Thursday, March 16, 2006
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Shaarey Zedek Update
Rabbi Stulberger's (he's the principal of Valley Torah High School, the Valley's biggest Orthodox day school, and an expert on the sins of gossip, referred to in Hebrew as "lashon hara" aka evil speech) sermons Saturday at the Valley Village Orthodox shul were against gossip. Aron Tendler, a longtime rabbi of the shul, has just resigned after numerous accusations of sexual wrongdoing.
Valley Torah High School is significantly financed by slumlord Sam Menlo who was a major figure in creating the school. The Valley Torah building is dedicated to the Menlo family. There's a big placard.
Instead of giving a traditional sermon on this week's Torah portion, Rabbi Stulberger read for a few minutes from the work of the Chafetz Chaim against gossip.
A former president of the shul stood up at the downstairs minyan and said we have a right to know what went on with Aron.
Aron got up and said he'd be happy to talk privately with anyone who wants to know.
Rabbi Stulberger's speeches had no effect. Aron's indiscretions remain the topic of discussion at Shaarey Zedek.
Regarding the search for the new rabbi, Rabbi Stulberger told the congregants to leave it to the search committee (overwhelmingly right-wing).
Sam Menlo, of Los Angeles. "Case files bulge with the bureaucratic legacy of Sam Menlo's life as a landlord: code violations, thousands of them, at rental units beset with everything from vermin and mold to wretched plumbing. With a real-estate empire spanning Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange Counties, Menlo has a 30-year track record of skirmishes with city and state agencies, capped last fall with a sentence to live for a time in his own filthy Anaheim complex ... Some units were so moldy that mushrooms sprouted from the ceiling ... Menlo was no small-time landlord without the means to fix the place up. He was an extremely wealthy man -- and one continually in trouble with cities throughout the region ... Menlo, as owner and operator of the [Nursing homes], battled Los Angeles County and the state Department of Health services for eight years during the 1970s over more than 2,000 health code violations and 78 counts of alleged criminal neglect at his nursing homes. Investigators found patients lying in beds full of excrement and urine and one patient with bedsores infested by maggots ... ..... At synagogues and charities throughout the region, Menlo has an entirely different reputation: that of a Holocaust survivor of exceptional decency and philanthropy. In letters to the court in the Anaheim case asking for leniency, at least 10 rabbis or directors of of Southern California Jewish schools, synagogues or associations enumerated Menlo's generosity. 'He's a fine man. He's just a marvelous person," said Rabbi Yonason Denebeim of the Chabad of Palm Springs, where Menlo has donated thousands of dollars over the last 15 years. "I wish there were more folks like him." [Menlo is worth $154 million] [YOSHINO, Y., 12-30-01]
Like A Child
Luke Ford is like a child when it comes to analyzing certain facets of Orthodox Judaism.
The Rav Aron "saga" is a twenty year story, and Luke Ford came in the middle of the story, with no context. Luke Ford has no appreciation for the role a Rabbi plays in an Orthodox community where there are quite a few "baal teshuva" who look to a Rabbi as a true spiritual connector to god, not just the titular head of a shul. Luke has no appreciation for the way in which the Rabbinate works in that sexual impropriety should be foreign and abominable to it, yet no one confronts it because it is deemed so abominable that it is not even discussed and accusations about it are deemed incredulous.
Luke cannot understand the cognitive dissonance faced by the Orthodox Jewish community (who are Orthodox precisely because they reject the culture of sexualization) when a holy man is accused of unholy acts, as if somehow the Frum are not subject to cognition, only rote following of texts and absolute perfection in morality.
I feel like I have to educate Luke on these matters, not because he is stupid, that is obviously not the case. Luke has an instinct for the interesting and an incisive manner. No, Luke is ignorant on these matters and to help his ignorance along, he carries his own china shop with him as he bulldozes matters without filtering for context.
The Frum world feels cornered on this stuff, and like a cornered animal it tends to fight back. Things might be different if Luke Ford made his case to the Frum world that there is something missing in your pedagogy of Rabbis and that it is not the Frum world's fault, but that the Frum world must own up to it now. Instead, he uses his mind like a child shooting a toy gun. No doubt the job gets done, but this was not the intended use of the mind.
Once Luke gets context, maybe by speaking to Orthodox Jews about these issues, he will be able to shoot with better aim.
Story About Shlomo Carlebach
© (2006) Name withheld upon request
The next time you think about going to a "Carlebach Minyon", or anything named after him, please remember this story. Please forward it to every rabbi you know.
Let's stop making this man into a tzaddik (saint). My ex was a Carlebach groupie. She had come from Boston to New York in order to study Judaism, and especially to be near Carlebach. I met her at a class, we dated and were married on May 31, 1976.
Carlebach co-officiated at the wedding with my rabbi. Having myself worked in "kiruv" I had a very high opinion of the man, and chalked up his hugging and kissing of women to his self sacrificing for the sake of others.
About a week and a half after our wedding, my wife told me that Shlomo Carlebach was running a retreat before his departure for Israel for the summer. She told me that she "must be there" and I accompanied her. I was surprised to see violations of Halachah not connected to kiruv. When I mentioned this to my wife, I was shocked to hear her say "I know all about Shlomo's sins, and I pray every day that I may be a Kappara (atonement, a surrogate receiver of punishment) for his sins! Please don't talk about it, because words have power."
I asked her if there was anything romantic between them, at which she replied with longing "We both know I'm not what he needs."
Shlomo Carlebach went off to Israel, and the summer passed happily.
September came, Shlomo Carlebach returned, and she began disappearing one night a week to attend his lecture-concerts which he held at the B'nai Jeshurun synagogue in Manhattan (at the time, I was serving as rabbi in "location removed").
In October, we learned that my wife was expecting. She told Carlebach of my disapproval of his actions. He told her "Get out fast." My wife left me a few days later. This was fivedays after finding out that she was carrying our child.
I sought out Shlomo Carlebach and confronted him about telling a married woman, and expectant mother, to "get out fast." His wife, Ne'ila, began to berate me indignantly, saying "How dare you? My husband is such a tzaddik, when he dies the angels will carry him to heaven! Carlebach then smiled, and said to me "Who are you? You're a rabbi in a Conservative Synagogue!"
When my wife asked me for money, I asked her why she didn't go to Carlebach for it. She said "He's never there when you need him." She often said "I'm 95% Shlomo, and when he looks into my eyes I'm 100% Shlomo."
This quote had the judge and court stenographer in stitches at the divorce proceedings, but to me it was no joke: it spelled out cult. After the divorce she moved in with another Carlebach groupie who was married with 4 children. He soon divorced his wife and married my ex.
These events were well known in New York frum circles, I began to get numerous calls of support from sympathetic strangers. Among them, were many calls from people, both men and women, who had had similar experiences.
A noteworthy point, among his groupies "holy" was synonymous with "feels good."
Unlike many others, my story has a happy ending. I remarried about a year later. My second wife and I are very happy, and have been blessed with seven wonderful children.
My daughter from my first marriage grew up being told that her mother had to run away, since I "Hate kids, and wanted her to have an abortion."
Two and a half years ago she found my website, contacted me to find out the truth (her step father was also taken in by the abortion story). We are now, thank G-d, very close.
As a child, her mother took her to see Shlomo Carlebach, where she was very turned off by the things she saw.
It pains me greatly that I was denied by this ego maniac the basic right to live my life with my chosen wife and my firstborn child. My children all grew up in the shadow of these events. Carlebach songs were never allowed in our home.
Whenever I go to a wedding or other Simcha where his songs are played, I am saddened. I am sad for my daughter who grew up without her father, I am sad for my ex who was so used and abused by this man's mile high ego, I am sad for all the unhappiness he left in his wake for so many people. I am sad that this evil man is now considered a tzaddik by so many.
I wonder if there were any warrants out for Shlomo Carlebach's arrest in several states for alienation of affection (not a crime in New York, but a felony in many states).
Actor John Goodman Visits Sardo's Bar In Burank
He had a few drinks, sang a few songs, and while he was leaving complained that people were rude, and that "there were no pharmaceuticals."
Early in the night, I walked up to him and told him that a friend just told me today that I was like his character Donny in The Big Lebowski. He was a few sheets to the wind and didn't give a damn.
