News & Links

Print Friendly, PDF & Email



Court forbids Rabbinate ordination without exam
Happy 40th, ‘Free To Be…You and Me’
A Call to Jewish Service
World’s second-oldest Bible fragment posted online
Ziegler-Schechter split highlights Conservative divisions
Incoming Chief Rabbi appoints first female halachic adviser
Hi-tech match gets rabbinic nod
The first book on Jews and Christmas in America
SALT Friday

R. Bleich: Sales of Arms & Gun Control in Halakha
More data adds up to savvier fundraising for US Jewish groups
Jonathan Pollard’s Defenders Have Been Vindicated by Newly Declassified CIA Documents
J Brown: ‘Ub-u-sive’
In Jamaica, the Jewish future is in intermarriages and conversions
Google puts Spanish-Jewish heritage on the map
A Letter from R. Nathan Kamenetsky
SALT Thursday

Jacob Ostreicher Freed on Bail in Bolivia
Klal Perspectives: The Kiruv Issue
Whose Wall Is It?
Ukraine okays slur ‘zhyd’ for Jews
Jews Older Than Members of Other Faiths
Rabbis should support gun control
Jewish groups push for action on gun control
Dancing rabbis take NBA by storm
R Pruzansky: Dealing with Scandal
SALT Wednesday

As modern Orthodoxy dies in Israel, it thrives in New York
Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library
Rabbi battles Northwestern
Manhattan’s Upper East Side Sees an Influx of Syrian Jews
German law won’t stop debate on ritual circumcision
Clergy to be allowed to conduct funerals
Where Did the Gaon Go?
O.U. to address economic crisis on day schools
SALT Tuesday

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to be next UK chief rabbi

The pervasive violence in our midst
Stable census figures mask key changes among British Jewry
Orthodox Jewish All Stars
The Sheynest Punim of Them All
Was Nechemya Weberman on Trial — or Satmars?
AJC Turns Towards Israel, Global Advocacy
At London charity, Orthodox help wider community with job placement
Who will be the next chief rabbi of Israel?
Yale President Uncovers Family Lineage With Jesus-Loving Rabbi Soloveitchik
Yeshiva University: Statement from President Joel
Kindling the lights of diversity
The Weberman Trial
Impending US Supreme Court rulings highlight Jewish divide over same-sex marriage
At Hanukkah, rejoicing over peaceful victory for same-sex marriage
Germany passes new law to protect circumcision
SALT Monday

Prior news & links posts
Rules: link

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 of New Jersey, 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 and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazine and 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.

187 comments

  1. According to R. Yitzchak Schochet, the new Chief Rabbi of UK is R. Ephraim Mirvis: https://twitter.com/RabbiYYS/status/280749847894687744

  2. Mazal Tov to incoming CR Mirvis. Probably more consequential to world Modern Orthodoxy, however, is the next step CR Sacks takes, and what he will feel freer to say (or not) once his institutional shackles are removed.

  3. Anybody know anything more about Rabbi Mirvis? Is he to the left or right of Rabbi Sacks?

  4. left or right blah blah. odds are the important ways in which he will be different cannot be reduced to any such binary.

  5. In tragedy, an opportunity to learn about Jews other than ourselves. This is the story of the shul to which the family of Noah Pozner a”h belongs: http://www.congadathisrael.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53&Itemid=68

  6. (on second thought, apologies for the flippant tone, but i think my second sentence is still true.)

  7. IH – what does that have to do with the tea in China? Irrelevant. I don’t care which place of worship his family attended. This is a just a tragedy of tremendous proportions that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Having a child around that age myself, thinking about what went through the childrens’ minds at the time, when they heard what happened to the principal of the school on the PA system and hearing the gunshots, the sorrow is overwhelming. Let’s just hope that this will bring a ban on assault weapons and a making sure that the mentally ill who exhibit these kinds of issues are instituionalized once again to protect society.

  8. There’s no such thing as an “assault weapon.” Look it up.

  9. You’re right. I meant an automatic weapon, one that can fire many rounds at a time.

  10. “making sure that the mentally ill who exhibit these kinds of issues are instituionalized once again to protect society.”

    sounds like precrime to me. and a pretty inaccurate version at that. scary.

  11. MiMedinat HaYam

    emma — first of all ADA.

    second, he only had (according to press reports) autism.

    third, wait for the autism lobby to protest any action against autistics.

    as for “precrime”, these days, we continue to jail sexual abusers after they finish serving their sentence.

  12. Shades of Gray

    From the Portland Press Herald article:

    “While the Greeks looked much stronger, the Jews had a powerful weapon on their side: their hearts. A small group of people, homosexuals and their supporters, stood up for their equal rights in marriage”

    Not all of the Chanukah story fits in well with the theme of peace and tolerance, and specifically, the part about “hearts”(“and his heart was stirred”):

    “When Mattathias saw it, he burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him upon the altar.”

  13. Abba's Rantings

    HOFFA:

    “making sure that the mentally ill who exhibit these kinds of issues are instituionalized once again to protect society”

    would that have prevented this tragedy?

    NACHUM:

    “There’s no such thing as an “assault weapon.” Look it up.”

    says who? legally there is most certainly such a thing.

  14. Mmhy, Do you have information that there is an actual autism violence link? Bc if not why shouldn’t they protest? There are demographic characteristics shared by many such shooters – young white males. Perhaps we should be locking them up en masse just in case.
    The treatment of sex offenders is both unjust and counterproductive if you ask me. Certainly the broad sweep of the category sex offender is.
    It is comfortable to locate the problem in some already marginal group, the mentally ill, but it’s neither correct nor useful.

  15. Last anon was enma

  16. Abba: Yes, there is a meticulous legal definition of one that was crafted post-facto. “Assault weapon” means- I am not making this up- “Something that Chuck Schumer thinks is an assault weapon.” That then went to the staffers, who made something up to satisfy him.

    Hoffa, automatic weapons have been completely illegal in the United States since the 1920’s. Try again.

    Really, it would be nice if people would at least learn the basic terms before commenting on the issue as if they were experts on it.

  17. I don’t really understand the point Nachum is making about definition. The fact is that we had national legislation from 1994 until Congress allowed it to expire in 2004.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_weapon for the definitions.

    —–

    Nachum — are you arguing that because it is hard to legislate specifics such as working definition, we shouldn’t bother?

  18. Yishkon Lvetach

    Re: Rabbi Mirvis as new CR, he has proven very skilled at generating increased interest in Jewish learning, has helped cultivate a strong but diverse community in his current role, is renowned as a public speaker of eloquence, wit and warmth, is probably ever so slightly to the right of Lord Sacks, but overall is a man of integrity. He has been described as a safe choice, but in my opinion is simply the right choice.

  19. Invent a new word in order to ban weapons, redefine long-standing definitions to normalize homosexuality, quibble over the meaning of “is”…all the same folks.

  20. abba's rantings

    NACHUM:

    “there is a meticulous legal definition . . .”

    it is a definition that reflects a legal reality. you do realize that some guns are best suited for certain purposes, while other guns are best suited for different purposes? you don’t go deer hunting with an uzi or a pistol-gripped, sawed-off shotgun , and you don’t shoot up a school with a 5-round .30-06 bolt action.

    “automatic weapons have been completely illegal in the United States since the 1920′s. Try again.”

    this is simply false. try again.

    “Really, it would be nice if people would at least learn the basic terms before commenting on the issue as if they were experts on it.”

    no kidding. they should also better understand the relevant laws.

    “Invent a new word in order to ban weapons . . .”

    i own a handgun and 2 rifles. but i don’t think unrestricted sales of all classes of weapons should be legal.

  21. Apropos Nachum’s ersatz nostalgia for what used to be: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4321510,00.html

    <blockquote<If women will be part of the Shas and United Torah Judaism party lists, most ultra-Orthodox women will not vote for them – this is the argument haredi parties are using to explain the absence of women from their tickets which has been cited as grounds to disqualify them from the elections.

    They are also claiming that in the ultra-Orthodox community, segregation between men and women exists for "modesty purposes" and not out of discrimination. Each of the genders has a different "role" to play, they say.

    What criteria do you use, Nachum, to pick and choose what change in civic society is acceptable and what is not?

  22. “automatic weapons have been completely illegal in the United States since the 1920′s. Try again.”

    Perhaps you should try again. They are heavily regulated but there are about, according to the NRA, 150,000 legally owned and registered fully automatic weapons in the US.

  23. OK, OK: 1934. Happy?

    Now perhaps you can:

    1. Define “automatic weapons” for me.

    2. Tell me how many people have been killed by automatic weapons since 1934, and how many mass shootings they have been involved in.

    IH, I don’t have to respond to something phrased in such a condescending way. Or perhaps your “progressive” views make you, of course, far more enlightened than most of us an I *can’t* respond. Take your choice.

    I find the contrast between the OU article and the former Israeli’s paean to a school that gives free Ipads ironic.

  24. Gil: Thanks for the DSS link!

  25. Nachum — Tell you what. If you stop posting nonsense such as Nachum on December 18, 2012 at 8:21 am then I will not seek to point out the absurdity of your position. I have no issue with your being a compassionate conservative.

  26. emma – its the left that stigmatized mental health institutions. In the early 1960’s those who are extremely mentally ill were released based on the belief that medication could help or that the mentally ill were rebels against an oppressive ultra-conservative state. This mindset is exhibited with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” which protrayed Jack Nicholson’s character was a victim of a system. The result? Homeless living on the streets, unable to care for themselves (including mentally wounded Vietnam vets). Housing is not the answer. Institutionalizing people like Adam Lanza is. And yes, that would stop him from killing since he would be locked up.

    Nachum – you can use all the semantics on this. The fact is, and I part company with my fellow conservatives, is that gun control is necessary. We should be for controlling gun ownership of things like automatic rifles and the like. Will it stop gangbangers from using using guns? No. But it would have prevented Adam Lanza from getting hold of his survivalist mother’s guns and turning it on her and others.

  27. Nachum – you seem to focus on the least important part of the article (ipads) and the not the perceived differences between the two places. her conclusion is wrong (imho) but the observations and attitudes are not. but SAR is not the norm in america either. who has not been lamenting the death of mo here for the last x years?

  28. “Fully-automatic firearms, first introduced in the late 1800s, are those that, after firing a round of ammunition, automatically reload and fire again, performing this sequence repeatedly as long as their triggers are depressed and their ammunition supplies have not been expended.” (NRA definition)

    “Tell me how many people have been killed by automatic weapons since 1934, and how many mass shootings they have been involved in.” According to the NRA, none. But perhaps that’s because they are so heavily regulated. So, perhaps, if we more serious regulations of semi- automatic weapons and excessively large ammunition magazines like those used in the Newtown and Aurora massacres, there would be fewer of those tragedies.

  29. Yup, let’s run to renew the AWB so we can feel good about having addressed “the problem”. Let’s not consider that according to studies conducted by the CDC, the National Research Council, the US DOJ and a number of other studies, there was no evidence at all that the ban was effective in reducing gun violence. Just pass some meaningless legislation and go on with life.

    I always wonder why some of the very same people who are critical of every comment made by someone with a Rabbi before his name will uncritically accept every nonsense espoused by a politician with a D after his name.

  30. hoffa, you’d have to institutionalize hundreds of harmless people to catch each adam lanza. and even then you might miss him, if he was living relatively under the radar with his mother, who didn’t seem to mind. and frankly many of the ppl you would need to institutionalize are otherwise functional (eg college students, as we have seen in recent shootings). there is an article about this in the ny times from yesterday, i think, with rather compelling numbers on the inability to predict who will be violent, and the very minimal correlation between violence and most forms of “mental illness” (eg anxiety). not to mention that the widespread availability of involuntary commitment leads to lots of not-at-all-insane people being at risk of commitment by family members with ill motives, etc.

    and don’t just blame “the left.” there was a combination of fiscal conservatism plus a shift towards incarcerating rather than institutionalizing many of the same people.

    in other words, it’s complicated. see, e.g., the intro to http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/file/542-335-bh-incarceration_0.pdf on the larger trends at work.

  31. If anyone is interested in an understanding the issues beyond the memes: “An Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003 Report to the National Institute of Justice, United States Department of Justice” http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/research/aw_final2004.pdf

    The key findings and conclusions are pp. 1-3.

  32. “Appointed as chief rabbi of Britain’s largest Jewish organization, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is not revolutionary. But this could, in fact, work in his favor.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/britain-s-next-chief-rabbi-faces-divided-leaderless-jewish-community.premium-1.485648

  33. emma – that is one view on the contribution of fiscal conservatism (like E. Fuller Torrey – who also blames the left). From a social conservative view, deinstituionalization was part of a large movement to loosen morals and reject personal responsibility.

    As for involunatry committment, if we have a choice between what happened at Sandy Hook, and as I understand it either the mother wouldn’t or couldn’t get her son committed, or avoiding involuntary commitals, I will go with latter 10 out of 10. Your view is actually an extension of the deinstitutionalization (ie. avoid at all costs). While you can argue that few mentally ill commit such crimes, E. Torrey Fuller argues that 10% of homocides are committed by the mentally ill. Institutionalization of mentally ill who show signs of violence would decrease that thereby protect our society from these more preventable tragedies.

  34. MiMedinat HaYam

    emma — the only (known) mental issue adam lanza had was aspergers / social awkwardness. hardly a reason to institutionalize him. now, if his doctor (since mother wouldnt) and / or divorce atty / other divorce principals would have indicated something, he may have had another diagnosis.

    but a $250K yearly alimony (obviously designed as his “trust fund” income, too) would probably have prevented any serious action against him.

    even his college classmates (four years his senior) found nothing wrong, short of teenage immaturity. (are you advocating locking up all teenagers? even i sometimes feel that way, but …)

    as for “precrime” lockups, i may approve of it for sexual predators, but it sets a bad precedent. (like ppl who may want to lock up my friend’s son, who has autism.)

  35. mmhy, i am arguing _against_ hoffa’s apparent support of expanding involuntary commitment. so i think you and i agree?

    hoffa, exactly what standards are you proposing for commiting people? and how does sending someone away who hasn’t done anything wrong enhance “personal responsibility”?

  36. mmhy, in other words, i agree with your apparent implications that (1) there is no indication, that we know of yet, in this particular case that this person would have been a good candidate for even expanded commitment, (2) there is inherent inequity in expanding commitment that will allow those with more resources to commit/not commit their children with much more flexibility than the poor folks, (3) the general demonization of non-dangerous “weird” [people like those with autism is something that requires active pushback, and (4) lockingup enough people to measurably reduce these kinds of random crimes would require locking up perhaps the majority of (white?) males aged 15-25, at least…

  37. “At Hanukkah, rejoicing over peaceful victory for same-sex marriage” (piece in ME paper from MO spiritual leader there)

    I saw a short while ago that his brother, spiritual leader of the so called ‘national synagogue’ (a moniker they came up with as a marketing move a few years ago) in DC, has come out with a statement along the same lines – http://www.ostns.org/Recent_Dvar_Torah.php

  38. M: No worries! If the Maccabim (and R’ Aharon Lichtenstein) can be enlisted in favor of gay marriage, so can the Noam Elimelech.

    Similarity of language leads me to think they collaborated.

    emma, “budget cuts” are a myth. No budget ever gets cut, and blaming Reagan for things has gotten so old. See the middle of my post here:

    http://lammpost.blogspot.co.il/2004/06/recent-events-have-led-me-to.html

  39. “No budget ever gets cu”
    This is literally false, of course.

    I did not blame Reagan. I believe my exact words were “it’s complicated,” and I then referred to an article that talked about various factors, including _but not limited to_ “liberal” policies. Are you taking a position on involuntary commitment or just picking on minor details in my post?

  40. Re: correlation between declining institutionalized populations and increasing incarcerated populations, see e.g. http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~raphael/raphael2000.pdf others have done similar work, with similar findings, I believe.

  41. “But there is overwhelming epidemiological evidence that the vast majority of people with psychiatric disorders do not commit violent acts.”

    And there is overwhelming evidence, period, that the vast majority of people who own firearms do not commit violent crimes. So maybe we should stop focusing on guns.

    Emma: Granted, it’s a minor point. But the Federal budget has never stopped growing. “Cuts” in government-talk means cutting projected increases.

  42. “But the Federal budget has never stopped growing. “Cuts” in government-talk means cutting projected increases.”

    see eg from NYT
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/business/say-goodbye-to-the-government-under-either-fiscal-plan.html?hp

  43. “But the Federal budget has never stopped growing. “Cuts” in government-talk means cutting projected increases.”

    Wrong. 1902, 1905, 1911, 1912, 1916, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1927, 1933, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1954, 1955, 1965,…and 2010. Yup, government spending actually declined under Obama’s first budget compared to Bush’s last budget. (And that is total outlays, without budget tricks, or adjusting for inflation.)

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2013/assets/hist01z1.xls

  44. “there is overwhelming evidence, period, that the vast majority of people who own firearms do not commit violent crimes. So maybe we should stop focusing on guns.”

    There is overwhelming evidence, period, that the vast majority of youth counselors do not commit sex abuse. So maybe we should stop focusing on sex abuse. Let the few abusers run rampant over our children.

    There is overwhelming evidence, period, that the vast majority of insiders in corporations do not commit insider trading. So maybe we should stop focusing on insider trading. Let the few crooked executives steal from other stockholders with impunity.

    We could save a lot of money by not bothering to enforce any laws. There are places in the world where the government does not focus on enforcing any laws, like Somalia. Enjoy living there!

  45. Good bye to a good friend and a true hero. The nickname Trumpledor was well earned.

    http://forward.com/articles/167882/sen-daniel-inouye-friend-of-jews-and-israel-dies-a/

    KT

  46. “the Federal budget has never stopped growing”
    of course that doesn’t mean that particular programs have not faced actual “cuts.”

