Rabbi Gold's main point is the circumstances have changed since Rabbi J.B. Soleveitchik (Rabbi Lichtenstein's father-in-law and teacher, often-quoted in Rabbi Lichtenstein's letter) ruled land could be ceded for reasons of pekuakh nefesh (to save lives). But what Rabbi Gold fails to make clear is Rabbi Kahane Shapira is opposed to ceding land even for reasons of pekuakh nefesh. Further, Rabbi Kahane Shapira's ruling contains internal contradictions as noted by Rabbi Lichtenstein. Rabbi Gold disengenuously does not address these issues, and therefore his 'answer' is no answer at all.
It should be noted that Rabbi Kahane Shapira has himself refused to answer these questions as well, perhaps because in truth there is no answer that is acceptible halakhicly (in Jewish Law). Rabbi Kahane Shapira and his followers have illegally elevated shleimut ha'aretz (unity of the land) to the position of a cardinal mitzva (Divine commandment), a mitzva that overrules all others including pekuakh nefesh. This is akin to idolotry. Worse yet, it is strikingly like the theology of the zealots of the Second Temple whose zealotry lead to the Temple's destruction and almost 2000 years of exile.
Rabbi kahane Shapira owes all of us a clear response to Rabbi Lichtenstein's letter, one that addresses all points and answers all questions. Until he does so, Rabbi Kahane Shapira should not be viewed as anything other than a zealot whose zealotry has led him astray.
Christopher Hitchens has written a provacative rant in Slate magazine against metzitza b'peh:
…Where to start with this? I could wish that Bloomberg were always so careful about keeping out of other peoples' business: He has made it legally impossible to have a cigarette and a cocktail at the same time, anywhere in the city. But I'll trade him his stupid prohibitionist ban if he states clearly that it is the government's business to protect children from religious fanatics. Female genital mutilation, for example, is quite rightly banned under federal law, and no religious exemption is, or ever should be, permitted. The Mormons were obliged to give up polygamy and forcible marriage before they, or the state of Utah, could be part of the United States. A Christian Scientist who denies urgent medical treatment to his or her children may well be hauled up for reckless endangerment, as may those whose churches teach redemption through violent corporal punishment. The First Amendment does indeed forbid any infringement of religious freedom, but it is not, as was once said, part of a suicide pact, let alone a child-abuse one.
Let's by all means hear from Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organization in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who emerged from his meeting with Bloomberg to inform us that: "The Orthodox Jewish community will continue the practice that has been practiced for over 5,000 years. We do not change. And we will not change." You can preach it, rabbi, but you have no more right to practice it than a Muslim imam who preaches the duty of holy war has the right to put his teachings into effect. And Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, the 57-year-old man who ministered to the three boys in question, is currently under a court order that forbids him from doing it again—pending an investigation by the health department. What "investigation?" If another man of that age were found to be slicing the foreskins of little boys and then sucking their penises and their blood, he would be in jail—one hopes—so fast that his feet wouldn't touch the ground. If he then told the court that God ordered him to do it, he would be offering precisely the defense that thousands of psychos have already made so familiar. Preach it rabbi. Preach it to the judge.…
Jewish babies exposed to herpes in New York, thousands of American children injured for life after the rape and torture they suffered at the hands of a compliant Catholic priesthood, prelates and mullahs outbidding each other in denial of AIDS … it's not just your mental health that is challenged by faith. Anyone who says that this evil deserves legal protection is exactly as guilty as the filthy old men who delight in inflicting it. What a pity that there is no hell.
Understand it well, people. This is how we look to the non-Jewish and non-Orthodox world. MBP is only done because the Talmud believed it promoted healing. We now know this is not true, and that MBP exposes infants to risk of disease and death. To continue doing it because "we will not change" is criminal.
Not much to argue with in this article from Arutz 7. Rabbi Kahane's murder was the first act of jihad on American soil.
A prescient Pini Dunner six months ago wrote in the Jerusalem Post:
…Over recent months a new group has emerged that seems to uncannily echo the stance adopted by Natorei Karta. Its adherents use religiously charged language to besmirch the democratically elected government of Israel. They seem to have no respect for the rule of law and their verbal assaults on those who oppose them are increasing in tempo and aggression.
The group I am referring to consists of those among the religious settlers and their supporters who will continue to oppose the Gaza disengagement whether or not there is a referendum.
This group – a minority, it must be said – has decided unequivocally that the Greater Israel ideal is of such enormous significance that no kind of pragmatic compromise with reality can possibly be reached.
And make no mistake: This group is not about to roll over and give up its cause for the sake of Jewish unity. Should the disengagement take place, as it seems certain it will, adherents of this group will become sworn enemies of the State of Israel, equal in scale and virulence to the Natorei Karta.
But while Natorei Karta has no history of violence, the uncompromising proponents of non-disengagement have already proven themselves violent and, worryingly, most of them have military training. The idea that rational, democratic, sensible measures – such as a national referendum – would in any way defuse the fire of their extremism is both na ve and dangerous.…
It is time for the leaders of religious Zionism, rabbis and political leaders alike, to take a deep breath and announce to their followers that although they can continue their conscientious objection to the Israeli government's sell-out of their theological worldview for the sake of pragmatism, this must coincide with the acceptance that they will have to put their utopian dreams on ice. It is what Menachem Begin did after the Altalena. It was what Agudat Yisrael haredim did after the 1947 UN decision. And it must happen again now. Otherwise we will have to contend with a settler Zionist Natorei Karta group whose existence will be a threat to us all.
On reflection, I am not sure that the Natorei Karta analogy is entirely correct. Perhaps a better analogy would be with the Second Temple zealots who defended Jerusalem against the Romans, killing anyone who hinted at compromise or surrender.
Ironically, our survival as Jews was contingent on the subterfuge of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai, who smuggled himself out of Jerusalem in a coffin and struck a deal with the Roman leader so that the inevitable destruction of Jerusalem would not lead to the disappearance of Judaism.
The miracle of Jewish survival has always been the result of pragmatism and practicality, not extremism. It is a lesson that the fanatical Greater Israel land-cultists would be wise to learn.
I would only add that the blame for this lies squarely with Rabbis Avraham Kahane Shapira, Mordechai Eliyahu, Yitzchak Ginsburgh, and the late Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast will be in in the news for the next several weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The best two books to get a flavor of what New Orleans' unique lifestyle is like are both novels. One is Patty Ann Friedmann's Second Hand Smoke; the other, John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Confederacy of Dunces. Both are brilliant, qirky romps through the Big Easy (and both are 'rated' a hard PG for a small number of sexual references). By the way, Friedmann's brother is a rabbi and a Jewish family plays a minor role in Toole's book.
