Friday, October 09, 2015

Nisht Oif Shabbos Geredt! The Tendler Curse In Colors! “The Cosby Accusers Speak” to air Friday, Oct. 9 at 9 p.m. ET

“The Cosby Accusers Speak” to air Friday, Oct. 9 at 9 p.m. ET

27 women who’ve accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them will speak exclusively to NBC News on Friday.

The “Dateline” special, “The Cosby Accusers Speak,” will feature women–all with similar stories of abuse–speaking with Kate Snow about their “personal recollections of assault, betrayal, and emotional distress.”

“This body of women are moving the needle,” Beverly Johnson told NBC. “Not much. But we’re still moving it…and that’s the power we all feel.”

Eden Tirl spoke about the insanity of critics suggesting the women invented their accusations.
“It’s insane that people actually think that any of us would’ve got – come together to bring down some celebrity whose celebrity has already started to fade long before we came forward. We came forward to say we’re using our voices to say this isn’t ok.”

The accusers range from age 46 to 80 and will respond to skepticism about their allegations and Cosby’s legal team’s denial of their claims.
Their stories span five decades but all start with the similar theme of Cosby mentoring them before taking advantage.

Dateline’s “The Cosby Accusers Speak” airs on Friday, Oct. 9 at 9 p.m. ET

Thursday, October 08, 2015

"The study involved 79 monkeys"....Wrong monkeys guys!

Anti-Vaxx Group Wants to Know Why Study They Funded Shows No Link Between Vaccines and Autism

Anti-Vaxx Group Wants to Know Why Study They Funded Shows No Link Between Vaccines and Autism 

There are two things that non-profit group Safe Minds—committed to “ending the autism epidemic”—doesn’t understand: First, that there is absolutely no link between vaccines and autism. Second, how research works. 

I  Love Science reports that the group just put out a statement discrediting a recent study they funded that, once again, shows that there’s no link between autism and vaccination. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is the result of six years of research focusing on whether giving baby monkeys vaccines results in the development of “autism-like behavior or neuropathology.”
The study...involved 79 infant monkeys in six groups. Two groups were given thimerosal-containing vaccines. Thimerosal is an antiseptic and antifungal agent that was frequently used in vaccinations until it was removed in the U.S from vaccines given to children in the 90s, and is frequently cited by anti-vaxxers as a cause for autism. The next two groups were given the MMR vaccine (also claimed to cause autism) without thimerosal, and the final two were given saline injections as a control.
And here’s what the study found:
No behavioral changes were observed in the vaccinated animals, nor were there neuropathological changes in the cerebellum, hippocampus, or amygdala. This study does not support the hypothesis that thimerosal-containing vaccines and/or the MMR vaccine play a role in the etiology of autism.
Now, this is great news for parents who were considering not vaccinating their kids because it’s even more data that shows that foregoing necessary vaccinations is dumb as f*** and puts both the non-vaccinated kid and the people around them in danger. But if you’re running a group predicated on the notion that vaccines are bad, you’re probably not going to be as pleased with the results. And Safe Minds isn’t. In fact, they want to know exactly what happened and why the study they funded didn’t give them the results that they wanted. 

This is the statement that Safe Minds put out when asked about how much they paid to help fund the study:
“The epidemic of autism is expected to cost the country $1 trillion by 2025 if prevalence trends continue. In a recent study, over 40 percent of parents agree or strongly agree that vaccines played a part in the development of their children’s autism. The vaccine primate study in question consisted of multiple phases. The initial phase found a series of negative effects in infant reflexes and brain growth among those exposed to vaccines. The second, recent phase purported to find no effect. SafeMinds has concerns about changes in the study design protocol and analysis that may have led to these contradictory results. We are in the process of collecting and reviewing additional information regarding this study.”
Some other things that people agree on, based on research that questions individuals on things they know nothing about but have opinions on anyway: leaving kids unattended in cars is fine, spanking is gr8, and single moms suck. (That last one wasn’t limited to parents, but it’s a good reminder that just asking people what they think is a useless exercise which reminds us that nothing in the world is good.)

Safe minds is upset about two things. They claim that the final results of the study are contradictory to what they initially believed them to be—which is a thing that happens fairly often— even though they claim they had no “preconceived notions” going into the research. They also claim that the part of the research they funded never actually happened. Now they want a reanalysis of the data, even though the authors of the study assert that all the information had been given to an independent statistical consultant. (But, like, not the right one or something, according to Safe Minds.) It’s also important to note that while Safe Minds was in no way duped, IFSL points out that the data they initially received was preliminary and resulted from a “much smaller trial” which was then expanded and held to more rigorous scientific standards. 

What does this mean for the general public while Safe Minds gets all its information together and then tries to present a case against the study? Vaccines still don’t and never have caused autism. Sorry.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Obama administration has been a repository for Jew-hatred for years. No wonder they’re happy to lay blame for dead Jews on live Jews rather than on the Jew-hating pieces of human filth that murdered them, and the leadership that inspired those murderers....

Jew-Hating Obama Administration Blames Israel For Palestinian Murder Spree

Murdered Israeli Jew

On Saturday night, a Palestinian terrorist joined the latest murder spree against Jews in Israel by stabbing to death two Israelis to death, stabbing and wounding one of the men’s wife, then shooting and wounding the couple’s two-year-old daughter in Jerusalem. The Israeli police shot and killed the murderer. The same night, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli teen in Jerusalem as well. Israeli police shot and killed that would-be murderer, too.

Naturally, the Palestinian Authority came out and condemned the Israeli police, labeling the terrorists “young men.” PA spokesman Ihab Bseiso explained, “The only solution is the end of the Israeli occupation of our occupied Palestinian land and the establishment of our independent state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”

The incident coordinated beautifully with other Palestinian rock-throwing attacks throughout Jerusalem, and followed Palestinian Authority dictator Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement last week that he no longer felt bound to any agreement signed with the Israelis. That announcement effectively placed the PA in a state of war with Israel.

The Palestinians can do whatever they want so long as President Obama retains power, thanks to his default position: when in doubt, tacitly side with successful and would-be Jew-murderers.
The day after Abbas announcement, the Fatah wing of the Palestinian Authority – the supposed “moderate” Palestinian Authority rulers of large swaths of Judea and Samaria, led by Mahmoud Abbas and endorsed by President Obama – claimed responsibility for the brutal slaying of a young civilian Israeli couple who committed the crime of driving while Jewish in their homeland. Eitam Henkin, a doctoral student at Tel-Aviv University, and his wife Na’ama, were slain in front of four of their children.

 The murders were just the latest in a heavy spate of slaying by Palestinian terrorists over the summer, celebrated by both the PA and Hamas.

No wonder the Palestinian Jew-haters are on the move. As reported last week, President Obama apparently rejected Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) desperate request to include a provision negating any unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood at the United Nations in the Iran deal rollout. The Palestinians can do whatever they want so long as President Obama retains power, thanks to his default position: when in doubt, tacitly side with successful and would-be Jew-murderers.

