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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘community’

The DeYoung Family: Formerly of K’far Darom; Now of Elon Moreh

Monday, November 5th, 2012

The family: Uri & Hadassa DeYoung and 5 children: Avigayil (16), Noa (14), Beruria (10), Tsuriel (8) and Devora (2).

Background: My husband and I are both from New Jersey. We met and married in Israel. My husband always lived along the New Jersey shore and when he discovered that he didn’t have to give up the beach in order to live in an ideologically motivated community he was very excited. One visit to Gush Katif was all it took to convince him that it would be home. I needed a bit more convincing to brave the blazing Negev sun, but in the end we moved into our home in Netzer Hazani one week after we got married. We lived in there for two years and then, with our neighbors’ blessings, moved to the more isolated community of K’far Darom in order to support one of the smallest communities in Gush Katif. We were the 28th family and were quickly joined by a few more who arrived during the same summer. We lived in K’far Darom for twelve years.

Our house – then:In K’far Darom we purchased one unit of a two-family house. The upstairs was unfinished so we merited building part of a house in the Land of Israel. We had actually seen the houses in K’far Darom being built while we lived in Netzer Hazani and thought to ourselves, “Ah, the people in K’far Darom will have permanent houses. How nice.” We didn’t even imagine then that we’d live in one of them.

The DeYoung home in K’far Darom.

Our house – now: After renting a small apartment for a few years in Elon Moreh we decided that it was time to move into larger quarters, and thoroughly combed the community in search of an available house. The available rentals weren’t suitable so after much deliberation we purchased a house greatly in need of renovation. The neighbors were overjoyed to see lights on once again. We’re still part of the K’far Darom community in Shavei Darom, but we value our home in the Shomron.

Day of uprooting from K’far Darom: We woke up early to the sound of helicopters flying overhead. Everyone knew that only a genuine miracle could stop the Expulsion. Our house was one of the houses closest to the entry gate and faced the synagogue. We saw the thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of soldiers marching in, some of whom encircled the K’far Darom Synagogue in approximately ten rows. So many youth, so disconnected from their own people that they could tear Jews from a synagogue in Israel! We didn’t engage the soldiers in conversation, and we certainly opposed singing or dancing with them. I spoke to foreign reporters for most of the day, until the soldiers dragged us out. I wanted to publicize K’far Darom’s story and the reporters let me speak not just of the imminent Expulsion, but of why we came to live in K’far Darom.

What we left behind: On a personal level we left behind the only place we’d lived after marrying, the first house we purchased, the only home our children knew, and the home to which we long to return. On a greater level we, as did all of Israel, left behind part of the Land of Israel. Our beautiful, vibrant Gush Katif was abandoned to the Arabs, who turned it into a terrorist training camp and missile-launching site.

Feelings towards the State: There is a difference between the State and any particular government. The State is what currently serves as the governing body in Israel and can do either good or, G-d forbid, harm. The Sharon government and the IDF at the time of the Expulsion committed an atrocity against us and all of Israel. They will be forgiven only when Gush Katif is rebuilt.

The biggest difficulty: Having to choose between permanently remaining with the community of K’far Darom expellees and living in Yesha. We are among the small minority who didn’t lose employment or have difficulty finding schools for our children so, thank G-d, we didn’t have those troubles, which were major difficulties for most families.

More Religious? Or Going Off the Deep End?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

They want to have total isolation from the rest of the world? I think perhaps we should finally give it to them. It pains me to say so but based on what I am reading in their very own media, going off the deep end is not an exaggeration. It may even be an understatement! It is a wonder that they do not have a bigger OTD problem than they already do. I guess that their system works very well for them that way.

First the good news. In the extremist enclaves of both Chasidic world and non-Chasidic Yeshiva world, there are very positive things that we can all look up to. Their community is very warm and loving. It is almost like having one very big extended family. They learn and promote the values of the Torah as they understand them.

