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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Report: Venezuela is spying on its Jews


Reports that the Venezuelan intelligence agency is targeting and spying on the Venezuelan Jewish community as well as on Venezuelan companies and organizations with ties to Israel is deeply troubling, asserted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“We are deeply troubled by a recent news report alleging that the Venezuelan Intelligence Service (SEBIN) is spying on the Venezuelan Jewish community,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.

“Venezuela under the regime of Hugo Chavez has a history of harassing the Jewish community in that country,” he said. “It is chilling to read reports that the SEBIN received instructions to carry out clandestine surveillance operations against members of the Jewish community, as described in detail in documents leaked by the Argentinean web site, Analisis24.”

The Analisis24 report, which has since been republished on at least one web site in Venezuela, included several documents, mainly from 2010, with specific, private and official information about Jewish Venezuelans. For instance, among the documents posted are the official passport information of members of an NGO related to Holocaust remembrance, including all entry and exits from the country and where the members traveled.

“In a country where the government and some of its followers have publicly accused the Jewish community of disloyalty and where the community’s institutions and houses of worship have been attacked, reports of this kind of surveillance add fuel to an already incendiary atmosphere inciting prejudice and hate,” said Foxman. “For more than a decade, elements of the Venezuelan government-run media and the so-called ‘alternative’ media operated by Chavez government supporters have regularly engaged in spreading anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes.”

“The Analisis24 article suggests there is an official government policy targeting Venezuela’s Jewish community,” Foxman added. “We strongly condemn these dangerous intimidation tactics and call on the current leadership of the Venezuelan government to immediately cease targeting the Jewish community.”

The League has monitored and issued reports on anti-Semitism in Venezuela in the past several years and criticized the government of President Hugo Chavez for promoting anti-Semitism in Venezuela for political purposes.

Brooklyn College Under Fire for Sponsorship of Anti-Israel BDS Event


NEW YORK  -- People are divided over whether a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel group should be welcomed on the campus of Brooklyn College.

"I am embarrassed, I am ashamed of what Brooklyn College is doing," said Assem. Dov Hikind.

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind says he'll organize a protest at his alma mater if the school goes through with its plans to sponsor a controversial lecture next week.

It involves a member of a group called the BDS Movement which supports sanctions, against Israel over the Palestinian conflict.

Hikind and many others are likening the college sponsorship of the event to an endorsement of the group's views.

"Just withdraw the support of the political science department because that is the university and we have no issue and let them go on and have their hateful forum," Assem. Hikind said.

Brooklyn College meanwhile doesn't see it that way at all.

"We as an institution are not going to tell members of our faculty what they can and cannot choose to support," said Jeremy Thompson, Brooklyn College Spokesman.

In fact, they point out nearly two years ago, the school also hosted a lecture by conservative David Horowitz who's certainly controversial.

He called Palestinians "morally sick, as a people".

"They've had pro-Israeli people on campus before," said Ian Marsh, a Brooklyn College senior, "It's academic freedom. There's no reason it shouldn't be both sides of the argument."

Meanwhile, on the campus, where students usually pride themselves on their diversity, the upcoming lecture is making it harder for some to bury their differences.

"It is what it is, it is justice for Palestine, and we won't have justice for Palestine, until you end the occupation and ending the occupation, the BDS Movement is vital to that," said Rabia Ahsin Tarar, a Brooklyn College senior.

It is quite painful to many others.

"How can you say, that every single student here has an opportunity to portray what they want, when the political science department takes sides, we can't have this happen," said Joey Saban, a Brooklyn College senior.





Dan Marino admits fathering child with CBS production assistant


Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino has admitted to having an affair with one of his CBS colleagues that resulted in a child born in 2005.

According to the New York Post report, Donna Savattere was a 35-year-old production assistant at CBS in New York when she started an affair with Marino, who is married with six children.

Savattere gave birth to their daughter, Chloe, in June 2005 and Marino allegedly paid Savattere millions of dollars to keep quiet about the baby and move to Texas after the birth.

According to the report, Marino has had sporadic contact with the child since she was born.

"This is a personal and private matter," Marino told the Post in a written statement. "I take full responsibility both personally and financially for my actions now as I did then. We mutually agreed to keep our arrangement private to protect all parties involved."

“My wife and I have been married for almost 30 years and have six children together. And we continue to be a strong and loving family,” Marino said in his statement.

Savattere is now married and has another child with her husband.

Marino is an NFL analyst for CBS and will be part of the Super Bowl pregame show on Sunday.  
    

Texas prosecutor who reportedly was investigating Aryan Brotherhood is killed after getting shot five times near courthouse


A prosecutor who reportedly was investigating the Aryan Brotherhood was killed after getting shot five times near the courthouse in a small Texas town on Thursday morning, and two suspects remain on the loose.

The victim has been identified as Mark Hasse, 57, an assistant district attorney for Kaufman County. Hasse's name was being withheld until his family was notified.

Hasse was exiting his car on his way to court in Kaufman, a town of less fewer than 7,000, when he was approached by two suspects, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The shooting took place in a parking lot where many prosecutors and judges park. Hasse was taken away in ambulance, though it remains unclear whether he died at the hospital or en route.

"My secretary heard the gunshots," Kaufman defense lawyer Eric Smenner told the newspaper.

With the suspects still on the loose, the courthouse was closed and police locked down the immediate area. The school district also locked down schools as a precaution.

Investigators believe the two suspects fled in an older model Ford Taurus in either a brown or silver color.

State records show Hasse was certified as a peace officer 25 years ago, according to the Dallas Morning News. He almost always carried a gun, friends told the newspaper.

Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes said it appears that Hasse was targeted.

"I would say from all appearances it is," Byrnes said, according to a local NBC affiliate. "But we have no concrete information on that. We're pursuing every avenue right now."

The assistant DA’s caseload included investigation of members of the Aryan Brotherhood, sources told the Morning News.

"If this really was an assassination by the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, we are about to see a war begin," Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center told the Daily News on Thursday.

The Aryan Brotherhood in Texas has the reputation of being the most violent faction within the white supremacist group, Potok says.

The Brotherhood was originally formed by San Quentin State Prison inmates in 1964 when authorities began to desegregate prisons. There are now more than 15,000 members around the country.

It is the largest - and most violent - prison gang, according to Potok. While only a 0.1% of inmates are in the Aryan Brotherhood, 18% of all prison murders are committed by the white supremacist group.

To enter the gang, one usually is required to kill someone. And the only way to leave the gang is usually by death.

Authorities plan to investigate whether Hasse's probe of the hate group has anything to do with his death, according to the Morning News.

Hasse worked as a prosecutor for the Dallas County DA's office before moving to Kaufman. He was chief of the Dallas County DA's organized-crime unit from 1985 until 1988, according to the Morning News.

“He was revered and he did an outstanding job,” Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood told the Morning News before Hasse was officially identified. “We see each other every day. … It’s a very small courthouse.”

“I’m just sad and concerned for the individual involved and the family members," Mayor Tony Rader told the paper.

Kaufman is 40 miles from Dallas, which took notice of the shooting.

"Please be aware of your surroundings when leaving the building for your safety," reads an email by the Dallas County DA to his staff, obtained by WFAA-TV. "This is probably a isolated incident but until further notice if you plan to work past dark today please be careful and ask security for assistance escorting you to your vehicles if needed. I will keep you informed as to the arrest of the suspects when i am notified. Don't panic but please be aware of your environment when leaving the building."








Biker gang halts traffic on California I-10 freeway for marriage proposal


Hundreds of bikers blocked traffic on a major California freeway over the weekend so that a member of their crew could propose to his girlfriend.

But cops are less than thrilled for the happy couple, and now the pair could be facing criminal charges.

YouTube videos of the stunt showed a pack of hundreds of bikers slowing to a crawl on the I-10 freeway near West Covina, halting traffic in their wake.

The groom to-be, identified as Hector Martinez, 24, kicked off the impromptu proposal by spinning his back tire, which was custom crafted to emit a large plume of pink smoke, according to local reports.

Martinez then hopped off his bike, doffed his helmet, got on one-knee and popped the question to his girlfriend, Paige Hernandez, also 24.

