Friday, September 30, 2005

A Formula For Eliminating Jewish Criminals???

Bennett: Black Abortions Would Lower Crime
Associated Press/AP Online09/30/2005 11:02 AM

WASHINGTON - The White House on Friday criticized former Education Secretary William Bennett for remarks linking the crime rate and the abortion of black babies.

"The president believes the comments were not appropriate," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

Bennett, on his radio show, "Morning in America," was answering a caller's question when he took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up.

"But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down," said Bennett, author of "The Book Of Virtues."

He went on to call that "an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky."

Responding later to criticism, Bennett said his comments had been mischaracterized and that his point was that the idea of supporting abortion to reduce crime was "morally reprehensible."

Bennett was education secretary under President Reagan and director of drug control policy when Bush's father was president.

This is the way it could work.
You zero in on the families of known thieves ,molesters and FAKE gedolim.
The Sanhedrin led by me forces them to use birth control.
We establish a police squad, of course led by me, sort of like Shomrim.
If their wives get pregnant chas v'shalom, the Sanhedrin (led by me) proclaims "Din Sotah"- and you know the rest of the story.....

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Posted by Anonymous-who sought help and got it!

I am a guy who struggles with SSA (Same sex attraction). Believe me, it is no easy lifestyle. I have been in therapy for 2-3 years now. I have grown a lot and I am stronger than I have ever been. My attraction to men is a lot less and my attraction to women has grown tremendously. I have been in a therapy called reperative therapy- to help one change his sexual orientation. It is long and difficult but for me it has been well worth it. I certainly wouldnt criticise someone who decided not to go through the therapy. It is the most difficult challenge I have ever faced, but as I mentioned earlier, well worth it. For those of you who are interested see www.jonahweb.org or www.peoplecanchange.com. There are many books that have been written about the topic. Change is an option. Unfortunately many dont know that because of gay politics and the gay agenda. It worked for me and for many others that I have met through the process. Again, whether one decides to actually go through with it is his own decision, but at least he should know it is an option.

Posted by Anonymous to UN-ORTHODOX JEW at 9/29/2005 12:10:33 PM


Do Not EAT Your Cell Phones-They May Not Be Kosher

Gedolei Yisroel Caution Public Not to Use Unapproved Cell Phones
Shema Yisroel Network

Gedolei Yisroel are issuing instructions to stop using cell phones not approved by Vaadas HaRabbonim LeInyonei Tikshoret now that Mirs, Pelephone and Cellcom all provide kosher cellular services—and therefore there is an alternative for everyone.

Vaadas HaRabbonim, which was appointed by gedolei Torah from all streams and backgrounds, has been working to reach a solution to avoid the stumbling-blocks brought about by unapproved cell phones, which are exposed to the spiritually detrimental elements of life far from Torah and mitzvas. The rabbonim worked in cooperation with telecom and computer experts as well as top jurists, including Attorney Yaakov Weinroth.

Six months ago a breakthrough was made when Mirs announced that it was willing to provide kosher cell phones and a block of distinct phone numbers designated for the religious public. After thousands of Jews heeded the calls by their rabbonim to join Mirs, one month ago Pelephone and Cellcom followed suit.

Now approved cell phones are readily available through three large companies, with competition to keep costs low.

In light of the new development, Maran HaRav Eliashiv, the Admor of Gur, HaRav Shmuel Halevy Wosner and HaRav Ovadia Yosef issued an announcement on Tuesday warning against the great danger inherent in cell phones, which have transformed into a tool of destruction for yetzer hora, and instructing those who must use cell phones to use only models approved by Vaadas HaRabbonim.

This important achievement
, which was intended to save Jewish souls both young and old, is being hailed by both educators and parents alike.

Who are these clowns talking to?
KOSHER cell phones are NOT the answer, instill Yiras Shomayim in the kids by setting examples for them to follow, not by mouthing idiotic assinine prohibitions!
Get a life you idiots, this information you are trying to hide is everywhere!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005



Root & Branch Information Service

Root & Branch: The first Jewish outreach organization geared to assist homosexual men and women seeking to change their sexual orientation has been established in New Jersey.

Calling itself JONAH, the group intends to deal with homosexual issues in a manner consistent with Jewish principles as set forth in the Torah.

According to the group's director, Rabbi Samuel Rosenberg, the name was chosen for the Biblical prophet who warned the people of Ninevah to return to G-d in an act of teshuva, and as an acronym for "Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality".

Desiring to be inclusive, the non-profit group will embrace any Jew regardless of religious commitment or lack thereof. Its goal is to educate Jews about the causes of same-sex attraction and the possibility of change from homosexuality to heterosexuality. "We believe this is achievable if the homosexual struggler lives by Torah values, heals his or her unresolved issues, and fulfills unmet emotional needs," says Rabbi Rosenberg.

"Many former homosexuals are now married with children and lead more contented and spiritual lives." JONAH is also available as a resource for parents and friends of those who struggle with homosexuality. It hopes to provide support groups, a speaker's bureau for Jewish groups, seminars for interested parties, and referrals to appropriate counselors.


He points out that the Torah strongly forbids the act of homosexuality precisely because it recognizes the capacity of anyone to commit such an act. Although the Toranic prohibition relates to actions, not thoughts, JONAH recognizes the need to work also with individuals who struggle with homosexual thoughts and impulses but do not act out their homosexual fantasies or identify with the gay lifestyle. "Jewish ethics require us to offer assistance to those who struggle with homosexuality and to understand how to help men and women with same-sex attractions. In today's society, it is important to offer solutions to problems; otherwise, one becomes part of the problem," he says.

"We must repeatedly remind ourselves that, in the Torah, it is not the person, but the act that is abhorred. Moreover, even after the act, we have the obligation to promote teshuva and not censure by the family, leaders, and community."

The spiritual leader of the Elmora Hebrew Center, Rabbi Rosenberg has smicha from Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn. He is a licensed social worker and psychotherapist who was trained at the Family Institute of New Jersey. He received his Master's degree in social work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work of Yeshiva University, and is currently an advanced-degree candidate at the Contemporary Center for Advanced Psychoanalytic Studies.


Over the past 20 years, several Christian-based support groups have been formed to assist those seeking to change from homosexuality.

Although some have been formed by individual Christian ministers or by ex-homosexuals, many of the major Christian denominations sponsor groups.

Before JONAH, Jews seeking to leave homosexuality had nowhere to turn within their own religion. Some, therefore, sought refuge in Christianity, and more than a few converted. The resources for a Jew seeking help and spirituality simply were not present.

Even in Israel, the only group currently assisting those seeking to leave the gay lifestyle is a Christian-supported Jewish-Christian ("Messianic Jewish") group based in Jerusalem, directed by Izhar Vardinon. "JONAH intends to fill that void," says Rabbi Rosenberg.


He points out that even though it is well established that homosexuality exists in the Torah-observant ("orthodox") community (The World Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jews has 48 organizational members and over 30 homosexual congregations; there are underground frum gay and lesbian support groups in the religious community and on the internet), most religious, social, and medical institutions "have failed these men and women."

JONAH, he says, has broken through the religious community's "response of silence, cloaked in the pretext of modesty."

"The Orthodox community bought the mythical notion of the genetic propagandist that homosexuality is inevitable for some people. The afflicted individuals feel shunned, isolated, confused, and ashamed, with nowhere to turn for support, understanding, or assistance. Some of our brethren responded with a self-righteous or noble fire-and-brimstone reference of abomination without compassion or a helping hand or even a shoulder to cry on," he says.

While JONAH does insist that homosexuality is a treatable condition, Rabbi Rosenberg stresses that the group should in no way be seen as license for persecuting anyone. "Let it be clearly stated, without condescension, there is no room in this or any other society for witch hunts directed at homosexuals or for the denial of their fundamental freedoms simply because their nature differs from the norm," he says, adding that the "gay rights movement" has done a great service simply by bringing the issue out of the closet.


However, he continues, that does not mean that, in the name of tolerance, society should "succumb to acceptance." He maintains that accepting homosexuality as normal and healthy is to doom the afflicted individuals to a life in which "their potential for wholeness will remain dormant beneath their emotional wounds."

"The homosexual lifestyle, with all its social and cultural nuances, is also a matter of choice. It is a learned behavior which can be unlearned," he says.

For those with a proclivity towards homosexuality, choosing to abandon the gay lifestyle will probably be more difficult than simply learning to observe the Sabbath or the dietary laws, or even abstaining from premarital sex, he admits.

"However, our responsibility for outreach does not preclude us from reaching out to these individuals and to understand their struggles," says Rabbi Rosenberg.


He is especially concerned about the "depressed, despondent, and tormented souls who struggle with their homosexuality."

"What about those who have tried to explore an 'alternate lifestyle,' only to experience frustration, loneliness, and isolation? To whom do they turn? To whom do their parents turn for help, guidance, and support? To whom do they dare expose their sense of shame, failure, and humiliation? How many suicides must we cover up, how often must we turn a blind-eye before we hear the desperate calls for help? When do we act on the Biblical injunction not to stand idly by our brothers' blood?" he says.

Well-intentioned, but untrained rabbis do more harm than good when they tell homosexuals and their parents simply to accept their condition and abstain from the behavior, he says.

"They don't even know that help is available," he says.

Other rabbis tell homosexuals to extend the prohibition of yichud, being alone in the same room, to members of the same sex.

"What pain, what isolation, what damage. Especially when they need the closeness of their gender peers for non-erotic love, support, and acceptance. Learning how to achieve this can be most effective and therapeutic," says Rabbi Rosenberg.


He and JONAH dismiss the secular community's insistence that homosexuality is predetermined and, therefore, legitimate and natural.

That concept, he says, is based on a politicized 1973 vote by the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, following intense pressure from the homosexual lobby.

Four years later, 69 percent of the 2,500 psychiatrists who responded to a survey by the journal Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality disagreed with the vote and opposed removing homosexuality from the list of disorders.

"This political controversy within the psychiatric community continues today," says Rabbi Rosenberg. The formation of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), composed of more than 200 psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists, testifies to the ongoing divergence of views.

Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka, author of "One Man, One Woman, One Lifetime - An Argument for Moral Tradition", is on NARTH's advisory board.

Rabbi Bulka maintains that Jews who struggle with homosexuality have a mandate "to improve on who you are through the exercise of free will and with the help of mental-health professionals and spiritual advisors." "Despite great pressure from the gay lobby, NARTH continues to uphold the view that homosexuality is a developmental disorder and often a treatable condition," says Rabbi Rosenberg.

In fact, he says, the "misinformation that homosexuality is untreatable by the mental-health profession does incalculable harm to the homosexual struggler and to society at large." "Many ex-gays who have broken out of homosexuality say the biggest cause for their depression was the enormous pressure to accept their feelings as inborn and unchangeable. That way of thinking made them feel trapped," he says.


He cites authorities who maintain that homosexuality is almost always associated with a faulty family constellation, particularly between a distant father and son and an overly intrusive mother, whether real or simply perceived.

"Other factors may exacerbate the problem, such as poor peer group relationships and sexual molestation," he says.

In his scenario, the boy strives and longs to achieve the relationship he never experienced, but in an eroticized manner.

For a woman, he says, there is a corresponding inability to identify with what is viewed by the girl as a malevolent and malicious mother, and a father who does not respect the femininity of his wife and daughter. She seeks femininity in the body and personality of her female partner. Here, too, sexual violation may have occurred.

"Therapy can be effective in promoting awareness of the faulty family dynamics and the misdirected strivings for affection," says Rabbi Rosenberg, adding that no therapy "works" if it is imposed on the individual.


The most significant component of the homosexual's healing process may be found in a same-gender support group, he says, and this is a service JONAH hopes to provide.

"The aim of the support group is to re-establish healthy male-male or female-female bonding and to provide peer support and mentoring to rediscover their authentic gender and to better understand the expression of their legitimate love needs for attention, affection, and approval from gender peers which were unmet in their childhoods. In such a peer group, individuals learn that such needs can be satisfied without eroticism," says Rabbi Rosenberg.

To reach Rabbi Rosenberg, write to JONAH, POB 313, Jersey City, NJ 07303, or call (201) 433-3444. All inquiries, he says, will be handled "sensitively and discreetly."

Reprinted from the Root & Branch Information Services
http://www.rb.org.il rb@rb.org.il

Satmar Rebbe Imprisoned While His Gangster Kids Slug It Out In Secular Court

Who will be grand rebbe's keeper?

By Chris McKenna
Times Herald-Record

New York – Stand-ins for the Cain and Abel of the Satmar Hasidim went to court yesterday to begin an unseemly tug-of-war for access to their 92-year-old father, leader of the world's largest movement of Hasidic Jews.
Children of Aron Teitelbaum, chief rabbi of Kiryas Joel's majority congregation, are demanding the court appoint guardians for Moses Teitelbaum.
They say Aron's brother, Zalman Teitelbaum, and his allies have sequestered the Satmar grand rebbe in his house in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and prevented him from attending the weddings and bar mitzvahs of his keeper's enemies.
"What they have there is their own little prison," Steven Finkelstein, their Manhattan attorney, told state Supreme Court Justice John Leventhal in Brooklyn yesterday.
But Zalman Teitelbaum, head rabbi in Williamsburg, and his faction contend the Satmar leader is in good hands and accuse their rivals of sacrificing a holy man's dignity to advance their own quest for power.
"This is an abuse by the petitioners," said Paul Bookson, a Manhattan lawyer representing Moses Teitelbaum, the grand rebbe. "It's an effort to use this court in their ongoing strategy of litigation."
"No one had the temerity to suggest a guardian should be appointed for the pope," said Scott Mallon, yet another Manhattan lawyer, arguing on the Zalman side.
About 30 men from Brooklyn and Kiryas Joel, clad in black Hasidic garb, lined wooden benches in Leventhal's court to hear what is perhaps the most lurid of three Satmar court fights being waged by partisans of the two brothers, known as Zalis and Aronim.
"There is one commandment missing from Aron's Bible: 'Respect your father,''' Jack Kahan, a Zali from Williamsburg, said outside court.
The children of Aron Teitelbaum who are requesting guardians for the grand rebbe claim he suffers from severe dementia and has been in decline since 1997 or earlier.
They also claim that Moses Friedman, the rebbe's longtime personal secretary, and others are denying or sharply limiting access to him, depriving "spiritual uplifting" to relatives and followers who want to see him and be near him.
But the judge repeatedly scoffed at the suggestion that the case had no political motivation and no connection to Aron and Zalman fighting to succeed their father.
"If this is about politics," he said angrily, "then take all these papers you spent thousands of hours on and throw them down the toilet."
He also pressed Finkelstein several times to explain what harm the grand rebbe was suffering under his current minders.
"The grand rabbi has had his schedule greatly curtailed," Finkelstein said. "He's 92," the judge shot back. "My mother goes to sleep at 8."
But Leventhal also suggested sending a court evaluator to spend a day with the Satmar leader to see how he was being cared for. The Zalman side resisted that notion.
After two hours, Leventhal set another court appearance for Nov. 3 to deliver his decision, one that he said neither side might like.

Really nice guys!!To me, they are a pathetic group of seriously retarded people.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Tragedy In Our Midst

A Frum Skeptic e-mailed this to me.
Republished because of importance, controversy and popularity.

Frankly I am at a loss for words. I would be interested to know how everyone feels about gay people coming out of the closet, especially people with the title Rabbi, and all people who call themselves Frum.
I was afraid that eventually our community would be hit with this tragedy.
The person did NOT seek anonymity.

Rabbi Stadtmauer was the principal of Yeshivah of Flatbush High Scool
until he announced suddenly late last year that he would resign upon
the semester's end. Nobody officially knew why and the school had to
scramble and figure out who would lead for the organization since
Rabbi Stadtmauer gave them very short time to regroup. (The
administration ended up splitting the duties of principal into an
administrative position and an educational position and restructured
the entire leadership.)

Anyway, an interested student sent Rabbi Stadtmauer an email asking
why he left and Rabbi Stadtmauer responded in a rather surprising way:

The interested student asks:

"hey rabbi staudtmaure,

its "the interested student" ur former student from class 406 ; now
207. i wanted to know how everything is now that youve left flatbush-
we miss you. i also wanted to ask u a question thats personal so u
dont have to answer but id appreciate it cuz ive been hearing rumors
that youve come out in the open to say that your gay and that your
not so religious anymore and i have nothing against the gay part if
its true but i dont understand how you could give up your religion
that easily
if you could please answer


"the interested student""

And Rabbi Stadtmauer replies:

""the interested student",

It's always nice to hear I'm missed. Thank you so much for the courage
to ask. It's fine, and not too personal. No matter I may believe or
do, I'm still the same person who was willing to answer/talk about
anything in class. I hope other students have the guts as well.

As to the rumors, they are true. I appreciate your understanding about
my coming out and I think that your question is very well placed. The
truth is that nothing was easy, nor am I certain that I have "given up
my religion" for good. When I decided to step down from the
principalship, just over a year ago, it gave me a chance to rethink my
whole life - something very few people ever do. You remember that I
always continously explore and think and question. So I continued some
personal questions I had had many many years before, that I put aside
because of what it meant to me to be a rabbi and a teacher. But they
were just that - questions - not rejections or disbelief. When I
reopened the questions, I found that I was very comfortable with the
idea that mitsvot are a crucial way to approach God, and one that -
within the careful language of my classroom - one that I did (and
would now) encourage students to explore fully. However, increasingly
I had deep doubts I could not resolve for myself about their role in
my life.

Now there were many issues I was considering - the role of women in
orthodoxy, do i trust the authority of most rabbis, etc. But I also
had to think about how the Orthodox community would accept me as a gay
man. Honestly - I think most kids I know would be okay, but most
adults would not. Given how alone I have been all my life, I just
couldn't see fighting an uphill battle just to remain lonely in the
Orthodox community.

So for now, I re-exploring my spirituality and religiousity just more
slowly, without preconditions, and with the hope of integrating my
whole life and beliefs together. I still believe in the Value and
Truth of Torah, even if I don't feel bound by halacha. And I may yet
return to it later. Either way, I still believe deeply that a person
must first know their own tradition deeply from the inside before they
can even start exploring this stuff, so I have always and still do
believe that kids should pursue talmud torah and shmirat mitsvot.

Certainly, nothing was quick or sudden. It may have sounded that way
because it was important for me to finish the year well and keep the
Yeshivah stable (imagine if this rumor had floated last year!), so
you've heard it all at once. But for me, it's been a lifetime of

If you remember, at Arista, I spoke about how a person should listen
carefully in the hope of hearing "the voice of God" in their lives. I
believe that deeply, and that's part of the path I'm following. Almost
every day I ask Hashem to guide me on my next step. Maybe most people
think that's not religious, but that's okay, and I respect them.

I don't know if that answer helps, or if its satisfying. I know I left
a lot of holes in that explanation, so feel free to ask more.

Write more if you'd like and feel free to stay in touch. Next Tuesday
I leave for 3 months to Asia (not Micronesia, oh well, just
Japan-Thailand-Bhutan-Cambodia-Vietnam-Hong Kong). I'm looking forward
to Rosh Hashanah in Tokyo and Yom Kippur in Bangkok. While I'm away,
I'll check e-mail every few days, so stay in touch but responses might
be delayed.

Alan Stadtmauer

PS There's nothing in this note that's private, so if your friends
were wondering the same things, they can read this e-mail. In any
case, once again, thanks for questioning."

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Gay Agenda Making Inroads In The Orthodox Community

Ex-Yeshiva Head Outs Himself, Leaves Fold
By Jennifer Siegel-The Forward
September 23, 2005

A former principal of one of New York's most illustrious Modern Orthodox high schools has announced that he is gay and no longer an Orthodox Jew.

Rabbi Alan Stadtmauer, 42, stepped down as head of the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School in June, after serving as a teacher and administrator for more than a decade. At the time, the administration believed that Stadtmauer's desire for a career change was behind his departure. But in recent weeks, according to former students and officials at the school, the former principal confirmed that he recently had come to terms with being a gay man and has turned away from Orthodoxy.

In a September 19 letter sent to Flatbush parents, the school's president, Jack Rahmey, said that last week Stadtmauer informed a member of the administration "that he was a gay man and no longer considered himself an Orthodox Jew."

"To the best of our knowledge, Alan Stadtmauer had never previously discussed these issues with members of the faculty or with any students, and there have been no allegations of inappropriate behavior during his tenure at the Yeshivah," Rahmey wrote. "He always acted as a professional and adhered to all of the Yeshivah's standards and practices. We were not aware of his personal issues and conflicts when he resigned."

Stadtmauer, a graduate of Manhattan's Ramaz School, received rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University's affiliated seminary. The rabbi could not be reached for comment. According to former students, he left last week for a three-month tour of Asia.

In a widely circulated e-mail signed with the rabbi's name, the author wrote, "Given how alone I have been all my life, I just couldn't see fighting an uphill battle just to remain lonely in the Orthodox community."

In recent years, the profile of gays and lesbians has risen dramatically in the Orthodox community, particularly with the release in 2001 of "Trembling Before God," a documentary featuring interviews with gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews, including Steven Greenberg, the world's first openly gay Orthodox rabbi. In New York alone, several support groups for lesbian and gay Orthodox Jews have gained steam over the last several years.

Greenberg's 2004 book, "Wrestling With God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition," advanced a model for integrating gays into Orthodox life through a more liberal interpretation of Halacha, or rabbinic law; other, more conservative commentators have advocated retaining gays in the Orthodox community through teaching abstinence, offering treatment designed to alter sexual preferences, or extending the kind of tacit acceptance that the community routinely grants others who are not fully observant.

In contrast, Stadtmauer has left the Orthodox world — a fact some students found more troubling than the revelation about his sexual orientation. "I don't care so much that he's gay as that he left religion," said one Flatbush senior, who was rushing down Brooklyn's bustling Avenue J on a recent weekday morning to make it in time for the start of school.

One 1997 alumnus of Flatbush, who is gay, praised Stadtmauer as "the rabbi that everybody loved." The former student said that though he had left Orthodoxy, he remains active in a traditional congregation. He described Stadtmauer's religious drift as "surprising."

"I'm not sure that he realizes — and this is the important thing — that he's not alone," the alumnus said. "Nobody who faces this issue, who's fighting the 'uphill battle,' is alone in the Orthodox community."

For their part, Orthodox leaders said that they are working to show tolerance and compassion for gays, even while maintaining Halacha.

Psychotherapist Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, said that while gay and lesbians may not be suitable candidates for leadership positions — just like someone who does not keep the Sabbath or observe kashrut — they are welcome in the community and should be viewed no more harshly than other Jews who are not fully observant. Weinreb said that in some cases he supports "psychotherapeutic treatment" to help gays "reorient" themselves, but he believes that some individuals are not candidates for change.

Rabbi Dov Linzer, rabbinic dean at the liberal Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah rabbinical seminary, also argued that while homosexual sex is prohibited by the Torah, synagogues should not judge homosexuals any more harshly than those who transgress rabbinic law in other ways. At the same time, he acknowledged that unlike those struggling to keep kosher, individuals grappling with questions of sexual identity typically face "soul-wrenching" questions that can cause "a profound crisis of faith."

"It's an existential crisis," Linzer said. "Halacha demands a lot sacrifices in life, in many, many, realms but there's usually none that makes someone challenge their core identity and [wonder] if they as a person are accepted or rejected. I would say that if there is anything similar to it, it might be how some Orthodox feminists are struggling with such issues, meaning that it's not only the question of 'Is the Torah giving me an opportunity to participate as fully as I feel I should?' but 'Is the Torah biased against who I am, biased against women?' It's a similar issue here. It's not just a question, I think, of what is the Torah prohibiting and demanding of me, but is the Torah against me?"

Mr. Agudas Yisroel, Moshe Sherer- All Dollars, No Sense

Cast your bread upon the waters
by Jonathan Rosenblum
Mishpacha Magazine

I'm currently in the process of finishing a biography of Rabbi Moshe Sherer, who headed Agudath Israel of America for over three decades. That biography could be described as an Orthodox version of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. By unanimous consent Rabbi Sherer was one of the most effective people in recent memory, and the impact of Agudath Israel of America during his tenure was, in large part, a function of his remarkable talents.

Those talents were many, and this is not the place for their enumeration. But the deeper I become immersed in this project the clearer it becomes how much of Rabbi Sherer's success was a function of good middos – the respect, concern, and sensitivity he showed to others, and the dignity with which he conducted himself. Even in the decades when Agudath Israel was a small, virtually penniless organization, with a handful of employees, he was making connections with literally hundreds of politicians and key bureaucrats at all levels of government – federal, state, and municipal.
The files of Agudath Israel are filled with records of timely interventions by Rabbi Sherer where a single phone call to the right person achieved results worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to a particular yeshiva.The responses of those officials rarely had anything to do with the political power of Agudath Israel's constituency, from which the bureaucrats were, in any event, largely insulated. Rabbi Sherer never spoke the language of power politics, but argued each case on the merits. Rather the bureaucrats and politicians went out of their way to help – many times even beyond the strict letter of their mandates -- because of the enormous respect that they had for Rabbi Sherer, who was often the only Orthodox Jew they knew. AARTS, the accreditation agency serving the American yeshivos, has brought tens of millions of dollars of federal funding into yeshiva coffers in the thirty years since its founding.

Yet AARTS would have never come into existence but for the close personal relationship between Rabbi Sherer and John Proffitt, the person in charge of accreditation agencies in the Department of Education. Over the seven years leading up to AARTS formal recognition by the Department of Education, Dr. Proffitt repeatedly exercised his discretion to waive various requirements or hasten the governmental review on behalf of AARTS. And each time, he gave the same reason: the desire to do a "favor" for Rabbi Sherer, as an expression of their personal closeness and mutual respect.

Rabbi Sherer emblemizes the principle that good middos pay. Unfortunately, it is not too hard to find those who also demonstrate the opposite principle: Bad middos, in the end, damage their possessor more than anyone. There are those who approach life as a jungle in which it is either kill or be kill. They devote themselves to exercising control over others, and live for the joy of breaking someone else in negotiations, whether it is in business or buying a new refrigerator.

Oh how they cherish their victories – the fifty dollars on the price here, the hundred dollars they talked someone down there. But those precious victories are usually pyrrhic. The few thousand dollars saved over a lifetime come at the cost of gaining the name "a hard person" -- someone to be avoided, whether in business or shidduchim. Often those closest to such people pay the highest price, and the angry man, as Chazal say, is left only with his anger.

Recently, I asked someone why they had gone out of their way to circulate a negative review of a project undertaken by a certain organization. In the course of the conversation, it became clear to me that if a certain phone call had been returned the critique would never have issued. How many times, I wondered, did parties who might well have ended up as business partners find themselves bitter competitors instead because of an unreturned phone call? (Rabbi Sherer, incidentally, was a fanatic about returning phone calls the same day, and if he could not do so, he would have one of his secretaries call to explain why.)

As a beginning lawyer in Chicago, the senior litigation partner in my firm gave me an invaluable piece of advice: Don't make life miserable for your opposite counsel. If he or she asks for an extension on a brief or to defer a hearing, grant it, without making them appear before the judge, unless you have some compelling reason. Someday, he explained to me, you will need a favor from that same attorney. You might think that with fifty thousand lawyers in Chicago, you are unlikely to find yourself on the opposite side again from that particular attorney, but you will. And even in the relatively short time that I practiced, I had the occasion to learn how right he was.

One of the best-selling self-help books of the 1950's was Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. Most of Carnegie's tips are really lessons in good middos – e.g., remember people's names; everybody loves the sound of their own name. Anti-business intellectuals of the time dismissed the work as indicative of the vulgarity of America, which reduced even decent behavior to the almighty dollar sign.

But that was a misreading of Carnegie. Yes, treating other people well, learning how to listen to others, for example, would help one in life. But Carnegie never doubted that good middos were desirable for their own sake. Many famous Mashgichim encouraged their students to read the book.

If anything, the utility of good middos was only proof that Hashem has structured the world in such a way that life becomes richer and more enjoyable the closer one follows the Divine instructions. Every time we smile, or give someone a compliment, or decide that something is more important to someone else than it is to us, we create a little pool of positivity. All those who are touched by that pool are instinctively filled with the desire to create own little pools. Those pools expand outward in concentric circles, and eventually they come back to engulf us as well.

The good we do for others returns to us – certainly in the World to Come, and usually in this world as well. As the wisest of all men advised: "Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days, you will find it" (Koheles 11:1).

The Agudas Israel is a paid, professional lobbyist group, period.
Jonathon Rosenblum's article highlights Sherer's career in dollars, without any common sense.
Sherer was the consumnate politician, who was famous for his back slapping around the halls of Washington.He was a charismatic gofer for the yeshiva world.
Yes, he did deliver the goods or the gelt, and the politicians were paid dearly, by votes and donations to their political campaigns.

Rosenblum's eulogy of Sherer is typical of all eulogies where the person had not much going for them.The use of the words" good middos" says it all.That's the BUZZWORD for I got NUTTIN else to say about this guy.
Were you ever at a eulogy where they said the dead guy had "bad middos"?

To Jonathon Rosenblum I say, it sounds like you have been hoodwinked to write another fairy tale story for Art Scroll. How well did you know Moshe Sherer? Do you know that as a teenager he hung around Bedford Av., watching all the girls go by?
Do you know that he was a way below average yeshiva student?
I am certain that this will be treated with truth in your Humpty Dumpty book.
Do you know that Mike Tress did NOT trust Sherer, other then to run errands for him?
Did you ever spend time with Sherer? What qualifies you to write a biography about him, other than the fact that you are a prolific writer?
Are you prepared to perpetuate the lies about his GOOD MIDDOS, for a handsome profit?
Do you know that this baal middos NEVER did anything for anyone that he could not cash in on?
I knew Sherer, he had anything BUT good middos?
The world was his stage, and everything he did was an act.
The best thing he did for Judaism was to leave the world stage to others.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Why Is This Child Molester Being Kept At Rasha Gamur -Margulies's personal Piggy Bank - Tora Temima

Posted By David

I too was molested by Rabbi Yidi Kolko, both while a student in 7th and 8th grades in Yeshiva Torah V'daas and during those same summers whilst a camper in Camp Agudah.

I used to get rides to school in the mornings with Yidi whether in his old blue car or in his brand new brown car. At that time he lived on 56th Street between 14th & 15th Avenue, whilst I lived on 57th Street, between 15th and 16th Avenues. He was newly married at that time and his first child, a daughter, was also just born then.

Once we got to the Yeshiva on Ocean Parkway, which then was just off of Caton Road, he would park the car (either down the block from the Yeshiva, on the Ocean Parkway service road, or around the corner, I think it was East 5th Street, and ask me to come over and either sit beside him or sit on his lap. Sometimes he would move over to the passenger seat and would then sit me on his lap.

That's when he went fishing. He would insert his hands down the front of my pants and would begin to "search around" to say the least. At the same time he would pull me closer to himself, or would push himself forward againt myself, sometimes even pushing me into the stearing wheel, to the point that it hurt.

Unfortunately I didn't react or complain. The winters were cold and these rides saved on not having to walk all the way to 13th Avenue to wait for the bus (especially on Sunday mornings), you were able to leave your house later since you could always make the ride, and you saved a couple of cents, which was a lot in those days.

During one of those Sunday mornings whilst we were driving on Caton Avenue, whilst I was sitting in the front passenger seat - I almost always sat in the front passenger seat - we were involved in a terrible traffic accident where a car went through a red light and slammed into Yidi's car. B"H we all got out without a scratch.

In Camp Aguda it was the same, whether if he took me into the trees, or into his cabin, or even would take me out for a drive. FYI, during the summer of 1970 I had my bar mitzva in the camp.

I of course told my parents and tried on several times
to explain to them what I was going through, but they didn't want to believe me and my "stories", etc. My father at that time was a very well known and respected person in the Boro Park & Midwood communities and within the Yeshiva world. So I just shut up and let the molestation and perversion continue.

I also think that Yidi Kolko is a danger to the students, past and present in Yeshiva Tora Temimah and I feel that it is about time that the wall of silence be torn down.

Did I suffer as a result, probably. But I have made a life for myself and today am very happily married with 4 wonderful children.

Posted by David to UN-ORTHODOX JEW at 9/23/2005 01:49:51 AM

Everyone in the community is complicit with this criminal Margulies!
Lipa Margulies is an example of how a BIG crook gets away with murder (yes, murder of the soul of G-d knows how many children),while the little guy gets trampled on.
Margulies is the # 1 low-life in the Orthodox community.
He began his school with a major fraud and massive theft.He is a first class thief and a phony minuvel.His God is the almighty dollar.I know him well, HE DOES NOT HAVE A RELIGIOUS BONE IN HIS BODY!
He continues to harbor a child molester.
Scores of kids get turned away ( why they want to go there is a huge mystery) because they can not afford the tuition.
Every board member of this school or person of influence should hide themselves in shame!There is no wonder why the community is plagued with tragedies.You bring it on yourselves. Generations of Jewish people suffer because you really don't give a damn about anything that you feel doesn't effect you directly.I hope your kids and grandkids suffer the same fate as the above David, at the hands of a vicious child molester.
You are no better than the KING SCUMBAG of the Jewish community!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Parents-Support Us Or Else !

All The News That's Fit For Misfits(From The Yated-Where Else?)

Dear Editor,
I am not one to write letters to the editor, yet when I read the letter “Skewed Attitude” in which a reader decries married children’s demands on their parents, I felt I had to respond.
During my engagement, I was promised a certain amount of support from my parents that never materialized. Thus, I can speak as one who has “been there.” The situation in my case spiraled out of control when my in-laws felt that since the other side had not met their commitments, they were no longer bound by theirs. We used up all our chasuna money and any other savings we had just to cover our most basic living expenses during shana rishona. One can just imagine what kind of test this put our marriage through.

Both sets of parents claimed that they had too many other expenses and were thus not able to meet their commitments to us. We knew that to be untrue.

The most vital lesson I learned from going through that difficult time, is one which I feel is worth sharing with the readership of the Yated Ne’eman. Parents do not have an obligation to support their married children.

They have an opportunity to do so. Some parents take advantage of it, while others do not.

When parents help out or support their children financially, they are shelichim of the Ribono Shel Olam Who sends parnassa to every living being. They have the zechus of being the ones through whom the parnassa comes to their children.

Yet, the Ribono Shel Olam has many potential shelichim to send parnassa to a couple. Whatever amount of money a couple is supposed to have will come to them even if it is not through their parents.
To the lady who wrote how her father did not purchase her a house when housing in Lakewood was still cheap, I would like to say: Please do not harbor resentment against your parents. True, they passed up an opportunity to assist you, but obviously, min haShomayim it was not coming to you. Close relatives used to ask me, “Why are you still in an apartment? Surely your parents could build you a house, let alone buy an existing one?” When the Ribono Shel Olam wanted us to have a house, we got one, boruch Hashem.

Parents-don't give up this zechus!Send your kids money even if you are dead broke. Go into hock for the selfish idiots you raised!
When you get old and gray, they will return your zechus, with the zechus of having them shoving your tuchis in some nursing home.
This is the BULLS*** they are being taught with your hard earned money!


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Another Alter Kaker Gets Messages From G-D!

> > Arutz Sheva News Service
> > http://www.IsraelNationalNews.com

> >
> >
> > Israel's leading known Kabbalistic Elder, Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri called
> > upon worldwide Jewry Tuesday night to return to Israel due to natural
> > disasters which threaten to strike the world.
> >
> > In a class between the Mincha (afternoon) and Maariv
> > (evening) prayers at his Jerusalem yeshiva seminary, Rabbi Kaduri issued
> > the following call:
This declaration I find fitting to issue
> > for all of the Jews of the world to hear. It is incumbent upon them to
> > return to the Land of Israel due to terrible natural disasters which
> > threaten the world.
> >
> > In the future, the Holy One, Blessed be He, will bring about great
> > disasters in the countries of the world to sweeten the judgements of the
> > Land of Israel.
> >
> > I am ordering the publication of this declaration as a warning, so that
> > Jews in the countries of the world will be aware of the impending danger
> > and will come to the Land of Israel for the buliding of the Temple and
> > revelation of our righteous Mashiach (Messiah).

> >
> > Rabbi Kaduri also stated that the upcoming year would be a year of
> > and revelation" in the world. The Jewish year 5766 begins in less than
> > three weeks, with the holiday of Rosh Hashana.
> >
> > The Rabbi explained that the numerical Hebrew abbreviation for 5766,
> > taf, shin, samech, vav gives insight into the nature of the
> > upcoming year. "This will be a year of secret (or sod, from the
> > letter samech) and revelation (or v'giliu from the letter
> > vav).
> >
> > Arutz Sheva Israel National Radio show host Yehoshua Meiri first
> > publicized the declaration on his Hebrew radio show late Tuesday night.
> > Meiri typed out the words of Rabbi Kaduri's declaration and presented
> > back to the Rabbi who signed on the document.
> >
> > Associates of Rabbi Kaduri were dispatched to communicate the
> > Elder's call to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon before the latter's
> > to the United States later the same night.
> >
> > Meiri says he will publicize the signed declaration after Prime Minister
> > Sharon delivers a speech in the U.S., in which he is expected to call
> > the Jews of the Diaspora to make Aliyah (immigrate) to Israel.
> >
> > During a visit in 1990 with the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi
> > Menachem Mendel Schneerson (of blessed memory), Rabbi Kaduri was told by
> > the Rebbe that he would live to see the coming of the Mashiach.
> >
> > Earlier this Jewish year, Rabbi Kaduri predicted great tragedies in the
> > world. Just two weeks before the devastating tsunami in southeast Asia,
> > Rabbi Kaduri was quoted in the Yediot Acharonot newspaper as
> > saying:

> > "We are now in the fourth year of what could be the seven-year
> > period, according to the calculation of the Vilna Gaon. [However.] in
> > coming three years, uncertainty about the future will hang over our
> > unless we work and strive that the Mashiach be revealed.
> >
> > The Mashiach is already in Israel. Whatever people are sure will not
> > happen, is liable to happen, and whatever we are certain will happen may
> > disappoint us. But in the end, there will be peace throughout the world.
> > The world is mitmatek mehadinim (or becoming sweet from strict
> > justice).
> >
> > Great tragedies in the world are foreseen, that's the thing of the Jews
> > going to the East. But our enemies will not prevail over us in the Land
> > Israel, 'fear and trembling will fall upon them,' in the power of
> > Torah."

> >
> > Rabbi Kaduri said in the week prior to the interview, "What can save the
> > world from calamities is real repentance by Jews, who must increase acts
> > of kindness towards one another... The cry of the many poor in Israel
> > the expulsion of Jews from their homes shakes the world... It's not for
> > naught that this place was hit, where many of our compatriots went to
> > for this-worldly lusts."
> >
> > The month of Elul, which immediately preceeds the Jewish New Year is
> > traditionally a month of teshuva, or repentence by the Jewish
> > people, in anticipation of the judgments that are incurred on the Jewish
> > High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
> >
> > Rabbi Kaduri has told his students that the current government will be
> > last one of the "old era." He is on record as saying that Sharon will
> > the last prime minister in Israel, and that the new government will
> > already have leadership of the Messianic era.

A Frum Skeptic Comments

I can't resist commenting on this one. At risk of being the closed-minded skeptic, I tend to view Kabbalah with the same mentality that I view astrology and good luck omens. Note how the Rabbi above uses the extremely vague term "secret and revelation," which is almost certain to be applicable to any number of events that will likely transpire in the coming year.
I also view the natural disasters of this past year as a decidedly un-Divine phenomenon, one which happens every now and then as the earth releases its energy, often in ways that are immensely destructive when it occurs in densely populated areas. I can't for a moment imagine how God would deliberately devastate poor, nominally-civilized beach dwellers in a third-world Asian country (as in the tsunami), nor a mostly Black, mostly impoverished population in New Orleans in order to get the attention of groups completely unrelated to either disaster.
Naturally, however, after the recent Katrina storm and its consequences that came about as a result of poor planning by government officials (as well as extreme poverty causing most of the victims to be trapped in the city), I've seen various religious factions turning it into a prophetic event. The Muslims were first to comment that Katrina was a storm sent by Allah to punish the US for being in Iraq. Were "Allah" seeking to do so, one would think him smart enough to punish the government, not some impoverished Blacks in the deep South. From what I could observe, GW Bush didn't seem to be losing a lot of sleep over it until castigated by the media. :-)
Likewise, Christians claim it is because we aren't doing enough for Israel, or we have too much cable TV, or we haven't reinstated prohibition, etc. etc. I'm being facetious, but you know what I mean. Similarly, why destroy the poor who have little or no impact on public policy?
Now we have the Jewish faction, the Kabbalists, who dwell on the fringes perched perilously between barely rational and idiotic extremes of superstition. The God of the Hebrews would certainly find a more selective and just means to get our attention, if He exists. He would, if the time was here for all of us to go to Israel, provide a clear message along with the means to comply with His wishes. Drowning poor Blacks and Asians does not, in my estimation, signal any message to us, and if it did, I would question the justice of this God.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Yated's Attack With The Use Of The Big Lie!

The Yated's extremism has reached a new low. The person they are attacking is Rabbi Moshe Tendler the Rosh Yeshiva Of Y.U. who has battled against the Metziza B' Peh procedure by any mohel that has oral Herpes.

This is how these low-lifes' new strategy works.

Attack R' Tendler by diminishing his credibility by his father in-law, R' Feinstein z"l, therefore any of R' Tendler's positions as it relates to Halacha would be suspect.

Shame on these Jew haters.They will resort to any tactics to demean the people who disagree with their Fundamentalism.

All this on the eve of Rosh Hashana.
Reprinted from the Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
The Fallacy of Limited Horizon.

One day someone told HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt"l about a certain avreich — in fact his son-in-law — who had made a medical discovery that might prove to be a cure for cancer. R' Moshe responded that even if it was a sure cure for cancer, "is ess nisht vert di bittul Torah" (it would not be worth the bittul Torah that it caused). (Cited by HaRav Michel Shurkin in Megged Giv'os Olom, vol. I, and confirmed with Rabbi Y. Weinfeld, the source given there)How do we understand this story?

Some people have a very high opinion of the importance of a cure for cancer, since it is obviously of such great benefit to so many people. It is an accomplishment they can understand and relate to, as perhaps among the highest possible chessed services one could render. As loyal Jews, they also acknowledge the value of learning Torah which is so strongly stressed in our tradition. They recognize that learning Torah is important, but do not consider it overwhelmingly so.

If told such a story, they would be surprised — and perhaps even shocked — since they would interpret R' Moshe's statement as assessing the value of a cure for cancer as being lower than what they regard as the value of learning Torah. They would assume that they and R' Moshe share the same regard for learning Torah, and that his statement belittles the value of a cure for cancer. They would regard the statement as sort of an "ivory tower" view of the world, valuing abstract learning over accomplishment in the "real world."

In fact the chiddush here is in the other direction. As a leader of the Jewish people and as a prominent posek, R' Moshe certainly understood and recognized fully the value of a cure for cancer. He knew how many lives would be saved and how much suffering it would relieve. His constant involvement with halachic questions pertaining to treatment and the concomitant exposure to the pain and tribulation of all those involved, undoubtedly gave him a perspective on the value of such an accomplishment that was shared by very few.

Yet nonetheless, he considered the bittul Torah to be price that does not justify discovering a cure for cancer. This does not minimize or trivialize the value of such an achievement, but rather it recognizes Torah learning as something much greater still.

A true appreciation of Torah opens vistas that are simply not visible to those who are "empirical" and only believe in what they can see or feel. It does not trivialize or belittle the world of the body, but adds the world of the spirit on top of it.

It is only by properly appreciating the world of the spirit that we can properly value the world of the body. If our entire world is the material world, all human effort is trivialized.

If your scale only ranges from one to five, even those things that you place at the top will be undervalued. Humanists who revere humanity but deny G-d can never properly value human life. If the true scale, the scale of the Torah, ranges from one to a hundred, and the Torah places human life at, say, seventy-five, that is fifteen times higher than the humanists on their scale of five, even though it is considerably below the top of the Torah scale of values. (The choice of these numbers is arbitrary, and merely meant to illustrate the point. Their true magnitudes may be off in either direction.)

Perhaps this is why even such a "humanistic" mitzvah such as "Love your neighbor as yourself" is followed by the words, "Ani Hashem" (Vayikra 19:18). We must not forget the true scale, even when we focus on our fellows.

The gemora says that we should not travel with an am ho'oretz since he does not recognize that Torah is "our life and the length of our days" (Devorim 30:20). If he does not value his own life, the gemora explains, he will certainly not value the lives of others. If he does not live the Torah, if he does not form his values from the Torah, if his horizons are limited to the material world, he will not even recognize the value of his own life. If he does not internalize the scale of Torah, he will not be able to appreciate the value of his own life and the true potential that it encompasses.

If we understand the true scale of things our horizons will not be artificially limited. If we appreciate others we will appreciate ourselves, and if we appreciate ourselves we will be sure to do teshuvoh during the upcoming Days of Judgment.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Rabbis Get A Message From G-D - Shvartzes Should Learn Torah To Avoid Drowning And Bush Don't F*** With Israel!

Just when I am convinced I heard it all from these shmucks, they come out with new messages from G-D.You have to wonder how crazy can these guys get?
If you ignored the title rabbi, and inserted imam, would you not be enraged?
To me a fundamentalist putz who is certain why people get killed, should be locked up in a nut house.
I don't care if he is wearing a black hat, fur hat (shtreimel)or a dish towel on his head!

Nature’s Wrath, Or God’s
Larry Cohler-Esses - Editor At Large-The Jewish Week

When Israel’s most prominent Sephardic rabbi described Hurricane Katrina as America’s punishment for supporting Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza — and condemned its mainly black victims for failing to study Torah — many Jewish leaders here were appalled.

But in Israel, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s view linking the worst natural disaster in American history to U.S. support for the Gaza withdrawal is not unique among rabbis.

Rabbi Joseph Gerlitzky, the leader of the Lubavitch chasidic sect’s center in central Tel-Aviv, among others, gave a sermon from his pulpit soon after the hurricane voicing the same theme. A popular radio rabbi echoed him. And a noted Jerusalem kabbalist reportedly also made similar comments.

The leader of the largest Orthodox group in America, the Orthodox Union, specifically criticized Rabbi Yosef’s comments in a widely distributed e-mail.

“I do not think that any living human being, however superior his halachic expertise, can know God’s reasons for natural calamities,” wrote OU executive vice president Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, referring to Rabbi Yosef’s acknowledged authority on matters of religious law. “That God’s ways are often inscrutable is a basic and universally accepted component of our belief system.”

But the head of the OU’s rabbinic group was far more circumspect.

“There are many views regarding God’s ways and the problems of good and evil in the world,” said Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America.

The council put out a statement expressing its own view that, “mortal man is not privy to the ways of the Immortal One, and we do not always understand why sadness and tragedy are part of human life.”

When asked directly about the statements by the Israeli rabbis, Rabbi Herring said, “Others may have different views. We would not seek to criticize or judge them.”

Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, the largest haredi group in the U.S., preferred not to comment on the record when asked his reaction to the Israeli rabbis’ statements.

Rabbi Shafran instead pointed to an article he had written recently expressing his own views as Aguda’s spokesman. In his piece, Rabbi Shafran suggested that the sinfulness of New Orleans residents, rather than the Gaza withdrawal, might explain the destruction and death Katrina visited on their city in particular.

What occurs, at least to me, is that the ‘Big Easy’ received its nickname from the lifestyle it exemplified, one of leisure and (in its most literal sense) carelessness,” he wrote, reflecting on the significance of the tragedy’s main venue. “The city is probably best known — or was, at least, until now — for the unbridled partying and debauchery that yearly characterized its annual Mardi Gras celebrations.”

At the same time, he wrote, in times of catastrophe, “Jewish tradition counsels Jews to point their fingers at themselves.” God, he said, “casts the Jews as chosen” with “a responsibility not only to strive to live exemplary lives in service to the divine but also to see world events as messages.”

Despite the statements of Rabbi Gerlitzky, the Tel Aviv Lubavitch leader, Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn, said of the Israeli’s’ comments, “Clearly no one can claim to know how or why God does what he does.”

It was in his weekly sermon last week that Rabbi Yosef, the most prominent of the Israeli rabbis involved, described the hurricane as “God’s retribution.”

“[President] Bush was behind Gush Katif,” he explained, citing one of the Gaza settlements from which Jews were forced out. “He perpetrated the expulsion. Now everyone is mad at him. This is his punishment for what he did to Gush Katif.”

As for the New Orleans residents who were forced to flee their homes or, worse, who were unable to, or who lost their lives, Rabbi Yosef said, “There was a tsunami, and there are terrible natural disasters because there isn’t enough Torah study … “Hundreds of thousands remained homeless. Tens of thousands have been killed. All of this because they have no God.”

Rabbi Gerlitzky, the Tel-Aviv Lubavitch leader, sermonized on the topic from his pulpit on the Sabbath of Sept. 3. He told the World Net Daily Web site soon after, “We don’t have prophets who can tell us exactly what are God’s ways, but when we see something so enormous as Katrina, I would say Bush and [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice need to make an accounting of their actions, because something was done wrong by America in a big way. There are many obvious connections between the storm and the Gaza evacuation, which come right on top of each other. No one has permission to take one inch of the Land of Israel from the Jewish people.”
In an interview with The Jewish Week, Rabbi Gerlitzky stood by his quotes but stressed he spoke to the press as an official of the Rabbinic Congress for Peace, an anti-disengagement group, not as a representative of Lubavitch.

Rabbi Lazar Brody, a popular rabbi with his own radio program in Israel, wrote on his blog even before Katrina hit New Orleans:

“Authorities in Louisiana have ordered hundreds of thousands of people to flee from their homes. … The Talmud teaches ... ‘a turn for a turn.’ My heart tells me there’s a link between the forced expulsion of 8,500 people [from Gaza] and the nearly 850,000 people who are forced to flee their homes in Louisiana. … Hashem [God] isn’t wasting much time in showing his wrath … I humbly believe the unfortunate people of Louisiana can blame Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice for their misfortune. … He who creates exiles in the Holy Land will have a hundred-fold exiles in his own land.”

And Jerusalem kabbalist Rabbi David Batzri, a prominent student of the venerated kabbalist elder, Rabbi Yitzhak Kedourie, echoed the thought. “Divine retribution is meted out according to the principle of ‘measure for measure,’” he told World Net Daily. “Just as the Jews were forced out of their homes as a result of U.S. pressure on Israel, so, too, are Americans being forced out of their homes.”

Israeli rabbis were not alone in their prophetic instinct, of course. A number of Evangelical Christian leaders also linked Katrina’s destruction to U.S. support for the disengagement. And many more linked it to what they decried as New Orleans’ decadence — albeit in much stronger terms than Rabbi Shafran.

At the same time, some Muslim leaders attributed the catastrophe to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born terrorist leader who claims responsibility for scores of bombings in Iraq, made the point in a tape released on an Islamist Web site. And in South Philadelphia on Aug. 31, Black Muslim minister Louis Farrakhan opined that Katrina was divine punishment for the violence the U.S. had inflicted on Iraq.

Among the Jewish groups to condemn the remarks by Rabbi Yosef were the Anti-Defamation League and the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center. But the refusal of some Orthodox groups to criticize Rabbi Yosef’s comments may be linked to his stature.

A former chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yosef is, for Sephardic Jews, without peer among living rabbis as an authority on Orthodox religious law.

“A disavowal of a great man’s comments is essentially a disavowal of the man,” said one Orthodox communal official, explaining their dilemma.

But Rabbi Alan Brill, a professor of Jewish philosophy at Yeshiva University, said the issue is wider than that. The rhetoric linking world events to biblical prophecy has “become a big part of the Orthodox community,” he said, just as it has for Evangelical Christianity.

During the last 15 years, Rabbi Brill explained, a variety of factors have made biblical prophecy and world events a major theme of Orthodox discourse, especially among religious leaders. The Chabad Lubavitch movement’s messianic worldview, inspired by its late leader, is one key factor, he said; the separate messianism of the Gush Emunim settlers’ movement in Israel is another.

For Orthodox Jews in America, said Brill, this all takes place within the broader culture’s increasing fixation on messianic end time themes centered on Israel. He cited Rev. Tim LaHaye’s best-selling “Left Behind” book series as but one example.

“We’re watching an increasing application of biblical prophecy to world events as part of people’s daily rhetoric,” he said. “That rhetoric has become a strong plurality in both the Orthodox and Christian Evangelical community — not the belief, necessarily; the rhetoric, which is used even if followers don’t exactly believe it. No one will say it’s nonsense anymore.”

Saturday, September 17, 2005

No Shayla : A Deconstruction

No Shayla (Question): A Deconstruction by David Kelsey—An Un-Orthodox Jew Exclusive!

[Author’s note – An Overview, just like the heligah (holy, but here meant sardonically) Artscroll: It is my hope that his article will reach secular Jews who may have concerns about a friend or family member involved with Ultra-Orthodoxy. I therefore am translating many of the Hebrew or Yiddish words into English the first time I use them, as to allow this essay to be readable by them. I use these Hebrew and Yiddish words to illustrate I know what I am talking about to those Orthodox Jews who might care, however few they are.

Secular Jews should know, they are considered contemptible by many Orthodox Jews, and this translates into unfortunate and destructive policies. As we know from the tragedy of the Orthodox Union’s resistance to deal with abuse in the Boruch Lanner case, some of the Orthodox are sometimes more receptive to secular Jewish pressure than simply doing the right thing.

It is my hope to reveal the problems of the Baal Tshuvah movement to those who might not know where the real problems lie, but get caught up in philosophical issues because they lack the education to tackle the more pragmatic ones. Just as the problem with Boruch Lanner was not that he wanted children to keep shabbos, so too the problem with these young adult institutions is not that they want their students to keep shabbos. The following is one such problem that people should be aware of.-DK]

My argument with many of the defenders of the Baal Tshuvah (newly ultra-Orthodox) institutions has been over the contention that they should have “thought for themselves,” and my insistence that they are explicitly taught not to.

A heartfelt young man named “Yitz” who frequently comments about the articles on this blog referred me to an essay by Rabbi Ben Tzion Kokis in the Jewish Observer as a counter to my specific complaints of advocacy of socio-economic destruction by baal tshuvah institutions and their leaders. I found it, and have decided to address this essay, as the Jewish Observer is to a large degree the voice of the mainstream B’nai Torah outlook and attitudes.

And for another reason.

It has been almost fifteen years since I drove Rabbi Kokis home from Ohr Somayach, Monsey that strangely intimate night. I liked Rabbi Kokis a lot. I still do. He is uniquely empathetic to his students, a quality sorely lacking by many in similar positions. He seeks to understand the unique individual circumstances in each case, when too many others believe that one size (hat) fits all.

And still there are problems, as we shall soon see.

But first, back to the drive home.

As I turned on the car, the music blared, most likely from a modern-rock station, which I quickly shut off. I apologized, but Rabbi Kokis made it clear I didn’t owe him or anyone else an apology for obviously having listened to the radio during my last trip.

He lived only a few minutes down the street. That can be a long time, though, when in the middle of a conversation.

Like I said, it has been almost fifteen years, and I forget what we were talking about, or what I was asking him about, but what is clear from what transpired is that my perspective wasn’t one most students at the yeshiva in an advanced shiur should have.

We arrived in front of his home, and he motioned to get out, but then paused.

Rabbi Kokis then compared me to a protagonist in a James Joyce novel, Ulysses, and suggested I was about "to break out” from a similar feeling of religious oppression.

A strange line had been crossed. For students and Rabbeim in Ohr Somayach, secular references were traditionally only invoked in order to illustrate the insanity of the secular world, and the comparative superiority of the yeshiva world, or to bolster the yeshiva world’s position from a non-Orthodox Jew or gentile who concurred with its position, even if inadvertently, and sometimes, inaccurately. And even then, it was usually restricted to news stories or anecdotes. Certainly literary (a.k.a. “shtoos”) references were not sympathetically employed.

But R. Kokis knew what was happening. Perhaps he had seen it before. Perhaps he had seen many times before.

For the maskil (secularist)within me, who had been disoriented by the call to an uncompromising ultra-Orthodox lifestyle dedicated to learning Torah and Mitzvot-- and had been placated to some extent by assiduously avoiding the most severe lavoosh (garb worn such as a black hat), chumrahs (stringencies), and reading a few secular books, and occasionally practicing classical violin--was reasserting himself.

And he was no longer disoriented, but was gaining greater strength, and would not be mollified with a couple of community college courses.

And Rabbi Kokis-- and certainly no other faculty member at Dark Light-- had any answers for me except more of the same. And more of the same was provoking an increasingly resistant and unfavorable reaction.

But at least that night, he let me know that he understood.

And that meant and still means something.

It is, therefore--while still a vehement disagreement-- not meant disrespectfully or personally. At least, not to him. For Rabbi Kokis is not the worst of the B’nai Torah kiruv (recruitment of secular Jews)leaders. He is one of the best.

I am excerpting those aspects of his essay I wish to cover. For those who wish to read his essay in its entirety, go here.

Rabbi Kokis writes,
This is one of the most crucial, yet painful, stages in a baal teshuva’s development: the realization that in the world of Torah he cannot follow his own hunches in deciding what is right and what is wrong. The average baal/baalas teshuva grew up in a culture where there were no, or precious few, moral absolutes. Very often, society places pleasure and gratification as the only criteria for choices in life. Even when a sense of moral correctness is sought, the main standard of judgment is the dictates of his own conscience: are you being true to your own sense of justice and decency? Suddenly, having made a commitment to a life of Torah, things are no longer so simple. He may very likely find that compared to the past, he is having a much harder time making decisions, because he no longer can think only in terms of what he thinks is appropriate, but rather what is really right, through the eyes of the Torah.

In fact, most baal/baalas tshuvahs did not grow up in anarchy, nor were they taught nihilism, but rather, were taught a different, if admittedly less rigid, moral code. This is a tremendous exaggeration about what life is like in the secular Jewish world.

And whom is the baal tshuvah supposed to consult, now that he is understandably “having a much harder time?” If you guessed his local, Dark Light Rabbi, you guessed correctly. In case you aren’t sure that’s what’s being advocated, read the next paragraph.
Even questions which would seem to call for a purely subjective evaluation are not left up to the inclinations and preferences of the individual. Defining beauty, for instance, becomes a complex proposition when a lulav or esrog is concerned; the Torah’s requirement of “hadar – beautiful –” is not left up to one’s aesthetic instincts. On occasion, the opposite is true: the esrog which you may consider “pretty” may be barely kosher by the halacha’s standards, while the real “m’hudar” could be less than dazzling in everyday terms. The more one becomes conditioned to the world of halacha, it would seem, the less valid individual preferences become.

In other words, the baal tshuva is taught that his thinking is generally the opposite of the true Torah Jew, and can’t be trusted. On anything. He needs to ASK. On everything.
A talmid of the yeshiva had been studying in a prestigious European university, and had a few months to go before earning a Master’s degree, which would virtually guarantee him a teaching position of his choice. Having become enthusiastically involved in learning, however, he saw no point in completing his studies, since at this point he felt no desire to ever re-enter the academic world. The rebbeim of his yeshiva expressed misgivings at this course of action, and suggested that he invest the few months of study to finish his degree, and then continue learning, so that his options will be open in case the need will arise at some future date to seek a teaching position. (It is important to note that his field of study was not problematic from a halacha standpoint.)

The talmid said that he appreciated his rebbeim’s concern, but it was clear to him that he had no desire to be a college professor, so he had no reason to stop learning. His Rosh Yeshiva then suggested that they discuss the issue with Rabbi Shach, l”xz, and the bachur quickly agreed, confident that he would find total sympathy for his position, since Rabbi Shach’s stand on the primacy of learning over all else is well known. Much to the surprise of the talmid, however, the advice of Rabbi Shach was to finish his degree, and then devote himself totally to growth in Torah.

What is noteworthy is that this advice was based on a consideration of the unique issues that face baalei teshuva, and would not be applied across the board to the conventional yeshiva talmid.

This shows the resistance and contempt for secular studies and a profession like nothing else. Look how carefully Rabbi Kokis is to couch the anecdote in terms acceptable to the frum (literally religious, but usually suggesting ultra-Orthodox) community. The student need only “invest a few months” to finish a graduate degree which would “virtually guarantee him a teaching position of his choice.”

And still, it was (and is) a big shayla. Why did he think it was a bad idea? Because he had been taught it was a bad idea. And he wasn’t taught that in graduate school; he was taught that at Dark Light, or some comparable pit of miserybaal tshuvah yeshiva.

And the qualifiers are incredible. This particular field of study was “not problematic” from a halacha standpoint. Well, which ones are and which ones aren’t, might I ask? Can’t say! Consult your Dark Light professional, please. ALWAYS ASK A SHAYLA.

Let it be clear – students at these institutions are not just taught how to be observant Jews. They are taught to repent. Hence the name “tshuvah,” and to regret things that maybe they shouldn’t be ashamed of.

That in fact, they should be proud of, and should continue to pursue.

The yeshivah world rightly criticizes the chassidim for asking their Rebbes for medical advise. They should be going for a brucha, not what medicine to take or not take. And the Rebbes are considered at fault by the B’nai Torah when they don’t defer to the chassid’s doctor.

But they act the same when it comes to vocation and secular education.

Ask your yeshivishe Rabbi how to learn the Gemorrah on the esrog. Ask him a shayla on the esrog itself.

But do not go to him on vocational questions or questions regarding secular educational pursuits.

There is no shame in pursuing advanced degrees. There is no shame in thinking for yourself professionally, even though THEY WILL TELL YOU NOT TO. Don’t listen to these rabbis who tell you to ask. For when you decide you have had enough, and yank the reigns of your own life back into your own hands, they will tell you not to be angry, that you should have known better than to listen to them in the first place.

If they’re nice, they’ll reference a great gentile writer’s novel.

Most aren’t that nice.

If there are any ba’al tshuvahs out there reading this post, or friends or family of theirs, consider this: Your ancestors, who fled Eastern Europe and Russia seeking opportunity, were religious. At least some of them.

But they did not heed the admonishments of the rabbinical leaders of their time who said it was forbidden to leave Russia and Eastern Europe.

If they had listened to the Russian Rebbes, your parents would have grown up under a militantly atheist communist regime, and your own Judaism would have been nothing compared to what it is now. Your grandparents may not have even survived the purges or the gulag. If they would have stayed in Eastern Europe, they would most likely have been killed.

Your ancestors did the right thing on this issue to disregard the Rabbis and do what they felt was good for them in terms of livelihood, which was the single most important draw of the so-called “treife medina.” The Rabbis should have been here building an infrastructure, like the yeshivas which became YU did, and as did the Babylon Rabbis prior to the destruction of the 2nd Temple.

Do not listen to those who discourage vocational and educational training. Go where you need to go, do what you think would help you, even if it is considered a makom (place) of spiritual sakuna (danger) by your “as much mesiras nefesh as possible” rabbi.

For those who survived the Holocaust and Russian because of the great advice of their rabbis, let them retain their minhag (inherited tradition) if they want to.

But it is not your minhag to ask on such issues. It was never your minhag.

If you don’t do as I implore you, the price will be paid not only in socio-economic loss, not only in self-esteem, the price will be paid in part by shabbos.

Shabbos becomes emblematic of everything wrong about not pursuing your dreams because of fear of “sakuna”. It begins to feel like the world is moving, and you are not. You will hate being a guest; you will have trouble falling asleep. You will not look forward to shabbos, but will dread it.

You will hate not doing. Because you are not where you should be, and shabbos reminds you why that is.

Your frumkeit will suffer. The only question is how much.

Some FFB’s will laugh at this, and say I am being ridiculous.

But ask any weathered and grizzly baal tshuvah. He will not laugh at what I am saying.

At least on these issues, do not ask a shayla. If you think it’s a shayla, the answer is yes.

It isn’t one for you to ask a Rabbi. As in the end, it is only you who can answer it.

Let us at least agree on the following:

Baal Tshuvah institutions encourage their students to ask shaylas on everything, including vocational and educational pursuits.

The Rabbis who field such questions are no more competent to play vocational counselor than Chassidic Rebbes are to play doctor.

Neither should be allowed veto power on these students’ lives in either regard.

It is no "shayla."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Warning To Every Orthodox Parent!

This joke was sent to me by a UOJ fan. Enjoy, or cry if you have a daughter!

A Jewish girl brings her fiancé home to meet her parents. After dinner, her mother tells her father to find out about the young man. He invites the fiancé to his study for schnapps.

"So what are your plans?" the father asks the fiancé.

"I am a Torah scholar," he replies.

"A Torah scholar," the father says. "Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in, as she's accustomed to?"

"I will study," the young man replies, "and God will provide for us."

"And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?" asks the father.

"I will concentrate on my studies," the young man replies, "God will provide for us."

"And children?" asks the father. "How will you support children?"

"Don't worry, sir, God will provide," replies the fiancé.

The conversation proceeds like this, and each time the father questions, the fiancé insists that God will provide.

Later, the mother asks, "How did it go?" The father answers, "He has no job,no money, and no plans, but the good news is he thinks I'm God."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

"Kosher" Clock & "Kosher" Lamp-A Must for Every Jewish Household-Don't Leave Shul Without One

What makes a clock Kosher??
Well, does your regular alarm clock stay on for an hour?
Is that why you don?t use it on Shabbos?

Have you tried to use a watch alarm, or Palm alarm but it?s not loud enough?

Wouldn?t you like to have a snooze alarm on Shabbos?

Do you take a nap on Shabbos afternoon and need
to ask someone to wake you for your chavrusah or for mincha?
Do you know a teenager who needs help getting up for minyan on Shabbos?

Now you can take care of all these challenges with KosherClockTM

KosherClock has 5 alarms that can be pre-set on Friday for Shabbos.

Set the first alarm to go off at 8:00am.
Set the second alarm for 8:15am.
Each alarm will ring for one minute
and then shut itself off automatically.

No need to touch your KosherClock.
The effect will be just like a snooze alarm.

And to make sure you don?t accidentally touch
any of the buttons when you are still half asleep,
KosherClock has a special hard flip cover as a ?heker.?

Perhaps you?ll set the third alarm for 9:00am for your wife.

The fourth alarm can be set at 4:00 pm to
wake you for your afternoon chavrusah.

And if you tend to get carried away with your learning, set the fifth alarm to warn you that it?s time to walk to Shul for mincha.

On Shabbat you can use the standard "beep-beep" alarm.

On weekdays you can select which sound you?d like to be woken by with KosherClock.
Choose the standard ?beep ? beep?
or use the pre-recorded melody.

My favorite part of KosherClock is the
ability to record any 10 second sound for the alarm.

Imagine waking up to the sweet voice of grandchild saying,
?Wake up Zaydie, time for minyan!?

or a daughter saying, ?Wake up Ima, Good Morning, time for school!?

or your son saying, “Don't forget to count the Omer, Abba!”

And there?s a place to put your favorite photo of the child who?s speaking.

What a fabulous gift idea, for
Bar Mitzvah, Graduation, Birthday or
especially for Grandparents living in another town.

And all this for only $19.95
Including tax and shipping anywhere in North America! For yourself or to be delivered as a gift.

For $29.95 we will ship anywhere in the world.

And best of all, as one of our subscribers, we?re offering
you a 5% discount before we announce KosherClock to the public.

Order now. Please note there?s a limit of two per customer and your discount coupon is valid for one week only.

(note: Your discount will appear only when you check out)

(note: Your discount will appear only when you check out)

Hurry because we?ve only received a small quantity in our first shipment.

With warm wishes for a Shana Tovah,

P.S. Almost 40% of the days of Tishrei are KosherLamp and KosherClock days (Shabbos or Yom Tov) I?m sure you appreciate
KosherLamp more than ever. Why not order another one for yourself,

This is part of an e-mail solicitation I received.
The marketing of the word "kosher" is pathetic.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Congratulations To All Our Readers And Contributors

We had our five hundred thousandth "hit" (READ HALF MILLION), this morning!!
I thank my co-bloggers Gross, David Kelsey and AmEchad for contributing to our success.

We have made great strides in calling attention to the problems that plague our community.
Fanatical newspapers are now taking ads from our "modern" brethren.
Two yeshivas are being internally audited by the baal habatim(financial supporters).
We are the talk of the town, and crooks and potential crooks are recognizing that it is getting harder for them to hide.
A real good start!

I have for years tried to rectify many of the ills that have become cancerous, to no avail.I am in absolute awe at the power of the internet.I could never imagine that in a few short months we would have made this kind of progress.
I get roughly three hundred e-mails a week from ALL OVER THE GLOBE, Jews and non-Jews asking questions and curious about our writings.
I get many e-mails from people in the community encouraging me to continue what I'm doing. I sincerely appreciate your kind words, and will continue to respond to your comments and suggestions.

I also get alot of hate mail, including threats to my welfare and the welfare of my loved ones, which I have turned over to the authorities.
I am NOT deterred by this, just the opposite, it demonstrates how many monkey cages I have rattled.

Due to time constraints, I am encouraging my friends (if I have any left), to contribute verifiable blogs for publishing. Please e-mail them to: a_unorthodoxjew@yahoo.com.

My Board Of Directors are a source of strength, for which I am grateful.Thanks for the chizuk....

I have a serious day job, I am raising a most beautiful family, I learn Torah every day, am an active board member of many worthy organizations and teach Torah classes three times a week; therefore I will be gleaning the media for writings I agree with and publish them with their permission.
I will post my own writings as often as possible, probably once a week.I promise to keep posting any blog that I feel will be intellectually stimulating and definitely controversial.Please check our site as often as your time permits.

As far as my credentials; I do not intend to divulge my identity so I may keep the heat on.
I will make an exception for anyone who is "CERTAIN" I have lied about them.
This is my offer:put $100,000 in a fund at Machon L'Horaah Bais Din in Monsey, N.Y., that will be turned over to Tomchei Shabbos upon verification of my credentials.
I will show up in person with the questioned documents.

To add to my detractors' misery, I am from an internationally known Jewish family.
Books, essays, articles, doctoral thesis's have been written about us.
I will bring a truck with these writings to this meeting! I will give them to you as a gift. This is my way of saying thanks for being a fool.

Finally, I am a very proud Jew, who loves our religion. I HATE with a passion the people who have sullied it!!! I intend to chase them for every single infraction, big or small.Our ancestors were not moser nefesh for Yiddishkeit so we would have to settle for gangsters as "leaders".
Anyone in a position of trust MUST AND WILL be held accountable for their behavior and proclamations.

We must learn from the mistakes of history and prevent the abuses that have mired all the other religions, from happening to us.

If I sat by and was NOT proactive in attempting to rid Yiddishkeit of the charlatans, hucksters, false Messiahs, Lepers and downright crazy SOB's, I know I will have to answer for that when my time is up.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Vanishing American Jew (And One Rabbi Who Killed All His Students)


The "Jewish Question" for the Twenty-first
Century: Can We Survive Our Success?

THE GOOD NEWS is that American Jews--as individuals--have never been more secure, more accepted, more affluent, and less victimized by discrimination or anti-Semitism. The bad news is that American Jews--as a people--have never been in greater danger of disappearing through assimilation, intermarriage, and low birthrates. The even worse news is that our very success as individuals contributes to our vulnerability as a people. The even better news is that we can overcome this new threat to the continuity of American Jewish life and emerge with a more positive Judaism for the twenty-first century--a Judaism that is less dependent on our enemies for its continuity, and that rests more securely on the considerable, but largely untapped, strengths of our own heritage.

American Jewish life is in danger of disappearing, just as most American Jews have achieved everything we ever wanted: acceptance, influence, affluence, equality. As the result of skyrocketing rates of intermarriage and assimilation, as well as "the lowest birth rate of any religious or ethnic community in the United States," the era of enormous Jewish influence on American life may soon be coming to an end. Although Jews make up just over 2 percent of the population of the United States--approximately 5.5 million out of 262 million--many Americans mistakenly believe that we constitute a full 20 percent of the American people, because of our disproportionate visibility, influence, and accomplishments. But our numbers may soon be reduced to the point where our impact on American life will necessarily become marginalized. One Harvard study predicts that if current demographic trends continue, the American Jewish community is likely to number less than 1 million and conceivably as few as 10,000 by the time the United States celebrates its tricentennial in 2076. Other projections suggest that early in the next century, American Jewish life as we know it will be a shadow of its current, vibrant self--consisting primarily of isolated pockets of ultra-Orthodox Hasidim.

Jews have faced dangers in the past, but this time we may be unprepared to confront the newest threat to our survival as a people, because its principal cause is our own success as individuals. Our long history of victimization has prepared us to defend against those who would destroy us out of hatred; indeed, our history has forged a Jewish identity far too dependent on persecution and victimization by our enemies. But today's most serious threats come not from those who would persecute us, but from those who would, without any malice, kill us with kindness--by assimilating us, marrying us, and merging with us out of respect, admiration, and even love. The continuity of the most influential Jewish community in history is at imminent risk, unless we do something dramatic now to confront the quickly changing dangers.

This book is a call to action for all who refuse to accept our demographic demise as inevitable. It is a demand for a new Jewish state of mind capable of challenging the conventional wisdom that Judaism is more adaptive to persecution and discrimination than it is to an open, free, and welcoming society--that Jews paradoxically need enemies in order to survive, that anti-Semitism is what has kept Judaism alive. This age-old perspective on Jewish survival is illustrated by two tragic stories involving respected rabbinical leaders.

The first story takes place in 1812, when Napoleon was battling the czar for control of the Pale of Settlement (the western part of czarist Russia), where millions of Jews were forced to live in crowded poverty and under persecution and discrimination as second-class subjects. A victory for Napoleon held the promise of prosperity, first-class citizenship, freedom of movement, and an end to discrimination and persecution. A victory for the czar would keep the Jews impoverished and miserable. The great Hasidic rabbi Shneur Zalman--the founder of the Lubavitch dynasty--stood up in his synagogue on the first day of Rosh Hashanah to offer a prayer to God asking help for the leader whose victory would be good for the Jews. Everyone expected him to pray for Napoleon. But he prayed for the czar to defeat Napoleon. In explaining his counterintuitive choice, he said: "Should Bonaparte win, the wealth of the Jews will be increased and their [civic] position will be raised. At the same time their hearts will be estranged from our Heavenly Father. Should however our Czar Alexander win, the Jewish hearts will draw nearer to our Heavenly Father, though the poverty of Israel may become greater and his position lower." This remarkable story is all too typical of how so many Jewish leaders throughout our history have reasoned about Jewish survival. Without tsuris--troubles--we will cease to be Jewish. We need to be persecuted, impoverished, discriminated against, hated, and victimized in order for us to retain our Jewishness. The "chosen people" must be denied choices if Judaism is to survive. If Jews are given freedom, opportunity, and choice, they will choose to assimilate and disappear.

The story recurs, with even more tragic consequences, on the eve of the Holocaust. Another great Eastern European rabbi, Elchanan Wasserman--the dean of the Rabbinical College in Baranowitz, Poland--was invited to bring his entire student body and faculty to Yeshiva College in New York or to the Beis Medrish Letorah in Chicago, both distinguished Orthodox rabbinical colleges. He declined the invitations because "they are both places of spiritual danger, for they are run in a spirit of freethinking." The great rabbi reasoned, "What would one gain to escape physical danger in order to then confront spiritual danger?" Rabbi Wasserman, his family, his students, and their teachers remained in Poland, where they were murdered by the Nazis.

I call the approach taken by these rabbis the Tsuris Theory of Jewish Survival. Under this theory, the Jews need external troubles to stay Jewish. Nor has this fearful, negative perspective on Jewish survival been limited to ultra-Orthodox rabbis. Many Jewish leaders, both religious and secular, have argued that Jews need enemies--that without anti-Semitism, Judaism cannot survive. Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism and a secular Jew, believed that "our enemies have made us one ... It is only pressure that forces us back to the parent stem." In a prediction that reflects an approach to the survival of Judaism strikingly similar to that of the founder of the Lubavitch Hasidim, Herzl warned that if our "Christian hosts were to leave us in peace ... for two generations," the Jewish people would "merge entirely into surrounding races." Albert Einstein agreed: "It may be thanks to anti-Semitism that we are able to preserve our existence as a race; that at any rate is my belief." Jean-Paul Sartre, a non-Jew, went even further, arguing that the "sole tie that binds [the Jewish people together] is the hostility and disdain of the societies which surround them." He believed that "it is the anti-Semite who makes the Jew."

If the Tsuris Theory of Jewish identity, survival, and unity is true, then Jews are doomed to live precariously on a pendulum perennially swinging in a wide arc between the extremes of persecution and assimilation. As the pendulum swings away from the Scylla of persecution, it inevitably moves toward the Charybdis of assimilation. In this reactive view, Jews have little power over their ultimate destiny. Our enemies always call the shots, either by persecuting us, in which case we fight back and remain Jewish, or by leaving us alone, in which case we assimilate. The only other alternative--the one proposed by Herzl--is for all Jews to move to Israel, where they control their own destiny. But most Jews will continue to ignore that option, certainly if our "hosts" continue to leave us in peace in our adopted homelands. In this respect, aliyah (emigration) to Israel has also been largely determined by our external enemies, since most Jews who have moved to the Jewish homeland have done so in reaction to anti-Semitism and persecution in their native countries.

Historically, therefore, there has been some descriptive truth to this pendulum view of persecution alternating with assimilation. Jews have retained their Jewish identity, at least in part, because of tsuris. Our enemies herded us into ghettos, created pales of settlement, discriminated against us, excluded us from certain livelihoods while pressing us into others. We stuck together and remained Jews, resisting as best we could the persecution by our enemies.

But there is more--much more--to Jewish identity than collective self-defense. There is something important that is worth defending. After all, until anti-Semitism changed from religious bigotry to "racial" bigotry--roughly near the end of the nineteenth century--persecuted Jews generally had the option of conversion. Unlike Hitler, our religiously inspired persecutors--the Crusaders, the Inquisitors, Martin Luther, and the pogromists--did distinguish between Jews who converted to Christianity and Jews who did not. Indeed, it was precisely their religious mission to convert the Jews, by whatever methods it took.

Many Jews did convert--some at knifepoint, others to advance themselves. The story about Professor Daniel Chwolson illustrates the latter phenomenon. Chwolson, a Russian intellectual of the nineteenth century, had converted from Judaism to Russian Orthodoxy as a young man, but he continued to fight against anti-Semitism. This led a Jewish friend to ask him why he had converted: "Out of conviction," the great man said. "What conviction?" his Jewish friend inquired. Chwolson responded: "Out of a firm conviction that it would be far better to be a professor in St. Petersburg than a Hebrew school teacher in Shklop." Yet despite the material advantages of conversion, most Jews resisted it. Clearly, those Jews--who sacrificed so much--remained Jewish not only in reaction to their enemies. More than our fabled "stiff-neckedness" was involved. There are substantive principles that Jews have been so stubborn about--that we have been willing to fight and even die for. For Jews who define their Jewishness in theological terms, it is easy to find that principle: It is God's will. For the large number of Jews who are skeptical about being God's "chosen people," the principle is more elusive, but it is palpable to most of us, though difficult to articulate. It is a disturbing reality, however, that for a great many Jews, their Jewish identity has been forged and nurtured by our external enemies who have defined us as victims of their persecution.