Chabad boxer Dmitry "Star of David" Salita has won the North American Boxing Association junior welterweight title. While this isn't the WBA or the WBC, it's still impressive. Salita is the first Jewish champion in any division or association in 27 years. His manager is a Chabadnik who carries a Tanya during each fight. Salita himself is shomer Shabbat and won't fight on Friday nights or Saturdays. Salita is ranked (PDF download) at number 11 by the WBA and is unranked by the WBC and the IBA.
Today's New York Times reports on the controversy over oral suction (metzitza b'peh) done during some ritual circumcisions. The money quote:
… Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a microbiologist and professor of Talmud and medical ethics at Yeshiva University, said that metzitzah b'peh violates Jewish law.
"The rule that's above all rules in the Torah is that you cannot expose or accept a risk to health unless there is true justification for it," said Dr. Tendler, co-author of a 2004 article in the journal Pediatrics that said direct contact posed a serious risk of infection.
"Now there have been several cases of herpes in the metro area," he said. "Whether it can be directly associated with this mohel nobody knows. All we're talking about now is presumptive evidence, and on that alone it would be improper according to Jewish law to do oral suction."…
A bit brash, but Rabbi Tendler is correct – halakhicly, metzitza b'peh should not be done until thorough peer-reviewed studies prove it safe for all infants.
Jewish-owned building in Gaza. Sign on roof: "Sharon is a Kopo" [sic].
The Jerusalem Post reports:
In a controversial move, a Chabad rabbi who vehemently opposed Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip is planning to establish a memorial center commemorating the destruction of the Gaza settlements, where photographs of soldiers and police who took part in the 'holocaust' of evacuations will be displayed alongside documentation of the former settlements.
The memorial, which is slated to be established in Jerusalem in the coming months, will be a "Yad Vashem for Gush Katif," said Rabbi Shalom Wolpe, one of the project's initiators.
The plan drew immediate criticism from both Yad Vashem, who called the purported linkage to the Holocaust and to its name nothing short of "revolting," as well as from Holocaust survivors, who have often been offended and hurt by such extreme comparisons.
"The repeated use of the Holocaust as part of a political struggle is revolting and unacceptable. Such usage necessarily results in baseless comparisons which cheapen the memory of the Holocaust, are rooted in Holocaust denial, and cause damage to Holocaust survivors and to the basic values of our existence as a nation," Yad Vashem spokeswoman Iris Rosenberg said in a statement.
The proposed memorial, which will be privately funded, comes amid a wrenching national debate in Israel over the use of Holocaust symbols by some fringe opponents of the Gaza withdrawal.
Extremist opponents of the Gaza pullout shouted "Nazis" at soldiers, with some even wearing yellow - or orange - stars of David on their clothes.
Wolpe, a Kiryat Gat rabbi who is chairman of Chabad?s Center for Protecting the People and the Land, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he was not trying to link the memorial to the Holocaust - "It is horrible enough as it is without connection to the Holocaust" - noting he would not name the center Yad Vashem for Gush Katif, even though he openly defined the plan as such.
At the same time, he said that it was imperative for the nation of Israel "to remember and not to forget" the 21 Jewish settlements, choosing the same Hebrew words commonly used to emphasize Holocaust remembrance.
"It is the first time in history that Jews expelled other Jews from their homes and demolished synagogues," he said.
The international Chabad movement has been adamantly opposed to the disengagement plan since it was first proposed nearly two years ago.
"It is very sad that people exploit the name of the Holocaust for political ends," he concluded.
Yelena Bosinova, 54, a right-wing activists from the West Bank settlement of Kedumim died Friday of her wounds a week after she set herself on fire in protest against the disengagement.
Police said Bosinova held a solitary protest in the Negev town of Netivot. She was holding a sign condemning the evacuation of Gush Katif, and also spoke with policemen who were at the scene. At a certain point the policemen noticed she was going up in flames.
Security forces personnel who were at the scene rushed to Bosinova and extinguished the fire. She was then taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva. On her way to hospital Bosinova told a paramedic who was attending to her that she set herself on fire in protest over the plan to evacuation of Gush Katif.
Bosinova was hospitalized in serious condition at the trauma room in hospital suffering from severe burns on 60 percent of her body. A resident of Kedumim for the last five years Bosinova "was very active, took part in all our struggles, very idealist," said Kedumim municipality head Daniella Weiss.
Ha'aretz is reporting that Israel's Moslem community is setting up its own guard units after two right wing Jews threw a pig's head into a mosque in Jaffa. The pig's head was inscribed with the words "The Prophet Mohammed."
The Forward's Steven I. Weiss reports:
The controversy over a disputed circumcision ritual could affect the mayor's race in New York City, as some members of the Hasidic community are promising to protest any restrictions placed on the mohel in question.
Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer has been the subject of an investigation by the city's health department since three infants tested positive for herpes simplex, one of whom later died. At issue is whether Fischer transmitted the virus to the infants via direct oral suction of the circumcision wound — a method known as metzitzah b'peh, a traditional ritual still prevalent in many Orthodox communities.
Since the investigation was first revealed in February, the department has obtained a court-issued temporary restraining order "consented to by the mohel" that "prevents him from performing the metzitzah b'peh," according to a lawyer heading the city's legal action on the case. The attorney added that "the proceeding brought by the city to compel the mohel to provide a blood sample has been adjourned several times."
The health department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have stated repeatedly at meetings with ultra-Orthodox leaders that a general ban on the practice is not in the cards. One such meeting, with 22 Hasidic rabbis, took place August 11 at City Hall.
Rabbi Hillel Weinberg of the Central Rabbinical Congress, a Satmar organization, attended the meeting and told the Forward that Bloomberg "says that he's not considering" a ban on the practice. However, Weinberg added, the Satmar community would consider any restriction placed on Fischer to be a ban and would cause a reaction that could hurt Bloomberg at the polls in the upcoming election.…
The issue of regulating some or all ritual circumcisers as a means of preventing herpes is a complicated issue, since an estimated 90% of the American population carries the antibodies for the virus and it is hard — perhaps impossible — to predict which individuals are more likely than others to spread it. Some groups, including the Modern Orthodox-dominated Rabbinical Council of America, have recommended using a sterile tube and gloves to avoid direct oral contact — but that option has been rejected by Hasidic sects and by [many] other ultra-Orthodox communities as religiously unacceptable.
See this article for a rundown of the four major halakhic positions on metzitza b'peh.
The Canadian Jewish News reports:
An Orthodox rabbi who is well-known for his right-wing views on Israel severely criticized the organizers of a highly publicized outdoor rally last week against the disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank for being hypocritical and misleading.
