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Posts Tagged ‘Gidone Busch’

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

Jewish Apathy (I)

The vehement, sometimes violent, reaction Mr. Ishmael Khaldi experienced in response to his support for Israel (“Israeli Bedouin: American Jewish Apathy Shocks Me,” op-ed, Oct. 15) is, unfortunately, not limited to college campuses.

Articles I had put up on my website, which did nothing more than support Israel, received an avalanche of condemnations and threats from Arabs in the Middle East and England to Neo-Nazis in Germany. (Of course, I was not at all apathetic about all this. Aside from the many e-mails I wrote in response, giving them a peace of my mind, in one case I had Yahoo shut down an entire newsgroup of hate-mongers and anti-Semites.)

Can you imagine what the reaction would be if Mr. Khaldi or my articles actually criticized Arab states?

The Jewish apathy that Mr. Khaldi refers to is evident at a far earlier stage than the campus level. The single, biggest root cause of anti-Israel sentiment and anti- Semitism today is, in my opinion, the UN. One UN condemnation of Israel is the equivalent of a multi-billion dollar ad campaign – its twisted message reach the entire world.

If we were to react in proportion to how Arabs react to the feeling of being slighted, Jews would have to hold 24-hour protests in front of the UN every time it condemned Israel for defending itself. No, I take that back – we’d have to go around blowing up hotels and beheading people.

Josh Greenberger
Brooklyn, NY



Jewish Apathy (II)

Phyllis Chesler is to be heartily commended for her tireless battle against the forces of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism that have commandeered so much of the intellectual and ideological terrain in both the media and academia. Her Jewish Press op-eds on the subject – particularly her most recent efforts dealing with the disgraceful behavior of Duke University in hosting a Palestinian Solidarity Movement hatefest – are a clarion call to American Jews to snap out of their apathy.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of American Jews – utterly secular, thoroughly liberal, abysmally ignorant of their heritage and history – are beyond redemption. And believe me, after nearly 30 years of working as a community services professional in several cities, I know this tribe. Not only are large numbers of American Jews unaware or apathetic about the inroads made by Palestinian propaganda – many are actually in agreement, at least to some degree, with Palestinian claims.

We are a people with little self-respect, a perverted sense of priorities, and no clue as to who our friends are. Think I’m being too harsh? Remember this letter on Nov. 2 as American Jews march to the polls on Nov. 2 to vote en masse for John Kerry.

Isadore Frank
(Via E-Mail)



Children’s Yom Tov Drinking

I heartily agree with Dr. Ariel Fischer’s comments (Letters, Oct. 15): Alcohol abuse is a serious problem on the yomim tovim, especially Simchas Torah and Purim. I would add, however, that the unsupervised drinking going on in shuls during hakafos has a more immediate danger: children succumbing to alcohol poisoning. A l’chaim or two on occasion is generally not problematic for adults, but children have lower body mass and are far more susceptible to alcohol’s harmful effects. I had to take a shot of 80-proof Scotch away from a 12-year-old boy in shul this yom tov. “What’s the problem?” he asked. “My father lets me drink!”

When I tried to tell this boy that drinking hard liquor is not the best way to celebrate Simchas Torah, several other men accosted me. “What, you never drank when you were underage? What’s your problem? Are you a cop?”

This kind of purposeful ignorance of health, science and safety is, I fear, prevalent among some segments of the Orthodox community. If you tell children not to drink, you’re just a killjoy and obviously not interested in maintaining tradition. As long as these attitudes are being expressed, we have a long way to go until our shuls become proper models of simchas yom tov. I think rabbonim of every stripe and teachers from grades 6 and up in yeshivas must emphasize the importance of safe and wholesome fun on yom tov and throughout the year.

Yaakov Levine
(Via E-Mail)



Help Requested

I am president of Action to Cure Kidney Cancer, a grassroots advocacy organization, which is seeking Ashkenazi Jewish individuals who have or have had kidney cancer for participation in a genetic study conducted by the National Cancer Institute to determine if there is a gene that causes kidney cancer. If so, the NCI plans to develop a diagnostic test that would identify those people at greater risk for the disease.

To learn more about participating in the study, please e-mail me at Jay.Bitkower@ackc.org  or phone 212-615-6404.

Jay Bitkower
(Via E-Mail)



Presidential Polemics


Wrong Choice

As the Republican challenger against John Kerry in his 1990 Senate reelection campaign, I know Kerry well and harbor doubts about his ability to lead our country and keep us safe. As a Jew, my doubts extend to Kerry’s willingness to act to keep Israel secure. With President Bush, I have no such doubts.

Throughout his political career, Kerry has worked to gut our military aid and intelligence capabilities. He worked consistently to prevent the modernization of our armed forces and, whenever given the opportunity, almost always voted to cut or cancel the weapons systems that won the first Persian Gulf war and that are currently fighting and winning the War on Terror. Likewise, his record on sponsoring and promoting pro-Israel legislation is lukewarm.

