YAFFED.Org – Speaks out against Kalman and Yeger

This was submitted to us by a frequent reader and we tip our hats to that reader.

We note that we are posting this without the prior knowledge of Yaffed’s Naftuli Moster.

This post should not be deemed to imply that we have the support of either Yaffed or Mr. Moster, nor should it be assumed that they are readers of our posts.

Please see the video.


A PLATINUM TESTIMONY – Pay-to-Play – Jona Rechnitz and Mayor de Blasio



Major de Blasio donor brags about closeness with mayor, says he expected influence for funds at Seabrook trial


One of Mayor de Blasio’s biggest donors took the witness stand Thursday to boast about his closeness to the mayor and make clear he had expected “lots of access” to Hizzoner.

The embarrassing testimony came from Jona Rechnitz, who’s pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is the star witness in the trial of disgraced jail union boss Norman Seabrook.

“I was giving money `to the Mayor of New York in exchange for favors,” he said to describe one element of the criminal offense to which he pleaded guilty.

Rechnitz described a meeting he and another donor, Jeremy Reichberg, had with de Blasio’s key fund-raiser, Ross Offinger.

Embattled de Blasio donor to testify against Norman Seabrook

“We expect a lot of access and influence,” Rechnitz said the group told Offinger. “We’re going to become significant contributors.

He said Offinger, a longtime de Blasio aide and the chief rainmaker for the mayor’s non-profit, Campaign for One New York, replied, “Okay. How much do you think you guys can get together?”

Norman Seabrook says $20G was casino prize money, not bribes

Rechnitz, who is cooperating with prosecutors in the hopes of winning lighter jail time, raised $41,000 for the mayor before his 2013 election, donated $50,000 to Campaign for One New York, and wrote a $102,300 check as part of the mayor’s 2014 failed effort to flip the state Senate to Democratic control.

Offinger, Rechnitz testified, returned with his hand out after de Blasio was elected mayor.

“He would call when they needed money,” he said. In return, “I would call whenever I had an issue.”

“I would be a ‘yes’ man,” he added. “I always gave money.”

Witness in Norman Seabrook bribery case is ‘serial liar’: defense

In court he revealed that de Blasio — who has strained to distance himself from Rechnitz — even came to his office before the election.

The then-candidate “told me to call if there’s anything I need. Always be in touch.”

Rechnitz was one of several donors who got tremendous access to the mayor. De Blasio routinely ordered his minions to intervene on donors’ behalf.

Emails show de Blasio responding, “I’m all ears” when Rechnitz suggested a candidate for buildings commissioner, and City Hall intervened when he was cited for running an illegal hotel.

Norman Seabrook says $20G was casino prize money, not bribes

In response late Thursday, de Blasio’s press secretary, Eric Phillips, mocked the credibility of the mayor’s major donor.

“These are nothing but re-heated, re-packaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels,” he said. “The administration has never and will never make government decisions based on campaign contributions.”

Rechnitz was cooperating with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s probe of de Blasio that result in no charges but the finding that the mayor had intervened on behalf of big donors.

Rechnitz also admitted he “straw donors” — an illegal scheme to avoid laws limiting how much contributors can give to politicians.

Ex-correction union head Seabrook must face corruption charges

The law prohibits donors from masking their identity by giving to campaigns through other donors. Rechnitz said he did just that by having people in his office write checks for which he would reimburse them.

He described Offinger as a kind of bag man, dropping by his office to pick up checks.

“I told him to hold on and I’d walk out, get a few checks from people and then bring them in,” he said.

Please click here for the original article.

Malka Leifer – The Queen of Molestation Still Evading Justice


Malka Leifer

Members of Jewish community Adass Israel investigated over accused principal’s escape


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: When the principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school fled to Israel in the middle of the night, the students she was alleged to have abused were devastated.

That was nine years ago and Malka Leifer is still evading justice.

This afternoon Victoria Police confirmed it is investigating members of the Melbourne community who assisted her escape.

Reporter Louise Milligan met one of Leifer’s victims, who today landed in Israel to campaign for her extradition.

(Footage of Dassi Erlich with a friend at a cafe in Elsternwick, Melbourne)

DASSI ERLICH: I haven’t had any coffee yet today. (Laughs)

LOUISE MILLIGAN, REPORTER: It seems like a pretty ordinary scene: a 30-year-old woman out for coffee with her friend.

DASSI ERLICH: How old is Kes now?

FRIEND: Twenty.

DASSI ERLICH: Twenty. Yeah…

LOUISE MILLIGAN: But even though she has spent her entire life in this neighbourhood, for most of that time Dassi Erlich was strictly forbidden from doing anything as simple as this.

DASSI ERLICH: I didn’t know how to really exist in the outside world. I didn’t know how to do kind of the normal, everyday things that everybody else does outside of the community.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi grew up in the tiny Jewish community, Adass Israel, here in Melbourne’s Ripponlea.

DASSI ERLICH: We didn’t grow up with any TV or that type of stuff. So, yeah. Just going to the cinema and watching a movie: that’s not something I had ever done before.

NICK MAZZEO, LAWYER: The Adass community is an ultra-Orthodox community, so it’s a very closed community. It involves about 200 families.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi’s sheltered existence extended to the classroom. She went here, to the Adass Israel Girls’ School.

DASSI ERLICH: That’s all I knew. That was, you know, growing up and going to school and learning how to be a good Jewish mother; learning Jewish studies. That was my life.

Leaving school: I think I left school with a year seven maths and a year seven English.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Young Dassi was incredibly isolated and naive and was also struggling with a difficult family life – which made her a perfect target for school principal Malka Leifer.

DASSI ERLICH: Malka Leifer: she knew that I came from an abusive household. And she approached me with the intention of a person of support: someone that could help out with what was going on at home; someone that could listen and care.

And over time she molested and then raped me.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Two of her sisters were also allegedly targeted by Leifer.

DASSI ERLICH: There was no-one to tell. There was literally no-one to tell.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Did you know it was wrong?

DASSI ERLICH: On some level I knew it was wrong. I couldn’t – at the time I couldn’t state why it was wrong, because I didn’t have the words for it. But definitely it felt wrong.

NICK MAZZEO: The abuse was horrific and included penetration.

It’s a credit to her that she’s able to continue day by day and get through this trauma that she’s gone through.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi was married off into the community while still a teenager, but the trauma resurfaced when she had a baby.

(Photograph of Dassi Erlich and her child at the beach)

LOUISE MILLIGAN: The day after this photo was taken, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

DASSI ERLICH: I was quite suicidal and I was self-harming.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi told a psychologist about the abuse and later, while in hospital, reported to Victoria Police.

The Adass Israel School learned about Dassi’s complaint to a psychologist. In the heat of the moment, they made a very poor decision about what to do about Malka Leifer.

NICK MAZZEO: A meeting was held and – we’re talking within hours – airline tickets were booked and Leifer, along with her husband and children: they were flown out of the country to Israel.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: What does that say to you?

NICK MAZZEO: It’s disgraceful that people, knowing that a crime had been committed, would take those steps to remove someone from the jurisdiction.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: There are thought to be up to 15 alleged victims. Victoria Police eventually laid 74 charges against Malka Leifer.

But Dassi Erlich was treated as a traitor to her community and her parents.

DASSI ERLICH: By going forward to the police, my reputation was shot. So I left the community.

TED BAILLIEU, FORMER VICTORIAN PREMIER: She’s been through terrible times. To think she’s been abused by her principal, she’s been shunned by her community and she’s been chopped out by her own parents.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Forced to seek a new life, Dassi sued the school board and in 2015 Supreme Court justice Jack Rush awarded her $1.2 million: the largest Victorian damages payout to a victim of institutional abuse.

The judge said:

NICK MAZZEO: That the school’s conduct was “deplorable,” “disgraceful.” They are just a few of the words the he used.

He was very scathing of the way that the school conducted the case. There’s no doubt about that.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Leifer, meanwhile, is still in Israel. She has fought extradition, arguing she is too mentally unwell to face trial in Australia.

DASSI ERLICH: Malka Leifer is living a free life in Israel. She has absolutely no restrictions on her movement. She can go and come as she pleases.

(Dassi Erlich and her sister Elly meet Ted Baillieu in a Melbourne side street)

LOUISE MILLIGAN: So Dassi Erlich has embarked on a campaign to press Israel to extradite her former principal.



TED BAILLIEU: How are you, Dassi?


LOUISE MILLIGAN: She has some formidable supporters, like former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu.

TED BAILLIEU: I said to her, “Dassi, I’m happy to stand beside you on any public platform you like.” I said it a number of times and she took me up on it. And I’m very pleased to be able to help her.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Last month Mr Baillieu accompanied Dassi and her sister Elly, also a Leifer victim, to a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The Prime Minister has today indicated he will raise the case with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER: What I’ll say is that justice demands that she be brought back to Australia to answer the charges.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi Erlich has been negotiating for some time with the new Adass Israel School board to get a public apology to her and the other alleged victims of Malka Leifer.

The school had promised a lengthy statement to 7.30 today, but it never arrived.

Victoria Police this afternoon confirmed it is still investigating some members of the Adass community who helped Malka Leifer flee Australia nine years ago, in the middle of the night.

Dassi Erlich is taking her plea direct to the Israeli Government. Late yesterday she flew to Israel with her sisters.

For now, Malka Leifer remains protected inside a closed ultra-Orthodox community in central Israel.

DASSI ERLICH: I want to achieve justice. I want to ensure as well that there is awareness in Israel about this case, because Malka Leifer is living in a community around people that are as naive and as ignorant of these kind of issues as I was when I was growing up.

And if I can do anything to ensure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anybody else, that’s definitely a big goal of mine.


Inspectors Accepting Bribes to Speed up Developments, Shocking? Nope.

The Daily News

Fourteen people charged with bribing inspectors to speed up Brooklyn development projects

With new buildings popping up across Brooklyn, some corrupt property owners put a pair of city inspectors on retainer to avoid code violations, the Department of Investigation charged Wednesday.

The two Department of Buildings inspectors were among 14 individuals hit with charges in the latest crackdown on the resilient corruption that’s plagued the building sector in this city for decades.

The two inspectors were paid off by property owners and contractors to overlook code violations such as inoperable exit signs on residential and commercial buildings going up across Brooklyn, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said.

“Fabricating documents, lying about conducting inspections or about who is doing the work has serious consequences,” said Peters. “For the defendants it’s about expediting the construction timeline. It’s about making an extra buck.”

Financier gets probation for bribing state pension official

In all, 10 property owners, developers and contractors were charged in the scheme, along with a private sector asbestos inspector who took fees to fudge inspections and a master plumber who sold the use of his license.

Thirteen of the 14 were arrested in a pre-dawn sweep. All will be prosecuted by Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and were to be presented in court later Wednesday.

The two city inspectors were paid off with cash but also got free kitchen renovations and driveway upgrades to their private homes, the complaints allege.

Women can be Leaders but not Leaders? Is this really a start?


Orthodox Union’s new project says women don’t need to be rabbis to be leaders

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Orthodox Union is founding its own division to advance women as congregational leaders, as well as to promote Jewish study and communal participation for women in Modern Orthodoxy.

The announcement comes nearly nine months after the group, an umbrella association of centrist Orthodox synagogues, issued a ruling banning those synagogues from hiring women for clergy roles.

The Department of Women’s Initiatives, which will launch Nov. 1, aims to increase women’s participation in synagogues in a way the O.U. feels is consonant with Orthodox tradition.

“I think it’s important for women to hear what they can do,” said Adina Shmidman, the department’s incoming director. “This department is really focused on the positive, and the will to continue and find opportunities for women. I think positivity and enthusiasm and uniting women through Torah study is primary, whether it be personal leadership opportunities or communal leadership roles.”

The department will have a budget in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and provide guidance, networking and funding for women who want to be professional leaders in Orthodox synagogues. It will also promote women as congregational scholars-in-residence and encourage women to take on lay leadership roles at synagogue. In addition, it will encourage the physical expansion of women’s spaces in synagogues.

Also, the department will  offer high-level women’s classes in Torah study, as well as programs for youth. And it will form a think tank to analyze programs and resources for Orthodox women.

Conceived three years ago, the department is in part a response to the ascendance of women to public leadership roles during the past few decades, O.U. leaders said. They also noted that there is a much wider range of educational opportunities available to Orthodox women than in the past. A synagogue with an entirely male senior staff, said O.U. President Moishe Bane, risks unintentionally sidelining half its membership.

“It’s difficult to expect that when men are the primary communal leadership that they’ll understand and appreciate the roles women play and should be playing, and the needs they have,” Bane said. “I think there’s a recognition in the Orthodox Union that the world is changing rapidly, and people’s expectations are changing rapidly.”

In February, the group issued a ruling barring women from holding a title such as “rabbi,” or even from serving without title in a role in which she would be performing “common” clergy functions such as ruling on legal matters, officiating at life-cycle events, delivering sermons from the pulpit during services, leading services and serving as a synagogue’s primary authority.

The same ruling urged an expanded role for women as teachers and pastoral counselors, and as lay leaders and professionals. The Rabbinical Council of America, another Orthodox umbrella group, has also issued a ruling against women clergy.

Four Orthodox synagogues that are O.U. members currently employ women in such positions — all of them graduates of Yeshivat Maharat, a liberal Orthodox women’s seminary in Riverdale. Women who graduate from the seminary receive the title “maharat,” a Hebrew acronym for “Jewish legal, spiritual and Torah leader” that avoids conferring the title “rabbi.” But earlier this year, the O.U. sent representatives to these synagogues asking the female clergy to change their titles.

According to a recent survey, a majority of U.S. Modern Orthodox Jews either fully or somewhat agree that women should have “expanded roles in the clergy.” More than one-third either fully or somewhat support a woman holding a position with “rabbinic authority.” A solid majority says a woman can serve as president of a synagogue — a lay position. The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance website currently lists over 80 women who have served as presidents of Orthodox congregations.

Bane and Allen Fagin, the O.U.’s executive vice president, said the department’s establishment is not a reaction to fallout from the ban. Rather, Bane said the ban itself was a result of the department’s planning process, which included an examination of Jewish legal limits on women’s leadership.

The department will advance women as teachers, professional staff and pastoral counselors. But Bane said a woman should not be “the face of the synagogue.”

“One of the most important conversations we believe needs to take place in our community is to define appropriate job descriptions and titles for women who will serve as synagogue professionals, in roles that are consistent with Jewish law, consistent with tradition, but are extremely important within the shul,” he said.

Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said she hoped the O.U. would make good on its promises to advance women and invest more in women’s programs. Along with positive actions, she recommended that the O.U. stop actively opposing Orthodox women clergy and the congregations that employ them. Weiss-Greenberg spoke to JTA without knowledge of the department’s establishment, which is being first reported here.

“They list all these things that women can and should be doing,” she said, referring to the O.U.’s Jewish legal ruling. “Actions speak louder than words. Let’s hear from women — women who are not token women, who are highly educated, passionate and invested.”

Shmidman is the kind of synagogue leader the O.U. hopes to develop more of. She has a doctorate in educational psychology and serves her community as the rebbetzin, or rabbi’s wife, of her synagogue in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion, Pennsylvania. In 2015, she founded the Rebbetzin to Rebbetzin Mentoring Program under the auspices of Yeshiva University, which pairs younger rabbis’ wives with more experienced rebbetzins who guide them on how to serve and navigate their communities.

While Shmidman hopes to continue training rebbetzins, she wants to expand leadership and learning opportunities for other women as well. The department will push synagogues to offer classes for women on par with what men receive — such as a “daf yomi,” which that covers a page of Talmud daily — as well as weekly or monthly women’s learning groups and mother-daughter study programs.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

Jona Rechnitz the Platinum SERIAL LIAR


The New York Daily News

The ‘one witness’ in ex-correction union head Norman Seabrook’s corruption case is ‘serial liar’: defense lawyers

The star witness in the corruption case against former correction union boss Norman Seabrook is so sketchy, “you would not buy a used car” from him, defense lawyers said Tuesday.

Jona Rechnitz, a major donor to Mayor de Blasio who admitted to exchanging campaign contributions for perks, was the focus of opening statements in Seabrook’s trial in Manhattan Federal Court.

The former president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association stands accused of pushing $20 million in union pension funds to Murray Huberfeld’s now-defunct hedge fund, Platinum Partners, in exchange for $60,000 in December 2014. Huberfeld is on trial alongside Seabrook.

Prosecutors plan to use testimony from Rechnitz — the alleged bagman in the bribe — to prove Seabrook and Huberfeld, both 57, were in a corrupt scheme. Rechnitz allegedly delivered the cash kickback to Seabrook in an $820 Ferragamo valise.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Bell said in his openings that Rechnitz was an ambitious “wheeler and dealer” who shelled out thousands on vacations and meals for public officials “in exchange for special help from his friends in high places.”

Bell also admitted Rechnitz didn’t tell the truth about his dirty dealings the first few times cops approached him for info, and that he had brokered a plea deal in exchange for testifying.

But Bell insisted Rechnitz eventually came clean, saying, “It’s hard to stick to a lie for so long.”

Lawyers for Seabrook and Huberfeld asked the jury to reject the story of Jona Rechnitz’s redemption.

Norman Seabrook says $20G was casino prize money, not bribes

Paul Shechtman, Seabrook’s lawyer, said Rechnitz is a “serial liar.”

“When this case is over, you would not buy a used car from Jona Rechnitz,” Shechtman said.

To impress the labor leader, Shechtman said, Rechnitz lied about owning expensive Downtown real estate and even pretended to own a rental yacht where he invited Seabrook and his family for several hours. Prior to that brief cruise in summer of 2014, Rechnitz went so far as to tell the crew to scrub the boat of any personal photos – and act as if he owned the vessel, Shechtman said.

Rechnitz’s lawyers declined to comment on their client’s credibility.

Embattled de Blasio donor to testify against Norman Seabrook

Prosecutors have said Rechnitz might testify as early as Wednesday.

The opening statements also rehashed Rechnitz’s extensive relationships with powerful New Yorkers.

Former NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks, who retired in 2014, introduced Seabrook to Rechnitz. The three traveled to the Dominican Republic in late 2013 – on Rechnitz’s dime.

When Rechnitz wanted a police escort to get home, he called up Banks, said Henry Mazurek, who represents Huberfeld. When he wanted something done in city government, Rechnitz called “a fellow by the name of Bill de Blasio on his personal cell phone,” Mazurek said.

Asked about the alleged ties, Benjamin Brafman, who represents Banks, said: “It is important to note that former Chief Banks has never been charged with any Criminal conduct whatsoever, nor has he even been disciplined during a 30-year career with the NYC Police department that can only be characterized as extraordinary.”

A spokesman for de Blasio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Religious Fundamentalism At Work – The Western Wall – A Strip Search


Outcry as women asked to lift skirts, shirts at entrance to Western Wall

From the Times of Israel

Liberal Jewish groups say 4 female rabbinical students were intimidated, humiliated ahead of Women of the Wall prayer service

Guards at the entrance to the Western Wall complex in Jerusalem “strip searched” four female rabbinical students on Wednesday ahead of the Women of the Wall’s monthly prayer service at the holy site, liberal Jewish groups said.

The Israel Religious Action Center, which serves as the legal arm of the Reform Movement in Israel, said the four students of Hebrew Union College were delayed and questioned by guards, then were asked to lift up their shirts and skirts. “Four female rabbinical students strip searched while trying to enter the Western Wall Complex,” it declared in a press release.

The director of the IRAC said the searches were “a new low” for the Western Wall rabbinate, which is strongly opposed to the Women of the Wall.

“This is a new low for the Rabbi of the Kotel trying to intimidate, humiliate, and exclude liberal women trying to pray at the Western Wall. Despite today’s events these four brave Jewish leaders will continue to love Israel, the Wall, and justice,” Rabbi Noa Sattath said in a statement, using the Hebrew term for the Western Wall.

“Today we are submitting formal letters of complaint to the Attorney General and the Prime Minister’s office demanding they act to address the events of this morning,” she added.

Women of the Wall said the search of the four women was illegal.

“These searches go against [Supreme Court] Judge Rubinstein’s decision which states that body searches on Women of the Wall are illegal without a serious security threat. A few of these students, who were visiting the Kotel for the first time, were shocked by the incident and the difficult experience imposed on them,” the group said in a statement.

Religious media outlets said the women were smuggling Torah scrolls on their persons, which Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch called a “desecration.”

“Today, the first of the [Jewish] month of Elul, all the red lines were crossed. They smuggled holy Torah schools wrapped around their bodies, they hid whistles in their private parts, and for what? For the “sanctity” of the civil war at the Western Wall,” he said in a statement.

At the prayer service, women read from a Torah scroll and blew 15 shofars, activities that are vehemently opposed by ultra-Orthodox Jews, who hold that only men may do these things.

“We sounded the shofar today in order to knock down the walls of apathy, exclusion, silencing and discrimination…We look to the Supreme Court, that has proven itself as the ‘responsible adult’ in the state, to lead to a just solution to our basic demand for equal rights for women at the Wall,” Women of the Wall head Anat Hoffman said.


Members of Women of the Wall blow shofars during a prayer service marking the first day of the Jewish month of Elul, on August 23, 2017, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

The High Court of Justice is set to hear a petition on the pluralistic prayer section at the Western Wall, which was brought by the Women of the Wallafter the cabinet voted to freeze the deal in June.

The decision to freeze the agreement coincided with a High Court deadline for the state to respond to petitions on its failure to implement the agreement and construct the mixed-gender plaza near Robinson’s Arch.

It also came amid pressure from Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox lawmakers to dial back the plan to establish an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, which was approved by government ministers in January 2016.

The cabinet’s decision was met with widespread dismay from liberal groups and Diaspora Jews.

Prime Minister Benjamin defended the move, with an aide to the premiersaying that it will in fact help push the deal forward, and that Netanyahu had no choice but to halt the agreement as a result of pressure from the ultra-Orthodox parties, whose support he needs to maintain his ruling coalition.

Last week, the US State Department released its International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, which criticized the Western Wall rabbi over “guidelines for religious observance mandating separation of women and men, with the women’s section being less than half the size of the men’s section, and the government continued to enforce these rules.”

The report, which was completed before the suspension of the deal on permanent pluralistic prayer area, also criticized the prohibitions against bringing in privately owned Torah scrolls to the Western Wall plaza, and on women “accessing the public Torah scrolls or giving priestly blessings at the site.”