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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Agudas Yisroel’

The Right to Buy Snake Oil

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

I am the first in line to support the freedom to choose any treatment you wish for what ails you. In a free society, everyone should have that right. The only question is whether that right trumps the harm such treatment may cause.

That is what the dispute between the Agudah and Governor Chris Christie seems to be all about. The State of New Jersey has banned conversion therapy (sometimes called reparative therapy). It was signed into law a few weeks ago by Governor Chris Christie.

Conversion therapy is designed to turn people with same sex attractions into people with opposite sex attractions.

The Agudah has expressed righteous indignation about this law – saying that it denies people the right to seek the treatment they choose. There are people who desire to be changed that way, and are now being denied the opportunity to seek such change… calling it “a trampling of personal rights, including religious and free speech rights.”

But as Governor Christie has said in defense of signing this bill (quoted at VIN):

“efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks, including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.”

Agudah believes that people can change their sexual orientation. Since the male homosexual act is biblically forbidden, it is in the best interest of a homosexual to change it. For Agudah conversion therapy is therefore seen as a must. Taking that option away from them is tantamount to taking away their ability to change and thus condemns them to a life sinful sexual desires – and the likelihood of acting on them. Conversion therapy advocates claim major successes at conversion. How can Agudah be silent when this highly successful option is made illegal?

I don’t blame them for having this approach. But I question the success rate claims made by conversion therapy advocates upon which Agudah no doubt relies…

Their claim of success is questionable at best. And in some cases this therapy has been shown to be very harmful. There is also no question about the high expense and the degrading way their therapy works.

What may be successful is their treatment of people who are confused about their sexuality but are in fact heterosexual. How does one get confused about his sexuality? Consider the following scenario. A Yeshiva high school is entirely male. Students – especially those who dorm – have no hope or any expectation of interaction with females. Although the vast majority of Yeshiva students never have any sexual encounters with either a male or a female – on rare occasion some do.Of those, some interaction is with females. But in some cases males may experiment sexually with each other. That may confuse them about who they are naturally attracted to.

My guess is that in most cases these people are not homosexual. They do not need conversion therapy at all. They probably just need conventional psychotherapy to help understand their true sexual orientation. I’m sure that conversion therapy works with them since they are not really homosexual to begin with. That is of course seen as a successful conversion and touted by these treatment centers.

But truly homosexual people will not have a high success rate (if any) at converting to heterosexuality. My guess is that it never happens. All claims of success by these programs are with people who are naturally heterosexual but confused.

That seems to be what expert opinion says. Conversion therapy has been discredited and condemned by the American Psychiatric Association as a pseudo science. Anecdotal testimony in Jerusalem Post by Chaim Levin who went through it  illustrates how humiliating and even harmful it can be.

I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture. Is there a ‘gay gene’ that determines one’s sexual orientation at birth? I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that once someone discovers what they are attracted to, it apparently does not change with even the best of therapies. Trying to change it can sometimes bring tragedy.

It’s kind of like buying snake oil. The people who sell it promise you all kinds of healing and have many anecdotes to tell you about how effective it is. One might ask, what’s the harm? Snake oil can’t hurt you. Besides – there is something called the placebo effect. Which means that believing something will help actually does make it helpful in some cases. But not every snake oil is harmless. And it will certainly hurt you at least in the pocket book.

Title: Power Bentching

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Title: Power Bentching


Author: Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss


 


 


   Expressing gratitude to Hashem for all the bounty He provides us is a Biblical mitzvah that is incumbent upon men and women when they finish a meal. We call this “bentching,” most commonly known as “Grace after Meals.” Unfortunately, for many of us it has turned into the “Race after Meals.”

 

   Why have we become so insensitive in our gratitude to Hashem? Perhaps, the reason is because this mitzvah is done so frequently. Perhaps it is because we know the bentching by heart or perhaps it is because bentchers aren’t always nearby. Still, to say the least, this precious mitzvah is being neglected.

 

   A new sefer has been released which has the ability to reawaken within everyone and lead us to the proper fulfillment of showing gratitude to Hashem though our bentching. Power Bentching, written by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, rav of Agudas Yisroel of Staten Island, is a guide for how to do this mitzvah properly and enjoyably.

 

   Power Bentching reveals the blessings and benefits bestowed upon those who bentch slowly, and reading audibly these precious words found within the bentching. Rav Weiss also uncovers many meanings of the sacred words and opens for us the possibility to tap into the power of blessings that bentching releases. Indeed, each word is explained, many with myriads of explanations from sources in Tanach, Talmud, midrashim, as well as commentaries by sages of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Chassidic traditions.

 

   Tales from our rich past, halachic disputes, down to earth examples and fascinating parables, surprising gematriyos and hidden roshei teivos (commentary based on numerical or letter representations) abound. Also, there are many nuances of meanings as well as subtle variations in the grammar that are explained in a clear and concise manner.

 

   There is something for everyone – scholars, yeshiva students and Bais Yaakov girls, rebbeim and mechanchos, fathers, mothers, and even young readers will all gain new insights. Whether by learning a few pages daily or making this sefer part of your Shabbos and yom tov table, Power Bentching is bound to be a family favorite.

 

   Power Bentching can be the source material of mini-lessons or part of subject matter taught in yeshivas, Bais Yaakovs, day schools and summer camps. It can be learned privately or in a group setting. It is no surprise that Power Bentching has won the approval and praise of Torah Umesorah.

 

   Rabbi Weiss’s writing style is very pleasant and inviting. Sources are given for all the commentaries. Translations of words and phrases in Hebrew have been rendered into English with great precision. Each page is designed in such a way that you can concentrate on the word being discussed and at the same time not lose track of its place within the bentching. This is accomplished in part through multi-color print and the graphic talent of Sonnshine Design.

 

   Rabbi Weiss also deals with deep and difficult topics in an exciting way. What is the history behind each blessing? How can a human “bless” (so to speak) Hashem? What are some deeper meanings of the four-letter Name of Hashem? How does that Name of Hashem differ from the Name Elokim? What are some of the reasons the martyrs of Beitar are mentioned each time we bentch? How does bentching impact important matters such as emunah, bitachon, or parnasah?

 

   Power Bentching has rabbinical haskomos (approbations) from leading gedolei Yisroel. They have blessed the author that his sefer find its way into the hearts of all Jews to bring them closer to our Father in Heaven. They have expressed the idea that bentching is a mitzvah that needs to be elevated and kept in an honored manner by all. Indeed, the author of one of these haskomos states that he read the entire sefer and that his own bentching has been elevated.

Networking For That Job

Friday, February 27th, 2009

            This past week the national unemployment rate reached 7.5 percent, and many of you are wondering, “How do I find a job in these turbulent times?” There is no quick fix solution; however, I can share with you what people who are conducting successful job searches are doing.

 

“A job search requires focused intention, directed and diligent effort, a realistic but bright outlook, and patience,” says Meredith Haberfeld, the founder of Institute for Coaching. “People who do not find a job after several months are often not directing their effort most effectively.” People who are getting hired approach their search as a full-time job. They wake up early, have a cup of coffee and begin making phone calls and browsing the Internet, newspapers and trade magazines at 9 am, and keep at it until late into the evening.

           

Having a great resume is essential. It is a crucial marketing document that defines who you are and what sets you apart from the competition. However, opinions differ on how to use a resume. Too many job seekers focus their efforts on blindly submitting their resume to job postings, with limited results. They do this because it is easy and impersonal. What they should concentrate on is networking – this is how successful people find a job.

 

According to Haberfeld, “the single most important component of a successful job search is making contact with people in the field you’re interested in.” She advises her clients to “make at least three contacts every day. Whether it’s social networking, online or face to face, with people you know or people you don’t, cultivating your network is the best way to get results.”

 

So, why do so many job seekers avoid networking? “People in general have a misconception when it comes to networking,” Haberfeld says. “Some feel it shows a sign of desperation while others believe that people don’t care enough to help or are just too busy.” But the truth is that when you ask someone, even a total stranger, to help you find a job, the universal response is, “I would love to help; what can I do.”

 

Sometimes networking can be done using conventional methods and sometimes you need to be creative. Ruth Shapiro, of Ruth Shapiro Associates and vice president of Career Counseling Consortium, has an interesting take on networking: “Besides business contacts, you should be networking with people who provide you services.” She suggested giving a resume and talking about your job search with your dry cleaner and all the business owners you regularly patronize. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. They are friendly, service oriented people and have long established relationships with hundreds of customers. Moreover, they know you, want to retain your business, and will gladly help you in your time of need.

 

How do you develop a job search network? Networking is a multi-step process of alerting as many people as possible that you are in the job market, getting introductions to people in their business and social network, and asking them to recommend you for a job they may know about.

 

Start with your family and friends. Share with them what you’re looking for, and ask them to introduce you to people in their network who may be helpful. Next, speak with people you know socially in places like your synagogue, yeshiva and health club. Speak with your doctor, your lawyer, your accountant and even your sheitel macher. They are easy to approach and would love to help you. Find friends from your past and reconnect.  Find people you went to college with, high school, and even summer camp.   “Each conversation is not a desperate plea, it’s an opportunity to connect, find out how they’re doing, share what’s happening in your life and enjoy the conversation,” says Haberfeld. “When you get over any fear about diving in, this can actually be great fun – and shockingly fruitful.”

 

Then reacquaint yourself with old business and social contacts. Touch base with prior bosses and co-workers. Contact clients and vendors you worked with in the past. Go through all the business cards you accumulated and call everyone in your personal and business address books. If they’ve moved on, Google them and look them up on Linked-In, Facebook and other social networking sites and in telephone and business directories

 

Finally, discreetly use social networking sites to obtain new contacts. Don’t post a resume; post a job wanted. Reach out to friends of friends and get to know them. Join networking groups online and around the city to meet people who can hire you and expand your network. Go to job fairs and contact organizations like the OU, National Young Israel, Agudas Yisroel and SAF, and go to their websites, job posting boards and job seminars.

 

If you do all of this you will find a job, even in this economy

 

If you have specific questions about your resume or job search, or would like to receive a free copy of my workbook ‘Job Hunting in the 21st Century,’ compliments of the Jewish Press, email me at pnewman@jewishpress.com or call me at 646-894-4101.

 

Perry Newman, CPC, is President/CEO of First Impressions Resumes (www.firstimpressionsresumes.biz) in Brooklyn, and has over 25 years experience as a resume write, career coach and executive recruiter.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/networking-for-that-job/2009/02/27/

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