web analytics
November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chassidim’

Breslovs Go In, But They Don’t Come Out… [video]

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Breslov Chassidim have an affinity for Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem.

Regardless of prevailing security conditions they drive in there, into PA-controlled Area A, do their “Na-Nach” thing and leave.

Needless to say, they often do it without coordinating with the IDF, who might or might not let them go in at that time. The IDF regularly organizes fully-guarded, heavily armed Israeli visits to the tomb of Joseph.

Last night, an unescorted, unauthorized, and uncoordinated convoy of around 30 Breslovers drove into Shechem, to Joseph’s Tomb.

[Editor: Reportedly, they went in to clean up the site that the PA Arabs destroyed on Thursday, per their Rabbi’s orders.]

At some point the local barbarians found out they were there, and an Arab mob, including PA police, came out to violently greet them.

One car in the convoy wasn’t fast enough in the exit, and they got captured by the mob and the Palestinian Authority police.

The Breslov car and passengers were badly beaten up by the PA Police. The PA police even drew guns and cocked their weapons at the enthusiastic Chassidim.

Eventually, the PA police let the heavily-wounded Breslov Chassidim go, and as they exited Shechem, the Breslov chassidim were promptly arrested by the Israeli police for their stupid and illegal action (and taken to Beilinson hospital for treatment).

Now, I for one am all for Jews visiting EVERYWHERE in the Land of Israel, at any time – but be SMART about it – we’re not allowed to rely solely on miracle – tell the army you’re going, make sure everyone in the convoy is together, take guns or an armed escort with you. Be smart.

The following video is believed to be right after the Arabs discovered the Breslov visit to the tomb last night:

Uman Jews Fined $15K for Breslov Pilgrims’ Tent City

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

The city of Uman has fined its Jewish community $15,000 for the erecting an unlicensed tent city to greet pilgrims to the gravesite of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov for the Rosh HaShana holiday.

The sum was reached as a compromise with “quality of government” activists pushing to dismantle the tents, and city officials, by the Rabbi Nachman International Charitable Foundation.

“There were legal issues with a tent city for 2,500 people, which we operate on Rosh HaShana,” Rabbi Shimon Buskila of the World Breslov Center told JTA on Wednesday prior to the holiday.

Buskila oversees operations related to the annual pilgrimage and the permanent Jewish presence in Uman.

The Ukrainian city of Uman is still the focal point for the Breslov Chassidic group whose founder, Rebbe Nachman, died in 1810.

This year a record number of more than 30,000 of the Rebbe’s Chassidim from 25 different countries flocked to his tomb for the holiday despite the difficult situation in eastern Ukraine.

Boryspil International Airport was tasked with handling over 20,000 Hasidic Jews from all over the world, using 236 special flights, according to the International Business Times, which quoted airport statistics to reveal that most came from the U.S. and Israel.

The Beauty (and the Beast) of Chasidus

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

I must admit that the video below about Chasidic life is very inspiring. As an article in the Forward notes, this video was not produced by any of the outreach groups like Chabad or Aish HaTorah. It was produced by two women who are not even Orthodox. One of them, Elisa Goodkind, describes herself as “a Reform and rebellious Jew”. I guess it must be rebellious for a Reform Jew to portray Orthodoxy in such sympathetic terms.

The 16 minute video interviews various Chasidim, including but not limited to Chabad (Lubavitch). Which is by itself unusual. Most videos like this are almost exclusively Chabad. That’s because the nature of Chabad it to reach out to fellow Jews. As such they are always eager to ‘get the word out’ by co-operating with any documentarian that comes their way. As did Oprah Winfrey in one of her shows.

Chabad is quite good at it. I give them a lot of credit for presenting a very positive image of observant Judaism. Here again they did not disappoint. But this is the first time I’ve seen a documentary where  Chasidim other than Chabad were so prominently featured. Most non Chabad Chasidim rarely grant access to the outside world. We therefore rarely get a peek at what goes on inside their world. And they too did a good job of portraying their values and their way of life.

The fact is that many of the values and beliefs described by the interviewees are not all that dissimilar than the rest of observant Jewry. Explaining concept like modesty in dress are done quite well.  Although modesty standards are not alike for all segments of Orthodoxy, the basis for them is the same.

Even the subject of sexual relations is discussed quite candidly and in my opinion quite beautifully.

Just to highlight one part of this video, there was a description of Chasidic dating habits by both Chabad and the non Chabad Chasidm.  Lubavitchers go out on dates alone to see if they like each other. If they do, they usually get engaged. Typically after about 6 to 8 dates. In this sense they are no different than the rest of Orthodox Jewry – from the right wing Yeshiva student to the Modern Orthodox Jew.