To this day, it seems that the terror attacks of 9/11 changed little for John Kerry. Last January, he explained that the ”war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering, law-enforcement operation.” This belief, along with his declaration at the Democratic National Convention that ”[a]ny attack [on the U.S.] will be met with a swift and certain response,” indicates that for him, the terrorist strikes on Washington and New York were isolated events. This is the failed pre-9/11 approach to fighting terrorism.

When it comes to Israel, Kerry has been equivocal. Last October, in a speech before an Arab American audience, he criticized Israel’s security fence as ”another barrier to peace.” Today, however, he says he is in favor of the fence as a way to prevent terror attacks. In a September 12 interview with Time magazine, Kerry complained that the Bush administration has not ”even engaged in a legitimate effort to try to really transform the ability of Israel to find a legitimate entity to negotiate with.” Whatever this highly nuanced statement means, a President Kerry would presumably tap former ambassador Martin Indyk (Kerry’s point man on Israel) to be the one to transform Israel’s ability to find an entity. This is troubling to many Jews and friends of Israel because Indyk has been an inveterate apologist for Yasir Arafat.

In contrast, President Bush understands that America’s and Israel’s ongoing fights against terror are linked. He has repeatedly affirmed Israel’s right to defend herself against terror and stated that a Palestinian state ”will never be created by terror. It will be build through reform.” Unlike Kerry and Indyk, President Bush refuses to deal with Arafat.

The marginalization of Israel and Jews by the Democrats was clearly evident during the Democratic National Convention, where the topic of Israel was barely broached. Of the major convention speakers, only John Edwards mentioned ”a safe and secure Israel,” and when he did, he did not pause for applause. Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman speculated to the Jerusalem Post, ”I think they rushed over it because they did not want to show divisiveness in the audience. There may have been some people there who are not receptive.”

What does it say when the Democratic leadership has to tiptoe past the issue of Israel when speaking to its most loyal party members?

At the Republican National Convention, on the other hand, the major speakers, from Mayor Giuliani to Vice President Cheney to President Bush, all mentioned Israel and acknowledged the need for the U.S. to stand by her. These statements were met with standing ovations by the Republican party faithful. This explains why a number of high profile Democrats, such as Ed Koch and Zell Miller, have broken ranks with their party to support President Bush. It also explains why many Jews who have never before voted Republican are going to vote for George W. Bush on November 2.

James W. Rappaport
Boston, MA



Selective Morality

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on the night of July 29, John Kerry said: “We believe in the family value expressed in one of the oldest Commandments: “Honor thy father and thy mother.”

In the October 8 debate between Kerry and President Bush, a young woman asked Kerry the following: “Senator Kerry, suppose you are speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion, what would you say to that person?”

Kerry replied, “I would say to that person exactly what I will say to you right now. First of all, I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. I’m a Catholic, raised a Catholic. I was an altar boy. Religion has been a huge part of my life. It helped lead me through a war, leads me today.”

But then he went on to say, “I can’t take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn’t share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever. I can’t do that.”

Does Kerry believe that you can pick and choose among the Commandments, disregarding the ones you don’t like – or did he just change his mind between July 29 and October 8? He seems to have forgotten about the Commandment “Thou shalt not murder.”

To add insult to injury, when Kerry said he “can’t take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn’t share that article of faith,” he included Jews. Perhaps Kerry doesn’t realize that the Commandments, including the one he quoted at the convention, was first given to the Jewish nation.

Moshe Resnick
Brooklyn, NY



Hateful Campaigning

With Election Day approaching, the presidential campaigns are intensifying, not only on the part of the candidates themselves, but among over-zealous supporters. Sometimes these supporters cross the line from disagreement to hatred.

A local example of this is in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, where an anonymous vandal has been posting anti-Bush stickers all over subway stations, phone booths, street lamps, and mail boxes. None of them displayed awareness of issues, preferring childish insults such as “Bush is a satan,” “Vote the Cowboy out of Office,” and “Bush lies, who dies?” Most pedestrians, regardless of political affiliation, have dismissed the stickers as the ravings of a lunatic.

However, last week, on the corner of Union Turnpike and Markwood Drive, a much larger sticker in the same handwriting had a “Bush is a Fascist” slogan written on it. What made the sticker offensive was that the S in Bush’s name was shaped like a swastika. In my opinion, this crossed the line from reasonable disagreement to hate speech.

My family has experienced fascism and survived the Holocaust, and we find the “Bush is fascist” slogan to be disgusting and hateful. This is especially disturbing because the swastika-bearing stickers are located in a largely Jewish neighborhood, where the community seems split between the two candidates.