Now, after two millennia of persecution and victimization, we may well be moving into a new era of Jewish life during which we will not be persecuted or victimized. If this comes to pass, we will need to refocus our attention on defining the positive qualities of Jewish" life that ought to make us want to remain Jews without "help" from our enemies. We must become positively Jewish instead of merely reacting to our enemies.
If Herzl's and Sartre's entirely negative view of the reason for Jewish survival were to persist even as we enter this new era of equality and acceptance, then Judaism would not deserve to endure. If Jewish life cannot thrive in an open environment of opportunity, choice, freethinking, affluence, success, and first-class status--if we really do need tsuris, czars, pogroms, poverty, insularity, closed minds, and anti-Semitism to keep us Jewish--then Jewish life as we know it will not, and should not, survive the first half of the twenty-first century. We have been persecuted long enough. The time has come to welcome the end of our victimization without fear that it will mean the end of our existence as a people. We must no longer pray for the czar's victory out of fear that the end of our collective tsuris and the success of individual Jews will mean the failure of Judaism.

I believe that Jewish life can thrive in the next century, not despite the end of institutional anti-Semitism, the end of Jewish persecution, and the end of Jewish victimization, but because of these positive developments. The ultimate good news may be that the denouement of negative Judaism--Jewish identification based largely on circling the wagons to fend off our enemies--compels us to refocus on a more positive and enduring Jewish identification, which will be more suitable to our current situation and the one we will likely be facing in the twenty-first century, when Jews will have the unconstrained choice whether to remain Jewish or to assimilate. We may be entering a true Jewish golden age, during which we will prove, once and for all, that Jews do not need enemies to survive. To the contrary: We can thrive best in an open society where we freely choose to be Jews because of the positive virtues of our 3,500-year-old civilization.

I say we may be entering this golden age; there are no guarantees. Many Jews believe that the end is near, because increasing rates of assimilation and intermarriage are propelling us toward a demographic Armageddon. A recent apocalyptic article in a Jewish journal concluded that "Kaddish time" is fast approaching for the American Jewish community. (Kaddish is the prayer for the dead.) But reports of the death of Judaism may be premature--if we can change the way we think, and act, about Jewish survival. If we refuse to change, if we accept the current demographic trends as intractable, then Jewish life in America may indeed be doomed.

The challenge is to move the Jewish state of mind beyond its past obsession with victimization, pain, and problems and point it in a new, more positive direction, capable of thriving in an open society. For unless we do, we may become the generation that witnesses the beginning of the end of one of the most influential civilizations in the history of our planet--a unique source of so much goodness, compassion, morality, creativity, and intelligence over the past several millennia. The demise of Jewish life as we have come to know it would be a tragedy not only for the Jewish people collectively, but also for most of us individually--and for the world at large.

The thesis of this book is that the long epoch of Jewish persecution is finally coming to an end and that a new age of internal dangers to the Jewish people is on the horizon. Institutional anti-Semitism is on its last legs as governments, churches, universities, and businesses embrace Jews. No Jew today needs to convert in order to become a professor, a banker, or a corporate CEO. Although anti-Semitism persists in many quarters, today's overt anti-Semites--the skinheads, militias, Holocaust deniers, and Farrakhan followers--have become marginalized. They continue to constitute a nuisance and pose a potential threat, but they do not have a significant day-to-day impact on the lives of most Jews, as anti-Semites in previous generations did. Today's marginalized anti-Semites do not decide which jobs we can hold, which universities we can attend, which neighborhoods we can live in, which clubs we can join, or even whom we can date and marry. We no longer look up to anti-Semites as the elites in our society who determine our fate. We look down on anti-Semites as the dregs of our society who make lots of noise but little difference.

As Jews and Israel become more secure against external threats, the internal threats are beginning to grow, as graphically illustrated by the recent assassination of an Israeli prime minister by a Jew, the growing conflict between fundamentalist Jews and more acculturated Jews, the increasing trends toward intermarriage and assimilation, and the decline of Jewish literacy.

For thousands of years, Jews have been embattled. Surrounded by enemies seeking to convert us, remove us, even exterminate us, we have developed collective defense mechanisms highly adaptive to combating persecution by anti-Semites. But we have not developed effective means of defending the Jewish future against our own actions and inactions. This is our urgent new challenge--to defend the Jewish future against voluntary self-destruction--and we must face it squarely, if we are to prevent the fulfillment of Isaiah's dire prophecy "Your destroyers will come from your own ranks."

We must take control of our own destiny by changing the nature of Jewish life in fundamental ways. The survival of the Jewish people is too important--to us and to the world at large--to be left in the hands of those ultra-Orthodox rabbis who would rather face Armageddon than change the religious status quo. Just as Jews of the past changed the nature of Jewish life in order to adapt to external necessities and to survive the ravages of their external enemies, so, too, must today's Jews change the nature of Jewish life to adapt to new internal necessities and to survive the demographic challenges of intermarriage, assimilation, low birthrates, and the breakdown of neighborhoods and communities.

A hundred years ago, Theodor Herzl identified the "Jewish question" of the twentieth century as the literal survival of Jews in the face of external enemies committed to our physical annihilation--Jew-haters in every nation where Jews lived as a minority. His solution--the creation of a secular Jewish state--was to change the nature of Jewish life in dramatic and unanticipated ways. A hundred years later, the "Jewish question" of the twenty-first century is survival in the face of our internal challenges. Herzl also anticipated that this new "Jewish question" might arise if and when our Christian hosts were to leave us in peace. This is now coming to pass. The solution to this Jewish question also requires the creation of yet another Jewish state: a new Jewish state of mind!

This book continues where Chutzpah (1991) left off, in exploring the larger issue of being Jewish today. In the concluding paragraphs of that book I issued the following challenge:

We have learned--painfully and with difficulty--how to fight others. Can we develop Jewish techniques for defending against our own success?

Pogo once said: "We have [met] the enemy and he is us!" As Jews, we have not yet been given the luxury of seeing ourselves as the enemy. There are still too many external enemies who challenge the very physical survival of the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world. But as we become stronger in the face of our external enemies, we must prepare to confront ourselves.
In confronting ourselves, we must face the reality that the generation of Jews I wrote about in Chutzpah--those of us who remember the Holocaust, the creation of Israel and the mortal threats to its survival, the movements to save Soviet, Syrian, and Ethiopian Jewry, the struggle against institutional anti-Semitism--is aging. Our children, who have no actual memory of embattled Judaism fighting for the life, liberty, and equality of endangered Jews, are now the crossroads generation that will determine what Jewish life in America and around the world will be in the coming century. It is to that younger generation of Jews, as well as to their parents, that I address this volume.

The last decade of the twentieth century has witnessed the end of state-sponsored and church-supported anti-Semitism. The fall of the Soviet Union, a nation that, since the time of Stalin, had been a major source of international anti-Semitism, had a domino effect on ending the state sponsorship of this oldest of bigotries. Other nations within the Soviet sphere of influence stopped espousing anti-Semitism as a matter of government policy. Even most Arab and Islamic countries dropped their overtly anti-Semitic policies. As a result, the United Nations has changed its tone, condemning anti-Semitism and reducing somewhat its pro-Arab and anti-Israel bias. Equally important, the Catholic church--the single institution most responsible for the persecution of Jews over the past two millennia--approved diplomatic relations with Israel, thus annulling its entrenched view that Jewish "homelessness ... was the Divine judgment against Jews" for rejecting Jesus. The American Lutheran Church explicitly rejected Martin Luther's anti-Semitic teachings.

Bill Clinton's presidency marked the end of discrimination against Jews in the upper echelons of government. For the first time in American history, the fact that an aspirant for high appointive office was a Jew became irrelevant in his or her selection. President Clinton--our first president who grew up in an age when anti-Semitism was unacceptable--selected several Jewish cabinet members, two Jewish Supreme Court justices, numerous Jewish ambassadors and other high-level executive and judicial officials. Nor, apparently, was Jewishness a bar to election to the United States Congress, which has ten Jewish senators and more than two dozen Jewish representatives, several from states with tiny Jewish populations. Though we have still not had a Jew at the top of either party's ticket, it is fair to say that in today's America, a Jew can aspire to any office, any job, and any social status.

The wealth of individual Jews grew perceptibly during this decade, with 25 percent of America's richest people being of Jewish background. (If only earned, as distinguished from inherited, wealth is counted, the percentage would be even higher.) An American Leadership study in 1971-72 found that Jews represented more than 10 percent of America's top "movers and shakers in business," a higher percentage than any other ethnic group. Jews' per capita income is nearly double that of non-Jews. Twice the percentage of Jews as non-Jews earn more than $50,000 a year. And twice the percentage of non-Jews as Jews earn less than $20,000. Jewish charitable giving has increased along with Jewish wealth. Jews are now among the largest contributors to universities, museums, hospitals, symphonies, opera, and other charities. "In 1991, the United Jewish Appeal raised more money than any other charity in America, including the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Catholic Charities and the American Cancer Society." Yet only one-tenth of Jewish philanthropists limit their giving to Jewish charities alone, while one-fourth give only to non-Jewish causes.

A Jew today can live in any neighborhood, even those that were formerly "restricted." Jews live alongside white Anglo-Saxon Protestants in the most "exclusive" neighborhoods throughout the country--Grosse Pointe, Greenwich, Fifth Avenue, Beacon Hill. And they have been welcomed into the "best" families, including the Roosevelts, Kennedys, Cuomos, and Rockefellers. Economically, socially, and politically, we have become the new WASPs, as a perusal of the sponsor list of any major charitable or cultural event will show. Indeed, terms such as "J.A.S.P." (Jewish Anglo-Saxon Protestant) and "W.A.S.H." (White Anglo-Saxon Hebrew) have become current in some circles to denote the full social acceptance that Jews increasingly enjoy.

Of America's Nobel Prize winners in science and economics, nearly 40 percent have been Jews. Of America's 200 most influential intellectuals, half are full Jews, and 76 percent have at least one Jewish parent. Jews attend Ivy League colleges at ten times their presence in the general population. It is no wonder that so many non-Jews believe that we constitute so much higher a percentage of the American population than we actually do. Jews today are equal in virtually every way that matters. What could not have been said even at the end of the 1980s can be said today: American Jews are part of the American mainstream; we are truly victims no more.

Yet despite these enormous gains, many older Jews do not seem to be able to give up their anachronistic status as victims. A recent book on the American Jewish community notes: "[A]bout a third [of affiliated Jews in San Francisco said] that Jewish candidates could not be elected to Congress from San Francisco. Yet three out of four Congressional representatives ... were, in fact, well identified Jews at the time the poll was conducted. And they had been elected by a population that was about 95 percent non-Jewish."

Nor is this misperception limited to California. According to journalist J.J. Goldberg, "[T]he percentage of Jews who tell pollsters that anti-Semitism is a `serious problem' in America nearly doubled during the course of the 1980s, from 45 percent in 1983 to almost 85 percent in 1990." Yet by every objective assessment, the problem was less serious in 1990 than it was in 1983, and the trend has clearly been in the direction of improvement.

When I speak to older Jewish audiences, I am often accused, sometimes stridently, of minimizing anti-Semitism and am told that it is worse than ever. Social scientists call this dramatic disparity between the reality of declining anti-Semitism and the widespread belief that it is increasing a "perception gap" between what is actually happening and Jewish "sensibilities." Some of the Jews who believe this are similar in this respect to some feminists and black activists I know, who insist that the plight of women and blacks is worse than it ever was. These good and decent people, whose identities are so tied up with their victimization, are incapable of accepting the good news that their situation is improving. It is not even a matter of perceiving the glass as half full or half empty. They see the glass as broken, even though it is intact and quickly filling up. As the sociologist Marshall Sklare puts it: "American Jews respond more readily to bad news than to good news."

I am reminded of the story of the two Jews reading their newspapers over a cup of coffee in a late-nineteenth-century Viennese cafe. Kurt is reading the liberal Yiddish-language newspaper and shaking his head from side to side, uttering soft moans of "Oy vey" and "Vey is meir." Shmulie is reading the right-wing, anti-Semitic German-language tabloid and smiling. Kurt, noticing what Shmulie is reading, shouts at his friend, "Why are you reading that garbage?" Shmulie responds, "When I used to take your newspaper, all I would ever read about was Dreyfus being falsely accused, the Jews of Russia being subjected to pogroms, anti-Semitic laws being enacted all over Europe, and the grinding poverty of the Jews in the Holy Land. Now, ever since I take this paper, I read about how the Jews control the banks, the press, the arts; how Jews hold all political power behind the scenes; and how we will soon take over the world. Wouldn't you rather read such good news than such bad news?"

With some of today's older Jews, it is exactly the opposite: they refuse to read the good news, even when it is demonstrably true. They insist on focusing on the "oys" rather than the joys of Judaism, as Rabbi Moshe Waldoks put it. This is understandable, in light of the long history of persecution. Like an individual victim of a violent crime who sees his assailant around every corner, the Jewish people have been traumatized by our unrelenting victimization at the hands of Jew-haters. It is impossible for anyone who did not personally experience the Holocaust, or the other repeated assaults on Jewish life throughout our history, to comprehend what it must have been like to be victimized by unrelenting persecution based on primitive Jew-hating. We continue to see anti-Semitism even where it has ceased to exist, or we exaggerate it where it continues to exist in marginalized form. Indeed, some Jewish newspapers refuse to print, and some Jewish organizations refuse to acknowledge, the good news, lest they risk alienating their readerships or losing their membership. For example, in November of 1996 I saw a fundraising letter from a Jewish organization which claimed that "anti-Semitism ... appears to be growing more robust, more strident, more vicious--and more `respectable.'" Well-intentioned as this organization is, it seeks support by exaggerating the threats we currently face and by comparing them to those we faced during the Holocaust.