That trend continued after Saturday’s shooting of a toddler and stabbings to death of Jews in Jerusalem: the Obama administration promptly blamed both sides. Here was the pathetic, morally disgusting statement from the anti-Semitic Obama State Department:

The United States strongly condemns all acts of violence, including the tragic stabbing in the Old City of Jerusalem today that left two victims dead and two injured. We call for all perpetrators of violence to be swiftly brought to justice.

So far, so good. But the Obama administration then blamed Israel for the violence:

We are very concerned about mounting tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem, including the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount, and call on all sides to take affirmatives steps to restore calm and avoid escalating the situation.

Escalating the situation? By shooting people who kill Jews? As for the “mounting tensions” surrounding the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount, that would be a reference to Jews who want to visit the Temple Mount being allowed to do so, and the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas pushing religious war in response:

Al-Aqsa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.

But “cycle of violence” and all that.

The Obama administration has been a repository for Jew-hatred for years. No wonder they’re happy to lay blame for dead Jews on live Jews rather than on the Jew-hating pieces of human filth that murdered them, and the leadership that inspired those murderers.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Chag Sameach

תּוֹרַת ה' תְּמִימָה, מְשִׁיבַת נָפֶשׁ, עֵדוּת ה' נֶאֱמָנָה, מַחְכִּימַת פֶּתִי

"The Torah of Hashem is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of Hashem is trustworthy, making the simple one wise." (Tehillim 19:8-Pesukei D'zimra for Shabbos/Yom Tov)

Friday, October 02, 2015

‘Why don’t you run pictures of women? I want my daughter to have role models in life. I want her to see that women can achieve great things.’ ” Friedman added sadly: “For these women I don’t have a good answer.” ...

For ultra-Orthodox newspapers, women and the Web present growing challenges...... 


“You open the Gannett paper and you find they are mocking you. They say you are an idiot.”... Well you are Pinny!

The biggest nightmare the country’s major ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers and magazines face these days is that Hillary Clinton will be elected president. It’s not just her politics that worries these publications, although they are far to the right of Clinton on most issues. More troublesome is her gender. For reasons of tradition and modesty, and in line with some interpretations of Jewish law, the ultra-Orthodox publications do not run pictures of women in their pages. When they publish articles about Clinton, they are likely to run images of her campaign posters, a picture of her house in Chappaqua, NY, or a photo of her husband, Bill.

Occasionally, they will run a caricature of Hillary Clinton from a political cartoon, but not a photo.

It was one thing to avoid printing Clinton’s picture when she was First Lady or a United States senator, or even Secretary of State. But how can you not show the President of the United States?

In interviews, the editors of four major English-language ultra-Orthodox publications, three of them published in New York and one in Jerusalem, said that they are reevaluating their no-women policy in light of the Clinton candidacy, but would not make any final decisions alone. As with all important decisions, they will take the question to the boards of rabbinical advisors with whom final authority over the publications’ content rests. One of the editors, a rabbi himself, said that a Clinton victory could spell a change in the longstanding no-women policy in his paper and the others. “I think we’re going to have to rethink it,” Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter, the executive editor of Ami Magazine, told me. Not to do so, he said, “would be disrespectful.”

A September 9 issue of the Brooklyn-based daily newspaper Hamodia features a lineup of male presidential candidates. To the right, candidate Hillary Clinton appears not in a photo but in an unflattering caricature.
The renewed discussion about women in these newspapers is a sign of the resistance to change in the isolated world of ultra-Orthodox journalism in the United States. Many of these publications are in Hebrew and Yiddish, but those most attuned to the shifting landscape are the four major English-language newspapers and magazines: Ami (“my people”), Hamodia (“the informer”), Mishpacha (“family”), and Yated Neeman (“the faithful peg,” a reference to Isaiah 22:23, where the prophet speaks of placing a divine servant as a “peg in a sure place.”) Taken together, these four publications have a circulation of about 100,000. Their mission, their editors say, is to provide “kosher news” for their readers, who, as strictly observant Jews, are decidedly counter-cultural. The papers do not print articles about celebrities, avoid gossip, and steer clear of scandals and references to sex. You won’t read here about Caitlin Jenner, Bill Cosby, Miley Cyrus, or the latest crush on American Idol.

It is a formula that is working. While mainstream print journalism has been in a downward spiral over the last 20 years, these publications have been experiencing a growth spurt in both number and circulation, in part because the internet—the very thing that has been killing traditional print journalism—is viewed with great suspicion by the ultra-Orthodox, who try to severely limit its use. In fact, there is one day, the Jewish Sabbath, when Orthodox Jews do not use computers at all—not for work, not for commerce, and not for pleasure. Among the ultra-Orthodox, the internet is seen as a dangerous and intrusive force whose use must be carefully monitored, even during the other six days of the week. Many ultra-Orthodox have “kosher filters” on their computers and cell phones that help them stave off what they see as negative influences of the outside world. Newspapers aren’t just a luxury; in this community, as in so many others before the advent of digital news, they are a necessity.

“I don’t think we’d survive one day without Shabbes,” Rabbi Frankfurter told me, using the Yiddish word for the Sabbath.

There are, of course, also contradictions and surprises in this world of Orthodox journalism. One is that even though they won’t run photos of women, the papers are largely run by women, who by and large have stronger secular educations than ultra-Orthodox men. The publisher of Hamodia, for example, is Ruth Lichtenstein whose father, a rabbi, edited a Hebrew version of the paper in Israel in the 1950’s. Mrs. Lichtenstein founded the English language version in Brooklyn in 1998.

Lichtenstein runs the paper out of an office whose walls are adorned with portraits of her father and other bearded ancestor involved in ultra-Orthodox journalism. At the start of our interview, she turned to the wall and indicated her reverence for these men, saying, “I always say I have to give a report.” Like the character in the old Hebrew National commercial, she claims to answer to a higher authority.

Hamodia publisher Ruth Lichtenstein speaks last spring at Sinai Indaba, an annual Torah convention.

“It’s hard to be a publisher,” she tells me. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man. In every generation there are challenges. I continue under sometimes impossible circumstances because of the tradition I preserve.”

When I asked her about women, she said excluding them in photos was a matter of modesty. “Purity and modesty are natural to women, not public exposure,” she said. “It is unfortunate that modern times deny women this precious quality and instead turn them into objects.” She said that the paper’s policy not to publish women’s photos comes out of “respect for women’s rights for privacy and modesty.”

“We are backed by thousands of years of Jewish tradition,” she added. “We do not compromise our values.”

But even as she adheres to tradition, change is in the air. The publications have stepped gingerly into the digital age. They all have Websites, but these are more akin to mainstream newspaper Websites 10 or 15 years ago than today. They do not have a presence on Facebook or Twitter, and they do not enable readers to comment outside of traditional letters to the editor.

Yated Ne’eman, which can run over 100 pages a week, has only four or five articles on its homepage. It is primarily a place for visitors to subscribe to the print edition, promising readers $30 off a two-year subscription. Ami’s website has only headlines and pictures—and a paywall. “To get the rest of this article, please buy this issue or subscribe to Ami,” the site says.

