speaking parents fallen into this trap and craze of offering up your daughters on altars of tourism and fun-seeking, which is all that the year in Israel will amount to for your daughter at the end of the day, when the same type of parents like yourselves in Israel would never in a thousand years even dream in the middle of the night to pack up all their daughters as they graduate high school and ship them off the equal distance you do but in reverse, to America, where they could after all learn about the special Torah-lifestyle of American religious Jews which so many admire and speak so highly of in Israel?!

So you will say, there is the Kosel and the Kever Rochel over there! Great! But there is also big city life, traffic, shopping malls, and the same or better level of technology there. It's a concrete jungle like anywhere else. You think there aren't holy places and graves of holy people to visit in America? There are plenty of famous righteous roshei yeshiva and rebbes buried in America! There are plenty of holy sites in USA Jewish cities and cemeteries in New York, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles, etc!

What? All of a sudden Boro Park, Lakewood, Monroe, Monsey, Flatbush, Golders Green etc are not "holy" enough for you? You think Bnai Brak, Meah Shearim, Bayit Vegan, Har Nof etc are better for your daughter? Sure Eretz Yisrael is the true Holy Land. If it is so important then YOU go live there! When your daughter gets married let her move there with her husband as a couple. Why does she need to be there as a single girl as if in a movie of a "Roman Holiday" as if she was an "Audrey Hepburn" lehavdil having a ball!

You know why the Israeli parents don't send their daughters, or their sons, to learn in the good old USA??

 Because they are NOT  STUPID!! They are not idiots about money! Do you know what Israeli Charedi Jews of all kinds do for their daughters instead?? You know quite well if you think about it... they don't ship them off anywhere, they keep their precious blood and flesh virgins at home, but they do go about RAISING  MONEY  FROM  YOU to make sure they can buy a new apartment ("dira") for their daughter/s when she gets married, they raise and save money to make sure that the apartment/s their daughter's will live in soon enough as they get married at 17, 18 or 19, 20 the latest, will have furniture, linens, dishes, pots and pans and all the appliances like washing machines and ovens and refrigerators and all that's needed by a young newly-wed couple to get going in life. Most importantly they make sure that their daughters will be mentally and practically prepared for the hard chores and realities of marriage!!!

No chalomos only tachlis!

Not so you and your daughter as you prepare to send her off to Israel for a year. First you put your daughters' minds out of commission by getting them all hyped up about a fancy all-expenses-paid-year-vacation-and-tour in far off Israel. You spend your money on travel agents and tickets, on massive deposits and tuitions to the greedy and rapacious (in more than one sense) owners of the seminaries, you waste your money on buying your daughter fall wardrobes, winter wardrobes, and then for the spring and next summer, after all she cannot wear just two or three dresses that Yerushalmi girls wear because those Yerushalmi girls are neither spoiled nor stupid, they know that if their parents are smart and able they are saving every penny up to buy her an apartment that costs a few hundred thousand dollars in Israel.

Let's face it, any girl is at her physical prime when she turns 17, 18, 19. By the time she turns 20 she is already a young woman and no longer a child. Parents like yourself in Israel of frum girls KNOW this. They know that because for MARRIAGE to be the real goal it is important to get your daughter into shidduchim EARLIER and NOT later!! By you sending her off to Israel at 18, and prior to that at 17 she is already day-dreaming about going to Israel, then getting all that baloney stuffed into her brain when she is 18 or 19, she then comes home to the USA at 20 and is ready ...for...what?... exactly???

She needs another year to DE-PROGRAM from Israel if she can even do that. If she wants to stay on in Israel and make Aliyah then kol hakavod to her! But you won't let her, right?

So it's all a big tease for her and a self-made disaster for you! So let's say she spends her eighteenth or nineteenth year in Israel, which means she has to then spend her subsequent nineteenth or twentieth year depressurizing from the high she is on to get back to real life in America. During all this time she has taken herself out of the shidduch market when she could be using the best years of her life, with your help of course, to find her bashert, but because you have enabled her to become a high-roller she is not prepared for life or marriage. Her first "encounter" with life is that she got a one year vacation in Israel that is NOT a preparation for marriage, motherhood, running a home, facing childbirth and children, managing a budget, shopping and on top of that maybe even take a job.

So no wonder many girls fear marriage! They don't want the responsibilities of real-life in the real-world because they have been programmed for something else to be in space where all the idealism in the world doesn't help anyone run a day to day home with its regular humdrum routines.

 So no wonder so many girls are single, or in massive new numbers now they get divorced because they don't have a clue about marriage and real responsibility and self-sacrifice. And sadly many of their husbands, bochurim and singles in yeshivas are also clueless and spoiled by the unreality of their upbringing and lifestyle!

More and more of your daughters are opting to remain single and are not finding good dates, into their late 20s, 30s and even 40s, just read all the Jewish magazines like Mishpacha and AMI for all the stories about this stuff that everyone is shouting about but not solving! Some become lesbians (she may have been inducted into this by her "FRUM" girlfriends in the seminaries!), some drop out of formal Yiddishkeit and some, well it's just a nightmare that goes under the heading of "SHIDDUCH  CRISIS" and the related "OFF  THE  DERECH" (OTD) plague, all from good intentions by nice people like YOU who enabled it!