Chabad is the exception to the rule among Chasidim. In most Chasidic communities, the parents ‘date’. This means that the parents who usually know their children quite well  will find compatible members of the opposite sex for their children via a Shadchan (matchmaker), relative, or through a very good networking system in their community.

The potential couple then usually meet in the home of the young female prospect’s parents. As explained in the video by one such Chasid, they will typically sit across a table and talk to each other for an hour or two. Perhaps there is a second or third meeting. Then they decide if they are compatible. If they agree, a wedding date is set and they do not see each other until the day of their wedding.

This is just one aspect of a very good presentation. My guess is that none of the Chasidim that were interviewed were Satmar. I say this because most Satmar Chasidim speak English as a second language with a heavy Yiddish accent. The Chasidim in this video speak English like any educated American who was born in this country. If you weren’t looking at them, you wouldn’t know you were talking to a Chasid.

The over-all impression of the Chasdic world in this video is very sympathetic. In fact the Ms. Goodkind said the following about her experience making this video:

Elisa Goodkind writes that the time she and her team spent among Hasidim in the Catskills was “a 12-hour odyssey that would change us forever.”

“[N]ot only did I begin to identify with some of my own life values, but I found a new group of the coolest people I had met in a long time, who were about to become my new great friends…

Goodkind rightly praises the strong communities built by Hasidim, who are “committed to helping their neighbors and free of a preoccupation with sensational, pop culture.” I fully agree that Hasidic communities – and Orthodox communities more generally – offer American society an important alternative model for how to build community and lead a meaningful life.

“The big families, the sense of belonging to an extended community, and the reverence for the female body, mind and soul, were among the eye-opening and thought-provoking revelations…”

I would therefore say that this video made a very positive impression – a Kiddush HaShem even. I wish it could all end there. But as we all know there is a very dark side to the Chasidic world. The Forward article (written by a direct descendant of Chasidus founder -the Baal Shem Tov and who describes herself as Modern Orthodox) mentions one such problem. The modesty patrols in Chasidic enclaves like Skvere and Satmar.

Need I remind everyone about these communities treat victms of abuse and their abusers? Or how they treat people who veer from some of their customs. Like the fellow in Skvere who tried to set up a Minyan for a sick friend against the Rebbe’s rule requiring everyone to attend only the main Skvere Shul. He as harassed and finally torched by the Rebbe’s Hoiz Bachur(young personal valet)

And then there was how Satmar treated serial sex abuser Nechemya Weberman and his victim. A courageous soul  testified against him. He was convicted and put in jail for virtually the rest of his life. The Satmar leadership vilifies her to this day and considers the convicted serial abuser a victim of her false accustations.

And let us not forget about the Toldos Aharon Chasidim in Israel who seem to never miss an opportunity to make a Chilul HaShem. Whether it is their extremist elements harassing an little girls on their way to school; throwing stones, or bleach or even acid  at innocent passersby in Meah Sheairm who do not dress according to their modesty standards; or torching a clothing stores that sell non ‘modesty certified’ clothing. Yes they are the extremists even within Toldos Aharon. But they are tolerated if not officially sanctioned by the greater community and their rabbinic leaders because they are fighting for values they all support.

And then there is the problem of Chabad Messianism. Which has in recent years quieted down. But it has not disappeared. I have no clue what is in their hearts currently about this. It is rarely mentioned any more in public. But I suspect that in their heart of hearts – nothing has changed.

The poverty situation among some sects of Chasidim has not gone away either. In fact it has probably increased. Add to this their insular ways… their negative attitude about higher education… their total vilification and rejection of the internet (as was made clear in that Internet Asifa a couple of years ago) and many other problems that exist – and it makes them not quite as attractive as the video suggests.

Of course a lot of this depends on the kind of Chasidus one belongs to. There are many types and they are not all the same.

If one looks at the positive side, there is a lot to admire and even identify with. But one must never lose sight of the problems. They are serious. And they need to be properly dealt with. Once they are, then what will remain is the very beautiful picture that this video paints.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

Livni, Bennett Back Bill to Pretend Jews Need Only One Chief Rabbi

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Jewish Home chairman and Minister for Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett unveiled the outline Monday morning of their new bill to eliminate the system of a two-headed Chief Rabbinate and replace it with “one rabbi for one people.”