Until recently, Hamodia’s website only offered readers the opportunity to “browse today’s print edition.” The paper now has a proper home page, but it is just an online version of the print paper. It is updated once a day.

When I first sat down with Lichtenstein in July, she told me that she was on the cusp of a big announcement about Hamodia’s website, rolling out a new product that would be updated “24/6,” the code that Orthodox use for full-time, minus the Sabbath. But the announcement still hasn’t come. “We’re not quite ready,” she said. But she assured me that it is going to happen in the near future.

She’s not alone in her hesitation. A year ago, one of the editors of Mishpacha, Eytan Kobre, was told to “drop everything” and come to Israel for an urgent meeting on rolling out an online edition, he told me. “I arrived and they changed their minds,” he said. “Nothing happened.” Like the other papers, Mishpacha has a website, but it’s mostly meant to attract print subscribers.

The only difference between The New York Times and us is that we make money.”

In the meantime, the ultra-Orthodox papers continue to write and publish the old fashioned way, mostly on paper, and with their old fashioned values. The way they covered this summer’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage is a good example. Rabbi Frankfurter’s Ami ignored it altogether, as if it never happened. Hamodia, the only daily among them, reported that the court “legalized the recognition of immorality.” Mishpacha, the only one based in Jerusalem, spoke of “same gender coupling,” thus avoiding the words “sex” and “marriage”; and Yated Ne’eman simply said that the court “redefined marriage.”

These publications invest heavily in their paper editions, which are beautifully done, often with glossy magazine supplements that include vivid color, professional photographs (many of food), and smart graphics. (A feature in Mishpacha, called “Day in the Life,” runs with arrows, dates, and photographs of ultra-Orthodox Jews with unusual professions, including a hypnotherapist.) There are opinion columns, Torah lessons, motivational stories, and even classified ads for apartments, cars, jobs, and matchmakers.

The papers are also carefully copy edited, something of a dying art at many mainstream publications. And they continue to attract advertisers who have few other ways of reaching their core readership. They are thick with ads for kosher food, vacations in Israel, Jewish schools, modest clothing, sacred texts, and fundraising pitches for a variety of charities and organizations. They have a healthy mix of subscription and newsstand sales.

There are an estimated 500,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews in the United States, according to Dr. Pearl Beck, a demographer with Ukeles Associates, Inc. She based the figure on a 2011 UJA-Federation survey that counted 336,000 in the New York area alone. The ultra-Orthodox make up 22 percent of New York area Jews and roughly 10 percent of Jews nationwide. New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Miami, and Chicago are among the major cities where they live (and where these publications circulate). You can find these papers in kosher megastores in all these cities, like Seasons, Brach’s, Pomegranate, and EverGreen.

The combined circulation of the four publications is probably less than 100,000 but the editors say that readership is many times that number for two essential reasons: Orthodox Jews tend to have large families, and they have one day, the Jewish Sabbath, when they devote much of the day to reading. “Our readers spend hours and hours of time relaxing and rejuvenating with family,” said Shoshana Friedman, the editor of Mishpacha, a weekly that comes in three sections, one that has news and feature articles, a second for women (called “Family First”), and a third for children (simply called “Jr.” that also includes “Teen Pages”). In addition to news and features, there are serialized works of fiction, like the melodramatic “Flashback,” which runs episodically in Mishpacha. According to the summary of one recent installment: “Michal’s effort to get Ashi to talk about his relationship with his deceased father is only partially successful; Ashi reveals that it’s a painful subject but he promises he will never be like his father.”

“We like to think there is something for everyone,” said Friedman. “That’s people’s entertainment on Shabbes.”

Indeed, the publications serve many purposes that secular papers don’t. “We’re not into journalism per se,” said Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz, the editor of Yated Ne’eman, which he publishes out of his commodious home in Monsey, a hamlet in Rockland County, N.Y., with many synagogues, kosher restaurants, both meat and dairy, and Jewish schools. “We’re into education and making people better Jews. The newspaper is our vehicle.”

There is also a community-building aspect to these publications. During times of tragedy, such as the freak Friday night fire that took the lives of seven children from a Brooklyn family in March, the publications rallied around the surviving family members. They raised money for the family, and published fire safety precautions to warn others.

“I’m proud of what we produce,” Rabbi Lipschutz said pointing to that week’s issue of the paper. He flipped it over. “One hundred and sixty-four pages, plus our magazine, which is another 56 pages.”

Like the other editors, Rabbi Lipschutz did not criticize his ultra-Orthodox competitors, but he did take a swipe at the local general interest newspaper, The Journal News, which he said is filled with celebrity news and other frivolous content. “You open the Gannett paper and you find they are mocking you. They say you are an idiot.”

At the same time, he admires The New York Times. On the day I visited, a well-read copy lay on his desk. He called it his “Bible.” “I read it every day,” he told me.

Some ultra-Orthodox criticize the Times for what they see as unfairness to Israel, but Lipschutz was more worried about what he views as its lavish expenditures. “It took three people to write that story on Greece?” he said pointing to the front page. “The only difference between The New York Times and us,” he said with a smile, “is that we make money.”

Yated Ne’eman, which Lipschutz founded in 1987, has a full-time staff of three; about a half dozen others come in on production days. It gets the bulk of its international news from JNS.org, a free news service that is an arm of Israel Today, a free daily newspaper in Israel owned by Sheldon Adelson, the American philanthropist and Las Vegas casino magnate. Israel Today, like the ultra-Orthodox papers, is unquestioning in its support of the right-leaning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Instead of movie stars, supermodels and sports figures, Yated and the other papers run photo after photo of bearded rabbis. In their columns, the rabbis answer readers’ questions about Jewish practice, education, personal interaction, and matrimony. “How do I get my husband to stop smoking?” one reader asked. “How do I get better results for my children from the matchmaker?” wondered another.

Purity and modesty are natural to women, not public exposure. It is unfortunate that modern times deny women this precious quality and instead turn them into objects.”

Hamodia, which publishes Monday to Friday, has more news, much of it taken from the Associated Press and Reuters, with an occasional bylined story from Israel. Its biggest paper of the week is distributed on Wednesdays, with a special women’s section, a weekly magazine, and a children’s supplement. And like Mishpacha, it runs serialized fiction.

All of the editors said that the practice of not using women’s photographs started with the Israeli papers, which set the standard. Most of them said that the vast majority of their subscribers read other publications with pictures of women, but that they declined to use women’s pictures out of fear of alienating the more observant segment of their readership.

This leads to curious situations. For example, this summer Mishpacha had a cover story on Rachelle Frankel, the mother of one of three teenage boys murdered last summer in Israel, a killing that was part of the lead-up to the war in Gaza. The article talks about how Mrs. Frankel emerged as a spokeswoman for the bereaved and quotes her extensively. However, there are no photos of her or the other mothers; the only pictures are of her son and his fellow victims.