Before your daughter flies off to Israel on that shiny El Al plane, you will have to buy fancy new suitcases for the princess's trip to Israel, she can't travel or be seen with your or her old worn-out travel bags. She will then pack her bags with every last hairconditioner, shampoo, makeup, fancy lingerie, expensive shoes, stockings, and even lots of foods and toiletries that she has heard are not to be had in the Holy Land or are just too inferior for her royal highness's royal derriere! Can you imagine Israeli frum parents doing this for THEIR daughters? Never in a million years! All your Israeli counterparts and their daughters are thinking is "A dira (apartment), A dira, A dira" every penny must be saved for the Chasuna and the all important Dira!

What kind of preparation is it for life that your daughters start out with the expectation that you "owe" them a year in Israel for fun and games? What have they done to deserve this? And why do they deserve or need this year in Israel experience? Have you wasted all your tuition money on the twelve years of schooling your daughter should have had until now? What was missing from the chinuch and Torah education she received from her local bais yaakov and Jewish day school that she still "needs" a year in Israel? How come the same type of girls in Israel don't "need" or get or are entitled to a free year of study in America? Don't you get what a rip-off you are being subjected to?

Not just that but with the current sexual abuse scandal in the four seminaries owned by Elimelech Meisels a veil of lies and hypocrisy have been ripped from this whole seminary charade, that there are plenty of sexual predators and their enablers who own, man and prowl the seminaries. They can be anyone from the head honcho rabbi like Elimelech Meisels, his co-rabbis, his lady employees and even fellow-students who because they are under an evil spell become typical groupies as if they were in a "Charles Manson" cult and will at times join in the cult-leader's depravities, protect the cult-leader from outside accusations out of a sense of false loyalty, and cover up for him as if they were protecting a mafia don.

This is where you want to send your daughters?

And in Israel the people who run seminaries and "inspire" the girls are all ideological nut-jobs that would never get such jobs in the USA where parents can and should supervise their kids, and even then it's not failsafe, but if you are a good parent and your daughter lives at home and is loyal to you and the family you should be able to have a better handle to prevent and stop any trouble. If you can't do it at home, then oy, how will you do it or how will it get done five thousand plus miles away in far off  Seminaristan!

But you poor dear parents have become slaves to an idea that you do not need, that you do subscribe to really and that in the end works quickly against you as your daughter with her idealistic American energy and idealism is viewed as a lump of clay to be over-written and over-ridden (in other senses sometimes as well) and have her true personality erased and an artificial crazy persona installed that says like a dummy "I want a Kollel guy, I want a Kollel, I want a Kollel guy" as if she was now in need of life-support and an elixir of life. Just how crazy is that?

In case you think that the latest seminary scandal has died down, it has not, if anything it has moved into an even more serious phase as lawyers have gotten involved in addition to all the rabbis and dayanim and batei din. See this quote from recent correspondence that has been published on the Internet:

Chicago, IL
September 4, 2014

Re: Pninim, Binas Bais Yaakov, Chedvas Bais Yaakov, & Keser Chaya

Dear Aron Twersky  Esq: 

We write in response to the questions that you, as attorney for the seminaries identified above...Between mid-April and mid-May 2014, former students of seminaries associated with Elimelech Meisels...alleged, and subsequently testified before the Beis Din, that she had been the victim of inappropriate conduct including unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature, by Meisels.

The Beis Din then summoned Meisels to appear, which he did. Meisels ultimately confessed before the Beis Din to the victims allegations of misconduct. He also confessed to having engaged in other misconduct, and prepared...a list of multiple additional victims. Some of the misconduct to which he confessed constitutes to our understanding 'sexual violence' as that term is understood in the context of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ('Title IX'), 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.

The Beis Din also received evidence...that some staff members (i) were aware of both specific instances of misconduct and, more generally, gross violations of the norms of behavior in seminaries, and (ii) enabled this behavior by failing to take action to stop it...

Rabbi Gedalia Dov Shwartz
Senior Dayan
Touro College
Hebrew Theological College"

The above is just a small fraction from a lengthy four page letter that details the horrors of the four seminaries fiasco under (ha!) Elimelech Meisels!

These seminaries, and no doubt many if not all the others are actually more like stealthy hushed up frat houses and no better than a covert covered up coed dorm at secular colleges where there are NO real barriers between sexual interactions between the male and female students be it heterosexual or homosexual.

So please dear parents, think it over, and ask yourselves how you came to buy into such a destructive and sick system?

It's time to put the covert wild west culture of the Seminaristans out of action.

Build schools and programs for your daughters in your home cities! You can then sit on the board of directors. Watch your daughters' progress first hand. SAVE  MONEY FOR  WEDDINGS and APARTMENTS for your daughters LIKE  THE  ISRAELI  FRUM  PARENTS  DO (they're not stupid!) and get her to start dating earlier that will save her and you lots of years of tears and agony in the long run!


The road to hell is paved with good intentions !