Although it is true for both worlds, the Chasidic communities emphasize things like Chesed programs while in the Yeshiva world there is a stronger emphasis on Torah study. Their community is saturated with a system of family values unlike any other. They get married young and have lots of children. And have a rather effective educational system for their purposes. Chasidim even encourage working for a living albeit without the benefits of a higher education in most cases. (There are exceptions.)

They celebrate life-cycle events with great joy as they do Shabbos and Yom Tov. They live their daily lives with fervent religious devotion. But there is a negative side. A very negative side.

Theirs is a formula that combines all of the above with isolation. There is a complete break from the rest of the world by living their lives in ways that make it difficult if not impossible to participate in anything outside of their own Daled Amos.

Among Chasidim this formula is greatly enhanced by their manner of dress, their pejorative attitude towards non Jews, and their extremely negative attitude about secular education – treating the native tongue (English) as if it were spiritually unclean – as opposed to the ‘spiritually clean’ language of Yiddish. They learn English only as a second language for purposes of survival in a non Jewish culture. I can’t imagine anyone trying to escape it without major difficulty. Although the Yeshiva world does not go that far, there is no shortage of those who desire to catch up with them.

Sliding to the right doesn’t even begin to explain how far off the deep end some of these ridiculous extremes go.

How far? An article has been published by a bold and courageous women who lives in one of these enclaves. Mrs. Tzipi Caton wrote the cover story in last week’s Family First. This is the weekly woman’s supplement that accompanies Mishpacha Magazine. (Yes, I do sometimes read women’s magazines.)

Mrs. Caton is a decidedly Charedi woman. Her Shtreimal wearing Chasidic husband learns full time in a Kollel. They live in a very large Charedi neighborhood that has many exclusive Charedi schools to choose from.

She wanted her nursery school aged daughter, Dassa, to have the finest Charedi education she could provide. So Mrs. Caton applied to some of the more exclusive schools in her neighborhood. Long story short, after applying to six schools, she was rejected by them all. She is apparently not Frum enough for them. What were some of the issues? Let’s start with the contact Mrs. Caton had with the principal of one school. From the article:

She made no effort to hide the way she looked me over from sheitel to shoes. She asked exactly one question about my maiden name, and then sent me on my merry way.

Among the reasons that school rejected her daughter was the following:

(They) didn’t like that I went to an all inclusive Bais Yaakov high school. It didn’t look good for Bais Bina, a chassidish pre-school, to accept children whose mothers didn’t grow up wearing beige stockings.

Here are some of the questions on an application form of another school:

* What (bungalow) colony do you attend?
* Where is it located?
* Who owns the colony?
* List two references from said colony.
* How many times a year do you go up for Shabbos?
* (Is your daughter’s) maternal grandfather, preferred to be referred to as “Rabbi” or “Mister.”

A friend of Mrs. Caton who was granted an interview by one of those schools for her own daughter – something Mrs. Caton did not get. Here is what happened:

(T)he principal called me aside (and) said, “Mrs. Rosenberg, you are 98% of what we are looking for in a prospective parent. The 2% holding me back from full acceptance is a certain something about the way you look. If you would agree for me to take you shopping so that I can reevaluate your wardrobe and help you dress more to the manner that we find appropriate, I would be happy to allow your daughter into our nursery class.”

Another school Mrs. Caton applied to does not allow their parent mothers to chew gum. Or to use cell-phones.

Another school rejected them without any explanation simply saying that her family did not share the values of the school. What values? Keep reading:

This particular school did not allow their teachers to quote any litvish sources in their curriculum, including R’ Moshe Feinstein…

The last school she applied to ended up rejecting her because she had been rejected by so many other schools. How’s that for irony.

I have discussed this with a reliable source who lives in a community like this. Here is what I was told:

[T]he minute a school opens with the intention of being small and select, no matter what denomination they are, this is what happens.

Another thing- when one school in the neighborhood enforces a rule, all the other schools rush to copy it at the risk of seeming “less frum” than the others. So when one school told their parent body that their women were not allowed to wear “pony sheitels” the rest all sent out adjusted handbooks within the week. The same went for banning shoes that were any color but Navy or Black, and yeshivas requiring their boys wear velvet yarmulkas that are composed of “six” slices vs the more “modern” “four slice.” And now that the Chassidish schools in Monsey banned mothers from driving, the driving chassidim have to choose between a chinuch with their mesorah or being a mother who can independently shop for groceries…

Normally I might say live and let live. People have a right to choose any lifestyle they wish, no matter how ridiculous. But when it becomes the ideal of a community that considers itself to be the most religious among us, someone has to call them on it… and expose just exactly what they consider to be more religious.

To make matters even worse, it all comes with a price tag paid for in part by the government. Here is what my source told me:

All of these schools receive government funding because they “offer a service to the community.” Exactly what community are they offering services to? The non-driving community? The non-gum-chewing community? The community where they only wear white stockings on Shabbos and don’t wear earrings that hang below the earlobe? (I kid you not, these are all real examples of the rules) If the politicians knew where their community funding was going – would the schools continue to get those grants? I wonder.

Government funding?! These schools should not even be supported communally, let alone be supported by the government.

I think at this point, we ought to at least give them what they want. Complete isolation from the rest of the world. Including all normal Charedim!

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Working Toward Abuse-Free Yeshivas

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

What can a yeshiva do to institute practices that will help prevent any form of abuse?

Our community has become a focal point of scrutiny for not responding with greater fervor to the allegations and occurrence of sexual abuse. Not only does this create pain and suffering for victims and their families, it greatly undermines the very institutions built to help protect them. Yeshivas are bedrocks of our community, not only for education but also as a safe harbor for our children.

The following suggested course of action, though by no means comprehensive, provides a frame of reference for yeshivas, day-care centers and similar entities to adopt or to strengthen current action plans.

Establish standards: This gives principals, deans, executive directors and boards of directors an organized plan and a system to implement for both prevention and response.

In May 2003 Torah Umesorah issued its Statement on Behavioral Standards on the Prevention and Response to Child Molestation. Torah Umesorah reissued this in July 2007. Professor Aaron Twerski and I prepared these behavioral and reporting standards at the behest of roshei yeshiva “for principals to implement in their yeshivas and day schools, which, it is hoped, will strengthen the protection of students.”

Create a zero tolerance mindset: The proliferation of drugs in public schools in the 1980s led to the popularization of the drug-free school concept. This involved the development of a strong and active plan by administrators, faculty, parents, police and the community and greatly strengthened the ability to keep drugs out of schools, thus keeping children safer.

Key points of an abuse-free yeshiva include: training faculty in prevention and response; sending a clear message to students and parents that disclosure of any inappropriate conduct will be confidentially investigated; letting victims of abuse know they will be supported; and fostering a perception and understanding that perpetrators will be reported and prosecuted. All this creates a clear mindset of a zero tolerance policy.

Fingerprint all faculty and employees of the yeshiva: This is currently required in public schools, though not in private schools. True, it is an added expense, albeit an important one. This system would immediately alert the school of any employee previously convicted of any crime, including sexual abuse, as well as notify the school of any arrests that occur while s/he is in their employ.

There are too few child molesters in our community who have been arrested and prosecuted and few are registered sex offenders. Thus we are far away from a foolproof system. Yet if we collectively implement the fingerprinting of all yeshiva faculty and employees, yeshivas over time will become safer havens to teach and nurture our children.

Elliot Pasik, Esq, president of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children (JBAC) has long advocated for fingerprinting in schools and he stresses that one should not underestimate how favorably parents will view yeshivas that voluntarily undertake this important step as an additional measure to protect their children.

Follow the law: The Torah Umesorah guidelines state that when there is reason to believe such a violation has occurred, the reporting of fondling, touching or any form of lewdness is not considered mesirah.

Kol Tzedek, a program under the purview of the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, is a good resource for training faculty or providing guidance on mandated reporting law.

It is known that child molesters groom children, which first involves gaining their trust. This opens the door for the molester to abuse the child, subsequently instilling shame or fear in the youngster and inhibiting the victim from coming forward.

Following the law opens the door on reporting, thus hopefully closing the door on abuse.