Rabbi Reuben Poupko told The CJN that members of the Lubavitch community, who he noted were the event’s primary organizers, should not publicly denounce the government of Israel, because, he said, the group is “anti-Zionist.”
He also called print and radio advertising for the event “deceptive,” because it did not identify the rally’s sponsors, and because it stressed “unity and prayer” and gave no indication the main thrust would be to protest the disengagement.
“What kind of hubris can a group of people in the Diaspora, who view the creation of the State of Israel as a crime against God and His Torah, have [to be able] to take it upon themselves to attempt to dictate the security policy of the State of Israel or to a man like [Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon?” Rabbi Poupko asked.
The anti-disengagement rally, held in Cote St. Luc’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park on the day the pullout began, drew about 400 people from different segments of the Jewish community. Several speakers, mainly Lubavitch rabbis or adherents, affirmed that Gaza and “Samaria” are integral to Eretz Yisrael and warned of the dire consequences of ceding any part of biblical Israel to the “enemies” of the modern state.
One of the protest organizers, Rabbi Asher Jacobson of Congregation Chevra Kadisha, told The CJN that Rabbi Poupko’s comments were unfair.
“This event is intended to gather as many Jews as possible to lend their voice of support to the Jews of Gaza who are being demonized and smeared in many quarters. This is a way of saying our hearts are in the East… It’s a shame it is being turned into a Lubavitch or chassidic issue. Forty to 45 per cent of Israelis disagree with disengagement.”
Rabbi Jacobson did not deny that Lubavitch is not Zionist, but he noted there are more than 1,000 Chabad institutions in Israel, and that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson met with all Jewish leaders, including Sharon, and encouraged Jews to go to Israel when it was being shelled by Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. [The Rebbe never visited Israel himself.]
While the anti-pullout rally was going on, Rabbi Poupko – along with fellow modern Orthodox rabbis Chaim Steinmetz of Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem and Mordecai Zeitz of Congregation Beth Tikvah – held a concurrent gathering at his nearby shul, Congregation Beth Israel-Beth Aaron.
The brief, hastily called event drew less than 100 people – both for and against the disengagement, Rabbi Poupko said – for prayer and what he called “dignified” reflection on the course the Israeli government is taking.
Meanwhile, on the sidewalk beside Trudeau Park, approximately 20 chassidic men from the anti-Zionist sects Tash in Boisbriand, Que., and Neturei Karta, based in Monsey, N.Y,. stood with placards denouncing the State of Israel as contrary to Judaism.
A heavy police presence kept the anti-Zionist protesters away from the anti-withdrawal rally, and officers quickly removed one man who tried to tear a sign away from one of the Chassidim.
At the rally, Rabbi Jacobson said: “The message is that Montreal Jewry is opposed to any future unilateral concession that would weaken the security of the Jews of Israel or around the world.”
The disengagement, he said, gives the impression that Israel is a country that “runs from terrorism and is amputating itself to the forces that wish to destroy it. While Americans are losing people every day in the fight against terrorism, Israel is surrendering.”
He called the pullout a violation of human rights and of Jewish law, which he said forbids endangering any Jew by giving back land that was given to them by God for eternity.
“I have heard many arguments that we should not be here, that it is too late. But it is not any more late than going to a shivah,” said the event’s MC Murray Dalfen, who said terrorism should not be “rewarded” and no further territorial concession should be made.
“They say we have no right because we do not live in Israel… But we are asked at other times to raise money for Israel and to speak publicly on her behalf, to show an interest in our homeland. Tonight, we are expressing our deep concern for what is happening in our homeland,” Dalfen said.
“A Palestinian state in Gaza will be a terrorist entity, with the sole purpose of capturing Eretz Israel, and [it will be] an anti-American dictatorship.”
Pesach Nussbaum, the Montreal representative of the Los Angeles-based Save Gush Katif organization, who was introduced as the event’s principal organizer, described the disengagement as “a terrible misadventure.”
His organization wants to stop “parts of Israel from being served to its savage enemies on a silver platter,” which he said endangers Jews everywhere.
Rabbi David Sabbah, who is regarded as the spiritual leader of much of the Sephardi community, circulated a signed flyer stating that “it is forbidden, under any circumstances, to hand over parts of Israel to the Arabs.”
It cited a passage from the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) that permits Jews to desecrate Shabbat and use weapons against “heathens” invading a border area.
“The ruling in Shulchan Aruch pertaining to a city close to the border is clear: ‘Even if the attackers only come to rob straw and stubble (i.e. they claim they want peace, not territory), one is obligated to take up arms and go out against them,’” it read. “The current situation in our Holy Land is far more severe than that depicted in the Shulchan Aruch… Hence, this is certainly a matter of pikuach nefesh [saving a life], without any shadow of a doubt.” [This halakha does not in any way prevent a government from ceding land if it determines that is the best course to take. To present it as if it does is sheer deception – or absolute stupidity.]
Milton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said via phone hook-up that what Israel is making is a “tragic and historical mistake” under pressure from the United States and Europe. A message of appreciation from Knesset member Uzi Landau, a staunch opponent of the pullout who has announced he will challenge Sharon for the Likud leadership, was also read.
The event in the park was peaceful, a mixture of the solemn and almost festive, with a barbecue and infants in strollers. A few people in the crowd wore orange, the colour of the pullout resisters.
Several people interviewed said they had come out of sympathy for the settlers, not as a protest. “I support the Israeli government and believe in respect for the rule of law,” said Aaron Remer. “But we still have an obligation to publicly express our feelings for those Jews whose lives are being uprooted.”
There were no Israeli flags, nor was Hatikvah sung. The evening concluded with the singing of Sheybaneh Beit Hamikdash, which expresses the hope of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem.
The most forceful speaker and the one who received the most applause was Rabbi Avrohom Jacks of Congregation Zichron Kedoshim, who painted a disturbing picture of the crackdown on resisters and the physical removal of residents. “This is the first time in history that synagogues have been destroyed by Jewish soldiers.” [Not really. It happened during the 1st war against Rome.]
He alleged that the Israeli government has spent $3 billion on the disengagement, money that has been taken away from social spending, resulting in “thousands of abused children being returned to their homes.”
[Note that Chabad Rabbi Jacks cites no proof for this assertion.]
An indictment was submitted Wednesday against Rabbi Yaakov Savir, from Elon Moreh in the West Bank, on suspicion that he led the group of protesters on the roof of the Kfar Darom synagogue last week, during the evacuation of the settlement.
Savir is accused of rioting, attacking police officer and violating the disengagement law.
