Friday, July 29, 2016

Eliezar Berland indicted on sexual assault charges

Arutz 7   Rabbi Eliezer Berland is formally indicted on numerous counts of sex crimes against members of his community.

The Jerusalem District Attorney's office today (Friday) filed an indictment in the city's Magistrate Court against Rabbi Eliezer Berland on charges of indecent acts without consent, indecent acts towards a minor by exploiting a disciplinary and educational relationship, and aggravated sexual assault.

In the indictment, Rabbi Berland is named as having served as the Rabbi and leader of the "Shuvu Banim" community and Yeshiva in Jerusalem, many of whose members were concentrated near his residences in Jerusalem and Beitar Ilit.

As part of the obligations associated with his position, he held meetings for purposes of religious and spiritual guidance and instruction with male and female members of his community, and others, in his house and other places.

The indictment states that Rabbi Berland took advantage of these meetings and his status on numerous occasions to commit sexual acts - without consent and while exploiting a disciplinary and educational relationship - with women and female minors.

Following the exposure of some of his deeds by a man who had discovered them, the indictment says, Rabbi Berland ordered two of his followers to assault the man. [...]

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Father of 11 arrested on charges of sexually abusing daughters


החקירה החלה לאחר קבלת דיווח על חשד ששתי צעירות, בנות 15 וחצי ו-23 כיום, שנפגעו מינית על ידי 
אביהן מאז היו בנות פגיעה מתמשכת וארוכת שנים שמהלכה ביצע האב בבנותיו מעשי אינוס, מעשה סדום ומעשים מגונים. 

מהחקירה עולה כי אבי המשפחה, פגע מינית בבתו הגדולה מאז הייתה בת 7 ועד שעזבה את בית המשפחה בגיל 17.מאז שעזבה את בית המשפחה החל האב לפגוע מינית באחותה הקטנה שהייתה אז כבת 11, ועד לחשיפת הפרשה לפני כחודש. המקרה נחשף כשהבת הגדולה גילתה שהאב ממשיך בפגיעותיו גם כלפי אחותה הקטנה, וסיפרה זאת בפני קרובי המשפחה. 
מהמשטרה נמסר כי מדובר בחקירה רגישה ומורכבת, שהצליחה בין היתר הודות לשיתוף הפעולה עם בני המשפחה ואנשי הקהילה, נפתחה חקירה מקצועית ורגישה שבסיומה גובשה תשתית ראייתית שהובילה להגשת כתב אישום חמור. 


Torah Under Wraps: Charedi scholars who are unafraid to deal with subjects deemed taboo in the yeshiva world

“One needs to strengthen oneself with faith; one should not entertain philosophical questions nor even glance at the books of philosophers,” said Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav already at the end of the eighteenth century. This motto is particularly popular today, in the post-modern era of “religious strengthening,” in which religiosity is perceived as synonymous with simplicity and unsophistication. Yet that very approach also runs counter to the Jewish mind, which is by its nature anything but naive. The legacy of Jewish erudition constitutes part of the DNA not only of the academy, but of even the most Haredi sectors of the yeshiva world, and it finds expression in the spirited Jewish Studies scholarship flourishing under the radar in circles that are presumed to recoil from it.

Israelis distant from the world of Jewish Studies were offered a glimpse of it in the amusing film “Footnote,” but it portrayed only the nerve center of the field’s academic milieu, when in reality a great deal more is out there. In the reading rooms of the National Library, and in many houses in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem, many scholars sit and study the same topics as academics but without academic degree, without traveling to conferences, without aspirations toward an academic appointment. The history of medieval and modern rabbinic authorities, the stories of their compositions, the manuscripts and their provenances, variant customs, disputes both ancient and alive—all of these preoccupy a non-negligible group of yeshiva graduates, Haredi in dress and behavior, who publish articles in “non-academic” journals of Torah scholarship and produce corrected editions of sacred texts, some of which can even be considered quasi-critical editions.

They number Hasidim and Mitnaggedim, the truly God-fearing and those trapped in the Haredi lifestyle who cut corners, those lacking any academic title and others who have earned one—sharp and knowledgeable one and all, still faithful to, and actively participating in, the intra-Haredi discourse. Some of them evidence a dual non-conformism in their lives: on the one hand, they have opted to put distance between themselves and the safe space of the yeshiva, pasturing in the treacherous fields of scholarship; on the other hand, they are Haredim who hail from circles thoroughly suspicious of academia and would not dream of lending credence to its guiding assumptions. Nearly every remarkable personality in the field originates in the circles of Ashkenazi religious zealots, yet the scholarly discussion—which takes place not only on journal pages but in the lively Internet forums of Be-Hadrei Haredim and Otzar HaHochma—is not private, and sometimes a handful of others participate. Rabbi Yoel Catane of Yeshivat Sha‘alvim, editor of the journal HaMa’yan, is one of those others, as his home is in the Religious Zionist world, and his publication represents the enlightened German Zionist Orthodoxy of bygone years. The late Eitam Henkin also was one of them—a Torah scholar and brilliantly wide-ranging scholar who took prominent part in the back and forth of these torani scholars.[...]

“It’s ‘spontaneous academia,’” says Rabbi J., who would prefer to avoid equating it with academia. “It develops independently, without institutional bodies to dictate rules and regulations. It is anarchic, autodidactic, and exhilarating. It is a breathtaking demonstration of unfettered intellectual ability.”

Rabbi Dr. Zvi Leshem, Director of the Gershom Scholem Library at the National Library of Israel, has occasionally bumped into scholars from the very heart of the Haredi world. “They are not the typical kollel fellow because the scholarly approach is not that of yeshiva students,” he says. He continues:

“Look, when I began working here I met a senior rosh yeshiva from a respected hesder yeshiva, and I told him about those who come from the yeshiva world to do research here. He was at a loss. “What sort of thing do they research?” he asked me, and I responded in turn with the example of Hemdat Yamim.[2] “Why would they research Hemdat Yamim,” the Torah scholar asked me, “when they can buy it in any seforim store?” That is the mainstream approach. Those who embark on scholarship are atypical.”

