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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

T.O.T. Private Investigation & Consulting Wishes 'Shana Tova Umesukah'


On This Erev Rosh Hashanah Of 5771/72, Joe Levin & T.O.T. Private Investigation & Consulting Would like To Wish You A Healthy Sweet New Year With Happiness and Goodness!

May G-d Bless You and Listen To All Your Prayers!!!

And May We Be Zoche To Have The Zechus Of Greeting Moshiach Tzidkeinu!!!

Shana Tova Umesukah Kesiva ve-Chasima Tova To All Klal Yisroel

A GUT GEBENTCHED YUR!

JOE LEVIN

Synagogues Adjust Ticket Policies for High Holidays


The sputtering economy is fueling changes in synagogues’ ticketing policies and marketing strategies for their annual High Holy Days services.

Synagogues typically require annual memberships or a fee to attend services over the High Holy Days, which start Wednesday (Sept. 28) with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and continue through the end of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on Oct. 8.

But this year, some Jewish communities are trying new approaches to bring in financially distressed Jews and those who feel little connection to Jewish life.

“You’re starting to see more synagogues going for the free model,” said Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesman for Chabad, a traditionalist Orthodox movement that uses Jewish holidays as an outreach to lapsed Jews.

Tickets to High Holy Days services can cost between $100 and $200, and annual membership for a family can top $2,000.

One Chabad congregation in Yorba Linda, Calif., mailed free High Holy Days tickets to 2,500 families. The mailings targeted those who likely would not attend services otherwise.

Rabbi David Eliezrie, the leader of the Yorba Linda congregation, said his group has always done some advertising, but never before mailed out tickets. The tickets invite families to register online for reserved seats at High Holy Days services, free of charge.

“There’s no question that the economic environment has become an inhibitor for people to become more involved with the Jewish community,” said Eliezrie.

A synagogue an hour north of New York City also mailed out free tickets, and is advertising through lawn signs that say “High Holidays On Us.” A companion TV commercial features a “welcoming message” from talk show host Larry King.

“People have been calling, people have been thanking,” said Rabbi Shmuel Gancz of the Chabad Jewish Center of Suffern, N.Y. “It’s been tremendous.”

Gancz spoke of one woman who had lost a job with a six-figure salary and wasn’t able to afford a synagogue membership anymore. Receiving a free ticket in the mail prompted her to return to the High Holy Days services for the first time in four years.

Seligson said there has been a “spike in interest” this year in the free High Holy Days services listed on a searchable database on Chabad.org. But financial barriers are not the only reason Jews might stay away from High Holy Days services, Eliezrie said.

“We’re dealing here with a confluence of different issues: an economic challenge, (and) a modern Jew who knows less about their tradition and who doesn’t feel that same kind of cultural, emotional, historical and spiritual connection as in the past,” he said.

Recognizing that “sometimes people are not very comfortable with going to a synagogue,” Rabbi Yisrael Kugel of Chabad’s West Side Center for Jewish Life is offering a free service in Manhattan’s Central Park where people can hear the shofar, a traditional ram’s horn blown during High Holy Days services.

While many of the free offerings are being hosted by Chabad centers, they aren’t the only Jewish communities that are changing their High Holy Days business models.

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism sponsors a program called “Come Home for the Holidays” that offers free High Holy Days tickets at congregations around the world to “young adults who grew up in the Conservative Movement.”

Temple Shalom, a Reform congregation in suburban Washington, has family-oriented Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur afternoon services that don’t require tickets.

For the past several years, Temple Shalom has offered complementary tickets to all High Holy Days services to “anyone who meets with Temple Shalom clergy to discuss personal Jewish needs and goals.”

Although High Holy Days tickets are a main source of funds for most synagogues, Eliezrie and Seligson said that open services also can be a financially viable path.

When fees are made optional, Seligson said, people who can afford it might contribute even more, because they want to support “this kind of open environment.”

“The old business model is not necessarily the one that’s going to work nowadays,” said Eliezrie. “We don’t have membership. We just thought we’d get rid of that whole thing.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Battle over holding Jewish High Holy Days service


JUPITER, Fla. - Palm Beach County has one of the largest Jewish populations in the country.

In the next two weeks, two of the most sacred holidays in the Jewish faith take place: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

As Bruce Benson of Jupiter prepares for the Jewish high holy days, he's preparing for a judgment day of his own.

His old place of worship, Temple Beth Am, doesn't want him holding services that he’s scheduled at Jupiter High School.

Benson said, "There's enough Jews, as it were, to go around, but there's 85 percent that have made a conscious decision that synagogue life right now, doesn't work for them. I'm not willing to let them walk away untouched."

Benson is a cantor which is a prayer and music leader in a synagogue.

For four years he was under contract as Temple Beth Am's cantor, but left in June.

"The timing of it is very difficult. The temple tried very hard to bring this out earlier," said Temple Beth Am Vice President Brian LaBovick.

LeBovick says Temple Beth Am's fight to stop Benson's Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services aren't a matter of religion but a matter of what's legally right.

LaBovick said Benson's contract doesn't allow him to hold services in Palm Beach or Martin County for 18 months after leaving Temple Beth Am.

"We need to be able to reach out to our membership and not feel that there is someone who has deep connections within our membership trying to splinter a group away from that membership," said LeBovick.

In the meantime, Benson says his Institute for Jewish Living, an alternative to the normal Jewish setting, is growing.

He's selling his service tickets for 136 dollars each, while Temple Beth Am charge 225 dollars.

That's helping to fuel the back and forth so close to the holiest of Jewish holidays.

"Everybody knows Yom Kippur is the night where all Jews try to find a place," said Benson

This dispute will play out in Palm Beach County court, where a court-ordered mediator will make a final decision.

The mediation could be resolved as early as this week.

Orthodox Women Styling Their Sheitel Just Before Rosh Hashanah

Now that’s high holy hair! Linda, an Orthodox Jewish woman from Forest Hills, has both of her wigs

Orthodox Jewish women are renouncing the local hairdresser for pricey Manhattan salons that charge up to $1,600 a cut -- on their wigs

Linda is whisked to a private, VIP room that has been graced by the likes of Al Pacino, the former queen of Jordan and assorted NYC elites. She’s a young, fashionable, Louboutin-loving mom from Forest Hills who gladly spends as much on her shoes as she does haircuts. A fact that normally wouldn’t turn heads -- except that these costly sessions, which run about $325, aren’t for her own hair. They’re for her wig.

While her fellow Orthodox Jewish friends schlep to Brooklyn to visit the basement beauty salons of the “sheitel lady,” Linda, a 29-year-old home-care nurse who asked that her last name not be used, breaks tradition: Her chosen one is 15 stories above Fifth Avenue, at the Louis Licari salon. There, she’s spent thousands of dollars, since getting married nine years ago, to see her stylist and wig artiste, Arsen Gurgov.

Gurgov has been Linda’s mane man since she first donned a sheitel -- a wig married Orthodox women wear to cover their hair for modesty. Jewish law states that only the husband of a married woman can see her real hair -- some say that going out wigless is tantamount to walking around naked.

Per religious custom, Linda and her stylist have never hugged or shaken hands. But their bond is unbreakable.

It’s my wig,” Linda says. “I can’t just trust any woman with it. I can’t afford to get it wrong. I don’t think I’m extravagant in my day-to-day life, but if people consider my sheitel maintenance extravagant, so be it. My wig is not something I would try to save money on.”

Like Linda, a growing number of Orthodox women in NYC are stepping out at upscale Manhattan salons and spending anywhere from $300 to $1,600 on the styling of their wigs just before the High Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sundown tomorrow.

Everyone does their hair before Rosh Hashanah,” says Gurgov. “Even if they neglect their hair all year, this is the time.”

For years, Orthodox women have lamented that their wigs could be spotted like a bad toupee. There were fewer salons that specialized in the styling of these wigs, and less of an emphasis on fashion or style in the community.

But as more frum (pious) women started to demand a more contemporary -- and convincing -- look, that’s not the case anymore.

First it started with the young girls, then the mothers, then the friends,” says Mark Garrison, who has made a cottage industry out of wig cuts at his namesake hair salon on the Upper East Side.

It’s definitely more expensive, but it’s worth it,” adds Linda. She’s on her fifth wig in nine years.

