28 Marcheshvan 5774 [1 November 2013]
It is now several generations that Chareidi Jewry in all their dwelling places under the leadership of our great rabbis of yore proclaimed a war against the reformers who uproot the religion. Here too in London Chareidi rabbis have unanimously agreed that we have no connection, association or dealings with them in any form.
And so how astounded have we been that of late this wall of separation has been breached, for there are rabbis who permit themselves to appear on a platform called "Limmud" where the reformers also preach. The pain is great for who can foretell the outcome. It will appear in the eyes of the masses that it is permitted to hear sermons also from the reformers, God forbid.
There are also tidings that there are places of worship/frivolity (pun of tfila/tifla) that when the Sefer Torah is brought out they offer the Sefer Torah to the women's section so that they too can kiss the Sefer Torah. There are other places where on Simchas Torah the women dance on their own with a Sefer Torah and there are other such breaches that are pervaded by the whiff of reform. If we do not strengthen the wall of separation between us and them the decline will continue and who knows how far things will go, God forbid.
It is therefore greatly incumbent on every rabbi to stand on the watch and rule on an absolute prohibition to participate in any forum that is attended by the reform and to strengthen the wall of Judaism that is loyal to God and His Torah.
May God help that we should merit to withstand the breach and build fences and sanctify the Name of Heaven until we merit that speedily may You shine a new light over Zion and may we merit speedily to His light.
On behalf of the Beth Din Tzedek
Moshe Chaim Ephraim Padwa
Head of the Beth Din
Friday, 8 November 2013
Sunday, 13 October 2013
Following the ruling of the new Carry On star Rabbi Mordechai Eisner on the Brookside eiruv some of our local finer minds have applied his halachic string-pulling closer to home and the map you see above is the result. Apparently, similar principles apply to both eiruvin and so an eiruv for the gander ought to be an eiruv for the *not tznius to mention*.
Of course it being Golders Green they have an eiruv within an eiruv. Like the living rooms within their homes they have a mega super eiruv which they don’t use and is there only for show (and for carrying in hidden pockets) and then a smaller dingier eiruv where they can be themselves in their full glory. But surely if they can have two we poor cousins should deserve at least one. And if we’re going to start somewhere it might as well be south Tottenham where people will actually use it. Stick the eiruv in Fairholt Road and it will become a competition of not using it most.
To be honest, Eiruvin has never been one of my strong points. I find it difficult to get my mind round the concept of strings, planks, door frames, river banks and park railings all ganging up to create a device that enables the movement of keys from round one’s ample waist to the depth of the pocket. For once, you can’t accuse the rabbis of not being creative.
I do however foresee one minor problem or, looking at the bright side, it could in fact become a nice little earner. On Egerton Road you will notice that due to the presence of Tatton Crescent (the private road running at the side of Asda) they’ve had to move the ‘door frame’ back. Rather than position it on the junction with Stamford Hill as they have on the other turnings they’ve set the notional door frame back to the junction with Tatton Crescent.
Now, the land on the corner of Egerton Road and Tatton Crescent is of course Yesodey Hatorah school where people get married these days at the School hall but for which the UOHC supposedly acts as agent on a commission of something like 250%. Yes, you read that correctly. Quite normal you might think and as Yesodey Hatorah has very reasonably said, what others charge for school property is none of the school’s business. True, Satmar couldn’t hire it for Shabbos for love or money but that’s because we expect the local non-Jewish schools to host our rebbes while the state aided Jewish school in our midst will not stoop to accommodate a Friday-night tish.
But returning to the eiruv, while at first blush those in control at the school may be inclined to say nyet to something as heretical, innovative and anti-chareidi as an eiruv on their land, the prospect of a licence fee, an agency and yet more urgently needed funds, for the UOHC of course, might just persuade them to pull a few strings after all.
Sunday, 3 February 2013
[1 February 2013]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.
ClarificationI 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 ShabbosRabbi Cohn
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.
Monday, 10 December 2012
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.
Thursday, 22 March 2012
I must apologise in advance for another Pinter blog but I really can't be blamed if the Great Man makes it a point of popping up in the paper every other week or indeed every single week. The man is undoubtedly a bow of many strings meeting anyone who matters and sounding off on all and sundry and surely I cannot be faulted for trying to play every note.
