Sunday, July 5, 2015

Schlesinger Twins: Rabbis protest Michael's spiteful mistreatment of Beth and Twins

Re. Beth Alexander

We have followed the case of Beth Alexander for some time and have had the opportunity to hear from her about the dreadful and unnecessary pain that she has suffered following her divorce. In the initial stages of Beth’s separation, her husband was evicted by the police after allegations that he had been violent. The Austrian court only allowed him restricted and supervised access to his children.

Yet many of us have followed the Kafkaesque decisions made by subsequent courts which have granted full custody to Beth’s ex-husband with only limited visiting rights. Beth is naturally distraught over the lack of care being given to her children. They are looked after by paid help who speak little German or English.

Beth is also concerned for the health of her children, especially after dental procedures were performed without her knowledge to remove teeth from both of the boys. What is more perverse is that on top of the injustice in denying Beth’s children proper access to their mother, Beth has had to pay up to 50EUR for each 2-minute handover, failing which, she would have been unable to see her children. This is in addition to the child maintenance she must pay as mandated by the court.

To add insult to injury, Beth finds that the Austrian Jewish community and certain members of the Austrian rabbinate have largely shunned her. She has been told by individuals in the community to keep quiet or go back to England and forget about her children. While we recognise that the court’s decisions must be respected, we are profoundly disappointed that the Austrian Jewish community and leadership have not adequately supported a vulnerable and defenceless young woman, who has been thrust into this intolerable situation against her will.

We are also deeply concerned that Dr. Schlesinger has been given opportunities to make life easier for Beth and the children, and yet appears to have deliberately ignored them. This gives the impression that his children are merely pawns in a spiteful game to make life for Beth a living hell. We therefore request that Dr. Schlesinger takes the following steps to alleviate Beth’s situation for the sake of Sammy and Benji.
• To accept the offer of a simple and inexpensive handover of the children, coordinated by the Chief Rabbi of Austria or others within the community.
• To comply with the Court’s access orders in full.
• To stop cancelling access visits to Beth in defiance of the courts.
• To accept the generous offer of Rabbi Hofmeister to host Beth and the boys for one Shabbat meal a month with immediate effect.
We wish to send the strongest message possible to Dr. Schlesinger that his behaviour is a disgrace and our patience has run out.

Beth Alexander is a warm, kind-natured and generous person who deserves to play a full and active role in bringing up her children. We hope and pray that the natural maternal love that she has for them will ultimately break through the effects of this disgraceful injustice that she and her children have been forced to endure.

We therefore join the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis and our other colleagues who are working to help address the best interests of Beth and her children, and call upon other rabbonim and communal leaders to join us in our endeavours.

Rabbi Danny Bergson, London
Rabbi Boruch Boudilovsky, London
Rabbi Davis, London
Rabbi Elchonon Feldman, London
Rabbi Yisroel Fine, London
Rabbi Dr. Moshe Freedman, London
Rabbi Pinchas Hackenbroch, London
Rabbi Dov Kaplan, London
Rabbi James Kennard, Melbourne, Australia
Rabbi Marc Levene, London
Rabbi Joel Portnoy, Manchester
Rabbi Daniel Roselaar, London
Rabbi Meir Salasnik, London
Rabbi Arnold Saunders, Manchester
Rabbi Zvi Solomons, Reading
Rabbi Gary Wayland, London
Rabbi Nissan Wilson, London
Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg, Liverpool

Orthodox man [found guilty]of kidnapping and raping his ex-wife

Jewish Chronicle

A Charedi woman who said her ex-husband raped her retracted the claim because she feared being stigmatised by the strictly Orthodox community, a court heard.

During the court proceedings the complainant has sent several emails from Israel, where she had gone before the trial, withdrawing her allegations.

But prosecution barrister Charlotte Newell told the court that the woman feared the effect a conviction would have on her family in the Charedi community.

Giving her closing argument, Ms Newell said she had “retracted her complaints because to put up with what happened that day is easier and more tolerable to her than the break-up of her family and the effect it had on her.”

In a previous letter the woman had told the court, “I do not wish to proceed with the matter further as it will lead to the break-up of my family. The real victims will be my children.”

 update: Jewish Chronicle

A strictly Orthodox man has been found guilty of kidnapping and raping his ex-wife.

The man was convicted of one count of kidnap, two counts of rape and one count of false imprisonment. [...]

During the trial, the woman had sent emails to the court withdrawing her allegations. The prosecution said she had done so because she had feared being stigmatised within the Charedi community.


 Jewish Chronicle - accused man claims wife had rape fantasy

June 25, 2015

A strictly Orthodox man has denied raping his ex-wife in a "dungeon", claiming the woman encouraged him to act out a "rape fantasy".

Denying allegations of kidnap, rape and false imprisonment, he told a court on Wednesday that the woman had insisted on taking part in "rough" sex sessions.
A jury had previously been told that the woman was knocked out with gas, carried down to what she described as a dungeon, in a warehouse in north London, and was bound and raped twice.

The alleged victim claims she was left in the building with no way of escaping.

The defendant denied her version of events, claiming the "dungeon" was in fact a "safe room" where his family could hide in case of persecution

He disputed the complainant's allegation that they had not had sex since their divorce around six years ago, and said they had continued to sleep together in a double bed at the warehouse.

The man described in detail the sexual demands of his ex-wife and claimed she had insisted on the couple acting out rape fantasies.[...]

On the day the rape is said to have taken place, the defendant told the court the couple had became engaged in a "screaming match" about his unwillingness to give the woman a get. [...]

Jewish Chronicle

A charedi man kidnapped his ex-wife and raped her in a "hidden dungeon" before leaving her there to go home for Succot, a court heard this week.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of one count of kidnap, two counts of rape and one count of false imprisonment on October 15 last year.

An associate is accused of aiding and abetting two acts of rape. Both men deny the charges

Charlotte Newell, prosecuting, told Snaresbrook Crown Court, that the men had sprayed the alleged victim with gas that knocked her out and carried her down to what she described as a dungeon inside a warehouse, in Stamford Hill, where she was bound and raped twice. She was then locked in, with no obvious means of escape.

She eventually cut herself free and phoned the police. [...]

Understanding why there are rabbis in sex scandals

Rotter Forums Interesting analysis of how things like Berland and Sheinberg happen in Haredi and Dati Leumi world. Seems like its Rabbi Shabtai Sabato Rosh Yeshiva of Mitzpe Yericho Yeshiva, but not sure.

****שיחת ראש הישיבה על הפרשייה הכאובה של הרב המקובל מהצפון:***

לפני שנתחיל את השיעור אני רוצה לגעת בפרשייה האחרונה שמסעירה את כולנו. אני כל פעם צריך לענות תשובות על מקרים כאלו ואחרים. למה אני צריך לקבל עונשים על דברים שאחרים עושים.

קודם כל אני לא רוצה להתייחס לאדם עצמו, כי לבנתיים הכל שמועות, אי אפשר לדון אנשים ככה. אני גם לא אדבר על השאלות האמוניות שמתעוררות אצל הציבור, שאלות כמו מדוע ה' מביא עלינו מהלכים כאלו? איך התורה מתגלית באדם כזה? וכו'.
אני אגע בעתיד, לא בעבר.

אז מה כן ראוי לעשות?
אני אציין ארבעה דברים שאם נקפיד עליהם לא נגיע לדברים כאלה:

1. דבר ראשון זה תופעת האדמורות:
התופעה הזו עושה המון נזקים. זו הסיבה שאני לא פועל כך. אני לא אדמו"ר ואתם לא חסידים. רב צריך לדבר רק על מה שהוא יודע ועל מה שהוא מבין בו. לכל אדם יש דעת, תבונה ושכל טוב. התפקיד שלנו זה לתת כלים שתהיו עצמאיים ותחליטו בעצמכם. אדם נמדד בבחירה החופשית שלו, בלקיחת גורלו ביד עצמו.

2. דבר שני זה תופעת רוח הקודש.
אין היום רוח הקודש. אין אחד בארץ עם רוח הקודש. אם תאמר שכן- אז איך בזמן החטופים אף אחד לא ידע שהם מתים, להפך- כל מי שמתהדר שיש לו רוח הקודש, אמר שהם חיים ונמצאים במקום כזה או אחר.
היום הקבלה פורחת כל אחד שיודע דבר או שניים, נחשב מקובל. מה זה מקובל בימינו? אדם שיכול לומר לך כמה ילדים יש לך ומהם השמות וכו'.. זה מקובל? יש לך גם גויים שעושים דברים כאלו. הוא אדם מוכשר, אינו מקובל. זה שהוא יודע לומר לך כמה דברים נסתרים שאנשים רגילים לא יודעים לומר, הופך אותו למקושר עם הקב"ה?
אנשים במצוקה, וכשהם במצוקה הם נתלים בדברים כאלו. כשאדם במצוקה הוא עושה טעויות, והטעות הכי גדולה זה לתלות את החלטותיך ביד אחרים.
אני אף פעם לא מורה לאדם מה לעשות, אני מציג לו את שני הצדדים-יתרונות וחסרונות, ונותן לשואל לבחור את החלטתו. אני לא רוצה לקחת את חוש הבחירה שלכם.
וזה ממשיך בסגולות המטופשות שמציפות כל חלקה, כל העין הרע וכו'. כל ההבל וריק שממלאים את העיתונות ואת הדפים של יום שישי. זה אחד הגורמים המכשילים.
גם אצל הרבי מילובביץ', כל הסיפור של משיח, זה לא הסיפור שלו, זה הסיפור של החסידים שלו. הוא עמד מולם ואמר להם שיפסיקו עם כל הדבר הזה. ומזה התלמידים שלו הבינו שהעבודה עוברת אליהם ועליהם להביא את המשיח- שזה בעצם הרבי.
קבלה היא לא משחק, אל תמהרו ללמוד קבלה, יש בזה הרבה סכנות. וצריך לומר את זה שוב ושוב, אנשים לא מכניסים את זה ללב. זה כמו בבני ברק שאנשים משקיעים את הכסף שלהם אצל מישהו ואחר כך הוא בורח עם כל הכסף. זה קורה כל כמה חודשים, והם לא לומדים לקח.
רב קיים בשביל ללמד תורה בדרך ה'. הוא לא בשביל לומר לך עם מי תתחתן וכו'. אתה רוצה להתייעץ איתו- שזה יהיה אך ורק בגדר ייעוץ, את ההחלטות תעשה אתה על פי שיקוליך.
אני יודע שתקשו קושיות, אבל התשובות זה מה שקורה עכשיו, מה שיקרה בעוד כמה זמן. סיפורים כאלו לא ייכלו.
שמתייעצים איתי איזה שם לקרוא לילד, דבר ראשון אני שואל איזה שם אתה רוצה. אם יגיד נמרוד- אני אומר לו שנמרוד לא יהיה כל כך מוצלח. אבל להתחיל לעשות חשבונות, שמות וכו'. אני לא מתיימר לדעת ואף אחד שלא ייתיימר לדעת. תתפכחו.

3. הדור הזה נכנס לכיוון של אהבת ה', וזה טוב. אבל שכחו שיש גם יראת ה'. וזו בעיה. אני מדבר על זה קרוב ל30 שנה. יראת ה', שזה מתבטא בהרבה דברים, גם בין היתר בלבוש של אדם, בעמידה מול ה'. ואם רואים שהרב עושה משהו שלא נראה, צריך לשאול אותו למה. יש פה יראת ה', צריך לשאול. תורה היא, וללמוד אנו צריכים.
אף אחד אין לו רשות לעבור על מצוות ה'. גם לא מקובלים!!.
ברגע שאדם רואה שיש משהו לא בסדר הוא צריך לשאול, חייב לשאול. לא להתחיל לעשות חשבון. לעשות את זה מתוך כבוד והערכה. לא מתוך טיפשות. אני אומר את זה כבר שנים.
אם יש זמן תפילה, אי אפשר לקום ב10 ולהגיד ה' אוהב אותי. זו אהבה בלי יראה. כך אמרו נדב ואביהוא ונשרפו באש. יראה ואהבה ביחד ימנעו הרבה נפילות, לא רק של תלמידים, אלא גם של רבנים.

4. יש אמירה שהיא לא נכונה במציאות של ימינו, והיא הייתה נכונה במציאות של פעם "ושמרת לעשות ככל אשר יורוך: על פי התורה אשר יורוך ועל המשפט אשר יאמרו לך תעשה לא תסור מן הדבר אשר יגידו לך ימין ושמאל". זה נאמר על הסנהדרין. גם הם יכולים לחטוא, פר העלם דבר של שגגת עיני העדה. היום בוודאי שאין סנהדרין אין דבר כזה 'על שמאל שהוא ימין'. ואם מישהו יגיד לכם- תאמרו לו שיסביר לכם ואם זה נכון, אז בסדר.

אני פעם שמעתי את אחד הרבנים מירושלים שביקר בישיבה תיכונית ונתן להם שיחת מוסר- חשוב שתהיו כל היום עסוקים בתורה ותאמרו סברות. לא משנה איזה סברות, לא משנה אם הם שקריות או אמיתיות. אני כמעט התעלפתי ששמעתי את זה.
שימו לב שכמעט 90 אחוז ממה שאני אומר זה מופנה כלפי הציבור. כי זה מתחיל מהאנשים. אם אנשים ישמעו לדברים האלו אז רבנים לא יפלו.

מה שאמר משה רבנו "הצור תמים פועלו כי כל דרכיו משפט אל אמונה ואין עוול צדיק וישר הוא". אנו לא יודעים את כל התמונה. כמו שאני תמיד אומר לכם על ספר קהלת.
כל דבר כזה שמתגלה הוא מרפא את האדמה כדי שלא יהיה שפך דם של נקיים. דברים כאלו שמתרחשים בסתר זה חילול ה' לכן יש הרוגים ופצועים. כשזה מתגלה, זה נפסק. חילול ה' יותר גדול כשזה נעשה בסתר. כשזה בסתר יש כעס על הארץ, ואנו לא יודעים למה יש פצועים והרוגים ואז יש כעס על הקב"ה. כשזה נפסק יורד הדין מעל עמ"י.
אני מקווה שאנחנו, תלמידים חברים, ציבור, נשמע את הדברים הללו ונמנע נפילות.
עד כאן לנושא הזה.

הבהרה: לא מדובר ברב חיים סבתו

Teenager’s Jailing Brings a Call to Fix Sex Offender Registries

NY Times   Until one day in December, Zachery Anderson was a typical 19-year-old in a small Midwestern city.

He studied computer science at the local community college. He lived with his parents and two younger brothers in a sun-filled home on the St. Joseph River, where framed family photos hang from the walls and a pontoon boat is docked outside.

And he dated in the way that so many American teenagers do today: digitally and semi-anonymously, through apps where prospects emerge with the swipe of a finger and meetings are arranged after the exchanges of photos and texts.

In December, Mr. Anderson met a girl through Hot or Not, a dating app, and after some online flirting, he drove to pick her up at her house in Michigan, just miles over the state line. They had sex in a playground in Niles City, the police report said.

That sexual encounter has landed Mr. Anderson in a Michigan jail, and he now faces a lifetime entanglement in the legal system. The girl, who by her own account told Mr. Anderson that she was 17 — a year over the age of consent in Michigan — was actually 14. [...]

As an Indiana resident, Mr. Anderson will most likely be listed on a sex offender registry for life, a sanction that requires him to be in regular contact with the authorities, to allow searches of his home every 90 days and to live far from schools, parks and other public places. His probation will also require him to stay off the Internet, though he needs it to study computer science.

Some advocates and legal authorities are holding up Mr. Anderson’s case as the latest example of the overreach of sex offender registries, which gained favor in the 1990s as a tool for monitoring pedophiles and other people who committed sexual crimes. In the decades since, the registries have grown in number and scope; the nearly 800,000 people on registries in the United States go beyond adults who have sexually assaulted other adults or minors. Also listed are people found guilty of lesser offenses that run the gamut from urinating publicly to swapping lewd texts. [...]

“The whole registry is a horrible mistake,” said William Buhl, a former judge in Michigan who has publicly argued that laws governing registries ought to be relaxed. “I think it’s utterly ridiculous to take teenage sex and make it a felony. This guy is obviously not a pedophile.”[...]

“No computer for five years, no smartphone? He can’t have an email address,” his father said. “To me, that’s wrong. That’s like taking away electricity or heat or gas to somebody, in today’s world.”
With their son’s release from jail set for Thursday, they were scrambling to find him a new place to live and satisfy the sex offender restrictions on housing. Their own house is less than 1,000 feet from a public boat launch, which is considered a public park under state law.[...]

For additional information see the linked articles from Prof Franklin Zimring

MacArthur Foundation Research
An American Travesty:  Legal Responses to Adolescent Sexual Offending by Prof Franklin Zimring

During the 1990s, all 50 states enacted new laws aimed largely at protecting children against sexual predators. Under many of these laws, adult sexual offenders are regarded as more dangerous—and controlled more severely—if their victims are very young. This seems rational when dealing with adults who prey on young children. But in enacting laws aimed at adult sexual predators, legislators, whether deliberately or thoughtlessly, often used language broad enough to encompass offenders in early adolescence. Should a child or young adolescent who commits a single act of sexual aggression against another child be treated the same way as a 30-year-old man who assaults an 8-year-old girl? Legal scholar Franklin Zimring calls it a travesty of justice—a policy that ignores the developmental stage of young sex offenders in determining their legal fate.

In An American Travesty: Legal Responses to Adolescent Sexual Offending Zimring argues that Meganʼs Laws and other responses to these youths are based on certain assumptions about adult sex offenders—assumptions that donʼt apply to adolescents. He finds there has been virtually no scholarly literature or research on the topic of adolescent sex offending: few scientific studies of sexual misconduct among children and adolescents, no rigorous assessments of strategies that address it, no dialogue among legal scholars or judges. Zimringʼs book organizes the knowledge that does exist and considers the implications for policy and for further research—“a down payment on the debt scholarship owes the topic.”

An image breeds an industry Adult sex offenders—especially those who use force and those who prey on children—are viewed by the public with special outrage and fear. Even professionals consider many of them a breed apart from other criminals, with very particular characteristics:fixed, abnormal sexual proclivities; a focus on sex offenses to the exclusion of other crimes; at high risk of repeating their offenses. It is this image, controversial but widely held, that underlies Meganʼs Laws and related policy. This pathological image has now been extended to adolescent offenders as well, giving rise not only to new laws but to an industry of specialized treatment programs for sexually abusive youth. While juvenile sex-offense arrests have remained remarkably stable over the past two decades or more, the number of treatment programs has mushroomed: from 20 in 1982 to several hundred today.

Many of these programs take a unique approach to therapy. In place of the core mission of the juvenile justice system—to serve the childʼs best interests—their primary goal is prevention of sex crimes. Therapists in these programs consider their client to be not the youth but the community, and they form an adversarial relationship with the adolescent offender. The therapist serves as investigator, prosecutor, and probation officer; her tools include polygraphy and confrontation, and she has no obligation to protect the youthʼs confidentiality.

The adversarial approach grows out of a report issued in 1993 by the National Adolescent Perpetrator Network, a vocal and well-organized network that is part mental health treatment group, part victimsʼ rights lobby. The report, published in Juvenile Judge’s Journal, was the longest publication devoted
to juvenile sex offenders in at least half a century. At its center are 387 unproven assumptions about adolescent behavior, dangerousness, appropriate justice system responses, and the impact of various interventions on long-term development and life opportunities. The Task Force behind the report included no physicians, no specialists in program evaluation and policy analysis, no experts in juvenile justice, and only one attorney, a former prosecutor. Yet the report has stood for more than a decade, virtually uncriticized and tremendously influential. [...]

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Iran nuclear deal: The worst agreement in US diplomatic history

Telegraph     By

The devil is not in the details. It's in the entire conception of the Iran deal, animated by President Obama's fantastical belief that he, uniquely, could achieve détente with a fanatical Islamist regime whose foundational purpose is to cleanse the Middle East of the poisonous corruption of American power and influence.

In pursuit of his desire to make the Islamic Republic into an accepted, normalised "successful regional power," Obama decided to take over the nuclear negotiations. At the time, Tehran was reeling – the rial plunging, inflation skyrocketing, the economy contracting – under a regime of international sanctions painstakingly constructed over a decade.

Then, instead of welcoming Congress' attempt to tighten sanctions to increase the pressure on the mullahs, Obama began the negotiations by loosening sanctions, injecting billions into the Iranian economy (which began growing again in 2014) and conceding in advance an Iranian right to enrich uranium.

It's been downhill ever since. Desperate for a legacy deal, Obama has played the supplicant, abandoning every red line his administration had declared essential to any acceptable deal.[...]

Taken together, the catalogue of capitulations is breathtaking: spot inspections, disclosure of previous nuclear activity, gradual sanctions relief, retention of non-nuclear sanctions.

What's left? A surrender document of the kind offered by defeated nations suing for peace. Consider: The strongest military and economic power on earth, backed by the five other major powers, armed with what had been a crushing sanctions regime, is about to sign the worst international agreement in American diplomatic history.

How did it come to this? With every concession, Obama and Kerry made clear they were desperate for a deal.

And they will get it. Obama will get his "legacy." Kerry will get his Nobel. And Iran will get the bomb.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A disturbing postscript to the Sanhedria allegations of Satanic abuse

This morning while attending a family simcha I had the opportunity to speak with relatives who live in the Sanhedria community. In particular I was interested in the status of the wild allegations of Satanic child abuse ring which created panic and fear in that community - after Rav Berkowitz went public with his claims and "evidence".

One response I got was something I never expected. It came from a kollel member. After listening to the discussion I was having with another relative - he commented the following.

"What are you getting involved in this matter. It is none of your business. Rav Berkowitz is great talmid chachom who knows his community very well. You are not part of the Sanhedria community, You have no children there. Why are you getting involved? Rav Berkowitz has consulted experts, he has gathered testimony. You have no basis to disagree with him.

I pointed out that the Satanic abuse accusations have been made hundreds of times over the last few decades - and not one case and been proven to be true. That alone should give pause to any responsible person from make such accusations. In addition I noted that I have in fact spoken to people regarding the evidence - including professional in the field of abuse. None of these people believed Rav Berkowitz' claims.

He responded, "Just because no proof has been found so far - it doesn't mean it there is no such thing. Rav Berkowitz has seen the evidence and he clearly disagrees with you. What are you getting involved in this issue for?

I responded - "The mitzva of not standing idly by the blood of your fellow" says nothing about having to belong to a community in order to get involved. Rav Berkowitz is a wondeful person but he is not an expert in these matters and the people he has consulted don't seem to be experts either. The experts seem to be afraid to get involved in this matter in a public fashion"

I obviously had no influence on him. The discussion continued for sometime - but I was struck by the incredible blindness to reality and reliance on rabbinic authority (when it clearly was inappropriate and even harmful)

Transgender Issues - halachic analysis regarding Bruce Jenner

This is a shiur that was given recently by Rav Sholom Shuchat at Mayan Yisroel of Flatbush (Rabbi Vigler) regarding transgender people and their Halachic status. Includes topic of 1) Is the procedure and cross dressing permitted 2) does gender change 2) is a Get required if a married person has operation after marriage 4) conversion after 5) yichud 6) which side of the mechitza 7) Tefillin

Polygamous Montana trio applies for wedding license

Fox News  A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife.

Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage. Montana, like all 50 states, outlaws bigamy — holding multiple marriage licenses — but Collier said he plans to sue if the application is denied.

"It's about marriage equality," Collier told The Associated Press Wednesday. "You can't have this without polygamy."

County clerk officials initially denied Collier's application, then said they would consult with the county attorney's office before giving him a final answer, Collier said.

Yellowstone County chief civil litigator Kevin Gillen said he is reviewing Montana's bigamy laws and expected to send a formal response to Collier by next week.

"I think he deserves an answer," Gillen said, but added his review is finding that "the law simply doesn't provide for that yet."

The Supreme Court's ruling on Friday made gay marriages legal nationwide. Chief Justice John Roberts said in his dissent that people in polygamous relationships could make the same legal argument that not having the opportunity to marry disrespects and subordinates them. [...]