With upfront wig costs climbing well into the thousands, maintaining a haute wig hairstyle is no easy -- or cheap -- feat. Even lower-end blended wigs with partial human hair will cost $500, while top-of-the-line, 100 percent European-hair wigs can run up to $6,000. It is customary for the husband’s family to buy a woman’s first wig.

And whether it’s the Kardashian, the Rachel or the Jackie, Orthodox women show up at salons with ripped magazine pages wanting a cutting-edge cut like everyone else.

More women are leaving the sheitel lady behind and coming to me,” says Gurgov, who boasts a few dozen Orthodox clients.

They come for my technique, they come for the high-end salon experience they just can’t get anywhere else.”

The uptick in recent demand has also buoyed business for Garrison, who claims his steep $1,000-per-cut price tag is worth it.

I’ve always wanted to take my time to get it right,” says Garrison, whose cuts generally take two to three hours.

It doesn’t grow back. You don’t have margin for error here. You don’t just bang these things out.”

Garrison -- whose clients are known to show up with a bag full of five wigs ready for a blow-out -- has been building kosher street cred since the early ’90s, working at Frederic Fekkai, where many of his clients were young Orthodox brides.

According to online Orthodox chat rooms, where intensely private women don’t use their real names for fear of rebuke for spending so much on a cut -- and allowing a man to style them -- Garrison is a “perfectionist; do not go anywhere else for a wig cut.”

My clients are more modern, and their rabbis approve,” he says.

But in a community renowned for its modesty, some complain these spendthrift women are losing sight of their traditional values.

Elie Weinstock, associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan, explains: “While it doesn’t seem like the best way to spend one’s money, it’s a complex issue that conflicts some women while others are quite satisfied with their decision.”

In fact, most women are so guarded about this issue, they declined to speak on the record.

The staff at Orlo, an exclusive Meatpacking District salon, is also fiercely protective of its kosher clients, who pay $1,600 for a wig cut with salon owner Orlando Pita -- double that of his regular haircuts.

These women don’t want to admit they’re spending this much on a haircut,” says George, a staffer.

Every culture gets gussied up before their holiday, and it’s the same for Jewish women.” He estimates that Orthodox women comprise about 25 percent of Orlo’s overall clientele.

These days, you don’t even have to be in Manhattan to pay Manhattan prices. Noa, who goes by one name as a sign of honor and respect as the go-to sheitel macher in Flatbush, charges $500 for her no-frills wig cut -- and judging by her rabid fan base, she is durably recession-proof.

Esty Schlossberg, meanwhile, is a wig stylist in Marine Park who’s by no means cheap -- her cuts with all the trimmings start at $125. The 33-year-old mom of three dismisses the chichi prices of upscale salons and insists that once her clients try an expensive hairstylist “and get it out of their system,” they always come back to her. And while her Brooklyn basement beauty shop may not have all the trappings of a full-service city salon, she does possess something all the fancy Manhattan stylists don’t: firsthand knowledge of the goods.

They just don’t understand wigs like I do,” insists the 5-foot dynamo, who’s been in the business 10 years and wears a wig herself. “Those outside the community -- and especially men -- don’t understand the nature of the wig. I’m a therapist. After they try the expensive salons in the city, they all come back to me.”

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto escaped ABC News media outside synagogue, but his security didn't

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, who works with a lot of celebrities, ducked out past the media Monday.

Sunday, the rabbi ducked "Nightline."

Rabbi-to-the-Stars Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto managed to slip past a camera crew and correspondent from the ABC News program — but his security guards weren't nearly as silky.

Sources tell us Pinto's hired muscle roughed up "Nightline" correspondent Dan Harris and a female producer from the program as they waited outside the rabbi's E. 58th St. synagogue.

"It was a handful of security guys who came across as pretty thuggish," says one source familiar with the situation. "They were pushing and shoving, which was totally out of line because the crew was on a public sidewalk."

As the Daily News has reported, Pinto, who's in his late 30s, is the self-proclaimed kabbalah scholar who reportedly puts death curses on his critics.

He is quite influential in the city's real estate industry and has advised disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and the Miami Heat's LeBron James.

Pinto is no stranger to controversy. In March, the Forward published an investigation of the rabbi's not-for-profit organization Mosdot Shuva Israel. The story noted "the contrast" between the rabbi's reputation for "modest living" and, for instance, the $6.5 million townhouse near Sutton Place where he lives.

The Forward also reported that Mosdot Shuva Israel "faces financial problems."

Although it's unclear if "Nightline" is chasing the same story, our first source says the show is "looking to see if there's any "disconnect" between the rabbi's public image and private dealings.

The source adds that Harris, who also co-anchors the weekend "Good Morning America," has sought to interview Pinto for "quite some time," but the rabbi has ignored his requests.

So on Sunday, Harris, his producer and a camera crew stationed themselves outside Shuva Israel synagogue in hopes of buttonholing Pinto before he conducted pre-Rosh Hashanah services at 8 p.m.

They never got their chance. Another insider says that after keeping his congregation waiting until approximately 10 p.m., the rabbi slipped past the camera crew and through a side entrance of the synagogue.

Around the same time, the insider says the rabbi's security team "repeatedly pushed" Harris and a producer "away from the building."

An ABC News spokesman said the network does not comment on stories that are in progress.

A spokesman for the rabbi did not respond to our questions before deadline.

Tragedy: Frum Mother Fell From A 6-story Building


Williamsburg Hatzolah responded to 555 Flushing Ave for reports of a patient that fell from the 6th floor of a residential apartment building.

it now turned out the victim, a 25 year old female fell into the shaft on the 6th floor down to the 2nd floor where she was spotted by a neighbor who immediately called Hatzolah.

The victim is reported to have 2 Children and was pregnant. She lives in Monsey and was in Brooklyn to visit a family member.

She was transported in Traumatic arrest to Brooklyn Hospital Where she was pronounced dead R'l. Chesed Shell Emes responded to the scene to ensure Kavod Hames.

Police are investigating the incident.


Borsch Dayan Emmes…

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האישה, בת 25, אם לשני ילדים ובחודשי הריון מתקדמים, הגיעה לביקור בבית הוריה, המתגוררים בויליאמסבורג • ככל הנראה נפלה - ושכבה פצועה שעה ארוכה, עד ששכן הגיע לביתו

טרגדיה בשכונת ויליאמסבורג שבברוקלין: אשה בת 25 נפלה אתמול (ב') בשמונה בערב (שעון מקומי) מהקומה השישית אל הקומה השנייה - ונהרגה במקום.

מתנדבי ארגון 'הצלה' שהוזעקו למקום ניסו לבצע בה החייאה, אבל ללא הצלחה.

המקרה אירע ברחוב פלאשינג.

האישה, אם לשני ילדים, ובחודשי הריון מתקדמים, הגיעה לביקור בבית הוריה, המתגוררים בויליאמסבורג.

ככל הנראה האישה מעדה, נפלה - ושכבה פצועה במשך שעה ארוכה, עד ששכן שהגיע לביתו הבחין בה
ארגון 'חסד של אמת' החל מיד לפעול כדי למנוע בזיון המת.

Shin Bet urges Israeli government to halt funding of West Bank yeshiva


Shin Bet says it has accumulated information on the involvement of Yitzhar's yeshiva students in illegal, subversive and violent activities against Arabs and the security forces.

The Shin Bet security service is urging the Education Ministry to immediately halt funding to the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva in the settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus, saying it has received intelligence information that senior rabbis in the yeshiva are encouraging their students to attack Arabs.

The army's GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, recently issued restraining orders that forbid several students affiliated with the yeshiva to enter the West Bank. This decision was based on what security sources termed well-founded suspicions that these students had been involved in attacks on Arabs, including "price tag" attacks on Arab property (so called because they seek to deter the army from razing houses in the settlements ) and the torching of mosques in nearby Palestinian villages.

The head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, was filmed in the past accompanying some of his students to a nearby Arab village; the students then threw stones while the rabbi looked on. Shapira is the author of the controversial work "The King's Torah," which, among other things, discusses circumstances under which Jewish law might permit the killing of non-Jews.

Od Yosef Hai is a general name for several different institutions, among them a yeshiva high school, a yeshiva gedola (post-high school yeshiva), a kollel (yeshiva for married men) and the publishing house that issued "The King's Torah," among other works.

The institute gets funding from four different line items in the state budget. In 2009, the Education Ministry gave it NIS 468,000 for the yeshiva high school and NIS 847,000 for the yeshiva gedola. The yeshiva also got money from the Social Affairs Ministry for a project to rehabilitate ultra-Orthodox drop-outs (NIS 707,000 in 2009), plus NIS 156,000 to operate a dormitory.

In January, following a complaint by the Reform Movement, the Education Ministry and the deputy state prosecutor for special assignments, Shai Nitzan, decided not to transfer funds to the yeshiva gedola.

In April, after political pressure was applied, the yeshiva received a letter saying funding would be restored, but it has not yet received the money.

The Shin Bet recommendation to withhold funds came about a month ago, Haaretz has learned. In the weeks since then, Shin Bet and Education Ministry officials have had two meetings on the matter, but the ministry has apparently not yet decided how to respond. Od Yosef Hai, for its part, is preparing to petition the High Court of Justice if its funding is halted.

The Shin Bet said it has "accumulated a lot of information about the involvement of students at Od Yosef Hai and Dorshei Yehudcha [the yeshiva high school] in illegal, subversive and violent activities against Arabs and the security forces. The information indicates that the yeshiva's rabbis and leaders are aware of some of these activities, but do not prevent them, and even enable students to take part in them."

New Hempstead resident petitions to block East Ramapo's lease of Hillcrest school to yeshiva


SPRING VALLEY — An East Ramapo school district resident is petitioning the state Department of Education to halt the 2011-12 lease of Hillcrest Elementary School to Congregation Yeshiva Avir Yakov of New Square.

Robert A. Forrest, a retired real estate appraiser from New Hempstead, charges the district did not make a good-faith effort to rent out the school at market value.

The petition was received by the district and the yeshiva Friday; the state did not confirm receipt Monday.

East Ramapo has been renting the Hillcrest school to Avir Yakov for $16,000 per month since December. That agreement expired Aug. 31.

On Aug. 29, the Board of Education awarded Avir Yakov a one-year, $19,000-per-month lease of the 12-acre property on Addison Boyce Drive in New City. The agreement includes the option to extend the lease each year for up to four years with 2 percent annual increases.

Forrest, a member of the East Ramapo Stakeholders for Public Education, says the school board showed preferential treatment to the New Square congregation by leasing the Hillcrest school for less than it's worth.

"East Ramapo has an appraisal in front of it that says the fair market rental value of this property is $10.50 per square foot, yet still they arbitrarily turned around and leased the property for $4.22 per square foot," Forrest said Monday. "There's no rationale on how (the Board of Education) arrived at that figure. It's troubling, and we're operating on an austerity budget, and the district could use that income."

Forrest's petition further charges that Avir Yakov has fallen behind in its monthly payments on the prior lease and owes $3,500 in back rent since January.

The district has 20 days to file its response.

Board of Education President Morris Kohn said Monday he had not yet read the petition.

He said the board didn't have time to issue a Request for Proposal on the Hillcrest school between June — when the state denied the district's attempted sale of the property to Avir Yakov — and September, when classes began.

"Our best offer at the time was to ask the existing tenant to raise their rent," Kohn said. "The board has the option of terminating that lease at any time after one year."

East Ramapo's attorney Albert D'Agostino declined to comment on the specifics of the petition.

The Hillcrest school has long been the subject of controversy. It opened in 1960 and was closed in April 2010 by the district — over parents' objections — amid projections of declining enrollment. Afterward, the building was used by the Clarkstown school district to temporarily house students from Laurel Plains Elementary.

The district attempted to sell Hillcrest to the Congregation Yeshiva Avir Yakov in July 2010, but the $3.2 million deal was annulled in June by former State Education Commissioner David Steiner. The case was prompted by district parent Steve White, who had appealed the sale on the grounds that it came in far below the $10.2 million market value assigned to Hillcrest Elementary School by the Clarkstown Assessor's Office.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky Try To Evacuate 770 Lubavitch Congregation

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky

Bah, chumbug.

A powerful rabbi is acting like the Grinch who stole Yom Kippur -- slapping the congregation of Lubavitch World Headquarters with an eviction notice right before the high holy days.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, leader of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, served the Brooklyn congregation’s board of governors with a notice giving them 10 days to clear out of 770 Eastern Parkway on Friday, hours before the Sabbath and less than a week before Rosh Hashanah, which begins tomorrow night.

For them to initiate a secular court action on the eve of the new year, to have the people vacate the premises, you’re talking about thousands of people coming from all over the world, to have them vacate the premise several days before the day of atonement is beyond comprehension,” said Crown Heights business owner and longtime congregant Yaakov Spritzer, 63.

Krinsky, essentially the de facto owner of the massive synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway, has been feuding with its board of governors for years.

The board, called the Gabboim, believe Krinsky’s late mentor, Grand Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, is the Messiah, and it has blocked Krinsky from putting up a plaque in Schneerson’s memory because they don’t consider him dead.

They’ve also blocked Krinsky -- who was Scheerson’s aide until his death in 1994 and named the sole executor of his will -- from speaking at the synagogue.

Krinsky has countered by trying to boot the board in an apparent bid to seize more control for himself and the other rabbi Schneerson left in a position of power, Avraham Shemtov.

An earlier attempt to toss the board from the building was dismissed on technical grounds by a state appeals court this past March.

Eli Cohen, 56, the executive director of the Jewish Community Council, said Krinsky should have taken his case to a Jewish tribunal known as the Beth Din.

The secular court is not the place to litigate issues of religion,” Cohen
said.

Edward Rudofsky, the lawyer for the congregation and the Gabboim, said, “I am actively consulting with the clients at this point to decide how they want to proceed and respond.”

Krinsky’s lawyer and spokesman declined comment on the dispute.

Madonna takes kids to say Selichot

Madonna and Lourdes leave Kabbalah Center


במוצאי מנוחה קדמנוך תחילה

Queen of Pop heads to Kabbalah Center in New York City with her four children for traditional Selichot service. Her oldest daughter Lourdes seen leaving Center in tears

Madonna won't be visiting Israel on the High Holidays this year, but that doesn't mean she's giving up on the days of Selichot.

The Queen of Pop headed to the Kabbalah Center in New York City on Saturday with her four children: Lourdes, Rocco, David and Mercy.

An hour later, Lourdes was caught leaving the Center in tears while being comforted by her mother. Was it the "Adon Haselichot" song that made her cry?

Four Men Charged With Abducting, Extorting Rabbi

Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi

Defendants held popular spiritual leader captive for 3 years refusing to let him see his wife or family, threatened to destroy his reputation

The Southern District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday that an indictment has been served in the Beersheba District Court against four men accused of abducting and extorting Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi.

Shmuel Shukron, Shimon Katorza, Zvi Weizman and Micha Patito are charged with conspiracy, abduction, false imprisonment, extortion and fraud

A popular spiritual leader, Ben Artzi had fronted the Talmei Geula charitable organization.

In 2005 the four defendants, who worked in various roles in the charity, decided to take it over by removing Ben Artzi.

For three years, they held the rabbi captive in various apartments in Tiberias, refusing to let him see his wife or family. To ensure Ben Artzi's compliance, they threatened to destroy his reputation by spreading rumors about his sexual relations with women.

An arraignment hearing for the four defendants is scheduled for 11th October at the Beersheba District Court.
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שנים ארוכות אחרי חטיפתו של הרב ניר בן ארצי, הוגש לבית המשפט המחוזי בבאר שבע כתב אישום חמור כנגד ארבעה מגבאיו ומעוזריו לשעבר של הרב, ובהם שמואל שוקרון, שמעון קטרוזה, צבי וייצמן ומיכה פטיטו.

על פי כתב האישום, הרב ניר בן ארצי בדק העלמות של סכום כסף מן העמותה שהוקדשה להפצת תורתו, ובעקבות זאת החליטו הנאשמים להשתלט על העמותה ולהרחיק את הרב מעמדת השליטה בה.

לצורך כך רקמו הנאשמים מזימה שפילה שנועדה להרחיק את הרב ממושב תלמים, בו התגורר.

הארבעה פנו לרב וביקשו ממנו לעזוב את המושב לצורך "זיכוך רוחני" ו"עלייה בדרגה רוחנית".

בתחילה הרב סירב בכל תוקף לצאת לגלות, אולם לאחר לחץ נפשי שהופעל עליו, עזב את המושב ועבר לגור בעיר טבריה.

גם לאחר שעבר לטבריה, הגלו אותו הנאשמים מדירה לדירה בעיר.

בשלב מסויים הם אף הגבירו את הלחץ והודיעו לרב כי אם לא יציית להם, יפיצו עליו סיפורים מכוערים שיפגעו בשמו הטוב.

בעקבות כך הסכים הרב לעבור לדירה בשיכון ד' בטבריה, ללא חשמל, שהכילה כיסא גלגלים, ארון אחד ומזרון דק שהיה מונח על הקרקע.

השפלות ואיומים

וייצמן ופטיטו היו מביאים לרב בתחילת השבוע מספר כיכרות לחם וחבילות מרגרינה, בכדי שיספיקו לו לכל השבוע. הם נתנו לו לשוחח עם רעייתו הרבנית, כשהוא רק שומע אותה ואינו יכול לענות לה.

בכתב האישום צוין כי בשלב מסוים, אחד החשודים היכה את הרב.

הנאשמים הגדילו לעשות וביקשו מהרב לכתוב גט לאישתו. הם אמרו לו כי היא אינה רוצה בו יותר, ואיימו עליו שישליכו אותו "לכלא של ערבים".

בימי החורף התלונן הרב כי קר לו. תגובת אחד החשודים היתה: "שימשיך להתייסר, זה מועיל לזיכוך נישמתו".

בשלב מסויים הם אף אזקו את הרב בידיו ורגליו ואיימו עליו שיקחו אותו לכלא, שם "יקרעו אותו לגזרים".

לאחר תקופה ובעקבות תחינות הרב, העבירו הנאשמים את הרב בן ארצי לדירה מרווחת יותר שהיה בה חשמל ומים, אך היתה מסורגת, כדי לוודא שלא יברח. את המזון היו מעבירים לו דרך סורגים.

לאחר שלוש שנים, אמרו לרב שיכול לחזור לביתו אך הודיעו לו כי לא השלים את משימתו וכי לא הצליח לזכך את נפשו ועלבו בו לפני חברי הקהילה במושב תלמים.

יצויין כי במהלך כל תקופת החטיפה של הרב, הוציאו הנאשמים מאנשי עסקים רבים סכומים נכבדים בטענה ש"הרב ביקש שיתרמו".

FBI paid deputy to smuggle cellphone in jail sting

Sheriff Lee Baca says the FBI investigation into jail conditions is unnecessary, adding: "We police ourselves."

The officer allegedly accepted about $1,500 to smuggle a cellphone to an inmate who was an FBI informant, sources say. Sheriff asks whether the FBI is capable of investigating alleged jail abuses

FBI agents probing misconduct allegations in the L.A. County Jail orchestrated an undercover sting in which they paid about $1,500 to a sheriff's deputy to smuggle a cellphone to an inmate, sources said.

The revelation is the first public indication that the FBI's investigations into allegations of inmate beatings and other deputy misconduct in the jails have uncovered possible criminal wrongdoing.

The FBI conducted the cellphone sting without notifying top Sheriff's Department brass, enraging Sheriff Lee Baca and causing a rift between the two law enforcement agencies.

Baca, who is scheduled to meet Tuesday with U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. to discuss the escalating tensions, went on television Monday to slam the FBI, saying smuggling a cellphone inside a secured lockup created a serious safety breach. Baca suggested that the FBI committed a crime by doing so.

"It's illegal," he said. "It's a misdemeanor and then there's a conspiracy law that goes along with it."

Baca has not responded to repeated interview requests from The Times to discuss the federal inquiries into his jails, the nation's largest. When asked about the deputy accused of smuggling the cellphone into the jail, Baca's spokesman Steve Whitmore would only say: "We're going to go wherever this investigation takes us."

The Times reported Sunday that federal authorities are investigating inmate beatings and other misconduct by deputies in the jails. The allegations include deputies breaking one inmate's jaw and beating another inmate for two minutes while he was unconscious.

In addition to the investigations surrounding the jails, federal authorities have two other inquiries involving the Sheriff's Department. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division announced a broad "pattern and practice" investigation into allegations that deputies in the Antelope Valley discriminated against minority residents who receive government housing assistance. Also last month, The Times reported that a Sheriff's Department captain had been put on leave after federal agents suspected hearing her voice on a wiretap of a suspected Compton drug ring.

Sources said Monday that the deputy allegedly caught in the sting accepted the money to smuggle the cellphone to the inmate, who was locked up at the Men's Central Jail. Unbeknownst to the deputy, the inmate was working as an informant for the FBI, sources said.

The deputy, Gilbert Michel, 38, resigned shortly after sheriff's officials put him on leave, , sources said. A source said the deputy, who has not been charged with a crime, is now the subject of a Sheriff's Department criminal investigation. Michel could not be reached for comment.

Federal officials have declined to comment on their investigations and the Sheriff Department's criticisms of their undercover operation.

Baca, however, spoke out Monday on KTTV-TV Channel 11's "Good Day L.A.", defending his department's record in the jails and blasting the FBI. He suggested that the federal inquiry was unnecessary because all allegations of abuse within the jails are thoroughly investigated internally, and vetted by the department's watchdog.

We police ourselves," he said.

The sheriff also questioned whether the FBI had the know-how to investigate his jails. "What kind of experience do you have in dealing with all this? And to what extent do you know the policies, the procedures and even the law?" Baca asked of the FBI.

He also criticized the FBI's use of an inmate informant, identifying him as a man facing 400 years in prison for armed robbery. "Jailhouse informants quite frankly are problematic," the sheriff said.

It's unclear how Baca's public critique of the FBI will affect the relationship between the two agencies, and more important, the many task forces, including one focusing on terrorism, in which the agencies serve together.

After his criticism of the FBI investigation, Baca went on to promote an upcoming charity run, mentioning that the Sheriff's Department and the FBI would be in attendance.

Will they be running from you or with you?" asked one reporter.

Probably do a little of both," Baca responded.

Lauren Spierer: Private investigator apologizes for comparing Bloomington, Ind. chief to Gomer Pyle


With the search for their missing daughter about to enter its fifth month, Robert and Charlene Spierer have hired a retired New York City detective to help in the investigation.

So far, the move has turned up more insults than leads.

Former New York City police Detective Richard "Bo" Dietl apologized Monday on "Imus in the Morning" to "the great state of Indiana and Bloomington" for comparing the city's police chief to the TV bumpkin "Gomer Pyle" on Friday.

"I feel bad. Sometimes I open my mouth and don't think before I talk," Dietl said.

Lauren Spierer, 20, of Greenburgh was a student at Indiana University in Bloomington and disappeared June 3 after a night of partying with friends. After months of working with Bloomington police and hundreds of volunteers, the Spierers hired Dietl, who runs Beau Dietl and Associates, a security consulting firm.

In an appearance on "Good Day New York" on Friday, Dietl compared the head of the Bloomington Police Department to the well-meaning but naïve character Gomer Pyle from "The Andy Griffith Show" and its spinoff, "Gomer Pyle, USMC."

The show's hosts asked him about possible friction between local police and big city private investigators.

"Friction? I thought I was talking to Gomer Pyle out there," Dietl said of Chief Mike Diekhoff during the segment. "The thing is, I met with the chief ... and all I gotta say is, thank God for New York City detectives."

While Diekhoff brushed off the attacks ("I've been called worse," he told The Herald-Times of Bloomington), the Spierers distanced themselves from the spat.

Charlene Spierer told Fox59 News in Indiana: "We continue our search for Lauren since her disappearance on June 3. We are confident in the Bloomington Police Department and they have our full support."

Her husband, Robert, told the television station that the family hired Dietl to "supplement" the investigation.

He added, "We don't agree with the disparaging comments made without our knowledge and completely contrary to our opinion of the Bloomington Police Department."

Diekhoff said Bloomington police met with Dietl and two of his team members.

They wanted to work with Bloomington police and share details of the investigation, but Diekhoff said he rejected that request for a number of reasons.

For starters, he said Spierer's disappearance was the subject of an ongoing police investigation, and it's standard police policy not to reveal "pertinent information" from open investigations.

He also said a police partnership with a private agency is unethical and contrary to standard police practice.

Dietl and his investigators also contacted the FBI and other police agencies helping with the Spierer case. Those agencies refused to give Dietl case information for the same reasons.

"As he did not get the information he came seeking, I can only surmise that is the reason he described me as Gomer Pyle," Diekhoff said. "I don't agree with that characterization, but to use a time-honored phrase, maybe that is how they do things in New York."

Dietl is a regular on New York's radio and television channels, appearing on Fox News Channel shows and on Don Imus' radio show, among others.

Monday, September 26, 2011

'Millionaire Matchmaker' Patti Stanger ”Jewish men lie.”

Patti Stanger's recent dating advice has offended smart women, Jews and gays.

Here's a good match for "Millionaire Matchmaker" Patti Stanger: Foot and mouth.

The Bravo reality show dating guru alienated viewers by slammed the dating values of gays, Jews and even smart women who haven't found a mate.

On the network's "Watch What Happens Live", the reality show star raised eyebrows after telling a gay man not to worry about being in a long-distance relationship.

In the gay world, there's always going to be open [relationships]," she said. "There's no curbing the gay man. You're going to be OK."

Andy Cohen, show host and Bravo's openly gay executive vice president of original programming and development then asked, "So wait, gays can have open relationships?"

Stanger further dug herself into a hole by retorting, "I have tried to curb 'you people'".

Then, when a not-happy Cohen argued "I am a gay and am down for monogamy," Stanger snapped, "When's the last time you had a boyfriend?"

On Monday, Stanger refused to back off the claims. On Twitter she tweeted her support for the gay community but stood by her comments that gay men are less likely to be in a relationship.

"Attn male Gays: I support you & my comment on WWHL was to LA guys who can't find commitment ..." she tweeted. "It's true LA gays toughest nuts to crack to monogamy."

Stanger also proclaimed on the Bravo after-show that "Jewish men lie."

The turn was surprising for the reality show star, who has often proclaimed her respect for the gay community and rallied on behalf of gay marriage by appearing in a NOH8 campaign ad.

But gay people weren't the only ones she was going after this week.

In an appearance on New York Live, she slammed single Manhattan women for daring to be too intelligent.

She advised them to quit talking about their high test scores – or even using big words if they wanted a ring.

"They don't like them before they are married," she said, referring to how men feel about smart women. "You've got to dumb it down a little because men are not that bright."

On last week's episode Stanger slammed redheads, after an unruly client didn't follow her directions to find true love.

"She's got red hair," she said. "She shouldn’t be talking, let alone getting a date."

Stanger could use some smarter dating advice -- for herself.

Last year, the 49 year-old reality star and her fiance split after six years together.

MTA rejects proposed bus and subway ads calling the enemies of Israel 'savages'

Pamela Geller has threatened to sue, claiming a failure to run the piece would violate the First Amendment

The MTA has rejected a proposed bus and subway ad calling Israel's enemies "savages."

Anti-Muslim firebrand Pamela Geller earlier this month submitted the poster in response to ads in 18 stations urging the US end military support to Israel.

Geller's proposed advertisement states: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad."

CBS Outdoor, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's media management company, wrote Geller her proposed ad violates authority standards.

It's unacceptable because it "demeans an individual or group of individuals," a CBS executive wrote Geller.

CBS Outdoor is willing to discuss possible revisions to the text, or Geller can request a "formal and final determination," the executive wrote last week.

Geller previously said she would sue, claiming a failure to run the piece would violate the

The MTA will post a pro-Israel ad submitted by another organization, officials said.

It will begin a 30-day run at the end of the month in the same 18 stations where the military-aid message are installed.

President Obama's 'Jew Tax' Gaffe



President Obama spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus awards banquet over the weekend. His 28 minutes of remarks had a strange tone to them, as if somehow Obama was equating support for his jobs program legislation with the far more important and historic civil rights movement.

Deep into the speech, according to the White House transcript, the president said:

When you start saying, at a time when the top one-tenth of 1 percent has seen their incomes go up four or five times over the last 20 years, and folks at the bottom have seen their incomes decline—and your response is that you want poor folks to pay more?

Give me a break.

If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a janitor makes me a warrior for the working class, I wear that with a badge of honor. I have no problem with that.

That’s what the transcript says he said.

But here is what the president actually said, catching himself almost in time but not quite:

If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a Jew, uh, as a janitor makes me a warrior for the working class, I wear that with a badge of honor. I have no problem with that.

The president has been muffing lines all over the place recently. Last week, also peddling his jobs plan at a bridge that won’t qualify, he hailed America’s building of “the Intercontinental Railroad.” You don’t seem to hear much about these gaffes in the media for some reason.

Maybe in Saturday night’s speech Obama was thinking about all those talks on Israel in New York.

America's Most Wanted Paedophile, on the run for 17 years, is caught living in London

Shawn Sullivan is fighting extradition to America

A convicted child molester who is one of America's most wanted sex criminals has been secretly living in London.

American Shawn Sullivan has been wanted in the U.S. since 1994 for allegedly molesting two 11-year-old girls and for having sex with an unconscious 14-year-old girl.

Sullivan, 42, was finally picked up by the Met Police last year in England.

In December he was granted bail and must wear an electronic tag and abide by a strict curfew. He lives near Barnes in South-West London.

Minnesota wants Sullivan extradited to face charges. If found guilty he could face up to 75 years in prison, according to The Sun newspaper.

Sullivan had gone years without showing on the radar as a fugitive from the U.S.

government. During this time he lived in Ireland and was given a suspended jail sentence there for sexually attacking two 12-year-old girls.

He married an Irish woman in 1996
It was not until 2007 that Interpol, the international police organisation, added him to its most wanted list.

Sullivan moved to England last year on an Irish passport and arrived undetected using the Gaelic spelling surname O'Suilleabhain.

U.S. Marshals Service investigators worked with authorities in Ireland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK to locate Sullivan, who is originally from Fort Benning, Georgia.

The Home Office confirmed Sullivan's extradition was ordered in February but it is being contested by the convicted paedophile.

A spokesman said: ''On Thursday 10 February the Secretary of State signed an order for Shawn Sullivan’s extradition to the United States of America.

Mr Sullivan has appeal to the High Court against the decisions of the District Judge and the Secretary of State; this is therefore a matter for the courts.

L.A. - Officer's attorney blames Kelly Thomas for deadly altercation


The defense attorney for a Fullerton police officer charged with murder in connection with the death of homeless man Kelly Thomas sought to portray Thomas as a violent criminal who was ultimately responsible for the struggle with six officers that led to his death.

"I believe none of the officers were responsible. Lethal force was the result of Kelly's actions," John Barnett, attorney for Officer Manuel Ramos, said at a news conference after his client's arraignment.

Ramos pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. The judge left his bail at $1 million.

Barnett specifically referenced Thomas' 1995 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, although he would not say if his client knew about that conviction when he approached Thomas. In court, he said that even Thomas' parents were afraid of him.

Barnett also defended Ramos' behavior when he approached Thomas, including a moment when he allegedly displayed his fists to Thomas and said "they are getting ready to f— you up." Barnett said that threatening a noncompliant suspect was neither a violation of department policy nor a crime.

From the time of Ramos' arrest, Barnett has argued that the murder charge will have a chilling effect on all police officers.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas and Thomas' father, Ron Thomas, took issue with all of Barnett's statements.

"Every police officer knows you can't threaten to beat someone up," Rackauckas said. "You can't say 'I'm going to f— you up.'"

He also pointed out that Kelly's assault conviction was 17 years ago, and that there was no indication the officers were aware of it when they approached him on the night of July 5 while investigating a report of attempted car break-ins at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

He also disagreed with Barnett's statement that the case would have a chilling effect on other officers.

Ron Thomas said he was pleased with the judge's decision to leave Ramos' bail set at $1 million, and contrary to Barnett's statement, that he had never been afraid of his son.

