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Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
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94 Responses

  1. IH says:

    Further to the discussion of Wertheimer’s column about Kiruv in Commentary:

    http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/chabad-s-dangerous-message-of-love-without-commitment.premium-1.516704

    “And there is a broader set of concerns that Wertheimer mentions but minimizes. Chabad offers an approach to Judaism that is rabbi-oriented, deeply personal, and has little use for bureaucracy and hierarchy. There is some wisdom in this. Many American synagogues have come to share this view; they too are emphasizing relationships and personal connections while cutting back on committee work and complex volunteer structures.

    On the other hand, the personal approach of Chabad to Jewish outreach—often combined with glitzy, high-profile, one-time events – has a major negative: It is built on absolutely minimal expectations. Its message seems to be: We will love you, but we won’t require anything of you. On this point, somewhat bizarrely, the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox critics seem to agree. The Orthodox critics ask Chabad rabbis: Why don’t you expect Jews to become Orthodox? The non-Orthodox ask: Why don’t you expect anything at all?”

  2. sass says:

    The article on the computer subsidies in Lakewood is pathetic, a new low, even for the Forward. Charedi-hating yellow journalism, at its worst. At least those who have commented on the Forward website realize it.

  3. Glatt some questions says:

    With regards to the Forward article, I think it’s Charedi bashing at its finest. There seems to be some jealousy by some groups that the Lakewood community was able to identify an opportunity to legally obtain funds that were available to their schools, and effectively organize their efforts to maximize the number of dollars obtained. Why should it matter that Lakewood is bigger or smaller than Newark or Trenton, as long as everyone had equal opportunity to obtain the grants.

    With that said, I do think the article was a bit unclear as to how these funds were utilized by the schools. There were very specific delineations as to how these schools could use the funds. I hope that we won’t soon discover that millions of dollars designated to be used for technology were instead funneled to subsidize tuitions or pay teachers by the recipients of these grants. That would be a terrible chillul Hashem…and it would not be the first time that Charedi insitutions did something like this.

  4. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    I would guess that Lakewood schools, being cash strapped and run on shoe-string budgets as always, had much worse phone systems and related equipment than the public schools to begin with, and thus had more qualifying expenditures when they applied for the programs.

  5. Shlomo says:

    The Lakewood schools appear to have received more than their share in certain years, and less than their share in others. It is not even clear, from the article, that on average they have received more than they deserve. A more responsible journalist would have made that clear.

    On the other hand, the program seems to be devoted to spreading internet access. Since the Lakewood community has banned internet, one wonders what exactly the funds were used for. Of course, it is not clear from the article exactly for what purposes the funds were given. There is room here for a possible ethical violation, but no proof that one occurred.

  6. Glatt some questions says:

    Shlomo, that is exactly where there is a potential problem…not in the Lakewood schools getting large sums, but in how the sums were used and whether or not they were in compliance with the rules

  7. Shlomo says:

    Rabbanut Tzevait: “The idea that views non-Jews as having equal rights in the state goes against the opinion of the Torah”

    The author of this line swore loyalty to a democratic state upon his army induction. There is a significant problem if he nevertheless opposes equal rights for non-Jews. What gives – the oath he made, or the Torah’s political approach?

    By the way “we believe this but we shouldn’t have published it” obviously does nothing to solve the problem…

  8. Shlomo says:

    Glatt: If only the reporter had actually investigated that. And the issue of large sums is also important – just look at the title: “Orthodox Town of Lakewood Grabs Bigger Computer Subsidy Than Poorest Cities”

  9. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    The article says: “As well as Internet connectivity, E-Rate funds can also be used for things like telephone systems and voicemail for administrators”

    More at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Rate

  10. IH says:

    I fail to see anything egregious in the article. It seems to be an extension of The Jewish Week’s recent investigative reporting of potential E-Rate abuse in the New York area.

    At the end of the day, it was the Lakewood community that made Internet access a public issue with last summer’s Asifa. How is it unfair to investigate how that same community may be disproportionately reaping the benefits of a federally backed program subsidizing Internet access for low-income students?

  11. IH says:

    The article says: “As well as Internet connectivity, E-Rate funds can also be used for things like telephone systems and voicemail for administrators”

    Yes, but the sentence continues: “, but schools in Lakewood report similar numbers of phones in their classrooms, compared to other schools.”

  12. IH says:

    From The Jewish Week series:

    Priority 1 is for telecom services (phone, cell phone, Internet access), whereas Priority 2 is for installation and maintenance of internal connections (the wiring that then connects multiple devices throughout the building to the phone and Internet service).

    In the past two years, while all schools that applied received Priority 1 funding, only high-poverty schools, which are given preferential treatment, were approved for Priority 2, allocated with whatever money remains after all the Priority 1 requests are processed.

    In recent years Priority 2 dollars have been increasingly scarce, preventing all but the poorest schools from obtaining money to connect not just their buildings, but also their classrooms, to the Internet. Ironically, the coveted Priority 2 services account for 68 percent of the funding that fervently Orthodox schools like Rockland County’s Avir Yakov received in 2011, even though these schools — and the communities in which they operate — for the most part officially prohibit Internet use.

  13. Gil Student says:

    After reading through the article, I regret linking to it. It’s accusation through insinuation.

  14. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    since when are there phones in classrooms? (and arent (kosher) cell phones banned in classrooms, too?)

    it (presumably, no allegations there) meets the legal requirements for the grant, just like many other govt grants (which are really designed to give funds to questionable programs).

    the real problem is that these grants are funded by that pesky additional fee cell phone customers have been paying for years, with little tangible return.

  15. IH says:

    It’s accusation through insinuation

    Gil — what do you mean by that? The article I read does not meet the dictionary definition of “insinuation” (e.g. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insinuation).

  16. Gil Student says:

    Sorry. I meant by hint or implying. If the reporter thought something fishy is going on, he should have said it.

  17. IH says:

    My reading is that the reporter was being very clear about the issue from his perspective in the first 5 paragraphs, culminating in the 6th:

    “Ultra-Orthodox leaders in Lakewood have railed against the dangers of the Internet, especially for young people, raising questions about why the town’s Orthodox schools have benefitted so heavily from E-Rate. One Lakewood Orthodox girls school, Bais Rivka Rochel, reported having five Internet-capable devices in a school of 1,025 students, despite receiving $700,000 in E-Rate subsidies.”

    —–

    I don’t have any need to discuss this article, but found the knee-jerk accusations about alleged anti-Charedi bias distasteful and problematic. It may be unpleasant reading, but I fail to see any bias.

  18. Gil Student says:

    I don’t have any need to discuss this article, but found the knee-jerk accusations about alleged anti-Charedi bias distasteful and problematic

    I found it accurate. If he think’s there is fraud he should say it. He should also investigate it.

  19. IH says:

    Gil — I find that a strange position given recent other investigative stories.

  20. Gil Student says:

    I don’t understand what is strange. If you have an accusation to make, make it. Use the proper qualifications but don’t beat around the bush.

  21. IH says:

    He didn’t beat around the bush, as per the introduction in the first 6 paragraphs. The accusation is clear and direct: “Ultra-Orthodox leaders in Lakewood have railed against the dangers of the Internet, especially for young people, raising questions about why the town’s Orthodox schools have benefitted so heavily from E-Rate.”

    And even the copy editor’s headline is clear and direct:

    “Orthodox Town of Lakewood Grabs Bigger Computer Subsidy Than Poorest Cities. How Does Jersey Shore Town of 93,000 Outstrip Newark?”

    ——

    Where’s the anti-Charedi bias?

  22. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    IH: “Yes, but the sentence continues: “, but schools in Lakewood report similar numbers of phones in their classrooms, compared to other schools.””

    Exactly. But what I said in my first comment to this thread was:

    “I would guess that Lakewood schools, being cash strapped and run on shoe-string budgets as always, had much worse phone systems and related equipment than the public schools to begin with, and thus had more qualifying expenditures when they applied for the programs.”

  23. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    IH: “He didn’t beat around the bush, as per the introduction in the first 6 paragraphs. The accusation is clear and direct: “Ultra-Orthodox leaders in Lakewood have railed against the dangers of the Internet, especially for young people, raising questions about why the town’s Orthodox schools have benefitted so heavily from E-Rate.”

    And even the copy editor’s headline is clear and direct:

    “Orthodox Town of Lakewood Grabs Bigger Computer Subsidy Than Poorest Cities. How Does Jersey Shore Town of 93,000 Outstrip Newark?””

    I’m surprised that you consider this to be “clear and direct” – he’s actually implying two separate thing.

    1. That the Lakewood school people are hypocrites because they are opposed to the internet while taking money that is ostensibly intended for internet access.

    2. That the Lakewood schools are using political influence or worse (payoffs?) to get their hands on more than their fair share of the pie.

  24. IH says:

    The public data show they are getting more than their fair share of the pie. As to all the rationales that can be made, the reporter had an obligation to seek comment from those accused and he did.

    The Forward attempted to interview officials both at both private schools and at public schools in Lakewood for this story. None would agree to comment.

    That is, of course, their right. But, I still see no evidence of anti-Charedi bias. Please spell out for me your accusation of bias without beating around the bush.

  25. Joseph Kaplan says:

    I don’t see anti-chareidi bias (that meme is getting tiresome; why even Gil has been accused of it), but I do see poor journalism in both the JW and the FW in this instance. They both imply there’s something wrong but they haven’t found any wrongdoing. From what the articles actually say, I have no basis to think that the schools (a) falsified their grant applications or (b) used the money they received improperly. And if that means that the program is a bad one, then focus on the program and not the schools. Like Oakland in Stein’s memorable phrase, there’s no there there. Both papers needed to dig more and either give us some facts about wrongdoing (if they found any) or scrap the articles.

  26. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    IH: “But, I still see no evidence of anti-Charedi bias. Please spell out for me your accusation of bias without beating around the bush.”

    Assuming this is addressed to me, I haven’t accused them of anti-charedi bias anywhere in this thread.

    If you ask me to speculate, I would guess that it’s anti-charedi bias. But I would base this on the fact that they have shown a historical fondness for articles that attack the charedi community combined with the fact that they chose to publish an article which even those who deny bias at least admit was very weak.

    But I’m not about to argue this point. I’m just commenting about the likely basis for the discrepancy.

  27. Nachum says:

    Not pointed out in the article on metzitza is the fact that the “Rabbinical Centre of Europe” is a Chabad organization which is about to present Merkel with a prize for being so pro-milah.

    Meanwhile, to preserve a needless and dangerous minhag of theirs, they are prepared to lie, obfuscate, flatter, and potentially risk the ability of any Jew- certainly any German Jew, who so recently dodged the bullet here- to have a brit milah, period. That’s responsible!

  28. Nachum says:

    PS: I see from the other link that the rival body is also about to honor Merkel. I definitely read that the Chabad group is planning on it as well, although whether they were first or second I don’t know. (One must wonder what goes through the head of a non-Jewish politician when this happens.) At least the other body isn’t risking and defending milah at the same time.

    The Haaretz piece is a beautiful example of a media outlet caught in an inflammatory lie trying to move the goalposts in defending themselves. Let’s make it simple: As not every taxpayer in Israel is Jewish, the question arose of whether public buildings need mezuzot, as they are “owned” in part by some non-Jews. The answer was simply that since most taxpayers are Jewish, they do. (Inasmuch as any public building “needs” a mezuza, I suppose.) Haaretz must employ a team of semi-educated investigators to find this stuff out and give it an anti-religious spin.

  29. sass says:

    Joseph Kaplan,
    You admit that the FW and JW articles both imply that something is wrong, yet find no evidence of wrongdoing and “Both papers needed to dig more and either give us some facts about wrongdoing (if they found any) or scrap the articles.”

    Yet you see no anti-Charedi bias? The fact is that they didn’t scrap the articles. The fact that they ran these articles, which you admit is poor journalism, speaks volumes to the anti-Charedi bias. The article is loaded with “insinuation” (Gil’s word), there’s no evidence of anything, and yet they’re still running these articles to try to smear Charedim without actually smearing them.

  30. IH says:

    For those interested in judging the quality of the journalism under discussion, see this brief introduction to Investigative Journalism: http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Manuals%20Volume%202/volume2_39.htm

  31. Joseph Kaplan says:

    sass: Poor journalism and bias are two separate things. There are lots of reasons for the first other than bias. And I should emphasize that my comment about poor journalism was limited to these particular articles. With respect to the JW at least, I think it is a paper of high caliber and its journalism is usually excellent. This was, IMO, a rare exception.

  32. Shalom Rosenfeld says:

    From the MoreOrthodox piece:

    “Our Shabbat program, however, was not designed to focus on halacha. That is something that that every … person discusses privately with his or her rabbi. Our program was about moving toward a culture …”

    Um …

    הנסתרת–ליהוה, אלהינו; והנגלת לנו ולבנינו, עד-עולם–לעשות, את-כל-דברי התורה הזאת.

    ???

  33. sass says:

    Certainly there are lots of reasons for poor journalism other than bias. However, when the Jewish Week, whose journalism you tout as excellent, along the Forward, run articles directed against Charedim which you admit fall far short of their normal journalistic standards, I find it difficult to come to any conclusion other than that they ran the articles due to anti-Charedi bias.

    Obviously this can’t be proven, but let’s just use some common sense here.

  34. IH says:

    White collar crime often happens because the thin line between pushing the boundaries of the law and breaking the boundaries of the law is difficult to see at the moment of decision.

    There is an increasing body of evidence that Charedi educational institutions regularly operate at that line. And the moral hazard in the knee-jerk reaction against investigative reporting of such examples is the cultural acceptance within Orthodoxy that breaking the law in desperation is acceptable.

  35. joel rich says:

    R’ Sass,
    I suggest thinking about my Wall Street Journal test – reading just the facts, what would an unbiased observer likely conclude?
    KT

  36. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “And the moral hazard in the knee-jerk reaction against investigative reporting of such examples is the cultural acceptance within Othodoxy that breaking the law in desperation is acceptable.”

    I don’t know if you’re referring to me, but if you are, I’m certainly not against investigative journalism. I just think both papers jumped the gun on this one and more digging and substance was required.

    sass: As for bias, let’s just say one person’s common sense is another person’s unsupported claim.

  37. IH says:

    Joseph — nope, I was not referring to you. On the other hand, I don’t see your point either. What standard of investigative journalism was not met by the two reports?

  38. sass says:

    R’ Joel -
    I’d prefer a different WSJ Test for this case – would an article essentially replete with only innuendo, and no actual evidence or even accusation of wrongdoing, just innuendo – would the WSJ run such an article?

  39. Shades of Gray says:

    BBC also has an article about Dr. David Ribner’s book discussed in Times of Israel, and quotes Prof. Menachem Friedman. Perhaps if it is not marketed with a frum publisher and book stores(rather online), it will will not make such a storm.

    “When the Hebrew edition is released in a few weeks’ time, it could create quite a storm, says Menachem Friedman, a professor and sociologist who has written numerous books on Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community.

    “I suspect it will meet tremendous negative reaction – at least within the most extreme elements of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community,” he says.

    But he agrees that such a book is sorely needed, and foresees brisk behind-the-counter sales. For a newly married couple, it can be very traumatic, he says, to go from a lifetime of near-separation from the opposite sex to a full sexual relationship in just one night.”

  40. IH says:

    Sass — This is “just innuendo”???

    Schools in Lakewood, a town of 92,000, have received more dollars per student than those in any other significant city in New Jersey. In 2011, schools in Lakewood received $282 in E-Rate commitments for every student served by the program. Schools in Newark, the largest city in New Jersey and one of the poorest, received just $82 per student that year.

    One Lakewood Orthodox girls school, Bais Rivka Rochel, reported having five Internet-capable devices in a school of 1,025 students, despite receiving $700,000 in E-Rate subsidies.

    Schools and libraries in Lakewood received more in subsidy commitments than any New Jersey city but Newark in 2009, 2010 and 2012. In 2011 the town outstripped even Newark in E-Rate commitments. The $15 million committed to Lakewood schools cumulatively since 2010 is more than twice the amount committed to Trenton during that period and nearly three times the amount committed to Jersey City.

    Jersey City, where schools and libraries have received $5 million in E-Rate commitments since 2010, has roughly the same number of children living in poverty as Lakewood, which has received three times as much in E-Rate commitments over the same three-year period.

    Besides the Lakewood public school district, only eight of the 66 Lakewood schools that received E-Rate subsidies in 2011 report having more than 10 computers or other Internet-capable devices.

    While schools in Jersey City report three students for every Internet-capable device, schools in Lakewood reported 16 students for every such device in 2011. Statewide, schools applying to E-Rate from New Jersey reported 2.4 students per Internet-capable device.

  41. sass says:

    Yes, that’s just innuendo. Like I said, there’s no evidence or even an accusation of wrongdoing. It’s left entirely to the reader’s imagination to explain what may or may not have happened. Innuendo.

    Until you get to the end of the article…

    “USAC, the E-Rate program’s administrator, defended its vetting of Lakewood’s E-Rate applications in a statement to the Forward. “We review all applications under procedures approved by the FCC and based on rules and legislation governing the program,” USAC spokesman Eric Iversen said. “Commitments and disbursements result from this review, which is designed to ensure compliance with requirements for program participation.”

    One possible explanation for Lakewood’s success in obtaining E-Rate subsidies could be its unique situation as a town with large numbers of poor students in private schools. That means that the private schools qualify for high-cost items at high levels of reimbursement usually available only to public school districts. That, in turn, means that dozens of independent institutions in the town are constructing their own pricey network infrastructures with E-Rate funds. None can take advantage of the economies of scale achieved by large school districts.

    “The preponderance of high-discount private schools is really, really unusual,” said Dan Riordan, president of On-Tech Consulting, a New Jersey-based consulting firm that works with schools and libraries on E-Rate applications, of Lakewood’s high rates of subsidy. “It’s expensive to run a bunch of small networks.”

  42. emma says:

    IH, lets say the facts you cite leave the intuitive impression that someone is doing something wrong. An investigation should explore the various possibilities for who the wrongdoer is, with possibilities including:
    the lakewood schools (using the money inappropriately, or misrepresenting on their applications);
    the newark schools (not applying even though they are elligible);
    the decisionmakers (not awarding the subsidies in line with their mandate);
    the program itself (written so that the criteria tend not to funnel funds where they are most needed).

    The article seems to collect only facts that might be relevant to the first hypothesis (that lakewood schools are doing something wrong), but doesn’t actually turn up any wrongdoing. It doesn’t give any info on the others – e.g., how often are newark schools applying? how often are they turned down, relative to lakewood, and why? who makes the decisions and how?

    Recall that the money can go to phones. It would be nice to know how much 5 computers plus a phone system would typically run a small school, and then see how much that school got. Evidence of a serious mismatch there would move beyond “inuendo” to “circumstantial evidence of wrongdoing.” But i don’t see such evidence in the article. (I read it only quickly since it seemed kind of content-less to me…)

  43. IH says:

    They are journalists, not prosecutors. The journalists investigated public data and highlighted inconsistencies made through reasonable comparisons. The schools decided to not provide their perspective. In the absence of any defense by the schools, the journalists find another way to provide balance (as per the quotation you supply).

    I still fail to see any journalistic omission, let alone malfeasance. What professional standard have they not met?

  44. IH says:

    Emma — As I recall, The Jewish Week series delved into some of the questions you raise. Again, the specific article is not of much interest to me. What raised my hackles was the knee-jerk reaction that I think is far more dangerous to Orthodoxy than the investigations themselves as per my comment of 10:57 am. The moral hazard is real.

  45. ruvie says:

    Joseph Kaplan – reread the j-week articles. the journalistic quality was very high. people are just afraid of investigations- due to the publicity- to where the money went.

  46. joel rich says:

    Certainly the schools have the right not to respond and may fear their words would be twisted. That reaction must be balanced with (sorry to repeat) the real world WSJ test – what will the average reader see – a kiddush hashem or a chillul or neither? Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum and my guess is many will react negatively either because of past scandals or a predisposition not to give religious people (who they may make them feel guilty or just view them as holier than thou) the benefit of the doubt.

    KT

  47. emma says:

    I agree that the jewish week article was more thorough. The Forward article is basically a “me too” article without added value, in my view.

  48. IH says:

    That it is possible to construct such a “me too” is the problem not being addressed in the comments.

  49. Glatt some questions says:

    Follow the money…and we’ll see if there was any wrongdoing. As mentioned, I have no problem with the fact that these schools identified a source of funds, and followed all the rules to obtain the money — regardless of how poor or not poor these areas are or what the percentages are. It’s up to the folks allocating the money to decide who gets what. What I’m concerned about is how these funds were spent once the money was in the schools hands. That’s where the real story is. If the money was spent properly, let these schools prove it by showing that their expenses match the kind of improvements these funds were legally earmarked for. I’m not saying there was wrongdoing, but if you give schools millions of dollars in funds, and tell them that the money needs to be spent for certain things, but there are no controls to make sure this happens, it’s very easy to believe that the money may have been spent on books, paying teachers, and other expenses that these funds were not disbursed for.

  50. Glatt some questions says:

    Kudos to Rabbi Shafran for being intellectually honest enough to criticize their smear campaign against Gil Student and Hirhurim.

  51. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    not to take from the RBS chidon winner (special personal and family situation) his co-winner first time in many many years was an american from new jersey. (won the complerte chidon, not the special international / chu”l version)

  52. Nachum says:

    Not to take anything away from the American winner (first co-winners ever, by the way)- an MTA student!- but he got a lot of his education in Israel. (We were at his bar mitzvah.)

  53. LongTimeReader says:

    Are you implying that it wasn’t all YBH & MTA?

  54. mycroft says:

    “Nachum on April 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Not to take anything away from the American winner (first co-winners ever, by the way)- an MTA student!- but he got a lot of his education in Israel. (We were at his bar mitzvah.)
    LongTimeReader on April 23, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Are you implying that it wasn’t all YBH & MTA?”

    Any school taking credit for what someones achievements unrelated to the school is strange. Of course, they all do. I doubt the MTA student learned his Tanach as part of regular MTA courses. BTW for better or worse I believe at one time the Chidon Hatanach tested Tanach-now they test a limited subset which means that very detailed memorization of trivia required-impressive but not what one would have most students strive for. Similar skills for preparing for US spelling bees etc.

  55. Joseph Kaplan says:

    I know one school in Bergen County that had a long streak of kids doing very well/winners and it was because of one particular teacher. So at least in that case the school could justifiably take some credit.

  56. Baruch Alster says:

    In Israel I know of more than one school (including my son’s yeshiva) that trains students. But more than that, some schools have an atmosphere where studying for the hidon (or other accomplishments in learning, like learning daf yomi, or finishing shas mishnayot for one’s bar-mitsva) is considered “cool”, while in others it’s “square”.

  57. JOSEPH KAPLAN:

    “I know one school in Bergen County that had a long streak of kids doing very well/winners”

    i think you are mistaken. only rarely have non-israelis advanced far enough to be winners, and i think think this is the first time in decades (if ever?) that a non-israeli came in 1st place.

    unless you are referring to the diaspora track (affirmative action for the chidon).

    btw, one rumor i read (i assume conspiracy theory) is that the reason judges declared a tie is because they were afraid eisenberg would win and they’d be forced to crown a “diaspora” contestant as the (sole) winner

  58. LTR:

    “Are you implying that it wasn’t all YBH & MTA”

    i think he’s in 9th grade. so i doubt MTA can claim much credit. and think about it. MTA doesn’t have a serious tanach program nor does it teach hebrew in a serious manner* (note his hebrew fluency, as opposed to the girl last year or 2 years ago in the finals who needed translations). and does mta have a history of strong showing in the chidon? so why would assume that mta has anything to do with it?

    *every so often YU professors complain about incoming students hebrew skills, etc. YU has no control over other high schools, but isn’t repsonsible in some way for MTA? or is it nothing more than a corporate affiliation?

  59. Joseph Kaplan says:

    Abba: There are lots of “winners”: winning the US competition, winning the Diaspora competition. My point was that the kids from that school often did very well in the competition both in the elementary school competitions as well as alumni when they were in high school, and one of the reasons for their successes was a particular teacher. So to that extent, the school can take some credit.

  60. JOSEPH KAPLAN:

    “There are lots of “winners””

    i guess there are winners and then there are winners.

    “So to that extent, the school can take some credit.”

    point taken for that school, but here it’s clear that MTA/YBH not contributory factors to success in chidon

  61. a little old, but gil should link to this
    http://lookstein.org/lookjed/read.php?1,20676,20676
    (scroll down to middle of it)

    thoughtful reflections by eisenberg on his chidon experiences. (note his younger siblings are accoplished chidoners as well)

  62. joel rich says:

    Not to reopen old wounds but:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/opinion/dowd-lost-in-space.html?_r=0

    “There’s no perfect trust in cyberspace,” Jim said. “There are not only millions of voices, but millions of masks. You don’t know who’s who. There was a real Twitter account for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but, instantly, there was a fake Twitter account for him, too.

    (Jim=James Gleick former editor on the City Desk of The Times)

    KT

  63. Nachum says:

    Abba: There was a North American winner a few decades back. Lives in Israel now, as it happens.

    That conspiracy theory was flatly denied by the judges. Apparently this was a result of the scoring system- somehow they both did really well in different rounds or something. If anything, the Israeli was on fire in the final round, but they still got all of them right. People seemed excited that a non-Israeli won.

    Bibi’s son, by the way, was the “secular” winner and third (I think) overall a few years back. Nothing wrong with that.

    The co-author of the piece is his *older* sister, by the way.
    Again, his Hebrew is probably from Israel. At one point the presenter thought he needed a question in English, but it turned out he didn’t.

  64. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    NA winner (brother of a friend of mine) lives in katamon. theoretically not too far from bibi’s son, who won irrespective of his “secular”ness. there is no prize for seculars. and legend has it that ben gurion tested himself live when he personally administered the final rounds, broadcast on israeli radio (i’m sure theres a utube.)

    someone should develop a curriculum for americans to compete / learn tanach in this style. however, judging from the poor quality of the web site, i guess its not a priority.

    kosher pork — if we allow pizza and bagels on pesach (a charedi delicacy; they have no imagination, i guess), why should there be any objections to this? though no national agency will certify this as a restaurant theme (there was one in the early 70s near herald square under a national agency), there is no shortage of otherwise acceptable local agencies that will certify. and of course kosher bacon bits (hydrolized soy protein; otherwise known as a form of tofu) by a few national agencies.

  65. Nachum says:

    I should be clear: Avner Netanyahu, Bibi’s youngest, won the secular division of the Bible Quiz. The leading contestants of both secular and religious schools then compete for the National title, which Netanyahu won as well. In the International round, which includes the leaders in both the Israeli National and the Chutz La’aretz divisions, he came in third, with two Israelis that he’d previously placed ahead of ahead of him that time. He was only a sophomore at the time, by the way, but once you compete once, you can’t try again.

    “Secular,” by the way, describes his school (the Hebrew U. High School); from what I’ve seen, he seems to be religious, like Netanyahu’s oldest child (and who knows, maybe the middle kid as well). Netanyahu made a complimentary joke at an event honoring R’ Druckman that he’s surrounded by kippot srugot both in his office and at home, as well at whatever military events he attends.

    There’s an online cooking show called “Epic Meal Time,” which, fair warning, is a bit gluttonous. They’re very big on the bacon, and in this week’s episode featured “Beef Bacon,” which they declared very good and “Maybe kosher.” (The lead has a Jewish name and seems to have a mezuzah on his door, but otherwise seems entirely unconcerned about kashrut, apart from occasional references to his non-existent rabbi not being happy or to another cast member’s eating treyf.)

  66. IH says:

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/legal-victory-for-women-of-the-wall-in-legal-ruling/

    The new ruling, however, said that Supreme Court decision “cannot be considered a legal order directed at the defendants and violated by them,” and thus was not enough to warrant their arrest.

    “The conclusion in the ruling is not phrased as an order directed at the Women of the Wall, but as a recommendation,” Sobel wrote in the decision, and the ruling “did not ban the Women of the Wall from praying in any particular place.”

    In addition, he wrote, the idea of the “tradition of the site” can be interpreted more broadly, in terms that are “pluralistic-secular-nationalist” rather than purely Orthodox. There is thus no “reasonable suspicion” that the women violated laws governing holy sites, he wrote.

    Lastly, Sobel ruled that the police’s fear that the women’s actions could spark disturbances by others did not mean they could be arrested.

    “The fear of creating such disturbances, without a claim that any of the defendants used any kind of violence, physical or verbal, does not constitute a reasonable basis for the fear that the defendants are those who threaten public security or the security of any person in the Western Wall plaza.”

  67. IH says:

    For those who are passionate about reversing Israeli government decision(s) that effectively prohibit Jews from davening on Har ha’Bayit, the lesson to be learned is how important it is to capture mindshare as part of any civil disobedience campaign.

    Who is the Anat Hoffman equivalent who can rally American non-Orthodox Jews around the principle of freedom of access to prayer at holy sites? Hint – it won’t be MK Moshe Feiglin, nor Daniel Gordis.

  68. re. kosher pork, kosher DnD stores used to offer fake ham, bacon and sausage

    re. lag ba-omer hype, prof. leiman has a lecture about the origins:
    http://abbasrantings.blogspot.com/2012/05/prof-leiman-on-lag-ba-omer.html

    NACHUM:

    a few decades ago is a long time ago.
    and it’s a conspiracy theory, so of course the judges rejected it :)

  69. MJ says:

    Robby Berman is going to comment that the woman was not kept alive, her corpse was.

  70. Shlomo says:

    For those who are passionate about reversing Israeli government decision(s) that effectively prohibit Jews from davening on Har ha’Bayit, the lesson to be learned is how important it is to capture mindshare as part of any civil disobedience campaign.

    Actually, it’s a lesson in the importance of having powerful allies abroad. Several million assimilated Jews in the US, or in the case of Har Habayit, a billion Muslims who control the world’s oil supply.

  71. noam stadlan says:

    MJ- Robbie Berman would be correct if the apropriate criteria were fulfilled. However we also talk about keeping kidneys and other organs alive outside the body. In this case it wasn’t the person, just the body- big difference. Unfortunately journalists, lay people, and even professionals are not always precise with their language. It doesn’t change the underlying reality or determination. It just creates unnecessary confusion.

  72. JLan says:

    “re. kosher pork, kosher DnD stores used to offer fake ham, bacon and sausage”

    They still do. Or at least, the one in Skyview shopping center in Riverdale does (Vaad of Riverdale, I think), as does the one at 94th and Amsterdam (R’ Mehlman).

  73. noam stadlan says:

    CRC approved Dunkin here in Skokie also serves fake bacon and fake sausage. A new fleishik restaurant(I think under the CRC) has bacon on the menu. The last time I was at the DnD on Arthur Godfrey Blvd in Miami Beach a few years ago they also had fake bacon. Seems that it is pretty common

  74. Gil Student says:

    I’m actually right now still at the office and noshing on Snyder’s of Hanover bacon cheddar pretzel pieces.

  75. JLAN/Noam Stadlan:

    interesting. i mostly know the stores in brooklyn, and i haven’t seen it there in many years. (i remember taking my grandfather to the first kosher franchise and he almost had a heart attack when he saw the “chazer” menu)

    IH:

    why would american non-ortho jews care about access to har ha-bayit, regardless of the spokesperson?

  76. IH says:

    Abba — for the same reason they care about access to the Kotel.

  77. Josh Schlenger says:

    JLan on April 25, 2013 at 7:15 pm
    “re. kosher pork, kosher DnD stores used to offer fake ham, bacon and sausage”

    They still do. Or at least, the one in Skyview shopping center in Riverdale does (Vaad of Riverdale, I think), as does the one at 94th and Amsterdam (R’ Mehlman).
    ————————
    The Dunkin’ Donuts in Riverdale is actually under the hashgacha of the Vaad Hakashrus of Westchester, not the Riverdale Vaad. I believe the reason for this is that the Riverdale Vaad, as an across-the-board rule, will not certify a business that opens on Shabbat, even if — as in the case of DD — it is not Jewish owned.

  78. IH:

    oh yes, silly me. i forgot about all the forward/jewish week articles and editorials campaigning for full jewish access to har habayit

  79. MJ says:

    Dr. Stadlan, as much as I support organ donation after neurological death/cessation of spontaneous breathing etc., I don’t think it is honest to pretend that the “imprecision” in the use of language is the issue or that any action by families or hospital staff toward the brain dead patient that is not identical to that of a corpse is mistaken. The problem is that we don’t have the language to describe a phenomenon which is utterly novel(Gaylin’s term “neomort” never caught on for obvious reasons). In secular law and halakhah a person is either dead or alive, there is no in between, but I am comfortable with seeing the biological phenomenon of death after as one that can be “fuzzy” at times, and am much more sympathetic when people respond accordingly.

  80. Aaron Ross says:

    No school can take full credit for those who win Chidon HaTanach – it tends to be mainly an individual accomplishment. However, MTA can take credit for the fact that such a student chose to attend their school over several others.

  81. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    aaron r — good point. and his sister attends bruriah (they live in passaic).

    no school, maybe. but that school that has a dedicated teacher who actually preps his students for the exam deserves full credit.

    josh s — (one of) the first kosher DD was in five towns (near the train station.) some ppl didnt like the idea of a kosher DD, so they complained to the vaad (which wasnt as picky / machmir then as they are now.) the vaad explained its perfectly ok. so they complained to DD franchisor, saying they were closed on shabbat (DD, as most other such franchises must be open practically 24 / 7). DD referred the issue to the local franchisee, who reminded them that that was the deal they made when the franchise was granted, per kosher rules.

    when the franchise was up for renewal, DD had to tell the franchisee it will not renew, cause of the 7 day policy. so the jewish DD store owner had to sell to a non jew, cause some ppl didnt like the idea of a kosher DD. and its now open on shabbat, with a teudah from the local 5towns vaad (actually, i think there are two DD franchises in 5towns now, one off rockaway tpke.)

  82. shaul shapira says:

    Shkoyach to R Gil for a thorough rebuttal to Avraham Birnbaum in the Yated. It’s too bad the reply had to be buried in the letters to the editor section.

    In other news, A Pe’er in the Hamodia reports that Israel basically feels that the window for attacking Iran’s nukes has already passed and the policy now is to prevent them from using them. Annoyingly, his article is cut off (again) in mid-sentece. It’s like the Israeli military censor just decides stop it right in the middle for fun. :)

  83. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    A Pe’er — another pseudonym hamodia uses. no investigation there.

  84. noam stadlan says:

    MJ- I understand your point- similar to Brody/Halevy concept of different definitions of death for different situations. I suggest that the imprecision is more a result of failure to think the issue through to its logical conclusions than it is a principled statement of opinion. For example, if, instead of a complete body with a head, the paper was describing a decapitated body on a ventilator, they would probably have referred to the body as a body, not as a person. Hill and Grisez have a good discussion of this- I would be happy to send you the paper

  85. mycroft says:

    “when the franchise was up for renewal, DD had to tell the franchisee it will not renew, cause of the 7 day policy. so the jewish DD store owner had to sell to a non jew, cause some ppl didnt like the idea of a kosher DD. and its now open on shabbat, with a teudah from the local 5towns vaad (actually, i think there are two DD franchises in 5towns now, one off rockaway tpke.)”

    There is another DD in the 5Ts not under 5T Vaad open on shabbos with another hashgacha.

  86. mycroft says:

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2013/04/the-chosen-few-a-new-explanati.html
    from Tuesdays link
    and
    http://www.jidaily.com/3e8df

    referred to in page on Thursdays link on Orthodox Schooling what do we know both refer to the same general choices made by much of Jewish leadership to open for elites rather than be welcoming to lower classes.

  87. MJ says:

    Dr. Stadlan, I’m familiar with the papers you mention and obviously come out on the Halevy Brody side. Let me put it differently: does an artificially maintained living body have the same sociocultural significance as a lifeless corpse? Should it?

    The answer to the first question is that in practice it does not, and this is true regardless of people’s attitudes toward donation. This is clear over and over again in all the anthropological studies of organ donation after brain death. As a result, insisting that the answer to the second question is that their legal equivalence demands that we treat them and talk about them in the same manner is misguided.

  88. IH says:

    Over Shabbat, I was reading the review of the Met’s “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity” exhibit in the latest NY Review of Books and came across this paragraph about the radical change in the role of women in society that occurred in the 2nd half of the 19th century (emphasis mine):

    And yet women’s lives were changing in this period: from now on they were free to rid themselves of the constraints of bustles and crinolines, if they chose; during the day, they could go out unaccompanied, spend hours in the new Parisian department stores, or even sit down all alone, on the terrace of a café, this being perhaps the clearest illustration of the new freedom they were accorded. It was not merely a surface change: in the 1880s, schooling became mandatory for girls and universities began to admit women. They could become doctors, professors, or lawyers. New laws made it easier for them to divorce.

    A reminder of just how recent this all is (in the overall scheme of history). But, does anyone really see going back to the way things were?

  89. IH says:

    For those who didn’t catch the Beliefs column in today’s NYT (first section): http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/us/pope-francis-has-a-few-words-in-support-of-leisure.html?pagewanted=all

    “The Sabbatarian tradition is upheld, in a serious way, by some small groups of religious Protestants and, of course, by observant Jews. And, it so happens, by those who think of themselves as both Christian and Jewish. “Messianic Jews,” who believe in the divinity of Jesus but pay special attention to the Jewish roots of Christianity, are often very attached to Sabbath observance.”

  90. noam stadlan says:

    MJ- we may be talking past each other. I agree that many people refer to brain dead people as alive, and that some do not think that they are dead even though they can be donors. I am not challenging that reality. What I am questioning is the conclusion being drawn from that reality. I suggest that were those people to think long and hard about what exactly defines life and death, many would change their language usage and approach to the supported body.
    One purpose of language is to convey information. Precision in language is therefore very important, and imprecision leads to misunderstandings. An example from another part of my professional life is the term ‘herniated disc.’ Many patients with back pain tell me they have a ‘herniated disc.’ This term in fact refers to a specific anatomic finding that many in fact do not have. Even more specifically, from a surgical point of view, having an anatomic herniated disc that does not compress any adjacent neurological structures is much different than a herniated disc that actually compresses a nerve.(and there are other causes of nerve compression aside from herniated disc). I spend a lot of time trying to educate my patients on exactly what is wrong with them and the meaning and implications of the findings. I think many of them feel much better just knowing that they have minor expected wear and tear changes in their backs rather than a ‘herniated disc’, since the term ‘herniated disc’ usually is accompanied by a much more serious set of concerns and expectations.

    The point being that with education, many people who refer to those people as alive would probably change their word usage and behavior regarding ‘brain dead’ bodies. Those who do not agree certainly do not have to.

  91. Aryeh Baer says:

    Rabbi Student wrote: “I’m actually right now still at the office and noshing on Snyder’s of Hanover bacon cheddar pretzel pieces.”

    Gil – Are you trying to give the Yated more material for their next article? I can see the headlines now…

  92. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    aryeh b — actually, the mashgichim the OU uses for that part of penn are almost always charedim. yated wont write if it means the ou cant use these (cheaper than MO) mashgichim.

 
 

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