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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘monsey’

FBI Arrests NY Rabbis for Beating Husbands Who Refuse Divorce

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The FBI raided a Monsey yeshiva Wednesday night and arrested four mean, including two rabbis, who allegedly kidnapped and beat recalcitrant husbands who had refused to grant their wives religious divorces and thereby prohibit them from re-marrying under Jewish law.

The “executors” used by the divorce gang included “electric cattle prods, karate, handcuffs and placed plastic bags over the heads of husbands,” the complaint charge stated.

The status of stranded Jewish women is known as “aguna” and is a problem that has received deserved focus in Israel and the Diaspora in recent years.

The FBI investigation and arrests bring to national attention the anguished situation of “aguna” women and perhaps will help put legal pressure on husbands who have separated from their wives but refuse to allow them to re-marry.

The suspects were arrested after a month-long sting operation in which a female FBI agent posed as an Orthodox woman trying to get a religious divorce from her husband. Another undercover agent posed as her brother.

Rabbis Mendel Epstein and Martin Wolmark, along with Ariel Potash and a fourth individual known as Yaakov, appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J. Six others could be charged, according to reports.

The FBI also raided Yeshiva Sha’arei Torah in Monsey and a yeshiva in Lakewood, N.J., Brooklyn and elsewhere.

The rabbis allegedly charged $10,000 to persuade the rabbis on the rabbinical court to approve kidnapping husbands, and another up to $60,000 to pay for others to abduct and beat husbands.

The FBI agents called Rabbi Wolmark in August and said they were “desperate for a religious divorce and were willing to pay a large sum of money to obtain a divorce,” according to the charge sheet.

“There are a couple of ways to do that,” Wolmark allegedly said in a recorded phone conversation. “You have to, we have to, convene a special Bet Din and see if there are grounds to, to, to coerce him on the ‘get’ [divorce decree].”

Wolmark allegedly added, “You need to get him to New York where someone either can harass him or nail him. Plain and simple,” he said, according to the complaint. The rabbi then set up a meeting between the undercover agents and Rabbi Epstein. A recorded conversation revealed that Rabbi Epstein spoke about “kidnapping, beating and torturing husbands in order to force a divorce.’

He allegedly added, “Basically what we are going to be doing is kidnapping a guy for a couple of hours and beating him up and torturing him and then getting him to give the ‘get.’”

One of the “tough guys,” supposedly Rabbi Epstein’s son, “uses his karate skills” on the victims, court papers said.

The FBI said the “divorce gang” has been operating for 20 years and that Rabbi Epstein said he carries out approximately one kidnapping a year.

Forcing husbands to grant a divorce is permitted under Jewish law, a rabbi told The Jewish Press Thursday. “Jewish law does not always seem humane, but it really is humane because physical force often is the only way to force angry husbands to release their wives from virtual bondage and to allow them to-remarry,” he said.

The rabbi added that rabbis often are blamed for the situation of the agunot but also are criticized for using force, recognized under Jewish law, to solve their dilemma.

He pointed out that force can be used only if a Bet Din [religious court] authorizes it and only if there are substantial reasons to order a divorce.

Three Charged in Paintball Guns Attack on Hassidic Jew in New York

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Racial tensions in the New York town of Ramapo, near Monsey, flared Wednesday when two men and a women were arrested for firing a paintball gun at two members of the Jewish volunteer patrol group Chaverim. One of them suffered minor wounds in the stomach.

The trio also yelled anti-Semitic slurs and was charged with a hate crime, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon.

The victims were standing on a street when the suspected attackers drove through the Jewish community near Monsey. The volunteer radioed other Chaverim members, who were able to corner the vehicle until police arrived and arrested the trio.

Tensions have been running high in Ramapo, where there is a large Orthodox Hassidic community and large black and immigrant communities.

Monsey Kosher Market ‘Integration’ Great Idea, Terrible Execution (Video)

Monday, July 1st, 2013

On Friday in downtown Monsey a newly formed group of activists called Wake Up Rockland entered Rockland Kosher Supermarket–basically it’s the Pomegranate of Monsey. The group was led by a black reverend and was made up of a cross-section of non-Jews from the local community. They marched into the store, innocent frum Jews looked on, mouths agape, as the activists walked up and down the aisles looking for items to purchase. The store did not appreciate this gesture and they asked that the group leave.

The group had summoned the media to be present at the demonstration and the local paper wrote about the effort. The article seems to praise the activists and is lukewarm on the store people who were not receptive to the group.

Demonstrators explained that they were hoping to show the frum community that we are neighbors, they are not going anywhere, and we should try to integrate our communities a bit or at the very least try to get along.

I think this is a great idea. There is tension in Ramapo. There are non-Jews who are nasty to Jews and there are Jews who are nasty to non-Jews. It would be great if the two communities could somehow come together.

But there are a couple problems with the execution of this idea.

Great Idea Terrible Execution 2

First, the demonstrators seem to think that there is segregation in Ramapo. It’s not really segregation. It’s more like insularity. The frum community in Monsey wants to be insular and free from secular influences. So it’s not bigotry per se. In other words, bridging the gap is not a solution, it’s actually looked at as a problem from the frum community’s point of view.

But, more importantly, if the activists are genuine, and I have no reason to think they are not, they should work together with liaisons from the frum community to create harmony. No one wants to be surprised or forced into unity. Popping into Rockland Kosher on Friday may have worked for the cameras and for headlines, but it will not achieve the desired result unless members of the frum community participate in the decision-making and execution of ideas.

Great Idea Terrible Execution 3

It’s really not that different than the situation in Israel with the charedim. Both situations need insiders to make the change happen. But, more importantly, the very philosophy and way of life that the charedim in Israel and Monsey follow makes it nearly impossible to foster integration with non-charedim.