The judge ordered Ramos to be moved from the Orange County central jail in Santa Ana to the Santa Ana city jail, largely because of the costs associated with keeping the officer in isolation at the central jail. Ramos' next appearance is set for Nov. 4.

Hatzolah: will not allow women as members

Ruchie Freier says women should be allowed on Orthodox Hatzalah ambulances to help with emergencies such as childbirth

A group of women in Brooklyn is trying to break through a decades-old barrier bv joining an all-male volunteer ambulance corps run by Orthodox Jews.

Lawyer Ruchie Freier told The Post she’s speaking for dozens of Orthodox female medical technicians who say it’s their dream to work for Hatzalah.

But others in the tight-knit, ultra-conservative communities in Brooklyn are outraged, describing the plan’s supporters as “radical feminists’’ who don’t care about traditional values like “modesty.’’

Freier said, “Hatzalah is doing a fantastic job, but times have changed. We have female EMTs who have the same training as men. In emergency situations, a woman would be much more comfortable if she was being treated by another woman.”

Freier says she’s won the endorsement of several prominent rabbis in Brooklyn and in the upstate Hasidic town of New Square, which implemented a similar program a few years ago.

Under the plan, female medics would not be first responders -- and would be brought in only when a patient is about to give birth or needs treatment for a gynecological problem.

Hatzalah is a nonprofit, financed by donations. No women or non-Jewish man has ever applied, the source said.

Freier is supported by state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an influential politician who represents Borough Park.

It’s an idea that’s worth looking at,” he said.

I think the leaders of the community who are involved with Hatzalah need to be involved, and that’s a process that can happen. I’m sure Hatzalah will listen and consider it.”

But Hatzalah CEO Rabbi David Cohen said it’s a non-issue.

This was discussed years ago by the rabbinic board. They said not to do it, and that’s pretty much where we stand,” he said.

It’s not on the agenda. There’s no reason to put it on the agenda.”

While many in the Orthodox community support the cause, others balk.

On the Orthodox blog “The Yeshiva World,” an anonymous Hatzalah member called the plan “a new radical-feminist agenda,” adding, “[The rabbinic ruling] on this issue is unequivocal: For reasons of [modesty] women may not join Hatzalah.”

But female EMTs who want to join Hatzalah argue if mingling the sexes is what’s holding women back, how is it men are the ones treating expectant mothers?

I personally have seen the difference a woman makes when she is at the side of a woman giving birth,” a Hasidic female EMT who lives in Borough Park said.

Rabbi of TriBeCa asked for A permit for A sukkah in a small park

Rabbi Zalman Paris and his wife, Chana, of Chabad of TriBeCa, which has asked for a permit for a sukkah in a small park


Ralph Musolino unreeled his Stanley tape measure across the walkway of a small park in TriBeCa, marking off space for the construction of a Jewish ritual hut known as a sukkah, while Rabbi Zalman Paris, in auburn beard and tzitzit fringes, crouched nearby holding the tape’s other end.

If the sukkah goes out onto the sidewalk, that’s a whole other issue,” Mr. Musolino cautioned the rabbi, as he chalked off where on the walkway he could squeeze the hut’s roughly 12-by-14-foot footprint. “But I want to make sure you don’t have a telephone-booth-sized sukkah.”

Though not Jewish, Mr. Musolino, the Lower Manhattan district manager for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, has learned quite a bit about the often obscure structure known as a sukkah because the agency has allowed the huts to be erected in several parks, including two in Mr. Musolino’s jurisdiction, Battery Park and Bowling Green.

But the one being contemplated for TriBeCa’s Duane Park, which is more of a triangular traffic island, has presented a different challenge. Some members of the local community board, as well as advocates for the park, oppose the erection of a sukkah, saying it violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against establishment of religion or, at the very least, is an intrusion in a tiny park.

When Rabbi Paris’s organization, Chabad of TriBeCa, asked for a permit to put up the sukkah, three members of the board’s 11-member TriBeCa committee either voted against it or abstained, leaving the permit in limbo.

“I don’t want to encourage having all sorts of religious things in our public parks,” one committee member, Paul Cantor, told a community newspaper after voting against the application. Mr. Cantor did not respond to messages left on his voice mail.

The entire board, Community Board 1, is scheduled to vote on the permit on Tuesday. Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, has urged the board to support the sukkah. Julie Menin, the board’s chairwoman, would not say how she would vote but said, “our community has been known as a very tolerant community.”

The board played a role in the controversy over the creation of an Islamic center near ground zero when it approved a request to drop the landmark status of the building envisioned for the center.

“It’s very important that no religion get preference, but every single religion needs to get fair and equal treatment,” Ms. Menin said.

Controversies about religious displays in public spaces are as common before Christmas as holly wreaths. The public sukkah, though, is an autumnal phenomenon — this year the eight-day Sukkot harvest holiday begins at sundown Oct. 12 — and has its own constitutional complications.

Sukkahs are fragile shacks with branches or reeds as roofing, which Jews put up because of the biblical injunction to remember the transitory shelters the ancient Israelites used while wandering in the desert. They are usually erected on synagogue grounds or rooftops or private balconies or backyards.

But a request for a display in a public space raises difficult questions.

Is the sukkah merely a cultural symbol, or is it unmistakably religious in character? Does the government endorse its religious significance by allowing it to occupy a big chunk of a park when symbols of other faiths are not represented?

Despite several Supreme Court rulings, religious displays — whether of crèches, crosses, menorahs or the Ten Commandments — remain a subject of great ambiguity, civil liberties lawyers say. Individual municipalities must often decide the matter for themselves, relying on guidelines that the courts have clarified.

Arthur Eisenberg, legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said one widely accepted principle is equality: The government cannot discriminate against groups that seek access to the park, cannot “favor some religions over others” and “cannot privilege nonreligious expression over religious expression.”

Nathan Lewin, a lawyer who has successfully represented Chabad in menorah cases, said government can accommodate religious displays but cannot appear to endorse them, an impression that might be created by a nativity scene stationed inside a government building with no other religious symbols nearby.

The parks department said it allowed sukkahs as long as “the applicant ensures that they are structurally safe.”

“We’re content-neutral when evaluating applications for events in parks, whether they be of a religious, political or cultural nature,” Vickie Karp, a spokeswoman for the department, said.

Nevertheless, the city has at times indicated that more blatant religious images might stir questions. The Department of Transportation removed a crèche last Christmas from the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island, drawing protests from some priests and ministers. A department spokesman said the crèche had been removed because a staff member had put it up without authorization, but he also said that menorahs and Christmas trees were “consistent both with traditions at the ferry terminal and also with legal precedent.” Supporters of a crèche said the suggestion was that trees and menorahs were seasonal images and not as blatantly religious as a figure of the baby Jesus.

Rabbi Paris, 36, director of Chabad of TriBeCa, and his wife, Chana, seem not to have had these issues in mind. He said the impetus for putting up the sukkah came from Jews in TriBeCa who wanted a convenient way to observe the custom of sitting and eating in a sukkah. TriBeCa, he said, offered few options because outdoor parking lots and large backyards were scarce.

Rabbi Paris took pains to say he was mindful of the neighborhood’s sensitivities.

We respect anyone in our community who might object to a sukkah in a public space,” he said, “and are actively searching everywhere for appropriate and accessible space.”

Ticket-fixing scandal: NYPD cops' racist talk caught on wiretap recordings


It's more than ticket-fixing chatter investigators caught on their wiretaps: Cops are also heard talking trash about the people they're paid to protect, sources said.

The wiretap recordings at the heart of the probe captured conversations rife with racist and inflammatory remarks, sources told the Daily News.

"There's overtly racist language," said one source. "And it gets a lot worse than that."

The shocking language could cause the scandal to spiral far beyond the 17 cops already indicted, tainting cases of hundreds of officers caught on tape, legal experts said.

"If a Bronx jury hears a cop call someone a n----r or an animal, everything else they say goes out thewindow," said one veteran defenselawyer with a client who wasarrested by a cop implicated in the scandal.

The Bronx investigation - which began as a probe into a cop suspected of drug ties - quickly grew as officers were caught on tape discussing fixing tickets and other wrongdoing, prosecutors have alleged.

In the end, 17 cops - many of them union delegates - were indicted on Friday. Dozens of others will likely face departmental charges, sources said, and some already have.

The indicted officers could begin turning themselves in as early as today, sources said.

The cops are expected to be brought before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett this week on charges ranging from perjury and bribery to grand larceny and obstruction. "It's going to be the biggest parade of [arrested] cops we've seen in a long time," said a source close to the probe.

The tapes and transcripts of the officers swept up in the probe - even those not formally charged - lay bare the unseemly attitudes of some cops, sources said.

"That's how a lot of cops talk," said one source. "The difference here is, it's all on tape."

One example involves Officer Peter Hans, who was docked vacation days for getting tickets fixed. He was caught on the wire making disparaging remarks about the Bronx "ghettos" of Mott Haven and Melrose, where he was assigned, a source said.

The tapes could turn up in both the departmental hearings and the trials of the indicted officers. The recordings could later be dredged up in other cases involving any of the officers to question their credibility.

"I think the language will surprise and upset people," said a source who has heard some of the tapes.

Bronx juries have already acquitted two accused criminals arrested by cops embroiled in the scandal - including one man charged with attempted murder - in part because they did not believe the officers' testimony.

Prosecutors have worked feverishly to keep transcripts of the wiretapped calls from being made public, sources said.

In dozens of cases, they have cut deals with defendants to ensure the ticket-fixing issue didn't become a factor at trial, sources said.

In the case of Hans, prosecutors had a judge order that all transcripts of Hans' administrative testimony and profanity-laced calls be kept secret.

"You'll probably see that happen again and again," a lawyer connected to the case said.

Ukrainian rightists riot over mass Hasidic pilgrimage ahead of Rosh Hashannah

Riot police detain a demonstrator during a rally of protest against pilgrimage of Hassidic Jews in the town of Uman,

Tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews plan to visit the grave of a prominent Jewish cleric, Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, in Uman.

KIEV - Ukrainian police detained dozens of people on Sunday who were protesting what they called an uncontrolled influx of Jewish pilgrims to the town of Uman, police and the Ukrainian nationalist party Svoboda said.

The protest, attended by about 100 people, took place days before the 70th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, the mass killing of Jews by the Nazis after the occupation of Kiev in 1941.

Uman, a town of 90,000 in central Ukraine, is the site of an annual pilgrimage by tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews who visit the grave of a prominent Jewish cleric, Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav.

Svoboda held the protest in Uman to demand stricter legal and sanitary controls on pilgrims. Party activists say the pilgrim influx must be better regulated and presents a security and health risk.

We are not anti-Semites, we do not have anything against Jews," Tetyana Chornomaz, the head of the regional Svoboda unit, told Reuters by telephone from Uman. "[But] we have many questions regarding [the pilgrims'] stay in Ukraine."

Chornomaz said riot police detained about 20 people following brief scuffles after the rally, but it was not clear if they would face any charges.

Interfax news agency quoted the Ukranian Interior Ministry as saying that police had detained about 60 people.

The moment NYPD sprayed mace in women's faces amid Wall Street protest








This is the moment when a group of supposedly peaceful female protesters were rounded up in an orange mesh pen by police and sprayed with mace without any apparent provocation.

New York Police Department has refused to comment on the brutal scenes from the 'Occupy Wall Street' that capture the women screaming in agony after being sprayed.

Videos posted on YouTube show officers surrounding the group of women with the mesh pen, before two officers in white approach.

NYPD's Kelly says cops could take down an aircraft

An Agusta 119 helicopter, part of the NYPD's terror-fighting arsenal, flies past tourists atop the Empire State Building

The NYPD now has anti-aircraft capability.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly tells "60 Minutes" that the NYPD has "some means to take down a plane" in what he termed an "extreme situation," during an interview tonight on CBS, according to a transcript of the exchange.

Under fire by some for police counterterrorism tactics highlighted in a series of Associated Press articles, Kelly doesn't elaborate to interviewer Scott Pelley exactly how cops could take down a plane, but when asked point-blank whether the police have the equipment and training to pull off such a feat, Kelly responds, "Yes"

Do you mean to say that the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?" Pelley asks.

To which Kelly responds: "Yes, I prefer not to get into the details but obviously this would be in a very extreme situation."

You have the equipment and the training," Pelley follows up.

Yes," Kelly answers.

In the interview, Kelly also says NYPD officers are in far-flung locales like Abu Dhabi and Jordan.

They’re there to act as trip wires or listening posts," Kelly said. "Is there anything going on there that (as I say) can help us better protect the city."

Kelly says thousands of heavily-armed cops, a growing network of cameras downtown -- the number will swell from 2,000 to 3,000 in Lower Manhattan -- and radiation detectors ringing the city are necessary because New York remains in the crosshairs.

We’re the number one target in this country. That’s the consensus of the intelligence community. We’re the communications capital. We’re the financial capital. We’re a city that’s been attacked twice successfully. We’ve have 13 terrorist plots against the city since September 11th. No other city has had that," Kelly says.

In one plot detected by police counter-terrorism unit, would-be bombers used a monster movie reference to hatch their plan, Kelly says.

We had received information in some communications that the bridge in the Godzilla movie was being observed as a possible target, "Kelly says, in reference to the scene in the 1998 movie of the same name, where the creature becomes entangled in suspension wires on the Brooklyn Bridge. "That’s how they characterized the bridge."

It wasn't the only movie reference during tonight's sit-down. Kelly borrowed a line from "Casablanca," where Humphrey Bogart warns the Nazis that some sections of the Big Apple would be too rough to take on in his closing message to modern-day evildoers.

If you see the movie 'Casablanca,' and you have Humphrey Bogart talking to Colonel Strasser. And he says that he would advise the Nazis to think twice about invading certain parts of New York City," Kelly says.

"Well that’s our message. “Stay away.”

NYPD Chief: Police Could Take Down Plane If Needed : MyFoxNY.com

Rick Perry dances with Chassidic Rabbis





Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has a longstanding history with Israel. Not only has he defended their foreign policy, but in recent years he's also visited the country several times and even accepted a Defender of Jerusalem award in 2009, as NBC reported.

On the heels of Politico discovering the governor relied on a wealthy rabbi to support funding his $18,500 trips to Israel, the news organization has also uncovered a video on YouTube where he's shown in his office last December "during a Hanukah lighting ceremony in which Perry goes the full nine yards taking part in the traditions...including dancing with the rabbis."

Last week the Republican presidential hopeful spoke out against President Obama, accusing him of a "policy of appeasement."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Schumer Says OnStar Invades Privacy


ALBANY, N.Y. — The OnStar automobile communication service used by 6 million Americans maintains its two-way connection with a customer even after the service is discontinued, while reserving the right to sell data from that connection.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York says that's a blatant invasion of privacy and is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. But OnStar says former customers can stop the two-way transmission, and no driving data of customers has been shared or sold.

"OnStar is attempting one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory," said Schumer, a Democrat. "I urge OnStar to abandon.

But the General Motors Corp. OnStar service says customers are thoroughly informed of the new practice. If a customer says he or she doesn't want to have data collected after service is ended, OnStar disconnects the tracking.

And although OnStar reserves the right to share or sell data on customers' speed, location, use of seat belts and other practices, a spokesman says it hasn't done so and doesn't plan to.

"We apologize for creating any confusion about our terms and conditions," said Joanne Finnor, vice president of subscriber services. "We want to make sure we are as clear with our customers as possible, but it's apparent that we have failed to do this. ... We will continue to be open to their suggestions and concerns."

A week ago, OnStar changed its policy and began continuing the connection for ex-customers unless they asked for it to be discontinued.

Finnor noted keeping the two-communication active for former customers could someday allow for emergency messages to be sent even to ex-customers about severe weather or evacuations. The open line could also allow OnStar to alert drivers about warranty information or recalls, she said.

Schumer said he isn't persuaded. He said customers shouldn't have to "opt out" of the tracking after they end service. He accuses OnStar of actively deceiving customers.

Schumer is announcing the effort Sunday by releasing a letter to the Federal Trade Commission seeking an investigation.

OnStar charges about $199 a year for basic service and $299 a year for service that includes navigation aid.

Schumer Says OnStar Invades Privacy : MyFoxNY.com

FBI: $2.1M Bulger Reward Paid To Tipsters


BOSTON - The FBI has paid a $2 million reward to a tipster who provided information that led to the arrest of fugitive crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, according to a Las Vegas man who tried unsuccessfully to claim the reward.

Bulger, who was long one of the nation's most wanted fugitives, was captured in June in Santa Monica, Calif., where he had been living in a rented apartment with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, was wanted in connection with 19 murders. He fled Boston just before he was indicted in early 1995.

Keith Messina, a restaurant manager from Las Vegas, said he tried to claim all or part of the reward because he called the television show "America's Most Wanted" in 2008 and reported seeing Bulger in Santa Monica.

Messina, 45, said Wednesday that he recently was notified by the FBI that it had rejected his claim and had paid the money to the tipster who provided information that led to the arrest of Bulger and Greig in June.

"That's what they told my attorney, that they were writing the check as we speak," Messina said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Messina said his attorney had called the FBI to see how they would go about filing a claim for the reward money. He said that after his attorney was told the reward had been given to someone else, he received a letter from the FBI saying his claim for it had been rejected.

"We still filed a claim," Messina said. "They're the ones who made a mistake. They would have had him three years ago. If they had followed my tip, they would have nailed him."

Messina's attorney, Michael Gowdey, did not immediately return two calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Messina said he was in Santa Monica with his wife and children when he saw a man who resembled Bulger standing by a pier, wearing shorts and reading a thick book. He said that when a young couple walked by, Bulger appeared to notice the man's shirt, which had some kind of Boston insignia on it.

"He said, 'Hey, are you from Boston?'" Messina said. "Then they started talking about various places in Boston."

Messina said he then looked on the "America's Most Wanted" website, recognized the man he saw as Bulger and called staff members at the show to give them his tip. He said he later was told by the staff members that they had passed his tip along to the FBI.

Neither the FBI nor the U.S. attorney's office in Boston would confirm whether the reward had been paid. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the FBI wanted to protect the identity of the tipster and information related to the reward would be released "if and when the time is appropriate."

Authorities have said only that the tipster was a woman who saw a television news report about a publicity campaign in the manhunt for Bulger, now 82, and Greig, 60. The couple were captured within days after the FBI began the campaign.

Grieg is charged with conspiracy to harbor and conceal a fugitive. She and Bulger have pleaded not guilty.

Bulger's lawyers were in court Wednesday to update a judge on discovery material turned over by prosecutors.

Attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said the defense has begun to go through thousands of documents but needs more time before it can report back to the court. A judge scheduled another status conference for Nov. 21.

Several people who say their family members were Bulger's victims were in court.

Patricia Donahue, the widow of Michael Donahue, who was fatally shot in 1982, said she and her adult son, Tom Donahue, plan to attend every hearing.

"We started this knowing this would be a long haul, and we're going to stick with it," she said.

Tom Donahue said: "We want to be here for my father."

Michael Donahue, a truck driver, was killed during a hit on a man who was cooperating with investigators against Bulger. Donahue gave the man a ride home. Bulger and another man are accused of riddling their car with bullets.

$2 million reward paid to tipster in Whitey Bulger arrest: MyFoxBOSTON.com

Three Orthodox rabbis hike 15 miles from Brooklyn to Bronx weekly to lead synagogue

Three young Orthodox rabbis, walk all the way from Crown Heights to the Bronx to conduct Sabbath services

It could be New York's longest schlep: Every Saturday, young rabbis trudge 15 miles from Brooklyn to worship with some of the last Jews left in one Bronx neighborhood.

The ultra-Orthodox rabbis lead a small Parkchester synagogue housed in the same ramshackle building as an Islamic school and a mosque.

"It takes them four hours and sometimes the weather is terrible," said synagogue member Harvey Weiner, 82. "But without them, we'd be lost."

The rabbis and rabbinical students make the grueling journey - rain, snow or shine - because Parkchester's Jewish population has dwindled and the synagogue has no rabbi of its own.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews don't drive, bicycle or ride the subway on the Sabbath.

"We come to help the old Jewish people here," said Rabbi Meir Kabakow, 25. "We take care of them and help them pray."

On a recent Saturday, Rabbi Shmuel Notik woke at 5 a.m. Dressed in a black suit and a wide-brimmed hat, he left the world headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch sect in Crown Heights and walked briskly in the dark through Williamsburg.

Notik, 25, crossed the Williamsburg Bridge to Manhattan with the sun rising behind him and hiked up First Ave., all the way to East Harlem, pausing to drink at playground water fountains.

The slim, bearded rabbi crossed the Willis Ave. Bridge to the Bronx and strode past bodegas and auto shops on Westchester Ave., waving to curious passersby. "I don't get tired," he said. "Well, maybe in the snow."

Notik has trekked to the Bronx about 50 times since Jan. 1, 2008, when the Young Israel of Parkchester synagogue ran out of money and closed.

That day, he and a group of rabbinical students showed up unannounced at the synagogue's storefront on White Plains Road.

"It was our last service," said Leon Bleckman, 78. "We had no rabbi. They walked in and it was like the messiah coming down from heaven. It was a miracle."

Then Notik and his friends founded a new house of worship. Beis Menachem of Parkchester holds services in a scruffy Pugsley Ave. building that belongs to the Al-Iman Mosque and Islamic Leadership School.

During the week, Muslim students use the space to study the Koran. But on Saturdays, elderly Jews arrange battered folding chairs behind a lectern and sway as Notik reads from the Torah.

In the 1940s, there were seven synagogues in Parkchester alone and hundreds in the Bronx. But many of the borough's Jews have moved to Long Island and Westchester County.

Not Bleckman. The retired coat salesman is determined to stay.

"There are still Jews in Parkchester, but they don't know we have a synagogue," he said. "We need to get the word out. We need every soul we can get."

How 'Kosher' Is New Jewish Social Networking Site?

FaceGlat.com offers separated sex browsing for Orthodox Jews.

Blending secular social networking with observant Orthodox Jewish practices, FaceGlat.com sells itself as the kosher alternative to Facebook.

Dividing web browsing by sex to conform with Orthodox Jewish observance, FaceGlat was launched earlier in September by Yaakov Swisa, a 25-year-old Israeli interested in breaching the digital divide.

The site, as described by Worldcrunch.com, includes common Facebook features such as friending, posting photos and commenting, while infusing Orthodox traditions—sexes are separate, indecent photos are banned and coarse language is monitored.

Formed by combining the term for "highly kosher" (glat) with the iconic Facebook "Face," the website is offered in English and Hebrew. Only 2,000 users subscribe worldwide, but Swisa told Worldcrunch hundreds join weekly.

Based at Congregation Beth Hamedrosh in Wynnewood, Lower Merion Township, Rabbi Yonah Gross recently asked his eighth-grade students about FaceGlat. Though they heard of it, few, if any, had accounts.

I understand what they're trying to do, but the Orthodox spectrum is so wide. Where do you draw the line—what's a good idea, what's a bad idea?" he asked, noting that viewing accounts for his wife, aunt, granddaughter and other family members isn't problematic.

Rabbi Yitzchok Gurevitz of Chabad-Lubavitch of Northwest Philadelphia—which is in Mt. Airy and also serves Chestnut Hill, Roxborough, Manayunk and East Falls—views the site differently.

To me, FaceGlat is a business endeavor. It's not a nonprofit. It's not (affiliated) with a rabbinical organization," he said.

In general, Gurevitz understood the justification. "Look, some people (might be more comfortable) in a environment with less issues of sexual tension."

However, he said it's not for him.

"If they would call me to invest, I wouldn't invest. People who have problems with Facebook, may have problems with FaceGlat," he said, noting tendency to gossip and general inquiries into other people's private affairs endemic in social networking.

For Orthodox Jews, Gross said the Internet in general is something many rabbis are grappling with. While some advise congregants to avoid it, Gross takes a different approach.

In some ways, to say that you can't use the Interest is to say you can't live a modern lifestyle," he said, adding many people at Beth Hamedrosh email, others are active on LinkedIn and some use Facebook itself.

I try to say that the Internet is more about how to use it well in order to live your life well," he said.

FaceGlat's future is still largely up-in-the-air. "If someone doesn't use the Internet, I'm curious to see how this will (impact them)," Gross said.