See update note at bottom
Until today, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) of north America* was a member of the SRE Network (Safety, Respect and Equity). SRE was created in response to the #MeToo movement to promote collaboration and funding for fighting sex abuse and harassment in the North American Jewish world by bringing concerned organizations together to create common standards and collaborate in other ways including access to funding.
Yesterday, JOFA was on the SRE website as an affiliate. With no explanation, they are not on the listing today. Hmm!
Rabbi Lipa (Leopold) Margulies died and Yeshiva World News ran the headline: “Petira of HaRav Chanaya Yom Tov Lipa Margulies ZT”L”
Normally, like any decent Jew I don’t believe in saying bad things about a niftar on the day of his levaya and kevurah. After all, even a man hanged by beis din is not left out unburied. But nowhere does it say that we call that man a tzadik. If we start calling criminals tzadikim, the kovod of real tzadikim is cheapened.
Some will say, but wasn’t he a marbitz torah? Didn’t his Yeshiva Torah Temimah provide a fine chinuch for many children from Flatbush and beyond. And yes, for some it did. But for others it was a torture chamber. The torturer was Rabbi Yehuda Kolko and the chamber master who allowed it was Lipa Margulies.
Dovid Weinberger recently moved back into West Lawrence some two years after his abrupt departure from his position as rabbi of Congregation Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence, NY.
He quit in the wake of revelations that he was sexually exploiting women who sought his help for various kinds of counseling including marital counseling.
According to local sources some of the same rabbis who forced him to agree to quit the rabbinate, and publicly denounced him, are now divided about whether to advise their communities publicly.
In December 2013 he promised to stay totally out of the rabbinate when he signed the following statement:
To whom it may concern, I Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, formerly the Rabbi of Cong. Shaarei Tefilla of Lawrence, NY, do hereby acknowledge that I will retire from the Rabbinate effective immediately, and will never again serve in the capacity of Rov or Rabbi of any congregation or community, nor will I ever again be involved as a mechanech [teacher] in any venue of Chinuch [education]. Continue reading
On August 14, 2015 the New York Times reported that ISIS was implementing a theology justifying the rape of non-believers and had a systematic program to separate them out and sell them to its followers. The opening of the Times article shocked me.
In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.
He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.
When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.
“I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,”
Steve Maman Shaking Hands with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
What revolted some of us was just a golden opportunity for one Steve Maman, a Moroccan Jew in Montreal. The very next day, the Toronto Star reported on his solicitations for months to ransom Yazidi women from ISIS. He claimed he had already ransomed 128 of these poor victimized women and appealed for more donations to sustain his efforts. His fundraising and narrative was months-old but till then he had only gotten attention in peripheral media outlets. Continue reading
Judy Brown (aka Eishes Chayil) had this to say about sex abuse when interviewed by Sara Scribner about her new book, This Is Not a Love Story: A Memoir.
Sexual abuse was a plague in the [ultra orthodox Jewish] community… because they denied its existence, allowing pedophiles full freedom to sexually molest children.
Before I ever wrote a word of “Hush,” I had written for years in the ultra-Orthodox world. My writings were taught in their schools. Being a writer brought me readers, and they would tell me their stories. And more and more of them were about sexual abuse…
You begin to hear a pattern. Something happened… but you can’t think about it in a world where it is denied. You deny it to yourself… You just think about it as an isolated event. You think this isn’t the community. It’s just me or her or him…
This isn’t some theoretical concept. It’s young adults committing suicide one after another. It’s people who go through hellish agony trying to untangle themselves and deal with the trauma. It’s knowing that as long as you are silent there’s another person you are literally killing. For me that book [Hush] was survival. So the ugliness that it unleashed was a nightmare to deal with. It’s something that still hurts me to think about. I guess it always will.
I never thought of it in terms of an artist. It was just something that was in existence in the most brutal way and the only thing I feared more than publishing it was not publishing it.