A federal appeals court told a kosher hot dog vendor in New York that its agreement with Citi Field precludes it from selling kosher products at the stadium on Shabbat.
Kosher Sports Inc. had a 10-year contract with Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, to sell hot dogs, sausages and other kosher products in the stadium through October 2018. In 2010, the kosher food distributor sued Citi Field operators for preventing its workers from selling their products on Friday nights and Saturdays, and for attempting to stop the company from obtaining a fourth food cart.
In its ruling Tuesday, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York found that the agreement “did not cover when or where KSI could sell its kosher food products,” and therefore Citi Field was within its rights to restrict sales on the Sabbath. The court also awarded Citi Field $55,000 and rejected Kosher Sports Inc.’s request to reverse a court decision from February 2012 that found the vendor failed to make payments on time.
“KSI had no right under the unambiguous terms of the agreement to sell its products at Citi Field on Fridays and Saturdays,” the court wrote.
The vendor launched its $1 million lawsuit three years ago, claiming that it had lost $500,000 in profits because its stands were not allowed to open during Sabbath games or events. Kosher Sports said it had received permission from kosher-certifying authorities to open the stands to sell food items on the Sabbath, but the rabbi who certifies the stands denied that claim.
I understand the feelings of the men who gathered at Citi Field to proclaim their united position against the Internet. The problem, as we know, is the proximity to filth that we can introduce into our lives whenever we open a browser window. Those who gathered at Citi Field want us to junk our computers because we tend to gravitate toward what is forbidden—and in huge, heartbreaking numbers.
But is this the best solution?
Chava, after all, ate the apple in spite of her desire not to. She even put up a geder, a fence, for herself. In effect, she threw away her computer: If you recall, it was her idea to tell the snake that G-d had told her not to “touch” the tree (Bereshis 3:3). She meant well – but she failed.
Certainly, the answer is not to stop building gedarim. Rather, it seems that we must think clearly and deeply as to what, exactly, Hashem wants of us when we build them. Only then could we be legitimate in saying, “This geder came from HaKodosh Baruch Hu.” But how are we to know what Hashem wants?
Allow me to share a personal story for a moment, and you may see where I’m going. When I was a child, my parents could not afford yeshiva tuition and reluctantly put me in public school. When I was in 6th grade we visited the United Nations. Now, every child in my class – and my teacher – was Jewish. Nevertheless, we went to lunch at a non-Kosher burger restaurant. Now, I was basically a goody-goody. I was respectful of adults; I certainly did not challenge them. And I was hungry. I have always had a healthy appetite. But I stood outside. I would not go in.
The teacher came begging me, to no avail. I “knew” – don’t ask me how – that going in to that treif (non-kosher) place was wrong. I had never heard of the concept of ma’aris ayin (not to look inappropriate). Yet, at all of 11 years old I “knew,” and I went hungry.
Where did I get this from without a yeshiva education? I don’t recall my parents saying anything about it. Obviously, they weren’t thinking about this possibility or they would have sent me on the trip with my own brown bag!
But I have the answer. Looking back on my childhood, I can tell you precisely: My parents, z”l, taught me to love G-d with all my heart. It’s that simple. And that complicated. I can remember a bright spring day when the weather was warm and my father and I happily set out for the park. “Take off your shoes, Debbele,” he suggested, “and feel how Hashem makes the grass so soft and cool on a warm day.” I did and I delighted in its coolness, privately thanking Hashem for His brilliant creation.
My father took very literally the words of the Shema which require that we speak of Hashem when we get up and when we walk on the way and when we lie down. My father brought the Holy One into our conversations all the time, and in doing so, made Him an integral part of my life. I would not want to disappoint Him or lose my connection to Him. And my father wasn’t alone. My husband and I passed down this love and constancy of Hashem to our children and we see the fruit of our efforts when our grandchildren speak. I have no doubt that they would pass the same test that I did.
How does a parent do that? The first step, of course, is for the parent to examine his own heart. When he davens, is he rushing to get it over quickly or do the words speak to him? Does he feel Hashem’s support when things are tough? Is he connected? Only when the answers to these questions are favorable does he have something concrete to pass down to his children.