Modern Israel always has had two chief rabbis, one for the Ashkenazi community and one for the Sephardi community. Each community has vastly different traditions and different rulings on Jewish laws. Within each community there are several sub-cultures. There are “Yechi” Ashkenazi Jews. There are many different Chassidic sects, and there are “Litvak,” Misnagim,” Lubavitch-Chabad, Ger, Neturei Karta, Vishnitz and a host of others.

In Israel, there is no lack of different synagogues representing the origin of their worshippers’ families. There are Iraqi, Iranian (Parsi), Egyptian and Yemenite synagogues, to mention a few.

Livni, who is secular, and Bennett, who is modern Orthodox, each believe that one chief rabbi is enough for everyone,

Their bill would clear the way for a single chief rabbi in 10 years, when the next election will take place. Three months ago, Haredi Rabbi David Lau defeated national religious Rabbi David Stav to head the Ashkenazi rabbinate. Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef was elected Chief Sephardi Rabbi.

Both of the new chief rabbis are sons of two of the most popular men ever to serve as chief rabbi – Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who was highly controversial among those outside of Sephardi circles. Each man is a legend, and the thought of a single chief rabbi would have been unthinkable under their charismatic leadership.

Livni and Bennett insist they are not retrying to blur the lines of tradition. A single rabbi undoubtedly would save money, but finance is not part of their agenda.

“There is one prime minister, one president, one supreme court and one IDF Chief of Staff,” Livni said. The time has come that there should be one rabbi for one people, The time has some that Israel has one chief rabbi to unite all segments of Israeli society, [The time has come for] a rabbinate that will serve all religious sectors instead of a county that retains the separation of communities. It is possible to respect tradition in the house without separating religious authority,” she said.

Bennett chimed in, “This [bill] is an important step that symbolizes unity. The appointment of one rabbi is one of those subjects that raises the question, ‘Why wasn’t it done sooner?’ Today, when an Ashkenazi and Sephardi marry, there not two rabbis. Today, there is one army, and there are no separate positions for Ashkenazim or Sephardim.”

The idea sound so nice. All of the People of Israel will unite together, holding hands, dancing the hora and embracing each other with whole-hearted acceptance as a person and not as a “Sephardi” or “Ashkenazi.” Peace and love all wrapped up in a stewing pot of melted Jews.

Judaism has survived and blossomed since the 12 Tribes of Yaakov (Jacob) because of their unity as Jews and differences of character, personality and customs.

“One rabbi for one people” would discourage diversity. Obviously, a single chief rabbi would be an expert in different customs and would not issue a ruling that would violate a community’s customs. Sephardim would not be told to give up “kitniyot” for Passover and Ashkenazim would not start rising before dawn to recite Selichot prayers during the entire Hebrew month of Elul before Rosh HaShanah.

Regardless of whatever merits there may be to the bill, and despite probable enthusiasm from Israel’s leading secular media, the bill will have tough going.

Overcoming centuries of tradition in one Knesset session is a bit too much for Livni, the darling of dwindling leftist-center secular Israelis who did not vote for Yair Lapid and a villain to national religious Jews, including Bennett except for the one-rabbi bill. Bennett is riding a wave of secular support for his Jewish Home party, the inheritor of the old Mafdal crowd.

If the bill gets to the Knesset floor, it will provide lots of colorful copy for journalists. Shas will go berserk, and the United Torah Judaism party of Haredi Ashkenazi Jews will be able to sue Bennett for Livni for causing them a collective heart attack, God forbid.

Intimacy in a Jewish Marriage

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

One of the most striking things about the book Hush by Judy Brown – aside from it’s primary message about how her Hasidic community in Brooklyn’s Boro Park deals with sex abuse – is how they deal with the subject of sex altogether. (Her recent article dealing with her naivete about experiencing her own puberty is also quite illustrative of her community’s attitude).

Her descriptions about when and how she found out about the sex act were both humorous and sad at the same time. As I recall it, for young girls in her type of Hasidus (although she did not identify them, I believe that it is Ger) sex is a completely taboo subject. There is no mention of it at all until a young woman is ready to get married. I assume the same holds true for young men. Until then it is treated as a taboo subject never to be discussed in polite – or any company.

Those who dare to bring up questions about are probably just told to hush up!The explanation is very clinical and explained entirely as a matter of procreation. The main character in that book found it all shocking.

I am not making any value judgments here. Nor am I going to go into the Halachic aspects of sexual relationships other than to say that although the primary purpose is procreation that is not the only purpose. The sexual relationship between a husband and wife is of paramount importance to a successful marriage. As long as it is done in a marital context and taharas hamishpacha – hilchos nidah (family purity – laws of menstruation) is observed Judaism looks with favor upon a healthy sexual relationship.

