Wednesday, May 18, 2005

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Lending A (Virtual) Helping Hand To College Girls Confused About Ethics

I get these questions because I'm a moral leader and I have "ethics" in my AOL profile under interests.

PsychMajor: I have a question concerning ethics....can you help me out?
Luzdedos1: yes PsychMajor: I'm a college student taking an Ethic's course. I have a paper due in a few weeks on Albert Einstein and his ethical views. I have no idea where to start...and I don't know how to elaborate on his ethical views (the paper must be 5 pages)
PsychMajor: Do you have any suggestions? |
Luzdedos1: Google "Albert Einstein" ethics. "I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern without any superhuman authority behind it."

Men Who Fear Feminism

Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism By Tamar Ross Brandeis University Press, 352 pages, $29.95.

Reading Ross, it is easy to understand why so many Orthodox men fear female scholarship. Her book offers a powerful alternate theological vision that challenges some of the basic assumptions of the Orthodox Jewish world, and gives a glimpse of just how revolutionary feminism could be to Orthodoxy. In the end, however, Ross's creativity is hampered by her unwillingness to rock the Orthodox establishment. For the moment, at least, the male traditionalists are safe.

The Better One Knows Andrew Sullivan, The Less One Thinks Of Him

Instapundit rides the wave:

Andrew can be excitable. A while back he apologized to me for some of his criticisms during the election, and more recently he has apologized to his readers for his waffling and defeatism on the war last spring. Perhaps he'll apologize for this at some point in the future. But, I confess, I find the question of what Andrew thinks less pressing than I used to.

Wet Towels Can Kill Your Marriage

Leaving a wet towel on the bathroom floor may seem a minor issue but it could wreck a relationship. Scientists have identified a list of the most annoying habits that can cause rifts between couples.

The study of minor irritations in domestic life has found that people can almost become "allergic" to a partner's foibles. Failure to control that shrill laugh might end in marriage-destroying fury. Among the most annoying habits are failing to hang up towels, leaving a new loo roll on top of the empty one and using a fork as a back-scratcher.

Cringe-inducing endearments such as "babykins" can also cause an adverse reaction. When repeated, a couple can reach snapping point.

Many of the habits detailed in the study, published in the academic journal Personal Relationships, are the familiar fibre of male-female interaction. They include nose-picking, burping and tatty clothes in men and lateness, verbosity and demands for reassurance about clothing in women.

The study, funded by the US government's health research arm and conducted at Louisville University, charted the grim "deromanticisation" of more than 160 relationships. It also compared what was termed "social allergen frequency" (nasty habits) with relationship satisfaction and failure in a further 274 people. The report, Social Allergies in Romantic Relationships, aims to establish the nature of the link between nasty habits and nasty divorce. Some of the issues raised will provide bored couples with a new range of things to complain about.


* Fabricating dinner party anecdotes

* Public use of babyish terms of endearment

* Displays of fear by male at horror film

* Taking excessive volumes of luggage on holiday

* Making partner spend far longer than they want shopping

* Laughing at own jokes when others do not

* Complaining about partner’s clothes

* Changing preset controls on car stereo

* Failing to change loo roll

* Leaving wet towels around

* Criticising any of the above traits in partner

Dennis Prager recalled one of his friends repeatedly calling his wife "Lush Butt."

John Updike: 'To Desire A Woman, Is To Desire To Save Her'

Oscar Wilde: A man desires to be a woman's first. A woman desires to be a man's last.

Deadly Islamic Riots Following Newsweek Article

I don't find Newsweek responsible for Islamic riots that killed 17 people. I find those Muslims who killed people responsible. The incident says more about the low moral state of the Islamic world than anything else. Where are the Muslims who protest about the bad behavior of their coreligionists?

I've been reading Kenneth Woodward, religion editor of Newsweek, for about 30-years. Rarely have I invested so much time for so little reward. Few people in his position write so much and shed such little light.

The latest example of his muddled thinking comes in his Op/Ed for the Wall Street Journal. If what he writes is correct (that the main thing about these riots that Westerners should understand is how precious the Koran is to Muslims) then the Koran is an evil document. If your allegiance to the Koran means you murder people when you believe it has been desecrated, then the document itself (or its principal interpreters) must teach evil.

Woodward writes:

My concern is that all Americans understand how deeply sacrilegious such an act as Newsweek described would be to Muslims, and why it is not like flushing pages from the Bible down the drain...

The Quran is not "the Bible" of Muslims. It is infinitely more sacred than that. To use a Jewish analogy, it is more like the oral Torah first revealed on Mount Sinai which was later passed on orally through the prophets and eventually written down on scrolls for all to read. Whereas Christians regard the Bible as written by human beings inspired by God, Muslims regard the Quran -- the word means "The Recitation" -- as the very words of God, revealed aurally to the Prophet Muhammed in Arabic. To hear those words recited is, for Muslims, to hear Allah. If, for Christians, Jesus is the logos or eternal Word of God made flesh, the Quran is the Word of God made book, and every Arabic syllable in it lives as the breath of the divine.

The Bible is every bit as important to the believing Jew and Christian (but probably not to Kenneth Woodward) as it is to the Muslim. There's nothing more important than the Bible for the Jew and Christian (there are other things as important, such as Jesus to the Christian and God and Israel to the Jew, but the only way adherents to these two faiths know about God is through their Bible).

Woodward suggests that Jews regard the Oral Torah as more sacred than the written Torah. This is nonsense.

Orthodox Jews also believe that to hear the Torah recited is to hear the words of God.

For most Christians in the world, the Bible is the word of God.

That Jews and Christians don't murder people en masse when we feel our texts have been desecrated doesn't mean we don't value our Scriptures. It is precisely because we value our Scriptures (in combination with other Western values) that we don't act in the barbaric fashion of many Muslims over the past 35-years (almost all acts of terrorism since 1970 have been done by parts of the Islamic world).

For Woodward, Muslims going on a murderous rampage shows much they venerate their religion. I say that these deadly riots show once again that either certain Muslims don't understand their religion or that their religion contains much that leads to evil. Frankly, there's no part of the Islamic world that I or any civilized person would want to live in.

I loathe Newsweek, not so much for this mistake, but for its long record of tame journalism (it held back on publishing the Monica Lewinsky story, etc). Its editor Mark Whitaker is supercilious. The magazine has long been a WASP citadel.

David writes: "I take my Bible very seriously, and a lot of Christians, esp. the kind that went to my old Bible Church, treat their Bible like a beloved pet or companion. I mean, I guess he’s never read one of those Bibles with the words of Jesus in red, because, you know, they’re ‘the very words of God, revealed orally’…? Sheesh."

Orthodox Mediocrity

By Dovid Wildman in the YU Commentator:

Two months ago, over the weekend of March 11-12, I had the privilege of speaking with Denis Prager about religion and the responsibilities of Orthodox Jews in modern society. Mr. Prager, a renowned nationally syndicated radio talk show host, was visiting Stern College as a guest speaker for the Israel Club Shabbaton. His keynote address was about the intersection of religion and politics on the world stage, and the Jewish role in it all. Though he kept much of his personal religious beliefs out of the discussion, he did elaborate on his views privately afterward. I think everyone -- particularly the students at Yeshiva -- should hear what he had to say.

Dennis Prager grew up Orthodox, a product of Yeshiva Day Schools, but left Orthodoxy because of a perception that the universal message of Judaism was being stifled under an inwardly focused, inflexible Halakhic canon. In his own words, Mr. Prager lamented that he was taught to memorize the exact dimensions of a Succah but never once was he taught what the Jewish mission is in the world. And that's the challenge he left us students with: what is our task as a religious people within the global community? Or, to phrase it differently, what does it really mean to be an Or Lagoyim - a light unto the nations?

As I contemplated Mr. Prager's question, I came to realize that the Orthodox world has primarily interpreted the concept of Or Lagoyim in a passive sense; consequently, our community has advanced a mediocre form of Orthodox Judaism. Throughout my life, Or Lagoyim has been presented as a form of "leading by example." We are told to set examples as individuals and communities, to influence others through our steadfast adherence to religious values such as moral incorruptibility, quality of character, and complete faith in God. We expect those around us to adopt these values, or at least a portion of them, through osmosis. Although this has worked to a certain extent -- we do have the concept of a Judeo-Christian ethic -- we have refused to spread our message with passion and active strength.

Cathy Seipp Interviews Andrew Breitbart About The Huffington Post

Ho hum. No news here. But then I've always found most conversation about blogging boring (or media criticism in general). What matters is the importance of a story you advance, not the medium through which you advance it. In the end, it all boils down to merit, not whether one uses anonymous sources.

Emmanuelle Richard writes: "Love Andrew, but he's is so guarded in this intw you can feel Arianna's fingernails in his back."

Anonymous Sourcing

I was recently challenged: "Can anyone who wants to use a journalist to get their attack on someone be entitled to protection?"

Absolutely not.

"Will you always grant anonymity to a source, even when it's clear they are in no danger if discovered and are using you as a way of pointing the finger but not ever having to account for it?"

If I agree to give anonymity to a source, I live up to my word unless that source lies to me (unless I find out that that source told me things that source knew to be untrue).

In general, I am not troubled by anonymous sourcing. I am troubled by inaccurate reporting. If using anonymous sourcing makes your reporting more accurate and advances the story, then that is great. Anything that leads to inaccurate reporting is bad.

Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau's Daughter's Letter About Child Abuse

She sent this a few weeks ago to many rabbis in Baltimore.

I sought comment on this from Dr. Aviva Weisbord and rabbi Eisgrau (the principal of the Torah Institute of Baltimore). They did not respond.

A couple of years ago, rabbi Eisgrau was investigated for child molestation (following complaints) but was not charged.

This email was forwarded to me over a month ago by somebody who thought its contents were so outlandish that they discredited the woman who made them.

This story about rabbi Eisgrau's daughter was given to Phil Jacobs at the Baltimore Jewish Times years ago. He interviewed the woman at length. He investigated. He didn't publish anything.

I spoke to many sources in and around Baltimore before I chose to publish the following.

I discussed this case six months ago with rabbi Yaakov Menken, who has at least one child at the Torah Institute. He firmly believes rabbi Eisgrau is innocent as does the Baltimore Orthodox establishment.

Some people who generally support The Awareness Center began withdrawing their support after this story made it to their website. Some find its publication the most troubling of any page about any putative predator on the site.

The woman who wrote this is now married with kids. She is still Orthodox.

When most people in the orthodox community look at my family they see a normal family. Everyone is religious, married with kids, seems happy, and appears not only to be functioning well but also contributing to their community.

I am the third of twelve children. Most of my early childhood was spent in Vineland, New Jersey. My father met and married my mother in Vineland while he was a student at her father's yeshiva. My grandfather's yeshiva was in a remote area Jewishly and otherwise, and we were very isolated. We did not go to school and had no contact with children outside of the family.

My father [various charges] me repeatedly while we were living in Vineland. The abuse happened when I was between the ages of three and seven years old. I was...molested by some of the students in my grandfather's yeshiva. I don't remember their names...

My grandfather was also inappropriate with me. He exposed himself to me once when I was three. When I was seven he would have serious discussions with me. He would tell me how lonely he was and ask me if I thought he should get remarried. At that age he told my sister and I that he loved one of us more than the other. I was sure it was she who he loved more than me.

I know that my grandfather physically abused my mother, (although she will insist that her experience was not abuse). She would get hit, for example, if she couldn't keep the baby from crying. My mother is the oldest of ten children. Her mother died of an illness when she was fifteen. She said that my grandfather always hit his children too much, but after her mother died it got worse. She told me that her brothers would try to protect her. My mother's brothers are the only safe men who I remember having close contact with in my childhood.

My father was physically abused by his mother. She would hold his nose to force him to swallow foods that he hated. She would beat him with a broomstick. He was a troubled teen and was kicked out of more than one yeshiva. He told me that my grandfather rescued him, "pulled him from the garbage can." He shared with me his first encounter with my grandfather. He said that when my grandfather was speaking to him he raised his hand to make a point, and my father instinctively ducked under the table. He thought he was going to be hit.

My grandfather also rescued [accused child molester who was found guilty of assault and received probation] Aron Goldberger. He had been expelled from a yeshiva for "homosexual behavior." Knowing his background, and despite many warnings, my grandfather allowed Goldberger to marry his daughter.

I was a troubled child and an angry teen for obvious reasons. I was also extremely depressed. My mother would tell me repeatedly that I had nothing to be sad or angry about and that I should put a smile on my face.

When I was in the fourth grade I discovered by accident that I needed glasses. A classmate had a pair and I tried them on just for fun. When the room jumped into focus I realized that I needed glasses. I told my mother who said, "No you don't need glasses, you see well enough." Her response was typical.

When my fifth grade teacher sent a note home asking my parents to get my eyes checked they finally took me to an eye doctor. The doctor assured my mother that he could see by the shape of my pupil that I was nearsighted but she was still unconvinced. She told me that I was getting glasses not because I needed them but to get the teacher off her back. My sister taunted me "you don't really need glasses, you just want attention."

As a child I often wondered what I could possibly do to become real in my parent's eyes. I remember watching other children in school and wondering what it was about them that I was missing that allowed them to exist, and have real needs and feelings. I thought there was something inherently wrong with me.

When I was sixteen I left home to go to school in Israel. When the Gulf War broke out my parents forced me to come back home and refused to let me return to Israel. When I was eighteen I ran away from home and went back to Israel. My father came after me. He told me that the only reason he could think of that I could possibly have run away was that I had lesbian relationship with a friend whom I had met and become close to while in school there.

My father said that he wanted to help me and would take me to see a psychologist if I came home with him. He took me to his friend, Dr. Aviva Weisbord, who agreed to see me as a favor to him. (Apparently he had helped her with one of her children who had been having issues.)

Dr. Weisbord should never have taken me on as a client due to her obvious conflict of interest. She allowed me to come to her house during the course of therapy and sleep over. She violated confidentiality by meeting with my parents against my wishes. She violated confidentiality by telling people that I had been a client of hers and that in her "professional" opinion my father had not abused me.

During the course of my treatment with Dr. Weisbord she and I both realized that I had been sexually abused. She kept asking me about my uncle, Goldberger, whom I had contact with as a young child. I did not remember any specific instances of him abusing me. I did not tell her about my father. She was very willing to believe that my uncle, a convicted sex offender, abused me. But I knew she would not believe me about my father. She made it clear that she trusted and respected him. At some point she realized that I was hiding something. She told me that there were serious boundary issues in my family. That there were things that I wasn't sharing with her, and that she did not want to hear. She told me that she was ending our relationship and sending me to someone else.

My next therapist would not speak with my parents at all, and when my father found out that I was talking about the abuse he told me that I had to stop seeing her. He threatened to take her to a bais din for "convincing me of things that never happened." He told me that I was heading down a dangerous path. That reading books on the subject of abuse was putting ideas into my head. He told me that he was the only one who really loved that and me if I wasn't paying my therapist she would throw me out onto the street. That was the day I left my parents home.

I had nowhere to go. In desperation, I called a woman whom I had met only once, Hinda Goliger, and she invited me to come live with her. She and her husband became my biggest, and at times my only, allies and supporters. Many people including my parents, tried to pressure the Goligers to throw me out so I would be forced to go back home. The Goligers refused to bow to pressure. They promised me that their home would always be a safe place for me and it was. They were truly there for me when no one else was. They believed in me, and I will always be grateful.

The abuse by my father and others left me with many issues. But even worse than the actual rape and abuse was the revictimization that I encountered from my family, and community, when I tried to reach out for help.

No one would believe me that my father or my grandfather had done these things. My siblings were very angry with me and treated me like I had some horrible disease. My mother told me that she knew that nothing happened to me and that basically I was saying these things to get attention. One of my uncles told me that saying that my grandfather abused me meant that I hated the Torah. Another Rabbi who I spoke with, after asking me for my grandfathers name, told me that it was my imagination that I had been sexually abused and that I should just forget about it and get married and everything would be fine. Once again I was being given the message that I was not real. My memories were not real. My feelings and experiences were not real.

During this time one of my brothers, then in his teens, forced a six-year-old girl in the neighborhood to expose herself to him. He threatened to hurt her if she didn't comply. The child's mother told me about the incident. She told my mother about it too. My mother's response was that she needed to talk to my brother about staying away from girls, and that my father needed to learn with him more often.

I told my therapist about the incident. She informed me that what my brother had done was considered sexual abuse and that she was mandated to report it. I begged her not to. I knew that my family, who were already very upset with me for saying that my father abused me, would think that I had reported it. She finally agreed to ask her Rabbi, R' Menachem Goldberger, what to do. R' G. told her to make the report which she did.

Another rabbi who I turned to for help was Rabbi Heinemann. I did not know how to approach him. I decided to ask him a halachic question that had been bothering me for a while. It was a question that one of my aunts had asked me when I told her what my father had done to me. I asked him if I was allowed to marry a kohen if my father raped me. I was hoping that he would hear the inherent pain in my question and offer to help me. He asked if it happened before or after age three. I said after. He then told me that if I decided to say that it never happened then I could marry a kohen but if I said that it did happen then I couldn't. End of conversation. That was the only time that I spoke with R' Heinemann about this, or anything else.

I went to other rabbis for help and I was told, "we know sexual abusers exists in our community but we know that your father is not one of them."

I already felt inherently damaged, and traumatized, as a result of the sexual abuse but the way my family and the rabbis were treating me made the pain unbearable. Like all survivors of trauma I needed to talk about what happened to me in order to process it and heal. I needed (and still need) my truth to be heard. My family did not understand this and accused me of trying to hurt them by telling people about it.

I thought that because no one believed me I must be crazy. I wanted to believe that my family was right and I was sick or evil but deep down I knew that I wasn't and that I was remembering these things because they had happened to me.

I was in a tremendous amount of psychological pain. I often begged God to remove me from this world. I wanted to die to find out the truth. And I wanted to escape the pain. I attempted suicide and was hospitalized. During my hospitalization I was diagnosed with a dissociative disorder (that I have since recovered from) whose only known cause is severe and repeated trauma in early childhood. I was also diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder.)

While all this was going on I was teaching pre-school at the Torah Institute. The pre-school director was shocked when I told her that I was quitting because I was suicidal and needed to be hospitalized. She simply couldn't believe it. She said that I was doing a great job teaching and that she thought I was the most 'together' of all my sisters. I told her that my family specialized in seeming 'normal' and 'together' and that I was good at it, but I was tired of pretending to be ok. I needed help.

At first the director said that she believed me that my father had sexually abused me. She told me that she knew more than one rebbe at the Torah Institute with sexual issues. She wanted to be supportive but at the same time she begged me to consider the damage that speaking about my experience would cause my siblings. She told me I could ruin my sister's chances of getting a shidduch if I didn't keep quiet.

She offered to let me stay with her for a couple of weeks while I waited for a bed to open up on the dissociative disorders unit. During this stay she changed her mind and told me that although it was obvious to her that my parents had caused me severe emotional damage, she just couldn't believe that my father had physically molested me.

During one of my many hospitalizations R' Hopfer came to visit me. I told him about the memories that I had of my father molesting me. I told him that I hoped my family and everyone else was right about me and that somehow my mind was playing cruel tricks on me. It was easier for me to believe that I was crazy then to believe that my father did these things to me. I wanted my family back.

Eventually, I rented my own apartment and applied for another job in a new pre-school that was opening up in the community. I was hired as a teacher for the three-year-old class. A few weeks before the start of the school year the director informed me that some people in the community threatened not to send their children to her school if I was going to be teaching there. They told her that there must be something wrong with me because I had moved out of my parents home. This woman, not knowing that there was a connection between us, asked Dr. Aviva Weisbord for advice. Dr. Weisbord told her not to let me teach but to give me a job in a back office where I would be invisible.

I became completely disillusioned with yidishkeit because of the way I was being treated by the community and my family. I saw the dirty fighting that went on between various rabbis over the situation with my aunt and uncle. (Goldberger.) The threats, the name calling, the power plays. Now people who should have been helping me were calling me crazy and evil. It was all sickening to me and I wanted nothing to do with any of it anymore. I stopped keeping shabbos and kosher. I had to find a new way to relate to God. I also had to find a new God. One who had not allowed me to be abused in a yeshiva and by people who were supposed to be frum and uphold the Torah. A God who was all knowing and all loving and believed in me and wanted me to heal. I had to leave yidishkeit to find this.

I explored other religions. I spoke to priests, ministers. I came back to Judaism, mostly because I missed shabbos. I had to come to the realization that my parents and the Rabbi's who hurt me did not own God or Judaism and that their behavior had nothing to do with Torah. Although I am now shomer mitzvoth, to this day I can never completely trust a rabbi. And I doubt I will never feel completely safe or comfortable in the frum world.

About eight years after my conversation with Rabbi Hopfer my father became the principal of the Torah Institute. I had received excellent help in the trauma disorders day hospital at Sheppard Pratt and had with much effort pulled my shattered life back together. The chronic depression and psychological pain that I had carried around with me for as long as I could remember slowly dissipated as I worked through the traumatic memories. I was in school. I was working. I met and married a wonderful man. I gave birth to a baby. I was very happy. Every day felt like a miracle.

I was very concerned when I heard that a former student had accused my father of child sex abuse. I had thought/hoped that his abuse had stopped with me. It suddenly occurred to me that maybe the reason the abuse stopped when we moved to Baltimore was because my father had access to other children.

I told a parent of a child in the school that I was concerned that my father was not safe around children. It got back to my siblings and they went to Rabbi Hopfer for advice. Rabbi Hopfer told my siblings to give me an ultimatum. I was to promise never to talk about what my father did to me, or they would cut me out of the family. I told them there was no way I could ethically promise that.

I wrote Rabbi Hopfer a letter asking him why he had not contacted me before he gave my family this advice. He did not respond. Some months later I called him up several times, and finally he called back. I asked him why he had not contacted me before telling my family to cut me off. He became very defensive and angrily asked me why I believed that my fathers other accuser was credible? Why had I not bothered to check it out?

I told Rabbi Hopfer that I had checked it out and that although I was not in the room and could never know what really happened to this student, that based on my own experiences with my father I believed that it was possible that he had abused again.

I told R' Hopfer that I wished that he and my family would also admit that they were not in the room when my father was abusing me and could never be completely sure what my father had done to me.

I asked him again why he had not contacted me. He said he had already spoken to me eight years earlier when he had visited me in the hospital.

Me: I am a different person now, in a totally different place then I was eight years ago. I was going through a serious crisis then. A lot has changed. I think you should have realized that and called me. Do you remember our conversation in the hospital?

Hopfer: No.

Me: So you made the decision to break up a family based on a conversation you had eight years ago that you don't remember?

Hopfer: I made my decision then that you were not credible and I stuck with it.

Me: I think you should have contacted me. Why don't you believe me about my father? Do you think I am crazy or evil?

Hopfer: No, but your siblings say that your story is inconsistent. First you said your uncle abused you, then your grandfather, then your father.

Me: When I first started dealing with this, I did not want to believe that my father abused me. Like you, I would rather have believed just about anything else. My therapist at the time wanted me to think it was my uncle.

Hopfer: Your own therapist doesn't believe you.

Me: The only therapist I worked with who is unethical enough to break confidentiality and speak to you about what she believes and doesn't believe about me, is Dr. Weisbord and she is also a friend of my father. I'm trying to understand why you would advise my family to do such a terrible thing? What good could this possibly accomplish?

Hopfer: They have too choose between you and your father. They can't be loyal to both of you. They can't stand seeing the pain you are causing him.

Me: I wonder why you and my family are so focused on my fathers pain, which I didn't cause, yet no one seems to worry about my pain. I have lost my entire family because of this. And you have ruined any chances of my family taking any responsibility in dealing with this. Any chance of healing our relationship. If they want to cut me out let them at least own their own decision. Don't you realize that they take your advise as a psak, as da'as torah?

Hopfer: Yes. I realized that.

Me: would you consider changing your ruling.

Hopfer: No, I still think they have to choose.

Me: Is it because you don't believe me, that my father sexually abused me?

Hopfer: Yes, I don't believe that he did that.

Me: How can you be objective about this considering that you trust my father so much? He has taken over your shiurim for you when you are out of town. He has taught your children. Don't you think it would have been more responsible to send my family to someone else for advice about this? Someone who is not so close to the situation?

Hopfer: I believe that I made the correct decision.

In the end my father is still the principal of an elementary school. If the rabbis in Baltimore care at all about the safety of the children in their community they would insist that my father be evaluated by a professional who is trained to evaluate potential offenders. If they continue to try to "protect" him and demonize, discredit, and isolate me, they are continuing to perpetuate a tremendous evil for themselves and their community. They share some of the responsibility for the horrors I went through and they will be responsible for any new victims of abuse by my father.

I am still treated like I do not exist by my family. I don't know which of my siblings are married, and I have not been told of any births or deaths that have occurred.

I am still looking for a rabbi who is willing to stand up for me and challenge rabbi Hopfer to take a second look at what he is doing to me and to my family. Whatever the outcome, it would help me heal my relationship with Judaism to know that there is someone representing Torah who is willing to stand up for what is right.

Cathy Seipp Update

Cathy calls me back Monday afternoon while she's out for a vigorous walk up and down the hills of Silver Lake.

It was one of my more lackluster efforts. I had called her to catch up, yet I had nothing to say.

Cathy: "I met Jeremy [Maia's boyfriend]. He seems very nice. He wears a yarmulke."

Luke: "Huh."

Cathy: "What does that mean?"

Luke: "That just means 'That's nice.'"

Cathy: "It sounds like you've either overdosed on the lithium or you need to take some. You seem semi-conscious or underwater. Your responses are a little too slow and deadened."

Luke: "I just wanted to say hello. You told me a couple of years ago it was ok for me to call. I don't have anything to say. I'm just trying to be supportive about Jeremy and his yarmulke."

Cathy: "You're acting like a martian trying to act human. It's like some pod person has taken over. 'I'm - just - trying - to - be - supportive.' Not quite the word you'd be looking for there but you might've seen it on some TV show.

"You've been dull lately. You need to get out more."

Luke: "I had four helpings of dessert last Tuesday night at a DGA screening."

Cathy says she'll have an exclusive Q-and-A with Andrew Breitbart of the HuffingtonPost.com.

Luke: "I asked him to give me an interview."

Cathy: "Well, I'm Cathy Seipp.

"I went out for this girl's night out Friday at the Hotel Bel Aire with Jill Stewart, Moxie, Leah Lipshultz, and Amy Alkon. I had two martinis. I got so drunk I had to throw up in the Bel Aire's lady's room. Moxie had to drive me home."

Ten minutes later...

Cathy: "I better let you go so you can blog about me vomiting. Make it sound like I'm charming somehow."

Luke: "It's the line you used -- 'I'm even classy when vomiting.'"

Cathy: "It's true because I even cleaned the stall. I wasn't going to leave that for the attendant. That would be K for common.

"I don't buy this thing -- 'They're drunk. They're not responsible.' I didn't put a lampshade on my head and sing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. I didn't say or do anything that I wouldn't have normally done. I didn't have a big make-out session with Jill [Stewart], no matter what Lewis likes to imagine."

At The University Of Judaism, We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off To Have A Good Time

When one takes classes at UJ, one can devote oneself to the study of higher ideals rather than lower oneself into the tawdry trough of secular single life.

On the UJ website, I noticed this: "UJ students and professors are usually on a first name basis."

I'm not sure that's a good idea. I know a UJ professor and I never call him by his first or by his last name. I just call him "Professor."

But then again, I am a very respectful person.

I was manning the phones Monday as I did background work on a UJ story.

If you ask around about rabbi Gordis (born around 1960), you will hear people say that he is smart, mercurial and vindictive. That he doesn't fight fair. While people in the know would be shocked to hear (and would find them impossible to believe) allegations of impropriety about such University of Judaism leaders as Brad Artson and Elliot Dorff, they are not shocked to hear such allegations about rabbi Danny Gordis.

Danny is known for blasting off unhinged angry letters and emails causing great havoc, and then later apologizing when he's called on his bad behavior.

Around 2002, rabbi Jill Jacobs published a devar Torah (sermon) in the JTS newsletter critical of Israel. There was a firestorm and a demand to censor the divrei Torah. JTS said they couldn't do that but they also didn't want to publish such articles that could make people angry at the seminary. We won't have divrei Torah at all.

Danny is blasting out his emails (Letter from Jerusalem) from Israel on a regular basis. He writes a harsh attack on Jill called "Take Off That Mask." He says that while she claims to love Israel, she really doesn't.

When Gordis was reprimanded, he published a retraction (saying while he stood behind his points, he shouldn't have made it a personal attack), but not in his Letter from Jerusalem. Rather, on RavNet (a service for JTS graduates) only.

During the high holidays of 2004, a guy in Danny's program the Jerusalem Fellows, said he tried to go to the Conservative shul on Agron street and claims that because he didn't have a ticket, he wasn't let in. Nobody knows what really happened. It's possible he went to the youth hostel where they don't let anybody in.

Without knowing the facts, Danny sends a blistering emails to RavNet that once again the Conservative movement blows it. This guy from Latin America shows up at a shul and gets turned away. Haaretz picked up the story and there was a big stink.

A couple of weeks later, Danny said that maybe he got his facts wrong and he shouldn't have leapt to judgment. "He just shoots stuff off without getting his facts right," says a rabbi who knows him. "If he gets called on it, he'll apologize, but the damage has already been done."

In 1993, Conservative legal scholar and Jewish Theological Seminary professor Joel Roth was disciplined for having an inappropriate relationship with a male student (reported in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by Debra Nussbaum-Cohen). I wonder if that student was Danny Gordis? Gordis and Roth were close during the 1980s and they published responsa (answers to questions about Jewish law) together.

Danny is known for having intense intimate relationships (I am not implying sexual here) with his favorite students, be they male or female. "He has a lot of groupies," says a source. "Mostly women. He always seemed to have the more attractive women students really close to him."

"Danny is brilliant," says a rabbi who knows him. "He got his university in 1981 and his rabbinic degree (at JTS) in 1983. He did what is normally a five-year program in two years. He's got a towering intellect. I agree with you about his books. They are not creative, but they are a good synthesis. He's a good speaker."

Danny Gordis and Brad Artson have been close for years. Brad, then a congregational rabbi, was on the admissions commitee when Danny was the Dean of Rabbinics. They were at JTS at the same time.

Luke: "Do you think Artson would stand up for the right thing if it cost him his position at the UJ?"

Source from UJ: "No. I don't know that I would. I don't know that you would. Especially when you are a parent. I think he would want to do the right thing."

Luke: "There seem to be a list of female professors at UJ who left and feel they weren't given a fair shake?"

Source: "Miriam Glaser is still there. She was just ordained. You were picked as the fair-haired-boy or not immediately. They decided that Aryah Cohen was hot and a superstar and they made him a department chair in his first year as an assistant professor. Granted, it was a sparse faculty. It is still a sparse faculty. When people ask me, should I go to the UJ or to JTS, I say, well, just look at the faculty. There's only one worldclass scholar at UJ -- Elliot Dorff.

"There's a woman there, Sue Kapitanoff, who taught psychology. She ran the place but had no status. Every job that nobody wanted to do, they loaded on her."

Luke: "Do you think that UJ has had appropriate boundaries between professors and students?"

Source: "No. The question is what's appropriate. If you start with the assumption that it is wrong for a professor to be dating a student, then the appropriate boundaries were not kept. It's problematic. Often at the UJ rabbinical school, the students and the faculty are the same age. Danny was dean at age 33. Many of his students were older than he was.

"There's a school of feminist thought that says that if you are faculty or an administrator, and you have power, there can be no real consent.

"It was certainly a place where the boundaries one might expect were not always observed."

Luke: "Did the administration seem concerned about that?"

Source: "No. It was a bizarre place. You had people going from being a Senior in college to being a top administrator overnight. Gady Levy. He became Dean of Continuing Education right after he graduated.

"When David Lieber retired [in 1993], the three top guys -- Danny Gordis, Hanan Alexander, and Robert Wexler -- got into a closed room, had a shouting match for a couple of hours and decided what was going to be. Who was going to be the president of UJ and who was going to have what job. Wexler obviously won. Danny and Hanan are gone.

"At the UJ, there was a lot of dissatisfaction that Gordis and Wexler were members of Orthodox shuls [as is the president of the board Peter Lowy] and davened in Orthodox shuls. Is it appropriate for people who are training the next generation of Conservative rabbis? It's not like there aren't decent Conservative shuls in the neighborhood."

Luke: "What about the notion of celibacy before marriage? Was that stressed by the leadership at UJ?"

Source: "No. Nah. There were definitely rabbinical students living together before marriage."

Luke: "And nobody in charge gave a damn?"

Source: "No. It wasn't an issue. When William Lebeau [JTS Dean] put out that memo against premarital sex, people at UJ thought it was quaint.

"I'm not sure the behavior is different at JTS than UJ. You live in the Orthodox community. You know that there are things, if you do them, that you are expected to be discreet about. The expectations of discretion were different contemporaneously at UJ than JTS.

"If you ask around the Conservative movement about Danny, you will hear that he's brilliant and a great speaker, rather than that he's a great guy. You won't find people who'll say, 'I can't believe this.'"

President Criticized For Racial Remarks

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- President Vicente Fox came under criticism Saturday after saying Mexicans were willing to take jobs ''that not even blacks want to do in the United States.''

Yeah, but what if he's right?

Pico/Robertson Gets A New Egalitarian Minyan (Traditional Jewish Prayer Group)

About 60 people showed up Friday night to a new prayer group where men and women take turns leading the prayers. It's called the 10 by 10 minyan. It's monthly, held in people's homes, and followed by dinner.

Orthodox Judaism has only had men leading public prayers for 3,000-plus years.

Elie writes:

Educating people to get involved in [prayer] is a major task and challenge. If you ask me, much more difficult then to convince them about this or that interpretation of "kevod hatzibur" [leading the congregation]... It's a very long route to go and I don't believe that there are shortcuts. As most serious human and spiritual challenges, I don't think that there is a "how to" recipe for this and also, each cultural and human context might be very different, so that not everything that works here will work there. So, the best i can do is to share with some personal thoughts and insights and it will be upon you to calmly and slowly try things out and learn over time.

First, you guys need to acknowledge among yourselves that this is a very long process that you are engaging in. Thus, no quick result to be expected. Try to avoid the typical american shul syndrom which is to measure the success of a shul by the number of people who attend. If your impetus is a humble attempt for avodat hashem in its various meanings and practical expressions, then it is most destructive to play this game which is totally outward oriented. Avodat hashem [service of G-d] tends to get to our innermost and intimate core identities; this is not a place that you want to put out there in superficial pubic discourse. This is a place that you hope some people will connect to in and through your minyan, not b/c you are talking about it but essentially b/c of what will go on there. Thus, I'd avoid any discourse which is meant to "sell" yourself or to convince people about something.

For example, I would make sure that divre torah [a talk from Torah. a sermon] do NOT address what this minyan is about etc. Just have a meaningful regular dvar torah. As for the halakhic [Jewish law] setup RE women's inclusion, if needed, have a shiur once during the week or after the kiddush on shabbat. But not during the davening...

Also, that means that yes, there will be people who will come b/c they are curious as well as people with different agendas. Some have this need to say and comment on this and that. You guys make sure to thank them for their comment, to welcome back, to say that you will think about what they said. You guys also make sure to back up one another in front of people. Once a decision has been made, you are all committed to it as a group. In terms of the set up: there is something about how and what is going on that is suppose to create the tfila [prayer] as an event in which people are attracted to participate. The structures in place play a crucial role in order to allow this eventually to happen:

1. except for announcements and welcome at the end of the tfila, I'd avoid any public talking. Certainly not the "please turn to page..." or "now we are going to daven kabbalat shabbat". Let people discover what is going on and have a chance to integrate it. Talking just cuts it off.

2. if you expect that some people might need assistance finding the page etc. , make sure to have 2 men and 2 women walking around and help people.

3. Have all the details "who is doing what and when" worked out very carrefully as to avoid running and talking during tfila to make these arrangements. The feeling needs to be that everything is running smooth which then creates the sense of an "event" that is taking place in which you find yourself.

4. have shelihe tzibur [prayer leader] choose melodies that most people might know. Avoid have them sing on their own and people just listening. This is not a show or a performance; their task is to frame the tfila and engage others in the tfila through the singing.

5. in the parts where you do not sing, tap some people down ahead of time and make sure they'll daven outloud

6. think about the seating setup so that people don't see others 'faces in front of them when they daven;

7. have a man and women being responsible to gently help parents who's kids might be noisy during the davening. You guys will need to think what structures you are putting in place in order to attend to children. But being children friendly does not mean having children screeming or running or doing what's on their mind in shul. Children friendly needs to be balanced with "tfila friendly" and "davening adult friendly". (Have "candy lady or man" ready to calm children on the spot).

8. have a man and a women as greeters; make sure to welcome each and every one when they walk in; ask for their name. If necessary give them a siddur [prayer book], lead them to their seats.

9.have the shaliach and shelihat tzbur stand in the front part of the shul but surrounded by people. Thus not totally in the front (e.g. at Shira Hadasha).

10. Make sure that close enough to the shaliach/ shelihat tzibur [prayer leader] there will be a couple of men and women davening who know how to sing and daven well. This should not look like a choir but it might create a critical mass of powerfull davening, which is very much needed.

11. Begin to educate yourself in ways that you find helpful as how to function both as a facilitator of what is going on and as someone who himself wants to engage in tfila.

I Need A Chinese Wife, Mexican Just Won't Do

ChaimAmalek: Luke, you tell me this every week or so, but nothing ever comes of it. You have all these opportunities, and zip.
ChaimAmalek: Seriously, these are high caliber women you meet, whether intellectually or socially or sexually, and you never do anything about it.
LukeFord: I blog like mad. I blog my heart out.
ChaimAmalek: Most men would have married out of that pool.
LukeFord: yearning for their affection
ChaimAmalek: Blogging is worth ----. C'mon, you know that. Blogging is for women. Has a mean rich liberal alpha male dared call you on your s--- in public? Go blog about it.
ChaimAmalek: Are neurotic, mentally ill Jewish women writing to you with tales (suspect at the very least) of ritual abuse at the hands of their own families? Go blog about it.
ChaimAmalek: Are you poor? Blog about it. Successful people do not blog about it. They do it.
ChaimAmalek: But back to the main point, I have read that most people can find a suitable mate out of a dozen or so suitable selections, and you have had way, way, way way more than that many.
ChaimAmalek: Some amazing women, some with the biggest natural breasts, some hot for you. And . . . nothing.
ChaimAmalek: So what are you going to do differently? Nothing. And I, "Chaim Amalek," know this better than even Luke Ford. You need a Chinese wife so bad.
LukeFord: Why do you think I'm not more successful?
ChaimAmalek: Too passive. Failure to take advantage of the many opportunities that come your way, as noted above. Failure to even attempt to make the sale, let alone to close the deal. Any luck on getting Penny's email address? Why there was a time when Luke Ford could get that, plus true names, social security numbers etc. of any woman... he was interested in.
ChaimAmalek: So she just walked of the earth? But you have her telephone number, why don't you call her? Yes, again. As I said, call her again. Show her you are a man by showing her your interest. Call her again and tell her Chaim Amalek made you.
ChaimAmalek: Why do you always write about stuff that you know won't bring in any money? That Paris Hilton project had promise; what became of it?
LukeFord: 0
ChaimAmalek: Did you push it forward?
LukeFord: no
ChaimAmalek: Why not?
LukeFord: I felt too passive
ChaimAmalek: You need a Chinese wife. A woman who will literally beat you for failing. You need a woman who will pursue you like Richard Speck after a student nurse, but without as much blood. A woman who will kick you out of the hovel every morning at 7am and not let you back in until 9pm, and even then not unless you can prove to her that you spent your day trying to be a man by making money. Otherwise, she will apply electricity and bamboo shoots to your genitals.
ChaimAmalek: It is known that Zionist interrogators often get arab prisoners to talk by wrapping a towel around their heads and pouring water on it. The effect is smothering and terrifies them. Penny Priddie or whatever her name is, could do the same for you with her natural breasts -- torture you into success.
ChaimAmalek: I know that all these words are wasted on you. It's like you, talking into a mirror.

Khunrum writes:

I believe, my dear Amalek, that Luke lacks the financial and emotional resources to be courting young Jewesses or chick-a-dee's of any make or model. These young ladies like their baubles. Wasn't it one short week ago when Luke was kvetching about being hustled for a vodka and tonic by an actress at karaoke? She hit him up for one drink and he was ready to declare chapter 11.

Luke still has a future with the fairer sex, however at this stage, with gravity taking a toll on his once leading man features, his best option is the role of aging gigolo. We're talking crones unfortunately. Women of means but lonely and addicted to the plastic surgeon. Face reconstruction, butt lifts, lypo, dyed blond hair, wedgies, toreador pants and pre-owned v-----s.

Revolting? Indeed, but your ticket to a new SUV and a lifestyle of sipping cool soy drinks by the pool. Don't delay Luke. Place that ad today.

Healing Abuse

Jack writes: "I'd love to see a double-blind controlled study on which is more effective in "healing abuse," kabbalistic BDSM or the words of Alice Miller."

Relax Luke, Life Begins At 40?

Chaim Amalek writes:

This might be true of those who have spend their twenties and thirties doing the hard work of finding a mate, raising a family, and establishing a career. Otherwise, it just isn't the case at all. Soon Luke will be escorted out of all the Jewish singles events at which he might, theoretically, meet a Jewess with whom he might, theoretically, procreate. All because he is judged to be too old to hit on attractive, fertile women. And it will only get worse from there.

As I see it, absent any fundamental change in things, Luke will march to his doom as surely as did the Torah Jews of Poland during the days of Hitlerite rule. Passively, meekly, and with nary a peep.

Rabbi Wolpe Calls

I was feeling all out of sorts Friday night. My van has been in the shop for a few days getting a new transmission (parts and labor run to about $1,300 for a vehicle worth about $300).

I got a ride with Cosmopolitan18 by inadvertently giving her the misapprehension I was following her to a friend's Shabbat dinner. But I had only wanted to go to FNL to get my social and religious fix.

Services started half an hour late. I saw few people I wanted to talk to. I didn't see rabbi Wolpe.

I found solace and a seat with two friends.

I felt annoyed at the number of people wearing jeans and tennis shoes to shul. I felt annoyed with all the cell phones going off. I felt annoyed that ATID (Young Professionals) director Leslie Klieger was sitting on the bima (pulpit) making or answering a telephone call.

Then it all became clear when she placed the microphone next to the phone, put it on speaker, and suddenly rabbi David Wolpe was speaking to us from Jerusalem. It was 6:20am his time, 8:20pm Los Angeles time, and he was his usual eloquent self about the Jewish state. As he spoke, video played on the wall of Israel's beauty.

Afterwards, there was a form of rapid dating. It got off to an awkward start. One woman I was paired with was an ex-girlfriend who did not seem thrilled to talk to me. Another woman I had sent 18-months ago long emails filled with Air Supply lyrics that she had correctly intuited implied all sorts of inappropriate longings on my part and she quickly squashed them by saying she had no interest in me in that way (I've done various things in my life which have brought me success with women, but Air Supply has never been among them). I feel embarrassed when I need to talk to women who've blown me off. I'm the anti-stalker. I have too much pride. As soon as I sense rejection (admittedly I can be thick here), I'm out of there.

Anyway, this latter woman has impeccable manners and was a superb conversationalist and suddenly I wanted to send her Air Supply lyrics all over again.

Turn it up loud!

I can make the run or stumble,
I can make the final block;
And I can make every tackle, at the sound of the whistle,
I can make all the stadiums rock.
I can make tonight forever,
Or I can make it disappear by the dawn;
And I can make you every promise that has ever been made,
And I can make all your demons be gone.

But I’m never gonna make it without you,
Do you really want to see me crawl?
And I’m never gonna make it like you do,
Making love out of nothing at all.

The sexiest quality I find in a woman is Jewish brains.

I truly am an observant Jew. Air Supply played free concerts at Pierce College in Woodland Hills Saturday afternoon and I didn't go because of my religious commitments (and my van was in the shop).

Then I ran into a couple of chicks who shouted at me that I was in big trouble. I got her into so much trouble. I had put them on my blog. "Blonde bird?" Go on. Get going. Go away, they said. And I got going.

Crisis management consultants aka publicists can be a touchy bunch.

From my blog about Friday, March 11, 2005:

I met this blonde bird at shul Friday Night. I asked her what she did for a living. She said, "Crisis Management Consultant."

I exploded at her, years of rage finally crystallizing: "Oh come on. You're a publicist. Crisis management consultant [my donkey]. You're a publicist."

"Ok," she said, walking away. "You know better than I do. I'm a publicist."

She walked back and forth in front of me several times in the next five minutes repeating those same phrases. I apologized profusely for my outburst and tried to explain it with a story about the time I called [former Buzz magazine editor, author, and Newsweek journalist] Allen Mayer a "publicist," and was subsequently notified that he was a "crisis management consultant."

Turns out the girl worked for Mayer for over two years.

So then I tried to mollify her with the anecdote that Allen had once called me the "Andy Kaufman of bloggers."

I kept trying to talk my way out of the hole for the rest of the night.

Around the time the sun rose, the blonde's brunette friend told me that I was exhausting. I offered to switch out performance mode and to be genuine, but I could only stand that for a couple of minutes before I had to fall back to my "kidnapped by Aborigines when I was a child" routine. Chicks normally dig that. It conjures up primordial notions of the noble savage who needs to be civilized and makes them want me even more than when they are drinking from the wellsprings of my Torah knowledge.

Does This Information Serve The Public Good?

Larry Yudelson writes:

Many years ago, when I was at Yeshiva College and on the editorial board of Hamevaser, I had a late night discussion with some of my colleagues about the question of Lashon Hora [gossip] and journalism. The standard, according to the Chofetz Chaim, is not "is the information derogatory" but "does this information serve the public good"?

Clearly, political news qualifies, because a society with a press that criticizes its leaders is better than a society (such as the Chofetz Chaim's Russia) lacking such a press.

In fact, a quick glance at NYTimes.com indicates that all of the current headlines meet the criterion of serving the public interest.

The one exception that we thought of, where standard journalistic practice is at odds with the Public Good standard of the Chofetz Chaim, would the publication of allegations and other charges filed against citizens who are still presumptively innocent. I believe Halacha might mandate that the right to release the name of an accused or arrested suspect prior to conviction belongs only to the accused. This would be where the citizen is in custody or otherwise not dangerous; situations like the FBI Most Wanted List, where the criminals are at large and fleeing arrest, are different, because society has an interest in catching suspects.

Luke says: I don't believe "public good" was the Chofetz Chaim's standard. Where does he say that?

Larry writes: "The example I remember concerns a shidduch (match). I think the Awareness Center website cites chapter and verse."

Tendlers Vs Blaus Vs Polin

My sources say: What Mordecai Tendler needed was psychological/moral/religious help. He has big problems. He thinks he's above the Torah. He gave permission to people who are a Cohen to marry a divorcee. It is in this week's Torah reading that a Cohen can not marry a woman who is divorced.

He was freeing women from their marriages on flawed and questionable grounds. One woman was warned by several people about marrying a particular guy. She married him anyway. It was exactly as predicted. She was abused in every way. Then, when she wanted a divorce, he wouldn't give her a get. She went to Mordecai Tendler. He knew that she was warned before the marriage but he dissolved her marriage on the basis that she had married without knowing whom she married. It was taking something by mistake.

People who have analyzed the things Mordecai Tendler has said on behalf of his grandfather Reb Moshe Feinstein are about to come out with a study showing that Mordecai's rulings are at variance with things his grandfather said. At the end of Reb Moshe Feinstein's life, when Mordecai Tendler was put in charge of his apartment and his ailing grandfather, his grandmother was afraid of him. He was rude to people who came to see Reb Moshe Feinstein. Mordecai has problems. It's a shame that the family did not deal with these problems.

Mordecai Tendler did something outrageous 12 years ago. Rabbi Yosef Blau spoke to his father Rabbi Moshe Tendler, who said that "Mordecai was a strange kid. He's always been a strange kid. He does idiotic things."

The Tendlers hired Hank Sheinkopf as a fixer/publicist.

Dr. Rivkah Blau was always unhappy with The Awareness Center (TAC) and she told her husband exactly why she did not approve of TAC. Dr. Blau saw no reason to post those profiles. Just the names of people who should not be hired. That would've been enough.

Dr. Blau told rabbi Blau that Vicki Polin went overboard, that Vicki was sensationalist, and that there was no way of controlling her. Dr. Blau didn't like the Tendler family page on The Awareness Center website (recently removed but can be found here). She saw no reason to bring in the names of the people related to Mordecai Tendler. Why mention that Mordecai was Moshe Feinstein's grandson? Why is that part of the story? Why is that Vicki's place to put that on the internet? Though rabbi Blau was on TAC board, there was no telling Vicki what to do.

Dr. Blau told rabbi Blau: It can't be both ways. You can't cover for everything she's doing while she's doing her own thing. Dr. Blau was very upset. Every time she sees an Awareness Center email, which come several times a day, she deletes it immediately. Dr. Blau asked her husband -- what is accomplished by reading in the United States that someone in Netanya, Israel, is accused of something? To carry every report from around the world would make one think that sexual perversion has run amok in the Jewish community.

Rabbi Blau said that even though Vicki made mistakes, she was doing more good than harm, and if he was to leave TAC, it would be open season for sexual predators. Such predators need the fear of exposure in addition to the fear of G-d.

Dr. Blau predicated Rabbi Blau's taking the RZA (Religious Zionists of America) presidency on his leaving TAC.

Rabbi Berman and Telushkin's crusade against rabbi Blau and TAC is to save Mordecai Gafni. Why they are protecting Gafni? Who knows? Saul has a blind eye and a deaf ear on this matter. Otherwise, Saul is wonderful.

Rabbi Yosef Blau's son was married to a disturbed woman. Therefore, the divorce was protracted and bitter. The civil divorce was quick. It was the Jewish divorce that she did not want to accept. If the Blaus gave out the papers on the divorce, the divorced woman's family would be shamed.

The Blaus will go to a wedding and people will turn away from rabbi Blau and say hello his rebbetzin. They shun rabbi Blau because of his role in TAC.

Dr. Blau said that Vicki was the wrong intermediary for the community on this issue. She has a checkered past (that 1989 Oprah appearance) and she remains a loose cannon.

On the other hand, I've been getting calls and email from women who are profoundly grateful to Vicki Polin for the help she's given them in rebuilding their lives. This help has been far more important to them than whatever Vicki said on Oprah in 1989.

Why Are Creeps Interested In A Woman's History Of Abuse?

Jane writes:

I find it fascinating that now a few of the men with complaints againgst them seem to have an overly intense interest in the woman's childhood history of abuse. (Did any of the Tendler survivors have such histories?) ***** demands to know all your secrets, too. In the very beginning he told me women with histories of abuse were "attracted to (him) like bees to honey." Only much later did I realized that's a form of exonerating the blame on himself -- the women must 'want it', after all.

So what makes so many creeps attracted to women with histories of abuse? Is it because they know they are less likely to speak out, more likely to accept the abuse they dish out? This is an interesting question you may want to make note of for further examination in your book.

My guess is that most men who are interested in a woman's history of sexual abuse want that info so that they can more easily have sex with that woman. The reason that most men do most things is so that they can have sex. Frankly, I am about the only exception to this rule. Only I have the pure motives necessary for this kind of dirty work.

Yori Yanover responds to Jane's email:

Having been a member of the male sex for many years, I assure you that none of the practical considerations you've mentioned even enter men's minds. Those are typical female considerations, along with "How much does it make" and "How much will it make after it finishes graduate school."

Males in heat are more likely to think in terms of, "Does it have a pulse," and, when the answer to that is dubious then, "Does it have a sister with a pulse." But not much more complexity than that. We are not a complex sex, honestly, we never connive before bedtime. Afterwards is a different story. Afterwards it's time for self loathing, remorse, regret and the inevitable resolutions, to be followed by gradual arousal and once again that heat-seeking compulsion.

Women with histories of abuse are naturally attracted to all males; but it's the lonely and unattached males who pick up their signals. It's a chicken and egg thing, really. Do women with a knack for being abused generate situations or fall into them? A little of both, I suppose. But there are no grounds for the assumption that males pick females based on their ability to complain afterwards. If that was the case, if men thought and plotted before dropping their pants at the first hint of receptiveness, we wouldn't have divorces in this country.

None of which makes grown women with drivers' licenses and credit cards innocent in any way of falling for abusive men. Excluding assault, rape, and work and classroom situations, where power can be abused unfairly and illegally, in all other walks of life no one is a victim.

And when a Jewish woman goes on national television to denounce the Jewish community of Chicago as Satan worshippers, she is not a victim, she is an instigator of a pogrom. Deal with it.

Jane writes: "Adult women who grew up being either beaten or sexually abused may have 'bad wiring' at times in terms of seeking love in the wrong places. This never exonerates the rapist or abuser, however, especially if he's a rabbi, especially if he is a rabbi adept at psychological manipulation/trance/meditation states, espcially if he's a rabbi who likes to present the notion of "healing" your childhood abuse via BDSM activities, with a little Kabbalah thrown in just to make it more interesting."

Rabbi Ari Kahn Interview

Until a few months ago, rabbi Ari Kahn was a board member of The Awareness Center (TAC) and he remains concerned about the issues it raises.

We spoke Thursday, May 12 by telephone.

Rabbi Kahn: "After a while working with victims and discussing various cases with Vicki it became aware to me that The Awareness Center is a place that defends victims. It's a victims' advocacy forum. It is not necessarily interested in establishing truth. If a victim comes and says I was victimized, TAC is mandated to protect victims and to attack the perpetrators. If they were doing it responsibly, they'd say, 'We hear your charge. Let's speak to the other side and evaluate.'"

Rabbi Kahn said some of the cases put on TAC site frightened him terribly because the evidence wasn't compelling – rather it was based on repressed memories, something which Vicki felt strongly [were compellingly true].

"The Orthodox way of dealing with it is to have a Beit Din which is equipped to deal with such cases. It's not going to solve the problem but it is going to deal with the problem in a more responsible fashion.

"My bottom line is -- before you (an observant Jew) publish something, are you opening up the laws of loshon hara (forbidden speech) and the Chafetz Chaim (who was famous for combatting gossip) and doing something responsible?"

A board member of TAC writes:

I wouldn't have a problem with that if Beit-Din people were trained in identifying, investigative, and responding to sexual abuse, let alone be OBJECTIVE and unbiased when it came to looking into abuse allegations.

Since to date they are not informed, sensitive, knowledgeable, or unbiased...Beit-Din clearly IS NOT the place to decide which alleged abuse is okay to talk about and which alleged abuse is not.

Luke says: I have studied the Chafetz Chaim (translated into English) and rabbi Telushkin's book Words That Wound, Words That Heal. In fact, I have read every book (religious or secular) on gossip I could get my hands on (about two dozen).

If I were to observe the restrictions of the Chafetz Chaim, I would not be able to publish most of my website lukeford.net. I wouldn't be able to work as a journalist. Nobody would. Journalism would be impossible.

Surely Judaism's teachings on forbidden speech are more complex than what the Chafetz Chaim codified. The example of Judaism's sacred texts, such as the Bible and the Talmud, are filled with examples of Jewish leaders being held accountable for their behavior and called out on it.

The problem with much of the reflexive religious teachings against gossip is that they focus on the harm done to specific individuals who are gossiped about (and let's focus here on gossip that is true) and ignore the benefit widely shared among many people from gaining the information of that gossip. As in free trade, the price paid by targets of gossip can be huge, giving them a huge incentive to fight against gossip, while the benefits of the gossip are spread out among hundreds of people. Thus, few of them have an incentive to speak out on behalf of the accurate gossip, such as that a particular rabbi should not work with kids or counsel women because he's a predator.

Rabbi Ari Kahn writes: "Individuals who behave in an extreme anti-social manner lose the right of being protected by the laws of Loshan Hara. Individuals who are predators certainly lose this right. Individuals who may be future victims have a right to know about someone who is potentially threatening them. I am suggesting that a Beit Din make these determinations."

Along Martin Luther King: Travels on Black America's Main Street

This is a terrific book.

Steve Sailer reviews:

But the big chains are latecomers to the process of crowding out black shopkeepers. They were pushed aside years ago by immigrants from patriarchal cultures, such as Greece or Korea, where the senior male can compel his entire extended family to toil diligently in the clan's store or restaurant.

African-Americans, by comparison, tend to lack the kin solidarity needed to prosper in small business. Big corporations with carefully worked out procedures offer ambitious individual blacks a surer road up the ladder.

The Secret Zora Neale Hurston

Steve Sailer writes in National Review 4/3/95:

After WWII, Zora's conservatism became even more outspoken. She campaigned for Adam Clayton Powell Jr.'s Republican opponent, published "Why the Negro Won't Buy Communism" in American Legion magazine, and endorsed Robert Taft for the GOP nomination in 1952. Most controversially, she denounced as demeaning to blacks the Supreme Court's Brown decision that separate always meant unequal. While questionable in 1954, this proved a prescient critique of the 1970's school busing rulings, which implied that the White Child's Burden was to civilize his dusky classmates.

Chaim Amalek: Why do you take such delight in pointing out the foibles and putative deficiencies of the Negro?
Chaim Amalek: The world - or at least that fraction of the world that reads your blog with a Jewish eye towards deconstruction and nuance - knows you are smarter than the average Negro. Yet ask your self this: who has more sex with white women and suitable women of his own race, the Negro or Luke Ford?
Chaim Amalek: Who drives the nicer car - the Negro, or Luke Ford? Who has the better job, the Negro, or Luke Ford?
Chaim Amalek: Who has done the better job of spreading his seed, the Negro, or Luke Ford?
Chaim Amalek: Who then, is the more successful in life: the Negro, or Luke Ford?
Chaim Amalek: Then in begins to come clear why you are forever taunting these noble creatures.
Chaim Amalek: Speaking of which, that friend of yours, the new one with long hair [Wild Horse Preservation] who has a law degree and knows Emmanuel - so she is interested in saving horses, is she?
Chaim Amalek: Doesn't this foolish woman know that horses, "wild" or not, are not indigenous to this continent, but were set loose here by Europeans hell bent on enslaving the humans who were here first?
Chaim Amalek: It is telling that she spends her time concerned with the plight of this sort of ecological pollution instead of having and raising the White Man's children. You know, a previous generation of her kind would have been obsessing about the plight of the Black Man; these days, her kind frets over horses, AIDS, and Mexicans. The smart Black Men and Women of America will see in this an augury of dark days to come.
Chaim Amalek: The best thing you can do for this poor deluded lawyer is to knock her up PRONTO and give her something important and human to care for.
Chaim Amalek: Horses! Cats for the very rich.
Chaim Amalek: The Chinese wife, she cares about wild horses only to the extent that these can be cooked and fed to unsuspecting caucasians, or otherwise turned into a source of money.

Vicki's 1989 Oprah Appearance

I speak Thursday afternoon, May 12, 2005, with a woman who (according to two sources) was in the audience of Vicki's appearance as "Rachel" on the May 1, 1989 Oprah show.

Woman: "I had already heard everything before from Vicki so that wasn't shocking to me. Oprah was the one who mentioned that Vicki came from a Jewish family. I know that that was not something that Vicki wanted to put forward on the show. I knew that that would blow up."

Luke: "What do you think about the veracity of what Vicki said? Most people would find it hard to believe."

Woman: "In 1984, I learned that my little girl, who was four-years-old, was being sexually abused at a Jewish preschool in Chicago [Rogers Park JCC]. I was the whistleblower on that case. They interviewed over 80 children and found that as many as 20 had been sexually abused.

"Once I found out what had happened to my child, we took her out of school and got her into therapy. My daughter and several other children began making allegations against their teachers and widespread pervasive abuse involving child pornography and bizarre ritualistic activity.

"When I met Vicki, we met through her connection with VOICES in Action (Victims Of Incest Can Emerge Survivors). I was getting involved with the organization Believe The Children, which had been founded by some parents in California who were involved in similar cases, in daycare center, even though they were not Jewish preschools.

"I was hearing bizarre accusations from my child and Vicki was recalling similar events from her childhood. I had no reason to doubt [Vicki]."

Luke: "You have no doubts there was definitely this type of ritual abuse at the school?"

Woman: "There was definitely sexual abuse and physical abuse of the children. As far as the ritual abuse, it's hard to say. Did they really kill babies? I don't know. I do know that the children were convinced that they were killing babies. It may be that they were acting something out with dolls or maybe the children were drugged and led to believe things were happening. There was costuming and special effects involved. I can't say for a fact that they killed a baby. I can say for a fact that my daughter believed that they did."

Luke: "Do you find Vicki's reports about her childhood ritual abuse credible?"

Woman: "I do because they are not inconsistent with what I heard from my own daughter and what I also heard from a lot of other survivors."

Luke: "Isn't there a whole movement against this type of testimony? Something about repressed memory?"

Woman: "Definitely. During the eighties, when my case and similar cases came to light, the cases got a lot of publicity, people were arrested, and then they couldn't convict the people because the children were too young to testify or too traumatized. So, from that, developed this huge backlash against those who were making the allegations. The people who were accused got organized. They banded against the idea that anybody could repress a memory of something and concluded that the children were fantasizing and the parents were hysterical. I can only speak from my own experience. I can't say what may have happened in other cases. I can say that the last thing I wanted to believe was that my child had been abused. I tried to talk her out of it and to find other explanations for what I was hearing. But there wasn't any other explanation.

"I heard horrible things from the mouth of my own four-year-old, bizarre things that I had never heard of doing to a child or an adult. My child had a sheltered life aside from going to that preschool. We didn't even have a VCR at the time or cable TV. Where did she get this information if it didn't happen? She didn't get it from me because I didn't have any abuse in my background."

Luke: "The stuff about killing babies is so hard to put your mind around."

Woman: "There are several theories about that. You can say it was a satanic cult and it was part of their belief system to do this. I know that Vicki's case is especially inflammatory because of her coming from a Jewish family.

"In my child's case, it is possible that all these satanic trappings were part of the effort to terrorize the children, intimidate them, keep them from telling. If you take a small child and kill an animal in front of them, or kill a baby or pretend to kill a baby in front of the child, and then say to the child, if you tell, this is what will happen to you, that's an effective threat. It works to keep the kids shut down.

"With the pornography they were making, perhaps this was part of the pornographic script?"

The woman says her daughter retains few of these shocking memories and has gone on to a normal life.

Spat Between Rabbi Yaakov Menken And AJOP?

Neither party will talk to me.

In 2002, one of Menken's interns (a disturbed 15-year old boy) committed arson against Etz Chaim, the outreach center of rabbi Porter, who was president of AJOP at the time. The Baltimore Jewish Times first wrote up the incident as arson.

Outreach Center Rebuilds After Blaze 2/7/02 Jewish Teen Arrested In Shul Arsons 2/21/02 Etz Chaim Rebuilds Destroyed Home 3/5/04

Finally, in the October 15, 2004 edition of the Baltimore Jewish Times: "Rabbi Porter said that the accidental electrical fire enabled him to look at Etz Chaim and start it over from scratch."

I'm wondering if since this is Baltimore and you never turn in another Jew to the authorities, perhaps there's a connection.

About six months ago, rabbi Menken was uninvited from the January 2005 AJOP conference because he blew it with one of his employees. Some rabbis, such as Menken, are not appropriate for outreach work.