Fellow riders whooped, popped wheelies and did donuts in celebration before the group pulled off.

The pair later recounted the story to local radio station Power 106.

Martinez said Hernandez had no idea the proposal was coming.

"Only a handful of people knew what was going to happen," said Martinez, who wore a jacket with the insignia of the Subliminal 710 Bikerz during the proposal.

Hernandez thought "it was just another Sunday ride," he said.

Family members from both sides were watching from an overpass, Hernandez said.

The California Highway Patrol said the incident was under investigation, and the district attorney was considering slapping the bikers with felony charges.

"It's dangerous when you do something like that," CHP Sgt. Kurt Stormes told The Sun, a local newspaper in San Bernardino.

"You've got free-flowing traffic, suddenly traffic comes to a stop and people don't know what happened, and that's when accidents happen."

It wasn't clear if the highway halt led to any accidents.

Martinez told The Huffington Post the couple planned a two-year engagement to finish school and would like to get married at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.





Monsey - Moishe Turner Molestation Plea Fiasco


In response to the guilty plea of Moshe Turner last Friday, Jan. 18, Help Rescue Our Children , an Orthodox Jewish children’s advocacy organization, released the following statement by HROC founder, Rabbi Noson S. Leiter:

“We thank the Ramapo Police once again for the painstaking and sensitive work they did on the prosecution of Mr. Turner, as well as on numerous other molestation cases in the community.

We also commend the courageous survivor who came forward here, as well as all of the people – within and outside of various Orthodox, including Chassidic, communities – who assisted in this prosecution.

“Several critical points concerning this case in particular, and molestation in general, must be made:

“Turner’s arrest and prosecution proceeded with the direct support and encouragement of leading Orthodox Rabbis, going back to before his arrest well over a year ago.

According to reports, Turner has been molesting children for over 30 years. Turner had become widely known to be a threat to children. The continuing involvement of leading Rabbis brings us closer to properly confronting child-molestation, and rooting out perpetrators who destroy lives and cast our beautiful communities in a bad light.

“It cannot be emphasized enough that secondary abuse—the disbelief, indifference and lack of zealousness by community members to pursue and prosecute perpetrators — can have as devastating, and sometimes even more devastating effects on victims than the molestation itself.

“Incarceration of dangerous perpetrators is crucial for many reasons:

1. It helps victims heal, as their injury is validated, and they see that there is some measure of justice (“Iss Din v’is Dayan”).

2. It encourages other victims to fulfill their Torah-obligations to prosecute.

3. It plays a pivotal role in detering other perpetrators.

4. Most critically, incarceration is crucial to protect the innocent from being victimized. As long as the perpetrator is not behind bars, innocent

children are at risk.

“Plea-deals lacking jail time fail on all four counts.

“This applies to heterosexual molesters, and even more so to homosexual molesters. That is because homosexual child-molesters have far more free access to their victims, especially in communities like the Orthodox community, where access to the opposite gender is greatly constrained.

“Additionally, sentencing must acknowledge the full extent of the crime’s impact. Even those who don’t subscribe to the Biblical worldview, and the prohibition of homosexuality, must concede the following: For the benefit of understanding what victims go through, we must emphasize that homosexual molestation, given its aberrational nature in many communities, takes an even more immense psychological toll on victims, in many cases (see further Talmud Sanhedrin 73a bottom, Rashi “D’lav ur’chei”). This is all the more true in Orthodox society. The impact on the victim must be gauged by the perception of the victim and his society, not that of outsiders.

“We must insist on greater stringency in sentencing of all types of molesters within our communities, as well as on the extension of the statue-of-limitations.

We condemn in strongest terms the outrageous interference of certain reckless individuals, who – in direct contravention of leading Rabbis (Da’as Torah) – put pressure on family members of the courageous victim who advanced this prosecution.

That interference is evidently responsible, in great measure, for the scandalously lenient plea-deal that Mr. Turner got away with – specifically the shocking absence of jail-time – despite his own admission of sodomizing an underage boy.

“The bleeding-heart enablers who suddenly get inspired to help perpetrators must be viewed as actively aiding and abetting the horrific physical, psychological and spiritual damage of sexual molestation. Interestingly, these same “activists” are strikingly absent when victims need help.

“Those with credible information or leads that could help reveal precisely who was complicit in the aforementioned molester-enabling interference are asked to contact us, in confidence. Inasmuch as other prosecutions of dangerous perpetrators are in process – and may be impeded by recidivist enablers – information you provide may actually save lives.

“Remember: The child you save – by the preventive measures to be taken – may be your own.”

Those who seek the help of select, qualified Rabbinic authorities in the process of prosecution of a molester, or in opposing intimidation or molester-enablers, may contact Help Rescue Our Children: 845-642-1679. Ramapo residents who seek to stop a molester or enabler may call the Ramapo Police directly at 357-2400.        




Rockland Times

Canada - Ex-psychiatrist's rabbi calls prison term 'death sentence'


Sentencing arguments concluded late Wednesday afternoon for Aubrey Levin, the former psychiatrist found guilty this week of sexually assaulting three of his male patients.

Levin refused to answer any questions asked by reporters outside of the courtroom.

The judge will sentence Levin on Thursday at 11 a.m. MT.

Levin, 74, who had served in the past as a court-appointed psychiatrist, was originally charged with nine counts of sexual assault.

On Monday the jury returned guilty verdicts on three counts, not guilty verdicts on two counts and was unable to reach a decision on the other four counts, which led Justice Donna Shelley to declare a mistrial on those four.

The court saw video taken by a patient with a hidden camera that showed Levin undoing the man's belt and fondling him.

On Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Dallas Sopko told the judge she is requesting a term between six and eight years.

Sopko told the judge the aggravating factors are Levin's position of trust, the vulnerability of victims, and the length and repetitive nature of assaults.

Defence lawyer Chris Archer told the judge his client is guilty of "minor sexual assaults," and asked for an intermittent sentence of 90 days — a jail term only served on weekends.

Archer said Levin's rabbi described him as "loved and greatly respected" and said to send him to prison would be a "death sentence."

Victims offer emotional statements

Following the sentencing submissions, the court heard victim impact statements.

One victim said he turns his phone off and doesn't want to leave the house.

"It's emotionally hard for me to trust anyone anymore," the man told the judge. "I can't sleep, I'm shaky and confused. How could someone with so much power use that power in a way that ruins their life?"

Another victim began crying shortly after he began reading his statement.

"I can't begin to describe the effect Aubrey Levin has had — shame, guilt, anxiety, self-destruction from alcohol and drugs hate and anger for authority figures — seemed hopeless, didn't care about myself anymore," the man said.

The third victim also talked about what life has been like since the assault.

"Levin I am looking right at you," the man read from his statement. "I have suffered mentally, taken pills … [had] thoughts of doing harm to myself — how can someone like me have a normal life?

"[Aubrey Levin] knows how the system works and it's only fair that he gets a taste of that. People like you never change, you are who you are. You took my trust and you abused me with medications. For those who were silenced by fear and intimidation, this is justice for them. I hope he suffers as much as I and everyone else has."

Complicated trial

The trial lasted for four months, as Levin's first lawyer tried to have his client declared unfit to stand trial for medical reasons.

Levin subsequently fired his first lawyer, choosing to represent himself, before hiring a second lawyer.

Two weeks before the verdict, a juror was dismissed after she came forward to say, a woman she believed to be Levin's wife had offered the juror a bribe to find Levin not guilty.

A charge of obstruction of justice is pending against Erica Levin.    

  

Sex abuse victims sue rabbi over comments


A LEADING rabbi who compared child sex abuse to diarrhoea - ''it's embarrassing but nobody's business'' - will be sued in Jewish courts by a victim advocacy group that wants him to stand down.

In a lecture posted on YouTube but later removed, Rabbi Manis Friedman says that not reciting a blessing after eating cake is worse than being sexually abused, that victims learn ''an important lesson'' from abuse, and suggests victims ''are not that damaged, cut it out''.

Rabbi Friedman is an emissary at large from the Chabad Lubavitch headquarters in New York, and has been generally regarded as a serious and moderate figure in the Orthodox movement.

That movement, and particularly its Melbourne Yeshivah centre, has been embroiled in child sex abuse controversies.