I ask the anti-Bush crowd to show some decency, and to stop comparing the president to Hitler. I ask for unity after the election, whoever gets elected. Like many Americans, I am tired of the negative campaigning. If anything, the hateful anti-Bush stickers are strengthening my support for President Bush, and I’m a Democrat.

Sergio Kadinsky
Forest Hills, NY



Still Making The Case For Kerry

I want to thank you for twice providing me with an opportunity to present the case for Jews supporting John Kerry for president and for providing me this additional space to respond to critics of my position.

At this stage, I do not think it would be helpful to use my limited space to adequately argue that Bush has misled us into a disastrous quagmire in Iraq; that his actions have alienated our allies and increased the prospects for terrorism; that his spending of $120 billion in Iraq and his major tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate contributors diverted money from hiring additional police and other security forces and from protecting our harbors, transportation systems, nuclear, chemical, and biological systems, and thus made us more vulnerable to terrorism; that his ill-conceived domestic policies are and will increasingly have severe negative effects for Jews and others; and that Kerry has the potential to help Israel greatly improve her security and prosperity.

Instead, I think it best to seek common ground and consider areas I believe Jews should be increasingly involved in, no matter who we support or who is elected. Certainly, we must remain strong and actively combat terrorism, and work to keep Israel strong and secure. But I believe that we must also actively apply Jewish values to the many other problems that threaten humanity as perhaps never before.

* Since Judaism teaches that Jews are to be partners with God in protecting the environment, shouldn’t we be involved when species are disappearing at the fastest rate in history, tropical rain forests are being rapidly destroyed, at least half the world’s people are projected to be living in areas chronically short of adequate clean water by the middle of this century, our air and water are being badly polluted by many toxic chemicals, and our soil is being eroded and depleted by inefficient agricultural methods, including the raising of 50 billion farmed animals annually worldwide?

* Since Judaism stresses that wise people consider the effects of their actions on future generations, shouldn’t we concerned that an average increase in the world’s temperature in the last century is already causing the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, record heat waves, and increasingly severe floods, storms, droughts, and forest fires, and if even the most conservative of temperature increases projected by the world’s leading climate scientists occur, it would have catastrophic effects for humanity.

Shouldn’t we protest against policies that reward the wealthiest among us and selfish corporate interests, and have resulted in a shift from record budget surpluses to record deficits, a major loss of jobs, and cutbacks in educational and health programs and social services that Jews and others depend on.

Of course, there are no simple answers to these and other problems that need to be addressed, but I believe The Jewish Press and its readers would perform a kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of God’s name, by helping to get them onto the Jewish agenda.

Richard H. Schwartz
(Via E-Mail)



Criticism Of Boro Park Leaders Justified

Reader Shifra Bronstein notes (Letters, Oct. 8) that Rabbi Yackov Saacks’s “Open Letter to the Boro Park Jewish Community” two weeks earlier contained ‘harsh language.’ Such harshness was quite appropriate.

As Rabbi Saacks’s letter poignantly stated, Gidone Busch was murdered “[f]irst by the police, then again by a smear campaign, and lastly by the Jewish community of Boro Park which let him and his family hang out to dry.” While the first of these might be attributed to some unfortunate dysfunction within the New York City Police Department, the Boro Park Jewish Community must collectively account for its complicity in the latter two.

It is, of course, quite true that not all members of the community are or were complacent in this matter. But many among the community leadership, eager to do whatever it took to make this thing go away, opted for the path of least resistance with their unquestioning sycophancy to the city administration and the NYPD. Gidone, after all, was quite convenient to sweep under the rug; he had no family or established support in Boro Park, his immediate family had no active ties (other than nostalgia) with the Orthodox religious establishment, and the family’s elected officials from Long Island held no political sway in Brooklyn.

The stage was thus set for a smear campaign against Gidone Busch that continues to this day. The newspapers used exaggerations and innuendo to denigrate and degrade Gidone, and painted a picture of a monster who in no way resembled the real Gidone Busch who had, in his lifetime, been a frequent visitor to my own shul and community.

Certain frum newspapers were complicit in this crusade to sully Gidone’s reputation; Yated Ne’eman described him as “mentally deranged” and Hamodia, with wishful thinking, reported the November 2003 verdict against the Busch family in their suit against the City of New York as “the final chapter in the tragic saga surrounding the killing of Gidone Busch.”

It may well have been appropriate policy for the Boro Park Jewish community to stand by the NYPD when the story first broke. But once the ambiguities, gaps and discrepancies in the story became apparent (as they did relatively early on), it should then have been obvious that the City administration needed the Boro Park community’s backing even more than the community needed the administration’s smiles and kind words.

At that juncture, the obsequious public stance of certain members of the Boro Park leadership only served to encourage further abuses by the NYPD, the City of New York, and the news media. And there obviously was something wrong with the picture when the anti-Jewish demagogue Al Sharpton showed greater support for Gidone Busch’s family than many of the Boro Park Jewish leadership. The abandonment by the Jewish community of its own vulnerable members does not, cannot and never has inspired the world to respect us.

Had the Boro Park community leadership demanded answers instead of kowtowing to the City administration’s party line, it is very likely that the NYPD would not have gone as far as it did in manipulating the evidence or concocting stories found incredible by Judge Johnson (himself a former NYPD officer).

Had the Boro Park community leadership cried out on behalf of the blood of Gidone Busch that was spilled upon their neighborhood’s sidewalks, then the New York City Corporation Counsel’s office might have acted a bit more scrupulously in its conduct of the ensuing litigation.

And the utter contempt accorded to the memory of Gidone Busch no doubt gave the green light to certain physicians at New York Presbyterian Hospital and certain New York Times reporters who totally disregarded and disrespected Gidone Busch’s dignity by leaking and publishing his medical history in the press.

Gidone was viewed by the Boro Park Jewish leadership as an expendable and unwanted outsider, and was shunned accordingly in death as in life. There is little doubt that the matter would have been handled quite differently had Gidone Busch been the son of a prominent Boro Park rabbi or politician.

Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.
East Northport, NY

Letters To The Editor

Friday, August 8th, 2003

Joe On Joe

The June issue of Reader’s Digest featured an interview with actor Harrison Ford. He was asked, “Your father was Roman Catholic, your mother Jewish. Which faith were you raised in?” Ford responded, “I was raised Democratic.” Harrison affirmed that he too shares the
politics of his father, and went on to say that being a Democrat supplied a “complete worldview” for him.

What is most disturbing about these statements is that they demonstrate the tragic phenomenon that has devastated and continues to afflict our whole nation. Scores of Jewish souls have been lost to the Democratic Party and its “worldview,” as have many millions to other political movements that are antithetical to the ways of Torah.

One of the nine Democrats currently seeking the party’s presidential nomination is Joseph Lieberman, a purportly observant Jew who has publicly stated that intermarriage is permitted by Jewish law. Unless Lieberman recants his statement on intermarriage he poses a very serious spiritual threat to us Jews, and any Jew who it is a registered Democrat (a mistake in itself) should vote for anyone but him.

Whether or not one is comfortable with it, the fact is that many Jews look upon Senator Lieberman as a role model. That is precisely why he should be held accountable for any misleading statements he makes.

Joseph Lieberman
Brooklyn, NY


EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer was recently profiled – on the same day - by both The New York Times and New York Sun. In addition to having the same name as the senator, his wife,
like the senator’s wife, is named Hadassah. Brooklyn Joe Lieberman has published a new book, the title of which – ‘Joseph Lieberman is a Pious Liberal (and Other Observations)’ – refers, of course, to Washington Joe Lieberman.


Road Map To Where?

Giving control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority was a serious mistake. This will allow Hamas to regroup, rearm, and plan further attacks. Giving up Bethlehem was even worse because of its proximity to Jerusalem. Releasing terrorists from jail in response to Hamas blackmail is a complete no-brainer.

As a young man Ariel Sharon was a great warrior, but as an old politician he is a complete wimp. Its time to retire Sharon to his farm where he can grow cucumbers and tomatoes. At least there he will be doing something beneficial for the people of Israel.

As for President Bush, we must let him know that we are unhappy with the road map. Evangelical Christians write him thousands of letters every week telling him just that – and we in the Jewish community should certainly be doing the same.

(Rabbi) Yakov Lazaros
Framingham, MA



Don’t Pick On Poor Tom Friedman

Professor Howard Adelson’s focused criticism of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (Jewish Press, July 4), is really most unfair. It is obvious to anyone who ever read Mr. Friedman’s columns that he lives a fantasy existence, ensconced in an ivory tower where
he spends long hours writing imaginary truths. From there, those sacred scripts are rushed to the editors of the ‘world’s greatest newspaper’ whose creed is truth and integrity.

Professor Adelson, I ask you to be more fair and considerate. Stop trying to convince them with facts. Their minds are made up and they become provoked and agitated when contradicted. I also ask you to remember how only a short time ago the exalted Times demonstrated a willingness to live up to the principle of that well-known proverb, “Be sincere … whether you mean it or not.” Did the paper not apologize and fire one of its top writers after years of his plagiarism and contrived falsehoods?

Mr. Friedman and the editors of the Times have a tough enough time maintaining their fantasies on a daily basis. How unfair of you, Professor Adelson, to come, uninvited, with all your evidence to demolish their hard work.

I would like to see you re-direct your remarkable talents toward unlocking one of the great mysteries of our age - why a seemingly savvy and intelligent reading public continues to read The New York Times and Thomas Friedman.

By the way, I almost forgot to thank you.

Norman Shine
Brooklyn, NY


Trust And Kashrus

Re the letter to the editor titled ‘Kosher Conundrum’ in the July 4 issue of The Jewish Press:

I do not at all share the author’s concern with products under multiple supervision.

Kosher supervision revolves to a large degree on trust (ne’emunus). When multiple kashrus organizations give a hechsher on a product, they have developed a working relationship, with kosher standards on which they agree and a mashgiach whom they trust to enforce those standards. Having multiple supervisors is economically unfeasible, unpractical, and simply unnecessary.

From my own experience in hashgocha, I have seen food processors use ingredients with kosher supervision from organizations other than the one supervising their particular product. Reliable kashrus organizations are careful in their approval of other kashrus organizations.

Yisroel Friedman
Rochester, NY


Thumbs Up For Passover Vacations

In response to Dr. Yaakov Stern’s comments regarding Passover vacations (Letters, July 4), I would like to say “sour grapes!” This past Passover was the first time my family had an opportunity to go away. Indeed, we were able to perform all of the mitzvot of Passover. There were no “bikini-clad beach bimbos,” nor was our motivation for going away a need for entertainment. At the conclusion of each seder, I was able to walk to our room feeling relaxed. We were able to join with others in learning, davening, and truly appreciating the Passover
holiday in a relaxed and pleasant environment.

I wonder if Dr. Stern has ever participated in the preparations for Passover - the cleaning, the shopping, the cooking, the serving? By the time the holiday starts, most women are exhausted - and then come eight long days in the kitchen! Any man who truly cares about his wife would be pleased to take his family away for Passover so that everyone has an opportunity to celebrate the freedom represented by the holiday.

Shoshana Borovetz
Philadelphia, PA



Political Brawl

I must say I was amused by the news that Assemblyman Dov Hikind filed a lawsuit to stop Noach Dear from running to reclaim his (Dear’s) old City Council seat (“Hikind Files Suit To Bar Dear Election Bid,” Jewish Press, July 4).

While I am fully aware that the current holder of Dear’s old seat, Simcha Felder, is, as The Jewish Press politely phrased it, Hikind’s “prot?g?,” I burst out laughing when I read that Hikind, not Felder, was challenging Dear’s candidacy in court with the claim that Dear was “term limited.” Moreover, despite the fact that one cannot get through a week without reading in some Jewish newspaper a joint statement issued by Hikind/ Felder, I did not see a single story about Hikind’s lawsuit in which Felder was quoted. It was Hikind, only Hikind.

And then when I learned later in the week that the lawsuit had been dismissed because it was brought too early, I quite literally had to sit down. Imagine - Dov Hikind acting with undue haste in order to make headlines! Now ain’t that a kick in the head?

Alan Weinberg
Brooklyn, NY



Historical Corrections

In his recent discussion of the history of the Shiff shul and its successor kehilla in the U.S., ‘Machberes’ columnist Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum made several statements that need clarification.

The first rabbi of the Shiff shul in Vienna, Rabbi Solomon Zalman Spitzer, was not only a disciple of the Ktav Sofer, but more importantly he was the son in law of the Chatam Sofer (father of the Ktav Sofer), Rav Moshe Sofer.

As such, this kehilla had a direct connection with the founder of Hungarian Orthodoxy.

Rabbi Tannenbaum stated that the kehilla’s first rav in Brooklyn was Rabbi Yonason Steif, whom he describe as “rosh beth din of Budapest, the highest rabbinical office in Hungary and effectively chief rabbi of Hungary.” This is a highly problematic statement, as Rabbi Steif was officially a senior dayan in Budapest not rosh beth din (See Shem Hagedolim Hashlishi Leretz Hagar, Budapest, 1941). He served as senior dayan together with R. Israel Welcz. The rosh beth din was R. Efraim Fishel Zussman Sofer.

While R. Steif may indeed have assumed the role of rosh bet din as the fateful year of 1944 approached, he was not such for most of his tenure in Pest. The position of rosh bet din was not the position of chief rabbi of Budapest. The last incumbent to hold that office was Rav Koppel Reich, who died in 1929. After his death the position of Orthodox chief rabbi was never filled again. I may note here that the Neolog [non-Orthodox] chief rabbi was Rabbi Dr. Simon Hevesi, the grandfather of New York State Controller Alan Hevesi.

Thus while Rabbi Steif was a leading Hungarian posek and gaon, he was not involved in national Jewish community affairs and was one of a number of senior halachic authorities throughout Hungary. Hence it is an error to refer to him as the de facto Orthodox chief rabbi.

Let me conclude by adding that Rabbi Yeshaya Fuerst survived the war in London. Upon hearing that a number of former congregants had re-created the Shiff shul in Brooklyn, he congratulated them but criticized their choice of name (Khal Adas Yereim - Congregation of
G-d fearers) as implying that the other Jews in Brooklyn were not such. The name of the kehilla in Vienna was Adath Israel.

Zalman Alpert
Reference Librarian
Gottesman Library
Yeshiva University



More On Discrimination Against Baalei Teshuvah, Geirim

Some letter-writers have defended bias against ba’alei teshuvah and geirim in the shidduch scene. Noted rabbis have done the same. That tremendous bias exists is undeniable. That
such bias runs completely counter to Torah ideals is irrefutable, as I shall demonstrate.

The anecdotal evidence in favor of their marriageability - Moshe, Yehoshua, Ruth, Rabbi
Akiva, Shemaya and Avtalyon - is strong, and has already been discussed. Some people choose to deflect this evidence, claiming that these exceptions are “only for the gedolim”  (whatever that’s supposed to mean). Thankfully, there is further evidence that should remove any doubt once and for all.

I refer readers to the following sources:

1) Vayikra Rabba (20:10), also found in the Tanchuma on Parshas Acharei Mos. Rabbi Levi
writes that Nadav and Avihu were arrogant, and this arrogance contributed to their downfall. Many women dreamed of marrying these great leaders, but Nadav and Avihu refused them all. “Our uncle, Moshe, is the king,” they said. “Our father, Aharon, is the kohen gadol, and we are his assistants. What woman is good enough for us?” They never married, and were held accountable for their elitism. Even those with the greatest yichus may not exalt themselves over others.

2) The last Mishna in Masekes Horayos. We are taught that a mamzer who is a talmid chacham takes precedence over a kohen gadol who is an am ha’aretz. Yichus, thus, is only a tiebreaker when midos and chochma are equal (the Rambam in his pirush writes this openly).

3) The fourth perek of Masekes Geirim (and elsewhere). The Torah commands us not to oppress geirim, and the Gemara explains that this refers to reminding them about their past lifestyle. What more poignant reminder is there than the denial of suitable shidduchim?

4) Sefer Chinuch (Mitzva 563). Jews of pure lineage are forbidden to marry converts from the
nation of Edom until the third generation. The Chinuch writes in no uncertain terms that one who refuses to consider marrying a third-generation convert from Edom, either because the nation of Edom caused trouble for the Jews, or simply because he is biased against converts, is in violation of a biblical prohibition. Kal va’chomer, I would submit that those who harbor bias against ba’alei teshuvah, people born with kedushas am Yisrael, are in violation of this commandment. Those who are cling to every publicly observable chumra, who look for things to be concerned about when it comes to kashrus, would do well not to disregard the unambiguous words of this rishon.

In sum, the Torah’s position on ba’alei teshuvah and geirim is clear – they must be given the exact same consideration in the shidduch scene as so-called FFBs. The spirit of the law is also clear – one is simply not allowed to stereotype or generalize. Every person must be given unbiased consideration and judged on his individual merits, his internal merits. To judge someone based on background, externals, or “percentages” might be convenient – but the Torah forbids it.

Only by bravely following Torah principles can we successfully address the disastrous
shidduch scene.

Chananya Weissman
Far Rockaway, NY
Founder, Endthemadness.org




Haredim And Israel: An Emerging Appreciation

Just when I’d lost hope in my generation, a Shabbos in a particular section of New York has
restored my faith in frum GenXers. Let me explain.

A particular brand of frumkeit and culture held sway throughout my adolescence and early
20′s, and nearly all of my contemporaries found it irresistible.

Now in their thirties, these GenXers are energetic professionals or businessmen, who retain
for dear life the external icons of their yeshiva youth. Their Hebrew pronunciation still includes
the oy for the cholom that they adopted in high school (as in Ess-roy-g). Now a financial analyst on Wall Street, Laizer (pronounced Lay-zuh) still feels compelled to wear his black hat, and insists on maintaining a sefira beard - shave l’kavod Shabbos? Chas v’shalom! Laizer, you see, if a ben Toy-ra.

But of course Laizer is still very much a GenXer, and partakes in much of the allowable fun
America has to offer: kosher cruises to the Bahamas, SUVs, and shtaty clothes. Laizer’s wife
wears a $3,000 custom sheitel. Laizer often makes it a Blockbuster night.

For Laizer, the challenge of frumkeit and observance is largely a matter of the conflict
between personal pleasure and personal religious duty.

Like many of their gentile contemporaries, frum-GenXers seem to pay little attention to
history. The uniqueness of the time in which we live seems lost to them, as do communal matters.

Or so I thought.

Perhaps it was the events of the last couple of years that have shaken so many of these Laizers
into – are you sitting? – an affinity toward Zionism!