The women’s issue made headlines in 2011, when a Yiddish newspaper that serves the ultra-Orthodox community, Di Tzeitung, published in Brooklyn, digitally removed Mrs. Clinton from a picture of the White House situation room on the night of the military operation that assassinated Osama bin Laden. The English-language papers did not use Photoshop, but one of them, Ami, cropped her out of the picture. The picture the paper ran included the President, the Vice President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the White House Chief of Staff, but not the Secretary of State.

While the editor of Di Tzeitung apologized for manipulating a White House photo, which is a violation of the licensing agreements, Rabbi Frankfurter of Ami defended his stance, saying that cropping is “done routinely by most papers and magazines.”

The ultra-Orthodox papers also managed to artfully crop Prime Minister Angela Merkel out of a picture of the huge rally in Paris after the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.

But continually cropping out President Hillary Clinton might prove too much even for Rabbi Frankfurter. “We would be locking ourselves out of a lot of opportunities,” he said. “We couldn’t even run photos of the White House Hanukkah party.”

Members of the ultra-Orthodox community said that they saw no contradiction in the fact that the papers will not print photos of women, yet many of them are run by women. In the ultra-Orthodox world, women are often administrators who make things happen behind the scenes. Men put their energies elsewhere.

“Men are focused on Torah study,” explained Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesman for the Agudath Israel of America, an ultra-Orthodox group, who has written columns and articles for many of the papers. “The highest ideal is for full-time Torah study.”

He acknowledged that women get a better secular education and tend to be better readers and writers in English. Both Friedman of Mishpacha and Lichtenstein of Hamodia went to college. Rabbis Frankfurter and Lipschutz, both of whom graduated from prominent rabbinical seminaries, went only as far as high school in their secular education.

Friedman, who at 36 is the youngest of the editors I interviewed, said that being a woman editor who doesn’t run photos of women sometimes puts her in an uncomfortable position. “Every now and then, I get a letter from a reader who asks, ‘Why don’t you run pictures of women? I want my daughter to have role models in life. I want her to see that women can achieve great things.’ ”

Friedman added sadly: “For these women I don’t have a good answer.”


Thursday, October 01, 2015

Naked conversations about faith?

Shame on the Riverdale Jewish Center for Backing Immoral Rabbi Who Mentored Young Boys in the Nude

RJC Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, who admits to having been naked with boys in his congregation. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

 Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, who admits to having taken steam baths with boys in his congregation. 

Imagine being a congregant at the Riverdale Jewish Center (RJC) during the High Holidays, and listening to a sermon from the synagogue’s senior rabbi, Jonathan Rosenblatt — a man who admittedly has taken steam baths naked with young male congregants for many years.

On Yom Kippur, Jews explore the Biblical story of Jonah, and aim to understand our lives and consider our purpose in this world. Curiously, right before we read Jonah, we read the Torah portion advising us to avoid immoral relationships.

Yet, the board that employs Rosenblatt – and the people who remain members of the congregation – are endorsing his immoral relationships and behavior. Could anyone have kept a straight face when he lectured on ethics and morality on Yom Kippur?

It has been reported that a large number of congregants of the 600-family, modern-Orthodox synagogue have broken off to form a new service a few blocks away, in protest of Rosenblatt remaining in place.

Those who still remain and support Rosenblatt should re-read and reflect on the prayers they uttered on Yom Kippur. The New York Times has stated that Rosenblatt “showered beside [the young men] and took them into the sauna, where — often naked, and with them often naked — he engaged the boys in searching conversations about their lives, problems and faith.”

Naked conversations about faith?

As far as I’m aware, Rosenblatt does not deny the charges or proclaim his innocence in this matter, which involves many children, some allegedly as young as 12. Members of the board say the situation has been “overblown;” undoubtedly, none of their own children participated in the sessions. And how many would allow their kids to be mentored by this rabbi?

That he was not asked to resign is both shameful and a sin. Its criminality is a different matter. Indeed, after a thorough investigation, the district attorney concluded that Rosenblatt did not violate the law. But this does not mean that he is morally or ethically innocent — something we all expect from our rabbis.

No matter how much Torah is being taught or learned at the RJC these days, there is no holiness in a place that determines that a rabbi whose guidance to boys includes being naked with them was not engaged in any “misconduct.”

In the court of public opinion, and in the eyes of those who once looked to him for inspiration and leadership, he is guilty of severe misconduct.

The RJC board and its president, Samson Fine, bear the brunt of responsibility for continuing to employ such a desecrater of God’s name.

“For the sin which we have committed before You with immorality; For the sin which we have committed before You by using coercion; And for the sin which we have committed before You with impudence…,” Rosenblatt must goEvery sane member of the synagogue must walk out every time its rabbi opens his mouth.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

In his memoirs Isser Harel noted that it was easier for Mossad agents to infiltrate Eichmann’s Nazi circle in Argentina than it was to infiltrate Haredi communities....

In 1960, a young Israeli boy, Yossele Schumacher, was abducted by his Orthodox grandparents and hidden from his secular parents and the Israeli authorities. Within a few weeks all Israelis knew of the case. The press widely publicized the story, and the Knesset debated its implications. The Israeli police avidly sought the 8-year-old boy and searched every Orthodox community in Israel for him. His epic would last until, and beyond, a milestone event celebrated 50 years ago this month.

Yossele’s grandparents were recent immigrants to Israel from the town of Uman in the Soviet Union, and unlike the great majority of their Russian co-religionists, they had kept alive the Hasidic traditions of their forebears. Members of the Breslov sect of Hasidim, they were determined to bring their grandson up in that Hasidic tradition. The boy’s parents, however, had settled in a secular kibbutz, and they strenuously objected to the grandparents’ plans for their son. The grandfather, Rabbi Nachman Shtarkes, asked his ultra-Orthodox associates to hide Yossele, his daughter’s son. This they had managed to do for a brief period by moving him from place to place within Israel’s Orthodox enclaves. Now with the Israeli police frantically searching for Yossele, Rabbi Shtarkes and his supporters sought to smuggle the boy out of the country. For both the ultra-Orthodox factions and the Israeli government, the stakes were high. The ultra-Orthodox—and especially the Neturei Karta, the most extreme of the anti-Zionists—were convinced that returning Yossele to his parents was part of a nefarious government plot to secularize as many Orthodox children as possible. Orthodox leaders had made similar accusations about the children of Yemenite and Moroccan immigrants. The Israeli government saw the hiding of Yossele as a direct challenge to its authority to govern all factions of the state’s varied religious mosaic.

Determined to smuggle Yossele out of the country, his abductors were faced with a serious problem. Who in the small Haredi community of that period would have the expertise and documents necessary to smuggle a young child to another country?

In what must have seemed to some Haredim an act of divine intervention a woman appeared on the ultra-Orthodox scene who would be willing and able to spirit Yossele to safety. This was Ruth Ben David, whose given name was Madeleine Feraille. She was a 40-year-old French woman with a story remarkable even in Israel, a state with many remarkable post-WWII stories. At 20 she had served in the French Resistance. She later raised her son Claude on her own, had managed an import-export firm, and had attended graduate schools in both France and Switzerland. And in the early 1950s, after a long and arduous spiritual journey, she converted to Judaism.