  47. Ahem. Charlie. Please stop setting up strawmen; please stop describing me as an anarchist. Under your logic, if we extend the gun metaphor, there would be a ban on youth counselors and a ban on corporations. Do we have that? Of course not. We have (or should have) screening for youth counselors and have reasonable restrictions on insider trading. (Although there is certainly a good case to be made, and it has been made, that insider trading should not be legal, only open. It goes without saying that Congress exempts itself from all such rules.) Screening for gun owners? Of course! Reasonable restrictions? Of course! The same for speech and the press, I suppose, although with no one’s life at risk the standard should be much stricter. But please don’t put words in my mouth or twist the ones I use.

    I wonder what “on” and “off” budget means, by the way. There’s a trick right there.

  48. Advice on those traveling to Latin America, from Jonah Goldberg’s father:

    “But one of my earliest memories is of us walking to Murray’s–I couldn’t have been much older than 7 or 8–when he stopped, and suddenly tightened his grip on my little hand and said to me, “Jonah, if you are ever pulled over by a policeman in a South American country, you must tell him ‘I’m sorry officer. I didn’t realize my mistake. Is there any way I can pay the fine right here rather than go down to the station house?’””

  49. So, Nachum, what actually is your point. Should all weapons be legally sold without any checks or restrictions?

  50. I heard on CFRB 1010 in Toronto this morning that the reason that Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother was because she was going to have him committed.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/19/adam-lanza-motive_n_2329508.html

  51. Adam Lanza is an example of a mentally ill child engaging in violent or near-violent behaviour that a parent or parents find it difficult to deal with. Institutionalization would help these mothers, though it seems the mother may have been doing just that and it lead to her death at the hands of her son:

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/12/16/jonathan-kay-there-are-other-adam-lanzas-out-there-just-ask-anarchist-soccer-mom-liza-long/

  52. “Should all weapons be legally sold without any checks or restrictions?”

    Of course not. There should be thorough checks. There already are. Clearly whenever something falls through the cracks- as may have happened here- we should learn the lesson and tighten things up so as not to repeat it.

    By the way, a woman- the head of a school, well-known- was arrested last week for praying not too far from the Kotel*, and there was not a peep from the press. Why all this focus on people who are trying to get arrested? I personally think that they should be left alone and there should be a big change in the administration and “rabbinate” of the Kotel, but they get together davka on Rosh Chodesh and think no one will notice?

    *Oh, I left out a key detail: It was on the Har HaBayit. Doesn’t count, I guess.

  53. There should be thorough checks. There already are. Clearly whenever something falls through the cracks- as may have happened here- we should learn the lesson and tighten things up so as not to repeat it.

    Perhaps one of those checks should be suitability for the stated purpose for owning the specific gun? And, perhaps there should be no easy bypassing of the check, like at gun fairs?

  54. “Adam Lanza is an example of a mentally ill child engaging in violent or near-violent behaviour that a parent or parents find it difficult to deal with. Institutionalization would help these mothers, ”

    Do you know any of “these mothers”? How many of them want to lock up their kids, and how many of are still hoping for the not-yet-extant humane “treatment” options that would allow their children to live normal lives?
    Do you know how many of such children whom mothers would want to commit actually end up hurting people? How low are you comfortable with the proportion going?

    Also, what do you say to the idea that giving parents such powers, even over legal adults, invites abuses (eg, commiting a child to hide inconvenient facts, like that she was raped by your nephew – see, e.g., Carri Buck (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_Buck, for starters))?

  55. Some of the loopholes that require we “tighten things up so as not to repeat it” have been known for years. E.g.

    Unfortunately, current federal law requires criminal background checks only for guns sold through licensed firearm dealers, which account for just 60% of all gun sales in the United States. A loophole in the law allows individuals not “engaged in the business” of selling firearms to sell guns without a license—and without processing any paperwork. That means that two out of every five guns sold in the United States change hands without a background check.

    Though commonly referred to as the “Gun Show Loophole,” the “private sales” described above include guns sold at gun shows, through classified newspaper ads, the Internet, and between individuals virtually anywhere.

    Unfortunately, only six states (CA, CO, IL, NY, OR, RI) require universal background checks on all firearm sales at gun shows. Three more states (CT, MD, PA) require background checks on all handgun sales made at gun shows. Seven other states (HI, IA, MA, MI, NJ, NC, NE) require purchasers to obtain a permit and undergo a background check before buying a handgun. Florida allows its counties to regulate gun shows by requiring background checks on all firearms purchases at these events. 33 states have taken no action whatsoever to close the Gun Show Loophole.

    So, Nachum, do you support closing these loopholdes NOW?

  56. Emma – you are ignoring the fact that while his mother may have wanted to commmit him, since he is an adult, in all likelihood she wouldn’t be able to. Tell me – if he was committed, would the children at Sandy Hook be alive today? Your empathy for the mentally ill and about some unusual case seem misplaced. All I know is that Adam Lanza could do what he did because current laws would not see fit to put him in an institution.

    BTW, I am not for the kind of situation where a parent is just able to claim violence and put the child in. There should be professionals who can assess a situation and confirm the parents’ version, but once it is determined, he/she should be locked away. Medications are not enough.

  57. Again, how many people who would not end up actually hurting people would end up “locked away” under your plan? How many are you ok with?

    Do you have any evidence that any plan with real safeguards to protect the non-dangerous from forcible institutionalization would make a measurable impact of violence, overall? “It would have made a difference here” is (1) not clear, and (2) not a good argument for a wide-ranging policy. As you yourself note in attempting to dismiss concerns based on “some unusual case,” policy has to reflect actual trends, not just anecdotes. (The Buck case is, by the way, not just “some unusual case,” but an extremely famous case, one that set the stage for mass sterliziations in the service of eugenics, and one that I chose just to illustrate the potential for abuse, not to say that all cases are like that…)

    Re: third-party verification, spend any time in commitment court as it currently exists and you will see that doctors get their way, basically always, with little regard for the legal standards already in place. Loosening those standards would _Definitely_ lead to even more commitments that are really for the “best interestS” (supposedly) of the commited person, not of society as a whole. and that raises _Serious_ liberty concerns.

  58. “R Pruzansky: Dealing with Scandal” – some valid points, some delusional (about himself), and some i wonder how to categorize like:

    “Victims who choose silence when they could prosecute have a moral obligation to remain silent when they can no longer prosecute.”

    “Today, we are operating in an absolutely reprehensible system in which victims choose not to prosecute, and then long after the Statute of Limitations has run and prosecution is impossible, they prosecute through the media – and anonymously to boot.”

  59. From R’SP:
    To give but the most recent example, the Israeli broadsheet Haaretz reported last month that I had come under fire for writing in this space about the “Decline and Fall of the American Empire,” especially some comments about the intelligence of the typical Obama voter. To their writing, I had come “under fire,” the congregation was in an “uproar,” the Board was meeting and letters was being circulated. The pressure on me was allegedly intense.

    But every single word was an absolute falsehood, an utter fabrication. Haaretz even contacted me before printing their story, and I graciously informed them that it was all untrue. There was no uproar, no fire, no Board meeting, no letter from the Board, no pressure – nothing. A complete invention. Less than a handful of people disagreed with what I wrote or said, which is likely a weekly occurrence, anyway.
    ===================================

    I assume what R’SP meant is that less than a handful told him they disagreed.

    2 thoughts
    1. It would be interesting to poll the congregation and find out what % agreed, what % disagreed and what % didn’t care
    2.My guess is that more than a handful disagreed with the content and style of the post. If I am correct, it is particularly ironic that it demonstrates a point that should have been made in this post as well imho, speaking truth to power should be done, but you know it ain’t easy (cue John and Yoko)
    KT

  60. Ruvie:

    You don’t think he has a point? What is the point of making allegations 30 years after the fact, when all the persons involved are either retired or working in a totally different context?

    (And especially if, as he claims happened recently, he told an alleged victim to go to the authorities and they declined.)

  61. Tal – i said he made some valid points in his posts about the matter but to say morally one just should shut up after statue of limitations or when they are no longer in the same capacity? it also seems from the story that some complained to the university and the reason this went public has as much to do about the university lack of action back then.

    tal, why the “especially” sentence? what does one have to do with the other. people are afraid to go public at the time or even years after an event.

    remember that 90% of the cases the accuser is correct. also, there is rarely a case that someone is falsely accuse 20 plus years later – usually false accusations are prompted by adults (in cases of custody or by other officials).

  62. There is some merit to the “if you chose to stay silent then, you have to stay silent now,” with several big caveats:
    -If you were a kid and you told your parents, who then chose to stay silent or not press too hard, it’s hard to argue that kid grows up he is bound by the parents’ mistakes.
    -If you were a kid who didnt tell anyone, it’s hard to argue that once you grow up and realize that you should have told someone, that you are bound by your confusion/shame/whetver as a child.
    -If it’s not something criminal, per se, but just creepy behavior that is or should be a fireable offense, it’s not at all clear why the criminal statute of limitations should be relevant.

    It seems to me that these three exceptions cover the majority of late-raised allegations.

    In the case of many of the recent allegations, they fall into the last category of creepy and fireable but probably not criminal, as RSP himself admits, so the whole “you should go to the police, and now” line is a bit of a red herring.

    It was scary to read “I reported some incidents to the local police last year – and the local prosecution – both of which investigated but were stymied because the victims refused to cooperate.” – even in teaneck?

  63. further, it seems the “real” scandal w YU is the administration (non)response, not the individuals accused. Institutional problems are not necessarily criminal, and likely to persist/pervade beyond specific incidents, so unless it is absolutely clear that nothing like this could happen again there is a good reason to take the institution to task as a deterent to acting the same way in the future…

  64. tal, why the “especially” sentence? what does one have to do with the other. people are afraid to go public at the time or even years after an event.

    I think you misunderstood my emphasis by using the word especially. I was trying to emphasize the word “recently.” 30 years ago, the norm was to hush these things up. Not so today. If today someone decides to keep quiet, that is their right, but it is unfair to then show up in 30 to 40 years and say, now I want to make an issue out of it.

    remember that 90% of the cases the accuser is correct. also, there is rarely a case that someone is falsely accuse 20 plus years later – usually false accusations are prompted by adults (in cases of custody or by other officials).

    What is the basis of your 90% statistic? How about the other 10% — do they have any rights? What is the basis for your assertion that false accusations 20 years after the fact happen “rarely?”

    Is it right to smear someone with no chance for him or her to defend themselves? Is any of that consistent with the laws of lashon hara*? That seems to be R. Pruzansky’s point which is valid.

    (Allowing for a parental exception as per Emma’s post. But even then, once you reach adulthood, the clock should start ticking. The recent YU scandals concern people who were in high school in the 1970s to early 1980s. That means today they are 45 to 55. That is alot of adult time to speak up.)

    Some years ago, there was a Secretary of Labor named Raymond Donovan. He was involved in some deep scandal and was criminally prosecuted. After much effort, he was acquitted. He then famously said, “Fine, I was acquitted. Now where do I go to get my good name back?”

    ____________
    *BTW, question, in the laws of lashon hara, what toeles is there in telling about abuse that happened 30 years ago when the persons involved are no longer in a position to abuse others?

  65. In the case of many of the recent allegations, they fall into the last category of creepy and fireable but probably not criminal, as RSP himself admits, so the whole “you should go to the police, and now” line is a bit of a red herring.

    I think you are reading this too legalistically. If my child’s teacher did something “creepy and fireable but probably not criminal” then I would complain, and loudly, to the principal, the administration, the school board, and DYFS, in that order. I certatinly would not wait 30 years, when both the teacher and the principal are retired somewhere to Yerushalyim learning in a kollel or whatever. I think there would be some unfairness in doing that, no?

  66. Tal – one of the accused – from what i read and know- did not commit any “sexual” crime (that is reportable) but falls under inappropriate and creepy behavior that the university did nothing about for decades while it had full knowledge.
    there were too many irrelevant (misdirection?) comments in RSP post while some valid points that really have nothing to do with the event(s) being discussed.

    in the end he cares more about the alleged accused abusers’ rep than anything else. Does RSP take the higher moral ground as a community leader when he states:

    “…it is politically correct to have sympathy for alleged victims. But the limits of my sympathy are tested when victims do not come forward and prosecute in real time – when the events occur – and instead wait for 20, 30 or even 40 years to come forward and do nothing more than besmirch the reputations of their alleged abusers.”

  67. Ruvie:

    Let me understand your position. It is moral to assume that anyone accused of abuse (or even something “creepy”) is for sure guilty, even if made by an anonymous source many years after the fact? We are to have zero concern for someone’s reputation who might be falsely accused (or even exaggeration)?

  68. Tal – the stats are available on the web. i just quoted from my recollection of articles i read.

    “In a study that looked at all reports of sexual abuse received by the Denver child protective services in 1983, child protective social workers reported that 53 percent of allegations were well founded, 24 percent didn’t have enough information to allow substantiation, 17 percent were made in good faith and involved a legitimate concern, but had other explanations, and 6 percent were probably false.28”

    “A good number of other researchers have found false allegation rates between 2 and 8 percent.”

    from wikipdeia:
    “Studies of child abuse allegations suggest that the overall rate of false accusation is under 10%, as approximated based on multiple studies.[1][2][3][4] Of the allegations determined to be false, only a small portion originated with the child, the studies showed; most false allegations originated with an adult bringing the accusations on behalf of a child….”

  69. Rabbi Ilann Feldman article for KP- great!!!

  70. Tal – it seems our religious world and leaders only cared – some still do – about someone’s reputation (usually a rabbi) to the detriment of children for eons. i objected to RSP’s statement that a victim of sexual child abuse has a MORAL obligation to shut up if its no longer prosecutable. when less than 10% of all accusations are false? the scandal here is YU’s inactivity as well as the actions.

    the question is how does one balance between a person’s reputation and child abuse of the past? As a community would you muzzle anyone who was abused given the stats? if the reputation deserves to be tarnished – should it?

  71. R’ Reader,
    About 40 years ago I heard R’ Shlomo Carlebach ask – so tell me, if you wanted someone to become religious, would you bring him to your shul on shabbos? The question has haunted me since.
    KT

  72. “the scandal here is YU’s inactivity as well as the actions.”

    exactly. while the individuals may have retired, YU still runs a high school…

  73. “once you reach adulthood, the clock should start ticking”

    I’ve seen nothing about a statute of limitations in halachah. Anyone able to refute? Abuse victims would seem to be entitled to compensation for one or more of the five types of damages and could go to beit din to do so at any time.

  74. “It goes without saying that Congress exempts itself from all such rules.”

    Earlier this year, Congress outlawed insider trading by members of Congress. Admittedly this should have been done in 1789 — members of the First Congress engaged in speculation on state bonds while the debate was going on as to whether to have the federal government assume the debts — but better late than never. Congress also declared that it must obey the Civil Rights Acts and set up an enforcement mechanism.

    “I wonder what “on” and “off” budget means, by the way.”

    It is indeed a trick. That is why I reported total outlays, without the trick.

    “Screening for gun owners? Of course! Reasonable restrictions? Of course!”

    And on that we are in agreement.

    “a ban on corporations”

    I’m not an expert on Seder Nezikim or Chosen Mishpat, but I’ve not seen anything in halachah that would permit limited liability, which is essential to modern corporations. There must be some workarounds to permit me buying stock in one. Anyone able to elaborate?

    “of course that doesn’t mean that particular programs have not faced actual “cuts.””

    And there have even been entire agencies that have been abolished.

  75. Joel,

    “About 40 years ago I heard R’ Shlomo Carlebach ask – so tell me, if you wanted someone to become religious, would you bring him to your shul on shabbos? The question has haunted me since.”

    Why? I’d have no problem bringing someone to my shul[s]. I’ve done it numerous times and many have become religious. All are charedi shuls with a minimal population of BT’s but lots of sincere ffb’s and they’ve been friendly and welcoming and it’s never been a problem. Why are you so haunted?

  76. I’ve seen nothing about a statute of limitations in halachah. Anyone able to refute? Abuse victims would seem to be entitled to compensation for one or more of the five types of damages and could go to beit din to do so at any time.

    Did anyone go to beis din with such a claim? Or did they go to the press?

  77. Gun discussion seems to be over, but one thing to IH: When something is a right, it’s not your responsibility to explain why you want to exercise it. I can publish a newspaper without explaining why. It’s up to the government to explain why I *can’t,* and the standard should be pretty high. Of course, I’m mostly a libertarian, and believe that about lots of things. Others have a more restricted view of freedom.

  78. I don’t see this as a major issue. The two thus accused are alive, active and in a position to defend themselves. Also, their employment history lends credibility to the accusations — sufficiently, for YU to mount an investigation of its part.

  79. Nachum — I don’t disagree, which is why I was exploring the parameters with you rather than engaging in the polemics.

  80. I don’t see this as a major issue. The two thus accused are alive, active and in a position to defend themselves. Also, their employment history lends credibility to the accusations — sufficiently, for YU to mount an investigation of its part.

    Given that there is no court case, criminal or civil, secular or beis din, anywhere, what exactly do you expect them to do to “defend themselves?” (Not to mention that I think at least one is rather elderly at this point.)

    As for YU, sure it should conduct an investigation, certainly of its own conduct.

  81. Tal – i think that betei dinim have been so discredited to the point where no one would have a hava amina to ever go to one in these type of cases. they have no power anyway.
    separate issue – how often do mo folks go to batei dinim for anything? after all dina d’malchuta dina – whether with the original intention of the gemera or not.

  82. Tal — many issues are settled in the court of public opinion. Such is life.

    As for defenses — credible and plausible explanations. Have you seen any?

  83. Ruvie: I didn’t raise the issue of a claim al pi halakha, someone else did. (Interesting question whether you can bring suit many years after fact. Never thought of it — anyone know any halakhic sources?)

    IH: yes, the court of public opinion rules many things. And R. Pruzansky makes a valid point that in that court room, much less credibility should be given to someone who says they were abused 40 years ago than to someone who says they were abused last year, or even a 22 year old who says he was abused in high school.

    Not to mention that the hetter to speak what is lashon hara — a toeles — is greatly diminished in such cases. (Only good answer I have heard is Emma’s, i.e. that the institution, which goes on, is in need of reform. For that you don’t need to reveal names, just the name of the institution.)

  84. Tal – “As for YU, sure it should conduct an investigation, certainly of its own conduct.”

    would they have if it wasn’t so public now? another reason why RSP’s post misses the mark.

  85. As for defenses — credible and plausible explanations. Have you seen any?

    I have no idea if there are any, but if there are, you can bet that the people involved will not be speaking to the press. They would have to be insane to do so.

  86. would they have if it wasn’t so public now?

    Did someone go to Richard Joel, ask for a meeting, and lay it all out? I think if your interest is in reforming YU, that would be your first step. (If they did, I will stand corrected.)

  87. They would have to be insane to do so.

    Why? There is no criminal danger, as far as I understand. And the Jewish Week piece I linked shows an example of where the stench is allowed to seep out and color public opinion:

    It’s hard to pin down the chronology of the door removal all these years later when former officials are deceased or not responsive to such inquiries, but it’s certainly a powerful statement about the lack of seriousness given to the many stories of Finkelstein’s alleged abuse.

    The lack of any plausible explanation, or denial, is telling indeed.

  88. Tal – not sure but certainly prior to richard joel. although the person wrote a letter to joel. reforming? please don’t be naive. only scandals reform it seems. not saying its right but that creates change. can you show any reforms on child abuse that didn’t involve an embarrssing scandal? lanner for instance? how long did that farce go on before the secular courts took care of it?

  89. All are charedi shuls with a minimal population of BT’s but lots of sincere ffb’s and they’ve been friendly and welcoming and it’s never been a problem. Why are you so haunted?
    ==============================================
    R’ Ilan Feldman’s piece in Klal Perspectives describes a lot of the reason.
    KT

  90. Arguably lots of schools have reformed somewhat, to the extent that you would not expect them to handle the same case with the same level of under-rug-sweeping, even without a scandal at that particular school. More like enough scandals somewhere else keep everyone on their toes. As everyone acknowledges, ppl are just “more sensitive to these things” now. So while I did advance the idea that there is a toeles in exposing YU’s bad handling to prevent future bad handling, there is also an argument that the new generation of educators in charge would have handled a repeat differently even w/o the scandal.

  91. FM on RSP: same sentence that bothered me seems to bother others as well

    “Pruzansky thinks media rely on “anonymous” allegations. But that is rarely, if ever, true.

    I won’t do a post on an alleged sex offender unless I have documentation. That might be court documents or an on-the-record victim combined with some other documentation corroboration. Newspapers and television stations have similar standards.
    Victims of child sexual abuse suffer a type of trauma that makes coming forward very difficult. This is documented in criminal justice and medical literature.

    Yet Pruzansky frames their decision to stay silent or delay reporting as some type of selfish vindictiveness, rather than what it really is – damage from a specific type of trauma…….

    So to blame victims for not coming forward soon enough is at best disingenuous.

    But this misses the logical failure of Pruzansky’s main point.

    If reporting child sexual abuse is pekuakh nefesh as Pruzansky claims, then child sexual abuse must be treated as similar crimes – murder, for example – would be treated.

    There is no Statute of Limitations for murder, and there is a move to try to make that the case for child sexual abuse, as well.

    Past that, there is no Statute of Limitations in halakha at all, as Pruzansky surely must know, further weakening his argument.

    His claim that because neither Finkelstein or Gordon are currently teachers, the need to tell the public that they allegedly sexually abused children has been removed because their access to children ended with their teaching jobs is, quite frankly, insane. Their access to children may have changed, but it has not ended.”

  92. Emma- I hope so – but not 100% convinced till we see a real case in action. The new generation of educators seem not able or intersted to handle old cases before their time till its in the papers.

    The source for my post above- did not quote all of it:

    http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2012/12/victims-who-choose-silence-when-they-could-prosecute-have-a-moral-obligation-to-remain-silent-when-they-can-no-longer-456.html

  93. All of the kiruv responses in Klal were worth reading, but IMO, it was important that all of the respondents recognized the importance of Kiruv,and basically reminded all interested readers that a person by person, mitzvah by mitzvah approach-regardless of the age-is a far better modus operandi than “selling” Judaism like toothpaste .

  94. The issue in the wake of Newton that noone is talking about, as opposed to the issue of gun control,is the very similar acts of horrendous criminal conduct by persons with mental illnesses, who due to a societal overreaction to the horrors of Willowbrook, etc, we no longer have the means legally to determine who can and should be on the streets, and a very violent contemporary culture that is fixated on instantaneous gratification as a solution to all issues. Banning assault rifles is not a cure for a society that has other many elements of toxic culture that are permeating just below a boiling point.

  95. …due to a societal overreaction to the horrors of Willowbrook, etc, we no longer have the means legally to determine who can and should be on the streets…

    Unfortunately, the facts don’t align with the meme. Only about 4 percent of violence in the United States can be attributed to people with mental illness.

  96. “due to a societal overreaction to the horrors of Willowbrook”

    We had been emptying out psychiatric hospitals years before the horrors of Willowbrook were exposed.

    “we no longer have the means legally to determine who can and should be on the streets”

    We do have laws that determine when someone can legally be on the streets. I have personally reported someone to the police as a danger to themselves (based on an Internet threat) and the police responded appropriately.

  97. steve, what standard would you propose for institutionalizing people?

  98. Anyone who votes for a Democrat for starters 🙂

  99. “Only about 4 percent of violence in the United States can be attributed to people with mental illness.”

    Nu, and less than 3% of homicides last year were committed with rifles. You propose to ignore one sort of “loaded weapon” and focus on a *less* dangerous one.

    “Anyone who votes for a Democrat for starters :-)”

    No, no, IH: The Republicans are the Stupid Party. You know what the Democrats are in that equation…

    “An Israeli S’phradit plot?”

    Huh. I thought I married an American Ashkenazi Olah.

  100. From all those kiruv articles it came across that there is no agreement on who the prime market should be, how to best reach them, how to measure success and how to triage resources to be allocated there vs. other community uses. Sounds very free market to me.

    I was particularly struck by R’ j Rosenblum’s comment:
    “I DO NOT MEAN TO ARGUE that everything is so hunky-dory in kiruv that we need not bother measuring the success of various kiruv efforts. I do believe, however, that a great deal of energy is currently wasted massaging numbers to satisfy donors, and that many workers in the field ignore their own best instincts in favor of programs that generate “measurable outcomes”.

    There is virtually no area in which the Torah world would not benefit from a great deal more hard data, and kiruv is no exception. It is not a static field. The opening of the gates of the FSU in the early ‘90s, for instance, brought into play an entirely new demographic and mandated a reallocation of communal resources. It did not take a weatherman then to know which way the wind was blowing. But there are more subtle shifts in the responses of different population groups to kiruv efforts that require more sophisticated statistical analysis. (I, for one, am convinced that kiruv efforts in Israel offer greater potential return on the kiruv dollar.)”

    If you accept that kiruv (or religious enterprise in general) is “lmaaleh min hateva”(not subject to usual rules of nature), then measuring anything is a waste. If however you think that there might be some wisdom to be gained by seeing (OK I’m biased) if banging your head against the wall is the most effective way to get results, measuring outcomes makes sense. Of course measures may change over time and people (who generally are not lmaaleh min hateva) may game the system, so you need to keep adjusting (ever work in the compensation and rewards field?)

    The real killer is “There is virtually no area in which the Torah world would not benefit from a great deal more hard data, and kiruv is no exception” – i’ve mentioned many times that this gap exists but no one seems to want to address it-is it cost , organization ,fear of the results…?
    KT

  101. Huh. I thought I married an American Ashkenazi Olah.

    To shul. Cool!

  102. …hard data…

    R’ Joel — as far as I am aware, even the OU doesn’t publish hard data about dues-paying members (at both the institutional level or the individual level) and it’s membership trendline. And this is from an organization that falls into http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=105445

  103. Interesting piece in National Review that may have resonance for those who opine about the evils of Feminism: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/335996/newtown-answers-nro-symposium#

  104. Oh, not to shul.

    Reminds me of an episode of Srugim when one of the characters tries quoting R’ Ovadia at a female usher at the Kotel to convince her that her friend doesn’t have to cover up her panted legs. Doesn’t work, of course, much like the incident in the “Wall” article above.

  105. Hashgacha pratit that my rant on data is followed by R’ Gil posting the Times of Israel piece on using data for fundraising? BTW no surprise that the first users are financially driven (cue Willie Sutton on banks)!

    KT

  106. Among such resources largely untapped by the Orthodox community as I understand, is: http://www.ujafedny.org/sldp/. Click on the first teleconference, Vison and Data — one of the panelists is the founder and CEO of Measuring Success (the company mentioned in the linked article).

  107. judy brown’s article on abuse and the ultra orthodox community in light of the weberman case: the following can also be applied to the YU scandal in the mo world (also its a response to RSP post- a person who doesn’t understand):

    “For decades, victims of sexual abuse have had to pay dearly for the community’s denial. Those victims are now grown. They speak out in different ways, and it is the community that now, too has to pay a price for its denial.
    The community members don’t get to choose the price. They don’t get to decide what victims should to do with the trauma they’ve created. After years of brutalized silence, victims will speak as loudly as they need to.”

  108. Mormon women under fire for deciding to wear pants to church instead of skirts: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/us/19mormon.html?ref=us

  109. Yesterday, in a discussion with Tal, I talked about a stench that was seeping out due to the lack of any plausible explanation or denial of the charges. The stench is getting worse and worse, and more and more people seem to be implicated in trying to cover it up: http://forward.com/articles/168012/yeshiva-officials-rabbis-knew-of-alleged-abuse/?p=all

    To me, it keeps coming back to the lack of transparency and the false sense of security among the leadership that results from living in their cocoon.

  110. re: the forward article IH just linked,
    the responses from several rabbis dovetail nicely with rabbi pruzansky’s. they are turning their position of “abuse victims should go to the police” from a shield against abusers into a sword against victims. it places personal responsibility on any victim who does not go directly to the police, absolving rabbinic authorities who become aware of allegations…

  111. The irony is (for those of us of a certain age) is that one major lesson of watergate was that it always gets out, the coverup is usually much worse than the original sin.
    KT

  112. R’ joel – as more info comes out about how many when to the heads of the institution – including its rabbis – the scandal becomes not the abuse but rabbinic and administrators inaction and callousness. Still the focus is more on individual but the story is still young.

  113. “the scandal becomes not the abuse but rabbinic and administrators inaction and callousness. Still the focus is more on individual but the story is still young.”

    i read the initial forward story as putting forward that angle already. the big shockers, and new info, were what rabbi lamm said. the alleged behavior of the principal was bad but not jaw-dropping, and the allegations were not new – only the comments from rabbi lamm were.

  114. emma – it has gone from inappropriate occasional wrestling to something more. pulling kids out of class to wrestle….small infractions — have to wrestle… the kids(now not 2 or 3) feel it was of sexual nature because of a certain physical feature. this am i heard from a victim of “i love you” and kissing on the neck. it seems more predatory than innocent “wrastling”.

  115. It’s not innocent but it’s also not, say, rape. Seems to me in the gray area between creepy and criminal, and seems very related to the decidedly non-criminal allegations of “emotional abuse” like threats, etc.

  116. emma- is sexual abuse only rape? this is beyond emotional abuse (but included) and maybe criminal.

  117. (PS – I don’t mean to sound callous, or like the infamous psak re: another abuser. I am not saying that anything short of rape is not serious, but the broad category of “sexual abuse” glosses over serious differences, and an intelligent conversation can’t lump it all together. These alleged incidents just don’t sound like the sort of thing that usually, say, destroys a victim’s psyche or send them into years of therapy, and it doesn’t sound like the victims are saying otherwise. They are mostly saying “he was a creep, he abused his power and physically attacked me, and no one cared.” That’s a big deal, but it’s not “he ruined my ability to have a successful romantic relationship for years,” say.)

  118. (ruvie, I wrote my last comment before i saw yours, ftr.)

  119. Without prejudice to new information that may emerge, I continue to believe the crux of both what he was doing – and why it was covered up – was homoeroticism. In the latter years of these incidents, it would also have also reasonably been viewed as abuse — but, the coverup was already ongoing…

  120. emma – i understand your point but i disagree as new details come out. it seems to be of a predatory nature and sexual abuse. as one victim said to me you don’t understand how bad it was (emotionally)unless it happened to you. as far as the effect on the kids – we just don’t know the details of their lives. btw, by your definition would a flasher be just creepy and nothing more? can’t we take the victims at face value at this point?

  121. Also the things alleged now are covered under NY Penal law and could have led to a period of incarceration.

  122. agree re: wait and see. i was responding to what i read so far.

    “by your definition would a flasher be just creepy and nothing more? ”
    It’s not “my definition” that matters so much, since i think flashing is generally a crime. In contrast I don’t know whether the alleged acts here are criminal or not. Even you say “maybe.” that’s why i called them in the gray are a between creepy and crime. I don’t see that as not taking the victims at face value. And creepy is bad.
    But anyway, if your gross uncle flashed your kid would you call the cops or just stay away from him/handle it “in the family”? Do you believe that it could be legit to handle that case differently than a gross uncle accused of rape?

  123. In contrast I don’t know whether the alleged acts here are criminal or not.

    Concerning NYS law:

    A Class A misdemanor can lead to up to 1 year in jail. A Class B misdemanor can lead to up to 3 months in jails.

    S 130.52 Forcible touching.
    A person is guilty of forcible touching when such person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person; or for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire.
    For the purposes of this section, forcible touching includes squeezing, grabbing or pinching.
    Forcible touching is a class A misdemeanor.

    S 130.55 Sexual abuse in the third degree.
    A person is guilty of sexual abuse in the third degree when he or she subjects another person to sexual contact without the latter`s consent; except that in any prosecution under this section, it is an affirmative defense that (a) such other person`s lack of consent was due solely to incapacity to consent by reason of being less than seventeen years old, and (b) such other person was more than fourteen years old, and (c) the defendant was less than five years older than such other person.
    Sexual abuse in the third degree is a class B misdemeanor.

  124. S 130.60 Sexual abuse in the second degree.
    A person is guilty of sexual abuse in the second degree when he or she subjects another person to sexual contact and when such other person is:
    1. Incapable of consent by reason of some factor other than being less than seventeen years old; or
    2. Less than fourteen years old.
    Sexual abuse in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.

  125. pps – if the scandal is really yu’s reaction, i don’t think that it really matters whether something was criminal or “just” creepy (some crimes are creepy too, obvs). there are many things that are fireable but not criminal, and probably some things that are criminal but not (imo) fireable.

  126. MiMedinat HaYam

    to be a little blunt here — what do you want YU / Joel to do? fire the employees involved? create a trust fund for abuse victims? issue a big public statement condemning past actions? that will continue allegations of what amounts to excessive horseplay (that may have been within the realm of normality at the time), that everyone will interpret to mean YU involvement with actual sexual molestation? or dubious (at the time) allegations of sexual molestation which the norm at the time by ALL institutions was to ignore?

    and has anyone verified the veracity of “anonymous” (short of one newspaper with an “unfriendly” reputation? (a court of law will NOT look into “veracity” issues.) you cant expect YU to do that, for PR reasons.

    as for a bet din, what is the claim to a bet din? a statement of aplogy? that is not a bet din issue. (besides, the accusers will not accept a negative (or a non 100% forcefully positive) decision.)

    statute of limitations — gives an accuser X years from the time he becomes 18. so that is over now. as for bet din, there is no statute, but its harder to prove old issues.

  127. MiMedinat HaYam

    take back accusers comment — i see there are 14 more accusers. now seems entirely plausible. but tone of my comment remains.

    as for “take off door” comment — a principal of another high school davens in my shul. he was accused of molestation, and the testimony of teachers in his school that he NEVER closed the blinds in his “open office” arrangement was denied to the jury, cause the judge said it was “irrelevant”, since it contradicted the accuser (who had undergone psychological treatment, which admission was also deemed irrelevant. thus unavailable to a bet din, by the way.)

  128. At the very least, YU has issues of governance and transparency. They announced yesterday that “a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees is working with the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell as outside counsel, who is assisting us in investigating the allegations and consulting with nationally recognized specialists in this area to review our policies and procedures.” This the same firm they used for the post-Madoff financial governance issues.

    But, the ramifications of this sordid story are now bigger than YU. Note Emma’s trenchant observation at 11:45 am.

  129. On a different news story, Steve often complains of the lack of a modern Jackson-Vanik amendment as a symbol of Democrat failure.

    We now have one. ““Today, we close a chapter in U.S. history,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), one of the prime movers of the Magnitsky bill, said during the debate on Jackson-Vanik. “It served its purpose. Today, we open a new chapter in U.S. leadership for human rights.”

    And even The Guardian, gasp, supports it: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/20/putin-russia-us-relations

    How about some ha’karat ha’tov, Steve?

  130. IH wrote:

    “Unfortunately, the facts don’t align with the meme. Only about 4 percent of violence in the United States can be attributed to people with mental illness’

    What about the massive scale acts of violence such as Columbine, Colorado Springs, etc?

