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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Detroit’

How Little Must One Know to Be Fired from a Reform Temple?

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Keren Alpert, a Reform rabbi at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, was forced to resigned after temple officials said she admitted to deceiving them about her rabbinical credentials, the Detroit News reported.

Alpert’s resignation was “sadly accepted,” board president Raymond Rosenfeld the congregation in a letter.

“In recent days, Keren admitted that over the past five years she was not truthful with the clergy, leadership and congregation,” Rosenfeld wrote last Thursday. “Specifically, she did not initiate or complete a rabbinic training program, and did not disclose this fact. Accordingly both her ordination and her position at Temple Beth El were accepted under false pretenses.”

Temple Beth El was founded in 1850 in the city of Detroit, and is the oldest Jewish congregation in Michigan. It currently has a membership of almost 1200 families and is led by reform Rabbi Daniel B. Syme.

Rosenfeld said Alpert became a rabbinic associate in 2008 at the temple, then agreed to enroll in a distance learning-program afterward and celebrated her ordination in 2012.

But, according to Rosenfeld, Alpert never enrolled in that distance learning. He said Alpert told him that she was planning to complete the program but became too busy.

OK. Lets figure this out. The requirement of a reform Rabbi in terms of knowledge of Jewish stuff goes as follows (cited from CCAR.net):

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Admissions Guidelines … specify that all applicants for membership to our Conference must have earned the degree of Bachelor of Arts (or its equivalent) from a recognized institution of higher learning, and the Master’s degree in Jewish Studies (or its equivalent).

Rabbinic graduates of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and of the Leo Baeck College of London are eligible for CCAR membership without interview or examination, provided that they apply within four years after ordination. Rabbinic graduates of other “approved seminaries” may be admitted to the CCAR following a process of interview or examination (which may include academic examination).

Graduates of seminaries and yeshivot not on the “approved” list can be admitted following an investigation of the quality of those schools and of their courses of study. This is a crucial point: we do not claim that only the graduates of “approved seminaries” are worthy of admission to the Conference. Others may join as well, provided they can prove that their rabbinical education meets standards of excellence similar to those of the recognized schools.

On the other hand, a private ordination will not be accepted, for the ordination of students by individual rabbis whose programs of study are not supervised by any responsible authority endangers the maintenance of any and all standards of educational excellence. The rabbis of your community can certainly develop some admissions criteria of their own, patterned after those of the CCAR and the other rabbinical associations. These associations will certainly assist you as you seek information concerning the programs of study at rabbinical schools with which you are not familiar.

So it’s not clear, really, if the CCAR recognized rabbis must be able to read a page of gemorah (the vast majority just can’t, go ahead, test them) – but it’s clear that even the CCAR standards are above admitting someone with an online education. And yet Reform Rabbi Keren Alpert, apparently, didn’t even get that much Jewish education.

Rosenfeld called her departure a “tremendous loss” and said he expects a replacement will be hired by next summer. She’s probably a nice lady and was very useful to her employers.

That’s precisely the point: I am sometimes taken aback by wonderful acts and events carried out by the Reform. Food drives and concerts, afternoon programs, summer camps, picnics. Why must they insist, though, on calling themselves Rabbi?

Of course, since the termination of the ordination in Eretz Israel, roughly 1,500 years ago, no one can call themselves “rabbi” in the traditional sense of the title, meaning someone whose ordination can be traced back to Moses—so argues the CCAR website. But why would a movement who made departure from adherence to halachic law its banner, insist on using this title?

It’s true that because of the weakening of the Jewish center in Eretz Israel our rabbis are no longer connected to that chain – but they adhere to the values and they study the same oral tradition as did the men who were legitimately called Rabbis. Why would someone who disregards—as matter of policy—the teachings of the Rabbis insist on calling herself Rabbi?

Jewish Leader Was on List of Possible Mass Murder Victims (Video)

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

An Ohio ex-felon, whose sporting goods store was raided by the FBI in December in a roundup of rifles and ammunition, turns out to have placed a Detroit Jewish official and other Jewish and black leaders on his list of  possible victims.

Richard Schmidt pleaded guilty to a host of charges in July and faces sentencing next month. Details of the case reveal that while the raid may have prevented a murder spree, federal laws and authorities did not stop Schmidt from managing to get a hold of  18 guns, including assault rifles and 40,000 rounds of ammunition despite his being prohibited for possessing firearms due to his previous conviction.

Investigators discovered that Schmidt maintained notes with the names of Detroit leaders, including,  Scott Kaufman, the chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

“For a convicted violent felon to amass an arsenal with 40,000 rounds of ammunition with no red flags popping up is problematic,” Kaufman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “ No matter where you stand on the gun issue, it makes you wonder. The moment I saw my name in this guy’s notebook, I freaked out.”

Schmidt was released from jail in 2003 after serving 13 years for manslaughter and assault in 1989, when he fired a 9 mm semiautomatic at three people as they  left a bar. Schmidt killed one of the men and wounded two others.

His “rehabilitation” included the formation of a non-profit organization, which the Southern Poverty Law Center described as having “a reputation for drinking, brawling and following a racist version of Odinism, a form of ancient paganism practiced by Vikings,” the newspaper reported.”

Schmidt later opened up his  Spindletop Sports Zone sports memorabilia business, which federal agents began tracking in 2011 for counterfeit items.

Shipments of “Men’s Clothing” turned out to be low-quality NFL jerseys, and federal agents were suspicious when they spotted him unloading a large number of boxes in four trailers.

The FBI raid in December uncovered an arsenal large enough to equip a small police force – three assault rifles, three 9 mm handguns,  four shotguns, cases of Winchester bullets and a bullet-proof vest.

Alvin Kushner, Former Detroit Jewish Leader, Dies

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Alvin Kushner, the former executive director of what is now the JCRC of Metropolitan Detroit, died Monday at the age of 88.

Kushner led what was formerly known as the Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Detroit from 1974 to 1988, where he began his tenure in the 1960s.

His term was marked by the Soviet Jewry struggle, the persecution of Jews in countries such as Syria and Ethiopia, and wars in the Middle East, as well as the explosion of Holocaust education initiatives starting in the late 1970s.

Kushner had come to Michigan with his wife, Ruth, from New York in the 1950s to work for the USO at the Selfridge Air Base.

Yahrzheit Today for Dr. Applebaum and Daughter Nava

Monday, August 19th, 2013

A Palestinian Authority suicide bomber ten years ago Monday night, on the Hebrew calendar, exploded his charge and killed seven people, including American Israelis Dr. David Applebaum and his daughter Nava the evening before her wedding date.

Slightly less than two years ago, Palestinian Authority terrorist Ibrahim Muhammad Yunus Dar Musa, who helped plan the gruesome murders, was among more than 1,000 terrorists and security prisoners whose prison sentences were cut short in order to enable the safe return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

Dar Musa was sentenced to only 17 years in jail for organizing the suicide bombing. Dr. Applebaum, a native of Detroit and an ordained rabbi, headed a hospital emergency room and had developed new methods for treating suicide bombing victims.

He was walking into Jerusalem’s Hillel restaurant with his 20-year-old daughter, born in Cleveland, when the suicide bomber detonated his explosives.

Several hours earlier, Nava immersed herself in a mikveh ritual bath, as is required prior to a wedding, which in this case never took place.

The security guard at the restaurant, warned by intelligence officials of a possible terrorist attack, spotted the suicide bomber but did not want to shoot him in the back, fearing that the bullet would set off the bomb.

Detroit Jewish Leader on Pro-Nazi and Convicted Killer’s Hit List

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The FBI warned the head of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit that his name was on the hit list of a convicted killer and neo-Nazi sympathizer.

Scott Kaufman, CEO of the Detroit federation, was told last week that his name was on a list in a notebook kept by a Toledo man who was indicted last month on federal weapons charges.

The notebook was found Dec. 21 in the raid on the home of Richard Schmidt, 47, who served jail time for voluntary manslaughter in the 1990 killing of a Toledo man. The list made reference to the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and listed its leaders, the Toledo Blade reported.

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, the head of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, and his group also were on the list.

Federal agents who raided Schmidt’s house said they seized a video of a 2005 national meeting of the National Socialist Movement, a white supremacist neo-Nazi group, and a national list of Jewish-owned businesses, according to reports.

‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ – in Detroit Packard Plant

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Jewish groups are outraged over a sign hanging at the Packard Plant in Detroit imitating the infamous sign above the entrance to the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz. The sign, in the original German, promises “Arbeit Macht Frei”—”Work will make you Free.”

“This graffiti is offensive to Jews and particularly to Holocaust survivors,” Heidi Budaj, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Detroit Free Press.

Stephen Goldman, executive director of the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus in Farmington Hills, said: “This message is offensive on so many levels. It … needs to be taken down.” He noted that many Holocaust survivors live in Michigan.

John Bologna, an attorney for the owner of the site, said on Monday the company was going to remove it, but as of Tuesday afternoon, the sign still there.

“I was distressed to hear of the” sign, Budaj told DFP. “The prominent display of this quote at a historic Detroit landmark is disturbing and deeply offensive to victims of the Holocaust and to those who fought valiantly in World War II.”

Niraj Warikoo, writing for DFP, noted that the style of the lettering in the Packard sign “has specific similarities to the Nazi sign at Auschwitz that made it unique: for example, the upper half of the letter ‘B’ in “Arbeit” (“Work”) is bigger than the lower half, just like it is in Auschwitz.”

No one knows who put up the sign and whether it is meant to be an ironic comment on the company’s treatment of its employees.

Regardless of the intent, Goldman said the sign is deeply offensive.

“As an artist, you should know better,” Goldman said. “I see no value to seeing this as a message, … That’s a poor image to use.”

Budaj said: “This message strikes at the very memory of a symbol representing the cruel cynicism of Nazism. This sign greeted more than one million prisoners as they were herded into the Auschwitz nightmare with the duplicitous message that ‘work sets you free.’”

“It’s a form of hate speech,” David Schulman, a Huntington Woods resident, told the Free Press on Monday.

The FBI in Detroit would not comment on whether it is investigating the sign as a hate crime.

It looks to me like this is an expression of a few Packard employees’ deep resentment toward Packard, which must be pretty heated if they went for such a harsh metaphor.

For future references, if you are an employee angry at your company, I recommend “Me ne frego” (“I don’t give a damn!”), which was the Italian Fascist movement’s slogan. It’s just as poignant if you’re a student of history, and it won’t upset the ADL.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/yoris-news-clips/arbeit-macht-frei-in-detroit-packard-plant/2013/02/06/

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