Yet within a few years, Ben David became convinced that the political and cultural ideas dominant among Israeli Jews were a betrayal of the Jewish tradition. She described Zionism as “the thesis that nationalism should replace the Torah as the basis of the Jewish people” and condemned the Zionist movement as “a calamitous mistake.” Israel, in her eyes, was “a mundane, materialistic, secular culture.” Having decided to live in Jerusalem, Ben David was dismayed to find that the state’s presentation of Jewish Jerusalem was decidedly secular in character. She wrote that “for the purpose of tourism, the government of Israel does not refrain from calling their part of Jerusalem ‘the Holy City,’ though they do not themselves believe in any holiness.”

But joining the Haredim as single woman was not a very practical move. With no employment prospects before her, and with her son Uriel to support, Ben David was dependent on her new religious community. In France she had been an independent woman. Now she was joining a community in which women had little agency, power, or influence. Her new community’s ideology was one of resistance to modernity, including resistance to the emancipation of women. How would that community assimilate a thoroughly modern woman?

Ben David’s mentor in the Neturei Karta, Rabbi Abraham Elie Maizes, was keenly aware of Ben David’s dilemma—and of the ultra-Orthodox community’s dilemma in its face-off with the Israeli authorities. He summoned her to his study in Jerusalem. Ben David was immediately brought into the community’s highest level of power and authority. Asked to participate in a conspiracy, one that seemed tailor-made for her, she was, in a sense, treated like a man, and a worldly, capable, man at that.

In her memoirs Ben David recalled that while sitting in Rabbi Maizes’ office and waiting for him to describe her task, she “became progressively more convinced that something of the greatest importance, something fateful, was under way.” The rabbi appealed to Ben David’s sense of destiny, telling her that “there is a great mitzvah before you, and as I see it, only you can carry this through.”

As the task was explained to her, Ben David was at first shocked and then exhilarated. Rabbi Maizes told Ben David that her experience in the French Resistance, her knowledge of European languages, and her commitment to ultra-Orthodox Judaism, made her the ideal person to smuggle Yossele out of Israel and “save” him, and hence many other children, from secularism. Only through her actions could “Torah-true Judaism” resist the secular power of the state.

Rabbi Maizes, who had survived both the Nazi and Communist regimes with his religious faith intact, saw Israeli secularism as yet another historical threat to the Jewish tradition. In his view, Israeli government threats to Jewish religious life had to be resisted with zeal and subterfuge. A Jewish government that persecuted Orthodox Jews was no different from a Fascist or Communist government. It was in fact worse. For it was violating the oath that the Jewish people were not to “rebel against the nations” and take action toward their own political independence.

When Ben David spoke of the logistical difficulties she foresaw, Rabbi Maizes invoked destiny and the will of God. “I do not know which means you will find, but I know that you are the one destined to do this. God has led you up till now on your long way. He will lead you and the child. You act, and we all shall pray for you.” As the result of this interview, Ben David became embroiled in the “Yossele Affair” of 1960 to 1962.

The Israeli authorities saw the refusal to hand over Yossele Schumacher as a serious challenge to the authority of the state, and it was determined to find him. In 1960 Israel’s Supreme Court decided in favor of Yossele’s parents and ordered Rabbi Shtarkes to hand over the boy. Yossele’s grandfather refused and was jailed. Soon Ruth Ben David found herself pitted against Israel’s much-vaunted security and intelligence services.

It was easier for Mossad agents to infiltrate Eichmann’s Nazi circle in Argentina than it was to infiltrate Haredi communities
The Shin Bet, the internal security services, searched for Yossele in Orthodox neighborhoods, villages, and kibbutzim. But they searched in vain. And the Shin Bet’s operatives were mocked by those whose houses were searched. Yossele, it was soon assumed, must have been smuggled out of the country; he was nowhere to be found. During their searches for the boy, the police and army were taunted by groups of children singing the words “Where is Yossele?” set to a popular Hasidic niggun.

Prime Minister David Ben Gurion then turned to the Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence agency. In 1960 its operatives had captured Adolph Eichmann and brought him to trial in Jerusalem. In 1962, after Eichmann had been brought to trial, Israel’s prime minister reasoned that it was a small matter for the Mossad to find a missing Jewish child. There were a limited number of ultra-Orthodox communities throughout the world. Surely Israel’s spies could infiltrate one of them and find out where Yossele was hidden.

In committing herself to the Neturei Karta cause and agreeing to smuggle Yossele out of Israel, Ben David also involved her son Uriel in the conspiracy. Uriel was 20 years old at the time, and having spent years at Orthodox yeshivot was eager to help his mother smuggle the boy out of the country. And according to Ben David’s account of the case, Yossele himself was eager to cooperate in his own disappearance. “This 8-year-old boy was already a little man, gifted with intelligence and a will above his age. He understood very well what was going on, and he knowingly participated in the fight for his faith.” According to Ben David’s account, Yossele told her, “I don’t want to be with my parents, who don’t want to let me stay with them anymore. They don’t want me to be a proper Jew.”

As she later explained it the essence of the plan was for Ben David “to bring Yossele unnoticed out of Israel by having ostensibly brought with me a daughter when entering the country with whom I would then quite naturally and quite obviously be taking out when I left.”

Ben David took Yossele out of Israel in June of 1960. In the meantime, the Israeli police continued to search for him. A year later, the boy was still missing. Rabbi Nachman Shtarkes, his grandfather, had been released from jail, and the government of Israel seemed impotent in the face of ultra-Orthodox defiance. The prime minister voiced fears that a rebellion by religious fanatics was a distinct possibility. He again urged Isser Harel, head of the Mossad, to ramp up the search for the boy.

But Harel’s agents, some of whom had participated in the kidnapping of Eichmann two years earlier, were unable to infiltrate those ultra-Orthodox communities suspected of harboring Yossele. When Mossad agents attended religious services in these communities they were quickly identified. The Mossad had no agents who had mastered the intricacies and nuances of Orthodox Jewish law and custom. When discovered, these agents were summarily and angrily ejected from the synagogues and study halls. In his memoirs Isser Harel noted that it was easier for Mossad agents to infiltrate Eichmann’s Nazi circle in Argentina than it was to infiltrate Haredi communities.

And where was Yossele while the Mossad was searching for him? Ben David had taken Yossele, disguised as a girl, to Switzerland and enrolled him in a yeshiva there. As she saw it, Yossele’s best chance for concealment was among other young ultra-Orthodox boys. And his disguise when traveling was as a girl, her daughter “Claudine,” named, of course, after her own son Claude (now Uriel). The plan had the added benefit of continuing Yossele’s religious education and strengthening his ultra-Orthodox identity. When word came to her that the Mossad was looking for Yossele in Switzerland, she spirited the boy to Brussels and then to Paris. Each time she traveled, she presented the child as her daughter Claudine. When the Mossad focused its search on the Haredi community of Paris, assembling 40 agents there, Ben David took Yossele to New York and hid the boy with a family of Satmar Hasidim in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She then returned to France.