This kind of worldview is becoming more and more archaic and anachronistic. The world is less tolerant of insularity and isolation. The world desires integration, mutual respect, and harmony. The challenge for charedim will be how this approach to a global community can be reconciled with insularity, if it can at all.


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Woman Sues after ’24-Hour Makeup’ Didn’t Make it Through Shabbat

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

An Orthodox Jewish woman from Monsey, N.Y. is suing the Lancome cosmetics firm, claiming that its 24-hour makeup does not last as long as advertised and thus prevents her from looking good all Shabbat.

Rorie Weisberg of Monsey, N.Y. said in her lawsuit that Lancome’s Teint Idole Ultra 24H foundation does not last 24 hours and that the company is practicing false advertising, a violation of New YorkState business law, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

Weisberg’s lawsuit says her son is having a bar mitzvah next month and that she tried the Lancome foundation in advance to see if she could look good in her makeup for the entire 25-hour celebration. Jewish law prohibits removing and replacing makeup during the Sabbath.

“The 24-hour claim was central to plaintiff’s purchase decision, as a long-lasting makeup assists with her dual objectives of compliance with religious law and enhancement to her natural appearance,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit seeks unspecified damages from Lancome and its parent firm, L’Oreal, for Weisberg and other makeup purchasers, as well as a “corrective advertising campaign.”

A spokeswoman for L’Oreal said in a statement that the lawsuit has no merit and Lancome stands behinds its products.

“We will strenuously contest these allegations in court,” the spokeswoman said. “Consistent with our practice and policy, however, as this matter is currently in litigation, we cannot comment further.”

Why Should I Move to Israel?

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Recently, I received an email from a reader who admitted being troubled by a lot of the new understandings of Judaism he was encountering for the first time in my Jewish Press blogs. He asked me a question that I have heard from other people as well. It may very well be that hundreds of thousands of Diaspora Jews have thought about the very same question at one time or another, so I’m sharing my answer with everyone.

Question: We live in a thriving Orthodox community in Monsey, New York. It offers the best in Jewish education for our children, a wide gamut of synagogue activities for the whole family, Torah classes throughout the day, and real joy during the Jewish holidays, all of which foster a sense of Jewish identity and pride. Why should we move to Israel where the influence of the secular Israelis is so pervasive, and where our spiritual (and physical) well being will be jeopardized?

Answer: There aren’t any spiritual dangers living in America? Is Monsey so hermetic that you don’t feel the influence of the Christian culture that surrounds you? For instance, if you have to leave your shtetl at this time of year, aren’t you immediately confronted by Santa Clauses and mangers? And if my memory serves me right, wasn’t some synagogue in Monsey torched not long ago, and a giant Chabad menorah vandalized? And aren’t there also secular Jews in Monsey, and in the surrounding towns, and on the campuses where your children go off to college? Not to mention their non-Jewish friends and the skyrocketing rate of intermarriage, which hardly exists in Israel.

Furthermore, if you enjoy your life in the ghetto, we have dozens of Monsey-like communities in Israel that dwarf Monsey in size and in religious observance, places like Mea Shaarim, Geula, Ramot Dalet, Bucharim, Sanhedrin Muchevet, Romema, Har Nof, Bnei Brak, Betar Illit, Modiin Elite, and the dozens of Orthodox settlements in Yesha, Haredi and Dati Leumi alike. In almost every city in Israel, there are Orthodox neighborhoods which offer everything you describe, with the added bonus of being in the Holy Land.

Don’t make the mistake of underplaying the holiness of the Land of Israel. Nothing in the world compares to it. Just look at the Torah portions that we have been reading. When our forefather, Yaacov, awakes from his famous dream, he realizes that he is in the “House of God” and at the “Gateway to Heaven.” Can Monsey boast that? And notice how the angels of the Land of Israel refuse to accompany Yaacov in his exile from the Land because of the spiritual impurity of the Diaspora. And our Sages teach us that on his return home to Israel, Yaacov feared Esav, even though Esav was a wicked man, and even though Hashem had promised to guard Yaacov, because all the time that Yaacov was away, Esav had the merit of observing the commandment of living in the Land of Israel, which is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah. And see how Yaacov made Yosef swear to bury him in Eretz Yisrael, and not in Mitzrayim, so his offspring would always remember that the Land of Israel was their home, not impure foreign lands.

But beyond these reasons for living in the Land of Israel, I am afraid that your understanding of Judaism is incomplete. Judaism isn’t a private religion such as Christianity, Protestantism, and the like. Judaism is the NATIONAL CONSTITUTION of the Nation of Israel that is to be played out in Jerusalem and over the mountains and valleys of Eretz Yisrael. In addition to private individual commandments like tzitzit, tefillin, and keeping kosher, Judaism includes commandments for the Jewish Nation as a whole, like conquering and settling the Land of Israel, enlisting in the Jewish army, rebuilding the Temple, establishing the Sanhedrin and Jewish Monarchy, and keeping the agricultural mitzvot that are dependent on the Land.

The proper understanding of Judaism is that each individual Jew put his life in line with the goal of the Nation of Israel as a whole (the Clal), and not just live a private, ritual Judaism, practicing personal precepts, stripped of our national essence. The Jewish People are to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, and this can only be accomplished in our national format in the Land of Israel, as it says, “For the Torah shall go forth from Zion, and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem.” When we choose to dwell in foreign lands, instead of in the Land that God promised us, it makes Hashem seem weak in the eyes of the gentiles, as if He lacks the power to keep us in our own Land, and this is a Chillul Hashem.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/why-should-i-move-to-israel/2012/12/21/

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