They may be exceptional and individualist, but one unmistakable quality binds them all together: they are autodidacts. This is evident in how they handle material in a foreign language. Some of these scholars have never studied English or German systematically yet refer to non-Hebrew sources in their articles. Each apparently bridged the gap in his own way.[...]

Anyone interested in this phenomenon is invited to open, for example, a volume of Yerushaseinu, an annual tome published by the Institute for German Jewish Heritage (Machon Moreshet Ashkenaz). Some of the articles published therein would be perfectly suitable for any standard academic journal; among the numerous footnotes adorning the pages one finds references to scholarly literature in Hebrew and other languages. Other publications include Yeshurun, Moriah (published by Machon Yerushalayim, which for decades already has been involved in the professional editing of medieval and modern rabbinic literature), the Chabad journal Heikhal Ha-Besht, and others. Torani scholars fondly remember the journal Tzfunot, which met its demise over a decade ago, and in the meantime they publish in Torah supplements to Haredi newspapers, primarily in Kulmos of the newspaper Mishpacha. Likewise, the new scholarly journal Chitzei Gibborim - Pleitas Soferim, published in Lakewood, NJ, is at the moment taking its first steps.

Prominent names in the field include Mordechai Honig, a Hasid from Monsey who is extremely knowledgeable in medieval rabbinic literature; Yaakov Yisrael Stahl, a scholar of Franco-German Jewry forced to lower his profile in connection with academia; Moshe Dovid Chechik, a historian who until recently co-edited Yerushaseinu and currently co-edits Chitzei Gibborim; Yehudah Zeivald, a Boyaner Hasid who is quite busy with philosophy and Hasidism; Yitzchak Rosenblum, who had to move from Kiryat Sefer to Bet Shemesh on account of the library he opened, and currently teaches at the Haredi yeshiva high school Nehora; Yaakov Laufer, a scholar who focuses on linguistics and on the conceptual mode of Torah study; Betzalel Deblitsky, a prodigious zealot from Bnei Brak who runs the forum associated with Otzar HaHochma (the monumental digitization project of the Jewish library); Nachum Grunwald of Lakewood, NJ, a Chabadnik who grew up a Satmar-Pupa Hasid and serves as editor of Heikhal Ha-Besht; Aharon Gabbai, a rising star from Bnei Brak who graduated from a Lithuanian yeshiva, of course; Yechiel Goldhaber, slightly older than the rest, a historian and bibliographer whose scholarship is famous, and for whom the National Library is a second home; and Avraham Shmuel Taflinsky, who has toiled for the past few years in uncovering the sources of the aforementioned Hemdat Yamim.

Once we are mentioning the denizens of the National Library, mention must be made of the all-important tool in their scholarly work—the Internet. The global web of knowledge enables Haredi men from conservative yeshivas, whose library holdings are what you would expect, to come in contact with Jewish Studies scholarship and its historical-critical mindset. Most Haredi scholars have a home Internet connection, but not all. Zvi Leshem relates that some come to the library not to peruse ancient manuscripts or converse with the university’s scholars who use it as their place of study, but simply to work at a place that provides Internet access.

“In the digital age, Jewish Studies scholarship has successfully managed to wiggle its way, however constrainedly, into Haredi and yeshiva circles via databases such as Otzar HaHochma,” Mordechai Honig relates. “Until recently, it was the books. The birth of a Haredi scholar was generally triggered by incidental exposure to academic scholarship that invitingly charmed him. For me, it was Ephraim Urbach’s The Tosaphists, which I purchased at age fifteen.”[...]

Along with Internet databases and online journals, forums also have an important place in the discourse of these scholars. After many long years in which the forum Soferim u-Sefarim on the site Be-Hadrei Haredim served as the water cooler for torani scholars, the baton was passed to the forums of Otzar HaHochma. A lengthy, fascinating thread recently began there, for example, whose purpose is to generate a list of “dissenting opinions [made by lone rabbinic scholars],” that is, halakhic positions taken by well-known decisors over the generations when their colleagues were of a different mind. The thread reveals the foundational analytic-halakhic erudition of the discussants, expert not only in bibliography and history but also in a wide range of positions expressed by medieval and modern rabbinic authorities on scores of issues.[...]

The administrator of the Otzar HaHochma forums is, as was said above, Betzalel Deblitsky (under the username “Ish Sefer”). What had been permissible on Be-Hadrei Haredim the fearless zealot Deblitsky bans, censoring discussions and silencing voices he deems unworthy of being heard. But even those who miss the great openness that marked the forum of yore understand that the change is permanent—discussions of relevance within the scholarly community take place principally on the new forum.

Zeal, parenthetically, is a relative matter: the strict filter Netiv, which runs according to the guidance of a confidential rabbinic board, blocks the Otzar HaHochma forum on account of its content being deemed subversive and problematic. To take but one example, the forum has an intense, politically-charged discussion surrounding one of the veteran decisors of the Edah Haredit in Jerusalem—R. Yitzhak Isaac Kahana. A broadside that circulated in Jerusalem against R. Kahana’s book Orhot Tohorah and his lenient rulings on questions regarding menstruation inflamed not only the physical Haredi street but the virtual one as well, engendering scathing posts on the forum in support of each side. A symptom of one of the forum’s pathologies is partially manifest in this case: the deletion of threads by the moderator, who perceived them as deviating from the Haredi party line. Over three pages of posts inexplicably disappeared from the site, only to return the next day, redacted. [...]

50% drop out rate of Chareidim enrolled in academic programs for B.A. degree

The issue of the Liba core curriculum requirement for haredi schools returned to the public agenda recently, with the repeal of the Core Curriculum law currently under way.

