Monday, May 22, 2006
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Changing My Feminist Mind, One Man at a Time
J. Courtney Sullivan writes in the NYT:
BUT when I graduated and moved to Manhattan three years ago, none of the men I met were up for my proposed life of egalitarian bliss. In fact, most of the young people around me—male and female—seemed to think of feminism as a quaint and unnecessary practice from days of old, not unlike churning butter. I remembered then what one wise women's studies professor at Smith had said about feminism: "None of this means anything unless we can get men on board. That's not achieved by marches or movements, but by one individual changing another individual for the better."
I wanted to get men on board — or one man, at the very least — but I seemed unable to find an audience for a simple discussion beginning with the words "I am a feminist and here's why."
Champion of nudity found dead in jail cell
From SFGate.com, May 21, 2006:
'Naked Guy' won fame in Berkeley, challenged values
The Naked Guy, whose au naturel jaunts through Berkeley spurred a nudity revolt in the early 1990s and earned him national fame, died in a San Jose jail cell, apparently of suicide.
While many chuckled at the exploits of Andrew Martinez, friends and family of the 33-year-old talked Saturday about a troubled man who struggled for years with mental illness.
"He was a person with tremendous gifts and charisma who could have been a great asset to our society, but instead I feel like society -- me included -- failed him," said Martinez's best friend, Bryan Schwartz, a civil rights lawyer in Washington, D.C. "It's such a waste."
Public nudity isn't just a gag and a healthy activity, it's an assault of Western civilization (or any form of civilization), writes Dennis Prager:
Secular Europe is far readier to feature nudity on public television than is Judeo-Christian America, and it is far more accepting of people walking around nude in public at beaches. The Judeo-Christian problem with public nudity among consenting adults at a beach or even at a nudist colony is not that these people are necessarily acting immorally (...); it is that they are acting like animals. Clothing gives human beings dignity; it elevates them above the animals whose genitals are always uncovered (...)
AIDS Walk New York
"It's the only venereal disease for which New Yorkers are willing to walk," says Amalek. "Why is there no walk to fight herpes or venereal warts? After all, unlike HIV, these diseases are very easy to catch.
"Luke, you interface with a community that is fairly saturated with these viruses. I'll bet that if they got behind finding a cure or a vaccine to prevent the spread of herpes, their hundreds of thousands of fans would quickly join the cause and the politicians would follow.
"So as one door closes (FNL), another opens for you."
'I’m there for everybody' — Dr. Aviva Weisbord
Baltimore Jewish Times Editor Phil Jacobs writes in the May 19, 2006 issue:
Dr. Aviva Weisbord has been there for everybody for almost 25 years, working with her patients in her psychology practice.
The truth is, Dr. Weisbord, the wife of Ner Israel Rabbinical College’s Rabbi Beryl Weisbord and daughter of the late rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov S. Weinberg, and community pillar Rebbetzin Hannah Weinberg, has never not been there for this community.
But now that status is going to take a huge, perhaps more public, change.
As of June 1, Dr. Weisbord, who is known for her warm, friendly smile, will start as the new head of the Jewish Big Brother and Big Sister League (JBBL) and its Jewish Addiction Services program. JBBL is a constituent agency of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
Aviva Weisbord is a member of the human race. She's not an angel. It's impossible for her to have been there for everybody over 25 years. A single overstatement, wherever or however it occurs, has the power to destroy the credibility of a story in the mind of a reader (E.B. White).
Phil, if you feel you are possessed of the truth, simply state it, do not give it advance billing (E.B. White). "The truth is..."
One thing that Phil Jacobs does not mention is that Aviva Weisbord is the sister of Rabbi Matis Weinberg.
I'm not arguing that this should disqualify Dr. Weisbord from anything but it is certainly relevant to a story on her.
The pioneer for reporting on rabbinic sex abuse, Gary Rosenblatt, writes in The Jewish Week May 9, 2003:
Dr. Aviva Weisbord, a psychologist in Baltimore and sister of Rabbi Weinberg, said she and other members of her family are working toward establishing a two-tiered mechanism to deal with sexual abuse in the Orthodox community. Allegations would be addressed to a group of distinguished rabbis, she said, who then would appoint trained professionals to investigate and make recommendations, which the rabbinic body would then act on.
As a form of “checks and balances,” Weisbord said, “ it would be understood that if people were not satisfied with the results, they could go to the civil courts or the press.”
Weisbord acknowledged that there was “ingrained resistance” from some of the rabbis who have been approached. “They recognize the need but have been reluctant to sign on,” she noted. “It will have to be done one by one.”
Phil Jacobs is the facilitator of a support group for men who were sexually abused. It meets at Sidran Institute, founded by former Awareness Center board member Esther Giller, a successful writer for grants.
I believe that the first meeting for a Ner Israel-supported set of such support groups was at Hannah Weinberg's house, Aviva's mother.
These support groups are part of a reaction to the Samuel Juravel case, which the Baltimore Orthodox community leadership covered up years ago (when there were numerous accusations about Juravel's predatory behavior with boys).
Phil Jacobs, along with Gary Rosenblatt, were given the story of Vicki Polin’s 1989 appearance on Oprah before anybody but never published anything on it. About six months after Phil and Gary had the story, I was given it by Yori Yanover and, after ascertaining the transcript's accuracy, immediately published it.
Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau has a daughter who (along with others) accuses Eisgrau of sexual abuse:
My father said that he wanted to help me and would take me to see a psychologist if I came home with him. He took me to his friend, Dr. Aviva Weisbord, who agreed to see me as a favor to him. (Apparently he had helped her with one of her children who had been having issues.)
Dr. Weisbord should never have taken me on as a client due to her obvious conflict of interest. She allowed me to come to her house during the course of therapy and sleep over. She violated confidentiality by meeting with my parents against my wishes. She violated confidentiality by telling people that I had been a client of hers and that in her "professional" opinion my father had not abused me.
During the course of my treatment with Dr. Weisbord she and I both realized that I had been sexually abused. She kept asking me about my uncle, Goldberger, whom I had contact with as a young child. I did not remember any specific instances of him abusing me. I did not tell her about my father. She was very willing to believe that my uncle, a convicted sex offender, abused me. But I knew she would not believe me about my father. She made it clear that she trusted and respected him. At some point she realized that I was hiding something. She told me that there were serious boundary issues in my family. That there were things that I wasn't sharing with her, and that she did not want to hear. She told me that she was ending our relationship and sending me to someone else.
Even though Jewish Week Editor Gary Rosenblatt broke the Rabbi Mordecai Gafni story, he chose to concentrate on charges against Gafni from about 20 years ago, rather on the abundant evidence that Gafni still acted like a creep (which I quickly published on my site after Gary's article broke open the dam of evidence against Gafni).
When Rosenblatt, who got first crack at those who said Gafni sexually abused them approximately 20 years ago, recently tried to talk to these women again, but they wanted nothing to do with Gary, saying he'd burned them the first time round.
What was and is important about Gafni is not primarily how Gafni acted 20 years ago, but his unchanged pattern of bad behavior (not just sexual bad behavior) that's continued to the present and was enabled over the past 20 months by such rabbis as Joseph Telushkin and Saul Berman as well as the Stephen S. Wise temple leadership.
Through his first column on Gafni, Rosenblatt, due to his earned prestige in much of Jewish life (he's a scholar in residence at various synagogues and is widely called "Mr. Jewish Journalism"), prompted people of good will to take the attitude of letting bygones be bygones with Gafni.
From a post to the Jewish Survivors blog:
I personally believe that prior to trusting people like Chana Weinberg, she will need to make both private and a public apology to the survivors of her son Matis Weinberg, and also the survivors of the other cases her and her late husband covered up. I would love to hear Aviva Weisbord apologize to the Eisgrau survivor for breaching confidentiality.
From another post in this thread:
The problem is that a lot of people in the [Baltimore] community are afraid to go to police. They don't want to go against the ravs of the community. If they don't comply their children will no longer be able to go to schools of their choice, as their children get older they won't be able to get a good shudduch (match for marriage).
