Friday, 3 May 2013

Freudian Glitch?

CCI02052013

The above advert appears hot on the heels of the notice from the Committee for the Purity of the Camp (not that camp, perv) inviting people to report any “suspicious person breaching the boundaries of sanctity.” The two adverts actually appear in the same publication which has just dropped through my door despite numerous notices pasted across the entire front of my house, “We do not read in our household. We only look out of the window and we don’t even bother doing it from behind the nets because trust us the view is much clearer when you move the curtains aside and park yourself on the windowsill with your half dozen kids beside you. Och, who just left that house? Oooh, they must be doing a shiduch tonight.”

In classic fashion, I digress, but now I'm back on track. This spanking new Committee for the Purity of the Camp is “supervised by UOHC Rabbonim." You know those clowns who always go out on a limb to satisfy public opinion have again responded to 'public demand'. After all it is they who earned our respect and admiration in their coolness under fire and their resilience in the face of the mightiest onslaught they ever encountered. They proved themselves preternaturally efficient at dealing with a suspect across their own high table and now having slain one dragon who else would we turn to when sanctity is being trampled on at every crap table with a 15 mile radius? We therefore urge members of the public that in the event that you encounter a suspect wielding a Samsung S III befarhesya, he should not be approached due to the risk of contamination and should be reported at once to the Committee who "will pursue and verify and do its best to solve the problem – in accordance with guidance of the Rabbonim.”

Now I don’t know the nature of the guidance the Rabbonim will be issuing. This is of course something best left to them and we laypeople should not attempt to second guess how to resolve problems (note the lack of ‘alleged’) brought to their attention. However, this is a blog read only by laypeople as no Rav, Rov, Rabbi, Rebbe or anything remotely alliterative and worth his ear wax would be seen here in any shape or form. And so our advice I'm afraid is for the suspects only and those doing the reporting should refer to their rabbinical advisers.

On 1 February 2013 the UOHC registered with the Data Commissioner as a processor of personal data. (A blog, and a commentor like adloyada, really can make a difference!) As you will see they process data for 9 purposes, none of which is pursuing, investigating and solving problems of suspects breaching boundaries of sanctity. So should you be so unfortunate as to make an appearance on their database of undesirables, please refer to the Information Commissioner’s guides on how to make a subject access request for the information they hold on you and while at it throw in a complaint on their unlawful retention of your personal data.

But these are the boring bits and let’s get back on track with the Freudian glitch, if indeed it is one. Not that I would know since round here a difficult spot with dreams is resolved by a prayer during the Benediction of the Priests and not by delving into The Interpretations of Dreams. And anyway Jung is a much more heimishe name than Freud so there Sigmund. What kind of a Jewish name is that, eh?

In a normal situation one would have assumed that the advert meant to write girls and boys though that creates problems of its own. Round here boys and girls don’t often appear in the same sentence and besides boys wouldn’t be last. Ladies first, is just not a toiredike concept; when in a hole stop digging, apparently isn’t either. Perhaps that ought to have been men and ladies, which is the preferred term locally for the other gender, and in ordinary circumstances this would well make sense.

But these are no ordinary times. With ‘QCs’ manning helplines for abuse and purification committees conjured out of streimels almost daily, one cannot be too cautious. So this time let us give them the benefit of the doubt and reluctantly agree that they really do mean to segregate the men from the boys.

Let's face it, why on earth not? The kids are delighted that they don’t have to recite mishnayos the entire journey because they can't really tell their dads of the super new game their neighbour got for afikomon. And the men for their part can freely discuss the sizzling-hot latest report from the Committee without being troubled by their pesky vilde chayes. It’s holidays for goodness sake and fathers too are entitled to a break, thank you very much.

How much better can a family outing get than being separated from your womenfolk, segregated from your kids and in the sole company of bearded males? You get to spend the entire time just like in the mikve which must be the very meaning of bliss as defined by the UOHC dictionary.

Oh, and by the way, are there any discounts for Bnei Torah?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Silver Lining

Progress yet again and kudos to Rabbi Shimon Winegarten for the new ShemaKoli abuse helpline.

It of course gives you an idea how much confidence he has in the UOHC 'help' line. It also shows a sensitivity to men and women victims which hadn't occurred to our locals when launching their unisex line. Gender separation is just for the photographers,it seems. And you can bet that the person at the other end of this line will be marginally more sensitive than the one who was answering the UOHC line with his glorious track record in 'admissions' to 'his' schools.

Should we assume that the hours allotted to men and women point to the ratio of abuse victims amongst them? Or is it simply easier to find suitable female volunteers than men?

Friday, 22 March 2013

I Don't Wanna Be Your Sugar Baggy

You know the score on the wretched lids. Kedassia say they're sodden with starch and hence forbidden. But that is not quite enough. In their quest to ensure that no Jew inadvertently bumps into some chometz, they have gone one further by sending their star enforcer deep into enemy territory to declare that those who claim tinfoil lids to be kosher for Pesach are guilty of 'mis-of-information'. 

To those who don't know the local parlance, the words addressed to an English speaking audience in North West London are the polite way of saying what would translate round here as something along the lines of, any sheigetz who eats kugel out of a tin covered with one of those lids might as well  fress a hamburger for koireich. And as to caterers contemplating making use of those lids, just dare and we  may not allow you again into the hall we 'licence' off that school.

But Kedassia may have some cracks of their own that require papering over, assuming they can find a starch-free variety for the job. The above tests show that Kedassia sugar bags may have some starchy issues that need to be urgently addressed. No one is cholilo suggesting that the starch is of the forbidden variety, but given the prevalence of chometz in starch and following Kedassia's lead in outlawing the merest chance of starch even when other hechsheirim have given their approval, surely Kedassia should be addressing this most important issue as a matter of utmost urgency.

So for the sake of assuring the starch-free hordes, can Kedassia please issue a notice beginning 'It has come to our attention..." that the starch found on the sugar bags containing their seal of approval are good, kosher starches and the sugar may be consumed in the secure knowledge that it is kosher to the platinum standard we have become accustomed to courtesy of the world's favourite hechsher.

Wishing you all a happy and kosher (if you can afford it) Pesach.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Tinfoil Treife: Kosher Guy

Lids and covers, foils and tins, wraps and towels. There is not a tired old trick that hasn't been tried and it's high time to move on. The basics are simple enough. As most readers of this blog will know, our variety of Judaism - sorry, I must interrupt myself to apologise to those readers hopping mad that I dare impute different versions to our faith - but our particular version of Judaism has of late been preoccupied by the weighty issue of the kosherness or otherwise of lids of tinfoil containers.

For the purpose of this post I need not trouble you with anything more because if you are one of those genuinely troubled by this burning question and desperately seeking a resolution then I am afraid you have hit on the wrong site and you should contact your local TAG volunteer to attend urgently to your filter.

One characteristic of our Jewish strain very much connected to the shale of the day is an addiction to anything disposable. I'm not talking about disposable nappies which in Israel they often recycle as missiles in the event that a murder suspect is picked up by the police. Missiles, incidentally, to be launched at the police not at the suspect who is innocent until proven not to be frum in which case he is guilty until he starts reciting perek shira which exculpates him by association.

In this case I'm talking of disposable tableware. Chazal tell us that the arrival of the portion of manna was an indicator of one's piety. The righteous had it delivered to their door while the common folk had to go searching further afield for their daily crust. 'twas ever thus, appears to be the message in that. Another pointer to one's holy standing was the packaging of the heavenly bread. While the frummies had it delivered on a paper plate with plastic cutlery wrapped in a crumpled polythene bag that had previously shielded their hats from a downpour, to Guardian readers, assuming there were any amongst the Chosen, it arrived in a canvas tote emblazoned, No calves were worshipped in the production of this tortilla.

There is even some archaeological evidence that Moses handed out plastic cups after striking the rock, though some experts are convinced they were polystyrene.  Of course, never did we suffer anything like the devastation of Pompei because in our case we had the seichel to wrap everything in silver foil which stopped the lava in its tracks even before Shomrim managed to reach the scene in their Chrysler Grand Voyagers and Volvo XC90s. Which neatly brings us to the source of our minhag to cover anything from dining room chairs to tombstones in polythene because this is the clingfilm within which our forefather wrapped their bread of affliction in the Land of Mitzraim.

It'll soon be Pesach when our demand for disposables reaches its peak for anything from the most capacious dustbin liners to the longest tablecloths. While plastic is the greatest contributor to our landfill fest silver foil and tin foil also make a respectable contribution. Pesach is of course also the time when we don't stop fretting over what you can and cannot eat, drink, touch, smell and even God would find it a challenge to guess what else. Years ago it was the question of machine matzos and before that it was the pre-Pesach chometz trade. Even earlier that was the banning of legumes since when the definition of a legume keeps on widening by those who could barely tell apart a soya bean from a haricot.

In more recent times, having banned sunflower, rapeseed and cottonseed oils, the rabbis have found it necessary to supervise drinking water and almost ban that other commodity which sustains our people. Yes, paper plates need a hechsher too and it was thus only a matter of time before their attention turned to the humble tinfoil lid. Like taxes to The Beatles bans are to them: if you tie a string we'll ban your street/if you dare to sing we'll ban your tweet. It is all in a good cause, however, and we should bless our good fortune that we live in an age when the rabbis needn't join the dole queue for having run out of things to ban.

Yet we cannot deny the rights of those who choose to squeeze glass in the hope of extracting a sand particle to confuse it with a grain of wheat and thus find something new to ban. To paraphrase him whom we shouldn't mention on a nice Jewish blog, I disapprove of what you ban but I will defend to death your right to ban it. If some people wish to dissect a humble lid I will defend their right to act in accordance with their principles as vehemently and trenchantly as they would deny me to act according to mine.

But let's have a look where this principled debate, so integral to the future of our moral and spiritual well-being, is taking place. Where have the rabbis been engaging their brains, sharpening their pens and expounding their reasons? If they have been doing so at all they have been very good at covering their tracks since nothing in writing has appeared from anyone other than a notice from the distributor and a line in the KLBD list.

Aha, you say, this must belong to the oral rather than the written law. Up and down Dunsmure and Cazenove Roads scholars are no doubt tugging at their beards and curling their peios in deep contemplation on the origins of the foil cover, while from the windows of the shuls extended to the very edge of the pavement emanate the lab results of the lowly lid. Or perhaps our fearless press, always primed for a screeching headline on the smallest transgression of one of them and a howling protest on another perceived slight to one of us, have taken up the cudgels to explain to their readers the opposing sides of the great lid debate.

But I'm afraid you'd be wrong. This debate, for what it is, has hardly taken place at all. The warring sides did not spar at Yeshivas Horomoh and there was no disputation at Rabinow koilel. Yiddish was not enriched by the vocabulary of scientific test results and the pulpits of the Shabbos Hagodol droshos are unlikely to resound to the crinkle of tinfoil. Sforim shelves are unlikely to be burdened by volumes of responsa on this topic, the Jewish Tribune has not as much as mentioned it while the Hamodia has dedicated not a column inch in its multi sections to the great issue of the day.

Which leads us to the uncomfortable conclusion that we are no longer capable of holding a civilised and reasoned debate in any form or manner. We can cloak ourselves in mourning one week on the passing of some great unknown and then whip ourselves into a frenzy the week after over the engagement of the son of the hairy to the great niece of the scary. We can holler in unison over planning by-laws and rant over a bus lane and it goes without saying that there must be a uniform view and opinion on the size of blouses and the length of wigs.

But when a difference emerges amongst our own on matters that concern no one but us it'll be either violence and intimidation or we fall into a stunned silence. The shtiebel that will host Rabbi Scharf and his bans will not offer a platform to the LBD even if represented by a Rabbi Padwa. The koilel that will debate the starchiness of lids will not countenance an opinion that the starch may well be a Kosher le'Pesach red herring. The obsessive followers of hechsheirim have no interest in being shown their folly and the scholars who have multiplied the size of an olive to the equivalent of a cantaloupe will ignore the sources when it does not suit their prohibitionist mindset.

And so we come to a situation where the only venue that will host both sides to this debate in a civil manner is an English language shiur for balei batim, in a not quite solidly chareidi shul, often inviting speakers with more than a whiff of kiruv to them. Only there will it not be below the banners to present their arguments, insofar as one can call them that, and only there will the same platform be afforded to the opposing view without the host being accused of selling out.

This should tell you all you need to know about contemporary chareidi society and a lot more.

Welcome to the Shul of Frum.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Rav Domb z"l (1915-2013)


At his Sunday shiur, 25 March 2012

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Don't Kill the Bill

At the risk of boring you again, you will know that this site is under legal attack from those who wish to silence all of us through this country's draconian libel laws.

If you think it doesn't affect you, think again. Literally thousands of comments, the vast majority of which were not in any way even potentially defamatory, had to be removed due to the threat of legal action. The debate affects all members of our many communities and none more so than the vulnerable and powerless. This debate has now been muted by the fear of our oppressive libel laws. The chilling effects of those laws make us all shiver.

It is mainly the likes of those who remain at the helm of our community who benefit from these laws. Impervious to criticism, contemptuous of public opinion and immune from shame, they did nothing despite years of allegations and rumour and would continue to do nothing if only they could. Our supine press remains silent and our leaders conspire to keep us all in the dark. And now when they do take action it is to shut us up.

But you who have visited this site in the '00s of '000s have ignored bans and prohibitions to participate in the public outcry that has no precedent in our community. One macher commented that in his many years of askonus he has never known anything like this. This should surprise no one precisely because much of askonus is devoted to keep us in the dark and ensure that we knew nothing of such allegations.

But no more. We will not be silenced by their campaigns of intimidation. Let's take it as a compliment that when the illegal means of their camp were exposed to show them for the thugs that they are they were forced to resort to the law and the courts. The devil not only cites scriptures for his purposes but hires lawyers too.

In face of this onslaught please do not sit silently by. There is a campaign to change the libel laws in England and a bill currently before parliament is at risk of being derailed.

PLEASE DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Please write to your MP and tell them how the libel laws are being used in OUR community to silence legitimate debate and stifle discussion of issues that go to the very heart of our physical and moral well-being. Ask your MP to raise this case in parliament and with ministers as another example of the threat to free speech in this country and as another reason why the libel laws must be reformed.

This is a link to the Libel Reform campaign where there is a link to write to your MP. There is no time to waste as time is running out. Please write and do what you can to tell our representatives in Westminster and beyond how the current laws are affecting each and every one of us individually and our community in general.

Thank You!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ost of Eden

Ost resignationJust when you’ve given up hope in our entire leadership along comes someone to restore your faith in humanity.

Step forward the real “Angel Gabriel” Ost. Arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, he had the good sense and decency to step down in the interim from his position as CEO of Shomrim North West while he fights to clear his name.

You may think that is not particularly remarkable and is exactly what any sensible person in his position would do. Alas, you would not have been living in Jewish London for the last half year if you harboured such thoughts.

If only the main protagonist would have mustered the same dignity and courage and acted in a likewise manner, he would have saved the broader community, the UOHC, his own shul and followers, his family including his elderly father and, above all, himself the shame and disgrace that has justifiably been heaped upon them all. He could then have tried to clear his name away from the limelight and without dragging everyone along with him.

And if he was not capable of such a momentous decision there should have been someone at the UOHC to tell him what was obvious to everyone but to the Dear Leaders. But as we have learned to our cost, not only do these people have no vestige of self respect they do not even possess the modicum of sense to act in their own good and simply for their self preservation.

