Helping Hands

It’s nice to know there are still some caring people in this world, people who aren’t afraid to get involved but are willing to jump in to help others.

Last Thursday evening I had an unfortunate incident outside a retail establishment on 39th Street in Boro Park. I was on the ground, badly injured and bleeding profusely. A woman, whose name I neglected to get, came to my aid. Someone else called Hatzolah. As soon as they arrived the Hatzolah members ably took over, bringing me to Maimonides Medical Center. Guys, sorry I was so feisty and short with you. I’m a tough old bird, and I was not dizzy – it’s just that the flatbed was in back of me! I want to publicly thank all of you for helping me.

Yasher koach. A zissen Pesach to all.

Alice Seagull Gordon
Highland Park, NJ

Prayer And Action

I fully agree with Bezalel Fixler’s front-page essay of April 1 (“Prayers for the Czar – But Not for Israeli Soldiers”). I think we should all say Mishaberach prayers for the defenders of Eretz Yisrael. I have been saying Tehillim and the Mishaberach, and will continue to do so.

But I have taken my concern one step further – prayer and bullet-proof vests. My friends and I have been collecting money for the purchase of bullet-proof vests for the IDF. Anyone wishing to join in this mitzvah should call me at 1-718-769-1138. You might save a life.

Saul Weiss
Brooklyn, NY

Soldiers Deserve Tefillot

Thank you, Mr. Fixler. I don’t want to believe that there are shuls that do not daven for our precious sons in the IDF. Our son went into Miluim this week and won’t be home with us for Pesach. Instead, he will be out in the field somewhere protecting us, b’ezrat Hashem, for the next month. Hopefully, each chayal will be able to find a break and join a seder, remembering yetziat Mitzraim and eating matzot and marror.

I just hope the soldiers will be unaware of the fact that there are Jews sitting smugly who refuse to even daven for them. Then again, we are reliving the yetziat Mitzraim in reality, as there are still so many Jews who choose not to leave the galut and come to Eretz Yisrael. May Hashem forgive those Jews who have rejected His Land and His Torah.

Like all the other precious chayalim who are moser nefesh so that we all can sit safely at our seder tables, my son deserves our tefillot.

Leshana haba’a b’Yerushalaim habenuya? How about LeShana haZOT?!

Pesach sameach v’kasher l’chol am Yisrael.

Leah S. Wolf
Metar, Israel

Flawed Survey?

The ADL’s Abe Foxman proclaims, “Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza is a bold step to move the peace process forward,” and he backs up the statement by claiming that “67% agree.” Who are those 67 percent? And what is the source of their information that enables them to form such an opinion? The anti-Israel media have done a magnificent job of delegitimizing Israeli Jews. And I wouldn’t expect the 75 percent of American Jews who have never been to Israel to be sympathetic to Jewish pioneering heroes.

A legitimate survey would have asked, “Do you support the creation of another Arab terrorist state in the Middle East?” with a follow-up question, “Are you in favor of rewarding terrorists by giving up Jewish land that will serve as a base for increased attacks and murder against Jewish civilians?”

The idea of surrendering Jewish land to sworn enemies as a step toward moving the peace process forward is so preposterous, it boggles the mind.

Charlie Bernhaut
New York, NY

War Cycle Must Be Broken

As the disengagement from Gaza draws closer I find myself increasingly concerned with the activities of Israeli right-wing extremists. I’m proud of my Jewish heritage, but I’m an American first and a Jew second because America protects my right to be a Jew. Israel has done the same for millions, and the willingness of the settlers to jeopardize all of that is the epitome of selfishness and the antithesis of righteousness.

If there is a chance for peace, on borders which guarantee the security of Israel, it is the responsibility of every Jew to accept it. The fight has always been for the existence of a homeland. We have that now, but in a constant state of war, and it weakens the Jewish state. Israel is already at the forefront of technology and science; imagine the progress it could make unencumbered by war.

The cycle must be broken. Only Nixon could go to China and only Sharon can make peace with the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon has always acted in the best interest of Israel and there’s no reason to think he isn’t this time.

If there is a hell, Arafat is there right now trying to claim it as a homeland. Let the war die with him. It’s all up to Israel.

Gary Taustine
New York, NY

The RCA And Rabbi Tendler

No Surprise

I don’t know why everyone is so surprised that the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) apparently played fast and loose with halacha and fundamental rules of evidence in its investigation of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, and that it subsequently disparaged the bet din in Israel that called them to task for having done so (news story and editorial, April 15).

Rabbi Yosef Blau, the mashgiach ruchani at Yeshiva University, is a prime mover in the RCA’s approach to the abuse issue and is also one of the prime movers in the Awareness Center – which has been criticized for publicizing charges of abuse that have been leveled against individuals whether or not those charges have ever been proven or even thoroughly investigated.

David Pollack

Beyond Belief

The chutzpah of the RCA is beyond belief. An official bet din of the Chief Rabbinate in Eretz Yisrael rules that unless and until Rabbi Mordecai Tendler is afforded a bet din, the RCA is prohibited from taking any action that would negatively impact on him in his profession or communal efforts. So what does this self-proclaimed foremost rabbinical group do? Rather than appeal for a modification, it publicly dismisses the Israeli bet din as merely a “group of Israeli rabbis” who either willfully ignored the facts or were ignorant of them. Then, in full contempt of the bet din ruling, the RCA reaffirms its earlier decision, sans bet din, to expel Rabbi Tendler from the RCA! Simply incredible.

By the way, how is it possible that the RCA set out to rely on evidence gathered by non-Jews which would be posule eidus?

Boruch Kemmelman
(Via E-Mail)

Why No Bet Din?

I find it difficult to understand why the RCA believes that, as a matter of halacha, a bet din is not necessary in order to expel a member. Expulsion from a rabbinic organization for inappropriate conduct obviously will have a devastating impact on an individual’s future in the rabbinate. Surely the rabbis of the RCA are aware of the well-known dictum “Al pi shnayim adim yokum dovor.” Yet the RCA literally trumpets the absence of a bet din in the decision-making process that resulted in the expulsion of Rabbi Tendler.

This is all the more disturbing in light of the RCA’s failure to reconsider convening a bet din after the Forward and Jewish Week carried story after story about the RCA’s investigation and – without any hard evidence cited – all but convicted Rabbi Tendler even before the RCA’s investigation was completed. Whatever merit the RCA’s machers saw in their process before the public onslaught against Rabbi Tendler gathered steam, surely they could not have failed to grasp that the matter had evolved into something far more consequential than whether someone could continue as a member of the organization.

Naftalie Farkash
New York, NY

‘Catastrophic Implications’

I wonder what members of the RCA would think if someone who disagreed with a ruling of its standing bet din, the Bet Din of America, dismissed it as a group of rabbis acting out of ignorance. How in Heaven’s name could a distinguished body such as the RCA display such disrespect – in a formal statement – for an official religious court and arm of the Chief Rabbinate?

I hope the leadership of the RCA is carefully considering the catastrophic implications of its actions. I am not a posek, but as The Jewish Press pointedly noted last week, the ability of the RCA’s Bet Din of America to summon people before it appears to have been compromised – and the legitimacy of seruvim it issues may be in doubt. In addition, members of the RCA should think long and hard about continuing their membership. If Rabbi Tendler could be mercilessly battered in the media through selective leaks from insiders at the RCA, and then expelled through a fundamentally subjective process on questionable evidence inadmissible in a bet din, what might the future hold for other pulpit rabbis?

Henry Rausch
(Via E-Mail)

Just Wondering

Two observations on the Tendler controversy:

1) If someone from the Satmar community had publicly insulted the members of an Israeli religious court, wouldn’t the RCA have emptied a thesaurus in expressing its indignant reaction ?

2) How many of those responsible for the RCA’s handling of the Tendler affair could hold a halachic candle to the members of the Jerusalem rabbinical court that ruled against them? And while the RCA refers to the Tendler expulsion as a matter of “peer review,” how many of those who judged Rabbi Tendler are really his “peers” in Shas and poskim?

Nechemia Witkin
Ramat Gan, Israel

Unique Dimensions

While I recognize that the RCA’s investigation of Rabbi Tendler may not have followed the standards we would have hoped for, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the problem of rabbinic abuse has unique dimensions. The usual rules may not be adequate to get to the truth of such matters, which by definition revolve around one person’s word against another’s and involve acts usually committed in non-public venues. This may be scant solace to the accused, but it is an unfortunate fact of life.

Bina Dolowitz
New York, NY

Charges Deserve Further Scrutiny

I trust The Jewish Press is not suggesting that just because a bet din did not confirm the charges against Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, those charges must therefore be without merit. Consider the public dismay at the O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake jury verdicts. I happen to believe that the allegations against Rabbi Tendler bear further scrutiny, despite their being mishandled by the RCA. That’s why I hope the RCA will convene a bet din as the Jerusalem bet din said it should.
Samuel Silverman
(Via E-Mail)