60 Hours/1Million Dollars – How much Cash is Trading Hands in Satmar Shuls Today?

THIS BROKERS NO COMMENT EXCEPT…

The Satmar living in Kiryas Joel, New York, are supposedly among the most impoverished in the State of New York, if not the country. The Satmar as a community boasts billions in assets under management (though admittedly there are allegedly 2 warring factions). 

They are now trying to raise $1 MILLION DOLLARS to fund legislation that would reduce criminal sentencing, oversight, prosecution, etc. Basically, they are trying to raise money to decriminalize, so the crimes committed within the community will not be prosecuted, and if prosecuted, will go unpunished. And they are donating in cash, at least in part (see the cash on the table) making the money largely untraceable.

This is unmitigated “chutzpah” to put it kindly. 

prison reform money

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Satmar and Rubashkin – $1M, 60 Hours – Prison Reform – White Collar Criminal Reform, A Brazenness – PAY ATTENTION

Rubashking and Prison Reform

TRANSLATION: Rubashkin in Favor of Prison Reform….

Gee, does anyone wonder why? 

To the Members of the US Senate:

You are going to be asked to support a bill, in one form or another with the aim of reducing white collar criminal prosecutions, reducing sentencing requirements, changing the way these cases are viewed, a work currently in progress. It is being supported by the Satmar community.  

We, the non-ultra-Orthodox people of the United States and the ones who are most harmed by these crimes, ask that you NOT make crime easier to commit, but that you tamp down on prosecutions, that you make the penalties greater and that the incarceration times are longer. We believe that these crimes don’t just harm people, they harm markets and investors and investments and a trust in the system. These crimes destabilize, people and the economy.

LM 

Former Satmar Hasidic Jew, Ari Hershkowitz and the Horrors he Endured, a View into Radical Judaism

To our LostMessiah Readers:

We have republished the entire Hershkowitz interview from the Times of Israel without permission. We therefore ask that you click on the link to view the article, the comments and any other articles directly. We have highlighted some of the more disturbing recounts of his life in red.

We comment that Ari’s story is not uncommon, more like the norm, for anyone willing to come to grips with his or her indoctrination and to talk about it. Ari Hershkowitz deserves our admiration for his journey and the courage that he has had both in escaping the societal norms imposed upon him, the sexual abuse, the psychiatric meds and then coming forward to speak.

Children like Ari, Satmar who decide to leave the community, are generally mourned by their families as if they had died. As with many fundamentalist religious organizations, once you are an outsider, you are not welcomed back, leaving many of the kids and young adults like Ari, with a feeling of utter and unimaginable loneliness and isolation. What he has endured, most would not or will not survive.

Organizations that help these kids, like YAFFED and OTD often themselves enduring their own brand of retribution from the Satmar. The Satmar as an organization is relentless. 

We note that the family that has sued LostMessiah identifies with the Satmar, litigation being one of many examples of tactical manipulation to silence detractors. 

Former Satmar Hasidic Jew now tours world to expose sect’s dark underbelly

Ari Hershkowitz speaks at the DOC NYC documentary film festival in 2017. (Courtesy)

 

SYDNEY, Australia — On his Instagram page, there is a photo of Ari Hershkowitz wearing a virtual reality headset. It pretty much sums up his story: an escape from one world to another.

Hershkowitz met with The Times of Israel outside the Sydney Jewish Museum, a few days after he presented at Yom Limmud in Sydney. It is a wintry day Down Under and he is wearing black jeans and a red T-shirt. He doesn’t like to wear long sleeved shirts, he later says — it reminds him of his previous life. His American drawl makes it hard to imagine that for most of his life he could not speak English.

Hershkowitz cuts a hipster figure as he “vapes” on his electric cigarette. He winds his way to the museum’s café upstairs while snapping photographs of the exhibits on his smartphone. He plans to visit the museum again, he says.

Sitting down, he fidgets, looks sideways and checks his phone. He has a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter account and appears to be on call. Every now and again he needs to be reminded where he left off in the conversation. He clearly finds it hard to focus — but focus is necessary to tell this 21-year-old’s story.

His name is now Ari. During another phase it was Alex, the name he took on when he escaped to Florida for six months.

“I wanted to run away from Judaism as far as I possibly could. I then took on the identity of Alex, who was never a Hasidic Jew,” Hershkowitz says.

In his childhood, he went by the name Arye.

“I don’t remember much of my early life,” Hershkowitz says. “From the age of 14 to 20 I was on the wrong medication. I don’t know whether that ruined my memories from before, combined with the fact that I wanted to forget everything, especially aged 8 to 12.”

He begins with the basics.

Hershkowitz’s formative years are set in the heart of the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Satmar community in Williamsburg, New York. He is the second of nine children. The Satmar dynasty is one of the largest in the world. It is characterized by strict religious observance, rejection of modern culture, and fierce anti-Zionism. In a podcast interview, he describes this brand of Judaism as “Judaism on steroids.”

Yiddish was the only language he spoke. At school they studied Jewish texts. They did also learn English, he adds, but that was only from the ages of 8 to 12, and it was relegated to the last lesson of the day, taught by teachers who could barely speak the language themselves.

“We studied gemara, mishnah and chumash,” Hershkowitz says, referring to various texts of the ancient oral law and Bible.

“Initially, I was a very good student. I had a folder for ‘best in class,’” he says with a hint of irony.

It is this subpar education which, he claims, has caused the community to be crippled by poverty, beset with ignorance and reliant on government funding for virtually all aspects of life.

But it’s what he calls its skewed values and the importance accorded to trivial things which he remembers most vividly.

“What our eyeglasses were made of was very important. Metal is bad; plastic is good. What counts is the color of your socks, which shoe you tie first in the morning. Wearing a watch is discouraged before bar mitzvah; after that it is completely banned. Being a good person was never a priority,” he says.

The period he finds hard to recollect is not incidental. “I never talked about it. I choked it for so long,” he says.

At the age of 8, Hershkowitz says he was sexually assaulted in a synagogue by an older man. After a pause and some hesitation, he recounts the incident bit by bit.

“The man made up some story about my belt. He shouted, ‘You hit my son, you hit my son with your belt,’ and then he grabs me and takes me downstairs to the basement, takes away my belt and then… whatever… I had no idea about sex or anything. The abuse was violent. I still have the scars,” he says.

The “punishment,” he says, continued for a number of weeks, in the basement of the synagogue.

“One day, when we walked up the stairs from the basement my dad saw me. I guess by the look on my face he realized what had happened and he started yelling at this guy in front of everyone,” Hershkowitz says.

The abuser never returned to the synagogue.

“I told my father from my little understanding what had happened, but I am sure as a grown, smart adult he got the picture. He still told me that I must be thinking that… looking back, I am sure he knew. He never said that he was sorry it happened to me. He couldn’t, because that would mean he’d have to report it to the police — something he would never do. Satmar never calls the police. No matter what happens. Never. Which is wrong because in some cases they should,” Hershkowitz says.

Hershkowitz’s behavior became erratic, or, as he puts it: “I was a very wild kid and always getting into trouble.”

Two years later, during a summer camp in Napanoch, a small hamlet in Ulster County, New York, he says he was assaulted again. This time three people were involved.

“They held me down to a bed, I managed to get free. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and tried to fight back with that. They grabbed me and pulled me back into the bunk. I am not sure how long it lasted. It seemed like five hours before my private tutor came to look for me. Then they left. I was tied up and my tutor saw me,” says Hershkowitz.

He repeats, “He definitely saw me tied up.”

The perpetrators, says Hershkowitz, continued working at the camp. He is skeptical about pressing charges or filing a formal complaint with police.

“All the people who witnessed it… none of them would ever testify. It’s my word against theirs. In fact, some of them specifically told me that if they had to testify they would say that it never actually happened. So, realistically, there is nothing I can now do about it,” he says.

Like many others who have survived sexual abuse, the experience triggered a deep crisis.

Continue reading

Cuomo Dodges Questions about Promises to Satmar Rebbe Zalman Teitelbaum to Keep Hands off with Education

Cuomo dodges questions about endorsement deal with Satmar Rebbe

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday did not refute reports that he assured a prominent rabbi he would keep his hands off yeshivas in exchange for an endorsement — instead pointing to his lack of control over the state Education Department.

The department is currently reviewing a long-delayed city Department of Education probe of whether 30 yeshivas have been meeting minimum requirements for secular education, a 3-year effort in whichofficials were blocked from visiting half the schools.

Asked about reports  that he had essentially told Satmar Rebbe Zalman Tietelbaum not to worry about the matter last week, Cuomo wouldn’t address the question head on.

“The State Education Department will enforce the law, but it’s not the governor’s responsibility. I have no control of the state Education Department,” he told reporters following a press conference at the Tappan Zee Bridge, which has been renamed for the governor’s father, Mario Cuomo.

City officials punted their probe to the state because the state Education Department has ultimate oversight over what’s taught in non-public schools.
Advocates had complained in 2015 that many yeshivas were violating the state requirement that they provide a secular education equivalent to what students get in public schools.

To read the remainder of the article click here.

If You are Latino, if You are Black if you are LGBTQ – Tish James’ List of Financial Backers Should Steer You in ANY OTHER Direction

A NOTE TO THE JAMES’ SUPPORTERS WHO THINK THEY ARE GETTING SOMEONE LOOKING OUT FOR THEM. THE ONLY ONES SHE CAN LOOK OUT FOR ARE THOSE WHO CONTRIBUTED HEAVILY TO HER CAMPAIGN… AND IT IS NOT YOU. – 12.9.18

Whatever we know, or don’t know about what Ms. James believes in, or did, her donor pool tells us everything we need to know about what causes she will support and who will be prosecuted for their crimes.

To the Latinos and Blacks, your schools in East Ramapo, New York (and Lakewood, New Jersey) have been destroyed because money and Federal Funds goes to Yeshivas and not to public education. It goes to supporting a non-substantially similar education. While having a minority candidate represent your interests may feel like a victory, she will be beholden to her contributor base first and that has nothing to do with her color but the color of the hats of those who donated heavily to her campaign.

To the LGBTQ community, you are an abomination to the ultra-Orthodox Jews supporting the James campaign. You are a violation of the laws of G-d, right or wrong. Ms. James will ultimately need to placate her financial backers. Your humanity and dignity is not a top priority for those wanting to preserve an insular and highly religious way of life. The two simply cannot go hand-in-hand.

Please voters, look to Ms. James’ greatest sources of financial campaign support to decide for who to vote on election day. A James win is nothing more and nothing less than a win for the Ultra-Orthodox communities of Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Ramapo, Kiryas Joel and all of the other communities inhabited for the most part by the ultra-Orthodox Jewish donors to her campaign.

“At the end of the day, members voted for who they know.”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is running for state attorney general, talks on the campaign trail about wanting to be New York’s first openly gay statewide elected official. Yet despite being a slight favorite in the latest Siena College poll, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, one of Maloney’s primary rivals, is winning more LGBTQ support.

James just released a letter signed by more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer New Yorkers involved in politics, all backing James – including New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Perhaps the only LGBTQ group backing Maloney’s campaign is the Victory Fund, which seeks to elect LGBTQ people.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is running for state attorney general, talks on the campaign trail about wanting to be New York’s first openly gay statewide elected official. Yet despite being a slight favorite in the latest Siena College poll, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, one of Maloney’s primary rivals, is winning more LGBTQ support.

James just released a letter signed by more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer New Yorkers involved in politics, all backing James – including New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Perhaps the only LGBTQ group backing Maloney’s campaign is the Victory Fund, which seeks to elect LGBTQ people.

Dear Ms. James – A Shikse, a Shvartze, a Shabbos Goi and the Darling of Those Who Grace Our Pages

Dear Ms. James:

We have been following your donor pool and are more than a little bit disheartened.

Did you know that many of your ultra-Orthodox contributors, grace the pages of this website, not for their generosity “philanthropy” but for their lack of morally integrity, if not blatantly illegal activity?

Are you prepared to bend to the whim of those who are so generously financing your campaign as darling of the ultra-Orthodox? Or, are you morally challenged enough for it not to matter?

Are you prepared to sacrifice your moral integrity (and that of those around you); or do you not have any?

Are you prepared to live in an ethically shady area between what might be legal, (or not) and what is most definitely, while perhaps legal – questionably unethical (or not)? Or, do you already live there?

Did you know that the people with whom you sit, the men with their black hats, lengthy beards, black coats and pious looks, those who promise you generous support, will expect something in return? Or, have you already agreed to their terms and conditions?

Are you prepared for the day the Tallyman comes calling? Or, has the price for their support already been laid out in unadulterated detail?

Are you flattered that they have chosen you, a woman of color and a non-Jew to represent them as the future Attorney General of the State of New York? Or, have  you decided that you are willing to do whatever it takes?

Do you ask yourself, why you? Or are you naïve enough to believe that they have chosen you because of the best qualities you have to offer?

Or, worse still,  have you already given them your soul?

Perhaps we can set you straight…

You should not find the support you are being given flattering. It is not being offered to you because of your grades in school and how hard you have worked. It is not being offered to you because of where you come from, how much you struggled and how much your family struggled to get you where you are. 

You are not being showered with campaign contributions because the men from a culture you understand so little about, speaking a language you do not understand, believe you will be fair, impartial and ethically grounded. They believe you will be there’s for the asking. And they don’t bargain fairly.

These men believe you to be malleable and pliable. They believe you to either be of questionable moral character or so driven that you would sell your soul to the Devil himself to get to the AG’s seat.

And Ms. James, you have indeed sold your soul to the Devil.

It is very likely that your cast of unsavory donors have “dirt” (whether real or fabricated) buried in a shoebox somewhere waiting to come to light. When you are asked to return a favor that is less than comfortable for you it will not matter whether you were hiding something or not, all will be lost. These men don’t play nice in the sandbox. They will bury you, say the Kaddish and be done. Scratch that, you are not a Jew. Kaddish is unnecessary.

Being the Darling of the Orthodox Jewish donor pool that has so willingly fed your coffers is anything but a complement. It is an insult, both to your own hard work and to the struggles that define you (at least according to your interviews).

Should you win the election, we hope you will prove yourself to be better than those very donors give you credit for. You returned money from one such donor. We only wish you would return the rest.

We hope you will have a voice that can make your family and your community proud, one that will demand that laws are followed, reporting of rape and molestation is encouraged and the elderly are protected.

Your ultra-Orthodox donors want none of it. They want a cheap political whore.

For those of us watching your donations from the ultra-Orthodox grow, and knowing the dark places that money comes from, we hope you do not get elected. We hope for your sake that your integrity does not need to withstand that test. These men (and their wives) are their own kind of mafia.

If you are defined by the company you keep, we find the prospects of your election to be more than a little bit unsettling.

 

 

Chofesh H’Betui – The Right to Convey Free Thinking – at Stake PART II

The Word “Philanthropist” and the Services Money Can Buy –

Taking Aim at Free Speech

We have stated many times that we really do not like the word “Philanthropist.” Those self-proclaimed philanthropists, in our view, who riddle these pages have not given freely. They have not given anonymously to a beneficiary and taken no credit for the gifts, one of the highest forms of giving in the Jewish faith. Instead they have boasted philanthropy as a badge of alleged honor. Philanthropy, as such, is not a gift but a justification or a remediation of whatever sins have been committed.

And at this the holiest season on the Jewish calendar, we are taught that giving money to repent for our sins is simply not enough.

We are not philanthropists. We are supporters of a cause-accountability. We take on issues involving children, education, the treatment  of our elderly, honest business practices, human decency, mutual respect for our neighbors, integrity and most importantly, the right to free speech.

Nearly each page we have published contains the name of someone, whose ‘Wikipedia” page would call a philanthropist, as self-described. These alleged “Philanthropists” have learned to game a system, whether by greasing the palms of politicians, sending police officers to Israel, making friends with the appropriate corrupt officials in the Congo, purchasing a nursing home by manipulating zoning laws and then treating the patients reprehensibly or altering the zoning laws to suit their fancy. And, all of this under the guise of “Philanthropy.”

To our valued readers, these same self-proclaimed “Philanthropists” filed a lawsuit against a blogger, served on a Saturday which will require a response of one form or another in the middle of the holiday season. It will require funding and time. And in the greatest of ironies, the Plaintiffs refer to themselves as “Philanthropists.”

This lawsuit is an effort to silence the blogger and presumably silence this blog. The stakes are high. We have a readership of well over 1.5M views in the last few years and if we are forced to shut the doors to this site, it will send a message to each of our readers that it is too risky to speak up, something which runs counter to our very system of beliefs. A victory by these Plaintiffs would be the destruction of society’s ability to hold bad actors accountable for their actions, a horrifying result.

The law firm handling the suit is well connected in Kings County and is well known for its political connections and for its support of so many of the members of the community that grace our pages. The law firm has as great an interest in this case as its clients.

We will be asking for your support in the coming weeks. We have never asked for financial assistance to keep these pages running but a crowdfunding site is being established by friends of this page.

In the meantime, the findinglostmessiah@gmail.com address is up and running after some maneuvering. We are happy to answer questions and we could use any help you may have.

Finally, insofar as WordPress has a set of standards they follow, we encourage posting and participation. We remain faithful to the trust placed in us by you, our readers.

With many thanks. With kindness and immeasurable gratitude.

L’Shana Tova – LM and all of those who make this endeavor possible.