See also: https://www.facebook.com/frumwatch/
Apparently, the Moetzes Gedolei Yisrael of Israel have called for a “Day of Tefilos” to raise awareness about the spiritual problems technology posed by technology. As a community, we’ve become accustomed to these mass displays of piety, and international calls for prayer in hopes of inspiring a generation, and perhaps some divine assistance, to rid itself from the potential stumbling blocks in the way of spiritual purity, and connection to God. From asifos against the Internet in Citi Field, to international days of prayer, the Charedi world is awash in the mass organization of truly astounding feats of community organizing. One imagines that this kind of response could only be triggered by something perceived as an existential thread to the international charedi community. That is, after all, how they perceive modern technologies like smartphones and the ubiquity of the Internet: as an evil ploy of the Evil Inclination, whose only interest is in making sinning easier than its ever been before.
But what of the other existential threats that plague our communities? What of the rampant sexual abuse that is enabled by polices like those of Agudath Israel of America, which enable abuse and protect abusers, by mandating that victims of abuse and their families go to rabbis rather than law enforcement when they are abused? Surely this is as much an existential crisis as any other. Surely, with the number of people who eventually leave Orthodoxy, going “off the derech,” as a result of abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of a seemingly indifferent community, something must be done!
You know, it’s interesting. Back when ZAAKAH first proposed protesting the Internet Asifa at city field, I was opposed to the idea. I didn’t see the issues as mutually exclusive. I felt, at the time, that there was enough space on the moral landscape of our collective conscience for two issues to exist simultaneously. One can easily perceive the Internet as being a spiritual threat in need of eradicating, while also acknowledging that child sexual abuse is a horrific violation of our most vulnerable people, and committing to stand against abusers and their enablers. I didn’t attend the protest outside the asifa. I argued with one of the organizers, and tried to convince him to cancel it. I had such faith in my community’s ability to treat both issues with the attention each deserved.
But it’s 5 years later, and we’ve had no asifa for victims of child sexual abuse. We’ve had no serious commitments by Agudah, and other major Charedi organizations and leaders to stand behind victims instead of abuses. We’ve seen no change in the policy that dictates that victims go to law enforcement rather than rabbis. Agudah continues to pour money into prevention, but still does nothing to ensure that abusers are prosecuted, and victims see justice. They spend all their time trying to make sure abuse doesn’t happen in yeshivos, while doing nothing to protect the majority of victims who are abused in their homes or by people they know.
They continue to attack those of us who speak up against them, while partnering with organizations like the Catholic Church to oppose legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Their excuse? That it would be cripplingly expensive to allow themselves to be open to that kind of liability, and that it’s more important for yeshivos to stay open than for victims of those yeshivos to get any justice.
And now we’re having an international day of tefillah to fight smartphones and Internet. It’s nice to see that the Moetzes Gedolei Yisrael of Israel have their priorities in order.
Kushner Companies scraps planned Orthodox Jewish community in Jersey City
UPDATED, May 10, 12:30 p.m.: Kushner Companies was the leading bidder on an industrial site called Bayfront in Jersey City that would become home to a planned Jewish community geared toward members of Orthodox sects who are being priced out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
But when Bloomberg reporters asked company spokesperson James Yolles about the bid on Tuesday, Yolles said that the company already dropped any intentions it had to buy the site from Honeywell and Jersey City for $150 million. An unnamed Kushner employee also told the news site that these plans were dropped late last year, but the office of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said it was unaware of this and has yet to receive any word of Kushner’s withdrawal from consideration.
It’s unclear if the Kushners decided to abandon the project for ethics reasons, but Honeywell, a Fortune 100 list conglomerate, has billions in government contracts that could prove tricky in any dealmaking tied to the Kushners. The development would likely also require federal subsidies to improve the infrastructure within and surrounding the site. “It’s a good sign that they are pulling out,” Larry Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, told Bloomberg. “Though the question is whether or not it’s just because of the publicity or because they actually see there is a potential conflict of interest in these situations.”
In a statement to The Real Deal, Yolles said “a decision was made late last year not to pursue the project because the company was not persuaded by the economics of the deal.”
Last weekend, the company made front page news when White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s sister Nicole promoted a Jersey City project at One Journal Square to Chinese investors. The sales pitch made mention of Kushner Companies’ ties to the White House and Nicole told the audience the project was “important” to her entire family. It was later reported that the project in question is going through a rough spot, losing an anchor tenant in WeWork and at risk of losing a key 30-year tax abatement. [Bloomberg] — Will Parker
To read the article in TheRealDeal click here.
National Real Estate Investor: http://www.nreionline.com/investment/kushners-abandon-property-bid-pressures-mount-over-conflicts
RABBI ACCUSED OF RAPING STUDENT ORDERED TO TESTIFY AT TRIAL
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A rabbi accused of repeatedly raping and molesting a teenage boy has been ordered to testify at a civil trial after invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a deposition.
Jury selection for Rabbi Daniel Greer’s trial in federal court in Hartford is scheduled to start Wednesday. Jurors could begin hearing evidence later in the day or Thursday.
