Showing posts from March, 2011

Benny Begin: Two Cheers for Democracy

Government Minister, Dr Benny Begin, spoke last night at a Dinner for the Bet Shemesh Hesder Yeshiva. Begin's topic was "Developments in the Region". Begin at first reviewed the situations in the existing Middle East democracies (aside from Israel); yes, there are such things. Turkey - mature democracy, including National Constitution ("More than Israel has managed!" - he quipped), regular and fair elections, etc. Ruled by the Islamic party ATK, and the vitriolic Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. They are leaning towards the Iranian + Syrian + Hamas axis, more strongly each day. Lebanon - mature democracy, also with a National Constitution, regular elections et al. Not currently ruled by anybody, due to Hizballa (was a major member of the governing coalition) breaking ranks. Iran, Syria and America (+ France?) vie for dominant influence. Iraq - young democracy, also with Constitution, regular elections et al. The Government held elections twice, bu

Channel 2 Claims Emmanuel Fracas Was About Child Abuse

A Channel Two investigative report ("360") claims that the dramatic split a year ago in the Emmanuel community,  between mainly balei teshuva (newly orthodox) Sephardim, and the Slonim Chasidic group, and which spread nationwide, was not solely about racism - but also about a child abuse case.

Troubled on Purim - "Halacha" vs Honesty?

A minor incident on Purim has troubled me. I collect on Purim day for Lema’an Achai. This year I teamed up for an hour on Purim with my friend Murray Shore from Toronto , and we went together door-to-door. A donor (we’ll call him Ploni) came up to us and proposed the following deal. Ploni offered to give Lema’an Achai 250 NIS, if Lema’an Achai will receipt him for 500 NIS . Ploni explained that he has given out at least 250 NIS in cash donations to individuals, who are not able to give tax receipts. So Ploni is giving 500 NIS total charity, and believes he’s entitled to a receipt for that full amount. Ploni further explained that Lema’an Achai loses nothing by this, as we doubtless have collected plenty of cash, which has not yet been receipted. At the moment, no-one gets tax benefit from this. And of course, we receive 250 NIS from Ploni, which he otherwise might not have donated. To finish off the proposal, Ploni named Rabbi X, an important community rabbi in town, who P

Bet Shemesh Weekly News

By Rabbi Dov Lipman STORMIEST CITY COUNCIL MEETING IN YEARS This week's city council was the most fiery the city has seen in many years.   It included the Mayor trying to have Tziyon Sultan, editor of the Keren Or newspaper, removed from the room and a group of Old Bet Shemesh residents disrupting the meeting numerous times until some of them were removed from the room.   Issues raised at the meeting included : 1. The municipality grants arnona reductions to 7,000 out of the 17,000 homes in the city.   While this is a high number, it has not been granting residents the full reduction allowed according to the Interior Ministry.   This policy has saved the city 1 million NIS per year.   The Mayor wants to change this policy and provide the full arnona reduction according to the law.   The opposition protested that the only way the city could make up this loss of 1 million revenue would be through raising the arnona of others or through more parking tickets.   The motion passed de

In Tragedy - Our Country Feels Like a Village

While still reverberating from the horror of the murder of the five members of the Fogel family in Itamar….the second blow hit us, of the bomb in Jerusalem . It is hard for non-Israelis to understand the personal closeness of any event in Israel , and how this impacts every Israeli. The first we heard of the bomb in Jerusalem , was a call from Daniel, my son-in-law, who works five minutes from the terror attack. He was calling in to say “you don’t need to worry about me, I’m fine”. My daughter Shira, Daniel’s wife let out a gasp. “Wow – I was just at that bus stop where the bomb went off, an hour ago… Hashem Yerachem…” We immediately called my son who studies at Yashlatz (located just five hundred yards from the bombing) and my daughter who studies at Machon Tal (a few hundred yards further on from Yashlatz). Both were OK, if unnerved by the sirens of ambulances racing past them. Unfortunately, others from Bet Shemesh were less fortunate. The Bet Shemesh to Jerusalem 416 bus had