You see, I spent a Shabbos davening in a black hat GenX shul in the New York area. Of the
well over 100 mispallelim (I’m told that half of the members had not yet returned from the Pesach hotels in Florida and elsewhere), maybe five looked over the age of 35. There was little communal singing - certainly no Young Israel-style singing for hotza v’hachnasa. Borsalino hats were hanging on hooks on the wall, and oys and fierce shukling were everywhere.

But, to my astonishment, a mishebayrach was made for chayalei Tzahal, and to my further
amazement, the tefilla for shaloym hamedina – Medinas Yisroyel ? was said! All this, by a
Lakewood-graduate gabbai. Apparently there is even some talk of simultaneous aliyah of several families.

The shul’s rav, who is a staunch advocate of black-hat frumkeit, once remarked to my host -
who had expressed amazement at the former’s unseemly adoption of Zionist-friendly positions – the following gem: “It is not too difficult to love Eretz Yisroel, but I love Medinas Yisroel too.”

Something is afoot here - something that has developed organically, and that has not been
dictated from up on high (i.e., not via Daas Torah). The grassroots has apparently come to value the State of Israel. Having long ago dismissed the B’nai-Akiva route to Zionism as watered-down frumkeit and passe nostalgia for a foreign culture of farming and hora dancing, the frum GenXers have found their own way.

The land and milieu of “Chop a Nosh” and “Mendy the Mezonos Maven” has yet produced
Zionists.

As documented by Yoram Hazony, the 1990′s saw the utter dissolution of secular Zionism. The dogmas, beliefs, and associated culture of a once predominate ideology became the object of scorn. In a similar yet different fashion the next decade will see a major change in haredi beliefs and culture, here in the U.S. and in Israel. It will no longer be a steera to be black-hat/haredi – and to appreciate, support, and contribute to the medina. In fact, it will be a badge of honor.

Shmuel Frankel
(Via E-Mail)


EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer maintains a blog at Frum Talk (www.frumtalk.blogspot.com).


Four Years Later, Busch Shooting Still Resonates

Believing The Worst

In a letter to the editor last week, reader Michael Steinhart criticized The Jewish Press for
continuing to ask questions about the fatal shooting of Gidone Busch in Boro Park on August
30, 1999. Mr. Steinhart has no doubts about the version of events put forward by then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani - namely that Mr. Busch was a crazy man lashing out at police with a claw hammer. When pepper spray failed to stop him, officers had no choice but to use lethal force.

If Mr. Steinhart had taken the time to look into this incident, he would have found that numerous eyewitnesses deny that anything like this occurred. As they have described it, it wasn’t Gidone Busch who was out of control; it was the police – the six or more of them (the exact number, like so much else about this case, is in dispute) who backed Mr. Busch into a wall and shot him 12 times.

I am grateful to and proud of The Jewish Press for refusing to forget about Gidone Busch. I
hope you will continue to report on the efforts being made by U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and others to reopen the case. It’s shameful that none of New York’s other Jewish journals seem to care.

Harvey Blume
Cambridge MA



Questions About Case Are Justified

Michael Steinhart’s letter accuses me of “playing the race card” in questioning whether Gidone Busch was given prejudicial treatment by certain Jewish community leaders on account of
his status as a baal teshuvah, and then goes on to parrot the media’s portrayal of the late Mr. Busch as a dangerous and unstable psychopathic menace.

When the story of Gidone Busch’s death first broke, a part of me held out great hope that a
mistake had been made, and that he was still alive and well; for the monster described in the press was not the same Gidone Busch I knew: an astute, witty and personable young man who had been a frequent and familiar visitor to my community and congregation, and who had davened only a few seats away from me a few short weeks before.

Unfortunately, the victim was the same Gidone Busch whose company we had come to enjoy, except that the news media had put an extremely negative slant on his mental condition. Gidone Busch’s name rarely appeared in the press without being accompanied by adjectives such as “mentally disturbed” or “hammer-wielding” (or even, as used in Yated Ne’eman, “mentally deranged.”). While such descriptive words may be true in the strict technical sense, their use in the news stories served to paint a contorted and corrupt image of Gidone Busch. And that played right into the hands of the New York Police Department, for it gave an air of justification to the brutal killing of Gidone.

We should, of course, be very selective in second-guessing our police officers’ on-the-spot line of duty decisions. But in light of some impossible to ignore evidence of a police cover-up that has come out in the Busch family’s lawsuit against the NYPD, the best that can be said about those Jewish leaders who justified the killing of Gidone Busch is that they unwittingly became stooges to further the NYPD’s questionable agenda.

Now, I certainly do not accuse any Jewish leaders who happen to be frum from birth of any
deliberate ill intent towards the baalei teshuvah. But just as Jews born and raised in assimilated
American homes have been ingrained with certain inaccurate and negative images of religious Jews, there can be little doubt that Jews who are frum from birth carry certain biases regarding non- observant Jews, and such biases can exist in ways that their bearers do not realize.

In addition to whatever individual experiences they may have had, baalei teshuvah have received many mixed messages from the local FFB leadership. There was the message that the law enforcement apparatus ought not criminally punish a certain FFB woman who, on account of her suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, caused the death of her own child, but that the law enforcement apparatus was justified in killing Gidone Busch, a baal teshuvah who also had mental health issues. The same FFB rabbis whose followers have taken to public protest in support of their own causes have forbidden similar protest over the killing a baal teshuvah named Gidone Busch. And, as mentioned previously, the most denigrating adjective used in reporting the Gidone Busch story was printed not in the secular press, but in a decidedly and unabashedly hard-line Orthodox Jewish newspaper.

Given all of this, it is entirely appropriate to ask whether some subconscious bias played a role
in the way certain FFB Jewish leadership handled the Gidone Busch affair. And that is precisely what my prior letter did.

As for Mr. Steinhart’s contention that The Jewish Press is “wrong-headed” to continue reporting developments in the Gidone Busch story: if reprisal of the Gidone Busch story is
“wrong-headed” then it is six million times as wrong-headed to keep dredging up the Holocaust which occurred in Europe over a half century ago. And just as the magic disappearance of all Holocaust articles from the news media would further certain agendas, so too would the disappearance of the Gidone Busch story from the news media.

Mr. Steinhart admonishes that we let Gidone Busch rest in peace. Though Gidone lies buried in the cemetery (I happen to be one of the men who physically carried his casket to the burial), he cannot rest in peace until certain accountability questions regarding the NYPD and the Jewish community are answered.

As The Jewish Press obviously realizes, Gidone Busch’s death is still a very live issue, if only because there is an active lawsuit now moving towards what will likely be a well-watched trial.

Kenneth H. Ryesky (Esq.)
East Northport, NY

Gidone Busch Redux

Friday, July 18th, 2003

We welcome the call of US Congressman Jerrold Nadler for a new federal probe into the circumstances of the death of Gidone Busch at the hands of 6 police officers several years ago. Busch, wearing a yarmulka and with his tzitzis hanging out of his shirt, was shot dead by the police officers, who were arrayed in a semi-circle 8 feet from him, as he waved a hammer over his head with his back to a wall. Despite the testimony of 20 eyewitnesses that Busch
was not moving towards the officers, an internal police investigation, largely perfunctory, was conducted resulting in a finding of no wrongdoing, and a Brooklyn Grand Jury failed to issue
any indictments which would have led to a trial.

What prompted Nadler’s call this week was the discovery of a letter from a federal prosecutor who had looked into the matter, indicating that she believed there was evidence that the officers had concocted their unanimous claim that Busch was moving towards them in a menacing fashion, and that they had no choice but to fire at him.

We have long thought and frequently commented that justice was not done in the matter of the death of Gidone Busch. Certainly, there has never been a serious and sustained investigation as to the circumstances.

We hope Congressman Nadler’s intervention will result in some light being shed on one of the more troubling episodes of recent years.

The Continuing Shame

Friday, June 22nd, 2001

A rather straightforward article in this past Sunday’s New York Times on the August 30, 1999 death of Gidone Busch eloquently points to the continuing shame to our community in that tragic event. At the time, The Jewish Press devoted much space to extensive and meticulous analyses of the tragedy. The burden of our effort was that justice was plainly not done and a major cover-up of the NYPD’s irresponsibility took place. Yet, none of our vaunted Jewish organizations took up the cudgels on the issue. Instead, they fawningly endorsed the palpably untenable spin put out by the Giuliani Administration and confirmed by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

In matter of fact language, in his regular ‘Following Up’ column, Joseph Fried drives the point home. Headlined, ‘Recalling The Mismatch Of A Hammer Vs. Guns,’ here is part of what he had to say:

In Borough Park, Brooklyn, where 12 bullets tore into Gidone Busch outside his home, hundreds of residents angrily protested the killing.

The New York City police commissioner then, Howard Safir, termed the shooting justified. He said officers sent to the scene after a caller reported that a man with a hammer was acting strangely – had fired only as Mr. Busch, 31, who had a history of mental illness, was beating a fallen sergeant with the hammer.

Witnesses disputed Mr. Safir’s account. And the Brooklyn district attorney’s office found that while Mr. Busch had struck the sergeant earlier, without causing serious injury, the officers fired after he had broken free of them and was at least six feet from the closest officer. But the prosecutors also said a thorough investigation had shown that the officers had been legally justified in firing because they reasonably believed that Mr. Busch, still brandishing the hammer, remained a threat to them.

Perhaps, when term limits take effect in a few months, our precious leaders may be willing to publicly address this travesty.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-continuing-shame/2001/06/22/

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