You see it’s all about internals, not externals. The gedarim we create for ourselves must come from inside our hearts. They are not about whether we may touch the tree but whether we care more about eating the fruit than connecting with G-d.
Almost 200 years ago, French painter Paul Delaroche declared, allegedly, “From today painting is dead,” after he had learned about Daguerre’s discovery that exposing an iodized silver plate in a camera creates a lasting image if the latent image on the plate is developed and fixed.
I imagine Johannes Gutenberg or someone close to him might have advised folks to give up handwriting, it was going to be strictly print from now on.
And nowadays everybody is talking about the paperless office and, what’s worse, the imminent death of the entire print media.
But our friend Daniel Greenfield of Sultan Knish fame, believes he’s seeing signs that the very institution of our popular media is going bust.
Them’s fighting words!
The Last Days of the Media
There is no news business anymore, just media trolls looking for a traffic handout, feeding off manufactured controversies that they create and then report on. Magazines and sites struggling to stay alive while preaching to a narrow audience which likes essays by leftist cranks and mocking pictures of conservatives. And they’re not alone; any magazine that still covers politics, covers it in the same exact way.
There are house-style differences between the New Yorker, which still features its trademark cartoons, and Vanity Fair and Esquire, and Time and Newsweek, but they are all basically the same. The same essays repeating the same views for the same audience; all of them fighting for that small slice of urban yuppie audience which DVR’s Mad Men, has Michael Chabon novels on the shelf that it hasn’t read yet and is forty percent gay.
Daniel Greenfield of Sultan Knish
SOME THINGS I CAN ANSWER
Thinking Jew Girl wants to know: Who Paid For The Asifa? Renting out Citi Field cost over $1,000,000. Each ticket cost $10. Multiply that by a maximum of 40,000 people and you have $400,000 total. That means that someone had to dish out $600,000 minimum to make this gathering happen.
And she speculates: Could it be that the company which created internet filters paid this sum as an investment in advertising?
Not exactly. The event cost $850,000 the Citi Field rental. With the cost of promotion and logistics it is estimated to have cost nearly 2 million dollars.
The principal donor was Mr. Hershel Schreiber, owner of the famous photographic retailer in Manhattan, B&H.
In other words, a fortune that was made almost exclusively because and through the Internet, is now being spent to try and curb the evil influence of the Internet.
When some chickens come home to roost, the take down the whole house…
YOU SUBMIT, TIBBI POSTS, NO QUESTIONS ASKED
Sharon Altshul of The Real Jerusalem Streets, a blog devoted to showing what life is really like in Jerusalem, invites you to check out her photo essay “Jerusalem Day – 45 Years United.” Nice images, good notes, worth a peek.
I’m enclosing a sample, hope Sharon is OK with it:
Geffen and her musical group performed at the main ceremony of the city of Maale-Edomim (near Jerusalem) commemorating Israel Memorial Day for its lost soldiers.
She is in 11th grade and she and her musical group represented her high school “Space and Aviation Ort High-School” which is under the sponsorship of the Israel Air Force. Twenty-thousand people attended the ceremony – many of whom lost a family member in the Arab wars or as a result of terrorist attacks.
Jerome S. Kaufman, Israel Commentary
Go check out the video. Sweet girl.
WHEN IT ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY HAS TO BE DONE ON TIME
The 60 Second Guide to Shavuos
The foundation of Judaism is that there is a G-d, who is completely spiritual. G-d created both a physical and spiritual world. The centerpiece of creation is man who is composed of a physical body and a spiritual soul. Our collective purpose is to transform the world into a unified G-d connected spiritual world.
And now, here is Danny Kay reciting in 30 seconds the names of 50 Russian composers:
TRUTH AND IDEOLOGICAL TRUTH
Chaya no-last-name wrote a wonderful response to all the critics of last Sunday’s Asifa, on xoJane. It’s hard hitting, eloquent and sincere. It’s also accompanied by a huge, magnificent image of a Jewish bride in the midst of an obviously Chasidic group of women.