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rabbi Charged With Sexual Abuse Arrested Fleeing Israel

Arutz 7   A rabbi from the north of Israel, who was distanced from his city due to sexual abuse complaints filed against him by several women, was arrested on Thursday morning as he was on his way to Ben-Gurion International Airport.

The rabbi, who was the dean of a yeshiva and whose identity has not been revealed, was taken in for investigation by the northern district police. A request to extend his detention will be heard on Thursday.

Women who arrived to consult with the rabbi have complained to police, with one claiming he sexually abused her several years ago and another charging him with rape.

A number of high-ranking rabbis had requested that the rabbi step down due to the complaints against him, and he recently gave in to the demands and stepped down as dean of the yeshiva that he founded, and likewise distanced himself from its associated institutions.

The rabbi also was a community rabbi, and distanced himself from his city until the accusations against him were resolved in response to the request of the rabbis.

A group of rabbis consisting of Tzfat (Safed) Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi Avraham Engel and Rabbi Gad Cohen investigated the complaints filed against the rabbi accusing him of improper conduct.

After thoroughly examining the issue and meeting with additional sources, psychologists and professional advisers, the rabbis asked him to suspend himself. He has been forbidden from coming in contact with the public, including his students. [...]

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How I Joined Teach for America—and Got Sued for $20 Million

City Journal    Winter 2003 by Joshua Kaplowitz

An idealistic new Yale grad learns up close and personal just how bad inner-city schools can be—and why.

I didn’t want to devote my life to helping the rich get richer or crunching numbers to see what views were most popular for the vice president to adopt. This wasn’t what my 17 years of education were for.

My doctor parents had drummed into me that education was the key to every door, the one thing they couldn’t take away from my ancestors during pogroms and persecutions. They had also filled me with a strong sense of social justice. I couldn’t help feeling guilty dismay when I thought of the millions of kids who’d never even tasted the great teaching—not to mention the supportive family—I’d enjoyed for my entire life. [...]

Five weeks later, I found myself steering my parents’ old Volvo off R Street and into a one-block cul-de-sac. There it was: Emery Elementary School, a 1950s-ugly building tucked behind a dead-end street—an apt metaphor, I thought, for the lives of many of the children in this almost all-black neighborhood a mile north of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. I had seen signs of inner-city blight all over the neighborhood, from the grown men who skulked in the afternoon streets to the bulletproof glass that sealed off the cashier at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. This was the “other half” of Washington, the part of the city I had missed during my grade-school field trips to the Smithsonian and my two summers as a Capitol Hill intern. v[...]

As the tour ended and I was about to leave, Mr. Bledsoe pulled me aside. “The one thing you need to do above all else is to have your children under control. Once you have done that, you’ll be fine.”
Fine. But as I learned to my great cost, that was easier said than done.[...]

Nothing in the program simulated what I soon learned to be the life of a teacher. Though I didn’t know it, I was completely ill equipped when I stepped into my own fifth-grade classroom at Emery Elementary in September 2000. [...]

My optimism and naiveté evaporated within hours. I tried my best to be strict and set limits with my new students; but I wore my inexperience on my sleeve, and several of the kids jumped at the opportunity to misbehave. I could see clearly enough that the vast majority of my fifth-graders genuinely wanted to learn—but all it took to subvert the whole enterprise were a few cutups.

To gain control, I tried imposing the kinds of consequences that the classroom-management handbooks recommend. None worked. My classroom was too small to give my students “time out.” I tried to take away their recess, but depriving them of their one sanctioned time to blow off steam just increased their penchant to use my classroom as a playground. When I called parents, they were often mistrustful and tended to question or even disbelieve outright what I told them about their children. It was sometimes worse when they believed me, though; the tenth time I heard a mother swear that her child was going to “get a beating for this one,” I almost decided not to call parents. By contrast, I saw immediate behavioral and academic improvement in students whose parents had come to trust me.

I quickly learned from such experiences how essential parental support is in determining whether a school succeeds in educating a child. And of course, parental support not just of the teachers but of the kids: as I came to know my students better, I saw that those who had seen violence, neglect, or drug abuse at home were usually the uncontrollable ones, while my best-behaved, hardest-working kids were typically those with the most nurturing home environments.

Being a white teacher in a mostly black school unquestionably hindered my ability to teach. Certain students hurled racial slurs with impunity; several of their parents intimated to my colleagues that they didn’t think a white teacher had any business teaching their children—and a number of my colleagues agreed. One parent who was also a teacher’s aide threatened to “kick my white ass” in front of my class and received no punishment from the principal, beyond being told to stay out of my classroom. The failure of the principal, parents, and teachers to react more decisively to racist disrespect emboldened students to behave worse. Such poisonous bigotry directed at a black teacher at a mostly white school would of course have created a federal case.[...]

When I asked other teachers to come help me stop a fight, they shook their heads and reminded me that D.C. Public Schools banned teachers from laying hands on students for any reason, even to protect other children. When a fight brewed, I was faced with a Catch-22. I could call the office and wait ten minutes for the security guard to arrive, by which point blood could have been shed and students injured. Or I could intervene physically, in violation of school policy.

Believe me, you have to be made of iron, or something other than flesh and blood, to stand by passively while some enraged child is trying to inflict real harm on another eight-year-old. I couldn’t do it. And each time I let normal human instinct get the best of me and broke up a fight, one of the combatants would go home and fabricate a story about how I had hurt him or her. The parent, already suspicious of me, would report this accusation to Ms. Savoy, who would in turn call in a private investigative firm employed by D.C. Public Schools. Investigators would come to Emery and interview me, as well as several students whom the security guard thought might tell the truth about the alleged incident of corporal punishment.[...]

After 15 minutes, the school security guard appeared at the door and beckoned for me. My stomach hit the floor, as I guessed what this meant: yet another corporal-punishment charge. But this time was different. Chaos reigned in the main entranceway as police officers swarmed into the building. Raynard’s mother, I was told, had been in school for a meeting to place her son in a class for emotionally disturbed children. Raynard had told her that I had violently shoved him in the chest out the door of my classroom, injuring his head and back. His mother had dialed 911 and summoned the cops and the fire department. The police hustled me into the principal’s office, where I sat in bewilderment and desperately denied I had hurt Raynard in any way. [...]

Two months later, Raynard’s mother filed a $20 million lawsuit against the school district, Ms. Savoy, and myself—and the D.C. police charged me with a misdemeanor count of simple assault against my former student. Thus ended my first and last year as a public school teacher. [...]

As I had surmised, this whole case finally came down to money. Even after my acquittal, even after the accuracy of Raynard’s story had been seriously undermined, his mother and her big-firm lawyers aggressively pursued multi-million-dollar damage claims on the civil side. Yet even as the lawsuit dragged on and the legal cloud over me caused me to lose a job opportunity I really wanted, I refused to entertain Raynard’s mother’s offers to settle the case by my paying her $200,000—a demand that ultimately diminished to $40,000. The school system had no such scruples; it settled the mother’s tort claim in October 2002 for $75,000 (plus $15,000 from the teachers’ union’s insurance company—chump change compared with the cost of defending the litigation). It wasn’t $20 million, but it was still more money than I imagine this woman had seen in her life—a pretty good payout and hardly deterrence to other parents in the neighborhood who felt entitled to shanghai the system. [...]

Jewish Group, With Hired Protesters, Opposes the Gay Pride Parade

NY Times    New York City’s annual Gay Pride Parade has long been one of the city’s more festive celebrations. 

Today’s parade, in the glow of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling that the right to same-sex marriage is guaranteed by the Constitution, carried an extra burst of energy and emotion. The parade in San Francisco was similarly exuberant. See full story.
Some of the most curious costumes worn along the parade route belonged to protesters.

Behind a barricade, a group of men wore the fringed Jewish prayer garment known as the tzitzit and held up anti-gay signs bearing the logo of a group calling itself the Jewish Political Action Committee.

“Judaism prohibits homosexuality,” one sign read.

But the men were not Jewish. They were Mexican laborers, protesting because they were paid to protest, said one of the men, who would not give his name.

Heshie Freed, a member of the political action committee, an Orthodox Jewish group based in Brooklyn, said that the men were supplementary troops, filling in for the Jewish students who would normally be called upon to demonstrate.