They will undoubtedly claim that Ost has acted in a Catholic manner and that true Da’as Torah mandates holding on by the skin of their teeth and the more intense the battle the greater the Kiddush Hashem. And let them delude themselves for never will they recognise the unpalatable truth that they are way beyond hope and redemption and there is nowhere for them to go but walk the plank.

Gavriel may be under suspicion but it is this lot who are truly doomed.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Breach Position


We are where we are and a chap, who until recently was a senior member of the most senior rabbinical body of our community, has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. So what does the body do? Forget about the rabbis. They're not trained in crises handling and the best one can expect from them is to stroke their beards and call on their flock to repent. After all, our leaders are only under suspicion while we're a bunch of hoary sinners at the best of times, or at least so we're told. You would also not expect our Chief to do anything but keep his counsel this time round given what happened when he was last consulted on such delicate issues. Silence after all doesn't make particularly good TV viewing.

But what of our lay leaders? What do they do at a time like this? You know like the robin-round Rosh Hakohol. Or the chairman of the external affairs committee who week in week out pontificates on neither here nor there. Or the spokesman and occasional 'QC' who graces the airwaves on everything from the decadence of universities to the equality of women (and more recently has been manning the child line protecting kids from cops). Or the worm hunters, the stocking weavers, the skirt measurers, the grave diggers and all the other heavenly enforcers making their abode in our square mile.

Do they have nothing to say? No concern, no guidance, no comment? Perhaps the executive committee has gone into plenary session to determine whether this is a matter for the external affairs or the internal affairs or whether it's an affair at all. But still they could let off some smoke to tell the masses that "we are dealing with this". We've had some chizuk from the boys in blue so why not them?

But wait it's Purim too so surely that must merit something. And so it did with the result above for all to see. Because as they say, "It was recently come to light" and not a minute too soon.

Didn't we know that this is all just a bad dream? A silly prank by some chevre dressed up with a flashing light on their car. The joke of course could only go so far and what really matters are those filthy perverted photographers. How dare they breach our mechitze fortifications to perv on our womenfolk dancing? What do they think? That they cholilo pole dance at the Decorium, do a Harlem Shake at the 'communal' wedding hall hired at preferential rates (not clear whose preference, though) or prance Gangnam Style at the Prince and Princess? Let the photographers take their proste lenses and stick them up elsewhere because if they're not careful we'll turn our lenses on them and they won't like it.

And so at this delicate time, when the world is examining what them rabbis get up to, trust our Union to speak up for the man in the street. Or in this case the photographer in the hall.

You've just got to love them. The timing, the perspicacity, the sagaciousness, the sheer brilliance of coming out with a notice like this at the end of a week we've just had and 2 days before Purim. Don't you just want to go up to each and every one of our Dear Leaders and give them a big hug. This is the crowning glory to their most successful winter on record and still they could outdo themselves even further.

As I said, it is Purim when no joke is too corny and no wit too flat so let me share just another one with you.

Q: Why does the Union provide a mother and baby home?
A: Because they're always in the breach position.

Cha cha cha, s'iz git, vos?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Let My People Speak

Due to this morning's arrests the position with comments has become further complicated due to sub-judice (pronounced, sub JEW dc) rules. For some helpful guidance please see the following links:

http://www.channel4.com/producers-handbook/media-law/contempt-and-reporting-legal-proceedings/contempt-or-sub-judice-rules

http://www.out-law.com/page-9742

Please read carefully before you comment. Editing comments is horribly time consuming and if there is any doubt the comment will not be published.

If there is a media lawyer reading this and is able to assist please can you make yourself known by email.

There is however no reason why there cannot be a sensible discussion on how we got to where we are and the many repercussions to the community of the current situation. So please do not give in to those who would like to silence us and do contribute to this very important debate.

Be heard not herded.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Tickle Tackled

As you all know this site has been the subject of legal action. We have no intention of boring you with the details but a few things must be said.

There is a court order for Google Inc to disclose the IP address of the owner of this blog as well as of certain 'named' commenters which are based in the EU. The pseudonyms of the affected comments are listed below and those concerned should urgently seek legal advice.

"The official FISHEL"
"non-apikores"
"Betrayed Former Supporter"
"Hersh"
"M055AD"
"Playing with fire"
"Shia"
"Ger - (woman with brain)"
"Be a Mentch!"
"DSM IV 302.89"
"Kazuhide Uekusa"
"Antwerpian"
"Stamford Hill'er"
"Ben Tzion"
"Laurence Davis"
"Velvel"
"The Curtain Falls"
"Simche"
"r''l"
"r"l strikes again"
"Avi"
"now I understand"

In addition there are the following "Anonymous"  posts which are also subject to the Order:

18/11/12 19:07
20/11/12 07:35
20/11/12 08:55
21/11/12 01:28
22/11/12 00:00
25/11/12 18:51
27/11/12 12:10

Those affected can write to iytulegaldefence@hushmail.com for some assistance.

A number of those affected by the order have already obtained legal advice and as a result of that advice all comments have been removed from the posts dealing with the Halpern saga, to protect those that have commented. While only a fraction of the comments could potentially be defamatory, the numbers are such that it would be too time consuming to sift through them and delete just those that could be problematic. Hopefully with time and crowd sourcing the questionable comments can be removed and the remaining comments restored.

Make no mistake however: this blog is not going away. This debate has always been primarily about the scandalous failure and hypocrisy of the UOHC's entire rabbinical and lay leadership from the very top down and for which no one has to date taken any responsibility. No libel law in the world will stop this blog from saying that. Comments on this and related matters will continue to be published though due to legal constraints there will be heavier editing which will result in comments taking longer to get through.

Finally we would like to thank the very many people who have offered support in every form, including financial, legal, technological, moral and spiritual. It is heartening to know that we have the backing of a sizeable community willing to stand up for the truth. We may appeal to you in the near future for contributions to a legal fighting fund and information will be posted accordingly.

This has never been a case of Golders Green against Stamford Hill, Chasidim against Litvaks, LBD against Kedassia or Modern Orthodox versus Ultra Orthodox. This is a campaign of decency against thuggery, justice against injustice and truth against obfuscation, deceit and outright lies. It may take long and it will be tough but the people behind this campaign will see it through to the end and will fight for what is just and right.

Our motto to this campaign is:
והדרך צלח ורכב על דבר אמת וענוה צדק ותורך נוראות ימינך - תהילים מה, ד

And in thy majesty prosper, ride on in the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; and let thy right hand teach thee awesome things. (Psalms 45,4)

Monday, 4 February 2013

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Clear Blue Water

Rabbi Cohn on reporting abuse
[1 February 2013]
Clarification
I wish to make it clear that the Haloche requires that cases involving criminal activity must be reported to the authorities (social services or police) without delay. Victims of crime who do so, will of course be given all appropriate support. Where criminal activity is only suspected, the above also applies, however care must then be taken to ascertain that these concerns do indeed have a reasonable basis.
May God grant all of us the protection necessary to ensure that the situation never occurs in practice.
Good Shabbos
Rabbi Cohn
So it appears we have a serious machloikes haposkim (dispute of the authorities). Rav Padwa is of the view that reporting abuse to the police is mesira and anyway “the police is not the solution,” while Rabbi Cohn thinks it is actually haloche that requires one to report all criminal activity to the authorities which includes the police.
Rabbi Cohn as we know is also an ‘honest broker’ in the UOHC convened Beis Din investigating the Towelgate affair and it was he who put out a call for witnesses to come forward. One therefore wonders what his advice will be to complainants who allege criminal activity.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Not Just Another Brick in the Wall

Original Scarfe Cartoon…

Netanyahu-Scarfe-Cartoon

…and Hamodia’s take on it

Scarfe, hamodia style

For goodness sake, they’re wearing a tichel

Methinks that the JAA (Jewish Acronym Alliance) ought to demand an immediate retraction of this notorious distortion of this notorious ad, Rupert Murdoch’s counterpart at Hamodia Newspaper Ltd must issue an unreserved apology and the Hamodia’s editor should be seriously considering his position.

And as for Gerald Scarfe’s chareidi counterpart, if only we had one…

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Mutiny in the Ranks

-------- Original message --------
Subject: NHAYS: Beis Din Tsedek
From: NHAYS Webmaster <webmaster@northhendon.co.uk>
To: mailinglist@northhendon.co.uk
CC:
Sent on behalf of the Executive:

This is a statement to confirm that the Executive and Board of Management are most surprised that our Rov has been appointed to represent a 'Beis Din Tsedek' in the local case (see here).

This has been done without our knowledge and is therefore totally independent of our shul.

Yours sincerely,

The Executive of NHAYS

These are thy gods, O Israel


Channel 4’s news item on the programme

Call to Arms

image

Helpline of Least Resistance

Guest post by “Pen Tivakesh”
The so-called “unfortunate” Channel 4 Dispatches programme is about to hit the airwaves, and the UOHC has done it again. It has laid bare its wares and showcased its blatant disregard for anything but the safeguarding of its own precarious existence. Nothing is more indicative of this than Rav Padwa’s characteristically myopic and blinkered response which is bound to spread further the rot decaying the UOHC’s rickety construction.
Rav Padwa: if it is indeed so important to you that our children are protected from harm, where on God’s earth have you been hitherto? Why have you to date cared so little for the pain and suffering of children and of victims of child abuse? Why have you shown them the door on numerous occasions citing their inadmissibility as witnesses owing to your own dark-age interpretation of Halacha? If child protection is indeed so important to you, why do you still allow school teachers to beat their charges black and blue at the schools on your patch? This is what is most unfortunate.
It is unfortunate that you address this letter neither to victims nor their families, but to your cronies - rabbis and educators. It is unfortunate that you imply that there is, and that there has been for quite a while, a ‘special committee’ that actively pursues and investigates cases of child abuse. Yet your UOHC calendar which markets your products and services has never seen fit to publish the existence, let alone the number, of this so-called ‘special committee’. This mysterious ‘special committee’ of yours has somehow evaded the attention of the multitude of victims and their families.
It is unfortunate is that you have sought to silence victims, as will become evident in the Dispatches programme. Is it not the case that you have acted in the same fashion on several other occasions, as some have had the misfortune to witness? And now your letter has the stated aim of silencing them once more. Just not only victims this time, but also those questioning your abysmal record in dealing with child protection.
You acknowledge that there are certain instances in which it would be permissible to contact law enforcement. So let me challenge you to cite a single case where this has actually happened during your time at the helm of this sinking ship.
It is most unfortunate that, through your spokesman, you have instead compounded the pain of one alleged victim by casting doubt on his credibility. Is it not true that a number of other victims at the hands of this alleged perpetrator have been brought before you? And is it not the case that you have done nothing substantial to assist these people who are suffering indescribable pain?
It is unfortunate that in contrast to the London Beth Din, you have not mentioned any advisor - or ‘experts’, as you prefer to call them - by name. We know nothing of those who will be manning this helpline and what regard they have for our well-being rather than yours. Yet you ask that we abide by your request that those with concerns about child abuse contact this anonymous, hitherto unknown ‘special committee’.  Let me tell you this: after the ineptitude we have seen from your office over the last few months do not expect us to fall for this hook, helpline and sinker.
What is most certainly not unfortunate is that there is an attempt by Channel 4 to bring this grave problem to the fore.
It is in fact extremely fortunate, that you are now forced to consider these issues. It is fortunate that unlike the UOHC, the London Beth Din have issued a halachic ruling advising not just rabbis and educators but all of us, including those you hold in contempt, to contact the police in the very first instance of abuse and to inform their named Child Protection Officer.
It is fortunate, that your membership have been using the London Beth Din for litigation and arbitration for years and are now flocking to them for their foodstuffs too. We are no longer dependent upon your dinosaurian attitude towards such serious matters and, thankfully, we now have elsewhere to turn.
You may hope, Rav Padwa, that this UOHC Child Protection Line of yours receives not a single call. You may hope that your letter is seen by your membership for the mere lip-service which it really is. Frankly, so do I.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Union smells the coffee (or cordite)

uohc child protection
13 Shvat 5773 [24 January 2013]
To Rabbis, Educators and Heads of Educational Institutions here [in London]
UOHC and Child Protection
Parents and educational institutions in our community dedicate themselves to bringing up and educating pure souls and to raise them and watch over them with sanctity and purity, and with the help of God have much success. Guarding our precious children and protecting them from all harm and abuse is of course essential.
It is therefore incumbent on us to treat every complaint of abuse, God forbid, very seriously. We need to understand how to deal with this appropriately, [how] to institute safeguards to prevent such possibilities and to provide appropriate support to those who have been abused.
There exists a special committee appointed by the Union to deal with cases of abuse, God forbid, of children in our community. Members of the committee are rabbis, educators and community members some of whom have have been trained in how to deal appropriately with such cases. The Rabbinate recognises that there are certain instances when it is proper and necessary to contact the social services and/or the police. The committee will consult with the Rabbinate to decide the proper approach in each case.
The committee will endeavour to assist with the advice and support of experts to support children or families that have suffered abuse, God forbid.
There has unfortunately been produced a programme that is about to be broadcast on TV on the subject of abuse in our community where they allege that even after the actions of abusers have been known they are still able to carry out with their deeds, God forbid. The committee for the protection of children and instituting an appropriate policy for the protection of children in our community will, please God, assist to silence the critics who complain that the UOHC does not fulfil its duties in this matter.
Each case that is referred to one of the rabbis, educators or headteachers [where there is a] risk to the safeguard of a child, they are requested to bring the matter to the attention of the committee who will deal with it in accordance with the advice of Beth Din and the law.
The telephone number of the committee of the UOHC is below.
On behalf of the Rabbinate
Moshe Chaim Ephraim Padwa
Head of the Beis Din

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A Grave Situation

In the furore that has recently gripped us all a small news item in the JC back in October of last year may have been overlooked. Nothing ground breaking, if that's not a metaphor too far, since we're only talking about a tiny little baby of a few days old, born prematurely and which is dead anyway. It's not even relevant to its manner of dying but rather its burial and the inconsequential matter of a mother wishing to discover her baby's burial place. But still I think it's important enough not to have the story buried, if you'll excuse the pun, during this bad news period.

It was the caring and feeling Adath that took charge of the cadaver and interred it out of sight hoping it would remain out of mind. Along comes mum several years later asking the outlandish question of where the dead body is bestowed. Trust our Adath to come up with a humane answer to this apparently insoluble query which may have taxed even the brains of Solomon. And true to character they did not disappoint. According to the news report their reply to the mother's enquiry was "say some Tehillim, light a candle and forget about it". Presumably what they have been telling the fiddled women over the years so they've had a fair amount of time to practise the line.

With wisdom like this being bandied about it makes King Solomon look positively daft. Why bother slicing up a child when all he had to do was hand it to the Adath, whose fees he could well afford, and Houdini like the baby would have vanished forever. King Solomon was the one who, Go- forbid, instituted the eiruv so that could have posed a dilemma but I'm sure Solomon's gold and the £2.6m filling the Adath's coffers would have found common cause. And as to the warring mums, serves them right for reading the JC in the first place. Had they heeded Dovid Frand they would have known that the JC is for Chaim not meisim.

But we're up to Tehilim and let us not digress. Let's face it, since God is omniscient and omnipresent He can hear the Tehilim wherever it is recited and He surely knows where to apply it. So why exactly must parents know the precise burial spot of their child? The Torah itself concealed the grave of Moshe Rabeinu and with the greatest respect to mum and her feelings she cannot in her right mind believe her baby is more important than our greatest prophet. Knowledge is power and we like to keep power to ourselves, thank you very much. If not for the fees generated by the location of different plots none of us would have been told where our loved ones lie and so when the foxes came no one would know whose bones had been carried away. Foxily clever, you must admit.

And as for the argument raised by mum that the US has been more forthcoming to parents of children in their cemeteries, our Grim Reapers had the perfect parry. 'The JC have been making a fuss.' Touché. If the JC were to tell us to eat breakfast we'd starve ourselves and when they dare make allegations against our saintly leaders we flock to them in ever greater numbers. What is worst in Bridge Lane is still far better than the best in Furnival Street and they will not be the ones to dictate to us what decency, compassion and humanity is about.

Never mind haloche which has little to say on the matter. If following our hallowed traditions causes suffering to the odd sensitive mum, it is a price well worth paying. Rachmonus is not what liberal lefties think it to be but rather that which nestles within our minhogim, outmoded and outdated as they may seem to those who lack a toiredike viewpoint. They are the light to our feet and, come to think of it, what lies under our feet too. And this applies whether it is kids buried in a cemetery or kids buried in a school system that decomposes them 110 years early.

In case you think this was just a gratuitous swipe at the school I love to hate do please read on for with a little digging there is a far closer connection between that burial society and that school than initially meets the shovel. I do not mean that the school is a burial ground of sorts, though that too. It does constrain its charges like a grave and clothes conforming to its tznius edicts are not a million miles from shrouds. But I'll accept that that is rather convoluted and forced.
Consider however this . Of the mere three trustees in charge of the Adath Yisroel Burial Society, two of them, when not tending to cemeteries, function in their free time respectively as Chair and Deputy Chair of Governors of, you guessed it, Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School. I have not made this up because try as I may it would be beyond me.

This may well explain why Joe only pops up now and then on his Neither Here Nor There soapbox to dispense his wit and wisdom since he is otherwise diligently engaged in the coveted governorship of the school. It is difficult though to be certain on this last point because as far as parents and children can observe he might as well be interred in one of his bogs and we would hardly know the difference. And as for the Deputy Governor, that goes to a Mr Bibelman. His credentials for the position are unknown though, as I said, having a cemetery or two on your CV may well prepare you for some types of schools.

You just must give it to Pinter. Challenge him on 'his' schools and when he tells you to drop dead those supposedly running the school may even stand to benefit. Not personally of course, but you get my gist. During daytime it’s teens tutoring teens while in the evening they waltz a danse macabre in the revenue-raising wedding hall to the grave-digging tune of burial society apparatchiks.

One can truly say that YHS is where they hatch 'em, match 'em and dispatch 'em. Let others call it what they like, round here we call it a school.

Cri de Cur

frand

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Da Vintshn Code

Guest Post (with a not altogether silent host)
Dear "still not in the no"
I have hesitated to respond to your inquisitive comments for I am fearful of incurring the displeasure of my Divrei Chaim brethren, and hope I shall not be banished from the DC magic circle for disclosing the clandestine mysticism oft-practiced in our cult.
As you must have heard, we entrusted our entire life including our womenfolk and children to our Rebbe. Some even accorded to him the ancient right of droit du seigneur but it is said that our Rebbe, renown for his asceticism and self-abnegation, would exhort that the bride merely have him in mind during the Great Act rather than participate in it in person.
We would pose to him all queries concerning our businesses and families for we knew Him to be the source of all knowledge. We would include even such esoteric topics as psychotherapy, tax avoidance and gynaecology and never would he fail us.
Our Rebbe is a practitioner too of the ancient art of Feng Shui, and when he requested that we renovate the premises and his place of lodging to enhance the channelling of His life-force and the potency of his energy we questioned him not. We obeyed him blindly, for we could not understand the recondite subjects in which he dabbled. But what would take place around the period of the autumnal equinox is something of a different order altogether.
On Simchas Torah, our guru, our leader, of whom we are not fit to kiss the the hem of his shiny robe, would shut his holy eyes and reach out with his mighty hand, the one containing the DNA of the Holy Amshinov Seer, into a crate of apples and erratically hurl them to all corners of our DC sanctum. What was the purpose of this seemingly demented act?
Aah, I cannot reveal all and there is much you will not understand, but I shall allow you this. Our Rebbe would transcend the trappings of our physical form and seize hold of the elusive spiritual sparks that flit across the Universe's stratosphere, left over since the Great Day of Creation. He would force them into apples, retrieved from the Garden of the Hesperides itself, and then bestow these hallowed fruit upon the laps of our initiated fellowship.
In due course, the recipients would encounter untold blessings and richness as our great Soothsayer had averred in the practice known as ‘vintshn’ in our internal vernacular. Verily, he would promise miraculous recoveries to those suffering ailments of mind and body, sustenance to the impoverished and even offspring to the infertile who were privileged to belong to our brotherhood. Salvation to these last mentioned would require further isolation with the Great Man who would wrestle out all impurity from the afflicted and transpose it to mere swaddling cloths. “Swaddle me so you may swaddle your own,” he would make them chant endlessly. It was only a most unfortunate set of circumstances and the intervention of Satan himself that could thwart the Great Man's designs.
Of course, as is the way of the Occult, such acts require immense preparation and a mastery of the Unseen. Our Rebbe would convene for months beforehand with his order of priestesses at the witching hour of the night. What rites they performed at this propitious time, we know not, but we would observe the women depart his chamber displaying a dreamy and satisfied look. Then our Rabbi would immerse himself in the Holy Well that we had installed within the boundaries of our Temple. Finally, we would assemble in the tenebrous Great Hall, illuminated by flickering havdalah candles and with elaborate pentagrams drawn upon the floor, and He would perform the sacred rite of the Yud-Kay-Vov-Kay dance, summoning all the Forces of Good to accompany him on his forthcoming Mission.
I apologise if I have confounded your incredulous senses, and have failed to accurately recount the esoterica that I observed. I was a lay member and can only describe what I perceived with my unschooled eyes. The ordained priests such as Grand Master Matok may be able to offer a much more intimate and authentic account of what transpired.
I must stop writing for my inkwell has almost run dry and I can hear the Dark Riders circling outside, and Porky tinkering with the wheels of my wagon.
Brother Nathaniel - 8th of Sh'vat, 5773

Passing Over

Pesach retraction
Strange that the ‘signature given’ to the notice proclaiming that, despite myriad allegations, Chaim Halpern may continue in all public positions was in Hebrew, while the above retraction is in English.
Is this playing to different audiences or is it revealing of the signatory’s attitude to our collective mother tongue? To me at least it suggests that Hebrew is for zealotry while common sense comes in English.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

More on that Swan

Part II
So where were we before we were rudely interrupted by a Beis Din that will/will not take place? A (no) Show Trial where the judges are brought kicking and screaming, the witnesses are nowhere to be seen and the guy in the dock is smirking like a combatant after a prize-winning wrestle. Stalin couldn’t even have thought this one up but they call it justice round here. They even had me fool standing at the door with a hand on the mezuzah returning thinking it was a final curtain call, but which turned out to be a fly-by-night Beis Din stuck on the runway.
Firstly, thanks for all the kind words and sentiments expressed. 'Mertshem by you,' you can see me nodding in all directions. 'Not at all, it was mamesh our pleasure. Ach don't be silly,' I say to those who insist on helping take home the half bottles of cherryade and unopened plonk because the waiters were under orders to hide the corkscrew openers. 'Loz, the goyim will look after it. Mach zich nisht narish.'
And now please excuse me for turning to my little baby, this precious blog of mine. Many of you who have been lapping it up for the last couple of months may not necessarily enjoy my wares once the blog reverts to type. Like the school 'principal' about town prancing around at every other mixed affair while his charges are made to add inches to their skirts and encouraged to form a habit of standing aside for men. Or the Buffoon who frets over the sight of women in a United Synagogue boardroom but will overhear nothing when one of his own is alleged to host them in his bedroom. Or the Chief who's happy to summon us to the stadium but keeps us out of the boudoir. And of course our institutions that are more interested in keeping face than losing clothes.
So turning to these newcomers, I am sorry to disappoint you but it ain't me you're looking for, babes. I am not a crusader and definitely not of the leshem shomayim variety. The only time I have had a positive experience with leshem shomayim was when I dined at a restaurant of that name in Nice in the South of France and that too was rather grubby with bird droppings from overhead trees. I'm afraid this blog adheres to the precepts of Mr JS Mill rather than the teaching of Rabbi YM Kagan/Poupko with no plans to switch sides in the foreseeable future. Truly shocking and I appreciate that, but I'd rather be upfront than fool you with a pile of Shmiras Haloshons stacked high at the entrance and then dish the dirt anyway.
A commenter wrote that apparently according to some rabbinical authorities martyrdom is preferable to a visit to this blog. I'd like to add that this is a view which I wholeheartedly endorse. May I even suggest that you set up a support group called Tickle Anonymous and arrange to meet at that famous bridge on Hornsey Road, conveniently located approximately half-way between Stamford Hill and Golders Green. There you can hold hands, of course each gender on either side of the bridge, and after a voluble Shema Yisroel surpassing even the one at the Royal Festival Hall in August, you can all go for a massive jump. Cheshunt should inter you and may even be willing to drown you for an extra fee but at least you'll be saved from transgressing the Sacred Articles of the Leyton Orient Convention.
I say this because we have reached a situation where on some days the entire Leyton Orient sell out crowd has been exceeded on this blog by 10am, and there they had the kiddies too. This would undoubtedly make it high up in the top 10 Chilul Hashems of all times and I simply cannot take this kind of achrayus on my narrow shoulders.
So to all you out there offended by satire, allergic to mirth or with ulcers that may rupture by an overdose of acerbity I have a simple message: Please abandon me, your Rav don't live here any more, assuming he ever did. (This, by the way, is a paraphrase of a kol isha which once again goes to show the terrible things that can happen by straying even accidentally onto this blog.)
I write for fun and maintain no standards other than my own. My moral compass contains only a south point and the moral high ground I occupy is on an altitude roughly parallel to the Dead Sea. I say this because the reaction to some posts and comments suggests that people may have got the wrong end of the towel. As its very name suggests, this blog is first and foremost about having a laugh and as it is written in the possuk הכי קרא שמו טיקל ויטקלני זה פעמים . (Is not he rightly named Tickle? for he hath tickled me these two times).
I also have an inkling that it is down the hill from Jack's Castle that most offence was taken and so let me make one further point: this is a Stamford Hill blog where we know how to laugh. I covered this story not because I am your Aslan but because besides an innate weakness for mischief making, I was interested in the local angle and not in the happy clappies on Bridge Lane. Of course, being in Stamford Hill I cannot not partake in the schadenfreude felt on this side of Nags Head at seeing your deity come crashing down. It's not nice and not at all kosher, I know, but nor is arm wrestling women with a towel and yet the Amshinovers engage in it with alacrity.
I simply could not have guessed at the contents of the Pandora's box about to be prised open. I did not and still do not understand all the dynamics of this saga. My experience of Golders Greeners is limited to the Normandie Hotel where like Germans on a Spanish resort spreading their towels early, you too grab all the seats and then bury your noses in your sidurim when we turn up after a mikve and coffee. Even shoving aside for us your, oh, so well behaved kinderlech, becomes too much. And now rabbis I'd barely heard of a few short months ago have turned into household names and individuals whose egos had hitherto not reached our retarded shores are suddenly all the rage.
Least of all did I understand the scores being settled and the accounts being balanced in this affair. I too was therefore taken aback at the sight of friend turning on friend and neighbour on neighbour in scenes not experienced since the Spanish Civil War. Though, happily, it wasn't Franco who succeeded this time. And so whether you have benefitted or lost out from all of this it's collateral as far as I'm concerned since Golders Green is not my forte and Hendon is outside my tchum.
So returning to the blog, yes I intend to continue but it's time to move on from this saga. In the last 3 months or so I have touched on no other story. Allowing others off the hook would be a terrible injustice to the scoundrel of the moment and therefore move on I must. I hope to return to the subject as it should be fascinating to examine how a hallowed institution like the UOHC turned itself into a variety show and how its head topped the bill. But to paraphrase those infamous words uttered by Tony Hayward: I just want my blog back.
But before I move on I have a very important message and disclaimer to those out there who've been coming here for their daily fix of Hashkofe. THIS BLOG is not endorsed by gedoilim. It is not checked for worms. It is (or aims to be) 100% chodosh and yoshon is instantly rejected. (Followers of the Chasam Sofer, in particular, you have been warned.) Visiting this site for 40 consecutive days will not cure your dandruff and nor will it clear your acne (and if you are of that age you should watch it because you may come face to face with your Rosh.) We have no facilities for standing orders - though they can be arranged upon request. We cannot check you for genetic diseases unless laughter is your affliction. Leaving a comment with your and your mother's name will not resolve your halitosis but flossing still remains an option. Moreover, publicising your visits may leave you and your spouse unshuled and your kids unschooled and unmatched if not mismatched.
However, if despite the above you still wish to stay on then please mach zich heimish as we stay in Stamford Hill where we do not employ nannies to keep the unwashed on the doorstep.
A note on housekeeping
I will keep on placing source documents and translations as and when they are published and/or leaked. If the UOHC has more acts up its sleeve expect to read about it here. I will also publish comments though without new developments there is not much left to say.
Contrary to what some believe, I do not ‘censor’ comments but nor am I going to turn this into a gladiatorial arena. I like cogent commentary, honest analysis and, more than anything, good writing. Facts, less so. If your comment has not been published please send me an email as otherwise I cannot communicate with you. If you’re still unhappy feel free to set up on your own and I wish you the very best.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Triple Whammy: JC going for the jugular

jc1jc2jc3
Sorry for the quality of the images. You’ll have to buy tomorrow’s paper or wait till they are put up online.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Firing Epistle

First Anti Halpern Letter

Note on translation: Since the text waffles on in places I have omitted the less relevant passages. The letter refers to Rav Padwa in the 3rd person which has been changed to direct speech.
Committee of Rabbis of NW London
Days of Selichos Elul 5772 [September 2012]

To the Gaavad of the UOHC Rabbi M.C.E Padwa shlita

We have become aware that one of the Dayanim, a member of the Union Rabbinate, is involved in obscene acts with married women. By ‘obscene’ we mean deeds that according to all [halachic] opinions are within the category of an obligation of martyrdom rather than commit the acts. Many women have testified that he speaks freely in the most licentious of manners. To our great consternation, his actions too are of an extremely grave nature. Those close to the matter have said that even if he has yet to transgress the prohibition against adultery, there is considerable concern that he may commit such acts too in the near future, God forbid.
We know that you are well aware of these matters, as you have already been informed about them from several sources.
You are certainly aware, just as we are, that several years ago, three of London's senior rabbis rebuked this individual regarding his obscene conduct, in terms of physical contact with women and such like, and he gave his word to desist in future.
The undertaking of this individual is, however, entirely worthless, as he is renown as a compulsive liar. You are well aware of this too given that you have also been informed of his lying habits.

Undoubtedly the preparation for the rally prevented you from dealing with other matters, but does not the ‘rescue of our generation’ take precedence over “the Rescue of all Generations”?
It appears that you were surprised that R. Chaim Kanievsky refused to write a letter of support for the "rally". We, however, were not surprised. How could someone smeared with this filth be accorded pride of place, exhorting the masses not to use the internet, when he himself is deeply immersed in precisely these things, Heaven help us? This is akin to one who immerses himself whilst still grabbing the rodent [i.e. the very cause of his impurity]…
You then added insult to injury when all the dayanim of the Union Rabbinate, including this individual, signed a proclamation [headed], "Let us search and examine our ways", which summoned everyone on the first day of Selichos "to cry out and beseech one hour before Mincha", to withdraw (God's) fury. [This was] in light of the recent tragedies that have occurred here in London, may God save us, that we have been afflicted with the deaths of seven young scholars, "the pride and glory of our town".
How could you ignore the explicit statement of our Sages, that "[because of sexual immorality] young men of Israel perish".

The rabbis here in Golders Green will not rest until this evil is removed from out midst. All of us want to avoid the profanation of God’s name, God forbid. [Some of] the women have said that if the rabbis do not act to remove this individual from our town they will report the matter to the police. We have no doubt that if this were to happen he will be imprisoned, as we have been advised by professionals on these subjects.
Needless to say that it would be desirable for the Rabbinate to avoid any delay so that the matter is not publicised, as it would lead to a horrendous desecration of God’s name.
We accordingly request that the Rabbinate order this individual to leave town, without any delay, in order to minimise the horrendous desecration of God’s name should the matter be publicised.
Signed,

N.B. This letter was shown to R. Chaim Kanievsky and he remarked that it is ‘well in order’.
A copy of this letter is being made available to all parties concerned in this matter.
If Chaim Halpern, as heir presumptive to his father's presidency of the UOHC, was Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and if we are currently witnessing a world war on the streets of frum London, then surely this letter is the opening shot that started it all off. Our Sarajevo moment, if you like.
The letter, which is addressed to Rav Ephraim Padwa, was first referred to in the Jewish Chronicle and the original now sees light for the first time. According to the JC, it was sent unsigned on behalf of a group calling itself “The Committee of North-West London rabbis” and “more than one rabbi agreed to it being sent.” The letter is dated by reference only to the month of Elul and according to the JC it was sent a few days before Rosh Hashana, which fell on 16 September 2012.
This letter is most important because it belies any claim that the UOHC were willing to act but were outmanoeuvred by the Gilui Da’as. It shows that for at least a month Rav Padwa knew of the allegations and strength of feeling and he did nothing until the story hit the street. Even then it took him about another month or so to react in any meaningful way. I have a recording of a phone conversation in November with Rav Padwa, in which he is asked whether it is in order to ask Halpern more serious shales and he replies in the affirmative.
The hypocrisy is even more breathtaking when you consider that at the start of September, the UOHC convened a massive rally at the Leyton Orient stadium to warn against the ‘dangers’ of the internet and technology where Halpern graced the podium. At an earlier, smaller, meeting in North West London, Halpern also spoke about the same ‘dangers’.
It is clear from the letter that Padwa had been briefed on the issue shortly before the LO rally whose theme was ‘The Rescue of the Generations.’ The letter refers to the rally somewhat sarcastically when it says, “Undoubtedly the preparation for the rally prevented [you] from dealing with other matters,” and goes on to ask barbedly, “but does not the ‘rescue of our generation’ take precedence over “the Rescue of all Generations”?
Thanks to senders of letter and for assistance with translation.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

A Voice from the Wilderness

This comment was left by someone calling himself 'We are victims too'
I was thinking of writing for a long time, and tonight after reading the many comments, I have decided to take the plunge and I hope people will be kind and read my post in the way it was intended.
I am referring to the many attacks against the "evil", "selfish", "foolish", "irresponsible" "baalei machloikes" leftover DC mispalelim.
Please understand, we the leftover DC mispalelim are victims ourselves. We now KNOW and realise the sad truth, but we cannot leave because we were imprisoned by R' Padva. You need to remember, when R' Padva promised the B'Din there were mainly just lots of rumours but no clear public guidance from rabbonim, so some of us had no motivation or courage to jump ship and leave. Many of us had the subconscious thought of "lets wait another week". The moment R'Padva said that he was getting a BDin, we were locked into an emotional catch 22 situation. If we leave now, we know we will bear the burden of being the ones who actually brought our rov down. This is a massive burden that none of us are big enough to take.
We silently wish that there would already be a clear cut psak that our rov is guilty and we can be free to move on. It is thanks to R' Padva and the other Stamford Hill rabbonim that we may be imprisoned, and the most terrifying thing is that this may be indefinite.
I will be honest with you. 4 weeks ago I still felt that I could at least take some ruchniyos from our rov, but unfortunately this has also died away and I am finding it harder and harder to see my rov just acting as if nothing happened, and feel sick when he preaches keddushah.
Do you think it is easy for me to walk home Shabbos from shul and get those smirky git shabbes's from the ones that still greet me? Do you think I enjoy having to work out whether the cold git shabbes you gave me last week was intentional, or perhaps you were just preoccupied. Do you think I enjoy checking this blog everyday to see if there is a new letter showing me up as a fool who is blindly staying faithful to someone who all the chosheveh local rabbonim believe did terrible things?
My plea to you fellow GG'ners, please see our plight and understand us. Please give us time, we need it. Yes, we were weak to stay, but that is why you need to give us space - because we are the weak ones who didn't take the opportunity to leave when it was fashionable.
I have great love for my fellow GG'ners and wish and hope for the day when this nightmare will finally be over and we can all get back to doing what we really are here to do with total unity.

With Frands like these...

Open Letter from "yankel"
Dear Mr Frand,
Firstly, let me introduce myself. I'm just an average Golders Greener, have only eaten Kedassia meat for the last 40 plus years, used to daven in Halpern shuls, but still daven in very right wing shuls (no eiruv carriers) send my kids to the most frum schools in NW, and try and do whats right in the eyes of Hashem. I go to work everyday, schvitzing to make a living to enable me to bring up my kids frum and correctly. Oy and 1 more thing I almost forgot to mention - I try to respect what my Rabonim and magid shiurim have to say. Your letter throws all this to the wind!
What message are you sending out to me? I can't trust my rabonim I've learnt from and davened with for all these decades? I may as well send my kids to Christ College; they will probably end up being better guided knowing right from wrong! (Will save a fortune in school fees too!)
I am thoroughly appalled by your recent announcement naming 3 rabbis who will be coming to 'investigate' this serious matter. So is everyone else that I met today on the road.
It just simply does not make sense to import rabbis, whose ultimate decision will only be as good as the info (or lack of it) they are provided. 3 cheder yingelich could do the same job, but you obviously think that we in NW are a bunch of goons and importing rabbis from B'nai Brak will tip the scales. Mr Frand get real!
Here in NW London, ALL our rabonim have already THOROUGHLY investigated and have come to their conclusion. What right do you have to issue such a letter? A complete azus to our esteemed Rabonim who are NOT echod bepeh and echod belev, unlike your cronies!
Back off from NW because you are just going to make matters far worse. There are 3 possibilities that will come out this 'new investigation':-
1. They find CH guilty.
2. They find him innocent.
3. They find him somewhere in between.
The outcome resulting from the above findings, as per the above numbering:-
1. Much worse for CH and his whole family. Probably lose everything he has and will be publicly kicked out of town.
2. All out war between the 2 camps. Major breakup of the kehilla. Vast majority of NW will still respect the findings of the GD and all the verbal instruction we have received from our Rabonim. Kedassia sales will take a massive hit in NW. (Do you really think the average Golders Greener will allow our NW Rabonim to end up with egg on their face? I for one will not!)
3. We are where we are currently - no progress. Union just confirming what our NW rabonim confirmed weeks ago. Union looking again stupid. Probably distancing more people from Kedassia/Union.
Frand get honest & real. There is only one thing the Union should now be doing and that is to save what is left before the cooky crumbles completely. The Union should be working alongside our NW Rabonim to sort this out, NOT against them. I know this will not suit Halperns PLC but ask yourself whats more important long term, pacifying the Halperns or a strong unified kehilla? You know the answer to this as well as everyone else. Time is running out. It's late - very late, but not too late.
Please do the right thing or the demise of the Union is in the making.
Yours truly,
A sincere friend.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Courting Trouble

Beis Din

Reb Tickle’s Swan Song: Part I – On Rabbis and Rabble

The time has come to bow out of Towelgate. I shan't refer to it as the 'Painful Saga' as those who coined that name had in mind only the pain of the poor accused and his 'distinguished family'. But not a word was heard from those quarters to acknowledge even the existence of victims and never mind a kind word for their pain.
It's a propitious time of year for reckoning so as we move on from the winter of discontent that has rocked our community it wouldn't be a bad idea to stand back and reflect. The basic facts hardly need repeating and the outcome is still far from certain. The reverberations will be felt for some time to come and there will be ample opportunity to analyse the causes and effects, exposures and cover ups, successes and setbacks, and winners and losers. On balance, however, I think we as a community have plenty to be proud of.
We have shown that rabbis too can be responsive when the weight of public anger is brought to bear down on them. Despite a hesitant start, those rabbis who acted showed resolve and courage in taking a stand to stamp out abuse in our midst. This was then followed by a dignified silence despite many provocations. One rabbi went even further by targeting those harbouring abusers and covering up for them. They were all in unchartered territory in respect of a scandal of this magnitude, concerning allegations this heinous, regarding a rabbi this senior in a community this frum. Yet act they did. While it is legitimate to criticise the manner they went about it, their fortitude in what they did must never be forgotten.
And seeing how such scandals have been dealt with in other parts of the world we can hold our heads even higher. What has transpired is truly unprecedented in a chareidi community where cover ups and denials are the order of the day. It has unfortunately been shown time and again that the more frum the community the more tolerant it tends to be of its sexual deviants and the more unable and unwilling it is to make difficult decisions. Perversely, this apparent inability turns to complete paralysis when the victims are themselves members of these same communities.
It is inconceivable that in Israel a group of chareidi rabbis would take on one of their own in this manner over sexual allegations. Over the excavating of non-existent graves, possibly. Over wig lengths and lycra content in women's tops, probably. Over political affiliations and fratricidal succession battles, definitely. But over touching up some women? We don't do such things and certainly not our rabbis, and anyway they're only women. Over there they call hospital heads 'Mengele' for the crime of rescuing a child from its deranged mother and burn rubbish on the streets when a father is arrested on suspicion (subsequently convicted) of murdering his own son.
Even in the USA where the civil authorities are less indulgent, no rabbi publicly condemned the convert specialist who sold Judaism for a song, or, to be more precise, a blow. Nor have I heard a single, sane voice from a senior chareidi figure in the furore following the conviction of Weberman on 59 charges relating to molestation. Here in London by contrast, a group of rabbis, some as chareidi as they come, condemned one of their own as unfit for purpose. This, my friends, is progress. It will no doubt in the course of time be pointed to as a turning point in the treatment of these issues in our communities and for this they deserve our unreserved gratitude.
Make no mistake, however. There are still plenty of dark forces out there desperate to turn the clock back. To them the corollary of the accused being innocent until proven guilty and permitted to retain his public role despite the relentless rumours and numerous allegations is that the victims are guilty until proven innocent. And if they're not guilty, they're mad, which indeed they must be to take on this dangerous lot.
Yet even this camp was relatively restrained. The letter from the Stamford Hill rabbis was moderate by their usual standards. They did not resort to ad-hominem attacks on the opposing side as is their wont and they condescended to provide reasons for their dissention which is rather gracious. This too is progress.
It has often appeared in recent times that rabbis have forgotten how to disagree on substantive issues. Whereas in days bygone disputes would be conducted by exchanges of responsa where the authors set out their respective positions, in recent years almost everything is sorted by a phone call to this or that godol following which all dissent is silenced. And on those occasions when differences do arise it is usually related to territorial or succession battles which often turn to violence. There has been little or no violence in this dispute and while ordinarily that is hardly something to be proud of, the reality of dispute handling in the chareidi world is such that this is also a form of progress. Even the invective unleashed in the comments is tame compared to what passes for a low key affair in Brooklyn or Bnei Brak.
Turning now to us Joe public, something this affair has revealed is the absence of a forum for UK, particularly London, frum Jews to talk and debate. I am an accidental askan in all of this and I was happy to host it only because no alternative existed.
Setting up a forum does not require a large initial outlay but simply a format that people take to and some TLC from the moderators. Many of the sites like vosizneias and YWN Coffee Room in the US or JDN, Ladaat and that unsavoury site, Behadrei Hareidim in Israel arose from humble beginnings but evolved to become primary news sites and talking shops for their respective communities. Less than a year ago there was established a Yiddish forums site, Kave Shtiebel, and it has already clocked up 10s of thousands of comments.
So I say to anyone out there who wishes to continue the conversation: go for it. It is not difficult to set up a site for forums and the demand is there. We have shown ourselves to possess far more intelligence, articulacy and maturity than our leaders and press credit us with and it would be a shame not to capitalise on the momentum.
To be continued…

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Rabbis and Rumours

Harav Wosner's T'Shuvah, Highlights
By ‘Moish’
Much of the confusion in the recent case has been due to the fact that there is so little by way of precedent in terms of how to deal with rabbis who are alleged to have acted 'improperly'. Within the Charedi world, although such issues have surely arisen, they have been dealt with (if at all) so furtively as to leave barely a smidgen of record in the halachic literature. Precedents from the Modern Orthodox community are easier to find, but, well, they're modern anyway so what do you expect?
The one recent case that does spring to mind is that of Rabbi Mordechai Tendler of Monsey. Without going into details, the rabbi concerned was expelled from the American RCA on account of his alleged misbehaviour with women in a counselling context (ring any bells?) and a group of his local colleagues took it upon themselves to examine the evidence against him and proceeded to publicise their verdict.
Whilst the parallels are far from exact, many of the technical issues that have been raised in our case, such as the admissibility of women's testimony and the propriety of local rabbis taking a public stand, were dealt with in a responsum by Rabbi Benzion Wosner, also of Monsey.
The full text of the responsum is reproduced above, with relevant quotes highlighted. (Due to Scribd’s rendering of Hebrew it may be necessary to download the document first.)
See here for an English summary: http://rabbinicintegrity.blogspot.co.uk/2005_12_01_archive.html

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Another One Fights the Lust

Cohn
Leil Yud Tes Teves 5763 [1 January 2013]
Statement
The Union may not be responsible for the alleged misbehaviour of one its Dayonim. However its lack of willingness or ability to deal with the matter in any way is perceived to be unacceptable and is a matter of great embarrassment.
As a result we have been put in an impossible position where our Shul has fallen victim to the situation just by virtue of our official association with the Union.
We must do all that we can to protect the Shul and its membership from this. The internal equilibrium and stability of our kehilla is far more important than with whom our Shul is affiliated.
I am therefore fully behind the Executives decision to call this meeting, in order to examine and explore our options. We must take into account all the ramifications of any decision we make.
We need to enlist Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s help to make the correct decision, and many more tefillos to invoke His rachamim that this terribly destructive geziroh Ro’oh is quickly brought to an end.
Please note: My North West London Union Colleagues & I retain full confidence in the activities and supervision of Kedassia to include food production, The Mikvoos, Shaatnez etc. . The kehilla need have no doubts in this matter.
Many thank to several readers who typed it up.