Katsav and the Balance of Fear

  Abuse and sex crimes cases are vastly under -reported to the police .  This is true of all countries and all communities. There are numerous reasons for this, but a major factor is fear . Abusers, by definition, are more powerful than their victims, and most victims are therefore too intimidated by their abusers to bring a formal report to the authorities. Indeed, in most cases, abuse and sex-crime victims do not tell anyone at all. It is therefore noteworthy that ex-President Moshe Katsav, who was sentenced today to 7 years in prison for rape and other crimes, will also be spending some of his time in prison for these two crimes: witness harassment and obstruction of justice. If reporting of abuse and sex crimes by the victims is going to become the rule, rather than the exception, then the balance of fear must change . All abusers and all “enablers” (those who protect the abusers) will need to be more fearful of the law and the consequences of intimidating their victims, than


Tzedek-Tzedek blog has been quiet for the past week, as I was blocked from accessing it during my visit last week to Turkey. Tzedek-Tzedek shows following message in Turkish: Bu siteye erişim mahkeme kararıyla engellenmiştir. Which means “ This site has been closed by Court Order. ” Although I think what I have to say on Tzedek-Tzedek is important, I must admit to being rather surprised that a court in Turkey had decided likewise. I tried another blog, Rafi Goldmeier’s Life In Israel, and found that his blog had also been closed down by court order. A little further digging revealed that ALL blogs hosted by “Blogspot” had been banned by a Turkish court. According to Huriyet Daily News , the case apparently revolves around a blogger who had allegedly infringed copyright belonging to Digiturk, a Turkish Satellite TV station.    “The ban, which entered into force Feb. 28 following a court decision, was issued based on a complaint by satellite television provider Digiturk that

B"H - Raining in Beit Shemesh!!


Let's ALL Join Rabbi Horowitz

By Asher Lipner PhD Rabbi Yakov Horowitz Rabbi Adlerstien's article written in support of Rabbi Horowitz's call to action for the community to support the victims of child molestation against their alleged perpetrators is a refreshing and welcome change of attitude coming from the Haredi Cross Currents Internet blog. Survivors of abuse and children's advocates look forward to welcoming Rabbi Horowitz and his supporters on March 26th at the courthouse, so we can all come together to fulfill the mitzvah of "Lo Sa'amod Al Dam Reyecha," not standing idly by the blood of your neighbor. However, with success come further challenges.  Now that the community has achieved the accomplishment of getting two prominent Charedi rabbis affiliated with Agudas Yisroel openly supporting advocating for victims to prosecute their abusers, we now have an historic opportunity to make a real push to stop both the abuse of children and the intimidation of victims. Rabbi Yaakov

The More You Care – The Less We Pay

The Social Services are striking today in order to obtain higher salaries from the Government. In general, the ‘caring’ services are much lower paying than careers in high tech, finance, business, etc. Social workers, nurses, teachers, even rabbis, are paid at salaries which frankly, are inadequate and insulting. According to reports, social workers take-home pay in Israel is typically between 4,500 to 6,500 NIS/month. Whereas a software engineer, with similar academic and career credentials, will take home 15-25,000 NIS/month. Social workers pay in Israel was fixed in an agreement which is apparently now 17 years old. It is shameful that many of the ‘impoverished’ families who are cared for by social workers, make higher salaries than their social workers! The poor leading the poor… In addition, state-employed social workers work under almost impossible working conditions, typically tasked with assisting 250 to 300 families each social worker. Many of these families are in ch

Lema'an Achai: "Man Poured Gasoline on Sleeping Children"

In today's Jerusalem Post, Ruth Eglash writes about family violence. This is particularly timely, as there were two spouse murders in Israel on Monday this week. In both cases, it has been reported that the authorities had been informed of the risk, and the wives had requested police protection. Indeed, both alleged murderers had received retraining orders - which they broke, and committed their crimes. In the article, Ruth Eglash quotes Shira Bernstein, Director of Social Services at Lema'an Achai, who tells a grim story of a Ramat Bet Shemesh family: Shira Bernstein, social services director for non-profit Lema’an Achai, which provides a wide range of social services to residents in   Ramat Beit Shemesh , said she believed that one of the issues was the lengthy bureaucratic process, between when a woman initially complains about domestic violence to when the man is either prosecuted or jailed. “It takes a very long time from when the women complain to when the man mi