Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Second shelter for abused Haredi women opened in central Israel

By Ruth Sinai

A shelter for abused women from the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) sector was inaugurated on Wednesday in a city in central Israel. The shelter began operating several months ago, and it can host up to 50 people. Eight women and their children are currently staying there.

The shelter, second of its kind, is being funded by the International Fellowship for Christians and Jews (IFCJ), the Welfare Ministry and private donors.

The Bat Melech fund, a body designated to treat abused women in the Haredi sector, operates the shelter on behalf of the Welfare Ministry along with another establishment for the protection of abused Haredi women. The shelters offer women protection, mental and social assistance and legal counseling.

According to Welfare Ministry figures, 1,388 women sought protection in shelters in 2004, but only half of them were placed in shelters. Currently there are 1,064 children residing in shelters, a third of them under the age of three.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Girls Seminaries In Israel - A Scam By The Scum

Received this e-mail from a reader

Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2005 09:42:24 -0800
From: "Oyba Zoy"
To: a_unorthodoxjew@yahoo.com

I've read your blog a few times, some of the things you have written about have really hit home. I want to share a seminary story with you. I don't know the name of the seminary, but I'm trying to find out.

A girl from my community got accepted to a real frummy place. Although her parents have very little money and a bunch of kids, if they want their daughter to get a shidduch with a learner, they have no choice but to send her to a $15,000 a year seminary. Right?

Anyway, she gets to Israel, and the first thing that happens is the head "Rabbi" takes away her passport and tells her that if she wants to leave the country, her parents better send the rest of the money immediately. Apparently. her parents could not pay the $15,000 in one shot, and thought they could pay the rest out over the course of the year. Sounds reasonable right? Wrong!

The girls father had a fit, spoke to the local rabbonim, and decided to borrow or do whatever he had to do to send the rest of the money asap. They sent the money, the girl got her passport, and she had a wonderful year in seminary learning that she's going have to work the rest of her life to support someone in kollel, or work he decides that if he wants to make some real money he had better open up a seminary and hold girls hostage. Pretty sickening isn't it?

Have a great shabbos.

Was The UOJ Blog Responsible For Alan Stadtmauer's Resignation From Yeshiva Of Flatbush?

Intelligencer-New York Magazine
Saturday the Rabbi Came Out
Or was the former head of Flatbush’s Orthodox Yeshiva inadvertently outed before he was ready?
By Shana Liebman

UOJ Comments at the end of this article

This past summer, Rabbi Alan Stadtmauer resigned abruptly as principal of the prestigious Orthodox Yeshiva of Flatbush. Officially, the reason was that he wanted to pursue another career, though the school didn’t mention the real reason he believed he couldn’t continue his current one: Stadtmauer, 42, was just coming to grips with his homosexuality, which is anathema to Orthodox teachings. So he quit.

“We don’t know of any other heads of yeshiva anywhere in the world who have come out. It is a first,” says Sandi DuBowski, whose documentary Trembling Before G-d is about the struggle to be gay and Orthodox.

Actually, it’s not clear that Stadtmauer, who’d taught at the school for ten years, intended to come out—at least not yet. In September, after the rabbi resigned, a student politely e-mailed him to ask about rumors that he was gay. Stadtmauer replied, “I appreciate your understanding about my coming out . . . ” But one close confidant of Stadtmauer’s, Rabbi Steve Greenberg (author of Wrestling With God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition), says that when Stadtmauer told the student he could share the e-mail “if your friends were wondering the same things,” he was thinking “maybe three or four friends. He didn’t want this information out like this. He told me this twice.”

Instead, the e-mail circulated widely; The Forward even covered it. And many former students felt betrayed, not because he’d been hiding his sexuality but because he implied that he was giving up, at least provisionally, on Orthodoxy: His e-mail stated, “I still believe in the Value and Truth of Torah, even if I don’t feel bound by Halacha,” the rabbinic laws. “And I may yet return to it.”

“What shocked me personally,” says alum Steven Zeitchik, a writer for Variety, “was not the gay part . . . but the fact that he left Jewish education.” Zeitchik says he still feels confused by Stadtmauer’s decision, “because the things he hid were so integral to what I was talking to him about, so elemental to how we live our lives in terms of faith.”

According to modern Orthodoxy’s interpretation of rabbinic law, homosexuality is a grave sin, so it wasn’t surprising that the response on certain blogs was more unforgiving. “I knew since day one he was a faggot,” one alum wrote on unorthodoxjew.blogspot.com. “He deserves the punishment of the worst tortures possible.”

School officials sent a letter to parents stating that Stadtmauer had recently told them he was gay but that “he had never previously discussed these issues with members of the faculty or with students.” It added, “There have been no allegations of inappropriate behavior during his tenure at the Yeshiva.”

Greenberg’s hoping all this will at least get people in the community talking about something they don’t like to even acknowledge. Flatbush grad David Cameo knows many Orthodox Jews “who officially admit it, yet decide to walk the ‘straight’ path. Some actually still choose to have a wife and
kids . . . Some remain celibate.”

Greenberg said Stadtmauer never spoke to him about his sex life, and his e-mail made no reference to his celibacy (except to say, “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”). Stadtmauer isn’t making any public statements for now. Shortly after the e-mail got out, the rabbi left New York for a three-month hiatus—on the other side of the world. He spent Yom Kippur not in Brooklyn but in Bangkok.


I do not know Alan Staudtmauer, and he may be a wonderful person, but my position is really clear.
Any person who WILLINGLY violates a " forbidden" precept of the Torah, should not be in a leadership position.
A rabbi in an Orthodox shul should not keep his job if he WILLFULLY violated the Shabbos, or willfully ate non-kosher food.

I feel, at the very least, that Stadtmauer falls into the category of WILLFULLY violating a behavior that the Torah forbids.
I am familiar with all the arguments, claiming that he can't help himself regarding his sexual orientation........

Firstly, I do not buy into that.
Secondly, even if that would be the case, a homosexual has no right being in a leadership position in an Orthodox School.
The same goes for rabbis, rosh yeshivas, and rebbes, if they willfully and knowingly participate, directly or by proxy in any "genaive" (fraud) from anyone or any entity, they should be forced to resign their positions or thrown out on their fat behinds, regardless of the color or length of their clothing.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Naked Man Dies In Jump From Boro Park Office Building

A UOJ Exclusive In Conjunction With The Washington Post

A naked man darted from a car into a Boro Park office building at lunchtime yesterday and then jumped to his death from the top floor, officials said.

The man double-parked in the 4800 block of 13th Av. about noon, bolted from his still-running gray 1980 Chevrolet, dashed past a crowd on the street and ran into the lobby of an office building, witnesses said.

Police were still trying to identify the man yesterday and to determine why he jumped. Witnesses also were trying to sort out what happened. The man had no apparent connection to the building, according to people who work there.

"He didn't even have shoes on," said Zalman Teitelbaum , who was working as a temporary security guard at the building until the Satmar mess gets straightened out. Sitting behind the security desk, Teitelbaum first saw the man from the waist up and thought "maybe he was a rather strange jogger. But then I stood up and saw the rest of him, and realized he was very Jewish."

The man told Teitelbaum that he was "desperate and broke," asked him for 50 cents to make a phone call and then spoke incoherently, mumbling something about not being able to support his son in-law in kollel, Teitelbaum said.

Then the man ran to an elevator. Minutes later, he emerged from a stairwell on the top floor. The fire alarm had been set off, presumably by the man, and the office doors on that floor were open as people began to file out, witnesses said.

The man pushed his way into one of the offices, where he said "excuse me" several times while charging toward a window, witnesses said. He smashed the glass and jumped through the window, falling onto a parapet between two buildings. Some local workers and shoppers saw him fall.

Boro Park firefighters and emergency medical service personnel arrived at the scene, and police quickly cordoned off the block. Women with baby carriages were visibly upset that they could not continue shopping. One woman with a hat on top of her wig lamented, "he could have waited until the stores closed."

Workers in the top floor office said they had not seen the man before and did not believe that he had ties to the offices there. They didn't hear anything he said other than "excuse me, I need money to support my son in-law in the Lakewood kollel" a witness said.

Before it became apparent what was taking place, the city's parking enforcers reacted to the abandoned car, which had badly torn seats, New Jersey plates and no sign of clothing inside other than a beat up Borsalino and a jacket with a shatnes label. They slapped a flyer on the windshield inviting people to attend a parlor meeting for the Lakewood Yeshiva.

The police met with "all" the various Bobover Rebbes and was told that the man had seven married daughters and was acting strange as of late. Recently the man was seen in shul naked except for a towel on his shoulder, screaming why they moved the mikve.

These acts of desperation have become rather common in the Orthodox Jewish community, since fathers with daughters are expected to support their sons in-law whether they have the ability or not.

Many social workers in the community have noticed a dangerous increase in mental disorders particularly by men over fifty.

We interviewed eight young men who were in the local pizza parlor, all of them noticably obese. We asked them about their reaction to the increase in mental and emotional disorders in men over fifty, particularly by the men with daughters.

We had similar reactions by all eight young men. One fellow said it was "not my fault that the poor shmuck doesn't know how to make enough money to support thirty people. Summer camps, expensive houses, cars, jewelry, Pesach in Cancun, and tuitions are a father in -law's obligation, even if he has to work three jobs, or steal from his employer". They're just a bunch of whining lazy bastards".

Another young fellow said" I am sick and tired of hearing these bullshit stories from fathers in-law. If they produce the kids, they MUST support them, period, no excuses. This fellow who was not more than twenty years old, was wearing a gold Rolex. I complimented him on his watch; he turned angry and said" he told the shadchan that I would get two Rolexes, one for daily use and one for Yom-Tov, and the SOB finked out on me; what a piece of shit father in-law I wound up with. If I would have known that, I never would have married his meeskite (extremely ugly) daughter." He said he had to leave, and drove off in a brand new Cadillac Escalade.

The reaction by the others were similar, ranging from anger to dismay about the lack of appreciation and gratefulness to God exhibited by their fathers in-law. They all felt that they could have married anyone in the world, and if their father in-law ever decided to stop giving them "serious" money they would return their daughters to them in a heartbeat, blackmail the family in order for him to give a Get, and get a father in-law who really understands what a catch they are.

Particularly interesting was how they all agreed that they never intended to ever get a job, regardless of how many fathers in-law jumped off buildings. They saw it as a dirty trick and didn't believe the guy was really dead." I find it very interesting that these shameless fathers in-law would go to any lengths to avoid their obligations to us", said the fellow who was the most obese, weighing about three hundred pounds and was not more than five foot three inches tall.

Calls to the rabbis of the Lakewood Kollel were answered by a taped recorded message.
"If you are attempting to join our prestigous institution,the only requirement is that you must be proficient in filling out lengthy government aid forms. These forms are available in all languages and can be filled out at any Lexus dealer in Boro Park or Flatbush; or available on the internet by the shgatzim uremasim (low-lifes) who have internet access.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's "Shver" To Be A "Shver"- The Tale Of The Scumbag Son In-Law

Just returned from a very important assignment in HUD country

”Schnorrer,” has been married four years and has 3 children in diapers. (In fact, several weeks after he was first allowed to touch his tired wife, after a C-section produced child #2 , she was already pregnant with the third.)

Desperate to marry his aging 21 year old daughter, four years ago, Schnorrers’s shver (father in law) agreed to support Schnorrer in the amount of $1000 per month as long as he was in kollel. It was understood that Schnorrer will go out to work after a few years. Schnorrer is quite capable of working; he is rather quick with numbers as you will soon see.

So what is the problem? Recently, Schnorrer, having a head for figures, made a quick calculation on his way to a 10 AM shacharis, You see, he is facing a dilemma, whether or not he has to work. That calculation went as follows:


A recent job prospect offered a generous starting salary of $30,000 ( remember, absolutely no education or experience!) after several weeks of Cope training (Don’t praise the Agudah just yet, but if you must then take a few moments to do just that…)


+++Shver pays him $1000 per month ($12k/annually)

+++Schnorrer schnors $700/month from mother, a professional, who was coerced into paying his Lakewood tuition she paid for him as a bochur, directly to him now (which is no longer due to the Yeshiva because of his newly attained matrimonial status, rendering him scot-free from tuition. Another instance of singles being discriminated against by the thugs who run our religion)

+ ++ Hundreds of dollars per month in the form of government handouts ranging from rent to groceries, most of which he will lose once gainfully employed.


+++Go to work and earn the same amount of money.

“Why work?” he said. I’m better off not working and getting (I nearly slapped him) the same amount of money. Besides both my shver and mother are getting tremendous mitzvos for supporting me while I learn!”

This is not a unique situation. Schnorrer is not alone! Yungerleit that never held jobs and collect money in the form of WIC, HUD, etc.... are purchasing homes under their shver's name and "renting" it to themselves and having the govt pay their rent! PURE THEFT. Others invest in Lakewood real estate to become slum lords. They rent houses to families of Mexicans, polluting the very demographic they have created.
Oh, that’s right it’s the “treife newspapers” and Internet that are to blame for all the tragedies. Go ahead and justify it! “It’s “hefker” anyway, the shvartzes do it so why can’t we?” So you’re comparing yourselves to these lower forms of humanity – that’s one step in the right direction!

When will it stop? This type of “economy” cannot sustain itself. It is impossible! A generation of schnorrers is trying to breed another generation of even bigger schnorrers (these new schnorrers won’t have working parents with money.) There will be a spiritual rebellion. Many Lakewood kids are messed up already! The ones who have zero interest in learning have even less of an interest in attaining a secular education that might enable them to live a decent life. These idiots aren’t going into any decent business either (except for the occasional “mortgage guy“.)

So get ready to sit back and observe the community that will implode and self-destruct in 10-15 years (if even that long) when the well runs dry and the kids have “had it.” Prepare to watch. And laugh. Don’t say we haven't warned you!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Rabbi Naftoli Herman Neuberger Z"L - The Hesped Without The "Help" Of Moshe Sherer

M. Plaut
Shema Yisroel Network
UOJ comments at the end.

On motzei Shabbos parshas Lech Lecho a hesped for Rabbi Neuberger zt"l was held in the Friedman Beis Medrash of Yeshivas Mir.

The first speaker was HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi. He asked why in general does a son have to say Kaddish? He answered that it is to fill the void in Kiddush Hashem that was left in the passing of his father. He noted that for someone like R' Naftoli Neuberger, who was responsible for so much Kiddush Hashem in the world, everyone has to pitch in to fill the void in Kiddush Hashem that he left behind.

The next speaker was HaRav Aharon Feldman, rosh yeshivas Ner Israel in Baltimore. He said that R' Naftoli ben R Meir was a father to widows, orphans, and to entire American communities. He said that his efforts in Iran had nothing to do with the yeshiva; all his prodigious efforts were entirely out of selfless concern about the future of Iranian Jewry which he saw had no Jewish leaders. His involvement began under the Shah, and continued under the Islamic regime that overthrew the Shah. At one point when Jews had to leave illegally through Afghanistan he had to answer the phone on Shabbos because of the dangers involved.

At a time when other yeshivas "struggled" to absorb a "handful" of Iranians, Ner Israel took in 100.

Many had serious reservations, but R' Naftoli insisted that it would be a success. And it was. Virtually the entire connection the Iranian community today in the US has to Torah is due to graduates of Ner Israel. Even today there are 70 Iranians in Ner Israel.

HaRav Feldman said that in one town there was a machlokes that could have destroyed the Yiddishkeit of the entire city. R' Naftoli flew in and spoke to the rov of the town at the airport for 20 minutes and outlined a course of action to defuse the entire affair. The rov took the advice and R' Naftoli's advice proved effective.

HaRav Aviezer Piltz, the rosh yeshiva of Tifrach, said that he had met Rabbi Neuberger some 40 years previously. He said that he had created a true Torah malchus. In contrast to the power structures of most of the world which are characterized by their riches and ostentation, a Torah malchus is typified by the statement of the Bas Kol: "Kol ho'olom kulo nizon bishvil Chanino beni, veChanino beni dai lo bekav charuvim mei'erev Shabbos le'erev Shabbos — The entire world is sustained through the merits of my son Chanino, but my son Chanino has enough with a few pounds of carobs a week" (Taanis 24b). The builders are totally uninterested in personal advancement.

He noted that Torah institutions are not built up in the same way that other institutions are built. The adonim of the Mishkon, the foundation upon which the Mishkon stood, were made from pure silver — not iron and steel such as is used in the foundations of conventional structures. Visaditich besapirim (Yeshayohu 54:11) — the foundations are precious stones. Middos and tzidkus are the proper foundations for Torah buildings.

If we see hatzlochoh in a yeshiva, especially in the America of half-a-century ago, said HaRav Piltz, it cannot be only because of its gadlus in Torah. It must also have been properly founded upon foundations of gold and silver and precious stones.

When Dovid Hamelech finished Tehillim he said, "Is there a creature that says better shiros and tishbochos than I?"

A frog came and challenged him, saying that it says greater shiros and tishbochos than Dovid Hamelech. This, HaRav Piltz explained, means all of the creatures who by their very existence are a praise of the Creator, even without saying anything: Ein omer, ve'ein devorim. Bli nishmo kolom. Nonetheless, Bechol ho'oretz yotzo kavom . . . Tehillim 19:4-5). And not only that, said the frog, I do a great mitzvoh since there is a creature in the ocean that has no food and I let him eat me.

The lesson of the frog is that such mitzvos are greater than the shiros of the frog that are in turn greater than the shiros of Dovid Hamelech.

Rav Yosef Kalman Neuberger, grandson of the niftar, said that achrayus was burning inside of his grandfather. It was a word that was always on his lips.

He said that once someone called him and said that he had a medical problem with his daughter. As soon as his grandfather got off the phone he went into action. He called doctors and asked them about the disease and about treatment. He bought a book about the disease and read it through. He called in his granddaughters to ask them about the disease. In short he threw himself into finding a way to help this man and his daughter as if it were his own daughter.

He noted that it mentions Noach three times at the beginning of parshas Noach. Chazal say that this is because he lived in three different worlds: before the Flood, the Flood itself and after the Flood. Noach brought the quality of life that he had seen in the world before the Flood, when the creation was close to its Creator, through to the world after the Flood. In a similar way, Rabbi Neuberger took the lessons and approach that he had learned from HaRav Leizer Yudel Finkel while he was at Mir yeshiva in Poland, and brought them through to America.

Mr. Plaut is a hard line Right Winger, yet he was able to publish a hesped WITHOUT "Hollywood" Sherer.

Take note that Ner Yisroel took in 100 Iranians, while "ALL THE OTHER YESHIVAS COMBINED, STRUGGLED TO TAKE IN A HANDFUL!"

Alzheimers Elya Svei, Smiling Shmuel The Fool & Gangster Lipa Margulies did not feel that the Iranians were good for their image.(and of course there was no money in it)

Hatzolos Nifashos was not "cool" then, later, of course, they took in a few token Arabs, upon pressure by the klal.

Reform "Leader" Weighs In On Hitler, Gays & Charedim

Reform leader slams religious right-wing

The leader of the largest branch of American Judaism blasted conservative religious activists in a speech Saturday, calling them "zealots" who claim a "monopoly on God" while promoting anti-gay policies akin to Adolf Hitler's.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, said "religious right" leaders believe "unless you attend my church, accept my God and study my sacred text you cannot be a moral person."

"What could be more bigoted than to claim that you have a monopoly on God?" Yoffie told a friendly audience of about 5,000 in his keynote address during the movement's national assembly in Houston, which runs through Sunday.

Yoffie used particularly strong language to condemn conservative attitudes toward homosexuals. He said he understood that traditionalists have concluded gay marriage violates Scripture, but he said that did not justify denying legal protections to same-sex partners and their children.

"We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933 one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations," Yoffie said. "Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry."

The Union for Reform Judaism represents about 900 synagogues in North America with an estimated membership of 1.5 million people. Of the three major streams of US Judaism - Orthodox and Conservative are the others - it is the only one that sanctions gay ordination and supports civil marriage for same-gender couples.

Yoffie's lengthy speech first addressed several other issues, and his criticism of conservative religious activists came in the middle. The audience was largely sedate until Yoffie reached that topic and responded with repeated, enthusiastic applause.

Yoffie did not mention evangelical Christians directly in his speech, using the term "religious right" instead. In a separate interview, he said the phrase encompassed conservative activists of all faiths, including within the Jewish community.

Yoffie said the activists have little understanding of the liberal religious community, which he insisted also grounds its beliefs in biblical teaching. "We study religious texts day and night, but we have no direct lines to heaven and we aren't always sure that we know God's will," he said. "We bring a measure of humility to our religious belief."

Yoffie said liberals and conservatives share some concerns, such as the potential damage to children from violent or highly sexual TV shows and other popular media. But he said, overall, conservatives too narrowly define family values, making a "frozen embryo in a fertility clinic" more important than a child, and ignoring poverty and other social ills.

"When they cloak themselves in religion and forget mercy, it strikes us as blasphemy," Yoffie said, urging a renewal of religious tolerance in the United States. "We need beware the zealots who want to make their religion the religion of everyone else."

One attendee, Judy Weinman of Troy, New York, said she thought Yoffie was "right on target."

"He reminded us of where we have things in common and where we're different," she said.

Yoffie also urged lawmakers to model themselves on presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, who famously told a Houston clergy group on the campaign trail in 1960 that a president should not make policy based on his religion.

On other topics, Yoffie asked Reform synagogues to do more to hold onto members, who often leave after their children go to college. He also said the Reform movement, which is among the most accepting of non-Jewish spouses, should make a greater effort to invite the spouses to convert to Judaism.

The Missing Yemenite Children - Words Of The Lubavitcher Rebbe

The Missing Yemenite Children
Words of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneerson - The Lubavitcher Rebbe

As expected, different people reacted to this issue of stolen Jewish infants in the Land of Israel. One such reaction came from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menechem Mendel Shneerson, in his book, "Hitvaaduyot", written around 1987-88.

To quote from his writings:
"On the matter of the kidnapping of children from their parents in order to educate them not in the way of the Torah.

"It is well known what happened thirty to forty years ago during the Aliyah [immigration] of children from Yemen and Teheran [Teheran, the capital of Iran. It seems that he, too, was unaware of the many different communities from which the children were stolen] to the Holy Land.

"Small children, who came with their parents to the Holy Land, were suddenly taken away from their parents, who were given strange and unfounded reasons for this, such as the need for medical treatment, and that their children were in bad shape. These explanations continued, until the parents were told that their children had died . . . . And all this for the simple reason that they (the authorities) did not want them to be educated by their parents, who kept Torah and Mitzvot (commandments), but wanted to educate them as they wished, in a way totally devoid of any connection with their Jewish heritage! For this purpose - children were stolen from their parents!!"

What Rabbi Shneerson wrote then was based on the fact that when many religious Jewish men and women immigrated to Israel, there were people in authority that thought that religion was not what the country needed in its first days. Certain actions were taken by these authorities, such as shaving the beards of new immigrants and cutting off their side curls. Not to mention all the Torah Scrolls, Holy Books, and many other possessions taken from the Jewish immigrants back then. Although this explanation is accepted by some, others do not accept this as a possible reason for the kidnapping of children, since so many of these children were sold abroad for profit.

Rabbi Schneerson continues:
"And who was at the time one of those in charge - a Jew who puts on Tefilin (phylacteries) [Another Religious Jewish custom] and prays three times a day, and who in his private life, observes Torah and Mitzvot.

And nevertheless, not only did he not prevent this from happening, he cooperated, and was even amongst those who were in charge of the people who committed this terrible crime!"

Here, Rabbi Shneerson was referring to Rabbi Dr. Issachar Dov Bernard Bergman. When people started an outcry, as to how this could possibly have happened, for it is an act that is the complete opposite of all that is just and right, and the complete opposite of humane behavior, they were told: 'We saved them from death and gave them a new life, therefore it is as though these children belong to us . . . .'

"And not only did they behave with the children as a man would behave with his "Canaanite servant" [In other words, a slave] who "belonged" to him, but even worse. They treated the children as an object that was their own private posession, that could, if they so wished, be burnt - where in this matter, the burning was of the children's soul and not of their body, Heaven forbid. [What Rabbi Shneerson says here conflicts with reports of children that know they have been sold in this fashion, when they were children. In these reports, most of the people report that they were raised with love and care, as if they were the real children of their adopting parents].

"During that period, hundreds of small children disappeared without a trace, and until this very day, the parents do not know what was the fate of their children, and where they are today."

Rabbi Shneerson mentions hundreds of children, although the number of such occurrences is now known to be in the thousands.

"Today, after thirty to forty years, it is still possible to trace these children, for the same offices that dealt with the children then have exact lists that contain the names of all the children, where they were sent to, etc. The trouble is that noone wants to give out the lists of the names of the children!"

As for the lists of the children's names, not everyone accepts the idea that there are lists of the names of the original families of the children, as so many of them were said to be stolen without the kidnappers even caring who the original parents were. Why should they? It is also commonly believed that, considering all the forged and "confused" documents, there are no real documents. Also, there are those who believe that real documents did exist until Ami Chovav, the investigator mentioned in Part Six, "took care" of the records, as Chovav worked in the national archives, following his investigation. He was quoted in "Haaretz" as saying:

"After the Shalgi committee, all the material was in a mess. The committee finished its job, but none of the documents were catalogued in order, in the archives. The main archive manager asked me to organize all the material, of both investigation committees, in order for the archives. So I sat in the archives, and organized the material, until the order was given to hand the material over to the current (Cohen) committee".

Of course, there are also those who believe that the documents do exist, some say in a certain safe, in Jerusalem. An article in the "Makor Rishon" newspaper, written by Journalist Pini Ben-Or, describes these suspicions.

To quote the article:
"In these days, when in many countries in the world adoption of children occurs, and adoption certificates are issued, there was no way found in Israel to try and help find children that have disappeared. Even the adopted people themselves are faced with many difficulties in finding their biological parents. Today, the belief is getting stronger that thousands of children disappeared, and were stolen from their parents in the first years of the existence of the State of Israel. 'Makor Rishon', which is following the stolen children issue, has checked on the other possibility. The best kept secret in the country - the safe of Mr. George Klein.

"George Klein is the manager of the archives, belonging to the Ministry of Interior, where appear the records of all the people that are removed from the population records: People who have died, been adopted, left the country, and so on.

"From one investigation protocol of George Klein, from the 16th of September, 1997, it is seen that, in his archives, there is a safe where all the adoption records, ever since the British Mandate in Israel, are kept.

"In his questioning in front of the committee for investigating the disappearance of these children, George Klein said that only he has access to the safe, which is located in a safety room. He received the adoption orders, as well as the original personal file of the adopted child, from the bureau of the Ministry of Interior. The material is placed in the safe, and the child receives a new birth certificate, where the names of the adopting parents are found.

According to Klein, he writes the original I.D. number of the child, in the adoption book.

"After writing the details, Klein has the information updated. The original birth certificate, along with the adoption certificate, are placed in an envelope, that is filed in the safe, in the safety room.

Anyone looking in the adoption book only sees the new details of the adopted person, but adding up the new details and what is written in the envelopes that contain the old details - will reveal who the adopted person is.

"The biggest secret is in the hands and safe of George Klein. Maybe there, an answer to the issue of the missing children can be found."

Since that article was written, it has been rumored that the safe has been moved, although not everyone believes that. Again, it is commonly believed that records of which children went where do not even exist. Although, it is possible that details of a certain number of the missing children can be found there.

To return to the writings of Rabbi Shneerson:
"And the even greater trouble is - that noone gets up to speak of it!

"Lately, a few people have woken up and begun to ask for the lists of the children but unfortunately, this was but 'the sound of the tune of defeat', and nothing came of it.

"And not only this, but as always, there are those who immediately make a 'mockery' out of everything, and they made a mockery out of this request too! . . . . And we know that one should not talk with scoffers, and even not sit in their company, as king David said at the beginning of the Book of Psalms - 'Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked . . . . Nor sat in the seat of the scornful.' (Psalms 1:1) Our sages have already told us that a 'Cult of Scoffers' is one of the four cults that 'do not receive the Divine Presence'.

"However, this claim also has no place in the discussion. For, although it might be very hard work, nevertheless, in no situation is one allowed to despair of a Jew, and noone can take the responsibility to say that, as far as so and so is concerned, nothing can be done to bring him closer to Torah and Judaism."

Here again, it is evident that Rabbi Shneerson believed that these children were stolen to keep them away from Judaism, and Torah.

"And, in any case, as long as not everything possible is being done to correct the situation - it is as though the crime is continuously being committed! Obviously in this matter, doing Teshuvah (repentance) will not help - for Teshuvah is between man and his Master - and so above all, what must be done is to correct the injustice and the crime that was committed against both the children and their parents!

"After all this, if anyone thinks that they (the authorities), regret their past deeds, and certainly will not repeat them, God forbid, 'Trouble shall not rise up the second time' (as said in Nachum, 1:9), they are making a bitter mistake.

"Not only do they not show any remorse, and are not even trying to return the situation to its rightful state, but on the contrary - until this very day, they are repeating what they did (to the children stolen back then) with the children of Teheran [Iranian Jewish immigrants], and in a more acute way, and no one is standing up to be heard, and let the world know. And especially those who are meant to represent, so to speak, the demands of the Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) Judaism - even they are sitting quietly and doing nothing at all!

"It is the holy obligation of anyone who has it in his powers to do whatever they can to prevent and to stop the stealing of children that is currently happening, and in addition, to try and correct what was done in the past.

"And those who cannot do anything, as far as this matter is concerned, should increase their activities in the field of education.

In other words, try and ensure that all Jewish children receive a Jewish education that is in the spirit of the Torah, and no effort should be spared (just as no effort is spared by those opposing the matter), for one is talking about Pikuach Nefashot (the saving of endangered lives)!

"To what can this be compared? To a man who sees a house burning - he surely will not spare any effort to try and save the people who are in the house. Not only that, but even if he is unsure if there is anyone in the house, he will knock on the blinds and the windows, etc., to check if there is anyone in the house, who can be saved. And the moral of the example is an endangered spiritual life.

"Remember: 'And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death' (Exodus, 21:16).

And his death, according to the Halachah [Jewish law, as set by the Rabbis . . . although there are many laws in Halachah, such as this, that are not enforced in these days], is by strangulation."

This is what the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menacham Mendel Shneerson, has written about the issue of the stolen children. Apparently, Rabbi Shneerson, as well, knew what went on. According to him and others, such things are still happening, although, as many say, on a much smaller scale.

Yechiel A. Mann,
Eshhar, Israel.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Lawsuit Against Satmar That You Have Not Heard About

A UOJ exclusive
I literally received hundreds of e-mail asking me to republish this post. Enjoy!!

A Williamsburg man who had a panic attack when he found he was glued to a toilet seat in a Satmar restroom, has sued the two Rebbes for negligence, saying the Rebbes were too busy fighting to help him get his tuchis off the toilet.

Retired shamash and old Rebbes' left handed ass wiper, Moshe Chaim Penislover, 67, said on Thursday he was stuck in the stall with his pants down for about 20 minutes and that being only two years after the "incident" where the Rebbe shit on his head, he was suffering from post-traumatic stress, which has triggered diabetes and heart complications.

"I have these nightmares every night where I am locked in this dark room, with no windows, no doors, no fresh air, no route for escape and the Rebbe pissing all over me. I wake up in these cold sweats, feeling like drek, and soaked to the bone" the Shamash said.

Spokesmen for Satmar could not immediately be reached for comment, they were all in jail.

The Shamash said in a lawsuit filed last week in Villiamsboog, Brooklyn, near Hevesh Strit, that he thought he was having a heart attack when he realized his tuchis, one ball, and legs, were stuck to the toilet seat in the Satmar restroom that doubles up as a boxing ring, drug money laundry, and a shul.

He explained his plight to a Satmar gangster who came into the restroom but other mamzerim thought it was a hoax so he had to wait until someone else came in, to again summon help.They went back to eating herring and onions, the lawsuit complains.

The ex-Shamash is claiming unspecified damages for help with medical and psychiatric bills, for humiliation and for the diabetes he said he has developed as a result of the stress.

The Mohel, Yitzchok Fisher, was called to examine him and see if his "yatzmach" was effected by all this trauma. Fisher gave him the usual quick suck (actually not that quick), and assurred the cheering crowd that the "yatzmach" was an oldy but a goody.

"Satmar not only ignored my plight, they refused to help a Jewish asshole in distress," he said. The Shamash said he suspected the glue had been placed there as a prank by the two Rebbes seen earlier masturbating in the restroom, and now out on bail.As is well known, Rebbes are forbidden to work for a living, and have much free time "in" their hands. (pun intended)

UOJ has attempted to interview the Shamash, but was told he was locked in the New Square restroom with Hillary Clinton seeking to have his ass pardoned.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Homosexual Slippery Slope Keeps Rolling Downhill - Another "Tragedy" In Our Midst But Now Called "Intolerance"By The Heterosexuals

Community of Intolerance
By Jay Michaelson
The Forward

The resignation last week of Rabbi David Kaye from the educational program Panim, after revelations that he had solicited a 13-year-old boy online for sex, elicited the usual expressions of shock from the Jewish community. Of course, we all should be outraged when such immoral conduct is brought to light, but those who follow the Jewish world know that Kaye is hardly the first rabbi to have engaged in it in recent years.

In 2001, for example, Rabbi Jerrold Levy was sentenced to 78 months in prison for sex crimes involving teenage boys. Indeed, a 2000 photo now circulating on the Internet features Kaye, Levy, and Israel Kestenbaum — three rabbis, one from each major denomination, who were all later found to have solicited minors for sex online. And for every one case that makes the news, those of us who work in the Jewish community hear a dozen stories: the whispers about this teacher, that rabbi, and the scandal the school tried to sweep under the rug.

Rabbinic offenders have seduced both boys and girls, but one cannot help but notice that a disproportionate number of them have targeted males. There are no reliable statistics for rabbinic sexual abuse, but government studies show that in the general population, one-third of child sex abuse victims are male, even though only 3-5% of adult men identify as homosexual. Indeed, approximately 16% of boys are sexually abused before the age of 16.

What is going on? Are there suddenly more closeted gay rabbis than there were a decade ago? Or are we, like the Catholic community, merely bringing to light what has been a dark secret for many years?

It does not appear that the problem in the Jewish world is of the same magnitude as that in the Catholic one. Perhaps, as some theorize, this is because the rabbinate, with its expectation of marriage, is less attractive to closeted gay men than the celibate priesthood. Then again, we cannot know how much abuse took place when rabbinic authority was impossible to challenge, and when incidents were quietly buried. Perhaps our scandal is just beginning.

Generally, cases like that of Kaye — who has been praised, in recent days, as a decent man and a good father to his two daughters — elicit responses like "he needs help." Surely he does; how could a well-known rabbi risk everything by sending a naked photo of himself, with his face fully visible, to someone he didn't know? Merely that Kaye's judgment was so clouded bespeaks the severity of his desperation.

Yet the question we must ask ourselves is: Where did that desperation come from? Healthy people, gay or straight, do not molest 13-year-olds. Only deeply disturbed people do — and those are precisely the sorts of people created by the deception and repression of the "closet." Moreover, according to the American Medical Association, 98% of men who sexually abuse boys report that they are heterosexual. Are these really all sick, straight men? Or are they actually, in the words Kaye used when seducing his target online, "waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the closet"?

Unquestionably, predators like Kaye are the ones responsible for their conduct, but they do not operate in a vacuum.

The Jewish community bears responsibility as well, for the way we perpetuate the circumstances that cause them to hate themselves, distort their sexuality into something dangerous — and, if statistics are accurate, kill themselves at the rate of 4,000 each year in the United States alone. We create "the closet," through our intolerant actions and inactions, our cruel and selective reading of Jewish law, and our endlessly proclaiming the unacceptability of a sexual orientation which is either genetically determined, or fixed so early in childhood as to be an unchangeable part of one's being. In short, we create the very monsters about whom we later profess shock.

Nor are we doing so based on religious authority. Only a minority of non-Orthodox rabbis still believe that the narrow prohibitions of Leviticus 18 extend to all the sexual behavior of gay men (and women). Yet many Jews who are quite lax about their Sabbath observance and routinely look the other way regarding intermarriage become religious fundamentalists when it comes to homosexuality. Consider your reaction to a Sabbath-breaker on the one hand — who merits the death penalty under rabbinic law — and a religious gay Jew on the other. Around whom are you more comfortable? Whom do you fully accept, and whom do you merely tolerate? And is your choice really based on religion? Or, for that matter, on reason?

The "closet" is entirely the wrong metaphor for the kind of repression which leads to acts like Kaye's. I should know — I was in the closet for 15 years, and it is a much more odious, terrible phenomenon than merely hiding in a wardrobe while you do what you oughtn't. Imagine lying to everyone you know, all the time. Imagine feeling that your heart, your way to love and relationship and sexual expression, is actually distorted, evil and broken. And imagine believing that, because of something you cannot change, God hates you.

Of course, under such circumstances, and in a world that has made clear it would reject you if it knew the truth, you would hide your sexuality — perhaps, as I did, even from yourself. Of course you would do everything you could to somehow "make yourself straight": maybe marriage, maybe seeking spiritual solace to fill an emotional gap, maybe even the thoroughly discredited, and completely ineffective, forms of "reparative therapy" being peddled within the religious community and inflicted on innocent young people every day. And of course, you would fail, because sexuality cannot be changed.

And then, without any appropriate means of expression, your sexual urges would find inappropriate ones. Personally, I never engaged in activity such as Rabbi Kaye's, and never once violated the trust of anyone, of any age. But I was hardly a healthy adult when I was in the closet. I met men for sex, not relationship. I lied about my age, my name, my background. And I rarely went on a second "date."

Today, I am happily partnered to a future rabbi, and am blessed to be in a loving, long-term relationship.

That's what "coming out" does — it enables gay people to be as healthy and loving as everyone else. But as the director of a gay and lesbian Jewish organization, I receive emails every week from men and women still struggling in the closet, from all across the ideological spectrum. Charedi adults, modern Orthodox kids, women and men — I've met them all, and while none, to my knowledge, has become a predator like Kaye, all are trapped in the same web of deception, repression and desperation. Many are like powder kegs, ready to explode. Really, what do we expect will happen to someone who fights his innermost being all his life, never has a proper outlet for his sexual expression, and lies to everyone he knows?

And then there are those open secrets. The influential rabbi who was forced into 'reparative therapy' after being accused of sexual harassment by a young male student. The youth director with a past. "Everyone" knows about these secrets, yet no one does anything — even though those of us who have been in the closet know just how dangerous it is. Indeed, one of the most important public voices on the issue of Judaism and homosexuality himself has a "record" of homosexual misconduct, both on his own part and among other members of his family. Yet we pretend that none of this matters, or that we don't know what we know, or that rabbis and communal leaders are impartial about demons they themselves are battling.

Each person is responsible for his or her own conduct.

But as long as we create the conditions that make misconduct all but inevitable, the right response to the scandal of Kaye is not "he needs help" — it's "we need help."

We need to stop demonizing what is natural, healthy and good, using selective piety to mask our fear.

We need to stop believing that what God made can be unmade through coercion or brainwashing. We need to acknowledge that the closeted-rabbi-who-everyone-knows-about may not be worthy of our trust. And we need to see that what causes scandals is not homosexuality, but its repression. Until we do these things, our exclusion and repression will continue to lead to their tragic, seemingly inexorable, results.

Jay Michaelson is director of Nehirim: A Spiritual Initiative for GLBT Jews.

What is so pathetic about the above writer is that he is attempting to sell the Gay agenda as NATURAL, and that WE, the heterosexuals ,are to blame for the behavior of the predators.I'm sorry, I'm mad as hell and I can't take it anymore.
Hey, you are one sick perverted, messed up SOB!!!!

The Pink City
Yediot Achronot

Local tourism officials plan on turning Tel Aviv into the gay capital of the world; Israel Hotel Association official: Tel Aviv and gay people are a perfect fit
Danny Sadeh

Tel Aviv is known throughout the world as “The White City” due to the many Bauhaus-style structures that adorn its streets, but the city may soon be called “The Pink City,” as tourism industry heads are planning on transforming the city into the gay capital of the world, Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
“Tel Aviv and gay people are a perfect fit,” an Israel Hotel Association (IHA) official said.

The idea was born when IHA Director-General Eli Ziv visited London recently to participate in the 2005 World Travel Market exhibition.
During the exhibition Ziv met with representatives of the homo-lesbian travel industry, and discovered an audience that would travel just about anywhere for a good party, even to the Middle East.

“The gay community has amazing consumer power, and Tel Aviv has a lot to offer to this community,” Ziv explained.
“We have the beach, sun, culture and nightclubs. To our knowledge, gays are capable of hopping on a plane and traveling to the other side of the world just to participate in parties and events that are related to the gay community.”

The IHA in Tel Aviv, along with a local gay rights group, turned to European travel agents who focus on the gay community and requested they prepare vacation packages to Tel Aviv. “We are drafting plans to encourage gay tourism from Germany, England and Holland,” Ziv added. “We plan on approaching travel agents who are aware of the gay community’s needs, launch a special website for gays and advertise Tel Aviv in gay European websites as well.
Jerusalem is scheduled to host the 2006 World Pride Parade , but Ziv is already working to have it moved to Tel Aviv.
“This event could mark the grand opening for homosexual events in the city,” he said. “We need the boost."

Meanwhile, Tourism Ministry Director-General Eli Cohen said he would offer any financial assistance necessary to turn Tel Aviv into the gay capital of the world, and he is not alone: TUI, Europe’s largest tourism conglomerate, has recently decided to offer charter flights to Tel Aviv. Israeli tourism officials said they believe the decision would facilitate the travel of thousands of gays to the country. “It will be helpful to our initiative if they increase the number of flights to Tel Aviv,’ Ziv said.

Our values, and our civilization is slipping away before our eyes.
God help us, please.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Bigger Bastard.....Part Two-The Yemenite Children Were Sold And Kidnapped For Profit

Were the Children Sold?
by Yechiel A. Mann
Eshhar, Israel

The shocking testimony of Rabbi Avidor Ha`Cohen may show that Children from Israel were likely "exported" to the United States for adoption and sold for about $5,000 each. Herein an outstanding excerpt from The NY Times, alleging about corruption in the Israeli National Religious party, Mafdal.

On April 25th, 1996, Rabbi Avidor Ha`Cohen, testified in front of
the Cohen Committee that investigated the disappearance of the
Jewish children.

His story began with a meeting that he had in 1963 with a
New-York couple, American father and Israeli mother. They raised a
young girl, who was about ten years old then. It did not seem to
Rabbi Avidor that this child was theirs. She had beautiful, large,
dark eyes, also dark skin, quite unlike her "parents". This couple
later told Rabbi Ha`Cohen they had adopted her and that she was
likely Yemenite. Moreover, other families in New York had adopted
children from Israel.

Consequently Rabbi Ha`Cohen found out the identity of the person
who organized these adoptions. It bothered him that these children
had immigrated to Israel, but were later brought to the United
States and likely sold for adoption.

When Rabbi Ha`Cohen reached this point in his testimony, he was
asked by Hon. Judge Yehuda Cohen about the number of children
adopted in this manner. Ha`Cohen answered that he had not known
it back then. Merely he had been told, they were bringing children.
Only when he returned to Israel, he began looking into this matter,
in more detail.

Avidor further reported that he had spoken to Deborah Eliner and
others of the immigration section of the Jewish Agency. He
discovered that the Israeli institutes that dealt with adoption
did not know anything of this matter. This made him even more
curious as to what was being done. He was holding names of some

Avidor then sent a memo to Minister Haim Shapira, because he was
part of the "Mizrachi", a Jewish organization devoted to
Religious Zionism, and Rabbi Dr. Yissachar Dov Bernard Bergman,
the man behind the adoption of the children in the United States.
Rabbi Bergman was one of the main people running the "Mizrachi"

Avidor found it unconscionable that an
organization devoted to Religious Zionism was working to take
Jewish children away from their homeland for profit.

Avidor never received an answer from Minister Shapira. He then decided
to call him on the phone. Shapira answered that there was much
gossip about Bergman, but he is, all in all, a good Jew. Avidor
still felt something was terribly wrong, since the adoption
institutes here in Israel didn't know a thing about Israeli
children being adopted in the United States.

He then tried getting various journalists interested in this
story and a large amount of source material was given by him to
almost every important journalist working for every newspaper in
the Israeli mainstream press and this material was in their
possession for many months. Avidor only got responses saying
that there was no public interest in these cases.

He did not give up. He continued trying to get information to
the public but nothing was published until he spoke to one
journalist, Shalom Cohen, and told him of the information he held
and how important it was to bring it to the attention of the
public. The final agreement was that the information would be
published with the names of the families indicated by initials

Avidor testified that, at that point, he found out that the
cases were not uniquely connected to the Yemenite community, that
there were other Jewish children from many other countries being
abducted and sold for adoption in this fashion. The entire
matter was then published and received almost no reaction in the
Israeli media. The treatment this issue was getting really
bothered Rabbi Avidor.

It was then that he discovered that many social circles, mainly
Ashkenazi religious zionists, had a tendency to believe that
instead of growing up in a poor family with many children, it is
better for a child to grow up with a family that has more
financial stability. Rabbi Avidor also says that there are still
various religious social groups that believe this and thus
justify the crimes that were committed against the children and
their families. This is one of the "moral explanations" referred
to in a previous article in this series. Rabbi Avidor was
shocked to see religious Jews using these explanations.

The individuals who dealt with adoption here in Israel said
they do not know of such things happening and so had no written
records of these adoptions. In such a case, Rabbi Avidor claims,
there can arise a terrible problem of marriages within the family
including incest.

Rabbi Avidor learned then that it cost five thousand American
dollars to adopt a child from Israel at that time.

It is also crucial to mention that Rabbi Dr. Bergman died a few
years ago while in jail for a different crime - his fraud and
abuse in New York nursing homes that he ran. This was an issue
covered thoroughly in the United States and Israel. The New-York
Times reports:

"Bernard Bergman, the central figure in investigations into
possible fraud and abuse in New York nursing homes, has decided
to abandon his public defense of his business dealings. In
refusing to testify at televised Senate hearings last week, he
invoked his constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment. His
lawyer has argued that to testify would be prejudicial if
inquiries by Federal and state prosecutors result in criminal
proceedings against Mr. Bergman. A Federal grand jury is known to
be looking into his affairs. And a state grand jury, assisted by
Special State Prosecutor Charles J. Hynes, has also been
impaneled to study alleged improprieties in the state's nursing
homes. This is not the first time Mr. Bergman has been prominent
in such inquiries. At a state hearing on nursing homes last week,
Civil Court Judge Louis I. Kaplan, who in 1960 issued a report on
city nursing-home abuses, testified that Mr. Bergman was then,
too, the major figure in the industry under investigation. He
said he presented evidence of criminal fraud in the industry to
former Mayor Wagner. No prosecutions followed and Mr. Wagner says
he doesn't recall what happened to the so-called Kaplan report.
The first indictments in the investigations of the industry have
been handed up. The owner of a Smithtown, L.I., nursing home and
an accountant were accused of swindling Medicaid out of more than
$500,000 by charging personal and improper business expenses to
the program. In Connecticut, which is also investigating its
nursing homes, a state official said at General Assembly hearings
that top state officials had financial interests in nursing homes
and used their influence to get favorable treatment for them".

It appears that the entire issue of Rabbi Dr. Issachar Dov
Bernard Bergman, and the nursing homes in New-York were a big issue
in the United States back then, and the New-York times spent much
work on getting articles about it written. Bergman was a main
figure in the Orthodox religious community in the States,as well as
President of the United States branch of the "Mizrachi" movement.
He was closely connected to the Israeli religious nationalist party
(known as the "Mafdal"), which was directly linked to the
"Mizrachi" movement.

In the early seventies the New-York Times began their investigation
into the issue of Bergman's nursing homes. They reported that the
Federal Government would grant a specified amount of money for every
elderly person in a nursing home, that Bergman, his relatives and
friends were taking huge amounts of money from these funds while the
elderly people suffered. For those of you who may remember, shortly
afterwards, many other newspapers and other media then joined the
investigation. There were those that called it "The Jewish
Watergate" and others who claimed it was simply anti-semitic
journalism. It is a pity that there were those in the Israeli
government who agreed with the latter statement. As reported by
The New-York Times:

"TEL AVIV, Dec. 29-Interior Minister Yosef Burg
dismissed today as irrelevant a request by
Representative Edward I. Koch, Democrat of New
York, that Israel refuse citizenship to Bernard
Bergman pending the outcome of a United States
Senate hearing next month on nursing homes. Mr.
Bergman is among 35 persons affiliated with
nursing homes in New York State for whom subpoenas
have been issued by Senator Frank E. Moss,
Democrat of Utah and chairman of a subcommittee of
the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

The Senate group, which issued the writes Dec. 20,
announced at that time that it was joining the
investigation of alleged large-scale fraud among
New York nursing homes that is being conducted by
the State Temporary Commission on Living Costs.
The Israeli Minister, who represents the National
Religious party in the Cabinet here, has affiliation
with Mr. Bergman through the party's parent
organization, the Orthodox world Mizrachi movement.
Mr. Bergman is the dominant figure in the Mizrachi
Religious Zionists of America. But this affiliation,
Dr. Burg emphasized, is very loose, "The Israeli
movement is absolutely independent," he said.

Mr. Bergman and his wife arrived in Jerusalem at
the end of last month, apparently after learning
that he was about to be subpoenaed to testify
about fraud involving Medicaid funds. The
Bergmans, who entered Israel as tourists, have no
resident status here, though they own a luxury
apartment in Jerusalem. They left Jerusalem in
the middle of this month and are reported to be
living with relatives in Vienna. A Bergman
relative there has said that the couple would be
back in New York, before January 7.

The press here has reported that the couple left
after having been cautioned that they would not be
protected from extradition, should the United
States request it. Dr. Burg, reached in Jerusalem
by phone, said of the request by Representative
Koch that he would make a statement in Parliament
in response to a similar request, submitted in the
form of a parliamentary question, by Shulamit Aloni.

Mrs. Aloni is a member of the opposition Civil
Rights Movement. But the question of Mr. Bergman's
citizenship, Dr. Burg said, does not arise at this
time. "No request whatsoever about this case has
come to me," he said. Mr. Koch had cabled Dr. Burg
from Washington on Friday to urge that Mr. Bergman
"not be permitted to exercise the right of return"
pending the outcome of the Senate committee inquiry.

Under Israel's Law of Return, a Jew can claim
citizenship and a right to live here. Mr. Bergman,
an ordained but non practicing rabbi, holds the
prestigious title of member of the presidium of
the World Mizrahi Movement. He was elected in
January, 1973, together with Tibor Rosenbaum, who
is involved in a multimillion- dollar banking
scandal in Europe, and Rabbi Avigdor Zipperstein
of Jerusalem. Rabbi Zipperstein resigned a few
months ago. Mr. Bergman and Dr. Rosenbaum had
been sponsored in the election by the Minister of
Religious Affairs, Yitzhak Raphael, a controversial
figure in Israel.

Mrs. Aloni said in an interview today that she had
submitted her parliamentary question about Mr.
Bergman to draw attention to her charges of
corruption in the National Religious party.
Support for Representative Koch's plea came today
from the newspaper Ma`ariv in an editorial.
'If Rabbi Bergman is innocent, if his actions as
director of a chain of old-age homes in New York
were without blemish, if he can disprove the
charges against him, let him do so before the
competent authorities,' the paper said.
'If he wishes, he can then come to settle in Israel
and will be welcomed like any Jew who decides to
come to Israel.'".
(End of quote from The NY Times.)

At one point, there was a public hearing in New York. In this
hearing, workers from Bergman's nursing homes testified about
elderly people dying of hunger, of ill ones dying of thirst, of
tired elderly people lying in their own vomit without receiving
any sort of medical care, and many others who suffered cuts and
injuries that were neglected and uncared for.

"I looked at my father, and saw he was about to die",

one witness told the committee formed to investigate the matter.
She quickly took her father to the hospital, where he died of
dehydration and infection. His entire body was covered with
bruises. A qualified nurse told the investigators how the
authorities twisted and changed her findings, after she reported
to the city health authorities about the horrifying conditions in
the home, as reported in Ha`aretz, on the 5th of September, 1997.

Ha`aretz also reported that the testimonies of the workers and
the relatives often sounded in the committee like "terrible scenes
from a sadistic horror film".

It was then discovered that Bergman's nursing homes received 1.2
million dollars from "Medicaid" for treatment of people who never
existed. It was even said, back then, that elderly people with no
family who passed away in the homes were secretly kept for long
periods of time in refrigeration, unburied, while Bergman
continued to receive money for their care.

Some of the newspapers even alleged that Bergman's homes served as a cover for the
Mafia's financial activities and when they continued to
investigate, they discovered the crimes Bergman's father committed
when he smuggled heroin inside Jewish Holy Books.

One day, in a mail office in France, a few Talmud books were accidentally
dropped from one of the mail bags, and a stream of heroin poured
out. Bergman used this incident to beg that he not be accused for
his father's crimes, cried, and made comparisons between himself
and the holy men of Judaism, but at the end was found guilty by a
jury, Ha`aretz reported.

The best way to sum up most of Bergman's life is to quote part
of a news article from the New York Times, titled "Many Roads
Lead to Bergman", by Lee Dembart:

"...In his public posture, Mr. Bergman combined a
talent for fund-raising, a friendship with
politicians and a zest for self-promotion to make
himself a respected leader in Orthodox Jewish
circles. In his business posture, Mr. Bergman used
many of those same contacts to help him turn a
$25,000 inheritance into a net worth he has
certified at $24-million, though he insists he
owns but two nursing homes...".

To back up the claims, the article also mentions that

"In 1960, the City Investigation Commissioner,
Louis I. Kaplan, linked him to a total of 18
homes, and he was estimated to be worth
$10-million", and later on in the article "When
Medicaid started in the mid-1960s, the bonanza
began. By 1973, Mr. Bergman's accountant, Samuel
Dachowitz, certified to a bank that Mr. Bergman
was worth $24-million".

The irony is that Rabbi Bergman used his "friendship with
politicians" to ensure for himself wonderful living conditions
when he was imprisoned. The one who was not imprisoned was the
person that Rabbi Avidor Ha`Cohen met, with the adopted Yemenite
child, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, Rabbi Tuch, who was also found to
be involved in bringing Jewish children from Israel to the United
States. It was a well-known fact within the Jewish community in
the United States that if a family wanted a child they could go
to either Bergman or Tuch and simply pay the necessary fee.

The nursing home Mafia Consisted of The Bergman, Weiss-Spinka Rebbe, Braunstein and Teitelbaum-Kirhauser Rebbe families.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Fraud at Beth Din & Their Bias Against Women

By Craig Horowitz
New York Magazine

Chayie Sieger accused her husband of adultery and battery. Then, after a rabbinical court ruled against her, she accused the rabbis of taking bribes. Is she unstable, as her opponents allege? Or is something rotten in Borough Park?

Chayie Sieger never intended to become a rebel. In fact, for most of her life she was the ultimate conformist, someone who followed the rules and didn't make waves. She was the last person anyone who knew her could imagine doing something to rock the world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism. But that is exactly what she has done.

Sieger, 50, is a pleasant, soft-spoken Hasidic woman who has lived her entire life within a six-block area of Borough Park. She wears a brown wig, dresses in stylish but modest clothing, and dutifully observes all the laws and customs of her religion. She never questions the role of women in the Bobover Hasidic sect, and will even happily argue on behalf of such anachronistic practices as arranged marriage.

For seven and a half years, however, Sieger has been locked in a divorce battle so ugly, so mean-spirited, and so entangled in Jewish law and observance that it has achieved the status of urban legend in Orthodox communities from New York to Jerusalem. She's an accidental activist, who made a decision to fight only when she believed she had no other choice.

Sieger's close-quarter domestic skirmishing has escalated into a legal war that raises disturbing questions about the rights of Orthodox women, the integrity of the rabbinic courts, known as the betei din, and the ethics of a number of ultra-Orthodox rabbis, who stand accused by Sieger of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to issue her husband the religious divorce ruling he wanted.

It has also raised some questions about New York's civil courts, where her case has crawled through the system, its progress stymied by dozens of motions, appeals, judicial turnover, and endless continuances—a Hasidic version of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce.

Her children don't speak to her. She's a pariah in her community, with many of her former friends agreeing with a lawyer representing the rabbis that she's "the Tawana Brawley of the Orthodox community." And her husband, though still not legally divorced from Sieger, married another woman in a religious ceremony in Florida.

For years, Sieger lived what seemed to be a typical existence in Brooklyn's community of 50,000 Bobover Hasids. Daily life centered on the family and Jewish ritual. She took care of her two children, kept the house strictly kosher, prepared for the Sabbath every week, and once a month attended the mikvah—the ritual baths where a married woman purifies herself for sexual relations after her menstrual period. When she was supposed to cook, she cooked. When she was supposed to go to shul, she went.

The social schedule revolved around ritual. Someone was always celebrating a milestone: a birth, a bar mitzvah, a wedding. And the rest of the calendar was filled with religious festivals. The only thing that made Sieger a little unusual in her world was her profession. She is a contemporary businesswoman who learned the ins and outs of the nursing-home industry from her father and now operates a successful facility of her own.

But Sieger had a secret—she was trapped in a woefully unhappy marriage, suffering silently with someone she says is an unfaithful, quick-tempered, physically abusive husband. A man of obviously large appetites, Chaim Sieger weighed 325 pounds at one point (he's five foot eleven) and gambled incessantly in the stock market and at the craps tables in Atlantic City—a high-roller Hasid with a comped penthouse suite. His manic gambling was so out of control, she says, that he bankrupted them several times, forcing her—in the early eighties when her son was 11 and her daughter 9—to have to earn some money. This was when she started working for her father.

In the late eighties, she discovered that her husband owned two Upper East Side co-ops. Chaim told her he'd bought them as an investment. Chayie Sieger claims she eventually found out he used the apartments for sexual trysts: his own and those of his fellow Hasids, whom he sometimes videotaped in action. During the last six months before she left him, Chayie tapped the house phones, and she has audiotapes of his phone conversations discussing the escapades.

On one tape, Sieger can be heard playfully telling a woman—whom Chayie Sieger claims was his girlfriend at the time—how much he misses her and desperately wants to see her. He tells the woman, who apparently worked in a hotel, that he wishes he could come and see her and they could go use one of the empty rooms. Or that she could come see him, but his wife could be home at any time.

On another tape, he can be heard excitedly pushing someone to have sex with a certain woman. When the man says no, Sieger says, "What, you don't think she's attractive? C'mon, tell her to get undressed. Do it, and turn on the video."

Chayie Sieger stuck it out, she says, because she plays by the rules. Among Hasids, divorce is taboo. A breakup of a marriage would have a negative impact on the ability of the couple's children to marry well. As children of divorced parents, they would be viewed as damaged goods, far less desirable as potential partners. So she waited. But her plan was clear. As soon as the kids were married and settled, she would be gone.

Finally, on a Monday in December 1995, she moved into her father's house several doors away. Sieger knew that leaving her husband after 24 years of marriage was going to be difficult. She just had no idea how difficult. What Sieger hadn't factored in was the severity of the Bobov response. First came the shock-and-awe campaign. The day she left was the day her son and daughter stopped talking to her. She maintains that her relationship with them had always been very close. She blames their abandonment on intense pressure from their father and members of the community. "In the last 25 years, I'm only the fourth woman in Bobov to leave her husband," Sieger says. "And in each case, the woman lost her children. My children essentially went from A to Z in one day, and that's not normal. I didn't see it before, but I think that Bobov is a cult and my children need to be deprogrammed."

Along with her kids, Sieger has lost essentially everything that was important to her. She hasn't seen her grandchildren in nearly eight years (those born after 1995 she's never seen). Lifelong friends cut her off. People she has known since childhood cross the street to avoid her. Invitations to the social events that are central to life in Borough Park stopped coming. "The reaction was so gender-biased," she says. "No friends stuck by me. All of our friends became his friends."

Sieger has become an outcast in her own world. "When everything goes smoothly, there is no better place to be than in an ultra-Orthodox marriage and an ultra-Orthodox community," says novelist Naomi Ragen, an American who lives in Jerusalem and who has written three books about Orthodox women. "But when it goes bad, everyone is against the woman. No matter what goes wrong in the marriage, it is the woman who gets ganged up on and ostracized. There is no justice whatsoever."

But perhaps the most bizarre reaction was her husband's. At first, Chaim attempted to apply pressure to get her to reconsider ("He told me, `I'll give you the kids back in a minute if you come back to me,' " she says). At the same time, he employed a charm offensive. He called, he sent flowers, and whenever she agreed to talk to him, he swore that he was a changed man.

Though she was the one who walked out, according to Jewish law only the husband can grant a divorce. As a result, there is a long-standing problem in the Orthodox world with women whose marriages end but whose husbands won't give them a get, a Jewish divorce. Without a get, these women remain essentially chained to nonexistent marriages, unable to remarry an Orthodox man, while their husbands can go on and get rabbinic permission to remarry. These women are known in Hebrew as agunah, literally "chained woman."

But once Chaim Sieger realized Chayie was serious, he also had a problem. A divorce would mean they'd have to divide their assets, and this was not an attractive proposition. According to a tenet of Jewish divorce law, any assets brought to the marriage by one party leave with that person if the marriage breaks up. Anything not acquired together during the marriage is not community property. The law is the same in New York civil court as well. And in this case, the lion's share of the Siegers' substantial assets was brought to the marriage by Chayie.

Her father, a native of Poland who did time in a labor camp in Siberia during the war, managed to escape to America and in the fifties went into the nursing-home business, eventually acquiring more than seven facilities, which are now controlled by a family trust.

The bottom line for Chaim was that his wife was not likely to be in a giving mood when settlement time came. She'd already made it clear to Chaim that she was not about to let him keep the two nursing homes the family had put in his name when it was advantageous from a business standpoint to do so.

Legally, he knew he didn't have much leverage. He discussed his situation with Rabbi Jacob Meisels, a lifelong friend and yeshiva classmate, who, Chayie Sieger says, became her husband's guide through the sometimes confusing maze of Jewish law. Reconciliation was tried first. She had one marriage-counseling session, without her husband, with Rabbi Solomon Herbst.

At the same time, Chayie says, Herbst was trying to get her to sign an arbitration agreement. When both of these things failed, Chaim Sieger found another avenue to pursue—an obscure, rarely used 1,000-year-old procedure known in Hebrew as a Heter Meah Rabanim, or Decree of 100 Rabbis.

Basically, the Heter was devised to enable a husband whose wife was somehow not able or not willing ("recalcitrant") to participate in the process to obtain a divorce and remarry. According to experts on Jewish law, it was intended for use in extraordinary cases in which the wife had run away or been institutionalized or somehow incapacitated. Because it is such an extreme measure, the document requires the signatures of 100 rabbis in three different countries.

Though none of these conditions appears to have existed in the Siegers' marital dispute—and there is great controversy in the Jewish community about whether the decree should be used under any circumstances—Chaim managed to secure a Heter. The document was issued by a bet din (rabbinical court) that operates under the aegis of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, a small, right-wing organization that has achieved some notoriety for its strident, outrageous public statements about non-Orthodox Jews. But why would the court issue this document? Why would 100 rabbis sign off on it?

The most serious charge in the 27-page English translation of the Heter is that Chayie Sieger was "not fit to live with and have sexual relations with" because she failed to attend the mikvah; more precisely, she would pick fights with her husband to delay or avoid going. Short of calling her a whore, this is the worst thing you can say about an Orthodox woman. "It's ridiculous. If I can't be trusted to go to the mikvah," Sieger says, "then the food in my house probably isn't kosher either. It's like saying I'm not even Orthodox."

The Heter also charges that she was unable to care for her children because she was more interested in her career ("even though Mr. Sieger supported her with dignity"), and that she filled her house with "quarrels and embarrassment," turning it into "an insane asylum." According to the Heter, she did this by waking her husband up in the middle of the night, turning the radio on really loud, and pouring water on him while he slept.

Sieger believes that the rabbis who run this court were bribed by her husband to issue the Heter. She filed a $13 million civil suit in 1998 charging them with accepting bribes that ranged from $50,000 to as much as $215,000. She also charged them with defaming her and essentially ruining her life by leaking information contained in the Heter in Borough Park.

"All my life I've trusted rabbis, believed in them," says Sieger. "So why wouldn't people believe what's been said about me? After all, if the rabbis are saying these things, then they must be true."

Sieger believes her husband paid the rabbis to issue the Heter and its damaging accusations so he could use the document to blackmail her into giving him what he wants in the divorce settlement. In other words, he would tell her the Heter existed, then offer to have it torn up if she accepted a get on his terms. However, she chose to fight rather than give in. "Look," she says, "husbands are entitled to be greedy, vindictive, angry, or whatever. But they shouldn't have rabbis to help them act on those impulses."

For their part, Rabbis Aryeh Ralbag, Haim Kraus, Hersh Meir Ginsberg, Elimelech Zalman Lebowitz, and Solomon B. Herbst vehemently deny Sieger's charges. Well-known Washington, D.C., attorney Nathan Lewin, who has litigated many highly charged cases involving Orthodox Judaism, is handling their defense with a bare-knuckles bravado that seems to indicate a personal passion for the case. (Herbst is represented by Louis Tratner.)

"She's managed to mislead and bamboozle everybody with her stories," says Lewin, a compact man with white hair and a trim white beard, whose fees for defending the rabbis are being paid, in large part, by Chaim Sieger.

Chayie Sieger's response is succinct:

"Nat Lewin would represent a monkey, as long as it's male and has a beard."

It is clear from the legal briefs, the various motions, and the mountain of deposition transcripts that the defense position is that Chayie Sieger is making everything up. But if she is indeed lying about everything, what about the police report from the 66th Precinct that was filed when she'd gone in after she says Chaim had beaten her?

"I don't believe Chaim Sieger beat her up," says Lewin, an observant Jew who says he knows of cases where women inflict wounds on themselves. "I have seen other instances when women make false claims about what their husbands do."

While Chayie Sieger's original sin in the eyes of the Bobov community was walking out on her husband, her second, perhaps even more serious transgression was to seek relief in the secular courts.

To understand how serious an offense this is considered in Hasidic communities, you only have to know that a poster popped up all over Borough Park that said, in Hebrew, IT IS A COMMANDMENT TO KILL A MOSER (an informer, someone who tells stories outside the community). "Rabbi Daniel Frommel took me to his synagogue in Brooklyn and showed me the poster," Sieger says. "He told me I was the target for going outside the rabbinic courts." Ironically, Sieger herself agrees that Orthodox Jews should not use the secular courts. "I never would have gone outside if there had been another choice. But I was desperate, and I knew there was no chance I was going to get justice any other way."

Chayie Sieger was not quite 18 when a family friend suggested to her parents that she meet a young yeshiva student named Chaim. Perhaps, if the unofficial matchmaker was right, they would like one another. In Borough Park, where Hasidic Jews do things the same way they did them hundreds of years ago in Eastern Europe, this was the first step in arranging a marriage.

As it turned out, Sieger was quite taken with her "blind date," whom she remembers even then, when he was barely 20, as a very charming smooth talker. And so, on their third heavily chaperoned meeting at her house, they had a l'chaim: a toast to the couple's engagement. It was June, and the following March, filled with hope and expectation, the two young Hasids were married. The year was 1972. Twelve months later, they had a son, and two years after that a daughter.

But very early on in their life together, there were signs of trouble. Nine months after the wedding, when Sieger was six months pregnant, she says, a woman who worked with her husband called and said she had had an affair with him. The woman claimed she was calling because she felt guilty and because she thought it was a terrible way for a supposedly pious man to behave.

When Sieger confronted her husband with this information, she says, he didn't even flinch. He said the woman was angry because she hadn't gotten a weekly paycheck she believed she deserved and this was her way to get even. "I made excuses from the very beginning," Chayie Sieger says. "I heard what I wanted to hear and believed what I wanted to believe. It took a long time, but eventually I realized there's no fixing this guy."

Still, Sieger says, she suffered quietly, never telling anyone what was going on. Even when she finally left and her son and daughter turned on her, she would not let them hear the details of their father's secret life on the audiotapes. The only people who knew the truth, she says, were her father, her brother, and Solomon Halberstam, the Bobov grand rebbe.

In June 1996, six months after she had moved out, Sieger went to the Bobover rebbe's daughter and requested a meeting with her father. She hoped that if she told Halberstam her story, he would help her get through the difficulties in the best way possible.

And so, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon she went to a house at the corner of 48th Street and Fifteenth Avenue. The building contains both the synagogue and the rebbe's home. They sat down at the dining-room table in his modestly furnished second-floor apartment.

She asked the rebbe, who was dressed in the traditional chalat, the black silk belted robe, to talk to her husband and help her secure a get. The rebbe asked her what the problems were in her marriage and told her to speak candidly.

"I talked to him about Chaim's bizarre behavior," she says, "and explained that for a long time I thought I could change him. But after years of trying, I finally realized I couldn't. He was very sympathetic and very disappointed in Chaim. `How could I not have known?' he asked. I was surprised by how warm he was on a personal basis with a woman."

The rebbe told Chaim he should give her a get, and his daughter told Chayie she should go to see Rabbi Herbst for counseling. "In the meantime," she says, "Chaim was telling everyone nothing happened. We just had a little fight and it'll all be fine."

In the rabbinic tribunal system as it's currently practiced in America, there is no central authority—no oversight, nor any avenue for appeal. And simply refusing to show up if someone starts a proceeding is not as easy as it sounds. "If you and I have a dispute, it is very difficult for you to refuse to come to court," says Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler, professor of Talmudic law at an affiliate of Yeshiva University.

"Essentially, I have you over a barrel. If you don't come, there can be rabbinic sanctions. For example, you can be prohibited from being called up to the Torah. And there are social sanctions as well. You'll stop receiving invitations."

If you refuse to go to court, other ultra-Orthodox people may even stop doing business with you. They will assume you can't be trusted, and if there is a disagreement of some kind, they'll have no recourse because you won't appear in court.

In this case, Chaim Sieger went to a rabbinic court run by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis and asked them to preside over his divorce. They agreed to take the case and sent Chayie a hazmannah, which is something between a summons and an invitation to appear.

Sieger says she was told by a knowledgeable rabbi that she would not get a fair hearing from this court. He told her to instead opt for a zabla, which is, in essence, going to arbitration. She picks a representative, the other side also picks a representative, and then the two of them pick an arbitrator to hear the case. She then notified the court of her intent to seek a zabla.

Beyond this point, however, events become impossibly murky. The rabbis' side argues that Chayie Sieger never followed through on the zabla request and that she didn't respond to the next two hazmannahs they sent. Jewish law states that if the notices are ignored, the court can then act without the participation of the delinquent party.

Chayie Sieger says that she was never given proper notification of the proceeding or sufficient time to respond.

Lewin has argued in court that Sieger's lawsuit against the rabbis should be thrown out because it violates the separation of church and state. "This whole debate is over something that only matters to religious people," he says.

"I don't care whether Mrs. Sieger wanted these rabbis to decide this matter or not. And whether she agreed to participate or not is irrelevant. The whole notion that these rabbis are three thugs off the streets who've come in and taken somebody who hasn't voluntarily gone to a rabbinic court is ludicrous."

When there have been problems with the rabbinic courts, the primary corrupting influence has been money. Some of the courts have suspect reputations, and one widely respected expert in the Jewish world told me off the record that the court in the Sieger case has "a reputation for having its hand out."

"A rabbinic court that charges money for its services is really an oxymoron," says Tendler, who talked to Chayie Sieger five years ago about getting involved in her case but ultimately did not because of time constraints. "It is actually against Jewish law for these rabbis to charge anything for their services, and yet it's gotten very expensive. They sometimes charge as much as lawyers now."

In the past, when Jews lived an insular existence and had their own institutions, these rabbinic courts received salaries that were paid by the community. There was also, as there is in Israel today, a higher authority to deal with controversial or disputed decisions. But while America is a secular state, Israel is a Jewish state, with a chief rabbi and government oversight of religious institutions.

In the case of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, the court that produced the Heter for Chaim Sieger, there are two questions at the heart of the case: Were they bribed by Chaim Sieger to produce the result he wanted, and even if they weren't, did they act properly and responsibly in accordance with Jewish law in issuing the Heter Meah Rabanim?

"A rabbinic court that knows its business would never have gotten involved in this," says Tendler, "until a civil court had acted in their divorce case. This court did not follow protocol. They jumped the gun."

Tendler says that in any marital dispute where there are complicated issues to be resolved, like a disagreement over assets, a Heter is unacceptable. "The Heter is a very extreme step that shouldn't even be considered until years and years have passed without a resolution."

Then there is the peculiar matter of the 100 signatures. Rabbi Ralbag testified that he threw them away because there was no reason to keep them. He also said he could not remember the name of a single rabbi who signed the document other than his fellow court judges.

"A Heter is so rare," Tendler says, "that any rabbi who is involved in one and does get 100 signatures would probably frame them and hang them in his living room."

During his deposition, Chaim Sieger said he never bribed any of the rabbis and paid only a relatively modest fee of $5,000 for their services. But circumstantial evidence suggests otherwise. Near the end of January 1998, about seven weeks after the Heter was issued, Chaim Sieger withdrew $945,000 from an account at Chase Manhattan Bank in cash, cashier's checks, and money orders.

When questioned about this by Chayie's lawyer, he said he couldn't remember what he did with the money. Perhaps, he blithely said, he was making interest-free loans to friends. There are, however, no records to support this.

That very same week, Rabbi Ralbag, who testified in his deposition that his annual salary is around $35,000, suddenly came into $40,000. He then invested that money in stock in an Independence Savings Bank initial public offering.

Ralbag at first offered no explanation for where the $40,000 came from. Ultimately, he said it was a gift from his parents. So far, however, he has not submitted his parents' bank statements or a gift-tax filing. The same day that Ralbag deposited his sudden windfall, Rabbi Ginsberg, whose stated salary is $11,000 a year, deposited $50,000 into an account at Independence. He has so far offered no explanation for the source of his money.

Chayie has charged that her husband transferred $500,000 to an account belonging to Rabbi Meisels. Meisels, who is not named in the lawsuit, kept $215,000 for himself and then distributed the rest, in several cases through an intermediary, to the rabbis who took care of the Heter. Chayie Sieger has copies of bank statements, canceled checks, and money transfers to back up her claims.

Rabbi Herbst, who did not sit on the rabbinic court but served as a marriage counselor to the Siegers and, when that wasn't working, introduced Chaim Sieger to Rabbi Ralbag as someone who knew about Heters, also had enormous good fortune that same fateful week as Ralbag and Ginsberg. Herbst also invested $50,000 in Independence stock.

Herbst, who testified that he makes about $25,000 a year, submitted bank records in the name of Congregation Kehal Premishlan, Inc., which he said was "his congregation," dating from 1992 to 1993. He also submitted bankbook photocopies that showed a balance hovering around $20,000 over a four-year period. Not exactly sufficient funds for his investments. Particularly given that it appears he made a second purchase of Independence stock, also in January, this time totaling $215,000.

In addition to the financial "coincidences," there was the sworn testimony of a man named Frederick Frankel who said he went to Rabbi Ralbag to discuss getting a Heter and that Ralbag told him it would cost $100,000. "He [Ralbag] told me he needed a $10,000 deposit to start the process," Frankel said, "and I asked him basically who to make the check out to, and he told me it had to be cash . . . And he said that normally the whole $100,000 is in cash, but at a minimum, 50 percent of it had to be in cash." Frankel never went any further.

In January 2002, New York State Supreme Court judge Martin Schoenfeld, ruling on Nathan Lewin's motion to have the case dismissed, found that there was more than enough evidence to take the bribery case to trial. Despite the weight of the circumstantial evidence, the defense argues that all of this adds up to nothing more than coincidence. Lewin says the Independence IPO was a very hot topic in Brooklyn's Orthodox neighborhoods and that "everyone in Borough Park was investing in it."

A large part of the defense strategy has been to depict Chayie Sieger as an unstable, manipulative shrew. Abe H. Konstam, Chaim Sieger's divorce lawyer, laughed derisively when I asked about Chayie Sieger. He referred to the "well-documented shenanigans she has perpetrated" and said all his client wants is his freedom. Then he refused to talk to me any further.

His reference to Chaim Sieger's desire to have his freedom was particularly curious. Though the Siegers' divorce case has yet to come to court in New York, Chaim is already remarried. And he has two new babies. Not long after the Heter was issued, Sieger traveled to Florida with his girlfriend and they were married by his friend Rabbi Jacob Meisels. According to copies of American Express bills that were produced during the legal wrangling, the newly married couple threw a party at the Doral in Miami that cost, for catering, flowers, music, and travel expenses, upwards of $200,000.

Why Florida? One possible explanation is the state does not recognize religious marriage ceremonies. Therefore, since Chaim and Chayie Sieger are not divorced, he could still "remarry" this way, without, presumably, being charged with bigamy. Chaim Sieger's lawyer vehemently denies that his client is remarried, though he refuses to comment further. He would not, for example, explain how it is that Sieger is living with a woman and their new babies in the middle of the intractably religious world of Borough Park, if they're not married.

Chayie Sieger's decision to take her husband and the rabbis to court was opposed by virtually everyone. Even her own daughter essentially told her to tough it out. "She said I'd put up with it for 24 years and was still in one piece, so why couldn't I just continue to put up with it?" she says.

Several days after this conversation, her daughter-in-law, a Canadian who now lives in Borough Park, came to visit. She told Sieger that if she didn't reunite with Chaim, she would leave her son and go back to Canada.

"I was shocked," Sieger says. "I told her I'd taken a lot on myself and didn't want to take it on anymore."

As Sieger tells this story about her children on a recent steamy summer morning, her eyes fill with tears. She speaks haltingly, sitting in her meticulously arranged office in the Bronx nursing home she owns.

But just when she seems about to lose it, she regains her composure and the look on her face hardens. "All my life I've played by the rules, and this is the position I end up in," she says. "No family should be destroyed the way mine has been. They have made me a wife without a husband and a mother without children. This is what's pushing me to see this through. I'm going to fight till the end."