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Posts Tagged ‘chareidi’

The Unmentionable Pig

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

One of the stranger aspects of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, “Chareidi” press, is their determination not to use the word “pig.”

Last night, 2 Israelis were killed when their car smashed into a wild boar on Highway 5, East of Tapuach Junction.  Here is how the Chareidi newspaper, HaModia reported it:

HaModia Newspaper reports on the unmentionable wild boar.

“In a head on collision last night, in which 2 “wild other things” ran into the road, 2 men in their 40′s were killed.

The accident took place in the area between Tapuach and Migdalim in the Shomron.  Magen David Adom’s (Israel’s emergency medical and rescue service) attempts failed to save the wounded, and doctors pronounced the men dead on the scene.  MDA reported that next to the car were 2 dead “wild other things” and it is assumed they caused the fatal accident.”

It’s a bit ridiculous that HaModia can’t even use the word, “pig” (or wild boar).

Had this not been such a tragic story of 2 people being killed, I would have added a picture from Maurice Sendak’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are.”

May their memories be blessed.

Why Do We Need an Asifa?

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

There is a huge argument raging right now on Twitter about the next big Internet Asifa scheduled for the end of May in Citi Field. Let me briefly summarize the other positions:

 

#1 The Asifa is just the latest attempt by the zealots and the gedolim they control to control our thoughts

#2 They’re worried about a neo-hashkofa haskola* and are trying to limit access to blogs and the like

#3 They fear their authority is eroding

* I first heard the phrase “neo-haskola” from Mis-nagid in 2005, and have used it promiscuously ever since

To which I reply: No, sorry. This Asifa has nothing to do with any of that. They’ve given up trying to ban the Internet, and the average haredi isn’t interested in thinking or reading. The problem, primarily, is porn.

To which the others reply (paraphrased): But people have always looked at porn! That can’t be the issue! Its a scam! A trick! They don’t really care about porn! They are just using that as an excuse! What they really want to do is run our lives, and close our minds. If they are saying they care about porn, they are a bunch of liars! And hypocrites! Porn has always been a problem! How dare they make believe that they all of a sudden care!

To which I reply: Sure people have always looked at porn, but over the last few years porn has become easier to consume. You can do it quickly, privately and at no cost. The desire to look at porn is a constant, I agree. But the obstacles to looking at porn have been mostly removed. When obstacles disappear consumption goes up. That’s ECO 101.

To which they reply: What are you talking about? You could ALWAYS look at porn

To which I reply: Sure people have always looked at porn, but over the last few years its become easier. You can do it quickly, privately and at no cost. The desire to look at porn is a constant, I agree. But the obstacles to looking at porn have been mostly removed. When obstacles disappear consumption goes up. That’s ECO 101

For some reason, my opponents are unable or unwilling to understand this. In their replies, they point out again, and again in various ways, that porn was always available. What they aren’t grasping is that nowadays more people are seeing more porn because, thanks to the Internet, the porn-watching experience has become so simple. In yesteryear, a shy kid might not be brave enough to ask an older cousin for a magazine, and he might not have had the money to buy one himself. Plus there was always the danger of being spotted in the store, or of the parents finding the contraband. Today, none of that is a worry. The teenager of 2012 can sit with his iPod and feast at a never-ending porn shmorg — all free, all private, with little to no risk of discovery. As a result, porn consumption has skyrocketed.

The purpose of the Asifa is to raise awareness and to discuss solutions. The analogy I gave on Twitter is this: Say you lived in a neighborhood that was frequently visited by bears. The non-idiots in the community would understand immediately that bears are attracted by food and you can encourage them to move on by cutting off their food supply. The non-idiots would take down their bird feeders and keep their garbage in doors for as long as possible. Expert non-idiots might start treating their garbage with some kind of bear repellent. But what abut the non-idiots who just don’t know about the bear? What about the people who are idiots? Until both groups are told about the problem and taught bear-control procedures, the bear will keep coming back. So, what you need to do is have a public meeting, where the problem can be publicized and solutions can be taught.

Its the same with the porn problem. Non-idiots already have filters and are already watching their kids and teaching them how to make good choices. But most people are not non-idiots. Most people don’t know what to do, and may not even be aware of the severity of problem. For instance, most people don’t know (until its too late) that a kid with an iPod is running a XXX theater during recess. Most people don’t know (until its too late) that their 15 year old texts on shabbos. Most people don’t know (until its too late) that their spouse has developed an inappropriate friendship with someone on Facebook How do you fix that? How do you protect people before it’s too late? By raising awareness at a public meeting, which is just another word for asifa.

I’m oversimplifying. Other problems the asifa will tackle include kids who text on shabbos, adults who look at porn, and married people who use the Internet to form emotional connections with members of the opposite sex or to meet extramarital partners and set up assignations. All of that happens today with greater frequency for the same reason 14 year old boys see more porn: Its become cheaper and easier to do. The purpose of the asifa is to raise awareness about all of these problems and to let people know what they can do to protect themselves and their families.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Dear Readers,

This column has received a number of letters regarding the young wife and mother who penned a so-called memoir supposedly based on her relatively short-lived existence as a member of the Satmar community. While most of these letters express sentiments already aired in this column over the last several weeks, readers seem particularly effected by the scene as depicted in last week’s letter to Deborah by A Willy Mom:

“And then I saw the interview you had with Barbara Walters. I sat in stunned disbelief as your new friends, with the help of their audience and their guest – you – poked fun at a magnified screen picture of you walking to the chuppa with your face ‘badecked.’ I was most distressed.”

As a means of defining the raw emotion that has gripped A Willy Mom and so many others like her, I take the liberty of addressing Ms. Feldman directly on their behalf:

Deborah, we don’t suppose that behind the scenes you bothered letting your new friends in on the significance of our beautiful longtime tradition of “badeken” that was initiated by our Matriarch Rivkah who covered her face when she saw her future husband Yitzchak approaching.

Then again, we don’t imagine your new friends as capable of grasping the concept of a kallah’s purity, let alone appreciating the symbolism conveyed by the veil with which the groom gently covers his bride’s face before proceeding to the wedding canopy where they will stand together to be sanctified as husband and wife.

Oh, yes, about the veil… symbolic of the inner beauty of the bride, which is not to be overshadowed by her external, physical beauty, it also signals the groom’s commitment to protect his bride, as well as the bride’s commitment to reserve her beauty for his eyes only.

Above all, Deborah, in that brief intrusion into your walk to the chuppa that your new friends seemed to find so hilarious, we don’t suppose any of you caught sight of the tears welling in your grandmother’s eyes, or heard her whispered prayers to G-d beseeching Him to shield you from harm and pain and to bless you with endless Yiddish nachas and a happy life alongside your life partner.

But, Deborah, after all is said and done, we still hold out hope — for a righteous woman’s tears are never in vain, as the following story (told by Rabbi Price of Neve Zion in Jerusalem) illustrates.

A family man in Northern Israel ran a produce distribution business. When his son Yair Eitan was old enough to help out, he’d drive the company’s delivery truck. One of his regular stops was at Yeshiva Lev V’Nefesh, where attendees are mostly baalei teshuvah.

Having been raised in a secular home environment, Yair’s curiosity was piqued by the lively energy that pulsated within the yeshiva walls. He gradually began conversing with some of the students and before long was actually sitting down and sampling some Torah study.

His parents were none too pleased about their son’s discovery and new friends, and his enraged father prohibited him from ever stepping foot in that yeshiva – or any yeshiva – again. In his words, there was no way any son of his would become a “backward, bearded chareidi.”

Yair would not be deterred and continued to visit the yeshiva without his parents’ knowledge. Eventually, however, they found out and his father’s violent reaction led to Yair leaving home. In a note he left behind, he wished his parents well but did not disclose his destination. By this time he was aware that there’s a line drawn in the commandment to obey a parent when that parent would have his child disobeying the Torah.

Nonetheless, the father searched for his son until he found him and forced him to return home. He moreover filed a lawsuit against Lev V’Nefesh, claiming that the yeshiva had brainwashed their 18-year old son.

A trial was held and Yair testified that no one coerced him to attend the yeshiva and that he did so of his own volition. The elderly judge who presided over the case seemed somewhat distracted as Yair spoke; he kept eyeing the father. When Yair stepped down having completed his testimony, the judge asked the father to approach and take the witness stand.

The judge first asked him if he was of Eastern European descent and if his name back in Europe had been “Stark.” When Mr. Eitan answered in the affirmative, the judge asked him if he was originally from Pinsk. Again, the answer was yes.

“I remember you very well,” the judge continued. “You come from one of the finest homes in pre-war Pinsk. Your father was a deeply religious and highly respected man. Your mother was renowned for her kindness. She would cook meals for the poor and the sick regularly. I remember well when, as an 18-year-old, you openly departed from your parents’ ways.

Daily Deals Provide Some Serious Steals

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The world of shopping changed forever three years ago with the launch of Groupon, a website that negotiates discounts with popular local and national businesses and passes the savings along to the consumer via a discounted daily deal emailed directly to members.  For the kosher consumer, the savings became even more appealing with the launch of discount deal websites aimed squarely at the Jewish market, such as Jewpon, jdeal and Kosher Kouponz.

Membership in these programs is free and consumers enroll by visiting the desired website and specifying their location, enabling the program to provide them with discounts relevant to their geographic area.  Recent deals have offered savings like $12 for a $42 ticket to the NY Skyride at the Empire State Building, $180 for twenty units of Botox from an Upper West Side ophthalmologist, normally priced at $360 (both from www.jdeal.com), a free $50  coupon towards the purchase of a suit from the Brooklyn location of The Hat Box , $12 for $25 dollars worth of cosmetics from ShaindeeCosmetics.com (both from www.jewpon.com), a free El Al Matmid Membership, a $25 value and $25 for $50 worth of food at the Deal, New Jersey location of Dougie’s (both at www.KosherKouponz.com).

Kosher Kouponz, which offered its first deal in December 2010, serves members in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Five Towns, New Jersey, Los Angeles and Chicago.  They have also featured separate seasonal sections on their site, including a Catskills section during the summer and special holiday deals for Sukkos.  With approximately 25,000 subscribers, over two hundred merchants and a staff of over ten employees, Kosher Kouponz continues to grow and hopes to expand to more cities in the near future.  Additionally they plan to add hotel bookings and a year round discount card, which for a small annual fee, would entitle members to enjoy numerous benefits including year round discounts at participating merchants.

Kosher Kouponz estimates that approximately half of its deals are food related.  Its best selling offering to date has been a deal that offered $50 worth of food at Aron’s Kissena Farms in Queens for just $35.  5053 Aron’s coupons were purchased by Kosher Kouponz members, with 2000 coupons purchased within the first twenty-four hours, according to VosIzNeias.com.  Kosher Kouponz typically alternates local deals one day and Internet deals the next, with the highlighted deal of the day moving to the sidebar to make room for the next day’s featured offering.

“Deals must be of value to our members,” said Kosher Kouponz CEO David Siegel.  “At times we need to offer discounts of fifty percent but other smaller discounts can be valuable if it is something our members definitely need.  We keep exploring new options so that we can continue to bring value to the Jewish consumer.”

“Sites like ours work because they target very specific audiences,” said jdeal founder Jodi Samuels.  jdeal, which boasts “seriously surprising deals,” serves customers in New York and Los Angeles and estimates that seventy percent of its 40,000 members hail from the New York area.  Their first deal ran on November 22, 2010 and since then they have featured over two hundred and seventy unique merchants.

While, like Kosher Kouponz, jdeal has found that food deals sell very well, they have found that they have had tremendous success with charity deals and recently raised $30,000 for Meir Panim, which provides assistance to the poverty stricken in Israel.

“We try to do one charity a week,” explained Ms. Samuels.  “We are currently doing Sharsheret, but have also done the UJA as well as others.  It is really a no brainer for them.  We give them a discounted rate and they get huge exposure on our site, without the cost of having to print brochures.”

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/24/11

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Readers’ divergent views regarding (the lack of) tznius: Tolerance versus Tongue-Lashing

 

Dear Rachel,

I have been reading your column for years and have learned much from the challenges that people face and the advice that you and other readers offer. Over the last several weeks, I have been quite disturbed by the tone that some of your readers have adopted — from the letter writer of “Community (lack of) values” who made sweeping judgments without knowing her neighbors’ motivations, to her responders (some of) who were vicious, without giving any thought to what the young lady might have been dealing with.

Attacks were ridiculously levied against an entire Jewish community based on a few or even many anecdotal incidents, with writers suggesting that all of New York’s Jewish citizens are rude and unkind.

Then, just as the issue quieted down, along comes the judgmental indictment of “For shame!” For shame, indeed; again, an indictment of an entire group of people without knowing anything about them. How does the writer know what these women have gone through in their lives? Maybe they fight the yetzer hora of tznius with every ounce of their free will and are doing the best they can. Until we’ve experienced everything that they’ve experienced in their lives, how can we judge them?

I would hope to see the writers to your column return to trying to help people rather than trying to belittle them. We each have a unique set of challenges that Hashem has custom tailored for us, for our own good. No one can fully (if at all) understand the challenges faced by another. Let’s try to focus on overcoming our own tribulations and provide comfort and encouragement to others, rather than give ourselves a false sense of superiority by condemning those we know nothing about.

Remove Din, Be Empathetic!

 

Dear Rachel,

The conflicts and disagreements sparked by the issue of tznius turn it into an endless and painful debate.

While it may be true that in today’s Jewish society some women may be a bit more lax in their tznius or more affected by the fashion trends all around us, I take offense at giving validity to a letter writer with such obvious anger and hate, a person who completely represents the antithesis of what a Jewish person’s middos should be.

For whatever reason, the letter writer is extremely angry about something. I cannot fathom how women who want to dress stylishly and beautifully can cause so much animosity, unless a) this is an extremely jealous woman whose husband is not showing any interest in her, or b) this is an extremely frustrated man whose wife makes no effort to be attractive for him.

The last paragraph, “It is my wish that these women will one day be given the cold shoulder and be made to feel unwelcome…” put me over the edge. The writer is not even ashamed of his/her blatant sinas chinom and sadistic urge to cause another Jew pain.

I am a beautiful, frum, spiritual Jewish woman who always felt judged and ostracized by the chareidi community from the time I was in high school. I have struggled with my self-esteem and always felt inferior religiously because I love fashion and dress myself well. May Hashem bless us to have peace with one another instead of trying to change everyone else, and to have the achdus needed to bring Moshiach!

A Fashion Isha

 

Dear Rachel,

The anger that was so evident in a reader’s letter in your column on tznius did not shock me in the least. In fact, her frustration is shared by too many of us whose parental roles are challenging enough in today’s climate of moral corruption without having to explain to our innocents why the married woman next door wears her snood halfway down the back of her head with her naked arms visible through her transparent blouse.

While it is true (as you pointed out in your response) that we have a responsibility to one another, you must also be aware that, as a rule, others don’t take kindly to unsolicited advice, especially when it is more convenient to go about life with their heads buried in the sand (as opposed to facing the truth).

This is where your column, known for its outspokenness, plays an important role. Rachel, please don’t stop setting people straight by telling it like it is. You have the advantage of reaching out to thousands of readers, a privilege not granted to many and not to be taken lightly.

A grateful reader

 

Dear Rachel,

I am sure not too many readers took For Shame’s letter sitting down and were plenty miffed at her strong words of condemnation. The sad truth is that while this generation has seen a tremendous baal teshuvah movement, there are far too many women/girls in our orthodox circles who seem to be completely oblivious to the laws of tznius and the repercussions of flaunting them.

I, for one, applaud the reader’s gutsy stand on such a vital matter. Hers may be a lone voice in the wilderness, but I hear it as a cry of pain and a championing of G-d’s word.

Rachel, it’s time to take a tough stand on an issue that in the long and short of it affects all of us.

Make no apologies

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 4/01/11

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

 

Freedom At Last

Dear Readers,

Back in June of 2010 we published an article from Isaac Kohn, who has become known to readers of this column for his avid championing for the protection and rights of the abused chareidi wife. Below, we briefly refresh the reader’s memory with an excerpt of that letter which is followed by a recent update from Mr. Kohn.

 

Ad mosay – how long must this ugly situation continue?

Last week at the Miklat, I met another young woman (20-21 years-old!) with a beautiful one-year-old daughter, whose short twenty-something years are tightly compacted with more beatings, terror and over-all mental abuse than most adults can ever imagine! 

Married to a hypocrite (he dresses as a chareidi but keeps absolutely none of the laws!), this girl became an immediate punching bag and the sponge for every imaginable abuse. Raised in a family where evil is considered a virtue, her pipsqueak husband enslaved his young wife (with his mother’s encouragement!) and turned her life into virtual hell. And it all began almost immediately after the wedding and continued in a non-stop pace for many months. The severe mental-abuse was only topped by the extreme physical cruelty visited on this young and innocent girl whose life quickly evolved into a nightmare — until literally extracted from the clutches of death by Bat-Melech.

 

Dear Rachel,

It’s only a crack but one of the best ever!

Back in June you printed one of my letters, which was simply another part of the saga I dubbed “A Visit To Hell.”

As in my previous letters to you, I described the unimaginably horrible situation in which another of our daughters found herself; the beatings and abuse her husband visited upon her may very well have ended in a tragedy had she not finally escaped to find refuge in Miklat-Bat Melech, the only safe-house for abused chareidi women in Israel. Here she found a warm, embracing atmosphere of people who’d give their lives to protect, encourage and rehabilitate the poor and wretched young women who desperately knock on their doors. The trials and tribulations this young 21-year-old (with her year-and-a-half-old daughter) had to endure until last week are beyond description. Escaping from her husband’s clutches was not enough; the evil that lies in the heart of people – particularly in the hearts of men – continued to haunt Shoshana and threatened to drown her. (Yes! I can now reveal her name!)

And here is the gist and focal point of this letter, Rachel. As I noted in my opening sentence, it’s only a crack, but it allowed Shoshana to break her shackles — she’s been set free!

Shoshana herself doesn’t know how it happened; her belief and trust in Hashem that He will sort out the truth from the many lies bore wonderful fruit. No Jewish tear goes to waste and the rivers of tears and endless nights of fear and trepidation that her husband will chas ve’sholom succeed in both taking away her daughter and never set her free were obviously picked-up by Hakodosh Boruch Hu.

In a sudden and inexplicable turn of events, the previous pro-husband biased judge was replaced and the new judge simply shuddered at the treacherous tactics employed by Shoshana’s husband in order to keep her captive. In a barely controlled rage, the judge berated the husband, voided all of his complaints, dismissed his accusations and ordered Shoshana to be set free immediately!

With a get in her hand and baby Leah in her arms, Shoshana arrived in New York a free woman ready to proceed with her life and raise her daughter in the proper way.

Rachel, as an epilogue, give me a few more lines to express Shoshana’s deep gratitude to the wonderful people at Bat-Melech who were there for her every minute of every day. They comforted, calmed and reassured her that Hashem is with her and her trust in Him will pan out. They guided her every step, cried with her and finally celebrated her victory and walked with her towards the plane on her way to freedom. G-d bless them!

 

Isaac Kohn

kohnisaac@optonline.net

 

Dear Mr. Kohn,

May G-d repay you for taking such an active interest in the downtrodden among us. As for the wonderful, selfless people who run Miklat-Bat Melech, allow me to sum it up by relating a short story about an incident that occurred when one of the talmidim of Reb Yosef Soloveitchik zt”l visited his former rosh yeshiva after marrying and becoming a successful businessman.

