A fraud by any other name is a? "Compass." A Jerusalem "Compass," to be exact. Remember the so-called Jerusalem "compass" sold by ArtScroll? It's back in the news, so to speak, on VosIzNeias (and taken without attribution from the Christian Broadcasting Network):
Moshe Ashin is an Orthodox Jew who said that he got inspiration to develop what he calls the Jerusalem Compass.
"I started thinking to myself, wouldn't it be wonderful if the compass could point in a direction that had more meaning to all of us? A direction that was more important. So here we are, the holiest city in the world, the center of the universe and all roads lead to Jerusalem, let the compass point here," Ashin said.
The Jerusalem Compass, unlike a typical compass that points north, is designed to point to Jerusalem.
"I developed a patented recalibration system and this keeps the needle of the compass constantly pointing in the direction of Jerusalem from anywhere in the world. Just open the cover and it's pointing there," Ashin said.
There was a lot of Jblog traffic when this "compass" debuted, most of it critical of the claim that the "compass" always points to Jerusalem. The contention of many bloggers was that the "compass" merely was modified so that the needle pointed north (as with any compass) but displayed east, meaning that people to the east of the Temple Mount, or due north or south of it, would have a "compass" pointing in the wrong direction. Backers of the "compass" disputed this
But here is Ashin making this claim again, yesterday, to the CBN:
As a way of reminding believers about the significance of Jerusalem,
Moshe, an Orthodox Jew has come up with a unique reminder of the
eternal significance of the city the Bible calls "the city of the Great
King." As we explained on last Thursday's 700 Club, he believes he
received divine inspiration to develop what he calls the Jerusalem
Overlooking the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, he told
us, "I started thinking to myself, wouldn't it be wonderful if the
compass could point in a direction that had more meaning to all of us?
A direction that was more important. Where would that be? So here we
are in the holiest city in the world, the center of the universe, and
all roads lead to Jerusalem. Let the compass point here."
Moshe said he developed a patented recalibration system that keeps
the needle of the compass constantly pointing toward Jerusalem from
anywhere in the world.
The problem? The Mount of Olives is to the east of the Temple Mount, and the "compass" will not point to the Temple. Why? The patent claim for the "compass" as filed by Moshe Ashin, which clearly states it is a novelty item:
What is claimed is:
A novelty item comprising a compass-like device having a housing and a
magnetized compass needle suspended therein, said device further
comprising a compass face positioned above said needle and hiding same
from view, wherein said magnetized needle is rigidly attached, via a
linking means, to a non-magnetized pointer positioned in a plane
parallel to the plane of said magnetized compass needle above said
compass face and angularly displaced from said magnetized compass
needle, whereby said non-magnetized pointer always points to a
direction other than North.
2. A novelty item according to claim
1, wherein said non-magnetized pointer is angularly displaced from said
magnetized compass needle at an angle of about 90.degree. and
positioned to always point to the East.
3. A novelty item according to claim 1, wherein said housing is non-transparent except for a transparent top face.
A novelty item according to claim 1, wherein the distance between said
compass face and the housing top cover is at least twice the distance
between said compass face and the housing base.
5. A novelty
item according to claim 2, wherein said compass face carries a message
of religious significance relating to the direction indicated by said
6. A novelty item according to claim 1,
wherein said non-magnetized pointer is shaped and colored to provide an
appearance similar to that of a magnetized compass needle used in a
 It will thus be realized that the novel device of the present
invention can be marketed in different countries with a pointer
oriented to match the direction towards which prayers should be
recited. For example, a compass indicating South can be marketed in
Finland and Russia, a compass directed towards East can be marketed in
the USA and Mexico and a compass indicating West can be sold in India,
Pakistan, Burma and Japan. Intermediate directions, for example
South-West, would be suitable for Mid-Europe and the UK.
In other words, the "compass" always points east, which for many people means they will be praying not toward the Temple, but north or south of it. In the worst case, Jews will be praying with their backs to the Temple.
How is this "compass" marketed? First, more from Ashin's patent filing:
 There is no doubt that a more direct and easier to use method
[i.e., the new Jerusalem "compass"] would be useful, particularly for less-educated worshippers. However, a
search of prior art for such device produced only improvements to
North-pointing compasses but nothing relevant to the present disclosure.
"Less-educated worshippers," precisely the people who would use the "compass" while traveling in Eastern Europe or Israel and pray in the wrong direction.
Who is the primary marketer of this "compass"? ArtScroll, the main haredi publisher of books geared for – ba'alei teshuva, Jewishly uneducated so-called returnees to Orthodoxy:
You may be wondering why the compass is called
"the Jerusalem of Gold Compass". Well that's because it points only in
the direction of Jerusalem from any point on the Globe. Now that is
unique - think about it... all other compasses point North and this one
points to Jerusalem...
that done you ask? That's Israeli Technology for you... No batteries,
No outside energy source, Nothing at all... and it appears to defy
Instead of pointing North it will always point to
Jerusalem. This compass was developed in Jerusalem over many years, and
is patented in the United States.
This compass is beautifully
crafted from solid brass, and is finished in rich genuine gold, buffed
to a mirror finish. It is also includes a matching gold finished chain
attached to the compass.
Have you ever found yourself away from
home, and suddenly you realized that it is quickly approaching the
final time for Mincha? You may be in a car, your office or a friends
home. If you are like most people, at best, you will approximate the
direction for East, and start davening. But…East is not the direction
for Jerusalem. However, it is the direction for China, and Syria!
Ashin's patent does not support these claims. I believe that makes ArtScroll (and Ashin) in violation of Federal law.
UPDATE – A commenter writes:
On the Jerusalem Compass website there's a prominently featured database of calibration settings for cities around the world.
There is. But nowhere in the text of the front page of the website is it made clear calibration is necessary. I tried this calibration tool. It does not work in the Mac browsers Safari or Firefox. I accessed it using IE. But the results I got were the same for Los Angeles, Saint Louis, Minneapolis, Chicago, Moscow, Tel Aviv, and other cities. All were shown, with their correct name, as being 5124 kilometers from Jerusalem. Each city has the same calibration setting, 046.
In other words, for many users the calibration database is useless. Further, the ad copy for the "compass" makes false claims. Without manual calibration for each location, the "compass" will be wrong. No real surprise there.
Also no surprise is the endorsement of this piece of junk by some of the haredi world's leading gedolim, including Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch of Edah Charedis and The Novominsker Rebbe, head of Agudath Israel of America's rabbinic arm. Also not too surprising is the complete lack of endorsements from NRP/MO rabbis of note, most of whom, presumably, would have noticed the problems with the 'compass.'
You can click on the images above to enlarge them.