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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘orthodox’

Muslim Kid Helps Cops Catch Man who Attacked Orthodox Jewish woman [video]

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Ahmed Khalifa, 17, a Muslim Midwood high school student, helped police capture a homeless man who viciously smacked the face of an Orthodox Jewish woman who was reading a book on a Coney Island-bound Q train near the Newkirk Ave. station around 7:50 PM Tuesday, the NY Daily News reported.


Khalifa, who works at the public library near Grand Army Plaza, chased the attacker, Rayvon Jones, 31, after the assault. “It was a very hard slap, I almost could feel the slap,” Khalifa told the Daily News. “He was 6-foot-6, and a very big, big guy.”

Khalifa said he was riding the Q home after working a shift, listening to music on his headphones. He suddenly saw the homeless man hit the woman. The smack broke the victim’s glasses, she dropped to the floor and became momentarily unconscious. She was taken to hospital with a cut lip and bruising. When she came to, she cried, “Why would he do this to me? Why would he do this to me?”

The attacker fled the train at Newkirk, and Khalifa yelled at the conductor to call for help. Then he took off after the man. He eventually lost him, and enlisted the help of an Orthodox man, who invited him into his car and the two of them tracked down the attacker. “We found him at the bus stop and called the Shomrim,” Khalifa told the Daily News.

A large number of Shomrim safety patrol members arrived to pick up the man, who was trying to escape on a bus. He became violent and screamed, “I’m going to kill all of you! I’m going to kill all of you!” Police eventually arrived and arrested him. Inside the police car, the homeless man kicked the doors hard enough so they wouldn’t open, the Daily News reported. He was charged with assault.

David Israel

Political Hitman – Is Orthodoxy Killing Judaism? [audio]

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Howie argues that the Orthodox Community is not following the simple rule of ‘Love your fellow Jew, as you love yourself’, and it is destroying Judaism in North America and Israel. With Chanukkah coming up and the celebration of Jews standing up against assimilation, this is a must hear show!

Political Hitman 18DEC2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Emes Ve-Emunah: Will All of American Jewry Eventually be Orthodox?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s blogsite, Emes Ve-Emunah}

One may be tempted to feel a sense of triumphalism because of the thoughts expressed yesterday in a Forward article by Hebrew Union College Research Professor Steven M. Cohen. But I am not so eager to celebrate just yet. Professor Cohen has come to the conclusion that the American Jews of the future will all be Orthodox. At least that’s the way the title of his article first read. It has been changed. That’s probably because it is a bit of an exaggeration. But not by much if one reads the article.

This is not news to those of us that have seen the Pew Research statistics about the increase in the size of Orthodox Jewry versus the decrease in size of all other denominations – including unaffiliated Jews.

Although Pew is one of the most respected research organizations in the world some have challenged their research parameters. As have some of the conclusions drawn from their research. But even if their numbers are off – the direction non-Orthodox Jews are going is clear. Heterodoxy has failed while Orthodoxy has succeeded.

For me that is strong evidence that it is Halacha that has kept us alive throughout the millennia. I don’t think this is arguable. While culture has always played a role in how Halacha developed or is practiced, it is beyond clear to me that following it is what kept us going – and will continue to keep us going into the future. And it doesn’t help heterodoxy that they have small families versus Orthodox Jews which have large families. While Orthodoxy too has an attrition rate – a truly big challenge we face internally, it is no where near the attrition rate of non Orthodox Jews abandoning their Judaism.

What it is about Halacha that perpetuates us? The obvious answer for those of us that are believers is that God promised us in the Bible that we would always exist as His nation. Never to be completely wiped out. That is the spiritual reason. But I believe one can see a more practical reason. Former British Chief Rabbi – Lord Jonathan Sacks has called it ‘The Dignity of Difference’. Which is the title of a book he wrote on the subject. It is our differences that have kept us unique and identifiable as an entity. Assimilation – if it is total is indeed a melting pot to the extent that it erases our identities. If Jews are the same as non Jews in every way, then belief alone will not not carry us into perpetuity. Our children may not have those beliefs. If we behave like everyone else – we become everyone else. If we walk like a duck…

Culture is not enough to keep us distinct. That’s because it changes over time and differs among different societies. Often cultural distinctions cease to be unique to us and are adopted by host cultures. For example Yiddish used to be exclusively the language of the Jewish people. Now one can find many Yiddish words in an English dictionary. And how many Yiddish speakers are there today anyway (except in isolated conclaves like Satmar)? While the incorporation of Jewish culture is great in terms of our acceptance – it is not something that keeps us unique. Only Halacha does that – as I have said countless times. That is ours and ours alone. It keeps us different, unique, and gives us dignity if we practice it the right way.

This was the mistake made by the Conservative movement. It was founded with the intent of conserving Judaism – as its name suggests. But it has failed in that mission. Some of their leading lights (like Rabbi Jack Wertheimer) have identified the real reason for its failure. Their leaders have by and large ignored the lack of Halachic practice in most of their members. They believed that coming to Shul on Shabbos was enough to keep them Jewish – even if they drove there. Clearly that hasn’t worked. And now they are scrambling to keep themselves relevant by turning to secular or traditional Israelis in the belief that their mission will succeed there. They believe – with some justification – that Israelis will never assimilate out in a Jewish state. Although I’m not sure how successful they will be even if they gain the official recognition from the State they are fighting for.

Perhaps there will be a remnant of  non Orthodox Jews in the America in the future. But the handwriting is already on the wall. It won’t last any more than other non Halachic movements of Jewish history lasted. In some cases even Halachic movements like the Essenes died out because they were too far out of the mainstream.

All this may sound triumphalist. But it isn’t. I do not feel good about what’s happening here in America. Yes, I’m gratified that my beliefs are vindicated by a positive statistical outlook for the Orthodoxy of the future. But the fact that the vast majority of Jews here are not Orthodox or observant in any real way is very depressing. The numbers are staggering.

Conservative Judaism was not wrong in identifying the problem back in the melting pot era of its founding. They saw Judaism being challenged and they wanted to do something about it. They were just wrong in how they went about it. The question is, what do we do about it?

The obvious answer is outreach. In my view, in light of the dire circumstances cited by Professor Cohen we need a far more aggressive approach to reach out to our fellow Jews. Not aggressive in terms of force. But in terms of interactions with them. We are simply not doing enough. Orthodox Jews may feel satisfied living among themselves and leading their lives according to Halacha more or less oblivious to what is happening to non observant Jews. And even if they are aware of this problem they might say, ‘There’s nothing we can do about it anyway’. But that is absolutely false. Ask any Lubavitcher.

We can and should do things as individuals. Like making a public Kiddush Hashem in the way we behave. We should be role models if we are truly observant. We ought to go out of our way to be open, warm, and welcoming to all Jews regardless of their denominations. Never disparaging their movements or rabbis. Invite a fellow Jewish worker and his family over for a Shabbos meal. Let them see what keeping Shabbos is really like. Take pride in who you are as a religious Jew. Much can be done by each of us that isn’t being done now by most of us.

Organizationally Lubavitch is by far the most successful outreach group. But they can’t do it alone. Even if you factor in every single Jew that became a Baal Teshuva through their efforts, it is still a drop in the bucket compared to vast numbers of Jews leaving Judaism. If a 70% intermarriage rate among non Orhtodx Jews doesn’t send us this message, nothing will. And Lubavitch by far has the greatest numbers of Baalei Teshuva. Probably more than all other outreach groups combined.

I therefore suggest the following. All segments of Orthodoxy must come together in one singular cause. If there was ever a reason for unity this is it. It doesn’t matter whether one is Charedi, Chasidic, Lubavitch, Sephardi, Centrist, or left wing Modern Orthodox. The leaders of these groups ought to meet and unite in the singular cause of doing what the Conservative Movement tried to do – keeping Jews Jewish.

No stone should be left unturned. Instead of working at cross purposes and getting in each other’s way – outreach ought to be coordinated among all such groups. This ought to be the highest priority for us in light of the spiritual Holocaust that seems to be taking place. We need to put our differences aside and work towards the same goal of perpetuating Judaism for as many Jews as possible.

I would go one step further. I believe that many of our heterodox brethren truly care about keeping Jews Jewish – despite their failures of the past. I know many formerly Conservative Jews that became Orthodox with the full approval of their Conservative rabbis. Although those rabbis would have preferred that their people remain Conservative, they are far happier when they go right than when they go left – and out of Judaism altogether. I am also aware of Conservative rabbis feeding some of their teenage members to NCSY events. This is something that should certainly be explored and expanded upon in my view.

It is not an impossible dream. But it will take courage and determination by all involved. It is far more important to see a Jew following Halacha than it is to see him adopt a specific Hashkafa. In this regard, NCSY is a leader since their Baalei Teshuva can be found in all streams of Orthodoxy.

 

It is more than time for all Orthodox segments that feel their own way is the only – or even the best way – to rid themselves of that feeling and work towards reaching out to all Jews for one purpose: to return as many Jews as possible to the only form of Judaism that has proven to be legitimate: observant Judaism. And let the peripherals – like what kind of hat to wear – take care of themselves.

Harry Maryles

Passover Vacation Punishment Case Against Orthodox Employee Continues to Travel Through the Courts

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Susan Abeles’ saga began in 2013 when she took time off to observe the last two days of Passover, just as she had done annually for the past 26 years. During those years, Abeles, an Orthodox Jew, worked for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), mainly as a data specialist. The MWAA is the government-created public body that oversees Reagan National Airport in the District of Columbia and Dulles International Airport in Virginia. In 2013, the MWAA stunned Abeles by suddenly labeling her annual Passover time off as “AWOL” absenteeism. The charge arose not because Abeles failed to notify her supervisors in advance, which she had done multiple times in writing, but because the authority disapproved of how she reminded her supervisor, who was also on leave and could not be reached.

To punish Abeles, the MWAA slapped her with a five-day suspension without pay. Shaken, Abeles saw the action by her employer as a clear infringement of her religious rights prompted solely because she took time for the Jewish holiday. The last two days of the eight-day holiday are considered holy to all observant Jews throughout America, who abstain from work during that time. Due to the suspension, Abeles felt compelled to take involuntary retirement rather than endure what she has termed continued “harassment on account of her religious faith.”

For years, Abeles was told to routinely schedule her religious days off via various ordinary, direct means, including use of the official Outlook calendar utilized by her department. In 2013, the MWAA required an advance verbal approval from Abeles’ immediate supervisor. Even though Abeles, as in prior years, provided her supervisors with a complete list of all the days she would be out for religious holidays in 2013, her immediate supervisor was on leave the last work day prior to the end of Passover and was not available to acknowledge the final submitted request. So Abeles did the next best thing: she sent an email reminder to both her supervisor and her supervisor’s supervisor. The ranking supervisor promptly acknowledged the reminder with a reply email stating, “Thanks.” Despite these efforts, Abeles was still punished.

In May 2015, after Abeles left the MWAA, she sued the authority and her two supervisors, Valerie O’Hara and Julia Hodge, in Federal Court. Famed Jewish civil rights attorneys Nathan Lewin and daughter Alyza Lewin took up her cause. The Lewins charged violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Defending the MWAA and its supervisors is Morris Kletzkin of the Washington, DC firm Friedlander Misler, and other attorneys.

The lower court dismissed the case, asserting Abeles had been properly penalized. The Lewins appealed. On December 8, 2016, the case was argued before the Federal Appeals court in Richmond Virginia, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III presiding. Several dozen local yeshiva students who had heard about the controversy jammed the courtroom to hear the legal case for penalizing Abeles for what she had been doing for more than two decades — taking her annual Passover leave.

Abeles’ legal claim involves a 1973 amendment to the Civil Rights Act that requires private employers to make a “reasonable accommodation” for employees’ religious observances, as well as the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. MWAA has contended that neither the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act provisions nor its Virginia state equivalent apply to it. The authority claims that although its board is appointed by the president of the United States, the governors of Virginia and Maryland, as well as the mayor of the District of Columbia, it is not subject to either the federal or Virginia laws protecting religious freedom against infringements upon religious observance.

The Authority’s defense has revolved around the minutiae of workplace process, because Abeles had not followed precise verbal procedures in this instance. For its part, the MWAA openly took the position in prior filings that Abeles, despite her 26 years of loyal service, “was a long-term, albeit mediocre, employee.” By utilizing the years-long procedure of email and official Outlook calendar postings in 2013, and not verbally reminding her direct supervisor and getting oral approval, Abeles was guilty of “insubordination,” the defendants argued. The Authority’s brief even denigrated Abeles’ legal arguments as “most bizarre.”

The oral arguments in Richmond lasted about an hour. After much debate about arcane job procedures, an exasperated Nathan Lewin finally declared:

Your Honor, I’m an Orthodox Jew. When I’ve worked for people, I’ve given them a list of what the Jewish holidays are at the beginning of the year. And they know that means I’m going to be out for those days. This is a phony response by [the company] saying, “We didn’t know why you would be out.” Of course, they knew why she was out. Everybody in the whole company knew that she was a Sabbath observer and for 26 years had been absent on Jewish holidays. She listed all the Jewish holidays at the beginning of the year. And, suddenly, to penalize her even though she has listed them and has notified her supervisors on the day before she was gone — we submit that’s outrageous.

After the hearing, Lewin addressed the assembled yeshiva students in the corridor, reminding them that in the real world, Orthodox Jews are not expected to secure signed notices before they take off for holidays.

The American Jewish Committee, the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA) and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty have all filed amicus briefs on behalf of Abeles. COLPA argued that if the lower court’s adverse ruling “is adopted, a significant number of Sabbath observers might find it impossible to maintain their jobs and remain faithful to the dictates of their conscience.” Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel of the Becket Fund, quipped, “It takes some chutzpah for the government to punish a Jewish woman for celebrating Passover. It takes even more chutzpah to say that they are the only government agency in DC exempt from our civil rights laws.”

Immediately after the oral arguments in Richmond, attorney Kletzkin was contacted by phone, refused to answer any questions and did not respond to this reporter’s email. Bruce Heppen, MWAA associate general counsel, refused to take a call on the case. Craig Marlow, a staffer in Heppen’s office referred calls to MWAA media relations, which did not reply to a voice mail message. Another media duty officer, Rob Yingling, issued a terse comment stating, “The Airports Authority does not comment on pending litigation.”

Asked how she felt after years of frustration in the case, Abeles stated:

My Jewish faith is an integral part of who I am and that includes observing Passover. I worked at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for twenty-six years and provided to various supervisors the same advance notice of all Jewish holidays without incident. It is saddening that despite following the same protocol I had each year, I was put on AWOL and suspended for five days which drove me to retire early for simply practicing my faith.

Nathan Lewin said if needed he might appeal the case to the United States Supreme Court. “This is the ultimate plain denial of religious observance by an employer. Abeles gave plenty of notice and she got ambushed by her employer.” He added, “If this case is not illegal, then no such case will be illegal.”

Edwin Black

Trump’s Orthodox Zionist Ambassador Eager to Serve in ‘Eternal Capital of Israel’

Friday, December 16th, 2016

President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday announced that his bankruptcy lawyer of many years David Friedman, an Orthodox Jew who probably feels more at home in Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv, will be his next Ambassador to Israel. Indeed, the Trump transition team made a note of the fact that Friedman’s bar mitzvah 45 years ago was celebrated at the Western Wall. Friedman, for his part, said he looks forward to serving at his new job at “the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

A regular contributor to rightwing news website Arutz Sheva, Friedman told his friends there on Friday: “Mr. Trump’s confidence is very flattering. My views on Israel are well-known, and I would advise him in a matter consistent with those views. America’s geo-political interests are best served by a strong and secure Israel with Jerusalem as its undivided capital.”

Which is why it was no surprise that J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami’s response statement said the barely Zionist group was “vehemently opposed to the nomination,” because “as someone who has been a leading American friend of the settlement movement, who lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials, Friedman should be beyond the pale.”

This may have to do with the fact that Friedman in the past compared J Street to the kapos who cooperated with the Nazis during the Holocaust, except he had some sympathy for them and none for Jeremy Ben-Ami. “The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty,” he wrote. “But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas — it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition, on the other hand, was besides itself with delight, as its executive director Matt Brooks called Friedman’s appointment “a powerful signal to the Jewish community.” It is estimated that only 28% of Jewish voters picked Trump, but four years are a long time for minds to be changed, especially since the designated Ambassador, a fluent Hebrew speaker, has been so unabashed in advocating US-Israel friendship. The Trump transition team’s statement praised Friedman’s love of Israel:

“The two nations have enjoyed a special relationship based on mutual respect and a dedication to freedom and democracy. With Mr. Friedman’s nomination, President-elect Trump expressed his commitment to further enhancing the US-Israel relationship and ensuring there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries.”

How will the gang in Ramallah take the news from Washington? Not well, most likely. We dug up this typical musing by the next Ambassador in an Arutz Sheva column titled “End the two-state narrative.” It probably would make for a heart-warming Shabbat read over at Amona, if they print it out in time:

“Much has changed over the decades since the two-state narrative began. Palestinian leaders have a much harder time lying to their people. Palestinians can witness – through the internet and first hand experience – the advantages of integration into Israeli society and the bankrupt values and barbarism of radical Islam.

“In addition, Saudi Arabia is running out of money, America and Israel are both energy independent and Israel’s neighbors – Jordan and Egypt – are far more concerned about ISIS and Iran than about Judea and Samaria. The world is a different place, diplomatic and security alignments have shifted, and only Mahmoud Abbas, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton are still stuck in the past, clinging to stale ideas that will only continue to fail.

“Radicalized Palestinian terrorists need to be rooted out and eliminated. But the remainder – perhaps the majority – of Palestinians should finally benefit from the hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes paid by the US State Department to Abbas. Fostering a Palestinian middle class is the solution of the 21st century and it has nothing to do with two states.”

That is actually a plan. Which is probably why leftist former Israeli peace negotiator Daniel Levy told the NY Times that in naming Friedman Trump is undercutting the security of Israel and the US, forcing the PA Arabs “to further disenfranchisement and dispossession.”

“If an American ambassador stakes out positions that further embolden an already triumphalist settler elite, then that is likely to cause headaches for American national security interests across the region and even for Israel’s own security establishment,” Levy declared. “Especially an ambassador committed to the ill-advised relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem.”

This means that, come January 20, 2017, the only obstacle to imposing Israeli sovereignty in Area C, if not the entire Judea and Samaria, would be the Netanyahu government that finds itself, for the first time in Israel’s history, to the left of the US Administration regarding the liberated territories.

To cite a certain Arutz Sheva columnist, in his piece titled “US presidents and Israel: Always expect the unexpected,” one must never abandon divine intervention when considering political strategy:

“They say that in Israel, one who believes in miracles is a realist. Looking back some 90 years on the cast of characters who were privileged to hold the most powerful position on the face of the earth, it is nothing less than miraculous that Israel has continued to grow, prosper and flourish. The hand of God is everywhere to be seen in Israel’s development. We should, of course, try to pick the right president, but let’s not forget who’s really running the show. Let’s therefore include prayer, charity and good deeds as an essential part of a pro-Israel strategy.”

JNi.Media

The Day After: An Open Letter to Orthodox Jews

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Last Tuesday night, Donald Trump stunned the world with his election as the forty-fifth President of the United States. Wednesday morning the rejoicing, recriminations and rioting began. One of the most fascinating stories is the “Jewish vote.” Exit polls showed that Hillary Clinton took about 70% of the Jewish vote—far from historical highs, but still an overwhelming majority. This landslide means that Jews voted for Clinton (or against Trump) in higher proportions than almost any other ethnic or religious demographic I including Latinos (65%), whose vote was touted as a lock for Clinton based on the media’s relentless spin of Trump’s immigration stance as racist. Yet interestingly and meaningfully, exit data and anecdotal evidence about Orthodox Jews suggest that we broke massively for Trump. Among other things this means that non-Orthodox Jews likely voted well over 80% for Trump. Thus the two Jewish voter demographics are not only distinct but oppositional: Jews appear to have been among the most anti-Trump and the most pro-Trump of all demographics.

Liberal congregations around the country announced grief services. Parallels to Kristallnacht exploded across the Internet. Reform temples held “shivah” events. Left-wing Jewish publications and organizations decried the abandonment of their own cherished “Jewish values” –political correctness, open borders, redefined marriage, gender and family, and abortion on demand.

Meanwhile, spontaneous dancing broke out Wednesday morning at relieved and overjoyed frum congregations in America and Israel. Giddy jokes were made about whether to say Hallel. Of the fifteen New York City neighborhoods in which Trump was strongest, ten were on Staten Island. The other five were: Boro Park, Midwood, Brighton Beach, West Brighton, and Ocean Parkway South. In Nassau County, the Five Towns similarly delivered a huge Trump landslide. Ocean County, NJ – where Lakewood is located – voted overwhelmingly for Trump, far more so than any other place in that state. Exit polls of the thousands of charedi American citizens who live in Israel showed more than 85% voting for Trump.

Orthodox Jewry has taken another great step forward as a distinct voting bloc, revealing concerns and priorities very different from those that animate Jewish progressives.

Orthodox voting priorities are not hard to understand. The Orthodox commitment to Jewish continuity and knowledge of Jewish history has always been far stronger than that of non-Orthodox Jews. Combined with the imminent connection of virtually every frum family to Jews in Israel and the norm for Orthodox Jews of all stripes to spend at least a year and often many years in batei medrash and seminaries in Israel, most Orthodox Jews – regardless of conflicting religious views on the medinah – count the security of the

Israel’s Jews as a top priority. By way of contrast, when polled among all Jews, concern for Israel hovers low on the priority list, consistently between eight and tenth –far behind a raft of liberal causes and concerns far more central to contemporary progressivism than to traditional Judaism.

The assault by the left on our rights as Jews has gotten more and more aggressive. Democrats have ceased speaking of religious liberties and now concede only that there is a “right to worship”. That is intolerable to frum Jews. We see what is happening again in Europe – the challenges to bris and shechita in the name of progressive secular values – and know that many groups (too often led by ethnic Jews) are agitating for the same battles here. Just weeks ago a judge in California at the instigation of chickens’ rights advocates prevented Jews from performing the ancient pre-Yom Kippur custom of kapporos. Traditional religious institutions and consciences – Jewish and otherwise – already are under siege from activists seeking to strip away religious exemptions, not satisfied with equality under the law, but demanding the surrender or destruction of any traditional worldview. The specter of Democrats having the power to appoint more federal judges was terrible to contemplate.

Jews make up less than 2% of the American population. As a subset of American Jewry, frum Jews are an anomaly – a small albeit growing minority. Considered this way, it’s unclear why this sociological and demographic tale is of anything but marginal interest to the political calculations of those in Washington.

Yet upon closer scrutiny, this election provides evidence of vast potential power untapped by Orthodox Jews. The mass of ethnic, unaffiliated and “social justice” Jews have depleted their political significance even as they have enervated their religious identity. They appear willing to follow the Democrats everywhere, no matter how extreme, immoral, anti-religious, anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic. Orthodox communities, on the other hand, stand on the cusp. If we choose to see ourselves as just another ethnic minority engaged in the kinds of transactional politics that sells out our principles and our future to the highest bidder, we will have failed, relegated to footnotes as an outlier. If however we take stances for our principles and for our survival we will emerge as spiritual, moral and intellectual leaders in the battle that now rages between left and right in this country.

It is no coincidence that the party that grants nuclear weapons to the “Death to Israel” Iranian mullahs and that stands poised to be led by a BDS_supporting Member of Congress who slanders Israel as an apartheid oppressor of innocents, also opposes traditional morality at home. It is no fluke that those who elevate the protection of innocent life and religious exercise and conscience above almost all else, also see the security of the Jewish state as America’s most important foreign policy goal.

Those who carry the Torah’s messages have always been few in number, but they have transformed vast civilizations. For decades, we have been turned inward, focused on rebuilding a community almost lost in the European inferno, while secular progressives have dominated the Jewish presence in Washington. Today, their communities are in crisis, having assimilated and eroded to the point of tragedy. Meanwhile, Orthodox communities which have maintained fidelity to ancient Jewish law and custom are flourishing as in the first vigor of youth. But we too stand at a crossroads. We can continue to ignore the world around us and be essentially irrelevant, losing sight of our people’s raison d’être. Or we can be the tip of a mighty spear: leaders of the literally tens of millions of American Faith and Values voters for whom religious freedom and the security of the Jewish state are also always top priorities.

Bruce Abramson and Jeff Ballabon

Orthodox Needs Addressed At Florida’s Largest Child Welfare Event

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Mark Rosenberg, director of operations at Jewish Community Watch, delivered a presentation at the largest child welfare event in Florida, the 2016 Child Protection Summit, sponsored by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The annual event, which began September 7 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, drew over 2,800 child welfare professionals.

Jewish Community Watch is a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating child abuse, specifically child molestation, within the Jewish community. Founded in 2011, it has quickly established itself as the leading organization dealing with this issue, having had much success educating the public about the prevalence of child abuse and how to prevent it. It has also acted as a support system for victims throughout the healing process, including working with law enforcement and investigators to report abuse.

In addition to his role at JCW, Rosenberg is a long time chaplain to multiple law enforcement agencies and the director of Chesed Shel Emes (CSE) Florida Division. Well aware of the unique struggles survivors in the frum community face, Rosenberg’s presentation educated the gathered professionals about the intricacies of his community and how to best help victims and their families. His in-depth talk covered the rich familial and communal culture of religious Jewry as well as the sensitivities often involved in reporting abuse.

The summit was attended by attorneys, case managers, child advocates, child protective investigators and supervisors, child protection team staff, child welfare trainers, court staff, DCF staff, relative and non-relative caregivers, foster and adoptive parents, guardians ad litem, judges, law enforcement, juvenile justice professionals, educators, service providers, and youth.

“I am blessed to have had the opportunity to bridge the gap between child care survivors, investigators, law enforcement and the Jewish community,” said Rosenberg. “Thanks to Jewish Community Watch, as well as many other organizations and individuals, the Jewish community has taken tremendous strides toward understanding and combating child abuse. I hope that as a result of our presentation on the intricacies of our community, these professionals can do their job with an increased sensitivity, creating a fluid relationship between all parties that can result in ridding the community of this horrific issue.”

The groundwork for the presentation was put in place during a March meeting in Tallahassee between Florida Department of Children and Families secretary Mike Carrol, chief of staff Jane Johnson, Rabbi Schneur Oirechman, and Chaplain Mark Rosenberg. Secretary Carrol suggested that Rosenberg prepare a presentation for the investigation community on the various needs and circumstances of the Orthodox community.

“Florida is the state with the second largest Jewish population in the U.S and the secretary saw this as an important endeavor,” said Rosenberg. “On behalf of the Jewish community, we graciously thank Secretary Carroll for having devoted his entire career to protecting vulnerable children and for inviting us and giving us the opportunity to participate in the summit.”

Shelley Benveniste

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/south-florida/orthodox-needs-addressed-at-floridas-largest-child-welfare-event/2016/10/10/

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