Why Are Modern Orthodox Rabbis Lining Up Behind A Sex Offender?

From FrumFollies:

As bad as Zauder’s crimes were, perhaps, more disturbing for the community, is that when it came to the sentencing, many Modern Orthodox leaders lined up to write personal pleas for leniency. Major figureheads, including senior leaders of Yeshiva University, were keen to support an egregious Orthodox sex offender. They include:

Rabbi Kenneth (Kenny) Brander, Yeshiva University Vice President

Dr. David Pecovitz, Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology and Jewish Education at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University. He is also special assistant to President Richard M. Joel.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Rabbi, Congregation Bnei Yeshurun or Teaneck New Jersey (Exhibit 34)

Rabbi Ezra Schwartz, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva University (Exhibit 36)
Rabbi Reuven Taragin, Dean Yeshivat HaKotel (Exhibit 42)
Rabbi Baruch Taub, Rabbi Emeritus of Beth Avraham Yosef of Toronto Congregation

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Parenting From The Inside Out

From Daniel Siegel’s book:

1. What was it like growing up? Who was in your family?

2. How did you get along with your parents early in your childhood?
How did the relationship evolve throughout your youth and up until
the present time?

3. How did your relationship with your mother and father differ
and how were they similar? Are there ways in which you try to be
like, or try not to be like, each of your parents?

4. Did you ever feel rejected or threatened by your parents? Were
there other experiences you had that felt overwhelming or traumatizing in your life, during childhood or beyond? Do any of
these experiences still feel very much alive? Do they continue
to influence your life?

5. How did your parents discipline you as a child? What impact
did they have on your childhood, and how do you feel it affects
your role as a parent now?

6. Do you recall your earliest separations from your parents?
What was it like? Did you ever have prolonged separations from
your parents?

7. Did anyone significant in your life die during your childhood,
or later in your life? What was that like for you at the time, and
how does that loss affect you now?

8. How did your parents communicate with you when you were happy
and excited? Did they join with you in your enthusiasm? When
you were distressed or unhappy as a child, what would happen?
Did your father and mother respond differently to you during
these emotional times? How?

9. Was there anyone else besides your parents in your childhood who
took care of you? What was that relationship like for you? What happened to these individuals? What is it like for you when you let
others take care of your child now?

10. If you had difficult times during your childhood, where there
positive relationships in or outside your home that you could depend on during those times? How do you feel those connections
benefited you then, and how might they help you now?

11. How have your childhood experiences influenced your relationships with others as an adult? Do you find yourself
trying not to behave in certain ways because of what happened to you as a child? Do you have patterns of behaviors that you’d like
to alter but have difficulty changing?

12. What impact do you think your childhood has had on your adult
life in general, including the ways in which you think of yourself
and the ways you relate to your children? What would you like to change about the way you understand yourself and relate to others?

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My Famous Irish-Australian Rebel Ancestor – Michael Dwyer

My famous Irish-Australian rebel ancestor was on my mum’s side. The Ford side comes from a bloke who stole a coat in 18th Century England and his Royal Majesty was so concerned about this guy’s health that the thief was sent to the temperate climes of Australia for his crime. I understand that Protestants spell it “Ford” and Catholics spell it “Forde” so my ancestors are Protestant Australians for at least six generations (not sure about the religious leanings of my great-grandfather on my dad’s side who was Chinese, he got buried with the Jews and other unbelievers in Townsville).

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Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences

I had a friend in shul the other day encourage me to post more uplifting material, but with my own spin on things. So here go some excerpts of this new book:

Across a range of topics, the mean responses of liberals consistently favored the new experience, the abstract and the nonconforming. Conservatives just as consistently favored traditional experiences that were closer to reality and predictable patterns. Conservatives, for example, preferred their poems to rhyme and fiction that ended with a clear resolution. Liberals were more likely to write fiction and pain, or attend a music concert. Experimental, arrhythmic verse, amorphous story lines, and ambiguous endings just do not trip the triggers of many conservatives and, perhaps relatedly, they are less likely to be performers…

People who score high on openness [liberals], for example, tend to like envelope-pushing music and abstract art. People who score high on conscientiousness are more likely to be organized, faithful and loyal…

A liberal likely sees a moral wrong when an individual is being, say, socially ostracized. A conservative is more likely to take into account communal considerations in formulating a moral judgment. Is that guy being ostracized because he is not one of us? Because he was disloyal? Because he broke the rules or thumbed his nose at the accepted way of doing things? If the answer to these sorts of questions is yes, maybe he had it coming.

Liberals wanted dogs that were gentle and related to their owners as equals. Conservatives wanted dogs that were loyal and obedient…

The left is characterized more by a desire for the new and novel, a commitment to individual expression, and a tolerance of difference; the right by a desire for order and security, a commitment to tradition and group loyalty.

I notice the authors tiptoing up to some controversial issues.

Even without a tumor pressing on their orbitfrontal cortex, individuals have varying densities of chemical receptors at key areas in the brain, differently shaped neural organs, and neurotransmitter levels in synapses that are highly variable. The effectiveness of drugs such as Ritalin and Prozac makes it clear that decisions and behaviors are biological. If artificially adjusting chemical levels in the brain affects attitudes and actions, naturally occurring variations would have the same effect…

The only way for society to function may be with a legal system that, except in the most egregious of cases, denies it is biologically more challenging for some people “to do good” and that asserts that all nonclinical people are the same in terms of their ability to know right from wrong.

The authors don’t touch on biological racial differences.

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I Don’t Want To Seem Racist, But…

I have a black acquaintance who I often see leaving a certain establishment with items that I do not believe are his. When I question him in my jocular tone about why he’s carrying away these goods, he betrays no conscience and no concern. Instead, he makes excellent jokes. I don’t want to say anything to anyone else in case that would seem racist. And none of these items are mine.

A liberal Jewish friend says: “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

I should be ashamed for not speaking up about the theft or I should be ashamed for noticing the theft?

* My black rapper friend met a white girl at karaoke with great pipes. She wanted to get into the music industry. He had connections. He invited her to a party. He went out on the porch and smoked some herb. “There’s something you should know about me,” she said. “Oh no,” he said, “you’re a man.” “No,” she said, “I’m NYPD.” “The po-lice?” he said. “Oh no. I can’t take you around the music industry. Nobody will feel comfortable.”

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Jewish Intelligence

Pscyologist Byron M. Roth reviewed Richard Lynn’s 2011 book The Chosen People: A Study of Jewish Intelligence and Achievement:

The most notable difference among Jewish groups is average IQ. While the Ashkenazi average is 110, the Sephardic average is about 99, close to that of Europeans. The Mizrahim score about 91, markedly lower than Europeans, but higher than the Arabs with whom they have lived, whose average is about 84. The genetically distinct Falashas have IQs of about 70, typical of sub-Saharan people.
These IQ differences have had an important impact on the achievement of each group. This is especially clear in Israel, where they live side by side. The Israeli population of about 6 million people (in 2000) is about 40 percent Mizrahim, about 40 percent “European,” and about 20 percent Arab Muslims. Comparisons are complicated, however, because the 2.4 million characterized as European include 110,000 Sephardim. Furthermore, many in the group classified as European Jews are immigrants from Russia, a large number of whom—some Israeli demographers estimate as many as 900,000—are not Jews at all. They are ethnic Russians “who pretended to be Jews in order to obtain permission to leave the Soviet Union.” For these reasons the average IQ of those classified as European Jews is estimated to be about 106, lower than would be the case if all were Ashkenazim.

Nevertheless, on all measures of social and educational success, the Europeans do better than the Mizrahim, who in turn do better than the Arab citizens, a ranking perfectly consistent with IQ estimates. Of particular interest are the Ethiopians, who do very poorly, and behave like American blacks. According to an Israeli researcher, many “identify with an ‘aggressive and semi-criminal African-American youth culture’ and have become a ‘kind of ethnic underclass.’”

…In general, Jews do not differ in any appreciable way from Gentiles in the things they value, with one exception: They have a greater desire to achieve economic and social success, that is to say, they are high in “achievement motivation.” Professor Lynn suggests that, like many personality variables, this may have a partly genetic basis “brought about through having been selected by eugenic customs, persecution, and discrimination.”

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Do You Really Want Change In Your Life?

Kathy Henry, LCSW, says: Most of us want the easy way out.

We have to quit believing that our way is working. We have to find a source who can help us find another way.

Einstein said that it is difficult to remove by logic something that was not put there by logic. A lot of the times, we operate off of beliefs that are not logical, but they are solid beliefs inside of us. We’ve had them since we were children. We don’t know how to live any other way and so we just keep doing the same thing over and over again, and expect life to be better. Things such as being a victim, fear of abandonment, I should be able to control everything, everyone and my feelings, perfectionism, co-dependency, if I will love you enough you will love me back at the same level… Many people waste their lives stuck in these places. We have to face these deep beliefs and question them.

We have to be able to face our pain. It’s too terrifying. Therapy is going to hurt. Many people spend their lives running from pain.

We have to be willing to do the hard work. I see people all the time who find the way to do the work because they want true change. People come in to my office and I’ll say, you could learn by reading this book and they won’t read the book. They want me to feed it to them during the 50-minute session and then they complain about how many sessions it’s taking.

There is no substitute for humility in recovery.

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How The Alexander Technique Can Help People With Chronic Pain

Alexander teacher Dan Cayer tells Robert Rickover: “I developed a repetitive stress injury in my mid twenties. I went from being a healthy young man within a few months to not being able to type at all on my computer because of severe pain. I couldn’t hold a book for a year and a half or carry a bag. I was using my toes to dial my phone. I was disabled and unable to work. I tried a lot of different treatments and therapies and the Alexander Technique was a consistent thread throughout those years helping support my recovery.”

“I slumped. I didn’t have good posture while I typed. I was under a lot of stress. I was applying to graduate school to be a writer and was unable to type or read for two years afterwards.”

“I would rise up early in the morning and write for an hour and a half before work. At work, I used a computer. Then I’d come home and either write or do more reading. I was at the computer a lot and there was a lot of intensity there. I had a stressful time at work.”

“I didn’t know how to do the things in my life any differently than the way I had been taught. I didn’t know how to sit differently, how to use my phone differently or carry my backpack differently. So I either had to not do those things at all or I was having to do them and be in incredible pain. The Alexander Technique was an inroads to learn how to be different. It was calming. My nervous system was constantly elevated from stress. I had a worker’s compensation case. It was hard being in my mid-twenties and not know whether or not I’d be able to use my hands again.”

Dan writes on his blog: “Powered by self-flagellation, I pinball back and forth between slumping and overarching. This is physically exhausting and disappointing since I never arrive at the ideal of ease uprightness brandished on the cover of yoga magazines.”

Robert: “Whatever our habits have been, no matter how bizarre or distorting, they do tend to feel right to us.”

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The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflections By Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan

This new book contains a foreword by Rabbi Eric Yoffie and an Afterword by Rabbi Rick Jacobs.

In light of profound demographic, social, and technological developments, it has become increasingly clear that the Reform movement will need to make major changes to meet the needs of a quickly evolving American Jewish population. Younger Americans in particular differ from previous generations in how they relate to organized religion, often preferring to network through virtual groups or gather in informal settings of their own choosing.

Dana Evan Kaplan, an American Reform Jew and pulpit rabbi, argues that rather than focusing on the importance of loyalty to community, Reform Judaism must determine how to engage the individual in a search for existential meaning. It should move us toward a critical scholarly understanding of the Hebrew Bible, that we may emerge with the perspectives required by a postmodern world. Such a Reform Judaism can at once help us understand how the ancient world molded our most cherished religious traditions and guide us in addressing the increasingly complex social problems of our day.

I talk to Dana this morning via Skype and asked him if there was any meaningful difference between Reform and Conservative Judaism. Dana said that in his mind there was. “We clarify and intensify what makes Reform Judaism unique and vital rather than further blur any such theological differences in the interests of merging in and saving money.”

Dana admitted that only a small minority of Reform Jews are interested in reading books on Reform Judaism.

Most blogging on Judaism is done by Orthodox Jews and Reform Jews have made only a small imprint online.

Dana: “That is one of the dilemmas of liberal religion. As much as it may make logical rational sense to someone like myself, it lacks the compelling power of fundamentalist religion.”

“I wrote an article for Modern Judaism a few years ago saying that you have to have a strict theology to compel people to sacrifice for their religion and when religion is too liberal, too open, it may seem very pleasant, but it doesn’t motivate people emotionally to sacrifice.”

Luke: “When I went to a Reform temple on Shabbat, everyone would drive there and half the parking lot would be filled with Mercedes and BMWs. When I go to an Orthodox shul on Shabbat, everyone walks there and you don’t have these glaring differences. There may be millionaires and everyone is invited to their home. There’s more of a sense that we’re all in it together.”

Dana: “That’s created by the high barriers to entrance. That’s counter-intuitive. You’d think that higher barriers would chase people away, and they do to an extent.”

“When people choose [fundamentalist religion], they have a high buy-in. I remember at one of my [Reform] synagogues, this one woman would do everything. Over the course of years, she began to be disheartened because she saw that most people didn’t care much. She was really sacrificing of her money and time and slowly slowly slowly she began to feel taken advantage of, while in a more fundamentalist environment, if you’re missing and in the hospital, people will figure it out quickly and will be at your bedside. This is a sociological construct. The beliefs don’t matter.”

“How does Reform Judaism build on its liberal edifice? I argue that we need to define our beliefs more clearly and raise those barriers, not up to Orthodoxy, but in significant ways.”

“What do you do with people who won’t help row? You try nurturing but eventually you have to throw them overboard. You end up with a smaller movement but with more dedication and commitment and clear vision.”

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The Last Thing She Saw

Luke Ford 2007

Chaim Amalek: “The beard was to Luke what hair was to Samson: a mighty redoubt from within which he might resist the temptations of the Shiksa Menace. But now that the beard is gone, the bets are off. Luke is now alone and vulnerable to any shiksa who might seek to further tempt him off the path of Torah and righteousness.”

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