He is also accused of violating the terms of his release. He was arrested last month at an anti-disengagement rally and was released on the condition that he wouldn't take part in or organize illegal activities.…
The charge sheet describes the behavior of the synagogue rooftop protesters. According to the indictment, "The protesters attacked the security forces by throwing various objects at them, including lamps, fruit, vegetables, cans of paint, oil, motor oil, sand, gasoline, bleach and caustic soda. They beat security force personnel with metal rods, chains and boards and tried to make them fall by pushing the ladders they were climbing. Some 65 security force personnel needed medical treatment as a result of the protesters activities."
Attached to the charge sheet is a list of 118 police officers and soldiers who can testify, including all of the police officers who were hurt during the evacuation.…
Settlers disgrace themselves again. The Jerusalem Post reports:
In a new initiative by the far-right, a group calling itself "The International Headquarters for Saving the People and Land of Israel" have decided to found an institution dedicated to the memory of communities evacuated during the disengagement.
According to the group's plan, the memorial center will be built in Jerusalem in the coming months.
The center will exhibit videos and photographs of the former settlements, miniaturized models of the settlements, and photographs of the evacuating security forces. Evacuees will be guiding tours of the center.
Rabbi Shalom Wolfa, one of the center's initiators, justified the necessity for the institution by asserting, "There are families that have actually experienced a Holocaust [as a result of disengagement], and God forbid that the people of Israel should experience another Holocaust."
Yosef Lapid, head of Shinui, attacked Wolfa's statements, "It is sad that people are manipulating the name of the Holocaust to forward their political agenda. They say that the IDF is the SS, and that the evacuees sent to hotels are actually in gas chambers."
In response to the initiative, a Yad Vashem spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post, "The repeated use of Holocaust imagery in political conflicts is infuriating and completely unjustified. Such use induces baseless comparisons that disrespect the memory of the Holocaust, and constitutes Holocaust denial that harms both survivors and our common values."
Anti-pullout activists speckled Holocaust imagery at various points throughout the Gaza and northern Samaria evacuations. Some called Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or members of the security forces 'Nazis', or reminded the public that the Holocaust was the last time Jews were forcibly expelled from their homes.
A number of activists, and many of their children, wore yellow or orange Stars of David bearing the letter "J" on their shirts. In Atzmona, children wearing yellow stars marched to buses with their hands in the air, drawing comparisons to the infamous Holocaust photograph of a Polish child with his hands in the air.
Itim and Ha'aretz report:
Jerusalem Magistrate's Court remanded two Jewish men on Tuesday suspected of carrying out racially-motivated attacks against Arabs in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood last Wednesday.
Yonathan Yosef, 26, the grandson of Shas party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and his friend, Moshe Haim Sharaz, 20, are accused of throwing stones and puncturing the tires of Arab-owned cars.
The two are also suspected of disrupting the peace by setting up road blocks and setting tires ablaze.
"After reading the indictments I have concluded that there is just cause to keep the suspects in custody until legal proceedings end," Magistrate's Court Judge Moshe Baram said.
I wonder if this is the son of Rabbi
David Ya'akov Yosef, who is a follower of Chabad?
UPDATE: A reader confirms that Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef, who became a follower of Chabad and is estranged from his father, is reported to be close to Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and is the father of Yonathan Yosef. Yonathan Yosef was educated in Chabad and in Rabbi Meir Kahane's yeshiva in Tapuach.
(Note Chabad component to the story.)
At the end of a day of clashes at Sa-Nur yesterday between youths and security forces, there were no arrests. At the outset, when there was concern that there would be, MK Arieh Eldad (National Union) attempted to convince one of the boys to return to the settlement, saying: "Don't do anything foolish." The attempt failed. Eldad says they often call him a "collaborator." At Sa-Nur, there's one insult that might be worse: "You are from the Yesha Council."
The Israel Defense Forces yesterday beefed up its presence on the roads to Sa-Nur, with roadblocks and armored personnel carriers stationed in the area. Some 40 youngsters from the settlement came down to the main road that runs below the settlement and punctured the tires of three army Jeeps. An approaching truck tried to maneuver out of the way, but it was too late - its tires were pierced and its headlights were smashed. A few minutes later, a Border Police team showed up. White paint was thrown in the face of one of them.
The youths of Sa-Nur, the eldest of whom is 17, are sick of hearing about Gush Katif. What they are doing is merely an "appetizer" for the forces coming to evacuate Sa-Nur.
While residents there have been stressing in recent days that the violent reputation they have acquired is not true, the boys were not listening. Some of them sat on the road yesterday, sticking nails in the asphalt and pouring gasoline over them.
In the large fields surrounding the settlement, tractors had begun leveling ground in preparation for the evacuation. The boys started wandering in the fields, passing two of their friends who have decided to walk around Sa-Nur reciting two Psalms over and over again. Military vehicles tried unsuccessfully to head the boys off, like cowboys trying to corral a stubborn herd.
"So far, we haven't lost control," Eldad insisted. "Slowly but surely, we'll bring the whole flock in. Our intention is to control them through the rabbis and public figures like [right-wing ex-MK] Elyakim Haetzni and myself. It isn't simple. I'm trying to contain the event."
"Our greatest fear is that the quiet ones might do something foolish at the moment of truth," Eldad added.
Eldad and Sa-Nur spokesman Yossi Dagan called over one of their colleagues to pick up a trouble-making Chabad Hasid wearing phylacteries, who had been throwing stones at media vehicles, and to drive him to the settlement of Kedumim.
The leaders of the struggle say they want to keep it "pure." They still speak of thousands of marchers pouring in under cover of night, in the belief that "the crime will stop here," and declare that the goal is to foment a struggle that will be remembered for generations - but stress that there will be no violence used against the soldiers.
Young female settlers set an Israel Defense Forces troop transport on fire Monday night and punctured its tires near the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, located south of Sa-Nur and Homesh, slated for evacuation on Tuesday. There were no casualties in the incident.
Earlier Monday night, dozens of pullout opponents were arrested after blocking a road north of the nearby settlement of Kedumim. Police also arrested Kedumim Mayor Danielle Weiss near Bar-On, in the same area, on Monday night.
The main focus of anti-disengagement resistance is expected to be in Sa-Nur, where many Kach activists and hilltop youth are believed to have set up camp. Some of these pullout foes are, it is assumed, carrying firearms. Security forces, however, say that there is only a slight chance that any shots will be fired.…
Defense officials have intelligence suggesting that extreme right-wing activists are planning to hole themselves up in various locations in the two settlements. Some of the activists have apparently stockpiled Molotov cocktails and perhaps even hand grenades. Senior officers believe that opposition will be much fiercer than the scenes at Kfar Darom last week. One of the places that extremists could try to entrench themselves is in the fortress at Sa-Nur. The IDF has already decided that if this happens, the police's special missions unit will be charged with overcoming and evacuating those barricaded inside.…
The head of the police division that includes the two settlements, Superintendent Yisrael Yitzhak, said that police had internalized the lessons of the battle with pullout foes on the roof of Kfar Darom synagogue.
On the eve of the evacuation of the northern West Bank settlements of Sa-Nur and Homesh, settlers before dawn on Monday vandalized property in at least eight Palestinian villages in the region.…
In a separate incident, two Palestinians were lightly wounded late Monday evening when settlers threw stones at them near the Eli settlement located east of Ariel in the West Bank.
Palestinians in Fendaqumiyah, located adjacent to Homesh, said armed settlers rode through the village before dawn Sunday on all-terrain vehicles, firing their weapons in the air.
Sources said settlers also entered the villages of Kuchin and Madmah, located south of Nablus. Settlers in those villages threw stones and bottles at house windows and at cars.
Additional incidents were reported in Bazariyah, Burqa and Sabastiyah, located next to Karnei Shomron.
Overnight Sunday, settlers took over a Palestinian family home in the village of Burqa and kicked the residents out for an hour as they destroyed furniture and smashed windows.…
The Jerusalem Post reports:
Violence in northern Samaria ahead of the planned evacuation of Homesh and Sa-Nur later this week has taken a turn for the worse as eight masked far right activists assaulted an IDF truck laying barbed wire on a road leading toward the area.
They punctured its tires and then poured petrol over it and set it alight. The driver, who believed they were Arabs, leaped out and cocked his weapon at the youth. They shouted not to shoot because they were Israelis and then fled. The driver was unharmed, but the truck was completely gutted.
Earlier, three policemen were lightly wounded after Jewish youths hurled stones at a police vehicle near the Kedumim junction in the West Bank, Judea and Samaria Police District spokesman said.…
On Sunday morning, dozens of settlers scuffled with IDF soldiers outside Sa-Nur.…
Activists have promised that the opposition in northern Samaria will out-do last week's events in Gaza.
The center of opposition to the pullout in northern Samaria is expected to be in the settlement of Homesh.
MK Aryeh Eldad, who has barricaded himself inside the settlement, said: "we are not joining in the play here. There is really a struggle over the Land of Israel and if you call that struggle a play, then everything that Sharon does is a play and it is possible to struggle against it." …
The Jerusalem Post reports:
Two youths, ages 17 and 19 from Rehovot were arrested early Sunday for trying to blow up a gas canister in Rehovot Friday morning.
What could have become a disaster was narrowly averted when firefighters arrived on the scene and put out the fire, which would have caused a massive explosion, causing widespread injuries and probably deaths.
The large canister supplies cooking gas to two adjacent apartment
buildings, in which some 300 people live, Israel Radio reported.
Inciting material and weapons munitions were found during a police search of the suspect's residence.
Police officials said that the incident was being treated as an attempted terrorist attack.
The perpetrators had spray-painted anti-Sharon and anti-disengagement slogans on the premises.…
Rabbis, be careful with your words. Too many among us are taking them literally.
Vocal and graphic protests met the arrival of security forces at the Gaza settlement of Atzmona on Sunday, as "Cemetery of the Oppressors" was set up in front of a house slated for evacuation, with gravestones for Adolf Hitler, Pharoah, the Roman Emperor Titus, Yasser Arafat, and one tombstone left conspicuously blank.
Just inside the gate, dozens of teenagers wearing orange shirts and orange protest ribbons chanted, "Jews don't expel Jews."
No violent resistance is expected at the settlement. But adults and children at several homes shouted at police who came to evacuate them, screaming "Why, why, why?" …
Young Atzmona resident Yiska Harush set up the mock cemetery protest display.
She wore a yellow Star of David, evoking the Nazi Holocaust, as she stood beside the gravestones Sunday morning.
She declined to state whom she had intended in creating the blank gravestone.
Again we find encouragement of political assassination and the wholly inappropriate comparison of the Disengagement to the Holocaust. Both find their roots in rabbinic hyperbole. Rabbis who incite to murder or treason should be jailed. That includes former chief rabbis Avraham Kahane Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu. And that means now.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
Chief of Staff Dan Halutz declared Friday that the "rooftop youths" arrested for attacking security forces during the evacuation of Gush Katif settlements would not be drafted into the IDF.
"As long as I'm chief of staff, no one who dared attack a soldier or police officer will serve in the army," Halutz avowed to Israel Radio.
According to Halutz, the number of rioters was smaller than security forces had estimated it would be.
However, he continued, the "viciousness, the crudeness, and the messianic tendencies" should all cause people to start asking questions.
Bitter recriminations erupted Friday over the violence that flared on the roof of Kfar Darom's synagogue on Thursday evening. Some 70 soldiers and police were hospitalized, two in moderate condition and the rest lightly hurt, along with 14 protesters who were lightly hurt, after protesters poured a chemical substance - apparently paint thinner - on some of the evacuating forces.
The Army Spokesman's Office released video footage of troops screaming in pain, stripping off clothing and being doused down after being exposed to the chemicals.
Yomtov Samia, a former IDF general who helped mediate the evacuation of Kfar Darom, demanded that the settler leadership "do some serious rethinking" in the wake of the violence, by far the most serious incident in the evacuation process so far. He said the violent actions of the protesters had overshadowed what had otherwise been the overwhelmingly responsible behavior of the Gaza settlers, and had stained the wider image of the settlement enterprise.
Yehoshua Mor-Yosef, formerly a prominent member of the Council of Jewish Communities, the settlers' umbrella group, said those responsible were members of the so-called "Hilltop Youth," who had gathered at Kfar Darom and were beyond the control of the established settler leadership.
Israel's Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz said the offenders, dozens of whom were arrested, would be prosecuted.
First, it seems that the acid reported thrown on soldiers was really paint thinner, a highly caustic, flammable liquid that can blind.
Second, following an ideology that is a combination of Kahane, Chabad Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburg and other right wing settler rabbis, I am afraid the so-called Hilltop Youth are only a portent of things to come – rabbinic inspired terrorism directed against Jews who do not support the radical ideology of the settler movement's right wing.
We lost a Temple, a Land and millions of Jewish lives because of this type of zealotry once. Let's hope we don't lose Israel and millions more because of it now.
The OU has branched out into gluten-free certification through it's "subsidiary" Food Services, Inc.:
… The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group® (GIG), is the first program of its kind in the world. The addition of a gluten-free certification mark to a food label quickly gives the increasing number of gluten-free shoppers assurance that the product is safe to eat, meaning the product is free of gluten and possible cross-contamination from gluten.…
The GFCO was developed in cooperation with the Food Services, Inc., a subsidiary of the Orthodox Union (the "OU"), the world's largest and oldest kosher certification agency. The OU's nearly 500 field representatives, proficient in modern food production techniques and chemical and biological processes, will conduct plant inspections and product reviews for the GFCO.
"Food Services, Inc. and the Orthodox Union are pleased to be included in this key development on behalf of those who for health reasons are required to be gluten-free," declared Rabbi Menachem Genack, Chief Executive Officer of the OU. "The OU's standard of excellence in kosher certification is recognized worldwide. OU field inspectors are deeply familiar with modern food technology and with the intricacies of industrial food manufacturing equipment, which will be applied to their work with Food Services, Inc. We look forward to this opportunity to use our expertise on behalf of the gluten-free consumer." …
Funny, isn't it? The OU uses animals raised under conditions forbidden by halakha, allows cruel handling of animals at it's non-US plants, and enabled throat-ripping and other abominations at Rubashkin's Postville, Iowa slaughterhouse. While gluten-free supervision is very important (and I have personal experience with living a gluten-free diet to back that up), perhaps dealing with actual Jewish issues like cruelty to animals on factory farms that raise animals for kosher slaughter and chickens for eggs should be dealt with first. But doing so would require honest rabbinic leadership with a backbone – something in very short supply in today's Orthodoxy. So we continue to unnecessarily torture animals to produce our food, something so un-Biblical that only rabbis – like those at the OU – could endorse it.
A couple of months ago, former Sefardic chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu 'prophcied' that Disengagement from Gaza would not happen. But, as we all know, Disengagement did happen. So what does the esteemed false prophet of the settler movement do when his 'vision' fails? This:
"We should be proud of the heroic Jews of Gush Katif," Rabbi Eliyahu said. "Had the rabbis issued instructions to resist, no one would have had the power to remove them from Gush Katif. But the rabbis said not to raise a hand, and that is why they are not resisting."
If the settlers had "raised a hand" (i.e., used guns and bombs) against the army, Disengagement would have happened – and hundreds of Jews would have died in the process.
What Rabbi Eliyahu is saying can be understood as a threat – "this time we did not use our guns and bombs; next time, maybe we will." It also encourages the hardcore radicals of the settler movement to use violence because what the "rabbis" say publicly is often not what they whisper privately.
If Sunday's evacuation of four settlements in Samaria turns especially violent, understand that rabbinic whispers speak much louder than publicly uttered words.
The Jerusalem Post reports on what may very well be the next haredi ban – pork of the sea:
Called shabut in Arabic, the fish lives in the rivers of Iraq and Syria as well as Iran.
The fish was brought over from Iran, preserved in formaldehyde, by Dr. Zohar Amar of BIU's department of Eretz Yisrael studies and archeology and Dr. Ari Zivotofsky [and here, here, here, and here] of the Inter-Disciplinary Center for Brain Studies. They, along with experts from the Agriculture Ministry, are now studying the possibility of raising shabut (known scientifically as Barbus grybus).
Making the fish available here, they say, should gladden the hearts of immigrants from Iran as well as Israelis who keep kosher but would like to know what pork tastes like.
The Babylonian Talmud, which contains numerous discussions about the fish, specifically notes that some of its organs taste like pork (although how the sages were able to make the comparison is not clear).
The great commentator Rashi wrote that it was the brain of the fish that tasted like pig meat, and that it served as a kosher option for people who yearned to eat the forbidden meat.
Most modern researchers believed that the shabut, which can grow to up to two meters and 60 kilograms, was one of several species of fish surviving in the Mediterranean Basin and in Europe. But the BIU researchers, who specialize in the study of animals mentioned in Jewish holy books, maintain that their fish is the shabut. Rabbi Yosef Haim, known as the Ben-Ish Hai, and other Iraqi sages of recent generations recognized it as kosher.
According to Midrash Shimoni, a compilation of rabbinic writings, "Seven hundred pure [permitted] fish were exiled with Israel to Babylonia, and all returned except for the shabut – and in the future it will return."
An anonymous resident of Iran served as the liaison for the researchers, who spent six months finding and researching the fish. Fish farmers in the Beit She'an Valley are already investigating the possibility of breeding the species.
Look for Rav Ovadia Yosef to permit the fish and the 'leaders' of Modern Orthodoxy in America to 'defer' to the position of haredi leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who will most certainly ban the fish on the grounds that "we" (i.e., elderly sheltered Ashkenazi rabbis frightened of the world, who have the pallet development of your average three-year-old and who regularly dine on anything once healthy cooked in copious amounts of chicken fat and salt, and washed down with the Israeli version of Tang and an occasional piece of dry sponge cake) do not have a mesora (tradition) of eating it. That the fish will be proven to be the fish the Ben Ish Hai and other Sefardic rabbinic leaders ate will not be enough to allow its consumption today.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
Under a burning sun, and with the sky full of billowing black smoke from burnt tires and garbage, thousands of police, border police and soldiers grappled with hundreds of activists, first psychologically, and finally, physically.
Residents and activists took up positions in the outpost, with the majority of residents holed up in their houses while infiltrators gathered on rooftops and at the outpost's gates.
Dozens of youths chanted a song based on a hassidic chant, whose lyrics rang out across the settlement: "Kill Ariel Sharon with glee."
Settlers also had the names of security officers, their addresses and contact information, and broadcast that information over loudspeakers that were loud enough so nearby Palestinians could hear the information. Security forces were finally able to disable the broadcast:
The entire day's events took place under constant psychological warfare by settlers, both over loudspeakers, and face-to-face with the soldiers.
The loudspeakers were silenced earlier when a police officer used a Leatherman knife to cut the loudspeaker's chords. The next-to-last transmission enumerated the names of soldiers and police taking part in evacuation of Shirat Hayam. It was unclear how settlers managed to get hold of the list of evacuating forces, or if the names were actually those of the security forces present there.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
Forty-three people were injured, two moderately, during a clash on the rooftop of the Kfar Darom synagogue, which was overcome on Thursday night.
Twenty-five policemen, 10 soldiers and eight right wing activists were taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
Police said that about 120 demonstrators were arrested in Kfar Darom.
OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel accused the protesters of using acid in an attempt to deter the forces from reaching the rooftop.
Police Inspector General Moshe Karadi was furious after the violent clash, which left some of his subordinates with light injuries sustained from acid. "We will prosecute each and every one of them," he vowed.
Karadi said the security forces' patience had worn thin after the display of violence at Kfar Darom. After two days of gentle persuasion, "from the moment when the dialogue ended, restraint also ended."
National Religious Party MK Shaul Yahalom slammed the behavior of the youth saying that it "shamed religious Zionism and the kippot on their heads."
Yahalom said that the NRP distanced itself from this action, and that these youth were "wild weeds" on the fringes of the national religious camp and do not represent it and only cause it harm.
On the Synagogue's roof, Col. (res) Moshe Leshem told The Jerusalem Post that "we're learning our lessons on how to fight this struggle and you can be certain to see them in Netzarim, [West Bank settlements] Sanur and Homesh.
The activists seemed to anticipate every police tactic. Some of them stole motor oil from the Kfar Darom military base to cause police and soldiers scaling ladders to slip. They prepared Y-shaped pikes to shove away the steel cages and used doors hauled up to the rooftop as shields against water canon.
By late Thursday night all Kfar Darom's residents had either been loaded onto buses or reached arrangements with the IDF to leave with their belongings. Residents and activists spent much of the day haranguing soldiers, beseeching them to disobey their orders.
After four failed tries a force of Israel's Swat Team both scaled the roof in ladders and landed in steel shipping containers fashioned into portable cages.
Kfar Darom's Rabbi Gabi Shreiber ruled that there was to be no violence. And after the Swat Team stormed the rooftop, the activists resisted only passively.
The unarmed Swat members elbowed their way into the thick of the crowd, as activists sprayed them with insulating foam. They wrestled in the 2-inch deep muck that accumulated on the roof – a combination of blue water, motor oil, acid and mashed onions.
It took the police several hours to convince, shove, and tug the 150 people on the roof – women among them – to depart on cages that shuttled up and down the building.
For the better part of the afternoon, activists pelted police and army forces with eggs, paint bombs, even watermelon and potatoes they had stored on the roof.…
More gut wrenching for the evacuating troops was the removal of settlers from their homes. "Just rape us," screamed Orly Manovich into the face of a soldier standing guard near her sister-in-law's house, "I am sure if you got an order to do that you would do it too."
Soldiers all over the community huddled to cry together or marched off, hat concealing their face for a private sob.…
Fox News is reporting that settlers on the roof of the Kfar Darom synagogue threw acid, gasoline and paint on police and soldiers. The also threw sand into the eyes of police and soldiers in order to blind them.
Five were injured.
UPDATE: 35 members of the security forces were injured. More on this in the post immediately above this one.
A settler leader has barricaded himself and dozens of others, refusing to evacuate his home. Sporting an automatic rifle, he has threatened to shoot police and soldiers:
As the evacuation of the small seaside settlement of Shirat Hayam started Thursday, in nearby Kfar Yam tensions mounted around the home of Datya and Aryeh Yitzhaki, where dozens of extremists were barricaded, vowing to resist the evacuation until the end.
Top-ranking police chiefs and IDF officers arrived at the scene and attempted to negotiate with Yitzhaki as he stood on his balcony waving an M-16 automatic rifle.
He warned journalists to get away from his house so that they wouldn't get in the crossfire when he opened fire. Hundreds of soldiers amassed around the house, as the journalists and photographers were ushered away from the building. One police officer said that security forces suspected that the group of radicals might be armed with a number of guns and explosives.…
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz arrived in Kfar Yam early in the early afternoon, as concerns grew that the extremists holed up in the Yitzhaki compound might resort to violence.
Surrounded by a fence of barbed wire to shore up his makeshift fortress, Yitzhaki shouted to the evacuating forces over a loudspeaker: "I promise you that if you come anywhere near here you will be stopped!"
Witnesses said that a number of loud cracks were heard as Yitzhaki fired into the air, while shouting at soldiers to retreat.…
Jewish terrorist Asher Weisgan showed no remorse for the murders he committed yesterday. Worse yet, he urged the murder of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon:
"I'm not sorry for what I did. I hope someone also kills Sharon," Asher Weissgan, 38, of the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, said before entering an afternoon remand hearing at the Petah Tikvah Magistrates' Court.
A Jewish resident in the Gaza Strip settlement of Ganei Tal on Wednesday threatened to commit suicide to stave off forcible eviction by Israeli troops, army radio reported.
The woman barricaded herself inside her house and cried out that she would end her life if police and soldiers entered the building.
The mostly American Chabad group barricaded in a bomb shelter in Neve Dekalim, Gaza are threatening mass suicide:
Members of a New York-based ultra-Orthodox Jewish movement were threatening to commit mass suicide on Wednesday in protest at the Gaza Strip pull-out, security sources and associates said.
The members of the Lubavitch movement had barricaded themselves inside a communal bomb shelter at the main Gaza Strip settlement of Neve Dekalim with gas cylinders, said their local leader, Rabbi Yigal Kirshenzaft.
"There are about 20 of them shut inside a bomb shelter and say they have gas there," he said.
An AFP correspondent said border police officers and two rabbis were trying to negotiate through air vents with the group, mostly Americans, inside.
One security source put the number inside at about a dozen, but said it had not been confirmed that the group also had gas canisters.
The group are followers of the late Rabbi Menacham Mendel Schneerson, who headed the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch movement until his death 11 years ago.
Chabad activists have infiltrated Neve Dekalim and have barricaded themselves in the bomb shelter of a girls school. According to Ha'aretz, the Chabadniks have demands:
… [M]embers of the Chabad movement who had infiltrated Neveh Dekalim and entrenched themselves in the bomb shelter of a girl's seminary demanded that the evacuating forces wrap themselves with tefillin (Jewish prayer phylacteries).
They also demanded that the IDF release Avi Bieber, the soldier who was arrested last month when he refused to follow orders to demolish buildings in preparation for the disengagement. The IDF passed responsibility for negotiations with the barricaded Chabad members to Colonel Amos Ben Avraham.…
The Chofetz Chayim Heritage Foundation held its annual Tisha B'Av event yesterday. The leading speaker? Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon of Lakewood Yeshiva. As noted by GodolHador, a thrust of Rabbai Solomon's talk was the need to speak with someone before judging them. Yet Rabbi Solomon signed the ban against Rabbi Nosson Slifkin without speaking to Rabbi Slifkin. In fact, all the 'gedolim' who signed that ban did the same.
When the Chofetz Chayim published his book on the laws of lashon hara, some gedolim were concerned that the emphasis on the laws of lashon hara without commensurate emphasis on laws of social justice would cause discrimination against the poor and weak by the powerful, rich and well-connected. Mattisyhu Solomon's behavior – in the name of the Chofetz Chayim Heritage Foundation, no less! – is another in a long line of proofs that those gedolim who feared the approach of the Chofetz Chayim were correct.
Do you give money to Lakewood or the Chofetz Chayim Heritage Foundation? If you do, stop giving – and make sure both institutions know why you are no longer funding them. Also make sure to let your synagogue know that you do not appreciate programs from the Chofetz Chayim Heritage Foundation or Lakewood Yeshiva.
Mattisyahu Solomon is promoted as a moral leader. But a leader who lies, who abuses the weak, who uses double standards of justice, cannot be moral. He is by definition immoral and, unless and until he publicly apologizes to Rabbi Slifkin for what he has done, he must not be allowed to lead.
PETA's new traveling exhibit compares animal abuse to salvery:
One panel depicted a black civil rights protester being beaten at a lunch counter beside a photograph of a seal being bludgeoned. Another panel, titled "Hanging," showed a graphic photo of a white mob surrounding two lynched blacks hanging from tree limbs, while a nearby picture showed a cow hanging in a slaughterhouse.
The NAACP objected:
Carr said the images were used by PETA to prove a point: Whether it's humans harming animals or each other, all point to an oppressive mind-set. But, officials with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People don’t see it that way.
"PETA operates by getting publicity any way they can," said John White, an NAACP spokesman. "They're comparing chickens to black people?"
Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project with the Southern Poverty Law Center, in Montgomery, Ala., called the exhibit "disgusting."
"Black people in America have had quite enough of being compared to animals without PETA joining in," he said.
PETA officials apologized earlier this year for a campaign that compared the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust with that of factory animals.
As with the Holocaust On Your Plate campaign, the comparison being made was not controversial until PETA made it in a very graphic, in-your-face manner. PETA's approach is very much like a cable tv news chat show, where the participants and host yell at each other in 15 to 30 second shrieked soundbites. Whoever screams the loudest is heard; only the most controversial is highlighted. Just as that type of 'debate' hurts the public by focusing on the extreme fringes of any debate, polarizing rather than homoginizing Americans, PETA ultimately hurts its cause by doing the same. There must be a better way.
After months of wrangling, New York's verdict is in.
The New York Daily News reports:
City officials have moved to ban a rabbi suspected of infecting infants with herpes from performing an ancient circumcision rite, prompting religious Jewish leaders to plead with Mayor Bloomberg to intervene.
Bloomberg sat down at City Hall yesterday with dozens of ultra-Orthodox rabbis, who said they are concerned that such a ban would set a bad precedent, according to several people at the meeting.
The mayor "basically accepted a suggestion that the time should be given for both sides to sit down and iron this thing out," said Rabbi David Niederman, who praised Bloomberg.
But several sources said the mayor promised that the city would never ban a religious practice outright - but also held firm that he "has an obligation" to uphold laws.
The Daily News first reported in February that the city Health Department was investigating whether Rockland County-based Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer gave herpes to a baby through the practice of metzizah b'peh - in which the rabbi uses his mouth to suck blood from the circumcision wound. The baby later died.
On Aug. 1, the Health Department sent Fischer's lawyer a draft of an order banning the rabbi from performing metzizah b'peh in the city, officials said. Fischer has until next week to respond.
But the threat of such an order alarmed the ultrareligious community.
The controversy is still roiling at a time when Bloomberg, who has had a somewhat strained relationship with the Orthodox community, is looking to repair things before the November election.
The Ausralian Jewish News writes:
IT seems easy, if short-sighted, to cast off the controversial petition effectively calling on settlers and Israel Defence Forces soldiers to illegally disobey orders as the work of fringe elements on the extreme end of Australia’s Orthodox spectrum.
But it is much harder to understand why so many of the 33 mostly-Chabad rabbis, including their venerated Melbourne chief, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, signed it. Many of the signatories apparently saw their leader’s name and simply followed suit, without reading the fine print. And, regrettably, the fact that Rabbi Groner — whose contribution to the Yiddishkeit of this community is arguably unparalleled — was unwell at the time did not seem to bother them one bit.
While many of our more esteemed Chabad rabbis were wise enough not to agree to sign this inflammatory document, the Chabad movement as a whole has let itself and the entire Australian Jewish community down by publicising such extremist terminology at such a sensitive juncture in Jewish history. For whether Rabbi Groner was too unwell or whether the other 32 rabbis were duped into signing a petition they thought was intended for the Israeli Government, as some claim, is almost a moot point. By doing so they crossed a red line, and although some of them have now publicly distanced themselves from the incendiary rhetoric in the petition (as opposed to the halachic injunction to oppose the withdrawal from Gaza), the good name of Chabad in Australia has been tarnished.
The tragic terrorist attack in Shfar’am last week — perpetrated by an Orthodox Jew — should be a clarion call to us all of the danger of inflammatory words in such a volatile political climate.
The politicisation, and indeed subsequent radicalisation, of the Chabad movement since its first foray into Israeli politics in 1990 has been the Achilles heel of an organisation whose outreach work in the Jewish world is second to none. Chabad should return to its roots of imbuing Jews with Yiddishkeit instead of allowing, and even encouraging, its rabbis to invest their energy on the front-line of a divisive political battle.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe called on his emissaries to rekindle the Yiddishe spark in Jews dispersed in all corners of the globe. His rabbis should not be responsible for sparking a major division within the Jewish people — either in Israel or Australia.
More on Chabad's link to extremism can be found in the post below.
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The New York Times: "The legal conflict has revealed a deep tension within the Orthodox community that has been reported in the Jewish weekly press, and has been the almost exclusive topic of discussion on some Orthodox Jewish Web sites like failedmessiah.com and unorthodoxjew.blogspot.com in the months since Mr. Hikind brought up sexual abuse."
The New York Times: "In Postville, residents were dismayed by a report posted on a Jewish Web site, FailedMessiah.com, saying that Sholom Rubashkin held a celebration in Postville last week after he was released from detention on $1 million bail."
THE COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW: "[Jeff] Abbas passed the video to Shmarya Rosenberg, a blogger in St. Paul, Minnesota, who has provided some of the best coverage of the raid and its aftermath; a few days later, the video was referenced in The New York Times."
The Forward: Postville’s City Council initially voted to support the idea of a community benefits agreement, but later voted to withdraw support for such an agreement — a development first reported on the blog Failed Messiah.
Samuel Freedman in the Jerusalem Post: "[T]the scandal of Agriprocessors has been chronicled from Stephen Bloom's book Postville to Nathaniel Popper's investigative reports in the Forward to Julia Preston's coverage in The New York Times to the muckraking blogger FailedMessiah.com."
Religion In The News: "So authoritative has Rosenberg become that he is now regularly quoted by the Register; and his site has been referenced by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and both the Forward and the JTA."
Tablet Magazine: “If you’re Jewish and you were married five years ago, you have not confronted the problem that exists today,” Rosenberg says. “The problem is much worse for anyone who isn’t Orthodox. As the Haredi strength grows and their control grows, that’ll become clearer.”
Religion Dispatches: "The best collection of articles I’ve found can be perused at failedmessiah.com, the blog of Shmarya Rosenberg, who, with the perspective of insider turned disillusioned outsider, has been probing the nuances and hypocrisies of the ultra-Orthodox establishment since 2004."