And while I urge you to go read the thing, I also want you to look for the copy of Chaya’s story with the gorgeous image on Yated Neeman, or Ami Magazine, or Mishpucha. And then when you give up, help me in thanking God for the Jewish Press online, where we can still be women without ridiculous obliterations.
Chaya stressed that 1. We are not imprisoned, 2. We like ourselves the way we are. And most of us are happy, 3. We find our husbands attractive, 4. We have been happily (minor expletive) for millennia. Jews never had the concept of “original sin.” 5. Mikveh is awesome. We don’t go to the mikveh because we’re “dirty.”
Now, I can agree that there must be many, many women, for whom some of the above are always part of their reality, but I find it hard to believe that all of us have all of the above in our lives. If Chaya is sincere about those points, I’d like a lock of her hair for my good luck charm…
In the past few days, I’ve been reading the backlash against “the asifa,” a recent mass meeting of religious Jewish men meant to draw a few boundaries around Internet use in our homes (meaning religious Jewish homes; not your house). Chaya, xoJane
Thank you, Ymedad, for the cute, and a little scary, clip from an 1852 Baltimore synagogue rule book about all the things we’re not to do in shul.
The really scary thing is that the passage reads like it was written this morning (except the shawing of tobacco – that’s chewing to you and me).
They came to Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York, by car, by bus, by boat and by plane. They came from Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Monsey, Lakewood, Monroe, Montreal, Belgium, and other observant communities. They came in the tens of thousands – an ocean of black hats and conservative attire. A majority were chassidim and a large minority were yeshivish.
They came to hear a reiteration of the downside of the Internet and our obligation to filter and control its contents. Rabbi Menashe Frankel, Lakewood Torah activist, served as chairman.
Speakers included Rabbi Elya Brudny, rosh yeshiva Mir Brooklyn; Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, rosh yeshiva Maor Yitzchok in Monsey; Rabbi Yechiel Meir Katz, Dzibo Rav of Montreal; Rabbi Leibish Leizer, Pshevorsker Rebbe of Belgium; Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal, Skulener Rebbe; Rabbi Don Segal, mashgiach from Jerusalem; Rabbi Shmuel Wosner, author of Shevet Levi (speaking via hookup from Israel); and Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, mashgiach of Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.
Rabbi Wachsman led in reciting Tefillas HaShelah (prayer to raise children properly); Rabbi Segal led the Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shamayim (the acceptance of Heavenly authority, recited at the close of Yom Kippur); and Rabbi Shmuel Dishon, mashgiach of the Karliner Yeshiva, led tefillas Maariv.
The calls of “Mi laHashem eilai” (“Who is with G-d should join me”) and “Es la’asos laShem” (“now is the time to act for Heaven”) were repeatedly proclaimed by the speakers, When Rabbi Salomon ascended the podium, many in the audience rose and sang. His message was clear: We are commanded by the Torah to have children and we are invested with the obligation to raise them properly. The Internet poses a grave threat to that mission and must be dealt with.
Some of the speakers called for the Internet to be thrown out. Our Torah civilization has existed without it until now, they stressed, and we will continue to live without it. Other speakers, more realistically, called for self-restrictions to be imposed. Controls such as filtering services (many of which are free) are continuously updated.
Other suggested restraints included not using the Internet from erev Shabbos until Monday morning, no cellular phones in shul at any time, no Internet service in homes, and filtering all business usage. Home use of the Internet was completely forbidden by some speakers, while others reluctantly allowed it with filtering.
The crowd at Citi Field was estimated at more than 42,000 and its overflow at nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium at 22,000, for a total of more than 64,000 men in attendance.
Particulars of the event will be discussed and debated in detail in the weeks to come in every beis medrash and home in frum communities. The reverence with which participants came to and left the event was beyond words. The representation of almost every leading chassidishe rebbe in the greater New York area ensured that this would be a singularly important event.
The large police presence and the stadium staff were exceptionally polite and courteous. Threatening clouds caused planes flew low in their approach to nearby La Guardia Airport. With a frequency of one plane every four minutes or so, the thunderous noise lent the event a surreal aura.
More than 50,000 ultra-Orthodox Jewish men packed Citi Field in Flushing, Queens, on Sunday, for the Asifa, a gathering decrying the dangers of the Internet. Organizers have also rented the nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium for the overflow crowd.
Several key leaders of the Haredi community in the U.S. attended the gathering, including Rabbi Matisyahu Chaim Salomon, the mashgiach ruchani (spiritual superviser) of the Beth Medrash Gavoha Yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jersey, Rabbi Eliezer Zusia, the Skulener Rebbe, Rav Shmuel Dishon, head of Mosdos Yad Yisroel Karlin Stolin, Rabbi Mordechai (Mottele) Hager, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Rabbi Zalmen Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Leibish Leizer of Pshevorsk, Rabbi Ephraim Waxman, and Rabbi Leibish Leiser, the Pshevorsker Rebbe.
Critics have called the gathering an anti-Internet rally, but Eytan Kobre, a spokesman for the Ichud Hakehillos LeTohar Hamachane (communities united for the purity of our camp) said the group wants to teach families how to use technology responsibly.
“They’ll make decisions about how much technology they want to allow into their lives and what kind of safeguards they want to apply to that technology,” Kobre told WNYC Radio.
“There is a very significant downside to the Internet,” he added, according to Vos Iz Neias. “It does pose a challenge to us in various aspects of our lives.”
Kobre cited online pornography and gambling as well as the risk of social media undermining “our ability to pray uninterruptedly, to focus and to concentrate.”
Women were not allowed to attend the meeting, but the rally was broadcast live to women who gathered in schools and halls.
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.
The New York Daily News reports that Kosher Sports Inc., which “introduces the quality of Glatt Kosher food to professional sports and entertainment venues throughout the country” (as stated on their website), has hired the high-powered law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP (of Gore v. Bush, Florida, circa 2000) in its upcoming court battle with the NY Mets over selling hot dogs at Citi Field on the Jewish Sabbath.
Kosher Sports filed a breach-of-contract suit against the Mets nearly two years ago after the team banned it from selling kosher food during Friday night and Saturday home games — a move the vendor says caused it to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits.
The kosher food vendor had signed a 10-year, $725,000 contract to sell glatt kosher Abeles and Heymann hot dogs, sausages, knishes, pretzels, and peanuts at Mets home games, according to the suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court. The case is set for trial this month. (Obviously, the pretzels and the peanuts do not qualify as “glatt,” which is a term used exclusively in the processing of meat – YY)
Top team officials in the Mets organization were apparently concerned about “undermined credibility with Sabbath-observing” fans, the court papers filed by the vendor charge. Simply put, no matter how kosher the meat was when you bought it, once you cooked it on Shabbat – observant Jews won’t touch it.
Two years ago, according to the New York Post, Rabbi Shmuel Heinemann, who monitors Kosher Sports’ compliance with Kashrut laws, denied giving the company the OK to operate on the Sabbath.
“There’s no way they can be kosher if they operate on Friday nights and Saturdays,” said Rabbi Shmuel Heinemann.
It does bring to mind a different question: If you go out to the ballgame on a Friday night instead of hitting the nearest shul for Kabbalat Shabbat, why would you need your hot dogs to be kosher?
The company states that its products are under the strict kosher supervision of the Star-K. But the kosher certification service website does not list a current hechsher for the Citi Field outlet. It does list a certification good only through October 31, 2011.
Kosher Sports, Inc. served “an all-star menu” at the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl. CEO Jonathan Katz proudly stated that it was the first time “a glatt kosher food offering” was present at the Pro Bowl or the Super Bowl.
KSI is no stranger at big events, having served glatt kosher food at professional sports and entertainment venues since 2003. Those included until recently the Mets’ Citi Field, as well as the US Open Tennis Championships, M&T Bank Stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, Land Shark Stadium, Prudential Center, and Oriole Park.