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The OU Wants You to Move to Houston. They’re Wrong.
David Brooks quotes Rav Soloveitchik
As Jewish Agency contracts, its executive paychecks swell
Special needs and the Jewish community – the crushing costs
R Meir Soloveichik: Redefining Religious Activity
Thanks, rabbis; now we can feel good about tomatoes at Trader Joe’s
Chabad takes on hackers
Anti-Mormon Smears Around Romney’s Run for President Sound Like Centuries-Old Anti-Jewish Canards
Oded Balilty’s Photos of a Hasidic Wedding in Israel
Are Yiddishe names Yiddish?
SALT Friday
R Farber: R Druckman’s Legacy
The Threat of Jewish Revivalism
Kosher Supervisors Certified In Poland For The First Time Since The Holocaust
Belz And Satmar Reunite In Historic Meeting
Kolbrener: Of marriage and military service
Obsession With Tuition Hurts Jewish Education
How Jewish groups became involved in the contraception coverage debate
SALT Thursday
Rav Soloveitchik’s doctoral dissertation
How Jewish groups became involved in the contraception coverage debate
Beth Tikvah implements Torah egalitarianism
R. Yaakov Yosef on IDF Torah scrolls and rabbis
Oldest couple to make aliya
New European Jewish parliament riles existing European Jewish leaders
You can’t have a ‘Jewish interfaith’ cemetery, rabbis of all stripes insist
The case of the NextGen Jews
The Jewish Week and the Modern Orthodox
R. Avi Shafran: Our Stance on Homosexuality
OU Statement on New Jersey Same Sex Marriage Bill
Ida Crown Academy Keeps Religious Ideals Intact While Winning Regional Wrestling Title
SALT Wednesday
OU Objects to President Obama’s Budget on Charities
Israel’s ultra-Orthodox fear leadership vacuum as top rabbi’s health deteriorates
Mormon Baptism Of Wiesenthal Kin Sparks Jewish Outrage
Extradition Contingent on Assurance of Kosher Food
Orthodox Women Form Volunteer Service
Mensch in the Moon
On the Crown Heights Shomrim
Britain being overtaken by ‘militant secularists’
Autopsies: A Delicate Balance of Law and Religious Freedom
New Hebrew school to target Teaneck’s Orthodox
DNA Results Are In: Canned Sardines Are Kosher
SALT Tuesday
Higher ed moving to chavrusa-style learning
Loophole Puts Pension Plans at Risk
Maryland county suspends sister-city talks with Beit Shemesh
Rabbis laud ‘conversion therapy’ document
Flatbush’s Busiest Hub Of Prayer Traces Its History To An Airless Bunker Beneath The Slovakian Ground
Reaching Out To Save Lives
Modern Faith: Lost in e-translation
Catholic Bishops Oppose Obama Compromise on Birth-Control Insurance
Prison can’t serve new menu to Jewish inmate
Does Halacha order separate seating on buses?
Gardens of Eden Sprout in Synagogue and Church Yards, But They Aren’t Very Fruitful
Recovery Rabbi Shais Taub Finds Wide Audience
SALT Monday
Last week’s news & links
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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

360 comments

  1. “You can feel many things while cradling your iPad — engaged, entertained, immersed — but there’s one thing technology doesn’t make you feel, and that’s holy.”

    “The iTalmud and its ilk are great reference sources, and a fun way for theologically-minded Jews to spend a quick commute on the subway or a short plane ride. But when it comes to real learning, Jews, long nicknamed the people of the book, are better off with old-fashioned tree pulp.”

    As someone who spent many long hours on hebrewbooks.org and similar sites and apps, I cannot disagree more.

  2. ““You can feel many things while cradling your iPad — engaged, entertained, immersed — but there’s one thing technology doesn’t make you feel, and that’s holy.””

    It’s always nice when other people tell me how I can or can not feel. In this case they happen to be correct, because I feel that iPads are avodah Zarah to the late Steve Jobs, since there are multiple nicer electronic devices out there. But still, such comments are just foolish.

  3. It’s about time you had a lead article on pensions 🙂
    KT

  4. “Flatbush’s Busiest Hub Of Prayer Traces Its History To An Airless Bunker Beneath The Slovakian Ground”

    gil, thanks for linking to this great article

  5. “As someone who spent many long hours on hebrewbooks.org and similar sites and apps, I cannot disagree more.”

    I agree. I love books for sure, but that may be a function of my age. Who says that someone 20 years younger than me won’t feel differently?

  6. “when it comes to real learning, Jews, long nicknamed the people of the book, are better off with old-fashioned tree pulp.”

    really, books on paper? not manuscripts? or parchment? or scrolls? not stone carvings?
    i happen to prefer greatly reading from paper rather than a screen myself and i’m in general a bibliomaniac, but the torah wasn’t given as a printed book. and while it did take us a little while to catch up and adopt the codex, after that we were often at the forefront of new tehcnology. we introduced printing–which in fact we considered melechet kodesh–to portugral, north africa and the ottoman empire, in the latter predating arabic/turkish printing by 2 centuries.

  7. S:

    “but that may be a function of my age”

    yes.
    i think this will be one of the divides between our generation and the next.

  8. I’m starting to make the transition to electronic reading. There are positives and negatives, but the biggest plus is simply convenience.

  9. Of course, for us Orthodox Jews there will always be a need for books, because of Shabbos etc.

  10. only real plus i can think of is increased sholom bayis owing to neater (and fewer) book shelves.
    ok, also accesibility to books that previously would be difficult to find and/or access
    i also think a big plus of the digital age (not necessarily stricly ebooks) is the relative ease and affordability that enable the masses to transmit their ideas to others.
    one big reservations to digital media is that platforms change or altogether abandoned and what is more easily accesible today because it is digital could be completely gone tomorrow.

  11. And the ability to zoom on text for aging eye (e.g. small font ktav Rashi) 🙂

    My biggest disappointment is that Kindle/ebooks are not publishing footnotes on the same page as the text, when the printed book does. Nor, making it easy to hypertext back and forth as an alternative.

    Also, unfortunately there seems to be little effort in making available many of the multi-volume book sets that would really benefit from the new medium: e.g. Kehati Mishna, Daat Mikra, Steinsaltz (Hebrew) Shas, etc.

  12. Abba: “ok, also accesibility to books that previously would be difficult to find and/or access”

    what do you mean? With Hebrewbooks.org I have access to 40,000+ books without having to step out of my house! For free! In their (almost original form! What more can you ask for?

  13. Others on my wishlist: NJPS Hebrew/English Tanach, Hertz 2nd Ed. chumash, the full 8 volume Even Shoshan, Minhagei Yisrael.

  14. I hate that on the Kindle it is difficult to tell exactly which page you’re on.

  15. Hebrewbooks.org is absolutely fantastic, but mostly limited to older non-copyrighted material. There is a market for for-fee books that generate royalties to authors as well, though; as well as to intermediaries (publishers) who add value to these older books (e.g. better OCR, indexing, etc.).

  16. HebrewBooks has awesome Hebrew OCR. It also has some fairly recent sefarim that authors give them.

  17. IH:

    “And the ability to zoom on text for aging eye”

    invest in a magnifying glass 🙂

    ” there seems to be little effort in making available many of the multi-volume book sets that would really benefit from the new medium”

    agreed. i recently became enamored with musaf rashi in the hamaor mikraos gedolos, but i’m not going to buy the entire set just for musaf rashi. i’d love to have it digitally for some reference. (anyone know if it is available as a stand-alone volume?)

    someone involved in publishing a very popular multi-volume set told me that it has not appeared digitally because piracy fears. i’m not sure why the threat is greater than with non-jewish publishing. perhaps because the overall market is much smaller and piracy can therefore eat much more out the profits?

  18. I think we also have to recall that e-readers are in their infancy stage. Ipods were also a lot less capable 10 years ago. With e-readers (and mp3 players) don’t think now, think in 10 years, 20 years. Even the matter of printed books – I think it is a credible prediction that in 10 – 15 years desktop printers (or their equivalent thereof) will be capable of printing out bound books, like the Espresso Book Machine is today.

  19. “Hebrewbooks.org is absolutely fantastic, but mostly limited to older non-copyrighted material. ”

    That is not even close to true, vehamevin yavin.

  20. “HebrewBooks has awesome Hebrew OCR.”

    Sometimes. Here’s a trick when it fails you – upload the pdf to google docs and open it that way. Sometimes Google will produce superior ocr (and sometimes inferior).

  21. YEEDLE

    “what do you mean? With Hebrewbooks.org I have access to 40,000+ books without having to step out of my house! For free! In their (almost original form! What more can you ask for?”

    i’m not sure what do you mean by “what do you mean”
    i admitted the benefits of accesibility
    i merely noted other limitations, notably that digital platforms require maintenance and often become obsolete very quickly

  22. S. — I originally included “(theoretically)” but decided against it 🙂

  23. someone involved in publishing a very popular multi-volume set told me that it has not appeared digitally because piracy fears.

    Amongst frum people so makpid on e.g. issues related to women?

  24. digital platforms require maintenance and often become obsolete very quickly, negating the accesibility benefit.

  25. IH:

    “Amongst frum people so makpid on e.g. issues related to women?”

    i don;t know. i can only report was i was told

  26. “Amongst frum people so makpid on e.g. issues related to women?”

    Why, only they learn Torah?

  27. Read the blog. They are making accessible seforim written within the last five years. I just gave a chumash chaburah using the latest material found on its blog. Paraphrasing Tony Tiger: “Its Greeeeeaaaaaat!”

  28. MiMedinat HaYam

    i guess “jewish” hospitals will soon get “church” pensions.

    funny thing, almost none (actually, none that know of) pension plans are run by (at least O; i doubt C and R) synagogues. (a major benefit of rca membership is that they have a good pension plan advisory service, run by one of its members.

    i guess the pay as you go “plan” run by some synagogues for their emertii, and the “this synagogue is owned by rabbi xx”, as well as “the sifrei torah are my pension plan” are unofficial plans.

  29. Abba: “i’m not sure what do you mean by “what do you mean””

    I’m not sure either. I guess I misread you.

  30. i guess the pay as you go “plan” run by some synagogues for their emertii,
    ====================================
    Which of course shifts the cost from those who benefit from the rabbi’s employment to those who are around when he is in retirement.
    KT

  31. but you know that DNA stuff is from scientists…

    I’m glad it finally got into the media. The OU rabbis scored a home run with this. The scientists were exceedingly helpful on this.

  32. IH, the Steinsaltz Talmud is on CD, I think in pdf. JPS used to have an e-book store, but for now they seem to only have the 1917 edition.

  33. It is not clear to me if this report represents new information relating to an earlier report from the OU Kashrut journal. I had questioned the apparent halachic rationale of the OU publication. Unfortunately the actual article in the Journal of Parasitology has been mistranscribed and is gibberish. The NY Times article is also unusable due to the author’s lack of understanding of the halachic issues. It is interesting that people would sieze upon scientific evidence of the identity of the worm involved in sardines, but not for similar evidence of the mode of entry of these worms. There are only 2 ways that I can see, either through the skin or through the gut. The former mode of entry would not be problematic if the initial parasite was too small to be discernable and would correspond to the permissible worm, durni, as described by Rashi. The latter mode of entry, through the gut, would be an issue since the gemara in Hulin declares that all worms found in the gut and organs are assur (the hilchasa in that gemara concerning the kukiani worm). Those worms found in the flesh may be acceptable if the worm is too small to be discernable when swallowed by the fish in question. The anisakis worm that was mentioned in the OU article is not that small, even in juvenile form, according to information from the Star K publication. I would therefore not characterize the OU Rabbis ‘scoring a home run’ on this issue – at least not without further clarification of the article in the Journal of Parasitology.

  34. I am really confused about the worm thing. Aren’t worms non-kosher regardless of where they come from? Is the OU saying that it is only ok to eat sardines if you wash the worms off beforehand, or that it is ok to just pick the sardines out of the can and eat them? If the second one, how is that ok? If the first, shouldn’t there be some kind of proviso along with the hashgacha?

  35. mor on February 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm
    I am really confused about the worm thing. Aren’t worms non-kosher regardless of where they come from?

    Not at all. It dependes if it grew inside the fish. And…. well, that’s the extent of my knowledge. Anybody have a link to something halachically relevant?(Hebrewbooks or otherwise. I’m even game to look in a real book if it’s readily accesible.)

  36. “On January 11, UJC MetroWest told current and former employees that “because of extraordinary financial pressure,” the federation has turned to the Internal Revenue Service and asked that its pension program be recognized as a church plan.

    “To qualify for this special plan exception,” the letter reads, the federation will have to demonstrate to the IRS that its pension plan is “established and maintained by a religious organization.””
    from article lined about loophole and pension plans-of course the same games claiming church status are being made by Yeshivot/Day Schools and I guess now universities and hospitals.

  37. The anisakis worm is swallowed by the fish as a parasite encysted in a crustacean, that itself is barely visible. Almost assuredly, the worm is microscopic. If the Star K says it is visible, I am not sure where they get eyes that good.

  38. Also, I obtained the JoP paper here: http://www.journalofparasitology.org/doi/abs/10.1645/GE-2994.1
    It is identical to the NYTimes copy here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/81471460/Journal-of-Parasitology-paper
    The worms are indeed anisakine worms, though they are not all the nominative Anisakis simplex.

  39. My biggest disappointment is that Kindle/ebooks are not publishing footnotes on the same page as the text, when the printed book does. Nor, making it easy to hypertext back and forth as an alternative.

    Or even when the printed book doesn’t. If you intend for people to read the footnotes, make them easy to find!

    Also, unfortunately there seems to be little effort in making available many of the multi-volume book sets that would really benefit from the new medium: e.g. Kehati Mishna, Daat Mikra, Steinsaltz (Hebrew) Shas, etc.

    Gemara is hard to make into e-books because it demands a very high screen resolution.

  40. Read article from Harvard Mag-even in the course that uses some interaction-it does not appear to be anywhere the time porportion that chavrusa in a Beis Medrash entails.

  41. “funny thing, almost none (actually, none that know of) pension plans are run by (at least O; i doubt C and R) synagogues. ”

    Way outside of my league and masig gvul on Joel Rich but wouldn’t ERISA among other rules effectively make it prohibitive for schuls to do the paperwork for a one member plan-also a Rabbi is likely to change employers during his career-thus the 401K model isI believe the standard.

  42. Gil, I know you’re not a fan of Haaretz, but I think this article is not particularly sensasionalist and addresses an important topic:

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/israel-s-ultra-orthodox-fear-leadership-vacuum-as-top-rabbi-s-health-deteriorates-1.412775

  43. *sensationalist

  44. MiMedinat HaYam

    mycroft — “also a Rabbi is likely to change employers during his career-thus the 401K model isI believe the standard.”

    but shuls, esp in old times, liked to tie their rabbis down.

    besides, like i said, some shuls are (practically) the private business entrprises of the rabbi (even inherited, often).

    and some rabbis (claim) they have a lifetime contract. like you say, even when the nature of the membership changes.

    2. yeshivot / day schools have a good claim on church status, esp if they run a minyan. not up to irs to define a church.

    q: can the chapel in a hospital claim its a church?
    (i doubt it; its a part of the hospital’s mission. though a cross in every room, policies against abortion, etc gives good claim to a church status. status not present in “jewish” hospitals. maybe in a federation.)

  45. MiMedinat HaYam

    i assume a “church” type pension doesnt present tax (deduction) issues to the irs if its from a non profit. that must be the rationale.

  46. MiMedinat HaYam

    kosher food — i guess you cant be extradited, but if you dont give a get, you can have (your form of) kosher food taken away.

    charity deduction — this crops up every year at budget time. and every year, all the charity orgs put out a similar press release.

  47. I never got the outrage over the Mormon thing. But that’s me.

  48. Nachum — I think part of it is the dependence Jews have to the Mormon’s for genealogical research. Without the Mormons investment in buying, scanning and distributing records we would not have the wealth of information we now have.

    It seems to me this that much of the outrage is an attempt at resolving cognitive dissonance. The question they don’t want to confront is: why have the Mormon’s made such a huge investment in genealogical records, were it not for their beliefs and concomitant rituals.

    Incidentally, the latest Pew research on Mormons in America was released last month: http://www.pewforum.org/Christian/Mormon/mormons-in-america.aspx

  49. Nachum: I agree with you. I don’t care whom the Mormons baptize.

  50. Nachum: I agree with you. I don’t care whom the Mormons baptize.

    I also think that it makes no sense to be concerned about the wine other religions might happen to consecrate or the perfectly good trees they happen to worship, but evidently…

  51. wow, agreement on something!
    more interesting to me would be a study of why those who object feel so strongly about it.
    KT

  52. Re Mormons – I think the fact that Jews are the object of contemplation of so many gentiles, theological contemplation or otherwise, just really weirds a lot of Jews out.

  53. abba's rantings

    R. Joel Rich

    “more interesting to me would be a study of why those who object feel so strongly about it.”

    1) knee-jerk reaction to anything that even remotely suggests a subversion of yahadus or am yisroel
    2) it made big headlines that they were posthumously baptizing holocaust victims (which i think they agreed to stop doing?). people were outraged. almost like they were dying a second time al kiddush hashem. i think davka this touched a raw nerve, and then the opposition naturally spread from there to the more general practice.
    3) also, we are generally concerned with christian attempts to proslytize among jews. while obviously posthumous baptism is the most benign form of this proslytizing mission, it is nonetheless indicative of the general hope for (and activity toward) the conversion of the jews and some feel we need to oppose this mission in any way that it manifests, regarless of how benign or unthreatening it really is. (or letting them to do this will embolden them and encourage them to step up proslytizing among living jews.)
    4) i wouldn’t be surprised if some jews believe that posthumous baptism indeed works or can have some type of deleterious effect on the deceased’s neshama, or even that they are really meshumadim (or rather anusim). there are all sorts of widely accepted beliefs as to the effects we can have on the deceased (even simply a kiddush for the neshama of ploni ben ploni to have an aliyah). so it isn’t farfetched for some to conclude that posthumous baptism really has an effect.

    personally i don’t think opposing posthumous baptism is where our energies and resources should be focussed. but i wouldn’t go so far as to say “who cares” (even if practically speaking i don’t care)

  54. I agree with those who are saying they don’t care about whom the Mormons choose to baptize. Big deal.

  55. “2. yeshivot / day schools have a good claim on church status, esp if they run a minyan. not up to irs to define a church”

    It is up to Congress to define a CHurch-obviously some executive branch organization has to be able to determine if a church to receive benefits of a church. It would be better if there were no specific benefits for any church-that amounts to a suvbsidy no different than givng a check to a church which is clearly not permitted.

  56. “The President proposes that taxpayers earning more than $250,000 (for a married couple; $200,000 for an individual tax filer) will have their ability to deduct contributions to charities reduced from a rate of 35 percent to a rate of 28 percent. (Thus, for example, a person making a $10,000 contribution to a charity would, under the Obama proposal, receive a tax deduction of $2800, as opposed to $3500.) Experts have estimated that such a change in the tax law could reduce donations to American charities by approximately $4 billion annually.”

    Why should a person who earns more than 200K and gives $1000 get the equivalent of receiving a check of $350 from the government while a person who earns less receive a $280, $250 or even lesser check from the government.
    Of course, non-itemizers, a majority of the US population receive no benefit from giving charity.
    Why should my taxes support Islamic or Christian missionary work which is exactly what happens due to the charitable deduction?

  57. MiMedinat HaYam

    mycroft — i doubt congress, or the irs, wants to get involved in defining a church (unless its for peyote-like purposes.) (now ‘bama, in his second term, might want to, but thats another story. like he’s hinting now.)

    if a church of secular judaism opens up claiming that gyms and pools and excercise rooms and multi purpose lecture rooms and secular office space for like minded purposes is a church, can the irs object? (actually, we have some shuls like that. and wasnt that r herbert goldstein’s vision?)

    either way, the majority of organizations called churches is not an issue. (i do have an issue with “midrasa’s” that refuse to drop “itbach al yehudi” ( = kill the jews) from their curriculum. there are a number, mostly in virgina, of all places, that refuse to drop this from their curriculum. to be “fair”, they also have that opinion of other infidels like christians of all types. but jews, of course, are specially singled out.)

    2. majority are non itemizers, even if they are the majority. but allowing their deductions wouldnt be much of an issue, in the grand scheme of things.

    if you want to change income tax policy, thats another story. note — in nys, a municipality can decide there will be no tax exemptions from property taxes, provided it applies to all religions, like you argue. i dont know of any municipality that does that.

  58. S. Shapira –

    I know that chazal believed in spontaneous generation, but that doesn’t seem to be relevant over here. It sounds like they davka wanted the worms to be from the outside. And if the worms aren’t visible with the naked eye, then they are kosher no matter what. So yeah, I really don’t get it.

  59. MiMedinat HaYam

    can you post http://forward.com/articles/151016/ for comment on accuracy in RZ / DL world?

  60. A response to Britain being overtaken by ‘militant secularists’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/14/dawkins-warsi-live-and-let-live

  61. Deborah Feldman’s book “Unorhodox” is now #5 on Amazon’s Bestsellers. Probably as a result of her interview on The View with Barbara Walters.

    The following excerpt is from Feldman’s blog (http://www.deborahfeldman.com/blog.php?tumblr_offset_I146=19):

    “[Q:]Hey! I understand you come from the more extremist community–Satmar. What is your attitude towards modern orthodox community? I’m secular but in my childhood I was exposed to Chabad, and shocked after coming to States from Israel that they were open and interacted with the broad secular community. In unrelated news, I think your story may be important– but also hopefully mind opening, as I’m following the religious extremistm in Israel.

    [A:]I had no interaction with other Jewish communities when I was growing up. I was told that a non-Satmar Jew was as good as a gentile. Modern orthodox Jews still feel pretty exotic to me these days.”

  62. >Why should a person who earns more than 200K and gives $1000 get the equivalent of receiving a check of $350 from the government while a person who earns less receive a $280, $250 or even lesser check from the government.
    >Of course, non-itemizers, a majority of the US population receive no benefit from giving charity.
    Why should my taxes support Islamic or Christian missionary work which is exactly what happens due to the charitable deduction?

    mycroft – The higher earner pays more income tax, at a higher rate. So, when he reduces his income tax liability by making a charitable donation, it results in a larger credit than the lower earner who donates the same amount to charity, but who pays income tax at a lower rate. If government eliminates deductions for giving charity, even if the income tax rates remain the same, then your net income and disposable income will be reduced, leaving less money available for private charity. Tax exemption for religious charities doesn’t cost anything to the taxpayer, assuming those charities don’t receive any direct subsidies from government.

  63. “I agree with those who are saying they don’t care about whom the Mormons choose to baptize. Big deal.”

    Agreed.

  64. “mycroft — i doubt congress, or the irs, wants to get involved in defining a church (unless its for peyote-like purposes.) (now ‘bama, in his second term, might want to, but thats another story. like he’s hinting ”

    See
    “Special Rules Limiting IRS Authority to Audit a Church

    Tax Inquiries and Examinations of Churches
    Congress has imposed special limitations, found in section 7611 of the Internal Revenue Code, on how and when the IRS may conduct civil tax inquiries and examinations of churches. The IRS may only initiate a church tax inquiry if a high-ranking IRS official, reasonably believes, based on a written statement of the facts and circumstances, that the organization: (a) may not qualify for the exemption; or (b) may not be paying tax on unrelated business or other taxable activity.”

    from
    http://www.irs.gov/charities/churches/article/0,,id=179674,00.html

    IRC 7611 states in relevant part:
    ER 78 -DISCOVERY OF LIABILITY AND ENFORCEMENT OF TITLE Subchapter A -Examination and Inspection
    § 7611. Restrictions on church tax inquiries and examinations
    (a) Restrictions on inquiries
    (1) In general
    The Secretary may begin a church tax inquiry only if—
    (A)
    the reasonable belief requirements of paragraph (2), and
    (B)
    the notice requirements of paragraph (3), have been met.
    (2) Reasonable belief requirements
    The requirements of this paragraph are met with respect to any church tax inquiry if an appropriate high-level Treasury official reasonably believes (on the basis of facts and circumstances recorded in writing) that the church—
    (A)
    may not be exempt, by reason of its status as a church, from tax under section 501 (a), or
    (B)
    may be carrying on an unrelated trade or business (within the meaning of section 513) or otherwise engaged in activities subject to taxation under this title.
    (3) Inquiry notice requirements
    (A) In general
    The requirements of this paragraph are met with respect to any church tax inquiry if, before beginning such inquiry, the Secretary provides written notice to the church of the beginning of such inquiry.
    (B) Contents of inquiry notice
    The notice required by this paragraph shall include—
    (i)
    an explanation of—
    (I)
    the concerns which gave rise to such inquiry, and
    (II)
    the general subject matter of such inquiry, and
    (ii)
    a general explanation of the applicable—
    (I)
    administrative and constitutional provisions with respect to such inquiry (including the right to a conference with the Secretary before any examination of church records), and
    (II)
    provisions of this title which authorize such inquiry or which may be otherwise involved in such inquiry.
    (b) Restrictions on examinations
    (1) In general
    The Secretary may begin a church tax examination only if the requirements of paragraph (2) have been met and such examination may be made only—
    (A)
    in the case of church records, to the extent necessary to determine the liability for, and the amount of, any tax imposed by this title, and
    (B)
    in the case of religious activities, to the extent necessary to determine whether an organization claiming to be a church is a church for any period.”
    I have no idea how often the IRS conducts such examinations but clearly Congress has given them the power to determine what is a church.

  65. mycroft- Yes, non-itemizers don’t have the extra incentive of a tax deduction to make a charitable donation. But, they do get a standard deduction. But, disposable income is where charity dollars come from; that is money left over after taxes and expenses are paid.

  66. “Tax exemption for religious charities doesn’t cost anything to the taxpayer,”
    Only true if you are assuming that if it takes in less money because of one guy’s tax deductions, the govt is not going to spend more anyway (costing everyone down the line) and/or find some other way to make up the revenue (costing whoever bears the new tax). Both dubious assumptions.

  67. “Tax exemption for religious charities doesn’t cost anything to the taxpayer, assuming those charities don’t receive any direct subsidies from government”

    Your basic idea was generally accepted inthe US until the 1960s
    Stanley Surrey of Harvard who was in the LBJ administration started a campaign to explicitly consider the cost of tax expenditures-he BTW was opposed by Boris Bittker of Yale who took essentially Canucks viewpoint but it has been law since about 1974 or so when the CBO came into being that a tax expenditure budeget be published-it mathematically costs the gvoernment as much as checks being sent out. Reason-more people are unaware is probably the WSJ, CNBC etc have very little interest in advertsiing welfare for the wealthy.
    “Tax Expenditures: What are the largest tax expenditures?
    Tax expenditures make up a substantial part of the federal budget. Some of them are larger than the entire budgets of the programs or departments that spend money for the same or related purposes; for example, the value of the tax breaks for homeownership exceeds total spending by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.”
    The cost of a tax expenditure to a government is the same as if the government wrote a check for the same amount to an individual

    See
    “the IRS rule that allows taxpayers to deduct amounts they contribute to charity from their income for tax purposes. This tax break, the country’s sixth largest, will cost the U.S. Treasury $315 billion over the next five years”

    from
    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/02/te020911.html

  68. emma on February 14, 2012 at 11:22 pm
    ““Tax exemption for religious charities doesn’t cost anything to the taxpayer,”
    Only true if you are assuming that if it takes in less money because of one guy’s tax deductions, the govt is not going to spend more anyway (costing everyone down the line) and/or find some other way to make up the revenue (costing whoever bears the new tax). Both dubious assumptions”

    Emma you gave good reasons for the adoption of the tax expenditure budget idea about 40 years ago.

  69. “. If government eliminates deductions for giving charity, even if the income tax rates remain the same, then your net income and disposable income will be reduced, leaving less money available for private charity. ”
    and everyone else won’t be subsidizing your charity be it to anIslamic center, a Mormon tabernacle, Reform temple, or Orthodox Yeshiva. Most of us would have objections to giving a check to 3 out of my 4 choices-yet the charitable contribution deduction forces us to become partners in giving part of our money to charities we oppose on religious grounds. It is at least a problem of my religious freedom as a hospital that accepts federal funds and treat and hires wo basis of religion being forcedto cover their employees for government mandated health benefits.

  70. Back to the Mormons for a second…

    Sometimes I think the problem with the “defense organizations” is that they’re too political. This does nothing to diminish that idea- really? Mormons? Now?

    Sometimes I think the problem is that there are just too many- why do we need more than one?

    Often I think the problem is that they’re not needed at all.

    Often I think they do more harm than good.

  71. “The cost of a tax expenditure to a government is the same as if the government wrote a check for the same amount to an individual

    Does that mean that reducing the deductible money from charities from say 30% to 25% means, that on paper, Obama just increased taxes by 5% without actually having any real affect on the amount of money that the Government brings in? So this is really all just another large accounting scandal… wonderful.

  72. I received the following comment on the OU statement from one of the Baker Street Irregulars. It is of interest.

    “The OU said that “The President proposes that taxpayers earning more than $250,000 (for a married couple; $200,000 for an individual tax filer) will have their ability to deduct contributions to charities reduced from a rate of 35 percent to a rate of 28 percent. (Thus, for example, a person making a $10,000 contribution to a charity would, under the Obama proposal, receive a tax deduction of $2800, as opposed to $3500.) Experts have estimated that such a change in the tax law could reduce donations to American charities by approximately $4 billion annually.”

    1. It would be good to have some reference besides “experts have estimated”. Are these “experts for hire”?
    2. In order to judge the merits of the President’s proposal and see the isue in perspective, one needs to know not only the cost (a claimed reduction in donations by $4 billion), but also the benefit (the increase in tax revenues.) It should be much easier to estimate the increase in tax revenues than estimate the decrease in donations.
    3. Even if the President’s proposal is a bad idea, why is the OU getting involved? How is this related to their mission of improving orthodox Jewish life and supporting Israel? Doesn’t the OU know that a non-negligible fraction of U.S. tax revenues goes to support Israel? The OU ought to be especially careful before opposing the President’s proposal, as a cynic may suspect that the OU is simply concerned about their own institutional growth, or that the OU is simply reflecting the wishes of its machers who don’t like paying taxes. “

  73. “avi on February 15, 2012 at 5:27 am
    “The cost of a tax expenditure to a government is the same as if the government wrote a check for the same amount to an individual

    Does that mean that reducing the deductible money from charities from say 30% to 25% means, that on paper, Obama just increased taxes by 5% without actually having any real affect on the amount of money that the Government brings in? So this is really all just another large accounting scandal… wonderful.”

    The amount of money that the government would receive in taxes would increase if a persons deductible amount went from 30% to 25%. Thus it would have an affect on government revenues brought in-in the current climate it would help reduce the deficit. It would not be “another large accounting scandal”

  74. From Nachum:

    “Sometimes I think the problem is that there are just too many- why do we need more than one?

    Often I think the problem is that they’re not needed at all.

    Often I think they do more harm than good”
    Agreed

  75. My comment on the MO article – apparently it requires heavy moderation since it’s been in limbo since the post first went up:
    joel rich
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    February 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm
    It’s difficult to draw a lesson from point 5 without seeing the data that it is based on.

    I have my doubts about any uniqueness implied in point 4 since the media in the US as a whole seems to have an abundance of informants on any issue that would grab public attention

    Regarding point 3, I assume the board of the newspaper finds the editorial work acceptable, that is the correct address imho for any complaints.

    For point 2, see coment on point 5.

    Acharon, acharon chaviv – if the allegations are true, don’t blame the messenger. From my reading of the comments etc. it seems as if Rav Bina has been a hero to x% with his methods and a not so much a hero to y%. I wonder why the community hasn’t outwardly done the obvious calculations -1. are the methods outside the bounds of halacha/hashkafa? If so, even if x=100%, they are not acceptable. 2.assuming the methods are within bounds, what is the acceptable trade off of x versus y as a community? can we minimize y by seeing what types of students tend to end up there?

    As the rebbi who had the most positive influence on me (but others not so much) taught me – the Rambam taught him “You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes”
    KT

  76. Mycroft: as a cynic may suspect that the OU is simply concerned about their own institutional growth

    And you, of course, are the king of the cynics. Every local charity — soup kitchens, job training and placement programs, women’s shelters, etc. — that is supported by a few rich people is at risk here. This could significantly impact the country and specifically the Orthodox community. It will not impact kosher supervision revenues.

  77. I must say that, as an elementary school-aged kid in a Conservative after-school “cheder” in Toronto, I remember Howard Markose as a young Conservative rabbi who is charismatic and knowledgeable yet traditional. All the young people loved him and we were sorry to see him leave. Now I see that he is less traditional than I thought and is moving Beth Tikvah more to the left, which is suprising given how “to the right” most of Toronto and Canadian Conservative Jews and Judaism is.

  78. I agree with R Gil’s last comment. Like it or not, the ability of who we call gvirim due to the fact that their donations are protected both by the Free Exercise Clause as well as the IRC to support the above and other very laudable institutions within our community depends on those who can fund the same based upon their disposable income, as well a those with the time to roll up their sleeves and get involved as well.

  79. Although I, and others, have said, and believe, “Gil’s blog, Gil’s rules” even when we disagree with the rule, not linking to, and refusing to allow any discussion of, Gary Rosenblatt’s recent article and column o [Blank — have to be careful not to say the name or the topic], and then linking to the Schick attack on Gary is simply unfair to say the least. If you want us to play by your rules Gil, you should play by them too.

  80. Schick’s article is about media bias, not the incident, and can be easily discussed without discussing the accusations.

  81. Every local charity — soup kitchens, job training and placement programs, women’s shelters, etc. — that is supported by a few rich people is at risk here. This could significantly impact the country and specifically the Orthodox community.

    That is an absurd overstatement, not to mention a pessimistic view of why people donate to charity.

  82. Joseph Kaplan-If you want to familiarize yourself with the issues before discussing discuss the linked critique, which AFAIK is customary for anyone interested in the background of any issue – check the past archives here where we had sustained disagreements on the same issue more than a few years ago, including lengthy posts on the issue by both of us, and then read Dr Schick’s article on Cross Currents, on which I commented, and which others have well. I look forward to your comments on Cross Currents, rather than your claim that is unfair to post a link without allowing discussion. Such a claim IMO, is an attempt to dictate what R Gil decides is worthy of discussion.

  83. Steve: FWIW, I think Joseph’s criticism is well-founded but I disagree with him on this.

  84. IH wrote:

    “Every local charity — soup kitchens, job training and placement programs, women’s shelters, etc. — that is supported by a few rich people is at risk here. This could significantly impact the country and specifically the Orthodox community.

    That is an absurd overstatement, not to mention a pessimistic view of why people donate to charity”

    IH-who you do think funds these programs?

  85. R Gil-My disagreements with Joseph Kaplan on this issue are well documented here, and can easily be located in a search of the relevant archives. I see no positive value in rehashing the same.

  86. Steve: I believe IH was saying that people give to charity regardless of the amount of the tax deduction. I think he’s incorrect, particularly regarding mega-donors.

  87. Incidentally, on the previous to and fro on whether the tax exemption for charitable donations is effectively a government subsidy, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/business/economy/19view.html

  88. Gil — I agree that tax policy encourages donations, but I objected to the overgeneralization you made. And, frankly, it is a travesty if the tax deduction is so major a factor in donations by the Orthodox to the Orthodox.

  89. IH-the author of the NY Times op ed has no inkling why people want to give to charity. I see not even a grudging respect for the fact that people do so because of a deep seeded religious value.

  90. Steve — comparing his bio and professional expertise witn yours, I think most people would view him as more expert on this topic: http://www.chicagobooth.edu/faculty/bio.aspx?person_id=12825835520

  91. But, I thank you for buttressing my point that there are reasons why Gil’s contention, particularly about Orthodox giving, is overstated. Indeed there are deep-seeded religious values that are salient — and not just among Jews.

  92. IH: The NYT Op Ed is mainly about how to make the charity deduction more fair, not whether reducing the deduction will hurt charities.

    And, frankly, it is a travesty if the tax deduction is so major a factor in donations by the Orthodox to the Orthodox.

    Many Jewish communal institutions are supported by mega-donors. Reducing a $10MM donation to $9MM makes a huge impact. You and I will still give what we would have but that reduction from the mega-donors will significantly hurt charities that are already hurting because of the economy.

  93. IH wrote:

    “But, I thank you for buttressing my point that there are reasons why Gil’s contention, particularly about Orthodox giving, is overstated. Indeed there are deep-seeded religious values that are salient — and not just among Jews”

    Your last sentence proves my case-identify the origin of the “deep-seeded religious values that are salient”.

  94. And, frankly, it is a travesty if the tax deduction is so major a factor in donations by the Orthodox to the Orthodox.

    Only if you make it an all or nothing proposition. The tax deduction allows one to give more charity — at the highest bracket, perhaps 30 to 40% more. If the deduction is eliminated, then the same people will still give charity, only less.

  95. Gil – but as Prof. Thaler points out, the $1m differential in your example is a subsidy from US taxpayers.

  96. IH wrote:

    “Steve — comparing his bio and professional expertise witn yours, I think most people would view him as more expert on this topic: http://www.chicagobooth.edu/faculty/bio.aspx?person_id=12825835520

    I see nothing in the linked credentials that set forth any expertise, articles, etc, as to why people give to charity, especially on a religiously based basis-as opposed to an expertise in claiming why people make economically rooted and based decisions.

  97. To Tal’s point, the UK system is an interesting compromise. I used it when I was living there…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_Aid

  98. IH wrote:

    “Gil – but as Prof. Thaler points out, the $1m differential in your example is a subsidy from US taxpayers”

    Stated differently, it is a societal judgment that such donations and the basis to give them free of tax liability should be maintained so as to encourage such giving for charitable purposes, regardless of one’s income.

  99. IH: but as Prof. Thaler points out, the $1m differential in your example is a subsidy from US taxpayers

    That is an issue of fairness, not of negative impact to charities due to this change.

  100. Steve — odd argument from a political conservative. What’s that quip about liberals liking to give away others’ money….

  101. Gil — I was only objecting to your overstatement, I do not have ideological views on this topic.

  102. IH-I have long been a cross between a HHH-Scoop Jackson Democrat, who lately has looked in vein for any Democrat who fits that definition on a national level-if that renders me a political conservative, it is a fine descriptive. IMO, a societal judgment that charitable giving is part of the uniqueness of American life strikes me as one of the deep values that is enshrined in American life, in contrast to both the state religions and hostility to religious values that have long been part of European social, intellectual and political discoure.

  103. “Schick’s article is about media bias, not the incident, and can be easily discussed without discussing the accusations.’

    No, the article is an attack on Gary Rosenblatt, specifically, with absolutely no predicate facts cited other than passing reference to the recent articles. The article assumes its premise (that Rosenblatt has “obsessive bigotry and hatred toward the orthodox,” with a “philosophical and moral disease” relying on a “wormy network of sources.”) No information there to convince those not already convinced, but a feel-good read for those who already hate the JW.
    I do take exception to the idea that it is unusual for a jewish newspaper to be controlled by an individual unchecked. The paper in my hometown, for example, basically serves as a soapbox for its individual owner. “I do not think there is another Jewish publication anywhere which is so bereft of countervailing forces” is pure hyperbole, at best. What he really means is “not controlled by people who agree with me more.”

  104. “Steve — odd argument from a political conservative. What’s that quip about liberals liking to give away others’ money….”

    That starts with the assumption that letting someone keep part of their income is giving away govt. money. That has it backwards.

    There is actually a good conservative (with a small C) argument for keeping the charitable deduction. To the extent that charitable deductions decline, then the govt. will have to step in and take up the slack. This will require more govt. spending, and centralize power and control in the govt., specifically the federal govt.

    Modern liberalism is statist — it views a strong central govt. as the source of good, and the more the central govt. dominates life the better. (Of course, that also means more power for those who run the govt. — something someone like Obama views as a distinct benefit.)

    Organizations such as charities and religious groups which are independent of the govt. are a threat to this centralizing goal. If a church runs a soup kitchen, that makes its clients less dependent on government largess and diminishes govt. control of life in general and the dependence of such people in particular. Obama’s proposal to reduce the charitable deduction is a kind of power play — diminish the role and influence of charities, and by extension increase the role and influence of govt.

  105. Perhaps, the rationale of the above discussed discussion re teax policy and providing contraceptives can be found in this linked article. http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2012/02/10/sex-singles-and-the-presidency/

  106. “Schick’s article is about media bias, not the incident, and can be easily discussed without discussing the accusations.”

    I strongly disagree with this and repeat that I think you are being extremely unfair in your one-sided treatment of this issue.How can one possibly deal with that part of Schick’s column which criticized Rosnblatt for his article on [Blank — who, BTW, Schick mentions] without dealing with the substance of the underlying article and column. I disagree with your rule but it’s your blog. But if we can’t discuss the articles, then to post Schick’s piece on the articles was outrageous.

    “If you want to familiarize yourself with the issues before discussing discuss the linked critique,” blah, blah blah.

    Thanks for your patronizing suggestion but I am quite familiar with the issue, having read what you have previously written, Schick’s column, and the JW on a weekly basis. But, quite frankly, to quote a frequent poster here, “I see no positive value in rehashing” this issue with you.

  107. (1) I mostly agree with that article from the NY Times, referenced by IH. The mortgage interest deduction disproportionately benefits those with larger homes, and it keeps savings tied up in non-productive real-estate. On its face, the deduction for charitable donations doesn’t benefit the donor, but it benefits the recipient who gets more money. That deduction may be an incentive to donate, because without any other changes to the income tax formula, it amplifies the donation. But, the more important factor is after tax income.

    (2) Rafael Araujo – I’m surprised at your surprise at the leftward march away from tradition by Conservative synagogues in Toronto. As members lose memory of traditional parents or grandparents, there are fewer reasons to maintain a superficially traditional style. Decades ago, when they dropped the core Torah teachings, their outward practices lost holiness, and with that, staying power.

  108. We have often discussed feminist egalitarianism and “male flight.” The linked article which I found in the previously linked article from Forbes’ profiles the trend.http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/all-the-single-ladies/8654/The question remains how such a POV manifests itself on the often discussed issue extended singlehood within the Charedi and MO worlds

  109. Joseph Kaplan wrote in response:

    “Thanks for your patronizing suggestion but I am quite familiar with the issue, having read what you have previously written, Schick’s column, and the JW on a weekly basis. But, quite frankly, to quote a frequent poster here, “I see no positive value in rehashing” this issue with you”

    My suggestion was made primarily for the reader who is new to the issue. In any event, regardless of your POV, I look forward to your comments on Cross Currents, unless you are so convinced of the correct nature of the same, that you deem the same as beyond the pale of any discussion whatsoever.

  110. IH-Tal’s point summed up my POV:

    “Modern liberalism is statist — it views a strong central govt. as the source of good, and the more the central govt. dominates life the better. (Of course, that also means more power for those who run the govt. — something someone like Obama views as a distinct benefit.)

    Organizations such as charities and religious groups which are independent of the govt. are a threat to this centralizing goal. If a church runs a soup kitchen, that makes its clients less dependent on government largess and diminishes govt. control of life in general and the dependence of such people in particular. Obama’s proposal to reduce the charitable deduction is a kind of power play — diminish the role and influence of charities, and by extension increase the role and influence of govt”

  111. I support Dr. Schick’s contention that the New York Jewish Week is biased against orthodox Jews and orthodox Judaism. That is certainly legitimate criticism. If you don’t believe it, check out any recent edition of that paper. That newspaper simply provides its readership with confirmation of their lifestyle choices, whether it’s their unorthodoxy, their lack of religion, or even their having embraced intermarriage. Negative focus on visibly orthodox Jews, assuages their guilty feelings; and it may also reflect embarrassment with non-Jews equating them with those Jews who glaringly look out of place in modern, popular culture.

  112. R Gil-along with Joseph Kaplan, I am abiding by the no comment rule re Dr Schick’s linked piece on cross currents. Why, then, did you permit Emma’s critique of Dr Schick’s article?

  113. Discuss the issues, not the accusations against a specific person.

  114. R Gil wrote”

    “Discuss the issues, not the accusations against a specific person”

    When discussing media bias, one cannot discuss the issue without looking at the published record of the editor in chief, his or her POV the news and feature coverage-which I have done so previously here and reiterated at Cross Currents, and which others have also critiqued and defended. I would submit that the fairest policy would be either to remove the link, or allow the link, with a no comments permitted proviso,

  115. Emma-see my prior critiques of the JW here and at Cross Currents.

  116. Steve, I believe you are confirming my view that those who already believe the JW is anti-orthodox will like this article, and those who do not will not. That’s because the article itself contains no more than vague assertions that are not enough to change anyone’s mind. If the point is “read the JW and come to your own conclusions” then OK I guess, but what is the point? What does this article add to the discussion (other than a call to would-be moserim (!) to desist)?

  117. Emma-Please see my prior comments on this issue. Obviously, you view the issue of media bias as reflected and ddocumented by editorial, news and feature coverage as akin to Daas Torah, and therefore, beyond the pale of rational discussion.

  118. “When discussing media bias, one cannot discuss the issue without looking at the published record of the editor in chief, his or her POV the news and feature coverage-which I have done so previously here and reiterated at Cross Currents, and which others have also critiqued and defended. I would submit that the fairest policy would be either to remove the link, or allow the link, with a no comments permitted proviso,”

    I am (almost) speechless — Steve and I actually agree, except that I’m not in favor of the no comments proviso unless the earlier JW articles are also linked with a no comments proviso.

  119. “Emma-see my prior critiques of the JW here and at Cross Currents.”

    How is she supposed to do that?

  120. Marvin Schick’s piece is an evaluation of Gary Rosenblatt’s public record. You can certainly discuss that.

    I only meant that we shouldn’t discuss accusations against an individual about which we cannot possibly know or evaluate the facts. Leave that to the professionals.

  121. “Obviously, you view the issue of media bias as reflected and ddocumented by editorial, news and feature coverage as akin to Daas Torah, and therefore, beyond the pale of rational discussion”

    huh? i just view the particular schick article in question as essentially content-less. the fact that you need to refer to your own discussions of the issue to support him only supports my point that he has not actually provided evidence, only asserted its existence.

  122. In other words, I don’t think it’s beyond the pale of rational discussion. My sole point here is that this Schick article is not part of any such rational discussion.
    As for the central question of whether the JW is anti-orthodox, I have never so concluded from reading it, but I do see why others might.

  123. Schick’s article attacking the Jewish Week, as emma indicated, is little more than rhetoric and hyperbole. The only value I can see in reading that piece is so that I can once more see that overused term “mesirah,” turning opinion into the accusation that his opponents are damned.

    Schick’s piece is no evaluation but a statement of conclusion. I mean look at this … the only case he mentions as evidence is about a MO person on note and he still uses it as a springboard to state the Jewuish Week is anti-CHAREDI. Schick’s statement is no more substantive than an Agudah statement, though lacking its appeal to authority, in that it that lists its conclusions but no reasons as to why. The issue here is not Schick’s opinion – and it is no more than opinion (a biased one in my own view, i.e. I disagree) – but why Gil thinks Schick’s opinion attacking others is of such value that he is willing to link to it, even though it outs the story that may not be referenced here.

  124. “The issue here is not Schick’s opinion – and it is no more than opinion (a biased one in my own view, i.e. I disagree) – but why Gil thinks Schick’s opinion attacking others is of such value that he is willing to link to it, even though it outs the story that may not be referenced here.”

    agree

  125. Emma wrote:

    “My sole point here is that this Schick article is not part of any such rational discussion”

    That’s exactly my point. As long as you are dictating what is part of the discussion, the same is a proverbial third rail ala any discussions re Daas Torah. It is just a matter of whose ox is being gored.

  126. Any thoughts on the egalitarianism article? I thought it was very interesting.

  127. schick: “My observation is that when charedim have been attacked by The Jewish Week, too many of an MO orientation have applauded the newspaper. Now that one of their own has been unfairly attacked, there is a huge uproar.”

    what uproar is he talking about?

    i liked S’s comment there.

  128. Given all the comments on it, I re-read the CC post. It seems to me to be an indictment of “Modern Orthodox” and the Jewish Week is just the vehicle. Take another look paying close attention to where “Modern” modifies “Orthodox” and where it doesn’t, with particular attention to the final #5.

  129. Shicks article is slanderous. GR is not anti-MO. He is MO, even if leans to the left along that spectrum. He feels that he is doing his best to support the MO community by trying to expose abuses with in its institutions. even if you disagree that what he is doing is valuable it still isnt anti Orthodox. The outing of Lanner is one of the most important things to happen to the MO community in the past decade.

  130. Has anyone considered translating the Rav’s dissertation?

  131. MiMedinat HaYam

    from a business perspective, being nice to MO will not sell papers (actually, ads). being nice to charedim will sell less papers (ads) since they dont read the JW. (though they do place ads for MO (and others) to give $ to their organizations.)

    the only paper the MO can claim is that Klassy paper, and thats not exactly MO.

    2. rereading the “church” plan pension article, it seems many non religious orgs (jewish and not) have had such exemptions for years. its just “called” a church plan. like it or not, its available to any / many orgs that qualify, irrespective of religious adhesion.

    dont like it? — ask the irs to rewrite its rules.

    3. about those rules — that long quote reinforces my argument — the irs will not get involved in church issues, unless its a fraudulent church, or involves income from other activities (yeah — i see that too often)

    4. aiwac — egalitarian burial. thats standard practice here in the us. i know the canadian reform (and conservatives) are behind the time on such issues. of course, we here on hirhurim have canadians who know alot about us tax law. thats ok. (no disrespect intended. just marvel.)

    5. oldest couple makes aliyah — gotta check jewish week archives. wasnt there a 100 yr old couple last year? i guess NbN knows the press release game.

    6. ida crown — a yeshiva in nj did the same a year or two ago in a non jewish wrestling league. (does everyone have to invoke tebow? esp if gil decided not to post on it. properly.)

  132. “Has anyone considered translating the Rav’s dissertation?”

    More importantly, is it readable? German scholars aren’t known for their clarity.

  133. What is “egalitarian burial” and what does it have to do with me?

  134. I only meant that we shouldn’t discuss accusations against an individual about which we cannot possibly know or evaluate the facts. Leave that to the professionals.

    Are there actually any professionals (or community leaders) evaluating He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or is everyone content to ignore the accusations?

  135. MiMedinat HaYam

    james — prob too technical boring. (the tpoic, not the writing. but expect someone to translate and add notes, etc. compare to other writings, etc

  136. MiMedinat HaYam

    aiwac — sorry. i was refering to your 1:34 comment.

  137. …but the article doesn’t say anything about burial?!

  138. MiMedinat HaYam

    aiwac — just read the article — confused diff aspect of conservative ritual. comment stands — all these “innovations” are standard practice in (almost all; very few not) C synagogues in the us for the past few decades. canadians are behind the (their) times.

  139. MiMedinat HaYam

    i confused interfaith cemetary / burial with egalitarian ritual. sorry.

  140. Z: Are there actually any professionals (or community leaders) evaluating He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or is everyone content to ignore the accusations?

    As important as that question is, this blog is not the answer.

  141. The OU statement on same sex marriages says: “Disturbingly, in too many states, those acting on their religious beliefs have seen government benefits withheld, government funds, contracts and services denied, and privileges such as tax exemptions revoked.”

    Does anybody know any of the specifics of this claim; i.e., which states, what benefits are being withheld etc. etc.?

  142. On the miscued subject of interfaith burials, check out the Rothschild family plots in (Orthodox) United Synagogue’s Willesden Cemetery in London. Best is to take the tour with Elkan Levy…

  143. I will put Schick’s article in a different, more general context. For many of us, the JW and GR were kone olaman with the Baruch Lanner articles. They have continued to do yeoman work in this field – and have continued to get criticized by many, who don’t want dirty linen washed in public. That does not mean that they get every article always right – and specific factual critiques are always acceptable.

    However, in general, when I (and I think there are many like me) read a critique of the JW of bias on this issue (rather than specific factual issues), my response is that the writer is, whether consciously or unconsciously, protecting child molesters. Furthermore, I would not want any child over whom I have influence to be part of any program where this critic plays a major role – as he seems more concerned over protecting institutions than the children.

    This attitude is not anti Orthodox bias – this is pro child bias…and those who view it as anti Orthodx are those besmirching Orthodoxy….

  144. Once again, anyone who wants to see prior discussions of media bias can access the archives here and review to their delight the prior heated discussions and debates of the issue. Discussions of along the lines of slander or Yesh Kono Olam BShaah Achas IMO are at best simplistic , do not add to the discussion of the same but ala proponents of Daas Torah, view any critique as beyond the pale of reasonable discussion.

  145. “Schick’s article is about media bias, not the incident, and can be easily discussed without discussing the accusations.”

    Schick’s article is a non factual ad hominem attack on the editor of the JW ( i am sure GR can be criticize for many things but not this one), He sounds like a blowhard catering to people who agree with him. He is smarter than that type of article. Emma’s comments have been 100% on target.

    Like reb Joel my comments on the cross currents article is awaiting moderation:

    Ruvie
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    February 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm
    “We are awash in mesirah whether or not we are prepared to acknowledge this truth.”

    Does Marvin Schick propose that we do not go to the press and government when acts of stealing (ponzi schemes), fraud, child abuse, sexual abuse, and other crimes occur? Does he suggest to go to those that have no clue how to deal with these issues against our klal by those inside it?

    “isn’t there a lesson here.” no there isn’t. Hareidim and yeshivish folks do not read the Jewish week – the mo community does. Ftr, the article according to students that attended the school in the last 5 years is 100% factual of what occurs at the yeshivah( the only issue is the slap in the face or was it a push). Ftr, my son attended the school – and said its not foreveryone but parents should know what their children are being sent to.”

    Also, those who complain about the Jewish Week also probably complained about the Lanner affair. In both cases GR has done a service to the community.

  146. “I only meant that we shouldn’t discuss accusations against an individual about which we cannot possibly know or evaluate the facts. Leave that to the professionals.”

    Bad cop-out. Unless this type of information is reported in the press and discussed by the community – blogs, letters tot he editor…- there are no professionals involved.

  147. ” generation or two ago, the Talmud Torah — the afternoon Hebrew school — was the standard Jewish educational model even in Orthodox synagogues. That model fell by the wayside with the spread of yeshivah high schools and the perception that the institution of the Talmud Torah failed to generate sufficient commitment to traditional Judaism.”

    ALSO SCHUL MEMBERS DID NOT WANT to pay the subsidies for students who frankly were in general different social economically and hashkafa.

  148. Ruvie-how about looking at the record in terms of editorials, news and feature coverage of the JW vis a vis both the Charedi and MO worlds? I leave it for anyone interested to search the archives and see my prior critiques of the JW’s coverage over the years, as well as the responses thereto. I see no constructive reason in rehashing the same here.

  149. Steve b. – really don’t care. The JW article was fair and balance to this armchair analyst. He raised an issue that the community should be aware of similar to Lanner. Schick’s article was a typical shafran/ agudah diatribe signinifying nothing. Since gil agreed he linked to it – his blog his rules and I respect that.

  150. Steve is actually right here; we have discussed and overdiscussed the JW here many times, probably too many. And the upshot, to save anyone looking through the files is simple: those who like the JW do not think it has an anti-Orthodox or anti-Chareidi bias; those who do not like it think it does. (I’m in the first category, Steve’s in the second.) No One has presented a thorough analysis of the articles, columns and editorial to prove their point. But even if they did, it would be worth little because there would be debate whether a specific article is anti- or pro-Orthiodox. Take Gary’s recent news article and column on the issue we can’t discuss. There are those who think it is yet another anti-Orthodox article and there are others who think it is an article that is providing a critical service to the Orthodox community and therefore believe that it cannot be anti-Orthodox. The same was true with the Lanner articles (whose name I assume we can mention since he was convicted and jailed). I got a deja vu sense when I read the recent article, column and the comments thereon; I assume others opposed to the article had the same feeling. The difference is I felt “there go those critics who want to cover up” while the others probably felt “there goes the JW being anti-Orthodox.”

    So, as I said, I do agree with Steve that it’s probably not particularly worthwhile for us to rehash this yet again. And we wouldn’t have probably begun this if Gil hadn’t unfairly and wrongly posted a link to Schick’s ad hominem attack on Gary (who, for the few who might not know, — full disclosure — has been a very close personal friend for for more than 45 years).

  151. Lawrence Kaplan

    Gil: You run a very successful blog and do it very well. Everyone makes mistakes in judgement sometimes. Were you to admit that, upon reflection, you realized you erred in linking to Marvin Schick’s article while not linking to the article he criticized, and remove the link, your stature would only go up in our eyes.

  152. “I do take exception to the idea that it is unusual for a jewish newspaper to be controlled by an individual unchecked. The paper in my hometown, for example, basically serves as a soapbox for its individual owner. “I do not think there is another Jewish publication anywhere which is so bereft of countervailing forces” is pure hyperbole, at best. What he really means is “not controlled by people who agree with me more.””

    The IJN-Intermountain Jewish News-has been controlled by the GOldberg family for decades. I suspect those who differ with the JW are happy with the IJN.
    I don’t believe GR owns the JW -he is the editor-I believe the Goldbergs own the IJN. If I am wrong someone can correct me on either statement.

  153. R’ Gil,

    How can we discuss Rosenblatt’s article on media bias without discussing the validity of his evidence?

  154. Oops. I meant “Schick’s” article not “Rosenblatt’s”.

  155. “In going through this dissertation it strikes me that not a single Jewish word or source appears in it…” From link about the Ravs dissertation

    Why the surprise-why should secualr dissertations/thesis have a Jewish source in them?

  156. “Why the surprise-why should secualr dissertations/thesis have a Jewish source in them?”

    Well, it’s about Hermann Cohen, not Kant. Hermann Cohen’s own works had Jewish sources in them.

  157. “TORONTO — Women took part in the Torah service at Beth Tikvah Synagogue this past Shabbat for the first time ever at the Conservative shul.”

    There are apparently some Hirhurim readers from North of the Border-can anyone tell me -is women participating in Torah services at Conservative Synagogues the norm or exception in Canada?

  158. Maybe someone should analyze Marvin schick’s views on child sexual abuse and other crimes in the orthodox community: here is an example – would anyone agree?

    …We read of an “epidemic” of sexual abuse in yeshivas and this is a lie and itself serious abuse and the debasement of truth is greater still when false charges are made by an Orthodox assemblyman or a faculty member at Yeshiva University. I am intensively involved in yeshiva and day school education and over the years I have asked persons involved in various schools whether there has been abuse at their institutions. Overwhelmingly they have answered that there hasn’t been and I believe them.…

    —Marvin Schick, in a “privately sponsored” ad in the New York Jewish Week, 5-29-09.

  159. Thank you for the link to R. Yaakov Yosef on IDF Torah scrolls and rabbis.  It illustrates the believability of the entire genre of such stories we regularly see in the Charedi/Yeshivish media regarding the IDF.

  160. “There are apparently some Hirhurim readers from North of the Border-can anyone tell me -is women participating in Torah services at Conservative Synagogues the norm or exception in Canada?”

    My understanding is quite the exception, hence the interest in the CJN. At least in Toronto, Conservative shuls are quite conservative. And as the article notes, the on-sabbatical-soon-to-be-retiring Rabbi of that shul is Rabbi Wayne Allen, whose book of teshuvos was reviewed quite positively by Rabbi Student here
    https://www.torahmusings.com/2010/01/post-orthodox-responsa/ and includes the following pesakim:
    Can you add the names of the Matriarchs into the Amidah? No
    Can women lead Pesukei De-Zimra? No

    (The decision to go egalitarian is by the new Rabbi taking over)

  161. >Well, it’s about Hermann Cohen, not Kant. Hermann Cohen’s own works had Jewish sources in them.

    To be fair, his works on Judaism has Jewish sources in them. His neo-Kantian works, which is what the thesis is all about, had no Jewish sources in them.

  162. >Has anyone considered translating the Rav’s dissertation?

    My chavrusa and myself are actually working on a translation of it. But at our current rate, it will take a few years before we are done.

  163. Re European Jewish Parliament:
    The choosing of “Jewish leadership” is a problem in the US. In reality it tends to be self perpetuating leadership-when was the last time that you saw an election for a major position of a major Jewish organization. I don’t mean unaminous ratification of a slate of candidates at a convention-but a contested election open to membership votes?
    Even local-when wasthe lasttime that there was an election for the officers of your local Vaad Hakashrut, Local Eruv etc. An annual mmeeting where finances are discussed/disclosed to those who support those institutions.

  164. “chardal on February 16, 2012 at 2:24 am
    >Well, it’s about Hermann Cohen, not Kant. Hermann Cohen’s own works had Jewish sources in them.

    To be fair, his works on Judaism has Jewish sources in them. His neo-Kantian works, which is what the thesis is all about, had no Jewish sources in them”
    Which is what one would expect.

  165. Lawrence Kaplan

    There is a chapter on the Rav’s dissertation in Reinier Munk’s Rationale of Halakhic Man: Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Conception of Jewish Thought. It is also discussed in Avinoam Rosenak’s essay in Emunah bi-Zemanim Mishtanim, ed. Avi Sagi.

  166. BTW my response on cross currents apparently failed some test, it has now exited moderation and entered purgatory.
    KT

  167. “There are apparently some Hirhurim readers from North of the Border-can anyone tell me -is women participating in Torah services at Conservative Synagogues the norm or exception in Canada?” – mycroft

    Well, my experience has been that it depends. Some Conservative congregations allow women to lain, so I disagree that Beth Tikvah’s is a first. Others allow them to only to gave a speech and appear on the bima for their bas mitvoh. However, on the whole, Conservative Judaism in Toronto is on the right of their spectrum. As I noted earlier, I am suprised that it is Howard Markose, who I know from my childhood, who is supporting this.

  168. Further to Yair Ettinger’s perceptive analysis at the height of the Beit Shemesh skirmishes, is:
    http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-remarkable-good-news-about-the-haredim/

  169. “o be fair, his works on Judaism has Jewish sources in them. His neo-Kantian works, which is what the thesis is all about, had no Jewish sources in them””

    True, but I was trying to support Lehmann’s ‘surprise’ that it lacked a single Jewish source. I assume that’s because of the author. If you combine the author and his subject one might expect that such a work would mention something Jewish. We had philosophers too.

  170. R. Shafran appears to want to have his cake and eat it too. If he wants to make a meaningful statement, Agudah should (belatedly) join the RCA Statement. A joint RCA/Agudah statement, even if repeated, would be a positive signal that Orthodoxy is more nuanced than the so-called “Torah Declaration”.

  171. On the Rav’s dissertation, it would be interesting to compare/contrast it with his schoolmate, as per Prof. Kimmelman’s observation:

    Rabbis Heschel and Soloveitchik had much in common […] started their general education in Warsaw only to continue in Berlin—1925 for R. Soloveitchik and 1927 for R. Heschel—at the University of Berlin, where both earned their doctorates in philosophy in the early 1930s.  Indeed, in their dissertations both thanked the same neo-Kantian professor of philosophy, Max Dessoir.  R. Heschel and R. Soloveitchik met first in Berlin and subsequently in New York.

  172. The article on tuition is depressing. BTW, how prevalent is this phenomenon:

    “There are families of relatively modest means that believe applying for and receiving scholarship assistance is not antithetical to living according to upper middle class expectations”

    IH,

    Did the Rav and HEschel have any kind of relationship beyond chance meetings?

  173. Aiwac — I have no idea. I recently discovered this when reading the article per Gil’s recommendation.

  174. “If he wants to make a meaningful statement, Agudah should (belatedly) join the RCA Statement. ”

    Agudah will never “join” with the RCA. That’s the politics.

    I also suspect that Agudah does not agree that it cannot endorse reparative therapy, and on the contrary, it considers it to be a foremost solution. Furthermore, I also doubt that the Agudah’s position is to caution that this therapy could only “be performed only by licensed, trained practitioners” since there is no such thing as “licensed, trained practitioners” of reparative therapy for homosexuality, now is there?

  175. The (gated) URL is http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/mj/summary/v024/24.3kimelman.html

    (I inadvertently misspelled Kimelman earlier)

  176. S. — Re: Agudah and RCA — http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=105635

    On Prof. Kimelman, I forgot their is a freely available version of the article at: http://www.edah.org/backend/journalarticle/4_2_kimelman.pdf.

  177. “S. — Re: Agudah and RCA — http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=105635

    “RCA Joins with Other Organizations.” The Agudah does not join the RCA, unless it’s with the Roman Catholic Church. If I ought to spell it more clearly, the Agudah might allow the RCA to join *it’s* declaration.

    Speaking of the Agudah and the RCA, the other day I came across a symposium in Tradition circa 1992 (IIRC). One of the questions was something like: In 1956 both R. Moshe Feinstein and R. Mordechai Gifter were invited to address the RCA conference, and they did. It also said that R. Aharon Kotler did so at some point as well. Clearly today [1992] such an invitation would neither be extended nor would it be accepted. What should we make of that?

  178. S:

    “such an invitation would neither be extended nor would it be accepted. What should we make of that?”

    that it wouldn;t be extended or that it wouldn’t be accepted?

  179. “that it wouldn;t be extended or that it wouldn’t be accepted?”

    That was what the question was – both. They were trying to explore the perceived greater gap between our crowd (ie, Tradition) and the other crows (ie, the Yeshivish) that it thought must have deepened over 35 years.

  180. “the other crows (ie, the Yeshivish)”

    Note that d and s are adjacent on the keyboard. Any attempts to search into my subconscious are futile.

  181. > If you combine the author and his subject one might expect that such a work would mention something Jewish. We had philosophers too.

    Oh, he DOES quote Jewish philosophers: Cohen, Cassirer, Maier, etc. 😉

  182. In his story of the JTS fire, Hillel Goldberg mentions how happy Heschel was to hear from him that his works were being studied at YU, and how he seemed to feel that was important.

    By the way, Lehmann is quote on Tzvee’s blog:

    “It is reported that the Rav would have liked to write his dissertation on Maimonides and Plato, but since no experts in these subjects were available in Berlin, he chose a field of pure philosophy, tempered with mathematics.”

    1) Reported by who?

    2) Is it really likely that there was *no one* in Berlin who knew Rambam and Plato?

  183. Do most of the 300,000 even WANT to convert? I’m really wondering this, since I’d think that if they did, they’d apply much more public pressure on the issue.

  184. Lawrence Kaplan

    Nachum: Reported, IIRC, by Rav Lichtenstein. As for your question: There were certainly experts in the University of Berlin on Plato. But the Rambam?

    Lehman, assuming he is being quoted correctly, is inexact. There are not two subjects here: 1)Plato; and 2) the Rambam; but one subject, namely, “Plato and the Rambam.

  185. “R. Shafran appears to want to have his cake and eat it too.”

    How so?

    “If he wants to make a meaningful statement, Agudah should (belatedly) join the RCA Statement. A joint RCA/Agudah statement, even if repeated, would be a positive signal that Orthodoxy is more nuanced than the so-called “Torah Declaration”.”

    Maybe they should, maybe they shouldn’t- it’s a judgement call on their part. I seem to remmeber you criticizing R Gil for advising the RCA to something when he’s not a member of their club.

    In any case, speak to his arguments, not your vendetta. I liked the back and forth in the Forward comments when I read them yeterday.

  186. Shaul — I did speak to his arguments.

  187. IH- Really, in what way? By telling him what he ought to do?

  188. Shaul — if you have a view on the article, feel free to express it…

  189. “nonetheless indicative of the general hope for (and activity toward) the conversion of the jews”

    Every monotheistic religion looks forwardto the day when all mankind will recognize their God.

  190. MiMedinat HaYam

    “ALSO SCHUL MEMBERS DID NOT WANT to pay the subsidies for students who frankly were in general different social economically and hashkafa.”

    isnt that the same problem today with day school education?

    2. the aguda has a specific policy of not joining with anybody. i recall about 10 years ago, a massive tehillim rally (many shuls still use the tehillim booklets that was the program then) in wall street area on a sunday, sponsored by ALL orthodox orgs. the aguda clearly spelled out its policy above, as to why they would not officially join. though they “allowed” their “constituents” to participate, though not using the aguda name.

    3. almost ALL newspapers are the private (editorial) property of their owner (and if there is no owner, some such authority).

    much as this blog is the property of our host, r gil. nothing wrong with that. he (or GR) can be criticized for what they do, and that is that.

  191. MiMedinat HaYam

    regarding agudah signing on to that rca policy. i doubt the agudah will formally confirm that signature.

  192. http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/breaking_news/unorthodox_authors_claim_murder_cover_up_rebutted

    This is a comment on False Messiah by Shulem Deen – ex-skverer and blogger on Unpious

    ————
    You seem to want to believe her, you want to give her the benefit of the doubt, fine, I don’t take issue with that. But there is a real pattern observed in both her writings and interviews, and the murder is by far not the only questionable thing she wrote. (Although perhaps the most gruesome and the one with the most consequences.)

    I’ll give a seemingly meaningless example, which (along with many other little tidbits) got me really unsettled.

    She writes (in the book — which, yes, I read) of 9/11 happening, and within the next week, right before Yom Kippur, the news spread that a carp in a New Square fish store opened its mouth to call upon Jews to repent. “Since this occurred just after the Twin Towers were attacked and right before Yom Kippur… the story was especially juicy.” (direct quote)

    Problem is, the New Square fish story happened in March of 2003, not Sep. 2011. I would know. I lived a block away from that fish store. What’s more, there was an article both in the NY Times and the Guardian about it.

    We might say, big deal. She’s using some wacky story as a literary device and rearranging the chronology. Fine. Maybe it’s an excuse, maybe it isn’t. But to do that with events that appear in the public record, whose dates can so easily be verified, shows an ease with twisting the facts for the sake of heightening the drama in a way that is justifyingly disconcerting.

    She writes of being the only girl in her class to visit not the public library but even Williamsburg’s religious library. Nobody else was interested in reading what even the chasidic library itself allowed? I know the chasidish world intimately, and that’s all kinds of ludicrous.

    What she said on “The View” about Satmar girls graduating high school with a 4th-grade reading level is also absolutely false. True for men, yes, absolutely. But not for girls. No one is saying Satmar girls receive a stellar secular education, and they don’t necessarily get high school diplomas, but what’s wrong with saying simply that? Why embellish, again and again and again and again?

    Finally, calling her tale an “escape” (as it is on the jacket cover) highlights this problem as well. I know hundreds and hundreds of ex-chasidish OTDs. Never have I heard anyone referring to themselves as “escaped” with any seriousness. What, did she leave in the dark of night with a garbage bag of clothes? Did she speed off while her husband and a gang of Chasidish men came after her in hot pursuit? What, tell me, is the point of calling it that if not an effort to sensationalize?

    Add to that the things she said to the NY Post, the murder story, and lots of other little bits of distortion, and you get a picture of someone who simply doesn’t realize that overdramatizing to that degree really does damage to her own credibility.

    I’m not saying all of this adds up to an blatant campaign of spreading lies on her part, but you can’t blame people for noticing them.

    I should add, I was really hoping I’d like the book, and I did like many parts. Much of the first half was very nicely done. But these little problems really add up, especially if the sum total is to make a point not only about her own life experiences but also about an oppressive society. And sadly, she does damage to those who do seek to uncover chasidish society’s real social ills.

    Posted by: Shulem Deen | February 16, 2012 at 07:22 PM

  193. “It wasn’t until I became a Jew and sang as a Jew in shul that I finally achieved a perfect religio-musical synthesis. […] In every congregation all over the world, the Torah text is chanted aloud—not read, but rendered in melody. And how excited I was at the possibility that I could actually be the one to do it.”

    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/91289/women-chanting/

  194. AIWAC, in rough numbers of the 1,000,000 olim from the former soviet union, about 300,000+ are of questionable status of which about 100,000 will want to marry and raise a family. I believe that about 25,000 or so have converted.

  195. Dr. Bill,

    Where did you get those numbers?

  196. “but shuls, esp in old times, liked to tie their rabbis down”

    Rabbis like all workers can’t be forced to keep on working for an employer-poel yachol lachzar bchazi hayom

  197. “MiMedinat HaYam on February 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm
    “ALSO SCHUL MEMBERS DID NOT WANT to pay the subsidies for students who frankly were in general different social economically and hashkafa.”

    isnt that the same problem today with day school education”
    No typically talmud torahs were run by the schuls-day schoolsare typically independent operations. Thus members of schuls directly had to make up the losses of Talmud Torahs.

  198. Prof. Kaplan: Thanks for that information. I remain doubtful that no philosopher in Berlin knew of the Rambam, but you know better.

    Charediman:

    1. Unfortunately, the nature of the community seems to lend itself to wild rumors. You have a good point. (In general, hearsay should never be accepted. As a lawyer, I sometimes feel like yelling “Objection!” in the middle of a conversation.)

    2. Funny that the evil Jewish Week is the one who wrote this up. Paging Dr. Schick…

  199. aiwac – mostly from an very old article i read in jpost interviewing prof. ish shalom. that’s why i hedge on the precision of my memory. i assume the interview is online.

  200. NACHUM:

    ” I remain doubtful that no philosopher in Berlin knew of the Rambam, but you know better.”

    he didn’t write that no philosopher knew of the rambam, but rather there were no experts on the rambam. why is that so hard to believe? (of course his teacher r. hayyim heller later published an edition of sefer ha-mitzvot, but he was not on the faculty of the university and in any case i don’t think he is generally considered an expert on the rambam’s philosophy)

  201. “A hard-line approach, however, must be tempered by the recognition that emotional and behavioral harm may be caused to children who, after all, are not responsible for their parents’ refusal to pay appropriate tuition or, for that matter, their parents’ indulgence in luxurious living. Although a school may refuse to admit or re-admit a student whose parents are shirking their tuition responsibilities, during the school year each child must be treated with dignity, irrespective of the parental failure to do the right thing. This means report cards must not be held back, and certainly it is wrong not to allow a child into the classroom during the school year because of a tuition issue. Again, no child is responsible for his or her parents’ wrongdoing.”
    Certainly all requirements for admission cards to ensure tuition is paid is plain embarrassing-especially because a great deal of the time money has been paid but inefficiiencies of Yeshivaoffices are involved. If money wasn’t paid one can deal with parents individually and insist for example that child not return at some point-after appropriate vacation break-what kids realize it is all about money.

  202. “A hard-line approach, however, must be tempered by the recognition that emotional and behavioral harm may be caused to children who, after all, are not responsible for their parents’ refusal to pay appropriate tuition or, for that matter, their parents’ indulgence in luxurious living. Although a school may refuse to admit or re-admit a student whose parents are shirking their tuition responsibilities, during the school year each child must be treated with dignity, irrespective of the parental failure to do the right thing. This means report cards must not be held back, and certainly it is wrong not to allow a child into the classroom during the school year because of a tuition issue. Again, no child is responsible for his or her parents’ wrongdoing.”

    Agreed.

  203. Lawrence Kaplan

    I also did not write “in Berlin.” I wrote in the UNIVERSITY of Berlin. There were experts in Maimonides’ philosophy in Berlin, Julius Guttman, for example, at the liberal Hochschule.

  204. NACHUM:

    “” I remain doubtful that no philosopher in Berlin knew of the Rambam, but you know better.”

    he didn’t write that no philosopher knew of the rambam, but rather there were no experts on the rambam. why is that so hard to believe?”

    There could have even beenexperts in the Rambam in Berlin but why is it hard to believe that no one felt competent to supervise the Rav on the Rambam?

  205. “Lawrence Kaplan on February 17, 2012 at 7:39 am
    I also did not write “in Berlin.” I wrote in the UNIVERSITY of Berlin”

    I suspectthat some others might incorrectly use the same incorrect shorthand that I use of often referring to a university by the city name only-see eg person went to Oxford, Cambridge, etc

  206. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/17/opinion/brooks-the-jeremy-lin-problem.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=brooks%20david&st=cse

    Oh man, I started the column and was going to send him a link to R’ Ziegler’s majesty and humility – then look at the end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    KT

  207. No link to the fabricated allegation in Feldman’s book about a murder in Kiryas Yoel?

  208. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/17/sports/ncaabasketball/for-yeshiva-basketball-coach-its-all-about-the-journey.html?scp=1&sq=halpert&st=cse
    being one whose teams won less than 10 games in 4 years I can tell you it’s a great limud zchut to say it’s character building.

    KT

  209. Rafael: As I wrote in my review, her book is full of the impressions of a naive, uninformed person.

  210. “The OU Wants You to Move to Houston. They’re Wrong.”

    r. spolter leaves out perhaps the most important factor in his comparison of houston vs. detroit: jobs

  211. Reb Gil – so you believe (I take no position on the matter) that she didn’t fabricate the incident, but it is a result of her being uninformed and her naivete?

  212. Even R’ Spolter can not bring himself to suggest someone move to Detroit. Instead he promotes “Michigan”.

  213. Rafael: Yes. Although I have no idea how she confused the date of the talking fish. Just poor memory, I guess.

  214. IH on February 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm
    Shaul — if you have a view on the article, feel free to express it…

    I agree, obviously. I agree that homosexuality is was and always will be a heinous act, I agree that homosexuals are and always have been created in G-d’s image, I agree that that people who disagree with us ought to at least respect our democratic right to hold true to a 2000 year old tradition (as we see it obviously, including that it’s assur to be gay even outside a pagan temple) and I disagree that we’re tryiong to have our cake and eat it too. But mainly I resent your patroninzing “come now- it may not be too late for you agudah fossils” attitude that you exhibited in your comment.
    Other than that, ayin sham and respond. We can’t debate your objections if you haven’t stated any, other than the fact that you don’t like his opinions.

  215. Shaul, I hope you didn’t mean to say there’s an issur to be gay. The issur is to engage in homosexual acts.

  216. Did Prof. Kaplan point out yet that Brooks misread LMoF?

  217. Yeedle- of course I meant the latter. I specifally said ‘act’ Being gay is not an act.

  218. R Soloveichik, in his testimony to Congress, misses the trees for the forest. He argues for the rights of the Catholic Church as an institution, not to pay for insurance to pay for a Jewish lady doctor to get doctor-prescribed contraceptives. He himself admitted that oral contraceptives are not an issue for Jews. So why is he extending himself to argue against the rights of his own community, for the rights of the Catholic Church?

    Guarding one’s health is itself a Torah value – venishmartem me’od et nafshoteichem. Reproductive health is a concern of Torah all the way back – which is why women are not mandated to have children. R Soloveichik – please stand up for your own people, not for those who would deny our rights in the name of their religion. In a debate between two religions – the rights of Catholic employers vs. the rights of Jewish employees, shouldn’t it be obvious on whose side you should stand?

  219. Jon: He’s standing up for the principle of free exercise of religion because the next thing the government mandates could be prohibited by Jewish law.

  220. Shaul, you wrote “respect our democratic right to hold true to a 2000 year old tradition (as we see it obviously, including that it’s assur to be gay even outside a pagan temple)” – maybe a Feudian skip 😉

  221. “HAGTBG on February 14, 2012 at 11:44 am
    Nachum: I agree with you. I don’t care whom the Mormons baptize.

    I also think that it makes no sense to be concerned about the wine other religions might happen to consecrate or the perfectly good trees they happen to worship,”
    If the Torah weren’t concerned with those items I wouldn’t be either but the Torah is concerned about those items.

  222. Jon: you do understand that contraceptives are legal and no one is even discussing outlawing them? All that is being discussed is whether employers who have a religious objection should be forced to pay for others’ contraceptives. “Venishmartem me’od et nafshoteichem” does not mean your employer must be forced to pay for it. Since contraceptives are relatively inexpensive, the notion that the lives of employees, Jewish or not, is being jeopardized, is specious.

    (And what about abortion? While our position is not as absolute as that of teh Catholic Church, in the vast majority of cases, halakha would say that abortion is forbidden, and is even shfichas damim. Should Jewish employers be forced to pay for their employees’ abortions, including abortion on demand?)

  223. mycroft on February 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    If the Torah weren’t concerned with those items I wouldn’t be either but the Torah is concerned about those items.

    My point was, as you surmised, that intellectually I agree with Nachum and Gil but these halachot seem to contradict that rationale. G-d did not forbid consecrated wine … rabbis did. Clearly they felt that consecration had some consequence on Jews. And as for the trees, I will not claim to understand the halachot surrounding it but it seemed to me there might be a side there for saying that there is some general lesson. If we don’t use a perfectly good tree because others worshiped it then why should we be neutral when others “convert” our ancestors?

  224. Jon: you do understand that contraceptives are legal and no one is even discussing outlawing them? All that is being discussed is whether employers who have a religious objection should be forced to pay for others’ contraceptives.

    Especially as the government has the option to tax us and pay for it itself to make it free as opposed to make the people for this item which offends them themselves (just as we all pay in our taxes for something that most certainly offends us).

  225. Lawrence Kaplan

    Gil: But she evidently made a big thing out of the date of talking fish, linking it to 9/11. That is more than poor memory.

  226. I can’t imagine she would lie about it. She must have just made a mistake.

  227. Very interesting:

    “Paradoxically, the program – which Littman has written about for the Huffington Post – ultimately aided his coming out. “I probably had the most growth in who I was as a person in reparative therapy,” he says. “I really liked it because I was able to deal with my sexuality through a religious perspective.

    “Going to a gay-affirming therapist just wasn’t an option at that point,” he adds. “Reparative therapy was more comfortable. I never would have been able to go from being really religious to being gay” without a framework that dealt with both.”

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/meet-the-king-of-new-yorks-gay-jewish-nightlife/

  228. All I know is that the talking fish of New Skver was not in the Twin Towers on 9/11 🙂

  229. MiMedinat HaYam

    IH — my objection is that he (littman) wants his gayness as a jewish idea, not a regular run of the mill secular idea.

    if he would have run mechallel shabat parties (or “lets intermarry” psrties), we would all object. why is this different?

    2. just like rav meir solveichik argues his point from a secular legal point of view (invoking the seixas / washington letters) not as a jewish point of view.

    3. jewish agency exec salaries – just like any other jewish (and non jewish) org.

    4. tomatoes at trader joes — competition for hechsher zedek.

    5. photos of the zviller / vishnitz wedding — i cant get the photos (slide show) themselves.

  230. Yeedle- I’m not sure what you mean, but I was reffering to one Oaklandj’s comments over at the Forward. Are you saying I’m admitting that 3000 years ago at Sinai things were different? If yes, thanks for catching me. Although it would be nice if they admitted that it’s at least that old.

    If I’ve still missed the boat, please clue me in.