Going to goyisha law enforcement would take power away from those in leadership roles. You would be considered a rasha!
'When I Wake Up In The Morning, You're The First Thing I Look At'
A friend calls. "Do you ever find you are so inside your head blogging, that when you are on the phone, you can't express yourself properly? That the only way you can truly communicate is through blogging?"
Luke: "No. That's only in a few areas where I have to be very careful in what I say. Therefore, if I'm going to say anything, I'd rather blog it, because I can think things through and express them exactly while if I speak, I won't be as precise with my words.
"Usually, it is through talking to people that things come to me that I later blog. Talking to people will help me achieve clarity. It's through interacting with people that I usually get my best blog entries."
Elie Wiesel Addresses Friday Night Live (FNL) At Sinai Temple
For the first time in its almost nine-year history, FNL was held on the third Friday night of the month so that author Elie Wiesel could address the young people.
About 2,000 people showed, evenly divided between the young and old. There was an enormous traffic jam on Beverly Glen Blvd and a long line to get into the shul's parking lot (every car trunk is opened and checked for bombs).
The service was a massive celebration. I haven't seen Jews this high since the blacks came to FNL to teach us how to talk to God.
Aside from his Holocaust novel-memoir Night, I've found Wiesel's writing trite, but he was an engaging and lyrical speaker.
He said he once served as a choir director but found himself falling in love with every girl under his tutelage.
He talked about a beautiful Jewish woman leading singing in Moscow while it was ruled by communism. He ran into her years later in Jerusalem. He remembered her clearly. She remembered him dimly, only as he turned to leave her.
Wiesel said Iran's current leadership must be stopped at any price.
He urged his audience to "think higher and feel deeper."
Elie said he no interest in films. For years he worked as a journalist and had to cover the Cannes Film Festival. It was torture. He had to watch up to four films a day and interview clueless actresses such as Brigitte Bardot with whom he had nothing in common.
From the bima (pulpit), Wiesel said he abandoned philosophy because he found it did not have answers, but during question time later in the evening, he said he still considered himself a philosopher and studied the subject every day.
After the service, Wiesel engaged in a dialogue with Rabbi David Wolpe for the 21-39 crowd. It was embarrassing how many older people tried to get in even though the event was clearly announced as for a designated age group. The security guards and assistants asked doubtful looking persons such as myself for our ages (though IDs were not checked).
I also hated how much of the crowd wore jeans, chewed gum, took photos in the shul during Shabbos, and not only did not turn off their cell phones, but used them around the shul to find each other. Pigs.
This stuff is rarely a problem (except for the wearing of jeans on Shabbos) at the Orthodox shuls I've attended.
Friends assailed me after Wiesel's dialogue: "No shiksa tonight?"
And at that precise moment, a shiksa friend of mine walked up.
How do my friends celebrate this august occasion? By dredging up some of the more colorful moments of my life that I'd rather not be recountered before company, certainly not before hot female company, and certainly never in shul.
Security guards started encouraging people to leave at 10:30 p.m.
I tell a friend not to come up from behind and startle me, particularly not in shul, because I have a huge startle response and might say an obscene word. My friend notes that he had only begun the practice because I had done it to him many times.
"I frequently do things to other that I do not want done to me," I confess.
My non-Jewish friends marvel at how informal, friendly and chatty synagogue is.
Yosef Ben David writes:
Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel Friday night presented a lecture by the famous Israeli author Amos Oz, a Nobel Prize nominee in literature. The moderator was Rabbi Daniel Bouskila. It took place at the same time as Eli Wiesel's lecture two streets away. They had a full house as well, ending this evening with a lavish desert table.
Oz started by reading from his last book in English, and, at the request of the audience in Hebrew, too. He spoke about his love of Israel and urged his readers to learn Hebrew and read his next novel in its original language. Oz spoke mainly about the Israeli society celebrating its ability to live with contradicting views. He pointed out that this tradition existed since Avraham Avinu arguing with God about Sodom as a legitimate right to argue and disagree -- even with God.
His views are left wing: Recognizing the legitimate rights of BOTH Jews and Palestinians to live in a two-state Israel. He was elegant and non-offensive and made it clear that he disagrees with his colleague A.B. Yehosua's bold criticism of the Diaspora Jews.
Westwood was hopping. What magnificent choices! Bravo!
Yori Yanover Denies Engaging In BDSM
"BDSM" are the initials for the bondage-domination-sadism-masochism continuum of power-play sex games.
When the acts are consensual and leave no permanent damage, it's hard for me to condemn them (though I believe that any acts that cause bleeding or passing out to be dangerous).
I've known women who lead normal lives yet love rough sex. Such women would leave a man if he ever hit her without her permission, yet the women (often women who exercise tremendous power outside the bedroom, and are only submissive inside the bedroom) loved to be slapped, pinched, bitten, tied up, called demeaning names and the like during consensual sex with their partner.
My guess is that many, perhaps most, women like to be dominated to varying degrees at various times during sex and that most men most of the time like to be the sexual aggressor with a woman (with her permission).
All penetrative sex by definition demands penetration, which has an element of violence (Dennis Prager).
It's not that a rabbi practices bdsm that in itself is necessarily problematic. It's the fact that he preys on women with histories of childhood sexual abuse and/or violence, and "indoctrinates" through his various trance/altered state teachings, and that he is a serial predator.
---- Most of the people practicing it don't utilize or engage in altered states (drugs or otherwise); (go back to read what that guy who's married to Nina Hartley wrote about consensual bdsm on your profile page and how altered states/drug use are a big no no in the bdsm world.)
----Most people don't present it as a form of "spiritual healing" from childhood abuse, wrapped up in kabbalah or otherwise.
---Most people don't involve it in cultic situations, involving trance, "guided" meditation, mind-control, so-called "hypnoeroticism."
---He doesn't find his partners through those experienced in the bdsm world (pshrew, who was, got wisened up fast), he INDOCTRINATES it in his students, predominantly women with histories of childhood abuse or childhood sexual abuse.
Yori emails me:
In the past, when you presented some bizarre notes about a guy using my name to rile up demonstrators against the WTO in Seattle, you wondered why I hadn't protested this misuse of my name, insinuating that by not doing that at the time, I must accept the fallout (there was none, but that's a different story).
Although this logic is reminiscent of the opening chapters of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where an alien ship destroys the earth to make room for an intergalactic highway, telling the inhabitants they had ample time to contest the move in an office only a few light-years away, there was probably some practical wisdom in what you wrote.
Indeed, I've made it my habit to google myself at least once a week, just to stay on top of things. And what I don't find myself, I get by email. Like the email I received late Friday afternoon from a close friend: “Jewish Survivors is claiming now that you do BDSM games with all your friends -- and you don't invite us?!?!?!?”
I sighed, looked at my watch and went to my already closed Mozilla again, to discover the following sweet note on Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speak Out: “I can't stop asking myself if Yori Yanover is also into BDSM like his friends? Let's not forget to mention his buddy Rabbi David Lipman who is a convicted child molester. I'm trying to remember if he's also friends with convicted sex offender, Kabbalah Coach - Rabbi Michael Ozair too?
“Luke Ford's been writing about it all week on his blog.”
I scanned up and down your blog and couldn’t find any mention of my name. Perhaps you did write about my taste for rough stuff and it escaped me. You’re welcome to set me straight.
Now, lest the scourge of Seattle repeat itself, I must stand in the city square -- your blog -- and proclaim that I never engaged in BDSM (which, not surprisingly, does not stand for Beis Din Shliach Mitzvah), nor is BDSM in any other way part of my erotic menu. I do not condemn consenting adults who enjoy it, I simply do not find it appealing in the least. It is sad that one’s reputation can be trashed so easily, but such is life.
One must wonder, however, what was the basis for that "casual" remark? I am not a public servant in any way. I am a private businessman and an author. I do not have employees nor students. I am not a rabbi. I was never accused by anyone of any sexual or other misconduct. Why, then, can an anonymous website make dark innuendos about me and get away with it, merely because they took care to add a question mark at the end of the nasty remark?
I’ll tell you why: Because I exposed Vicki Polin’s appearance on Oprah, where she “confessed” her ties to a satanic Jewish cult, baby-munching and all. I deprived her of credibility in a way she can never restore. And when the tape of that appearance, currently in the hands of one of her victims, will make it to the web, as it will, eventually, she will remain bereft of parnosah. This is why she hates me so much, and "can't stop thinkink" about me. This is why she considers it par for the course to assault my reputation, even though I meet none of her definitions for people she normally torments. I’m the guy who proved she’s crazy.
So, anyway, the record is set straight again, I do not now, nor have I ever before engaged in BDSM. I welcome future inquiries regarding my bedroom habits, although I may be forced to charge a small fee.
If I Ever Survive This Witchhunt Against Sexual Predators...
I will never allow my beastly desires to interfere with our love life again.
Rape charge against controversial rabbi offers rare chance for bi-partisan, international cooperation
By Andrew Friedman of Ynetnews
...Israel now finds itself in a similar position with regard to Mordechai Gafni, the charismatic but troubled former leader of the Bayit Chadash community in Jaffa who now stands accused of rape and sexual misconduct. Like Lanner, Gafni is a talented speaker with a magnetic personality. And also like Lanner, he has been dogged by accusations of impropriety (sexual and non-sexual) for years. And, again like Lanner, Gafni has managed to avoid prosecution and punishment for his accused actions for years.
Since the 1980s' Gafni - also known as Marc (Mordechai) Winyarz - has been accused of molesting teenage students as a young rabbi with the now-defunct Jewish Public School Youth organization, and of plagiarizing influential rabbis such as late Yeshiva University rector Rabbi Joseph Dov Soleveitchik and Shlomo Carlebach. One former colleague who experienced Winyarz's sexual advances first-hand says he had a magnetic charm, but was entirely unpredictable and manipulative. "He simply couldn't control himself," she says.
If I Was Not Already In Love With The Torah, I'd Love To Seduce A Ms. Magazine Writer
Listen to a .wav file of the discussion between authors Evan Wright, Allan MacDonell, and Jason Leopold.
Video of Emmanuelle Richard, Marilyn Monroe on an old 8-Ball LA Press Club newsletter Video of two amazing beauties -- Emmanuelle Richard, Marilyn Monroe Video of Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield in 8-Ball Video of Cathy Seipp looking at old 8-Ball Video - David Shaw, right, in a 1971 8-Ball Video of a stripper in 8-Ball Video of Evan Wright, Allan MacDonell, Jason Leopold Video of Evan, Allan, Jason Video Video of Long Beach State journalism student Neka Hite, LA Press Club volunteer
Cathy Seipp, Luke Ford, Cheryl Shuman Cathy, Luke, Cheryl Cathy, Luke, Cheryl Ben Sullivan, Luke Ford, Steve Smith Luke with two ladies from Ms. magazine -- Cheryl (right) and Ren (middle) (L-R) Cheryl, Ren, Luke, Amy from Ms. Magazine Luke Ford, Allan MacDonell Allan MacDonell, Luke Ford (Photos courtesy of Cheryl Shuman)
"Luke only has one expression," says Cathy after posing with me.
"You should wear a belt," says Matt Welch. "You're a handsome man. There's no reason why a handsome man should have his drawers around his mid-ass."
Khunrum writes: "Luke are you coloring your face? Are you attempting to look like a Native American (Injun)? George Hamilton? Does that stuff come off on your shirt? what gives? Fess up!"
I'm 1/16th Chinese and when I get some sun, I go yellow.
Here's an excerpt from the official invite:
WHAT: A reception sponsored by Vampire for two now-sober journalistic troublemakers: Allan MacDonell, whose incendiary memoir, Prisoner of X: 20 Years in the Hole at Hustler Magazine (Feral House), has been featured in the NY Times, NY Post, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and NPR; and Jason Leopold, the obsessive-compulsive investigative journalist very much in the news lately . His News Junkie (Process) details the felonious conduct prior to his rise and fall at the Los Angeles Times, Salon and Dow Jones Newswires, and later his rise once again in the independent media.
FOLLOWED BY: A discussion with the two writers moderated by Evan Wright, whose bestselling Generation Kill, about American grunts in Iraq, won the 2005 PEN award for the best work of researched nonfiction.
WHY: Because Chuck (Fight Club) Palahniuk sez, "Prisoner of X is hours of guilty pleasure that pass like seconds. Here's the unsafe, hook-up sex of memoir. You'll need to indulge before the restraining orders pull this great book off of store shelves." Because Greg Palast ( The Best Democracy Money Can Buy) sez, "Every author in America should read News Junkie, then quit or riot." And Jason Leopold's TruthOut.org stories have been subpoenaed by Scooter Libby's attorney in Plamegate, and Jason's Halliburton in Iran story was selected for inclusion in this year's Project Censored collection.
I went to the LA Press Club Thursday night afraid that my arch-nemesis Mike Albo would kick my ass and humiliate me in front of my date and my friends. Thank the Lord, Albo ignored me.
Ben Sullivan, however, did not.
He was working some reverse psychology game whereby introducing me to three hot babes who worked for Ms. Magazine, he probably reckoned that he would make himself look great in comparison and thereby score with a putative feminist bulldyke (even though he's in a relationship with a smart and beautiful Asian pianist).
I try to make polite small talk with the Ms. babes, marvelling that they aren't picketing or otherwise demonstrating anger at the former Editor of Hustler magazine.
They look at me with horror, and when it is finally revealed to them that I am an escaped convict who isn't taking his court-ordered medication, they realize the ghastly truth and edge away from me.
I arrive at 6:30 p.m.
A good crowd gathers including Emmanuelle Richard, Matt Welch, Cathy Seipp, and former Hustler writers Dan Kapelovitz and Neal Kenneally. Dan wears these bizarre '70s-style plaid pants and Neal wears this bizarre red stain around his lips. Dan, a freelance writer, appears energetic while Neal, the Editorial Director of Rock Star magazine, appears paranoid, hunched over, and hammered on drugs. A couple of his female friends come up and ask if it is OK to smoke pot at the Press Club. In the end, the ladies go to their car to get stoned.
Jason Leopold looks like death warmed over. He's sweaty and nervous.
Allan looks as at ease as he ever does in a crowd -- not at all.
The discussion begins in the Steve Allen theater.
Jason: "It's really hard for me sitting up here. I feel horrible. This is a book I wrote in search of redemption. The difference now [with the book] is that I did everything right."
Leopold has a class-E felony conviction for grand theft and forgery. He was a drug abuser while working as a journalist and his publishers had a couple of prominent retractions. "One of those two has since been proved true," says Jason. "Unfortunately, nobody has said, oh, you were right.
"I wrote over 2,000 stories but those were huge corrections, retractions."
Allan: "My name is Allan MacDonell. I've never been convicted of a felony. But I have been interested all my life in the underside.
"There are a lot of people here tonight who used to work for me at Hustler. One thing they all have in common is that they all left.
"I was fired after performing at a roast for Larry Flynt."
Evan: "Because you weren't funny?"
Allan: "I was funny.
"I wrote a book proposal. Finally, Adam Parfrey, publisher of Feral House, who wrote articles for me at Hustler 15 years ago, took a chance and gave me a huge advance -- two mortgage payments. I wrote the book in nine months while we were remodelling my house. It was written to the sound of jackhammers and tearing walls and a lot of Spanish.
"After Larry fired me, he offered me four weeks severance. The standard is one week per year of employment. That seemed punitive. The nice thing about that is that since I turned it down, I didn't sign anything. There are things (the Ted Turner, Jane Fonda sex tape and the scam on Republican representative Bob Livingstone, the then-speaker-elect of the House) in this book that people would never have known about and gotten me play in the press. Larry did me a favor."
