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August 25, 2009

Exclusive: Aish HaTorah Masks Involvement Of Online Jewish "University" Meant To Lure Unwitting Students To Orthodoxy

Jerusalem Online University logo Jerusalem Online University an Aish HaTorah missionary front meant to prey on unsuspecting non-Orthodox Jews.

Man behind the deception is Aish HaTorah employee Rabbi Raphael Shore, the same man behind the anti-Muslim propaganda film Obsession.

Obsession was a controversial part of the 2008 presidential election because one of Aish's stealth nonprofits, the Clarion Fund, also headed by Shore, distributed copies of it to 28 million voters in U.S. swing states while refusing to say who funded the film or its distribution.

The following screenshots tell the story. They show that Jerusalem Online University is owned by Aish HaTorah, a haredi missionary organization, and that it hides its relationship to Aish HaTorah and to Orthodoxy in order to lure unsuspecting college students to Orthodoxy

All screenshots can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Homepage. Note there are no kippot or other any visible signs of Orthodoxy:

Jerusalem Online University homepage

Here is the WhoIs registration for JerusalemOnlineUniversity.com. Note the email address is at the aishcafe.com domain:

WhoIs Jerusalem Online University
WhoIS Jerusalem Online University zoom view

What is AishCafe.com?  This:

AishCafe Jerusalem Online University 


Who is the founder of Jerusalem Online University? Rabbi Raphael Shore. Again, note there is no mention of Orthodoxy or Aish HaTorah:

Jerusalem Online University Founder's Message

Here is an August 2008 AP news report on AishCafé.com that lists Shore as the program's director, and AishCafé itself as a part of Aish HaTorah:

Religion today
By Greg Bluestein, Associated Press Writer
August 14, 2008

ATLANTA --AishCafe's flashy Web presence makes it look more like a gambling site than the religious experience it is.

There are interactive animations, clickable icons and even a mock iPhone to lure in Jewish college students. And, like gambling, it could pay to play.

The site, run by Aish HaTorah, an Orthodox Jewish educational network based in Israel, offers students willing to learn about their faith a payout of up to $250 or a $300 subsidy for a trip to Israel.

AishCafe has shelled out some $300,000 to students since it launched a year and a half ago. Supporters see the approach as an effective way to reach young Jews at a time when a dwindling number have strong ties to their religious roots and community.

"There's a sense today that college students are very busy with their schedules and their lives, and in order for them to take time out, they need to be incentivized," said Rabbi Raphael Shore, the program's director. "It's the same way colleges offer scholarships."

But some Jewish leaders are concerned that paying students to take the courses sends the wrong message.

"If you believe that Judaism is a viable religion for many different reasons -- and you're able to show it in a way that's truly meaningful -- that's truly exciting," said David Katznelson, who organizes innovative religious and arts celebrations in San Francisco that attract many young Jews. "And I don't think you need to pay people to do that."

His battle-tested advice? "Host something interesting and they will come."

Jewish leaders have been struggling for years to reverse the decline in religious observance among young people and stem the high-rate of intermarriage. Offering incentives to learn has become somewhat accepted, partly because of the popularity of the Birthright Israel program.

Since it started eight years ago, Birthright has sent 170,000 Jewish students on free 10-day trips to Israel. Participants must be Jewish, between the ages of 18 and 26, and must have never been to Israel on a similar group trip. Nothing is required of the participants in return.

By contrast, AishCafe puts students through a gantlet of tests on Jewish rituals and history, featuring a dozen classes with catchy titles like "Genesis and the Big Bang" and "Pleasure 101," each offering its own edgy take on Jewish rituals, morals and ideology.

The program isn't easy. Participants must watch seven hourlong films, listen to three audio programs and complete two live, in-person classes with a rabbi. Each includes a separate reading and a test. Students only get a full $250 payment if they score high grades.

AishCafe also offers students a separate class called "Positive Psychology and Judaism" by Tal Ben-Shahar, a popular lecturer at Harvard University. The course costs $549 but can reward participants with three college credits.

So far, organizers say most of the 1,500 students who have participated in the classes have fared well. More than 90 percent of students pass their tests, and 97 percent would recommend the course to a friend, Shore said.

"We simply want to try to introduce young Jews who haven't had the opportunity to learn about Judaism," Shore said. "They go to university and might be well versed about science, mathematics and literature, but their Jewish education may be very fragile."

Karina Grabovsky, now 24, was 6 when she emigrated from the Ukraine to Indianapolis, and in the U.S. she learned little about her Jewish identity.

"AishCafe was kind of the beginning of wanting to know more about Judaism and really identify with my Judaic roots," Grabovsky said.

She said he would have participated even without the payment -- a $300 stipend that went toward a trip to Israel.

"To me, it was an avenue for religious growth. That was something I wanted to do for a while, and this was an opportunity to do it."

Jonathan Young, a student at York University in Toronto who works part-time at a liquor store to pay for college, admits feeling uneasy about taking money to learn about his religion.

The son of a Christian father and a Jewish mother -- he calls his family a "Chrismukkah household" -- he was eager to learn more about his Hebrew roots. He also received the $300 Israel stipend, but what he discovered was a deep longing to learn more about Judaism, he said.

"I really felt I had something I could relate to," said Young, 21. "For me and for a lot of people, there's a sense that religion can be backwards, but this shows it in another light.

"And," he added, "the money doesn't hurt."

So we know Jerusalem Online University (or, as it is is sometimes called, Jerusalem University Online) is part and parcel of Aish HaTorah. But that information is nowhere to be found on Jerusalem Online University's website or Aish.com. 

Aish.com does have three mentions of AishCafé, two of which are for the above AP article. But it has no mention I can find of Jerusalem Online University.

Here are screenshots from Google's site search that show this:

Jerusalem Online University Google site search Aish.com

Jerusalem University Online Google AS On Aish.com

Jerusalem University Online Google AS On Aish.com

Does the Jerusalem Online University site mention the word "Orthodox"? Only once:

Jerusalem online University Google As For Orthodox

What is the result of that search? A pulldown menu that asks for current religious affiliation with choices ranging from not Jewish to Orthodox:

Jerusalem Online University Google AS for Orthodox Result pulldown menu bar choose affiliation

Even Jerusalem Online University's donation information hides its Aish HaTorah connection, as you can see:

Jerusalem Online University Donation Information

Donations are directed to:

Imagination Productions 
150 West 46th Street
Suite 300
NY, NY 10036

Imagination Production's ruling year is 20088 and there are no documents available for it. It's contact is listed as Simcha Cohen:

Imagination Productions Guidestar

And Jerusalem Online University contact information is a contact form that gives no information about the Aish HaTorah connection:

Jerusalem Online University Contact Us

So, to summarize, Aish HaTorah changed the name of a missionary program, masked its connection to Aish, and uses it – and cash payments – to lure unsuspecting college students to Orthodoxy.

We would not tolerate this from Jews for Jesus. Why should we tolerate it from Aish HaTorah?

UPDATE 3:50 PM CDT –  Rabbi Henry Harris of Aish HaTorah's Manhattan headquarters tells me Rabbi Raphael Shore – who, if memory serves me, at one point during the Obsession controversy denied being an Aish HaTorah employee – "resigned" from Aish HaTorah this Spring near Passover to "pursue independent projects."

You'll note that according to the WhoIs information posted above, AishCafé.com – a wholly-owned part of Aish HaTorah – became Jerusalem Online University in late April 2009.

In other words, Rabbi Raphael Shore's "independent" projects appear to include a wholly-owned division of Aish HaTorah.

Jerusalem University Online (and Jerusalem Online University). Rabbi Harris had not heard of either. When I explained Jerusalem Online University was founded as AishCafé.com, he directed my questions to Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem.

Here is Jerusalem University Online's About Us page. Note it claims to have been founded in 2007, but the site is copyrighted in 2009:

Jerusalem Online University About us

Here's the text:

About JerusalemOnlineUniversity.com


Founded in 2007, JerusalemOnlineUniversity.com is the leading online portal for Jewish distance learning, offering a variety of stimulating college-accredited courses in an exciting and user-friendly forum.

To date over 2,000 students have graduated from JerusalemOnlineUniversity.com

Mission Statement

Our mission at JerusalemUniversityOnlineUniversity.com is to educate and inspire our students, broaden their knowledge of Judaism and Israel, and cultivate Jewish identity and pride through engaging and interactive online content. Committed to educational excellence through innovation, we strive to develop future leaders and advocates for Israel.

I also asked Rabbi Harris about Imagination Productions. He seemed unsure and did not answer, instead referring me to Aish HaTorah's world headquarters in Jerusalem.

UPDATE 2:30 pm 8-26-09 – Marissa Brostoff of Tablet Magazine picked up this story and did a blog post on it.

Marissa spoke with Rabbi Raphael Shore:

…Shore, for his part, told Tablet Magazine that he’s not trying to hide anything. When the “About Us” section of Jerusalem Online Univerisy’s website is completed, he said, it will explain the former affiliation with Aish Cafe. He also said that he raised funds for both Aish Cafe and Jerusalem Online University independent of Aish HaTorah. “One of the reasons we separated was we were very interested in broadening the spectrum of presenters that are in the course and broadening the potential to reach people, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox,” he said.

But Shore's response makes no sense.

The Jerusalem Online University website was created in late April and early May of this year – after Shore had already "resigned" from Aish HaTorah. Mention of the site's origins is wholly missing, as is any mention of Shore's Aish HaTorah connection.

It strains credulity to think that is an oversight that will be corrected when the site is "completed, " especially because the site is very complete as it is. The site has full course listings, lots of graphics, movies and more.

Shore and Aish HaTorah have a long history of this type of deception. Jerusalem Online University is just the most recent example of it.

It's about time the Jewish community made it clear that we will not accept this dishonesty.

[Hat Tip: Shlomo.]

Comments

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Well if it isn't Mr. Secular Missionary himself getting a hernia over the latest kiruv news.

You are really scratching the bottom of the barrel if you think this is a scandal.

Get a life.

i wonder if the fraudulent, debunked torah codes are part of the curriculum.

Geology 101: The Earth is Flat

astronomy and cosmology 101: there are 2 sources of light. the sun and the moon.

These people must be understood properly. Big Aish is a malevolent predator of Liberal and secular Jewry, and those who work with them must be condemned along with Big Aish itself.

The program isn't easy. Participants must watch seven hourlong films, listen to three audio programs and complete two live, in-person classes with a rabbi.

I'd rather slide naked down a giant razor blade.

Scotty has gone off the deep end once more. Lets see, Jerusalem University Online says that its purpose is to educate and inspire students about Judaism and Israel, its founder is clearly identified as a rabbi and the curriculum requires attending two live events coordinated by a rabbi. Scotty, I realize this may be confusing to you, but anyone with the bare intelligence necessary to differentiate between his brain and his ass realizes that this is some religious related site.

On the contrary, if you want to look at a misleading website, look no further than failedmessiah.com. Someone first visiting your site would not at first realizes that this is a hate filled, biggoted site written by someone who is bitter that after a couple of years becoming religious when he told the Lubavitcher Rebbe to jump the Rebbe didn't ask how high and that he otherwise has frittered away more than half of his natural life span.

Please.

None of those rabbis are identified as Orthodox.

and you do not identify yourself as someone who hates orthodoxy. Does that make your blog misleading?

besides, what do you think the average reader of the site believes? That the site is sponosred by the Refrom movement? Get real.

Poor, foolish, distressed messiah. You can't stand it when your compatriots are caught being unethical.

Here's my About Me page. As anyone can see, it's transparent:

http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/about-me.html

You, however, hide behind a pseudonym and hurl invective, meaning you're not transparent, but you are, as I've previously noted, cowardly.

If you are a Successful Messiah, why haven't you brought world peace and resurrection of the dead?

Isn't that false advertising?

Well.. well.. well..
This is certainly a new way to proselytize -
Nearly, but not quite as cute as Chabad's 1967 teffilin campaign.

Wonder when the Mormon's will catch onto this, and attempt this type of bogus 'education' campaign?

Shmarya, nowhere on your about me page or anywhere else do you state that the purpose of your blog is to portray orthodox judaism in the most negative light possible. But once again, rather than admit that he based his whole post on something really silly, Shmarya reverts to name calling instead.

WSC, no messiah and only God can bring world peace and resurrection of the dead.

Shmarya, nowhere on your about me page or anywhere else do you state that the purpose of your blog is to portray orthodox judaism in the most negative light possible.

That's because that is not my purpose. If it were, this blog would be a lot "worse" than it now is.

Anyway, your rabbis seem to be doing a fine job of portraying haredim in the worst light possible, all without my help.

I dont see why it should matter if aish is doing this or not. the program should be evaluated on its own merits. if it teaches things that are morally objectionable like, for example, Shore's bigoted anti-muslim bullshit, then it is not a worthwhile program and people should be discouraged from using it. If, however, it presents information that is authentically jewish, then if people find it compelling I dont see why it is problematic. there is an implicit challenge that liberal strands of judaism have to respond to: if they can present a judaism that is as or more compelling to seeking young people than hareidim do then they will attract them. if not, then they lose out.

I hear you on the one hand about the concealment of who runs the program, but
1. again, the material either will or will not speak for itself, so does it really matter who puts it out?
2. it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure it out and any marginally savy technology user does their research before making a major time committment and chooses accordingly.

i wonder if the fraudulent, debunked torah codes are part of the curriculum.

Even my ראש ישיבה told people not to waste their time on that.

What is "authentically Jewish"?

++What is "authentically Jewish"?++

Any application accompanied by a check, money order or credit card number.

Successful Messiah has the typical Haredi mindset - can't argue on the issues, so let's attack Shmarya.

i dont mean that only orthodox institutions can present "authentic Judaism" if that is what you are asking. i mean that the content accurately represents jewish texts or traditions and is aimed at increasing the participant's committment to judaism and the jewish community on some level.

for example, although I regard modern biblical criticism as a valid approach to the study of that text, I do not regard it as representing judaism. it may serve a purpose in a larger framework of jewish religious study, but it exists as a field unto itself and does not serve uniquely jewish aims.

Red Sox Fan, I agree with your criticism of me in part. I can't argue on the issues here. Though that is due to the fact that there are no issues here. Shmarya's post was about nothing.

since when is it not just aish zara?

Sitting around a MO rabbi's table

actual conversation...

It sort of goes like this...

A Chabad rabbi goes to collect for something or the other. The person answering the door asks "Are you Orthodox?" The Chabad rabbi answers "Oh no, we are Chabad" and collects some money.

Such typical haredi responses among the comments here.

You frummies should be consistent. When a terrorist attack hits Israel, denounce the newspapers reporting it, saying "Yeah, we already saw stuff like that last month. What's the big deal? How is this news?"

Wow! Is Walid Shoebat also a Jewish rabbi? How about Caroline Glick? She became orthodox and works for aish? What about Nonie Darwish who also appears in the film!? Nonie Darwish is an Aish Rabbi? WOW I had no idea. She would deny that if you asked her.

But I guess to Shmarya, in the "anti muslim propaganda film" Nonie Darwish is the "intolerant" bigoted one, while the guys with the hamas headbands are the tolerant benevolence incarnate (and of course not bigoted in any way). That certainly says a lot.

Slow news day?

Really stretching here...

The program is a Judaism online learning program. That's all.

There is money available for those who finish courses.

Aish Cafe was the old name / brand, it is in the process of transitioning to Jerusalem Online University.

This is now an independent project with Aish markings because that is the way the program started.

If you want actual answers I may be able to get them for you. I have a direct connection with their only remaining employee.

Raphael Shore is a rabbi and PHD in something having to do with Chassidic anthropology. He was one of my best professors at Hebrew University, and taught the subject from a wholly academic perspective. Shmarya, I implore you not to drag this man's name through the mud.

One time, a black hatter in our class tried to institute men and women sitting on different sides of the room. Professor Shore wouldn't have it. It was a secular classroom, and he saw no reason for that.

What none of you get here is the conundrum. Aish is using the same tactics jews for geezus uses. Don't start responding to me like jerks. I am also the original exit counselor for helping jewish kids get out of hebrew christianity. Not that matters as the Jewish community does nothing about their recruiting in spite of some little organizations who are not successful for they fear to go head to head against those organizations for they will be deposed to death.

But this tactic is copy cat. And yes there is something wrong not revealing who you are.

So get off the bash wagon. Since when do we Torah Jews hide who we are? The answer is of course as you know we are cowards on every level.

Yes it is me again, the uncouth shadow walker that maybe one day you will out and not that i care.

But we are caught in a terrible upheaval. And it continues to amaze me the brain power of some of the writers on this site and yet to date none of you -not a one has come up with some kind of response to all the shameful things we read here.

Why are there none of you legal minds meeting offline to plan some kind of legal something even an organization to speak out with quote clean hands for the abandoned children or something.

I cannot understand how you sleep well at night reading all this bad news.

Aish was not to be this. I was a very close friend of Reb Noach's tzl. This was not his way to be a coward. But same time none of this surprises me sadly simply because all the talmidim chosen to lead have moved into revisionist orthodoxy. And some of you here went to yeshiva with these so called august men.

They are flat our power mad simpletons afraid of the world. I mean who would have thunk Reb Aron Schechter would be putting on kol korah's on wig shops?

Answer many of you here have gone silent and not gone back home and spoken to your rabbeium or former friends.

I have. What i find is total ignorance about what is going on in the frum world. Not the guilty but in terms of sexual abuse. These people really do not know the whole story.

How could they? They live in total isolation. Why are you afraid of them? And you are. Call them up. Go visit. And get in their face. They put on their pants and go to the toilet just like you. Talk to their young gabbaim and see the shock on their faces when you educate them.

Not all of course. I would not go near the Noviminster rabbi period. He is now a god.

But come on. And back to Aish. Well it finally happened 30 years later. In the old days when i help found the JCRC task force on cults and missionaries we used to discuss the fact as to why we did not use cult tactics of recruiting in an honest manner.

Kiruv as you know is a total failure and lie in this country and Israel. Lying about the numbers of people who attend programs. Double counting Aish and Ohr Sameyach. Have a heter to lie about numbers. Lie to baal ha batim about how many people you help. I believe you are allowed to triple the number.

So called street outreach to kids in brooklyn do not do any street outreach. They are home work centers for kids starting to get confused in limudei Kodesh and are rebelling as normal teens. No one is out on the streets period.

I do not like calling you cowards. So many of you are erudite and amaze me. But it is time we apply what we know and how we are able to look deep at issues and do something.

What that is i leave up to you. If you figure out who i am write me. Not here folks. For the record i just post and move on.

But there is a brain trust here and then of course jerks. But jerks need blogs to have a life.

But why not an ad hoc organization who release press releases and takes out ads on subjects. Expresses outrage. Articulate please outrage. I may be crude here but not in my writing nor in my books.

But help must come from indie sources. And for heaven's sake get on the phone and talk to the Roshei Yeshiva. I am in dialogue with Reb Aron now. Doing it slowly. He is surrounded by psychophants or however you spell it. No outside newe comes to him. None. He actually believes you do not believe the children, etc.

Aish for the record spends millions and has little and i mean little success. Aish.com however is quite a website and i do not know if it is Aish Hatorah but packed with good information. So many non jews read it and love it. Read it first thing when they hit the office in the morning.

Horrible, not to mention orthodoxy, what deceit. Reminds me about a blog that purports to be "Covering Orthodox Judaism since 2004" while not mentioning that it is really covering only the negative stories on orthodox Judaism rather that covering orthodox Judaism in whole. This leads the unsuspecting visitor to get a distorted picture of what orthodox Judaism is all about.

Aish vs Chabad vs Jews for Jesus vs Generic Evangelicals....who is gaining market share the fastest?

Sounds like they need Ronn to do spin for them. He can utilize his specialty and post comments from Conservative and Reform leaders praising them, written by him and without asking their permission of course.
Sarah

Harold, please, didn't we have a story the other day about a bunch of frum guys sitting around eating herring? Wasn't that a happy positive story?

Shmarya will be busy for a while trying to earn the $250. Maybe we will see a change in bias after he completes the course:)

wow, what a desperate attempt to infer maliciousness and duplicity. talk about grabbing at straws...

Another really sick attempt by this offensive blog to find make a mountain out of a molehill. Sure, I know Rabbi Shore--he is a great guy and what Aish is doing is perfectly fine. The fact that Jews need to be ramped up to live Jewish lives is an old tale--the same thing was done by the Rabbis after the Roman expulsion in Babylon--the Babylonian Jews lived in what was described as a cultural wasteland. This is why we need Aish in America and we need Aish in Israel. What is the deception, Shmayra? What a really stupid smear site this has become!!

so the earth ain't flat...there is no such thing as a moshiach and rebbes have no psychic powers. anyone who teaches otherwise is off the derech of reality. luckily none of this affects jewish identity. however numerous high level white collar criminals who ain't been caught yet still feel guilty and thus need to believe a witchdoctor rabbi can use paranormal methods to obviate "sin".

and its a 501 c thingy

I see all the frummies are continuing to push the same talking point. That this is not a story, because everyone knows Big Aish and her henchmen are a bunch of sleazebags, and everyone should know that or they are idiots.

Is this organization a 5WPR client, by any chance?

Is this organization a 5WPR client, by any chance?

Aish has been in the past and may still be.

I want to pass along a note from a friend who no longer uses the internet:

On behalf of all students who were lured unwittingly to this website, I want to thank you for raising the red flag on this one.

I am a college student, who was on my way to a frat party when I decided to check my facebook page before heading out for the kegger. One of my "friends" had posted a link to this site. I saw the banner: "3 courses that will change your life..." and was immediately intrigued.

But what to do about the party? On the one hand, the party would feature pretty girls in short skirts getting drunk and mixing it up on the dance floor. On the other hand, all I've been doing since arriving at college is partying, sleeping late, surfing the net, and smoking too much pot. I really did feel that a change in my life was warranted.

So I decided to put the party on hold, took a deep breath and clicked.

Wouldn't you know it - six months later, and I'm a changed man. I'm praying daily, studying parshah every week, taking my relationship with my parents more seriously than I ever have, treating my body as a holy object and not a playground, and viewing women as Divine creatures and not objects of desire.

I, for one, cannot believe the transformation. This website must be stopped! If I, a bright college student, would throw away a life of luxury, leisure and lewdness for "greener pastures" imagine what some lesser mind would do once trapped by the clutches of Rabbi Shore and his Aish minions.

Instead of soaking up the horribly slanted, closed-minded, anti-Israel liberal education I was looking forward to in college, I allowed myself to become brainwashed by some 3300-year-old propaganda that all four of my grandparents held so dear. All because of a website!

Maybe those chareidim are right and we should all stay offline. I know my former dealer feels that way.

"Divine creatures"? Hurl. Try "human beings."

You say: "Note there are no kippot or other any visible signs of Orthodoxy". And immediately below you post a screengrab of the front page.

Your screengrab shows a picture of a Tikun and a Kippah on top of it (x1). Your screengrab also has a picture of Rabbi Yom Tov Glaser in a huge Kippah (x2) and a link to a 1-min introductory video by him. The screengrab also has a picture of a Hareidi high school rebbe wearing a very large Kippah (x3) and the video link shows his student also wearing a Kippah. Three very prominent Kippot on your screengrab.

Aside from the omnipresent Kippot the screengrab shows two obviously Hareidi men and at least three modern/conservadox men and women.

The iconography is blatantly Jewish and the screengrab graphically illustrates "Judaism 101" with a Tikkun and a Kippah (so this is obviously not the Judaism of the ADL or the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism).

"there are no kippot or other any visible signs of Orthodoxy" - who are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?

As the introduction by R' Glaser says, the website is intended to: "shake off some of your misconceptions" and it does so with popular Hareidi and modern/conservadox presenters. Maybe you have some misconceptions of your own that you need to shake off and the website would do you good.

Interesting tabs, though. What does Lyndon LaRouche say about Aish?

Please.

There is a partial unidentifiable page of a Hebrew book (remember, SECULAR Israelis speak and read Hebrew, and both the Reform and Conservative Movement have Hebrew text in their siddurim, etc.) and what could be part of a knitted kippah, but could also just as esily be a doily or the like or even just a design. Neither are clear and neither correctly represent what Aish is.

And there are several introductory videos from various people. The mix is meant to make the site look non-denominational. But the site is a kiruv site run by haredim and has been from day one.

You've got me intrigued - so if you'll indulge me. I'll first address the Judaism 101 issue generally, then get into your evidence.

If someone clicks on the Judaism 101 link, then a video immediately plays. The video starts with a clip of a Sefer Torah. It then goes on to show what the class is about and illustrates it with close-ups of a variety of teachers. They show ONLY the following teachers:

1. Unidentified Chareidi man
2. Chareidi woman in a wig (R' Lori Palachnik)
3. Modern Orthodox man (Dr. Gerald Schroeder)
4. Rabbi YomTov Glaser (a Chareidi man)
5. Unidentified Chareidi man
6. Unidentified black Chareidi man
7. Unidentified Chareidi man

At no time does it show any other speaker (although it does show several people checking out the website who are not wearing Kippot).

In light of the explicit nature of the introductory video, you can not seriously claim that someone seeing the video would think that the teachers are coming to tell you about Reform or Reconstructionist Judaism.

As for evidence about the picture on the click, you claim as follows:

"There is a partial unidentifiable page of a Hebrew book"

Not unidentifiable. It has the trop and it is printed in an unusual font. This is plainly not a secular book. (happens to be Malochim 2, Perek 23 – a Haftorah on Pesach - when you google the few visible words).

"remember, SECULAR Israelis speak and read Hebrew and both the Reform and Conservative Movement have Hebrew text in their siddurim, etc."

The Reform movement and secular Israelis would not illustrate Judaism with a Tikun and a Kippah. I don't believe that they lain any Haftorahs at Reform Temples or at Balad party meetings. Nor do I believe that Reform Temples keep the second day Pesach.

Conservative? Maybe. (Do they Lain and/or do Haftorahs at Conservative synagogues?) But again, watch the clip and your possible "hava minah" (original assumption) that this may be Conservative will fall by the wayside. The iconography (and especially in the context of the video) is quite clear that they are promoting teachings by exclusively modern orthodox and Chareidi individuals.

"and what could be part of a knitted kippah, but could also just as esily be a doily or the like or even just a design."

Let's play a game of ‘which is more likely’.

Imagine that you are a graphic designer who has to create a graphic about a video that shows seven orthodox and chareidi people teaching torah:

Option One: Gallant illustrates it with a Torah and Kippah.
Option Two: Goofus illustrates it with a Hebrew copy of war and peace and a doily.

Which is more likely?

If you said Gallant, you are right! It makes a lot more sense that this is a picture of a Torah and a Kippah, than a Hebrew copy of War and Peace and a doiley. And I think any reasonable viewer would agree.

On to your second point . . .

"And there are several introductory videos from various people. The mix is meant to make the site look non-denominational. But the site is a kiruv site run by haredim and has been from day one."

The site makes clear that its users are intended to be non-denominational and its teachers Orthodox. Or as R’ Shore puts it (as you quote him in your post) “We simply want to try to introduce young Jews who haven't had the opportunity to learn about Judaism”. Therefore it makes perfect sense that the videos would consistently show Chareidi and Mordern Orthodox teachers and Modern/conservadox participants.

What do you expect a Kiruv site to be? Do you want them to show a crew of men in Polish garb sitting around eating herring with a bearded Russian peasant playing Klezmer music on a fiddle in the background as Grandpa Moses introduces Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments?

Come on! The well-designed site shows intelligent, popular, well-educated Chareidi teachers (Dr. Schroeder, Rabbi Glaser, etc . . . ) who know how to connect to the educated young Jew of 2009. What else were you expecting, seriously?

Seriously, Shmarya, I don’t know you or what your agenda may be. But you would be more effective if you did not make disingenuous claims in your post and claim: “there are no kippot or other any visible signs of Orthodoxy” when your own screencap of the front page shows that there are. (unless the two Chareidi Rabbis that they show on the front page are also wearing doilies). Other than a Attorney General-style warning printed on the bottom (Warning: The Attorney General warns that studying Torah may cause a life of meaning, fulfillment, happiness and success) what more would you want?

Kol HaKovod and good luck on your humanistic, Neoplatonic transformation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Views_of_Lyndon_LaRouche#cite_ref-82) But its unwise to make claims about things that people can disprove by simply looking at your screencaps for themselves.

Midvar sheker tirchak.

(A doily? Really? That’s the best you can do?)

Come on! The well-designed site shows intelligent, popular, well-educated Chareidi teachers (Dr. Schroeder, Rabbi Glaser, etc . . . ) who know how to connect to the educated young Jew of 2009. What else were you expecting, seriously?

You KNOW who they are so you RECOGNIZE them for that when you see the 1 minute film.

But a kid who does NOT know them will NOT recognize most of them as being haredi or even Orthodox. Most are on screen for less than 5 seconds and none talks.

What you hear is a female voice over and driving rock music.

Hardly full disclosure.

And the other two films have NO indication of anything Orthodox.

"You KNOW who they are so you RECOGNIZE them for that when you see the 1 minute film."

True. I do recognize them when I see them. To a "laymen" they will just see the following:

1. Chareidi looking guy with a white shirt, glasses, Kippah and beard
2. "Match Maker / Lori Palatnik" dressed with a tzniyus shirt under her dress/blouse and a wig
3. Chareidi gentleman with a blue shirt and black Kippah
4. Chareidi gentleman with a blue shirt, black Kippah and beard
5. Chassidic fellow with a vest, long sideburns and black Kippah
6. Litvish fellow with a dark suit, white shirt and black Kippah
7. Chareidi gentlemen with white shirt, big beard and black Kippah
8. Black fellow with a white shirt and black Kippah
9. Gentleman with blue poloshirt (no Kippah visible)

That's what they will see. You and I may understand the breadth of the diversity shown here (Litvish, chassidish, modern Orthodox, fun-loving, serious, academic, etc . . . ) but to the lay watcher it just shows a group of Orthodox Rabbis.

The video contains no typical Reform and Conservative iconography. Graphically, though, this is clearly not typical. Almost all men. Almost all bearded. All wearing large Kippahs. (Seriously, Shmarya, do you know what Reform and Conservative Rabbis even look like? Hint: they don’t have beards, don’t wear suits and white shirts, and don’t sport large black Kippot.)

“But a kid who does NOT know them will NOT recognize most of them as being haredi or even Orthodox. Most are on screen for less than 5 seconds and none talks.”

What should Chareidi or Modern Orthodox Jews/Rabbis look like? Are they supposed to have horns growing out of their head? Do they smell a certain way? Should they carry an Attorney General's warning on their forehead to tell people they are Orthodox? Doilies?

The video shows a wide variety of Orthodox Rabbis from different backgrounds, perspectives and ideologies. Yes, the video may be shocking to young Jews marinated in Reform or Conservative synagogues who see that there are Rabbis who care about something other than the re-election of the local Democratic Congressman, support for Socialist Israeli political parties, and the latest trends in academic Biblical criticism. It may even get that “kid” interested in exploring what Judaism is really about (i.e. something other than the latest talking point from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism about Health Insurance Reform).

Shmarya: love it or hate it, this video is what the Orthodox/Chareidi Rabbinate looks like in 2009. If a “kid” finds that attractive, great. If not, that’s also fine. But they are not looking at this and saying, yeah, this group of Yeshiva Bochurim look just like the folks in Temple.

“What you hear is a female voice over”

Is the concern Kol Isha? She’s not singing. Is she trying to seduce you? Does she turn you on, Shmarya?

“driving rock music.”

Ah, so we’re back to your Klezmer fetish again. I actually saw Harvey Fierstein as Tevye (wasn’t very good). But I didn’t notice too many Jewish teenagers/20-somethings in the audience. These kids today; with their Rock and Roll, and hip hop and such, fehhh

[Lyndon LaRouche says that the Beatles were a product shaped according to British Psychological Warfare Division Specifications http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Views_of_Lyndon_LaRouche#cite_ref-72 . Wonder what LaRouche and you think of Matisyahu and those other whippersnappers?]

“And the other two films have NO indication of anything Orthodox.”

The video about Judaism does, you admit. Good. We’re getting somewhere.

The video about happiness has a Modern Orthodox Israeli Jew look straight into the camera and talk for a minute about what his research and the research of other Modern Orthodox Israeli Jews says about happiness. Spoiler alert . . . its in the Torah.

Dr. Shahar does not have horns and does not carry an Attorney General’s warning label. Tricky, those frummies. I guess Harvard is in on the nefarious plot.

The video about Israel lists the classes they offer:
History of the Land
The Jewish State 1948-Today
Peace Process
Territory and Security
Israel and the West
Global Contributions
Israel in the Media
Israel Advocacy

And shows the teachers:
Caroline Glick
Daniel Pipes
Dore Gold
Bernard Lewis
Jessica Montell

(three of the above are Modern/Conservadox)

While nothing explicitly Orthodox about this (Rabbi Beryl Wein this is not) sounds like they present a mainstream pro-Israel, ambivalent about the government, modern Orthodox line. [In some cases. Caroline Glick of course is not ambivalent. She is openly and extremely critical of the Israeli government. As is Daniel Pipes. But in general, it sounds like a presentation that would go over well at the local Young Israel. Temple Beth Shalom? Not so much.]

So go for it, Shmarya. Aside from the lack of an Attorney General’s label, what’s tricky here?

The three Kippot on the front page is not enough.
The Judaism 101 clip with nine Orthodox Rabbis is not enough.
The happiness video with a Modern Orthodox Israeli teacher is inadequate.
The video pushing a very right wing line on Israel is obscure.
The video clip about Rabbi Yom Tov Glaser is insufficient.
The video about a bad Yeshiva experience is lacking.
The clip of Modern/Conservadox young men and women enthusing about the site is a problem.

Guess the kids these days are more gullible than I thought.

I watched all the videos. Most have no visible Orthodox content at all.

The Judaism 101 content is exactly as I described. There is no way a non-Orthodox kid could tell that all of those rabbis are haredi, or that even most of them are.

You don't get that? You don't understand that the goal – UNSTATED of JUI is to make kids haredi? You think NO disclosure is okay?

Fine.

When Jews for Jesus does this type of thing, people like you cry foul.

When your haredi colleagues do it, you attack anyone who criticizes it and try to kasher the deception.

That is dishonest, to say the least.

The three Kippot on the front page is not enough.

There are not three. All the graphics are of non-Orthodox people.

The one partial "yarmulke" is a) not clearly that and, b) a knitted kippa – something haredim don't wear.

The Judaism 101 clip with nine Orthodox Rabbis is not enough.

As I noted above, it unclear these are Oall Orthodox rabbis – unless you know who they are before you watch it.

The happiness video with a Modern Orthodox Israeli teacher is inadequate.

No identification as such and no visible kippa.

The video pushing a very right wing line on Israel is obscure.

Being right wing is not exclusive to Orthodoxy.

The video clip about Rabbi Yom Tov Glaser is insufficient.

He is not identified as haredi and could easily pass for a Jewish Renewal rabbi.

The video about a bad Yeshiva experience is lacking.

The video identifying the site as a haredi project designed to convert non-haredim to Orthodoxy is missing.

The clip of Modern/Conservadox young men and women enthusing about the site is a problem.

Again, you assign labels where none are clear from the film. All we can say for sure is none of those people looks haredi and none of the men appears to be Orthodox.

Guess the kids these days are more gullible than I thought.

They're not. They're just as gullible as kids were 20 years ago.

And that's just gullible enough to trick a few of them into becoming haredi.

Um the lack of female collar bone wasn't a dead give away?

Um the lack of female collar bone wasn't a dead give away?

Not for a kid with no exposure to Orthodoxy looking at a 1 minute video with rapidly changing images.

But don't let rational thought get in the way of your apologetics…

I'm simply referring to the images on the main page.

The thumbnail to the video with the three girls only has one with some minimal collar bone showing.

The positive psychology image has a little girl in a mock turtle neck and a woman in a real turtle neck.

The only image that shows a woman in "improper" clothing is one of the flashing ones where she is wearing jeans, but that is hardly visible.

All women are wearing longs sleeves.

Unless it's a Sears winter catalog, I find that odd. Perhaps I'm just wary of high necklines and long sleeves. Maybe I'm just paranoid?

I'm no apologist. I'm just some smart alec kid that knows nothing about anything but still knows enough to question everything and everyone. If I had no heart, I'd say that whoever follows someone or something blindly gets what they deserve. Then again these are kids that don't know any better and have no way to think for themselves.

Nice to see there are some good Jews. I would suggest to you Zionists out there that to point fingers at Hamas is BULL. Whose land and lives were stolen? The Palestinians. They have a right to fight for that which is theirs. The Jews are the thieves and murderers.

The argument for Israel is a weak one based on immorality and duplicity. There is no moral standing for Israel's existence WHATSOEVER. Move to Bierobijan.

David: rather than exposing your complete ignorance with your anti-semitic lies taken from your linked website filled with nazi-like propoganda and paranoid conspiracy theories, why not look for the truth. it exists. heres a christian website you can start with.

http://www.raptureme.com/rr-israel.html

david-

what is the moral standing for you to live in america? wasn't the land stolen from native americans?
the jews right to israel is on far firmer moral ground. but don't let the facts get in your way.

David, is your last name "Duke," perchance?

Shmarya,

you become ever more bitter & hateful with time.

you have on occasion addressed legitimate scandals with chabad and other groups in the past but this is just stupid, mean and quite twisted.

if someone wants to spin off his project and to reach a greater audience - you vilify him?

get a life.

there is some purpose to pointing out legitimate problems in the frum world - but you are really off making jeru online seem deceitful.

i know you are "beyond" any criticism and "perfect".

You have turned my off to your blog once and for all.

perhaps you will do just a little tschuvah and remove some of your pain and hate.

Apparently deceptive manipulative outreach is fine according you.

I think most people would agree that type of outreach is morally and ethically wrong.

I don't understand. They advertise that they'll give you money if you take their class. you don't have to pay money you just have to take the class and score high on a test on the class because they don't want to give you moeny for just running the videos on your computer. Just don't be an idiot and get indoctrinated. If an online class can convince you to yommie bop all day then you are probably very impressionable and we are very fortunate that the Jews got to you before bin laden.

I'm a secular/reform Jew who stumbled on this looking for information about Jerusalem Online University. Thanks for the background info-- but I think you're underestimating secular Jews if you think something like this could "lure" a secular Jew into Orthodox life. It's an interesting entre into Orthodoxy, but a couple of video lectures and tests aren't exactly enough to convince most committedly secular Jews to switch to the Haredi way. Not to mention, two minutes into the first video I could tell it was an Orthodox production, since I've got EYES.

And where do you guys get the idea that Reformed rabbis don't wear kippot? The rabbis and 90% of the men in my Reformed shul wear kippot (not always black, sometimes knit, maybe not all of the time but at least during prayer.) One rabbi has a beard, another not, both don tallit and tefflin for morning prayers. Aish regularly features beardless men and women with uncovered hair. But it is pretty clearly Orthodox. Which is fine- who else would you want to take courses on halacha from even if you are reasonably secular?

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