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October 7, 2015 / 24 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘bias’

The Day After Tomorrow

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I had a much better day today at the President’s conference than I did yesterday. The reason is actually quite simple. I stayed away from the political panels, and instead met with interesting people one-on-one.

Who needs or wants to hear Dennis Ross’s tired proposal of paying Settlers to leave the West Bank for Peace? Maybe, if he had instead said that someone should pay the Arabs to leave Judea and Samaria for Peace he could have been interesting.

And not surprisingly, there were plenty of other people at the conference who had the same idea. They were turned off by the overt left-wing bias of many of the panels and panelists and decided to instead congregate in the various meeting lounges for healthier debates.

During the day I bumped into Stanley Fischer, and thanked him for his contribution to our stable economy. Raanan Gissin and I schmoozed about Social Media and Revolution. Though I admit I found myself surprised when he mentioned Stalin and Marx and wondered what they could have done if they had had Twitter. I told Raanan they did enough damage without it.

I spent part of the afternoon with many of the well-known bloggers and twitterers I’ve met over the years.

But the highlight of my day was the time I spent with Irwin Cotler. We spoke on record for an hour, and talked more after that. And we’re far from done talking.

I found in Cotler an unparalleled advocate for Israel. A man who can argue and put Israel’s position into perspective with incredible clarity, backed up not only by his intellect and knowledge, but also his record and actions.

He was like a voice in the wilderness.

We covered subjects from Human Rights organizations, the new anti-Semitism, the UN, Apartheid, and the Infiltrators. We talked about his family in Israel, and if he would make Aliyah. The stimulating two-way conversation will be getting its own well-deserved, stand-alone article.

The President’s conference does have what to offer, but it comes from the people you’ll meet in the many lounges and hallways, not from the slanted content you’ll to hear on many of the panels.

And if I might add, the food is excellent in the VIP lounge – if you can get in there.

Can You Cry ‘Hitler’ in a Crowded University? Rutgers Investigating

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Rutgers University is investigating a student-run satirical newspaper for publishing an article that praises Hitler and attributing it to a Jewish student.

The Daily Medium, which receives university funding, published the false column “What About the Good Things Hitler Did?” in its April 4 edition and attributed it to Aaron Marcus.

The university is investigating the incident as a bias incident under the university’s anti-bias policies, Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick said in a statement issued April 6.

Marcus has said in interviews that he did not write the article and called it “painful” since some of his relatives are Holocaust survivors.

Marcus has spoken out in the past about an anti-Semitic atmosphere at the university.

“Federal courts extend broad protection to student media. However, a recent article in the Medium, purporting to be written by student Aaron Marcus and using Mr. Marcus’ photograph, is extremely offensive and repugnant. No individual student should be subject to such a vicious, provocative, and hurtful piece, regardless of whether First Amendment protections apply to such expression. The Medium’s article was particularly despicable in light of Mr. Marcus’ Jewish faith,” McCormick’s statement to the university said.

“I couldn’t help but think that history has given the Third Reich and its leaders a bad rap,” the column read, in part. It also praised Hitler for bringing about the creation of Israel. Marcus has a regular column in the mainstream student publication The Daily Targum.

In 2004 The Daily Medium printed a front-page cartoon that belittled victims of the Holocaust.

Dead Beat Parents

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Certainly most of us have heard the term “deadbeat-dad” used in relation to fathers who fail to be financially responsible for their children. There is also another type of “deadbeat- parent” (I prefer to use the word parent in an effort to avoid gender bias and with the understanding that this phenomenon can occur with mothers as well), and the phrase is used to depict parents who are emotionally unavailable or inattentive to their children’s emotional needs after the breakdown of their marriage.

A “deadbeat” is defined as someone who does not pay his or her debt – a loafer or lazy person; in general someone who does not meet their responsibilities. Now, responsibilities come in many forms. Raising children is a costly endeavor and being financially dependable is one of the main concerns we parents have. So many hours are dedicated to securing the fiscal needs of our families. After a divorce when financial burdens are increased, and there are additional debts from attorney and court fees, as well as the cost of dividing up a household and starting over, making ends meet can be overwhelming. Today, our court system views a large part of parental responsibility as being financially accountable to your children and providing for their basic needs – food and shelter, education and healthcare. If a parent falls behind in his or her child support obligations there are consequences, and if a parent fulfills his/her monetary requirements they are praised for being “responsible” and “caring” parents.

Well, what about those parents who meet their legally set forth financial obligations but not the emotional needs of their children; parents who do not go the extra mile necessary to ensure their child’s wellbeing, both physically and emotionally? According to the “law” these people are defined as good and responsible parents simply because they have found a way to support their children’s basic humanistic needs.  However, we cannot overlook the harm being caused their children – harm which is not only damaging but long-lasting.

As Torah-observant Jews we must keep in mind that the Torah way of parenting is not to think of our children as possessions that we own and are free to do with as we please. They are special gifts on loan to us from Hashem, from G-d, and we are responsible to raise and care for them, with His help. This means that children cannot be divided up like other assets during a divorce. They cannot be sold like a house or traded in like a car. We are responsible for them from the moment they arrive and, hopefully, throughout the rest of our lives.

Being parents of a blended family my husband and I have had “real life” experience with my children from my first marriage and his children from his first marriage. I have seen parents struggle and fight to stay connected and involved in their children’s lives and succeed in maintaining the loving, warm relationship that should exist between parent and child. I have also seen parents who unfortunately do not take their responsibilities and obligations to their children seriously. Parents who caused more harm than good in their too few, half-hearted attempts to stay connected, parents who continue to put their own needs above those of their children.

Divorce can add an almost insurmountable challenge for the non-custodial parent trying to stay involved in raising his/her children. If you and your ex-spouse had differing parenting styles when you were married, chances are you are not going to agree on how to raise your children post-divorce either. When there is a lack of good communication with the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent can feel out of sync with their children, making involvement that much harder. For some, the challenge may seem so great that the non-custodial parent will simply give up and move on with their lives.  They would rather leave their children behind instead of patiently staying the course until emotions settle and new norms emerge which would allow them a greater ability to play some role in their children’s lives. Often standing back and taking on a lesser position is the answer rather than putting the children in the middle of a chaotic situation.

Ultimately there are consequences for the emotionally deadbeat parent just as there are for financially deadbeat parent.  In fact the consequences are often greater and more life altering.  I know that my children from my first marriage unfortunately have had a roller coaster relationship with their father since our divorce. Years of disillusionment, broken promises, undelivered gifts, missed visits and false hopes of a true relationship have taken their toll. I wonder after each disappointment how long it will be before my children begin to believe again that next time will be different; that next time he will actually come through. We all would like to trust that his intentions are good, but there is never any follow through on his part; he is just not able to give them what should be their birthright. Fortunately, they have grown from the process of learning how to deal with their father and maybe those lessons are the best gift he has been able to give them.

In my humble opinion, if you cannot be a positive force and partner in raising your children, at the very least pledge that you will not cause any additional harm to them. Be true and honest regarding your limitations. Do not make promises you cannot keep and do not string the children along on false hopes. If you are unable to participate in raising your children, support those that are; that may prove to be the best contribution you are able to make for the welfare and wellbeing of your children.

At the end of the day the children will come to understand that each of the adults in their life was acting responsibly and participated to the best of their ability out of the deep love they felt for them. Choosing to play a less active role does not necessarily equal a less meaningful one; remember sometimes it is the small supportive characters that receive the greatest applause.


Yehudit welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the Blended Family and can be reached at blendedfamily@aol.com 

Move Along, No Bias Here

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
            The Media Research Center is out with its annual compilation of the year’s Best Notable Quotables (December 2009 through November 2010) – a collection of dozens of examples of media liberal bias and idiocy that is as dispiriting as it is (unintentionally) humorous.
            One can’t help but marvel while reading the choices:These are the representatives of our elite news outlets? Can their sycophantismtoward liberal politicians be more nauseating, their championing of liberal policies more transparent, their utter disdain for conservatives more apparent?
            A few of the Monitor’s favorites follow. For the complete selection and to find out where all the quotes ranked in terms of ignominy as determined by a panel of judges, go to www.mrc.org.
Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, talking about radical Muslims: “Somehow, the idea got into their minds that to kill other people is a great thing to do and that they would be rewarded in the hereafter.”
            Host Tavis Smiley: “But Christians do that every single day in this country.”
            Ali: “Do they blow people up every day?”

            Smiley: “Yes. Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that’s what Columbine is – I could do this all day long…. There are folk in the Tea Party, for example, every day who are being recently arrested for making threats against elected officials, for calling people ‘nigger’ as they walk into Capitol Hill, for spitting on people. That’s within the political – that’s within the body politic of this country.”

Exchange on PBS’s “Tavis Smiley,” May 25.


“The oil spill is the perfect metaphor for Obama’s presidency so far. It’s been cleaning up a lot of the messes left to him by his predecessors, whether it was bank bailouts, auto bailouts, Afghanistan – which turned out to be a much bigger mess than anybody anticipated – preventing a depression that, you know, began to happen on George Bush’s watch. So this is more of the same.”

Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter on MSNBC’s

 “The Daily Rundown,” June 10.


“No one has a quicker mind or tongue than [Al] Sharpton. His political instincts are unmatched, and his personal charisma has been undimmed since high school…. He is out there all alone, still standing on the same principle he first enunciated in his housing project in Brooklyn: poor people have the same rights as rich ones, to justice in the streets and in the courts. If he didn’t exist, we might, in fact, need to invent him.”

Newsweek’s Allison Samuels and Jerry Adler
in their August 2 cover profile of Sharpton.


“The moment was vintage Obama – emphasizing his zest for inquiry, his personal involvement, his willingness to make the tough call, his search for middle ground. If an Obama brand exists, it is his image as a probing, cerebral president conducting an exhaustive analysis of the issues so that the best ideas can emerge, and triumph.”

Washington Post writers Michael Leahy and
Juliet Eilperin in an October 12 story about the
president’s pre-oil spill endorsement of offshore drilling.


“It might be Islamophobia, Obamaphobia, or both, but when loud speakers are blaring ‘Born in the USA’ and signs say ‘No Clubhouse for Terrorists,’ it’s clear we aren’t just talking about a mosque anymore. There is a debate to be had about the sensitivity of building this center so close to Ground Zero. But we can not let fear and rage tear down the towers of our core American values.”

“Evening News” anchor Katie Couric
in her “Katie Couric’s Notebook” posted
at CBSNews.com, August 23.


“I think it’s probably a lesson for the American people of the power Palin has to incite hatred and her willingness and readiness to do it. She has pushed a button and unleashed the Hounds of Hell, and now that they’re out there slavering and barking and growling. And that’s the same kind of tactic – and I’m not calling her a Nazi – but that’s the same kind of tactic that the Nazi troopers used in Germany in the ’30s. And I don’t think there is any place for it in America.”

Author Joe McGinniss talking about
the reaction to his renting the house next door
to Sarah Palin while he works on a book about
the former Alaska governor, NBC’s “Today,” June 1.


Does [Palin] know anything? . Have you ever been an eyewitness to her actually reading something? Have you seen her – no, I’m dead serious about this. Have you ever seen her reading words on a piece of paper? A newspaper, magazine, anything? Have you ever seen her read something?”

Chris Matthews to Alaska’s Democratic Senator
Mark Begich during MSNBC’s election
night coverage, November 2.


Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Anti-Israel Bias Not A New Phenomenon

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

With the proliferation over the past several years of websites and blogs spotlighting anti-Israel media bias, it’s not surprising that some of the Monitor’s younger readers harbor the misimpression that the bias is only as old as the Internet age itself – that prior to, say, 1995 or 1996 Israel received favorable, or at least fair, press coverage.

The reality, of course, is that the anti-Israel bias we know so well has been around for some time now – at least 30 years, and a reasonable case can be made for closer to 40.

Starting shortly after the Six-Day War of 1967 – and intensifying through the Yom Kippur War, the election of Menachem Begin, the invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982, the first intifada in 1987, the Rabin assassination in 1995, the second intifada in 2000, Israel’s anti-terror operations on the West Bank in 2002, the building of the security wall, the Second Lebanon War of 2006 and Operation Cast Lead earlier this year – coverage of Israel in the nation’s newspapers and on its TV screens has ranged from skeptical to skewed, with little wiggle room in between.

It wasn’t always this way, though with the passing of time it becomes increasingly difficult to recall just how drastically things have changed since 1967.

To say that Israel in the first two decades after its establishment had the sympathy and support of the mainstream American media would be to actually understate the case; the new country was constantly praised, fawned over and celebrated to an extent very nearly unimaginable from our present vantage point.

It was a time when lingering shock and guilt over the Holocaust tended to mute anti-Jewish sentiment, and when Israel’s decisive military victories contrasted so startlingly with the American stalemates or worse in Korea and Vietnam.

The golden age reached its zenith with the Six-Day War as editors, reporters and columnists unashamedly cheered on the Israel Defense Forces. Newspaper coverage was exuberantly pro-Israel, cover stories in Life, Look and the newsmagazines were ecstatic, and most reporters dispensed with even the slightest pretense at objectivity. The opinion shapers, from William F. Buckley on the right to Mary McGrory on the left, marched in lockstep on this one issue.

There were, to be sure, a few contrarian media voices, but they were barely heard above the loud swell of accolades for Israel.

But by the late 1960s, liberals were quickly losing faith in all the old verities and transferring their sympathies from their own country and its allies to any Third World country or movement claiming oppression at the hands of America or any nation identified with the West.

Increasingly, Israel came to be seen by many liberals as a bullying Western Goliath, the Arabs as an outmatched Third-World David.

This was all happening, it needs to be emphasized, while Israel was still firmly under the governance of the Labor party of Golda Meir and Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin – the very figures who now inspire such nostalgic revisionism among those inclined to blame Menachem Begin or Ariel Sharon or Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel’s near pariah-like status in many parts of the world.

If Israel’s image was growing progressively worse under Labor, it nosedived with the election of Begin in 1977. Decades of vilification, mainly from fellow Israelis and prominent Jews abroad, had taken a toll on the reputation of the Likud leader.

Media regard for Israel sank even further with the invasion of Lebanon in the spring and summer of 1982, as American and European journalists openly compared Israelis to Nazis and parroted PLO casualty figures and related propaganda.

(For a detailed analysis of the coverage of the Lebanon War, see Zev Chafetz’s invaluable book Double Vision and Edward Alexander’s damning essay “NBC’s War in Lebanon: The Distorting Mirror,” which has been included in a number of anthologies including Alexander’s own collection, The Jewish Idea and Its Enemies.)

With Lebanon the floodgates were opened, and they haven’t closed since.

