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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘asifa’

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Fruits Of The Asifa

I have to admit that from the time plans were first announced for the Internet asifa I was just another skeptic, a non-believer trying to understand the point of such enormous resources being thrown into an event that seemed designed to preach only to the converted at best.

It’s not that I disagreed with the notion that the Internet presents inherent dangers to our community or with the calls from gedolei Torah admonishing us to safeguard ourselves from a type of technology so powerful that it threatens our very essence as a people mandated to be holy – to be a light unto the nations.

What I did doubt was that a gathering at Citi Field for an evening of divrei hisorreros would offer much of a real solution.

I am no longer a skeptic, but in fact a true believer. In the weeks since that amazing gathering we have seen a virtual explosion across the religious spectrum, in various Jewish newspapers and individual kehillos, in terms of practical advice and debate on how to best deal with the dangers of the Internet.

I consider it an awesome accomplishment for the asifa to have inspired a myriad of solutions to what is perhaps one of the gravest threats facing our generation, and I offer my thanks to our gedolei Torah.

Joey Aron Brooklyn, NY

Non-Orthodox Rabbis In Israel (I)

I was somewhat troubled by the news that the Israeli government will now be paying the salaries of non-Orthodox community rabbis in addition to those of Orthodox rabbis (“Israel to Pay Salaries of Non-Orthodox Community Rabbis,” news story, June 1).

It’s not that I have anything against non-Orthodox Israelis being able to choose their religious leaders. It is only my concern for the old slippery slope – in this case that such a move may lead to official recognition for marriages, divorces and conversions performed under non-Orthodox auspices. This would inevitably lead to further erosion in our unity as a people because while Orthodox standards are accepted by most non-Orthodox Jews, non-Orthodox standards are unacceptable to those who adhere to Orthodox standards.

Berel Schiff Jerusalem

Non-Orthodox Rabbis In Israel (II)

I’m glad that Israel seems to have begun to realize that it cannot ignore Conservative Jews like me who are passionate in our support of the Jewish state but are dismayed by the official non-recognition of our movement. This anomaly is unnatural and will not last forever.

Need I remind anyone that non-Orthodox philanthropists, politicians and intellectuals are the backbone of support for Israel in America?

Stuart Farber (Via E-Mail)

What About Pollard?

Re your endorsement of Rory Lancman (editorial, June 1):

I’m disappointed that The Jewish Press failed to include Jonathan Pollard’s continued incarceration as an issue raised with Congressional candidate Lancman. It may not be the most important issue out there, but I think it is a significant one. Indeed, The Jewish Press has addressed this on countless occasions.

Hazel Levin New York, NY

Palestinian Numbers

At long last our government is paying attention to the ongoing fraud of Palestinian refugee claims (“Counting Palestinian Refugees,” editorial, June 1).

The Arab world refused to help those who chose to flee their homes during Israel’s defense against the Arab onslaught in 1948. After Israel prevailed, the Arab governments refused to resettle the Palestinian refugees because they wanted to use them as a propaganda pawn, specifically to preserve the issue as the basis for the “right of return” claim.

It’s about time the truth came out.

Harold Herman (Via E-Mail)

Unfair Criticism

It was unfortunate that The Jewish Press editorial page would criticize President Obama for providing wholly innocuous links to administration achievements on the biographical sketch pages of several presidents.

You went so far as to suggest, completely incorrectly, that the president was violating the law. And no, no one who has common sense would agree that it violated the spirit of the law either, because the law you cited is the federal embezzlement and theft statute and has nothing to do with this.

Let’s be honest about what we’re talking about here. On the bottom of several biographies of modern presidents, the White House added a Did-you-know tidbit about something Obama had done. Calvin Coolidge was the first president to broadcast a speech over radio. President Obama was the first to hold a virtual town hall meeting. President Eisenhower created the Council on Physical Fitness. The First Lady’s big issue is childhood obesity, and the page has a link to her program.