Under the previous government, legislation requiring schools within the haredi educational system to teach the core curriculum was passed. Yair Lapid, who initiated the law, claimed, and continues to claim that its purpose was to give haredi children basic secular knowledge which will enable them to pursue respectable careers later in life.

Opponents of the law, including the haredi MKs, have vilified it on various grounds, democratic and technical, but one of the most persistent claims against the law in haredi circles is that secular studies in elementary school are unnecessary for haredim, as their Torah studies develop their minds in such a way as to make catching up later in life easy for them. To back this up they cite the apparent success of "Mechina", pre-academic programs, where haredim go to catch up on basic secular knowledge for a year or so before applying to University. Haredi MKs point to the many success stories emerging from these programs. But is that the whole story?

New data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics divide haredim and the general population into four groups based on aptitude in math and reading, from lowest aptitude to highest. The data show that while there is virtually no difference between haredim and the general population in the lowest group, meaning that among those with low aptitude, haredim are not worse-off than the general population, when taking the highest aptitude group there is a significant difference.[...]

More worrying for haredim however, are the statistics coming out of the academic institutions and the pre-academic "Mechinot".

A study published by the Taub institute found that 50% of haredi men who enroll in academic institutions seeking a bachelor's degree drop out, and this is among those who have made it into Universities and Colleges. Among haredi women, who do study secular subject in high-school, the situation is better, with a 30% dropout rate.

According to a report in The Marker, the dropout rate in the Mechinot is most likely worse. Professor Danny Zilberstein, who runs all pre-academic programs in the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, only 35% of haredim who enroll in their Mechina program make it through, and this even though the Technion has standards of admission to the program, turning away some who are less qualified.

All this seems to mean that the 50% rate is in fact much higher than the real success rate of haredim looking to get a higher education, taken as a whole, because it is only 50% of those successful enough to make it through the previous hurdles who graduate with a degree, not 50% of all haredim trying to obtain academic qualifications. The data also indicates that while there is an intellectual elite in haredi society whose Torah education prepares them for catching up on secular knowledge, there is no such mechanism among the masses.

Eliezer Berland caught on video admitting rape, plotting murder with students

A rabbi extradited from South Africa for sex offenses and arrested upon his arrival in Israel last week, after being on the run for three years, has been caught on camera admitting to raping one of his female followers. [...]

According to Channel 2, the incriminating recordings were made four years ago by two of Berland’s followers. They were told to burn all the tapes and other potentially incriminating material “in case the police do not cooperate.”

But some of the tapes survived, and were handed over to police Monday. In another tape, Berland can be heard instructing one of his followers to place a bomb under the bed of an unnamed person — to send them to heaven. [...]

In one video (in Hebrew) aired Tuesday, Berland appears to be discussing an issue of Jewish law whereby if a wife has an affair she becomes forbidden to remain married to her husband. However, if she is raped, however, this does not apply. [...]

In another video, Berland is seen speaking to a group of his followers in Hebrew. A student whispers something to him, to which Berland replies: “They placed the bomb for him? Who tried to do this?” He then entrusts one of his followers, Shlomi, to “go to Rishon Lezion and deal with those who placed the bomb.” [...]

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Eliezer Berland's recorded confession: 'I raped her'

After three years of police searches for recordings that would conclusively vindicate the claims against Rabbi Eliezer Berland of rape, a new recording was released this evening which would seem to provide significant evidence against the founder and spiritual leader of the Shuvu Banim yeshiva.

According to Channel 2, the recording is four years old, and was recorded by close followers of the rabbi. Yesterday, one of the men that made the recording passed it over to investigators.

Berland can be heard in the recording describing sexual acts that he did, presumably with one of the claimants against him.

"She was completely forced from beginning to end," Berland can be heard saying. "After that, she thought it was allowed, she thought it was...the first time I raped her, she was permitted to her husband , without a doubt. She didn't understand what's happening, she doesn't have any need for a bill of divorce. After that, she was already asking me, "what's going on here? I told her, 'you're not bound to your husband anymore!"

After that, the rabbi can be heard saying, "she never does it from her own will. She understands it as a Godly mission to be the wife of the rabbi."

Tel Aviv principal, 5 teachers suspected of abusing dozens of kids at a religious school

Police said Monday they had arrested a school principal and five teachers on suspicion of serious sexual and physical abuse of dozens of young pupils at a religious school in Tel Aviv.

The arrests came after a month-long undercover operation over suspicions of abuse against the children, aged 6-7 at the time, during the years 2005-2010.

Police questioned dozens of children and their parents, as well as welfare workers and psychologists.

One of the detainees is suspected of serious indecent assault of pupils, including some incidents that happened during lessons.[...]

Jew on death row sues to keep kosher after eating chicken dinner (not certified kosher)

William Harry Meece has been removed from the kosher meals program after eating an unlabeled meal of rotisserie chicken; according to Meece and a Reform rabbi, this was not a violation of dietary laws.

 A Jewish inmate on Kentucky's death row is suing in federal court, saying he was unfairly removed from a kosher meals program for eating an unlabeled meal of rotisserie chicken.

The Courier-Journal reports that William Harry Meece's chicken dinner violated a rule requiring people getting special meals to strictly adhere to their religious diets. That's because Kosher meals cost 72 percent more to prepare.

The Jewish Prisoner Services International ministry estimates that at least 20,000 inmates nationwide falsely identify as Jewish to get these meals. [...]

But Meece says he was born Jewish, and was a dues-paying member of a Reformed Jewish synagogue in Lexington. His lawsuit says that while Orthodox Jews are limited to food stamped "kosher," Reformed Jews can merely avoid pork and shellfish and maintain other dietary restrictions.

The Courier-Journal reports that Senior Rabbi David Ariel-Joel of one of Louisville's Reform synagogues, who holds a master's degree in Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, agrees with Meece and is supporting him in struggle with the prison authorities.[...]