Sunday, September 14, 2014

“I see vaccinations as the problem,” Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky told the Baltimore Jewish Times in a story published in late August. “It’s a hoax. Even the Salk [polio] vaccine is a hoax. It’s just big business.”

One of the country’s (most prominent?) ultra-Orthodox rabbis has condemned vaccines as a “hoax” in an interview with a local Jewish newspaper.

“I see vaccinations as the problem,” Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky told the Baltimore Jewish Times in a story published in late August. “It’s a hoax. Even the Salk [polio] vaccine is a hoax. It’s just big business.”

Kamenetzky argued that schools should not exclude unvaccinated students, as they currently do under public health laws. He also claimed that school janitors would be spreading disease if vaccines worked. “They are mostly Mexican and are unvaccinated,” the rabbi said. “If there was a problem, the children would already have gotten sick.”

Kamenetzky is dean of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia and a member of the rabbinical board that guides Agudath Israel of America, the leading ultra-Orthodox umbrella organization. He spoke at the umbrella group’s annual gala in May. His wife, Temi Kamenetzky, gives lectures opposing vaccines.

Other prominent opponents of childhood vaccinations include former Playboy Playmate and talk show host Jenny McCarthy and Alicia Silvertsone, star of the 1995 film “Clueless.” The Centers for Disease Control says there is no link between vaccines and the development of autism, one common fear.

While Kamenetzky’s opposition to vaccinations does not appear to be widespread among the ultra-Orthodox, he’s also not alone.

“It’s a matter of some contention, but that’s true of the broader society as well,” said Rabbi Dovid Zwiebel, executive director of Agudath Israel. “There is a small, but not insignificant, part of the populace that is persuaded that vaccination can be a dangerous thing… Some rabbis may be part of that population also.”

Zwiebel's group has not taken a position on vaccines.

A 2013 measles outbreak that sickened dozens in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Boro Park and Williamsburg was caused, in part, by ultra-Orthodox parents who had refused to vaccinate their children, according to an alert issued by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a senior faculty member at Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school and an expert on bioethics, said that some rabbinic sources argue that rabbis should not make medical decisions. 

“This is an area in which medicine has made such tremendous progress for the benefit of humanity,” Tendler said. “I believe that there may very well be rabbis who agree with Kamenetsky, but they are not speaking under their authority as rabbis, they are speaking simply as uninformed laymen... 

Read more:

Friday, September 12, 2014



In Hebrew Scripture, prophets often resist the divine call. Their prophetic job description is superhuman. They will be scorned and their message fiercely denounced by the very people they must reach. Indeed, prophets take upon themselves the full weight of shame and scandal they protest.

The Yiddish word shonda has this double meaning of a “shameful act” and the “public exposure of scandalous information,” as attorney Michael Lesher sets forth in his book, “Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities.”

Lesher has met adamant resistance to his work because of the unwelcome exposure it brings to his own people and to those rabbis who want their unquestioned power to dominate even secular government. But he accepts the prophetic mantle and insists “there can be no legitimate role for a rabbinic court in any sex abuse investigation.”

He argues passionately for the powerless, such as an Orthodox infant who died at three months in Israel because his young father took offense at a defect in the baby’s neck muscles. He bit, punched and threw his imperfect son against a wall. The father showed no remorse, rabbis declared him innocent, religious people paid for his defense, and ultra-Orthodox mobs rioted against the “bigotry” of civic authorities that deigned to judge one of their members.

In such a world, Lesher asks, what hope is there for children raped by Orthodox rabbis and teachers? With prosecutorial precision, he cites well-documented cases that expose the self-righteous façade of Jewish Orthodoxy from Jerusalem to New Jersey.

Lesher recognizes that civil authorities fear being charged with anti-Semitism, and the secular press tiptoes around the issue. He shows how an Orthodox-run nonprofit agency, working with Brooklyn’s politically motivated district attorney, systematically betrayed sex-abuse victims while sheltering their assailants.

Lesher writes that religious street patrols serve as enforcers: “Orthodox rabbis prefer their communities to be governed by a police force answerable to rabbinic rather than municipal authority.”

Anyone familiar with child sex-abuse cases will recognize the knee-jerk defense strategy of blaming “scorned wives and dysfunctional children.”

Lesher shows the added dimension of religious mind-control so absolute that “no Jew raised in the rabbinic tradition” would consider “acting as an individual in any matter whatsoever.”

Under Orthodox law, if a Jew threatens to inform on another Jew to gentile authorities, the whole community must use force, even deadly force, to prevent that betrayal.

Lesher notes that youth have been empowered by the Internet and are daring to protest sex abuse on blogs such as “TheUnorthodoxJew.Blogspot.com” He dedicates his compelling plea to his own children with a blessing: “May you contribute to a wiser and better world.”


Unorthodox-Jew A Critical View of Orthodox Judaism: "Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities is a call to all charged with protecting children from abuse to refuse to appease powerful rabbis who try to prevent child sexual abuse cases from being reported and investigated."


Anne Grant (ParentingProject@verizon.net), a retired pastor, was executive director of the Women’s Center of Rhode Island and writes about public policies that harm victims of abuse.