  231. MMhY, — I only posted it because he had something positive to say about reparative therapy and from an unlikely source at that. The Huffington Post piece, which I had not seen before, was also interesting in understanding the JONAH scene from a 1st hand perspective.

  232. ” G-d did not forbid consecrated wine … rabbis did”

    I was assuming consecrated wine equals yayin nessech not stam yenam.

  233. “And what about abortion? While our position is not as absolute as that of teh Catholic Church, in the vast majority of cases, halakha would say that abortion is forbidden, and is even shfichas damim. Should Jewish employers be forced to pay for their employees’ abortions, including abortion on demand?”

    You raise abortion sol;et me raise blood transfusions. What if (a) the Seventh Day Adventists were as large as the Catholic Church and had as many hospitals and social service agencies and (b) refused to pay for blood transfusions? As for the inexpensive nature of contraceptives, it depends on whose pocket we’re talking about. (What I wonder about is whether from an actuarial point of view (Joel, your expertise is requested) is whether, considering the cost of contraceptives, the number of unintended pregnancies when contraception is not available, and the significant expense of pregnancy and child care, whether insurance with contraceptive coverage shouldn’t be LESS expensive than insurance without such coverage.)

    Freedom of religion is not absolute; if the law/rule is a neutral one (as health care is) and government has a compelling interest (which can be debated here, I guess, but that’s not a freedom of religion argument), then freedom of religion can be limited. That’s the law as it appears in a Supreme Court decision that wasn’t written by Justice Stevens or Ginsburg. so the hysteria from the Catholics, IMO, is simply a cover for their desire to limit contraception for all — the way they actually did when they had greater political power. And for many, though not all conservatives, it’s just another way to attack the health care reform law.

  234. Gil
    the claims of a murder cover up in Kiryas yoel go way beyond “naive”. They undermine her integrity and credibility.

  235. Joseph,

    ” the number of unintended pregnancies when contraception is not available, and the significant expense of pregnancy and child care”

    1) How do you know that the number of the former is significant and not a hypothetical?

    2) “and the significant expense of pregnancy and child care”

    Abortion is completely legal in the states; a girl who decides to “keep the baby” should bear the consequences of her decision. It’s called personal responsibility (and the same goes for deciding to use protection).

    3) “Freedom of religion is not absolute; if the law/rule is a neutral one (as health care is)”

    I fail to see the “neutrality” here. One could make a good moral case for making contraceptives even more freely available, but it is not a “neutral” position.

    ‘And for many, though not all conservatives, it’s just another way to attack the health care reform law.’

    Yes, those EVIL conservatives. How DARE they object to neutral government intervention in private institutions?! Yeesh.

    I’m not pro-Catholic, but I think the hostility of some to the Religious Right in the US has been מעביר אנשים על דעתם.

    BTW, here’s a (non-religious) libertarian discussion on why this
    was a stupid idea:

  236. …and for those who automatically attach the adjective “unwanted” to “teen pregnancy”:

    http://www.city-journal.org/2008/eon0623kh.html

  237. Joseph, you couldn’t run a hospital that would refuse to perform life-saving surgery. That may be why there are no Witness hospitals. It’s not as if people die in hospitals because Catholics aren’t performing abortions.

  238. Re David Brooks article that discussed Rav and sports-the article raises questions not only about place of professional sports but logically about the emphasis of competitive sports even in our colleges and HS including Yeshiva HS.

  239. “Freedom of religion is not absolute; if the law/rule is a neutral one (as health care is) and government has a compelling interest (which can be debated here, I guess, but that’s not a freedom of religion argument), then freedom of religion can be limited. That’s the law as it appears in a Supreme Court decision that wasn’t written by Justice Stevens or Ginsburg. so the hysteria from the Catholics, IMO, is simply a cover for their desire to limit contraception for all — the way they actually did when they had greater political power. And for many, though not all conservatives, it’s just another way to attack the health care reform law.”
    Essentially agree with J Kaplan.

  240. Some reality to counter-balace ideology:

    “After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

    Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/us/for-women-under-30-most-births-occur-outside-marriage.html

  241. Gil: Free exercise is one thing. Free exercise by the Catholic Church vs. free exercise by Jews in the same case – why is he siding with the Church? Isn’t the Church’s getting an exception to what the Gov’t is trying to set up as a right for all, indirect religious coercion, IOW, avak Establishment Clause?

    Tal: Yes, what about abortion? I side with RYGB – we have to be pro-choice because we don’t want the Catholics and Baptists telling us when we can’t have abortions in cases where our rabbis permit/mandate them. Catholics, e.g., have no exception for life-of-the-mother, they have no concept of rodef. They’re 15x the size constituency that we are. And the Baptists are a similar size.

  242. “It’s not as if people die in hospitals because Catholics aren’t performing abortions.”

    Not so clear. Catholic hospitals will not abort even if both mom and fetus will die without abortion. I don’t know the data, but it seems highly likely that some woman somewhere died while waiting for her fetus to die first or while being transferred, while lifethreateningly ill, to a faraway noncatholic hospital.

  243. “I fail to see the “neutrality” here. One could make a good moral case for making contraceptives even more freely available, but it is not a “neutral” position.”

    Neutral in the case of religious freedom means that the law/rule treats all equally and is not directed at religions. That is the case here.

  244. “Joseph, you couldn’t run a hospital that would refuse to perform life-saving surgery. That may be why there are no Witness hospitals.”

    But there are witness organizations that employ non-witnesses and provide health care insurance to their employees. I read an interview with the head of one such organization. he said the health insurance provided was the normal health insurance with no exclusions.

  245. “Yes, those EVIL conservatives. How DARE they object to neutral government intervention in private institutions?! Yeesh.”

    I don’t mind (though I would strongly disagree with) their opposition to government involvement in private institutions. My point was that I believe that is the basis of their objection to the contraception rule, not the alleged religious freedom objection.

  246. I would here side with Gil. I personally would support government payment for contraception/abortion services, but am opposed to the current mandate.

    WRT Jon Baker, I fail to see how the religious rights of the Jewish employee are compromised by the employer refusing to pay, just as our religious rights are not compromised by the refusal of the government to pay for day school education or synagogue membership – under most cases, there is a fundamental difference between the right to do something and the obligation of others to pay for it…(one can argue that the mandate is economically advantageous to the Jewish community, who will use it, but no rights of the Jewish community are violated without the mandate)

    while J Kaplan knowledge of the law far exceeds mine, my recollection of that supreme court case that he cites is that it raised a fire storm in religious circles – precisely because it did not carve out a privileged position for religious freedom – leading to a federal law restoring such a privileged position. (1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act)

    Clearly, religious freedom does not always trump other rights and obligations. However, the issue here is not availability of contraception and abortion (even if the Catholic church would like to ban them) – but achieving the desired goal of universal access by forcing direct payments for them by the Catholic church. The goal of direct access can be achieved by direct federal funding – which woujld not raise any religious freedom issues. The political impossibility of such direct funding is evident – which is the reason for the mandate – but politics (as distinct from need) are not a good reason to trample religious rights.

  247. Even under RFRA, the federal government can overrule religious rights in a neutral law if there is a compelling state interest and it is the least restrictive way of doing that. One can argue that the rule doesn’t meet those two standards, but the argument that this is illegitimate because it may impact on religious rights (personally, I don’t agree that he compromise proposed by the administration infringes on religious liberty) is not, in itself, sufficient because even if it does, if it meets the standards of RFRA that’s constitutionally permitted just like forcing christian scientists to give medical treatment to their children or prosecuting them criminally if they don’t, or forcing a Quaker to pay taxes even though some of the tax dollars go to payments for war which violates their religious beliefs, are constitutional.

  248. “First: by carving out an exemption, however narrow, the administration implicitly acknowledges that forcing employers to purchase these insurance policies may involve a violation of religious freedom”

    It is an acknowledgement that in general as a political matter the government does not make churches do what they don’t want to do. It is not a matter of freedom of religion. But of course, civil law has always been supreme see eg a church can’t not pay over various employment taxes on its employees etc.
    Even when Mormons approved of polygamy it was illegal.

  249. “One can argue that the rule doesn’t meet those two standards, but the argument that this is illegitimate because it may impact on religious rights (personally, I don’t agree that he compromise proposed by the administration infringes on religious liberty) is not, in itself, sufficient because even if it does, if it meets the standards of RFRA that’s constitutionally permitted just like forcing christian scientists to give medical treatment to their children or prosecuting them criminally if they don’t, or forcing a Quaker to pay taxes even though some of the tax dollars go to payments for war which violates their religious beliefs, are constitutional.”
    Agreed.

  250. Apropos recent discussions on tzniyut, photos and portraits there is a fascinating article in the current NY Review of Books about Renaissance Portraits in the 15h century which provides some interesting historical context.

    Unfortunately, the article is limited to subscribers (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/08/they-clamor-our-attention-renaissance-portrait/) but I thought the following few sentences would be of interest:

    The women are elegantly yet plainly dressed, with little ornament or jewelry, and their expressions convey both modesty and self-esteem. In the Florentine treatises of the time on civil life, the word onestà can have connotations of both honesty and honor, and many of the paintings and sculptures appear to seek this balance of values.

    Almost all Florentine portraits were intended for display in a family house. Typically they were meant to celebrate the worthy members of the clan and to inspire the young to live up to the standards set by their ancestors; they also gave proof that a family was one of renown and dignity.

  251. “I don’t mind (though I would strongly disagree with) their opposition to government involvement in private institutions.”
    Which of course “value” voters/candidates don’t disagree with government involvement in private institutions eg they’d love to ban abortion but simply are opposed to certain values being imposed.

  252. J kaplanEven under RFRA, the federal government can overrule religious rights in a neutral law if there is a compelling state interest and it is the least restrictive way of doing that. One can argue that the rule doesn’t meet those two standards, but the argument that this is illegitimate because it may impact on religious rights (personally, I don’t agree that he compromise proposed by the administration infringes on religious liberty) is not, in itself, sufficient because even if it does, if it meets the standards of RFRA that’s constitutionally permitted just like forcing christian scientists to give medical treatment to their children or prosecuting them criminally if they don’t, or forcing a Quaker to pay taxes even though some of the tax dollars go to payments for war which violates their religious beliefs, are constitutional.

    There are Several separate issues here:
    1) does the mandate meet the constitutional test from the supreme court, or even the more narrowly tailored exception of RFRA – not being a lawyer, I would defer, but suspect that the court will weigh in. However, religious liberty has a broader meaning than just what the court or congress decides….

    2) accepting the general right of government to infringe on religious liberty when done in a religiously neutral fashion – the purpose driving RFRA was to minimize this to the extent necessary. As someone who supports the social policy ends of the mandate, it is still difficult for me to view the mandate as anything besides a huge step forward in ignoring the effects of public policy on religious institutions. Whether constitutional or legal may be argued – as well asthe precise limits of religious freedom may be argued – but the mandate constitutes a major change in how the law and government actually deals with these issues, in a way that is dangerous to all religious liberties. Not all that is legal is right….
    I think many view the issue as related to the fight of the catholic church to impose their religious norms on abortion and contraception on the rest of society – and therefore don’t wish to join in. While the religious norms are the same, the issue here is the right of the church to uphold its norms in its institutions – which should concern us all

  253. “Some parents will do anything to keep their children in a Jewish school setting; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Glick says.”

    Although the article talks about special needs there are probably just as many or probably more children who would be normal in a public school system but due to the dual curriculum and dual language skills required of a day school education fail in day schools. Parents generally do too much to try and keep their children in such an environment they may often end up being less religious than those who followedthe day school/Rabbinic pressure to attend day school at almost all situations.

  254. “While the religious norms are the same, the issue here is the right of the church to uphold its norms in its institutions”
    In its institutions that receive federal money? Or its institutions that don’t receive federal money?.
    Not that my viewpoint is important I personally believe that there should be a compelling state interest to interfere in a religious instittution. An institution that accepts federal money and by legal definition must treat all people irrespective of religion is by definition not a religious institution even if it is sponsered by a religious organization and doing good to all is a commandment of that organization.

  255. Freedom of religion is not absolute; if the law/rule is a neutral one (as health care is) and government has a compelling interest (which can be debated here, I guess, but that’s not a freedom of religion argument), then freedom of religion can be limited.

    Compelling neutral interests can justify almost anything! The Massachusetts state law requiring that gays be allowed to adopt children, resulted in Catholic charities ending their adoption work. Don’t you think Jews can be negatively impacted by supposedly neutral anti-discrimination laws? If the state were to ban circumcision of infants (both medical and religious) in the name of “saving them from mutilation,” it could be argued that such a law is neutral.

  256. In my previous post, the first paragraph comes from a comment previously posted by Joseph Kaplan. The second paragraph is my response.

  257. Canuck, I believe the statement you are quoting from Mr. Kaplan was descriptive (what the state of the law in the US is – ie, that neutral laws may apply to religious institutions). Your response does not change what the law in the US is, but is rather your evaluation of whether it is a good idea. This is the sort of response that is frustrating for lawyers unless you at least acknowledge the state of the law first 🙂
    On the substance of your policy preferences, for all your parade of horribles on applying “neutral” laws and negatively impacting religion thereby, there is another parade of horribles on the other side – xtian scientist kids dying, young girls being married to Warren Jeffs, etc. (and, less salaciously, various forms of religious discrimination allowed in private employment, etc). So then what?

  258. From link about JA pay:

    “For decades, the unofficial arrangement was that the head of the Jewish Agency would make as much the prime minister of Israel, but Sharansky’s pay in 2010 totaled $214,000 – 30 percent more than Benjamin Netanyahu, the man who appointed him and made $164,000 pre-tax in 2010…. but according to The Forward’s annual salary survey of Jewish communal leaders, only one head of a national organization makes over $750,000 – the president of Yeshiva University, Richard Joel, who earned $848,000 in 2010. Next on the list is Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who made $722,000.

    Eight senior executives in Jewish organizations made over half a million dollars in 2010.

    John Ruskay, CEO of the largest Jewish community in the world, New York, and Galperin’s old boss, made $462,000. Even if Galperin deserves to be in the premier league of communal CEOs, say his critics within the agency, as an employee of an organization going through a severe financial crisis he should not top it. “

  259. “The Massachusetts state law requiring that gays be allowed to adopt children, resulted in Catholic charities ending their adoption work. Don’t you think Jews can be negatively impacted by supposedly neutral anti-discrimination laws? If ”
    BTW assuming Catholic charities ended their adoption work who says it would be all bad for Jews? Certainly more likely then that a child born of a Jewish mother and Catholic father would be brought up Jewish.

  260. “. While the religious norms are the same, the issue here is the right of the church to uphold its norms in its institutions – which should concern us all”
    Nothing new-see eg requirement that Yeshiva allow gay couples in dorms Einstein among others-or is it that YU voluntarily allowed it-either one or the other.

  261. “Some reality to counter-balace ideology”

    Are you always this snide?

    More to the point, I don’t see how your data is relevant, except to undermine the argument FOR insisting on mandated contraceptives since it’s inconceivable that so broad a population didn’t have access to such prior to ACT.

  262. “emma on February 19, 2012 at 1:11 am
    Canuck, I believe the statement you are quoting from Mr. Kaplan was descriptive (what the state of the law in the US is – ie, that neutral laws may apply to religious institutions). Your response does not change what the law in the US is, but is rather your evaluation of whether it is a good idea. This is the sort of response that is frustrating for lawyers unless you at least acknowledge the state of the law first 🙂
    On the substance of your policy preferences, for all your parade of horribles on applying “neutral” laws and negatively impacting religion thereby, there is another parade of horribles on the other side – xtian scientist kids dying, young girls being married to Warren Jeffs, etc. (and, less salaciously, various forms of religious discrimination allowed in private employment, etc). So then what?”
    Agreed.

  263. See “The Adventure of the Three Gables,” Mycroft.

  264. Nothing snide intended, aiwac. It’s just that empirical reality often intrudes on ideological certainty. The article is very disturbing and, in fact, was the NYT lead story on Saturday (I.e. right-top article on the front page).

    No doubt, ideologues on both sides will argue causation, but one needs to look at this new data in conjunction with other recent data. See, e.g. this earlier piece on other disturbing data: http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0312/High-divorce-rates-and-teen-pregnancy-are-worse-in-conservative-states-than-liberal-states

  265. IH,

    “It’s just that empirical reality often intrudes on ideological certainty”

    That tends to be true on both sides of the game. Reality is messy.

    On the issue itself, I bemoan the collapse of marriage regardless of its causes and “who’s at fault”. It’s not good for anyone except divorce lawyers and welfare agents.

  266. 1. Joseph Kaplan’s citation of the Smith decision (netural laws may impinge on religion) is incomplete because it ignores RFRA (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act). Although RFRA was struck down as unconstitutional as applied to State laws, it has repeatedly been held to be valid as applied to federal laws.

    RFRA requires that an exception be made UNLESS there is BOTH a compelling government interest AND that the law in question is the most narrowly tailored way of doing so. There is no way that the latest mandate meets that very exacting test.

    2. I don’t mind (though I would strongly disagree with) their opposition to government involvement in private institutions. My point was that I believe that is the basis of their objection to the contraception rule, not the alleged religious freedom objection.

    This argument ignores the fact that the two are intertwined. The larger and more intrusive the federal bureaucracy grows, the more likely it will be to interfere with individual liberty, including religious liberty.

    A friend of mine had a grandmother in Canada, where they have centralized medical care. When she was at the end of her life, the govt. run health care put intense pressure on them to “pull the plug” contrary to halakha (as their Rov determined).

    Or what about health benefits for same-sex married couples or “domestic partners.” An Orthodox employer who offers health benefits to its employees and their families will be forced by anti-discrimination laws to offer the same benefits to such families.

    One can come up with many examples, but the point is valid: a large, faceless bureucracy that micromanages more and more aspects of individual lives will inevitably lead to more conflicts with religious practice, particularly minority religious practice.

  267. Tal: Yes, what about abortion? I side with RYGB – we have to be pro-choice because we don’t want the Catholics and Baptists telling us when we can’t have abortions in cases where our rabbis permit/mandate them. Catholics, e.g., have no exception for life-of-the-mother, they have no concept of rodef. They’re 15x the size constituency that we are. And the Baptists are a similar size.

    Again, the discussion is about forcing someone to pay for someone else’s abortion, not outlawing it.

    As for your main point, I don’t know who RYGB is, but I disagree. Forbidden abortion (acc. to halakha) is not merely a minor infraction, it is acc. to many halakhic authorities, outright shefichus damim. (The Rambam say so explicitly.) The notion that we should be on the side of the shefichus damim of millions of babies, including no small number of Jews, so that in the rare instance when abortion is permitted acc. to halakha it remains permitted, strikes me as morally perverse.

    The argument is also politically specious. Today abortion is permitted on demand. Almost every proposal to outlaw it (mainly by Constitutional amendment) contains some exception for the life of the mother or rape. The chance of abortion in this country being outlawed to suchg an absolute extent that halakhically permitted (or mandated) abortions are also included is extremely remote.

  268. Please let’s not fall into the trap of conflating provision of healthcare with insurance of healthcare. The issue here — as Tal previously agreed with me — is that we have gotten ourselves into the bad position in the US in which employers are insurance middlemen for most Americans. The present debate is an unintended consequence of this.

  269. IH,

    and how do you propose getting employers out of the healthcare business?

  270. One of the key provisions of Obamacare, by the way is to force insurance companies (via States) to create insurance policy groups that provide economies of scale to individuals (e.g. the self-employed) to be able to get comparable rates to those of large corporations.

  271. aiwac — the two big issues are: group policies with economies of scale, such that an individual has a viable alternative to corporate insurance policies; and, not providing tax incentives to employers to shift remuneration into (effectively taxpayer subsidized) healthcare benefits. That allows the employee to choose — surely something every political conservative should champion.

  272. as Tal previously agreed with me

    A memorable day. Like the Kennedy assasination, or 9/11.

  273. “not providing tax incentives to employers to shift remuneration into (effectively taxpayer subsidized) healthcare benefits”

    I certainly support this. It’s absurd that individuals should be penalized as opposed to employers.

  274. and how do you propose getting employers out of the healthcare business

    First, you have to adjust the tax code to stop making it so advantageous for the employer to provide insurance. Under the current system, if my employer provides me $X in healthcare insurance, that is tax free. If he simply gives me $X and I buy my own, then the govt. taxes that, and I get no tax advantage.

    If you either eliminate tax health benefits like ordinary income OR permit individuals to deduct payments for health insurance from their taxable income, then you will even the playing field. (I believe McCain proposed something along these lines when he ran in 2008.

    This would make health insurance on the same footing as all other kinds of insurance — life, auto, fire, etc. — something the individual buys with their income.

    Second, the govt. should encourage group purchases of health insurance. It could be through unions, professional groups, religious and civic organizations, etc.

  275. An irony is that during the Obamacare debates, this was played against Obama as a tax increase!

  276. “3. jewish agency exec salaries – just like any other jewish (and non jewish) org”

    I suspect that they are lower than the OU-but since the OU doesn’t disclose their salaries we have no way of knowing. At least theJA discloses their salaries.

  277. “1. Joseph Kaplan’s citation of the Smith decision (netural laws may impinge on religion) is incomplete because it ignores RFRA (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act). Although RFRA was struck down as unconstitutional as applied to State laws, it has repeatedly been held to be valid as applied to federal laws.

    RFRA requires that an exception be made UNLESS there is BOTH a compelling government interest AND that the law in question is the most narrowly tailored way of doing so. There is no way that the latest mandate meets that very exacting test”

    I am far from an expert on Constitutional Law-but a Supreme Court Decision can’t be overridden by a later statute-the later statute is law but in this case a later statute RFRA could be overridden by an even later statute. I am not sure that has happened here but couldn’t Congress have passed legislation mandating covering women for x a neutral law which clearly does not intend to impinge on religion?

  278. “Religious leaders” can easily be accused of crying wolf
    see eg:

    “Rep. Gerry Connelly, D-Va., called down “shame” on the religious leaders for coming to testify. “You are here to testify that your rights are being trampled on—an overstatement if there ever was one,” he said. “I’m very sad you’ve chosen to participate … as if people are going to jail over this. … Everyone knows this is not true.””

  279. I am far from an expert on Constitutional Law-but a Supreme Court Decision can’t be overridden by a later statute-the later statute is law but in this case a later statute RFRA could be overridden by an even later statute. I am not sure that has happened here but couldn’t Congress have passed legislation mandating covering women for x a neutral law which clearly does not intend to impinge on religion?

    We are really getting far afield from what Gil’s blog is.

    Basically, no. All the Supreme Court said is that the 1st Amendment does not require exceptions to neutral laws. It also recognized, however, that such exceptions were a long tradition in American law. That exceptions are not required by the 1st Amendment does not mean that Congress (or a State legislature) cannot make them if it wishes. Congress is not “overrding” the Supreme Court, it is simply doing what the Constitution permits, but does not require. (This happens all the time at the State level. The Supreme Court might announce that the FOurth Amendment only requires certain things regarding search and seizure. State courts are still free to impose more stringent requirements as a matter of STate constitutional law.)

    Later, Congress passed RFRA, which was supposed to apply to both States and the federal govt. As to the States, the Supreme Court later struck that down as invading State sovereignty. But courts have held that as to the federal govt., it is still good law. (The Supreme Court itself decided a case under RFRA and struck down a federal law on that basis.)

    You are correct that Congress could repeal RFRA or make it inapplicable to a later statute. However, RFRA states that it applies to all later laws UNLESS they EXPRESSLY state that they are not subject to it. There is no such thing in the ObamaCare law.

    You should expect to see RFRA suits starting up soon on this issue.

  280. “Rep. Gerry Connelly, D-Va., called down “shame” on the religious leaders for coming to testify. “You are here to testify that your rights are being trampled on—an overstatement if there ever was one,” he said. “I’m very sad you’ve chosen to participate … as if people are going to jail over this. … Everyone knows this is not true.””

    As if going to jail is the only way religious rights can be trampled upon. How disingenuous.

  281. An irony is that during the Obamacare debates, this was played against Obama as a tax increase

    It depends how it is structured. It may or may not be. If you simply eliminate the tax-exempt status, it clearly would raise taxes. If you at the same time add in a deduction for purchasing health insurance, then it would probably be tax neutral, or close to it.

  282. “I am far from an expert on Constitutional Law-but a Supreme Court Decision can’t be overridden by a later statute-the later statute is law but in this case a later statute RFRA could be overridden by an even later statute. I am not sure that has happened here but couldn’t Congress have passed legislation mandating covering women for x a neutral law which clearly does not intend to impinge on religion?”

    AIUI (and I, too, am not an expert in constitutional law), there are different levels of freedom of religion. On a constitutional level, the Smith case still applies, so the contraception rule would not violate the first amendment. Congress extended freedom of religion in RFRA which, according to a later Supreme Court case, applies only to the federal government and not the states. So states could institute a similar contraception rule without violating the first amendment. And if the contraception rule does not pass muster with RFRA (and i think it does not although I recognize there are reasonable arguments on the other side), it doesn’t violate the constitution, it only violates RFRA — a congressional statute. Which, as Mycroft points out, can be trumped by a later congressional statute (though not by an administrative rule which is what is being proposed). So, if this analysis is correct, the hysteria over the alleged limitation of first Amendment freedom of religion rights which supposedly undermines American democracy is vastly misplaced to say the least.

  283. “as Tal previously agreed with me”

    “A memorable day. Like the Kennedy assasination, or 9/11.”

    le-havdil

  284. emma- We all agree that in some few cases, the state must step in to protect children against very harmful religious practices. You mentioned forced polygamous marriage of minors, and refusal to accept blood transfusions for children. However, some would characterize circumcision of infant boys in that category, and others would use similar logic to effectively ban kosher slaughter. In general, when the state forces religious people and institutions to act against their conscience without clear moral reasons, Jews should object. We should stand with others on the issue of preventing the state from requiring people to act against inoffensive religious principles, and others should stand with us on our issues. This is especially so when we share values (with Catholics), like objecting to having to provide “free” and easy contraceptives and abortifacients to young girls.

  285. Joseph Kaplan: When San Francisco was considering a ban on all male circumcision, the Jewish community throughout the U.S. reacted very strongly. Even though that law was facially neutral and probably passed muster under the Smith reading of the 1st Amendment. Was that “hysteria?” Or is that simply a matter of whose ox is being gored?

  286. >and how do you propose getting employers out of the healthcare business?

    Answer: Eliminate all tax deductions for employers to provide health benefits to employees; and eliminate most, if no all government regulation of medicine.

  287. We should stand with others on the issue of preventing the state from requiring people to act against inoffensive religious principles, and others should stand with us on our issues. This is especially so when we share values (with Catholics), like objecting to having to provide “free” and easy contraceptives and abortifacients to young girls.

    Two more examples of “neutral” laws that might interfere with religious values:

    1. I recently read that the province of Quebec is requiring in its curriculum for all schools that they learn about all world religions, with a prescribed curriculum.

    2. There have been repeated proposals to require private schools, as do public schools, to adopt a sex education curriculum, including topics such as AIDS, homosexuality and practice of birth control.

  288. Tal Benschar – Yes, the first issue went all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada, which sided with the Quebec government in requiring all schools to teach the mandatory ethics and religion course. Some parents (I believe Catholics) objected because they felt the schools would indoctrinate their children in other religions, or teach them that all religions and spiritual belief systems are equally valid. I believe that sex education classes have been mandatory in public schools for decades in Quebec. I don’t know if that’s the case for religious schools. But, since every private Jewish school in Montreal receives government subsidies, they aren’t exempt from provincial education ministry requirements. If a school takes no money from government, it can teach what parents want.

  289. … all religions and spiritual belief systems are equally valid OR INVALID!

  290. Reom statememt that certain clergy signed inclyding Rabbi Meir Soloveichik:
    “It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept an assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick.”
    The whole basisi of allowing charitable deductions to subsidise churches is an “accounting trick” letting people deducttheir contributions to a church is mathematically equivalent to the government sending a check forthe persons marginal tax rate times the amount contributed-yet the churches, synagogues etc have no objection to that “accounting trick”

  291. “And if the contraception rule does not pass muster with RFRA (and i think it does not although I recognize there are reasonable arguments on the other side), it doesn’t violate the constitution, it only violates RFRA — a congressional statute. Which, as Mycroft points out, can be trumped by a later congressional statute (though not by an administrative rule which is what is being proposed).”
    Agreed-but since regulations are given great deference-wouldn’t a major question be is the regulation a fair interpretation of the underlying statute-the statute which I assume is the basis for the rulemaking? Which I have no idea if it is or not.

  292. “Tal Benschar on February 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm
    Joseph Kaplan: When San Francisco was considering a ban on all male circumcision, the Jewish community throughout the U.S. reacted very strongly. Even though that law was facially neutral and probably passed muster under the Smith reading of the 1st Amendment. Was that “hysteria?” Or is that simply a matter of whose ox is being gored?”

    Obvious difference a ban on circumcision would be a ban on performancea religious requirement-the proposed rule would not require anyone to get an abortion or take birth control.

  293. Mycroft, maybe it’s OK with you. The simple fact is that some people have a problem with helping *other* people do “averot”. And that should be enough.

    Joseph Kaplan, citing the Supreme Court is not enough. Who says that *they’re* correct? The President and Congress also swear to uphold the Constitution.

    (George W. Bush once signed legislation- campaign finance- which he said was unconstitutional, but, hey, the Supreme Court would overturn it. That betrays a real ignorance of the Constitution. Just because John Marshall had an idea a couple of centuries back doesn’t mean the other branches- or private citizens- are exempt.)

  294. Obvious difference a ban on circumcision would be a ban on performancea religious requirement-the proposed rule would not require anyone to get an abortion or take birth control.

    The proposed rule requires employers to provide insurance to their employees that covers birth control. So, yes, it is a requirement to violate a religious principle, i.e. aiding and betting the sin of another.

    (Lehavdil elef alfei havdalos, there is a gemara in Sanhedrin 74b discusses a situation of aiding non-Jews in avodah zarah by giving utensils for use in idloatry, which they forcibly took from the local Jews on certain idolatrous holidays. The only reason why this is no yehareig v’al yaavor is that the gemara considers it “for their own benefit.”

    Point is, the notion that aiding someone else’s aveirah is itself an aveirah is an idea not foreign to us.)

  295. Tal – The elites don’t believe in sin. But, they do believe in pushing their values onto others, namely by mainstreaming sexual promiscuity. That’s why they want everyone to have “free” contraceptives, abortion pills, abortion on demand, etc. To some degree, these elites are insulated from the negative consequences of this. But, their policies have created legions of unmarried young mothers of children from numerous fathers, who have no choice but to become dependent on government welfare.

  296. I’m sorry if my previous comment was in bad taste. But, my point is that the legal provision requiring the Catholic Church and others to act against their religious conviction, is not accidental, but part of the larger culture war by modern elites against traditional and moral influences.

  297. “and how do you propose getting employers out of the healthcare business?

    Answer: ”

    Make a single payer sys-cheaper than our system and better life expectancy.

  298. “We should stand with others on the issue of preventing the state from requiring people to act against inoffensive religious principles, and others should stand with us on our issues.”

    Interesting word “inoffensive.” Lots of different interpretations.

  299. “Check out the following article by Spengler (David Goldman).”

    One of my conservative friends sent it to me earlier. I was overwhelmingly unimpressed.

  300. “Nachum on February 19, 2012 at 2:15 pm
    Mycroft, maybe it’s OK with you. The simple fact is that some people have a problem with helping *other* people do “averot”. And that should be enough.”

    NO COUNTRY lets everyone follow total belief in ones belief system-Does Israel let soldiers decide if they will obey orders to attend training sessions, to remove people from places thatthe soldier beleives should not be removed? Do I believe that it would be better policy to not have birth control mandate? Certainly I would prefer on a policy mandate to not have such a policy but that is not the issue.

  301. “Joseph Kaplan, citing the Supreme Court is not enough. Who says that *they’re* correct? The President and Congress also swear to uphold the Constitution.”

    Nachum. You make this statement as if you don’t understand — although you obviously do — that many intelligent people who have a deep understanding of American history and jurisprudence disagree with you. The fact that you hold the conservative position on this issue is one thing; pretending that it is the only, or even predominant, understanding of the constitution is another.

  302. “But, my point is that the legal provision requiring the Catholic Church and others to act against their religious conviction, is not accidental, but part of the larger culture war by modern elites against traditional and moral influences.”

    The Catholic war against married non-Catholics using birth control, thus imposing their religious beliefs ion others, existed long before any alleged cultural war by any alleged elites. Fortunately, thjeir political power has diminished.

  303. >Interesting word “inoffensive.” Lots of different interpretations.

    Joseph Kaplan: When Catholics don’t want to give out birth control pills or abortion pills, you may disagree, but it’s hardly offensive on their part. To categorize that as a war against married non-Catholics is hyperbole and disingenuous. Catholics have supported us on our issues (e.g. in the UK as described in Spengler’s article); why don’t we show gratitude and reciprocate? How can supposedly religious Jews insist on supporting the expansion of government control over people, promote abortion on demand, legitimate homosexual and libertine lifestyles, etc.? Do you forget we are living in exile (even in affluent corners of the USA), and that government power can be turned against us, and when other religions are suppressed, or the moral climate is soured, it becomes our problem?

  304. “When Catholics don’t want to give out birth control pills or abortion pills, you may disagree, but it’s hardly offensive on their part. To categorize that as a war against married non-Catholics is hyperbole and disingenuous.”

    I thought I was clear but I guess I wasn’t. I was speaking historically, when the Catholics had strong political power and they used it to force non-Catholics to follow Catholic doctrine by, for example, prohibiting the sale of contraceptives, even to married couples, in Connecticut (resulting, thank God, in the Griswold decision) and effectively eliminating divorce in, say, NY. They didn’t care about other peoples’ beliefs; they were very comfortable in imposing theirs on all. So I am skeptical; about their pious protestations that they simply want to protect their rights. I cannot, of course, prove it, but my feeling (yes, that’s all it is ) is that if they regained the power they once had they would prohibit contraceptives for all in a heartbeat.

  305. Way beyond the subject matter of this blog but I agree with Nachum that obviously the SC is not the only onesrequired to follow the constittution every judicial, executive and legislative branch memeber must follow the constittution. I also agree that the power grab by various Supreme courts is not found in the original constitution it was a power grab 199 years ago by Marshall.

  306. Joseph: I’m sorry for implying that you actively support the breakdown in societal values. I realize that you see Catholicism through a very dark lens. Still, it’s hard for me to understand your strong antipathy for modern day Catholics who share many good values with religious Jews. I am not aware that Catholics ever banned non-Catholics from divorcing. Did they really promote a ban on the sale of contraceptives in Connecticut? In any case, that’s history, and the days of Catholic power are long past. Jews have much more to worry about from the statists and atheists who would be happy to suppress all religion and destroy the traditional family. Catholics today are generally friendly to us, and we need to support them, even if only with words, as they are our allies in promoting moral values in an increasingly decadent society.

  307. “Finally, it bears noting that by sustaining the original narrow exemptions for churches, auxiliaries, and religious orders, the administration has effectively admitted that the new policy
    (like the old one) amounts to a grave infringement on religious liberty.”

    Not necessarily-it is very likely that the Obama administration despite still believing that they were correct in their original proposal felt in an election year it was not worth the fight.

  308. “I am not aware that Catholics ever banned non-Catholics from divorcing.”

    They made it very difficult by lobbying for general laws for divorce to happen-I still remember when NYS only allowed divorce for adultery-which of courserequired sham affairs byOrthodoxJews who wanted a divorce.

  309. Canuck, (btw, writing this from Toronto, I somehow wish you had a different alias :-)),

    I agree with much of what you say about Catholics. They are friendly to our community and we should reciprocate that friendship. But on this issue there are lots of competing values, including that of people who want to use, and are entitled to use, and who have medical reasons to use, birth control. And much of that use by married couples is far from decadent. That is why I felt uncomfortable about the original rule although I understood its purpose. And that is why I was happy the administration reconsidered its position and made the changes it did; changes which many in the more liberal Catholic community, including many heads of Catholic hospitals, understood was an accommodation to the Catholics and therefore endorsed. And that is why I was so disappointed in the reaction of the bishops and, even more so, the reaction of Orthodox groups and individuals (such as RMS). And when I saw that reaction, I could not help but remember the history of the Catholics using their political power in the ways I discussed earlier. There are competing values here, and competing values — if both actually have value which I believe is the case here — calls for compromise, and I also believe that is exactly what the administration did in this case and had their good faith effort thrown back in their face for, I also believe, political reasons among others. (I understand there’s a lot of “I believe” here; I put it up front and don’t shy from it.) We find compromises for blood transfusions for SDA and JW (they don’t have to agree to it; the courts just order it against their wishes) , and sometimes we insist that religious values have to be overridden (medical treatment of children of CS). Here, there was a real attempt at compromise recognizing the value of the competing values. That’s how societies endure. I’m sorry it has turned into such a blood bath here. But, IMO, the Orthodox leadership which has spoken here, while perhaps having good motives to help their Catholic friends (who I agree are our friends), came down on the wrong side of the debate.

  310. Joseph Kaplan on February 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm
    ““Joseph Kaplan, citing the Supreme Court is not enough. Who says that *they’re* correct? The President and Congress also swear to uphold the Constitution.”

    Nachum. You make this statement as if you don’t understand — although you obviously do — that many intelligent people who have a deep understanding of American history and jurisprudence disagree with you. The fact that you hold the conservative position on this issue is one thing; pretending that it is the only, or even predominant, understanding of the constitution is another”

    There is a different reason why the Supremem Court is important for better or worse our system has devekoped nto one where the Supreme Cts viewpoint of the law is followed by the body politic even if people believe they ruled outrageously see eg Gore vBush where the SC clearlyacted in a political manner to reward their preference but no one challenged the decision they are not followed because they are infallible they are followed for finality reasons.

  311. ” But, IMO, the Orthodox leadership which has spoken here, while perhaps having good motives to help their Catholic friends (who I agree are our friends), came down on the wrong side of the debate.”
    BTW how much was realy signed by major Orthodox Rabbis

    see names from
    http://www.becketfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Unacceptable2-15-12pm.pdf

    obviously RMS but who how many.

  312. Joseph: Funny you should reply to me that way. Of *course* people have a different position than me- the majority of the Supreme Court does (or did), obviously. I was asking *you* to see it differently.

  313. “Jews have much more to worry about from the statists and atheists who would be happy to suppress all religion and destroy the traditional family. ”

    I am unaware of any attempt to prevent the nuclear family from developing. Who in North America today is trying to suppress religion?

  314. “they are not followed because they are infallible they are followed for finality reasons.”

    There is a famous quote by Justice Jackson that the Supreme Court is not final because it’s infallible; it’s infallible because it’s final.

    “I was asking *you* to see it differently.”

    Sorry, I don’t.

  315. I cannot, of course, prove it, but my feeling (yes, that’s all it is ) is that if they regained the power they once had they would prohibit contraceptives for all in a heartbeat.
    Whether true or not, why is that relevant?
    . But on this issue there are lots of competing values, including that of people who want to use, and are entitled to use, and who have medical reasons to use, birth control.
    The issue at hand is not about birth control being barred. This is about a government mandating that private funds be used by a party to purchase an item they believe is morally offensive in the context of RFRA.
    If someone told me I had to support some group I profoundly disagreed with, say the Aryan Nation. I would be offended. And let’s say also I believed I was prohibited from doing so by G-d. That is the case we have here. What if we were required to purchase bacon and keep it in our fridge to help US agriculture. And lets assume all of this in the RFRA framework please. How does that work?

  316. Joseph: Asking you to recognize that others see it differently.

  317. I do understand that.

  318. “The issue at hand is not about birth control being barred. This is about a government mandating that private funds be used by a party to purchase an item they believe is morally offensive in the context of RFRA.”

    That’s how you may see the issue. I see it as yet another attempt by the Catholic church to impose their religious beliefs on others and make it more difficult for to obtain birth control. which is why I think my initial comment is relevant.

  319. >I am unaware of any attempt to prevent the nuclear family from developing. Who in North America today is trying to suppress religion?

    It’s not a conspiracy. It’s the result of several decades of Progressive policies. Public schools no longer teach religion or morals, and indoctrinate rather than educate; the vast majority of children receive substandard education. The media promotes a culture of drug taking and promiscuity. Welfare policies provide an incentive for single motherhood.

  320. Joseph: I hope you enjoy your Toronto visit. And, I understand your point of view. But, you must realize that the compromise was just an accounting trick, and many people are dissatisfied. The bigger problem is that the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” was passed into law without the public or even legislators knowing what was in the law. The law may not have been written with the intention of targeting any particular religion, but the effect is the same. Because there are far fewer Jews than Christians, our practices are at greater risk from state encroachment.

  321. I think “legal fiction” is more apt than “accounting trick”. Using indirection to create a legal fiction is well understood ground in Halacha.

  322. IH – Your term is apt. But, is there really any comparison between Torah or rabbinic legal fictions (like prozbul) and modern day lawa and regulatory decrees? As far as I know, prozbul didn’t impede on anybody’s freedom of choice. I understand we need to respect local laws and customs. But, what happens when they conflict with Torah law? Has anyone considered whether the health care decrees, being resisted by Catholics, are compelling Jews to break Torah laws?

  323. R Gil wrote in response:

    “Jon: He’s standing up for the principle of free exercise of religion because the next thing the government mandates could be prohibited by Jewish law”

    That would make perfect sense if Jewish sponsored hospitals in the US only fed their patients kosher food and were run in accordance with Halacha, as opposed to all sorts of regulations and policies that dictate patient care, length of stay,and follow up. That is why the comparison between the RC view on contraception, which should never be confused with that of Halacha, should not also be conflated with providing Kosher food to a patient. Like it or not, does not Halacha also debate and even permit, Bshaas Hadchak to shecht and feed a choleh basar nevelah?

  324. Jewish sponsored hospitals generally do not follow halakhah and would have no concerns. However, let’s say that the government required employers to pay for vasectomies, which are biblically prohibited for Jews. If the non-observant Jewish custodian at Yeshiva Chaim Berlin wanted a vasectomy, the yeshiva would have to facilitate the procedure through its insurance program even though doing so violates its religious principles.

  325. R Gil wrote:

    “let’s say that the government required employers to pay for vasectomies, which are biblically prohibited for Jews. If the non-observant Jewish custodian at Yeshiva Chaim Berlin wanted a vasectomy, the yeshiva would have to facilitate the procedure through its insurance program even though doing so violates its religious principles”

    That may very well be an apt comparison, but IMO, the analogy between what RCC affiliated hospitals ( which AFAIK do not take their marching orders from the Vatican on patient care) on contraception and hospitals under nominal Jewish auspices with respect to Kashrus, and a host of other Halachic issues, is IMO,a logical analogy that is highly questuionnable without getting into the “what if”,scenarios. I find it hard to believe that any nominally Jewish hospital would turn away a patient who had a medically indicated recommendation for a termination of pregnancy. On a more fundamental ground, while the RCC presents itself as the ally of the Torah observant world, we should always be aware of the many uniquely halachic differences and nuances that separate our views, and when such alliances are proper, as opposed to unwisely seeking political capital. Simply stated, we should not be ashamed of stating that our views neither are those of the RCC nor Planned Parenthood without jeopardizing any coalition based policies .

    One simple question-is there evidence of an additional cost in the insurance program or in other costs such as providing malpractice insurance for providing such procedures or is the objection simply that of halacha?

  326. the analogy between what RCC affiliated hospitals… and hospitals under nominal Jewish auspices with respect to Kashrus

    I don’t recall making that analogy.

    One simple question-is there evidence of an additional cost in the insurance program or in other costs such as providing malpractice insurance for providing such procedures or is the objection simply that of halacha?

    It is an objection based on religious principles — in our case, halakhah.

  327. Re the discussion of RFRA, and the constitionally mandated right of free exercise of religion, it is no secret that the same was almost overshadowed and eliminated by an undue focus on the establishment clause, which has generated probaly more litigation and results that have failed to proper guidance to courts, litigants and attorneys than any other clause of the Bill of Rights than the clause against unreasonable search and seizures.

    IF RFRA applies, as per the Supreme Court, solely on a national level, then Congress can and should amend the law providing that its protections were meant to apply to the States via the applicable clauses of the 14th Amendment-due process and equal protection.

  328. R Gil wrote:

    “the analogy between what RCC affiliated hospitals… and hospitals under nominal Jewish auspices with respect to Kashrus

    I don’t recall making that analogy”

    Prominent RC thologians have. It IMO is a mistake to accept the same as logically correct.

  329. It IMO is a mistake to accept the same as logically correct

    What if Shaarei Tzedek hospital, which functions according to halakhah, was in the US and was required by law to provide non-kosher food to any patient who asked (including Jews)?

  330. “then Congress can and should amend the law providing that its protections were meant to apply to the States via the applicable clauses of the 14th Amendment-due process and equal protection.”

    AIUI, Congress tried exactly that and the Supreme Court found that part of RFRA unconsitutional as a violation of the 14th Amendment. So, if my understanding is correct, maybe Congress should do that but it can’t do that.

  331. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “AIUI, Congress tried exactly that and the Supreme Court found that part of RFRA unconsitutional as a violation of the 14th Amendment. So, if my understanding is correct, maybe Congress should do that but it can’t do that”

    Thanks! Perhaps, the issue, as in the case of many major constitutional issues, will be revisited by the Court with a different composition and a different result. It would hardly be the first time for such a reversal in constitutional law.

  332. R Gil responded:

    “It IMO is a mistake to accept the same as logically correct

    What if Shaarei Tzedek hospital, which functions according to halakhah, was in the US and was required by law to provide non-kosher food to any patient who asked (including Jews)?”

    Such a “what if” is purely hypothetical in nature. I don’t even see it approaching the often invoked “slippery slope” argument in terms of reality in the US or a basis for a court challenge.

  333. To j Kaplan
    I agree with you on many issues here, including
    1) desirability of social policy of providing the coverage
    2) history of catholic church of not respecting religious freedom of others, and attempting to impose its vision of the good on general society
    3) religious freedom is not an an absolute, and competing values can trump it

    What I find deeply problematic, even with the compromise, is that the conflict between values is not an intrinsic one ( as say saving a JW child who needs a transfusion) – but is a political one, based not on the necessities of the desired social policy – but on the politics of how that social policy can be implemented today in Washington – clearly federal funding of the policy ( eg a network of fedearlly funded clinics a la planned parenthood) would not violate religious freedom

    . Yes, one can argue that the catholic church is not the best poster child for religious freedom – but in the end, the religious freedom of a large community is being deliberately infringed to promote a social agenda – not because such infringement is intrinsically necessary for that agenda, but because it is the most politically expedient way of achieving it – that is a dangerous precedent of sacrificing religious freedom for politics. Whether it passes constitutional or legal muster is beyond my expertise – but this is new ground…

  334. Meir, It’s really not such new ground. 9 states have such a mandate without a religious exemption (more states have it with a religious exemption). Interestingly, NH has had such a mandate since 2000 and, according to the Union Leader, religious groups did not object until last week. Wonder why.

  335. The precedent of state laws is different – because it isn’t clear that there was the same local awareness of the issue, nor the same large groups affected ( how large is Catholic institutional presence in NH?).
    Onthe Federal level, there was a clear awareness that there was an issue – and a decision that some rights Did not matter

  336. In 2006 Catholics made up 24% of NH’s population; the 13th highest state by percentage.

    And I think the compromise proposed by the administration, which the liberal Catholic community endorsed, shows that there is care about religious rights; no one is saying religious rights don’t matter.

  337. The media in the US, who are mostly hacks for the Democratic party, have done their job in focusing on the narrow issue of contraceptives and Catholics, to obscure the real discussion of whether the federal government has the constitutional right to control the health care industry. The media has succeeded in getting nice Jewish guys at Hirhurim to criticize Catholics, and invent a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo in defense of what their emotions tell them is a good thing. For what it’s worth, I believe that Obamacare is without doubt unconstitutional. But, being unconstitutional in theory has not prevented politicians and activist judges doing as they please in practice.

  338. I understand why many people like universal health care. In practice, though, it results in a lot of waste, inefficiency, and corruption, and rationing is always necessary to contain costs. Certainly state and local jurisdictions can experiment with universal systems. But, considering the enormous federal debt, even if the constitutional barrier could be breached, a federal system covering hundreds of millions of people is just unworkable and unsustainable. BTW, in Quebec’s socialized medical system (subsidized by Canadian taxpayers), it’s become common now for patients to hand doctors envelopes of cash in return for being pushed to the front of waiting lines; or give secretaries presents to expedite appointments.

  339. I meant to say it’s not uncommon for patients now to bribe doctors. It doesn’t happen everyday, but these stories have been popping up in the news lately, and on Facebook.

  340. Meir Shinnar wrote in part:

    “3) religious freedom is not an an absolute, and competing values can trump it”

    This statement IMO must be viewed in the context of the tension between the free exercise and establishment clauses in the First Amendment, as opposed to the vague statement that “religious freedom is not an absolute”. I would argue that this tension of competing constitionally enshrined concerns is a proper analysis, as opposed to degrading the same as absolute or not. Viewing such issues as whether they are absolute or not more often or not is the beginning of the discussion, as opposed to the answer of any answer to any such inquiry before the courts.

    More often than not, when pretexts such as zoning, etc, are offered as excuses or arguments against the building of a shul,yeshiva, mikveh or eruv, courts do not view the same as a sufficient legal basis to block the same. OTOH, courts have been wrestling with what actions on the part of the state constitute an an impermissible establishment of religion for decades on a case by case basis with no reasonable distinction as to what is permissible or not.

  341. For those interested in the text of the relevant por