Letters To The Editor

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Message Of The Asifa (I)

How ironic that the asifa at Citi Field (“Haredi Event on Internet Dangers Draws Thousands of Participants,” front page news story, May 25), which was advertised as a gathering for all of Klal Yisrael and a show of achdut – unity – ended up being a platform for the main speaker, Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, to write other Jews out of the world to come if they do not heed to the dictates established at the event.

Those who utilize the Internet know it is simply a communications medium that can be used for either good or bad purposes. Many Jewish organizations (Chabad.org, Aish.com, NJOP.org, HebrewBooks.org, YUTorah.org, and others) have successfully harnessed the incredible power of the Internet to promote positive Torah values and attract thousands of people to their sites.

Instead of railing about the evils of the Internet and trying to censor its use, the organizers of this event could have utilized their time, effort, and dollars to promote their important messages about family, Torah study, and service to Hashem and bring more Jews closer to Yiddishkeit through the very medium of which they are so frightened.

Michael Feldstein
Stamford, CT

Message Of The Asifa (II)

No modern piece of technology – whether a cell phone, a computer, a television, a radio, or even a car – is inherently good or evil. Everything depends on what is done with it and how it is used.

The asifa at Citi Field portrayed the Internet as a grave threat to Jews and to Judaism. Speaker after speaker spoke about the evils of the World Wide Web, about the Internet causing bitul Torah, about how the Internet should be banned in Jewish homes and about how children who come from homes with the Internet should not be permitted in yeshiva.

I am wondering if any of the rabbonim or other participants at the asifa are familiar with the many wonderful Torah websites that exist.

A person can log in and learn daf yomi. Need a d’var Torah for a simcha? Log on to Aish.org or Torah.com. Want to check out the kashrus of a certain establishment? Go to OU.org. Need a kosher recipe? Check out kosherrecipes.com. Want to verify the date of a yahrzeit? Check out hebcal.com. Many good Jewish charities even have websites to facilitate the mitzvah of giving tzedakah online.

Yes, the Internet can lead to bitul Torah, but, if used properly, it can be a terrific tool to spread Torah and Judaism.

Barry J. Koppel
Kew Gardens Hills, NY

Prenups And Jewish Marriage (I)

While I agree with Rabbi Michael Broyde that prenuptial agreements would ameliorate at least some of the problems facing many young women who are tragically relegated to the status of an agunah, I have a couple of problems with his article (“Three Cheers for IRF’s Mandating Prenuptial Agreements,” op-ed, May 25).

For one thing, I think he was a little extravagant in his touting of the International Rabbinic Fellowship. Before reading the article I had never heard of the group, and a quick Internet search yielded scant information as to its membership. I wonder, then, why any of us should be impressed by any of the group’s pronouncements on a matter of such halachic import.

For another thing, the RCA prenuptial agreement touted by Rabbi Broyde is far from universally accepted and is therefore potentially divisive, raising as it does the frightening prospect of Orthodox Jews being unable to freely marry other Orthodox Jews.

Menashe Greenbaum
(Via E-Mail)

Prenups And Jewish Marriage (II)

If we Jews resolved that no marriage could take place without a prenuptial agreement regarding a Get, much suffering would be avoided, and a stain on our public image would be eliminated.

How can we be seen as a light unto the nations when we consign many of our young women to a life of deprivation and hardship by the application of a Divine rule that was never meant to empower the venally recalcitrant?

Zundel Weissman
(Via E-Mail)

Rabbinic Marriage Annulment

I was taken aback by the May 25 news story (“Rabbinic Court Annuls 20-Year Marriage: Witnesses Weren’t Shabbat Observers”) about a woman, identified as “M,” whose husband refused to give her a Get and so the chief judge of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Eliyahu Abergel, freed her “from her agunah status and annulled her marriage because the witnesses who had signed the ketubah were not Shabbat observers.”

Jewish Press Radio with Yishai Fleisher: From Shavuot to Asifa

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

With Shavuot over, the Managing Editor of Jewish Press Online, Yishai Fleisher and his wife and co-host Malkah discuss their experiences in Jerusalem during the holiday and the importance of both Shavuot and Ruth to the Jewish People. Yishai moves on to talk about and elaborate on Asifa, which was a recent meeting of Ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York City to examine the challenges of the Internet and in what context it fits into the Jewish world. The segment wraps up with Yishai and Malkah further mulling over solutions that can allow the Internet to be useful and Kosher at the same time.

To download, right-click, and “Save Target As” HERE.

Haredi Event On Internet Dangers Draws Thousands Of Participants

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

The sellout crowd that filled Citi Field on Sunday night wore black and white, not the New York Mets’ blue and orange.

And instead of jeering the Philadelphia Phillies or Atlanta Braves, they faced a foe that was, in their view, far more formidable: the World Wide Web.

“The Internet even with a filter is a minefield of immorality,” said Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, a haredi Orthodox lecturer. “This issue is the test of the generation. Your strength at this gathering will determine what Judaism will look like a few years from now.”

The rally, or asifa, to caution haredi Orthodox Jews about the dangers of the Internet, drew a crowd of more than 40,000 men to the stadium and an overflow of 20,000 more to nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium, most of them wearing black hats. In addition, there were more than two-dozen live hookups worldwide.

While news reports and social media had been buzzing with asifa-related topics, there was little mention of what the itinerary would be, and only in the days leading up to the event did spokesperson Eytan Kobre announce that the asifa was intended not to ban the Internet but to learn responsible use of technology.

An article in The New York Times noted that the group behind the event, Ichud HaKehillos LeTohar HaMachane, is affiliated with a firm that sells filtering software.

In Yiddish and English speeches, rabbis from haredi communities in the United States, Canada and Israel decried the access that the Internet gives haredim to the world outside their community. Speakers called the Internet “impure,” a threat to modesty and compared it to chametz, or leavened bread, on Passover.

Several speakers also lamented the Internet’s potential to distract men from learning Torah.

To a man, each of the rabbis who spoke said that Jewish law forbids Jews from browsing the Internet without a filter that blocks inappropriate sites. The speeches in Yiddish were broadcast with English subtitles on the stadium’s JumboTron.

Rabbi Yechiel Meir Katz, the Dzibo Rav, compared the threat of the Internet to the dangers that Zionism and the European Enlightenment posed in the past to traditional Jewish life.

“A terrible test has been sent to us that has inflicted so much terrible damage” on haredim, Katz said. The Internet poses a greater threat to haredim than secularism did, he said, because “in previous challenges we knew who the enemy was. Today, however, the challenge is disguised and not discernible to the naked eye.”

A long and impressive list of rabbis attended, with featured speakers including Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, the Skulener Rebbe, Rabbi Don Segal, Rabbi Yechiel Meir Katz and Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman. Several speakers spoke emphatically about banning the Internet completely and in a video address from Israel Rabbi Shmuel Wosner ruled that the only acceptable use of the Internet was a filtered Internet in one’s place of business, and that schools should not accept children from homes with unfiltered Internet.

Rabbi Wachsman declared that anyone with unfiltered Internet forfeits his share in the world to come and in a message echoed by other speakers urged each person to take even a single step forward in his Internet vigilance.

Jewish Press columnist Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, one of the signers on the original asifa announcement, acknowledged that few concrete solutions were offered, but he called the three-hour event a resounding success.

“The asifa was a reaffirmation, saying that we need to deal responsibly with the Internet and everyone appreciated that,” he said. “Rosh yeshivas left their yeshivas. Major rebbes came from everywhere. Thousands devoted their time to make a public statement that the Internet must be handled with extreme caution.”

Others agreed that the asifa was a source of inspiration.

“The speakers emphasized that people weren’t going to learn anything new,” said Shaya Winiarz, a 21-year-old yeshiva student from Staten Island. “This was about chizuk and letting people know that this is an issue that we all face.”

Many, however, were disappointed by what they felt was a lack of clear guidance.

“The asifa was a tragically lost opportunity to deal with the growing challenges in a rapidly changing culture,” said Rabbi Gil Student, who runs the Torah Musings blog.

“We needed to hear from forward-looking thinkers who recognize that today’s challenges are only a hint of what lies ahead. Instead we heard yesterday’s solutions for last year’s problems. Our leaders failed to chart a course for the future and have abandoned each family to figure it out on their own.”

Jerusalem vs. The Asifa

Monday, May 21st, 2012

I missed the Asifa. Admittedly, I wasn’t planning on going, though I do feel jealous of those software developers who managed to get 50,000 men (and an unknown number of women who participated remotely) to pay actual money to listen to a multi-hour sales pitch of their products, and then have their community leaders tell them to go buy them, which on top of that, they probably will.

Now that’s marketing to a captive audience.

Obviously internet filtering is important if you have kids in the house, and I guess for a closed, insulated community being hit on the head with the outside world it warrants an outing to Citi Field on a Sunday to find out how to protect yourself (and to get out of the Beis Medrash on a Rabbinically sanctioned field trip).

But in my mind, I was comparing it to another mass gathering that same Sunday – one I participated in with my family.

The Jerusalem Day Parade.

30,000 people, a significant number of them teenagers, mostly religious, gathered together to celebrate one of the modern, open, unexpected and important miracles of our day, the reunification of Jerusalem.

I admit that at one point I wondered, which gathering was the bigger Kiddush Hashem?

But mostly I asked myself, which one would inspire my children about the beauty and possibilities of Judaism?

A public gathering that demands yet even more conformity to community social pressures and standards, this time only to buy a kosher phone, or use an internet filter with the proper hechsher, or a gathering that thanks God for the incredible gift he gave us that actually we prayed for.

Obviously, one gathering isn’t mutually exclusive of the other.

I’m sure many of the Israeli yeshiva students who marched yesterday have internet filters in their homes.

But I wonder, how many men at the Asifa said Hallel that morning, or at least didn’t say Tachanun in commemoration of the miracle that occurred for all of Klal Yisrael, that they too benefit from whenever they visit their national homeland.

 

Surfing the Asifah, Now That’s a Roundup

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Every opening to the outside world is a calculated risk. Every time we open a window we chance being shocked by something vile. Every time we ride in our cars, take the subway, even go to shul – something terrible can offend our senses and even influence our very being.

Opening a book – are you kidding me?

Answering the phone – who can it be?

Turning on a radio? Forget it.

Don’t want to bring up television.

As I understand my own religion, my job in this world is to sanctify that which is mundane with my actions. The entire world is open before me, a Jewish woman or man, to set an example of how it should be used righteously. All of it, every last part of it.

We can’t all do it, some of us don’t have the emotional or psychological mettle. That’s fine. I’m happy and proud to belong to a segment of religious Judaism which simply does not fear new things. And I understand and support those who aren’t available for that experiment.

More power to them and to us.

CAN WE HAVE DAILY CULTURE SHOCK OR DOES IT GO AWAY?

It was heartening to see how many folks were seriously trying to come to terms with the Asifa’s main message. And what they thought the message really was.

Internet: A Plea for Common Sense Dad pointed out a few things. However much we all enjoy and use the internet, using the internet can become an addiction. If you don’t believe me, look up the studies. I haven’t seen anything good come out of an addiction to anything. Even Torah. An internet addiction, though, isn’t like being an alcoholic. Alcoholics might be “dry drunks” as long as they don’t drink, but as long as they don’t drink, they’re ok. Not great, but ok. This is more like gluttony. You might be hugely overweight, but you still have to eat. It’s a lot harder to control yourself and give yourself a tiny portion of something you really want then to avoid it completely. (Dad’s analogy)
Sparrow’s Musings

Internet Asifa a Great Kiddush Hashem In the final remarks, the rabbis pledged to move forward with the continuous forging of new ideas. Future gatherings will probably be at a lower cost and scale but focused on actual changes and improvements the community will need to make. Future agendas will include problems and questions such as attitudes towards education and employment, proper allocation of charity funds, funding Jewish education as a community, today’s shidduchim system, agunos, extremism and intolerance, segregation of Ashkenazim and Sefaradim, participation in the Israeli workforce and armed forces, the system of Halachic rulings in Israel and America, reliance on subsidies, and integrity and honesty.

Many of the attendees left the event feeling invigorated about their future and that of their children and grandchildren, echoing the sentiment that through justice and kindness we may merit the coming of the Messiah.
Yosef Drimmel, Rationalist Judaism

Ignorance is Sacred …. To Whom The Internet is terrifying to the rabbanim perhaps because of porn, perhaps because it exposes youth to foreign ideas, but even more importantly, because it enables open dialogue and an honesty they cannot afford if they are to survive as a community, the community they insist they are; pure, innocent, and above their own frailties. And if a few children must be sacrificed for this wholesome lie, then so be it. It is better than any broken truth.
Judy Brown, Rare View

Satmar and the Asifa – Achdus or Isolation? The organizers of the Asifa are desperate to make this about Achdus even more than they are about fighting internet. They therefore felt it was more important to have Satmar involved than to have women attend.

This despite the fact that it is the mother who is in the trenches. Mothers are the guardians of the home. Their husbands are all in the Beis HaMedrash. Morning, noon, and night. Unless they have fallen so low spiritually that they now work for a living. Either way it is the woman that is on the front lines. Not the man.
Emes Ve-Emunah

Technology Can Save Lives, Even in Borough Park

Monday, May 21st, 2012

I, for one, was glad to read the distinction the Asifa organizers were making, between “good” and “bad” technology, meaning, of course, that there’s no such thing as an inherently wicked technology, only wicked people who take it to dark corners.

That was a sober and responsible approach to the issue, and I was impressed by the quickness with which the organizers responded to the potential pitfalls of being portrayed as Luddites, which does not befit a nation of scholars and questioners.

A story in Sunday’s NY Daily News reveals an altogether different angle of the same issue. Apparently, modern technology may end up saving a Haredi neighborhood from some of the internal conflicts it has been slow to resolve by itself.

Leiby Kletzky, a Hasidic Jewish boy, was kidnapped in 2011 on his way home from day camp in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Part of his body was found in the Kensington, Brooklyn, apartment of one Levi Aron, 35.

Now, according to the News, New York State will give $1 million to a Jewish nonprofit organization which will install 150 high-tech security cameras around Borough Park and Midwood, as part of the Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park) said, “We can’t bring Leiby back, but we can make sure there are no other Leibys with God’s help.”

I believe this is a way in which technology will compensate for the Haredi community’s inner conflict regarding the issue of informing on “unzere menchen,” our own people, to the authorities. There’s no need to debate this issue any longer, when the cops already have the whole thing on tape, thank you very much.

It’s the biggest mass installation of cameras outside Manhattan, officials contend. That’s a lot of barn doors being closed well after the horses have left, but I don’t knock it. Better late than never.

It’s probably going to make life in Borough Park a whole lot more stressful, I suspect. Folks are going to be extra stiff around businesses, synagogues and schools, where those 150 cameras will be positioned.

It’s not Divine Supervision, but, it gets pretty close.

In the end, I think it was courageous on the part of the people of Borough Park and Assemblyman Hikind, to accept that their neighborhood deserved to be protected, even at the price of suffering a little ridicule.

And that was the positive spirit of last night’s Asifa in a nutshell.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/yoris-daily-news-clips/technology-can-save-lives-even-in-borough-park/2012/05/21/

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