Monthly Archives: January 2007

Auschwitz Falling Apart

Ha’aretz reports Auschwitz is crumbling, disappearing, not so slowly, into the earth. Visitors now walk on bits of exposed bone and the infamous exhibits of human hair, shoes, etc., are being destroyed by mildew:

…[Auschwitz director Piotr] Cywinski is acutely aware of the deficiencies of the museum but is constrained by money and the physical limitations imposed by the scale of the site.

Various grandiose ideas – including one for a giant dome – have been rejected on grounds of cost and because any major construction would destroy some of the area and alter it.

Smaller-scale enclosures to protect the buildings would be possible, but even these would be expensive and would have to be agreed by all the groups that protect the site.

"Tens of millions of dollars, more, would be needed to do all the work," said Cywinski. But money is not the main problem: the Polish government has provided large sums and there are a number of international donors.

Time itself is the enemy, eroding the site and its contents.

"Conservationists are like doctors: we can extend life, but not for eternity," said Cywinski, who opposes any suggestion that decaying original artefacts should be replaced by copies.

Faded and frail, two tonnes of hair shorn from victims is piled up in one cell block: once blonde plaits, black pony-tails and auburn curls, it is gradually decaying and now looks like grey wire wool.

The museum has had more luck with its 80,000 shoes, mostly odd. Chief conservationist Rafal Pioro and his staff of 38 invited school children to help clean and polish some of them.

But there are so many, most still have to be stored in a warehouse without air-conditioning. Slowly, most are falling apart.

"The work is endless and painstaking and can be heart-rending," said Pioro. "When we were working on the children’s shoes, some of us were crying all the time."

Workers at Auschwitz are struggling to slow the ageing of the camp and keep it as a lesson on the evils of anti-Semitism.

They aim, in the words of a plaque near the gas chambers, to keep Auschwitz as "a cry of despair and a warning to humanity".…

How far should humanity go to preserve this most horrific part of our history? How much money should be spent? Cywinski now has a staff of 260 workers. Should he have more?

I think the answer is yes. Auschwitz needs to be preserved at almost any cost.



Filed under History

Idealogical Head Of Edah Haredit Passes Away, Group Now Seen As Rudderless

The Jerusalem Post reports on the passing of what it terms the "mythological political leader" of the anti-Zionist Edah Haredit, Rabbi Yosef Scheinberger. To me, the most interesting bit of information is the yichus of Rabbi Scheinberger and therefore of his grandson, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the haredi street riot leader turned Zaka founder turned – haredi street riot leader:

Sheinberger’s family was directly related to the Sanz Hassidic dynasty.

Edah Haredit was built on anti-Zionism. All major anti-Zionist haredi leaders are hasidim. Neturei Karta’s theology is largely based on the works of three hasidic rebbes: Yoel Titlebaum of Satmar, the Munkatcher Rebbe known as the Minchat Elazar, and the fifth rebbe of Lubavitch, Sholom DovBer Schneersohn.

By contrast, the origins of Religious Zionism are largely Lithuanian. Even the hasidic founders of RZ were, for the most part, hasidim from the Belarus-Lithuania region. Examples of the latter would be Rav Kook and the lesser known but influential Smargoner Gaon.


Filed under Chabad History, History, Israel

Another Israeli Leader Falls

Last week, Israel’s president, Moshe Katsav, was indicted on rape and sexual harassment charges. Today, its former Justice Minister, Hiam Ramon, one a prime ministerial hopeful, stands unanimously convicted of "indecent behavior," or, in American terms, sexual harassment. He is expected to appeal the conviction.

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Filed under Crime, Israel, Jewish Leadership

Rabbi Steals From Synagogue, Uses Money To Buy Ring For Mistress, Trips To Israel, Private School For His Kids

All this crime! And he isn’t even Orthodox! The local ABC affiliate reports:

A Monmouth County rabbi has admitted stealing $86,000 from a fund meant to help members of his congregation.

Prosecutors say Rabbi Peter Light bought a ring for his mistress, paid for private school for his children and took trips to Israel.

Light headed Congregation Ohev Shalom, the Marlboro Jewish Center, for two years until he resigned in June.

The rabbi is expected to be sentenced to five years in prison.

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Filed under Crime

State Looks To Prosecute Rabbis Who Called For Murder Of Army Commander

We noted two weeks ago that the nut jobs from the new "Sanhedrin" had issued a fatwa against a senior army officer. The State has now decided to open a criminal investigation against these rabbis. Ha’aretz reports:

The State Prosecution on Wednesday decided to open a criminal investigation against a group of rabbis who issued a halakhic ruling against GOC Central Command Yair Naveh for authorizing restraining orders against West Bank settlers. The rabbis ruled that in signing such orders, Naveh was guilty of crimes punishable by death according to Jewish law.

About two weeks ago, a group of rabbis linked to the revived Sanhedrin movement – or high court of Jewish law – ruled that Naveh was guilty of three crimes: "Causing the masses to sin"; being a "moser" – someone who informs against fellow Jews or hands over Jews or Jewish land to gentiles; and terrifying the public in a blasphemous way."

In their decision, the rabbis referred to a ruling made by the 12th century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, according to which "it is permissible to kill a moser everywhere, even in this time when the courts do not rule on capital cases."…

The signatories to the halakhic ruling include Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the head of the Jerusalem Temple Institute; Rabbi Yehuda Edrey, of the movement to rebuild the temple; Bar Ilan Literature Professor Hillel Weiss; Rabbi Rueven Hass and Rabbi Ido Alba.

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Filed under Crime, Haredim, Israel, Jewish Leadership, Modern Orthodoxy

36 (Haredi) Virgins

After reading Steve Martin’s 72 Virgins, I wondered what it might be like if haredim had their own suicide bomber theology. It might be something like this:

36 (Haredi) Virgins

    1.    Could you please slow down? I’m not through davening ma’ariv yet.
    2.    I’m still very shomer negiah.
    3.    My rebbetzin said not to.
    4.    Look, you’ve waited this long. What’s another day?
    5.    Can Rifkie watch?
    6.    You call that oneg? Sheindie has more oneg in her middle finger than you have in …in … what do call that thing?
    7.    I’ll be right there. I just have to finish shaving my head.
    8.    I don’t think the Rebbe took his clothes off.
    9.    Hey! What’s that yukkie stuff on my leg!
    10.     I am NOT going to touch it! It’s bad enough I have to watch you touch it!
    11.    Okay. I’m on my back. Now what?
    12.    I was told not to move.
    13.    I don’t understand why the goyyim like this so much.
    14.    Does God know what you’re doing? DOES THE REBBE!?!
    15.    No! Was I supposed to use the mikvah?
    16.    So, Sheindy, she goes, like, um and then Rifkie, she said …
    17.    No. I lost it climbing trees.
    18.    If you’re such a big lamden, such a big tzaddikel, you figure out where it goes!

  19.    And then my parents brought me to the rav, and he looked, and
he paskined – I was only three – it was supposed to grow back!
20.    Ooooo, I’m soooo close! Just move the kugel a little bit to the
    21.    So, in sifrei kabbalah it says … Reuven? Reuven! Are you snoring?

  22.    So you blew yourself up for Hashem and you think that means that
I, Sheindie, have to do what?!?!
    23.    If you can’t find a makor, this is over. No makor, no kissie. Got that?
    24.    What do you mean it’s in? You call that "in"? Is that what they taught you in yeshiva, Mr. Big Shot?
    25.    You call this a manual? And, no, I do not care what the Ra’avad said!
    26.    At some point, isn’t this supposed to feel good?
    27.    Okay, I admit it. But he wore condoms, so it’s not really the same, now is it?
    28.    I thought it didn’t count if he wasn’t Jewish?
    29.    And now Morah Sheindy is going to put a soft, new nappie on your little hard tzaddikel …
    30.    My brother was bigger.
    31.    My rebbetzin said I can’t look.
    32.    My rebbetzin said I can’t touch.
    33.    Only Torah and glatt kosher mehadrin min hamehadrin food will ever pass these lips. Got that, tzaddik?
    34.    Gee, that was really nice. Yup, it sure was. Can I go back to sleep now?
    35.    Now I understand the advantage of that immaculate conception thing.
    36.    You touch one hair on this sheitel and we’re through! Do you hear me?
©2007 Shmarya Rosenberg, Failed (after Steve Martin).


Filed under PARODY & SATIRE

Haredim And The Holocaust

How do haredim relate to the Holocaust? Ha’aretz reports:

…Professor Menachem Friedman, however, one of the leading experts on ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel, attributes it to Haredi society’s reluctance to confront the most difficult questions arising from the period. Questions like "Where was God in the Holocaust?," and those raising doubts about the rabbis’ performance during those dark years. These questions were seen by ultra-Orthodox society as threatening to their way of life, and pushed it into a defensive stance.

"Even now, the Haredim cannot ask, at least not openly, how the Gerrer, Satmar and Belzer rebbes and others fled and saved themselves, leaving their followers behind. The question is not only why the rabbis refrained from warning their followers, but also why they prevented them from migrating to Israel for fear of ‘spoiling’ them," says Friedman.

Friedman says these questions, which Agudat Yisrael newspapers dealt with passionately immediately after the Holocaust, gradually became taboo over the years.…

The bulk of the article is about one woman, Esther Farbstein, who has changed this to a small degree:

…Farbstein, who presented the research at both Haifa University and Yad Vashem, believes these are historic documents that shed light on various issues and add insights into Jewish life before and after the Holocaust. …

The most interesting dilemmas are those pertaining to survival itself. Rabbi Weinberger of the town of Turka, in Galicia, contends with the question of whether or not to leave. Despite family pressure to leave, he decides to remain with his community. The prefaces also reveal that the option of pretending to be a gentile presented a halakhic dilemma, as adopting a non-Jewish identity can be tantamount to idol worship.

The question of whether to go to the Land of Israel also worried the ultra-Orthodox rabbis, many of whom strongly objected to Israel for ideological reasons.

For it’s part, Chabad was not different. The Rebbe Rayyatz followed in his father the Rashab’s virulent anti-Zionism. (Did you know that a significant part of Neturei Karta’s ideology is based on three hasidic Rebbes’ anti-Zionism, the Satmar Rebbe, the Munkatcher Rebbe and the Rebbe Rashab of Lubavitch?) The Rayyatz told his followers there would be no war and Warsaw was safe for them. He did this in the summer of 1939, a couple of months before the Nazi destruction of Poland.

The Rayyatz was saved by American intervention. As he was being wisked out of bombed out Warsaw, what did he ask his American saviors for? To save more Jews? No. He asked for his book collection (largely secular books like Sherlock Holmes in Yiddish) and his household silver. The Rayyatz wrote several letters to President Roosevelt during the war. He never once asks Roosevelt to save Jews.

Only one man spoke with prescience regarding Europe’s Jews – Vladimir Jobotinsky. And it was followers of Jobotinsky who created and organized the so-called Rabbis March on Washington, which brought the ceation of the War Refugee Board, which saved more than 200,000 Jews. These followers of Jobotinsky were for the most part not Orthodox.

In other words, for the most part, listening to haredi rabbis meant dying on the ash heaps of Auschwitz. Never forget that.


Filed under Chabad and the Holocaust, Haredim, History, Jewish Leadership