  131. IH wrote:

    “We now have one. ““Today, we close a chapter in U.S. history,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), one of the prime movers of the Magnitsky bill, said during the debate on Jackson-Vanik. “It served its purpose. Today, we open a new chapter in U.S. leadership for human rights.”

    And even The Guardian, gasp, supports it: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/20/putin-russia-us-relations

    How can compare a list requiring a mere listing of undesirables with a law that had real teeth in it and was one of the causes of the collapse of Communism?

  132. IH wrote:

    “Tal — many issues are settled in the court of public opinion. Such is life.”

    As former Secretary of Labor Donovan observed after being acquitted, that is the issue-even if one wins the legal battle, where does one go to regain his reputation?

  133. Sec’y Donovon’s comment was poignant but, ultimately, unconvincing. What does it really mean? We shouldn’t try anyone for crimes because sometimes innocent people are indicted and tried? And the answer to his question is that many people who are tried and found not guilty do regain their reputation; that may be what IH means by settling things in the court of public opinion. But that court, like all courts (including Jewish courts) is not perfect. But then again, life isn’t perfect.

  134. Steve b. – do you agree with RSP remarks that the victims morally should be silent and let bygones be bygones ?
    Would Lanner have been stopped without people speaking out in the press?

  135. “What about the massive scale acts of violence such as Columbine, Colorado Springs, etc?”

    again, steve, what exactly would you propose to _do_ about “the mentally ill” even if they are disproportionately represented in a certain kind of violence?
    btw, there are other demographic characteristics shared by random mass shooters – middle class white boys…

  136. “As former Secretary of Labor Donovan observed after being acquitted, that is the issue-even if one wins the legal battle, where does one go to regain his reputation?”
    Acquittal means “not proven” that the charge was not unanimously proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It is very likely that many or even all might have believed the person did x but just did not have proof BARD.

  137. Hey Americans posting here 🙂

    Whaddya think of the possibility that Chuck Hagel will be your secretary of defence? Isn’t that further proof that Obama never wants to be seen as clearly in favour of Israel? I mean, as I read, if Brent Scowcroft and Jeremy Ben Ami are supporting him, that is definately not a good sign.

    Just want your take on the matter (Baruch Hashem we in Canada have PM Stephen Harper and don’t have deal with such shtus).

  138. Regarding World’s second-oldest Bible fragment posted online:

    Gil — What do you make of the textual differences between the Nash Papyrus and the Masoretic Text? (ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_Papyrus)

    Have your views evolved closer to Prof. Schiffman (“Indeed, we now know that many textual variants result not only from transmission, but from interpretation and linguistic updating, phenomena that, before the discovery of the [Dead Sea] scrolls, could not have been understood.”)?

  139. “World’s second-oldest Bible fragment posted online”

    iirc it’s not a bible fragment but rather a sheet that contains bible texts. and of course for our purposes its not masoretic. fascinating nonetheless.

  140. IH: Have your views evolved closer to Prof. Schiffman (“Indeed, we now know that many textual variants result not only from transmission, but from interpretation and linguistic updating, phenomena that, before the discovery of the [Dead Sea] scrolls, could not have been understood.”)?

    Wasn’t that precisely R. Chaim Heller’s point in his extensive writings on the subject? That’s why he said we cannot prove anything from the Samaritan text or various translations.

  141. Joseph Kaplan:

    ” What does it really mean? We shouldn’t try anyone for crimes because sometimes innocent people are indicted and tried?”

    the truth is that some crimes (or rather criminal allegations) ruin a reputation more than others. a slew of unpaid parking tickets will not irreparably ruin a reputation. raping little boys will no matter what. even if proven innocent, would you take a chance with your own little boy?

    now of course it is telling which crimes someone considers reputation ruining, that they use the argument in calling for sweeping it under the carpet, and which crimes they are willing to shrug off and say “big deal, its just . . .”

    (ftr, we are in agreement about the general point about the need to report these abuse crimes. i’m just making some obervations.)

  142. Abba — not so simple because the text accords with the Talmudic understanding that Aseret ha’Dibrot were originallty part of the liturgical Kriyat Sh’ma (see R. Freundel’s Why We Pray What We Pray pp. 31-43 for a useful summary of all the sources).

  143. Gil — I haven’t read R. Chaim Heller on this subject, so I’m afraid I don’t understand your response.

  144. “Wasn’t that precisely R. Chaim Heller’s point in his extensive writings on the subject? That’s why he said we cannot prove anything from the Samaritan text or various translations.”

    yes. these translations incorporated midrash etc.
    the retort is that we have nash papyrus, dead see scrolls, etc. but there are no first-century “masoretic” bibles. personally i see this as argumento ex silencio. dead sea scrolls found by chance. who knows what else is out there to be found by chance.

  145. IH: R. Chaim Heller’s view was that we cannot prove anything from the Samaritan text or various translations (or midrashim) because they inserted interpretations into their texts. And he tried to prove it with extensive examples.

  146. “(Baruch Hashem we in Canada have PM Stephen Harper and don’t have deal with such shtus).”

    You had Lester Pearson who won a Nobel Prize for pressuring Israel after Sinai Campaign. Of course, you had Diefenbaker who has aJNF Forest named after him-near Rte 1 between TA and Jerusalem.

  147. Joel,

    “R’ Ilan Feldman’s piece in Klal Perspectives describes a lot of the reason.”

    Assuming he’s right, of course. Problem is that he’s off the mark. I, and many others in the field of kiruv, have found exactly the opposite to be the case. We have found frum shuls to be very receptive and welcoming to potential BT’s and the communities are equally welcoming. If anything, frum communities are better prepared to host potential BT’s than ever before. Every Charedi shul today has some Chumashim and Siddurim in English along with many other sefarim – this was not the case 20 years ago. All of us know and affiliate with BT’s so there’s common ground and the ability to relate. Many more people in frum circles have college degrees today than 20 years ago. The internet has opened up the world for many FFB’s.
    In a nutshell – Rabbi Feldman is entitled to his opinion and you to yours, but from firsthand experience I can tell you that Rabbi Feldman’s sentiments are not universally shared by many in the world of kiruv.

  148. Gil — It seems evident that there were some textual variants, most minor, that indicate several mesorot that were eventually unified in the Masoertic Text. The useful part is separating out these phenomena as itemized by Prof. Schiffman (transmission, interpretation and linguistic updating) to help us understand our mesorah. As an example, I would point to Robert Alter’s translation where he deepens our understanding (mine, anyway) by utilizing these discoveries.

    In this case, the Nash Papyrus brings to life a mainstream Jewish liturgical practice that we only know about from Talmudic Aggada.

  149. R’ Mark,
    B”H, I hope I am an outlier (those close to me inform me this is the case in many areas of measurement :-))
    KT

  150. Mark – do you believe that kiruv today is as successful as 20-30 years ago? what are the numbers, btw? does english chumashim and siddurim = welcoming? is there not an attitude from ffb’s towards bt in terms of acceptance – how about shidduchim for example?i would think that there are less college educated ffb (as a percentage) now than 20-40 years ago given that secular studies is in general looked down upon.
    what is your firsthand experience? are you and rabbi feldman involved in outreach to the same market of bt? is the problem that rabbi feldman describes wrong?

  151. Interesting to note anniversary of “Free to be You and Me.”
    I once noted that post-60s multiculturalism as exemplified by that production have made it “Free to be Chareidi” (not including tuition) 🙂 🙂 Shabbat Shalom, Ariel Segal

  152. abba's rantings

    i guess i misunderstood r. rich’s original comment about would you bring non-relgiious to your shul. i didn’t realize it was specifically about whether one’s shul is welcoming or suited for BTs. i though it was about the nature of the services in a shul and whether one thought it would draw a person into yiddishkeit or turn him off, irrespective of whether or not the people there would welcome him. unfortunately of the various shuls i’ve davened in over the years, i would not bring a potential BT into most of them because they weren’t very inspiring and at worst were a chilul hashem (even if the people were very nice and welcoming of BTs).

    MARK:

    ditto to RUVIE.
    would just add that in certain areas shuls are not friendly even to other FFBs, so why expect anything better for potential BT

  153. R’ Abba,
    That too unfortunately, and I think that was the context that R’ Shlomo Carlebach meant it in.
    KT

  154. R’ Joel,

    Forgive me if my memory fails me, but I believe you’re an actuary – is that right?

    Believe me, I’m okay at math, have a fair idea of what statistics are used for and how, but I assume you’d agree with me that my opinions on actuarial tables and statistics are fairly worthless.

    We are often told that mekarvim should not be discussing areas of science and other disciplines about which they don’t possess firsthand knowledge. Why is it that everyone and his uncle has an opinion on Kiruv and thinks it’s worth contemplating? 🙂

  155. Ruvie,

    “Mark – do you believe that kiruv today is as successful as 20-30 years ago? what are the numbers, btw?”

