Izzy Posen, a Hasidic ultra-Orthodox Jew, What he Faced to Leave the Community – BBC




Inside the hidden world of Britain’s Hasidic ultra-Orthodox Jews

Would you be able to leave everything you have ever known behind in order to follow your dreams?

That was the choice Izzy Posen, a Hasidic ultra-Orthodox Jew faced when he decided to leave his isolated religious community.

He told BBC World Service how his life has been transformed since breaking free.

Video produced by Trystan Young and Alice Porter.

Listen to more stories from The Newsroom.



The “Rubashkin Effect,” Satmar Money, More Lenient Sentences, May G-d Help the Rest of us

Note to our Readers:

The article below incorrectly claims that Rubashkin received a pardon from Donald Trump. HE DID NOT RECEIVE A PARDON. He was released on a commuted sentence, for time served. He is still a convicted felon who is being celebrated as a hero. 


Satmar raises $2 million for lobbying

Goal of fundraising to accelerate reform in US administration to provide leniencies for prisoners and detainees on white-collar crimes.

Satmar Hasidim

Together with other haredi communities, Satmar has raised some $2 million in recent days to accelerate the reform promoted by the US administration to provide leniency for prisoners and detainees on white-collar crimes.

It is unclear whether this represents a “Rubashkin Effect”, who was released a year ago, or the high-profile arrests being made in the US haredi community. Satmar stalwarts claim the current policy is overly strict and any initiative to ease it is vital and welcome.

Fundraising was done using the popular “matching” method whereby every dollar donated is matched a dollar. As part of the campaign, it was made clear that while President Trump “will not stay forever in the White House, the prisoners will rot there for their whole lives.”

This week a gala event took place in New York to mark the anniversary of Jewish prisoner Rabbi Shalom Rubashkin’s release, who last year received a surprising pardon by President Trump.

Satmar Supported Prison Reform and the HIGH Cost to the Public in Welfare, Social Services and other Subsidies – Not Saving Money…

Washington’s prison reforms estimated to cost $346M over 10 years

A plan to massively beef up federal prison rehabilitation programs being pushed by President Donald Trump and congressional leaders from both parties will cost taxpayers roughly $346 million over the next 10 years, according to a report released Friday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

It is expected to reduce the number of federal prisoners by 53,000. The Bureau of Prisons estimates there are roughly 180,000 current federal inmates. Most reductions would occur in the first year, due to the laws retroactive sentencing changes. 

Texas implemented similar reforms to its state prison system more than a decade ago, saving more than $4 billion between 2006 and 2016, according to according to the criminal justice reform advocacy group Right on Crime.

Those savings — after an initial investment of $241 million in rehabilitation programs — have served as the inspiration for similar reform efforts in states like Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina.

“This all started because people wanted to save money,” Mark Holden, general counsel for Koch Industries, which has been a major proponent of the reforms, said at a press conference about the bill Friday.

“They came for the savings but they stayed for the salvation,” Holden said of the states that followed Texas’ lead.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who serves as his party’s vote counter, describes changes to a plan he crafted based on reforms passed by Texas more than a decade ago, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 3018.

Senators are expected to discuss and vote on the plan, called the First Step Act, early next week.

Though it’s expected to pass with the help of Republicans and Democrats, some of the plan’s biggest detractors have complained about not having seen an estimate of the costs.

Friday’s CBO report chalked the price tag up to the release of federal prisoners who could soon take advantage of government programs.

“Under current law, prisoners are generally are ineligible to receive benefits from several federal programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the health insurance marketplaces, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” said the report. “By accelerating the release of prisoners, CBO estimates that the legislation would increase the number of people receiving benefits from those programs.”

Right on Crime’s Marc Levin told the Star-Telegram Friday that while states’ savings estimates would not have accounted for newly eligible federal benefits, the CBO’s report did not factor in federal taxes the released prisoners would pay if they get jobs.

The CBO also did not assess savings from recidivism reduction, something Texas and other states have experienced since implementing their reforms, said Levin. He suggested as well that fewer prison staffers could be necessary after incarceration rates decrease.