David Mandel is chief executive officer of OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services and can be reached at dm@ohelfamily.org.

Rally Backing Jewish Community Held in Malmo

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reepalu was among some 300 marchers who demonstrated in the Swedish city in support of the Jewish community.

Saturday’s march follows a series of anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish community in the city of approximately 300,000 in the south of Sweden. Many of the participants wore kipahs as a sign of solidarity, according to thelocal.se.

Reepalu has called on Malmo Jews to reject Zionism as a strategy for repelling violent attacks on the community.

The Swedish minister for integration, Erik Ullenhag, announced a $76,000 government grant to the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism for a new initiative in Malmo schools to help address problems faced by the city’s Muslim and Jewish populations, thelocal.se reported.

Malmo police over the weekend announced the establishment of a dedicated hate crimes hotline following an increase in attacks on Jewish and Muslim targets.

Earlier this month, demonstrations were held outside the Jewish community center in Malmo and in Stockholm to show solidarity with the community following a firebombing of the JCC’s offices.

‘The Right Kind of Jihad’

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

The Iranian Green Revolution had brave Neda Agha-Soltan, and the Pakistanis have the stubbornly courageous Malala Yousufzai. At fourteen, when the Taliban tried to assassinate Malala for promoting education for girls, she had been defying the Taliban for years. Whether these girls are catalysts for sustained revolutions may well depend on how many in the West champion their heroism.

Russian dissident Natan Sharansky tells Westerners that demonstrators would rush to the streets for minutes, risking the gulags, in hope that “at least one foreign journalist was present so that, the next day, at least one Western news source would come out with a story that could in turn elicit a chain reaction of more and greater press attention and, we hoped, a vocal Western response.” The Russian dissidents knew that a vocal response from the West would lend a megaphone to their cause. How devastating it would have been if President Reagan and Americans had failed to rally with them.

One of the insistent voices currently calling on Americans to champion liberty in the face of aggressive “Shariahites” — Shariah is hardline religious code whether pushed under Shia, Sunni, Salafist, or Wahhabist banner — is self-described devout Muslim, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser. At a time when the West is asking how to identify and trust moderate Muslims; wondering what to do about insular Islamist communities that are burrowing into city surrounds; and, calculating how to block Islamist political infiltration, Dr. Jasser suggests that moderate Muslims can play a pivotal role in exposing and discrediting the Islamist agents.

In his first book, A Battle For The Soul Of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith, Dr. Jasser demonstrates that his devotion to preserving American ideals against aggressive Islamism has required that he pledge of his own sacred honor as did the founding-era freedom fighters. Close observers would say he has also committed much of his life-energy and fortunes to speaking, writing, and organizing for the cause of American-style individuals’ rights.

Dr. Jasser was born to immigrant Syrian parents in Canton, Ohio. His parents, taking stock of their recent flight from Hafez Assad’s oppressive regime, taught Jasser reverence for the American model of consensual government based upon the rule of law created by elected representatives of the people. He wrote that he also learned what he calls an “intense love” for the American military and the symbolism of democratic alliances that the troops represent around the world.

Jasser’s maternal grandfather was head of the Syrian Shariah Supreme Court from 1975 to 1985; and his paternal grandfather was a journalist-turned-dissident, who ultimately lost his business and his home as exaction for his outspoken criticism of Baathist fascism. Inspired by his grandfathers, Jasser spent many hours with his father re-interpreting Islamic text to provide contexts based on reason and a modern perspective.

The record shows that Jasser, in a society that offered opportunities, excelled in scholarship, and served with distinction in the US Navy. Trained as in internist, he served as a physician on a Charlie-class amphibious cargo ship. Although the Black Hawk Down debacle occurred at this time, Jasser was not singled out as a Muslim for persecution or “hate” messages. He says he comported himself as “an American officer who happened to be Muslim.”

Before entering the private sector with a medical practice in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. Jasser’s public service culminated with his selection to the highly competitive position of Attending Physician for Congress and the Supreme Court.

Dr. Jasser’s character was most vividly revealed — they say that adversity does not create character, but simply reveals it — in 1995 when he confronted an Islamist “Muslim brotherhood legacy group” head on. After presenting a paper at a medical convention, Jasser stayed an additional day for the opening of the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) annual convention to see what 15,000 Muslims — some in military uniform — had gathered to discuss. One of the headliners, Imam Siraj Wahhaj made claims about replacing the US Constitution, a suggestion that enraged Lt. Com. Jasser to the point where, in his dress whites, Jasser took to the microphone at the close of Wahhaj’s tirade to confront the sedition-like statements. Jasser encouraged military personnel who were in the audience to leave. However, even the most supportive of those who approached Jasser told him he was overreacting.

What Israeli Rabbis Can Learn from their American Counterparts: Communal Leadership

Friday, October 19th, 2012

In cities and towns across Israel, the missing, pivotal character who could serve as a locus for spiritual needs, informal education and charitable programs is the communal rabbi, argue the founders of the Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics.

“The shul in Israel has always been perceived as, basically, a place to go daven, and maybe catch a class. It provides a service,” says Rabbi David Fine, one of the two founders of Barkai. “We feel that there’s a growing desire to create more of a community around the synagogues.”

Unfortunately, most Israeli rabbis have never been trained to fill the role of communal rabbi as it is performed by rabbis in the U.S..

Barkai’s founders Rabbi David Fine and Rabbi Shlomo Sobol aim to improve the fabric of Israeli society by giving Israeli rabbis the skills they need to lead their communities to “a more meaningful connection with Judaism.” They want their new center to “act as a unifying force in Israeli society.”

“In the U.S., we take it for granted that a community rabbi is someone you can turn to in times of trouble,” Rabbi Fine continues. “In the Jewish State that’s not always the case. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis, religious and secular, are spiritually adrift. They have questions about their Judaism. They would love to be part of a warm community, to be inspired, to learn, and to make their life cycle events and holidays more meaningful. They are searching for a Jewish role model who can speak to them.”

Rabbi David Fine, 43, holds a BA with honors in Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, an MA in Jewish History, and received his rabbinic ordination from the Joseph Straus Rabbinical Seminary in Efrat, Israel. He has served as a rabbi in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Overland Park, Kansas, and has been involved in overseeing communal Jewish services such as kosher certification, eruv maintenance, and burial.

Rabbi Fine made aliyah in 2008. He is a staff member of Yeshivat Meir Harel, the Hesder Yeshiva of Modi’in, the Program Coordinator for Jewish Identity at the Modi’in Community Center and teaches adult education at Sha’arei Yonah Menachem Congregation in Modi’in.

Rabbi Shlomo Sobol, 42, is an eighth-generation Jerusalem native who studied in Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav for ten years and served in the IDF Artillery Corps. He received his ordination from the Israeli Rabbinate in 1997 and has a Master’s Degree in Talmud from Bar-Ilan University.

Rabbi Sobol headed the Torah MiTzion Kollel in Detroit for four years and has served as Rabbinic Consultant for the Torah MiTzion network ever since. He is also a licensed marriage counselor, a certified mediator, and has headed the Sha’arei Yonah Menachem Congregation in Modi’in for seven years, where he is well known for his work in education and immigrant absorption.

“When we started trying to recruit students, we got calls from communities – already asking if we had rabbis for them” reports Rabbi Fine. “There’s a real thirst out there for community rabbis and there’s a real need for it.”

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau has agreed to become the president of Barkai, and the organization has already received the endorsement of the entire “senior generation” – as Fine puts it – of the Religious Zionist rabbis, including Rabbis Druckman, Arial (ramat Gan), and Rabinowitz  (Maale Adumim), as well as UJA President Natan Sharansky.

This week they launched their first class, with about 20 students (out of some 100 applicants – well above the founders’ expectations) which will receive 500 hours of instruction. Rabbi Lau and Zevolun Orlev spoke, as well as a few of the local dignitaries of Modiin.

Personally, I believe the true miracle of the Barkai endeavor is in the fact that they found so many Israelis willing to learn from Americans about the rabbinate… We wish them great success, and please keep us posted.

Click here to visit the Barkai Center.

Divorce and Its Real Life Challenges: A Community Call to Action

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

A mother and father living in accord and harmony is one of the best presents that can be granted to a child. Yet what happens when G-d’s natural design of child rearing becomes stripped away from a family? What happens when the notion of enjoying quality time with both parents together becomes non-existent? I am of course referring to the ramifications of divorce. Divorce eradicates the stability of a traditional family unit and invites the inherent difficulties of single parenting.

Single parenting is the divorcee’s proverbial Mount Everest. It is a harrowing peak through which one is expected to perspire and blunder. The obstacles of single parenthood manifest themselves in almost every parent-child interaction. These obstacles range from the significantly personal to the mundane. A “significantly personal” dilemma might be the single parent’s responsibility to address his/her child’s emotional state in wake of the divorce, while a “mundane” dilemma might include awkward situations such as a single father needing to take his young daughter to the restroom. In almost all regards, single parenthood can be distinctly challenging and lonesome.

Yet, not only is the divorcee confronted with the hardships of single parenthood, but also with the solitary road that divorce often paves. The divorcee is faced with a sense of isolation as his or her spouse becomes more of a memory than a reality. The Torah explicitly conveys the drawbacks of loneliness when it states: “It is not good for man to be alone.” Interestingly, the aforementioned pasuk is the only instance when the Torah states what is considered “not good” for man. Why is that so? Why does the Torah feel it is essential to specify that loneliness is a state of being that man should strongly resist? It is simply because loneliness breeds emotional fatigue and frigidity, and subsequently these negative sentiments can create a deep chasm of despair and hopelessness. When people are lonely, it is quite simple for them to slip into that chasm – yet very difficult for them to climb out. There is little else in the world that is worse than the pain of being alone.

In addition, when loneliness crawls into a person’s life, it can make daily vicissitudes and life-changing struggles seem even more unbearable. An individual who is fortunate to have a caring spouse has a greater chance of smoothing over life’s cracked edges. Having a dedicated and loving partner by one’s side can assuage the various frustrations of life. There are scientific studies that record a patient’s chance for survival (from cancer and other serious illnesses) based upon his or her relationship with a partner (or lack thereof). The results of these studies portray that those who had a strong spousal relationship had a greater chance of healing, while those who did not have a strong spousal bond had a lesser chance. The burden of a divorcee’s financial and parental responsibilities, as well as his or her emotional needs, can be particularly despondent paths to traverse alone.

Furthermore, Orthodox divorcees have the added test of maintaining a sense of stability and joy during Shabbat and the holidays. These are opportune times to rekindle familial unity and happiness, yet what does a divorcee do when he or she is faced with the prospect of solitude instead of companionship? Moreover, lack of family bonding does not only create desolation for divorcees, but also for their children. Children from an observant divorced home may become saddened by the break in traditional religious practices that were once associated with family connection. For example, when a son is by his mother for Shabbat, he may sorely miss his father’s Kiddush or walk to the synagogue, and when a daughter is by her father for Shabbat she may yearn for the special moment when she lights candles with her mother. Although Shabbat and the holidays can be potentially exciting, they are usually tinged with a distinct sense of loss for divorcees and their children.

Now that the Orthodox community is more cognizant of divorcees’ travails, what can it do to ease their transition between marriage and separation? How can the community ameliorate the divorcee’s adversities and console his or her pain? First and foremost, the Orthodox community should endeavor to embrace divorced members with warmth. Unfortunately, a divorcee’s solitude is only intensified when the community subtly castigates him or her by passing judgment (whether consciously or unconsciously). Once the community is able to develop a more accepting mindset, then it can fully open its hearts and homes to divorced individuals. A divorcee will truly appreciate it when a family willingly invites him or her to partake in Shabbat meals and holiday festivities. The loneliness will be diminished, and a sense of belonging can enter the picture once again.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/divorce-and-its-real-life-challenges-a-community-call-to-action/2012/10/18/

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