Showing posts with label Kedassia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kedassia. Show all posts

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Bunglers of Zion

[Several people have complained that they cannot understand this post, so let me explain.
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.
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
And now read on…]
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.
Again, Thank You,
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.
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

Cast adrift

And so it appears that we have reached the endgame. Weeks of plotting and intrigue have left us a stage looking like the aftermath of a Greek tragedy. Halpern slain in one corner, Padwa struck down in another, his signet ring carrying the Kedassia seal beside him splattered in blood with another Halpern swinging his sword indiscriminately in the last throes of death. As for the other players, they are like dancers at a masked ball fading into the night, though unfortunately no assassin amongst them.
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

It’s Friday and I don’t know what to do…

Should I stay or should I go now?
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?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Mr Coffee: Good for the Jews?

Hackney-20111215-003122-crop - Copy

Stamford Hill is notorious for its lack of kosher eateries and has probably the fewest kosher restaurants or coffee shops per capita anywhere in the Semitic world. The first complaint you hear from visitors from abroad is that there is nowhere to sit down and eat. Don't start naming some greasy spoons which serve up a fare compared to which conventional junk food looks like a gourmet feast . Never mind too the several decent and half-decent bakeries (Indigs in Oldhill Street being the king by far) which don't offer any seating. If you wish to rest your tired limbs round here you can, if you belong to the male species, pop into any number of shuls where free or vended coffee is available all day, but forget about a bite in pleasant surrounding, with pleasant food and, dare I say, pleasant waiting staff.

The reasons are manifold. We are a conservative community and the vast majority especially of the middle aged to older generation prefer nothing better than their wife's schnitzel and roast potatoes consumed at the head of the kitchen table. If they must eat out, a plate of tsholent and kugel at a reception or kiddush will do nicely. With the latest fad for serving tsholent and kugel to the dancing guests at weddings many of those invited for the dinner sneak off for the grub in the foyer rather than bother with the schnitzel/roast chicken which is so tricky to handle and especially in public.

A greater proportion of the younger generation do like their food and wine. Grapevine is popular and a new wine shop on the Hill has now joined the fray. Yet they will drive to North West to spend their dining pounds. There is a degree of snobbishness as sitting down in Stamford Hill means sitting down with our own which is ok if you must but not for a quiet evening out with the Mrs. There is a also a fair number of foreign emissaries (to put it politely) with whom one doesn't exactly cherish sharing a romantic evening with the better half.

And then there is the prowling wolf of Kedassia. A local eatery would have to carry a local hechsher with some bearded mashgiach sniffing you out before you've even considered the menu. Even that is jumping the gun and I'm not sure how glad Kedassia would be to grant a hechsher to a fashionable place where young couples turn out, he hatless and jacketless and she dressed to the nines with a hat perched precariously on the latest word in wigs. There is also the occupational hazard of being spotted in that company and jeopardising in the process a cherished place for your kids you know where.

So the local connoisseurs make off to NW where they can indulge themselves with any company and any hechsher so long that there are some Hebrew letters in the window. The North Westerners are happy to take our dough, the local hotheads are spared having to print anonymous bans and threats and the most recent local restaurant is an elegant Brazilian/Italian establishment next door to Tasti Pizza. Rumour has it that Grodzinsky will shortly be opening a coffee shop at the former gaming place on Clapton Common. In the meantime however halachic innovation and ingenuity have given us a new bread freshly baked on Shabbos with virtual supervision from Australia but as far as a decent meal is concerned round here by Kedassia bread alone must man liveth.

Which is where we come to Mr Coffee. Two doors away from Grodz on Clapton Common an enterprising Jewish chap has opened a tiny coffee bar just besides the bus stop selling sandwiches, steaming hot coffee for £1 a shot, a couple of attractive baristas and cakes brought in from Tesco. Yes, you read that correctly, non-kosher cakes and for all I know he may even be using that milk, Go- forbid. Because rather than wait for Kedassia to impose their conditions he went it alone. Drawing a pound of flesh in a milky establishment may also have posed a kashrus problem.

True you can't sit down there and he's unlikely to attract a Jewish clientele at so central a location but, still, it's a start and unfortunately the only way forward. If you can't beat 'em, trash 'em seems to be the message and we at Tickle wish him much hatzloche. They even managed to sneak in some publicity for Mr Coffee in the most holiest of ad-only publications which carries not chas vecholilo a single opinion. Watch this space however because probably as I write a notice is being drafted beginning 'It has come to our attention…' or something to that effect informing the world that the establishment is not kosher. As if anyone ever asked.

In the meantime, Thank You Kedassia for yet another service, in addition to the eiruv, to the community.