The Mossad, anticipating that Ben David might try to hide the boy in the United States, had asked the FBI the year before to cooperate in the search for Yossele. In the summer of 1962 FBI agents searched the summer caps located in the Catskill Mountains of New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. That summer I was a camper in one of those camps, Camp Agudah in Ferndale, NewYork. I vividly remember the agents searching our camp grounds and our rustic cabins. The boys, myself among them (and it was a boys-only camp), were singing loudly while the search was going on. But it wasn’t in prayer or greeting. Rather, we were singing, “Where is Yossele?”—the song from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox communities that our camps counselors had taught us a few days before the search. But I’m afraid that the cultural reference was lost on the strapping FBI agents who seemed pleased that we accepted their visit with equanimity, and perhaps even with celebration.

Ben David and the other conspirators who hid Yossele Schumacher and spirited him from country to country managed to keep the boy hidden for almost three years. Ben Gurion was losing patience with the Mossad and its head of operations, Isser Harel. Fascination with the Yossele case was widespread throughout Israel and Jewish communities worldwide. Ben David later said that “the Yossele affair had become an everyday topic throughout the country, and indeed, throughout the Jewish world.” “The affair,” she wrote, “dominated the minds of the Israeli public. It became a matter of prestige for the police, the government, and for Ben Gurion himself.” The tensions raised by the Yossele affair were exacerbating secular-religious tensions within Israel, and many Orthodox Jewish religious leaders called on his kidnappers to release the child. Ben David began to feel isolated and condemned. “Loneliness joined my helplessness and together surrounded me, gripping me even tighter.”

In mid-1962 the Mossad caught up with Ben David in Paris. By that time Yossele was no longer in Europe. He was living with a family in the Satmar community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Ben David, interrogated by the team that first questioned Adolf Eichmann, denied any connection to the “Yossele affair.” When presented with evidence that she had smuggled Yossele out of Israel disguised as her daughter, Ben David proudly admitted her complicity but refused to divulge the boy’s current whereabouts. She only relented when Harel, head of the Mossad, told her that her son Uriel, now serving in the Israeli Army, had divulged his mother’s involvement in the case. She felt betrayed and realized that the kidnapping had failed.

Ben David told Harel where Yossele was living with a Hasidic family in Brooklyn, information he relayed to the U.S. Attorney General, Robert Kennedy. Kennedy instructed the FBI to give their full cooperation with Mossad. In September 1962, FBI agents, accompanied by Mossad operatives, took Yossele into custody and flew him to his parents in Israel. Ben Gurion was relieved; some would say triumphant. The ultra-Orthodox rabbis and their followers had been defeated, at least temporarily.

In her memoir, The Guardians of the City, Ben David wrote, “After the Yossele affair I was accepted by the residents of Meah Shearim as a member of the community. I had earned my place among them by fighting in the battle for Judaism. But their admiration for me was mixed with misunderstanding. I was different. No woman in Meah Shearim spoke many languages; none had attended university. It didn’t matter to them that I had accomplished these things before I had discovered the Torah. And I was the first convert they had encountered. Therefore, despite their admiration of me, they were open to gossip about my past, some of it spread by the Israeli security services.”

The insular, separatist, and anti-Zionist communities of Jerusalem’s Meah Shearim neighborhood could not fully embrace a woman as unusual as Ben David. But her will to be accepted—and her bravery—changed their minds. Despite the fact that Yossele had been found by the Mossad and returned to his parents, Ben David’s participation in the kidnapping made her a heroine among ultra-Orthodox Jews and drew her closer to the leadership of anti-Zionist Orthodoxy. So close, in fact, that some of the leading rabbis of the movement sought her hand in marriage.

 Though she was a convert, competition for her hand was vigorous.

In 1963, a year after Yossele’s whereabouts were discovered by the Mossad and the FBI, Ben David came to Israeli and Jewish public attention in a spectacular and unanticipated manner when she agreed to marry Rabbi Amram Blau, a 68-year-old widower with 10 adult children and the leader of the Neturei Karta. That she was a very attractive woman in her mid-forties did not hurt. A formal betrothal agreement was drawn up, but the marriage was delayed for two years. Among those objecting to the marriage were Rabbi Blau’s children. And it seems, also among the objectors, some of Blau’s rabbinic colleagues who had sought Ben David’s hand before he had and had been turned down by “the righteous convert.”

And so it was that in September 1965, in a small private ceremony held in the predominantly Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, Ben David was married to Rabbi Blau. He was 70 years old; his bride 45. He was the spiritual leader of the most rigorously Orthodox, anti-Zionist, and separatist Jewish group in Jerusalem; she was a convert from Catholicism and an independent and forceful woman who had fought in the French Resistance and defied the agents of the Mossad. Rabbi Blau too had been defying the Israeli authorities, in his case since 1948.

Until his death in 1974 Blau and his Neturei Karta colleagues continued to defy the authorities. His wife Ruth Ben David (now Ruth Blau) survived him by 26 years. Like her husband (from whom she was separated after only a few years of marriage), Ben David never recanted her views and she never apologized for the abduction of Yossele Schumacher.

Adapted from Shalom Goldman’s Jewish-Christian Difference and Modern Jewish Identity: Seven Twentieth Century Converts, Lexington Books, 2015.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pope - Year 2015 (l'misparam) "GOD WEEPS" - UOJ (original post) Year 2006 - "The Heavens finally broke down and cried with the victims! But not the gedolim...they were at dinners!"

PHILADELPHIA — Pope Francis apologized to victims of clergy sexual abuse in a private meeting on Sunday, and called himself “overwhelmed by the shame,” pledging that “every one responsible will be held accountable.”

“I regret this profoundly,” he said, speaking to bishops and seminarians on the last day of his trip to the United States. “God weeps!”

The pope said survivors of abuse by priests “have become true heralds of hope and ministers of mercy. Humbly, we owe each of them and their families our gratitude for their immense courage for making the light of Christ shine over the evil” of child sex abuse by priests, according to an early translation.

The pope also told them, “I am profoundly sorry that your innocence was violated by those who you trusted,” according to a transcript of his remarks released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The betrayal was a terrible violation of human dignity.” He said he regretted that some bishops failed to protect children, and found it “disturbing” that some bishops themselves were abusers.

"The Heavens finally broke down and cried with the victims! But not the gedolim...they were at dinners!"


All Ashkenazi Jewish women should be tested, because we have it at least 10 times the rate of the rest of the population: Up to one in 400 women is BRCA-positive, as opposed to one in 40 Ashkenazi Jews...

The Breast Cancer Gene and Me

I DID not know I have the BRCA mutation. I did not know I would likely get breast cancer when I was still young, when the disease is a wild animal. I caught it fast and I acted fast, but I must have looked away: By the time of my double mastectomy, the cancer had spread to five lymph nodes.