James Frey wrote a blurb for Leopold's book that was hastily withdrawn by Jason's publisher when Frey's scandal broke.
When Jason called the police for his criminal record, the officer asked him if he was writing a book.
Allan says the most embarrassing thing he revealed his book was when he told Larry Flynt, in front of 500 people, that he loved him. Allan says you shouldn't profess love in front of a crowd unless you're getting married.
Allan: "I like that the magazine was completely independent. There's no corporate sponsorship for Hustler magazine. You can write anything you want. Initially Larry was very drugged. There was no input there. After a while, I started making money.
"There aren't many magazine jobs. It's a tight fraternity.
"You got to do everything at Hustler that you can do at a high-grade magazine only it was this low-grade magazine.
"I have this thing about criminals. Larry knows criminals. I met this high-end book at Larry's house. I remember Larry being on the phone with Reuben Sturman, the highest-ranking unindicted mobster in the US."
Evan: "He was like the George Washington of porn."
Allan: "I felt like this big-shot. I got this attitude. It was like the Sopranos only no one was getting killed. You could use profanity. I loved it.
"Larry created the template for Hustler. The things that irritated Larry irritated me -- corporate structure, celebrities...
"I wrote Asshole of the Month for the 1990s, 13 a year. The column was sarcastic and assaultive. It was the next thing to libel [though Allan was never threatened with a libel suit over it]. Writing Asshole of the Month saved many of my relationships. It was a great outlet. I got to give a point of view sorely underrepresented in the mainstream media -- mine.
"I was to Larry Flynt what Josef Goebbels was to Hitler. I was at his wedding, he was at mine.
"The book wasn't written with any malice to Larry Flynt. In ways I admire Larry. He's a tough guy, a force of nature. For some time, he was so catatonic on drugs, people thought he wasn't there. Because of my own experiences with drugs, I knew he was there. He had thoughts. He just couldn't get them out."
Evan: "We used to call him Humpty Dumpty."
Allan: "He was just Humpty."
Jason: "I'm able to cultivate sources by being vulnerable."
Evan notes that this is a trick of con men such as Ice Man Slim. "When you do that, it immediately ages the friendship."
Jason: "I would tell them my secret [his felony] and thus they could destroy me..."
About Larry Flynt's war on Republican politicians in 1998: "We weren't doing any reporting at all. We were just paying people money for information."
Wright says that Allan's book reads like a tale of his unrequited love for Larry Flynt.
Allan: "Many conspiracy theorists believe that Woody Harrelson's father was the gunman on the grassy knoll [who killed President Kennedy]. And they make a compelling case."
German guy in the audience: "Why does Hustler make their cover girls look like they're dipped in oil?"
Allan: "They dip her in oil."
Evan: "Then they kill her afterwards."
Allan: "It's a motion enhancement. It makes her look so excited that she's exuding this oil."
MacDonell says Hustler magazine is "indefensible."
Evan says he doesn't write reviews or blurbs without reading the book in question first.
Evan and Mark Ebner get into an animated private discussion before the panel.
Brian Doherty tells me how he wrote his latest book on the history of American libertarian thought -- three weeks of 18-hour days fueled by Ephedrine. He still has to spend three months pulling the book together while working his fulltime job at Reason magazine, selling his body on Sunset Blvd, and fulfilling his conjugal duties (the most arduous task of all).
Brian and Luke Y. Thompson have quit drinking diet soda because the fake sugar screws with their mind.
The Rabbi and the Professor
By Rabbi Ari D. Kahn
(The following is based on a combination of first - hand knowledge and a composite reconstruction of events as retold to me.)
Many years ago when I was a relatively young yeshiva student I had the opportunity to study with one of the great rabbis of the previous generation. His name was Rabbi Yisroel Zeev Gustman and he may have been one of the greatest rabbis of the 20th century. He was certainly the greatest "unknown" rabbi: While he fastidiously avoided the limelight and was therefore unfamiliar to the general public, he was well known to connoisseurs of Torah learning.
His meteoric rise from child prodigy to the exalted position of religious judge in the Rabbinical Court of Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski at around the age of twenty was the stuff of legend – but nonetheless fact. Many years later, I heard Rav Gustman's own modest version of the events leading to this appointment: A singular (brilliant) insight which he shared with his fellow students was later repeated to the visiting Rav Chaim Ozer, who invited the young student to repeat this same insight the following day in his office in Vilna. Unbeknownst to Rav Gustman, the insight clinched an argument in a complex case that had been debated among the judges in Rav Chaim Ozer's court – and allowed a woman to remarry.
One of the Judges adjudicating the case in question, Rabbi Meir Bassin, made inquiries about this young man, and soon a marriage was arranged with his daughter Sarah. When Rabbi Bassin passed away before the wedding Rabbi Gustman was tapped to take his place as rabbi of Shnipishok and to take his seat on the court. Although Rav Gustman claimed that he was simply "in the right place at the right time," it was clear that Rav Bassin and Rav Chaim Ozer had seen greatness in this young man.
While a long productive career on the outskirts of Vilna could have been anticipated, Jewish life in and around Vilna was obliterated by World War II, with all the pain and horror obliterated - Rav Gustman escaped though not unscathed.
He hid with dead bodies he hid in caves, he hid in a pig pen. He somehow survived. I never wondered what a Rav looked like in Vilna before the war – I had seen Rav Gustman - 35 years after the war. Now the head of a small yeshiva in the Rechavya section of Jerusalem Rav Gustman taught a small group of loyal students. But this was only the case six days a week, on Thursday's at noon the study hall would be filled to capacity. Rabbis, intellectuals, religious court judges, a Supreme Court judge, and professors would join along with any and all who sought a high level Talmud shiur which contained a taste of world which was destroyed. When Rav Gustman was giving shiur – delivering a lecture, Vilna was once again alive bustling and vibrant.
One of the attendees was a Professor at the Hebrew University Robert J. Aumann (Yisrael) Aumann. As a young man he was a promising yeshiva student, and eventually he made a decision to pursue a career in academia. Now he learned with Rav Gustman along with other residents of Rechavia and Jerusalem .
In 1982 Israel once again found itself at war soldiers were mobilized reserve units activated, one of the men called up was a university student, who made his living as a high school teacher named Shlomo Aumann – professor Aumann's son. On the eve of the 19th of Sivan during a difficult battle Shlomo, an officer in reserves fell in battle.
Rav Gustman mobilized the yeshiva students to all join in paying respects and performing the mitzvah of burying the dead. At the cemetery he was agitated, he looked at all the graves of the young men, soldiers – who died defending the land. On the way back from the cemetery he said "they are all holy" one of the passengers in the car questioned the rabbi "even the non-religious soldiers" – Rav Gustman turned and said "every single one of them". He then turned to the driver and said "take me to Professor Aumann's home".
The family had just returned from the cemetery and would now beginning the week of shiva – mourning for their son, brother, husband and father. (Shlomo was married and had one child. His widow, Shlomit, gave birth to their second daughter shortly after he was killed.)
Rav Gustman entered and asked to sit next to Proffessor Auman – who said "rabbi I so appreciate your coming to the cemetery – but now is time for you to return to your yeshiva". Rav Gustman spoke at first in Yiddish then switched to Hebrew that they would all understand.
He said "I am sure that you don't know this but I had a son named Meir – he was a beautiful child – he was taken from my arms and executed. I escaped – I later bartered my child's shoes so that we would have food – but I was never able to eat the food – I gave it away to others. My Meir is a kodosh – he is holy – he and all the six million who perished are holy."
Rav Gustman then added – I will tell you what is transpiring now in the World of Truth in Gan Eden – in heaven. My Meir is welcoming your Shlomo and is saying to him "I died because I am a Jew – but I wasn't able to save anyone else. But you – Shlomo, you died defending the Jewish people and the land of Israel". My Meir is a kodosh he is holy – but your Shlomo is a shaliech Zibbur – in the holiest minyan.
Rav Gustman then said – I never did have the opportunity to sit shiva for my Meir – let me sit here with you just a little longer.
Professor Aumann said "I never thought I could be comforted but Rebbi, you have comforted me."
Rav Gustman did not allow the painful memories to control his life, he found solace in his students his daughter his grandchildren, and in every Jewish child. He and his wife would attend an annual parade when children would march on Jerusalem in song and dance. A rabbi who happened upon them asked – why the rabbi would spend his time in such a frivolous activity. Rav Gustman explained – we who saw a generation of children die, will take pleasure in a generation of children who sing and dance in the streets.
One of his students once said to Rav Gustman – you should tell more people about your son, about the ghetto – about his shoes. Rav Gustman said I can't, but I think about those shoes every day of my life. I see them every night before I go to sleep.
On the 18th of Sivan in 1991 Rav Gustman passed away. Thousands marched through the streets of Jerusalem accompanying Rav Gustman on his last sojourn.
As nightfall came on the 19th of Sivan exactly 9 years from the moment that Shlomo Aumann fell in battle Rav Gustman was buried on the Mount of Olives. I am sure that upon entering heaven he was reunited with his wife, his teachers and his son Meir. I am also sure that Shlomo Aumann and all the other holy soldiers who died defending the people and land of Israel were there to greet this extraordinary Rabbi.
On December 10th 2005 Professor Robert J. Aumann was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. I am sure he took with him to Stockholm memories of his late wife Esther, and his son Shlomo. I suspect he also took memories of his Rabbi.
May it be the will of God that the people of Israel sanctify His Name by living lives of holiness which will serve as a light to the nations – and may no more children, soldiers or yeshiva students ever need to join that holy minyan in heaven.
Shelby Steele Addresses David Horowitz's Wednesday Morning Club
Here's a .wav file of his talk. His new book is White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era.
11:45 a.m. I walk in carrying Hitler Laughing: Comedy in the Third Reich as an icebreaker.
Cathy Seipp's locked in a conversation with righteous Jews. I stand guiltily by her side, tormented by my sinful desires.
We go in to eat. A law-and-order (I was taught in college that this is code for "Get the nigger!") Republican political candidate, Clark Baker, joins us. The ex-Marine and 26-year veteran of the LAPD is running for the 42nd Assembly district (Paul Koretz must retire because of term limits). The district is about 50% Democratic, and 22% Republican though 36% of its voters went for Bush in 2004.
I ask Baker who he's running against in the primary. He says the name of his opponent and then asks if we "really need another gay Republican lawyer from West Hollywood in the state assembly?"
Poor Clark got railroaded out of the LAPD for beating up an El Salvadoran immigrant who wouldn't sign his jaywalking ticket.
The bloke didn't even have any bruises from Clark scuffling with him before taking him to the ground and handcuffing him.
Baker says he got his job back when the prosecutor and judge in his case were shown to be corrupt.
Clark goes into great detail about subduing suspects and how the denial of the choke hold forced the LAPD to use its metal batons to control rowdy suspects such as Rodney King.
All this manly talk gets Cathy very excited.
She remembers that in her twenties she couldn't walk down the street without getting whistled at. She says LA feels safer now. She says she's aged and that's why she doesn't get whistled at any more.
Cathy writes me later: "I may have said "whistled at" but what I meant was "harrassed" -- lewd comments about various body parts, suggested sexual acts, etc."
I'm sorry you had to go through that, Cathy. Perhaps you could show me on the doll where it hurts.
I see another "Cathy" friend of mine and I yell at her and get her to flank me for the rest of the show.
Shelby Steele is an understated speaker. I haven't seen such a low voltage performance since Commentary magazine Gabriel Schoenfeld's March 10, 2004 address.
This depresses me until I consume two helpings of strawberry shortcake.
I see three blacks in the audience of over 100, and one appears to be Shelby's wife (or mistress, just kidding, just trying to give the brother some street cred).
What the WMC needs to liven things up is some good ol' fashioned gospel preaching by the likes of Bishop Charles E. Blake (his church is where I like to take my more adventurous dates). And a choir would be groovy too.
I lean over and ask the Other Cathy (who has children in their twenties) if she still has her Catholic schoolgirl uniform. She blushes.
I ask Cathy S. if I did something wrong. She says that one would only ask such a question about the uniform if one has impure thoughts.
It's my fear of nuclear war that pushes me to say such outrageous things. I was just talking about this with my 17yo friend Maia Lazar the other day. She is going to her boyfriend's Senior Prom this weekend and I wanted to make sure she was prepared.
Maybe Steele is dignified and speaking in measured academic tones? That's why he can't get excited on stage.
Not once does he break into, "Can I hear hallelujah?"
He probably feels oppressed by us uptight white folks always ready to lynch a black man if he gets too uppity.
Shelby's nearly finished with his talk when he gets his first applause (for saying America is a very good country).
He livens up during question time and preaches the gospel truth.
Here's a summary of his remarks:
David Horowitz's Radical Son is the finest memoir of his generation.
Once America admitted it was treating blacks as second-class citizens [with 1963's Voting Rights Act, etc], it accepted stigma. It accepted that it had been guilty of doing something wrong.
Since then, America has been tentative about advancing its values and interests.
There is no rigorous moral authority in public schools to demand high performance. Thus we ask less of minority students to disprove our racism. If we apply rigorous standards, we are called oppressers.
Black students did worse on their SATs in 2000 than in 1990.
There is no authority in American life to ask anything from blacks. If you are white, you are a racist. If you are black, you're an Uncle Tom.
We tackle problems (such as illegal immigration) until we are threatened with stigmatization, then we say, only 6000 National Guardsmen on the border.
Our serious problems linger and deepen.
White guilt gives anti-Americanism power.
Talk radio is peculiar because it is a white guilt-free zone. These talkshow hosts believe America is a good country and they're not afraid to be stigmatized. And they are stigmatized by the mainstream media. If you invoke Rush Limbaugh's name, even among conservatives, people shake their heads.
The biggest problem we have as blacks is not racism or oppression but freedom. Freedom shames you. It shows you how undeveloped and uncompetitive you are.
My dad was a janitor in 1965. He was still a janitor in 1985. He did not know how to take advantage of his freedom. He was a good man. He worked hard. He bought houses and renovated them but he could never tell his boss or he'd be perceived as uppity.
Affirmative action is evil. Because of affirmative action, you can't look at any black in a high position and not wonder if they got there on their own merits.
When Jews did not get into the Ivy League as they deserved, they made CCNY (City College of New York [where the friend to the black man Chaim Amalek went to school and became an anti-Stalinist socialist agitator and freedom marcher in Selma, Alabama].
We blacks have not done that.
Rap is a minstrel show. It is blacks selling a comic cartoonish vision of black life. We've always known how to entertain whites that way. It's an old tragic pattern. Eighty percent of rap CDs are sold to whites which they listen to when they're done studying for their SATs. It's blacks who listen to it and take it seriously.
We've always sold to whites an image of black stupidity.
Fifty five percent of federal prison inmates are black.
To properly educate black kids, you often must rip them out of their environment and put them in school all day and much of the evening, but to sustain such schools you have to have teachers willing to work 16 hours a day.
America is so free that blacks at university have retreated into, "I am not really free. Racism is everywhere."
Black students are almost pulled out of their homes and put on campus, that is how eager colleges such as Harvard are to recruit black students. Harvard demands of itself an 8% black student body and it competes hard for black students. Anything less and the university will lose faculty and money.
We blacks have to have racism as a consolation for our lack of progress in the face of America's freedom.
Blacks and Jews were destined to fall out. When Jews got freedom and were allowed into corporations and elite universities in proportion to their merit, they moved ahead. The Jews knew how to move forward. They had the skills and learning and tradition. Once free, they were ready to fly. How do you think that makes blacks feel?
We couldn't hang out with the Jews anymore. It was too painful. Too shameful.
We're at the bottom of the world and we don't know how to get up.
You can look at everything black America does as consolation, trying to make ourselves feel better.
The black American identity is organized in a totalitarian fashion around white guilt. If you dissent, you are dismissed from black life.
If black America had a gulag, I'd be in it. You purge dissidents.
The most positive sign I've seen in years is what Bill Cosby is doing. He goes to towns and brings in morticians and has them describe what happens when a black 14yo boy is shot to death. Black parents who lost kids to gang violence stand up and speak.
Cosby gives tens of million of dollars to black universities.
He is not afraid. I get a little shaky.
When I graduated highscool, I had a B average. I did not belong in the Ivy League but I would've been put there today.
I hope that Oprah gets on the bandwagon. She's made enough money. She can take a risk.
When Tavis Smiley was off camera, we had an interesting conversation. On camera, he had to oppose me. He has to keep up his street cred.
As Cathy S. and I walk back to our cars, we decide not to jaywalk in case the ex-copper decides to beat us up.
Arriving home, and writing up my report, I spot MissSeipp@aol.com on IM but I know she's not that kind of girl, so I don't hit her up.
According to Chaim Amalek's My Space page, his general interests are: "Politics, religion, science, history, torah, demography, physics (my favorite science, so it gets a special mention), creating identities."
Music: "If it sounds ok, I will listen to it. Al Jolson. Screamin' Jay Hawkins. I don't much care for what the kids are listening to these days, especially hip-hop, which is minstrel music pretending to be revolutionary poetry. And while I'm pissing off the masses, I always thought that the Beatles were greatly over-rated."
Movies: "I am fond of historically and emotionally accurate film in any genre."
Television: "Cartoons, documentaries, shows about guys who bend metal, and the occasional bizarre offering on cable access."
Books: "I used to read many books, but then I realized that for every thousand facts I encountered in my reading, I would remember at most two or three. Realizing that 99.7 percent of my efforts were being wasted, I have come to realize that most of the time I have spent reading books has been utterly wasted. These days, I stick to the things a good liberal upper west side Jew such as myself should read: the New York Times, Forward, and maybe the Daily News. OK, so I also read things like math dictionaries before going to bed."
Heroes: "Saul, for sparing the life of King Agog. Lincoln, for freeing the slaves. George Bush, for liberating the Arabs of Iraq. Al Gore, for defending Mother Earth."
About me: "I no longer get out much, as I have gotten very large over the years, but through the internet, I live as full a life as many of you. Looking past my body, you might say that I am something of a I'm a "hybrid hebrew" - Jewish by birth, but also partly Amalekite, which in the minds of many is not a good thing. My kind have been on the run, living partly secret lives, for many, many years. And all because of a few mistranslations in the Jewish bible. I am working on a new version of the bible that will set the record straight."
Who I'd like to meet: "The woman who will marry me and make of me a Father of Nations. I've already picked out the wedding dress she will wear on our special day, as you can see in the photographs. (And speaking of photographs, that one of me was taken decades ago. I've since gained some weight.)"
One in a Thousand
My beautiful friend Hava Volterra has produced a documentary about the history of Jews in Italy. The trailer is stunning and frankly she looks really foxy in it.
Don't hate me 'coz I'm a playa.
God can't give you better, until you let go and release what you have in your hands
SDC writes his Uncle Seymore of Family Business:
Well Uncle Seymore, I'm a f---ing hypocrite! Why? Because not only do I go to church (Evangelical Free), butt through the church I joined a "Purity Platoon." Granted you truly give a s--- about your fans; you should read some of my blogs!
You are my God; my mentor. I idolize your movies and still am in love with Alisha Klass! Anyway, I'm more than familiar with G4 and quite frankly think that channel fits sex and gaming quite well...because Lord knows there's a lot of gaming geeks who masturbate to Lara Croft!
I love sex/porn. I think it's a very creative outlet for sexual fantasies and think that sex and religion do share one common unbreakable bond...the can both be ridiculed for being addictive! Religion is conforming like sex is addictive. That's my discovery on my supposed walk with the Lord.
I truly feel like I'm leading a double life. One minute I'm meeting Ron Jeremy at a sex convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the next I'm meeting Pastor Joel Osteen in Richfield, Minnesota. Butt then again, I have a thing for celebrities! Maybe I'll meet you one day, who knows!!! (God willing???)
The Purity Platoon I joined through my church isn't all bad, but at the same time don't expect to wield your civil rights of freedom of choice. My joining the Purity Platoon all came about when I was talking with the Pastor of the church and told him about a goofy day I had. I bought Joel Osteen's book YOUR BEST LIFE NOW and then headed over to a sex store to buy the TEEN OBSESSED: The Voyeur Life of Celinne DVD. Quite the confusing day... So, off to the Purity Platoon I go.
Members of the Platoon wear a dog tag that reads REMAIN PURE OR DIE (I'll take the DIE) and we have homework to do. We are to pray to God to help us avoid any sexual thoughts whatsoever. Are to only look at people from the neck up. Cannot masturbate, view pornography, avoid the flesh and seek the spirit, call our Purity Partners at any time if we are having a difficult time with sexual impulses. Going to the extreme of nearly avoiding any type of media and even reciting bible verses to avoid sexual arousal. The main event of the Purity Platoon was the destruction of all my porn (and I had a hell of a lot and you were included, sorry Uncle Seymore) via bonfire.
As the leaders of the Purity Platoon say, "Dan, God can't give you better, until you let go and release what you have in your hands." or something like that. Years worth of dirty magazines, shirts (PORN AGAIN XXX, limited edition 1994 Playboy Cover Shoot of Jenny McCarthy, PORNSTAR and yes, even your www.TeamTushy.com t-shirt!) 133 porn DVDs up in smoke. A cheap crappy plastic love doll of porn starlet Star E. Knight, sex gag gifts...all in the name of the Almighty God who helps my f---ing cocky ass nephew "Hepatitis KC" get laid while I have to listen to it all and then go home to read M.A.C.K. Tactics because God made me a f---ing pussy introvert!!! Sometimes, it really f---ing sucks being -SDC-!!!
So, why did I join Purity Platoon and burn all my porn??? For one simple reason, deep down...God knows I want to get real tushy! I'm sick of just watching and want to do some actual f---in'!
How To Market Yourself To A Woman
Luke-- A friend sent a copy of some personal ads from an Irish newspaper. It's an interesting style that you might want to adopt.
Heavy drinker, 35, Cork area. Seeks gorgeous sex addict interested in a man who loves his pints, cigarettes, Glasgow Celtic Football Club and has been known for starting fights on Patrick Street at three o'clock in the morning.
> Bitter, disillusioned Dublin man, lately rejected by longtime fiance, seeks decent, honest, reliable woman, if such a thing still exists in this cruel world of hatchet-faced bitches.
> Ginger haired Galway man, a troublemaker, gets slit-eyed and shirty after a few scoops, seeks attractive, wealthy lady for bail purposes, maybe more.
>Bad tempered, foul-mouthed old bastard, living in a damp cottage in the arse end of Roscommon, seeks attractive 21 year old blonde lady, with a lovely chest.
> Limerick man, 27, medium build, brown hair, blue eyes, seeks alibi for the night of February 27 between 8 PM and 11:30 PM.
> Optimistic Mayo man, 35, seeks a blonde 20 year old double-jointed supermodel, who owns her own brewery, and has an open-minded twin sister.
The Hope for Rehabilitating Gafni/Winiarz
Steven I. Weiss writes:
You had to know that he would end up trying to pull some kind of therapy-makes-me-better schtick, and Jewschool's got the details on what appears to be the route he'll take to that.
My perspective on this is still pretty well encapsulated by the staff editorial I wrote for the Yeshiva University Commentator more than four years ago, in response to this story.
The thing is, virtually all of Gafni's defenders based their recent defense on the notion that even if he'd committed the abuses alleged against him a while ago, he could reasonably be said to have healed, should be allowed to repent, and so forth. Obviously, that proved to be a crock this first time around, but according to his defenders' reasoning, there's no cause for them to bar him from continuing to serve as clergy if he gets a good bill of rehabilitation.
And that's a plainly-wrong atittude; clergy are in place not by grace of God, but by opportunity granted by the community. It is not their right to be clergy, but their privilege. And when they so severely break the trust granted them, they can never be accorded that privilege again.
Why Some Jews Piss Me Off
From a May 17, 2006 posting (by firstname.lastname@example.org) to Craigslist:
You know what really pisses me off about some, not all, Jews? The fact that they say they didn't "kill" Jesus, yet they are sooooo afraid of Him. I married a Jew (ended in divorce) and the most troublesome thing about our marriage ceremony was that the word "Jesus" could NOT be uttered by anyone in my family who were doing readings. Oh, sure, it was OK to say "Adonai" and other Hebrew words for God, but my wife demanded no one say Jesus' name for fear of offending her Jewish relatives, as if Jesus was offensive! I, lacking balls at the time, agreed. Afterwards, my testicals re-grew and I divorced her.
Rabbi Fired Over Sex Claims, Defenders Offer Mea Culpa
Jennifer Siegel writes the first article (I can find) in the Forward about Gafni:
...At least five female students and staff members have come forward to accuse Rabbi Mordechai Gafni of luring them into sexual relationships through intimidation, psychological manipulation and deception.
"The saddest part of the story is that there were these women from the past who had the courage to speak up despite their isolation and their own pain, despite being threatened by him repeatedly, and nobody came forth to give them support," said one of the current accusers at Bayit Chadash, who did not want to be identified by name. "People in this culture [chose] to support the male predator rather than...the women's voices that were alone."
That's nonsense. Plenty of people offered support to Gafni's past accusers and there were those like me who published their stories. Any woman who chose to get involved with Gafni after Gary Rosenblatt's article in 2004 chose to get involved with a controversial guy. It's hard to cry for them.
In the weeks after Rosenblatt's column appeared, several Jewish communal leaders vigorously defended Gafni in letters sent to The Jewish Week and attacked the newspaper for running the story. Berman, Telushkin and Firestone wrote a joint letter stating that together they had conducted a thorough investigation and found all the accusations against Gafni "totally unconvincing." This week, in a statement to the Forward, the three rabbis said that they are "deeply regretful of our prior support of Rabbi Gafni."
In a subsequent e-mail to the Forward, they argued that "it is vital to distinguish between past accusations against Rabbi Gafni and the current situation."
Green, who in 2004 penned one of the most vociferous letters in defense of Gafni, agreed that the new batch of allegations were different from the ones that plagued the rabbi two years ago.
"The stories were from long ago, and he had rejected and outgrown that side of himself," Green said in an interview with the Forward. "These are now new cases and new investigations."
In a 2004 letter to The Jewish Week defending Gafni, Green said that he had not investigated the allegations and had "no interest in doing so." This week, Green told the Forward that he felt "victimized" by Gafni's lies and actions, while acknowledging that the accusers have suffered more.
Less than a month after the four rabbis wrote their letters to The Jewish Week in October 2004, the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv reported allegations, dating from 1994, that mirror the current accusations against Gafni. According to an Orthodox couple interviewed for the lengthy Ma'ariv profile on the rabbi, he sexually preyed on their 23-year-old daughter while serving as a visiting rabbi in Kfar Saba. He went so far as to tell her that he wanted to leave his wife and marry her.
The Bayit Chadash accuser contacted by the Forward said that the five women who recently came forth had all been told by Gafni that he wanted to marry them — and the accuser said that all the women had been dumped shortly after being told he was committing himself to celibacy.
In response to an e-mail from the Forward asking if he ever contacted anyone connected to the Ma'ariv story as part of his investigation, Berman wrote that the "article was no more than a repetition of earlier allegations which had been part of our original inquiry."
Rabbi Saul Berman Must Be Removed From Public Jewish Life Immediately?
Shmarya blogs in response to the Forward article:
Rabbi Berman found these allegations to lack credibility, even though it now seems clear that he did not speak to Gafni's victims, and even though the 1994 allegations mirror earlier allegations against Gafni. (As the story notes, they also mirror the new allegations against him.) Now, Rabbi Berman "regrets" his support for Gafni. But he has not issued an apology to Gafni's victims, and seems far more concerned about the damage done to his own reputation that the damage done to the bodies and psyches of Gafni's victims.
Also note the following line; "it is vital to distinguish between past accusations against Rabbi Gafni and the current situation." It is vital for Rabbis Berman, Telushkin and Firestone that this artificial distinction be made. With it, their deplorable conduct can be whitewashed.
Gafni has a 30 year history of abuse, a history these scum in rabbis' garments still seek to deny. If the board of Edah does not remove Rabbi Berman, all of us should remove Edah from our checkbooks.
Again, note the lack of concern these "spiritual leaders" have for Gafni's victims. I don't know who is sicker – Gafni the rapist or Berman the rabbi.
Mordecai Gafni - Let The Healing Begin?
Hilarious posts from Gafni's friend Ken Wilber of Integralnaked.org. He's all shocked that someone who teaches for something called Integralnaked could commit "sexual improprieties." Here are excerpts from Wilber:
...I do not believe that somebody with an acknowledged emotional illness or sexual pathology is competent to be a public spiritual teacher. Therefore, at this time, Marc will not be involved in public teaching or presentations of any sort at Integral Institute.
...Sending all of you much Love, Light, and Life,
Rabbi Yosef Blau responds on Jewschool:
Some critics of Jewish Renewal are responding to the accusations against Mordechai Gafni by criticising the movement. This should not lead to the defensive response of refusing to reevaluate the tragic dismissal of earlier accusations.
I have known Mordechai for at least twenty five years starting when he was a student and during the years that he functioned as an Orthodox rabbi. The young women who complained then and have never modified their stories, did not receive much of a hearing then from an Orthodox rabbinate that was impressed by his charisma and talent. A number of us, followed a career of short periods of brilliance as a head of an outreach program, a teacher and a congregational rabbi each ending suddenly with rumor of scandal. After changing his name and moving to Israel the pattern repeated itself. The only thorough investigation of the accusations was made by a private investigator in Israel in 1997 and it did not clear him. Based on my ongoing conversations with women who had made accusations, which was only a portion of the dossier prepared by the private investigator, the supposed investigations by various rabbis two years ago were minimal and their testimony not heard. I suggest that all the defenders read the long interview with Rabbi Gafni in the magazine (sof hashavua) of Maariv Oct. 15, 2004. If he is sick, then it is not the kind of illness that suddenly strikes someone in his mid forties and his earlier behavior should reevaluated accordingly.
Whether one supports Jewish Renewal or not is irrelevant to the fundamental issue of protecting women from abuse from an authority figure.
Micha Odenheimer writes:
Ken Wilbur has an unfortunate history of turning a blind eye, or “rehabilitating” even the most egregious offenses of people he considers “brilliant”–usually those whose ideas conform in some ways to his own. This history includes fawning praise of Da Free John, but even more significantly, continuing association with “enlightened spiritual master” Andrew Cohen, whose history of severe, ungoing and systematic psychological abuse of his followers is well documented in two books: “Enlightenment Blues” written by Andre van der Braak, a student of Cohen for 11 years, and the other, Mother of God, by Cohen’s own mother, Luna Tarno, who was also his disciple until understanding the tyrannical and narcisistic nature of Andrew’s guruship. There is also ongoing documentation on www.whatenlightenment.blogspot.com.
The Gafni connection is that, through Wilbur, Gafni met Cohen and invited him to tour Israel together with him as a guest of Bayit Hadash. I personally contacted Gafni and warned him of Cohen’s systematic humiliation of his followers, and his creation of an almost fascistic hiearchy of people “in favor” or “out of favor” with Cohen–to no avail. Gafni continued to promote Cohen in Israel. Wilbur continues to benefit from his association with Cohen and to appear with him on the pages of Cohen’s magazine “What is Enlightenment”. So there is a triangle of abuse here, with Cohen, Gafni, Wilbur, with Wilbur acting as enabler of both–and with both Cohen and Gafni returning the favor by continuing to promote Wilbur as a great philosopher and theologian of the New Age. Will Wilbur learn from the Gafni incident and reexamine the copious evidence of Cohen’s continued and extremely severe psychological abuse of followers? I doubt it.
Incidentally, as my friend Shefa Siegal has pointed out, one of the aspects of both Wilbur and Jewish Renewal’s promotion of Gafni and failure to truly investigate accusations against him despite repeated warnings is that Renewal, and I assume Wilbur’s organization, made good money from Gafni. Gafni, a facile “charismatic” speaker, was a good draw for Renewal events and for retreat centers such as Elat Chayim associated with Renewal. Whether consciously or not, I assume this was part of what kept the whole kit and kaboodle running forward.
I am more than a little disturbed by Ken Wilbur’s assumption that Gafni’s sincerity is meaningful. People with pathologies like Gafni’s (I am assuming he has a personality disorder of some kind) are frequently sincere in their apologies once they get caught. I have personal experience with this through a family member, who has issued more than eight deeply sincere and moving apologies but hasn’t been able to stop his behaviot. People like this may mean what they say, but will often cycle through the behavior again, and then offer more sincere apologies when they get caught again. Sadly, sincerity is not a benchmark for success in this matter.
Rabbi Marc Gafni & Andrew Cohen Enlightenment, Evolution, and the Future of Judaism
Rabbi Marc Gafni is not your average Rabbi. He's an unorthodox Orthodox Rabbi, a passionate Kabbalist, a popular Israeli television host, and the founder of Bayit Chadash, an international spiritual community and retreat center committed to Jewish renaissance. Yet no matter how far from the established order he may travel, Gafni never loses sight of those most basic Judaic tenets: pray to God and live a moral, ethical, and generous life, because this life is the one that matters most!
In this videotaped conversation between two spiritual masters, Andrew's original conception of an evolutionary enlightenment engages with Rabbi Gafni's soul-level understanding of Judaism's timeless mystical teachings. Together, these two free-thinkers propel an enduring ancient tradition into the exhilarating and uncharted terrain of the future.
I Wanted To Hate Ann Coulter
I wanted to show how even-handed I could be in my critiques. I wanted to show I could go after a fellow conservative.
I've never read much by Ann Coulter for the same reason I generally restrict my reading on politics (it tends to get me upset and makes me a bore at dinner parties). I feared that I would enjoy her too much and it would make me hate leftist thought more and as a result I'd be more unhappy.
I don't write on politics because I tend to get more smug, obnoxious and insufferable than I already am.
Broken down by the lack of options of books on tape at my LAPL branch (it was Coulter or romance novels), I checked out her book Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right (the first book of hers that I've read) and it was good.
'Haviva Ner-David Thinks She Got Semicha [Rabbinic Ordination]'
Steven I. Weiss got this email from Haviva Ner-David (she and her husband Jacob were longtime enablers of sexual predator Mordecai Gafni):
Subject: Thanks a lot!!!
Body: Steve, I don’t know what your agenda is, but I smell something fishy. Why did you want to prove on your blog that what I got from Rav Aryeh Strikovsky is not smicha? You asked me to forward you the smicha document, and yet, you did not put it in on your blog, at least not that I could see. Is that because it would show that it is indeed smicha? What are you trying to prove? Are you some right-wing reactionary? Do you have something against the idea of women rabbis? I’m trying to understand what makes you tick. I am not sure what Rabbi Strikovsky actually told you, but I am sure you must have misquoted him or misunderstood him. Either that, or you scared him away from saying the truth. He signed the document I sent you. His only reservation was about giving me the title of Rav because he felt the Orthodox world was not ready for that yet. But the more people like you hound him, the more he will feel threatened and scared and reluctant to admit the truth. So what is your agenda exactly? Why didn’t you include the document or at least quote from it?
I know I learned one thing from this, which his not to trust people who pose as reporters, I should have checked your credentials before being helpful. I try to live by the ideal of dan lekaf zechut, but it is getting harder and harder these days.
Steven I. Weiss responds.
Gary Rosenblatt Reports On Gafni In The Jewish Week
...“We feel we were deceived,” Jacob Ner-David, a co-founder of Bayit Chadash, told The Jewish Week, which first reported on allegations against the rabbi in September 2004.
“He should not be called a rav [rabbi], his was not the behavior of a rav and he should not be in a teaching or counseling position,” said Ner-David, who noted that the incident “is my worst nightmare come to life.” He added that Rabbi Gafni is “a sick man, and has harmed so many.”
...[Gafni] was ordained by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, founder of Lincoln Square Synagogue here and now chief rabbi of Efrat, in the West Bank. Rabbi Riskin revoked his ordination in 1994 after his former student, in a lengthy interview in Haaretz, called for restoring a balance between the erotic and the spiritual in Judaism.
...This week, Rabbi Berman said he is “deeply regretful” of his prior support for Rabbi Gafni, and worried that his past defense may have prolonged the rabbi’s “predatory behavior against women.”
“I was clearly wrong in stating that Rabbi Gafni’s continued role as a teacher within the Jewish community constitutes no risk to Jewish women,” he wrote in a statement.
Rabbi Berman said he had felt the earlier accusations “were not justifiable foundations for public disgrace and exclusion,” and noted that he will “continue to struggle with the ideal line between presumption of innocence and protection of potential innocent victims.”
He told The Jewish Week the Gafni case underscores the ongoing need for a mechanism to investigate allegations against rabbis “in a way that the community has confidence in, so that when it’s over, it’s over.”
He said that rabbis are “not capable of enough objectivity to handle such matters themselves,” and called for a collaborative effort of rabbis, lay leaders and professionals in the health care field who deal with abuse.
Steven I. Weiss blogs:
Gary Rosenblatt’s Self-Serving Take on Gafni/Winiarz
How do you atone for a story that essentially wrote off allegations of abuse against a rabbi when you find out a couple years later that he's alleged to have abused again? By pretending you had the story right all along, of course.
....No mention of Rosenblatt's apologetics for Gafni/Winiarz in that 2004 report. Also no mention of Jewschool, which broke the story, but that's predictable.
This story also gives a pretty easy walk to Gafni's enablers: Berman, Telushkin, Waskow, etc.
By the way, for those of you looking into whether Waskow's claims of doing an investigation in the first place are legitimate, notice this from the 2004 story:
Two groups in the Renewal movement, Aleph and Elat Chayyim, looked into the allegations against Rabbi Gafni and found "no evidence of wrongdoing," according to Rabbi Arthur Waskow. (The three women with whom I spoke said they were never contacted.)
Jewish Whistleblower writes that Gary's article is weak:
1) Really does not go into the NY "investigation" and various Jewish Renewal "investigations" and declarations of innocence.
2) Ignores the nature of the current allegations.
3) Ignores the nature of the past allegations.
4) Does not go into the treatment of Gafni's survivors who came forward. Dissmissal of their allegations and refusals to even talk to them.
5) Ignores much of the the inappropriate behavior detailed in the maariv article and other articles.
6) Ignores Rabbi Blau's attempts to speak on behalf of Gafni's earlier survivors and his treatment by Berman, Telushkin and others.
7) Ignores the alteration of name from Winiarz to Winyarz when he "left" NY and went to Florida.
8) Overall, a wishy-washy article.
I emailed Saul Berman May 18, 2006 and called Joseph Telushkin and left him a message. I asked them both to comment on their support for Gafni and their condemnation of those who warned about Gafni. Neither responded to me.
Berman and Telushkin and company enable predators and condemn those who call out predators. And neither of them have the courage to talk to me or to anyone who will ask them tough questions. Yet they are regarded as moral leaders of American Judaism.