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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dina Wein Reis gets 19 months for corporate fraud


INDIANAPOLIS - A New York socialite who pleaded guilty last year to a federal charge that she duped corporations out of millions of dollars has received a 19-month prison sentence.

A federal judge in Indianapolis also ordered Dina Wein Reis on Tuesday to pay $7 million in restitution to her victims and fined her $1 million. Reis had pleaded guilty in May 2012 to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The Indianapolis Star reports Reis will remain free pending her placement in a federal facility.

Prosecutors said Reis swindled companies in Connecticut, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey and Kentucky out of at least $20 million.

Reis could have faced up to five years in prison, but her plea agreement capped her sentence at no more than 31 months.

Yeshiva Bochur Who Was Imprsioned In Japan Becomes a Chosson


Mazel tov to Yaakov Yosef Grunewald, one of the bochrim who was imprisoned in Japan on becoming a chosson. His kallah is a daughter of R’ Yudel Yaakov. The L’chaim was held in Bnei Brak this week, attended by many rabbonim including Rabbi Moshe Shaul Klein Shlita, rav of the Ohr Chaim neighborhood as well as many of those who worked tirelessly for his release.

It was an emotional moment when one of the other former prisoners, Yoel Ze’ev Goldstein arrived to wish him mazel tov. Goldstein is getting married in the coming weeks in Manchester IY”H.
 

A Life Under Terror


House of the rising sun

When I moved to Beit Shemesh 13 years ago with my family, we joined a warm, embracing community that was part of a culturally diverse city. Unfortunately, this diversity reared an uglier side several years ago when religious extremists began threatening, harassing and attacking women in public. For years, our reaction had been to overlook abusive spitting, name calling and assault directed at us by ultra-Orthodox men, in the hope that this behavior would simply go away.

However, the violence and harassment worsened to the point that they could no longer be ignored. Two months later, I was hit in the head by a rock thrown by an ultra-Orthodox man, religious extremists tried to lay siege to my daughter's school and began a campaign of harassing and threatening our young girls.

Over the next several months, two women were attacked by mobs of ultra-Orthodox men armed with rocks, sticks and bleach. These violations were exacerbated by an inept and complicit municipality that has yet to confront the extremists and rein them in, leading me and several other women to sue the city over their failure to remove several large, illegal and discriminatory signs mandating women's dress in public, in some cases even purporting to dictate on which sidewalks we may walk.

At the same time, however, something else happened in our city: Individuals from all sectors began working together in an effort to defuse the tensions. Various dialogue groups formed, forcing us to define our individual roles as part of a diverse and at times contentious society that must strive for peaceful coexistence.

One such coalition is Kumi ("Arise"), a women's grass-roots movement representing different sectors in the city whose goal is to bring women's expression to the fore. When were approached to participate in Jane's Walk this year, we enthusiastically agreed to join over 100 cities worldwide and organize a city walk in honor of Jane Jacobs. Jacobs was an American-Canadian urban activist who challenged prevailing attitudes of city planning in favor of social needs. Since her death in 2006, walks have been held in cities around the world during the first weekend in May for promoting interest in local urban issues. At Kumi, we felt this would be an effective medium for expressing our concerns regarding the development of our city.

This year's Beit Shemesh Jane's Walk, to be held on Friday, May 3, will feature the city's cultural story, past, present, and future, with the view that the correlation between women's civil rights violations and neglect of our cultural institutions isn't coincidental. Beit Shemesh's cultural richness and history is reflected by these institutions, some of which thrive and give us hope, while others characterize our pain and loss. Our Jane's Walk will present both sides of our cultural story: the beauty together with setbacks.

Most of the city's residents aren't even aware that Beit Shemesh once had a cinema, or that we have a reputable Andalusian orchestra, or that there are several active theater companies in town. Our walk will include a visit to the Beit Shemesh Conservatory, a neglected, underfunded institution that nonetheless produces outstanding, award-winning graduates every year. We'll pass by the concert hall that hosts our classical chamber concert series bringing internationally renowned ensembles such as the Equinox Trio and Yuval Quartet to town.

We'll also visit "The Pit," our cultural center whose construction has been delayed for years due to opposition by extremists who want the land for their own purposes, aptly mirroring the clash of values in Beit Shemesh. This morass has cost our city tens of millions of shekels, funds that should be promoting and nurturing artistic expression but are instead squandered by our dysfunctional city hall.

Directly across the street, our final stop will be a local community center that provides classes and mentoring to hundreds of students of the arts, from visual art to music, dance, theater, and more. There, at the entrance to the building, on the steps overlooking The Pit, we'll hear a live performance by Ben Hashmashot ("Twilight"), an all girls' choir. The juxtaposition of the girls' voices opposite the suspended void representing our cultural center summarizes where we stand today, and yet this is the best answer we have to the extremists who are trying to destroy our city.


Nili Philipp, a resident of Beit Shemesh, is a mother of five and works in patent law.

US cargo plane crash in Afghanistan kills 7


KABUL, Afghanistan — A civilian cargo plane owned by an American company crashed at Bagram Air Field, north of the Afghan capital, soon after takeoff on Monday, killing all seven people aboard, the US-led military coalition said.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for downing the Boeing 747-400, but NATO said in a statement to The Associated Press that the Taliban "claims are false." The coalition says the cause of the crash was being investigated by emergency crews that rushed to the site, but there was no sign of insurgent activity in the area at the time.

Capt. Luca Carniel, a coalition spokesman, said the aircraft crashed from a low altitude right after takeoff.

The plane — owned by National Airlines, an Orlando, Florida-based subsidiary of National Air Cargo — was carrying vehicles and other cargo, according to National Air Cargo Vice President Shirley Kaufman. She said those killed were four pilots, two mechanics and a load master, who was responsible for making sure that the weight and balance of the cargo is appropriate.
 
Five of the seven fatalities were from Michigan, said Kaufman.

"We are not yet releasing the identities of the colleagues we lost out of respect for their families who need a little more time to reach other loved ones," she said in an email to the AP.

The US National Transportation Safety Board and the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority are investigating the crash, she said.

National Airlines was based until recently at Michigan's Willow Run Airport, west of Detroit in Wayne County's Van Buren Township. It carries cargo both commercially and for the military, Kaufman said. She said it employs about 225 people.

In another development, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused US forces of killing four civilians and wounding one in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Sunday after an American convoy was attacked by insurgents.

In a statement issued by his office, Karzai "strongly condemned the killing of innocent civilians."

The US-led military coalition said it was still investigating the weekend clash, which left four soldiers with minor injuries and damaged a patrol vehicle. In a statement issued on Monday, the coalition said the Taliban attacked the coalition patrol with small arms fire and roadside bombs as it moved through a local bazaar in the province where there were civilians.

"Coalition forces engaged the enemy, pushed through the hostile area, and traveled to a nearby Afghan National Army checkpoint," the coalition said in a statement. "An investigation is currently underway to assess whether there are any civilian casualties as a result of insurgent fire."    

Holocaust survivor dies, leaving $40M to no one


Holocaust survivor and New York property developer Roman Blum left no heirs, no surviving family members — and $40 million.

Now, in the absence of an heir, the state of New York will probably take over the money — the largest unclaimed estate in the state's history, the New York Times reported Sunday.

According to the Times, when Blum died last year at 97, his body remained unclaimed in the Staten Island University Hospital morgue for four days, until a rabbi was able to hunt down his lawyer.

His wife, Eva, died before him and the couple didn't have any children.

Everything from where he was born — Blum claimed he hailed from Warsaw; acquaintances say Chelm, southeast Poland — to his date of birth to whether he had been married before the Holocaust is still something of a mystery.

What is known about Blum is that he was extremely successful in what he did, building thousands of houses on Staten Island — where he lived in a modest little house — and left behind $40 million, but no will.

Blum's house has already been sold off, his jewelry and furniture auctioned and the public administrator is using his estate to pay off his taxes, hunt for a will and track down any surviving relatives through a genealogist.

'A VERY SMART MAN' WHO 'DIED LIKE AN IDIOT'

The fact that Blum's fortunes could actually end up with the state is a matter of great misfortune, his friends told the Times, not unlike the one Blum faced in Eastern Europe when he was younger.

"He was a very smart man but he died like an idiot," Paul Skurka, a fellow Holocaust survivor who met Blum in the 1970s, told the paper.

Blum's close friend and accountant said that he had tried to persuade him to write a will, but it was too late by the time Blum had made up his mind.

According to those who knew him, Blum ran away from Poland to Russia to avoid being captured during World War II and spent time in a Russian prison, later marrying Eva, a concentration camp survivor.

The couple eventually arrived in New York in 1949 and settled down in a Holocaust survivors' community in Forest Hill, Queens.

Blum, who was known as a "ladies man" in his circle, lived modestly, despite his growing wealth. He moved to Staten Island in the 1980s, while his wife decided to stay back in the livelier Queens neighborhood.

The couple eventually divorced, and Blum started living like a bachelor.

“Every Sunday we would swim in the pool, drink and eat," one of his friends told the Times.

Blum became increasingly stingy and suspicious of people in his old age, even accusing his neighbors of stealing his money.

The search for an heir continues, and has reached as far as Poland, where some think Blum might have had siblings or a child before the war.

So far, there's no proof of any living relatives.

J'lem: 5 students suspected of assaulting non-Jewish detectives


A young student from Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav Kook national-religious yeshiva was arrested Tuesday, a day after he and his friends attacked two police detectives speaking Arabic to each other.

Five students heard the Jerusalem Police detectives' conversation and approached them. They exchanged words with the detectives and returned to the yeshiva building. After several minutes, they returned to the spot armed with tear-gas spray cans. The students sprayed one of the detectives and physically attacked the other one. The detectives tussled with the students and arrested one of them, while the other four fled. One of the detectives was taken for medical treatment after the attack.

Mercaz Harav Kook is the most prominent yeshiva in the religious Zionist movement. It trained the movement's leading rabbis as well as many yeshiva heads, city rabbis and teachers in religious colleges and high schools. The yeshiva sits in the heart of Jerusalem's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, which has been the setting for a number of recent physical attacks by Jews on Arabs. The Jerusalem Police said the attacks do not appear to be coordinated.

After Monday's attack on the detectives, two of the assailants ran into the yeshiva, while the other two fled into the surrounding streets. The yeshiva's principal is being questioned to help ascertain the assailants' identities, and searches are being conducted to locate them. The arrested suspect refuses to talk with police or cooperate with the investigation.

Several nationalist-tinged assaults on Arabs have made the news lately. Last week, four anonymous assailants set fire to cars in the Arab village of Akbara, near the northern Israeli city of Safed. "Don’t touch our women. Price Tag," was spray painted on a nearby wall. Safed Police are looking into whether the arson attack was motivated by the arrest a week earlier of two youths from Safed for severely beating a youth from Akbara who had met with a Jewish teenage girl from the city.

Two months ago, Jewish women assaulted an Arab woman near the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood. An eyewitness said the attack occurred in broad daylight and in front of passersby while the Arab woman was waiting for the Jerusalem light rail at a stop at the edge of the neighborhood.

At last moment, BBC drops documentary on Jewish exile


A last-minute decision by the BBC to drop a documentary that questions the extent of the Jewish exile after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE was a mixture of “incompetence,” “political naiveté” and “lack of courage,” the Israeli filmmaker behind the project has charged.

The film “Exile: A Myth Unearthed,” which theorizes that many modern-day Palestinians could be partially descended from Jews who never left the region, was due to be shown in modified form by the BBC last week, but was pulled from the schedule at the last moment. Director Ilan Ziv has denied that the film aims to delegitimize Israel by claiming that the accepted historical narrative of Jewish history is false.

According to publicity material for the film, it “looks at new evidence that suggests the majority of the Jewish people may not have been exiled following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Travelling from Galilee to Jerusalem and the catacombs of Rome, the film asks us to rethink our ideas about an event that has played a critical role in the Christian and Jewish traditions.”

In a lengthy blog post, Ziv wrote that he had been in discussions with the BBC since late last year about the project, after the network proposed airing an edited version of the documentary. According to Ziv, he discovered only recently that the BBC, in conjunction with the National Film Board of Canada (which co-sponsored the film), also intended to give the film a different title — “Jerusalem: an Archaeological Mystery Story” — and possibly remove his name entirely from the credits, in order to recast it as an adaptation.

Ziv said that he had been given a cut of the film only three days before the planned air date, but then the BBC officially pulled the project, saying that it “doesn’t fit editorially” and that it was “under review.”

He also alleged BBC sources had said a freelance editor hired to re-cut the film called it “propaganda.”

The episode was “a sad story,” Ziv said, noting that he believed BBC executives had been fully aware of the film’s potentially controversial nature when they acquired it, and hoped to “sneak it in” by changing its title. When they were “caught,” he alleged, they panicked and dropped the project completely instead of fighting for it.

“This is ultimately a sad saga of what I believe is a mixture of incompetence, political naiveté, conscious or subconscious political pressure and ultimately, I believe, a lack of courage of broadcasters when they are faced with the complexity of the Middle East issue and the intense emotions, fears and aggression it generates,” Ziv wrote.

He said that he would “show the film publicly throughout the UK and… challenge the BBC to either broadcast the film or relinquish its rights.”
 
 

Hungary: Racist fans attack Jewish leader


The head of a Hungarian anti-racism group said far-right soccer fans shouted "Sieg Heil" and attacked him, breaking his nose days before the country is due to host the World Jewish Congress.

Ferenc Orosz, chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg Association, told Reuters he was assaulted after arguing with a group of supporters chanting the Nazi slogan at a match between the Hungarian teams Videoton and Ferencvaros in Budapest on Sunday.

The campaign group was formed in tribute to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.

Jewish and rights groups say anti-Semitism remains a significant problem in the central European country – a leader of its far-right Jobbik party called for lists of prominent Jews to be drawn up to protect national security in November.

'Jewish communist'

Orosz said he tried to silence the supporters at the game in the city's Ferenc Puskas Stadium. Some members of the group called him a "Jewish communist" and he was approached by two men afterwards, one of whom hit him.

"Since Jobbik got into parliament (in 2010), hate speech has gained a lot more ground," Orosz told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference about hate speech on Monday.

Far-right campaigners say they are planning to stage a rally against Bolshevism and Zionism in Budapest on Saturday, the evening before the start of the meeting of the World Jewish Congress, which represents Jewish communities around the world.

The Hungarian prime minister's chief of staff, Janos Lazar, said earlier on Monday the interior ministry had been told to stop any offensive demonstrations or activity ahead of the three-day meeting in Budapest.

More than 500,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust after Hungary sided with the Nazis in World War II.

IDF failed to inform defense minister of battle drill on Lebanon front


The Israel Defense Forces neglected to give Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon advanced notice of its intention to hold a large battle drill on the Lebanese front that began Monday, handing a blow to the upper ranks of Israel's defense establishment.

Some 2,000 Israel Defense Forces reservists were called up for the simulation, which was coordinated as part of the army's yearly drill plan. The timing of the drill is especially sensitive, however, due to the civil war in Syria and the recent tensions surrounding the possibility of an attack by Israel or the U.S. against chemical weapons sites in Syria.

Officials in the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee also complained that they were not informed of the drill ahead of time, particularly considering the fact that it is being held at such a sensitive time.

This is the second incident within the last week that the IDF leadership has embarrassed Israel's political echelon.

Last Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, the head of the Research Division at Military Intelligence, said at a conference that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime was using chemical weapons in that embattled country. The intelligence that Brun was referring to was credible, but his remark stirred tensions with the U.S., which feared that Israel was pushing it toward action in Syria.

The content of Brun's statement was known to his commanders but was not coordinated with the political echelon. Over the past weeks, Israeli officials have been exerting great efforts to tone down the tensions between Jerusalem and Washington on the matter. Israeli political sources said that the IDF should give more thought to the consequences of its public actions.

Shock as Police Probe Jewish Obstetrician in Wife’s Death


A prominent Central New York Jewish obstetrician is being investigated in his wife’s death, cnycentral.com reported.

Leslie London Neulander, of Fayetteville, NY, was found dead in a shower in the family home in Fayetteville in September of 2012. She was 61. The Onondaga County Medical Examiner ruled Neulander’s death an accident, but that has not stopped investigators from probing the case.

Speculation has centered on Neulander’s husband, Dr. Robert Neulander. Dr. Neulander is credited with delivering 10,000 babies during his career, and nowadays serves as chairman of the 2013 Annual Campaign for the Jewish Federation of Central New York, which is being conducted in memory of his wife.

Last week, police executed a search warrant in Hanover Square looking for evidence in connection to her death, and, later, investigators visited the couple’s former home on Shalimar Way in Dewitt.

The Neulanders have four children and were active in the Central New York Jewish Community. Leslie Neulander’s obituary includes a long list of charitable causes.

Dr. Neulander has not been arrested and has not been charged with a crime.

Dr. Neulander’s attorney Edward Menkin released the following statement Thursday afternoon on behalf of Dr. Neulander:
 
“This has been an open secret and the subject of irresponsible rumor for months. Dr. Neulander has not been arrested or charged with any offense. Apparently, the police have now decided that their investigation is best conducted by leaks to the media. I can confirm that a search warrant was executed at Dr. Neulander’s apartment yesterday and certain items were taken. One thing that the police did not find was their own tail, something they seem to have been chasing for 8 months. Leslie Neulander died as the result of a tragic accident and nothing will change that sad truth. Dr. Neulander is a wonderful person, as was his late wife Leslie, and these irresponsible rumors are further hurting his family who continue to grieve for their loss. His entire family stands behind him, and that includes Leslie Neulander’s sister and brother.”

The children of Dr. Robert Neulander issued a statement saying they, and their family, stand by and support him “undeniably and with unconditional love.”

Rome - Pope Accepts Peres' Invitation To Israel


Rome - Israeli President Shimon Peres invited Pope Francis on Tuesday to visit Israel, at his first meeting with the new pontiff who has appealed for peace in the Middle East.

The pope accepted the invitation “with willingness and joy,” a Vatican spokesman said, but there was no indication when a trip would be made.

“I am expecting you in Jerusalem, not just me but the whole country of Israel,” Peres told the pope in the presence of reporters after 30 minutes of private talks in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, made an appeal for peace between Israelis and Palestinians in his Easter address last month.

A Vatican statement said they discussed prospects for a resumption of negotiations for a solution that would respect “the legitimate aspirations of the two Peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region”.

They also agreed on the need for a political solution to the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Both of Francis’s two immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, visited the Holy Land, including Palestinian territories, in 2000 and 2009 respectively.

Peres asked Francis “to pray for all of us” and told the pope that he would pray for him during a trip on Wednesday to the central Italian city of Assisi, where he will visit the tomb of St. Francis, whose name Bergoglio adopted when elected pope.

Italy - Italian Police Arrest Four Islamist Suspected In Planning Attacks In US And Israel


Bari, Italy - Italian police on Tuesday arrested four of six men they suspect are members of an Islamist militant cell which was planning attacks in the United States, Israel and Italy, though no specific targets were named by police.

The men aimed to train militants and send them abroad, para-military police said, and are suspected of conspiracy to commit international terrorism and inciting racial hatred.

They were arrested in Andria in the southern Italian region of Puglia, where police say the group was based, and in Milan, Brussels and Catania, Sicily, and include a Tunisian who was the former imam at a mosque in Andria, police said.

Italian police are still looking for two other Tunisian men who they believe have returned to their home country. No international arrest warrant has been issued for them.

Investigators believe the six men tried to recruit among illegal immigrants in Italy, who then went on to training camps in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq and Yemen.

In some cases the new recruits carried out attacks in Iraq.

The cell was characterized by “fierce anti-Semitism and anti-Western sentiment” and aversion to states viewed as enemies in the context of religious war, a police statement said.

Daily News reporter Simone Weichselbaum wins national award


Please excuse us while we kvell.

Daily News reporter Simone Weichselbaum has won a national award for her “piercing, respectful, accurate and often entertaining” coverage of multicultural Brooklyn and its various Jewish communities.

Weichselbaum, a Brooklyn native, will receive the 2013 Be’chol Lashon Media Award in San Francisco next month.

“She writes with authority whether reporting tragic tales of violent crime . . . or, at the other extreme, the high price of matzo,” Be’chol Lashon director Diane Tobin said of Weichselbaum.

The award recognizes outstanding journalism depicting the diversity of Judaism.

“I grew up in Orthodox Brooklyn and Manhattan,” said Weichselbaum, 31. “People think Hasidim are interesting or weird. No, these are my neighbors.”

Bullying and racism of the OU

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Women of the Wall eye further court fight for Western Wall rights


JERUSALEM  - Women seeking equal prayer rights at the Western Wall are planning a further challenge to Jewish Orthodox tradition at the site after a court ruling bolstered their cause, an activist said on Sunday.
The Women of the Wall movement hopes to have its members read from a Torah (holy scriptures) scroll at the Jerusalem site, a ritual reserved under Orthodox practice for men only, when it holds its monthly prayer session there on May 10, according to Anat Hoffman, a leader of the group.

The women have already broken with tradition in gatherings at the Western Wall, which is divided into separate men's and women's sections, by wearing prayer shawls that Orthodox law says only men should don.
Israeli police, saying they were enforcing Supreme Court guidelines on keeping the peace and following local customs at the site, have routinely arrested women worshippers from the group during the prayer meetings.

The protests have exposed a rift between Israel's government, which supports Orthodox practice at the Western Wall, and the U.S. Jewish Reform and Conservative movements, in whose synagogues men and women sit together.
In a ruling that Women of the Wall called revolutionary, the Jerusalem District Court said on Thursday that customs change and women should not be arrested for wearing prayer shawls at the site.

Women reading from the Torah at the Western Wall, revered as part of the Biblical Jewish Temple compound, could cause further friction with Orthodox worshippers.
Earlier this month, an envoy appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek a compromise over religious practices at the holy site proposed adding a mixed-gender section for non-Orthodox denominations of Judaism.

Hoffman told Reuters she planned to meet with the envoy, former Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky, on Monday.
"Then we will have a better understanding of what is on the table," she said.

Sharansky has said the plan to convert an old archaeological dig south of the Western Wall into an area where men and women would be allowed to mix and worship freely would not entail structural damage around nearby al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third-holiest site.
The sites came under Israel's control in the 1967 Middle East war when it captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Secretary Napolitano Praises Jewish Community For Post-Attack Security


Jewish leaders gathered this week at the first-ever Jewish Communal Security Summit in New York to strategize with top experts in the field regarding how best to ensure the safety of the community.
The conference, held April 24 and 25 by the Secure Community Network (SCN) at the offices of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), was particularly timely coming on the heels of the Boston Marathon attack earlier this month.