I had eight rounds of the strongest chemotherapy there is for breast cancer. Two months later, my body still tingles from the blast. My insides are shimmering. I am reconfigured.

I have six weeks of daily radiation coming up. I have scans all the time. I have waiting rooms in my future, full of Golf Digest and Time from four months ago and that same issue of W that’s always there. I have waiting ahead. If you don’t like waiting, cancer is not for you.

I could have avoided all this if I had been tested for the BRCA mutation. All Ashkenazi Jewish women should be tested, because we have it at least 10 times the rate of the rest of the population: Up to one in 400 women is BRCA-positive, as opposed to one in 40 Ashkenazi Jews.

It seems I am the designated driver at my Seder table.

I could have had a mastectomy with reconstruction and skipped the part where I got cancer. I feel like the biggest idiot for not doing so.

The statistics vary wildly, but they are scary at the low end: According to a 2012 article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the lifetime breast cancer risk for BRCA carriers is between 56 and 84 percent. From where I am, if you are BRCA-positive, you get breast cancer — because, voilà.

All I know is I have the BRCA mutation most unexpectedly, and, still in my 40s, I had the kind of cancer that meant three surgeries in six months.

I did not know I was a carrier because I do not fall within testing parameters. Most insurance companies cover testing specifically for Ashkenazi Jewish women only once we present with breast cancer. Before that doomed moment, testing is only for women who have a family history of BRCA or who have had breast cancer at a young age, or who have close relatives with the disease.

But that is not how mutations operate. They are sneaky.

I could not have guessed I am BRCA-positive. My mother has not had breast cancer, nor has her sister, nor did her mother. My first cousin — my mother’s sister’s daughter — did have breast cancer at the same age as I did, but not as a result of BRCA.

I did not think of my father in this situation, or perhaps I did not think of my father at all, as I last saw him in 2001. At the time he told me to beware of gum disease, and maybe something else. But I know his mother lived to be an old woman, and she did not die of breast or any other cancer, and my father made no mention of anything going wrong with his sister.

A 2009 Genetics in Medicine study of Ashkenazi women with breast cancer in New York found that about 10 percent carried the BRCA gene — but of these, only 50 percent “had any family history of breast cancer among the first or the second degree relatives.”

I assume that the BRCA mutation comes from my father’s father, and after a couple of generations of silence, it expressed itself through me. This happens frequently. Which is why insurers should cover BRCA testing for all Ashkenazi Jewish women. Protocols for health care professionals must be amended.

“A large percentage of women who have the gene would not have been eligible to be tested,” said Elisa Port, chief of breast surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center, co-director of the Dubin Breast Center and author of “The New Generation Breast Cancer Book.”

“Anyone can be tested if you are willing to pay for it,” she told me. “For most insurance companies, you cannot get tested just on the basis of being an Ashkenazi Jew. Now the push is toward testing Ashkenazi Jews, because the hit rate is above 2 percent.”

The science is ahead of policy: A University of California, Los Angeles, study published this month found that for every 10,000 Ashkenazi Jewish women tested, 62 breast cancers are averted. In Dr. Port’s view, all women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent should get tested, because “every BRCA patient that develops breast cancer is a failure of prevention.”

According to Force, an advocacy group concerned with hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, an estimated 90 percent of BRCA carriers do not know that they are. That means untold thousands of people in the United States don’t realize they are likely to get a bad case of breast cancer.

The BRCA mutation entered the Jewish community in Poland some 500 years ago, and because the Jews of Eastern Europe lived in isolated communities, they incubated it among themselves. Entire families of women were wiped out by breast cancer, and no one knew why as they buried their dead.

Even though the 14 million Jews of the world today have scattered and intermarried, the BRCA mutation still disproportionately affects Ashkenazi Jews.

Jewish organizations have done too little about BRCA. Hadassah, one of the largest and oldest Jewish women’s groups, has supported research on BRCA, but so much for that. In April, its president, Marcie Natan, released a statement titled “Testing Is Not for Everyone.”

“The test sounds simple enough,” she said, “but understanding what to do with the results can be a complicated, gut-wrenching journey.” Yes, it can. But not nearly so much as cancer.
As Dr. Port said on National Public Radio this week, however early a BRCA-related breast cancer is detected, it is “associated with the risk of death.”

If you have the BRCA mutation, you want to know.

I wish I had done what I did anyway, except without the whole cancer part. I am not sure why anyone with the BRCA mutation would not opt for a prophylactic mastectomy.

Breast cancer is considered especially sensitive because it involves breasts, which are special. I loved my breasts: I posed topless on the cover of my book “Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women,” so I must have. But I love the new breasts I have now more. I had nipple-preserving surgery, which is often a possibility. My new breasts are more real than real.

I recovered from drug addiction in 1998, and that will teach you to take any disaster as a day in the life. But now I live in the atmosphere of cancer.

According to the PET scan, I am cancer free. I am cured. But cancer plays hide and seek in wunderkind ways. It is the sparkle of dirt at the bottom of the dustbin that never gets tossed.

But I live in an age of miracles and wonders, when they cure cancer with viruses. If I ever meet cancer again, I will figure it out. You see, I am very Jewish, which is to say, I am Jewish: I am undefeated by the worst.
But I would have preferred to skip this. That would have been much better.


Friday, September 25, 2015

"The idea that you have to share the identity with the subject of your art is a primitive one, particularly in music"....

How an Anti-Semitic, Gentile Composer, Created 'Kol Nidre' and 'Moses'

Any performance, much less an American one, of Max Bruch’s oratorio “Moses” from 1895 is a rarity. Yet this is a fabulous and important piece of music. First, however, one fact that no Jew interested in classical music ever seems to want to believe must be mentioned: Bruch was not Jewish.

He may have written the iconic music for “Kol Nidrei” and it may be his most famous work, but his Protestant credentials would have more than satisfied the Nazis. More surprising, Bruch also was not particularly philo-Semitic, unlike his friend Johannes Brahms. He was typical in his everyday anti-Semitism, and even a bit nastier than some.

So the question arises: What was he doing writing “Kol Nidrei” and a massive oratorio on a subject central to Jewish religion and history? Bruch’s oratorio, the story of Moses, begins at Mt. Sinai and ends with Moses’ death. It is about the birth of the Jewish nation and the search for its home.

By the time Bruch got around to writing this oratorio in the 1890s, the whole notion of a work for chorus and orchestra based on a biblical theme was considered old fashioned. There had been all too many failed attempts at setting the Moses story to music. A contemporary of Felix Mendelssohn, A.B. Marx — a music theorist and himself a Jew— wrote a massive oratorio on the subject that was a colossal failure and the source of a personal breach between Marx and Mendelssohn. The only lasting biblical oratorio written in the 19th century in German-speaking Europe was Mendelssohn’s own “Elijah.”

The easiest way to think about a non-Jew setting “Moses” to music is to remember that George Gershwin, the composer of “Porgy and Bess,” was, after all, not black. The expectation that Bruch must have been Jewish in order to write this oratorio or “Kol Nidrei” derives from a distorted perception of the place of Jews in late 19th- and early 20th-century Germany. Bruch’s choice of Jewish subjects and even Jewish materials was a reflection of the extent to which Jewish assimilation into Germany was successful, our retrospective post-Holocaust history notwithstanding.

Jews were a crucial part of German culture. They were eager participants in amateur musical societies, and they represented a disproportionate share of the audience for concerts. The accommodation that assimilation represents is no different from the accommodation and symbiosis that blacks in America have lived with for more than a century. It demands that the object of prejudice feel at home despite daily encounters with racism.

The persistence of racism and prejudice have not gotten in the way of African-American writers, painters and musicians succeeding and their “white” counterparts freely availing themselves of the materials of African-American culture. So it was in the Germany of the 1890s with Jews.

Bruch was known as a major defender of a musical aesthetic and tradition that was explicitly critical of Richard Wagner and the rage for all things Wagnerian that had come to dominate the musical culture of the 1890s. Bruch allied himself with Johannes Brahms and Brahms’s close friend, the Jewish-born violinist Joseph Joachim, who was a colleague of Bruch in Berlin.

These composers and musicians believed in the continuing validity of traditional genres such as the symphony, sonata, quartet and oratorio, and classical norms with regards to musical composition. They rejected what they saw as the subordination of music to verbal narration in the Wagnerian music-drama. They held fast to the traditions of Viennese musical classicism and the early romanticism of Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann.

These staunch anti-Wagnerian beliefs in matters of music coincided with skepticism about the politics associated with Wagner and his followers. Bruch and Brahms were far more liberal, and admired the English political system. To Bruch, the promise of German unification had been thwarted. Under Otto von Bismarck, it had not led to a constitutional monarchy in the English style. Among the “national liberals” in the decades after 1871, the national part overwhelmed the liberal part, and the national became tied to the autocratic and defined in terms of racial superiority and cultural chauvinism.

For so-called musical conservatives like Bruch and Brahms, patriotism and even the deep conviction that German musical tradition was the greatest of all did not lead them to abandon a fundamentally tolerant and cosmopolitan attitude that was resistant to the race-based nationalism propagated by Wagner.

One can speculate that “Moses” is about charismatic leadership per se and therefore provides a veiled metaphor for the career of Bismarck. Bismarck, whose iron grip and will helped forge Imperial Germany, had been dismissed in 1890. By the mid-’90s, Bismarck had become a focal point of criticism against what were blind and stupid policies of Emperor Wilhelm II, who fired him. What made Moses a wonderful subject in the ’90s was that German citizens had come to depend on larger than life leadership and believe less in the processes of politics. Their faith in the charisma of one man to guide the state would lead to disastrous consequences.

The music of Bruch’s “Moses” is therefore organized in an explicitly anti-Wagnerian and traditional manner. There is not one continuous musical fabric but a sequence of set numbers. In Bruch’s neo-Handelian emulation of “Israel in Egypt,” to which “Moses” might be regarded as a latter-day sequel, there is nevertheless an imposing sense of drama that was unwittingly influenced by Wagner. For the audiences of the 1890s, listening to “Moses” made them think of Wotan, and hearing Aaron, they could not but compare that tenor role to Siegmund or Siegfried.

By the 1890s, Bruch had already written many fine oratorios. “Moses” was one of his last. His first, a setting of Homer’s “Odyssey,” was a great success. It used Greek myth to celebrate the unification of Germany in 1871. Odysseus’s homecoming to Penelope became a metaphor for German unification. A quarter century later, Bruch used a biblical framework to express the mixture of sadness and triumph that accompanied the 25 years of success for the empire. In “Moses,” the years in the desert, the residues of slavery, the uncertainty about the future, and the protagonists, including the ever-present chorus representing the people of Israel, reveal the full range of human emotion from despair to triumph. Bruch’s “Moses” may be an oratorio, but it has more than its share of opera in it. It follows a model clearly articulated by Mendelssohn in “Elijah.” Both composers believed that music, when combined with a great text and story, did not require the apparatus of the theater. It did not require a change in musical procedure so that it could narrate and be self-consciously dramatic in the style of Wagner. Yet Bruch’s “Moses” is a true drama, and a poignant and moving one at that. It marshals all the craftsmanship of musical art accumulated by the 19th century in a manner that pays just homage to precedent.

Will Bruch’s “Moses” ever rival “Messiah” in popularity? No. But it deserves a regular place in the all too narrow repertoire of professional and amateur choruses. Choral societies would do well to look into Bruch’s oratorios, not only “Moses,” for a welcome respite from the routine defined by the endless repetition of a few standard works.

And Jews, no matter their various religious persuasions, should come to “Moses” with the same bemused tolerance with which our fellow African-American citizens purchase tickets to “Porgy and Bess.” For all the revisionist criticism Gershwin’s opera has suffered for its lack of authenticity, it is a great piece of music, and a tribute to the human imagination. The idea that you have to share the identity with the subject of your art is a primitive one, particularly in music. The music of Aaron Copland, a gay Brooklyn-born Jew, has become the voice of a muscular patriotism and the landscape of Appalachia and the American West. In Bruch’s score, more than a little of what makes the biblical figure of Moses so mesmerizing, particularly to Jews, comes to life through music. So we might as well forgive him for being a prejudiced non-Jew; he nonetheless clothed the essential narrative of the Jewish nation in music of eloquence, drama and beauty.

Leon Botstein is the president of Bard College and the music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra for whom he is conducting Max Bruch’s ‘Moses’ at Carnegie Hall on March 27 at 8:00 PM.

Read more: http://forward.com/culture/194853/how-an-anti-semitic-composer-created-kol-nidre-and/#ixzz3mhNIDpb4

"The two other works of Bruch which are still widely played were also written for solo string instrument with orchestra: the Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra, which includes an arrangement of the tune "Hey Tuttie Tatie", best known for its use in the song "Scots Wha Hae" by Robert Burns; and the Kol Nidrei, Op. 47, for cello and orchestra (subtitled "Adagio on Hebrew Melodies for Violoncello and Orchestra"), which starts and ends with the solo cello's setting of the Kol Nidre ("All Vows ... ") incantation which begins the Jewish (Ashkenazic) Yom Kippur service. This work may well have inspired Ernest Bloch's Schelomo (subtitled "Hebrew Rhapsody") of 1916, an even more passionate and extended one-movement composition, also with a Jewish subject and also for solo cello and orchestra.

The success of Kol Nidrei led to the assumption by many that Bruch himself was of Jewish ancestry — indeed, as long as the National Socialist Party was in power (1933-1945) his music was banned because he was considered a possible Jew for having written music with an openly Jewish theme. As a result, his music was largely forgotten in German-speaking countries. There is no evidence, however, that Bruch was of Jewish origin. As far as can be ascertained, none of his ancestors were Jews. Bruch himself was given the middle name Christian[1]:15 and was raised Protestant.[1]:109"