The True Meaning of Being a Jew – click the “GoFundMe” Link and Donate

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/02/us/mosque-burns-synagogue-keys-trnd/index.html

Jews hand Muslims keys to synagogue after Texas mosque burns

(CNN)The congregation of the Victoria Islamic Center in Texas was devastated. Its mosque was destroyed over the weekend in a fire, the cause of which is unknown.

Then an act of kindness revived their spirits — the leaders of the local Jewish congregation gave them the keys to their synagogue so they could continue to worship.
The leader of the mosque said he wasn’t surprised by the gesture.
“I never doubted the support that we were going to get” after the fire, Dr. Shahid Hashmi, a surgeon and president of Victoria Islamic Center, told CNN. “We’ve always had a good relationship with the community here.”
Hashmi said Dr. Gary Branfman — a member of Temple B’nai Israel in Victoria, as well as a fellow surgeon and friend — just came by his house and gave him the keys.

Support from around the world

And that wasn’t the only offer of a temporary worship space that was extended. Hashmi said three local churches said his congregation could use their buildings. Also offered up was an empty office building, which the congregation used for three days before moving into a mobile home on the mosque property, Hashmi said. “It’s a beautiful community,” he said.
Though Hashmi always knew his own east Texas community would support the mosque, he was stunned by the outpouring of support from people outside Victoria.
So far, a GoFundMe page set up to help raise money for the mosque’s reconstruction has taken in more than $1 million.
That’s on top of other donations the congregation has received from people in 90 different countries.
“We were surprised at the donations from around the world,” Hashmi told CNN.

‘Humanity at its best’

The Muslim community in Victoria dates back decades, Hashmi said, but the mosque was just 16 years old. Thanks to all of the financial contributions, he expects they’ll be able to rebuild it in less than a year.
Hashmi said the congregants at the mosque are still in shock over the fire. Officials with the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office say no cause has been determined yet, and it may be weeks or months before can they figure out what happened, including whether the fire was deliberately set.
Read the article in its original form on CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/02/us/mosque-burns-synagogue-keys-trnd/index.html

 

Will Platinum’s Partners Make Claims that They Tried to Come Clean Too?

images
http://nypost.com/2017/02/02/madoff-no-one-believed-me-when-i-tried-to-come-clean/

Madoff: No one believed me when I tried to come clean

Bernie Madoff claims he tried to tell people as early as 2005 — three years before he was arrested — that his empire was nothing more than an elaborate pyramid scheme, according to a new documentary.

Makers of the audio documentary “Ponzi Supernova” obtained a 2012 tape recording of Madoff answering questions in a lawsuit filed by plaintiffs suing Banco Santander’s Optimal Investment Services, which had invested with him.

Madoff said investors came to him with suspicions that he wasn’t really making any profitable trades.
But when he told them the truth, they laughed it off — and didn’t go to authorities, the imprisoned cheat said.

“Well they [suspicious investors in 2005] would, they would ask me that, you know, with a smile, ‘You’re not — are you really doing these trades?’ or ‘You know, and so on and so forth?’ ” Madoff testified in a 2012 deposition.

“And sometimes, I would say, ‘No, I’m not [making any trades].’ They would laugh, and then that would be the end of it. They didn’t want to believe it.”

Madoff’s claim that he was trying to come clean years ago is featured in the sixth and final part of “Ponzi Supernova,” which is being posted Thursday on Amazon’s spoken-word platform, Audible.

Madoff also claimed hedge-fund managers who invested with him should have known the returns they were seeing were mathematically impossible.

“Something Fishy” is the title of Thursday’s installment of “Ponzi Supernova.”

“I thought they didn’t want to understand. I thought that was . . . willful blindness,” said Madoff, who is now 78.

As long as he kept reporting profits, hedge-fund managers didn’t care to ask questions, Madoff said, “because they never, they never really objected.”

“Supernova” documentarian Steve Fishman said he agreed with Madoff that the con man’s biggest investors likely knew something was up — but stopped short of acting as long as paper profits kept piling up.

