Wednesday, April 13, 2005

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RCA Statement On Expelling Rabbi Mordecai Tendler

Given the way the RCA, under the leadership of rabbi Basil Herring, turned over its investigation files to rabbi Mordecai Tendler (after telling some of the women who say they were victimized by Tendler that their reports would be kept confidential), you'd think rabbi Herring and the RCA would be less huffy and self righteous. But no. Here's the press release:

In regard to The Rabbinical Council of America investigation and expulsion of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, the RCA determined that it would not issue any public statement beyond the formal findings of the Vaad and the Executive Committee. However, in light of a concerted campaign to mischaracterize, misrepresent, and distort both the process and its outcome, as well as to demean the eminent and distinguished rabbis who were part of the process, the RCA has elected to make the following statement:

1. The year long investigation took that extended time because the Vaad Hakavod made every effort to follow all the relevant halachic, legal, as well as moral, guidelines and laws, both as regards procedure and substance. The investigation benefited from the advice and guidance of recognized and respected experts in halachah, American law, and psychology. The findings were based on the evidence gathered during the course of the investigation, both on the telephone and in person, and both by outside investigators and members of the Vaad itself. Accordingly, we stand by both the procedural fairness of the proceedings and, equally important, the substantive result reached by us.

2. The investigation was not, and never purported to be, in the nature of a Beit Din proceeding. The RCA constitution calls for a panel of peers to review the activities of a rabbi accused of misbehavior. This is called a Beis Din Hakavod, or a Vaad Hakavod, which has always been understood as referring to an administrative process, not a Beit Din proceeding. This was made clear throughout to the accused and his counsel. As mandated by our constitution, it was an administrative proceeding of a religious organization, entitled to determine in a manner it chooses, who is and who is not fit to be a member.

3. The accused was given repeated opportunities prior to the issuance of the decision to respond to the charges as shared with him, as well as to appear in an appropriate hearing and face his accusers. However he, through his legal counsel, as well as through his wife, clearly and unambiguously turned down in writing such invitations to appear before the Vaad Hakavod. He requested instead that we rely on his written submissions, which we did, in addition to statements made by him in an interview by an independent investigator commissioned by the Vaad Hakavod. Only after the decision was communicated to him, did he offer to appear before the Vaad Hakavod.

4. Any claims or statements to the contrary, be they from rabbis in America or Israel, legal counsel, publicists, journalists, family members, or others, are based on either willful denial of fact or on ignorance resulting from one-sided representations.

Why would rabbi Herring and the RCA believe themselves to be so unassailably righteous in the handling of sex abuse charges that they would take this pompous tone? It's not like they don't have a long history of screwing up in these matters.

Forbes 400

Dennis Prager looks at the Forbes 400 richest persons and notes only 27 went to elite universities. Dennis says it is not necessary for most people to go to college (unless you want to become a teacher or professor or a professional -- law, medicine, etc).

Dennis says the only reason that college is necessary for the ambitious is that many employers won't employ someone who only has a highschool diploma.

Dennis doesn't mention why employers do this -- because it is illegal for them to test job applicants for IQ. So college education is the substitute for IQ testing.

Dennis says IQ testing is bunk, but outlawing it, say the authors of the book The Bell Curve, costs the US economy billions of dollars.

Rude Jews

Library guy writes:

I work part-time at an excellent public library whose patrons are about 70% Jewish. Most of our Jewish patrons are considerate, intelligent people and passionate readers, but the bad ones--and I'm talking about a tiny minority here--are horrible human beings who seem to take pleasure in laying into shocked members of our circulation staff whenever something goes wrong. When these patrons accumulate overdue fines, they become offensive and accusatory, causing some of our more sensitive staffers (i.e., the women) to leave the desk crying. The bad ones also refuse to discipline their children, who rack up a lot of fines on books for school projects, then expect their parents to show up at the library and chew out the staff or renew their books long beyond the acceptable limits (9 weeks).

All my coworkers--mostly Gentiles, but a couple very friendly Jews as well--have this tacit understanding that all the worst patrons are Jewish, but I think we're all so ashamed to suspect or discuss as much. Please help me understand why this is so because I am totally at a loss. I'm writing to you because your profiles of people like Scott Rudin, Peter Bart and Harvey Weinstein reminded me of some of our biggest offenders!

Am I a horrible anti-Semite? I understand you converted to Judaism so maybe you can enlighten this ignorant Catholic.

No group has only good characteristics. While Jews tend to be rich, educated, and law-abiding, there are sins they are disproportionately responsible for -- much of the filth in the music, TV and film industry (not that it would be much better if all Jews left), leftist political activism, feminism, and general rudeness.

As someone who was raised a Protestant, I have never sent back a plate of food at a restaurant. I was raised that one should not complain. Thus, Jewish life came as a shock -- all the whining, whinging, complaining, kvetching, and entitlement.

Jews tend to have a strong sense of importance, and tend to lead passionate lives pursuing various lives. In their pursuit of the things they want and feel they deserve, they tend to push more than WASPs do. That's why Jews are often described as passionate, pushy, grasping, climbers.

Dating Is Like Business

Ren writes: "As long as you're surrounded by [] chicks, you're going to fall for [] chicks. The women outside of [] are scared off by your job. And the [] chicks are around for you to fall for. Dating is like business. Location, location, location."

Jews In Las Vegas

Sheldon Teitelbaum writes the cover story in the latest Jerusalem Report:

About halfway through Martin Scorsese's 1995 biopic "Casino," legendary Las Vegas casino manager Frank Rosenthal, played by actor Robert DeNiro, is confronted by a Stetson-wearing gaming commissioner hankering to use his shiny snakeskin boots to "kick a kike's ass" out of town. "Your people never will understand the way it works out here," he tells the man who was known as the "King of Las Vegas." "You're all just our guests. But you act like you're at home. Let me tell you somethin', partner... you ain't home."

The real Rosenthal's failure to heed the warning during the late 1970s cost him his casino and, when a Mafia enforcer car-bombed him outside a restaurant, very nearly his life. Taking the hint, Rosenthal moved to Florida.

The commissioner in the movie had conveniently forgotten, of course, that if Bugsy Siegel and a few other Jewish gangsters in the 1940s hadn't recognized an opportunity in the desert, he would be hitching his mule to a trailer-park post, not playing big shot in what has become a perpetual boomtown. With tens of millions of people tapping out at the poker or blackjack tables, Sin City is raking it in, almost totally immune to the ordinary business cycle that rules the rest of America.

The city attracted 37 million visitors last year, with the town's top six gaming companies generating a combined $18.9 billion, up 7 percent from the year before, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, the city's largest daily newspaper. Vegas convention centers now attract some 15 percent - $6.5 billion worth - of the nation's trade shows.

Another big boom of the last decade has been in the Jewish population, now 85,000 and clocking in 600 newcomers a month. "You cannot find another community, anywhere or anytime that has grown this fast this quickly," says Las Vegas Jewish Federation president Meyer Bodoff. Find me another community," he challenges, "that has tripled in size in less than a dozen years." Indeed, the fastest- growing city in America - the population has doubled since 1990 to 1.6 million - now boasts the fastest growing Jewish community on the continent. The result: a profusion of new Jewish congregations, institutions and services sprouting in the 500-square-mile Las Vegas Valley like overnight blooms of desert lichen.

Scientology Concert

A friend writes:

I just came back from an event at a Scientology center. A friend invited me to a Jewish/Palestinian concert with a fantastic meal, she said. The fantastic meal was true, the concert was stupid, and it turned into a fundraiser. As I left early, the way out was guarded and I had to go through an exit interview that lasted a very short time before I raised my voice. Scary stuff, scary people.

'I'm tired of being told that because I was f--ked by my father as a child that I have no credibility'

An unhappy survivor of sexual violence.

Would you want Mordecai Tendler to be the halachic advisor of a mental health center you went to?

Check out Jewish Family Services of Rockland. The Jewish Press.

XXX writes: "Several of us have called the executive director there. He never returns our call."

Shabbos Shooters

Friday Night Live at Temple Sinai in Westwood began with shots of apple-tinged vodka.

Dancing returned after the main prayer (Amidah).

After services, about 300 people gathered in a room for "Rapid Networking." It's like speed dating. You'd speak to a person of the opposite sex for a couple of minutes, exchange business cards if you felt like it, and then moved on to someone new.

The thrill of the old Friday Night Live is back.

Right Turns is a good autobiography by Michael Medved. Though it helps to be right-wing to enjoy it, I skipped the conservative sermons in the book (because I already agreed with them) and just enjoyed the story of this man's amazing life. He handles his divorce in a classy way, taking much of the blame upon his own shoulders, and writing nothing bad about his ex-wife. He's open about his past loves and foibles. He's a guy you want to have lunch with (I once had dinner with him and he's every bit as interesting as his writing and radio show suggest).

I think that much of the reason that Meved gets slammed so much by his fellow movie critics is that he is so much deeper and more accomplished. He's published many serious and successful books. He evaluates movies, in part, by what they are saying, by the values they push. Most, if not all, successful stories have a moral. It's no sin to judge that.

You have to be a girl or a girly-man to enjoy Jennifer Traig's Devil in the Details: Scenes From An Obsessive Girlhood. Being a manly-man, I was unable to get into it.

Understanding Second Temple And Rabbinic Judaism by Lawrence H. Schiffman is for highschool kids who don't know much about the topic. An erudite man such as myself simply enjoys the pictures.

Dude, Where's My Family?

The title of a new Holocaust film.

The Pope Didn't End Communism

The Communists did a good job of detaching the people of Eastern and Central Europe from their religious traditions. But before we weep too much over that loss, we ought to cast our eyes across to Western Europe, which achieved pretty much the same thing without any official atheism or overt state antagonism to religion. In West Germany, for example, the churches ran the public schools, yet those schools produced generations of children whose connection to Christianity is limited pretty much to Christmas sentimentality.

Odd Chick Behavior

Duke writes:

* Dancing in front of a mirror. Every chick I know dances in front of a mirror. What is that? Imaginge a guy doing that?

* Driving 30 miles with emergency brake on.

Sherm writes: Excessive use of mirrors. Only women and metro's engage in this.

Sinister writes: What is up with girls who just have to be in the bathroom all the time, just can't understand this one.

Ross writes:

Dancing infront of the mirror with a hairbrush to their mouth, singing along...Odd indeed.

Also, dancing in the car, people infront of them looking the rear view mirror must get out the way, those bitches are gonna crash into the back of you!

Psili writes: Taking an hour to "fix" their hair. Or trying on at least three different "outfits", some repeatedly, before being ready to go out.

Uno writes: I can't stand the "If you don't know, I'm not going to tell you" mentality when they are pissed off.

Question writes: Gets dressed to go out, asks how she looks, and no matter what response I give, she says, "You don't like it, do you."

Platinum writes: They're tempermental and bi-polar on their periods.

Generation Kill

Robert J. Avrech writes:

One of the aspects of life in Arab countries that is rarely if ever commented on by the mainstream media is the prevalence of homosexuality. It is not politically correct to point out that in Afghanistan it's all too common for tribal war lords to fight bloody battles over possession of some poor twelve-year-old-boy. When I lived in Israel, I often witnessed and commented on the obviously sexual relationships I was seeing between Arab men and young boys. My Israeli friends would laugh and just nod their heads for it was common knowledge that Arab men live lives so segragated from women that homosexuality is considered an acceptable release. But of course Arab societies make believe that it's just "healthy affection." Perfectly understandable, I suppose, when you consider that the Imams will and do have homosexuals publicly beheaded.

Pat Conroy's Dialogue Is The Best

He's the best novelist at writing dialogue. Every scene is compelling. His latest book I'm reading is Beach Music (free of the homo-overtones of some of his previous work, such as The Lords Of Discipline). When the people in Conroy's books talk, I feel fully involved. I want to fight, scream and love along with his characters. This writer has his finger on the pulse of life.

Helen At The 2005 BAT GT Race Car Championship In Seoul

Helen again. And to think that this woman is a virgin.

Integrating Men And Women In Police Cars = Divorce And Immorality

"Mr. [Ed] Koch broke the standards of kedusha (holiness) by forcing the police department to integrate men and women in patrol cars, which resulted in many divorces." (The Jewish Press)

You stick me or any other red-blooded man in a patrol car with an attractive woman and have us spend many of the most exciting hours of our week alone together and you're likely to have illicit sex and divorces. If I become successful, I'm only going to have homely women and men around me.

You may ask -- whatever happened to self-control? Well, when it comes to sex with beautiful women, most men don't have any. What prevents us from having more of it is lack of opportunity. Luckily for my morals, I have "loser" tattooed across my forehead, which makes it much easier for me to live up to the teachings of the Torah.

What type of men become sexual predators? Those who can.

Why Won't Jeff Ballabon Shut Up?
In The Name Of Values, Not Politics

Jeff is the paid propagandist for Channel One, a large corporation which makes deals with schools (public and private) to force children to watch television (including commercials) in exchange for giving the school free TV (schools don't need TVs, they need teachers who can teach kids to read and write).

So, fine, that's how he makes his living. It's not honorable, but many of us are forced to make compromises with our integrity to pay the bills.

What bothers me is that Ballabon waves his Orthodox Judaism like a bloody flag, and continually proclaims how he lives his life in accord with Jewish Law, while engaging in work that sullies the souls of children (without admitting that what he is doing is, at best, problematic according to his religion). If he'd admit that he's doing this, then I wouldn't have a problem. I do have a problem that he's becoming an influential voice of the religious and political Right. He doesn't speak for me or for anyone who wants to protect children from the encroachment of television. I loathe Jeff Ballabon (even though I agree with almost all his political and religious views).

This week in the Forward Ballabon prattles about values that are the absolute antithesis of his profession (now, I do that all the time, but, at least, I hope, with a sense of irony, humility and shame):

This moral center is no departure from Republican principles. Small government and economic thrift are not, as Danforth argues, the core principles. All things being equal, they are a means to achieve the core principle: the protection of individual freedom against unnecessary government intrusion.

But all things are not equal. Secularists want to invest government with the power to force citizens to abandon their scruples on an array of the most basic building blocks of individual conscience. Judges willing to ignore the Constitution want to force citizens to redefine families. The left wants to assign power to the government to determine the quality and worth of innocent lives in order to allow their intentional destruction.

Jeff works for a company that makes deals with government schools to force kids to watch television. Ballabon expands the power of government to force kids to watch TV. He destroys individual freedom and increases government intrusion. Through his work, Ballabon invests government with the power to force citizens to abandon their scruples against watching television and to ignore their conscience (television is the antithesis of religion, and if many religious people watch TV that only shows that they do not live up to the demands of their religion).

It is precisely Jeff Ballabon and his company that "assign[s] power to the government to determine the quality and worth of innocent lives in order to allow their intentional destruction."

I highly doubt that Jeff Ballabon sends his kids to a school which has a deal with his employer.

Saul Bellow Never Spoke To Me

I read several of his books. All difficult sledding for inadequate reward except for Ravelstein (and I was sustained in that by my admiration for Allen Bloom). I did date Saul Bellow's niece in 1999. We saw Hillary and Jackie -- a superb movie.

February's Book Sales

XXX-Communicated: 2

Yesterday's News Tomorrow: 1

The Producers: 25

Don't Lech All Over Helen

Jackie writes: "That's making me tearful! And yes, she's very innocent and precious, I don't even like thinking about some creepy guy leching all over her. (I don't mean you, btw.) She's the kind of person you just want to protect and keep warm and safe. Something humbling about being around her."

Monica Leaves Hubby, LA Mayor James Hahn, For A Woman?

That's the rumor the reporters are refusing to investigate.

Hipsters Send Times Into Tizzies

Matt Welch writes in The LA Times.

"An experimental column in which the Los Angeles Times invites outside critics to grouse about a Southern California newspaper..."

I've often thought about submitting a column for this section, but reading and thinking about The LA Times makes me listless and bored. I tend to read The Times just before going to sleep. The paper is not so bad (like the Jewish Journal) that it is fun to make fun of. It's just solid and dull.

The Horny Rabbi

Rabbi Karen Deitch (Reform) writes:

“So, you’re a rabbi? I didn’t know women could be....”

“Well, they can. ... Clearly, I am a liberal Jew. ... Yes, actually half of my graduating class was female.”

“So, can you get married?”

“What you mean is, can I have sex?”

He blushes. Poor guy. He’s confused. He doesn’t know where to look. It is suddenly inappropriate that he is checking out my low neckline. It is instantly incongruous that he likes my snug Diesel jeans. He tries, God bless him, to segue back into casual discussion; it lasts for seven minutes. He excuses himself, mutters something about a call he has to make and staggers away in shock.

The Plot Against America

As a Philip Roth fan, let me assure you this book doesn't rank among his best five (Goodbye Columbus, Portnoy's Complaint, The Professor of Desire, American Pastorale, I Married A Communist). Plot is neither compelling nor important and is the most overrated book of 2004.

The only way I can account for its general acclaim is that it must feed into many leftists' fear of a right-wing takeover of America. Its Jewish acclaim must lie with the desire of Jewish literrati to assert that Roth is a Jewish writer. This is his most Jewish book, but its focus is on secular Jews, the type most likely to assimilate within a generation or two. Whether they die by Hitler, Lindbergh or intermarriage, they are just as dead to the Jewish project of spreading ethical monotheism.

Yori Yanover writes:

Luke -

Roth's plot is a stinker, and if anything, he lacks the heart to pursue his nightmare scenario to the bitter end and bails out in time for the historically-prescribed V-day. But if you turn to Roth for plot strength you're wasting your time. Roth is valuable most emphatically for his depiction of authentic sensations. And his depiction of the life of the small child Philip Roth in 1940's Hoboken is breathtakingly truthful. His ability to recall the ambivalence of American Jews in pre-WW2 America is cleansing in its power and lack of sentimentality. Compare his merciless descriptions to his Jewish contemporaries (Neil Simon comes to mind) and discover a rare depth of insight and recollection.

I hate grouping books and picking the best of this or that, so I won't argue much with your list of favorite Roth books. In my view only Portnoy was making a similar effort at authenticity, and The Plot beats it hands down for its sheer absence of nostalgia.

Incidentally, to say that PAA is about "secular Jews" is to introduce late 20th Century terminology to a discussion of mid-century culture. Indeed, all the Jews in the novel, including the pompous Reform rabbi who makes it big in the Lindbergh administration, are thoroughly and unabashedly Jewish. The central dilemma faced by Roth Senior is the choice of being uprooted from his Jewish neighborhood Vs. his ability to earn a living. Twice he faces this choice, the second time more dramatically than the first, and both times he makes the ethnocentric choice. The synagogue is still very much part of the neighborhood landscape, as is the struggle over kosher and non-kosher food. Goyim are still a foreign entity to be feared and loathed, despite everyone's sense of American patriotism.

As a religious reader, I was filled with a sense of compassion and empathy for the characters, and came away with a deeper sense of understanding of what it was like to be a Jew not in a speculative-history America, but in the real one, a scant half-century ago.

Ticked Off At Stern College - The Piece That Started The Controversy

In response to the following, the Purim issue of The Observer [the newspaper at Stern College, an Orthodox women's college in Manhattan, the sister institute to Yeshiva University, whose undergraduate program is just for men] wrote about Menachem Wecker being impotent.

Is the Commentator a Better Paper?

By Menachem Wecker [in the YU Commentator]

The Official Newspaper of the Beren Campus, it declares smugly in its upper right hand corner. It has a masthead on page two which claims to be an affiliate of the Associate Collegiate Press. A Google search online shows no website. A quick perusal of the most recent issue of the Observer yields a blizzard of grammatical errors, many in one of the columns of the editors-in-chief. Take this "sentence" from the second page, about Christo's Gates: "Regardless of whether people find the art uplifting or disappointing, there is a more fundamental problem with the concept, namely a purpose proportional with the exorbitant expense." I do not think I am too bold when I say that where I come from that is not held to be English. Before I recommend that the writers purchase an MLA handbook ($13.99 on Amazon.com, for you Observer "writers" who are reading this column) for themselves, let's inspect another verse from the same Christo column. "This may be wonderful for some people in New York City, but ask yourself whether you would rather put money into the hands of restaurant owners, airlines and hotels, or into those of people fighting disease, civil war and starvation?" There we have it. The Observer officially endorses perpetuators of civil war.

This all begs the question, is the Commentator a better paper than the observer (and I will use the lower case intentionally)? Well, it is not a better paper per se, and by that I mean not inherently so-only coincidentally, really. Think about it as the difference between ARTnews and US Weekly. The good guys would never run a six page fashion spread in the middle of our paper. Even if we did, for some bizarre reason, we would provide photos with real resolution and some analysis that raised the bar slightly above the inane. Sara Levit and Julie Ast have a sense of humor though which is refreshing. They clearly don't take the column particularly serious themselves, evidenced by headlines like "Tzniut Hits the Runways" (amid spreads that would make the Rav blush, were he still here) and "Model Behavior: What They Don't Tell You in Magazines." In the Tzniut article, sentences like "One shouldn't be overwhelmed when they see pictures of well dressed models from fashion week" betray a need for Writing Comp 101, and articles that use "beautiful" for their only descriptive vocabulary, providing a survey of clothing that would befit a "religious" girl (they are girls, not women) without providing any form of critical vocabulary ought never to appear in an arts and culture section. Might I recommend applying to the Fashion Week PR department instead for an internship?

A random quote from a Stern student who asserts that models look "disgusting" fits perfectly with an article elsewhere on POM. The SCWSC President's column managed to squeeze more semicolons into each "sentence" than I have ever seen, and her advice "If you see someone struggling this semester lend a hand or just lend a hand even if you don't see someone struggling" is brilliant. The other editor-in-chief's column spoke of "another gaping whole in the Modern Orthodox community" and the writer must be prolific to know of institutions like "Eish HaTorah." Luckily, she manages a "I realize I am employing gross generalizations, so please forgive my stereotypes." I will try to forgive, but patience has a knack for running out.

But if you think this column has no purpose other than to point out that observer writers can't write, you are dead wrong. Largely, the observer writers hail an anti-academic journalistic ideology that has a lot to do with Christo. Stern College shortchanges its students of a real education. The school was founded largely to give the girls something to do while the men are in school uptown, to prepare the students for marriage and to buy them time, largely. Many professors who have taught midtown told me that the quality of education is much greater uptown. Simply put, all one must do is observe the difference.

The editor's column argues that Christo's project demonstrates "a tragic reflection of social values, in that we are more concerned about contemplating whether steel structures look like a 'pleated skirt'…than helping to relieve world hunger or AIDS." This argument is absurd. If all money must go towards AIDS, then I suggest that observer editors trim their expenses and instead of investing in shoes and make-up, they ought to send the money to poor Palestinian children.

The very anti-aesthetic model that bars an understanding of "The Gates" from observer staff is also responsible for the juvenile writing and for the six page fashion spread. For Christo is about meditation and about a cautious, humble way of looking. It is about exploring what orange means and about complicating notions of art. The viewer who rushes in and imposes her own thumbprints all over the work has missed the point. She is picketing the man who put 7,500 orange picket fences up to mock the art world.

A Note To People Who Want Me To Link To Them

Don't ask. It's bad netiquette. If your site has merit, it will receive the links it deserves.

A Wife, A Gun, and Tokyo

Movie recommendations from Robert J. Avrech. Fun for the whole family.

Robert writes: "These films are also completely kosher and appropriate for even the most religious households."

Then he adds:

My Favorite Wife, like all the best screwball comedies, spins proper behavior around by playing with sex role reversals in blunt physical terms. When Dunne shows up at her house, for example, she is dressed as a merchant marine. The film is refreshing in its treatment of marriage and sexuality. The final scene shows Dunne lying comfortably in bed, happily torturing Grant by refusing to allow him to sleep with her. Grant wants to know when he will be allowed to enter her bedroom. Dunne smiles wickedly and says, "Oh, around Christmas." Which is several months away. At his wit's end, Grant exits. Terrible sounds are heard from the attic, suddenly Grant reappears in the bedroom door--dressed as Santa. The film's final shot is of a leering Santa, leaving no doubt as to what happens next.

I should hang out more with the easy-going religious families in Robert's imagination. Many of the ones I know would be appalled by such a movie. But then my friends and I do have very tender sensibilities.

A sensitive conscience can be a curse. Take it from me, Your Moral Leader.

A Synagogue That Has 'Serviced' Thousands

Sitting in shul, I heard the rabbi say that his synagogue had "serviced" thousands.

"Served thousands," said my friend.

We smiled.

"You're a bad influence on me," he said.

I Want To Get Close

The biggest pain I feel (and I don't think this is unique to me) is being unable to get close to people I want to get close to. I'm not talking here about my lack of ability for intimacy. I'm talking about something more painful -- encountering wonderful people (and I am not just talking about hot young women I want to sleep with if only my religious values did not prevent me) who I want to get close to but they don't want to get close to me.

I took a few minutes off from self-pity Saturday night to ponder the pain I cause those who want to get close to me but I keep them at a distance.

Jane: you wrote something about being nice in person and on IM and in e-mail but not when it comes to writing your site. WHY?
Jane: and i have often wondered why you are always nice to me?
Jane: you don't have to answer....
Jane: just thinking about it, and i know you can't answer in one word, lol, and you aren't sleeping with me....
Luzdedos1: because the primary requirement of my journalism is things other than "nice"
Jane: but why are you nice to me?
Luzdedos1: I am nice to everyone personally unless some other value transcends that
Jane: so if i do a ...., you will report my degridation and never be nice to me again?
Luzdedos1: I'll do my job
Jane: i guesss i would like you to say that you are nice to me because you like me, but that isn't gonnna happen? lol and no i am not trying to bate you and no, i will not give you a bunch of s--- tonight Luzdedos1: :)
Luzdedos1: be glad that my behavior does not depend on my likes...which can fluctuate...
Jane: you know i for some crazy reason i feel you as a kindred heart
Luzdedos1: Whenever I IM with you, I feel like I am lecturing...
Jane: WOW, i don't want that, you to feel that way
Luzdedos1: i can be pompous
Jane: YOU???? no way, lmao
Jane: I feel kind towards you, and i have always felt kindness back FROM you
Jane: but also that you are always distant to me, which i hate
Jane: which is probably why i bug you sometimes
Luzdedos1: I think I react to that by pulling away...
Jane: cuz i ask for more and you don't give it to me
Luzdedos1: wow, IM allows people to be blunt...
Jane: if you haven't noticed i am not known for being subtle
Luzdedos1: I can only give that type of intimacy with my GF...
Jane: but i am known for being nice, which i am proud of
Luzdedos1: and my readers...
Luzdedos1: people i usually keep at a distance
Jane: there is not a reason in the world why you cannot care about someone who is not your g/f
Luzdedos1: True, but I can't give you more until/if that comes spontaneously from within me. It can't be pulled out.
Jane: understood
Jane: truely understood
Luzdedos1: this is our most intimate conversation ever
Jane: i feel/ have always felt a connection to you
Jane: i am really happy about that
Luzdedos1: Thank you...two writers...

Jewish Journal Puff Piece On Atheist Rabbi

It begins: "As Rabbi Harold Schulweis celebrates his 80th birthday, the Valley Beth Shalom [Conservative] leader plans to keep going."

What do you think he's going to say? He plans to drop dead?

A headline on the piece reads: "Courage and Innovation."

There's not a negative word about rabbi Schulweis in the article.

The Jewish religion brought monotheism into the world but many in the Conservative movement such as Harold Schulweis (and his mentor, the late Mordecai Kaplan) have labored to take God, and therefore meaning, out of Jewish life.

An atheist is made in God's image like a theist and is deserving of dignified treatment. But atheists should not become religious leaders in monotheistic religions. They should devote their talents to other things.

That such an obvious point will never be made by any leader in Conservative Judaism shows how spineless it is. Conservative rabbis would rather have comfortable relations with their fellow rabbis than suggest that atheists should not take ordination and lead synagogues.

The Jewish Journal (JJ) writes: "If you want to follow the thread of religious innovation and ethical behavior in modern Jewish life, you won’t need to stray far from the career and philosophies of Rabbi Harold Schulweis. In fact, you probably can’t confront those topics without confronting the work of Schulweis."


"Since he was ordained in 1950, Schulweis has challenged the status quo with an intellectualism and a fearlessness born of the confidence that moral rightness is on his side."


"His 1994 Rosh Hashanah sermon advocating the acceptance of gays and lesbians as equal and beloved members of the Jewish community earned him a standing ovation."

That must've taken courage for him.

Philanderer-rabbi Steven Jacobs says: "There is no rabbi like him in this century."

Thank God for that.

Atheist rabbi Harold Kushner: "For years I’ve believed that he is the finest rabbi in America."

Well, you would, wouldn't you?

I loved the hard-hitting first question in the JJ interview of rabbi Schulweis: "You have a history of anticipating — or more accurately, creating — the next big thing in Jewish life. You envision something, and you go after it. How do you arrive at what the next big thing is?"

Second hard-hitting question: "Has this willingness to challenge the status quo, to demand consistency and honesty from the Jewish community, gotten you in trouble?"

Somehow the Journal forgot to ask: "Why are you so wonderful?"

And, "May I blow you?"

One interesting sentence in the article: Rabbi Schulweis says: "I do notice my best intellectual friends are Orthodox."

Young Israel Of Century City (YICC) Cancels Its Kiddish Club

It's a custom in many Orthodox synagogues (despite the opposition of rabbis) to walk out during the reading from the prophets and have a drink and some snacks.

Synagogues are not like church. A typical Sabbath morning service lasts three hours (compared to an hour for the average Sunday service). It's hard to concentrate on religious things for three hours. A man needs a break.

The Orthodox Union is making a fight against such Kiddish Clubs. The rabbis are always trying to improve us.

Young Israel of Century City rabbi Elazar Muskin finally canceled his shul's Kiddish Club. He's always hated it.

Rabbi Muskin met with leading participants in his shul's Kiddish Club. They told him that they weren't going to get any more religious (which flummoxed and hurt him) and that if he canceled the Kiddish Club, they'd leave the shul.

I hear that between 20-50 members of YICC have left over this (mainly to Mogen David).

Yaakov writes: "I have never gone to a Kiddush Club because they take place during the reading of the haftorah and one is not permitted to walk out. I also don't drink. And watching a bunch of frum men getting plastered in the middle of the mmorning is kind of depressing."

I asked somebody in shul today if we had a Kiddish Club. He said yes, but he never goes because he's never been invited.

Cathy Seipp On Dennis Miller

Luke Ford Fan Blog reports:

I'm surprised that Mr Gillespie is prepared to show his face in public so soon after having been bested by Luke Ford in a meeting of the minds a couple of weeks ago. Should not an embarrassed Mr Gillespie have retreated from public view for a long period of self-examination and repentance?

Apparently not because he was pontificating and sounding all authoritative last night. Unfortunately, I couldn't follow his argument that the Schiavo case has nothing to do with the "culture of life," because he kept waving his left hand in front of the camera. This was no nervous tick. Mr Gillespie was showing off to the television audience that he's available and a libertarian. And we all know what that means.

...It especially annoys me that these people are smart enough to concoct an entire ideology to justify their swinging lifestyle. Andrew Sullivan is a classic example of someone whose political philosophy is simply an extension of his voracious sexual appetite. At least Mr Sullivan got his comeuppance when his personal ad asking for large black men to play "top" to his "bottom" was plastered all over the Internet.


From MideastOutpost:

Liel Leibovitz has been reporting for the Jewish Week in a manner biased against the Columbia students who have complained about being humiliated and intimidated by anti-Israel faculty members. Given Leibovitz's background, this is no surprise.

Leibovitz is an Israeli leftist who recently obtained a degree from Columbia's School of Journalism. In an article he wrote for Columbia Journalism Review (May/June 2003) he makes no secret of his identification with the pro-Palestinian politically correct denizens of that school. He describes his "double life" as journalism student at Columbia (pursuing "fairness and balance") and press officer for the Consul General of Israel, in which capacity (to his shame) he was forced to defend Israel, experiencing "my own personal blue-and-white Scarlet Letter burning my skin."

Despite his moral sensitivity, Leibovitz seems to have had no qualms about deceiving his superiors. He describes, for example, going with his boss to Columbia where, as his boss spoke, he saw the faces of his classmates, smiling disdainfully. "I wanted so much to be like them," writes Leibovitz. He says it must have shown on his face because his boss, on the way out, asked "What's the matter? Those liberals disgust you too much?"

Defending a government he found indefensible, Leibovitz writes "I became detached, reading the news from Israel as if it were some nation in Asia that I knew nothing of and cared little for." It all shows in his coverage of the Columbia story -- and it is scandalous that Jewish Week editor Gary Rosenblatt assigned him to cover it.

Those Amazing Anonymous Journalist Bloggers

Sultan_Knish writes:

Plenty of compulsive liars, for example Bill and Hillary Clinton, go by their own names. It does not interfere in any way with their chosen career of compulsive lying. People are judged by their track records and that indeed is the only way anyone can be judged, whether they give their name or not.

That my grocer has a name does not matter to me nearly so much as that I know from past experience the quality of his wares. With journalists too, it does not matter what they call themselves so long as there is a consistent name and identity along with a track record.

His critics cite accountability but what does accountability for a freelance blogger who is not doing this for commercial reasons? He has a consistent identity and that identity and his reputation is accountable. No further professional accountability is possible since his reputation is his profession. Personal accountability however is but that is not a credible argument that someone is not a legitimate reporter unless they expose themselves to personal harrassment.

Journalists who operate in the Orthodox community and live within it, particularly excluding the Modern Orthodox Community, face an environment where investigative journalism is tarred as mosering or lashon hara and where social reputation for a family is everything and where everyone knows instances of corruption but no one speaks out because leaders and Rabbanim may not be questioned.

The blog is the future of Orthodox Jewish journalism. It is anonymous and it synthesizes sources and information and throws in gossip and rumor into the mix too. It opens up sources of information that were closed because no one has a face.

Dov Bear writes:

I think Gary is out to lunch on this one. JWB is entitled to his anonymity and to his style. The fact of the matter is that it is not JWB's job to be responsible, or nuanced, or to think about whether his posts are productive or dangerous, or cogent, or even defensible.

Gary's objections are the sort of criticisms one might make of, say, a journalist, someone whose job description includes being responsible about what he says in public. JWB, however, is not a journalist?he is an entertainer. Or maybe it's better to say that he, like all bloggers, is part of a peculiar, modern, and very popular type of news industry, one that manages to enjoy the influence of journalism without the stodgy constraints of fairness, objectivity, and responsibility that make trying to tell the truth such a drag for everyone involved.

The Korean-Australian-Jewish-Christian Alliance of Pico-Robertson

Jackie D writes:

Luke Ford never swears, but tonight he used the b-word, w-word, and c-word (yes, THAT c-word) when talking to me. I feel strangely honoured.

Luke said on the drive home that Tony [Pierce] always has all the hottest chicks. "I bet women feel very safe with him," I replied. "Just standing there talking to him, I had the feeling that he would let no harm come to me." Also, he has a fantastic laugh. He's the kind of guy I'd set up with my best friend.

Luke was on fine form, monopolising Tony's beautiful, born-again Christian, Korean date for the entire night. It was at turns painful and amusing to behold.

After the four of us closed down Kung Pao Kitty, Luke enthused about Tony's date as we walked to his serial killer van.

LUKE: She has such a great sense of humour, too!
ME: I didn't really notice her cracking a lot of jokes.
LUKE: Well, what I mean is she laughed at MY jokes.

NYT, Columbia, Work Together To Keep Student Voices Out

Steven I Weiss reports on CampusJ:

Columbia's Ad-Hoc committee investigating allegations of intimidation by the MEALAC department released its report last night; more discussion on that to come. At the moment, much anger and derision can be directed at the New York Times for having brokered an agreement with the university to not solicit student feedback in exchange for an exclusive on the report. Basically, the NYT promised not to get the other side of the story, committing itself to a half-journalism. There's no question that such an arrangement violates a few basic ethics of journalism, and that the NYT should be condemned for that. Deals for exclusive and embargoed content are brokered all the time, but they should never include guarantees to sources about how they'll be covered; it's almost absurd to say that there's an ethical difference above that, but the additional commitment to avoid contacting necessary sources for a stories is yet a level beyond the initial infraction.

Helen's Haunting My Seoul
I'm Forming An Australian - Korean Friendship Society

I went off my meds this week to see if I'd have more energy. And wouldn't you know it, but the past two days, I've been feeling positively perky. On the downside, I was overcome by a tsunami of rage Thursday afternoon (and I don't think it was Gary Rosenblatt's fault, sorry Gary for the uncharacteristic savagery with which I went after you).

I've got a new cell phone and I can't get it to work. I have $2,000 owed to me for my service to humanity and it is way late. I have other issues which are too personal to write about on this blog (but may show up elsewhere in the Luke Ford Family of Blogs).

Jackie came over Thursday evening to go to the LA Weekly party. I knew that I needed to stay at home and work. I've been lazy. But it's Jackie's last night in town, so off to Kung Pao Kitty's we go.

By the time my van started, I had my homicidal urges under control. But as we drove, I called a couple of drivers "bitches" (and I never use that language when people are around).

Jackie knew my mood was filthy. I figured this evening was going to grim. Nobody would want to talk to me.

First 30-minutes at Kung Pao Kitty's was awkward until I got into it with Joe Donnelly, LA Weekly managing editor, and he was able to answer my questions about the writer-editor relationship.

I spot a cute blonde bird bouncing around. Never seen her before in my life.

Then I'm told it is Kate Sullivan the rock critic. Sheesh, that girl can pull off a lot of different looks.

My whole night lit up like Korean fireworks when I ran into Tony Pierce and his beautiful 24-year old Korean date Helen (doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't lend herself to other blokes).

Tony always has the hottest chicks (he brought Clarissa to my book party). How does he do it? He doesn't even own a car.

I fear that once they've gone black, they'll never go back. How can you keep them on the farm once they've seen Paris. Tony is very Paris.

We both want to cross the DMZ and invade Helen's Korean peninsula which juts so provocatively into the Pacific Ocean, just sticking out there, all tempting like, driving wild a warlike people like Tony and I.

For the next two hours, I talked nonstop, trying to test how far I could go with offensive positive generalizations about Asians (smart, polite, courteous, cute, eager to please) before I offend the born-again Christian.

Nothing I said seemed to throw her. She laughed at all my jokes. She must have a great sense of humor and be highly discerning.

Koreans are the best. They are far better looking than the Japanese and they don't rape whole countries. My whole dorm floor at UCLA was filled with Koreans and they had broad friendly faces. I was so grateful that somebody was studying math and science so that I could receive quality medical care in my old age.

As Chaim Amalek says, if going yellow is wrong, I don't want to be right.

It was only when the girls started talking about blush, that I decided it was time to leave.

Driving home with Jackie, we planned all sorts of ways I could get together with Helen.

I could start an interfaith blog and use my many personaes to give her the impression that I've got something impressive. Then I could throw a party for my bloggers at my hovel and it would end up just the two of us.

Or, how about an Australian-Korean friendship society? Hands across the Pacific? Or, the Pico/Robertson Thinktank for the Higher Study of Koreans?

I'm feeling dizzy. I need to lie down. My Seoul's in turmoil.

Jackie writes:

Tell me this isn't fate.

I think Helen will be desperate to receive the benefit of your unique Jewish-American perspective on her countryman's views...

Haha, ignore that - I misread the link on Drudge that said "Koran scholar" and thought it said "Korean scholar". I guess Helen is haunting my soul, too.

I've been trying to find her blog. I tried using the words: christian god korean tv show blog No dice. I'm gonna be up all night doing this.

Jeez, I am such a good person. I've never been so desperate to foster international friendship than I am tonight.

Imagine if you two had kids. They'd be the best barbecue chefs on earth.

Gary Rosenblatt Shagged Out In Chinese Massage Parlor?

Perhaps I was naive, but I detected a certain openness in Gary Rosenblatt's latest. I felt that Gary truly wanted to be engaged with bloggers, to have an I-Thou Relationship with us. He just wants us to ask him before we write about him.

I thought, that's reasonable.

So I dropped him a nice email about his column "Bogged Down By Bloggers." No reply.

I figured he was playing hard to get. So I called him at 2:45pm EST. His secretary said he was out to lunch.

Well, I've been saying that for months now. No news there.

Yes, dear, I know Gary is out to lunch, but may I speak to him please (and, in the future, you may wish to be a little more careful in what you say about your boss).

Then I realized she meant it literally.

So while I thought it was a tad decadent of Gary to be out to lunch at nearly three bloody o'clock in the afternoon, I left a nice message on his answer machine, asking several polite questions about his latest column.

Then I sat back and ate my humble lunch of bread and water, said my blessings, studied some Torah, and waited for Gary's return phone call.

It never came.

Now, I need to drift back in time to explain what happened in my head.

'Gary, Me Luv U Long Time!'

I once had an Israeli friend who worked in some of those dodgy Israeli electronics stores near 42nd Street, and when my friend had a big sale, he'd celebrate at a nearby Chinese massage parlor. Very reasonable prices and high quality service.

Another friend told me that the more you pay, the more cocaine they give you, and they even stick it up your --- 'cause you feel it quicker that way.

So I got all worried about what happened to Gary.

When it came 5pm EST and still no call from Gary, I looked up the address of The Jewish Week. It's at 1501 Broadway.

A horrible thought flitted across my mind. Broadway is full of Chinese. They're cute and they're cuddly and their eager to please. They've got a little red book and a mousy tongue.

Maybe Gary's all shagged in a Chinese massage parlor and that's why he couldn't return my call? If so, shouldn't someone go in there and rescue him? He might miss Mincha.

Gary Rosenblatt, Teanna

Gary Rosenblatt Bogged Down By Bloggers

Mr. Jewish Journalism writes in The Jewish Week:

Though I am getting used to it, I still find it disconcerting to read about myself –– and my journalistic motivations — on Internet blogs, especially because more often than not the information isn’t accurate. Various writers, often anonymous, claim to know what investigative stories I am working on, or not working on, and why, or why not, though none of them have ever asked me.

I was started to feel bad for Gary until I remembered my experience with him. My time interviewing Gary might as well have been spent talking to a wood block. What's the point of accountability if you refuse to answer any question that causes you discomfort?

I gave Gary every opportunity to answer various damaging reports about him. Gary wouldn't. He wouldn't answer any tough questions. He begged off of every single one.

So excuse me if I shed no tears over his hurt feelings. Excuse me if I afford no respect to his latest cries. Excuse me if my most vivid experience with Gary is him constantly saying, I'd rather not answer that.

When push came to shove, Gary was not accountable. Read my profile of him and make up your own mind.

In case Gary forgets, here are some questions he refused to answer:

* Why did he muzzle his best investigative reporter (Larry Cohler) and refuse to publish for 18-months Larry'ss revelations about Malcolm Hoenlein's slush fund?

* Why does he refuse to publish Yossi Abramowitz?

* Why has Gary never apologized for the way he had Yossi treated when he came in with his JNF scoop?

Gary's lead paragraph is a lie. I am a blogger and I asked Gary numerous questions, including questions about stories he was working on. JWB has also corresponded with Gary on these matters.

Gary's primary question about blogs (and JWB in particular) is: Are they good journalism? This is a stupid question. It's like asking if a telephone is good journalism. Blogs and phones are simply ways people communicate. The most important question to ask about blogs and writing is: Is it good? Does it have merit?

Journalism is a procedure. Merit is a destination. In this case, the destination is more important than the journey.

Inspired by Gary's column, I called him at 2:45pm EST to ask him such basic questions as the ones I raise in this essay. He was out to lunch. So I left my questions on his voicemail.

Gary writes: "Over the years in this profession I’ve gotten thicker skin, but there are people whose lives are more private than mine whose reputations and character are maligned in these reports. They have no one to turn to in order to set the record straight, and that’s just not right."

Gary provides no evidence to back up his assertions. I guess Gary is so mighty, he doesn't need to bother with such details as evidence.

Gary writes: "What bothers me, though, is that in this still emerging field, there is no accountability and there are no professional standards to be met. In the rush to get a story out first, the emphasis is on timeliness rather than accuracy, with seemingly little regard –– or responsibility –– for printing rumors or theories that are untrue. So people who are mentioned and maligned by an anonymous blogger have no recourse."

Again, Gary provides no evidence and no examples to substantiate his charges. I guess this is the type of lazy writing you can get away with when you edit and publish a lazy newspaper filled with mediocre writing. The whole thing is so blah, who's going to notice that the editor and publisher is making a lot of charges without substantiating them.

To rework a Gary Rosenblatt sentence in his latest blog, I mean column: "There is something very appealing about having one’s own newspaper. It’s easy to do, in this particular column it costs you no work in having to interview people with whom you might disagree, and before you know it, you can be sitting at the office and pontificating on any and all topics for all the world to read, even if you've made no exertion to substantiate your points." Sweet.

Gary writes: "I wouldn’t seek legal or medical advice from an amateur attorney or physician who insisted on remaining nameless, yet there are countless people reading blogs on the Web by would-be journalists whose reports go unsubstantiated and unedited, and the results are often hurtful, damaging people’s characters and reputations."

Gary sounds like another tired old clapped-out journalist -- David Shaw.

Gary writes: "More upsetting are the bloggers who criticize individuals by name, make accusations against rabbis and communal leaders, but don’t have the guts to identify themselves, or bother to interview the people they write about."

Gee, that sounds just like Gary Rosenblatt. He wrote a column about Jewish Whistleblower and company, but didn't bother to interview the people he wrote about.

Gary writes: "To demand full disclosure of others without identifying one’s self seems the height of chutzpah and hypocrisy to me."

Yeah, it is just like asking a baseball writer to hit a 100mph fastball before he's allowed to write about baseball. Gary uses anonymous sourcing when it suits him. He gives voice to the agendas of people he allows to remain anonymous.

Gary writes: "Call me old-fashioned, but I still think you do your best work if your reputation is on the line every time you write."

Gary's been phoning it in for years. His reputation in journalism rests almost entirely on work he did years ago, rather than the stuff he's done in the past few years. He has a cushy job where he's subsidized by the Jewish Federation buying most of his newspapers. He can keep his cushy job as long as he keeps playing ball with the machers. Gary is a far better player of Jewish politics than he is an editor.

Given the comparative magnitude of Gary's resources, the big story about him is that he, week in and week out, publishes a dull paper. And when you put your name on mediocrity, it doesn't make it anything more than mediocre. It's nothing more than Yesterday's News Tomorrow, which, more often than not, is precisely what The Jewish Week reads like if you keep up with the top five Jewish blogs (JWB, Miriam and Paul Shaviv, Chakira, Scott Rosenberg, Steven I. Weiss).

If Jewish Whistle Blower (JWB) develops an impressive track record of accurate reporting, then his work is still sterling even if JWB doesn't put his real name on it.

It is more important in these types of discussion that we concentrate on what is good rather than on what is "good journalism." It is less important that JWB might not live up to the protocols of journalism than to evaluate his work as a whole for its merit. Most Jewish weeklies are journalistically sound but dull timid affairs. JWB might not be journalistically sound (I'm not arguing one way or another on this), but his work is often timely and ground-breaking.

Inspired by Gary's column, I decided to ask the subject of this essay a question. I emailed Gary:

If interviewing the people you write about is so important, how come you made no attempt to interview Jewish Whistleblower? Your article indicates no attempt to interview any leading Jewish blogger and include their views. I guess they are not worthy. (Yeah, I saw DNC's article on bloggers nine months ago, it broke no new ground).

I guess Gary's rules of good journalism don't apply to Gary.

I guess he's not as open to being questioned by bloggers as he pretended. Gary did not return my email or my phone call. I guess Gary's plaintive complaint about bloggers, "none of them have ever asked me," was just a pose.

Has Gary ever given a good interview? I can't find one.

Shimon Rosenthal writes:

Mr. Rosenblatt claims that bloggers are unfair and dishonest because they do not print their names. He implies that he and the rest of his print journalist colleagues are honest and fair because they posts their names on their articles. The argument is so flawed and filled with contradiction that it is difficult to know where to begin.

A journalist is fair and honest because they sign their names to their stories. But what about the stories they do not print? A print journalist can hold a story for his own interest. That is corrupt and unethical, no matter how many other stories he assigns his name to. Sins of omission are no lesser crimes or abuses of the journalistic ethic than sins of commission.

Mr. Rosenblatt for example will never write negatively about anything to do with the Federation system. Why? Because UJA NY sends free copies of the Jewish Week to all its members, thereby increasing Mr. Rosenblatt's circulation and his ad revenue far beyond anything he could dream of otherwise. So, when Mr. Rosenblatt, the dean of Jewish journalism, fails to write a story about the Federation system, but signs his name to another story, is he behaving ethically? Mr. Rosenblatt would not know of this, because he is an honorable man.

Indeed, Mr. Rosenblatt covered up a story about a tremendous government fine levied against him and the Jewish Week. Had Mr. Rosenblatt believed in reporting the news or his obligation to the community, if he were truly fair and honest, he would have printed a story to show the community what happens to those people who abuse financial systems. The New York Times put the Jason Blair fiasco front and center. Mr. Rosenblatt hid his scandal while claming to uncover others. But surely, Mr. Rosenblatt is an honorable man.

Mr. Rosenblatt's diatribe against bloggers is nothing more than a pathetic attempt by a third class journalist to pick a fight with a developing new medium.

An educated person would tell Mr. Rosenblatt that anonymously written leaflets were a tremendous part of the early newspaper business. In fact, anonymously written papers were the norm and a critical component of early political life in this country. Surely, Mr. Rosenblatt knows this, for he is an educated and honorable man. Mr. Rosenblatt is more educated and honorable than Dr. Benjamin Franklin, because Dr. Franklin took to writing anonymously. Mr. Rosenblatt is a greater thinker than Thomas Jefferson, because the third president and drafter of the Declaration of Independence, wrote anonymously.

Mr. Rosenblatt is more honest than Mr. Madison who, as it happens wrote anonymously. I am sure no one will argue that Mr. Rosenblatt would have made a far superior president than Abraham Lincoln who wrote anonymously. I have no doubt that the Federalist Papers were written by men of low moral character because they too were written anonymously. I am sure no one will argue that Mr. Rosenblatt would have made a far superior president than Abraham Lincoln who wrote anonymously. I have no doubt that the Federalist Papers were written by men of low moral character because they too were written anonymously. But don’t worry, Mr. Rosenblatt is an honorable man.

Mr. Rosenblatt also makes the false assertion that a person signing their name to something cannot be unethical, or careless with the facts. You need only read his paper to know that that is certainly nor the case. Mr. Rosenblatt cannot point to a single issue of the Jewish Week that contained no bias, agenda or false assertion.

Mr. Rosenblatt also fails to note the contradiction inherent when one puts his argument against his practice. If someone who does not sign their names to something is more apt to be careless with facts and details, then why does the Jewish Week publish stories with anonymous quotes? But don’t blame him, Mr. Rosenblatt is an honorable man.

Mr. Rosenblatt suffers from an ailment common to many self righteous people of his generation. He believes that the world began the day he was born and that all was invented under his watch. He believes he can do no wrong and that it is his job to point to the failings of those who do not follow his way, professionally, religiously, philosophically or any other ly you would like. His is a special breed of arrogance and stupidity that is reserved for those who believe they are big fish because they live in an incredibly small fishbowl.

Blogging is an evolving medium, just like newspapers were once. Ethics and standards will emerge. But to dismiss someone, their facts or their opinions for omitting their names while other people do not is wrong. But then again, Mr. Rosenblatt would not know what it is like to be wrong.

JWB writes to Miriam Shaviv:

Frankly, I don't care if people criticize me. I could delete every such post on my blog, yet I do not.

Some quick notes:
1) Rosenblatt never contacted me by e-mail or clarified any of his claims about me or my blog or asked me any questions. He made very clear he was referring to my blog but did not name it.

2) Rosenblattt is more than welcome to comment on my blog. If he emails me a response, I would be prepared to post it uncensored. He can even choose the title. I have been given no such courtesy.

3) I have never claimed to be "a Jewish reporting blog". I make no claim to be a journalist. Perhaps if certain court decisions find blogging to be journalism then I might.

4)>I still find it disconcerting to >read about myself –– and my >journalistic motivations

I never claimed to know Rosenblatt's motivations other than to improve the community and report factual stories. My criticism was in regard to a number of stories he either killed, chose not to pursue, kept quiet at the request of senior RCA offcials and one story where I felt he "soft-balled" the story.

I have consistently defended Rosenblatt in many posts concerning people who attacked his motivations and in particular his Lanner story, which I believe was some of the finest journalism..

>Various writers, often anonymous, >claim to know what investigative >stories I am working on, or not >working on, and why, or why not, >though none of them have ever asked >me.

I have actually been in contact with Rosenblatt and people around him. In a series of emails, Rosenblatt actually did indicate to me why he would not pursue a story. I would further note that the stories I have criticized him for not pursuing (rabbi who wrote racist articles in a white supremist journal, principal with long history of child molestation etc.), I have quoted from articles and editorials written by Rosenblatt that state/allude to exactly what I claim.

6) The unfortunate situation is that when Jewish victims/survivors are looking for help in the media they are almost always directed to Rosenblatt. Although he was very kind and professional with victims of Rabbis Lanner and Weinberg, there is a lack of attention or courtesy that he has displayed in other situations where there were desperate vulnerable people who thought he would help. My concern is that if he has journalistic standards in this area of reporting that differ from the mainstream media be upfront. I have noted in the past that the standards he applies to abuse stories were applied in the general media, there would be no catholic church abuse scandal.

7) This is part of my ongoing criticism of the Jewish community institutions that still provide nowhere for victims or sexual abuse/exploitation to go and no resources.

I did privately criticize Rosenblatt in a private email (which was a response to an unsolicited email from him, which involved an email I had sent to his mentor which was of course forwarded without my consent to Rosenblatt, everyone ultimatley gets forwarded to Rosenblatt as so many reporters don't want to touch these sort of stories) several years ago on this exact matter. I had been in contact with Rosenblatt on a similar subject months earlier and realized he had no interest pursuing the story as he has his unique standards for such stories which as I told him at the time served no purpose other than to protect people with documented histories of sexually abusing particularly young children.

Jewish law does not permit me to put my life and my family's lives in danger when it is unnecessary. In this situation, I believe I can do a lot more good behind the scenes through my blog.

Miriam [Shaviv], when you choose to do hard hitting stories about corruption from the community you came from, I will take your evaluation more seriously (ie: the defunct Toronto Jewish Boys' choir, look into it).

I don't claim to be a journalist. Rosenblatt does. If he has criticism of me, why didn't he try to contact me? He looked at my profile, where an email address is featured. And yet he accuses me of not "...bother[ing] to interview the people they write about".

I most certaily did address my criticism of his journalistic standards (in relation to sexual abuse stories) to him directly. He on the other hand has not done what he preaches.

I confirm he sent me no email in relation to my blog.

Paul [Shaviv], when you start addressing people in your own community and profession that have histories in this area, I will no longer be necessary. I don't see you posting about the defunct Toronto Jewish Boys' choir or naming names.

Of course if you do so, you will be hauled to beis dins, have your name plastered in flyers, your parnasah destroyed, you will be put in cherem and your grandchildren's shiduch opportunities impacted.

Paul, Miriam, put your own house in order. You want a real news story? Track down what happened with this choir. Put together how many of your great community leaders keep this shameful episode secret and protected the predator involved at the expense of victims and how many young men associated with Pirchei are no longer alive (suicides, drug related deaths, etc.) paying the price for your community's secret shame and silence.

Paul Shaviv responds to JWB:

1. JWB: Acountability and transparency are 2-way streets, and they apply to you as much as anyone else. I would, again, feel reassured if you at least acknowledged that in the London case, a number of your facts were WRONG.

2. You are questioning my own actions and responsibilities. As I wrote at an early stage, I have dealt with a number of cases of professional misconduct over the years. I just don't publish the details.

3. I have no knowledge whatever of the Toronto case youa re talking about.

4. Your last (6:26) posting talks about the effect / reaction on people who publish names etc, and the awful consequences that they risk. But isn't that exactly what you have done to the teacher in London?

JWB responds:

You probably don't know of other situations in Toronto: 1. A gang rape at a local Yeshiva not reported by the headmaster to the authorities. 2. A Yeshiva where several teachers were quietly told to leave town rather than reporting them to the police. 3. A married board member of a Jewish student organization that has a known history of making unwanted passes at young men.

Ticked Off At Stern College

Menahem Wecker's original article is not online (the YU Commentator's decision).

I understand that professors at Stern have been discussing Wecker's essay instead of scheduled midterms.

Tova Stulman writes:

Before I recommend that Menachem Wecker go out and buy Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People ($9.75 on Amazon.com), I must say that as an Observer staff writer, Stern student, and young woman, I was insulted on all three fronts by Mr. Wecker's editorial. He insinuated that The Observer was smug, outrightly said it contained a "blizzard of grammatical errors," and denigrated the articles of the editors-in-chief. I'm sorry, but what I believe is smug and inane here is Mr. Wecker's attack on The Observer. I am not sure whether this truly nasty piece is indicative of Mr. Wecker's personality or because he hoped to establish a reputation as a chauvinistic he-man, but whatever the case, I would just like to point out that if he is going to refer to Observer writers in quotations, meaning he thinks us anything but, he must include himself in the same category. "Many professors who have taught midtown told me that the quality of education is! much better uptown"- I'm sorry, can professors teach a portion of the city? If he is so intent on proper English (evident by the fact that he berates one editor-in-chief for having a less than perfect sentence), he should have said taught at midtown, or at the midtown campus.

He also should have quoted actual sources, rather than simplistically say "many professors have told him". Additionally, to imply that Stern College is nothing but a finishing school is utterly ridiculous - perhaps that used to be true, but the quality of education here at Stern is such that it allows for an astronomically high rate of admissions to graduate schools. We couldn't have done that simply by spending our time with shoes and makeup. Talk about gross generalizations. And calling Stern College students "girls" while asserting that YC students are "men" is blatantly misogynistic- I venture to say the Rav would blush that one of his students was acting like, well, such! a little boy. Mr. Wecker's piece was mean-spirited, chock full of inaccuracies, and just plain self-righteous.

The editors at the YU Commentator took the article off the web and responded: "Over the past three weeks we've received a great deal of feedback responding to the column under discussion. It's important for us, however, to underscore a crucial distinction that many of our readers have failed to comprehend. Personal columns do not represent the institutional policy of The Commentator; all opinions, except for the staff editorials, are the expressed opinion of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial board, the student body, faculty, or administration of Yeshiva University. Nevertheless, we realize the said column may have been unnecessarily offensive. We will strive to be more sensitive in the future."