Monday, 31 December 2012
תכלה שנה וקללותיה – תחל שנה וברכותיה
fee free to add it to the comments.
In the meantime I leave you to meditate upon two marvellous poems, one for the dross and the other for the gloss, both by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)
What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.
New Year (As the old year sinks down in Time's ocean...)
As the old year sinks down in Time's ocean,
Stand ready to launch with the new,
And waste no regrets, no emotion,
As the masts and the spars pass from view.
Weep not if some treasures go under,
And sink in the rotten ship's hold,
That blithe bonny barque sailing yonder
May bring you more wealth than the old.
For the world is for ever improving,
All the past is not worth one to-day,
And whatever deserves our true loving,
Is stronger than death or decay.
Old love, was it wasted devotion?
Old friends, were they weak or untrue?
Well, let them sink there in mid ocean,
And gaily sail on to the new.
Throw overboard toil misdirected,
Throw overboard ill-advised hope,
With aims which, your soul has detected,
Have self as their centre and scope.
Throw overboard useless regretting
For deeds which you cannot undo,
And learn the great art of forgetting
Old things which embitter the new.
Sing who will of dead years departed,
I shroud them and bid them adieu,
And the song that I sing, happy-hearted,
Is a song of the glorious new.
Sunday, 30 December 2012
The meeting was followed by a letter from 5 rabbonim proclaiming the view of the Torah but still the Torah organs wouldn’t touch the story. The engagement of the grandson of the Kvetcher to the great-niece of the Greptser will make it in full Technicolor but the 5 must rely on the accursed world wide web for their fair share of notoriety.
Aha, you may think, since the newspapers are headquartered in Stamford Hill in order to comply with the posuk, Ki m'Hackney teitzei Torah udvar Hashem m'N16, they have adopted the local Daas Torah which was hijacked and taken hostage and released only on payment of a ransom in the shape of a letter of misunderstanding. But even here there are the 20 odd who did speak up that irrespective of the allegations and accusations the accused may remain in his position and continue to perform his duties. So why is it that after this unequivocal pronouncement of Daas Torah, The Voice of Anglo-Jewish Orthodoxy appears to have undergone a laryngectomy and The Newspaper of Torah Jewry ignores both Torah and Jewry?
But the famine for the Word of God is about to come to an end and in the most unlikely of places will the faithful be nourished. Here, in this hotbed of dissent, anarchy and heresy, are you about to hear the true Voice of Torah.
The article below was written by non other than an in-house features writer on one of our Torah-true organs. I withhold the writer’s name not so much out of concern for her or his livelihood, though for that reason too, but more for the sake of the circulation of the particular publication.
If word were to get out that its writers are actively engaging their brains and writing about matters that actually concern their readers it could threaten the very future of our publishing industry. Just think what happened to the News of the World, lehavdil elef havdoles, when they were caught acting unethically and illegally and you would not want that visited on the papers that give us everything that is Neither Here Nor There but won’t give you as much as the price of milk lest they offend some vested interest.
So, ladies and gentleman, after this short intro please forget everything you have ever read on this site and fasten your seatbelts for a whole new experience. We will blast you into the Oilom Hatorah as denied to you by Ami, Binoh, Hamodia, the Jewish Tribune, Mishpacha and any and all other Torah-true publications.
They provide the yawn – here you get the brawn.
By “A Features Writer on a Chareidi News Publication”
I have heard it said many times that this saga cannot get any worse, yet the statement has been proven wrong too many times. Nobody even dares say it any longer but the sad fact remains that there are many people trying to make sense of this and failing. They are left flailing like loose sails in the wind, desperately clutching at their connection to yiddishkeit hoping to stop it from being blown away in the turbulence.
My optimism was dashed once when a letter in which the UOHC supposedly capitulated "mipnei darkei sholom" turned out to be a brilliantly crafted hoax. It was again dashed last Friday when what was supposed to be the final chapter was buried alive by a blameless, poorly-informed octogenarian threatening a nuclear strike at the heart of our imaginary Union. I now fear that the only real ending might be a cliff-hanger, leaving our kehilla doomed to remain forever an undignified non-entity.
Whichever way one looks at it and whether one belongs to the camp of the Antis, or even to those forlorn few Pro's still clutching at their last remaining straws, nobody can honestly say that our connection to our talmudei chachomim - our leaders, has not taken a severe, if not mortal, battering. Our society, more than any other, relies so heavily on emunas chachomim that it is difficult to know how we can ever recover from this.
Living in Stamford Hill, I look to those Rabonim who signed the "we demand a beis din" letter and I am overcome by an overwhelming feeling of despair. That most of them have supposedly by now withdrawn their signatures, is of no consolation. Why did they sign it in the first place? What were they thinking? How can I continue to ask them my shailos and turn to them for inspiration? Whatever faith I ever had in them is long gone.
I then turn to those who led the anti campaign. In all fairness, it is said that they tried their utmost to stop this matter from becoming the mess it turned into. I am also certain they could never have predicted this most implausible outcome. But, there are still so many unanswered questions besides. Their seemingly unexplained actions to date and their continued inaction has left too many doubts floating around for me to look to them as shining beacons of our faith.
And then we have those who sat on the fence, one very publicly so, and with the tacit silence of the remaining Golders Green Rabbis implying their agreement. I am sure there were excellent reasons for this high wire act. However, the slightest shove will send a tightrope walker flying and I need to know that my mentor has both feet planted firmly on the ground.
Getting closer to the top, we have the senior Rabonim of the UOHC. While one was performing his high wire special, another very humbly allowed himself to be lowered to the third tier of Stamford Hill Rabonim. The other senior Dayonim were left to murmur, mutter and gnash in private since the inaction of their head forced them to make their position known only by silence. Stamford Hillers, the weight of our shtriemels preventing our brains from working at full capacity (for most of us at least), were excused from understanding the inference.
And finally, we have our Av Beis Din himself. The Pros hate him for throwing them to the dogs while the Antis despair at his ineptitude and his inability to take a stance and act upon it. The fact that he managed to infuriate and exasperate both sides in this sordid business raises significant questions about his leadership abilities. Astoundingly however, thanks to the way our kehilla is run, the only pink slip he will ever see is the one in his Rebetzin’s wardrobe. Meanwhile, his helplessly confused kehilla is left despairing why it is taking so long for Halpern to be handed his.
Our union has withstood the sands of time, but in not standing up to this scandal is destroying itself from within. We watch helplessly from the sidelines as our kehilla is torn apart by the actions of a few and the inactions of many and we are left traumatised by our impotence.
But though our so called communal body might be irreparably damaged, hopefully, we will be able to find the strength to pick up the shattered pieces of our emunas chachomim and put them back together again. If we are to survive this, we have no other option.
Saturday, 29 December 2012
Erev Shabbos Parshas Vayechi 5773 [28 December 2012]
“The rabbis sat by and did not object implying that they were content”
I am pained that there is a group of charlatans which is powerful in communal affairs and is protecting a man whom rabbis have announced [to the public] to distance themselves from. They thereby weaken amongst us all the severity of the prohibition against licentious conduct.
Friday, 28 December 2012
You know who I am. I write an open letter to you begging you to do the right thing here.
Let’s start from the beginning. You tried helping us out at our time of need, you were a great help for many years, answering all our questions from the day we got married, you were there for us at any stage we ever needed you. YOU then dropped yourself into this BIG time, you built up such a trust with us that we saw no wrong in anything you did, those late night calls to my wife, the times you told me send your wife in I will "explain" those shallos that didn’t need explaining - but you were trying to help!!!!...then came the time where you over stepped the mark, you crossed that line that was unacceptable by any standards.... You know exactly what you did, have you any idea what hell we went through as a couple for what you did? Have you any idea on the "dinai nefoshos" you put us through? Still to this day, you don’t think every time I see you in the street I want to come over and punch you in the face? But NO, you are the GREAT (R) Chaim Halpern that could do no wrong... how wrong were you and you know it. SO how dare you use the card now that your wife is ill from this all......how ill has MY wife been all these years from the torment you put US through????
Do you know how sickened I was by the Siyum Hashas, by the Internet Asifa to see you stand there and scream about everyone else’s terrible Averious they commit or you reading the Hadren, I will not accuse you of being a fake, you need help but you are not fit to lead or guide anyone.
So what do I ask from you, you have nothing more to lose anymore, leave town before it’s too late, the town is falling apart, everywhere you go the discussions are about the bad you have done. Let’s remember that there was a lot of good you had done over the years, but the bad and the evil has really caught up with you and it’s time for you to go!
If there could be one comfort for the Victims, it is please go… I beg you like you begged me not to publicise what you had done. I beg you to leave and let us try and move on.
To the members who are still there… […] to name a few, you are supposed to be the askonim of the town, […] you can forget about people supporting YOUR schools that you work tirelessly for so long that you continue to support and protect CH.
And Finally, to all the Rabonim out there who I cried my heart out to and your response was you will never win over CH, so leave it and forget about it, I hope you can sleep well at night, I hope you can hold your heads up high and think about what you did to us as a family.
1 of the Many Victims to this sorry story
Tuesday, 25 December 2012
I hereby confirm that the letter written by Reb Chaim Schneck on Motze Asoro B’Teves of this year was under instruction of the Ga’avad Shlita
Signed under orders
The above is accurate. E.P. [Ephraim Padwa]
Monday, 24 December 2012
Hi, my name is Efraim Padwa, or is it? I'm not sure, I can't make up my mind. Do I have a mind? Let me ask the Halperns what my name is and what i should think. Or should I? I'm just so confused. Who is that fat man blocking my way? Is he friend or foe? He is shouting at me! But he looks like a friend! Do I know him? How can I know him if I don't even know myself?? Sign a letter? About what? Will you calm down if I sign it? Ok, so I'll sign. Can I go now? Thank you Mr Policeman - Merry Kratzmech. Wow, look a Hatzoola ambulance. Wonder what all the fuss is about. No time to find out, must get home to what the Queen's kratzmech message on TV with my 3D specs. She has it so easy, that Queen - somebody writes it all down for her and makes all the decisions about what she should say, and what she shouldn't say, and she just reads it. Halevai oif mir gezugt! Anyway, I'm off now, until next time I need to make a fool of myself. Soon, probably. Good night.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN
SAID TO THE PSALMIST
TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real ! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Sunday, 16 December 2012
Can someone enlighten us where rabbis pick up their writing style. If I were a member of Bridge Lane Beis Hamedrash I would take exception being spoken to like to a kindergarten rather than mature adults. (Mind you, it’s not in all kindergartens they talk like that either, but that’s for another day.)
Did it occur to the esteemed Rabbi and his Secretary to ‘request’ his congregants not to attend? Or to ‘urge’, even ‘strongly urge’, them not to take part? Or ask them to ‘consider seriously the implications’ of showing up?
It seems that our black and white world makes not allowance for such subtleties. It’s either a chov kodoish or forbidden, with no bridge in the middle.
Spot the difference
The above is the call in support of the of Leyton Orient internet rally. It is signed by almost all London Rabbonim affiliated to the UOHC. Ringed are those who signed the recent letter in support of Chaim Halpern.
What a sign of the times!
Saturday, 15 December 2012
Friday, 14 December 2012
The 5th Candle of Chanukah 5773, London
To the Esteemed Members and Participants of Shiurim of the Beis Medresh "Divrei Chaim"
In light of the "Gilui Da'as" [proclamation] that was publicised on 22 Kislev against your Rabbi the Gaon and Tzadik shlita, after he had resigned from those positions that gave rise to the complaints. Yet [the rabbis who signed the proclamation] were still not satisfied and publicised their decision for all to see. They decided all of this without a hearing in front of a formal Beth Din and a proper Din Torah in accordance with Shulchan Oruch, Choshen Mishpat. [This was required] in order to comply with the Biblical prescription "Hear the causes between your brothers" without which one cannot oust a rabbi's presumption of innocence.
Prior to publicising their Gilui Da'ath, [Rav Padwa] ordered the formation of a Beth Din composed of distinguished out-of-town Rabbonim to rule on the matter as is set out in haloche and in order to issue a true and just ruling in accordance with the Torah. As Chazal say, "When there is no justice below there is no justice Above." [The signatories to the proclamation] also received the request of the Rabbi of Jerusalem [Rav Tuvia Weiss] where he enforced [Rav Padwa's] request. They were pleaded with to delay publicising [the proclamation] in order to quell the strife and bloodshed, but they nevertheless went ahead an published.
And we hereby sign in London
Eliezer Dovid Friedman
Ze'ev Halevi Feldman
('69') and member of UOHC Rabbinate
Yosef Binyomin Halevi Wosner
Rabbi and Dayan, London
Ya'akov Meir Rosenbaum
Rosh Yeshiva of Ger
and President of Agudath Yisroel, Europe
Vizhnitz (Bnei Brak, Stamford Hill) and Dayan UOHC
Vizhnitz (Monsey) and Dayan UOHC
Bobov (Egerton) and Dayan UOHC
Son of Erlauer Rov
Tzvi Nechemiah Halevi Schneck
Dayan Satmar (86) and Dayan UOHC
Dayan Satmar (26) and Dayan UOHC
Avrohom Yosef Rubinfeld
Charedim and Dayan UOHC
Yechazkel Shraga Friezel
Skver and Dayan UOHC
Moshe Uri Schlesinger
Rabbi at Yeshivas Horomoh
Mordechai Tzvi Pesach
Dayan Ger and Dayan UOHC
Dayan Satmar ('86') and Dayan UOHC
Eliezer Mordechai Stolzberg
Dayan Satmar ('86') and Dayan UOHC
Eliezer Yom-Tov Lipa Halevi Brown
Dayan Neitra and Dayan UOHC
Dayan and Rosh Hakolel Divrei Shlomo
Ya'akov Dovid Domb
Rosh Hakolel Tiferes Shlomo
As an addition to the esteemed aforesigned, I hereby endorse the above and I count [CH] as an acquaintance since I often visit that area. The above Gaon and Tzadik is one of the only Rabbonim to enjoy this amount of Heavenly assistance with so many including even commoners whom he supports in all matters with the power of his Torah. To our consternation the result of this confusion (libel?) is a frightening profanation of God's Name. It also weakens the power of the Torah not only in our own community but in all Jewish communities worldwide.
Uri Ashkenazi the son of Rabbi Meshulam of Blessed Memory from Stanislow
After establishing the facts how the Rabbis reached their decision and after great deliberation of all angles to their decision we wish to express the view of the Torah in the matter of the Painful Saga. This saga is stabbing the raw flesh of the UOHC and those who fear and tremble for the saying of Chazal, when there is justice below there is justice Above and when there is no justice below…
[Each of the following paragraphs begins "According to the law of the Torah…]
- Rabbis of one town may not sit in judgement on a rabbi of the same town.
- An adversary [of the defendant] should not sit in on his judgement.
- ...and where there was a single adversary in the make up of the Beth Din, according to the majority of authorities it invalidates the entire Beth Din.
- [The Beth Din] should not come to a decision before hearing both sides.
- There is an obligation to hear both sides. (Appears repeat of 4.)
- Evidence must be given by the witness himself and not hearsay or a recording etc. In an instance like this Beth Din ought to make their own assessments and consider professional and medical examinations.
- Evidence may be taken only in front of the defendant and otherwise it is not admissible.
- The defendant must be given time to defend and present his arguments.
- The Head of a Beth Din who offended should not be dismissed and there are various options on how to punish him.
- The defendant has the choice of venue.
Thursday, 13 December 2012
Letter from Reb Chune posted in his shul
I demand and request from all who frequent our Beish Medresh to participate in the shiur of Chumesh Rashi this Thursday night that is delivered by my son Harav (titles) Chaim shlita who with his wisdom and fear of God endows his listeners with great satisfaction bringing them closer to the Torah of God
Written and signed with a special blessing to all who attend his shiurim.
I too hope to take part in this shiur.
A letter in defence of Chaim Halpern from his brother-in-law, Rabbi Shimon Lemberger, the Makava Rebbe from Kiryat Ata in Israel. Essentially it is a character reference listing the great work Halpern has accomplished over the years and complains over the lack of due process in condemning him.
The letter compares the campaign against Halpern to the battle against the Greeks all those years ago and takes some pot shots against the rabbis who have spoken out against him. It particular it singles out Dayan Lichtenstein, without naming him, for giving an interview to the Goyish Chronicle (the transliteration is slightly ambiguous and it could also be said to read ‘Jewish’). It also accuses the communities headed by the rabbis who have condemned him of holding functions which are against the Shulchan Aruch and yet no one protests at that.
Rabbi Lemberger suggests penitence for those who have insulted Halpern, or have heard him being insulted without objecting, including a half-day fast in the coming weeks of Shovevim. It also laments the harm caused to our youth by being exposed to the substance of the allegations.
The letter finishes with a request that it be translated into English. I will try and oblige at least for the more cogent bits if I get a chance.
Monday, 10 December 2012
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Although in delusion it belongs up there in the panoply of Comical Ali's victorious speeches as the tanks were closing in on Baghdad and Colonel Gaddafi's ranting interview on the eve of defeat, in style it is a work of art. It blends its arguments and persuasive tone with the best of biblical metaphor, rabbinical imprecations and chasidic lore to create a magisterial composition. It is truly an epistolary classic of its kind.
So as not to deprive our Hebraically-challenged brethren I have translated the letter so that they too can benefit from the Great Man's important message. I tried to retain its flavour and tone as much as, if not more than, its message but inevitably there will be something lost in translation. The emphasis in the penultimate paragraph is from the original.
The Eve of the Holy Shabbos Parshas Vayeishev 5773 here the Holy City of Jerusalem may it be rebuilt speedily in our days.
The sidra of "And his brothers envied him; but his father guarded the matter" [Genesis 37:11].
I have heard tidings and my belly trembled that there have arisen several Rabbonim to issue a proclamation concerning my beloved son, the treasure of my heart, the Rabbi, the Gaon, the Righteous, Rabbi Chaim Aaron Tzvi shlit'a, the Rav of the Beis Hamidrash "Divrei Chaim". [The proclamation] is constructed on weak foundations, exaggerations, lies and an absolute misunderstanding of his sacred work to rebuild broken homes and broken souls, and not even a single one of [the Rabbonim] has any contact and experience in these matters. They have accepted the words of a few [accusers] without any investigation in accordance with our Holy Torah and with experienced professionals. They then threatened and smeared my son the Gaon and Righteous referred to above on every street corner assisted by the accursed tool of the internet that all the Gedolim and righteous of our times have prohibited.
My son the Gaon and Righteous referred to above has since the beginning of this saga clarified that he has never transgressed a clause of the Shulchan Aruch and that he agrees to an adjudication in front of a Beis Din acceptable to both parties including examination by professionals. However, as is known to all involved in this painful affair, the other side have evaded cooperation with various excuses and lies. [My son] has also clarified that due to the above rumours he has for the last few months ceased his holy work referred to above.
Several weeks ago [the Rabbonim] threatened my son the Gaon and Righteous referred to above and forced him to appear in front of them and they made it a condition that he may have no assistance or representation. They presented him with all their complaints and my son the Gaon and Righteous shlit’a replied on every point. They had however made their minds up prior to his arrival and forced him to sign that he will give up his public roles besides his Beis Hamedresh and shiurim.
After a week they assembled tens of holy vessels [rabbis] and spoke about my son in the worst possible manner which shall tingle the ear of every hearer, and so have many innocents been persuaded.
The above Rabbonim admit that they have not gathered evidence in accordance with the Holy Torah and nor, with distinction, according to the laws and customs of the land. This however is their opinion and, as is common knowledge, many of them are soul enemies of my son the Gaon and Righteous referred to above and of the Union of Chareidi Congregations.
I am confident that my holy ancestors, colossuses of the land, lo they are the [authors of] Chacham Tzvi, Boruch Ta'am, The Magid of Zlotchow, Rabbi Meir of Premizlan and the Tzadikim of the House of Ropshitz and Tzanz will come to his assistance. All who have taken part in the above treachery will not be saved from the judgement of Gehenom while those who assist my son and those who pray at his Beis Hamedrash and their households, may they live - who, with my son the Gaon and Righteous referred to above, are going through difficult and bitter times - and those who listen to his wares at his esteemed shiurim that are full of the Holy Torah, fear of Heaven and Chasidus, and anyone who lends a hand to support him will be blessed with sons, life and ample sustenance and nachas from all their offspring, and the merits of my holy ancestors will shield them to be blessed with all of the best.
Signing in pain and hurt, distant in location but close in heart
Friday, 7 December 2012
By our resident Bard “A Broken Bochur”
After days of repelling waves of relentless denials and obfuscations directed by the Kedassia cabal in beleaguered Fort GG, the exhilarating scene of a band of resolute GG Rabbonim galloping over the crest of the hill is a sight of beauty. Hurrah, the cavalry has arrived and the spectacle of the venerable Dayan Ehrentreu, sitting erect on his steed, his sharpened lance aiming directly at Padwa's midriff, should serve to scatter off the Kedassia villainy and deception once and for all.
Despite the machinations of Eisner and co and their bid to mitigate and absolve the sexual misconduct of a narcissistic predator feeding on the naïveté and frailties of the vulnerable, the power of the Truth was overwhelming and their stratagems and protestations were swept away in a seething sea of outrage and integrity. Their ship of lies has been irreparably damaged and now confined to their last lifeboat of hope, HMS "Independent" Beis Din, they are being buffeted and assailed by the tempestuous communal anger and are in every danger of capsizing.
Perhaps Bigoted Yitzchok (shouldn’t that be Buffoon? ed.) will now be able to withdraw his head from his posterior and draw attention to something of actual communal note, abuse and Kedassia's inability to remedy it. Perhaps he will stop whining about the scurrilous JC when he recognises that he supports a much more dishonest and dangerous organization. Maybe instead of harping on about the Board of Deputies, he will spare a few words about Kedassia's lack of transparency and rampant cronyism, their arrant failures to protect the community and efforts to foist their unprincipled stance on others. It is time for this phony frumkeit propagated by pathetic, self-serving individuals to be finally recognised for what it is.
I urge Kedassia to similarly and unequivocally condemn Halpern's conduct and perhaps direct some of their funds earmarked for Neturei Karta and their next internet Asifa, to instead establishing a trust for the victims that were shamelessly exploited.
Thursday, 6 December 2012
This is nothing less than going nuclear.
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
This last Sunday I received a comment in 3 parts with a name to the comment. The commenter introduced himself as a professor in psychology (sic) in New York. He alleged that an enemy of Chaim Halpern has engaged in a tactic known as ‘pre-fiction-opinion’ and that ‘in excess of $20,000’ has been paid to a psychology professional to ‘design and conclude the tactic against the present victim.’ He claimed to ‘know’ this from Velvel’s comments.
I thought the claim was utterly preposterous but nevertheless published it to allow the readers to decide. I then went on to read Parts II and III of the comment where the writer makes allegations that a specific psychologist in Cincinnati, Ohio ‘has published a named opinion against RCH’ and a lot more besides.
After reading these further parts I could see they were written by a loon at best and so removed Part I. Shortly after, the same named commenter wrote to complain that I had removed his post. I forwarded the posts to some friends just for a laugh.
On Tuesday someone forwarded me an email signed with the initials of the same commenter. In it he complained of my removal of Part I of the post and as further ‘proof’ of his theory that 1 hour later Velvel and I stopped ‘their campaign.’ (For the record, Velvel had sent me his valedictory lament on Sunday morning and I put it up briefly when some people saw it. I was writing my post of that day ‘Cast Adrift’ and decided to reserve the comment for the new post where it remains.)
In the meantime others carried out investigations with the purported accuser and the purported accused, both of whom are real people in NY and Cincinnati respectively. They both immediately denied any involvement.
It may all have ended there had not the UOHC Rosh Hakohol, Dovid Frand, stepped in. He had also received some or all of the above comments and emails. He forwarded them by email to a visible list of 8 people consisting of all the tuvei ho’ir, or Honorary Officers, of the UOHC (for the list, see the heading on the UOHC wall calendar,) plus a couple of others.
This too would not have been worthy of comment except that Frand saw fit to add to the forwarded email the following:
The e-mail below was received from a professional in NY.And now read on…]
It looks serious
Please read it and forward it to as many relevant parties as you can
Maybe even to whoever can get it into the JC
By A Reader
(spiced up by yours truly)
A strange email hit my inbox early yesterday afternoon from an acquaintance who seemed to be spamming his entire address book. The email had already been sent to half of London in descending order of chashivus and originated from none other than our esteemed Rosh Hakohol. It contained the following instruction that was clearly adhered to with the usual zeal:
“Please read it and forward it to as many relevant parties as you can”Our choshuver Rosh had emailed his entire kitchen cabinet including no doubt its two sinks, dishwashers and Pesach corner. It had to go through 6 layers before it filtered down to little old me but at least I’m now able to identify where I stand in the communal hierarchy.
The salient point of the email is that a UOHC employee received an email from someone purporting to be a Yeshiva University (YU) Professor of Psychology and Education. The email claimed that the entire Chaim Halpern saga has all the classic hallmarks of a setup and was orchestrated by a person “presumed to be Reb Berel”. He went on to claim that some hapless professor in Cincinnati, Ohio (some tomene city with its own eiruv r”l) had charged $20,000 to falsify witness statements in order to dupe the NW rabbonim.
In his tremendous excitement the Rosh suggested to the greatest and goodest (excuse my Kedassia English) of our Kehillo:
“Maybe even [send it] to whoever can get it into the JC”.The JC! He must have been jumping in his chair and punching the air to invoke the name of that treifene tzeitung. Did the fact that this email was infested with appalling English not bother him or can he not spot a howler so long that it comes with a hechsher? For goodness sake, he could have checked his own kosher dictionary.
What about the fact that this YU professor was using a gmail account? Or that the rabbi and academic claimed not only to know who had apparently falsified the statements but even the amount of bung in the brown paper bag! And how did he claim know all of this you may ask? Well, he explained, he had followed the whole story on this very blog and was able to deduce all these facts from the comments section.
Any alarm bells ringing? Well, apparently not in our Dear Leader’s insect-free head. Of course the most basic fact checking would have proved all this to be a fantasy, though one can be melamed zechus that such checks just aren’t available on a filtered internet.
A simple email to the actual address (which surprise, surprise ends in @YU.EDU) elicited the following response:
“Thank you for writing and informing me of the use of my name and with a pseudo email address, one that I have never had or used. I am going to contact gmail to see whether I can force discontinuance of its use.So let’s get this straight. An email from a Gmail account is sent to a low level UOHC guy making wild, libellous claims against R’ Berel Knopfler and some random person in the USA. But instead of the most basic checks or, heaven forbid, using a tiny amount of common sense, no less a person than the Rosh Hakohol bichvodo uveatzmo wants it to go straight out to the public and into the newspapers.
Again, Thank You,
And he no less is the man at the tiller who apparently bolstered by this sensational scoop hit his eureka moment of which the letter below is the result. Until now we’ve been appalled at their lack of action in what is fast becoming for them an existential crisis, but after seeing this, doing nothing is probably their safest option.
Moirai vraboisai: I was wrong. We’re not cast adrift, we’re shipwrecked.
Monday, 3 December 2012
Enough, probably too much, has been said about the accused and the nature of the allegations and it is time to move on. Let's ignore for a moment every one of the allegations of which the vast majority of us haven't heard first person. Let us also ignore every statement we haven't been given the opportunity to read, every meeting we didn’t attend and the many quotes from rabbonim we haven't spoken to. We shall instead concentrate on the few incontrovertible facts in this sorry saga.
This much we can be certain about. That Chaim Halpern resigned "in his own interest" from all public positions bar his own beis hamedresh; that the letter in his own hand refers to complaints relating to marriage counselling but which it fails to deny; that no one has stood up to defend him publicly and on record; and that rumours of the most heinous nature are circulating about him.
Even if every single allegation is discounted, every halachic trick conjured up to disqualify such evidence that there is and the spin his camp is putting out is accepted in its entirety, the above facts alone are unprecedented in the annals of our community or of any chareidi community anywhere. They demand a response from responsible leaders and this has not been forthcoming, which gives us one more incontrovertible fact. That these people are neither leaders nor responsible. As I quoted in my last post, it is not the rodent but its hideout that is at fault. And the size of this rodent is matched only by the size of its hideout: the rabbonim who continue to shield him.
We have never had much confidence in our rabbonim who have created a dunghill from the matters swept out of sight and it can’t be said anyone is really surprised, since not much was expected from them in the first place. Like Avrohom, Padwa could plead with Rav Ehrentreu to rescue his own Sodom but to speak up for the victims has proved too much of an effort. The humanity in his father's Cheishev Ho'eifoid, vol. 3 seems to have passed to another brother while he grabbed for himself just the throne.
But those who orchestrated these happenings do not fair much better either and for reasons of their own are also keeping their counsel. Last week a letter emerged signed by an anonymous group where guidance is sought on the issue from Reb Chaim Kanievsky. Putting aside the ungrammatical Hebrew and clumsy drafting and without meaning to be rude, or, rather, with every intention of being very rude, the questions posed in that letter fit into the category of, 'Teacher, may I go to the loo'. Except that this is not addressed to a primary school teacher but to the chareidi equivalent of the Lord Chief Justice.
If they are convinced in the truth of the allegations do they not possess a modicum of common sense and decency to provide the victims with the justice they deserve and the general public with the protection they require without being told so by Rav Kanievsky? And if the allegations are in doubt how on earth will an octogenarian thousands of miles away make them any wiser? They might as well have addressed their enquiry to Rav Elyashiv at his graveside and any reply would have been just as authoritative.
And so a bewildered community wanders about from blog to tweet perplexed at the turn of events and desperately seeking an explanation, knowing that an answer is too much to ask for. If we had a free press they would be yelling in headlines reminiscent of the days following the death of Diana, "SPEAK TO US, RABBONIM." "Show us you care." "The people have spoken, now you must." The multitude of comments show that there are still many who cling to the hope that given time and space the rabbis will prove their worth but I hate to say, their optimism is not only misplaced but their faith in this lot is nothing short of madness.
Turn to your rabbis to sell your chometz and for the odd query over a Shabbos hotplate but for little else. Just read the comments and hear the voices of a public begging for guidance but their rov has jetted off to the USA so that his senior rabbi can fiddle while Rome burns. Except that we are not Rome, chas vesholem, we are Jerusalem. Rome is them lot who bothered listening to the victims and spoke to their representatives and at least made an effort but it is we who apparently are the purest embodiment of Judaism.
To say they are not fit for purpose would be stating the obvious. If they came with a warranty we would be queuing for our money back. Running a chol hamoied merry go round would be too much for them and how on earth can an entire community be entrusted in their hands?
If this saga has shown us anything, it is the abject failure of leadership which itself is no more than a reflection of the lack of leadership in the entire chareidi world. We have all come to learn the hard way that da'as torah is clueless, loi soguru mipnei ish makes them recoil in fear, chielo d'oiraiso equals cowardice and apathy and emunas chachomim just beggars belief. They aren't spineless; their entire being consists of jelly.
Now is not a time to defer to our leaders but to raise question for ourselves. How have we come to be landed in a situation where universal crimes such as murder, rape and theft don't count if committed by bearded or bewigged members while idiocies of worms and skirt lengths occupy our finest brains? When did we reach a situation that to commit the perfect crime one needs only seek out a chareidi neighbourhood to carry it out? How has it come to pass that the only allegations we will deal with are when one side of the equation fails to sport a beard or doesn’t clad himself in a dustbin liner for a me'il.
Whatever is currently being alleged has been alleged over the years but most of us had not heard about it. It is only thanks to the medium they are desperate to ban that we can discuss it freely. But the chilul hashem is caused by us bloggers and commenters, not the po-faced rabbonim and supine communal leaders. Why do we write here anonymously? Because every one of us is frightened of the pack of hounds in full cry that might be unleashed by those same rabbonim who do nothing in the face of these most atrocious allegations. Kedassia issued only last week another of their imbecilious notices over chodosh and yoshon in products including Marriage’s flour but have nothing to say when their marriage counsellor allegedly comes close to deflowering virgins.
Our system is morally and spiritually bankrupt and would be so financially too if it didn't kowtow to those sustaining it with their rotten millions. They too had better realise that the days when they could treat us as their vassals if not their tenants are coming to an end. It may have worked to stop the Stamford Hill eiruv and other shenanigans but those days are as numbered as their grandchildren’s housing benefit cheques.
This is the world we have created, this is the world we sustain and this is the world which will continue until we see it for what it is. If we won’t it will be left to our emboldened youth who are already doing so in droves.
Welcome to the Torah world but not for much longer.
Friday, 23 November 2012
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know
This is a comment left on the previous post. Any suggestions?
Ok fellow DC members. It's Friday morning, a time to make decisions about this shabbos, and about the future. I think it is fair to say that GG is a different place this shabbos than it was last shabbos. The dramatic developments have been a game changer.
Last shabbos everyone was gung-ho. We were confidently stating that the whole thing would blow over somehow. This shabbos RCH is critically wounded, possibly fatally. His brother MH has become an object of public ridicule like never before. REH either has or has not resigned from various public posts, but is certainly on the warpath in favour of his family, a position that has minority support in the kehilla at large, if any. Our shul is in complete disarray. Kedassia in GG is at its lowest ever ebb possibly since its inception. All this in just one week.
And yet we still have no public guidance from any local rabbonim. You can ask a GG or Hendon rov privately and get an off-the-record response, but 'don't quote me!' Crucially, there is still no public evidence that RCH is guilty of the heinous crimes he is accused of, only hearsay and speculation, and well-founded svoros based on the lack of support for the accused by his colleagues, and his complete capitulation without any real explanation.
Where does this leave us? We are being pressurised to give full support this shabbos to our rov, but I'm beginning to feel a bit like the Libyans last year who were press ganged to publicly demonstrate their support for Gaddafi while they already knew very well that his days were numbered. Its a horrible comparison, but I just feel that we are being taken for a ride. Used and abused. Is this really kovod hatorah? Also, how far does hakoras hatov stretch? When is it alright for us to say that we don't want to be a part of this mudslinging contest and bow out of this sordid saga?
Our friends are watching us. Our wives. Our families. This is no ordinary shabbos. This is a shabbos that we will remember for the rest of our lives. As will many other people. How will we look back on the decisions we made for this shabbos? Will we be proud of them? How will we feel about them next year Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur?
Sunday, 16 September 2012
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
So the day has arrived, the game's afoot and kick off just hours away. The vuvuzela shofers will sound, the home team will cheer the players bought from overseas by cheque book scribblers and not a few brown-bags if not brown-nosed bungs. The fans will wrap themselves in the team colours of black and white, many own goals will be scored, the captain is guaranteed to be ruled offside and if I'm not careful I'll shortly be running out of metaphors.
But what do they hope to achieve and how do we measure their success? If a sell-out crowd is what they're after they have secured it by shrinking the stadium and summoning the kids which are never in short supply round here. We do have them for a reason, after all. If logging off or filters is their aim it may cause a temporary upward blip and then life will settle back to its normal course just as it did in the USA. The organisers will want to see how widely the event is covered on websites which their filters would otherwise block so some leeway will always be needed.
Whatever this rally's lasting legacy is it will not be to halt the onward march of technology or turn the tide of the internet, social media and global communications. It is only with the aid of the internet that they could arrange this event, hire the venue, bring speakers from around the globe, leaflet the place day after day and then gloat for ever after on their delusions of might and power.
For badly deluded they are. To arrange this event they have practically sold out the North West segment of the community. If I were a Golders Green resident I would be asking myself why must I associate with this lot if they care so little about me. North West London had a meeting discussing the internet only about 2 months ago. Without fanfare and in a modest school hall about 2000 people listened to an array of speakers who discussed practical solutions to a modern-day problem. The speeches were in English which is the vernacular of Golders Green and at least one of the speakers was a technology expert.
So why is this meeting called for again and why do they pretend to represent klal yisroel? If the UOHC represents all its constituent shuls why were virtually all notices and posters in Yiddish? Is it not that they are simply embarrassed to repeat all this nonsense in English where it will be judged by more level-headed people and laughed off the pitch with a mass exit from the stands?
If I were not carrying in the eiruv every Shabbos because the UOHC banned it, if my wife and kids were stuck in at home, elderly people and the disabled housebound due to the obduracy and intractability of the UOHC rabbis I would be asking what is in it for me. To ensure the attendance of the various chasidim, Padwa went grovelling to their rebbes, signing his name and his mother's name like a pleading supplicant. To placate the Belzers, Reb Leibish was kept even from the substitutes’ benches, and in order not to upset the Satmarers speeches are all in Yiddish besides one at the end by which time the holy ones can make their exit for their ministering angel will not attend an ESOL course. Yet to its long suffering members in Golders Green the UOHC and its rabbis have shown nothing but an oversized middle finger.
What they will be saying loud and clear tonight is: Klal Yisroel includes you not. Your meetings do not count, your support is unnecessary, your attendance not called for and your yiddishkeit in grave doubt. We are happy to take your moolah for our pounds of kosher flesh but as for you in person your smell is rather too pleasant for us less sensitive noses.
In New York they at least made a pretence of achdus but no such trivialities concern us here where scornful disregard is the name of the game. Obscure Lubavitch rabbis from Edgware are kosher but Rabbis Ehrentrau, Lichtenstein, Gelley, Abrahams and many others count for nothing. They summon Mount Sinai to their cause as if Judaism is dependent on 4000 loonies but they are nothing more than the club whose home ground they will occupy: a 3rd tier league devoid of star players.
And that is as far as they go. To the rest of us they will appear like wolves howling at the moon. Having sold out to the most extreme elements they will warn, threaten, cajole and plead supposedly for the future of Judaism and the souls of our children. Here in our community is a school established by communal figures, funded by communal coffers when not directly by us the taxpayers yet it excludes children at a whim term after term and year after year. And when the brothers who act as goalkeepers, players, captains, referees, managers, chairmen and shareholders all in one are summoned by Padwa he is laughed at to his face.
They will talk about sanctity yet here in Stamford Hill, in Craven Walk, is a mikveh which has been a building site for close to a decade grossly insulting if not endangering the women who use it. But they care for women only in their state of dress not undress. It was a similar situation with other mikvehs until someone stepped in. Funds are available for this extravaganza but as far as true kedusha is concerned let them dunk themselves in drains and keep the fancy mikves for the men. It is no exaggeration that we have some of the worst mikves in the entire chareidi world. But then others push their buggies on Shabbos while our womenfolk are better off stuck in at home.
And then there are the masses of our youth which see through all this hypocrisy, double dealing and sanctimony. They will not be saved by your howling of Shema. Your voice will not reach their ears just like when many of them are sexually and physically abused their cries do not reach yours. Your bans and prohibitions will ring hollow when all you seek to cover up are your own misdeeds. Many of these youths, our very future, are gone forever not thanks to the Internet but to you sitting there blinded by the glare of the floodlights and booming out your own voices to drown out all others.
Howl, howl, howl, howl! Oh, you are men of stones.
Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so
That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone forever.
(King Lear, Act V, Scene III)
Another day another poster. The anti-internet rally organisers have been pasting our walls for the last fortnight with the palette of colours technology places at their disposal while the opposition uses nothing more than an old fashioned word processor and so must do with black and white.
The message however is clear: Leave the kids at home - this is not where they belong. If you want the kids to see their gedoilim take them to a shul not a stadium.
The organisers have spent a fortune to shrink the stadium so that banks of empty seats are not flashed round the world by tweeters at the anti-tweeting rally. All they need the kids for is as a stop gap and so at worst they might have to readjust slightly the partition. Moving the goalposts is what they call it at Leyton Orient.
Sunday, 2 September 2012
Hurrah for common sense! Finally someone is prepared to say what many are thinking and saying in shuls and mikves up and down the square mile that the event is an ego trip of our dear Rov and Rosh Hakohol and the expense, the invitees, the leaflets and the venue are simply to show that we can do everything that NY can. Except of course that NY has an eiruv.
It may be for the wrong reasons but how refreshing to see a contrarian view in these mad times. Reb Elyokum may also be concerned only with children, teens and koilel yungeleit rather than the event as a whole but then one must be mad to want to bring kids along in the first place. Incidentally, the Schlesingers are also the ones who won’t hold their events in YHS which suggests they know a lot more than we do.
Reb Elyokum: we’re all Briskers for a day!
I would love to translate this letter which has been doing the rounds on the internet and if only I found the time. (Any takers?) It was written in response to the New York anti-internet rally in May and a recent incident which scandalised the Satmar enclave in upstate New York when a father of several kids was kicked out of the family home after confessing his atheism to his wife.
Basically the letter blames the ills of the internet’s influence on our society on our rotten education system. If the rabbis are really interested in doing something about the problem, the letter says, they should stop navel gazing, banning and controlling. Instead they should institute some sorely needed reforms, teach children the beauties of a Judaism that isn’t about excluding, banning, beatings, petty disputes and power struggles and our children might not be dazzled and fall for the world outside their ghetto on their first point of encounter.
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
Inquisition… Enlightenment… Reform… Communism… Zionism… Technology – Find the odd one out
In the race to the bottom that the anti-internet campaign has become it appears that no form of words is too stupid, no expression too trite, no metaphor too far fetched and no analogy too extreme for the fearmongers and thought police organising these events.
Strange then that despite the apparent strength of their convictions and the steadfastness of their resolve the organisers will not spread the message beyond Hebrew and Yiddish speakers. Unlike strawberry, grape and fish infestations in which the English language is squished for the sake of saving a Jewish soul from the hazards of creepy crawlies, saving us from the catastrophe unleashed by the internet is confined to Hebrew and Yiddish speakers.
So as a public service we will provide a blow-by-blow translation of the clarion call for a mass stampede to Leyton Orient’s home ground as leafleted daily in tabloid typeface, brash graphics and garish colours. Oh, the wonders of technology. And so that the sacrifice of entire forests is not in vain we here will ensure that the message to rescue Judaism from oblivion reaches its widest audience.
Today we start with a debate between the Devil and his counterpart on the war being waged against God's Chosen on the battlefield of the world wide web. As every Miltonian scholar well knows the Devil gets the best lines and it is no different when trying to ensnare us poor vulnerable souls in the trap set by Tim Berners-Lee.
So without further ado here goes the first skirmish in the fight of the blinding light of fundamentalism and raging fire of ignorance against the candle of reason and the flame of knowledge.
A SERIOUS DEBATE BETWEEN THE YETZER HORA (evil inclination) AND THE YETZER TOV (good inclination) ON THE DOMINATION OF GOD'S PEOPLE OVER THE LAST THOUSAND YEARS
I established an INQUISITION to apostatise ever more Jews
But Jews martyred themselves and went into exile leaving behind their wealth, possessions and belongings!
I developed the HASKALA (enlightenment) to create "enlightened Jews"
The sages of Israel with the holy power of the Torah and Hasidism successfully defeated it.
I created the REFORM to reform Judaism
The Gedoilim of the generation railed that 'Novelty is forbidden by the Torah' and Jews remained steadfast to tradition.
I organised COMMUNISM to divert the Jewish people
With immense devotion Jews maintained synagogues, schools and mikvo’oth until thank God it was destroyed.
I brought ZIONISM to destroy Jewish continuity
The people of Israel obeyed the call of 'Who is to God, let him come unto me' and there survived a Judaism devout to God and his Torah.
Now I have produced TECHNOLOGY that is ripping God's people to shreds and this time I will UPROOT EVERYTHING
You just wait, hold tight, my battle for the rescue of the future has only just begun. As always with God's help we will succeed with a mighty victory.
For this purpose thousands of Jews, no evil eye, will assemble at 'The Assembly of the Jewish People’ in Leyton Stadium
Instead of engaging in a futile debate on the nonsensical analogies let’s just for a moment take them at their own word. Let us assume that the common denominator of the comparators is indeed that they were all aimed at destroying Judaism and that technology is the Inquisition of 2012. Yet one cannot help but notice that while the historical movements exerted pressure from the outside, whether by coercion or persuasion, in the case of the internet it is something we have and continue to embrace of our own free will.
No one forces you to connect to broadband, there is not auto-da-fe to make you sign up to a smartphone, the NKVD won’t make you open an email account and nor is there anything to prevent us logging off en masse if we were minded to do so. The problem for them is that we don’t want to. The same people who will attend the rally because they share some of the concerns or because they feel compelled to show their face will also log on once they get home to check news reports and web gossip of the event, assuming they weren’t monitoring the bans in real time on their very proscribed phones.
And that is the difference. We want the internet to communicate with the wider world, to broaden our horizons in hitherto unimaginable ways, to expose the corruption and downright idiocy of our leaders, to engage in the openness and accessibility denied to us by our education and way of life, to widen our circle of acquaintances, to debate freely issues we care about, to taste forbidden fruits available elsewhere and, increasingly, to decide we quite like what we see and move over altogether.
This is what we gain by technology and this is what they fear. If the 9 circles of hell exist in every amoled screen then we descend each more willingly than the last. So let them rail, let them threaten, let them ban. It is they who are acting like our persecutors of times bygone and our threat today comes not from without but from within. The web, however, is here to stay and the sooner it brings an end to the madness we have engulfed ourselves in the sooner we may see the end to rallies like this one.