“They ignored all the warning signs. And those warning signs were really explicit and big,” Fishman said Wednesday.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

OU – Barring Women Clergy

 

religous fundamentalis
http://forward.com/news/362043/orthodox-union-adopts-policy-barring-women-clergy/

 

Exclusive: Orthodox Union Adopts New Policy Barring Women Clergy

 

The Orthodox Union has adopted a new policy barring women from serving as clergy at its 400 member congregations across the United States.

At least four synagogues that are members of the Orthodox Union currently employ women in clergy roles.

A new rabbinic ruling by seven leading Modern Orthodox rabbis — adopted as official OU policy at a board meeting on February 1 — concludes that “a woman should not be appointed to serve in a clergy position.”

The ruling bars women from holding a title such as “rabbi,” or even from serving without title in a role in which she would be performing clergy functions, such as regularly leading services, delivering sermons, ruling on matters of religious law, or officiating at weddings and funerals.

The OU publicly released its statement on the policy and the rabbinic ruling shortly after the Forward first posted this story.

“We have received a number of requests from member synagogues and their lay leadership and or rabbinic leadership for halachic guidance in this area,” said Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the OU. Fagin said that the OU had, in turn, requested the rabbinical ruling. He said that while the ruling bars women from clergy jobs, it encourages women to take other synagogue leadership roles.

News of the new policy drew immediate condemnation from rabbis and leaders on the Modern Orthodox left.

 “The OU should stick to tuna fish,” said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, spiritual leader of Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C., an OU congregation that employs a female clergy member, Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman. (In addition to its role as a synagogue umbrella group, the OU runs the largest kosher certification agency in the world.)

It’s not clear what the OU will do about member synagogues that currently employ female clergy. The OU statement says that the OU’s Synagogue Standards Commission will “enter into a dialogue with synagogues to encourage and facilitate implementation” of the rabbinic ruling.

Fagin said that it was the OU’s “really strong hope” that congregations that currently have female clergy would not split from the OU. “Part of our responsibility here, together with our shuls, is to try to find common ground in those small number of instances where there may be the need for further thought,” he said.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

Kushner, President Trump, The sins of the Father, Platinum… Part I

c3v8pn0vuaaxkne

http://forward.com/news/361035/jared-kushner-and-the-white-haired-mystic-whose-dad-got-a-ride-from-a-dead/

Jared Kushner and the White-Haired Mystic Whose Dad ‘Got a Ride’ From a Dead Sage

Jared Kushner’s family charities have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to a mystical Moroccan rabbi who some followers claim has miraculous powers.

The rabbi, David Chananya Pinto, is little known in the United States but has a coterie of wealthy backers. Two separate Kushner family foundations on whose boards Jared Kushner serves have given over $210,000 in grants to Pinto’s New York City study center.

It’s hard to square Donald Trump’s clean-cut, Modern Orthodox son-in-law with the white-bearded mystic who tells a story about a night in 1968 when his father got a ride from a second-century sage driving an Israeli-made station wagon.

Yet Kushner has shown an interest in Judaism’s mystical corners.

Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, plan to attend a Washington synagogue affiliated with the Chabad Hasidic group, a movement rooted in Jewish mysticism. And days before the presidential election, the couple visited the grave of the group’s former leader, where believers say prayers may be answered with miracles.

A spokesperson for Kushner would not comment on the foundations’ donations to Pinto’s charity. Pinto’s New York study center, Chevrat Pinto, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Kushner family are Modern Orthodox stalwarts, founders of a Modern Orthodox high school in New Jersey and members of Modern Orthodox synagogues. But while Modern Orthodox theology de-emphasizes the folk magic and mysticism found in some corners of Jewish tradition, magical beliefs have grown popular among rank-and-file Modern Orthodox Jews.

“There is definitely an upswing in turning to magic,” said Rabbi Alan Brill, a professor of Jewish studies at Seton Hall University. Brill has written on the phenomenon in an essay onModern Orthodox Jews in New Jersey reviving the ancient Jewish magical practice of baking keys into challah bread.

