web analytics
November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Orthodox Jew’

‘Orthodox Jewish’ Horse Violates the Sabbath to Win Triple Crown

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

American Pharaoh, the horse and not the politician, raced to a Triple Crown with a win in the Belmont States on Saturday, two days after the horse’s non-Jewish jockey visited the grave of the Rebbe of Lubavitch.

Jockey Victor Espinoza, not to be confused with the early 18th century heretic Baruch Spinoza, said he visited the Rebbe’s grave on the advice of a Jewish friend.

American Pharaoh’s owner is Ahmed (Ephraim) Zayat, an Orthodox Jew from Teaneck, New Jersey and is considered one of the most flamboyant of horse race owners. As at the Preakness and other races, Zayat watched the Belmont Stakes without violating the Sabbath.

When there is a big race, he always stays in a hotel or in a recreational vehicle nearby and then walks to the race track.

He moved from Cairo to the United States in 1980, at the age of 18, returned to Egypt after learning at Yeshiva University and earning a master’s degree at Boston University, and began investing in racehorses after his beverage company was purchased by Heineken.

Zayat returned to the United States and founded Zayat Stables which eventually went into bankruptcy

He finally hit the jackpot with American Pharaoh, who did better for Zayat than other horses he has owned, such as Maimonides.

Will he next horse be named “Aliyah”?

Orthodox Jew in Coma after Fainting at Aharon’s Tomb

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Jordan has transferred to an orthodox Jewish tourist to Eilat after he collapsed at the tomb of Aharon in Petra and was driven in an ambulance towards Eilat, when he suffered another attack. The ambulance turned around and rushed to a hospital near Petra. He was reported to be in a coma.

The chairman of the Jordanian Parliament’s Committee of Tourism and Antiquities, Adnan Farajat, denied an Israeli newspaper report that an Israeli helicopter had airlifted the man to Israel via Taba.


British ‘Jewish Police’ Force to Protect Mosques

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The “Shomrim” Haredi police uniformed police force in London has offered to protect mosques in the Hackney district following violent attacks on local mosques, the British edition of Huffington Post reported.

The Shomrim regularly patrol the heavily Jewish populated area of Stamford Hills and often detain suspects until police arrive. The group’s origins are in New York, where the Shomrim organized after being tired of long response times of the local men in blue.

Muslim leaders met with Shomrim officials in a London area mosque  to discuss mutual cooperation, promoted by Hackney councilor Ian Sharer, an orthodox Jew who helped found the Muslim-Jewish forum.

“In our ward, the three councilors are two Haredi Jews, and one religious Muslim. We have been friends for many years, and we get on every well,” he told Huffington. “This is a very serious situation, and so I thought, why not call my friends from Shomrim?”

The Muslims welcomed the  offer and now have the Shomrim phone number to call if there is trouble.

Recent Muslim attacks have included arson on a community center and a homemade explosive device that was found at a mosque.

The Upsherin

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Have you ever been to an upsherin, a hair-cutting ceremony?

I had never been to one until I was invited by my gentleman friend, Sy, to attend one in honor of his great-grandson, Gabriel, given by his grandparents, Steve and Robin Kerzer. Even Sy, an Orthodox Jew, had not heard of it. Both of us knew it was the custom not to cut a boy’s hair until he was three years old, but we had no idea what was involved. It was common to hear “Oy, he looks just like a little girl” until the parents of the poor child must have been ready to plotz. To make such a party was definitely new to us, not to mention its expense. Invitations had been sent to numerous people. Out-of-town guests, including Sy’s two physician sons from Rhode Island, came in for the simcha. And what a simcha it was.

We drove with Sy’s sister and brother-in-law to the Young Israel of Emerald Isles for the Sunday event. We arrived on time to a cacophony of voices. There must have been more than 200 people in attendance, most of them gathered around the buffet table – ready to snatch a hearty nosh. A table close to the entrance was piled high with colorfully wrapped gifts for Gabby, the day’s guest of honor. I added to the stack with gifts for him and his two-year-old brother. I spotted the latter sleeping peacefully in his stroller, oblivious to his surroundings. Good for him, I thought, as I observed the other children running wildly in the hall – as little children will do.

After mazel tovs and other greetings were expressed, we settled at a table as far away from the noise as possible. There, we were joined by some family members and had the pleasure of receiving a kiss from Gabby, who indeed looked like a little girl with his long red curls. Only he was wearing tzitzis.

Included in the delicious food offerings was an enormous chocolate-covered birthday and hair-cutting cake. It was decorated with a huge pair of scissors made out of white icing.

