Monday, January 30, 2006
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Does Judaism Lack Reason?
To answer the question in the headline, there's about as much stuff in each of the monotheist religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) that defies reason. Very few people will convert to any religion because of the magnificent march of reason in their lives.
Over the weekend, I read in shul two superb books by conservative Christian sociologist Rodney Stark -- The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success and The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History.
My father, Desmond Ford, was kicked out of the Seventh-Day Adventist ministry when I was 14. From then on, I heard a lot of negative talk about how most of the converts the Adventist church was making were poor ignorant folks in the Third World (and that much smarter First World people were more likely to respect my father's sophisticated views).
I didn't have much respect for that argument then or now. I've heard too often that Mormons or whatever religious group gains most of their adherents from the dumb poor.
Rodney Stark writes in The Rise of Christianity:
Religious skepticism is most prevalent among the more privileged.
But skepticism does not entail a general immunity to the essential supernaturalism of all religions.
In short, people must have a degree of privilege to have the sophistication needed to understand new religions and to recognize a need for them.
Cult movements overrecruit persons of more privileged backgrounds...
People are marginalized when their membership in two groups poses a contradiction or cross pressure such taht their status in each group is lowered by their membership in the other. People will attempt to escape or resolve a marginal position.
People are more willing to adopt a new religion to the extent that it retains cultural continuity with conventional religion(s) with which they are already familiar.
Many Jews in the diaspora had taken Greek names, and they had incorporated much of the Greek enlightenment into their cultural views, just as emancipated Jews responded to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Moreover, many Hellenized Jews had embraced some elements of pagan religious thought. In short, large numbers were no longer Jews in the ethnic sense and remained only partly so in the religious sense.
But neither were they Greeks, for Judaism could not easily be separated from the ethnicity intrinsic to the Law. The Law set Jews apart as fully in the first century as in the nineteenth and prevented them from full participation in civic life. In both eras the Jews were in the unstable and uncomfortable position of social marginality.
Aron Tendler Update
New Hempstead Blog author posts:
I received an anonymous tape of Aron Tendler having Phone S-- with a young woman ... We have already verified the voice of Aron Tendler ... we are asking the Anonymous sender of the Tape to identify herself to us in confidence ... and would she mind if we played this tape on our blog! Please answer us immediately, we have to make a decision!
A female former YULA student of Aron's posts:
I'm going to list just SOME of the incidents and then say there is only ONE accuser:
1.) A student had a relationship with him for two years, they finally decided to have sex while on a trip at YULA and the girl got scared and ran away and then went to the principal to complain. At that time he was moved to the boys school. He used to speak to this girl nightly on the phone and would meet her in parking lots of grocery stores in the valley to sit and do whatever in the car.
2.) He wrote sexual poetry with one girl about "pineapple juice dripping from her mouth."
3.) Molested another in his home for over a year while his wife was sleeping in the next room.
4.) Slept with Yanki's wife for years even while she was pregnant.
5.) Had an affair with a married women from the BH side and whenever her husband was away he would visit, fool around in bed with her but didn't have sex out of fear of wasting sperm. What a good jew.
6.) Had phone sex with another for over a year. Hit on her repeatedly and offered sex for over 10 years.
7.) Had relations with women who came to him for counseling.
Three women went to the LA Times a year and a half ago as well as to the Forward in NY, so this is nothing knew and many people have gone forward since us.
...Aron Tendler made the RCC (Rabbinical Council of California) sign a confidentiality agreement bfore he agreed to resign.
Where's The Plot?
I've been reading a lot of Thomas Mann and I can't for the life of my find the blessed plot. Stories start and stories end and I can't care less. There's nothing going on.
An academic friend informs me: "That's Modernist literature -- no plot. That's why it's Modern."
Thank you. I was afraid I was missing something. That's right, the Holocaust has made traditional narrative structure obsolete.
I'm old fashioned. I like a beginning, middle and end to my stories with growing tension followed by release and realization.
"Actually, what constitutes "Modern" literature is literature written between 1885 and 1945; everything post-WWII is postmodern or contemporary. Still plotless, in many ways, but different."
I had lunch with Cathy Seipp and friends Sunday. What a joy it was to hear her gentle philosophy of child-rearing. "I don't believe in time-outs," she said. "I just gave Maia spankings. I don't do that anymore, except for last week."
The Ten Commandments for Courting Luke Ford
Basia in Weehawken writes: "39 and still single. Just what does it take to land Luke Ford? Like, do you have certain rules a woman must obey?"
Well Basia, as a matter of fact, I do, and they are not that different from the rules most men would articulate. To marry Luke Ford you must date Luke Ford, and to date Luke Ford here are some of the rules that you must obey.
1. Thou shalt have no other man before me. This means that you don't talk about past boyfriends in my presence. It means that you don't post pictures of them on your websites or have them tacked onto your refrigerator. It means you don't engage in any sort of physically or psychologically intimate activities or conversations with them, either.
2. Thou shalt place Luke Ford at the center of your relationship universe.
3. Thou shalt not play telephone games with Luke Ford. None of this "gee, I just called him yesterday, so I think I will wait to see how long before he calls me" crap. And when Luke Ford calls you, you return the call as soon as you can, even if it means using a public pay phone with homeless dude cheese on the earpiece and TB germs on the mouthpiece. (But clean yourself afterwards.)
4. Thou shalt do nice things for Luke without being asked. If I am sick, I want you by my side feeding me good things to eat, reading to me, and consoling me even if I have not asked this of you. Remember, the role of Girl Friend is but a tryout for the role of my Dead Mommy.
5. Respect that Luke Ford respects the Sabbath, and keeps it holy. I have certain rituals and special sabbath mitzvahs (commandments, rituals etc) that I follow. Respect them. In some instances, I may require your assistance. Offer it cheerfully.
6. Thou shalt not flirt with others. In public (especially) show no interest in other men.
7. Thou shalt not fry your brain on drugs nor pickel your mind on alcohol. Alcoholics stink, ditto smokers (of anything). Yech. You who would be with me should have nothing less than minty fresh breath.
8. Be clean. Bathe, when you are with me. Brush your teeth, floss them too, and use some mouthwash. Clean yourself head to toe and every place in between.
9. Dress attractively, but not sluttishly, unless it is for my private viewing pleasure.
10. Be prepared to accept me as I am, even when this means that I am not taking the initiative you would have me take. You must always be there for me, as I would be for you.
Which should guide the course of love: the heart or the mind?
"Poly" writes: "Do i go for the guy who seems perfect and good, or do i follow my heart and marry the man i truly love? he might drive me crazy, but if i married a man i didn't really love to death, then i might spend the rest of my life wondering, and eventually wandering..."
In an inappropriate moment of levity, during a sudden flare-up of my Asberger's Syndrome, I responded "that's easy, just marry the one with the better tits" but of course, that is not the sort of answer that such a question deserves. My serious answer is that you go with your heart. In every instance that I know of (and I know of a few quite close to me) in which one chose to listen to the conventional wisdom typically spouted by the mind over the special wisdom of the heart, grief has come to all concerned. You are right - choose the man your parents prefer, the man with the better job, the better body, the better age, the better personality etc. over the man with the key to your heart, and you will spend the rest of your days wondering what your life would have been like had you listended to your heart. So listen to your heart!
Air Head writes: "I'm sorry to burst your bubble about Air Supply but I know the band very well. Russell Hitchcock has ZERO morals and no values. He cheats on [Luke: I believe the following statement exaggerates] every woman who loves him. He's an extremely GOOD liar and has no thought for the consequences of his horrible actions to the people who love him. He's selfish and a PIG. You should not judge a person's character by the lyrics of a song or just their singing voice alone. Russell Hitchcock is an empty shell. All he does is sing beautiful songs but inside there is nothing beautiful about him."
'We Don't Want You To Stay'
From a fax to Shaaray Zedek Friday:
We don't want you to stay. Leave now.
You're a fraud.
You should be in jail for what you have done. Leave now!
Stop hitting on our wives and daughters.
You should be ashamed.
I wonder who they're talking about?
Religious Vs. Less Religious At YULA
The Aron Affair divides in part between various cliques. Aron targeted the less religious girls (particularly when he was the principal at YULA girls school). Later, some of these less religious girls accused him of molesting them. The religious at YULA never experienced bad things from Aron and were quick to defend Aron and castigate the less religous as "crazies."
Many of those who were religious at YULA girls highschool in the mid-to-late eighties still tend to defend Aron, or at least want nothing to do with his accusers.
A former student of Aron's responds: "It had nothing to do with popular or not. There are people who knew what he was doing and naïve very religious people who didn’t. Actually it was the in-crowd who knew what he was doing. It was the shlubs who were clueless.
"We just came from homes that were not very loving and he knew that from being our teacher and took advantage of it. That’s all. We were not rejects or drug addicts just normal teen-agers. The religious just pretended to be healthy and happy but weren’t as obvious about their problems, but later in life it played out in all of their early divorces. And it’s the religious that can’t come to terms with what their great Rabbi did."
LA's Orthodox rabbinate has protected Aron for more than a decade. They've known about his predilections for teenage girls but they've done nothing about it beyond removing him as the principal of the YULA girls high school.
In the Shaaray Zedek synagogue bulletin this week, Rabbi Aron Tendler writes:
Continuing with our discussion on Derech Eretz in Shul… The proper Derech Eretz regarding Elephants of any color is to ignore them. Seriously, my resignation is not a topic that I feel should be discussed from the Bimah on Shabbos, but at any other time I truly welcome your questions and concerns. To the many who have expressed their concerns and support, Esther and I thank you for your friendship and good wishes.
I get this email:
It annoys me how many of my fellows SZ folks don't know about or refuse to believe the evidence. Let's presume for a second this isn't true and he resigned for unrelated reasons, wouldn't he, upon learning of these baseless accusations, knock on every door, call the shul membership and its board to an emergency meeting during which he rescinds his resignation and agrees to stay on as Rabbi indefinitely? Wouldn't he have the Board announce his innocence and profess that it was he that resigned, but they are welcoming him back with open arms? Let's say he hates SZ and all the people, I cannot believe for the sake of his reputation he wouldn't bite the bullet for an extra couple of years!
Either he's guilty, or an incredible fool!
Robert Schacht (a board member of Shaara Zedek) told one of Aron's underage victims a month ago, “We want to get rid of him, the amount of allegations is ridiculous.”
A former student of Aron's comments: "And yet they are letting him stay for eight months and leave with dignity."
There's a post (#81) on the New Hempstead blog that comes from a 16-year old girl who lived with Aron and his wife Esther:
I am the woman who as a 16 year old girl dormed at the Tendler's home. Someone told me about the information written here. Some of you may know who I am but for the rest of you, this is all too embarassing to post my name on the internet. Unfortunately, someone hates Rabbi Tendler so much that they have to lie about things that happened to ME. The only relationship I had with Rabbi Tendler was that of a student dorming at his house. I now B"H have a husband and children of my own and while I can not attest for anything else written here, the things written about ME and the supposed sexual relationship we had are outright lies. I only hope the Tendlers don't hear about this and think I really said any of these horrible things.
This is not the woman who she says she was sexually molested by Aron Tendler while she was an underage student at YULA and who had an on-and-off sexual relationship with Aron for years afterward. This poster above thought she was being confused with the woman at the center of the Aron controversy and wanted to distinguished her experience with Aron from the number one accuser.
Dr Luke Gives Love Advice
I email a female friend: "I think what's most important in relationships is dealing with conflicts. Acknowledging what they are, fighting fair, hearing each other out...even if you can't solve them. You can't just send vague apologies to avoid the conflict. That does not work. You have to figure out what exactly the conflict is about, where he's coming from, where you are coming from, and what can be done to improve the situation, if anything."
Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy: The Life and Works of Rabbi Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, 1884-1966
Dr. Marc B. Shapiro writes:
The changes which occurred in the Orthodox Jewish world in the post-war years were to be a continuous source of disappointment for Weinberg. With the eclipse of the German Orthodox philosophy, a form of Orthodoxy which opposed all secular studies had taken its place. Most irritating to him was the fact that this new trend was able to influence Berlin Rabbinical Seminary graduates to distance themselves both from the philosophy of their earlier years and from the institution where they had received their rabbinical training.
...Weinberg believed taht while religious extremism was always harmful, with its anti-Zionism and opposition to secular studies it was now even more dangerous, for it threatened to cripple positive religious development in the newly created State of Israel.
...As Weinberg observed, it was impossible to have a country without a university, so should the Orthodox not also assume the role of training engineers, scientists and other professionals? Furthermore, only those who lacked all sense could believe that Israel would be able to rely on gentile doctors or on doctors who had been trained in the Diaspora, which would be the case if the right-wing Orthodox were able to ban the use of cadavers at the university.
...In the post-war generation he discerned strictness in ritual matters but blatant disregard for ethical conduct and etiquette -- the surest way to drive the young generation away from Judaism. Deeply affected by this phenomenon, Weinberg asserted that prostration was required at the graves of the hated maskilim [those learned in secular subjects] of old, for it was precisely they who had earlier taken up the fight against religious hypocrisy and the emphasis on the ritual at the expense of the ethical.
...He also attacked the right wing for its negative view of gentiles. However, Weinberg realized that matters were more complicated than this, and that the right wing was merely reflecting what appears in ancient sources. It was these very sources which led him to assert that Judaism hates Christianity more than the reverse. He also questioned whether Jews themselves share part of the blame for history's ever-present antisemitism because of their attitude to the non-Jewish world. To illustrate this, he pointed to talmudic lawas which discriminate against gentiles, and which he was at pains to justify in his earlier years. He now admitted that these laws, which greatly troubled him, cannot simply be denied or explained away. However, Weinberg was only able to raise the problem and share his frustration that he could not offer any solutions. 'Can the nations resign themselves to such a deprivation of rights?...What can we do? Can we uproot our Torah teaching with apologetic formulae or clever deceptions? God knows that I have written this with the blood of my heart, the blood of my soul.'
In a later letter, however, after declaring that religious hatred between Judaism and Christianity must cease, he advocated unqualified acceptance of Me'iri's view that the talmudic anti-gentile laws are only directed agains the idolaters of old. The problem with this, Weinberg added, was that instructors at the right-wing yeshivot, while mouthing agreement with Me'iri, quietly informed their students that this approach was only to be used for apologetic purposes, but did not truly reflect Jewish teaching.
...Pessimistic appraisals of the modern manifestations of Judaism appear throughout Weinberg's private letters, giving a clear picture of a man full of bitterness at not getting what he deserved and eternally suspicious of others' intentions. Charges of dishonest dealings and plagiarism abound in these letters, and Weinberg saw enemies at almost every corner. In a manner which seems almost antisemitic, Weinberg berated the Jewish people for the fraudulence and hypocrisy it harbours, unparalleled in any other nation. For example, he claimed that whereas other nations know how to evaluate creativity and scholarship properly, this is not so with the Jews, who produce more than their share of charlatans and plagiarists who unjustly achieve renown. Even the great intellectual creativity of Rabbi Kook was played down by Weinberg, and Rabbi Jacob Moses Harlap's Hed harim aroused his 'spiritual revulsion.'
...Weinberg realized that the problem of Orthodox Jews negative attitude towards other religions was complicated by the fact that this attitude had its basis in the religion's classical sources. For Weinberg, who adopted the view of Me'iri, it was essential to show that the views advocated in these sources did not appply under contemporary circumstances. To do otherwise would disgrace the Torah. Since modern society had come to see religious tolerance as a basic norm, it was essential that Jewish thought and law should also share this advanced view.
...There is no question that he greatly admired a number of Reform rabbis, praising their honourable intentions and committed work on behalf of the Jewish people. In a private letter he even noted sarcastically that a certain Reform rabbi was a 'desecration of God's name,' because he demonstrated that one could be a fine and upstanding man without following Jewish law, whereas so many of the Orthodox, who were punctilious with regard to Jewish law, lacked the basic norms of decency.
A perfect storm -- Hormones and V-day
Chaim counsels me:
Target within range; remember the 12 - 17 day rule. Keep your powder dry for those days. Sperm can live for two days, so do her every other day. And remember to cuddle with her afterwards so she does not think of having an abortion.
'I think this is now over'
From a post to the New Hempstead blog:
The Jewish Journal reports it at face value and like it or not, they are the coin of the realm, such as the realm is.
I myself take it at face value. The job at Shaarey Zedek that Rav Aron carved out for himself was too much. The guy offered counseling for married couples. I know one couple whose marriage he saved.
While this is totally admirable, marriage counseling is a business and is expensive. I see nowhere where it is a rabbi's job description. Me personally, I think such marriage counseling is a complete waste of money, but if you are going to do it, you better waste the money and not glom off the rabbi's time. Your having marital issues, go to some psychobabblist on ventura for 150 an hour and try to get it covered by your insurance. Don't be calling a rabbi on a beeper.
You have god forbid a sick relative and you need the rabbi to say tehillim, you have a serious halachic issue that needs an immediate resolution, you have a religious emergency like a son considering marrying a shiksa, beep the rabbi. don't overburden him with marital tzuros. Anyhow, the accusers get to remain anonymous, Shaarey Zedek loses a rabbi, and the rest of us wonder what happened.
Religion is like politics only politics is so much more fun to blog about because you are all so uptight.
From another post:
What I do not get is the threats by these anonymous types to go to the press if we defend Rav Aron.
I wonder if you go to the Jewish Journal if they will publish it - I think you have to have some spin on it that somehow it relates to new paradigms in Jewish identity and how important the Federation is in maintaining the paradigm. Otherwise, you will not get published. Maybe Teresa Strasser can run with it and pine on about how this means that she will only date non-Jewish guys without back hair.
In any event, if as you threaten, you took your tapes to the LA Times what would they do with it? If you think it would make them publish a story that would make Rav Aron resign, well then, why waste the stamp, he is gone. You want him gone sooner, find a replacement Rabbi for the shul.
A former student of Aron's posts:
It's disgusting that the [Jewish] Journal would say that. That is why we never went to you. He loves couples coming to him. That's where he found his victims and his beeper has been around since YULA days. It's [how] the woman got in touch with him. He also has two cell phones, one for the wife and the other for the girlfriends. Ask the board why they forced him to resign. How can you print something like that when it's an outrageous lie?
I am not hiding...this is the only way to post. The board knows who we are and we have spoken to the LA Times using our real names and to many other papers. We are the courageous ones, it is Aron who is the coward.
It's always been over 60...this dates back to the 1980's and because a certain amount of time has passed does not dignify what this JERK did to these poor women. If it were a priest we would demand he be thrown in jail.
Believe me, Aron Tendler does not reject anyone and he is always the initiator. He personally told me the story of the woman he laid next to. It came out of his own mouth so if you have issue with it, talk to him.
Yes, we want to hurt him. He took advantage of women and he spoke against us to people while doing it. We hate him and we want him to pay.
...Yes, Irving [Steinberg] the past president of SZ, was contacted and he turned to Robert Schacht who blamed the victims and said we were all nuts. Suddenly fast forward two years and the new board starts calling all the women and suddenly Aron is resigning.
...I have never posted on a blog before until I saw such morons defending a pervert. And being that he used to brag to us about all of his conquests...it's only fair for us to go public about it.
Where Was Dr. Bruce Powell (Famed Los Angeles Educator) During The Aron Tendler Affairs At YULA Girls Highschool?
I wrote days ago that Dr. Powell wanted Aron Tendler gone from YULA circa 1988.
Dr. Powell says Jan 26 that what I wrote about him in the Aron Affair is "completely false." Dr. Powell claims he left YULA before Aron, and that he had nothing to do with Aron's departure.
I maintain that what Dr. Powell claims Thursday (Jan 26) is not true.
I believe that Dr. Powell and Aron Tendler still have a good relationship.
A student of Aron's from YULA girls school tells me about Powell's claims Jan 26: "Actually that’s not true. I know that the girl who almost had sex with him went to Powell and from what I was told Powell said, “let’s nail this guy to the wall.”...Now it’s possible Powell left shortly after that and then Tendler left but it wouldn't have been more than a couple of months and he definitely was aware of the whole situation...maybe he is just avoiding it."
Dr. Powell was at YULA from 1979-1992 according to this online link:
Dr. Bruce Powell has been an instrumental force in founding two full-day, college preparatory Jewish high schools in Los Angeles. From 1979 to 1992, he served as the founding General Studies Principal at Yeshiva University of Los Angeles High Schools.
During his thirteen-year tenure at YULA, Dr. Powell established the general studies curriculum, created the college-counseling program, set in place all school policies and procedures, orchestrated the process of accreditation, expanded the student population from 160 to 360 students, and built a first-class faculty and administrative structure.
In 1992, Dr. Powell became the first Headmaster of the Milken Community High School. Now working in the larger and more complex liberal Jewish world, Dr. Powell helped to create educational and religious consensus within the Reform and Conservative Jewish communities in order to establish a unified mission for the new school. Based upon the pluralistic vision, Dr. Powell shaped the school's academic and Jewish studies departments, set in motion full programs in athletics and arts, and built the school from 160 to 630 students in six years. Because of its success and excellence, the school received a large capital endowment from the Milken Family Foundation, and today stands as a national model for Jewish educational vision and excellence.
In addition to building two Jewish high schools in Los Angeles, Dr. Powell has served as the summer director of the Brandeis Collegiate Institute in Simi Valley, California, creating educational programs for Jewish youth from around the world. Recognizing the need to train high level personnel to envision and run Jewish high schools in the United States, Dr. Powell serves as a Senior Faculty Member in the Secondary School Leadership Training Institute at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He is also involved in training rabbinical students in pedagogy at the University of Judaism.
Jewish Journal All Over The Aron Tendler Story
How's this for hard-hitting reportage about a predator they should've known about for years?
After 22 years as head rabbi of Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Valley Village, Rabbi Aron Tendler resigned last weekend.
"It is with mixed emotions that I write you today to let you know of my decision that, after 22 wonderful years, I have decided to step down as rabbi of Shaarey Zedek," Tendler wrote in a letter to the 400-member families of the Orthodox synagogue. "This has been a decision I have contemplated for some time, and after great soul searching and deliberation and with the full support of Esther and the family, I decided that it was time to explore other opportunities and embark on a new aspect of my personal and professional life."
Tendler wrote that he intends to stay in the community but wants to spend more time with his family and pursuing writing, teaching and other projects.
"On occasion, I would like to sleep for more than four hours. Selfishly put, I want more time, and if not now when?" he wrote.
Tendler will stay on through the High Holidays and help the search committee in its quest to find a new rabbi.
"Rabbi Tendler turned innumerable lives around, and it will be a great loss for us," Brad Turell, Shaarey Zedek's communications director, told The Journal. "He's very talented and we wish him the best."
I particularly love how the Journal put this resignation in context and gave their readers the whole story.
For about eight (?) years, the Jewish Journal has had a staff writer (and for a few years, the Religion Editor) who went to YULA girls school while Aron was principle -- Julie Fax. But Julie has burned out on covering rabbi-predators and now works the education beat. She wants nothing to do with the Aron Tendler story.
Jewish Whistleblower emails Rob Eshman and Amy Klein at the Journal: "How did you manage to completely gloss over the fact that he resigned under the shadow of decades of serious allegations of sexual misconduct with women and children?"
Brad Turell, a wealthy man and professional publicist, was a big fan of Aron Tendler. Brad was a big wheel at CNN. He had interactions with Vicki Polin years ago when she ran this activist group CNN-WATCH about CNN's alleged anti-Israel bias.
Publicist is such an honorable profession. You lie for pay.
I'm sure Turell was not paid for his statement to the Journal or for his work for his shul. It's just that once you begin the habit of lying for a living, it takes on a life of its own.
Turrell and his wife are about the friendliest people at Shaaray Zedek.
Most of the members at Shaaray Zedek still support and admire Aron Tendler and they do not believe the accusations against him of sexual misconduct.
Is it important to the accusers of Aron Tendler that they be believed at Shaaray Zedek? I assume that the accusers are disgusted by the shul that has been protecting and enabling Aron for more than a decade and stigmatizing the accusers as "crazies." I'm sure the accusers would like some repentance by Aron's enablers. But I think the accusers have now gone beyond trying to talk to the Shaaray Zedek leadership. They've now gone to The LA Times, which has a reporter (Carla Rivera, firstname.lastname@example.org) on the Aron Affair.
Amy Klein, Religion Editor of the Jewish Journal, emails JWB and myself Thursday afternoon (in reply to JWB's email which CC'd me):
Thank you for your interest on the Tendler story, which we have been investigating for some time.
Journalistically and legally, we cannot print unsubtantiated rumors or allegations. We do hope that, if there have been any wrongdoings, the people involved will come forward so that we can expose this story.
Should you be in touch with any of these people, please assure them that if they do come forward and their stories can be corroborated, The Jewish Journal will print the story. In addition, if there are any lawsuits or pending cases, the Jewish Journal will publish that as well.
How can you possibly not be able to get this story?
It's no secret that victims are talking. Luke alone has posted several names of people with information. I've had confirmations from my sources going back over a year.
1) Gone through YULA yearbooks, contacting staff and students?
2) Have you phoned current and past staff and board members at Tendler's shul?
3) Have you contacted past and current staff at the RCC?
4) Have you gone through membership lists for the past 2 decades at Tendler's shul contacting people?
5) Have you contacted people at the RCA? I can't possibly believe that no one will talk to you.
How is it possible that mere bloggers can get this story and you can't?
There is no cover-up that can't be exposed with some basic legwork.
Vicki Polin emails her Yahoo group (and others) about the Jewish Journal article:
Please note that there was no mention in the following article that Rabbi Aron Tendler was asked to resign or be fired from his position as rabbi for alleged sexual abuse charges.
Does the community in LA know about the allegations? I heard rumors that many are unaware.
The article below mentions board member - Brad Turell, who is the Executive Vice President of Network Communications of a major news media group. At one time Turell was hired by CNN to deal with the "Israel issue".
This was back when I ran a media watch group called CNN-WATCH.
I wonder if Brad Turell joined the NEW board of directors at Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Valley Village, to deal with the "Aron Tendler" issue.
I think we should advocate for honesty in reporting on the real issues why Aron Tendler was let go. By doing this we could be protecting a future, potential victims from being harmed. Please let the board of directors at Shaarey Zedek and also the Jewish Journal know how you feel. Tell them to "STOP HUSHING UP THE TRUTH!"
Why Is Luke Ford Silent?
Chaim writes: We live in momentous times. You should be writing more about them, specifically, on the response of the Gedolim and the Rabbenim to events unfolding in Iran and dar al Islam.
"AP: Mideast peace accords of the 1990s stipulated that no terror group could participate in Palestinian elections, but Israel was unable to drum up international support for barring the group from contesting the democratic vote."
That's why I favor the victory of Hamas. It brings to the fore things that otherwise might have festered in the background and grown stronger. Hamas in Israel's near space; Iran at a remove. The Hollywood Gedolim have their fantasy lives cut out for them.
Polly Namen writes Cathy Seipp:
Sacrificing the lives of our fine young Christian sons and daughters (and almost all of our dead have been Christian) to impose democracy on an Arab Muslim people is simply insane. Like trying to teach pigs the Electric Slide. Oh, it is fine if they decide to do this on their own and ask us for some moral guidance. Perhaps we could then send them a few books (in arabic) on the practicalities of setting up free elections such as the Palestinians have just held; perhaps we could hook them up with a web site. But that's it. No Arab or Muslim nation is worth even one drop of our fine Christian blood.
I Dig Persian Chicks
Chaim:If you still hanker for an Iranian Jewish wife, go see the personal doc "love, Iranian American Style" by Persian Jap Tanaz Eshagian. A total bunch of money heads.
Luke: i love persian chicks
Chaim:If they are anything like the families showcased in this flick - mostly in LA - they don't love you.
Chaim:You are not in the running with these women. Not by a billion miles.
Chaim:Go see this flick, it should show up somewhere sometime in LA. Shows weddings, parties, etc. of the LA Persian Kehilla
Luke: I take a more positive attitude about these things
Chaim:Their focus on money?
Luke: hashem will provide
Chaim:He will not provide you a Persian Bride, unless maybe she has been disowned by her family. That's your best shot.
Luke: Thanks to the rabbit vibrator, i can step up to the plate like never before.
Chaim:Vibrators are bad for the Jews.
Chaim:That's why God ordered the roof to fall in on the Romanian Shul on the LES, right across the street from where that dildo lady works.
Chaim:WEHT Persian Kitty? I mean that Iranian Jewess you dated once or twice a few years back.
Luke: i see her around
Chaim:How old is she and is she married? Because in her world, 26 is last gasp for marriage, according to this flick.
Replacing Rabbi Aron Tendler
From a post to the New Hempstead blog:
I am more concerned that we at Shaaray Zedek get a rabbi quickly. here are my picks, if they come from the area.
Rabbi Stulberger - I wonder if he would give up his post at Valley Torah perhaps and there is no argument he has done a great job at growing the place. Having learned from him, he is totally erudite in the talmud. The objection to him might be that he is too frum, that the power youth set in the community who wear the ugg boots would feel uncomfortable. I doubt he wants it, but he would be an outstanding pick.
Rabbi Edelstein - the sole survivor of the Valley Kollel. A nice guy, but a little too bookish. Maybe if he were encouraged to be a bit more friendly, he could wow the board. He certainly has a warm spot in the small group he hangs out with and leads the 8;15 minyan. He is no superstar yet, but more than adequate. His ace in the hole is his wife who is very nice and a model rebbetzin type.
Rabbi Zachter - reads torah at the shul. Very friendly and cool. Would make a good junior rabbi - there should be a second rabbi at the shul to handle gabbai stuff and he would be perfect to groom for a senior post.
Rabbi Wachsman - I think he is wedded to emek and would not want the job. Well respected, but not viewed as a pulpit rabbi.
Rabbi Schreiber - a well known quantity, now at yavneh. A really good guy, unclear what type of speaker he is, but a real love for education in this one - made us learn mishna by heart that i still remember. very popular among those who had him as a student at Emek.
Rabbi Maza - reads torah, a good rabbi at Valley Torah. Have no idea as to speaking skills.
Rabbi Rosenbluth. Another Valley Torah rabbi, very wise in the talmud. unclear if he would apply.
Rabbi Schwartzmer - the part time hazzan at the shul. I think he has other job responsibilities and he is a very very humble sort of guy who probably would not want the limelight.
As for out of towners with some connection:
Rabbi Shaya Cohen - old school founder of the community and the old valley torah. A total d flawless gem. Would definitely get the financial assistance to move back. unkown as to what he is doing now and whether he would want the post.
Rabbi Morris Adatto - a former member of the shul, grew up in the shul. Extremely bright and a very good rabbinic pedigree. he is sephardic, although I am not sure that matters much. Maybe viewed as too young.
The problem the shul faces with going outside the area is a financial problem. any rabbi will want (and I believe deserves) a home in the area. That means at the VERY least a house for $650,000, meaning a mortgage, taxes, insurance of over $3,000 a month. that means a salary of at least (just to qualify for a loan) of over $10,000 a month, and probably more, so you need to pay perhaps up to $150,000. Unless the shul is willing to help with housing, this sort of salary is tough to pull off.
Here are some credible posts from the New Hempstead blog:
He left the school and stayed on at the boys school becasue the Bais Din decided it would be best for him to move as did the secular principals, after two girls went public. I witnessed this first hand so stop accusing us of lying. You shouldn't comment on something you know nothing about. There are saved phone messages from him that would blow the city's mind. You weren't at the girls school so who are you to say anything? Why do men even talk?
...Contact Bruce Powell, the English principal at the time and he will back up everything that happened. As a woman you should be embarassed. A 16 year old was boarding in his home in 1986 and every night he creeped into her room to fool around with her...she later in life had a break down over it and went to Shalom Tendler to discuss this and even he said "I have no doubt that you are telling the truth." Don't you think it's a bit odd that two brothers have done the same exact thing to women for 20 years? Are all 50-75 women lying? Even Aron's wife is finally accepting that it's true. He was kicked out of the girls school. Accept it or not but it's a fact in his file at the school. Women should stand up for women and not be such wusses. One of his victims husband had to ask him to stop calling his wife last year. He asked me to go to bed with him for over 10 years and there are phone messages to prove it. Grow up and open your eyes!!! He is a sick man and all he does is say that we are sick and that's why we all hate him. His biggest fear was that Esther would find out the truth about him one day and now she has. Everyone in the Jewish community knows that this is true. So you stand alone in defending him. Even the board asked him to leave...why? because they think he is innocent? No, because they interviewed every girl including myself and came to their own conclusion.
I personally had phone sex with him for over a year while he was at SZ. He would leave his family and go to shul and phone me late at night. His messages and tape recorded conversations have been heard by many friends as well as very influential people in the community. And if you continue to defend him I will take these recorded messages and go to The L.A. Times.
"I have known him for 26 years and he is so full of truth and a blatant desire to do good in G-d's name."
Let's see...he molested a 16 year-old, he has been cheating on his wife since the beginning of time, he was fired from the girls school because he met with a girl in a private room while on a school trip and planned to have sex with her, but she got scared and ran out. He had phone sex with another girl while at the shul. He takes advantage of women who come to him for counseling. He is always seen flirting with young girls at simchas. Gee, I wonder what G-d would think about that?
...I had lunch many times with him at The Simon Weisenthal Center while he was working at the "boys" school because he wasn't ALLOWED to teach at the girls school anymore. When he would walk me to my car he used to brush up against me and accidentally touch my chest before I got into my car.
New Hempstead News blogs:
Attention Members of SZ: Do not allow Aron to continue another week; Insist he leave immed ... do not wait until New year! You can get guest Rabbis in between! So far E-mails that we received and cannot even publish because of the nature of Aron's behavior that would make a prostitute blush! Get rid of him now!
My Ex-Girlfriend's Posing Naked
She's talked about it for a while but now she's really doing it. Soon you'll be able to buy a subscription to her website (don't ask me for the address because I won't tell you) and see everything that I believe only I saw for a few weeks.
I'm cool with sharing our sacred stuff with the world because I can see the preparation for the momentous day is so good for her. She's quit drinking and smoking pot. She's working out. This must be a positive path for her. It's positively spiritual.
One of the things that makes America a great country is that a woman can do what she wants with her own body.
I admit that at first I was horrified. I had these pathetic emotions I associate with highschool. I remembered the J. Geils Band song "Centerfold."
Then, after a few hours, I had a few swigs of water on my drive home from karaoke, and I decided I just didn't care. She's not Jewish, so what's the big deal?
She never considered me her boyfriend anyway. So I have no right to proprietary feelings.
The whole thing was a delusion. It was just good sex and good conversation. I'm so over it now, I don't even want to talk about it.
I Make My Dad Want To Puke
My brother's a man and an atheist, so I feel like I can tell him anything, particularly the good bits. My parents are good Christians, so I'm more careful what I tell them.
Or at least I think I'm more careful.
I talked to my brother Tuesday night. He said my last email made my dad want to puke. It was that filthy.
I don't even remember what it was.
Sometimes I fear that my work has desensitized me.
Your Moral Leader Welcomes The Rabbit Vibrator
We have a new advertiser on Lukeford.net. I've buried this naughty item on the bottom left of each page at the bottom of the dropdown menu. I hope you won't even notice it underneath "Credit Cards" and "Debt Consolidation."
As with Dennis Prager after his second divorce, my principle concern is how this action will affect my moral standing with my followers. But after perusing the Torah and the Talmud, I can find no prohibition on women using rabbit vibrators. Still, I advise all observant Jewish women to consult their rav (each time) before using this product. As for shiksas, I believe you can diddle yourselves to your heart's content and still find a place in the world to come.
Fred writes: "Sir, in may ways perhaps this is a mitzvah. Its more hygenic, it isn't prohibited by Torah, and it subsidizes your good works. I am a little bothered by the fact that a rabbit is treif, but other than that, you have my blessings."
Bob writes: "Rabbits need satisfaction, too. Thanks for sticking up for the lil' bunnies."
Ha Rav Ha Goan Rabbi Amalek rules on vibrators:
They may have had their disputes (although I cannot think of any), but in the context of the current geopoliticalreproductive situation, I think both Hillel and Shamai would have had some problems with selling a product that encourages (Jewish) women to engage in non-procreative sex. No man can compete with a vibrator for duration of mechanical effect. No man can be as hygienic. No man can be as manipulable. But no vibrator can impregnate a woman, and there's the rub. The time that a woman spends in communion with her rabbit is time that she is not engaged in procreative sex with a man. Moreover, given the finite amount of sexual energy at a woman's disposal, every orgasm that she obtains via this practice is sexual energy that will not be available to direct her towards a man at a later date. On this both Hillel and Shamai would, I think, agree. Vibrators are a form of birth control.
The preceding argument militates against vibrator use with respect to Jewish women of child bearing years and others whom we would wish to bear children (see my final paragraph below). I believe that with respect Jewish women who are unable, through no fault of their own, to engage in such sex, either because they are too old and have no man to please, or because they are obnoxious JAPs such as one meets on the streets of New York and on the pages of CraigsList, the use of a vibrator, while not encouraged, would not be explicitly forbidden by Hillel. I further believe that with respect to Muslim women, the use of a vibrator would be encouraged by both Hillel and Shamai, as a means of defending the Jewish people against the onslaught of yet more Muslims everywhere, from Jerusalem to Paris to New Jersey. (As I have often written, while Jewish women in America are all too often content to use their birth canals as toys, Muslim women in general and Palestinian women in particular use theirs as cannon.) In that spirit, a Jew who sells pornography to Muslim males that encourages them to spill their seed onto the ground rather than into the vaginas of fertile women is doing a mitzvah, and this guarantees the pornographer a special portion of the world to come.
(Were we living in the time of the writing of the mishna and the talmud, this simple question would easily trigger the writing of tens of pages of discussion and commentary, and by the precepts of the "Oral Law", all of it would have come from the All-Mighty himself, with any contradictions within that discussion resolved via the dialectic of "pilpul" so as not to present the logical impossibility of God contradicting himself. When you visit a Luke Ford website, you may come for the gossip, but you leave knowing some Torah. Take that, you LA bloggers.)
PS. I am cursed with the gift of prophecy and I do mean cursed, for it comes bundled with other traits that do not enable me to act on them. As I foresaw and as I foretold in a conversation with her just minutes before learning the truth, Norwegian Goddess - the woman I would have married, had she expressed anything more than disgust for my old 350 pound body - has fallen out with Landmark Forum and into favor with the Scientologists. I saw this coming from years off, but failed to redirect her enthusiasms away form L Ron Hubbard and into my loving arms, which I now curse for their lack of initiative. I cannot help but wonder if her lack of enthusiasm for me was predicated in some small but important measure on the widespread availability of vibrators with which to slake her reproductive desires. Alas, I shall never know.
Yaakov Menken Toots His Own Horn - For The Sake Of The Torah, Of Course
If we aim to be the place you go to find a well-articulated Torah perspective on the issues of the day, we need to be “known.” That is why the “Blog Awards” contest is so important—not for our egos, but for our goal of becoming an important outlet for Torah thought to the world.
As long as it isn't Yaakov's female assistants who aren't manipulated into tooting his horn...
What's An Appropriate Punishment For Aron Tendler?
Khunrum writes: "I believe this Tendler character has committed evil deeds. I say make the punishment fit the crime. Lethal injection, hot lead enema, banishment to Devil's Island, his shmekela severed, three life sentences in Folsom. No, something far worse. He should be tied to a chair and made to endure all of Luke Ford's favorite tunes at least twice."
Bob writes: "This list looks suspiciously similar to the impliments of torture used on Al-Queda opperatives in US custody. Don't spare the Air Supply. Make him pay!"
A Former Female YULA Student Of Aron Tendler's Faxes His Shul Shaaray Zedek Tuesday:
Please tell Esther [Aron's wife] that perhaps she should finally apologize for all the horrific things she has been saying about the victims of Aron all these years. And she knows who we are speaking of.
Just so you know, Joni Schacht has been aware that your husband has been cheating on you for 20 years and never said a word to you. She is some friend to you.
This has already made it to the internet but in case you haven't heard, Esther, your husband contacted Joni after you received the letter from his victims and asked Joni to lie and tell you that a certain someone wrote the letter who "didn't" write the letter and to say that this person is nuts. She then went to this victim's home uninvited to admit to what she has done and said she lied to you in order to protect your children.
This victim that your husband claims is nuts, had phone sex with Aron many times while he was at shul. And was propositioned by him for over 10 years to have sex.
Phone messages have been saved that can validate this.
Do you have any idea what he was doing to your 16 year-old house guest in the 1980's when you were sleeping at night? Maybe you should ask your husband.
I think it's YOUR husband that is nuts. NOT the victims.
Lashon Harah! I guess something you didn't learn Esther when you decided to put on a tichel and pretend to be religious…just like your husband.
We hope Aron leaves earlier than the yom tovim. To have to listen to a child molester speak every Shabbos will be a bit nauseating.
Alison Armstrong said on Dennis Prager: "Intimacy leaves a relationship when a man becomes convinced he can't make his woman happy. So he shifts his focus to not upsetting her. Men are single-focused. They can either try to make her happy or they can concentrate on not upsetting her (not telling her things she won't like, walk on eggshells, stay invulnerable).
"Women like to emasculate men because they fear the power a man can have over them."
Alison suggests that if a man uses porn, a woman should pull up beside him with her favorite porn (erotica such as Anne Rice novels), and say, "You look at your porn. I'll look at mine. And if we get excited, then let's play.
"Women shouldn't be so afraid of a man's interest in porn. If a man looks at a woman in a magazine, he's not trying to provide for her and make her happy."
Alison says she gets a ton of mail after doing a talkshow, mainly from men expressing relief at being understood.
She says that 99% of women think their man is defective (for doing such things as leaving your socks on the floor, etc). Women have a diffuse awareness. Socks on the floor, an unmade bed, scream at us. These things don't bother men.
From an article:
Basically act like you have two Playmates in your bathroom getting ready for the date you promised them when THIS date is over....NICE!!! "In any situation with a woman where you think your self-respect may be being compromised, ask yourself this: "What would the man I'm committed to being do in this situation?" You can also ask: "What would I do in this situation if there was an abundance of sex in my life?" Then take the risk of losing the girl, and acting with self-respect. That can be hard, but it's worth it! As they say, "living well is the best revenge." When a woman sees you treating yourself with respect, she'll be more likely to respect you, too."
Aron Resigns, Healing Begins?
I wonder if the Jewish Journal has anyone on the story? Or is their plate full with the new "Queers during the Spanish Inquisition" exhibit at the Skirball?
The Journal does have a website but they can't be bothered to put anything on there about this story.
From the New Hempstead blog:
Yes, Rav Aron is resigning. The community thinks that the job was just too much for him. For some reason, he had a beeper if you wanted to get in touch. There are alot of attention needy types at [Shaaray Zedek], mostly the Pseudo Rich (if they were rich, query living in the armpit of the valley next to a sewer) who wanted him at their beck and call.
What a loss to klal yisroel. he has devoted 23 years to his shul and not one of them has a bad thing to say about him. how tragic if fear of being exposed to the type of villification Mordechai is being put through drove such a valuable asset out of the rabbinate!
Look, let's let this end. Rav Aron resigned. What more do you all want or feel is necessary. If, as you insinuate, something was done wrong by someone, let's do something to stop it in the future.
I fact-checked the following post with a reliable source (a former female student of Aron's) who is in a position to know the truth of the facts alleged and she said it is all true:
He has been cheating on his wife for 20 years. This is no loss to the Jewish world. I personally had an inappropriate relationship with him for 14 years. So please dont defend him. I have a friend who tried to commit suicide because he molested her at the age of 16. And yes, he told us he was molested as a child. We tried for years to get rid of him and no one would listen to us, not even the then president of the shul. He knows it's ALL true and that's why he is resigning. For no other reason.
Honoring Predator-Rabbi Aron Tendler
Yaakov Menken's Torah.org publishes his Torah essays.
613.org plays his lectures.
The Orthodox Union (a group of Modern Orthodox synagogues throughout North America) had Aron Tendler as a speaker on February 27, 28, 2004. The topic? "Strengthening the Jewish Family"
And what was the title of Aron Tendler's talk? "Ethics in Marriage: How it Enhances Your Marriage"
The OU writes: "Rabbi Aron Tendler...is a recognized champion against domestic violence. He is a member of the Jewish Family Services Domestic Violence Task Force."
Aron Tendler is listed as a faculty member of Netivot: "Netivot, Hebrew for Paths, is an independent center of Torah dedicated to enhancing women's intellectual and spiritual growth through intensive textual study in an inclusive and nurturing atmosphere."
What could be more enhancing to a woman's intellectual and spiritual growth than a good grope from a holy rabbi?
Common sense suggests (but I have no direct evidence to support this allegation) that most, if not all, faculty members of Netivot were aware that their fellow faculty member Aron Tendler was a sexual predator.
Aron Tendler endorses: "Oorah, which means "Awaken," was founded in 1980 with the goal of awakening Jewish children and their families to their heritage."
After the murder of Yaakov Aminov, 46, on July 4, 2002 at LAX, Aron appeared all over the news media as the dead man's rabbi: "How can it be," said Rabbi Aron Tendler, "that this righteous man was taken, that a mother of five sits alone, that he will no longer make kiddush on Friday night?"
Next on my agenda is to list all the people who endorse and work with sexual predator Yaakov Menken of Torah.org. The word has been out for a year about Yaakov's ways with the vulnerable ladies who work for him. Here's a list of people who contribute to Menken's blog Cross-Currents.com: Emanuel Feldman, Eytan Kobre, Gedalia Litke, Jonathan Rosenblum, Mark Bane, Marvin Schick, Shira Schmidt, Toby Katz, Yaakov Yosef Reinman, Yitzchok Adlerstein.
I guess these people don't have a problem associating themselves with an outed sexual predator.
When I checked 1/23/06 the listing of the programmers at Torah.org, a favorite place for Menken to find girlfriends, it seemed that all the programmers (a male-dominated profession) were female (many are married and work from home, and should be safe from Menken's predatory ways): Chaya Miriam Cohen, Web Application Programmer Havi Goodman, Web Application Programmer Shuli Gunsher, Web Application Programmer Sora Basha Harbater, Web Application Developer Chavi Jacobs, Graphic Designer Leah Newmark, Web Application Programmer Michal Segelman, Web Application Programmer Nechama Stampler, Web Application Programmer Rivy Strauss, Web Application Programmer
I hope to God that none of these women work near Menken.
I suspect that most of these programmers spend little time on Torah projects. Menken makes his money off his secular projects, but it's good to put all his programmers on the Torah ledger.
Let us not forget those who sallied into battle on behalf of sexual predator Rabbi Mordecai Gafni such as Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Rabbi Saul Berman, and Stephen S. Wise leader and psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Marmer. In a world of limited resources, these men chose to spend their efforts attacking those who exposed sexual predators. They devoted many hours to defend a Jewish religious leader who admits to statutory rape of teenage girls who were under his religious guidance.
The Cruelty Of Luke Ford
I've figured out Luke Ford is the character to this novel you are presently concocting. I took a slow sip, like drinking gin from a martini glass with the olive languishing at the bottom. Then took another. This is what I've come to think about your character Luke Ford.
He's looking for a gentile woman to have an "affair" with. Why? For two reasons, first because he wants to marry to please his family and secondly, he wants jewish children. If he marries a gentile woman there is no guarantee that his children would be jewish. But if he marries a jewish woman then he is assured they will be jewish. The children will always be jewish or considered jewish as long as their mother is jewish.
He says in his ad, he is seeking valor. The reality is that Luke Ford is the worst kind of evil to search for a woman's heart. He has an ulterior motive and a deliberate plan to break someone's heart. He knows with certainty that he wants to have this affair with a gentile woman; and, he knows with certainty that he doesn't want to marry her. A plan to deliberately break someone's heart is the worst kind of evil that anyone can exercise. It is a crime against God because it is so deliberate. It is a sin that will always leave a stain upon the soul--no matter how many times it is washed over with holy water and forgiveness. It never quite washes completely away.
But plans have a way of twisting themselves around. He will meet the gentile woman; he will fall in love and they will have their affair. He watches his dreams turn upside down inside her deep blue eyes. It is she who will break it to him that she cannot marry him because he is jewish. She comes from a long line of Irish who believe that if you send one son to the priesthood, you're guaranteed a place in heaven. She has a brother who is a priest and now it is her turn to marry and make a son who will join the priesthood. So despite their passion which is as deep and red as this Irish beauty's hair, Luke cannot convince her. If they are to win, Luke must find a way for both of them to overcome these artificial barriers of prejudice. Will true love win out? Will each sacrifice for the other in order to let true love win out? Or will Luke Ford pretend valor and allow this beauty to walk out of his life?
My pink tongue is rolling around the smooth pimento stuffed green olive skewered at the mercy of the toothpick. Luke Ford is thinking. He may need a drink later on if his fingers are to make their way over the keys into his story. Her eyes and a martini may be his only temporary escape. The only sound he can hear are waves crashing upon the beach. Luke Ford contemplates the meaning of valor. Morning has arrived and he is looking at a small jar of olives comfortably resting upon the bar...
Jews For Jesus
Chaim writes: "I saw a documentary about Jews for Jesus that made the Jews look bad. Fat, loud, and - as a member of the audience at the NY Jewish Film festival put it - not particularly spiritual."
Shabbos was despiriting. Yes, the morning kiddish was lavish and the beautiful young women abundant, but I have set myself a law to not hit on women in my own shul (so that I may better concentrate on prayer, Torah study and the performance of good deeds).
Though my super-ego-driven-behavior was laudatory, it exacted a stiff toll on my libido, though not as stiff as the toll exacted by Henry Roth's novel Call it Sleep (titled after the effect it has on the reader). When I remember that Forward Arts & Culture Editor Alana Newhouse put Sleep on her Jewish Lit syllabus (while completely skipping over the much more profound Philip Roth novel The Prague Orgy), it makes me want to yell to the world that Alana is a saucy little vixen (with plans for taking over the world while the righteous slumber) and her advice should only be followed by those who taste in reading mirrors that of monks who enjoy whipping themselves.
I feel like I'm stuck in a time warp, reading the same Jewish-immigrant-to-America story over and over again. I'm suffering. I need some love.
I can not remain silent. Never again! Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Chabon, and Gary Shteyngart are overrated.
Dear reader, I told you that I wished I could talk like a black person. It’s more than that, really: I wish, in the give and take between us, that I could give myself to you as a strong black man. You could receive my thoughts as if I were making strong love to you on satin sheets with the music of Barry White or Marvin Gaye playing—making love to you with my large penis, which would not be an offensive racial stereotype yet would be a penis of unmistakable substance. Instead I feel as if I’m humping away in a rabbity fashion on a futon, after a dinner of takeout Italian, with Dido on the stereo, and I’m hoping to make up for my shortcomings with earnest cunnilingus in a little while. This is all just a figure of speech!
Psychically depleted by my guilt over Israel's murder of the 1972 Munich terrorists, yearning for manly sustenance, I arrive at the home of Matt Welch and his wife Emmanuelle Richard at 8:30pm Saturday. (I don't find out until Sunday night that the purpose of the party was to celebrate Matt's appointment as Assistant Opinion Editor at The Los Angeles Times. My tendency is to think that the aim of any social gathering is for me to make love to girls with my large black penis -- a violation of my parole.)
Unfortunately, the light of my life and my reason for living, Mickey "Bareback" Kaus, err, I mean Cathy Seipp, had left the party an hour earlier.
Heather Havrilesky gave me a big hug. I was over-the-top inappropriate and narcissistic at her July 4th party but luckily she and most of the guests consumed so much alcohol that day that they don't remember anything I said or did.
Heather (surrounded by two delectable girlfriends) challenged me to top my performance at her place and I did with excruciating detail about my recent inability to peak unless I heard certain words invoked.
When asked questions, I answered in ways that made complete sense to me but utterly baffled my overwhelmingly female audience -- I count Heather's husband as an honorary woman because he's so exquisitely tender when I'm at my most moody.
"You have a great tan," he said.
"That's because I'm 1/16th Chinese," I replied.
About eight people at the party worked on the U.C. Santa Barbara student newspaper with Matt Welch (about 16 years ago). One of them, Karen, is a Metadatrix at Sony Pictures. She uses her inner dominatrix to transform multimedia coding around the world. Karen is a popular party guest because of her ability to thrill large audiences with the details of her work.
Did I mention how thankless the Swiss are?
Karen's girlfriend Lisa is on the transportation beat at the Los Angeles Daily News.
Ben Sullivan has a gorgeous Asian girlfriend named Lana who plays the piano for hours every day (which sure beats the hobbies of some of my ex-girlfriends). Now, some may may argue that a girlfriend having an affair with a piano is as bad as a girlfriend having sexual affairs. I beg to differ. Once another man's penis enters my property, it's all over for my equilibrium.
When Ben wasn't around, Lana asked for a manly man to put another log on the fire. As the manliest man at the party, I ripped asunder two logs and laid one on the fire, earning Lana's eternal admiration (not to mention other desires that I can't detail on a family blog like this).
I explained to some new friends that because of my Seventh-Day Adventist upbringing, I do not "drink or smoke or lend my bum to other blokes."
I solved some of my photographic, existential, interpersonal, religious and social problems with two employees of Agence-France-Presse (one of whom was distinctly of the female species).
As I was walking out, Ben pointed out his ex-girlfriend April as the woman whose car I jump-started with my serial-killer van at AFI nine months ago.
Saturday night April finally had a chance to express to me in concrete ways her immense gratitude for saving her (we hung out at Heather's July Fourth party but did not realize our connection from AFI).
"The superhero who came through the mist to save me," breathed April. She gave me a big hug. I felt big and strong. Knowing I couldn't feel any bigger and stronger, I left the party, driving 45mph in a 35 zone on Sunset Blvd.
I got pulled over by the cops, warned about four violations (including changing lanes without signalling) and ticketed for speeding.
Women are a dangerous drug. When they give me the least bit of attention, I swell up and feel on top of the world.
I want to rock them like a hurricane.
I couldn't sleep Saturday night.
My Orthodox friend Danny (who violates the Torah in ways I can not sanction) had a similar problem. At 4am, he arose and took a Tylenol PM. He had a troubled sleep (helped by REM's Losing My Religion) until 7:30am when he awakened and showered but couldn't shake that groggy feeling for another six hours.
My friend Danny had a date. OK, the woman (an ex-stripper who runs an outreach to fallen women, very similar to the one Danny runs) was married and a Christian, but on the other hand, her husband was terminally ill.
She arrived at 9:30am. He put on his suit and his yarmulke and his Christian Bible (a gift from his parents in 1975) and they had drinks at Coffee Bean before proceeding to the Church of God in Christ (Danny's favorite place to spend a Sunday morning).
On the five mile drive to Crenshaw Blvd, Heather played hard Christian rock in her Kia.
Stopping in front of the church, Danny removed his yarmulke.
"You don't need to do that," said Heather. "Christians loves Jews."
"Some Christians do," said Danny.
"Ahh, but if you wear it, they'll try to convert you," said Heather.
Bishop Charles E. Blake preached about the trinity. "Try to understand the trinity and you will lose your mind," he said. "Deny the trinity and you will lose your soul."
The bishop admitted he was giving "Theology 101." He said to turn to your neighbor and say, "Take your time, preacher."
Heather and Danny did.
When he instructed them to turn to each other and proclaim that Jesus Christ was Lord, Danny was silent, but Heather intoned the words with a smile.
Bishop Blake said all religions are not equal. They are not many roads leading to one destination. "At best two roads can intersect at one destination," he said. "You can't reach God through Buddha or Hare Krishna, but only through Jesus."
"And you Jehovah Witnesses need to go back and study your Bible."
"Turn to your neighbor and say, 'Jesus died for the sins of the world.'"
Danny kept silent. He was beginning to feel that he did not belong in church. He had thought that hanging with black Christians would be the solution to his davening (praying) blues but perhaps he needed to go back to synagogue basics.
Walking out of church, a big black woman stopped Heather and said, "Please don't take this the wrong way, but Barbie has nothing on you."
Driving back, Heather had to make a left-turn against traffic.
"Go, go, go," said Danny.
"No, no, no," said Heather, noticing the traffic coming from the other direction. "You don't want me to kill us. After a sermon like that, you know I'm the one going to Heaven."
On the way to Heather's first kosher restaurant, several guys in a passing car yelled "Barbie."
Heather told Danny she's used to it.
My friend swelled with pride that he had such a beautiful friend. He hoped some Jewish women who'd rejected him would see him with his gorgeous shiksa date.
After lunch, Danny and Heather went back to his hovel and studied Torah and took pictures.
"My main sin is gossip," confessed Heather. "Your's too."
When it was all over, he had to rush off to synagogue to daven the afternoon and evening services, and then there was dinner at the same kosher restaurant with the Hustler Tattler.
After dinner, they walked the neighborhood before ending up at the hovel listening to "Help" by The Carpenters.
Sunday night, I called Cathy Seipp. After being a good listener for ten minutes, I asked her if I could boast about something.
"It's not about the size of your penis, is it?" she asked. "Because I don't think I want to hear that."
"No," I assured her. "It's about this predator rabbi."
ChineseinBC: what about you?
Luke: doing the work of the Lord, busy, writing, working, partying
ChineseinBC: partying is considered working for the lord?
Luke: yes, the way I do it
ChineseinBC: omg most of your writing is so self absorbed I can barely handle it
Luke: poor darling, just noticing that?
ChineseinBC: no i've always noticed that
Luke: I thought you liked my writing, just the non-personal stuff?
ChineseinBC: i do, it's compelling & disturbing
Luke: does it make you want to slit your wrists?
ChineseinBC: hahaha, the initial reaction (which it seems like most women get) is to want to either save you from yourself or baby you.
Chaim writes me: "Are you now doubly envious of this Matt Welch? See how having a hot wife can be of benefit to a man? If XXX were your wife, your career would take off. How selfish of you not to make this happen."