The Jared Kushner Chronicles – a Rabbi’s Analysis – Where is Kushner’s Charity?

Preface:

We would like to post a disclaimer. Today is Shavuot and it is conceivable that re-posting this on a Chag Regalim when we are not supposed to be working is not something that the author of the piece would have wanted. Suffice it to say, we are some observant and some not so. We do, however, respect those who are observant and keep the chagim and Shabbat. To that end, we are posting but have had this done by the non-Jews among us.

As another note, our decision to repost Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s piece is in no way indicative of any support for this site or its contents. He may one day write a piece condemning us. Should he ask us to take his article down, we will do so without hesitation. Therefore we request that you, our readers, kindly not make any assumptions or come to any conclusions with regard to the respected Rabbi’s writing or this site. We highly value his commentary here. Whether or not he thinks highly of our site is an opinion only he can voice.

Finally, many of the people named in our previous posts, utterly destroyed by Jared Kushner and his companies can be found by searching their names online. Should you feel like giving Tzedukkah or passing something kind forward, we invite you to send them money to help support their lives. Jared Kushner and his companies have filed hundreds of lawsuits against people whose major misfortune was signing a lease with those companies. There are too many to help and it is solely Kushner and his unconscionable companies who should be helping them. However, since Kushner’s greed seems to make that unlike and given that some of these people are in dire straights. If you have something to give, please do so.

To view his piece in its original form. Please see the Shalom Center: https://theshalomcenter.org/torah-vs-jared-kushner

Chag Sameach.

LM

https://theshalomcenter.org/torah-vs-jared-kushner

The Torah vs. Jared Kushner

Tonight we enter the festival that has come to mean standing again, each year, at Sinai. What does it mean for us to do this seriously, taking Torah deep into our lives, challenging ourselves to live by its deepest teachings?

What would it mean to bring Torah to bear on one rich, powerful, and unjust Jew –- Jared Kushner?

Through the last 2,000 years or so of Jewish history, generations of rabbis have defined themselves – our selves – as heirs of the Prophets, not of the priests. Heirs of the Prophetic commitment to challenge unjust and destructive behavior, to reinterpret Torah for the sake of renewing life as the world around us and within us changed.

When Jews lived in self-contained communities, social if not physical ghettos, that degree of social control was workable for the sake of life-giving, justice-living Torah. But as we – for good reason!  — left such social ghettos, the ability of the rabbis or of the community as a whole to rebuke and end destructive and unethical behavior dwindled. So that lifts up the question: What could the Jewish community of today do about such behavior?

I want to lift up a perfect example of how Torah values are trampled underfoot even while the semblance of piety is claimed.  A story of one man who at this moment holds great power and exemplifies in his own person the “kleptocracy” – rule by thieves – that now afflicts us:

The New York Times Magazine of May 23 featured an article entitled “Jared Kushner’s Other Real Estate Empire.”  It describes in stomach-turning detail how Kushner’s real-estate firm, using several shell companies to hide its ownership from public view, has become an oppressor of the poor.

His companies have used false and brutal behavior toward low-income people who are tenants and even former tenants of the Kushner-owned properties, to extract money from them that in fact they don’t owe, ruining their families and their lives.

Since they can’t afford the lawyers who could defend them, they sink deeper and deeper into debt, disaster, and despair.

It seems to me that this behavior by a very high-profile Jew who claims not only the ethnic identity but the religious conviction is exactly what my grandmother called a chillul hashem.

Chillul,” from the same root as “challil,” the hollow flute,  means  hollowing-out — in this case, hollowing out God’s Name.. Since one of the mystics’ metaphors for God is “Tree of Life,” the “hollowing” is an especially powerful imagery.

A person who seems on the outside to be celebrating a living, thriving Sacred Tree of Life has hollowed out all the life-juice within.

The seemingly pious behavior of a seemingly pious Jew actually shatters Torah —  not in the private and self-contained way of a Jew who decides to eat pork; rather, in a way that shatters decency and justice in the public sphere, for many victims.

I urge you to see the article for yourself at —

<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/magazine/jared-kushners-other-real-estate-empire.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=image&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news>

Kushner’s behavior teaches a vile version of what Judaism and the Jewish people are. When Jews lived in self-contained communities, such an ethical and religious violation could be confronted, rebuked, perhaps punished, even healed by repentant self-correction.

Now it is harder. But perhaps it is still possible. I recall the moment when a small group of rabbis in Northern California called themselves  ”the Redwood Rabbis.” With help from The Shalom Center, they challenged a Jewish corporation-owner whose business was logging magnificent 2,000-year-old redwood trees to make paneling for rich people’s basements. The corporation’s own annual report said that redwood paneling without knots sold better, and it came only from ancient trees.

We gathered on Tu B’Shvat, the RebirthDay of the Trees and of the sacred Tree of Life, to “trespass” on his land to rebuke his killing of these sacred trees of life. We placed a critical ad in his home-town Jewish newspaper just before Yom Kippur to call him to do tshuvah.

We voted inside and demonstrated outside when his stockholders gathered for the annual corporate meeting.

And finally, reluctantly, he sold the groves of ancient redwoods to the California and American governments to be protected.

If rabbis then could see the destruction of these trees as a violation of Torah, what could we say now about acts that cruelly destroy the  lives of hard-working human beings? Could we challenge Mr. Kushner in similar ways? If we did, would we risk encouraging anti-Semitism? Or would we risk it more by keeping silent?

Tonight we face the Festival of Shavuot and read the Book of Ruth. It celebrates two people: a penniless foreigner, an immigrant from a despised and hostile nation, a woman unprotected by a man – and  a wealthy landholder who not only obeyed but affirmed the Torah’s command to make sure the poor and the immigrant had dignity and a decent livelihood. Could any teaching be more clear about the malfeasance of Jared Kushner?

Since the NY Times article on Kushner’s domestic business cruelties, there have emerged claims he may have negotiated with the Putin government of Russia in clandestine ways. And Politico has published an article suggesting his connections with the Lubavitch Chabad organization are intertwined with Chabad’s specially cozy relationship with Putin, in a way to benefit him and his father-in-law both financially and politically.

<http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/the-happy-go-lucky-jewish-group-that-connects-trump-and-putin-215007>

These allegations may or may not be accurate. They merit close study. But the cruelty of his business dealings in Baltimore and elsewhere is clear, already proved.

Most American Jews have made clear that they do not view Mr. Kushner or his kleptocratic and authoritarian bully of a father-in-law as heroes.

But the established “major” organizations have so far not rebuked such behavior by rich Jews, nor have the rabbis who might be thought to be the guardians of Torah.  What more might we do to stand again at Sinai and to clarify what Judaism ought to be, in actual practice?

Blessings that we come to live more fully in a a world that as the ancient Rabbis taught, can stand up straight only if it stands upon three pillars: Emet, Tzedek, v’Shalom: Truth, Justice, and Peace —

Arthur

Lakewood School District Hijacked by the Ultra-Orthodox – The Kids Are Fighting Back!!

DO YOU WONDER WHY ANTI-SEMITISM EXISTS IN THE WORLD? THE CHILD VICTIMS OF RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM.

http://www.thelakewoodscoop.com/news/2017/05/breaking-photo-lakewood-high-school-students-take-to-the-streets-in-protest-over-teacher-job-cuts.html

BREAKING VIDEO & PHOTOS: Lakewood High School students take to the streets in protest over teacher job cuts

Evil in Oz – Rabbi Chaim Tsvi Groner – Chabad Flippant Response

Jason Greenblatt and Berel Lazar – More Fake News?

Trump Team’s Links to Russia Crisscross in Washington

 

WASHINGTON — During the 2016 campaign, Donald J. Trump’s second campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had regular communications with his longtime associate — a former Russian military translator in Kiev who has been investigated in Ukraine on suspicion of being a Russian intelligence agent.

At the Republican National Convention in July, J. D. Gordon, a former Pentagon official on Mr. Trump’s national security team, met with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, at a time when Mr. Gordon was helping keep hawkish language on Russia’s conflict with Ukraine out of the party’s platform.

And Jason Greenblatt, a former Trump Organization lawyer and now a special representative for international negotiations at the White House, met last summer with Rabbi Berel Lazar, the chief rabbi of Russia and an ally of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

In a Washington atmosphere supercharged by the finding of the intelligence agencies that Mr. Putin tried to steer the election to Mr. Trump, as well as continuing F.B.I. and congressional investigations, a growing list of Russian contacts with Mr. Trump’s associates is getting intense and skeptical scrutiny.

Democrats see suspicious connections and inaccurate denials as part of a pattern that belies Mr. Trump’s adamant insistence that he and his associates “have nothing to do with Russia.” The president’s supporters say innocuous encounters, routine for any incoming presidential team, are being treated for political reasons as somehow subversive.

Mr. Trump denounced the furor over Russian connections on Thursday as a “total witch hunt” — but it may not have helped his case that the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, echoed his words on Friday, saying, “This all looks like a witch hunt.”

On Friday, Mr. Trump posted a picture on Twitter of a meeting between Mr. Putin and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and wrote that “we should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin.”

The issue has already had momentous consequences for the new administration. Michael T. Flynn lasted less than a month as national security adviser before being forced out for mischaracterizing his conversations with Mr. Kislyak. This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted to having meetings with Mr. Kislyak that he had not disclosed during his confirmation hearing.

Mr. Sessions fended off demands that he resign but agreed to recuse himself from what may be the most important investigation his Justice Department is conducting: of Russian meddling in the election and whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates colluded in those efforts. And that did not end the issue; all nine Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee called on Friday for Mr. Sessions to testify about his inaccurate denials that he had met with Russian officials during the campaign.

Part of the problem underlying disputes over such contacts may be Mr. Trump’s pugnacious style, which usually leaves little room for nuance. At a news conference last month, he said that he had “nothing to do with Russia,” and that “to the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.”

In fact, vigorous reporting by multiple news media organizations is turning up multiple contacts between Trump associates and Russians who serve in or are close to Mr. Putin’s government. There have been courtesy calls, policy discussions and business contacts, though nothing has emerged publicly indicating anything more sinister. A dossier of allegations on Trump-Russia contacts, compiled by a former British intelligence agent for Mr. Trump’s political opponents, includes unproven claims that his aides collaborated in Russia’s hacking of Democratic targets.

To read the remainder of the article 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.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words – To be a Charedi or Not to be a Charedi

hillary-clinton-and-donald-trump-face-off-ap-photos-640x480

HEATING UP! Hamodia Attacks Mishpacha Decision To Publish Photo Of Hillary – Contributing Editor Of Mishpacha Sruli Besser Fires Back

 

It was predictable. We all knew this would happen – it was just a matter of time.

As YWN has reported, the front cover of this week’s Mishpacha Magazine had a picture of Hillary Clinton. YWN has confirmed that this decision was made after consultation with the greatest Poskim and Gedolim in the United States.

Nonetheless, the decision was denounced by the editorship of Hamodia in Israel. Yet Hamodia was well aware that Mishpacha’s decision was checked and double-checked with the Gedolei HaPoskim. In fact, Hamodia has behind the scenes, been avidly trying to get all Charedi media publication to agree to their Chassidish opinion (the Admorim of Gur and Novaminsk — which we FULLY respect) not to publish a Hillary photo.

Apparently they are oblivious to the fact that not everyone is required to follow those Chassidim opinions. It is shocking that the Hamodia in Israel chose to attack the opinion of major Poskim – and label them as not “true Chareidim.”

Here are excerpts from their editorial that slammed Mishpacha: “True Charedi newspapers never have and never will publish pictures of women, even if they are in leadership positions. Jews have their own view of everything that happens, especially when the subject is as important as elections. In the eyes of Jews, the US is definitely a ‘kingdom of kindness’ in our days, and deserves recognition and appreciation for that. They understand that the fact that we won’t publish a picture of the Democratic candidate on the front page of haredi newspapers does not mean that we don’t support her, but rather stems from the fact we keep Jewish law,” said Hamodia.

There is a story told that when Artscroll’s biography on Rebbitzen Kanievsky a”h was about to go to print, a copy was shown to Hagaon HaRav Chaim Shlita. After browsing through the book, he turned to those around him and asked, “Why are there so many photos of me and not many of the Rebbitzen? This book is about her!”

Is Moreinu HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita not a “true Chareidi?”

The policy of not publishing photos of women has morphed into a policy of dangerous intolerance to those who do not adopt this Chumrah.

The weekly Flatbush Jewish Journal published a photo of Rebbitzen Pam A”H on her Yartzheit. Their decision was made following the Psak of their Rabbonim – who are among the biggest Rabbonim and Poskim in Flatbush. Sure enough, the paper was viciously attacked by some of the local Chassidish Rabbonim. The Rabbonim who have paskened for the paper have been living in Flatbush for 70 years or more. These Chassidish Rabbonim have only opened their shuls recently.

Recently, the same newspaper was attacked after publishing photos of Rebbitzen Feldman A”H of the Mirrer Yeshiva.

The intolerance has simply gone too far.

Whatever happened to respecting the opinions of others? Why must every Charedi publication follow the opinion of the Hamodia?

Additionally, one must take into consideration the ramifications of ignoring the President of the United States.

Let’s take, for example, when the iconic photo taken inside the Situation Room during the operation to capture or kill Bin Laden. That photo was airbrushed to remove then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and published in the Satmar newspaper Di Tzeitung.

The doctored photo and story went viral. Later, WikiLeaks exposed emails that showed just how furious Hillary was at the time. Imagine her reaction as president. Not to mention the fact that altering the photograph was illegal and the cause for a serious Chillul Hashem.


Today, Sruli Besser – a contributing editor of Mishpacha responded to the HaModiah attack on Facebook. He wrote:

Dear Hamodia,

I’m so sorry that you don’t find us to be true chareidim. I thought hours of conversation and deliberation with real rabbanim would give us some credibility, but I guess not. I’m sorry that when we asked genuine gedolim and poskim how to proceed and followed their advice, we didn’t think to ask you what true charedi papers have always done.

I’m much sorrier that you thought it wise to make this a public issue, because the charedim (true, not true, whatever) don’t need this story in the secular media. We were barraged by requests for comment last week from major media outlets, and we respectfully fended them off because we’re not here to be spokesmen and saviors, just to do keep doing our jobs with ehrlichkeit, professionalism and dedication. It’s not about us.

I respect your right not to publish a picture of Hillary, in line with your mesorah. (I imagine that this comment appeared in Hebrew Hamodia, not English, I haven’t yet seen it. I hope it’s not in English!) It’s a holy mesorah. I enjoy Hamodia and will continue to enjoy it.

Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld was asked by a British census taker what language he spoke at home and he said Ivrit, rather than Yiddish- which of course didn’t reflect his true ideology. Talmidim asked him why he chose to answer that way and he said, ‘Voss iz tzuvishen mir uhn mein breeder, things that come between me and my brother, iz nisht di gesheft fuhn der…isn’t the concern of this Englishman.’

I’m sure you mean this l’shem shamayim and I wish you hatzlacha in your great work.”

http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/482751/heating-up-hamodia-attacks-mishpacha-decision-to-publish-photo-of-hillary—contributing-editor-of-mishpacha-sruli-besser-fires-back.html

 

Will Cuomo’s Replacement Protect Ultra-Orthodox Sex Crime Victims?

Kenneth-Thompson-picture-5

D.A. Kenneth Thompson, “Voice for racial justice” but not for molested children…

We would not want to celebrate someone’s demise. It would be purely awful of us. He leaves behind a wife and children, parents and siblings.

We offer our sincerest condolences to those who mourn his loss. We do not.

We can’t help but hope that his successor will do more, just a little more is something, to help the victims of sexual assault, suffered at the hands of Rabbis, and frankly Priests. We find ourselves praying, just short prayer, that his successor cannot be swayed by the power of the bloc of ultra-Orthodox voters and power brokers.  Perhaps he will meet these men again…

Kenneth-Thompson-picture-with-rabbis

Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney, Dies After Disclosing Cancer

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/10/nyregion/ken-thompson-brooklyns-first-black-district-attorney-dies-at-50.html?_r=0

Kenneth P. Thompson, the first black district attorney of Brooklyn and a voice for racial justice at a moment of tension between law enforcement and minority communities, died on Sunday from cancer, his family said. He was 50.

Mr. Thompson was elected district attorney in 2013 after campaigning on a platform of reform and racial justice, and unseating Charles J. Hynes, a fellow Democrat and a troubled incumbent who had served more than 20 years.

After being absent from his office for nearly two months, Mr. Thompson released a statement on Tuesday saying he had cancer. His office released a second statement on Sunday night, announcing his death and saying that his family had been by his side at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan when he died.

A former federal prosecutor who went on to have a successful private law practice, Mr. Thompson earned a reputation in office as one of the country’s most progressive district attorneys, creating a robust internal unit that reviewed questionable convictions and establishing a policy of not prosecuting most low-level marijuana arrests.

At a moment of heightened racial tension over police-related shootings, he chose to prosecute — and eventually won — the complicated case of Peter Liang, the former New York City police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man, Akai Gurley, in the stairwell of a housing project in 2014. After the trial was over, Mr. Thompson decided not to seek prison time for Mr. Liang, which enraged Mr. Gurley’s family and led to protests.

“The thoughts and prayers of our entire city are with District Attorney Ken Thompson, his family and his loved ones tonight,” Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, said in a statement on Sunday. “With a life and promise cut far too short, our city was blessed with but a glimpse of Ken’s unwavering commitment to justice and his unrivaled pursuit of a more fair system for all those he served.”

Born and raised in New York City, Mr. Thompson was the son of a police officer and lived in public housing in Harlem before moving to Co-Op City, a housing development in the Bronx. He attended the city’s public schools and applied to the Police Department, as his mother had, before choosing instead to attend the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. After his graduation, he obtained a law degree from the New York University School of Law.

On the advice of one of his law professors, Ronald K. Noble, a onetime Treasury Department official and the secretary general of Interpol, Mr. Thompson sought and found a position as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn. In 1997, he was assigned the prestigious task of making the opening statement at the trial of Justin Volpe, a former police officer who eventually pleaded guilty to torturing a Haitian immigrant, Abner Louima, with a broken broomstick in the bathroom of a Brooklyn station house.

After leaving government service, Mr. Thompson went into private practice. His most prominent case was representing an African-born hotel housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, who accused the French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn of raping her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2011. Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, eventually dismissed the case, and Mr. Thompson was criticized for his incendiary personal attacks against Mr. Vance and members of his staff.

Mr. Thompson had harbored ambitions for higher office, but, according to a friend who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mr. Thompson declined to disclose the type of his cancer, learned he had an aggressive form of the disease this year. By the time he received the diagnosis, the cancer had already metastasized and was incurable.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo may now name a replacement for Mr. Thompson, who would have faced re-election next year. “A lifelong New Yorker, Ken was known as an effective, aggressive civil rights leader — and a national voice for criminal justice reform,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement on Sunday.

Mr. Thompson is survived by his wife of 17 years, Lu-Shawn Thompson; his children, Kennedy and Kenny; his mother; his father; his brother; and his sister.

 

To read the article in its entirety click here.