 U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano praised SCN and the JFNA and others for their efforts, highlighting the importance of the close relationship between her department and the Jewish community.

Speakers also included leaders from the Department of Homeland Security’s counter-terrorism division, the Anti-Defamation League, the New York Police Department’s intelligence analysis unit and the FBI.

The leaders addressed the current threat to homeland security, risks to Jewish schools, community centers and synagogues, and anti-Semitic incidents and hate crimes.

“Our goal is to be aware of the threats we face and gain knowledge that gives us the power to act in the face of these threats,” said Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of JFNA.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said the SCN meeting “could not be more timely or more important.” He said that after incidents occur such as the Boston bombings, “we will be held to account for how we apply the lessons we learn

NY - Jewish Couple Sued by Housing Board for Charging for Shabbat Parties


NY - A Central Park West condo board has filed a lawsuit against a Jewish Australian couple for violating condo rules by renting out their two units beyond the 30 day limit, and hosting large Shabbat dinners and cooking classes.

DNAinfo.com  is reporting that the lawsuit came about after Gavin and Jodi Samuels ignored a request by the Olmstead Condominium board to address the violations, which have already resulted in a $5,500 fine against them.

According to DNAinfo.com, condo board members continued to find ads from the Samuels running on internet rental websites where Jodi affectionately refers to their units as “Camp Samuels.”
 
The lawsuit also claims the Samuels regularly charge $25 to $30 a person to attend Shabbat dinners, and $15 per person for cooking classes.

The suit charges that the Samuels are servicing over 1,000 customers per year, and that their guests have not only become a nuisance to their neighbors, but put added stress on the staff and the building’s elevators.

Rabbi charged for giving drugs to prisoner


A rabbi from Afula was indicted Friday for providing a prison inmate convicted of murder with drugs.
According to the charge sheet, Rabbi Menachem Schweib, who ran a seminary at the Shita prison in northern Israel, gave a prisoner named Itamar Sha’altiel cigarette boxes containing an unknown drug, Channel 2 reported. 

Schweib allegedly did so on at least three separate occasions. In return, he was reportedly provided with money and other goods. The Nazareth District Court accused him of taking bribes, fraud, breach of trust, and bringing illicit substances into the prison.

Schweib pleaded not guilty to the charges. His attorney told Channel 2 that the rabbi had wanted to “aid a prisoner in need” and had no knowledge of the contents of the packages he was transferring to the prisoner.

“He thought it was just cigarettes,” said the attorney.

Sha’altiel, 30, was convicted two years ago of shooting a man to whom he owed 40,000 shekels. He is currently serving a life sentence.
 

Lag Ba'omer In Kiryas Joel


Saturday, April 27, 2013

NY Post Editorial Slams City For Going After Jewish Dress Code In Williamsburg Stores

 
Is City Hall about to take action against the dress codes at Manhattan’s top-flight restaurants?

Of course not. And that only underscores the hypocrisy that all too often animates this administration. Because the city is going after Hasidic-owned store-owners who ask their patrons to dress modestly.

The city’s Commission on Human Rights has cited seven small stores in the Hasidic section of Williamsburg for discrimination.

Their offense? Posting signs that read: “No Shorts, No Barefoot, No Sleeveless, No Low Cut Necklines Allowed in the Store.” Which is no different than restaurants requiring men to wear a jacket and tie — or a pizzeria posting a sign reading “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”

The city disagrees, and is suing the shops. Cliff Mulqueen, the commission’s general counsel, explained to The Jewish Week that while “dress codes are OK . . . telling someone they have to abide by certain rules of the Jewish faith crosses the line into [establishing] a protected class.”
 
But again, that’s not what the signs say. And the city hasn’t found a single person refused service because of his attire.

Here’s the operative distinction: Anyone turned away from these stores for his or her dress can change clothes and be admitted. Anyone denied service because of his or her race, religion or gender can’t do that.

The commission took action after The Post first reported the signs last July. At the time, a top official of the city Law Department said the signs appeared to be OK.

The good news is that the case has now attracted the attention and support of a top law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, which is representing the shop-owners pro bono. Notably, the firm is citing important First Amendment religious-liberty issues.

The city would do us all a favor if it limited its authorities to fighting genuine discrimination under the law — not inventing it where it doesn’t exist.

Petition to keep John Galliano from teaching at Parsons


Fashion students say hiring John Galliano is just as bad as hiring a KKK supporter.

A petition launched on Change.org aims to keep the ex-Dior designer from teaching a masters class at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City.

“Imagine if the school were hiring a person who publicly voiced support for the KKK — there would likely be backlash because it's not right to have someone like that teaching at a school,” the petition reads.

“But because this is someone who has made anti-Semitic remarks, people are willing to look the other way. This is unacceptable.”

Galliano’s reputation was ruined after the 52-year-old designer drunkenly lashed out at a table of diners he thought were Jewish, spewing anti-Semitic insults and telling the crowd, “I love Hitler.”
He was arrested, dropped as the head designer of Dior, and entered rehab for alcoholism.

But supporters of the petition, launched anonymously on Wednesday, say that’s not enough.
“As president of the Jewish Student Union, the oldest and largest club on campus, I am shocked that The New School hired John Galliano,” student Jennifer Kaplan wrote on the website.

Another supporter chided the school for sending the message that Galliano’s “anti-Semitic remarks can be swept under the rug.”

“He can’t be in a position of influencing young minds,” Kimberly Kirchstein wrote.

“Particularly in this industry, worldy-ness [sic], broadmindedness, respect for all, and tolerance are key.”More than 250 people have signed the petition.

Julio Acevedo, 'Hit and run driver who killed Orthodox Jewish couple and their unborn child' refuses to accept any guilt in jailhouse interview


The New York man accused of killing an entire Brooklyn family in a brutal hit-and-run crash last month leading to his arrest across state lines is defending himself while saying 'accidents happen.'
'Sure I played a part, I couldn't stop. Accidents happen,' Julio Acevedo told WABC News in a jailhouse interview while being held without bond on three counts of vehicular manslaughter in the March 3 crash.
Nachman and Raizel Glauber, as well as their infant son, were killed as the 21-year-old couple rushed to deliver their baby at a hospital. Their hired vehicle collided with Acavedo's on the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Their son, delivered by cesarean section, died the next day of extreme prematurity due to blunt-force injuries to his mother, who was seven months pregnant and was thrown from the hired car, the city medical examiner's office said. The couple were only married one year when the tragic accident happened.
Acavedo fled the scene but turned himself in four days later in Pennsylvania.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, including speeding at 70 MPH. He blames the couple's livery cab driver for running a stop sign, leading to the crash.
'Let's ask the cab driver, why did he run the stop sign?' he asked. 'He was in more of a rush than I was. He was rushing the woman to the hospital.'
Acavedo previously told the Daily News that he was fleeing a gunman trying to shoot at him when his borrowed BMW slammed into the Glaubers' hired car.
He told the newspaper he fled because he was worried he would be killed. But police said there were no reports of shots fired in the area at the time of the wreck.
The Glaubers' driver, Pedro Nunez Delacruz, 32, has told police that he doesn't remember anything after being knocked unconscious in the wreck.
'I'm made out to be the monster in all this,' Acevedo told ABC. 'I can't bring 'em back, it was an accident. I apologize deeply,' he said.

Asked if he would have done anything different, he says he wouldn't have left the scene like he did.

'Now knowing what I'm going through, I would have stayed,' he said. 'I was afraid of being treated unjustly, as I was in 1987.'
In that year he was charged with the murder of a man known as the original ‘50 Cent,’ Kelvin Martin.
Local gangsters wanted Martin dead and so kidnapped Acavedo and forced him to carry out the hit or they'd kill him and his family.
'He was my best friend at the time,' Acevedo said. 'I was forced to kill him.'
Avacedo was sentenced to 20 years to life for Martin's death before the Brooklyn District Attorney's office found evidence proving Avacedo's claims to be true.
'They sat on the information until Acevedo got wind of it,' his attorney Scott Brettschneider told ABC.
Avavedo was released after spending 10 years in prison.
'I don't trust the system, I don't believe in it. I've been through it. I hope to be treated fairly, that's it,' he told ABC.
Just two weeks before the deadly crash in Williamsburg, Acevedo was stopped by police for driving erratically and his blood alcohol level was far above the legal level at .13.
He told police he had drunk just two beers at a baby shower before he was pulled over. He was charged with a DWI but released the next day without bail.
Isaac Abraham, a spokesman for the family's Orthodox Jewish community, called Acevedo a 'coward' before his arrest and demanded he be charged with three murders.
'We in the community are demanding that the prosecutor charge the driver of BMW that caused the death of this couple and infant ... with triple homicide,' Abraham said in a statement. 'This coward left the scene of the accident not even bothering to check on the people of the other car.'
The couple belonged to a close-knit ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, which is home to the largest community of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside Israel, more than 250,000. They were members of the Satmar Hasidic sect.
Nachman Glauber, whose family founded a line of clothing for Orthodox Jews, was studying at a rabbinical college. Raizy Glauber grew up in a prominent rabbinical family.
The couple's son was buried near their graves, a community spokesman said. About a thousand community members turned out for the couple's funeral a day earlier.

KIRYAS JOEL - 50,000 expected for Lag Ba’omer


KIRYAS JOEL — Tens of thousands of Satmar Hasidim are expected to descend on Kiryas Joel Saturday night and dance for hours around a giant bonfire for an annual religious celebration known as Lag Baomer.
The holiday honors a revered scholar who wrote parts of the Talmud and other sacred Jewish texts almost 2,000 years ago.

The celebration, which marks the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai, originated in the Israeli village where he's buried.
As many as 50,000 people are expected in Kiryas Joel for the bonfire, which begins at 11 p.m., according to Satmar publicists.

Oy Vey! Republicans in Florida Want to Ban Orthodox Jewish Women From Divorcing


Republicans in Florida have been so riled up by the anti-sharia brigade that they may have ended up stuffing another minority that actually likes Republicans. They have also managed to bring together the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, and the League of Jewish Women in frustration at some pending legislation.
You see, a bill that sailed through the Florida House and looks certain to get through Florida Senate will effectively ban Orthodox Jewish women from getting divorced. The Orthodox Jews use rabbinical courts for such things, and the Florida proposal will prevent the state from recognizing them (including if the decision was made in Israel).

Jewish business leaders and those who work to attract Israeli business to the state are worried. The ADL issued a statement on their concerns:
"This legislation … could undermine Florida's strong reputation and track record as a center for trade with Israel and other nations," and "serve as an incentive for them to take their business elsewhere," Barkey said.

We all know politicians are a bit dense as to other parts of their state, but surely the Republicans behind this realize that Florida has a big Jewish and Israeli-American dual population? Has the yutz who came up with the wording ever been to Miami? Does he think that annoying a large percentage of the Florida population that is also quite wealthy and politically active is a good idea?
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is obviously quite concerned with this and has issued a video statement on the bill.

"'The issue here is the extent to which we are willing to protect people's freedom of individual expression and conscience,' says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of Clal-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, discussing pending Florida legislation, also referred to by some as the "anti-Sharia" law."
Gov. Rick Scott supports the bill, but has issued this rather confused statement on it.

"America was founded on principles of religious freedom. In Florida, we have many religions and cultures that contribute to the rich diversity of our great state. As Americans, we have the expressed right to freely practice our religion, and I applaud the Florida House for passing HB 351 that would make clear the constitutional rights of our citizens will be protected."

Maybe he thinks "religious freedom" only applies to Christians, and by banning other religions' practices he is protecting religious freedom for Christians or something.

When are politicians going to learn that scattergun legislation has a habit of hitting targets that weren't intended in the first place? Instead of merely concentrating on what they are trying to prevent, the worst aspects of Sharia law, they are going for the general approach which has wider consequences.
At least they haven't tried to ban male circumcision, as San Francisco tried to do a few years ago (and Germany has done), before a bill signed by Governor Brown banned cities from doing so.

Republicans in Florida seem to be determined to invoke the ire of the Jewish community of Florida, even the ones that actually might vote Republican. Florida is one of the most important electoral states. Guess they missed the memo from Reince Priebus that Republicans are supposed to make nice with minorities. FutureHillary

Lag Baomer: Traditional Torah Walk in Tzfat

 
A 180-year-old Lag Baomer tradition was upheld on Shabbat (Saturday) in northern Israel, when dignitaries walked with the ancient Torah scroll from the Abo House in Tzfat to the tomb of Rashbi (1st century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) at Meron.

Rabbis, Knesset Members, mayors, heads of religious councils, and delegations from communities in the Galilee, the Golan and Samaria all took part in the event. Also in attendance were former Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman, and Tzfat Mayor Ilan Shohat.

Additional participants were representatives of the French Embassy in Israel, who have been taking part in the event ever since members the Abo family served as French consuls, for three straight generations.

The guest of honor this year was the Deputy Religions Minister, Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan.

Rabbi Ben Dahan explained the background of the event on Friday when he wrote:
"Rabbi Shmuel Abo, made aliyah to the Land of Israel in the early 19th century, began the tradition (of a parade with the Torah from Tzfat to the Rashbi's grave on Lag Baomer). He was the head of the Jewish community in France.

He bought land at Rosh Pina, in the Galilee, and the Rashbi's burial plot, which until then was completely neglected and was a place where cattle grazed. In appreciation, a Torah scroll was written in his name and on Lag Baomer of 1833, he placed the Torah scroll at Rashbi's tomb. He saved Rashbi's tomb.

Since then, every Lag Baomer eve, a parade goes out from his home in Tzfat to Rashbi's grave at Meron."

Western Wall rabbi: Sharansky plan might be no good


JERUSALEM — Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, said rabbis must weigh whether to oppose a compromise proposal over egalitarian prayer at Judaism's holiest site.

In a statement April 25, Rabinowitz vowed to fight against "the slightest deviation" from customary practice at the Western Wall. However, he left unclear whether the compromise forged by Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky, which would create a permanent site for egalitarian prayer at a section of the Western Wall called Robinson's Arch, constituted such a deviation.
 
"I want the Western Wall to continue to unite the nation as in the past, according to the customs of the site and without veering away from Jewish Halachah," or law, Rabinowitz said. "That said we must, along with the Chief Rabbinate and other great rabbis, examine if we should oppose the proposal referring to Robinson's Arch, which is not part of the Western Wall synagogue, if this would be a solution acceptable to everyone and will distance dispute from the Western Wall Plaza and prevent the continued provocations and 'baseless hatred.'"

Earlier this month, Rabinowitz said he "can live with" the Sharanksy compromise. "This redivision of the plaza does not match my worldview, as I believe that there should be one site of prayer according to the place's customs, but we can live with this solution," Rabinowitz told Ynet.

But Rabinowitz's tone appears to have hardened after meetings with Orthodox rabbis in North America — whom Rabinowitz said oppose Sharansky's proposal — and in the wake of a court ruling this week that women's prayer in the existing women's section of the Western Wall Plaza should not be abridged.

"I will fight wholeheartedly against any harm to the holiness of the Western Wall, and I will not allow the slightest deviation from what is and has been customary at the site for decades," the statement said. Any change "will face strong opposition and bring about a civil war."

Rabbinical judge suspected of abuse of power


Police on Wednesday finished a probe of Avraham Chaim Sherman, a judge on the Great Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem.

Officers from the National Fraud Investigative Unit suspect Sherman of breach of trust, obstruction of justice and abuse of power in his ruling in a divorce proceeding.

Police handed over the case to state prosecutors on Wednesday, who will decide whether to pursue an indictment.

The Lahav 433 – National Crime Unit said that following a complaint in 2010, Sherman was questioned under caution and that over the course of the probe, police determined that he “made the decision to release from jail a man who refused to give his wife a divorce after he [Sherman] was exposed to outside pressure that influenced his decision in the case, which was decided without following the usual rabbinical court procedure.”

A source from LAHAV 433 said that police do not believe the pressure was in the form of a threat or through bribery. Rather, some sort of emotional or personal pressure was put on the judge to release the husband from jail. Furthermore, the source said that the investigation only deals with a specific case, and that police do not suspect that Sherman committed such wrongdoing in any other case.
Rabbi

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Haredi group: Resist draft with all your soul


A new organization operating under the name “Fortress – the center for protection from draft issues," has issued an instructional booklet pledging assistance to young haredim who receive orders to appear at IDF recruitment centers, and providing counsel on how to get out of it.

The 32-page guide opens with the declaration, "The unbearable acts are before us in full intensity.” The texts of the guide are in line with statements made by haredi rabbis since the elections, who say that their followers should fight until Zionism is defeated, calling it a cruel, collapsing movement.

Comparisons between the haredi draft and the Holocaust appear within the guides in detail. Among other things, the booklet discusses the obligation for total sacrifice. It provides several examples from history. Among them is the story of 93 girls at “Beit Yaacov” in Krakow, Poland, who committed suicide in 1942 by ingesting poison, when they heard Nazi soldiers were coming to rape them.

“We must learn from previous generations about the pride and intensity with which they gave their souls for the sanctification of Hashem (God),” the guide states.

Another section recalls the czars of Russia, who forcibly drafted Jewish children into their armies and converted some to Christianity.

They also mention the tortures of the Inquisition, and the work camps of Siberia appear on the same line with the discussion of the draft into the IDF. The bottom line? Readers are instructed to fight with all their soul and not join the military.

“And if we ever get to the point where they put a choice before us to do one of the three transgressions, or to be killed, we will choose death, and not a life of betrayal to the blessed lord,” the guide states.

According to tradition, one should choose death and not commit incest, spill blood, or worship idols, and the guide explains why induction into the IDF is on par with these transgressions.

At the end of the guide, an emergency telephone number appears for those receiving induction notices, as well as a "Tip Line" for reporting “the boy or yeshiva student who has joined the army, or is tempted to do so.”

IDF shoots down drone off Haifa coast


Cleared for publication: Israeli F-16 fighter jets downed a drone off of Haifa's coastline at around 1:30 pm Thursday.

The unmanned aircraft, which was flying at an altitude of about 6,000 feet (1,800 meters), when it was downed, apparently entered Israel's airspace from the north and was heading south. Explosions were heard in the area.

Israel Navy vessels were searching for the wreckage. The drone was apparently sent by Hezbollah from Lebanon.

Israeli Air Force (IAF) warplanes were scrambled from the Ramat David airbase and reports of an Israeli flyovers in Lebanon followed the drone's interception.

Downing of drone that entered Israeli airspace in October (Photo: Reuters)

The IDF's Spokesperson's Unit issued a statement saying, "Today the (army) thwarted the penetration of an unmanned aircraft into Israeli territory. Shortly after 1 pm a drone was identified as it was flying north to south along the Lebanese coastline. The air defense system tracked it for (several) minuteswhile it was still in Lebanese territory, and it was under surveillance throughout its flight until the interception.

"IAF planes were scrambled, as were combat helicopters, after it was determined that the aircraft was not friendly, and certainly not (an Israeli) aircraft. The Air Force commander authorized the interception," the army said. 

The drone was downed over the sea, some eight to 10 kilometers (5-6.5 nautical miles) off Haifa's coastline after being identified by IAF radars at 13:30 pm. It was downed at exactly 13:40 pm by two F-16 fighter jets on the first attempt.

The army noted that the downed drone was relatively small, and it remains unclear whether it was carrying explosives, like other attack drones in Hezbollah's possession. The IDF does not know at this time what the drone's destination was, but said it was headed south along the Tyre-Zidon line.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received an update on the attempted infiltration of Israeli airspace when he was on a flight to the country’s north. The prime minister’s helicopters landed for a short time, until the drone was shot down, and then continued on its way.

“I see this attempt to cross into Israeli territory as a very serious issue. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure the citizens of Israel remain safe,” the PM said in a statement. 

Earlier, during a visit to the home of Sheikh Muhammad Tarif in the Druze village of Julis, Netanyahu addressed the general threat Israel faces from the north. "We are anxiously and concernedly eyeing the developments in Syria and Lebanon. Syria is splitting and Lebanon is unstable. Both places present threats we cannot ignore.

Syria holds two direct threats to Israel: First, the spillage of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations, and secondly, attempts by terrorists to penetrate our borders and fire at our communities," the PM said.

"The State of Israel is prepared for any threat originating in Syria as well as Lebanon, be it from sea, air or land."

Word of the interception quickly spread in Haifa. Some residents witnessed the downing itself, while others in the Stella Maris neighborhood watched as Navy vessels were searching for the wreckage.

Ynet's military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai said that it can be safely assumed that the downed drone's point of departure was a Hezbollah base in the Lebanon Valley. It then flew southwest along the shoreline at a distance of six miles from the coast at an altitude of two kilometers (1.2 miles).

It is clear that the drone was quickly spotted thanks to the lessons learned from the previous drone penetration into Israel.

As part of these lessons, additional radars were placed in the north so that even the smallest of aircraft could be identified.

It is safe to assume that Hezbollah and the Iranian instructors aiding them in the RPV (remotely-piloted vehicle) and MRPV (mini remotely-piloted vehicle) field wanted to test anew their route into Israel as well as the IDF's alertness in wake of highly publicized reports of Patriot missile batteries being deployed in the Haifa region. The Patriot missiles come equipped with a special radar capable of spotting just such small drones.

It is also possible that Hezbollah and its patron's current attempt at penetrating a drone into Israeli airspace stemmed not just from their desire to test Israel's preparedness and interception abilities, but also from their desire to influence public conception.

Hezbollah's meddling in Lebanon is rising, and the heavy damage the Shiite group causes Lebanon has drawn a lot of anger against the organization within Lebanon, leading even some prominent Hezbollah supporters from the Shiite sects to openly slam its involvement in the Syrian civil war.

It is possible that the drone was sent in an attempt to divert public opinion back to Hezbollah's efforts to "protect Lebanon from Israel."

In any case, it is safe to assume that the saga of the Iranian made RPVs and MRPVs operated by Hezbollah is far from over and we are likely to witness them again during an onslaught of missile fire from the north should another war break out.

On October 6, 2012 two F-16I fighter jets downed a Hezbollah drone that breached Israeli airspace. Remnants of the aircraft fell in open area in the Mount Hebron region.
A few days later, Hezbollah Chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah revealed that the downed aircraft was an Iranian made drone and claimed that the drone managed to fly over "a number of important IDF bases" before being intercepted.

An IDF investigation of the event revealed that the drone had penetrated Israel through the Gaza Strip and began traveling east. According to the IDF, the drone was under IDF surveillance from the moment it entered Israel, but it was decided to shoot it down only when it reached the Mount Hebron area "for military reasons."