I began to wonder where the barber was when the rabbi rose to speak. Through the noise, I learned that everyone would receive a lock of Gabby’s hair. How could that be, I thought – so many people, so little hair. But when Yossi, Gabby’s father, spoke, it all became clear.

“Everyone who wants a lock of Gabby’s hair [should] come and help with the cutting,” he announced. It appeared that the guests were the barbers.

Sy and I were honored to take the podium first, where Gabby was sitting calmly on his mother Farah’s lap. With a small pair of scissors, we both clipped off a lock of the ginger curls. That was our fond souvenir.

In his younger days, Sy had bright red wavy hair. His four sons, several grandchildren and, so far, his one great-grandchild inherited it. It was like a reincarnation of what he looked like at that age. It made for a strange sensation. And when he held the strands of red locks between his now snow-white hair he laughed and said, “The old and the new.”

As we prepared to head home, the happy parents’ parting words were: “Same time next year.”

It would be Zachary’s turn.

Andy Statman: Klezmer Is Finished

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Andy Statman, one of the foremost Klezmer musicians in the world, knows that the time of Klezmer has passed.

“Each music has its point,” He explained over the phone while working at a Mandolin camp in California. “[Klezmer] is still alive, but in many ways it doesn’t really represent a living community. While it’s still alive and it’s great music and people enjoy it… It’s not a reflection of the time.”

At 62, Statman was the recipient of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship in June for his work in bluegrass and Klezmer music. As part of the fellowship, the nation’s highest recognition for traditional and folk art,  he will receive a one-time, $25,000 grant. He has been hailed by The New Yorker as an “American visionary” and by the New York Times as a “virtuoso.” His white shirt, beard and velvet yarmulkes also display the fact that Statman is an Orthodox Jew.

Statman grew up in Queens to a traditional, yet secular Jewish family from an unbroken chain of cantors going back to the 1700’s. His house was steeped in both vaudeville and Klezmer traditions. His cousin, Sammy Fein, originally Feinberg, a self-taught musician and composer, won two Academy Awards for Best Original Song. Statman taught himself guitar and banjo after his brother brought home a record of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. A musical prodigy, in his teens he took up mandolin and became a well-known bluegrass musician.

After mastering saxophone and an extended foray into jazz in his mid-twenties, Statman felt the call of something else. He sought out master klezmer clarinetist Dave Terras. He says he became a “ben bayit,” a regular, at Terras’s house.

“There’s an incredible depth and spirituality to the music,” he said about Klezmer. “It connects you to the deepest part of yourself and to God. That’s what Judaism is about… In the old-time melodies, there’s, for lack of a better word, spiritual vitamins.”

Klezmer is the Eastern European musical tradition passed down from one generation to the next. (“It’s basically Chasidic music,” Statman said.) The exact history of the music was unknown to him, save for the fact that when Statman began playing Klezmer, it had almost been gone.

“A lot of where the music was played didn’t make it out,” he said. “Russia, Galicia, a lot of Chasidim. I think not only the Holocaust but there was more of an interest in preserving Judaism and the community. Music was not such a pressing concern.”

As the Klezmer revival began in the 1980’s and 90’s, Statman found himself more and more in demand, performing on records for the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan.

“I didn’t intentionally start the revival, I was just doing it for myself to preserve the music,” Statman said. “I wasn’t reviving something, I just wanted to keep it alive. And the whole thing sort of blossomed.”

Paradoxically, as he became more Orthodox he felt less of a pull towards Klezmer music.

“The music became very much an expression of Judaism for me, and once I began observing the mitzvot I didn’t feel the need to play the music anymore.” Statman said.

Statman returned to Klezmer in the mid-90’s when he produced “Songs of our Fathers” with his mentor David Grisman, and “In the Fiddler’s House” with Itzhak Perlman. He, along with his two band members Jim Whitney and Larry Eagle, perform regularly at the Charles Street Synagogue. His most recent CD is Old Brooklyn.

Statman now lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with his wife. His grandsons and granddaughters attend religious schools. While musically inclined, none of them have seriously taken up an instrument.

“Given the schedules of yeshiva and Beis Yakov, there’s no real time to learn it well,” he explained. “If you really want to play music well, it’s a full-time commitment. I’m practicing six hours a day.”

He sees his becoming religious as a “continuation of a seven thousand year heritage that was momentarily broken.”

About the future of Klezmer, Statman said it wasn’t bittersweet.

“Like bluegrass [music], it’s from a time and place,” he said. “It changed and the music was moving on to become something else. That’s the way it is. Styles come and go. They reflect the lives and the people who are involved in them… Each day is new.”

Court clears Orthodox Jew for not carrying ID on Sabbath

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

(JTA) — An Orthodox Jew was found not guilty by a Hague appeals court of failing to produce an ID card on the Sabbath.

The man had faced a fine of nearly $200 for failing to prove his identity when requested to do so by police under a Dutch law.

Orthodox Jews are not permitted to carry any objects in a public place on the Sabbath.

The Hague appeals court ruled last week that the man’s religious requirement was more important than the law, according to Dutch News, citing the Telegraaf.

According to the newspaper, the minister who introduced the law was told at the time that it would present problems for Orthodox Jews, and he said then that it should be taken into account when the law was put into practice.

The public prosecutor could appeal the ruling.

The Costume

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Consider the absurdity of the following statement: “I know an Orthodox Jew who works on Shabbat, eats pork regularly, never wears tefillin or prays or learns Torah, is unfaithful to his spouse, walks bare-headed in public, and eats on Yom Kippur.”

One would rightfully ask, what is it that makes that person an Orthodox Jew?

Yet we occasionally read these days of “Orthodox” Jews who molest, steal, rob, murder, assault, spit and curse at women and little children, set fire to businesses they disfavor for one reason or another, eschew self-support, brawl, intimidate and terrorize other Jews, or are otherwise genuinely disagreeable people. So what is it that makes those people “Orthodox,” or, even holier in the public mind, “ultra-Orthodox”?

The costume they wear.

It is a mistake that is made not only by a hostile media but also by the Jewish public, including the religious Jewish public. To our detriment, we define people by their costumes – e.g., long black coats, white shirts, beards and sometimes peyot – and we ourselves create expectations of conduct based on the costume that is being worn, as if the costume necessarily penetrates to the core of the individual and can somehow mold his character and classify his spiritual state – as if the costume really means anything at all.

If the events in Beit Shemesh or elsewhere in Israel rectify that mistake once and for all, some unanticipated good would have emerged from the contentiousness.

This is more than simply stating that any “Orthodox” Jew who sins is by definition not an Orthodox Jew. In truth, that statement is flawed and illogical, because all people sin; the truly “Orthodox” Jew might be one of the few who still actually believe in sin – stumbling before the divine mandate – and still seek to eradicate it by perfecting himself and struggling with his nature.

But the Torah Jew is defined by a core set of beliefs, principles and religious practices. One who subscribes to that core set is Orthodox, notwithstanding any personal failings he has — failings which according to the Torah he must strive to reduce and diminish.

No Jew – rabbi or layman – is allowed to carve for himself exemptions from any mitzvah. That is why deviations like the female rabbi, the dilution of the bans on homosexuality, the relentless search for obscure leniencies in order to rationalize improper conduct, and other such anomalies draw such swift and heated reactions from the mainstream Orthodox world.

The violent and criminal excesses in Israel have drawn similar rebukes but the thought still lingers: why do we even expect decorous and appropriate conduct from people who are perceived as thugs even within their own community, and who have threatened with violence some who would criticize them publicly?

Because of the costume they wear.

Memo to real world: there is no such concept as authentic Jewish dress. The Gemara (Shabbat 113a) states that Rav Yochanan would call his clothing “the things that honor me” (mechabduti) – but the Gemara does not see fit to even describe his clothing in the slightest fashion. Jewish dress is dignified and distinguished, clean and neat. We are especially obligated to wear special and beautiful clothing throughout Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 262:2-3).

But beyond the tzitzit and the kippa for men, and modesty for all, there is no such thing as Jewish dress, the prevalence of contrary popular opinion notwithstanding. We are never told what Moshe, Ezra, Rabbi Akiva or the Rambam wore. We are informed that one reason the Jews merited redemption from Egyptian because “they did not change their garb” (i.e., they did not adopt Egyptian styles) – but we are never informed what kind of clothing they did wear. Why? Because it doesn’t matter one whit.

Gauging people’s spiritual potential – or even spiritual level – based on the coat, hat, yarmulke, shoes, socks, shirt, pants or belt they wear not only sounds insane, it is insane, and it should be stopped. No one is more religious because he wears black or less religious because he wears blue or brown.

Would we make great progress in the maturation of the Jewish world if a blue suit occasionally appeared in the haredi or yeshivish wardrobe? Perhaps. But we would certainly undo the inferences that attach to certain types of dress that leave many Orthodox Jews wrongly embarrassed and ashamed of the behavior of “people like us.” They are not like us. We must love them as we would any wayward Jew, and rebuke them as we would any wayward Jew. Even wayward Jews wear costumes.

Then we can promulgate the new fashion styles, the new uniform, of the Torah Jew, where beauty, righteousness and piety are determined by what is inside, not what is on the outside – by deeds and Torah commitment rather than appearances.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-costume/2012/01/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: