Showing posts from June, 2012

What Were They Thinking?!

In the ongoing storm in New York about child abuse in the Brooklyn chasidishe community, an interesting angle is the case of Nechemia Weberman, charged with abusing a 16 year old girl from the age of 12. Weberman's  community organized a big-time public dinner and fundraiser for his legal costs. The target was to raise $500,000 for this. I am astounded that anyone would think it's a good idea to have a public fundraiser for a man charged with such a crime - particularly when the media spotlight is now shining directly on that community, against a background of allegations of child abuse and associated corruption. If people wanted to raise money for Weberman's defense which, while not exactly my cup-of-tea in charitable causes, is fine, their right etc, then why didn't they go to a few rich guys and quietly ask them to help out? Why make a public spectacle (and chilul Hashem) of it? And why do they need a hefty $500,000 for such a cause? I wonder if it is co

The Ulpana, Beit El: What’s The Big Deal? You’re Just Moving House…

Today, fifteen families were evacuated from their homes in The Ulpana Neighborhood of Beit El. As I listened to the radio this morning the interviewer asked one of the evicted families “what’s the big deal? So you’re moving house…!” Perhaps he was ‘just’ being facetious and provocative – radio interviewers are, after all, first and foremost in the entertainment industry.    On the other hand, taken at face value, the question astounded me. It is true that being evicted from your home entails the same physical process as voluntarily moving home. Finding a new place to go, packing your possessions, saying goodbye to the neighbors, etc. In the same way that rape involves the same physical act as making love. Or stealing an object involves the same physical process as borrowing it. In an apparently unconnected context, a local RBS rabbi wrote , regarding the infamous Bet Shemesh spitting incident in January 2012: Poor 8 year old Naama Margolese. I

Rabbi Horowitz: How To Keep Our Kids Safe This Summer


Extraordinary & Moving Hachnasat Sefer Torah

I had the privilege of attending an extraordinary, dramatic, moving, beautiful and inspiring event on Thursday night. The main elements of the evening were: Hachnasat Sefer Torah Generously donated for a refuah sheleima (speedy return to health) of  Amitai Moses At the new yishuv of “Neta” in the Lachish area After seven years of wandering, permanent re-housing for Gush Katif expellees Amitai’s spectacular arrival in a private helicopter. Hachnasat Sefer Torah -  Inaugurating a new sefer torah is always joyous and moving. I was particularly thrilled to be able to write a letter in the last sentence of the torah – a rare mitzvah-opportunity. Refuah Sheleima – Amitai (“Amitai Yakov ben Bracha”) is a young cancer patient, fighting to overcome leukemia. The Moses family are neighbors and close friends in Ramat Beit Shemesh. The sefer torah was generously donated by Marvin & Malka Schick from NY. Watching Amitai write the last letter

The Scandal Grows - CNN Takes Up The Story...

The gathering storm in the USA, exposing the cover-up of child molestation in the orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, NY - has move up a notch, from the NY Times last month ( see my previous article) , to CNN now.... By the way, Rav Nuchum Rosenberg recently spoke in Ramat Beit Shemesh. Only around twenty people turned out to hear his dramatic presentation.

Not Picking Cherries

We set out today to join the popular cherry picking festival at Rosh Tzurim in Gush Etzion. This is an attraction for visitors from all over the country – and has become more and more popular in recent years, particularly as the security situation has improved over-the-green-line. It has become a social gathering, as well as a fun family outing. As a aside, I acknowledge the unknown fellow who first pioneered the concept of 'pick-your-own'. Whoever came up with the bright idea of replacing imported cheap agricultural labourers, with middle class fee-paying families-at-leisure, deserves to be inscribed in the Book of Commercial Genius.    The place was packed, yet we found a space in the large car park/field, and were about to join the crowd waiting for the shuttle bus to the cherry orchard, when my son-in-law Daniel Gilad suggested we skip the cherries, and go pick blackberries. We piled back in the car, drove back down the road a few hundred yards in the dire

Who Do You Prefer – Africans or Arabs?

  Since the horrific gang rape of a Tel Aviv teenager (in front of her forcefully restrained boyfriend) by a group of  Sudanese youths, there has been national outcry calling for the deportation of the African workers. The issue of (mainly) Sudanese workers had been on the political back-burner until now, with National Union MK Michael Ben Ari being the sole politician to consistently have campaigned for change. Since the rape case, reining in or expelling African migrants has been capturing the headlines, and politicians across the spectrum have stepped in. Eli Yishai, Interior Minister, has formed a committee (always a good idea, in politicians minds) to review policy on migrant workers, and the courts have cleared some initial deportations (around a thousand workers will be repatriated). Prime Minister Netanyau recently spoke about the five strategic threats facing the State of Israel - and migrant workers was his number five.  As for the scale of the proble

NY Times Drops a Brick in the Frum Pond

  Charles Hynes and R.Zweibel - Unholy Alliance It may be the Jewish community’s equivalent of the Boston Globe’s first expose of child abuse in the Catholic Church ten years ago. A series of recent NY Times articles have caused a mighty splash in the frum community - and well beyond. The articles reported the phenomenon of child abuse in the frum community in Brooklyn . The first, Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse , describes and documents the use of systematic intimidation & harassment to shut-up members of the ultra-orthodox community from bringing reports of abuse cases to the authorities.   The second article, For Ultra-Orthodox in Abuse Cases, Prosecutor Has Different Rules details an unholy alliance between rabbinical leadership (Rabbi Zweibel), and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office (Charles J.Hynes), resulting in a double-standard in applying criminal law. In particular, this article shows the relationship between