    Numbers I can’t give you because I haven’t ever seen any so I can only go on anecdotal evidence. I don’t think we’re pulling in the same numbers as 25 years ago, but I think the quality has gone up significantly. Pardon my frankness but many BT’s from times past weren’t playing with a full deck. They were low-hanging fruit and easily bought with kugel and a hug. Today’s BT’s are generally far more sophisticated and accomplished. Takes longer to get them, but their far more stable and in return, contribute more meaningfully to the community.

    “does english chumashim and siddurim = welcoming?”

    Ever try bringing potential BT’s into a shul without ’em? I have. It’s not easy. Yes – the easy availability of these things in and out of the hsul are a big step toward welcoming.

    “is there not an attitude from ffb’s towards bt in terms of acceptance – how about shidduchim for example?”

    Shidduchim is the worst example you could bring because people are overly picky in that area. They’ll reject FFB’s with long yichus “briefs” over relatively insignificant details. On the overall, what was once a reality has changed significantly over time. BT’s are everywhere and make up large parts of many communities and the frum community has come a long way in terms of accepting them. Yes – they’ll still have a harder time in Lakewood than in Atlanta – but the situation is improving daily. If anything, it was much worse 20 years ago.

    “i would think that there are less college educated ffb (as a percentage) now than 20-40 years ago given that secular studies is in general looked down upon.”

    You would, but that isn’t the case. more than 80% of BT educated girls now earn a degree post-seminary. Whereas Ner Israel was once an outlier because students could attend college, today there are many yeshivos that allow for that and even offer degrees.

    “what is your firsthand experience?”

    Without divulging my identity, I have lived in and out of “town” [I.e. NY and Lakewood] and have wide-ranging experience in working with college age students and adults. I’ve never been involved with HS age or in an official capacity of Shul Rabbi, but I’ve been very involved with Federations and Hillel Houses.

    “are you and rabbi feldman involved in outreach to the same market of bt? is the problem that rabbi feldman describes wrong?”

    Rabbi Feldman is very respected in the Kiruv community, but there are MANY who take issue with his approach and sentiments. Rather than saying he’s wrong, I’d say that I strongly disagree with his general sentiments and pessimism. My experiences point to a much more vibrant frum community than he allows for and for much more confidence in their ability to be mekarev.

  156. A reality check from across our Northern border: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/editorials/nras-solutions-show-americans-the-true-face-of-gun-culture/article6643732/

    “The United States reached a defining moment on Friday when Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, described his organization’s vision of the country in a news conference carried live on national television.”

  157. MiMedinat HaYam

    “Every Charedi shul today has some Chumashim and Siddurim in English along with many other sefarim – this was not the case 20 years ago.”

    thats because those shulgoers have limited knowlege of hebrew / aramaic. thus artscroll is a necessity for learning gemara. and a hilchot shabat like R Simcha Bunim Cohen (discussed recently on another post) would never appear in hebrew.

    by the way, my shul has a number of non religious attending. a good number of them will never become religious enough for most of us, but thats how it is.

  158. MiMedinat HaYam

    regarding DSS online, it was available for several years. i believe the site is http://www.gnosis.org/library/scroll.htm.

  159. Those interested in the topic of canonization of sacred text may be interested in this extraordinary piece by Jonathan Freedland that ran in The Guardian today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/21/sacred-text-us-gun-habit/print

    “It is indeed a sacred text. Despite, or perhaps because, the US is a country animated by faith, the ‘founding fathers’ are treated as deities, their every word analysed as if it contained gospel truth. Any new idea or policy proposal, no matter how worthy on its own merits, must be proven compatible with what those long-dead politicians of the late 18th century set down – otherwise it’s unconstitutional and can be thrown out by the supreme court, the high priesthood selected to interpret what the great prophets of Philadelphia intended.”

  160. @IH — When foreign leftists voice their disdain for America, Americans are supposed to care because….?

  161. STBO – Because it opens up a new angle on an old discussion that remains a key boundary issue within Judaism. For example:

    One of the classic phrases of American Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism is “halacha has a vote, but not a veto”. Yet how many who assert that phrase would be equally comfortable applying it as “the constitution has a vote, but not a veto”?

    —–

    P.S. One of the least accurate complaints one could make about Freedland is that he has “disdain for America”. But, the content of his piece was not my point in posting the link (as above).

  162. Perhaps they should confine their damage to the integrity of a single religion (Judaism), and not expand the toll to include American governance as well.

  163. “i would think that there are less college educated ffb (as a percentage) now than 20-40 years ago given that secular studies is in general looked down upon.”

    Is that really true-even BMG has programs where people get degrees eg with FDU.

  164. “Is that really true-even BMG has programs where people get degrees eg with FDU.”

    I find it very hard to believe that BMG has official programs that allow talmidim to take college courses towards a degree.

  165. Joseph Kaplan wrote :

    “Sec’y Donovon’s comment was poignant but, ultimately, unconvincing. What does it really mean? We shouldn’t try anyone for crimes because sometimes innocent people are indicted and tried? And the answer to his question is that many people who are tried and found not guilty do regain their reputation; that may be what IH means by settling things in the court of public opinion. But that court, like all courts (including Jewish courts) is not perfect. But then again, life isn’t perfect”

    Would you therefore never represent a potential plaintiff in a case for libel, defamation or slander?

  166. Moshe Shoshan wrote :

    “I find it very hard to believe that BMG has official programs that allow talmidim to take college courses towards a degree”

    The BMG-FDU relationship is well known.

  167. IH quoted from the folllowing guardian of athesism and liberalism:

    ““It is indeed a sacred text. Despite, or perhaps because, the US is a country animated by faith, the ‘founding fathers’ are treated as deities, their every word analysed as if it contained gospel truth. Any new idea or policy proposal, no matter how worthy on its own merits, must be proven compatible with what those long-dead politicians of the late 18th century set down – otherwise it’s unconstitutional and can be thrown out by the supreme court, the high priesthood selected to interpret what the great prophets of Philadelphia intended.”

    Any student of the US, even from across the pond, would note the absence of a divine right of kings or any religiously based political conflicts,the absence of which are enshrined the best document ever created by mortal man for the governance of a mortal society.

  168. Emma asked:

    “again, steve, what exactly would you propose to _do_ about “the mentally ill” even if they are disproportionately represented in a certain kind of violence”

    I don’t have an answer, but I think that the rush to an easy solution is not the way to pose potential avenues of discusssion and are far too indicative of liberal and conservative versions of political theodicy to offer much in the way of societal guidance.

  169. Perhaps, R Broyde can offer a commentary on this article,http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/world/middleeast/at-western-wall-a-divide-over-prayer-deepens.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&ref=todayspaper as a follow up to his most recent article.

  170. Steve — you may want to do some homework about Jonathan Freedland before you make incorrect assumptions: http://www.thejc.com/comment/columnists/i-have-a-dream-%E2%80%94-a-new-shul

  171. IH-I followed your link. Typical LW liberal with more criticism of Israel and a dislike for Charedim coupled with a typical British disdain for the Constitution.

  172. IH-if Freedland had an idea of the role of the Founding Fathers ( see this linkhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founding_Fathers_of_the_United_States), both in the American Revolution as well in the drafting of the Constitution, he would have had a far morer positive POV on their gigantic role in American history rather than having disparingly considered them as the founders of a sacred document.

  173. Steve — I’m sorry, but you are so missing the reason I posted this. Let me spell it out — Freedland’s piece is the most compelling challenge I have seen to a central thesis of Reform & Reconstructionist Judaism, as I described more indirectly in my response to STBO at 11:30pm.

  174. IH wrote :

    “One of the classic phrases of American Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism is “halacha has a vote, but not a veto”. Yet how many who assert that phrase would be equally comfortable applying it as “the constitution has a vote, but not a veto”

    I think that many people would agree that in their own unique manners and subject matter, the Constitution and Halacha both have a veto power for those who adhere and claim to be bound by the same. it is customary for those who are not subject to either system to view the role of either of these systems with the disdain displayed by Freedland-who fails to appreciate that America never went through the class and social ridden system of the UK or the tragic experiments with Communism, Fascism and Nazism of Europe, and that the power of judicial review was created by none other than CJ Marshal.

  175. Anyone who wants to understand the reality, dreams and dilemnas of what Kiruv is and the improvements that need to be made both within the Kiruv world and the Charedi and MO worlds must simply read all of the articles. The editors deserve a hugs Yasher Koach for focussing on this issue.

  176. Mark-R Feldman’s piece described how Torah observant Jews are too often perceived due to their own insecurities, as well as what he sees as the future of Kiruv in the US.

  177. Steve,

    I know what Rabbi Feldman. My point was that I disagreed with him on much of it. What’s your point?

  178. Kedassia (the UOHC) expels Chaim Halpern’s synagogue:

    http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/95168/union-ousts-halpern-synagogue

    Just goes to show the power of public pressure and internet exposure. For Charedim in the UK, this is a new world.

  179. I’m also in Kiruv and I have to agree with Mark. Most ffb’s/frum communities (in Ny area, including super frum ones) that I have taken secular Jews to were very friendly and open to these Jews. R’ Feldman’s view is overly pessimistic.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: