Sunday, 18 July 2010

When is a party not a party?

When is a party not a party? Of course, when it's a birthday bash by the Board of Deputies and the Buffoon is in attendance. This week he had the grace to tell us abou the 'meeting' he attended and all the wonderful things that happened to him. When was the last time you attended a 'meeting' where the women turned out as for Ascot and not a chair in sight? And do God's, sorry G-d's, emissaries on earth really attend BoD 'meetings'?

I suppose we must put it down to the Buffoon's customary humility and modesty again. What an assett! How fortunate we are to have him in our midst and how impoverished the BoD for having him round for a 'meeting' once only in 250 years.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Poor little Israel

The following is an extract from this BBC story on the Russian spy scandal.
The papers also allege the suspects travelled on false passports.

A decoded message to Tracey Lee Ann Foley, accused of using a fake British passport provided by the SVR, reads: "Very important: 1. sign your passport on page 32. Train yourself to be able to reproduce your signature when it's necessary. 2. Pls, be aware that you just visited Russia... If asked, we suggest you use the following story: you flew to Moscow on Mar 16 from London for example flight SU 211 to participate in business talks..."

She is told to destroy the memo after reading.
I have yet to hear of the Russian ambassador being summoned for a dressing down, a Commons statement, expulsion of diplomats and not to mention press headlines and outrage by Ming Campbell.

Yet another instance when it feels like Israel is the little kid in the playground trying so hard to behave like the big boys but the big boys just keep on sneering at them. Israel thinks the solution is to try even harder or just to make its own rules whether the big shots like it or not. The rest of the better behaved kids however just can't understand why they can't get back into the line.

Sometimes you really do feel sorry for them.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Board’s birthday bash

We in Stamford Hill have always known the very many reasons to be grateful to our askonim. Whether they are in the hatzole sounding their klaxons to save our lives, in the kosher business to fill our stomachs, in schooling to babysit our kids or in the fundraising industry to improve our souls by diminishing the contents of our wallets there is a common thread running through them. Selfless men and a few women too who give their all to save us from looking after ourselves. Wagging tongues don't deflect them and nay sayers don't deter them. They are on a mission assigned to them from heaven and if they happen to benefit indirectly from their good deeds not only do we not begrudge them their sidekick but we open our pockets to line theirs. We know that for the exalted few our needs are theirs and so it is only right that we should let them treat us as as they see fit.

I am of course referring to those altruistic individuals who give from their time, their money, their jobs (if they are lucky to have one) and their family for their niche askonus. A much rarer commodity however are those individuals who will sacrifice even from their ruchnius, from their religious values and duties, for the sake of the general good. Men and women who will desecrate the shabbos, skip a minyen, speak loshen hore, refuse kids places in schools, converse with goyim and even strike up friendships with them and all for the sake of avoiding us opening our mouths and saying the wrong thing. Altruistic utilitarianism you might like to call it though such individuals are so rare a breed that their DNA is still being pored upon by askenologists. The Chofets Chaim it is said skipped a minche when at a meeting in Warsaw to discuss the terrible decree that would have obliged Jewish kids to get some secular education. And for that he is the Chofets Chaim. Yet we in our generation, in our country, in our city and in our very community have merited not one but indeed two such individuals.

This may sound incredible and indeed it is but true nonetheless. Gracing the pages of last week's papers were our own esteemed 'Rabbi' and Buffoon partying away for the sake of all of us. Cynics amongst you may be thinking, big deal, he went to a party, where for Christ's sake is the mesiras nefesh in that? Haven't we all been to a party? Of course, with a wall-to-wall mechitze, a glatt kosher kedassia menu of roast potatoes and schnitzel, or fish if that be your preferred choice, tznuesdike attired females on the female side and a bearded holy fool mumbling in the mic held too close to his moustache begging the ladies to be quiet. I mean you're not trying to tell me that they went to some goyishe or 'Jew-ish' G-d forsaken fest where men mingle freely rachmone litzlon with noshim, Reformists masquerade as Jews and the food is, well, dodgy at best considering the meat has a hechsher your dog wouldn't rely on and side dishes and dessert containing innocent looking broccoli or even those notoriously treacherous strawberries.

Dear reader it is just such a party I am referring to and this is what I mean by the mesiras nefesh of our unique and once-in-3-generations askonim. No less than the exalted 'Rabbi' and the esteemed Buffoon sacrificed all that is dear and holy to their precious souls and all for the sake of representing you and I. We know they give away their time to mingle with entire units of Scotland Yard's finest to prevent them rounding up all of us for the crime of being Jewish and for that we genuflect and kiss the concrete they walk on. We are fully aware of the dedication of being a councillor and mayor for decades for measly pay and sleepless nights so that our bins should be collected on the eve of Pesach. We will never forget the angst they endure when saying no to kids being admitted to their schools so as not to pollute the more delicate neshomes of our charges.

But this? Just take look at the pain in their eyes, their forced smile, the discomfort so evident in their body language, beard unkempt and tie askew and you will come to understand why there is virtually nothing they will not do for us. And then to read the Buffoon a week later and to marvel at him having the grace and mentshlichkeit he is so renown for in wishing the Board a happy birthday and with his hallmark modesty made no mention of his own attendance. Mi keamkho yisoreil? And who is like thou askonim, O Israel?

And imagine the sight when the envelope dropped through their toiredike letter box undefiled by the shmutz that is the common lot of non-heimishe letterboxes and their shock when they discovered its contents. How they referred their predicament whether to attend to daas torah. The 'Rabbi' explaining how he simply could not attend a party where women wore no sheitels and the tznius standard was lower than the reach of his beard. And the Buffoon shedding excruciating tears setting out how he would excoriate anyone seen at an affair where 'they' are represented as yidn. And the Rabbonim after consulting their oracle invoking eith la'sos lashem, 'if not for you who is for us' and decreeing that in the merit of representing their brethren they will see no evil and taste no evil.
They say a photo speaks a thousand words but photos like these make us lost for words. How do we begin to show hakoras hatov for people who are the personification of askonus. It is why Stamford Hill is the envy of the world and we more than anyone else feel safe in the knowledge that however few our abilities and however many our shortcomings we will always be able to rely on our askonim to walk, talk, smile, think and even sin for us.
Yasher Kochachem!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Has the JC become a Lubi ragsheet? I ask because in this week's issue they published a hostile review of The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson by Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman. The book is not sympathetic to the Lubi line and not surprisingly the Lubavitchers are far from happy. As usual they've taken to attacking the authors, the reseach, the sources and anything that is inconvenient to the demi-God they've made of the previous Rebbe, assuming we may talk of him in the past tense.

A hostile review of course does not turn the JC into Lubavitchers but it's when you consider who the reviewer is and the basis for his hostility that you begin to wonder. The reviewer is David Klinghoffer who according to Wiki is a BT from reform judaism who in his writings seeks to promote opposition to Darwinian views of evolution. Show me someone with these credentials and neutral to Chabad and I'll consider reconsidering.

I googled the reviewer because after reading his review I was left wondering who he was and why the review was ever published. First it was news to me that 'You hear much less now about the Rebbe-is Messiah concept.' I keep on seeing the Moshiach message regularly and while it doesn't make the headlines because it's been going on for some time I haven't heard anything to suggest that the movement is waning and much to suggest that its following is as strong as ever.

Then there was a paragraph about 'the mystery of why Chabad is now more omnipresent in Jewish life...' Well it isn't a 'mystery' as not many movements set out with Chabad's aims and their resources. It's no mystery that they're doing well in Russia by sucking up to Putin and it's no mystery that they do well in dying communities by commandeering local facilities or pouring in loads of cash to set up rival organisations. But then the Discovery Institute, of which Mr Klinghoffer is a senior fellow, has a link on its website to 'The Real Russia Project' whose goal is 'to offer to offer an accurate picture of life in Russia'. 'Accurate' as in no mention of the murder of critics of the regime, the stifling of the press and the absence of law and order. So success in Russia for instance must truly be a mystery if not outright divine providence.

Another criticism of the book is that the source for many of the damaging insinuations in the book are attributed to a bitter opponent who was also a nephew of the Rebbe. Well, I doubt he wanted them to source their material from 770 who would have maintained that the Rebbe studied at the Sorbonne and which the authors show to be a gross lie. Nothing of this by the way in the review.

But what most stunned me was the following paragraph:
Great men are rare but the Rebbe was one such. I remember the feeling of being torn and abandoned that strangely overcame me the night he died, though I was not aware he had done so and I was not -- and am not - a Chabad follower. Readers of this biography may wonder if the authors have failed to grasp their subject because he inhabited a realm with vaster and deeper spiritual dimensions than they, like squares contemplating a sphere, can fully appreciate.
So according to this reviewer the proof of the greatness of the Rebbe which the authors cannot fully appreciate lies not so much in the Rebbe himself but in the telepathic feelings of the reviewer on the death of the Rebbe. We can debate whether the reviewer could do with some medical assistance but I can't see how the Rebbe becomes implicated in this either way.

I'm not sure what I made of the Rebbe by the end of the review but I have some serious doubts about the greatness of the JC.

Friday, 4 June 2010

'Fortunately... it was just a small middle-aged lady'

Spare a thought for Dr Barrie Walker who in an interview with the BBC on the terrible murders in Cumbria made a somewhat infelicitous comment. To his credit he realised what he'd said the moment it was too late and if ever you wanted to see someone eating their words here it is at 0:55 onwards.