A New Depression Treatment (Behavior Activation B.A.) Shows Promise

A new method known as behavioral activation (BA) is effective and can be cheaper than cognitive behavioral therapy

One of the worst things about clinical depression is its cruel circularity. Feeling lousy smothers motivation; loss of motivation leads to inactivity; inactivity makes depression worse—and on and on. There are an awful lot of people caught in that terrible spiral: According to research by the World Economic Forum, an estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression, with a projected global cost approaching $5.4 trillion over the 20-year period from 2011 to 2030.

The good news is that treatments work. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in which people are taught to reframe their thinking and challenge negative assumptions about their lives, can reduce symptoms. Anti-depressant medications can help as well. The not-so-good news is that treatment outcomes can be uneven across populations, with reduction of symptoms heavily dependent on the skills of the psychologist or other caregiver. Not insignificantly, therapy can also be expensive.

Now, according to a British study just published inThe Lancet,;there may be another therapeutic option—one that can be administered by a larger population of less-rigorously trained caregivers, making it both more-available and less expensive than CBT. Better still, in some respects the new treatment involves little more than doing the things you like to do—or at least the things you used to like to do before depression made it hard to enjoy anything at all.

Known as behavioral activation (BA), the new protocol involves some of the elements of more traditional therapies, including identifying situations and thoughts that trigger depressive episodes and learning to avoid the rumination that often makes symptoms worse. Medication, which is compatible with CBT, can also be used with BA. The key difference, however, is that sessions with therapists are not devoted to practicing cognitive-behavioral coping skills as they are with CBT, but at least partly to planning pleasurable and productive activities and learning to follow through on them.

“CBT is an ‘inside out’ treatment where therapists focus on the way a person thinks,” wrote psychologist and David A. Richards of the University of Exeter Medical School, lead author of the Lancet paper, in an email to TIME. “Behavioral activation is an ‘outside in’ treatment that focuses on helping people with depression to change the way they act.”[...]

The outside activities in which the BA patients engaged varied depending on the patients themselves. In some cases it might have been exercising or doing volunteer work or going out with friends; in all cases it had to be something positive and proactive. “Activities can be literally anything. Social, environmental, physical or even very private (like reading),” wrote Richards. “The main thing is that they are consistent with the individual’s values and that they are functional.”

All of the patients in both groups received follow-up assessments at the six-, 12- and 18-month points after the therapy ended. Those assessments revealed the outcomes to be statistically indistinguishable, with two-thirds of all patients reporting a 50% or better reduction in depressive symptoms, regardless of group. Results like that mean that BA crossed what is called the “non-inferior” threshold, which sounds unimpressive but is also simply another way of saying that, in this study at least, it was just as good as CBT.

The edge for BA comes in the cost. In the U.K., junior health care workers earn only about two-thirds of what the certified therapists earn. That lower pay is passed onto patients in the form of lower cost, with the fee for an average course of CBT treatment going for £1,235 compared to £975 for BA—or about $1,620 compared to $1,280 at current exchange rates. [...]

Monday, July 25, 2016

An opinion regarding Yehuda Pogrow's direct involvement in offering help to survivors of abuse

This represents the views of one of the readers of this blog. Yehuda Pogrow is welcome to comment or write his own guest post on his vision and qualifictions

Guest post by commenter KwikEMart

Thank you Rabbi Eidensohn for posting my guest post on your site.

I have been following the writings and comments of Yehuda Pogrow, both on this site, his facebook page, as well as other blogs. Ordinarily one needs to hear both sides of the story before sharing an opinion, but there is an exception to that rule, that exception is when the one side you've heard disqualified themselves by the way they argue for themselves. I've only heard what Yehuda writes and he is highly UNQUALIFIED to be working with victims.

Yehuda's facebook posts and comments clearly indicate that he is a man that is not ready to be working with victims. He is broadcasting anything negative written about him, and then calling upon that author's employer to break their connection with him. He is constantly using the phrase "has lost all credibility". At different points, Rabbi Yosef Blau, Benny Forer, Meyer Seewald and Yerachmiel Lopin have all "lost credibility". Is there anyone he does admire besides himself? Does he admire Manny Waks, Dr. Michael Salamon, or Magen? How about Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, or the blogger UOJ who exposed the Kolko story in Yeshiva Torah Temimah? Does he admire anyone besides himself? Does he at least give them some credit even if has some disagreements with them? Is there not a single activist/advocate he respects and that he can get to support his efforts and mentor him in his new role? Sorry Yehuda, credibility is earned, they've earned it through their tireless efforts and their success in the field, you have yet to earn it. And the one without credibility isn't the one who decides that the credible one is no longer credible.

What also disturbs me is how quickly Yehuda switches from the advocate to the victim. When some of the above mentioned people criticized Yehuda, he responded that their agencies should part ways with them because of "the way they are treating a victim" (might not have been an exact quote). Sorry, but if you are playing the advocate, and being criticized for your advocacy, you can't switch hats and then cry about how you are being treated as a victim. All this indicates is how much Yehuda cares about his own ego, and how far he goes to protect it. Unfortunately, some of his posts indicate that he willing to go as far as harming the victim he is supposed to help, in order to protect his own ego.

Let me give everyone a tip, if the therapist you are seeing has their own ego as their top priority, go get help elsewhere. Don't pay a therapist to use you as a means for stroking their own ego. And when it comes to activists, don’t trust someone who comes from nowhere, attacks everyone else, says "Let me be your leader", and has no plan except everyone following him. That is not advocacy. It is simple ego.

What qualifications does this person have? That they were abused? Being abused doesn't make you qualified to help the abused any more than being a basketball player helps you be a basketball coach. Sure there IS common ground and there ARE people who can and do succeed at both, but it is hardly a given. Magic Johnson is an NBA hall-of-famer, he was listed as one of the 50 best players of all time, but as a coach he had a record of 5-11 before quitting (and to all you Knicks fans, I'll spare you the harshness of bringing up the Isiah Thomas era)

Yehuda claims that he is behind an agency called "Survivors for Change". Is this anything more than a Facebook page? Is there a board? Is it recognized as a non-profit? Are they insured? It is also VERY interesting that Yehuda keeps plugging his organization, all while asking why there is even a need for such organizations.