Just a partial list of prominent media personalities – news anchors, correspondents, columnists and television talking-heads – who at one time or another over the past three and a half decades have exhibited either a bias against Israel or one in favor of the Palestinians would include such prominent names as Mike Wallace, the late Peter Jennings, Seymour Hersh, the late Robert Novak, Georgie Anne Geyer, Anthony Lewis, Nicholas von Hoffman, Lou Dobbs, Deborah Sontag, Joshua Hammer, Roger Cohen, Eleanor Clift, the late John Chancellor, John McLaughlin, the late I.F. Stone, Christiane Amanpour, the late Mike Royko, and Helen Thomas.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

‘Killer’ Shidduchim

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

         Most of us have heard the Talmudic assertion that “He who saves a life, saves a world,” and conversely, “He who kills a life, kills a world.”


         Lately I have been wondering if “killing a world” can extend to someone who undermines a potential shidduch and delays or prevents the subsequent creation of children. Should a person who gives misleading information – either by withholding pertinent facts, or allowing a personal bias to negatively label a boy/girl being redd, be viewed as having “destroyed worlds?”


         Case in point: “Suri” liked to dabble in shidduchim and acted as a go-between to facilitate the gathering of information. One day she bumped into an acquaintance, Mrs. X. at a simchah. Mrs. X. had given Suri a parve recommendation about a boy who she was acquainted with. This boy had been suggested to Suri’s friend’s daughter. Suri commiserated with Mrs. X. as to how the couple met, dated and  married, but got divorced weeks later.


         “I’m not surprised,” Mrs. X stated. When a speechless Suri regained her composure, she exclaimed in shock, “You aren’t surprised? You mean you knew there was something wrong with this boy and you said nothing??” “Well,” Mrs. X. harrumphed, I didn’t want to fahshter a shidduch. Sometimes marriage can straighten people out and they change for the better.”


         In the meantime, this hapless girl in her early 20s is a divorcee, who is having a much harder time getting married, despite her numerous qualities and fine character. Her classmates and friends are building their families – but the building of hers has been severely compromised – and delayed – for who knows how long.  Is this not destroying a world?


         Recently there was a letter in Rebbetzin Jungreis’ column from a woman who, B’H, had married off over a dozen children, mostly girls. The letter-writer shared that when her youngest daughter inquired about a bachur, who had been suggested to her, she was told by a friend that her sister had gone out with him and felt, “he lacked middos.” What was the “bad” behavior that brought her to this conclusion? He did not walk her to the door.


         Despite this negative report, her daughter felt there must have been good things about this boy if her friend’s parents had agreed to the shidduch in the first place. She decided to give the young man the benefit of the doubt, saying perhaps he was too inexperienced to know better. She dated him and found him to be a wonderful, young man with great middos and is now very happily married to him.


         This young man was lucky. Because of an unwarranted slur on his character, his chances of getting a normal shidduch would have been out the window. The parents of the pool of girls he would be dating – those sharing his hashkafos and goals – would have heard through the “grapevine”- as did the letter-writer’s daughter – that “he lacked middos” and would have turned him down. He would have gotten one “No” after another, without ever knowing why.


         A thoughtless young girl, with no inkling of the importance of her words, casually give an ehrlich young man a negative label with the very real possibility of harming his chances for a shidduch, essentially delaying, at best, and preventing, at worst, the birth of his children. Killing worlds, so to speak. As I said, fortunately for him, another young lady decided to give him a chance.


         How unfair that a personal bias could have caused a young man to be mislabeled, ruining his name, his future, and possibly even his physical and emotional well-being.


         As do the biases of people, who unfortunately, have a very strong influence on those in the shidduch parshah.


         I personally know of rabbanim who have told girls not to date fine young men “because they are not frum enough.” On what are these rabbanim basing their assessment of these yeshiva graduates from heimeshe families, who eat mehadrin, glatt, chalav Yisroel, are Shomrei Shabbos, ba’alei chesed and tzedakah, who are kovea itim, learn with chavrusahs and have good middos?  On the fact that these boys, who these rabbanim never met,  went to college – or did not go to beis medrash “long enough.”


         Never mind that some of these fine young men felt that kibud av v’eim meant becoming earners so they could spare their hard-working, middle-aged mothers and fathers – or future in-laws – from supporting them – and having to work even harder. Never mind that by being self-supporting their fathers would have more time for their own learning.


         And because of that misguided attitude, wonderful bachurim are having a difficult time getting married. Because of this censor-like attitude, boys who are not cut out for serious learning, who really do not have the kop or the “zitzfleish” to truly learn – are warming up benches in the beis medrash – just so they can get a “good” shidduch.


         How ironic that girls are being influenced to turn down “earners”- many of whom who are machmir in learning in their spare time – just to marry boys who may or may not be the genuine article. Much to their deep dismay, some end up with husbands who aren’t learning – and lacking an education or skills – aren’t working either. That state of affairs is not conducive to shalom bayis.


         In another situation that I know of, a rav advised a young man in his mid 30s not to marry the young woman he was seeing – because she was a few years older. She eventually married years later, but was unable to have children. He is still single.


         In another case, a ba’alas teshuvah in her late 20s, from a divorced home, who unfortunately was not getting too many shidduchim offers due to her background, was told by her rav not to get engaged to the “kippah serugah” who she had met at a lecture and was dating. Each was what the other was looking for in hashkafos  and personality. The devastated young man insisted that he meet with her rav, who impressed by his ehrlichkeit and knowledge and practice of Yiddishkeit, grudgingly gave his “permission.”


         What would have happened if the young man hadn’t been so persistent?


         Many people have shared similar stories of how wrong information resulted in ill-fated marriages – and divorces – and likewise prevented a well-matched pair from even meeting.


         Those who are in the position to influence a shidduch should take heed of what they do or do not say – and be very mindful of the impact the words that come out of their mouths can have. To do otherwise is to risk having to explain on Yom HaDin – why they destroyed worlds.

Letters To The Editor

Friday, August 8th, 2003

Joe On Joe

The June issue of Reader’s Digest featured an interview with actor Harrison Ford. He was asked, “Your father was Roman Catholic, your mother Jewish. Which faith were you raised in?” Ford responded, “I was raised Democratic.” Harrison affirmed that he too shares the
politics of his father, and went on to say that being a Democrat supplied a “complete worldview” for him.

What is most disturbing about these statements is that they demonstrate the tragic phenomenon that has devastated and continues to afflict our whole nation. Scores of Jewish souls have been lost to the Democratic Party and its “worldview,” as have many millions to other political movements that are antithetical to the ways of Torah.

One of the nine Democrats currently seeking the party’s presidential nomination is Joseph Lieberman, a purportly observant Jew who has publicly stated that intermarriage is permitted by Jewish law. Unless Lieberman recants his statement on intermarriage he poses a very serious spiritual threat to us Jews, and any Jew who it is a registered Democrat (a mistake in itself) should vote for anyone but him.

Whether or not one is comfortable with it, the fact is that many Jews look upon Senator Lieberman as a role model. That is precisely why he should be held accountable for any misleading statements he makes.

Joseph Lieberman
Brooklyn, NY

EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer was recently profiled – on the same day – by both The New York Times and New York Sun. In addition to having the same name as the senator, his wife,
like the senator’s wife, is named Hadassah. Brooklyn Joe Lieberman has published a new book, the title of which – ‘Joseph Lieberman is a Pious Liberal (and Other Observations)’ – refers, of course, to Washington Joe Lieberman.

Road Map To Where?

Giving control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority was a serious mistake. This will allow Hamas to regroup, rearm, and plan further attacks. Giving up Bethlehem was even worse because of its proximity to Jerusalem. Releasing terrorists from jail in response to Hamas blackmail is a complete no-brainer.

As a young man Ariel Sharon was a great warrior, but as an old politician he is a complete wimp. Its time to retire Sharon to his farm where he can grow cucumbers and tomatoes. At least there he will be doing something beneficial for the people of Israel.

As for President Bush, we must let him know that we are unhappy with the road map. Evangelical Christians write him thousands of letters every week telling him just that – and we in the Jewish community should certainly be doing the same.

(Rabbi) Yakov Lazaros
Framingham, MA

Don’t Pick On Poor Tom Friedman

Professor Howard Adelson’s focused criticism of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (Jewish Press, July 4), is really most unfair. It is obvious to anyone who ever read Mr. Friedman’s columns that he lives a fantasy existence, ensconced in an ivory tower where
he spends long hours writing imaginary truths. From there, those sacred scripts are rushed to the editors of the ‘world’s greatest newspaper’ whose creed is truth and integrity.

Professor Adelson, I ask you to be more fair and considerate. Stop trying to convince them with facts. Their minds are made up and they become provoked and agitated when contradicted. I also ask you to remember how only a short time ago the exalted Times demonstrated a willingness to live up to the principle of that well-known proverb, “Be sincere … whether you mean it or not.” Did the paper not apologize and fire one of its top writers after years of his plagiarism and contrived falsehoods?

Mr. Friedman and the editors of the Times have a tough enough time maintaining their fantasies on a daily basis. How unfair of you, Professor Adelson, to come, uninvited, with all your evidence to demolish their hard work.

I would like to see you re-direct your remarkable talents toward unlocking one of the great mysteries of our age – why a seemingly savvy and intelligent reading public continues to read The New York Times and Thomas Friedman.

By the way, I almost forgot to thank you.

Norman Shine
Brooklyn, NY

Trust And Kashrus

Re the letter to the editor titled ‘Kosher Conundrum’ in the July 4 issue of The Jewish Press:

I do not at all share the author’s concern with products under multiple supervision.

Kosher supervision revolves to a large degree on trust (ne’emunus). When multiple kashrus organizations give a hechsher on a product, they have developed a working relationship, with kosher standards on which they agree and a mashgiach whom they trust to enforce those standards. Having multiple supervisors is economically unfeasible, unpractical, and simply unnecessary.

From my own experience in hashgocha, I have seen food processors use ingredients with kosher supervision from organizations other than the one supervising their particular product. Reliable kashrus organizations are careful in their approval of other kashrus organizations.

Yisroel Friedman
Rochester, NY

Thumbs Up For Passover Vacations

In response to Dr. Yaakov Stern’s comments regarding Passover vacations (Letters, July 4), I would like to say “sour grapes!” This past Passover was the first time my family had an opportunity to go away. Indeed, we were able to perform all of the mitzvot of Passover. There were no “bikini-clad beach bimbos,” nor was our motivation for going away a need for entertainment. At the conclusion of each seder, I was able to walk to our room feeling relaxed. We were able to join with others in learning, davening, and truly appreciating the Passover
holiday in a relaxed and pleasant environment.

I wonder if Dr. Stern has ever participated in the preparations for Passover – the cleaning, the shopping, the cooking, the serving? By the time the holiday starts, most women are exhausted – and then come eight long days in the kitchen! Any man who truly cares about his wife would be pleased to take his family away for Passover so that everyone has an opportunity to celebrate the freedom represented by the holiday.

Shoshana Borovetz
Philadelphia, PA

Political Brawl

I must say I was amused by the news that Assemblyman Dov Hikind filed a lawsuit to stop Noach Dear from running to reclaim his (Dear’s) old City Council seat (“Hikind Files Suit To Bar Dear Election Bid,” Jewish Press, July 4).

While I am fully aware that the current holder of Dear’s old seat, Simcha Felder, is, as The Jewish Press politely phrased it, Hikind’s “prot?g?,” I burst out laughing when I read that Hikind, not Felder, was challenging Dear’s candidacy in court with the claim that Dear was “term limited.” Moreover, despite the fact that one cannot get through a week without reading in some Jewish newspaper a joint statement issued by Hikind/ Felder, I did not see a single story about Hikind’s lawsuit in which Felder was quoted. It was Hikind, only Hikind.

And then when I learned later in the week that the lawsuit had been dismissed because it was brought too early, I quite literally had to sit down. Imagine – Dov Hikind acting with undue haste in order to make headlines! Now ain’t that a kick in the head?

Alan Weinberg
Brooklyn, NY

Historical Corrections

In his recent discussion of the history of the Shiff shul and its successor kehilla in the U.S., ‘Machberes’ columnist Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum made several statements that need clarification.

The first rabbi of the Shiff shul in Vienna, Rabbi Solomon Zalman Spitzer, was not only a disciple of the Ktav Sofer, but more importantly he was the son in law of the Chatam Sofer (father of the Ktav Sofer), Rav Moshe Sofer.

As such, this kehilla had a direct connection with the founder of Hungarian Orthodoxy.

Rabbi Tannenbaum stated that the kehilla’s first rav in Brooklyn was Rabbi Yonason Steif, whom he describe as “rosh beth din of Budapest, the highest rabbinical office in Hungary and effectively chief rabbi of Hungary.” This is a highly problematic statement, as Rabbi Steif was officially a senior dayan in Budapest not rosh beth din (See Shem Hagedolim Hashlishi Leretz Hagar, Budapest, 1941). He served as senior dayan together with R. Israel Welcz. The rosh beth din was R. Efraim Fishel Zussman Sofer.

While R. Steif may indeed have assumed the role of rosh bet din as the fateful year of 1944 approached, he was not such for most of his tenure in Pest. The position of rosh bet din was not the position of chief rabbi of Budapest. The last incumbent to hold that office was Rav Koppel Reich, who died in 1929. After his death the position of Orthodox chief rabbi was never filled again. I may note here that the Neolog [non-Orthodox] chief rabbi was Rabbi Dr. Simon Hevesi, the grandfather of New York State Controller Alan Hevesi.

Thus while Rabbi Steif was a leading Hungarian posek and gaon, he was not involved in national Jewish community affairs and was one of a number of senior halachic authorities throughout Hungary. Hence it is an error to refer to him as the de facto Orthodox chief rabbi.

Let me conclude by adding that Rabbi Yeshaya Fuerst survived the war in London. Upon hearing that a number of former congregants had re-created the Shiff shul in Brooklyn, he congratulated them but criticized their choice of name (Khal Adas Yereim – Congregation of
G-d fearers) as implying that the other Jews in Brooklyn were not such. The name of the kehilla in Vienna was Adath Israel.

Zalman Alpert
Reference Librarian
Gottesman Library
Yeshiva University

More On Discrimination Against Baalei Teshuvah, Geirim

Some letter-writers have defended bias against ba’alei teshuvah and geirim in the shidduch scene. Noted rabbis have done the same. That tremendous bias exists is undeniable. That
such bias runs completely counter to Torah ideals is irrefutable, as I shall demonstrate.

The anecdotal evidence in favor of their marriageability – Moshe, Yehoshua, Ruth, Rabbi
Akiva, Shemaya and Avtalyon – is strong, and has already been discussed. Some people choose to deflect this evidence, claiming that these exceptions are “only for the gedolim”  (whatever that’s supposed to mean). Thankfully, there is further evidence that should remove any doubt once and for all.

I refer readers to the following sources:

1) Vayikra Rabba (20:10), also found in the Tanchuma on Parshas Acharei Mos. Rabbi Levi
writes that Nadav and Avihu were arrogant, and this arrogance contributed to their downfall. Many women dreamed of marrying these great leaders, but Nadav and Avihu refused them all. “Our uncle, Moshe, is the king,” they said. “Our father, Aharon, is the kohen gadol, and we are his assistants. What woman is good enough for us?” They never married, and were held accountable for their elitism. Even those with the greatest yichus may not exalt themselves over others.

2) The last Mishna in Masekes Horayos. We are taught that a mamzer who is a talmid chacham takes precedence over a kohen gadol who is an am ha’aretz. Yichus, thus, is only a tiebreaker when midos and chochma are equal (the Rambam in his pirush writes this openly).

3) The fourth perek of Masekes Geirim (and elsewhere). The Torah commands us not to oppress geirim, and the Gemara explains that this refers to reminding them about their past lifestyle. What more poignant reminder is there than the denial of suitable shidduchim?

4) Sefer Chinuch (Mitzva 563). Jews of pure lineage are forbidden to marry converts from the
nation of Edom until the third generation. The Chinuch writes in no uncertain terms that one who refuses to consider marrying a third-generation convert from Edom, either because the nation of Edom caused trouble for the Jews, or simply because he is biased against converts, is in violation of a biblical prohibition. Kal va’chomer, I would submit that those who harbor bias against ba’alei teshuvah, people born with kedushas am Yisrael, are in violation of this commandment. Those who are cling to every publicly observable chumra, who look for things to be concerned about when it comes to kashrus, would do well not to disregard the unambiguous words of this rishon.

In sum, the Torah’s position on ba’alei teshuvah and geirim is clear – they must be given the exact same consideration in the shidduch scene as so-called FFBs. The spirit of the law is also clear – one is simply not allowed to stereotype or generalize. Every person must be given unbiased consideration and judged on his individual merits, his internal merits. To judge someone based on background, externals, or “percentages” might be convenient – but the Torah forbids it.

Only by bravely following Torah principles can we successfully address the disastrous
shidduch scene.

Chananya Weissman
Far Rockaway, NY
Founder, Endthemadness.org

Haredim And Israel: An Emerging Appreciation

Just when I’d lost hope in my generation, a Shabbos in a particular section of New York has
restored my faith in frum GenXers. Let me explain.

A particular brand of frumkeit and culture held sway throughout my adolescence and early
20’s, and nearly all of my contemporaries found it irresistible.

Now in their thirties, these GenXers are energetic professionals or businessmen, who retain
for dear life the external icons of their yeshiva youth. Their Hebrew pronunciation still includes
the oy for the cholom that they adopted in high school (as in Ess-roy-g). Now a financial analyst on Wall Street, Laizer (pronounced Lay-zuh) still feels compelled to wear his black hat, and insists on maintaining a sefira beard – shave l’kavod Shabbos? Chas v’shalom! Laizer, you see, if a ben Toy-ra.

But of course Laizer is still very much a GenXer, and partakes in much of the allowable fun
America has to offer: kosher cruises to the Bahamas, SUVs, and shtaty clothes. Laizer’s wife
wears a $3,000 custom sheitel. Laizer often makes it a Blockbuster night.

For Laizer, the challenge of frumkeit and observance is largely a matter of the conflict
between personal pleasure and personal religious duty.

Like many of their gentile contemporaries, frum-GenXers seem to pay little attention to
history. The uniqueness of the time in which we live seems lost to them, as do communal matters.

Or so I thought.

Perhaps it was the events of the last couple of years that have shaken so many of these Laizers
into – are you sitting? – an affinity toward Zionism!

You see, I spent a Shabbos davening in a black hat GenX shul in the New York area. Of the
well over 100 mispallelim (I’m told that half of the members had not yet returned from the Pesach hotels in Florida and elsewhere), maybe five looked over the age of 35. There was little communal singing – certainly no Young Israel-style singing for hotza v’hachnasa. Borsalino hats were hanging on hooks on the wall, and oys and fierce shukling were everywhere.

But, to my astonishment, a mishebayrach was made for chayalei Tzahal, and to my further
amazement, the tefilla for shaloym hamedina – Medinas Yisroyel ? was said! All this, by a
Lakewood-graduate gabbai. Apparently there is even some talk of simultaneous aliyah of several families.

The shul’s rav, who is a staunch advocate of black-hat frumkeit, once remarked to my host –
who had expressed amazement at the former’s unseemly adoption of Zionist-friendly positions – the following gem: “It is not too difficult to love Eretz Yisroel, but I love Medinas Yisroel too.”

Something is afoot here – something that has developed organically, and that has not been
dictated from up on high (i.e., not via Daas Torah). The grassroots has apparently come to value the State of Israel. Having long ago dismissed the B’nai-Akiva route to Zionism as watered-down frumkeit and passe nostalgia for a foreign culture of farming and hora dancing, the frum GenXers have found their own way.

The land and milieu of “Chop a Nosh” and “Mendy the Mezonos Maven” has yet produced

As documented by Yoram Hazony, the 1990’s saw the utter dissolution of secular Zionism. The dogmas, beliefs, and associated culture of a once predominate ideology became the object of scorn. In a similar yet different fashion the next decade will see a major change in haredi beliefs and culture, here in the U.S. and in Israel. It will no longer be a steera to be black-hat/haredi – and to appreciate, support, and contribute to the medina. In fact, it will be a badge of honor.

Shmuel Frankel
(Via E-Mail)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer maintains a blog at Frum Talk (www.frumtalk.blogspot.com).

Four Years Later, Busch Shooting Still Resonates

Believing The Worst

In a letter to the editor last week, reader Michael Steinhart criticized The Jewish Press for
continuing to ask questions about the fatal shooting of Gidone Busch in Boro Park on August
30, 1999. Mr. Steinhart has no doubts about the version of events put forward by then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani – namely that Mr. Busch was a crazy man lashing out at police with a claw hammer. When pepper spray failed to stop him, officers had no choice but to use lethal force.

If Mr. Steinhart had taken the time to look into this incident, he would have found that numerous eyewitnesses deny that anything like this occurred. As they have described it, it wasn’t Gidone Busch who was out of control; it was the police – the six or more of them (the exact number, like so much else about this case, is in dispute) who backed Mr. Busch into a wall and shot him 12 times.

I am grateful to and proud of The Jewish Press for refusing to forget about Gidone Busch. I
hope you will continue to report on the efforts being made by U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and others to reopen the case. It’s shameful that none of New York’s other Jewish journals seem to care.

Harvey Blume
Cambridge MA

Questions About Case Are Justified

Michael Steinhart’s letter accuses me of “playing the race card” in questioning whether Gidone Busch was given prejudicial treatment by certain Jewish community leaders on account of
his status as a baal teshuvah, and then goes on to parrot the media’s portrayal of the late Mr. Busch as a dangerous and unstable psychopathic menace.

When the story of Gidone Busch’s death first broke, a part of me held out great hope that a
mistake had been made, and that he was still alive and well; for the monster described in the press was not the same Gidone Busch I knew: an astute, witty and personable young man who had been a frequent and familiar visitor to my community and congregation, and who had davened only a few seats away from me a few short weeks before.

Unfortunately, the victim was the same Gidone Busch whose company we had come to enjoy, except that the news media had put an extremely negative slant on his mental condition. Gidone Busch’s name rarely appeared in the press without being accompanied by adjectives such as “mentally disturbed” or “hammer-wielding” (or even, as used in Yated Ne’eman, “mentally deranged.”). While such descriptive words may be true in the strict technical sense, their use in the news stories served to paint a contorted and corrupt image of Gidone Busch. And that played right into the hands of the New York Police Department, for it gave an air of justification to the brutal killing of Gidone.

We should, of course, be very selective in second-guessing our police officers’ on-the-spot line of duty decisions. But in light of some impossible to ignore evidence of a police cover-up that has come out in the Busch family’s lawsuit against the NYPD, the best that can be said about those Jewish leaders who justified the killing of Gidone Busch is that they unwittingly became stooges to further the NYPD’s questionable agenda.

Now, I certainly do not accuse any Jewish leaders who happen to be frum from birth of any
deliberate ill intent towards the baalei teshuvah. But just as Jews born and raised in assimilated
American homes have been ingrained with certain inaccurate and negative images of religious Jews, there can be little doubt that Jews who are frum from birth carry certain biases regarding non- observant Jews, and such biases can exist in ways that their bearers do not realize.

In addition to whatever individual experiences they may have had, baalei teshuvah have received many mixed messages from the local FFB leadership. There was the message that the law enforcement apparatus ought not criminally punish a certain FFB woman who, on account of her suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, caused the death of her own child, but that the law enforcement apparatus was justified in killing Gidone Busch, a baal teshuvah who also had mental health issues. The same FFB rabbis whose followers have taken to public protest in support of their own causes have forbidden similar protest over the killing a baal teshuvah named Gidone Busch. And, as mentioned previously, the most denigrating adjective used in reporting the Gidone Busch story was printed not in the secular press, but in a decidedly and unabashedly hard-line Orthodox Jewish newspaper.

Given all of this, it is entirely appropriate to ask whether some subconscious bias played a role
in the way certain FFB Jewish leadership handled the Gidone Busch affair. And that is precisely what my prior letter did.

As for Mr. Steinhart’s contention that The Jewish Press is “wrong-headed” to continue reporting developments in the Gidone Busch story: if reprisal of the Gidone Busch story is
“wrong-headed” then it is six million times as wrong-headed to keep dredging up the Holocaust which occurred in Europe over a half century ago. And just as the magic disappearance of all Holocaust articles from the news media would further certain agendas, so too would the disappearance of the Gidone Busch story from the news media.

Mr. Steinhart admonishes that we let Gidone Busch rest in peace. Though Gidone lies buried in the cemetery (I happen to be one of the men who physically carried his casket to the burial), he cannot rest in peace until certain accountability questions regarding the NYPD and the Jewish community are answered.

As The Jewish Press obviously realizes, Gidone Busch’s death is still a very live issue, if only because there is an active lawsuit now moving towards what will likely be a well-watched trial.

Kenneth H. Ryesky (Esq.)
East Northport, NY

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-22/2003/08/08/

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