Brill also said that the popularity of traveling charismatic mystics was rising among some Modern Orthodox Jews. “It’s a different relationship than having to sit through a congregation each week,” he said.

Pinto is one of a handful of mystically inclined rabbis gaining popularity in the United States and Israel. His better-known nephew, Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, attracted a large following of wealthy Jews in the United States and Israel before ending up in an Israeli prison for bribing a high-ranking police officer.

Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto was released from prison January 25 after serving a one-year sentence. He says he is no longer a rabbi.

Rabbi David Pinto wears the familiar black coat and hat of the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazim, but he descends from a North African Jewish tradition of miracle workers and saints. Pinto’s ancestors were prominent rabbis; the grave of his great-great grandfather is a popular pilgrimage site for Moroccan Jews. Pinto’s organization describes his father and his grandfather, both rabbis, as “miracle workers.”

Pinto leads institutions in France and Israel, but he regularly visits his New York study center, where his followers include Jews from mainstream Modern Orthodox backgrounds alongside members of the French Jewish community. He delivers his lectures in English, speaking with a French accent.

Stories of the miracles that his father and grandfather worked, and the belief that they can continue to influence daily events, appear to play a major role in Pinto’s religious message. In a May 2016 lecture delivered in Mexico City and available online, Pinto told a story about his father getting picked up on the side of the road in 1968 by the purported author of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who lived roughly 2,000 years ago.

According to Pinto, his father, Rabbi Moshe Ahron Pinto, lived 40 years in prayerful seclusion in his home in Morocco, and then, in 1968, sought the permission of the dead sage bar Yochai to move his family to Israel. Moshe Ahron Pinto traveled to Ashdod, then took a taxi to bar Yochai’s crypt in Meron. He finished praying late at night. A disciple who had accompanied him thought they would be stuck near the crypt until dawn, but as soon as they reached the road, an Israeli-made station wagon, an Autocars Sussita, appeared. The driver took them to a house in a nearby village.

“My father went out [of the car], [the disciple] closed the car, and suddenly there was no car,” Pinto said.

Pinto said his father told the disciple that the driver was bar Yochai, and that if he told anyone of the miracle he would die.

The idea that righteous rabbis have the power to perform miracles is a familiar one in mystical Jewish traditions, and particularly among North African Jews. In the literature of Pinto’s organization, dead rabbis and even Pinto himself are credited with causing everyday miracles to occur.

 

An article in the 2010 English-language edition of a magazine published by his organization in Paris reports that a “great miracle happened” at the home of a Chicago follower who hosted Pinto: Two days after receiving Pinto’s blessing, the follower’s daughter was matched with a man whom she eventually married.

The article also reports that after Pinto promised a French follower that God would “perform a miracle for you this week” if the man spent one more hour a day studying the Torah, the man’s son narrowly escaped electrocution.

The story claims that Pinto knows things by miraculous means. “Many people are surprised by the way that the Rav knows and sees things from afar,” the article says. Pinto, the authors report, denies being a prophet. “Everything is due to the merit of the fathers,” it quotes him saying.

In a brief recollection presented in a December 2016 weekly bulletin published by Pinto’s Israeli organization, Pinto claimed that a German boy had been revived from a three-month coma after a man who hosted him on a visit to Morocco prayed at the grave of Rabbi Chaim Pinto, his great-great grandfather.

“I would never dare bang on the tombstone of my grandfather,” Pinto wrote. “However, [the man] did it naturally, and he was answered immediately!”

In New York City, Pinto has a study center, called Chevrat Pinto, in an Upper West Side brownstone. The study center received between $10,000 and $50,000 from a Kushner family foundation nearly every year from 2004 to 2013. Jared Kushner sits on the boards of the two foundations that made the grants, the Charles and Seryl Kushner Family Foundation and the C. Kushner Companies Foundation. He is one of seven coequal directors of the Charles and Seryl Kushner Family Foundation, according to 2014 tax documents, and was a member of a board of directors led by his mother at the C. Kushner Companies Foundation, which no longer exists.

In total, Chevrat Pinto received $217,000 from the Kushners’ two foundations.

Jared Kushner’s aunt and uncle, Marisa and Richard Stadtmauer, have been ever more generous. Their family foundation has given Chevrat Pinto $592,000 in grants since 2009.

To read the article in its original format click here.

Shaya Lichtenstein’s Secret Recordings

http://dusiznies.blogspot.com/2017/01/shaya-lichtenstein-secretly-recorded.html

Shaya Lichtenstein secretly recorded some 70,000 conversations, including many with cops. Singing like a Chazzan

 

A crooked gun broker secretly made thousands of recordings of conversations with corrupt NYPD cops, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
The revelation likely will send shock waves through the department.
In a letter filed in Manhattan Federal Court, prosecutors said Alex (Shaya) Lichtenstein secretly recorded some 70,000 conversations, including many with cops.
In November, Lichtenstein pleaded guilty to bribing NYPD officers to obtain pistol licenses.
Lichtenstein saved the conversations to an e-mail account, “many of them contemporaneous memorialization of dealings of questionable legality with members of the NYPD,” according to the letter written by Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Bell.
“During our initial review of those recordings, we learned that some of these calls implicated at least one of the defendants in this case.”
The feds said they also got “material” from the phones of Jeremy Reichberg, a Brooklyn businessman who is accused of doling out gifts to senior cops, including trips to the Super Bowl, Brazil and China, sources said.
That material was not described in any more specifics.
Lichtenstein pleaded guilty on Nov. 10 to offering a cop $6,000 in exchange for an expedited gun permit.
“I had a good and friendly relationship with New York City police officers. During these years, I gave police officers in the Licensing Division things of value, including money, knowing that by giving them those things, the officers would do me favors, including expediting gun license applications,” Lichtenstein, 45, said.
Sgt. David Villanueva is accused of accepting gifts in exchange for helping speed up weapons permits.
Police Officer Richard Ochetal, formerly of the gun licensing unit, pleaded guilty to charges relating to the probe — and is cooperating with cops, the feds said in June.
Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Deputy Inspector James Grant were also arrested for allegedly acting as “cops on call” for Reichberg and another wealthy de Blasio donor, Jona Rechnitz.

For further reading:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/brooklyn-gun-broker-secretly-recorded-corrupt-nypd-cops-article-1.2956091

Brooklyn gun broker secretly recorded conversations with corrupt NYPD cops

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SOFT CORE HOLOCAUST DENIAL

lead_960

 

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/the-trump-administrations-softcore-holocaust-denial/514974/

The Trump Administration’s Flirtation With Holocaust Denial

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/the-trump-administrations-softcore-holocaust-denial/514974/

Holocaust denial is alive and well in the highest offices of the United States. It is being spread by those in President Trump’s innermost circle. It may have all started as a mistake by a new administration that is loath to admit it’s wrong. Conversely, it may be a conscious attempt by people with anti-Semitic sympathies to rewrite history. Either way it is deeply disturbing.

For me these developments are intensely personal—not because I have immediate family members who died in the Holocaust. I don’t. But I have spent a good number of years fighting something which the White House now seems to be fostering.

Last Friday, I was in Amsterdam attending a screening of the movie Denial. It’s a film about the libel suit David Irving, once arguably the world’s most influential Holocaust denier, brought against me for having called him a denier. The trial, held in 2000, lasted 10 weeks. Because of the nature of British libel laws which placed the burden of proof on me, I had no choice but to fight. Had I not fought he would have won by default and his denial version of the Holocaust—no gas chambers, no mass killings, no Hitler involvement, and that this is all a myth concocted by Jews—would have been enshrined in British law.

After an intense day of press interviews and screenings, I had gone for a short walk. Intent on enjoying my surroundings, I ignored the pinging of my phone. Ironically, I had just reached the Anne Frank House, the place where Anne wrote her diary, when the pinging became so incessant that I checked to see what was happening.

I quickly learned that the White House had released a statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention Jews or anti-Semitism. Instead it bemoaned the “innocent victims.” The internet was buzzing and many people were fuming. Though no fan of Trump, I chalked it up as a rookie mistake by a new administration busy issuing a slew of executive orders. Someone had screwed up. I refused to get agitated, and counseled my growing number of correspondents to hold their fire. A clarification would certainly soon follow. I was wrong.

In a clumsy defense Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications, insisted that, the White House, by not referring to Jews, was acting in an “inclusive” manner. It deserved praise not condemnation. Hicks pointed those who inquired to an article which bemoaned the fact that, too often the “other” victims of the Holocaust were forgotten. Underlying this claim is the contention that the Jews are “stealing” the Holocaust for themselves. It is a calumny founded in anti-Semitism.

There were indeed millions of innocent people whom the Nazis killed in many horrific ways, some in the course of the war and some because the Germans perceived them—however deluded their perception—to pose a threat to their rule. They suffered terribly. But that was not the Holocaust.

The Holocaust was something entirely different. It was an organized program with the goal of wiping out a specific people. Jews did not have to do anything to be perceived as worthy of being murdered. Old people who had to be wheeled to the deportation trains and babies who had to be carried were all to be killed. The point was not, as in occupied countries, to get rid of people because they might mount a resistance to Nazism, but to get rid of Jews because they were Jews. Roma (Gypsies) were also targeted. Many were murdered. But the Nazi anti-Roma policy was inconsistent. Some could live in peace and even serve in the German army.

German homosexuals were horribly abused by the Third Reich. Some were given the chance of “reforming” themselves and then going to serve on the eastern front, where many of them became cannon fodder. Would I have wanted to be a homosexual in the Reich, or in the rest of Nazi occupied Europe? Absolutely not. But they were not systematically wiped out.

This is a matter of historical accuracy and not of comparative pain. If my family members had been killed by the Germans for resisting or for some other perceived wrong I would not be—nor should I be—comforted by the fact that they were not killed as part of the Holocaust.

Had the Germans won, they probably would have eliminated millions of other peoples, including the Roma, homosexuals, dissidents of any kind, and other “useless eaters.” But it was only the Jews whose destruction could not wait until after the war. Only in the case of the Jews could war priorities be overridden. Germany was fighting two wars in tandem, a conventional war and a war against the Jews. It lost the first and, for all intents and purposes, nearly won the second.

The de-Judaization of the Holocaust, as exemplified by the White House statement, is what I term softcore Holocaust denial. Hardcore denial is the kind of thing I encountered in the courtroom. In an outright and forceful fashion, Irving denied the facts of the Holocaust. In his decision, Judge Charles Grey called Irving a liar and a manipulator of history. He did so, the judge ruled, deliberately and not as the result of mistakes.

Softcore denial uses different tactics but has the same end-goal. (I use hardcore and softcore deliberately because I see denial as a form of historiographic pornography.) It does not deny the facts, but it minimizes them, arguing that Jews use the Holocaust to draw attention away from criticism of Israel. Softcore denial also makes all sorts of false comparisons to the Holocaust. In certain Eastern European countries today, those who fought the Nazis may be lauded, but if they did so with a communist resistance group they may be prosecuted. Softcore denial also includes Holocaust minimization, as when someone suggests it was not so bad. “Why are we hearing about that again?”

What we saw from the White House was classic softcore denial. The Holocaust was de-Judaized. It is possible that it all began with a mistake. Someone simply did not realize what they were doing. It is also possible that someone did this deliberately. The White House’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, boasted that while at Breitbart he created a platform for alt-right. Richard Spencer, the self-proclaimed leader of the alt-right, has invited overt Holocaust deniers to alt-right conferences, and his followers have engaged in outright denial. During the campaign, he was reportedly responsible for speeches and ads that many observers concluded trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes.

After Hicks’s defense of the statement, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus doubled down, insisting that they made no mistake. On Meet the Press Chuck Todd gave Priebus repeated chances to retract or rephrase the statement. Priebus refused and dug in deeper, declaring “everyone’s suffering in the Holocaust, including obviously, all of the Jewish people… [was] extraordinarily sad.”

In the penultimate sentence of the president’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House promised to ensure that “the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good.” But the statement was issued on the same day as the order banning refugees. It is hard not to conclude that this is precisely what happened at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Developer At it Again – Ramapo

 

viola-rd-constviolations

Viola condominium developer at it again: Matzav.com

 

http://preserve-ramapo.com/viola-condominium-developer-at-it-again-matzav-com/

 

This article appeared Jan. 30 on www.matzav.com 

The development has been shut down for months.  But its developer has been quite busy.

After the unprecedented stop work order issued by the Town of Ramapo last October against Viola Estates Condominium on Viola Road – the first such order resulting from neighbors fighting the town’s unrestrained overdevelopment – the developer of Viola Estates got to work.

First, he and his supporters pushed rabbonim, dayanim, askanim and other community leaders in an attempt to stop the neighbors who brought the lawsuit that led to the order.  But upon hearing the full story, these community leaders stopped their own involvement instead.

Then he sought to create some distance between himself and the project by bringing in another developer.  But he couldn’t find anyone to accept his terms.

So he tried to push his way back to the Town to allow him to continue work at the project.  But the acting building inspector was “unable to attend” such a meeting, according to the developer.

Now, in a new set of papers, he wants to bypass the building department by applying to the CDRC for a revised site plan, to be heard at its next meeting on February 9th.

Let’s remember the context:  the developer spot-zoned the project from 9 families to 44 in an agreement with neighbors that they would not fight his application if he in fact limited the development to 44 single-family units.  He then proceeded to build accessory apartments – illegal in his newly created zone and in brazen defiance of his agreement.  The neighbors met with him to settle the issue peacefully, but according to court documents, the developer said “he had built and intends to sell the dwelling units as single units with accessory apartments.”  When asked to abide by his original agreement with them, he “flatly and repeatedly refused.”

Under the guidance of daas Torah, the neighbors first complained to the Town, which ignored them, and then took the developer to court to enjoin him from building illegal apartments.  The court ordered a site inspection by the neighbors’ experts, whose report was jaw-dropping: not only had accessory apartments been built (with separate – and marked – boilers, heating units, plumbing and electric panels, and even kitchens where the plans called for walk-in closets), but preparations were also made for even more apartments to house a total of at least 176 families. At that point, the Town issued its order.

Now the developer is back.  In an application for a revised site plan, his attorney acknowledges that a stop work order was issued, but only for changes “not consistent with the site plan or with the Zoning Code,” instead of flagrant violations of law.

“The applicant made changes to the interior of the buildings,” the application continues, “that have been interpreted as preparing the buildings to host illegal accessory apartments” – no doubt a reference to the actual build-out of the apartments, the installation of separate building systems servicing them, and the visible marking of such systems as in fact supplying the accessory apartments.  “While the applicant does not agree that the buildings were to be sold as having these accessory apartments, it does acknowledge that the changes were built, [and] that they could have been used by an end user to create the apartments with minor effort,” such minor effort perhaps being to rent them as accessory apartments.

The developer’s application ignores inconvenient truths.  It fails to disclose to the CDRC, for example, that a court action had to be brought for the stop work order, which action is ongoing; that the order was issued only after the neighbors’ own experts brought the extent of the wrongdoing to the attention of the court (and not that it was issued by the Building Department “in response to its [own] findings at the site”); and most egregiously, that additional apartments were prepared beyond the accessory apartments which would have resulted in a density of almost 2000% of the original zoning.

The current application says that the developer wants to cure violations “as a showing of good faith” to continue building.  Is this like someone who wants to avoid punishment after getting caught stealing by returning the stolen goods as a sign of “good faith”?  As the neighbors’ attorney said in open court, “this is a fraud committed on the town, the neighbors and the Attorney General.  It’s encouraging that the town issued a stop work order.  But what they should have done is revoked his building permit.”

January 30, 2017 Matzav.com