Several years ago, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote a book called Kosher Sex. I did not read it. But I assume it was written with this idea in mind… advocating a healthy sex life for married couples. Rabbi Boteach was severely criticized for this – mostly by his own Lubavitch community. I assume he went too far in his descriptions of the sexual act. Or maybe they just felt that this subject ought not be published in a book… that it should instead be done discreetly in hasan (groom) classes or kallah (bride) classes. I don’t know.

Rabbi Boteach had already been on the outs for other reasons in Lubavitch when his book was published. Although still he claims to be a loyal follower of Habad and has written many positive pieces about them – this book kind of sealed his fate as a Pariah to them.

I bring all this up because there has been a new book published on this subject entitled Getting Closer. The author is an Orthodox Jew – Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch. He is a marital and family therapist in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. I assume he is Lubavitcher Chasid too, just like Rabbi Boteach. But unlike Rabbi Boteach it seems he is quite accepted in their circles.

Rabbi Schonbuch was recently interviewed in the Forward about sexual dysfunction in the Orthodox community. The artilce opened with some interesting statistics:

Sexual dysfunctions within relationships are more common than ever today, with an estimated 40% of women and 30% of men suffering from sexual dysfunctions, according to a new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical school.

One of the things Rabbi Shonbuch points out about sexual dysfunction is the following:

It’s important to note there’s nothing different about the Orthodox community. Rather, it’s not always spoken about, so they just need more information about it.

Sexual dysfunction can take various forms for both men and women. If those statistics are right, it is a much bigger problem that I ever thought.

I have to wonder if this is in part due to the taboo nature of the very subject of sex. There is no sex education in religious schools. Although today there are classes given to young men and women (usually separate) who are about to get married.

When I was a young man, these kinds of classes were all about Halacha. Intimacy was never discussed and considered a private matter. Today I’m told that these issues are discussed in hassan and kallah classes in some Orthodox circles. To what extent I don’t know. This is a good thing and ought to be encouraged in all segments of Orthodoxy. But if Judy Brown’s experience is still true – I suspect that sexual dysfunction might just be a big issue there.

I found the interview in quite informative. After reading it, I wondered just how different the various segments of Orthodoxy treat sexual intimacy? How does each segment’s attitudes about sex impact on its members marriages? Is one approach superior to others? Are there any comparative studies? I think this is an important issue… one that ought to result in a universal Orthodox approach that will best contribute towards healthy sexual relationship and ultimately to a successful marriage.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Hit-and-Run Killer of Satmar Couple Charged with Manslaughter

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Julio Acevedo, the driver of a car in an accident that killed Satmar Chassidim Nachman Glauber and his pregnant wife Raizy in Brooklyn was charged with manslaughter.

Brooklyn prosecutors announced a second-degree manslaughter charge against Acevedo, 44, on Tuesday. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.

Acevedo earlier had been indicted on charges of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

Prosecutors say Acevedo was speeding through the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at nearly 70 miles per hour when the BMW he was driving plowed into a livery cab that was taking the Glaubers, both 21, to the hospital early on March 3.

Raizy Glauber first child briefly survived an emergency C-section before dying. The Glaubers were killed instantly.

Acevedo fled the scene of the accident and was apprehended several days later in Pennsylvania.

According to reports, Acevedo was imprisoned for a decade for first-degree manslaughter, robbery and drug possession. In February he was arrested for drunken driving, but a judge did not suspend his license.

Would-Be N.Y. Synagogue Bomber Sentenced to 10 Years

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

An Algerian immigrant who admitted to planning to blow up synagogues in New York City was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Ahmed Ferhani, 28, was the first person convicted under a state terror statute that went into effect following the 9/11 attacks. He was sentenced last Friday.

Ferhani could have been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, but entered a plea agreement in December. He also will serve five years of probation under the terms of the agreement.

“By targeting a synagogue, which I knew to be a Jewish house of worship, in this manner, I intended to create chaos and send a message of intimidation and coercion to the Jewish population of New York City, warning them to stop mistreating Muslims,” he said in December during his plea bargain hearing in state Supreme Court.

Ferhani and his alleged accomplice, Mohamed Mamdouh, whose case is still pending, were arrested after they bought three firearms and what they believed was a live grenade from an undercover police detective. They reportedly had planned to disguise themselves as Chassidic Jews in order to get into the synagogues

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/would-be-n-y-synagogue-bomber-sentenced-to-10-years/2013/03/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: