Another Perspective…. A Different Voice -Are we Targeting Hasidim?

Note to our readers:

We are often accused of taking a one-sided approach to the issues involving the Hasidic (Chasidic) community, of ignoring that there are two sides to every story and of crossing the line from factual information to hate speech. For that we apologize. It is during those times when you will see breaks in publication.  There is a fine line between opinions and facts and the message they send (perception is everything) and it is not always walked as cleanly as it should be or frankly as intended.

Here at LM we admire with significant emphasis, those like the Rabbi from New Jersey who commented on prior pages of this blog. His comments are important in the debate of how a community can live together, religious and non-religious, Jew and non-Jew together in harmony.

It takes courage to speak out.

We admire Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone (mentioned in the article below) for his tutorials and opinions or Chabad.org, some of which have graced our pages, whether we agree with them or not. We most admire people like the nurse, Blima Marcus mentioned below, who has gone on a virtual crusade to “debunk vaccination myths”. We don’t express our admiration enough.

We take issue, however, with the belief, expressed below and in the continuation of the Algemeiner article, that it is acceptable for an entire community to be groomed to study ancient texts. While their knowledge, ability to understand and parse out the details of the Jewish texts, and carry that kowledge to the next generation is, indeed, important; it cannot be to the exclusion of all else. Many of these people do not speak the language of the land, and we feel there is no legitimate excuse for that. If that same Jewish scholar is going home, having 9 children and then expecting non-religious, secular or non-Jewish members of society to foot the bills for those 9 children, he is imposing his religion on others. There is a fundamental unfairness to the rest of us, which perpetuates resentment and hate. Those who get angry and resentful should be understood in the context from which that is generated as well.

There must be a balance struck between study for the sake of study and contributing to the economic and financial continuance of that society. In the United States, we refer to the greater US. When living in London we refer to the greater UK and when living in Canada, we refer to the greater Canada. It is all well and good to be a scholar, but when you take money from society to study, you breed resentment. This blogger, for one, would love to return to study, a government and philosophy student who spent years editing translations of the scrolls of Elephantine Island for a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But it is unrealistic to do so if a family must be fed, taxes must be paid and children must attend school. We are not living in a vacuum.

Within the writing of some of the most scholarly rabbis, there was a clear understanding, if not an outright demand of the Jewish people, that we be self-sufficient. However we chose to establish our society, the religion demands that we not rely on others for support. When religion starts to encroach upon the lives and livelihoods of others, it is an imposition and unacceptable. To deem those not religious as not even Jewish or as lesser humans, which can be found in multiple teachings throughout the religious (and perhaps fundamentalist Jewish world – yes… every religion has its kooks), then the balance gets tipped and damage is done.

We, with admiration, agree wholeheartedly that there must be a way forward that provides for mutual respect, mutual tolerance, global sensitivity and a measure of love for those notable people on all sides of the debate and political divide. We thank Algemeiner for the published opinion and those highlighted within the article. 

We ask that you please read the Algemeiner article below and that you consult its original sources.  It tells a different story then most that grace our pages, but one that should be read without a passive indifference or active criticism.

With respect, LM 

Stop Picking on the Hasidim

The Orthodox Jewish community of New York is under attack. In just a few days, a 63-year-old Hasidic grandfather was beaten with a brick, another was made to strip off his yarmulke at gunpoint, a gang attacked a truck, and more. Then a shocking campaign video was posted by Republicans in Rockland County, depicting Hasidic Jews as a threat to their fellow Americans.

Those behind the video refused to apologize, and as The New York Post revealed, they had deviously plotted their modern-age blood libel months in advance.

These unmistakably antisemitic attacks are not sui generis in nature. On the contrary, the NYPD found a 101 percent increase in antisemitic hate crimes compared to the same period last year. With their distinctive black and white uniforms and visible religious head coverings, the Orthodox make an easy target for physical violence and societal prejudice.

As Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone, social media editor at Chabad.org, puts it, Hasidim “are described as all things except for the one thing we are the most: human beings trying to make it in this town like everyone else.”

The fact is that the Orthodox are growing extremely fast. With 70 percent of Jewish-Americans assimilating out of religious existence, these “black hat” communities (I refuse to call them “ultra-Orthodox”) will reportedly soon constitute 25 percent of Jewry in the entire nation.

An example of the way these people have recently been picked on is the public reaction to the measles crisis that recently swept New York. With a health ban that was placed only on yeshiva schools, many began to blame the Orthodox for not vaccinating their children. Never mind the fact that most of the schools with unvaccinated students weren’t even Jewish, or arguably that the common denominator between those who refuse vaccinations isn’t religion but being white, rich, and well-educated.

Regardless, by painting the vaccination crisis in New York as an Orthodox Jewish issue, the national conversation is skewed away from the reality that nine percent of Americans (30 million people!) are reportedly anti-vaxxers. Furthermore, it is an Orthodox nurse, Blima Marcus, who is leading the way in teaching healthcare clinicians how to effectively debunk vaccination myths for the American public.

The problem is that this bias leads directly to the short-sighted and dangerous “us vs. them” mentality that pits public opinion against minority groups. In her New York Times article “Is it Safe to be a Jew in New York?” Ginia Bellafante points out that the societal intransigence to take action against the blaze of anti-Orthodox bigotry stems from stories like these that carelessly stoke the “existing impressions of backwardness.”

I believe the flames of insidious bigotry must be quenched with the soothing waters of public education.

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently appointed Deborah Lauter, previously of the Anti-Defamation League, to run the new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. They should follow the advice of Elan Carr, US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, who recently remarked that fighting antisemitism must include “philosemitic education” about positive Jewish contributions to society.

Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman, arguably the most politically active Hasidic Jew in New York City, laments the ignorance surrounding the contributions his community offers the general public. “I think most New Yorkers would be surprised to discover that our non-profit, United Jewish Organizations (UJO) of Williamsburg, provides social services to anyone, regardless of religion, race, or creed.”

Although most of Niederman’s clientele are Hasidim, he advocates for fellow New Yorkers of all backgrounds who are referred to UJO. “We help anyone who walks in the door,” Niederman says, “it could be food stamps, housing assistance or whatever else they need.”

This public service ethos is derived from Jewish spiritual theology, which places a moral mandate on its followers to engage in “Chessed,” colloquially translated as “acts of loving kindness.” As Professor Jack Werthheimer writes in his article “What You Don’t Know About the Ultra-Orthodox,” the Orthodox have made “Chessed” into an “art form” by creating hundreds of aid programs, known as “Gemachs” — a Hebrew acronym for “Gemilut Chasadim,” literally, “the giving of loving-kindness.”

In the marketplace of ideas, cultural contributions from these most visible Jews should be cherished and protected as a national resource. In these communities, young men are expected to dedicate their post-high school years to studying at Kollelim, yeshivas of higher learning, where they pour over the ancient texts from morning until night. The purpose of this higher education model isn’t to obtain a degree but to engage in study for its own sake.

To continue reading in Algemeiner click here.

The Tragedy Surrounding How Children are Educated and the Rifts Within a Community Worldwide [Video]

Apparently depicted in this video: An English Rabbi being harassed by Protesters because he has taken a liberal view on education, as the government in England (similar to New York) moves to enforce guidelines on teachings in private schools.

 

The following is a beautifully articulated article by Rabbi Pini Dunner regarding education. It is a follow-up of other articles he has written. Respectfully, we have only posted part of his comments, without permission, and ask that you consult his original text for his full commentary by clicking here.  We believe, though could be wrong, that the controversy to which he is referring is the scene depicted in the video above. 

STAND AND DELIVER

Earlier this week, I briefly visited New York for a wedding, and once again I came face-to-face with the controversy that continues to rage over proposed education regulations formulated by the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

Feelings are running high, and the campaign to thwart the said proposals is in full swing. Many within the orthodox community are convinced that this scheme is the thin end of a very insidious wedge, and they include those whose schools provide a very good general studies education.

Quite a number of the people I spoke to believe that allowing the authorities to determine how and what is taught at Jewish private schools poses a grave danger to the future of orthodox Jewry in America.

But how did we get here? How is it possible that a bunch of bureaucrats in Albany has managed to rattle the orthodox community to this extent?

Why is it, if so many schools are compliant with equivalency requirements, that NYSED wants to institute these draconian measures to regulate and oversee them?

Incidentally, whatever happens in New York will surely foreshadow similar legislation in other states. There is a broad concern among education officials that Jewish private schools are not in compliance with basic educational requirements, and that children who attend these schools are being shortchanged by their institutions, to the extent that they will “graduate” without the basic skills required to provide for themselves and – once they marry and have kids – their families.

In the Satmar Hasidic community this whole episode is being painted in very stark terms. Last month, the various factions within Satmar (please note: it is no small feat to unite this very divided community) issued a powerful declaration regarding the dangers posed by the proposed regulations.

In a vigorous call to arms, the leadership requested that the “honored parents” of students in their various institutions join a letter-writing campaign to the authorities to ensure the failure of the “evil education decree” which threatens the status-quo, and which – they claim – might result in the devastation and destruction of Torah-true Jewish education in New York.

And this week twelve Hasidic institutions published a notice to announce that they would never include “common core” education books in their general studies curriculum under any circumstances, as they are full of “heresy”, and their only intent is to prepare those who use them for a college education.

Meanwhile, thousands of parents within the Satmar community and other associated Hasidic communities, including many who have sent letters to NYSED so that they openly comply with the mandated letter-writing campaign, are secretly hopeful that the state will impose the regulations on their children’s schools so that the next generation will be forced to learn English and math, and be properly equipped for life in twenty-first century America.

I have received hundreds of emails and calls since my last article on this subject, the vast majority from Hasidic parents congratulating me for my stance, and imploring me not to abandon them and their children to a life of ignorance and penury.

One parent wrote to me that his children only speak Yiddish, as their school does not allow them to speak English at home, otherwise they are in danger of being expelled. This means, said my correspondent, that his children do not know the English names of the days of the week, nor do they know their English dates of birth, nor can they explain to the doctor what their symptoms are when they require medical attention.

These children, it is worth noting, are all third-generation Americans. How is it that if they were Jews from the former Soviet Union, or living in low-income industrial towns in Israel, that we would do everything we could to help them gain a foothold in life, but just because they live in Williamsburg, or Monsey, or New Square, we do nothing to help them, and simply write them off? How does it make any sense that hundreds of thousands of Jewish children are being doomed to a life of poverty right under our very noses?

To continue reading click here.

Chareidim in England and Education – Campaign Against Inspectorate Stopped

Charedi Activist Drops Campaign Against Ofsted

Charedi activist Shraga Stern has agreed to stop his public campaign against Ofsted.

London’s charedi community has been split over how to handle the inspectorate’s attitudes toward Jewish schools. Chinuch UK preferred a diplomatic approach toward the Department of Education and its inspectorate whereas Stern initiated a high-profile campaign accompanied by the threat of legal action.

Last week, Dayan Ephraim Padwa of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations asked Stern to back down from his campaign. Stern told The Jewish Press, “I’ve always worked under the direction of the senior rabbis of the charedi community. I continue to do so. At the moment I am ceasing campaigning on their instructions.”

He added that he was sure his high-profile campaign has borne fruit and “now is the time for open dialogue and round-the-table discussions.”

Stern’s tough stance, however, seems to have been taken up by educational consultant Michael Cohen, who called, in the Jewish Tribune, for the dismissal of Ofsted head Amanda Spielman, whom he accused of conducting an “anti-religious programme.”

He suggested Jewish schools should not allow Ofsted to inspect their schools; alternatively, they should or arrange school outings on inspection days. He wrote, “As any kind of trust and confidence in Ofsted has been destroyed, our schools and mosdos should become more strident and assertive in dealing with Ofsted inspections.”

Edward Cohen, Money Launderer, Charity Manipulation and the Attempted Purchase of a Knighthood, Classy…

Money launderer, 67, who tried to buy a knighthood is convicted in his absence of £10million Jewish charities scam after going on the run

 

A fugitive who once tried to buy a knighthood has been convicted of laundering more than £10million, made from the illegal sale of sex pills, through a Jewish charities scam.

Edward Cohen, 67, set up a ‘bewildering’ network of companies, some of them promoting Orthodox Judaism and ‘helping the Jewish poor’.

He diverted vast sums of cash, alongside legitimate charitable donations, via foreign exchange firms before sending it overseas, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Cohen, who fled the country before his trial began, also used some of the proceeds to try and purchase a gong from the Queen, supposedly in recognition of his work with the sham charities.

Cohen’s teacher son David, 38, was also involved in the charities but was cleared of money laundering charges and supplying false information to the Charity Commission.

But he was convicted of failing to notify a change in circumstances when obtaining benefits and bailed ahead of sentence on July 4.

David told jurors his signature had been forged on charity documents and insisted he had no idea what his crooked father was up to.

He said: ‘If I had known that my father was involved in any sort of dirty money I would have run a mile. I would not have not asked for his help, no way Jose.

‘I am sure I am not the only child who does not know how their father makes money.’

Cohen denied but was convicted in his absence of a series of offences including supplying false information to the Charity Commission and money laundering offences after a two month trial.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest and he will be sentenced in his absence on July 4.

Edward Cohen, 67, set up a ‘bewildering’ network of companies that he used to launder money through. He diverted vast sums of cash, alongside legitimate charitable donations, via foreign exchange firms before sending it overseas, Southwark Crown Court heard

 

Edward Cohen, 67, set up a ‘bewildering’ network of companies that he used to launder money through. He diverted vast sums of cash, alongside legitimate charitable donations, via foreign exchange firms before sending it overseas, Southwark Crown Court heard

 

Earlier James Dawes, QC, prosecuting, said Cohen set up a ‘bewildering variety of companies and they either put themselves or their family members as directors’.

‘The companies were simply vehicles. Either the Revenue was told these companies were dormant or they made no returns.’

To continue reading click here.

The UK Has Some Sense, Denying Rubashkin Entry for His – “Experience in Prison” World Speaking Tour

Rubashkin Denied Entry Into The U.K.; Being Held at Manchester Airport

Immigration authorities in the U.K. have reportedly refused to allow R’ Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin to enter the country.

Sources confirm to YWN that Rubashkin arrived at the Manchester Airport on Sunday afternoon, where his entry was denied.

Rubashkin has been travelling the world speaking to audiences about his experience, and giving Chizuk to thousands. He was scheduled to speak this Monday and Tuesday in Manchester, in events that were advertised throughout the community.

Multiple sources tell YWN that one or two individuals in the community informed authorities that Rubashkin had a criminal background, and he was reportedly denied entry on that basis. These individuals were upset that the community was hosting Rubashkin, and had allegedly promised to cause problems.

To read the remainder of the article click here.

Manchester England, The Enshrouded Drug Problem and the Arrests of Chareidi (Haredi) Girls Smuggling Drugs

A Drug Problem Within the Haredi Population in Manchester, England – Rabbis, Please Help These Children

Dear Readers:

We would like to thank Yeshiva World News for covering the story below. We make absolutely clear to all readers that it is quite likely that YWN is not a supporter of this site or our coverage and perspective. That said, it does not diminish our respect for them and the work they do. We do not always agree with their coverage but they have a readership and circulation that they are beholden to and despite that, they cover stories such as the one below. We do not necessarily agree with the perspective the article took.

The issue, as we see it, is not that these girls were compelled to travel on Shabbat but that there is a growing and significant drug problem in the Yeshiva community in Manchester, England. We have been advised via a source, that the rabbis within the community know that there are a significant number of children, mostly boys, who are using drugs and either ignore the problem or actively cover it up. We have been advised that the drug of choice is Opiods.

We have further been told that the Manchester Police have been looking the other way.

We are not writing this article to condemn the actions of a rabbinical community trying to keep a drug problem quiet. It is not a shining example of how one wants a community, a family of children to be perceived. But, to the rabbis, teachers, parents and community leaders, closing your eyes to the problem or looking the other way will not make it go away. It will only get worse. The children who are using are sick and they need help as they would with any other disease.

We applaud the Chabad organization that refused to house these kids to prevent them from traveling on Shabbat. The Chabad organization stated their refusal is on the grounds that these children had committed crimes. We applaud any group that takes a stance against smuggling drugs (which is ultimately what was happening) and gets the authorities involved.

Drug abuse and addiction will not go away by ignoring it. It is a disease and these children need help like they would if they were sick with any other illness. If they had cancer, they would be given chemo or radiation coupled with love and support. If they had epilepsy or diabetes, they would be treated and loved. The same should be true of drug addiction. And, do not fool yourselves that occasional use of opiods is not addiction. It is.

Teaching religious oriented students is not going to “convince” these children to stop using and apparently it is not successful at influencing them to avoid trying these drugs in the first place. No community is immune, contrary to what the rabbis would have everyone believe. If kids are using, they need serious and medically oriented help. And they need to be embraced and loved.

The kids cannot stop using alone. They need an open and supportive, loving and kind community to help them.

We implore upon the Rabbis of the Manchester, England Yeshiva community to embrace the problem and work to fix it. These children need help, medical attention and love. At least give them that.

AGAIN: Chareidi Girls Arrested in Oslo For Smuggling “Khat”; Scheduled for Deportation ON SHABBOS

 

Following the YWN report of the arrest of chareidi girls upon their arrival in Manchester for smuggling in Khat (a drug), it has been learned the matter is gaining notoriety throughout areas of Europe, and there are two girls currently under arrest in Oslo.

As YWN-Israel reported, over the past few months, dozens of young charedi men and women have been arrested for smuggling contraband items in Manchester, England. Two girls spent seder night in detention and house arrest after they were apprehended. It is reported that the plant is not illegal in Israel, but it is prohibited in Europe.

BeChadrei Chareidim continues reporting on the case, explaining a number of askanim from Europe have contacted them to publicize the matter pertaining to the two girls detained Seder night, as well as the outrage of a Chabad shaliach whose become involved, albeit, not at his own behest.

Dozens of young chareidi boys and girls are smuggle the drug to Europe. They receive a sum of money and a hotel for three days and are told by the operator that if they get in trouble, they are told that they can “call the local Chabad shaliach”.

Two chareidi girls from Jerusalem were detained for a number of days in Oslo, the capital of Norway, for the attempted smuggling of Khat leaves. They are scheduled to be deported on this coming Shabbos to Israel. [They spent Pesach in detention.]

The Norwegians refuse to put them on a flight with a stopover, insisting on a direct flight, and this only happens on Shabbos, and for now it seems that the two will be forced to be mechalel Shabbos against their will because of the smuggling.

The Chabad shaliach to Oslo, Rabbi Shaul Wilhelm, says in a conversation with BeChadrei Chareidim, that all those who have become entangled with the law in the past few months are asking him if they can stay at the Chabad House and pay as much as they can, but he does not agree. “They are breaking the law and I do not assist lawbreakers,” said Wilhelm.

To continue reading Yeshiva World News click here.

 

RELATED STORIES:

Chareidi Girls Arrested in England for Smuggling “Khat” Substance From Israel

Yeshiva Education, Failing Students, England – Ohr Torah School

The failing school where pupils aren’t taught in English, leave without proper qualifications and aren’t prepared for ‘life in modern Britain’0_School3

Yeshivah Ohr Torah School in Salford has been rated as ‘inadequate’ in all areas by Ofsted

A failing school where pupils are not taught in English, leave with no recognised qualifications and are not prepared for ‘life in modern Britain’ has been slammed by the education watchdog.

Orthodox Jewish Yeshivah Ohr Torah School in Salford has been criticised by Ofsted chiefs in a damning inspection report, in which they said they couldn’t confirm whether pupils are ‘well cared for and safe’.

Parents of children at the all-boys independent school – which serves the Hasidic Jewish community of Broughton Park – were said to have withdrawn consent for inspectors to talk to their sons.

The school, previously graded ‘good’, has been deemed ‘inadequate’ in every inspection category.

Ofsted bosses said that while some youngsters speak English as their first language at home, all lessons at Yeshivah are taught in Yiddish.

Children follow a curriculum based on Jewish religious studies, with ‘infrequent’ opportunities to pursue secular studies,inspectors said.

Yeshivah Ohr Torah School

Other subjects are only taught if relevant to pupils’ religious studies, inspectors said.

“The school’s own measures of pupils’ achievements only have value within their own religious community,” the report read.

Inspectors said students are not encouraged to respect and understand people from other walks of life, including those of different sexual orientation and those who have undergone gender reassignment.

Children do not learn enough about other faiths and cultures, the report added.

The school’s anti-bullying policy was criticised for not including all forms of discrimination, including homophobia.

“Other aspects of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development are also weak,” inspectors said.

Physical education is non-existent at the school, meaning children do little – if any – exercise at school.

Ofsted chiefs said prospects for pupils are poor because they do not sit any external exams – meaning they finish year 11 with no recognised qualifications, ‘ill-prepared for their next steps’.

Ofsted bosses raised serious concerns about the school

Safeguarding was found to be ineffective and relevant checks were said not to have carried on trustees of the school.

Governors at the school, previously rated ‘good’ in 2014, say Yeshivah still provides a ‘high-quality education’.

They claim the latest rating reflects the government’s new, ‘rigid’ inspection framework.

The Ofsted report read: “Opportunities for pupils to develop their English and mathematical skills are poor. The school does not provide lessons in English.

“Pupils have limited opportunities to practise their speaking, reading and writing skills in English.

“Moreover, little time is given to the teaching of mathematics. This means that pupils are not well prepared for life in modern Britain.”

The school was rated ‘inadequate’ overall and in all four inspection categories – effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare; and outcomes for pupils.

Parents told inspectors they were happy with the education provided and ‘strongly supported the school’.

Shaya Leitner, speaking on behalf of governors, said: “We would like to highlight the fact that our school continues to deliver a high quality education, and indeed on previous inspections, we have been rated as a good school.

“The current rating reflects the new inspection framework that is much more rigid which has reduced the flexibility that independent schools have previously enjoyed to structure a broad and balanced curriculum that reflects the ethos of the school community it serves.”

The school has been told it must take action to meet the requirements of the government’s Independent School Standards.