Greer, 76, remains the principal at the Yeshiva of New Haven school. A former student at the Jewish boarding school, Eliyahu “Eli” Mirlis, now 29, is suing Greer and the school on allegations of sexual assault, infliction of emotional distress and other claims.
Mirlis, who attended the school from 2001 to 2005, also alleges in the lawsuit that Greer sexually abused at least one other male student. The Associated Press generally does not name people who allege sexual assault, but Mirlis wanted to come forward, his lawyer said.
Greer has denied the allegations and has not been criminally charged. New Haven police say they’re looking into a sexual assault complaint filed by Mirlis’ lawyer, Antonio Ponvert III.
Greer and his lawyers, David Grudberg and William Ward, did not return phone and email messages seeking comment.
According to court documents, Greer invoked his right against self-incrimination at a deposition last year. His lawyers asked a judge to bar Mirlis from calling Greer to the witness stand, but the request was denied.
“Parading Mr. Greer before the jury to repeatedly invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege will only serve to paint him as ‘a criminal who has probably eluded justice’ in the eyes of the finders of fact, which will cause significant and irreparable prejudice in this case,” Grudberg and Ward wrote in a motion filed last month, adding that Greer also would invoke his Fifth Amendment right if called to testify.
Although Judge Michael P. Shea denied the request this month, he said Greer’s lawyers could object to specific questions to prevent Greer from having to repeatedly take the Fifth on the stand.
Ward has questioned why Mirlis came forward with the allegations years later and did not take the matter before a rabbinical arbitration court. He said the allegations have damaged Greer, his family and the good reputation he spent years building in the community.
Greer is a graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School who has testified before the state legislature several times on a variety of issues, including opposing same-sex unions in 2002 before the state approved same-sex marriage. He also is a former member of the New Haven police commissioners’ board and a past chairman of the New Haven Redevelopment Agency.
He also led efforts to improve New Haven’s Edgewood neighborhood.
Greer’s daughter was among a group of Orthodox Jewish students who sued Yale University in the late 1990s, claiming the school’s requirement that they live in coed dorms violated their constitutional rights. A federal judge disagreed and dismissed the lawsuit.
Construction Companies’ Owner Is Charged in Laborer’s Death
The owner of two Brooklyn construction companies was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday because the authorities said he ignored complaints about a poorly maintained retaining wall that collapsed at a work site in 2015, killing an 18-year-old laborer and injuring two others.
The companies’ owner, Michael Weiss, 47, was also charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of the laborer, Fernando Vanegaz, an immigrant from Ecuador. In an indictment issued in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, Mr. Weiss was further accused of reckless endangerment, assault, grand larceny, tax fraud and falsifying business records. He could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
Mr. Weiss pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was released on bail.
“Fernando Vanegaz should be alive today,” Eric Gonzalez, the acting Brooklyn district attorney, said at a news conference announcing the charges. “Construction site deaths such as his are becoming all too common as builders ignore safety protocols and hire untrained workers to maximize profits.” Mr. Gonzalez added, “We cannot allow this robust housing market to come at the cost of worker safety.”
According to the indictment, on Sept. 3, 2015, Mr. Weiss ordered several employees of his companies, RSBY NY Builders Inc. and Park Ave Builders Inc., to conduct excavation in an area of a lot at 656 Myrtle Avenue where they had not received permission from city buildings officials to work. Despite repeated requests from his workers — and federal regulations requiring him to do so — Mr. Weiss did not provide materials to shore up an exposed wall of a building adjacent to the site, which his companies were converting from a one-story fruit store to a five-story structure intended to house a shoe store and apartments, the indictment said.
Shortly before noon that day, a wall of the adjacent building gave way, sending a cascade of masonry blocks and debris onto three of his workers. Mr. Vanegaz, who had been in the United States for less than a year, died; two others were injured.
The death came amid a surge in fatal construction accidents in New York, and Mr. Gonzalez said on Wednesday that 33 workers had died in the five boroughs since January 2015. That spate of deaths prompted a crackdown on shoddy builders both by local district attorneys’ offices and by the city’s Investigation Department, which assisted in the inquiry into Mr. Weiss.
“We have seen the tragic results on construction sites too many times when contractors ignore repeated warnings of danger and put the lives of workers at risk,” Mark Peters, the commissioner of the Investigation Department, said at the news conference. “In this case, the warnings were clear, but the defendant disregarded them at a deadly cost.”
To read the remainder of the article from the NYTimes click here.
Israel: Police Announce Arrests In Money Laundering Operation
Three persons were arrested by Israel Police on Thursday, 8 Iyar as the primary suspects in a money laundering operation, including one chareidi suspect. Police report the operation involved millions of shekels and the suspects are residents of both Jerusalem and Netanya and they are in their thirties.
It appears that they obtained funds from abroad fraudulently and they laundered the money here in Israel. The operation has been going on for a number of years. During the predawn hours of Thursday however, the clandestine investigation went public as police moved in to make the arrests. Armed with search warrants, police carried out searches of their homes at the time of the arrests.