Manny Waks, an abuse victim at Yeshivah himself in the 1980s and founder of the Tzedek advocacy group for Jewish abuse survivors, said on Thursday he had launched lawsuits against Rabbi Friedman in the Jewish court or Beth Din in Sydney and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, New York. The courts would decide which of them had jurisdiction.

In the YouTube video, in which Rabbi Friedman is talking to male students, he is asked about a man whose girlfriend dropped him when he told her he had been abused. Rabbi Friedman replies: ''What's wrong with him is that he mentioned it. Do I have to tell that I was molested? Do you have to tell that you once had diarrhoea? It's embarrassing, but nobody's business.

''There's collateral damage. It's not the event itself, it's the loss of trust, the feeling of weakness or vulnerability Those issues are issues even if you weren't molested. But the event itself - 'I'm damaged from the molestation' - no, you're not. In fact you've learnt that not every uncle is your best friend, you've learnt an important lesson.''

In another recording, Rabbi Friedman tells a girl from a Russian family: ''What! You think you were the only one molested? You think your mother and grandmother back in Russia made it through their teenage years without being molested?''

Mr Waks says in his application to the Jewish court that Rabbi Friedman is ''doing untold damage to the entire Jewish community. As a global leader, he is damaging the reputation of the Jewish community broadly. He is also perpetuating the negative perception many have of the ultra-Orthodox community.

''Most concerning, he is having a direct, damaging impact on victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and their families. [His] remarks may give succour to elements within the Chabad-Lubavitch Yeshivah community in Melbourne, who have responded abysmally to the serious allegations of abuse within their institutions.''

Mr Waks wants the court to make the rabbi retract his remarks and apologise. He told Fairfax Media that victims might be deterred from reporting abuse to police or from seeking therapy by the rabbi's ''deeply hurtful and offensive'' comments, and that the rabbi should stand down from every leadership position.

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, president of the Organisation of Australasian Rabbis, said in an email to Mr Waks that Rabbi Friedman seemed to trivialise and minimise the damage sexual abuse caused victims.

''It is simply ignorance to say we are all 'damaged' in the same manner as victims of sexual abuse and it is the height of insensitivity to suggest the treatment for a victim is just to perform additional mitzvois [good works].''

Fairfax Media could not contact Rabbi Friedman.





The Age

Child Sex Abuse In Britain's Haredi Community Exposed



 

New Square teacher labeled a sex offender after guilty plea


NEW SQUARE — A teacher has been classified as a low-level sex offender based upon his recent conviction for forcibly touching a young boy.

Herschel Taubenfeld pleaded guilty earlier this month to the misdemeanor charge as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors in New Square Village Court. The agreement spared the child from having to testify.

Ramapo police originally charged Taubenfeld in 2011 with 30 misdemeanors – 10 counts each of forcible touching, endangering the welfare of a child and third-degree sexual abuse.

On Monday night, Taubenfield underwent a classification hearing before Justice Stewart Salles, judge for the Skver Hasidic Jewish community in New Square.

Taubenfeld, who lives at 92 N. Garfield Drive, New Square, was classified as a Level 1 offender, based on a total score that takes in his criminal history, the crime and other aspects of his life.

A Level 1 determination means he’s a low risk to repeat his offense, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services website. As a Level 1, his name will not appear on public data-bases of sex offender or police notification of the community.

A Level 2 is a moderate risk while a Level 3 classification means the person is a high risk and a threat to the public safety.

Those sex offenders can be found on the state sex registry and their address and personal information are made available by the police to public and private agencies.

Taubenfeld’s was the first sexual abuse case prosecuted in the New Square community, said Rabbi Noson Leiter, the founder of Help Rescue Our Children, an Orthodox Jewish children’s advocacy group. Leiter also heads Torah Jews for Decency in Monsey.

Leiter and other advocates have claimed some community leaders keep the lid on sexual abuse and other crimes, pressuring families and survivors to steer clear of reporting abuse to police and testifying in court. Leiter said that despite the lack of jail time in the Taubenfeld case, the case sends a message that a victim can force a plea.

Leiter said Taubenfeld’s admission to molestation charges confirms that current New Square leadership clearly failed to stop him. “Thus, New Square families need the leadership and assistance of those outside of New Square to protect their innocent children,” he said, “and to raise them in the spirit of holiness, on which the village of New-Square was originally founded.

“We still have no idea of how many other victims may be suffering in silence,” Leiter said.

Access the New York State Sex Offender Registry at http://www.crimin aljustice.ny.gov/nsor/

Help Rescue Our Children can be reached at 845-642-1679.        





BY STEVE LIEBERMAN - Lohud

A Mitzvah for Obama


President Obama owes Israel a big thank-you for yesterday’s airstrike on a convoy of Russian-made missiles along the Syrian-Lebanese border.

News dispatches from the region say that sophisticated SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles were being shipped to Hezbollah terrorists. With Syria coming apart and Islamists taking the lead among the anti-government rebels, the Israelis did the only sensible thing with the convoy: They took it out.

In acting yesterday, Israel sent a healthy message not just to Hezbollah but to its sponsors in Tehran: Its red lines for military intervention are real.

Jerusalem’s fear is that Islamist groups plan to take advantage of the chaos in Syria to get their hands on President Bashar al-Assad’s arsenal — including chemical weapons.

Certainly that would make the neighborhood more dangerous for Israel. But it would also strengthen Iran’s hand — and guarantee more instability throughout the entire Middle East. That’s not something that Obama could want.

Unfortunately, the president’s tough rhetoric about Iran hasn’t been matched with resolute action. Indeed, this week we are reading about his administration’s failure to counter the Islamist influence among anti-Syrian rebels by trying to unite them under military councils.

That’s the price you pay for leading from behind. And if you are unwilling to step up yourself, you have an obligation at least to support those who do.

The coming days will likely bring any number of occasions testing American support for Israel — whether it comes in the form of a European Union sanction, a UN Security Council resolution or a Hezbollah counterattack.

Thus far the White House has remained silent. We encourage the president to let the Israelis know the US has their backs on this one — and prove it.      




NY POST

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Satmar Yeshiva leader faces SEX abuse charges


NEW YORK — A rabbi at a religious school in New York's ultra-orthodox Jewish community has been arrested on charges of sexually abusing students, a law enforcement official says.

The arrest of Yoel Malik, 33, of Brooklyn comes amid mounting pressure to report allegations of abuse within the insular, secretive community, the largest outside Israel, and barely a week after a respected religious counselor in the same sect was sentenced to 103 years in prison for sexually abusing a girl.

Both cases come from within the Satmar Hasidic sect, the official said.

Malik was taken into custody Wednesday after reports he may have brought two students to motels for sexual liaisons, said the official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the case and spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity. A third encounter was reported in a car.

The official said the victims were all teenage boys, ages 14 to 16, and the encounters took place between March of last year and last week.

A news release from the police department did not mention the school or identify Malik as a rabbi. Instead, it provided his name, age and address and said he was charged with "sexual crimes" involving three teenage males.

It listed the charges as 12 counts of sexual abuse, four counts of criminal sexual acts, 11 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of forcible touching.

The school, located in Borough Park in Brooklyn, has been closed amid financial disputes with the family who runs it and has been described as a small, private establishment for at-risk kids. It's not clear how long it has been closed

The allegations arose through an anonymous tip to a confidential hotline. Malik is part of the family that ran the school in Brooklyn.

It has been difficult to prosecute cases of abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community. Families are encouraged to speak to their rabbis instead of going to secular authorities, and when they do go to police or prosecutors, they are often harassed or shunned.

In the case of Nechemya Weberman, convicted last month of sustained sexual abuse, the accuser testified that her family was threatened and harassed.

Four men were charged with trying to bribe the girl, now 18, and her husband with $500,000 to drop the case against Weberman, 54, an unlicensed counselor who worked with families for years.

She had been sent to him because she had been questioning her faith and needed help getting back on the religious path, she testified. Prosecutors said there were at least 10 other victims, but the statute of limitations passed on many of them.

Weberman maintains his innocence and said he never abused her or anyone else.



Orthodox Jewish revival opens niche for Yiddish news


The rapid revival of strict Orthodox Jewish communities that has shifted New York City's religious demographics and transformed Israel's political landscape has created a new market niche for a 115-year-old Yiddish newspaper.

Next Monday, Forverts (Forward) will launch a daily news website for Yiddish speakers who are bringing the language of Eastern Europe's Ashkenazi Jews back from its near-death experience when millions of speakers died in the Holocaust.

The New York-based weekly, launched in 1897 as a crusading socialist daily for Jewish immigrants to the United States, has been in slow decline since 1945.

It cut back to weekly from daily publishing in 1983 and launched an English-language weekly in 1990.

"The website is going for an international audience," said associate editor Itzik Gottesman, noting the ranks of native speakers, mostly from Hasidic and yeshiva (religious school) backgrounds, was now booming in the United States, Israel and other countries.

"Research in New York City said there are 80,000 Hasidim who speak Yiddish at home. That population is exploding," he said.

In Israel, Yiddish is the language of many Haredim ("those who tremble before God"), whose tradition of large families has propelled them from a tiny minority decades ago to a politically influential 10 percent bloc of the population.

About one-quarter of all Israeli first grade pupils are now from Haredi or "ultra-Orthodox" families. In the New York area, more than one-third of all Jewish children are Hasidic.

"We will have a growing Hasidic audience," publisher Samuel Norich said by telephone from the paper's office in lower Manhattan.

That prospect is not without irony. In its pre-war heyday, more pious Jews saw Forverts as anti-religion and "not kosher." Although it covers religion, its editorial line is mostly secular and liberal.

SECULAR VS RELIGIOUS READERS

A vibrant German dialect peppered with Hebrew and Slavic words and written in Hebrew letters, Yiddish in the early 20th century was a major language in eastern Europe.

With the big influx of many tens of thousands of Jews fleeing the Holocaust to the United States and particularly the east coast, it became an important ingredient in the rich mix of the language of New York City. Several words have been adopted into English such as "chutzpah" (brazen self-confidence) and "shlemiel" (chump).

The fastest-growing Hasidic groups in the New York borough of Brooklyn now are tightly-knit communities with their own printed Yiddish weeklies. Many computers are equipped with filters to screen out non-Orthodox media.

"Our site is not intended to be for everybody. Some will be offended by the photographs of women," Norich said. Some ultra-Orthodox publications never print pictures of women.

"There have always been some Hasidim and yeshiva people who have read the Forverts, but usually they read it underneath their own Yiddish newspaper so nobody should know it," he said.

"But on the Internet, where you can read it in the privacy of your own home or laptop, it's easier to do what is frowned upon in the community and consume forbidden fruit."

Forverts' Yiddish website will include blogs by Hasidic writers, retaining the slightly different grammar and spelling they use. But the authors will hide behind pseudonyms to avoid criticism from their own communities.

LANGUAGE PROBLEMS

One problem is that many potential visitors to the website can't easily read Yiddish. Younger fans may have studied it at universities as a foreign language, while older Jews spoke it with parents or grandparents but never learned to read it.

For these users, the website will also carry audio reports and videos with English subtitles. Written reports - from correspondents in the United States, Israel, Russia, Poland, France, Argentina and Australia - will have an online dictionary so that the English translation of a word is only a click away.

"We want to draw people whose Yiddish level is not good enough to read the printed Forverts," Gottesman said.

"The idea of the website is to be the hub of the Yiddish cultural world, for the students, the older people and the Hasidim. We hope to get everyone to this website."

The English-language Forward has tripled its online readership in the last 2 years and its print output has stayed stable at 29,000 copies a week, which is estimated to reach 80,000 readers.

The Yiddish Forverts has a print run of 2,100 copies and about 6,000 readers. Shifting staff to the website, which editors hope can grow as quickly as the English website, means the print edition will have to be reduced to appearing once every other week.

The print edition will continue even though more than half its readers are in their 80s and 90s. About one-third of its subscribers also buy the English-language paper because the two are not simply translations of each other.

"The Yiddish paper has much more coverage of Ashkenazic culture, Yiddish culture, European Jewish history of the last century and the Soviet period than the English paper has," Norich said. Half the Yiddish readers are Holocaust survivors who arrived in the United States between 1945 and 1955.

Customs officers at JFK seize two women carrying six kilos of cocaine inside home-made diapers


Now that’s junk in the trunk!

Two Bronx neighbors were returning from the Dominican Republic when the feds caught the women by the seat of their pants — quite literally.

Priscilla Pena and Michelle Blassingale had just arrived at JFK aboard a JetBlue airliner from Santo Domingo when they were stopped by Customs and Border Protection officers.

A drug-sniffing dog alerted officers when it neared Pena, but the feds searched her luggage without finding any drugs, officials said.

Then the officers initiated a pat-down of the two women and discovered that each was wearing what authorities called a “diaper” filled with cocaine and rigged like a girdle around their hind quarters, officials said.

Together, the women were charged with smuggling approximately 6 1/2 kilos of cocaine.

Blassingale was held in custody by a Brooklyn federal judge, while Pena was released on $150,000 bond, records show.

NYPD helicopter rescue of ship captain who suffered heart attack


The NYPD saved the life of an Egyptian captain who had a heart attack on a ship yesterday, police said.

Captain Aly Akl, 60, went into cardiac arrest shortly before 9:45 p.m. on a commercial cargo ship called the Grey Shark, which was anchored in New York Harbor between the Verrazano Bridge and the Staten Island ferry terminal.

Detective Robert Brager, an ESU tactical medic, rushed with NYPD Harbor to the boat.

He worked to stabilize Akl while waiting for NYPD Aviation to airlift him.

Police lowered a rescue basket from a helicopter onto the deck, and secured the captain inside.

They then used a hook to pull the detective up as well.

They rushed Akl to Staten Island University North Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

      

NYPD Cop's Widow Says Husband Driven to Suicide by Boss' Sexual Advance


A Queens cop killed himself last year because his female boss made him trade sex for a favorable work schedule, his wife claims in a bombshell lawsuit.

Gina Schindler claims her late husband, Officer Matthew Schindler, was forced to have sex with his supervisor, Sgt. Christine Hertzel, to determine his workload and schedule.

Schindler, 39, "was made to understand that he would suffer tangible detriment in his job, job assignments, work conditions and future prospects if he did not submit to the sexual advances and demands of Hertzel," according to the lawsuit filed in Queens Supreme Court.

The widow claims in the lawsuit that her husband and Hertzel had "sexual relations" during his time at the 115th precinct in Jackson Heights — from March 2011 until his death on Feb 13, 2012.

Schindler "realized and/or believed he could not escape the continuing sexual advances and demands of Hertzel," the lawsuit said.

On Feb. 13, the 15-year veteran told Hertzel he would kill himself over the "guilt" and asked for the affair to stop, the suit says.

She allegedly refused.

Hertzel told her captain about their relationship and Schindler's suicide threat, the suit says.

The captain allegedly tried to call Schindler to "rectify his hostile work environment and persuade him against suicide," the lawsuit said.

But the father of three killed himself with his NYPD service pistol that same day.

Schindler's wife is suing the city, the NYPD and Hertzel for violating her husband's civil rights.

A spokeswoman for the City Law Department declined to comment. Schindler's attorney didn't immediately comment.

Syria confirms Israel bombed site near Damascus


BEIRUT  — Israel conducted a rare airstrike on a military target inside Syria, foreign officials and Syrian state TV said Wednesday, amid fears President Bashar Assad’s regime is providing weapons to the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

A statement from the Syrian military read aloud on state TV confirmed the strike, saying the jets bombed a military research center in the area of Jamraya, northwest of the capital, Damascus.

The statement said the center was responsible for “raising the level of resistance and self-defense” of Syria’s military. It said the strike destroyed the center and a nearby building, killing two workers and wounding five others.

US and regional security officials reported the strike earlier Wednesday but did not say exactly where it took place.

Regional security officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful military force.

Among Israeli officials’ chief fears is that Assad will pass chemical weapons or sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah — something that could change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air sorties in Lebanon.

The regional officials said the shipment Israel was planning to strike included Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah by enabling the group to carry out fiercer attacks on Israel and shoot down Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones.

Hezbollah has committed to Israel’s destruction and has gone to war against the Jewish state in the past.

A US official confirmed the strike, saying it hit a convoy of trucks.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the strike.

The Israeli military declined to comment.

Syria has long been among the militant group’s most significant backers and is suspected of supplying with funding and arms, as well as a land corridor to Iran.

This strike, however, comes as Assad is enmeshed in a civil war with rebels trying to oust him. The rebels have seized a large swath of territory in the country’s north and established footholds in a number of suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus, though Assad’s forces still control the city and much of the rest of the country.

While Assad’s fall does not appear imminent, analysts worry he could grow desperate as his power wanes and seek to cause trouble elsewhere in the region through proxy groups like Hezbollah.

The Syrian army statement denied that the strike had targeted a convoy headed from Syria to Lebanon, instead portraying the strike as linked to the civil war pitting Assad’s forces against rebels seeking to push him from power.

“This proves that Israel is the instigator, beneficiary and sometimes executor of the terrorist acts targeting Syria and its people,” the statement said.

The location could not be independently confirmed because of reporting restrictions in Syria.

Syria’s government portrays the crisis, which started with political protest in 2011 and has since become a civil war, as a foreign-backed conspiracy meant to destroy the country.

Top Israeli officials have recently expressed worries that if desperate, Assad’s regime could pass chemical weapons to Hezbollah or other militant groups.

President Barack Obama has called Syria’s use of chemical weapons a “red line” whose crossing could prompt a tougher US response, but US officials say they are tracking Syria’s chemical weapons and that they still appear to be under regime control.

The strike, carried out either late Tuesday or early Wednesday, appears to be the latest move in a long running race by Hezbollah to increase its military power while Israel seeks to limit it.

Israel suspects that Damascus obtained a battery of SA-17s from Russia after an alleged Israeli airstrike in 2007 that destroyed an unfinished Syrian nuclear reactor.

Earlier this week, Israel moved a battery of its new “Iron Dome” rocket defense system to the northern city of Haifa, which was battered by Hezbollah rocket fire in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war. The Israeli army called that move “routine.”

If confirmed, the airstrike would be the first inside Syria in more than five years. In September 2007, Israeli warplanes destroyed a site in Syria that the UN nuclear watchdog deemed likely to be a secretly built nuclear reactor. Syria has denied the claim, saying the building was a non-nuclear military site.

Syria allowed international inspectors to visit the bombed site in 2008 but it has refused to allow nuclear inspectors new access. This has heightened suspicions that Syria has something to hide, along with its decision to level the destroyed structure and later build over it.

Israeli warplanes flew over Assad’s palace in 2006 after Syrian-backed militants in Gaza captured an Israeli soldier.

And in 2003, Israeli warplanes attacked a suspected militant training camp just north of the Syrian capital, in response to an Islamic JIhad suicide bombing in the city of Haifa that killed 21 Israelis.

Syria vowed to retaliate for both attacks, but never did.

The military in Lebanon, which shares borders with both Israel and Syria, said Wednesday that Israeli warplanes have sharply increased their activity over Lebanon in the past week, including at least 12 sorties in less than 24 hours in the country’s south.

A senior Lebanese security official said no Israeli airstrikes occurred inside Lebanese territory. Asked whether it could have been along the border on the Syrian side, he said that that could not be confirmed as it was out of his area of operations.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A Lebanese army statement said the last of the sorties took place at 2 a.m. local time Wednesday. It said four warplanes which flew in over the southernmost coastal town of Naqoura hovered for several hours over villages in southern Lebanon before leaving Lebanese airspace.

It said similar flights by eight other warplanes were conducted Tuesday.

A Lebanese security official said the flights were part of “increased activity” in the past week but did not elaborate. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

The UN Agency tasked with monitoring the Lebanon-Israeli border said in a statement Wednesday it had no information on any strikes near the Syria-Lebanon border. It did note, however, a “high number of Israeli overflights” on Tuesday.

“These air violations have continued on an almost daily basis,” it said.

The area of Lebanon where the flights took place borders southern Syria.

Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace are not uncommon and Lebanese authorities routinely lodge complaints at the UN against the flights.

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 war, and Syria demands the area back as part of any peace deal. Despite hostility between the two countries, Syria has been careful to keep the border quiet since the 1973 Mideast war and has never retaliated to Israeli attacks since.

In May 2011, only two months after the uprising against Assad started, hundreds of Palestinians overran the tightly controlled Syria-Israeli frontier in a move widely thought to have been facilitated by the Assad regime, to divert the world’s gaze from his growing troubles at home.

Ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn Is Enforced by Secret Squads


The Brooklyn shopkeeper was already home for the night when her phone rang: a man who said he was from a neighborhood “modesty committee” was concerned that the mannequins in her store’s window, used to display women’s clothing, might inadvertently arouse passing men and boys.

“The man said, ‘Do the neighborhood a favor and take it out of the window,’ ” the store’s manager recalled. “ ‘We’re trying to safeguard our community.’ ”

In many neighborhoods, a store owner might shrug off such a call. But on Lee Avenue, the commercial spine of Hasidic Williamsburg, the warning carried an implied threat — comply with community standards or be shunned. It is a potent threat in a neighborhood where shadowy, sometimes self-appointed modesty squads use social and economic leverage to enforce conformity.

The owner wrestled with the request for a day or two, but decided to follow it. “We can sell it without mannequins, so we might as well do what the public wants,” the owner told the manager, who asked not to be identified because of fear of reprisals for talking.

In the close-knit world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, community members know the modesty rules as well as Wall Street bankers who show up for work in a Brooks Brothers suit.

Women wear long skirts and long-sleeved, high-necked blouses on the street; men do not wear Bermuda shorts in summer. Schools prescribe the color and thickness of girls’ stockings.

The rules are spoken and unspoken, enforced by social pressure but also, in ways that some find increasingly disturbing, by the modesty committees. Their power is evident in the fact that of the half dozen women’s clothing stores along Lee Avenue, only one features mannequins, and those are relatively shapeless, fully clothed torsos.

The groups have long been a part of daily life in the ultra-Orthodox communities that dot Brooklyn and other corners of the Jewish world. But they sprang into public view with the trial of Nechemya Weberman, a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidim in Brooklyn, who last week was sentenced to 103 years in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing a young girl sent to him for counseling.

Mr. Weberman, an unlicensed therapist, testified during his trial that boys and girls — though not his accuser — were regularly referred to him by a Hasidic modesty committee concerned about what it viewed as inappropriate attire and behavior.

The details were startling: a witness for Mr. Weberman’s defense, Baila Gluck, testified that masked men representing a modesty committee in the Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel, N.Y., 50 miles northwest of New York City, broke into her bedroom about seven years ago and confiscated her cellphone.

The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, who prosecuted the Weberman case, has now received allegations that members of a modesty committee forced their way into a home in the borough, confiscating an iPad and computer equipment deemed inappropriate for Orthodox children, officials say. Allegations have also surfaced that a modesty committee threatened to publicly shame a married man who was having an affair unless he paid the members money for what they described as therapy.

“They operate like the Mafia,” said Rabbi Allan Nadler, director of the Jewish studies program at Drew University in Madison, N.J.

Rabbi Nadler, who testified at Mr. Weberman’s trial, said that modesty committees did not have addresses, stationery or business cards, and that few people seemed to know where their authority originated, though it was doubtful, he said, that they could continue operating without the tacit blessings of rabbinical leaders.

“They walk into a store and say it would be a shame if your window was broken or you lost your clientele,” he said. “They might tell the father of a girl who wears a skirt that’s too short and he’s, say, a store owner: ‘If you ever want to sell a pair of shoes, speak to your daughter.’ ”

In Israel, there have been similar concerns. Though no modesty committee was overtly involved, there has been anger over ultra-Orthodox zealots who spit on and insulted an 8-year-old girl for walking to school through their neighborhood in a dress they considered immodest.  

In Brooklyn, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has represented the heavily Hasidic neighborhood of Borough Park for 30 years, said that he had never met a modesty committee member, but that “there are a lot of independent operators that believe they are protecting God and have to do this kind of stuff, and that’s sickening and gives us all a black eye.”

“If you want to advocate modesty,” he added, “do your thing, but when you stuff it down my throat physically, that undermines us and hurts us.”

Hasidic leaders contend that the modesty committees are nothing more than self-appointed individuals who, indignant at some perceived infraction, take matters into their own hands.

“These are individual people who decide to take on this crusade,” said Rabbi David Niederman, who as president of the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg is a sometime spokesman for the Satmar Hasidim. “You see posters telling people do this and do that. It does not represent an authorized body.”

But many Hasidim say they have seen or heard how a shadowy group of men seeks to pressure parents to rein in children who wear dresses too short or stockings too thin, or who chat on cellphones with friends of the opposite sex.

One family reported being harassed because the wife had stepped outdoors with a robelike housecoat rather than a long dress.

While many of the rules of conduct are announced on Yiddish broadsides posted on trees, lampposts and walls, residents of Hasidic neighborhoods say some store owners have received rough verbal warnings from a modesty committee to stop selling magazines that carry photographs considered too revealing, or articles that dispute the Satmar Hasidim’s belief that Israel should not have existed until the Messiah’s arrival.

The Central Rabbinical Congress of the United States and Canada, in addition to certifying foods as kosher and adjudicating matrimonial and commercial disputes, does at times remind the Satmar community of the community’s modesty rules. It is made up of scores of rabbis, but it has an address — it is housed on the second floor of a Williamsburg row house — and it signs every decree it issues.

“We give out proclamations,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Glick, its executive director. “We don’t enforce. It’s like people can decide to keep Shabbos or not. If someone wants to turn on the light on Shabbos, we cannot put him in jail for that.”

But Hasidim interviewed said squads of enforcers did exist in wildcat form.

“There are quite a few men, especially in Williamsburg, who consider themselves Gut’s polizei,” said Yosef Rapaport, a Hasidic journalist, using the words for “God’s police.”

“It’s somebody who is a busybody, and they’re quite a few of them — zealots who take it upon themselves and they just enforce. They’re considered crazy, but people don’t want to confront them.”



BY JOSEPH BERGER - NY TIMES

Rabbi Victor Koltun found competent for trial


GOSHEN — The Brooklyn rabbi charged in a murder-for-hire plot has been found competent to proceed to trial, an Orange County Court judge ruled Monday.

Victor Koltun, 43, faces first-degree murder charges in the Nov. 4, 2010, shooting deaths of former Lloyd police Officer Frank Piscopo, 49, and his 28-year-old nephew, Gerald Piscopo, of Highland. Prosecutors say Koltun masterminded the plot.

Koltun's lawyer, Paul Brite, had asked Judge Jeffrey Berry for a new psychiatric evaluation for his client in December, over Koltun's objections. Berry granted the order, Brite said.

After hearing from two doctors, who examined Koltun, a pretrial hearing was scheduled for Feb. 22.

Texas - ICE raids at Galleria and The Woodlands Mall nab 13 Israeli citizens


Houston - More than a dozen Israeli citizens are facing immigration charges for overstaying their visas after federal agents arrested them working at kiosks in the Galleria and The Woodlands Mall.

Shortly before the two malls closed late Wednesday, federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations arrested 13 Israeli citizens along with an immigrant from Moldova.

They were detained on administrative charges of remaining in the U.S. beyond the expiration date of their tourist and student visas, confirmed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore.

The eight women and six men detained were working at small kiosks inside the malls, selling various items, including scented soaps and Dead Sea bath salts.

The mineral salts are not associated with synthetic stimulants known as bath salts that are being manufactured and sold illegally, leading to a number of drug-related deaths.

Palmore said the detained immigrants remain in ICE custody and the agency's investigation is continuing. ICE is not releasing names of those detained last week, and no other details were available.

U.S. agents arrested known members of Israeli organized crime gangs in Las Vegas in 2011, who pleaded guilty to extorting money and attempting to take over the operation of mall kiosks owned by Israeli-born businessmen, according to published reports.

Israeli media reported a January 2010 kidnapping in the Mexican resort town of Cancun of an Israeli bath salts store manager, a crime attributed to business rivals.

A spokesman for the Israeli consulate in Houston said they had no comment on the mall arrests.

NYPD handcuff and interrogate boy, 7, for hours over missing $5


Most kids get a timeout or a spanking for bad behavior, but a 7-year-old Bronx boy was arrested and handcuffed to a police precinct wall for hours on a robbery rap, police sources said.

The mother of the pint-sized “perp” is threatening to sue the NYPD for $250 million — saying cops treated her son like a hardened criminal after he allegedly punched a 9-year-old boy in the face and took $5 from him, her lawyer and a police source said Tuesday.

Police arrested the child in his third-grade classroom at Public School 114 on Cromwell Ave., detained him at the school for four hours and then kept him in custody at the 44th Precinct for six hours after the December incident, the woman’s lawyer said in a statement Monday. He couldn’t be reached for further comment Tuesday.

A second police source who has direct knowledge of the incident said Tuesday that the little terror knocked the other boy to the ground, leaving the victim with a bloody mouth and fat lip.

The lawyer is calling the allegations against the 7-year-old false and says he has filed a notice of claim against the NYPD, the city and the South Bronx precinct.

“How would you feel if (the boy) was your child or your grandchild?” lawyer Jack Yankowitz said in a press release. “What happened is a travesty of justice.

“If (this) 7-year-old and his mother lived on 64th and Park and he attended a $35,000-a-year private school, do you think (he) would have been arrested, handcuffed to a wall and denied access to his mother and legal counsel for 10 hours?”

But an NYPD spokeswoman said Tuesday the boy was held for just four hours and 40 minutes.

“The attorney is fabricating the amount of time the child was in custody,” Inspector Kim Royster said.

Royster refused to comment further, citing the ages of the kids.

Yankowitz said cops intimidated, verbally abused and interrogated the child and said the boy was humiliated by officers shouting “thief” and threatening to put him away “with the big boys.”

“These officers are not fit to serve the citizens of New York City, and this must never happen again,” Yankowitz said in the release.

But the first police source insisted that cops followed the rules when they arrested the accused bully.

“Everything was done properly,” the cop source said. “He was arrested for a robbery. He was taken to the precinct and put in the juvenile room. His parent was allowed to see him.”

Babying the boy wasn’t an option, the second police source added.

“He had to be handcuffed — he was a prisoner. If we didn’t handcuff him and he ran out the front door, then we would have had an escaped prisoner on our hands.”

The source said charges could not have been filed against a child 6 and under, but kids 7 to 17 can be charged as juveniles.

Cops treated the boy as kindly as possible, the source added.

“We let him have pizza,” the source said. “We let him see his mother.”

The alleged beatdown occurred about 2 p.m. at 1155 Cromwell Ave., the address of P.S. 114, but it happened off school grounds, the second police source said.

The boy was charged but has not yet appeared in Family Court. Relatives at his Bronx apartment declined comment.

The cop source close to the incident said the 7-year-old had been bullying the victim for some time, prompting the victim’s mom to call for a meeting with teachers and the suspect’s mom.

“This kid is no angel, even though he may look like it,” the source said. “We made the arrest based on the complainant aggressively complaining about what the defendant did to him.”

“This wasn’t something where one kid runs off with another kid’s basketball. This 7-year-old attacked someone and took his money. There’s a little more to this story than it appears."


By Rocco Parascandola , Chelsia Rose Marcius AND Daniel Beekman / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rabbi Padwa Urges Alleged Child Abuse Victim To Not Tell Police


An undercover investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches reveals that some rabbis in the Strictly Orthodox Jewish community forbid or discourage alleged victims of child abuse from going to the police.

There is no suggestion that child sex abuse is any worse in this religious community. However, the film exposes how the Strictly Orthodox, or Charedi, community's approach to child protection can leave children at risk and shield abusers from justice.

The programme, airing on Wednesday 30th January on Channel 4, includes:

Secret filming showing Rabbi Ephraim Padwa - who leads the Charedi community in London's Stamford Hill - instructing an alleged victim of child sexual abuse not to go to the police describing it as ‘mesira’, which means it's forbidden to report a Jew to non-Jewish authority.

Hears about a family that reported an alleged child abuser to the police and was then harassed and driven out of the community - as one Rabbi says: "they would be cursed and spat at in the street and called informer”.

Interviews members of a group of young Charedi men who became so disillusioned with the failure of rabbis to deal with complaints of abuse they have taken the law into their own hands by threatening and attacking alleged perpetrators.

On the eve of the broadcast - two leading British rabbinical authorities representing a wider spectrum of the Jewish community, have issued statements and guidance to their communities on how to report child sexual abuse – emphasising the importance of reporting such allegations to the police.

Background to the investigation

There are around 40,000 Charedim in Britain, around a sixth of the Jewish population, living by a strict interpretation of their faith, as decided by their Rabbis.

And with their long history of persecution, some Charedi Rabbis declare that reporting a fellow Jew to non- Jewish authorities is forbidden. This even applies to allegations of child abuse in Britain today.

The people who spoke out in the making of this film, told us their first port of call for advice was always the rabbis. But going to the police could have devastating consequences.

They spoke of their fears of facing being cast out of their community – the only way of life they had known. And this fear keeps many victims from seeking justice.

The investigation started a year ago when Channel 4 Dispatches heard about parents who were concerned about an alleged paedophile who’d got a job in a Charedi school. They felt powerless to do anything about it.

During our investigation we uncovered 19 different alleged cases of child sex abuse across England- yet not one was reported to the police because alleged victims feared reprisals from within the community.

That same fear made it difficult for people to speak to us. But of those who did, many said the community wants to deal with any problems internally, even when it comes to something as serious as alleged child sex abuse.

Within the community people often turn to the Rabbis for advice and help. Our investigation discovered that 'advice' sometimes amounts to an outright ban on reporting alleged child abuse to the authorities.

Rabbi instructing an alleged victim not to go to the police

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, head of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations in Stamford Hill in London , was recorded by a former community member using a hidden camera as part of a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into child sex abuse within the community.

The footage shows the community member telling Rabbi Padwa: “Someone that did bad things to me when I was younger. Someone who you may know of, who abused me, sexually abused me when I was younger, when I was a child and I’m looking for your advice, to be honest, what to do. I think it’s someone you might have dealt with in the past. I think it’s someone you might dealt with in the past.,”

In response Rabbi Padwa says: “I imagine that I know whom you are talking. And if I’m correct, we are dealing with this. We are dealing with this.”

The community member then asks: “Would do you think maybe, is it a good idea to speak to the police about it?”

“Oh no,” Padwa answers, explaining that doing so would constitute “mesira,” means it's forbidden to report a Jew to a non-Jewish authorities.

Here is a section of transcript from conversation:

Community Member (CM): “Do you think maybe, is it a good idea to speak to the police about it?”

Rabbi Padwa (RP): “Oh, No.”

CM: “No? Why?”

RP: “It’s mesira.”

CM: “But this is a very serious issue.”

RP: “Yes, but not police.”

CM: “Not the police?”

RP: “Men Tur Nisht [People must not tell tales]”.

CM: “Even if you think it may be happening to other people?”

RP. “No. not police.”

CM: “Not the police. And um, How, how _ I mean, how can you reassure yourself that this man is not doing it to others?”

RP: “Look, the police also cannot assure. The police is not the solution.”

CM: “Under no circumstances?”

RP: “No.”

CM: “Now I’ve got a question – if, if the police found out about it and they called me in, what would, what would you say to me?”

RP: “HaShem (Heaven Forbid), let’s hope it wouldn’t happen. You shouldn’t do anything that can lead to the police. “

CM: “But if - if someone else went to the police on him and I was called what, what do I do then? “

RP: “Let’s hope it wouldn’t happen. “

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa leads London's Strictly Orthodox Jewish community in Stamford Hill home to more than a hundred synagogues and religious institutions.

He is known internationally as an expert in Jewish religious law. When such a senior Rabbi speaks – he is listened to, even if that advice could seriously jeopardise any police investigation.

In the programme, Channel 4 Dispatches is told by another Charedi Rabbi that Rabbi Ephraim Padwa recently forbade a father, who had told the police that his son had been sexually abused, from pursuing the case.

Prior to going undercover, we’d also heard of other concerns about how Rabbi Padwa handles reports of child abuse, and wanted to find out for ourselves what he’d say to someone who came for advice.

Dispatches heard from a man that grew up in the community, who says he was sexually abused as a child by a fellow Charedi. We asked him to help us investigate the claims against Rabbi Padwa by training him to secretly film a meeting with this Rabbi.

The man has now left community but he could still meet the Rabbi without raising suspicions.

Fear of being cast out of their community

A Charedi Rabbi - who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, takes the extraordinary step in this programme of breaking rank and speaking out against Rabbi Padwa.

He is outraged at how a young family was targeted and driven out of their community after reporting to the authorities that their child had been sexual abused in a Synagogue.

Interviewer: “When the child's telling his mum and dad all this [about the sexual abuse], I mean what thoughts did the father say was going through his head?

Rabbi: “The young man didn’t know what to do, and out of desperation, he made the decision to call the police.

Interviewer: To people outside [the community] they’ll be saying, he believes his son was abused, of course go to the police?.

Rabbi: “There are tremendous ramifications for the victim’s family because in certain segments of the Orthodox community, being labelled as an informer is one of the most terrible things that can happen.”

“The police felt there was enough evidence to take out the perpetrator from the middle of the Stamford Hill community in handcuffs. And this is disgraceful, a scandal… most of the community knew about it that night, and whoever didn't knew about it in synagogue the next morning.”

“Then he went to the senior Rabbi of the Stamford Hill community, whose name is Rabbi Padwa. His whole total concern was to berate the father, “How dare you go and be an informer? He said, "You ruined his life, he was ashamed enough by the arrest and what happened, and therefore leave it go. It's forbidden for you to pursue the case. Rabbi Padwa never expressed sympathy not for the child and not for the parents…

“Six hours later, a person banged on the door. The first thing that man said, “Do you know that the whole London community has not slept the whole night because of what you did? And I myself will go and get social services to take away your children.” The harassment escalated into cars that would gun their motors and zoom up next to the family if they were out on the street. The synagogues told them, ‘You're not welcome here anymore,’ they would be cursed and spat at in the street and called informer. So it becomes hopeless to them and ultimately they leave the country.”

“There is no question here that we do not have the ability to police and deal with perverts, deviants, child molesters. We can’t – it’s above the pay grade of the Rabbis.”

Vigilantes

The programme also hears from members of a group of young Chardi men who are disillusioned with the failure of rabbis to deal with complaints of abuse. They don’t feel they can go to the police, but at the same time they clearly don’t believe the rabbis are capable of dealing with this situation properly. Instead these men tell Dispatches they started taken the law into their own hands by attacking alleged perpetrators.

Rabbi Padwa Response

At the beginning of our investigation we secretly filmed Rabbi Padwa – the leader of the Charedi Community in Stamford Hill –forbidding a victim of child sex abuse from going to the police.

We asked Rabbi Padwa to explain why he forbad a victim of child sex abuse from going to the police, and the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations – the organization he heads, sent us this letter…

It’s says:

“The Jewish Community considers the safety and protection of our children as paramount.”

It says we have established “Robust structures to deal with child abuse”.

And that: “We work and will continue to work with police and social services...to build trust and to create a system which does address and resolve allegations of abuse within our community”.

The letter doesn’t answer any of our questions, and nor does it explain the actions of Rabbi Padwa - a man whose very role is to lead and counsel members of his community to do what's right.

The programme prompts public statements by several British rabbinical authorities – including Rabbi Padwa's organisation

On the eve the airing of the programme the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC) – the organization Rabbi Padwa heads – issued a statement which appears to be announcing the formation of a new child protection committee composed of people who have had child protection training, rabbis and educators. But the statement makes it clear that the ultimate decision on whether a family in the Charedi community tells the police about a claim of sexual abuse by a fellow Charedi, ultimately rests with this committee.

“The Orthodox Hebrew Congregations have a special Committee to deal with incidences of attacks of this kind on the children of our congregations. The members of the Committee consist of rabbis, educators and members of the community, among whom there are those who have been trained in the right way to tackle this. The rabbinate recognises five particular instances in which it is right and necessary to contact the Social Services and/or the Police. The Committee will consult with the rabbinate about the right way to deal with each incidence…

In any instance that is brought before any of the rabbis, educators or the directors of institutions where there is a fear for a child’s safety you are asked to bring the matter to the knowledge of the Committee which will deal with it according to the advice of the Rabbinical Court and according to the law of the land.”

But two other leading British rabbinical authorities have made public statements emphasising the importance of reporting allegations of child sexual abuse directly to the police.

Rabbi Yehuda Brodie, registrar of the Manchester Beth Din (which represents a broader spectrum of Orthodox Jewry) made the following comment to the Jewish Chronicle:

“We offer our strongest support for any victim of any criminal act to report matters to the authorities, including the police, as and where appropriate.”

The London Beth Din which represents just modern Orthodox Jews says:

“It is therefore essential that when abuse has occurred, the police must be informed without delay. Local communities should not attempt to deal with the situation internally. Delays in reporting abuse can cause vital evidence to be lost, allowing the abusers to continue violating our children. We must all ensure that the children of our communities will be protected by reporting abuse to the authorities wherever it takes place.”

Britain’s Hidden Child Abuse – Channel 4 Dispatches Special – Wednesday 30th January at 10.30pm

NY - Man Sentenced To 35-years In Killing Of 'Ger Tzedek' Liquor Store Clerk


A violent parolee who killed a beloved Brooklyn liquor-store clerk was sentenced to 35 years in prison today.

Eion Klass, 36, had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter and robbery for the 2010 killing of Yoseph Robinson at his shop in Midwood.

Robinson, 34, was shot three times during a struggle with a robber at MB Vineyards, where he worked when he wasn’t lecturing about Judaism and studying the Torah.

The clerk was a former small-time criminal and record label worker who converted to Orthodox Judaism over 10 years ago.

“Your senseless cowardly act cost us way too much,” Robinson’s girlfriend, Lahavah Wallace wrote in a victim impact statement. “[Yoseph] ran the streets but left that alone to make something of himself.”

“When you walked in that night you stopped being a man, but Yoseph never will. I pity you. Enjoy the rest of the miserable existence you think is a life.”

Robinson was behind the store's counter, chatting with Wallace and a friend, when Klass, wearing a mask, entered and demanded money and jewelry.

Wallace handed over her jewelry, but Robinson lunged across the counter, and struggled with Klass, who shot him.

Judge Neil Firetog sentenced Klass to 25 years for the shooting and 10 years for the robbery.            





NY POST

Suspect in Dr Ronald Gilbert shooting talked of health problems


The 75-year-old retired barber who is suspected of fatally shooting a Newport Beach urologist had health problems and complained to his neighbors about his medical issues.

Stanwood Fred Elkus would talk to residents in his Lake Elsinore neighborhood about his prostate problems and the multiple surgeries he'd had to endure, said James Lord, a technician who lives across the street from the suspect.

“He just complained,” said Lord, who served as Elkus’ unofficial handyman for years. He didn't know the extent of Elkus' health issues. “I don’t pry.”

On Monday, Elkus was arrested on suspicion of homicide after authorities said he shot Ronald Franklin Gilbert, a physician with Orange Coast Urology in Newport Beach.

Workers say the shooting occurred in the doctor’s exam room. No motive for the shooting has been established, police said.

Dr. Richard Afable, the president of Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach where Gilbert had once been the chief of the department or urology, said that the physician was widely admired, respected and "beloved" by his colleagues.

"The Hoag Hospital family is devastated by the senseless act of violence," Afable said.

The suspect's neighbors said he lived alone, kept to himself and seemed generally pleasant.

"I wish I could have done something to help him,” Lord said.  

 

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa Filmed Secretly About Child Abuse


Moshe Friedman loses this round on coed classes


THE HAGUE - The Belgian judge who forced a girls' school to admit two sons of Moshe Friedman refused a separate petition to enroll the haredi Orthodox pariah's daughters at a boys' yeshiva.

According to the Belgian Jewish publication Joods Actueel, the judge on Monday cited procedural issues in rejecting the motion by Friedman, a father of eight who filed a request for an injunction against the Yavne Yeshiva, a boys' religious seminary.

Last month the judge issued an injunction ordering a girls’ school, Benoth Jerusalem, to admit two of Friedman’s sons. They started studying there on Jan. 7.

Friedman, 40, is an anti-Zionist campaigner who has been excommunicated by the institutions and many members of Antwerp’s haredi community, including the Jewish school that refused to enroll his children. In 2006 he attended a conference of Holocaust deniers in Tehran and hugged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

In rejecting Friedman’s petition against the Yavne Yeshiva, the judge said she could not issue a temporary injunction in summary proceedings on a “permanent issue.”

Benoth Jerusalem is appealing the injunction forcing it to enroll the two boys, Joods Actueel reported.

Video of Sarai Sierra, Staten Island woman missing in Turkey, released


ISTANBUL — The husband of a New York City woman who went missing while vacationing alone in Istanbul was interviewed by police Tuesday in hopes of helping the search.

Police meanwhile released security camera footage of Sarai Sierra, 33, who has been missing since Jan. 21, when she didn’t take her flight back to New York. She arrived on Istanbul on Jan. 7 with plans to practice her hobby of photography on her first trip outside of the United States.

Sierra’s husband, Steven, and brother David Jimenez arrived in Istanbul late Monday. The state-run Anadolu Agency said U.S. Consulate officials accompanied the two to the police station where Steven Sierra made a deposition to police who specialize in missing persons.

The security camera footage shows Sierra eating alone in the food court of a shopping mall near the hostel where she was staying and walking around the mall, dressed in jeans, a brown leather jacket and a winter hat, her hands in her pockets.

Another image shows her walking along a main shopping street, wearing earphones. Police did not say when the images were recorded, but Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper said the images were from Jan. 20.

Hurriyet, quoting unnamed police sources, said Turkish officials were not notified about the disappearance until Jan. 25 and said the delay was hampering the search.

Before she went missing, Sierra, the mother of two, had been in regular contact with her family and friends, and told relatives she planned to take photographs at the Galata Bridge — a tourist landmark that spans the Golden Horn waterway and is lined with fishermen.

Police have said Sierra made an excursion to Amsterdam, Netherlands, from Istanbul on Jan. 15 and travelled on to Munich, Germany, on Jan. 16 before returning to Istanbul on Jan. 19. Police were trying to determine the reason for her visit to the European cities.


Report links A-Rod, Gio Gonzalez to performance-enhancing drugs


As spring training dawned in 2009, Alex Rodriguez faced the cameras and confessed to his use of performance-enhancing substances from 2001 to 2003.

“My mistake … I was immature and I was stupid,” he said then.

Yet that very same year, the New York Yankees star was supplied with performance-enhancing drugs, according to a report posted Tuesday by Miami New Times. The newspaper cited 16 records from a now-closed Florida clinic that indicated Rodriguez was provided with human growth hormone and other substances as recently as last year.

The report also linked Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon and San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal to the clinic.

Cabrera, Colon and Grandal all were issued suspensions by Major League Baseball last year after failing drug tests. The other players, including Rodriguez, are at risk of suspension following an ongoing MLB investigation. Under the league’s drug policy, a positive test is not the only evidence that can warrant a suspension.

Rodriguez retained Sitrick and Co., a Los Angeles-based crisis management firm, which issued a statement on his behalf dismissing the New Times reporting on Rodriguez as “not true” and the clinic records as “not legitimate.” A spokesman told reporters Rodriguez denies using any performance-enhancing drugs during the 2009-12 period covered in the New Times report.

Gonzalez took to Twitter with a denial that read in part: “I've never used performance enhancing drugs of any kind and I never will.”

In a statement, MLB said it was “extremely disappointed to learn of potential links between players and the use of performance-enhancing substances” but was “in the midst of an active investigation.” MLB investigators already had traced a link between the rise in positive drug tests last season and supplies from South Florida, according to reports last week on ESPN and in the New York Daily News.

Rodriguez, 37, underwent hip surgery this month and is expected to miss at least the first half of the coming season. His slugging percentage has declined for five consecutive seasons, and the Yankees owe him a guaranteed $118 million on a contract that extends through 2017.