My students, my children, my friends' children--our next generation--understand our new status: they do not want to be regarded as victims. They do not feel persecuted, discriminated against, or powerless. They want to read the new good news, not the old bad news. A 1988 poll of Jewish students at Dartmouth College made the point compellingly: When asked whether they believed that their Jewishness would in any way hamper their future success, not a single student answered in the affirmative. That is the current reality, and it is different from the reality my parents faced--and even from the reality many of my generation perceived when we were in college or beginning our careers. The coming generation of Jewish adults will not remain Jews because of our enemies or because of our perceived status as victims. They crave a more positive, affirmative, contemporary, and relevant Jewish identity. Unless we move beyond victimization and toward a new Jewish state of mind, many of them will abandon Judaism as not relevant to their current concerns.

If we are to counteract this trend, we must understand the dynamics of contemporary assimilation and not confuse them with past episodes of assimilation, which were based largely on the perceived need to escape from the "burdens" of Jewish identification. Today, there are no burdens from which to escape. Being Jewish is easy, at least in relation to external burdens. Jews today assimilate not because Christianity or Islam is "better" or "easier," but because Jewish life does not have a strong enough positive appeal to offset the inertial drift toward the common denominator. Jews do not convert to Christianity; they "convert" to mainstream Americanism, which is the American "religion" closest to Judaism. They see no reason not to follow their heart in marriage, their convenience in neighborhoods, their economic opportunities in jobs, their educational advantages in schools, their conscience in philosophy, and their preferences in lifestyle. Most Jews who assimilate do not feel that they are giving up anything by abandoning a Jewishness they know little about. They associate the Judaism they are abandoning with inconvenient rituals and rules that have no meaning to them. As one young woman remembers her Jewishness: "An old man saying no."

We must recognize that many of the factors which have fueled current assimilation and intermarriage are positive developments for individual Jews: acceptance, wealth, opportunity. Most Jews do not want to impede these developments. Indeed, they want to encourage them. For that reason, we must accept the reality that many Jews will continue to marry non-Jews, but we should not regard it as inevitable that these marriages will necessarily lead to total assimilation. We can take positive steps to stem that tide--but it will take a change in attitude toward mixed marriages, and indeed toward the tribalism that has understandably characterized Jewish attitudes toward outsiders for so much of our history.

Why is this book different from other books about the Jewish future? Because its author does not have a religious or political agenda. This book is not a commercial for any particular brand of Judaism or Zionism. It does not begin with a priori assumptions about God, the survival of the Jewish people, the superiority of Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist Judaism, or the essential conservativism or liberalism of Judaism. I am neither a rabbi, a Jewish fund-raiser, a member of a Jewish studies faculty, an officer of any Jewish organization, nor an advocate for any particular Israeli party. Though I am essentially a secular Jew, I do belong to Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist congregations. Most of my family members are modern Orthodox, and a few are ultra-Orthodox. Some are completely secular. I have generally positive feelings about all Jewish denominations, as I do about the numerous Jewish political, educational, and philanthropic organizations to which I belong and contribute. I have no personal stake in any particular solution to the problem of Jewish survival. I just want American Jewish life to move from strength to strength. I love my Judaism and I feel passionately about its survival, but I do not believe in survival merely for survival's sake. Judaism should not be seen as a patient about to die a natural death, who is kept alive artificially on a respirator for as long as possible without regard to the quality of life. Our goal should be a self-sustaining Judaism that can thrive in the kind of open society in which most Jews want to spend their lives. I strongly believe that it is essential--both for Jews and for America--that the mainstream American Jewish community flourish. It would be a tragedy if the only forms of Judaism the made it past the twenty-first century were insular, ultra-Orthodox Judaism and Israeli Zionism. I hope that they, too, will continue to prosper, but I believe that a more diverse Jewish life has even more to contribute. If I have a bias, it is in favor of an eclectic, tolerant many-branched menorah that is inclusive of all who wish to safeguard and share the future of the Jewish people.

I also bring to this book a unique perspective informed by my experiences growing out of the publication of Chutzpah five years ago. Since that time, I have spoken to well over 100,000 Jews in nearly every city with a significant Jewish population, not only in this country but throughout the world. The talk is usually preceded by a social hour and followed by a question period. I estimate that I have been asked more than a thousand questions by concerned Jews. I have received more than ten thousand letters and phone calls from Jewish men, women, and children. I have also been teaching young students, many of them Jewish, for a third of a century. I have served as faculty adviser to the Harvard Jewish Law Students Association, have been an active participant in Hillel, and have spoken to Jewish student groups at many colleges and universities around the world. Over these years, I have discussed virtually every Jewish issue--from God to intermarriage to Israel to anti-Semitism to Jewish feminism--with thousands of students. These questions, letters, calls, and discussions have given me an extraordinary window into the fears, hopes, and beliefs of a wide assortment of Jews. It has been quite an education. I think I understand what is on the minds and in the souls of many Jews, of all ages, and I try to address myself to these concerns in this book. I also have a unique window into the mind of the anti-Semite, since I continue to receive hundreds of anti-Semitic letters and calls each year, some quite lengthy and revealing.

Though I care deeply about the survival of the Jewish people, I do not believe that survival is assured by any biblical imperative or divine promise. I approach the issue of Jewish survival as I would any other important empirical challenge: with an open mind ready and willing to accept any pragmatic solution, or combination of solutions, that will work. I am committed to doing whatever is in my power to help ensure the Jewish future. I know that many Jews feel the same way.

I agree neither with those theologians who believe that Jewish survival is assured because God promised it nor with those demographers who believe that Jewish disappearance is inevitable because of forces beyond our control. I believe that our future as a people is largely in our own hands, and I want to help define and defend the new Jewish state of mind.

In the first chapter of this book, I focus on what is probably the most whispered-about subject among American Jews today: intermarriage and how to cope with this growing reality. I try to bring this controversial subject out of the closet in all its dimensions. I do not moan and groan and wring my hands. I do not present a religious agenda. I explore the issue from both a demographic and a personal perspective, in an effort to understand it and deal with it instructively and realistically. My analysis and conclusions will be controversial and will, I hope, stimulate a debate within the Jewish community and beyond. My goal is to ask all the hard questions, and to provide a wide variety of responses in addition to my own. I know that many readers will disagree with me, but I hope they will not be able to ignore the challenges I pose.

In chapters 2, 3, and 4, I develop my thesis that the nature of anti-Semitism is changing in fundamental and important ways: Mainstream anti-Semitism--as traditionally practiced by churches, states, corporations, universities, and other elite institutions--is coming to an end; today's Jew-haters are largely marginalized and powerless. This change means that although anti-Semitism persists and must continue to be monitored, it has far less daily impact on the lives of American Jews than in the past. Thus we must define our Jewish identity in different and more positive ways than we did the past.

In chapters 5, 6, and 7, I explore the most frequently proposed solutions to the problem of assimilation. To those who are sure that return to religion is Judaism's only salvation, I say, Get as many to return as you can. Maybe you are right. But we cannot rely exclusively on your solution, because maybe you are wrong. Maybe not enough Jews will become religious. Maybe religion--at least as currently defined and practiced--is not the wave of the future for most young intellectuals. Maybe there is a strand of Judaism that can survive and thrive without exclusive dependence on theology and ritual. After all, the Yiddish secularism that flourished between the beginning of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and the Second World War was an authentic Jewish culture, which was destroyed by external forces. Political Zionism, which grew largely out of that culture, remains an authentic Jewish civilization of enormous importance to the survival of Judaism. Today's influential American Jewish community is largely secular.

To those who look to Israel as Judaism's sole salvation, I say, Keep trying to get Jews from throughout the Diaspora to make aliyah. Maybe you are right. But we cannot count on Zionism and aliyah alone, because maybe you are wrong. Maybe most Jews will want to remain where they and their families have established a comfortable home. Maybe they will not come to Israel. Maybe Israel will not endure forever as a Jewish state. Maybe it will "normalize"--as Theodor Herzl put it--and become like most other states, which began as religious but became secular and multicultural over time.

To those who believe that an emphasis on Jewish ethics will be enough to transmit the essence of Judaism to our children, I say, Maybe you are right. Certainly many Jews, especially secular Jews, agree with you and hope you are right. But beyond broad generalities, it is difficult to distill from the highly diverse Jewish sources a few programmatic essences that are easily transmittable from generation to generation, without living the kind of Jewish lives that our grandparents lived.

To those who say that Jewish fund-raising, charity, and defense organizations are the answer, I say, Work on, raise money, build buildings, elect officers, bestow honors, monitor anti-Semitism, support Israel. But do not count on it to ensure the Jewish future, because maybe the next generation will not be as attracted to these institutions as the post-Holocaust generation was.

To those who say that Jewish education is the key to Jewish survival, I say, You are undoubtedly right. Whatever the essence or essences of Judaism may be, they are in large part, at least, to be discovered and rediscovered in our books, in our history, and in our approach to learning. But we cannot count on all Jews, so many of whom are busy with their successful careers, to become Jewishly educated, especially since Jewish education today is controlled almost entirely by the religious component of Jewish life and has been one of the great failures of the American Jewish community.

In the final chapter, I propose a series of steps that I believe we must take in order to safeguard the Jewish future. We must change the nature of American Jewish life in fundamental ways if we are to survive the new threats to our continuity as a people. These changes must make us more adaptive to the reality that we can no longer define ourselves--and our children--by reference to our past victimization and persecution. We must adopt a new, more positive, Jewish identity based on a 3,500-year-old tradition of education, scholarship, learning, creativity, justice, and compassion. But first we must figure out a way to make this diverse library of Jewish knowledge accessible and useful to generations of Jews who are abysmally ignorant of their remarkable tradition. The famed "Yiddisher cup" (khop)---Jewish head--is only half full: the typical Jewish college graduate is extraordinarily well educated about general subjects, but goes through life with a kindergarten understanding of Judaism. We must begin to fill the Yiddisher cup with the kind of useful Jewish knowledge that will assure both our success and our survival. To do this, we will have to loosen the monopolistic hold that rabbis now have over Jewish education, so that we can begin to compete effectively in the marketplace of ideas for the minds and hearts of our Jewish youth. Unless we begin to make use of our competitive advantage--as teachers, communicators, scholars, advocates, and strategists--we will lose our children and grandchildren to the seductive drift toward assimilation and away from Jewishness. The fundamental changes we must make will require a reordering of our priorities away from an almost exclusive focus on defending Jews against external enemies and toward new ways of defending ourselves and our children against self-destruction through assimilation. We will have to educate our children differently, allocate our charitable giving differently, select our leaders differently--even define our very Jewishness differently. Jewish life will have to become less tribal, more open, more accepting of outsiders, and less defensive.
When I describe some of the multiple roads we must take if we are to maximize our chances for survival, I think of a variation of the old story of the rabbinical judge who, after hearing a wife's complaints about her husband, says, "My daughter, you are right," and, after hearing the husband's complaints, says, "My son, you are right." When his student observes, "Rabbi, they can't both be right," he replies, "My son, you are right." Under my variation, the rabbi responds to his student, "No, you are wrong. They can both be right." To the differing and sometimes inconsistent approaches to Jewish survival, I would say, "You may all be right. Don't you dare tell each other that you are wrong. Nobody has a monopoly on the truth about the Jewish future. Everything that may work must be tried."

At the end of the last century, Theodor Herzl called for a new Jewish state. As we approach the close of this cataclysmic century, I believe we need a new Jewish state of mind if we are to define and ensure the Jewish future, not only for our sake but for the sake of all humankind.

While I agree with many of the issues written by Mr. Dershowitz, I definitely disagree with a host of his theological, social, and philosophical points of view.

The following letter was written by R. Wasserman from Toledo, Ohio, in 1938, to a young student (R. Elchonon Hertzman, from Mir and later of New York) requesting his help in escaping the Nazis. It's a famous letter written shortly before WWII:
1. "I received your letter, but unfortunately there is nothing I can do. The yeshivos in America which can bring talmidim from overseas are the yeshivah of Dr. Revel (YU) and [HTC in Chicago]. However, both are places of spiritual danger because they are run in a spirit of disloyalty to the Torah. Therefore, of what benefit would it be to escape [Europe] from physical danger to spiritual danger."
The letter is quoted in Hebrew in the excellent and inspiring Art Scroll history series book: Reb Elchonon: The Life and Ideals of Rabbi Elchonon Bunim Wasserman of Baranovich by Aharon Sorski.
I do not want to give the impression that R. Wasserman was being heartless. Later on in the letter, he refers the talmid to Rabbi Shlomo Hymen at Torah Va Das (where Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky was Rosh Yeshiva) in Brooklyn, who will help.
Another good book: Silver Era in American Jewish Orthodoxy: Rabbi Eliezer and His Generation by Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff
There were only two Torah sages willing to stand up to YU before WWII. R. Wasserman and R. Aharon Kotler. YU sent over the pious rabbi (R. Henkin, good friend of R. Moshe Feinstein, grandfather of the R. Henkin (Nishmat feminist leader) training these putatively Orthodox women rabbis) to R. Wasserman to bring him to YU.
Torah scholar Amitai Bin-Nun writes: "I'm ashamed to admit reading this blog, especially in its current state, but I recall this letter (not to escape Europe to go to YU) being quoted in Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff's book "Bernard Revel: Builder of American Orthodoxy", so it should be easily verifiable. The other Yeshiva, if I recall correctly, was HTC in Skokie.