Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Disappointed At The Jewish Press

As you are all aware, a number of J-bloggers called upon the Jewish Press last week to condemn the way that Rabbi Dr. Twerski was blackmailed into resigning from Dov Hikind's task force. Well, they did condemn it... sort on. Here's the response:

The Jewish Press joins our columnist Rabbi Yakov Horowitz and others in condemning the shabby treatment Rabbi Dr. Benzion Twerski received from some self-appointed guardians of the faith over his participation in an anti-abuse task force geared toward the Orthodox community.

Dr. Twerski is a serious, thoughtful and highly talented individual and has much to offer in the way of dealing with child abuse in our community. Those truly committed to the interests of our community should be thinking of ways to get him to spend more time on our problems rather than less.

Although there is no way to guarantee that the sort of thing to which Dr. Twerski was subjected will not recur, we do believe it is as important for Assemblyman Dov Hikind and the others involved in the new task force to spend time reaching out to the community for support and cooperation as it is to highlight the nature of the problem.

There must be clarification of the centrality of halacha to the project, the primacy of due process protections, the involvement of a broad spectrum of people to evaluate complaints and, overall, the momentous contributions a project like this can make to the well-being of our community.

Shabby treatment??! Shabby treatment is what happens when someone snubs you and doesn't say Good Shabbos. Shabby treatment is when your neighbor chooses to ignore your simcha which you invited him to and he doesn't even say Mazel Tov. This wasn't shabby treatment -- it was blackmail. It was a threat to the social (and possibly physical) well being of his family. That's well beyond "shabby treatment." Calling that "shabby treatment" is like calling a gunshot wound a "boo boo."

The response as a whole is tepid at best. Where is the outrage that there are people who actively looking out for the child molesters' best interests? Where is the condemnation of the very fact that there are those who think it's fine and dandy to threaten someone's family because they don't agree with you on a social issue?

I am truly disappointed in the Editorial Board of the Jewish Press. I expected a much stronger response. I'll give them credit for running Rabbi Horowitz's articles on the subject, but I expected that they themselves would see clear to the issue of protecting children from monsters in our midst.

The Wolf

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Special Thanks to Vos Iz Neias

I want to commend the editor(s?) at Vos Iz Neias for bringing the matter of Rabbi Twerski to our attention. It was through his blog that I (and, I suspect, many others) learned of how Rabbi Twerski was threatened into stepping down from Dov Hikind's task force on sexual abuse. I've called out VIN in the past for editorial decisions that I disagreed with, so it's only fair and proper to give VIN credit for doing the right thing and bringing this to our attention (in contrast with another popular Jewish news site/blog which completely ignored the task force's formation and the events surrounding Rabbi Twerski).

The Wolf

Open Letter To the Editors Of The Jewish Press

The following letter was written in coordination with a number of other J-bloggers in the hopes that the message can be disseminated as far and as quickly as possible in a joint campaign against hiding abuse in our communities, and reversing the culture of fear that kannoim have been allowed to engage in for years now. We ask that people take a few seconds and copy and send this letter or another letter on the subject to the editors of the Jewish Press in the hopes that this will show the importance of the issue to the public. This is an issue that cannot be avoided or shoved under the rug, and the threats of individuals cannot be allowed to hold sway over our communities. Please take a few seconds and send a letter to the Jewish Press at Thank you!
To the Editorial Board of the Jewish Press:

We would like to express our horror at the intimidation and harassment of Dr. Benzion Twerski for his efforts to protect our children from molestation, and we salute you for your courage in publishing the Op-Ed column condemning the harassment of Dr. Twerski. We feel that exposing the actions of the kannoim is the first step in reversing their campaign of terror against members of our community.

We are fed up with the fact that the extremists in our community are allowed to threaten peaceful citizens with threats and we would like to see our police officers arrest and prosecute those who do so to the fullest extent of the law.

If there are any acts of intimidation or threats of violence to Dov Hikind's next appointee to the Child Safety committee; we will join and support a massive email drive to our elected officials – on the local, state and federal levels – to step in and protect those who are helping protect our children.

We respectfully ask you to run an editorial next week condemning this disgraceful act, acknowledging the number of these emails that were sent to you and calling on our leaders and rabbonim to publicly distance themselves from acts of intimidation and violence each and every time they occur with the same fervor reserved for other actions that contradict our holy Torah – and to declare the acts of violence as the sins they are.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wolf (Wolfish Musings)

P.S. Please note that this e-mail was a joint letter composed by numerous members of the community in a coordinated effort.

Does This Remind Anyone Of Any Jewish Organizations?

(Click to enlarge)

Sometimes art imitates life.

The Wolf

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

So, What's The Difference Dr. Stern?

I love it when people say things and don't grasp the enormity or irony of what they are saying. Case in point, Dr. Ya'akov Stern's letter to the editor in today's Jewish Press (bolding mine):

Rabbi David Willig (Letters, Sept. 12) would have us believe that Torah-true Jews sacrifice their reason at the altar of faith, but let's consider the rabbi's account of the creation of man: "My personal belief, for what it's worth, is that God used the evolutionary process in creation and at some point added the spark of Tzelem Elokim to a manlike creature and thus made the pre-human into a human being."

I see. So for 350 million years these soulless man-forms aimlessly wandered across the planet until one day God said to Himself, "Hey, let's make this world more interesting and give these golems a brain." All I can say is that if someone out there will buy that hooey, I have a special year-end sale on New York's bridges.

Um... and this is fundamentally different from your story of creation in what way, Dr. Stern? In your version, God one day said to Himself "Hey, let's make this reality more interesting and create a universe."

Why is one any more logical than the other that you suspect people who believe in the former are liable to buy New York bridges at discounts while the latter are perfectly sane and logical?

The Wolf

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Guess Most Yeshivos In Brooklyn Are Like Amalek...

In this week's Yated, Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz, has an article (posted on YeshivaWorldNews) dealing with media bias and Agriprocessors. However, tucked away in the article, he takes a potshot at Yeshiva University. In his article, Rabbi Lipschutz writes:

Amaleik appears in so many different guises. When a Jewish university maintains on its payroll a person who openly lives an immoral lifestyle and the institution’s president tells the New York Post that he is “proud of my university and all my faculty,” is that not an expression of “asher karchah”? Such a person is conferring legitimacy on behavior the Torah considers abhorrent.

What he is referring to is the case of Jay Ladin, a professor of modernist American poetry who left YU two years ago on a leave of absence and who recently returned as Joy Ladin, having undergone hormone treatments (although she has not yet had sexual reassignment surgery).

I don't want to get into whether she was right or wrong. You're free to your own opinion on the matter. Rabbi Moshe Tendler has come out against her, while others have supported her. What I want to get to is Rabbi Lipschutz's gratuitious pot-shot at Yeshiva University.

He maintains that Yeshiva University is comperable (in at least some ways) to Amalek because they maintain this person on their staff. His argument is that by doing so, they are conferring legitimacy on behavior the Torah considers abhorrent.

However, in his little pot-shot, Rabbi Lipschutz has cast most of the yeshivos in Brooklyn as Amalek as well.

I went to a very right-wing yeshiva for high school. I don't think that there is anyone on earth who would mistake it for being "modern" in any possible sense of the word. And yet, when I was in high school, I had teachers (for secular studies) who were not frum. I also had teachers who were Christians. I'm sure that if you asked the principal (a frum Jew), he would have told you that he was proud of his teaching staff as well. And yet, according to Rabbi Lipschutz, my high school conferred legitimacy on a Jewish non-frum lifestyle, or worse, an idolatrous lifestyle! My high school is like Amalek! Not only that, a great many yeshivos in Brooklyn (and certainly in other communities as well) use teachers from the public school system who may not be frum or even Jewish to teach secular studies. I guess all these yeshivos are also like Amalek!

So, thanks Rabbi Lipschutz. I always knew that my high school didn't fit me. Now I know why! They were like Amalek.

The Wolf

Yesterday, The Child Molesters Won

Yesterday, the child molesters won.

As many blogs have pointed out, Rabbi Benzion Twerski, noted psychologist and rabbi, was threatened into leaving Dov Hikind's special task for on sexual abuse in the Jewish community. In short, his family was threatened with complete ostracization (and perhaps worse) if he participated. While I can say that I'm disappointed that Rabbi Twerski backed down, and I can't really condemn him, as he has a responsibility to his family first and the community only afterwards. His decision may show a lack of leadership on his part, but, in the end, I can't really condemn him.

That being said, I don't know who it was specifically that threatened him, but whoever you are, I hope you're feeling happy. You allowed the child molesters to win one yesterday.

I could understand trying to force Rabbi Twerski off the committee if they felt that he was going to be unfair. I could understand it if they felt that he would start throwing around baseless accusations. I could understand pressuring him to quit if they thought he was unqualified to be working on the committee. None of these apply with regard to Rabbi Twerski. No one has accused him of being unfair. No one has even suggested that he would begin accusing people baselessly. Lastly, he is extremely qualified to be on a committee regarding this matter.

So, what does that leave? It leaves people who, for whatever reasons, want to protect the molesters. It leaves people who think that our track record of dealing with child molesters internally over the past thirty years has been highly successful; when, in reality, our record in this matter has been a dismal failure. It leaves people who think that sweeping problems under the rug is a real solution; that if we ignore the problem then it doesn't exist. It leaves people who think that reputation is more important than deeds, but are so deluded as to think that our reputation is still unblemished; when, in reality, it is soiled beyond repair.

So, congratulations to them all. They won one yesterday. They aided and abetted the molesters and allowed them greater freedom to continue their activities. I don't wish evil on anyone, but I hope that if, God forbid, one of them or their friends or relatives falls victim to one of the molesters, they will realize that in some small manner, they helped perpetuate the problem; that by taking a different course of action, they might have prevented it from happening.

Congratulations. You helped the molesters win yesterday.

The Wolf

P.S. I don't normally do link dumps. But this is an important matter and I think we need as many voices as we can get. So here are others who have spoken up on the matter. Do you have a post about it too? Let me know and I will link to it.

Rabbi Horowitz
Rabbi Horowitz again
Life Of Rubin
Gil Student
Zach Kessin
Pesky Settler
Hershel Tzig
Back of the Hill
Failed Messiah
Rabbi Harry Maryles
Lion of Zion
Life (Concerned Jewgirl)

My September 11 Memories

I posted about it two years ago... where I was and what I was doing that day.

The Wolf

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The First Sign Of A Poor Premise In An Argument

From this YeshivaWorld CoffeeRoom thread:

Music has a powerful effect on the Neshama; that is not debatable.

In my experience, whenever someone says that something is not debatable, it often is extremely debatable.

The Wolf

Friday, September 05, 2008

Off Topic: Which Firefox Extensions/Add-Ons Do You Use?

I'm always on the lookout for new stuff for Firefox. Today I came across one that I wasn't aware of and added it to my Firefox application. However, I realized that my readers are probably aware of others that I might find useful. So, what does your Firefox look like?

Here's my list:

Forecast Fox (weather forecasts for my area in my status bar)
All In One Sidebar (a great way to help you organize your Firefox add-ins, downloads, etc.)
Colorful Tabs (makes each tab a separate color. A visual goodie, even if it doesn't add any real functionality.
Copy Plain Text (I use this all the time. Removes formatting elements from copied text).
Hebrew Calendar (puts the Hebrew date [and Shabbos start time on Fridays] in my status bar)
Tab Mix Plus (utility that gives you various tab-manipulation options)
Sifrei Kodesh Search (a utility that allows you to search various sifrei kodesh)
Add To Search Bar (the one I found today. This little utility allows you to add just about any website's search box to your Firefox search bar).

So, what do you use? I'd love to know.

The Wolf

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Rabbinic Committees: Where Are We Headed?

It seems lately that there are a large number of Rabbinical Committees that have been springing up. These are committees that are formed (usually in Israel) to cover various aspects of life. A long-standing one is the Committee for Kedushas Shabbos. Others that have sprung up in the not-too-distant past include the Committee for the Purity of the Camp (covering various tznius concerns), the Rabbinical Committee for Communications (covering cell phones), the Rabbinic Committee for Transportation (the driving force behind mehadrin buses and erecting mechitzos on airplanes). A new committee, the Committee on Jewish Music has arisen to govern various musical styles. What are the most pressing problems in Jewish music today according to the committee?

  • 2/4 beats
  • Improper use of electric bass, guitars and saxophones
  • Goyishe African music and beats
  • Rap and reggae music

Ok, whatever. I don't want to get into a whole discussion on what is Jewish music and what isn't. Personally, I believe that music bleeds through cultures and that just about all "Jewish music" today originated from non-Jewish origins.

It seems to me, however, that there is an upswing in the number of Rabbinic Committees that have formed of late. As such, here are some of the news stories that you should be looking out for in the future:


The Jewish residents of Jerusalem were shocked today when the Committee for Ma'achalim Tehorim (Pure Foods) announced a ban on all pizza stores, pasta parlors, Chinese and Japanese restaurants and almost all other shops where foreign and ethnic foods are served (aside from Jewish foods, of course). Rabbi Jacobson, the leader of the committee issued a strongly worded condemnation of these establishments. "It is unconscionable that Yidden are putting foreign, goyishe foods in their stomachs. Do you think the Chofetz Chaim ever ate pizza? Do you think that the holy Gr"a would have stopped to eating Chinese food? It's been said that 'you are what you eat.' HaKadosh Baruch Hu gave us the mitzvah of keeping kosher so that we could always maintain purity both inside our bodies as well as outside. Just because a pizza has no pork or meat doesn't mean that meets the standard of proper food for a Jew to eat. It has to not only be kosher, but an authentic Jewish food. With the backing of the gedolim, we are going to make sure that only authentic Jewish foods are served in our resturaunts." The Committee announced it's plans to scan the menus of every resturaunt in Jerusalem in the next six months, and instruct withhold kashrus certification from foods that are deemed "foreign, strange, or that has signs of improper seasonings."


The clothing industry in Israel was rocked to the core today when the new guidelines by the Rabbinical Subcommittee on Clothing Colors announced their new regulations and guidelines for the Jewish state's garment industry. Millions of yards of fabrics in various colors which had been purchased by dress and shirt manufacturers have now been banned and cannot be made into clothing for the hareidi community. Rabbi Canner, spokesman for the Subcommittee, explained the regulations. "It's all very simple and it's not really restrictive. Men can have a shirt in any color that they want, so long as it's white. We recognize that women need more choices in their clothing than men and so they will have a choice between black, ebony, obsidian, jet, onyx or midnight. To compliment those colors they can choose white, off-white, ivory, eggshell and lily." The committee fully expects all clothing stores to be following the new guidelines in the next few weeks, before women begin shopping for outfits for Yom Tov.


Huge bonfires went up all over the country this week, as parents rushed to destroy games that did not meet the new guidelines of the Rabbinic Committee on Children's Recreation. "There are games and activities that our children are engaging in that can virtually destory their pure neshamos," said Rabbi Eliyahu Danner, head of the committee. "We, as parents and mechanchim are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of our children, and we must do all we can to shield them from the horrible influences of the outside world." Among the banned games are Clue (due to the murder theme), Careers (the game shows working as a lechatchila, and not a b'dieved), Life (people having children while riding around in cars in NOT a Jewish value and, again, there is no emphasis on learning), Stratego and Battleship (war and killing), Trivial Pursuit (it has cards, which are unJewish as well as an emphasis on unimportant information) and Scrabble (the possibility of making words that are improper is just too great). Among the games permitted to remain are checkers, chess and tiddlywinks. However, those games are only permitted for girls since "boys should be learning all the time and not wasting their time playing silly board games," according to Rabbi Danner.

The Wolf

(Just so that we're clear...all the stories in this post [except for the music story] are fiction. I made them up. They're what I think we can expect in the future -- but they're not real... yet.)