President Donald Trump announced on November 14, 2018 support for the first major rewrite of the nation’s criminal justice sentencing laws in a generation: H.R. 5682 or the “First Step Act.”

In Texas, lawmakers from both parties implemented the reforms in 2007 after the state’s Legislative Budget Board estimated it would need an additional $2 billion by 2012 to fund its prison system.

The results helped it shutter eight prisons, with several more expected to close in the coming years, according to Right on Crime.

Between 2006 and 2016, the state’s incarceration level dropped more than 20 percent, while the crime rate has dropped roughly 30 percent, the group says.

The plan Senate leaders expect to vote on next week would put money toward anti-recidivism programs such as job training, education and faith-based classes in federal prisons. Prisoners who participate could earn credits to be released from prison early and serve the remainder of their sentence in home confinement or halfway houses.

The plan also gives judges more discretion when sentencing nonviolent offenders, particularly for drug offenses, aimed at keeping reducing incarceration levels.

Tom Cotton, Saving the World from Prison Reform – It WILL NOT Keep Our Communities Safe, it Will Allow Fraud with Impunity

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks to reporters as he arrives for a meeting with fellow Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who are at the Capitol to discuss the nation's criminal justice sentencing laws, in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ** FILE **

Sen. Tom Cotton says prison-reform bill shouldn’t allow early release for felons

A key Republican opponent of a prison-reform bill backed by President Trump said Tuesday that supporters of the measure should kill provisions allowing certain federal inmates out of prison before they complete their sentences.

Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, said the legislation should focus on helping people “who have paid their debts to society.”

“We shouldn’t be slashing sentences and releasing child abusers and serious felons and drug dealers early from prison,” Mr. Cotton said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.

The White House and Senate supporters of the bill are pushing for a vote on the First Step Act before the end of the lame-duck session later this month. Presidential adviser Jared Kushner, who is Mr. Trump’s point person on the legislation, said Monday night that the bill “will accomplish a lot to make our communities safer.”

“The recidivism rate that we have is way too high and not doing anything about that is irresponsible,” Mr. Kushner told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We’re very close right now and hopefully this will get to the floor and we’ll be able to have a big bipartisan celebration before Christmas.”

“It is extremely popular and has strong bipartisan support. It will also help a lot of people, save taxpayer dollars, and keep our communities safe. Go for it Mitch!” the president said.

The Hen Crusading for the Hen-House, the Satmar and Prison Reform – Why Have Laws if they are Not to be Enforced?

The Hypocrisy of the Satmar pushing for Prison Forgiveness, the Irony of this Bill and the Destruction to Society if it Passes

It is not lost on LostMessiah that the Satmar are pushing so hard to reduce sentences for fraud and to change enforcement requirements. They are quite unforgiving of their own, shunning members of their community for reporting sexual assault and abuse; but of course others should be forgiving when they commit fraud and other crimes. A fraud factory is the description of crimes for which one such Satmar member was sentenced.

To the public at large, this bill, now apparently backed by Mitch McConnell, is a travesty of justice for the non-Hasidic citizens of the United States. It may be the right goal, reforming US prisons and the system of incarceration. But once the ultra-Orthodox get involved, the whole thing is suspect. 

Satmar and other Hasidic sects raise $2 million to lobby for federal prison reform


Satmar and other Hasidic sects raise $2 million to lobby for federal prison reform
Rabbi Moshe Margaretten is leading the push for reform. (YouTube)

A Hasidic crusade for federal prison reform could open the door for a group of unintended beneficiaries — 2,600 prisoners serving lengthy sentences for selling crack cocaine.

Although Jewish people represent less than 1% of the 183,000 federal prisoner population, Hasidic leaders in New York are pushing for changes that would nix some mandatory sentencing recommendations and give judges more discretion.


The “First Step Act,” a criminal justice measure with bipartisan support, would allow convicted drug peddlers to petition judges for their immediate release, though the Hasidic effort is more likely aimed at helping prisoners like Mordechai Samet, who in 2003, was sentenced to 27 years in prison for running what prosecutors called a “full-service fraud factory.”


Prosecutors said Samet stole at least $5.5 million through multiple scams, including bogus business loans and fake lotteries.

But local Hasidic prison reform backers insist the latest lobbying effort has nothing to do with the Samet case, noting he would not be eligible for release under the legislation.


“The Hasidic community has long been active in issues surrounding sentences and prison reform as a consequence of deeply held foundational beliefs in everybody deserving a second chance,” said Michael Tobman a political consultant active with Hasidic communities.


Satmar and other Hasidic sects have already raised $2 million to fund their lobbying efforts.


The legislation has the support of President Trump and passed the House of Representatives in May.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has blocked the bill, is expected to finally allow it to come for a vote in the next few days.


“This is the final showdown,” a website pressing members of the Orthodox community to donate to the cause says. “This is where the journey begins or ends. This is when you can change the future of hundreds of inmates in our community.”



Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, a member of the Skverer Hasidic sect, is leading the lobbying push.


“Hopefully we will see soon…fathers and mothers and their children are being united again,” Margaretten says in a YouTube video urging people to donate to the cause.

He was inspired to push for change after seeing the suffering experienced by the family of a close friend.


In 2011, with the help of community funds, Margaretten hired Washington lobbyist Greg Mitchel and former Utah U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman.


Last December, Trump commuted the 27 year prison sentence of an influential kosher slaughterhouse operator. Sholom Rubashkin, a member of the Lubavitch Hasidic sect, turned into a cause celebre after his sentence in 2009.

Where were Ultra-Orthodox When the Nazi’s Attacked? The War on Education and IDF Service Dichotomy

Image result for satmar pictures

With Utmost Respect For This Soldier – we hope you are okay with us using your photograph.

The Historical Realities and Antisemitism –

For a Tolerant Civil Society

OPINION – LostMessiah and Contributors (Edited)

The war on education by some members of the ultra-Orthodox community is now a hot topic in the US, Israel and abroad. Each time those members are questioned, they claim Antisemitism. Coupled with the virtual Jihad declared by the Rabbi Teitlebaum in a 60 – minute long viral rant, which railed against both the education of Yeshiva youth in the US and IDF service in Israel, there is an historical dichotomy.  

Historically,  Ultra-Orthodoxy was not a thing in Eastern Europe during World War II. Many Jews were observant in cities like Visnitz, Belz, Satu-Mer (Satmar), Belarus, and throughout much of Eastern Europe. They were also self-sufficient and adept at business, medicine and highly educated. It was in large part the reason why Jews were viewed as such a threat in pre-war Europe. Radical, uneducated and uninformed indoctrinated Jews were non-existent, with little exception. That appears to be a post-war phenomenon.

Whether today’s radicalism is a reaction to World War II is a question for historians, psychologists, sociologists and political scientists. But the historical dichotomy between characterizing criticism as Antisemitism and the realities of Hitler’s Nazi regime is not lost here.   

The Ultra-Orthodox claim Antisemitism as a mantra each and every time there is a critique of their behavior, of the lack of education of their youth and their business practices. Yet as they crowd the streets of Bnei Brak, for example,  and throw stones at the IDF and police in defense of their position, they cannot definitively state a plan on how they would defend themselves and Israel were there to be a war. In fact, they do not believe in the existence of the State at all so it is likely they would surrender the country. In that regard, there is little difference between them and the anti-Israel terrorists some of whom threaten Israel’s borders.

The ultra-Orthodox cannot actually respond to questions regarding the medical care and birth of their children, the future of generations of youth not learning the language of the countries in which they live or the health of our environment, when questioned about their education. Unlike the great sages who preached and inspired self-sufficiency, the ultra-Orthodox seem to believe that as the “chosen” all others are here to provide for them, Jew and non-Jew alike. Their plan is apparently to continue to rely on the non-Ultra-Orthodox, the secular and the non-Jews to subsidize in all respects their way of life. 

Were the ultra-Orthodox, supporting positions of anti-education and anti-Israel to be permitted to continue to run roughshod over civil laws and requirements throughout the world, they would not be educated nor would they learn much beyond Hebrew for biblical purposes and Yiddish for communications purposes. They would not be self-sufficient. To the contrary, they would be wholly and entirely reliant on anyone not them, the others.

How can a civil society function if each group within that society is not required, without flexibility, to follow the laws of that society? It cannot. And thinking it can invites Antisemitism, paves a path towards hatred, welcomes discord and indoctrinates dogmatic intolerance.  


Ultra-Orthodox in New York Threaten War After State Demands More Secular Education in Yeshivas

Though the issue of secular studies in ultra-Orthodox has long been a hot button issue in Israel, it has only recently become an issue in America, with NYC serving as its key battleground. Even those calling for change say the new guidelines may be a step too far

A teacher at an ultra-Orthodox school in Israel, where secular studies has long been a contentious issue. That has now spread to New York.\ Gil Cohen-Magen

·         Yeshivas get curriculum reviews as Orthodox power wanes in New York

·         New Jersey township to scrap ban on symbolic Jewish boundary’s construction

·         Haredi poverty: The same threat in both New York and Israel

BROOKLYN – New educational requirements issued by New York State’s Education Department for nonpublic and religious schools have the local ultra-Orthodox community up in arms.

School leaders and prominent rabbis are promising resistance and war if the new rules – dictating secular oversight of Haredi schools, known as yeshivas – are not changed.

The new regulations, issued by the state’s education department last month, require that students in religious schools be taught subjects such as math, science, English, social studies, art and music for a total of about 34 hours a week.

That would mean roughly eight hours of secular instruction four days a week. This is widely regarded as impossible, particularly for ultra-Orthodox boys’ yeshivas, which at the high school level currently offer zero or at most 1.5 hours of secular studies a day.

The new rules will also have public school inspectors visiting yeshivas, beginning next February, to assess compliance.

If schools refuse to meet the new requirements, they will lose the public funding they currently receive for record-keeping, school meals, computer systems, and the like. If a school is deemed not to be meeting the new rules, parents will have 30 to 45 days to put their children in another school. If they don’t, they could – at least in theory – be arrested for truancy, according to the state.

Though the issue of enforcing secular studies on Haredim has long been a hot-button issue in Israel (critics argue that a lack of proper education leaves the ultra-Orthodox dangerously unequipped for the modern world), it has only become an issue in the United States in the last two years, with New York City serving as the key battleground.

Sounding the alarm

Over the summer, a nonprofit group, Young Advocates for Fair Education, filed a lawsuit against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the education department’s top two officials, saying a recently amended law that relaxed academic standards at ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools would ensure that their students would continue to receive “a sub-standard secular education.”

Founder and executive director Naftuli Moster, center, at a Yaffed event in Brooklyn, December 2018.Debra Nussbaum Cohen

The first hearings in the suit will take place in January, Naftuli Moster, Yaffed’s founder and executive director, tells Haaretz.

The suit certainly seemed to sound an alarm bell with the education department. Initially, it was investigating just 30 ultra-Orthodox yeshivas, compared with now pledging to examine all of them.

Defenders of the yeshiva system say parents have the right to send their children to schools that provide a Jewish education consistent with their beliefs and traditions. There are nearly 275 Orthodox Jewish yeshivas in New York State, but some are Modern Orthodox schools that provide a full secular curriculum alongside religious studies.

Although the schools are private, they are not entirely free of government oversight, as a state law requires that instruction in nonpublic schools be substantially equivalent to the instruction given at public schools.

The current guidelines expand that oversight and Haredi leaders are furious, with at least one describing it as “war.”

In a speech late last month at a warehouse packed with Hasidim in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Satmar Rebbe Aharon Teitelbaum vowed that “the Jewish people will not surrender to the wicked, whoever they may be, even the state education commissioner. … We will not comply and we will not follow the state education commissioner under any circumstances.

skip – Satmar rebbe video


“A great battle awaits us, a difficult war, a long war, until we are able to correct it all,” he continued. “We must speak to the leaders of the Democratic Party, who are now at the head of the leadership in New York State. … It wouldn’t pay for them to start a war with all God-fearing Jewry in New York.”

The state’s education department did not respond to requests for comment about Teitelbaum’s statements and other strong responses from the ultra-Orthodox community.

A petition started by the head of a yeshiva on Change.org, titled “Yeshiva Parents Tell the State: Don’t Try to Bully Us or Our Schools!” has already garnered nearly 20,000 signatures.

The Flatbush Jewish Journal, which serves the Haredi communities in New Jersey, New York and Rockland County, has a box on its cover this week declaring: “Crisis Update: State Ignoring the Yeshivas’ Request for Clarification, and Yeshiva Tuition Will Go Up!”

Other Haredi authorities are taking a more diplomatic approach, calling out the guidelines for being unrealistic.

In a November 27 letter to MaryEllen Elia, New York State’s education commissioner, rabbinic advisory board members of the Haredi education organization Torah u’Mesorah wrote that the materials provided by the Education Department “seem to impose a rigid set of requirements that no yeshiva in New York can satisfy.” Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, the head of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, co-signed the letter with Rabbi Eliyahu Brudny of Mirrer Yeshiva.

In a video published by Agudah News, Reisman called the new rules a threat. “It’s immediate, and we must wake up to it before we wake up one morning and the yeshivas are being closed down. … Many thought they would start only with the weaker schools, the schools that don’t teach any English at all. Well, the news is that the goyim see us all in the same light. We’re all ultra-Orthodox fanatics, we all deprive our children of a proper education – never mind the fact that most of our yeshivas score far higher on the public tests than the 60 percent proficiency rates of the … public schools. This all doesn’t matter,” he said.

‘Government overreach’

Agudath Israel of America also requested more information about the new requirements from the education department, but has yet to receive a response, its chief of staff and associate director of education, Avrohom Weinstock, tells Haaretz. The new regulations “are government overreach,” he says. “This is new ground and abridging our ability to function as Jews.”

The updated requirements even proved too much for the person who has pushed for increased secular education in yeshivas since 2012. Moster, who was raised a Belz Hasid in Brooklyn, says he set up Yaffed after realizing he had finished yeshiva high school without a basic education in things like math and English.

Moster says six or seven hours of secular studies in yeshivas “is unrealistic,” adding: “But state should have at least three or four hours a day.”

The Agudah, which represents Haredi interests to government officials, as well as providing guidance directly to schools, concurs.“While we don’t have an issue at all with health and safety requirements,” says Weinstock, “here the state went one step further – more like three steps further. They’re saying not only do you have to comply with statutory requirements, but we will also proactively go into your schools. With 34 or 35 hours a week, it appears to be even more onerous requirements than public schools have. We’re scratching our heads. How could any Jewish school function?” he asks.

Weinstock says many people are not thrilled when the education department says it wants to become so heavily involved in the running of yeshivas. “Should the state be telling nonpublic schools this many hours or that many hours? It’s a slippery slope, and we’re going down it,” he warns.

Most Orthodox yeshivas are located in the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, with some in Manhattan and Staten Island. Others are in Rockland County, which is home to Haredi strongholds Monsey, Kiryas Joel and New Square.

New York State law has long required religious schools to offer instruction that is “substantially equivalent” to the secular education offered in public schools. But the education department has permitted Haredi yeshivas to self-certify that they are doing so. The yeshivas have long claimed that talmudic study offers that “substantial equivalency” and actually provides a superior education to the one public school students receive.

Yaffed published a 90-page report last year, “Non-Equivalent: The State of Education in New York City’s Hasidic Yeshivas,” detailing the secular studies offered at a range of Haredi high schools. At Bais Yaakov in Borough Park, for instance, girls are taught English, math, science, social studies, physical education and art. However, at the Belz, Satmar, Pupa and Lubavitch boys’ yeshiva high schools, they get none, the report says.

Non-Hasidic Haredi institutions, like Brooklyn’s Torah Vodaath and Mirrer Yeshiva, tend to provide more secular studies to students than their Hasidic equivalents, many of which teach only in Yiddish. Haredi girls of both streams are generally offered far more secular classes since, unlike men, they are expected to find work and generate income for their future households.

In fact, students at Haredi girls’ high schools receive enough of a secular education to score well on the New York State Regents Exams – a series of tests that are given at all public high schools. On Wednesday, the Jewish Press touted them as evidence of the effectiveness of Haredi education, though the Orthodox newspaper did not mention the fact that nearly all the high-scoring Haredi schools teach girls.

Goy with a yarmulke

Another aspect of the new guidelines will ensure that teachers of secular studies in yeshivas are qualified educators – something many of the present teachers in boys’ yeshivas (Haredi ones in particular) are not.

Just ask Yitz Finkelstein. While he was a college student, he was also teaching secular subjects at the Satmar boys’ yeshiva United Talmudical Academy, Williamsburg. The lessons were at the end of the school day, which is when secular topics are always scheduled.

“I taught first grade from 3:30 to 4:40 P.M. and fourth grade started at 5 P.M. I was not in any way qualified to do this,” Finkelstein said, speaking as a panelist at a Yaffed event in Brooklyn on Monday. “There was no real support or talk of lesson plans, and children were openly disdainful,” he added.

“They called me goy and shegetz right to my face,” he said, even though he is Jewish and wore a yarmulke while teaching there. Secular education at the school was so bad, Finkelstein added, that “I had fourth-graders who couldn’t spell their own names in English.”

It’s not just the ultra-Orthodox  community that is angry, though. Catholic schools said this week they will not let state inspectors through their doors and are willing to lose the government funding they receive.

Moster praises the direction New York’s education department is taking, even if he feels it has for now set unrealistic expectations.

“For so many decades yeshivas basically operated outside the law, and don’t understand why someone is now demanding a basic standard,” he says. “But we’re just asking for basics. We’re not asking they prep kids for Harvard, but that they give kids a basic education.”

But Weinstock warns that the Haredi community is ready to fight the education department over these guidelines, no matter how long it takes.

“We don’t use the word war, but at the same time we have to make sure our religious freedoms and way of life are preserved,” he says. “We won’t walk away from that. It would be un-American to think otherwise.

At Least the Charedim Will Not Let you Die in the Sky as they Control an Airline


DRAMA IN THE SKY: 2 ElAl Flights Have Shabbos Issues, 1 TO LAND ON Shabbos, 1 Lands In Athens

Two El Al flights from New York to Israel have had serious “Shabbos issues” on Friday afternoon.

There is much confusion and disinformation going around, and the following are the exact details.

Both flights, 008, and 002, were delayed for hours leaving NY on Thursday due to the snow storm.

Flight 002 was supposed to depart JFK Airport at 6:30PM, and was supposed to arrive at 11:50AM on Friday morning in Israel. The flight eventually departed NY at 11:45PM. The flight is packed with Frum people, and a decision was made to land in Athens before Shabbos. The passengers were being put up by El Al in a hotel.

Flight 008 also departed late, but it was a flight that to begin with that was supposed to land at around 3:40PM on Friday (Shkiya is around 4:40PM in Tel Aviv). It does not appear to be full of Shomer Shabbos passengers. Despite that, the plane was going to land in Rome for Shabbos, but a person became seriously ill on board and a Shaila was presented to Hagaon HaRav Yitzchak Yosef. He ruled that the plane should continue to Israel, and land on Shabbos – due to Pikuach Nefashos. It appears the flight will be landing at around 5:30PM – around an hour after the Shkiya.

El Al said in a statement that “extreme weather in New York is causing cancellations and delays in hundreds of flights, including El Al flights that left Israel last night. Due to the delays and delays, El Al does not fly on Saturday, the company is forced to land Flight 002 in Athens and Flight 008 in Rome.”

To read the article in its entirety click here.