To close, I'd like to remind the public that this was a completely one sided investigation. I did not hear from the other side, just from Yehuda. Some of the things that were said by Yehuda are no longer available to be viewed, but they were still said, deleting them does not mean they weren't said. I feel for Yehuda, he is suffering tremendously from the shocking revelations about his brother, and his own admission of being an abuse victim. He needs help and I believe he is looking for it. But victims are real people who need competent help. It would be malpractice to let Yehuda (at this stage) work with a victim simply cause it will help Yehuda.

To all of you who still say that Yehuda should work with victims, after-all, he himself is a victim, whilst turning a blind eye to all my points above, I have one thing left to say to you: "Hi, I've been circumcised, please let me do milah on your son"

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is being sued in November for sending out warnings regarding a convicted pedophile.

Y referred to here is a convicted pedophile classified as a level three offender. I have not mentioned his name because he has threatened me with legal action for mentioning his name and his crimes - which are on the public record  - in the sex offenders registry and newspaper accounts. 

As Rabbi Horowitz notes this is an outrageous situation where people are not allowed to inform others against possible harm to their children. Level three means there is high risk of re-offending and that there is a threat to public safety. Please support Rabbi Horowitz.

Gloves Off!

Our Trial is Your Trial  

For the first time in my life, I will be a defendant in a court of law, with my trial set to begin this coming November in Israel.

My crime?

am being sued for using Twitter to warn residents of Har Nof, Jerusalem, that Y., a convicted registered level-3 sex offender, who served 13 months in prison for seven counts of sexual abuse in the second degree and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, relocated to that neighborhood in Israel. The  NYS Division of Criminal Justice website describes a Level 3 registered sex offender, their highest level, as one who has a "high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists".

We did not launch a public campaign until now, as we were hoping that sanity would prevail in the judicial system and the lawsuit would be dismissed by the courts. However, not only is this lawsuit continuing, but recently, Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn, a child safety advocate in Israel, is also being threatened with legal action for slander, after posting online similar warnings about Y.. If you care about the personal safety of children, these lawsuits should trouble you deeply. For make no mistake. If these outrageous lawsuits are permitted to continue, fewer and fewer people will be posting warnings when convicted sex offenders move near you or those you love.   

 Another troubling component of Y.. case is that it follows the pattern of the State of Israel welcoming and later protecting (either knowingly or carelessly) people who are convicted or accused sex offenders like Avrohom Mondrowitz or more recently Malka Leifer, all three of whom fled to Israel from their native countries to avoid prosecution. 

With all this in mind, we respectfully ask that you join us in this effort we are launching to convince elected and appointed officials in Israel and the Israeli press to:

1)      Request that the Justice Department immediately dismiss the frivolous lawsuit brought by Y.  against me, and not permit any lawsuits of this nature moving forward.

2)      Encourage responsible information flow and publication about convicted sex offenders to local parents and schools.

3)      Conduct sex offender background checks on all people who apply for citizenship, and expeditiously reject those who are wanted for sex crimes in their native countries.

4)      Ideally, a longer-term goal would be to enact legislation in Israel to protect children similar to Megan's Laws in the United States, where convicted sex offenders are required to register with local police and to notify law enforcement authorities whenever they move to a new location.

Below are email addresses of important agencies in Israel related to Justice and Immigration/Absorption, those for Yediyot Achronot and The Jerusalem Post as well as my email address, to enable me to print and bring your emails to elected officials here and in Israel.

To show your support for this effort, simply forward this email and cut and paste these email addresses in the "To" section of your email, perhaps adding a personal note.

Alternatively, you can compose your own email to those addresses or use this sample email text if that is more convenient.

Subject Line:  
Protect Our Children; Not Convicted Sex Offenders

Body of Email:

I am deeply disturbed that Y., a convicted, registered, level-3 sex offender in New York State, is being permitted to sue child safety advocate Rabbi Yakov Horowitz in Israeli courts for slander, for having warned residents of Har Nof, Jerusalem, that he had relocated there and was wanted for outstanding charges in the United States.

This is a travesty of justice and I respectfully request that this frivolous lawsuit be immediately dismissed. Children in Israel will not be safe if child advocates are intimidated into silence by this type of outrageous lawsuit.

Additionally, Israel cannot and should not become a place of refuge for convicted, registered sex offenders. I respectfully request that all people applying for Aliya be given a simple background check for sex offenses, and that all avenues be explored for Y. to be returned to the United States to face justice for outstanding abuse charges.

As a longer-term goal, I would encourage the Knesset to enact legislation similar to Megan's Laws in the United States, to mandate the registration of known Israeli sex offenders and the publication of their whereabouts.

Here are some phone numbers you can call:
  • Israel Ministry of Justice, 972-2-646-6666, 8 for English, then 144
  • Ministry of Aliya and Immigrant Absorption 972-3-973-3333  
  • United States Embassy in Israel    972-2-621-4555                      
Thank you very much for your participation in this effort.

Yakov Horowitz  
P.S. If you are wondering why a registered, convicted sex offender would bring attention to himself by suing me, please read Bullies Bully and Abusers Abuse. It's all there and there are some helpful links for parents there as well.

Finally; here are 3 free videos that can help you have effective, research-based child safety/abuse prevention talks with your children: Safety Video #1Safety Video #2, andSafety Video #3 
© 2016 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

==================The following is an email sent out in defense of the pedophile's lawsuit
From: Thetan Group-JW <>
Date: Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 9:39 PM
Subject: Fwd: From Yona Weinberg

Defendant Yakov Horowitz is telling the public that he's being sued for publishing public information, when he really knows he's being sued for telling lies about the Plaintiff. This has nothing to do with his affiliations or hobbies or the like. This is HIS case and HIS case alone. This is about a man who is using his social media accounts to spread lies about a private citizen. For those who understand Modern Hebrew, this is actually stated in the Yediot article Defendant Horowitz displays on his website [that he won't let you read]. 
Only a week or two ago, Plaintiff's motion to amend the original complaint to include Defendant Horowitz's more recent lie about Plaintiff's fleeing the United States was approved. The motion was approved because Defendant Horowitz hasn't stopped lying about the Plaintiff and the nature of this case since he was sued. He just did it on Tuesday, 13 July, and Defendant Horowitz is proud of it! 
Planning a move to Israel can take almost a year. Plaintiff entered the State of Israel at least twice in 2014 prior to settling here in September that same year. There are so many people, from Israeli bureaucrats in New York to employees at the shipping companies used, who can testify that Plaintiff's move to this country was planned and prepared for well in advance. And, as per the prior understanding of 42 U.S.C. § 16913(a), there was always notification every step of the way. 
On a side note, Defendant Horowitz can also be accused of being disingenuous with his own supporters. On September 21st of last year, Defendant Horowitz states that he is on this Crusade (this is the Holy Land) because he is following his Posek (Rabbi), Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky of Philadelphia, despite the findings of modern science and real research on this topic. Yet, on October 21st, Defendant Horowitz defies his own Posek, who holds that even the Polio Vaccine is a hoax, by exhorting his readership of their religious responsibility to vaccinate their children. How does Defendant Horowitz know when to rely on Science and when to rely on his own Rabbi? Please see: 
What is even more disingenuous is that Defendant Horowitz publicly supports the blogger referenced above, while this same blogger hasn't stopped criticizing Rabbi Kaminetsky about a different and more serious issue for several months. This particular blogger has gone so far as to accuse Defendant Horowitz's Posek (Rabbi) of being like Korach, bringing more Mamzerim into this world, and being comparable to Esau who was also not concerned about adultery. At what point did these two Keyboard Warriors agree that "business is business" and cast aside respect for the Torah and its teachers (and, lehavdil, Science) in order to achieve their potential, common goals of self-promotion and getting attention? 
Defendant Yakov LashonHorowitz is not being sued because he is publishing public information. Defendant Yakov LashonHorowitz is being sued for telling lies about the Plaintiff. 
If you believe self-promotion is more important than telling the truth, then this is YOUR case. If you believe that it's okay to talk out of both sides of your mouth, then this is most definitely YOUR case. If you believe getting attention is more important than respecting the Torah, then this is most definitely YOUR case. If you don't believe in the Rule of Law, this is most definitely YOUR case. 
Please see the attached. If you can't understand it, please show it to someone who understands Hebrew.

Clinton VP tapped pro-terror Muslim leader for immigration seat

Arutz 7    Virginia Senator and former Governor Tim Kaine has been the Democratic Party’s presumptive Vice Presidential nominee for just three days, yet the pick has already drawn fire from the pro-Israel community due in part to Kaine’s robust support for the Iran nuclear deal, his boycott of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress in 2015, and his ties to a left-wing NGO.

Now, a controversial appointment made during his tenure as Governor of Virginia has raised new questions about Kaine’s bona fides as a self-described “strongly pro-Israel Democrat”.

In 2007, then-Governor Kaine appointed Esam Omeish, a Libyan-born physician and then-president of the Muslim American Society, to Virginia’s Immigration Commission. This came despite Omeish’s history of ties and expressions of support for radical Islam and Jihadist terrorism.

Omeish is a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the Dar Al Hijrah mosque, which two of the 19 terrorists responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks attended, as friends of the mosque’s imam.

That imam was Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical Salafist cleric who later fled the United States and joined Al-Qaeda, after settling in Yemen.

In 2010, President Obama placed al-Awlaki on the CIA “kill list”, citing his orchestration of deadly terror attacks against Americans. In 2011 a US drone strike killed al-Awlaki in southeast Yemen.

But Omeish was not merely a congregant at the Dar Al Hijrah mosque where al-Awlaki preached; in 2000, he was vice president of the mosque and was responsible for vetting and hiring the radical cleric as the mosque’s imam.

The Muslim American Society, then headed by Omeish, had close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2004, a description later validated by a federal report describing the group as “the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.”

In addition to Omeish’s ties to radical Islam, his recorded comments prior to the 2007 appointment by Governor Kaine made his support for Jihadist terror even more explicit.

During a December 22, 2000 speech at a Jerusalem Day Rally in Lafayette Park, in Washington D.C., Omeish praised “the Jihad way” to “liberate your land”.

"We, the Muslims of the Washington metropolitan area, are here today in subfreezing temperatures to tell our brothers and sisters in Filastine [Palestine], that you have learned the way, that you have known that the Jihad way is the way to liberate your land. And we, by standing here today, despite the weather, and despite anything else, we are telling them that we are with you, we are supporting you, and we will do everything we can inshallah [Allah willing] to help your cause."

In 2004, Omeish explicitly praised Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.[...]

Friday, July 22, 2016

Texas Rape Victim Was Jailed for Fear She Would Not Testify, Lawsuit Says

NY Times    A rape victim who was jailed in Texas for nearly a month because prosecutors feared she would not return to testify after having a mental breakdown on the stand has sued the Harris County district attorney’s office, county officials and jail employees.

The woman, identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, was held in the general population at the county jail — the same place where the rape suspect, Keith Hendricks, was housed. There, the suit says, she was misclassified as the perpetrator of a sexual assault — not as a victim — attacked by an inmate, denied medication and punched in the face by a guard.

Jane Doe’s treatment amounted to “an absolute deprivation of her personal integrity,” her lawyer, Sean Buckley, said in an interview Thursday. “As a rape victim, the psychological trauma she experienced was an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and helplessness.”

“And if you take out the sexual violation itself and you look at the underlying psychological trauma,” he added, “this is exactly what these defendants did to her again while she was still in recovery for her rape.”

According to the suit filed Monday in United States District Court in Houston, the woman began testifying in December against the man she said had choked, beaten and raped her two years earlier. The woman has bipolar disorder, the suit says, and did not finish her testimony.

In what the district attorney later called “an extraordinarily difficult and unusual situation,” because of concern she would not return to the courtroom, a judge had her locked up until the trial resumed, even though she was not charged with a crime.

It was an unusual and risky decision that raises questions about the treatment of people with mental health disorders in the Texas justice system and about the wisdom of jailing someone already victimized and traumatized by a suspect the district attorney called “a serial rapist.”

Advocates for sexual assault survivors also said they feared the case could have a chilling effect on other victims’ willingness to speak up.[...]

The woman was sent to St. Joseph’s Medical Center for 10 days after she broke down on the stand, the lawyer said. There was no follow-up after she was released from the hospital, and she was handcuffed, arrested and sent to jail on Dec. 18, Mr. Buckley said.

During that time, the woman was taken to the courtroom to testify against Mr. Hendricks. He was convicted and sentenced to two life sentences without parole. A judge allowed her to go home on Jan. 14 — 27 days after she was jailed.

In a video statement that has been uploaded to YouTube, Devon Anderson, the county district attorney, said the rape victim had suffered through a life-threatening mental health crisis and had expressed her intention during the trial not to testify again.

“If nothing was done to prevent the victim from leaving Harris County in the middle of trial, a serial rapist would have gone free, and her life would have been at risk while homeless on the street,” Ms. Anderson says in the video. [....]

Mr. Sullivan said the woman would have been placed in a separate cell had the court ordered that she be kept separate from the general population, but no such order was issued.

The lawsuit says that when the woman was processed, she was accidentally classified as having committed a sexual crime, leading to negative treatment from the jail’s medical staff members who didn’t believe her protests.

She was in at least two physical confrontations while in jail. On Dec. 23, an inmate pushed her to the ground and repeatedly slammed her head into the concrete floor, according to the lawsuit. On Jan. 8, she suffered “an acute psychiatric episode,” the lawsuit says.

The prison guards’ response caused her to have a panic attack, during which “she became hysterical and physically uncontrollable,” the suit said. At one point, a guard punched her, causing a bruised eye socket, the lawsuit said.[...]

Defense Ministry chief tells rabbis Levinstein and Sadan that their comments violate military code on preserving human dignity

Times of Israel   The Defense Ministry on Thursday reprimanded two rabbis who head a prominent pre-army religious academy, saying their recent anti-gay comments violate the Israeli military’s code of conduct.

Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Adam met with rabbis Yigal Levinstein and Eli Sadan, who jointly lead the prestigious academy in the West Bank settlement of Eli, Hebrew media reported. Sadan recently decried pro-LGBTQ efforts in the military as “a cynical attempt to turn the army into a body to reeducate religious people,” while Levinstein last week referred to homosexuals as “deviants.”

Adam told the pair that the IDF code includes as one of its core values the preservation of “human dignity,” which defines the way in which all its soldiers must act. According to the code, “the army and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every person is valuable, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, standing or role.”

Another key ethical value of the army, Adam told the rabbis, is camaraderie, which demands that every soldier act with compassion and selflessness to his or her fellow soldiers.

“There is no doubt that pushing the LGBTQ community outside the bounds of society is against the most fundamental values of the army,” Adam said, and told Levinstein to clarify his statements in the coming days.

Sadan has already responded to Levinstein’s comments, according to Channel 10, stating that “in the army you will meet many people. We are all brothers — Jews, Druze, religious or not, sexual tendencies like this or like that, Messianic Jews or Reform.” [...]

Yet in a recently published booklet which was distributed to his students, Sadan wrote: “Unfortunately, in many cases the army does not [take religious sensibilities into account]. When they force cadets in the training base to listen to an hour-long lecture from a young LGBTQ man who explains that this is a totally normal [lifestyle], that society must get used to the fact that there is no difference between a family with a husband and wife and a family with two husbands… this is a cynical attempt to turn the army into a body to reeducate religious people.”

These words were similar to the message which landed Levinstein in hot water last week when he was filmed telling a Jewish law convention that “under the framework of pluralism, soldiers and officers are taught to refer to [LGBT people] as ‘proud,’ but I don’t dare call them that…. ‘deviants’ is what I call them.” [...]

Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter: The warning not to be too much of a tzadik

One of the lessons of the Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter is an old lesson which unfortunately seems to readily forgotten - though it is widely mentioned. That is the warning in Koheles (7:16)  Do not be too righteous; nor make yourself too wise; why should you destroy yourself? Why does being too righteous lead to destruction? Why does being super wise bring about self-destruction? 

This medrash says it is referring to Dovid HaMelech.
Bamidbar Rabbah (21:5): Harass the Midianties (Bamidbar 15:17): Even though [says G-d], I have written that When you come close to a city to fight against it you should ask them to make peace (Devarim 20:10) – in the case of the Midainates you must not do so. You should not seek their peace or their welfare (Devarim 23:7). You find that the one who in fact approached them with mercy in the end brought on himself degredation, war and affliction. Who was that? It was Dovid. Thus Dovid said (Shmuel II 10:2), I will show kindness to Chanan the son of Nachash. G-d said to him, Will you transgress My words? I have written, You must not seek their peace or their welfare. And you want to show them kindness?  Be not righteous overmuch’ (Koheles 7:17)! This implies that a man should not go beyond the Torah, yet this man sends to comfort the children of Ammon, and to show kindness to them! The end was that he suffered insult; as it says, So Hanan took David's servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away (II Sam. X, 4), and became involved in war with Aram Naharaim and with the kings of Zobah and with the kings of Maacah and with the children of Ammon, four nations! In this connection it is written, Joab saw that the battle was set against him before and behind, etc.  (Shmuel II 10:9). Who brought this on David? It was because he sought to show favor to those of whom the Holy One, blessed be He, had said, ’Thou shalt not seek their peace.’ Accordingly it is written, HARASS THE MIDIANITES.
This warning is addressed to those who are truly righteous and truly wise. It is clear that this means that when a person comes to view himself objectively as a tzadik or chachom - he runs the danger of assuming that whatever he decides - that obviously G-d will agree with him. After all doesn't it say the tzadik decrees and G-d fulfills?  And that obviously G-d agrees with what he is doing
Mo'ed Koton (16b) The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: Ruler over man shall be the righteous, even he that ruleth through the [reverent] fear of God. What does this mean? — Said R. Abbahu, It means this: ‘The God of Israel said, to the [David] spake the Rock of Israel; I rule man; who rules Me? [It is] the righteous: for I make a decree and he [may] annul it’.
While this gemora is obviously true - it doesn't apply to violating or perverting halacha. The tzaidk's spiritual test revolves around nullifying his will to what G-d has said in the Torah and not assuming that he is simply anticipating what G-d wants in stretching the boundaries or even crossing them. Even Dovid HaMelech failed this test.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pinchas 76 - The most important word in the world - YES by Allan Katz

In our parasha a census of the men takes place in preparation for the distribution of the land of Israel amongst the tribes. The daughters of Zelophehad came forward with their complaint. Because they had no brothers, their family would be without a share in the land. They therefore requested a share in the land among their father's brothers. Moses brought their claim before God- Hashem. God answers Moses with a YES to their claim. - כן בנות צלפחד דברת . The word Yes here implies that they have spoken right, properly, exactly, they have made a fair claim and they should be happy as God agrees to their words.

When it comes to relationships the word YES is the most powerful word in the world .As we have seen the word yes can communicate many meanings – Yes, I agree... Yes, you are right, Yes, that is a great idea, Yes, .. I understand you. The psychologist John Gottman suggests that we try to introduce as many yesses as we can into our conversations. We can answer Yes, that's a good idea, or Yes, that's a great point, Yes, I hear you.Yes, means agreement and connection. Yes passes on your power and presence to the other person, your friend, partner, your spouse and child, your team and employees. God answered the daughters of Zelphehad with a Yes and transferred His power and presence to them.

Dr Dan Siegel asks us to notice how we feel when we read these words, no, no, no, no,no,no, and how you feel when you read these words, yes, yes, yes, yes,yes,yes,yes …. When you hear no, you feel scolded, stressed, alone and start breathing heavy. When you hear yes, you feel relieved and relaxed. Yes makes us more receptive and when we are more receptive presence can created, which is vital for thriving relationships.

Yes opens the doors to collaboration, cooperation and co-creation. The question is – does the word Yes have a role to play in resolving conflicts and problem solving .? The advice that parents regularly hear is to say ' No' a couple of times during the day, so that kids learn that they can't get everything that they want and they learn to accept the No word. For many challenging kids saying NO triggers the cortisol hormone which puts the child in the ' fight – flight mode. 'What follows is kids either go ballistic, explode or implode accepting that their parents don't consider that they have legitimate concerns or feelings. There is the assumption that parenting is about win-lose scenarios , kids resisting parental control and parents trying to get kids to do what they want them to do. If we really want our kids to ' hear us ', hear our concerns and experience learning when they interact with us, we need to help them live by Hillel's words - If I am not for myself, who will be for me and if I am only for myself, who am I. ? We need to help them go through the thinking process and make meaning of what is happening, we need to get them talking and reflecting, exploring situations and addressing both their own concerns and the concerns of others. Saying No is essentially only one solution to a concern or a problem. Because the solution only addresses the parents concern we are using Plan A, imposing Adult will on the child. Traditionally kids have never had their concerns heard. Some parents will empathize with a kid and validate their feelings or concerns but at the same time demand compliance. They do so, just to make compliance easier for kids to swallow. This is called ' Perfunctory empathy, not true empathy. Kids need reassurance, that when we use collaborative problem solving - Plan B that we are not trying to force a solution, but we first want to hear their perspectives and concerns and work on a mutually satisfying solution that addresses all concerns.

- I like the phrase - ' I am not saying No '

Of course this does not mean I am saying yes, it means ' I just want to hear your concerns, can you tell me more?' Our purpose is to get a conversation going with the child mainly speaking and us listening , and focus on solving the problem.When the solution addresses the concerns of parents, we have in fact set a limit with the child.

The psychologist Dan Wile says that we can manage conflict with a Yes. We don't have to say – ' I am not saying No' – we can say Yes and yes, I will seek to understand your problem before I seek to solve it. Yes, I will work to cultivate empathy for your point of view. Yes, I will respect your dream. Yes, I will dialogue with you, even when I disagree with you and try to solve problems in a mutually satisfactory way. Yes, I will remember to talk to you like I talk to somebody I love. So we can introduce what we say with a yes,- yes , I hear you … Yes , can you tell me more, Yes, I am concerned that …. Yes makes us more receptive, gives us presence and helps us connect with kids crucial for the CPS - collaborative problem solving process.

For sure, there will be situations when compliance is vital and we say –' you have to or you can't.' Children are more likely to comply with parental demands ,if parents generally focus on cooperation and allow children to participate in making decisions, rather than demanding obedience all the time. Kids will trust their parents and comply even if they are a bit unhappy about it, because in the past their parents solve problems in a collaborative way, give reasons for their positions and take into account kids' concerns and best interests... God in his Torah does the same. He builds trust by sharing reasons that man can understand, but there is also חוקת התורה – פרה אדומה - the decree of the Torah, the law of the Red Cow, which is beyond our understanding and so beyond criticism.

In situations which are non-negotiable, we can still have discussion and try and be as non-confrontational as possible,- make the request and back off to give them some space, which helps maintain autonomy and dignity. We can give them a choice of how to do the request, when or with whom. We can validate their feelings and be honest that our request is not much fun. We can try and compensate for loss of autonomy in other areas and respond with many yesses.