Well, considering he played Walter (In a Best Supporting Actor-worthy performance, I should add Academy snobs!) in the The Big Lebowski, and Donny was played by Steve Buscemi, I can kinda see why he didn't give a damn.
Of course, this opens up a whole new debate about what Luke's friend was trying to imply...was he comparing him to the irritating, no-account little pussy so often dismissed with a terse 'Shut the ---- up Donny!', or to the 'Nam-obsessed, abrasive converted Jew Walter, who is thoroughly pussywhipped by his ex? The mind boggles. Jon Turturro stole that movie anyhow.
Michelle sings a song I've never heard before but I love it -- Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You."
I've become a big fan of American Idol's Kelly Clarkson. I love her rendition of "Since U Been Gone":
But since you been gone
I can breathe for the first time
I'm so movin' on, yeah, yeah
Thanks to you, now I get,
I get what I want
Since you been gone
You had your chance, you blew it
Out of sight, out of mind
Shut your mouth, I just can't take it
How To Chase Women
As a never-married man almost 40, I should not be giving advice. So I won't. I'll just pass along an insight I just heard -- women choose you. You can't chase them. If they don't give you a signal they are interested (a smile, a glance, a tossing of the hair, etc), it's useless to chase them.
Khunrum writes: "All one needs is confidence. Money also helps. They like to have a good time. Don't spend too much $$ until you get.... After you get it, cut back on the spending."
The Luke Ford Lifestyle
I live on $500 a week.
My bills each month:
Cell phone: $70
Regular phone: $70
Cable (TV/modem): $110
Health insurance: $200
Legal insurance: $30
Car repairs averaged: $170
Eating out: $60
I Don't Roll On Shabbos
Jack writes me about Aron Tendler: "I'm outraged that it took this long. The RCC and similar organizations seem to care more about bugs in our lettuce than sexual predators in our religious institutions. Don't they have an affirmative duty to aggressively investigate rumors like this?"
When you have powerful friends and relations, it is amazing what you can get away with.
"Josh" writes me:
It's a shame you did not grow up in Judaism. You are smart, but you are like Donny in The Big Lebowski, you have no context.
You think that a Rabbi is a holy person who should not have flaws. I will leave that misconception aside, as everyone is human, but your comment that Orthodox rabbis are as wont to be sexual predators as plumbers is untrue and implies that Orthodoxy has the same permissive attitude towards sexual improprieties as a plumbers union.
I went to yeshiva and discussions of sex are for the most part, taboo. As it was put to me - the way a yeshiva bochur should look at sex is that from the age of 12-22, the "yetzer hara" on sex is in prison. Once you are 22, have a degree or can earn a living, you get married and then sex becomes a part of your life.
Well, in the modern world, this sort of abstinence is very difficult and if a yeshiva student has a problem with it, it would likely be the last thing he would discuss with his Rabbi. When I say last, realize that that is important, a yeshiva student who has trouble with an issue in the jewish texts, if he has very good self esteem, will shame himself and may come to admit to a rabbi that he cannot understand the texts - I did this once and it was a shameful process as i got "demoted" to a lower class level. In an environment where there is competition to be the best at Jewish texts, to admit your weakness there is difficult.
To admit you have a problem with abstinence and perhaps eventual monogamy, well, the subjects are just not discussed other than perhaps a lecture from a Rabbi on the laws of abstinence.
The distinction is, if you have a problem at basic learning (even ADD), you will not be let into the rabbinate because the Rabbinate demands a level of commitment to the books and that is tested. However, if you have a problem with sex, it is your responsibility to not go into the rabbinate, but there is no test for this, even though the Rabbinate demands a HIGHER level of committment to sexual cleanliness than attention to texts.
No one quizzes you on your sexual proclivities in Yeshiva, it is assumed a priori that you are of utmost propriety. This assumption, so long as you do not do anything stupid in Yeshiva (such as getting caught dating outside the faith, being seen at nudie bars, etc.), turns into a presumption and any Rabbi is presumed to be a more than model citizen in sexual matters.
This is not to say that the Yeshiva is like the plumbers union - that it is amoral on the issue - the Yeshiva's defense is not that we failed, but rather that the person failed - that person should have excused himself because the Rabbinate is not a place for someone with sexual problems.
With antenna up on all this, perhaps it is time for Yeshivas to discuss these issues openly. Modernity, with the internet, cell phones, women present in every place including Shul boards, makes the assumption given in Yeshiva a tad antiquated. Sex is more pervasive than ever and the yetzer hara is insidious.
Although it is horribly awkward, just as a student is grilled by his Rabbi on nuances in the texts, the day may be near or here when a Rabbi will have to confront his students and advise them that the Rabbinate challenges you to make decisions with regard to sex and relations with women in a certain way that is not always easy. If you are not up to making those decisions correctly, it is not for you. I think a far higher portion of sexual problems would be screened.
Devora Lapidot writes:
- Who are you to decide if he understand the Jewish community or not? Do YOU understand it? I certainly do not at times...Especially when attempt for cover-up occur. A SIN... IS A SIN... IS A SIN and calling it by that name... is correct.
- Stop taking liberties by implying that he is less then...This is definitely not the ways of the Torah. You are supposed make him feel welcomed and part of the family because he left his own to joined us.
- As for the Frum Community feeling cornered...There is a way out, by cleaning house and ridding ourselves of all the self-appointed "righteous" leaders. We need to have the guts to stand up to all the dirty politics in town and have some peace.
Don't kill the messenger, he just delivered the package with a mirror inside. If we don't like what is reflected... It is upon us to do something abut it.
Brad Artson, Bob Wexler, Mark Bookman And The Battle For The Future Of The University Of Judaism
Dr. Wexler is the U.J.'s president but Artson and Bookman battle to succeed him.
Rabbi Artson (the runner-up to David Wolpe in the Temple Sinai sweepstakes nine years ago) gets most of the limelight. You can download his picture here. He's the only person at UJ (and the only rabbi) of which I am aware who offers his own picture as a download. I wonder if it is a popular screensaver?
Brad's first love was politics. According to his official biography: "A cum laude graduate of Harvard University, Rabbi Artson was an intern for United States Senator Alan Cranston and for United States Representative John Burton. For the two years following graduation from college, he worked as a Legislative Aide to Willie Brown, the Speaker of the California State Assembly. He was ordained with honors at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1988."
Brad was a typical left-wing political activist but when his mentor John Burton resigned under threat of revelations about drugs and other improprieties (Cranston was also reprimanded for ethical shortcomings), Artson considered running for Congress, explored the possibility, realized it would not fly, and shifted his focus to rabbinics (though he's remained committed to the Democratic party and has many friends in such powerful places).
With one of the sharpest minds in the Conservative movement, Rabbi Artson (I've seen him around the Pico-Robertson neighborhood wearing blue jeans and his tzitzit out) has a love for public service (his detractors would call it a lust for power). An eloquent speaker and writer, he carries himself in a regal manner. His students call him "Rabbi Artson." They have such feelings as respect and fear towards him.
Rabbi Artson believes his Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies is in fierce competition with the Jewish Theological Seminary. But there is no competition. The quality of the faculty and students are superior at JTS and the New York institution has more money. Academic demands at UJ are below those of JTS.
I suspect that most Ziegler students were rejected by JTS or realized on their own that they could not make it there.
Rabbi Artson believes the focus of the University of Judaism should be Judaism (and particularly the training of rabbis). He opposed the opening of the college of liberal arts. He wants to replace Wexler and implement his own vision. He opposes the secular graduate programs. He wants to use that money to perpetuate Conservative Judaism.
"It's hard to imagine that when the prophets called on Israel to rededicate themselves to God," Rabbi Mordecai Finley (a frequent UJ teacher) has often said, "they meant folk dancing."
Dr. Robert Wexler and his family became Modern Orthodox a few years ago. Consequently, he shifted the UJ away from the Conservative movement to a more independent place (this cost the UJ Conservative funding and makes its financial task more difficult).
As a Modern Orthodox Jew, Dr. Wexler no longer believed in many of the tenets of Conservative Judaism. This alienated him from many of the leaders of the Conservative movement.
Brad's argument is that Bob should not lead the university anymore because UJ was born as a Conservative school. It's nice that Bob is Modern Orthodox, says Brad, but he should do that on his own and not drag the the school with him.
Many key people at the UJ (and Danny Gordis when he ran Ziegler and lived in Los Angeles) belong to Orthodox shuls and spend more time there than in Conservative synagogues. This creates bad feelings on the part of those primarily committed to the Conservative movement.
Brad's main enemy at UJ is not Bob Wexler, who supports Brad and the way he runs Ziegler. Brad's main enemy is UJ's number two administrator, Mark Bookman, who would also love to be UJ president. Mark and Brad have had many screaming fights.
Bookman supports the secular programs at UJ.
Brad has big advantages over Mark in becoming UJ president -- Brad is a rabbi, has published widely, is a dynamic speaker and thinker and is well-respected, even by people who dislike the UJ.
Brad's name was floated as the new leader of the JTS but that was never going to happen.
Brad completely runs Ziegler. Nobody can do anything without his approval, including the questions you can ask a candidate for the school.
If a majority of the admissions committee opposes admitting a prospective student to Ziegler, Rabbi Artson reserves the right to veto such opposition and admit the student on a probationary scheme.
Rabbinic students not cut out for receiving ordination often receive instead a masters degree in Rabbinics.
Rabbi Artson pays lip service to Israel, but I don't believe he's a Zionist (Artson is almost a pacifist, and such an approach could never sustain a Jewish state). Though he requires Ziegler students to spend one year in Israel, when the second Intifada began in the fall of 2001, Brad gave exemptions to those who sought one. He said he was concerned for their safety.
Many students and professors at UJ are not Zionists.
Brad does not encourage his students to move to Israel. He's not concerned that two of his faculty members (Mimi Feigelson, Aryeh Cohen) do not stand for the Israeli national anthem.
Rabbi Artson is a great politician. He has smooth people skills. He is a moderately successfull fundraiser. He has the support of his faculty and his students because he fights for the same things they believe in. Brad's stabilized the school. He's brought in new faculty. He's established more prestige for Ziegler vis-a-vis the UJ.
One day Rabbi Artson may convince the UJ board that he is better suited to running the place.
Rabbi Artson and Rabbi Elliot Dorff are considered by the media two of the more gay-friendly leaders in Conservative Judaism. Rabbi Dorff has a daughter who is a lesbian and Rabbi Artson has an activist sister who's also an out-of-the-closet lesbian.
Rabbi Artson's second-in-command (Ziegler Associate Dean Rabbi Cheryl Peretz) is zealous in implementing his vision.
Brad's supporters include Elliot Dorff, and Lois Oppenheim. His detractors include Zofia Yalovsky, Dr. Ron Wolfson, and Gady Levy.
Lainie Speiser writes from Penthouse magazine:
Will you be reading the Megilla today? Getting bombed? Gorging on Hamantashen? Will you dress Holly like Queen Esther, or better yet Vashti? Hamantashen are nasty, leave it to the jews to think of prune filling of all the fillings to choose from! Why do we always have to suffer?
And think of the power of the boobies. If Vashti had come out like her husband the king ordered, showed her tits like he asked, he wouldn’t have needed to look for a new queen/bride and Esther wouldn’t have single handedly saved the jews from Persian oppression.
I’m going to my sister’s house (she’s married to a southern goy but still far far more religious than I could ever be), my folks are already there, they took her little ones to temple (they’re half jew but apparently the right half), last night they broke fast with couscous in milk and French toast (that’s the Sephardic way). So tonight will be blitzes and all the traditional stuff.
I do have very fond memories of Purim as a child, it was the most joyous holiday that I remember because it was all about fun and rejoicing and costumes and candy. It’s the Jewish Halloween. I loved it.
I Celebrate Purim With Shaarey Zedek
I've been writing about the Valley Village shul and its longtime rabbi Aron Tendler for 17 months.
Not all the reaction has been positive. YouWillBurn writes Monday: "ALL LIES. YOUR SITE WILL COME DOWN OR I WILL HACK IT. JUST REMEMBER HELL IS VERY HOT YOU WILL GET PAID BACK IN THE NEXT WORLD WITH A LOT OF HELL. ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD WILL NOT SAVE YOU. (OR HONER) DO YOURSELF A FAVOR SHUT DOWN THE SITE. YOU WILL NEVER WIN. YOU HAVE NO PROOF. AND IF YOU DO BRING IT OUT. AND DON'T GIVE ME TROUBLED GIRL TO TESTIFY. PLEASE EVEN JACKSON WOULD DO THAT. BRING SOME PHOTOS VIDEOS, SOMETHING CONCRETE. G-D WILL PAY YOU BACK WITH A LOT OF GEHENIOM. SAVE YOUESELF FORM EMBARSMENT NOW WHILE YOU ARE AHEAD."
About 70% of the reaction I've received has been on that level.
I was warned to expect a hostile reaction if I showed my face. I was told that many people wanted a piece of me, though this mood seemed to change this past week and some people, I was told, regarded my work on Aron Tendler as heroic.
I dressed in my usual black undertaker suit and rust-colored sweater that was once black. I wanted to take an extra clonazepam but figured that was wrong to do before driving.
I parked 300 yards from the shul at 6:15 p.m. I had 30 minutes to fill before the evening prayers (Maariv). The megilla (scroll) of Esther would be read at 7 p.m. It is a commandment to hear every word.
I shook from cold and nerves. Grasping Gateway to Happiness by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, I walked up and down Chandler Blvd in front of the shul for 20 minutes until I saw a stream of people headed inside. I joined them.
There were three security guards out front. I figured that they might have pictures of me (as they did at the Stephen S. Wise guard station).
I looked at them as I walked past and blew on my cold hands. They paid me no mind.
I had these fears (and a few fantasies):
* That someone would tap me on the shoulder and say, "It would be better for you if you left."
* That I refused and got thrown out by a collection of burly Jews.
* That people would get in my face and yell at me.
* That I would form lifelong friendships.
* That I'd meet my future wife.
I walked the corridor until I found an entrance to the men's section. I found a seat in the back next to a man about 30.
Remembering the old adage that if you walk into a church, they welcome you warmly while if you walk into a shul, someone will yell at you for sitting in his seat, I ask the young man if anyone sits in this particular seat. He says no.
Though I don't exchange another word with the man, his presence comforts me.
I sit down and read Rabbi Pliskin's prescriptions for overcoming sadness.
An old man sat next to me and asked if they were going to read the book of Esther tonight. Yes.
I daven (pray) Maariv with the 200 people present. The room capacity is about 500. About a quarter of the adults are in costume and about 95% of the kids. The crowd is 80% modern (as opposed to black-hat right-wing). Most of the right-wingers daven next door at Emek Hebrew Academy and thus can avoid paying shul dues (about $1,000 a year).
A white-haired heavy-set man with a sonorous voice read the megilla. Every time Haman's name is mentioned, the crowd erupted in boos, but quickly quieted down so the reading could resume. A few people yelled out support for their favorite sports teams. We were done in 35 minutes.
I had followed along in the Hebrew for a page, then read the entire megilla in English in 10 minutes and tackled Rabbi Pliskin on anger.
I felt constricted and aching in my pew. I couldn't wait to stand and move.
Many of Aron's supporters did not come to the shul. They had their own meeting and their own megilla reading. Many are ex-board members of SZ. They have not seen the evidence the SZ board and the RCC and the OU have seen. They think Aron's been shafted by internet rumors. They support the rabbi do-or-die.
I followed the crowd downstairs to the Purim carnival, a major fundraiser for the shul. I was too cheap to spend any money. I looked up and down for a drinking fountain and finally found a small one tucked next to the taps where you wash your hands.
I stood against the wall and looked around and read Rabbi Pliskin.
"You need to move around the room," I think to myself. "You look like a sniper."
I saw few single women in their twenties and thirties.
I did not see Aron Tendler all night.
As I walked outside to leave at 8:30 p.m., a beautiful married woman in her thirties holding a baby asked me if I needed any help. I obviously looked lost. She was the first stranger to say hello to me.
Knowing that my problems were beyond anything she could help me with in a minute, I said I was fine. I was just visiting. I thanked her and left.
I'm a lousy reporter. I'm as thick as a brick. I detected nothing during my time at Shaarey Zedek. I detected no dissension, no anxiety and no gossip. Instead, the shul reminded me of Young Israel of Century City. The pews were constructed the same. The manners were the same. The people were the same (filled with self-contained concerns).
It was just the type of shul I'd like to join if I lived in the neighborhood. It was bursting with kids. (The average age of adults was about 40.) It should live and be well.
Whatever his flaws, Rav Aron Tendler has helped mold something beautiful.
I get home. A friend calls to inquire about my adventures. "Did you talk to anyone?" he asked.
"You do have Asperger's."
"I didn't want to go around approaching people," I responded.
"I thought you were writing this book about rabbis who prey and you wanted to understand the relationship of people to their rabbi in an Orthodox shul."
I do want to know those things. It just didn't feel like the time and place to approach people.
The relationship between a pulpit rabbi and his congregation is different in each shul. People who are Orthodox from birth (FFB - Frum From Birth) tend to treat their rabbis more cavalierly. They're already learned in Judaism. They don't need a rabbi as badly as someone new to the religion, so they can go their own way and pick and choose between rabbis and act as their own rabbi.
Newcomers to Judaism burn with fervor even if they can't recite kiddish (blessing over wine). They're strict. They put the rabbi on a pedastal. They may frequently consult with him and ask his advice. They view the rabbi as Hasidim view their rabbi -- as their direction connection to God.
FFBs look at a rabbi who has behaved improperly and they are able to say, 'Cut him loose. We'll get another one.' BTs (baalei teshuvot) may have a closer connection to their rabbi and are more defensive of him because they've invested so much in him.
Shaarey Zedek is largely BT and such firebrands rise to positions of leadership (even if they are not skilled in elementary Jewish rituals).
There's a lack of appropriate screening for sexual predators in the Orthodox rabbinate. It's just been assumed that anyone who wants to become an Orthodox rabbi is not a sexual predator, but it turns out (in my view) that as many Orthodox rabbis are sexual predators as secular plumbers.
If a kid is caught eating traif (non-kosher food) or breaking the Sabbath or he can't learn a page of Talmud, he'll be screened out from becoming an Orthodox rabbi. But with this sexual problem, there's no programmatic screening out.
Aron Tendler probably felt a lot of pressure to become a rabbi. Either that or a lawyer and Aron is not the smartest guy and he would not have made a great lawyer. He was raised to be a rabbi. That's all he knows.
The Valley Village shul is to the religious right of the Modern Orthodox shuls in Pico/Robertson where girls having a bat mitzva are allowed to address the congregation. SZ seems to be moving more to the right each year.
Shaarey Zedek was a friendly place ten years ago. Aron was in his prime. He would shake hands with everyone. The knock on Rabbi Sugarman was that he did not have people skills. He'd walk by people and not say hi because he was in his own world. Rav Aron would always go out and say hi until the last few years when he became inaccessible.
If, walking to shul, you say "Gut Shabbos" to fellow frum Jews in LA, about a third of them won't answer back.
Chaim Amalek writes:
Had the Jews been more welcoming, the great victories of Christianity and Islam in winning converts would have been Judaism's, and half the world today would be Jewish. But the Rabbinate feared a loss of power, so turned Judaism into a numerically minor cult. You can see it in your life. You go to church and you find yourself welcomed and given love. You go to temple, and you want to eat pig.
Early on, the rabbinate settled upon a course of action that ran counter to the commandment to be a light unto other nations. To be a rabbinical Jew is to invite the wrath of God. God hates torah jews. That's why the Holocaust happened. Too many Jews studying the Talmud instead of being holy.
These people, who assert that the words of the rabbinate were (through the mechanism of the so-called "oral" law) in fact the words of God, are an abomination before the Lord. That's why God much prefers the prayers of Christians and Muslims to the prayers of Talmud Jews.
Also, the reason so many Jewish men are bald is that so many Jewish women shave off their hair and replace it with sexy wigs composed of the hair of hot Hindu women.
Is Dolly still throwing a birthday party for you? She was going to fly me out there, let me stay at her place, and hook me up with hot fertile young shiksas. But then you had to go and queer it all by getting into a pointless discussion of her culinary skills.
Always thinking about yourself. Maybe they will throw you a surprise party at Shaarey Tzedek.
A bush in the hand is worth two in New York. Dolly still has that itch. You are her Mandingo Warrior. Her Hebrew Hammer.
Ordinarily, when a woman is not interested in me, not only does she not write or call, she does not return my emails or calls.
Fortunately, there are still lots more women in the phone book I can call.
Luke Ford wants you to hate him. Guess what? By the end of the book you do!
Joshua D. Bloom writes 3/4/06 on Amazon.com:
I honestly was really looking forward to reading Luke Ford's book. A few months ago I stumbled upon his website and found an unusual cross between writing about porn and kink and writing about Jews; mostly about Jews and porn and Jews and kink. From the website I realized I wasn't going to always agree with Luke, but as someone who takes these subjects seriously and the interplay between the two, I was very interested in his personal story.
The beginning of XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without A Shul starts off with Luke tell about his childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and his departure from his family's Seventh Day Adventist (and then own church) devoutness to his conversion to Orthodox Judaism. Luke comes across as completely unlikable. He seems determined to make everyone hate him, but then doesn't understand why everyone does hate him. Perhaps he is looking for pity, but he comes across as the most unsympathetic character I have ever come across. He is attention seeking, misogynistic, conservative valued, hypocritical, deceitful, and prone to inappropriate behavior. It becomes apparent why no one seems to want him after reading the book: not his one-time friends, not women, not the pornography industry, not synagogues.
I did honestly buy the book excited about the notion of a Jewish rebel who challenged the mainstream and tried to be a good Jew while miring in the banality of porn and kink. I have truly never been more disappointed with a book than this. I was left not liking Luke Ford, not feeling sorry or pity for him, but rather actually despising him and thinking that he was a pathetic attention driven individual. Worst off, he comes across as a lousy reporter and an incredibly bad writer. His book is hard to follow. The array of people who hate him or who are his enemies blur after a while and they become indistinguishable.
The writing degenerates as the reader gets further in. There is no redemption moment at the end of the book. Luke comes across as no better a person and no better of a Jew than he did a decade earlier in the book.
I believe that this is probably the worst book I have ever read. My recommendation would be to avoid this book. Do not buy it; do not read it.
L.A. Times' Manilow misses Mathis moment
The writer describes Manilow's appearance when first arriving on the charts in 1974 as "lanky and almost girlish with his doe eyes and blond tresses."
Then a real tease: Manilow praises Liberace and the writer posits: "Manilow questioning the cultural heft of Liberace might invite thoughts of how much in common they share."
The writer then throws in another hint with a reference to outed American Idol star Clay Aiken: ”How far off could Clay Aiken be from Manilow's musical core?”
Then we get into the backstory of little Barry Pincus. And here, the article goes haywire, jumping from his youth to ad jingle career to his first solo album-- skipping his most creative period, and the time when music aficionados first heard of him—his long and historic stint as Bette Midler’s musical director, arranger, producer-- and onstage pianist, the man who led the band when Bette played gay joints like New York City’s now infamous Continental Baths.
No mention of the Baths. No mention of Bette (even though Manilow recently troubled the charts when he produced her 2003 Rosemary Clooney and 2005 Peggy Lee tribute albums).
There’s even a history sidebar accompanying the article that washes away this part of Barry’s past, which has been airbrushed and mainstreamed, and in lines like the one describing the 1974 Barry Manilow as a ”a Shaun Cassidy look-alike behind a baby grand," deliberately twisted.
Barry Manilow did not emerge unknown as a jingle writer-turned pop star. He was Bette Midler’s boy. He shared the stage in a sell-out Carnegie Hall performance in 1972. He co-produced and arranged the breakthrough Grammy-winning The Divine Miss M. After lots of publicity with Midler, he got a deal on Bell Records (later Clive Davis’ Arista) along with former Midler Harlette Melissa Manchester. People knew who he was. This was the disco era.
In the sad fallout of Brokeback Mountain’s Oscar loss, this surprise focus on Barry Manilow seemed one small way to right some wrongs. At his age, with his obvious financial security, and with newlywed-to-a-man Elton John tinkling his ivories a few blocks away in Vegas, it seemed the perfect moment for Barry to nonchalantly acknowledge his sexuality, as Johnny Mathis did in the New York Times more than a decade ago.
Instead, it was a nudge-nudge, wink-wink set-up with no payoff.
I'm A Drama Queen
I'm always swinging between agony and ecstasy looking for inspiration for my writing. Unless I'm medically sedated or in an unusually calm place, I'm exhausting to be around.
JasonSechrest: Just out of curiosity, do you celebrate Purim?
JasonSechrest: Is it your experience that a lot of people don't?
Luke:: I observe the Sabbath and all jewish holidays and required rituals
Luke:: I live in an Orthodox community and everybody does.
Luke:: Reform temples sometimes celebrate it on the wrong day so they will get a bigger crowd
JasonSechrest: What's the right day?
Luke:: Most of my friends are Orthodox = fully observant of Jewish law
Luke:: Purim starts after sundown tonight
JasonSechrest: wow that's awesome
JasonSechrest: such devotion
JasonSechrest: so it's appropriate to say Happy Purim to you then
Luke:: how are you? you seem happy
JasonSechrest: I am! Still just fascinated by all of this. lol... Fascinated that I would run across a portion in my studies today that is about Purim, then look it up and find out it starts tonight. So crazy. No coincidences.
JasonSechrest: It's like if you're open to the energy, it just comes to you.
JasonSechrest: How are you?
Luke:: I'm good. I'm on a roll.
JasonSechrest: i am an extremist too
JasonSechrest: supposedly the energy is out there during Qoph to correct that. Tap into the duality of the two fish of Pisces, get back to sleep/back of the head = "instinct" ...that sorta thing. I'm workin on it. But that's def what this month is all about. Finding a balance in the extremes.
Jason Sechrest On The Kabbalah Of Desire
There are two types of desire. One will take you on the path to The Light and one will put you on the path of darkness. There is Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, wanting power, money, ego, materialism, etc. and there is Desire to Receive for the Sake of Sharing, which is wanting to become a better person or create a better life so that you can affect society as a whole in a more positive way, realizing that we are not separate entities but actually One. Sometimes changing paths of desire has nothing to do with your actions, but just shifting your consciousness as to why you're performing them.
When we are connected to the Light, there is no fear, no anxiety, no insecurity about the future.
We react constantly in our lives, when someone cuts us off in traffic, instead of combating it with positive energy and loving that person, we throw more negative energy out into the world and flip them off. But we're all One. You're only flipping off yourself. You receive only what you give.
Will the 'Where, What, When' Publish articles about Sexual Abuse in the Baltimore Community?
From: A member of the Baltimore Othodox Community
There's a well known monthly newspaper in the observant community in Baltimore called Where, What, When. Over the last eight years that I have lived in Pikesville, I have never seen one article in the magazine that talks about sexual abuse.
The paper tends to camouflage the realities of the community by making everything sound so pristine. I guess I shouldn't be shocked since one of the regular writers is Rebbetzin Chana Weinberg (the mother of Rabbi Matis Weinberg). It's unbelievable that her column is called "Shalom Bayis." She's the "Dear Abby" of the observant community of Baltimore.
Dr. Aviva Weisbord (sister of Rabbi Matis Weinberg) also writes regularly. She's a licensed psychologist in the state of Maryland. I learned about her ethical practices when helping survivors in the case of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau.
Another regular writer is Rabbi Hillel Tendler (brother of Mordecai and Aron Tendler).
It makes one wonder why the Where, What, When doesn't feel the need to talk about the fact that one out of ever four women and one out of ever six men in Baltimore are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It makes you wonder why they don't want to educate the community on the issues and ramifications, and why they don't want to help the community heal?
Google Runs That Space
Ken writes: "Luke, how can you allow Google to place ads for Jews for Jesus and Messianic Jews? My skin just crawls everytime I see that. Is there any way to block that or does Google basically "own" the space. This is driving me nuts. I was trying to practice my Hebrew and went to itunes for a podcast. I entered "Hebrew" and at least a third of them are bullshit sites that disguise what they are. You have to dig super deep, under a ton of Hebrew and references to "Hashem" and gee-dash-dee to start seeing Romans and Matthews alongside Talmudic citations."
Yoav Botach Sued For Palimony
Troy Anderson writes 2/13/06 for the LA Daily News:
Makeup artist to the stars Judith Boteach thought she had found true love when it took four people to carry all of the flowers and jewelry lavished on her the day multimillionaire Yoav Botach proposed marriage.
Boteach said she learned a month after their Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony that her groom hadn't obtained a California marriage license, but she believed in their future together.
"I loved him," said Boteach. "I trusted him and he kept telling me (the wedding license) wasn't necessary."
But their relationship ended unhappily, with Boteach kicked out of the couple's Beverlywood home in her nightgown. And she is now embroiled in a court battle for half of Botach's fortune - millions of dollars she claims he promised her should the couple ever split.
"This is the largest palimony case in American history," said Robert W. Hirsh, Boteach's attorney, who explained that his client cannot fight for alimony since she and Botach were never legally married.
According to court records, Botach co-owns 144 commercial and other properties in Los Angeles, as well as Botach Tactical, a nationwide distributor of police and military equipment. But Boteach is seeking access to financial documents to determine the defendant's assets. "We would not be surprised if his net worth is $700 million," Hirsh said.
Sherman also says that it was made clear to Boteach that the couple's 1997 ceremony did not constitute a legal marriage because they did not obtain blood tests or a marriage license. "Judy had been married twice before and was well aware of the requirements of California law in that regard," Sherman wrote. "Prior to the wedding ceremony, Yoav had a private conversation with the rabbi ... and Judy.
"In that conversation, Yoav announced that he wanted to make it clear that their 'marriage' was not legal in California and that they were going to get 'married' in a religious ceremony only. Judy consented and the religious ceremony then took place.
"After the religious ceremony, Yoav and Judy resided together until approximately August 2002 when they separated."
Hirsh - a Beverly Hills attorney whose wife's family was helped by Boteach's family upon coming to the U.S. from Israel more than 25 years ago - said he filed the suit to help Boteach and other women.
While their families had long known each other, Boteach said it wasn't until the mid-1990s that she met her future husband when he began attending her synagogue. They hit it off and Botach proposed, Hirsh said, but when he asked her to sign a prenuptial agreement, she refused and instead traveled to Australia to visit her sister. The two eventually reconciled and Hirsh said Botach relented on his request for a prenuptial agreement. The two set a wedding date, and Hirsh said Botach informed his bride that he had taken care of all the arrangements. An Orthodox Jewish ceremony was held Dec. 25, 1997, Hirsh said.
"She showed up to get married, thinking everything was proper," Hirsh said. "Then a month later, the subject of a license came up and he told her, 'We don't need a license. We have an agreement and there is no license' - that she would get half if they ever separated."
Bill Buckley's Ambivalence About The Jews
I exchanged email with Jewish Press Editor Jason Maoz, who replies to me:
[Joseph] Sobran and I actually exchanged several e-mails about three years ago, and he came across as funny, sensible, and downright nice. It's almost like a different person writes his columns. The human mind is a wonderment. I actually caught your stuff on Sobran a few days ago because I'd been too busy to read your Jeffrey Hart interview when it first appeared.
Not enough has been written about what I would describe as William Buckley's seemingly ambivalent attitude toward Jews. Yes, he basically read the Birchers out of mainstream conservatism in the 60's, but he did it almost reluctantly and after a great deal of prodding by the ADL. (Besides, the Birch Society was never an anti-Semitic or anti-Israel organization per se, although it did draw its share of anti-Semitic members. But Buckley was more concerned about the Birchers' overall kooky, paranoid image and how that image affected the media's portrayal of all conservatives.)
His reaction to Sobran was also frustratingly slow and muted, as was his response to Pat Buchanan. Even Buckley's celebrated statement in 1991 about Buchanan's anti-Semitism (which originated as a special issue of NR and evolved into a slim book a few months later) was not nearly the unambiguous condemnation some made it out to be. In fact, the following year NR endorsed(!) Pat Buchanan in the Republican primaries over Bush the First -- and Buckley was still very much running the show at the time. Buckley's statements on Israel over the decades have been inconsistent at best, and it's notable that NR has taken a much more staunchly pro-Israel line in the years since Buckley relinquished his day-to-day control.
I Was Always Unpopular
I entered school in second grade and quickly alienated myself from most of my classmates with my cutting tongue.
Thirty one years later, nothing has changed.
Being among the least popular members of the group has left me with a strong identification with the underdog, a keen awareness of how quickly unpopular people can be dispatched from things and places dear to them, and a deep skepticism of those in power. These are the motives that power my writing.
Toni Morrison - The Most Overrated Writer In America Today
That she got a Nobel Prize in literature shows how pointless such awards are. Her work is banal. I've read her novels Beloved and Love.
A friend responds:
Man, you are just going to slam every writer I've ever loved.
In Sula (I think that's the book), a character called Sixpack is explaining his love for a woman: "She gather me, man. She gather my pieces and give them back to me in the right order. Don't you know it's a wonderful thing when you've got a woman who's a friend of your mind."
I committed it to memory a thousand years ago. How can you not love those lines?
How Did He Get His Shiksa To Do That?
I went to shul the other day and my friend had his shiksa there. How did he get her to do that? I haven't been able (for about eight years) to get any shiksa I've dated into shul. I can get them to do a lot of other things but not that and that's the one that counts the most.
Friday Night Live sported not just one but two ululating beauties on the bima.
Eli Attie, writer for the TV show The West Wing, spoke. He wore blue jeans and a yarmulke perched precariously on his head. It looked like it had been a long time since he'd been in a shul and he didn't seem particularly comfortable. He turned out to be a terrific speaker and a gracious person.
'I shall care not a whit for whatever ill befalls Luke Ford ever again'
Allan writes Cathy: "Not after seeing those photos. Any woe or bad luck is more than made up for by the wanton flesh contained in those pics. All I can add is that when he does get out of the house, he knows where to go."
Anonymous writes: "Seeing that beautiful woman lolling around in Luke Ford's graduate-student literary debris pile brought back many wonderful memories from my studious youth, but, to quote Bill Paxton's all-time classic movie line, "Game over, man!"
Joseph Sobran - In The Warmest Of Hearts, There Is Often A Cold Spot For The Jew
I was having lunch February 26 with National Review writer Matt Scully (author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy), who's friendly with and admiring of columnist Joseph Sobran. Sculley described what a Shakespeare scholar Sobran is. That Joseph is a wonderful and warm man.
"In the warmest of hearts," I recited to my friend Cathy Seipp, "there is often a cold spot for the Jew."
I argued that Sobran hated Jews. Matt argued back. He said Sobran's response to Bill Buckley (in Bill's book In Search of Anti-Semitism) showed Joseph to be a good and reasonable man.
February 28, I asked Jeffrey Hart, the author of a new book on National Review, about Sobran. Dr. Hart said Joseph had Jewish friends. Dr. Hart was unaware of Sobran's participation in a conference denying the Holocaust. Hart was unaware of any anti-Semites ever being in influential positions at National Review.
On February 29, I emailed Sobran to discuss these matters. He did not answer my email.
Jason Maoz writes in The Jewish Press:
Obsessed With Jews
He’s the columnist who complained that "Hitler died in 1945, but anti-Hitler hysteria is still going strong"; cautioned against "the excessive moral prestige Jews have in the media and the public square"; whined about "Jews deciding the standards, setting the criteria of humanity"; and observed, in chilling if artful prose, that because Jews "set themselves up as the arbiter, there is, if you’ll pardon the expression, a certain ‘kill the umpire’ impulse."
He’s the writer who decried, in a column following the release of "Schindler’s List," what he called "all this Holocaust-harping" and characterized Nazi genocide as basically a German overreaction to the crimes of "Jewish-led communist movements." And he’s the commentator who warned that "History is replete with the lesson that a country in which the Jews get the upper hand is in danger. Such was the experience of Europe during Jewish-led Communist revolutions in Russia, Hungary, Romania and Germany."
No, he’s not Patrick Buchanan, he’s Buchanan’s ideological soulmate, Joseph Sobran, a talented writer who in the mid-1980’s descended into the fever swamp of anti-Semitic polemics and hasn’t emerged since.
Though Sobran’s work is now mainly relegated to the Internet, he’s had a remarkably mainstream career, not only as a syndicated columnist but as a regular commentator, from 1979 to 1991, on the CBS radio network’s "Spectrum" series and as a senior editor at National Review for nearly two decades.
Sobran’s relentlessly negative focus on Jews and Israel led former National Review editor William F. Buckley, in the magazine’s July 4, 1986 issue, to publish an editorial distancing himself from his employee and acknowledging that "any person" who’d read a recent series of Sobran’s newspaper columns "might reasonably conclude that those columns were written by a writer inclined to anti-Semitism." (Sobran inexplicably managed to retain his title of senior editor at the magazine until 1990 when Buckley finally asked him to step down.)
Sobran was invited to address the Holocaust revisionist Institute for Historical Review in 2002. Among the lowlights of his speech: "Why on earth is it ‘anti-Jewish’ to conclude from the evidence that the standard numbers of Jews murdered are inaccurate, or that the Hitler regime, bad as it was in many ways, was not, in fact, intent on racial extermination?…. I lack the scholarly competence to be [a Holocaust denier]. I don’t read German, so I can’t assess the documentary evidence; I don’t know chemistry, so I can’t discuss Zyklon-B…. Of course, those who affirm the Holocaust need know nothing about the German language, chemistry, and other pertinent subjects; they need only repeat what they have been told by the authorities … the Holocaust has become a device for exempting Jews from normal human obligations. It has authorized them to bully and blackmail, to extort and oppress…."
Sobran becomes annoyed no end whenever anyone dares mention the historical role of the Catholic Church in the persecution of Jews. His reaction to Pope John Paul II’s conciliatory remarks on his visit to Israel in 2000 was to ask, "Where is the corresponding statement of Jewish leaders repudiating and repenting the Jewish role in a cause whose crimes dwarf those of Hitler? Did major Jewish spokesmen or organizations condemn Communism as it devoured tens of millions of Christians?... Even today, how many Jews condemn Franklin Roosevelt for his fondness for Stalin, as they would condemn him if he had shown the slightest partiality toward Hitler?"
It should go without saying that a fantasist of Sobran’s ilk views Israel in much the same negative light as he does "major Jewish spokesmen" and what he’s termed the "anti-Christian" Jewish establishment.
"Israel," Sobran has written, "exemplifies most of the ‘anti-Semitic stereotypes’ of yore: it is exclusivist, belligerent, parasitic, amoral and underhanded. It feels no obligation to non-Jews, even those who have befriended it."
And, in a column in which he condemned the "relentless pro-Israel propaganda" of non-Jews like Jeane Kirkpatrick and George Will, Sobran complained that it was due to the enormous power of the American Jewish establishment that "Israel’s journalistic partisans include so many gentiles – lapsed goyim, you might say."
Should it come as a surprise that Pat Buchanan has called Sobran "perhaps the finest columnist of our generation"?
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thoughts On Jewish Identity From A Community College Stripper
My friend Bill talks to me about our shared Judaism.
Sophia is taken aback. "I'm Jewish but I'm not proud of it," she says.
Luke: "How do you feel about being Jewish?"
Sophia: "I feel like we are the most persecuted people on the planet."
Bill: "You are not proud to be persecuted."
Sophia: "No, I'm not."
Bill: "Why not?"
Sophia: "Because I am related to a bunch of victims."
Luke: "Have you been persecuted?"
Sophia: "I haven't. But my family, a lot of them died in Germany. So we don't talk about it. The Judaism is underground."
Luke: "Who died?"
Sophia: "Some uncles. My grandma's family, a lot of them were left over there.
"He wiped out almost all the Ashkenazi Jews."
Luke: "How did that affect you?"
Sophia: "It makes me who I am. It's not something we're proud of."
Sophia says she frightens away the college guys with her knowledge. One of the majors she wants to pursue is philosophy. She carries around a book published in 1854 - Lectures on the True, Beautiful and Good by M. V. Cousin.
Prisoner of X: 20 Years in the Hole at Hustler Magazine By Allan MacDonell
Allan composed a letter on behalf of Hustler cartoonist (Chester the Molester) Dwaine Tinsley who was convicted of sexually molesting his daughter. "What kind of deluded miscreant requests a character reference from the editor of Hustler magazine after having lost a sex crimes case?"
MacDonell assured nightstalker Richard Ramirez "that Hustler would be the only outlet on the planet that would present his story free of moralizing."
Regarding Hustler Feedback, Allan writes: "Aside from giving readers an opportunity to comment upon their favorite nude models, the "Feedback" forum also hosted an exchange of ideas among the Hustler community, something akin to the reasoned discourse essential to an informed democracy."
Don't hate me for liking "Big Love"
Fischel Teitelbaum writes: "Aw, such cute pics of Cathy on the blog of late. Like a puppy. All to prove she's not swarthy. As if there were anything wrong with being a swarthy Jew. Or is there?"
Disney's shaggy cast
...[W]e do have to hand it to Disney for providing our kids with such positive role models as stars Tim Allen and Robert Downey, Jr.
Tim Allen is a convicted drunk driver who did a stretch in prison for dealing cocaine, and of course Downey, Jr. served his prison time for various drug-related parole violations.
One per Disney film is special enough, but to have two rehabilitated felons and ex-cons making the kids laugh gives hopes to inmates everywhere.
Women shouldn’t feel left out, either. Shaggy Dog co-stars Kristin Davis and Annabelle Gurwitch prove that a little soft-core porn in a girl’s past doesn’t mean she can’t be right up there with Ariel, Belle and Mary Poppins.
Waiting For The Phone Ring
I spend much of my time sitting before my computer feeling empty and desperately blogging to try to add meaning to my life, and when the phone rings, I get excited that I'm going to be rescued from my emptiness, but it's only the LA Public Library letting me know that more books have arrived.
"This weather is a symbol of god's unhappiness with your actions," says a Jewish friend who's finally landed a date with a Jewish girl. "We can't all get hot shiksas like you."
Holly - Facilitator Of Destruction?
Kaiser Souze writes to my ex:
Holly, I'm sure you are a sweet gal and all, in some ways I think that makes you all the more objectionable. Your sweet veneer and your (parents) winding driveway into the hills hang like a sheen of normalcy over what you actually do.
There can be no doubt that you are a facilitator of destruction in the lives of those you photograph. (Just ask Simp/Luke.) An honorable person of your "position" and intelligence should be forced by conscience alone to refrain from taking advantage of the desperation/stupidity of others.
When you frolic in the fountains of Rome (funded by the profits of your exploitation) do you ever wonder if your "subjects" dreamed of visiting the very spot in which you stand? Or perhaps you do not give them enough credit as human beings and feel a natural separation between your place and theirs.
Like I said, I'm sure you are great to talk to in person and all, but your "act" makes me uncomfortable. The same kind of "uncomfortable" I experience when I imagine living in my parents house in my late 20's.
Global Deception: The UN's Stealth Assault on America's Freedom
Joseph A. Klein's new book is published by World Ahead "Do you have liberals under your bed?" Publishing -- a new conservative imprint based in Los Angeles.
Tuesday morning, March 7, I find free parking 200 yards from the Luxe Hotel at Sunset Blvd and risk my life balancing perilously on the concrete gutter in face of onrushing traffic as I speed to the Center Breakfast Club. It's 8 am.
I see the speaker and a candidate for the 42nd Congressional district and two other people, but I've beat Michael Lynch and Stephanie from David Horowitz's CSPC (Center for the Study of Popular Culture).
For ninth grade, I went to a conservative Christian school where I heard all sorts of kookie ideas about how the United Nations was leading to one-world government, which was a very bad thing.
I'm only showing up today because my psychiatrist says I need to leave the house more often.
I eat three muffins and a plate of fresh fruit while downing four cups of mint tea.
Michael shows up. His voice has dropped four octaves. He's recovering from a bad cold.
He gives me my name tag. I feel like I belong.
I'm asked if it is better to be aggressive or relaxed when trying to meet girls at Temple Sinai's Friday Night Live. I ponder the question. Some people should be more aggressive and some people should be more relaxed. Overall, a man should aggressively seek out a woman in a relaxed manner. If she's interested in him, she will let him know by asking him questions about his life, by looking at him, and by touching him. If, instead of doing any of those things, she answers her cell phone or looks wildly around the room for relief, or says, 'I've got to go,' she's not interested.
Looking around the room, I conclude once again that Jews tend to eat more aggressively and talk more aggressively than Gentiles.
At 8:30 a.m., Janet Levy gives an introduction. "We're beginning to see evidence of a UN global tax, ostensibly to combat AIDS in Africa."
It seems that every other cause these days is to fight AIDS in Africa. I think I have some simple solutions. Don't have unprotected man-on-man anal sex. Don't have sex with people who do. Embrace monogamy rather than hookers. Don't share needles.
Hmm, I'm going to put all these things on my to-do list.
A Harvard-trained lawyer, Klein stands up and condemns the UN for its "insidious agenda -- elimination of our Second Amendment right (to bear arms)."
He condemns taxation without representation. "That's why we fought the American Revolution. The stamp tax, etc."
He talks about a possible tax on emails by the UN.
"The UN has pursued an aggressive socialist agenda."
Klein notes that the majority of members of the UN are authoritarian and anti-West and anti-Israel.
"The tipping point which led me to write Global Deception was 9/11. I was a block away when it happened. I saw people jump to their deaths."
"To this day, the UN can't define terrorism."
"UNESCO gave a human rights award to Hugo Chavez of Venezuela."
China, Iran, Cuba and company have sat on the UN's human rights commission.
If they can sit on that commission, then why not Luke Ford? Why can't I sit in judgment? I am about as moral as Cuba but nowhere near Iran's stature.
I like the feel of sitting with the UN human rights commission. That is one shul that won't throw me out no matter how depraved I act.
My friend Jeffrey arrives 30-minutes late. Once again, he wears blue jeans. I'm in my black undertaker suit that Penthouse Pets Jamie Lynn and Cassia Riley took such a shine too (under the duress of the LA Weekly camera, the article comes out April 20).
"Nice of you to join us," I scrawl on a napkin.
"Traffic," he writes back. "Where's your girl?"
"She's not a morning person," I say.
Only 16% of the seats on the Human Rights Council are available to Western democracies and 55% to authoritarian regimes, says Klein.
Israel pays almost twice its proportionate obligation only to be unduly bashed.
"The UN couldn't get a majority vote to condemn Sudan two years ago."
"They produced a report on Guantonomo Bay without ever visiting it. They said that force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike was a violation of individual autonomy."
Joseph A. Klein looks and sounds like Robert J. Avrech (though not quite as dashing and James Bond-like).
"Some Arab countries want a UN ban on defamation of religion."
Uh oh. I'd be in big trouble.
This will be a resolution that will go before either the Human Rights Council or the General Assembly.
That'd be the end of my writing career. Might as well hang up my keyboard and return to secretarial work.
"The UN should return to the original intent of its founding documents."
"Just because one opposes the UN does not make one a unilateralist. There are alternatives. The UN needs competition."
He asks the crowd of 30 persons if the US should withdraw from the UN. Eighty percent agree.
My mind is distracted by thoughts about a woman so I can't truly bear down on this weighty matter.
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."
Jeffrey buys the book Global Deception. "I don't just write words," he says. "I put down my money."
"The pen is mightier than your puny wallet," I respond.
"Depends on what you pen," he replies.
I ask Joe Klein if he's changed his position on Iraq (he supported the invasion). He says it is unchanged, but that if we had known then what we know now, it probably would've been better not to have invaded. He says we needed a more solid basis in our national security rather than just creating democracy.
"On balance, history will probably say it's a good thing."
There's a lengthy convoluted question wondering if the UN will create a one-world government governed by sharia (Islamic law).
"The ACLU supports posting the Earth Charter's Ten Commandments in public schools but not the real Ten Commandments."
I can't keep my mind off the woman. We broke up Monday (for the second or third time, depending on how you calculate things).
I determine to use the experience to make myself a better man, a better lover, and a better vessel for God.
I won't exploit our intimacy to churn out copy. It would be a sacrilege to mine our hearbreak to pump up my blog. To divulge secrets would be to act the cad.
I have but followed nature. I am nature's faithful hound. Why then this horror that I cannot shake off? Did I deprive her of her flower? Sensitive gentlewomen of the jury, I was not even her first lover.
Some people like to get their photos taken with Joseph A. Klein and other people like to get their photos taken with Penthouse Pets. I guess people in the first group are morally superior to those of us in the second group. One thing, however, is certain in this confusing world of our's -- Jamie Lynn is better looking than Joseph A. Klein.
Sensitive gentlewomen of the jury, why am I still single?
Were You Molested By Aron Tendler?
There is a high profile lawyer looking into taking the case against Aron (and YULA for enabling him). If you believe you were victimized by Aron, and want to talk to this lawyer, please email me and I will forward your email to the lawyer.
An Open Letter To Rob Eshman
Who came up with the side-splitting jokes on the cover of your Purim issue? Or is such genius only possible through collective effort?
We paid Jon Stewart to come up with them. I think it was worth all $18 million.
Most are by Journal staff, and a couple by a very funny guy named Jake Novak, a New York-based comedy writer. Carvin Knowles, cover artist extraordinaire, did the layout.
Glad you enjoyed them, unless you’re being facetious, in which case we’ll refund the purchase price.
I've Gone Stark Raving Mad
I'm so far beyond the pale of the sane I've exchanged a whole bunch of bantering (on my end) emails with an attorney accusing me of libeling his client.
My side of things:
If I don't get sleep tonight, I'm going to go out and libel someone else. Just kidding, don't bring that up at our trial.
I may not have my honor, but at least I have my humor.
Damn, you are quite the muse. Never had this much fun in such a situation (not making light of your client's situation, just my own).
Aron Tendler Aftermath
A female student of Aron's from YULA writes about Amy Klein's Jewish Journal article linked above:
[Shaarey Zedek] released the letter to Amy. It would explain the weak reporting and how she got the letter so fast. It would also explain the message that was left to me on Monday that I would be reading the result.
...It’s been confirmed by an insider that there were NO NEW allegations as stated in the [Shaarey Zedek] letter, they were just covering their ass because they should have removed him six weeks ago, and that the letter WAS sent to Amy by the shul for release, which is sickening as she listened to our story for four weeks pretending to care, what a snake. Also, there was no investigation back in 1987...an outrageous lie. Shalom moved Aron and that was that.
Rob Eshman responds: "Luke: We stand by our reporting, and we will continue to follow the story."
The Jewish Survivors blog:
The following people should be investigated for NOT reporting suspicion of child abuse...
This won’t be the 1st time Wiesenthal will pay to shut a story down. A few years ago they paid off Dr. Gerald Margolis’s secretary over $100,000. The reason: sexual abuse by her superior…who was shipped off to the ADL.
I've been given stories about Yoav Botach (the father of rabbi Shmuli Botach author of "Kosher Sex") and Rabbi Chagai Batzri, son of the head Dayan Judge in Rabbinic Court of Jerusalem, and Rabbi Ben-Zaken of Beverly Hills. I need to fact-check them with people who know. Email Luke. Anonymity given upon request.
Is 'Frum' A Derivative Of 'Frumpy'?
A Modern Orthodox journalist writes: "Now, be honest -- wouldn't [Cassia Riley] look so much better in a helmet-shaped wig and grungy ankle-length blue-jean skirt that looks like it hasn't seen the inside of a washing machine since around the time Monica first inhaled Bill's cigar? Luke, why do so many Orthodox young women look so unkempt and, well, smelly? I attended an Orthodox Feminist convention a few years ago and a good number of the attendees were almost defiantly ugly. And many of those who weren't pug ugly were about the most unfeminine creatures ever created (presumably) without penises. Is the word "frum" a derivative of "frumpy"?"
Women in business suits are my thing.
"Well, women in business suits are about the only women who still wear pantyhose, and there's nothing that makes a pair of legs look both elegant and feminine at the same time. It's amazing how quickly these trends take hold -- as recently as, say, 2000, nylons were still considered an essential in every woman's wardrobe. Almost overnight it changed. I've been at weddings where the girls were almost all bare-legged, and some even wore flip-flops. Nothing says "do me" like pasty-white legs and rubber shoes hinting of toe cheese and flaking heels."
Chaim Amalek writes:
ON THE ONE HAND: If you go into Borrough Park in Brooklyn, you see tons of young jewish mothers who are fit, trim, and pushing kids around in baby carriages. ON THE OTHER HAND: Feminists, be they Jewish or other, are almost by definition harridans who have been rejected by the society of men "Orthodox Feminist" sounds vomitous Fat, blubbery, rubbery, Craigslist and JDate rejects. "DO I CHALLENGE YOU? DO YOU FEAR ME, JEWISH MAN?"
I really like this black chick. By which I mean that I really like staring at her face and what not.
> She's sweet, smart, good grammar, and in love with another man.
Yeah, she should breed. Tell her I urge her to breed.
Well, if she told you that, why would you think you are going to be getting any of that?
> Triumph of hope. David Ben Gurion said that if you don't believe in miracles, you're not being realistic.
Stick to crank skanks. Any comments from these chicks on your estate? These are really hot pics. Taps into primordeal male fantasy of super hot babe sitting on the floor of a regular joe's hovel.
Pete writes: "Luke, The girls dressed up your hovel very nicely. Cassia is mind-boggling and I find the profane side of her charming. One thing is puzzling me...like Cougar in Top Gun, I've lost the edge. Of all of the photos, my favorite is this one. You're on fire, young man."
Shaarey Zedek Update
The job of assistant Rabbi was offered to Rabbi Benzion Klasko, a very popular and youthful Rabbi who was very involved in bringing Baalei Teshuva to the shul and would have been a natural choice to groom into the role of rabbi. He opted to move out of Los Angeles for reasons unrelated, but it would seem that the offer did not make him stay.
The feeling now is they need a rabbi quickly and the fight between the moderns and the right-wing must be ended because it will delay the search. The moderns are fearful that if the conflict is not resolved now, a rabbi who is not popular will be hired and it will mushroom into a bigger problem.
If Laura Winner can abandon the Jews, why not Luke Ford?
Chaim Amalek writes: "You are a herpetic lesion on the penile shaft of the Jewish people. A virus who spreads his disease via the internet. Ruiner of reputations."
That Was Embarrassing
Photographer Kevin Scanlon was just over from the LA Weekly (April 20 issue will profile the 100 most interesting people in Los Angeles). An hour later, I was walking down Pico Blvd with three Talmudic scholars (pretty, female, young) wearing little more than their erudition. Traffic stopped, people honked. People came out of their stores and stared. Luckily I only ran into one person I know.
I got outrageous pics for the photographer of me in a black suit, white shirt, tie, yarmulke, pouring over sacred text while these three girls paw at me, pull my tie, kipa etc...sit on my lap. But my concentration on my studies did not waver as I once again turned my back on worldly pleasures.
It is times like this morning that make me realize that this world is not the true world.
What Happened To The Los Angeles Times?
It used to be that I could surf over to LATimes.com and know that I could scroll down the entire front page and not find one interesting story. Now the page is perilous, filled with time-sucking and compelling stories such as this one: "A Brutal Scene Caught on Tape. A 21-minute recording of a sexual assault shattered lives in O.C."
Luke For Guest Editor
From the Luke Ford Fan Blog:
So, I'm reading Cathy Seipp's blog in horrified fascination. I'm referring, of course, to guess blogger Lewis Fein. I've long thought of Luke Ford as a talented writer undone by a lack of self-control about all things sexual, but Mr Fein takes the "I really need an editor" thing to a totally new level. His post about the DMV was absolutely brilliant -- one of the funniest things I've ever read. But his obsession with big black dick is very disturbing.
It might be a good idea if Lewis submits his future posts to Luke for editing before publication on Cathy's blog. This would help Lewis because I'm certain that a homophobe like Luke, for whom big black dick is the scariest thing in the universe, would remove all the icky references to David Ehrenstein's amazing wang. I think it would also help Luke because he would learn editing skills that could be applied to his own inappropriately sexual writings. Just a thought.