This time it's a meeting with Ken, or actually two. The first time was when Ken appeared as guest of honour at a dinner for the Side-by-Side children's charity. According to Geoffrey Alderman the invitation was at the instigation of Pinter who is a trustee of the charity. Our own Yaakov Shi’e Rosner also wrote a letter to the Chronicle denouncing Pinter for orchestrating the invitation.
It should be said that Pinter and Side-by-Side are not natural bed fellows. For several years prior to 2003 Side-by-Side had its premises on the grounds in Egerton Road now occupied by Yesodey Hatorah school and adjunct seminary. Side-by-Side had to be evicted by Hackney before handing the site to the school and the case ended up in the High Court where Side-by-Side lost. At that time Side-by-Side was still run by the redoubtable Mrs Rumpler, a truly inspiring woman who singlehandedly set up the school in the face of much communal derision if not outright opposition.
The charity later hit financial difficulties and was taken over by Yossel Margulies. At which point enter our good friend. Nothing to raise an eyebrow as he and Margulies happen to be first cousins and the intermingling of familial and organisational appointments is a particular feature of that clan’s DNA. The only surprise is that while Pinter pops up on this and that board of trustees ‘his own’ organisations are ring-fenced from communal bigwigs other than for ceremonious rollouts on official visits for the cameras.
As we well know, where there's Pinter there's brass which this time came in the shape of a visit from Ken providing yet another photo-op. Not content with the Side-by-Side event the 'rabbi' went one further meeting Ken with a group of Jewish labour councillors. We know only of a single name that attended and, yes, you've guessed it. We also know that the attendees were not the 'usual suspects' which would make Pinter an unusual suspect. Difficult to argue with that one.
Ken's embrace of extremists is no secret and despite Pinter's pleadings he gave no ground at the meeting. Lest Ken is dismissed as just an anti-Zionist but with nothing against Jews per se here is the full transcript of his verbal abuse when comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard. It now turns out that at the meeting Ken also suggested that he did not expect Jews to vote for him because votes for the left usually come from the poor and Jews are rich. By contrast at a speech last Friday at the Finsbury Park Mosque Ken said he wished London to be a "beacon that demonstrates the word of the prophet, peace be upon him.” He also pledged to his audience to “make your life easier, financially.” Milking the rich Jews might be a good place to start.
Wonderful bedfellow Pinter has found himself but then what don't some people do in the name of askonus. It is said that Pinter left Hackney politics at the instigation of his father who was concerned at his cosiness with the system and one wonders what his pa would have made of this.
Ken may have a fetish for beards though it could quite simply be that while embracing extremists like Qaradawi it is convenient to have cover provided by a capacious hat. One can't be accused of having an issue with Jews while simultaneously cavorting with Judaism's smiling spokesman. Let us however disabuse Ken of any notion that Pinter can deliver votes in addition to his head gear and beard. Besides the fact that this community is overwhelmingly Tory and that Boris is a firm favourite round here, Ken is detested for many more reasons than his perceived anti-semitism and actual anti-zionism. Ken's cockiness doesn't go down well in a community where parking tickets are one of the hottest topics of conversation and bus lanes something even Pinter campaigned against.
Pinter too is one of the last people capable of bringing votes for anyone other than for his preferred choice of parent governor. He is rarely seen in the flesh round here and virtually never heard other than in the safety of his own school telling parents about the generation gap that apparently exists outside the chareidi community. He may yet turn up on a soap box outside Sainsbury's alongside loonies yelling for the day of judgement but don't hold your breath.
If there is little in it for Ken the question must be asked what's in it for Pinter. He has taken a flutter on the outcome of the mayoral elections and pawned us in the process but whom exactly is he representing and for what purpose? Besides 'his' collection of schools and trusteeships he is also one of three ne'emanim (treasurers) of the UOHC. So was he representing the UOHC at the meeting? If not, would they care to disassociate themselves because he was definitely not representing the bulk of the UOHC's members who would have nothing to do with Ken even if he turned up in a streimel waving a blue and white flag.
Perhaps Pinter is hoping for an honour should Ken win. He may even have been offered a role in a future Ken administration. If the black community can have Lee Jasper why shouldn't we have our own version in the shape of a 'rabbi' and all the other titles he has amassed?
If that is indeed the case let Ken win and let the fun begin.
Monday, 28 November 2011
Letters (not) published in The Write Lines, the famous letters page that arrives from parts other publications won't acknowledge to exist
Like all heimishe yieden everywhere I was overwhelmed by hakoras hatov for the dedicated chosheve askonim who have made available the kosher dictionary. I immediately went out to the Hill to get one so that my children ke"h should no longer cholilo come across posule words when doing their homework. (Mentioning homework reminds me of the letter I wrote last year about the geferleche load of homework the girls are given so that they can't help their mothers in the evening, but now I am writing about something else.)
I had barely sat down to browse the new dictionary when I landed on my behind after noticing the word 'bum'. I didn't chas v'sholem go looking for such words but it literally stuck itself in my face. Luckily my children were not yet home so I could stick the pages together because oi lorosho v'oi lishcheino and I can't bear my children knowing other words that are tome from sitting so close to that disgusting word. But it made me realise that, like lettuce, how important it is to check even something with a hechsher. If rachmone litzlon that word crept in who knows what else might chas v'cholilo have been overlooked.
I am mamesh trembling with shock after searching a bit deeper at some of the words the Rabbonim didn't get to notice. I know I must be careful at the words I use in your publication which spreads yiros shomayim and ruchniyes to our kehille but it is equally important that parents are not chas vesholem nichshel. I ask those with heilige oigen to please look away but how can we tolerate our teiere neshomelech looking up words like 'butt', 'buttock', 'bottom' and 'breast'? I am ashamed to say this but even the word 's-x' was not taken out. What kind of chinuch are we giving to our precious kinderlech by including such miese verter? My father olev hasholem would wash our mouths with soap if we mentioned much more eidele words and here we have the worst possible words noch with a hechsher!
I immediately called my husband who told me not to do anything until he comes home from koilel because it's a sha'le if you must put it in sheimos as it has a hechsher or whether you are allowed to burn it because of those words. He agreed absolutely that such a book has no place in a yiddishe shtib and we must be so careful not to fall into the hechsher trap. I can now understand how meat from the same hechsher came to be transported with dovor acher after seeing those chazerishe words in a book certified by a lemehadrin authority.
What I think is even more shameful is that I saw in the Tribune by my friend's house (we don't buy beshite any papers) that Rabbonim who are fluent in English went over this dictionary before giving it a hechsher. First of all are such Rabbonim really suitable for us erliche yieden? And second of all how can we now trust a rov if we know he has sifted through all this shmutz? Maybe that's why there is no haskome because even the Rabbonim were ashamed that they had to read such treifene books. And third of all maybe that’s why they left in all those words and it's a simen they can't even talk such good English. They for sure can't talk French because they left 'lingerie' lying about in full view of the boys and rachmone litzlon even 'thong' was stuck in. Do they know the achrayus of publishing such a book? No wonder so many children are going off the derech if their precious neshomolech get to see such tomene words.
But I don't want to be nichshel with loshen hore and rechilus and also we must be dan lekaf zechus. The Rabbonim did include ‘spank’, beat', 'pinch', 'smack' and 'hit'. Boruch Hashem the Scrooges shlito also remembered to leave out 'Christmas' and even had the seichel to cut out 'fossil'. But couldn't they also remove 'evolution'? Isn't there enough kfiro that we need some more with the best hechsher in the world?
I also hoped at least they would include some heimishe English words like cheder, yeshive and shiduch. No wonder those chachomim from Oxford were so nispoel of the request for such a dictionary (besides that they required the cost of 2000 copies to be underwritten). The Rabbonim allowed them to teach our children narishe words like 'lugubrious' and 'rumbustious' which no one will anyway ever use but were ashamed to allow Hashem and mezuze? The Tribune thinks it was a kidush Hashem but it's really a huge chilul Hashem if you can't include 'God' and not even 'G-d'!
May we be zoiche to kedushe and to be nitzel from all the nisyoines that today's dor produces even with a hechsher.
A Dedicated Yiddishe Mame
I heard rachmone litzlon that some children have developed a new game where they have to guess words and then look it up in the kosher dictionary. If the word’s in they lose a point and if it's out they gain a point. My eyes are filled with tears writing this that such a michshoil could come out from a koshere dictionary and the musar haskeil is to avoid using Rabbonim who can speak English which boruch hashem is not so bad by us.
An Experienced Mechanech