Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Chinuch must be fun R Shmuel Kaminetsky

I recently met a member of  the Kaminetsky clan

Yes, Not all are aware of The big issue.

Who said in a long talk with rav Shmuel who insisted that it is critical that chinuch be fun.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Stroke

Lack of activity due to recovery from major stroke.
Please daven for the refuah shelima of:
Daniel Reuven ben Esther 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Allegations that Nunes lies about his sources in an attempt to defend Trump against congressional investigation he is conducting


A pair of White House officials helped provide Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.

The revelation on Thursday that White House officials disclosed the reports, which Mr. Nunes then discussed with Mr. Trump, is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.

It is the latest twist of a bizarre Washington drama that began after dark on March 21, when Mr. Nunes got a call from a person he has described only as a source. The call came as he was riding across town in an Uber car, and he quickly diverted to the White House. The next day, Mr. Nunes gave a hastily arranged news conference before going to brief Mr. Trump on what he had learned the night before from — as it turns out — White House officials.

The chain of events — and who helped provide the intelligence to Mr. Nunes — was detailed to The New York Times by four American officials.

Since disclosing the existence of the intelligence reports, Mr. Nunes has refused to identify his sources, saying he needed to protect them so others would feel safe going to the committee with sensitive information. In his public comments, he has described his sources as whistle-blowers trying to expose wrongdoing at great risk to themselves.

That does not appear to be the case. Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and was previously counsel to Mr. Nunes’s committee. Though neither has been accused of breaking any laws, they do appear to have sought to use intelligence to advance the political goals of the Trump administration.

Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, refused to confirm or deny at his daily briefing that Mr. Ellis and Mr. Cohen-Watnick were Mr. Nunes’s sources. The administration’s concern was the substance of the intelligence reports, not how they ended up in Mr. Nunes’s hands, Mr. Spicer said.
The “obsession with who talked to whom, and when, is not the answer,” Mr. Spicer said. “It should be the substance.”

Jack Langer, a spokesman for Mr. Nunes, said in a statement, “As he’s stated many times, Chairman Nunes will not confirm or deny speculation about his source’s identity, and he will not respond to speculation from anonymous sources.”

Mr. Cohen-Watnick, 30, is a former Defense Intelligence Agency official who served on the Trump transition team and was originally brought to the White House by Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser.

He was nearly pushed out of his job this month by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who replaced Mr. Flynn as national security adviser, but survived after the intervention of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist.

The officials who detailed the newly disclosed White House role said that this month, shortly after Mr. Trump claimed on Twitter that he was wiretapped during the campaign on the orders of President Barack Obama, Mr. Cohen-Watnick began reviewing highly classified reports detailing the intercepted communications of foreign officials.

There were conflicting accounts of what prompted Mr. Cohen-Watnick to dig into the intelligence. One official with direct knowledge of the events said Mr. Cohen-Watnick began combing through intelligence reports this month in an effort to find evidence that would justify Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts about wiretapping.

But another person who was briefed on the events said Mr. Cohen-Watnick came upon the information as he was reviewing how widely intelligence reports on intercepts were shared within the American spy agencies. He then alerted the N.S.C. general counsel, but the official said Mr. Cohen-Watnick was not the person who showed the reports to Mr. Nunes.

That person and a third official said it was then Mr. Ellis who allowed Mr. Nunes to view the material. [...]

The High Price of Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Life


On Thursdays, the nonprofit organization Footsteps hosts a drop-in group for its membership of formerly ultra-Orthodox Jews, who mostly refer to themselves as “off the derech.” “Derech” means “path” in Hebrew, and “off the derech,” or O.T.D. for short, is how their ultra-Orthodox families and friends refer to them when they break away from these tight-knit, impermeable communities, as in: “Did you hear that Shaindel’s daughter Rivkie is off the derech? I heard she has a smartphone and has been going to museums.” So even though the term is burdened with the yoke of the very thing they are trying to flee, members remain huddled together under “O.T.D.” on their blogs and in their Facebook groups, where their favored hashtag is #itgetsbesser — besser meaning “better” in Yiddish. Sometimes someone will pop up on a message board or in an email group and say, “Shouldn’t we decide to call ourselves something else?” But it never takes. Reclamations are messy.

At the drop-in session I attended, 10 men and women in their 20s and 30s sat around a coffee table. Some of them were dressed like me, in jeans and American casualwear, and others wore the clothing of their upbringings: long skirts and high-collared shirts for women; black velvet skullcaps and long, virgin beards and payot (untrimmed side locks) for men. Half of them had extricated themselves from their communities and were navigating new, secular lives. But half still lived among their Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox sects in areas of New York City, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley and were secretly dipping their toes into the secular world — attending these meetings, but also doing things as simple as walking down the street without head coverings, or trying on pants in a clothing store, or eating a nonkosher doughnut, or using the internet. They had families at home who believed they were in evening Torah learning sessions, or out for a walk, or at synagogue for evening prayers. On the coffee table were two pizzas, one kosher, one nonkosher. The kosher pizza tasted better, but only a couple of people ate it.

The group was facilitated by a Footsteps social worker, Jesse Pietroniro, soft-spoken and kind, who had told me that he had his own conflicted religious upbringing. He allowed the attendees to democratically settle on a loose theme for the evening. One woman in her early 20s brought up sexuality. She had started to date and wasn’t quite sure what the norms were. A young man talked about how hard it was for him to interact with women casually outside his community, since he was taught that sexual desire outside the intent to procreate means that one is a sexual predator, so anytime he was attracted to someone, he worried he was going to do something untoward, or that he was a kind of monster. The young woman who had suggested the theme said she didn’t know when exactly to submit to kissing — the first date? The second? Is she a slut if she kisses at all? Is it still bad nowadays to be a slut? She’d heard girls talking on the subway and calling each other sluts, and they were laughing. Are there rules for this? A few of them made sex jokes. The O.T.D.ers, newly alive in a world of puns and innuendo, love a junior-high-grade sex joke. The social worker narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips and tapped a finger to his chin and nodded and opened the question up to the group. (I was allowed to document the meeting on the condition that I wouldn’t publish anyone’s name or descriptive information.)

Another woman in her early 20s, sitting on the sofa in jeans with one leg slung over its arm, told us she had spent most of her life being molested by her father. She told the group that recently she had taken to advertising online, saying she followed the laws of family purity — going to a ritual bath after menstruation, not having sex during her “unclean” week — and that she was available for sex in exchange for money. Ultra-Orthodox men visited her at all hours, and they cheated on their wives, having sex with this ritually pure young woman in her apartment. When the men finished, they told her what a shame it was that she was off the derech, that she seemed nice, that she should try again at a religious life.

A man, 30ish, still with a beard that he now trimmed closely to his face, talked about staying with his religious wife, who knew he was no longer religious but wouldn’t join him on the other side. He knew the marriage should be over, but he wouldn’t leave, and he couldn’t bring himself to cheat on her, and he wanted to know if he was unable to cheat on her because he was bound up by his religious values or because he was innately a good person. Another married man said that you don’t need to be taught in a religious context not to cheat on your wife — it’s a tenet of secular marriage as well, and what the whole operation often depends on.

“I guess I just don’t know if I’m a good person because I’m a good person,” said the guy who wanted to cheat but might not, “or if I’m a good person because I was taught to be a good person.”

They went around in circles for many minutes, most of them summoning scriptural sources on whether morality is inherent, then other sources to make or disprove that point, then laughing at the fact that they’d summoned Scripture. The married man who was deciding if he should have sex outside his marriage put his head in his hands, then through his hair and made a great, guttural noise of frustration.[...]

Footsteps was started in 2003 by a college student named Malkie Schwartz, who grew up in the Lubavitch sect in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and who knew after high school that she wanted to step off the community’s moving walkway to marriage and motherhood. She moved in with a grandmother who wasn’t religious and enrolled at Hunter College on the Upper East Side.

But just because she left her community didn’t mean that she felt part of the secular one. She started Footsteps as a drop-in group right there at Hunter and told a couple of formerly religious friends what she was doing. About 20 people showed up to the first meeting. Soon they had a G.E.D. study group — and a human-sexuality-and-relationships group, so that they could learn about sex education, which was normally taught to the ultra-Orthodox only in the days leading up to their weddings. Footsteps became a chrysalis for them through which they would leap into their new lives, just as soon as they figured out exactly how to live them.

Schwartz eventually left the organization in the hands of nonprofit professionals — Footsteps was a chrysalis for her, too — and went to law school. Today, Footsteps is a 501(c)(3) with an executive director, social workers, scholarships, court-companion programs and special events like fashion nights, at which members learn about modern style outside the realm of black-and-white dresses and suits and hats. Ultra-Orthodox communities, whose leaders stand vigil against outside influences, know about Footsteps; about half the people I met in Footsteps first heard of it when they were accused by someone in their family of being a member.

It’s hard to talk about O.T.D.ers as a group, because like the rest of us, like ultra-Orthodox people, too, they are individuals. No two people who practice religion do it exactly the same way, despite how much it seems to the secular world that they rally around sameness; and no one who leaves it leaves the same way, either. In the region of New York City, New Jersey, and the Hudson Valley that Footsteps serves, 546,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews live in one of about five different sects. With a few exceptions, like the Skver sect in New Square, N.Y., which has actual boundaries and operates its own schools, the ultra-Orthodox live not in cloistered neighborhoods, but among secular America in Crown Heights, Flatbush and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and beyond. Perhaps it’s easiest to think of them as living in a different dimension — occupying the same space but speaking a different language (Yiddish, for the most part), attending different schools, seeing their own doctors, handling judicial issues among themselves and eating their own food from their own markets.

So once they leave, if they leave, they learn how ill equipped they are for survival outside their home neighborhoods, and that has a lot to do with the ways that ultra-Orthodox communities are valuable and good: the daily cycle of prayer and school and learning; how people share goals about family and values; how neighbors support one another during times of need. Once that’s gone, and all a person has is her mostly Judaic-studies education and little familial support and no real skills, life gets scary. For those who leave and are married with children, the community tends to embrace the spouse left behind and help raise funds for legal support to help that person retain custody of the children. You could be someone with a spouse and children one day and find yourself completely alone the next.

I learned about Footsteps in 2015, after the very public suicide of one of its young members. Her name was Faigy Mayer, and on a hot night in July, she went to the top of 230 Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron district, where there’s a rooftop bar, and jumped. In death, she became something of a brief symbol (and also a lightning rod) for the O.T.D. movement, with her story plastered across local papers, many illustrated by a Facebook image of her holding a paintbrush and standing in front of a newly painted mural that said “Life is Beautiful.”[...]

Feeling sad is ‘new normal’ in Trump’s America, therapists say


Jewish mental health professionals like Rubenstein say they have seen an unprecedented increase in stress, sadness and other negative feelings that clients are directly tying to the election and its aftermath.

Their testimonies speak to a larger trend: A January study by the American Psychological Association found that more than half of all Americans cited the political climate as a very or somewhat significant source of stress.

Elections usually lead to discontent from the losing side, but not anxiety and depression, said Sam Menahem, a psychologist based in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

“Every election people might talk about it a little bit, they don’t like the candidate that won, but it doesn’t make them more anxious or depressed,” said Menahem, who has been practicing psychology for 44 years. “They didn’t get their way, whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat, but I’ve never seen anything like this — never.”

He estimated that 60% of his patients were “experiencing exacerbation or worsening of symptoms after the election.”

Indeed, the APA survey found that the average stress level saw its first “statistically significant increase” since it was first conducted a decade ago: from 4.8 to 5.1 on a 1-10 scale in the period of August 2016-January 2017.

Much of the anxiety can be traced to the surprise victory of an unusually polarizing candidate over the apparent front-runner and more conventional politician, Hillary Clinton. Jewish voters supported Clinton over Trump by a margin of 3-1. Consequently, they are overrepresented among people disappointed by Trump’s victory.

As to the degree of that disappointment, mental health professionals and patients point to all the things that make Trump unconventional: his impulsive tweets, his thin skin, his embrace of various conspiracy theories, his lack of political experience and the apparent chaos surrounding his inner circle in his first months in office, to name a few.[...]

Political polarization has spilled into people’s personal lives, threatening to tear apart close relationships, said Nancy Kislin, a social worker in Chatham, New Jersey.

Kislin said that she had clients who had ended romantic relationships based on disagreements over Trump.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Kislin, noting that she had worked in private practice for 13 years, during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Seth Grobman, a clinical psychologist in Davie, Florida, said patients have ended relationships with family members and friends due to post-election political disagreements. To be sure, political polarization isn’t the only factor in play, he said, noting that widespread social media use was also to blame.[...]

Thursday, March 30, 2017

IDF threatens to punish soldiers who protest co-ed combat units

Arutz 7


The IDF is taking a surprisingly strident, and even threatening, tone against soldiers who, on their off-time, protest the army's increasing integration of women in combat units.

Hesder yeshiva soldiers have begun distributing literature explaining the dangers of mixed-gender combat units, and of women in combat roles altogether.

The Hesder soldiers are generally considered the army's best, and their campaign has taken off over just the past few days.
"In the face of all logic," the distributed pamphlets state, "and "ignoring expert opinions and research, the IDF is undergoing a transformation that harms its female soldiers, impairs its combat abilities, and detracts from the safety of all of us. It is not logical, it is not moral, it is not humane."
The name of the new campaign: "Saving the IDF."
The IDF, which has now set as one of its primary objectives the full integration of women throughout the military, responded harshly. The IDF Spokesman's Office even compared the new campaign with that of the extremist haredi group that says one must be killed rather than register for the draft: "The call to 'Save the IDF' is similar to the calls coming from the extremists in the haredi community that oppose enlistment in the IDF and the fulfillment of the laws of the country."

That is, the IDF Spokesman's Office compares the mass protests and campaign to oppose at all costs even registering with the IDF, on the one hand, to those who seek to warn, from within, against dangers in the IDF, and advocate a short delay, at most, in enlisting in the IDF.
The Spokesman's statement continues: "The IDF views with gravity, and condemns any attempt at any form of refusal. Calls for division with the IDF and insults to the honor of people must be opposed and uprooted. Everything must be done to continue to defend the State of Israel by all those who serve, from all sectors of Israeli society. Participation in this act is forbidden to IDF soldiers, and the subject will be intensively investigated and treated with severity."
The campaign against mixed combat units also cites the physiological differences between men and women, and the consequent differences in the way in which they are trained. While men must run with two canteens and five bullet cartridges in order to qualify as a combat soldier, females need run with only one canteen and two bullet cartridges to qualify for the same.
In addition, men must jump and climb over a wall, while women are permitted to stand on a bench in order to qualify for the wall-climbing test.

Former IDF Generals Yiftach Ron-Tal and Avigdor Kahalani are quoted in opposing the IDF's new gender-integration policies.