The Rebbe asked the young man how he was doing (in Yiddish “vos machs du?”), to which the talmid replied that he was doing well and baruch Hashem had much hatzlocha with the candy store he had opened.

A moment later, the RoshYeshiva repeated the question, and his visitor answered basically the same. When the Rebbe asked him for the third time “Vos machs du?” the talmid questioned the repetition of his Rebbe, to which the latter replied, “The store that is doing well is Hashem’s doing, not yours. I asked you about how you’re doing, which is entirely dependant upon you as it is your choice — such as learning Torah, doing mitzvos and performing tzedaka and chessed…”

Title: Real Jews; Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox And The Struggle For Jewish Identity In Israel

Saturday, July 26th, 2003

Title: Real Jews; Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox And The Struggle For Jewish Identity In Israel
Author: Prof. Noah Efron
(Bar-Ilan University)
Publisher: Basic Books, New York, NY


There may be some who would wish this book, and this subject matter, to not be discussed at all; to shove it back into some secret corner whence it came. “Don’t air dirty linen in public!”

But it has been done – published by one of America’s largest publishers, and it will be found in many Judaica bookshops, as well as in Barnes & Noble, Borders, and the leading independent bookshops.

Prof. Efron, whose own feelings remain quite professionally hidden even at the conclusion, aptly describes the struggle for the hearts and minds of young Israelis. Even before the secular Israeli public learned to demonize Palestinians, they learned to demonize charedim. In America, anyone characterizing a Jew with a long nose and payos in a derogatory cartoon would be called an anti-Semite, but in Israel, it has come to Jew against Jew.

When Israel’s government was first established, then-Prime Minister David Ben Gurion made what secular Israelis term, “A pact with the devil.” To obtain a working majority in the Knesset, Ben Gurion gained the votes of charedi parties in return for certain objectives, including exemptions from universal military service for young studying in Yeshiva.

The so-called “Ultra-Orthodox” reside in communities segregated from secular Jews and rarely interact with them. Although consisting of over 10% of the total Israel population, Yeshiva students are exempt from military service - while secular youth serve for many years. The charedi community also enjoys political (and economic) power way out of proportion to their actual numbers. A quite high percentage benefits from various forms of governmental largesse.

To the contrary, modern Israeli history venerates those secular individuals such as Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, and Moshe Dayan whose efforts built the nation in the first place and defended it during its formative years. It was Ben Gurion himself who declared that we would finally know Israel as an independent nation, when we would have our own burglars and criminals in Tel Aviv.

There is a reason why some cities built beyond the Green Line, such as Kiryat Sefer and Betar, are chareidi. The population in chareidi communities such as Meah Shearim and Bnei Brak have expanded almost to the point of explosion. Housing costs are disproportionate to the family incomes of the residents of these neighborhoods. Thus, real estate developers acquire relatively inexpensive lands from the government – especially when there is a policy to populate some given area – and build entire cities catering to charedim.

Secular Israelis also take issue with the kosher food ‘tax,’ in the form of extra cost to everyone due to the expense of kashruth supervision, which could raise food prices by as much as 4%. In places like America, where kosher-observant Jews may be a quite small percentage of the buyers of the products, the cost is evened-out by the many thousands of others, such as Moslems and Seventh Day Adventists who also rely on our kashruth supervision for their own dietary requirements. In Israel, where the costs are government-mandated, they are resented by the secular.

Here in America we Jews are concerned whenever a criminal’s Jewishness is reported in the media. In Israel a special case is made whenever it is a charedi who is charged with a crime, even if his religiosity is irrelevant to the case. Efron’s thesis is that because of social pressures, including those of kiruv work of charedim among the secular, secular Israelis are demonizing charedim. To quote: “Each new “conversion” (a secular Israeli becoming observant) is an assertion that we have failed. If we are who we think we are, why are our children leaving?”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-real-jews-secular-versus-ultra-orthodox-and-the-struggle-for-jewish-identity-in-israel/2003/07/26/

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