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JUDAISM


"What emerged for me, from the study of the first chapters [of Sefer Hatanya, the central works of the Chabad ultra-Orthodox organization] and their antecedents was the discovery that the main stream of Jewish thought is permeated by genetic spiritual superiority of Jews over Gentiles, disconcertingly reminiscent of racist notions of our time. Living in Israel for the past twenty years in a Jewish majority that is no more sensitive to the feelings of minorities than Gentile majorities are ... [with] Jews in their midst, I have come to realize the vitality of Jewish racist notions, and I am more than ever convinced that the hold Judaism will have on this and future generations will be gravely impaired unless these notions are neutralized by an internal reordering of traditional values."
Moshe Greenberg,
A Problematic Heritage. The Attitudes Toward the Gentile in the Jewish Tradition: An Israeli Perspective.
Conservative Judaism, Winter 1996, p. 33.



"If the Torah is only for the sake of Israel's election, then it appears to be [in] the interest of her nationalist self-interest ... The practical implications of assuming that the Torah is soley for the sake of affirming the election of Israel [by God] is to see no transcendental standard governing Israel's relationships with other nations [other people] of the world. The only relationship possible, then, is one where Gentiles accept Jewish sovereignty and dominance, be it political or 'religious' -- in the usual western sense of that distinction ... Such a theology can all too easily lend itself to such a practical program of dominance. Indeed, a consistent proponent of it would have no theological arguments with which to argue against such programs, however much he or she might be morally offended by them."
David Novak,
The Image of the non-Jew in Judaism. An Historical and Constructive Study of the Noahide Laws,
1983, p. 25-26




"Indeed, the more religiously conservative a Jew is today, the less likely he or she is to identify with universalistic ideologies or with the non-Jewish 'poor and downtrodden.'"
Stanley Rothman,
S. Robert Lichter,
The Roots of Radicalism, 1982, p. 112




"When a male Jew is called to the Torah, he recites the traditional
blessing, asher bahar banu mi’kol ha’amim, praising God ‘who has
chosen us from among all other nations.’ When Jews recite their daily
morning prayer they say the benediction, she’lo assani goy,
thanking God ‘that he has not made [us] gentiles.’ When they
pronounce the benediction over the Sabbath [Saturday] wine, they declare
that God has chosen and sanctified Jews from all other
peoples in the same way which he has distinguished between Sabbath and
weekday. When Jews make Havdalah on Saturday night, they
recite the traditional ha-mavdil, glorifying God for setting Jews apart from all other
peoples just as He set apart the sacred from the profane and light
from darkness.”
Alfred Jospe,
The Jewish Image of the Jew,
In Millgram, Abraham. Great Jewish Ideas. B'nai B'rith Department of Educaiton, 1964




"According to the the New Testament, the Christian world has, at best, an ambivalent attitude toward money and wealth ... For Jews,
on the other hand, wealth is a good thing, a worthy and respectable
goal to strive toward. What's more, once you earn it, it is tragic to lose it. Judaism has never
considered poverty a virtue. The first Jews were not poor, and that was good.
The Jewish founding fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were blessed with
cattle and land in abundance. Asceticism and self-denial are not Jewish ideals."
Steven Silbiger,
The Phenomenon of the Jews, 2000, p. 14-15


Forbes business magazine featured a story in 1999 about Rabbi Burton Visotzky, who teaches a monthly religious session to 20 powerful Jewish Manhattan businessmen. On the day the reporter attended, the subject of discussion was Genesis 12:10-20. In this part of the Torah, the reader finds the disturbing story of the Jewish patriarch Abraham, who pretends that his pretty wife, Sarah, is his sister so that he may both protect himself and sell her to the Egyptian Pharaoh. (She was, in fact, however incestuous, his half-sister.) [Smith/Hoffman, What the Bible Really Says, 1989, p. 138]
"This ploy," notes the Forbes reporter, "will not only save his life but also allow him to turn a profit on her sale. Less delicately put, Abraham becomes Sarah's pimp." [LEE, S., 11-10-99] After Abraham reaps payment, God punishes Pharaoh by cursing his land with the plague. The Egyptian leader returns Sarah to Abraham and bans them from his land. "Payoff time again for Abraham," notes the reporter, " -- Pharaoh pays him hush money." [LEE, S., 11-10-99] Rabbi Visotzky then explained for Forbes the essence, as he saw it, to the biblical tale, quoting a lawyer in his study group who suggested that, "Morality aside, you may not like it, but by the end of the chapter -- let's face it -- Abraham is talking one-on-one with the head of state and he's earned start up costs." Visotzky then adds: "This is what it means to be a small and embattled people who are going to survive at any cost. The only thing that matters is the bottom line."
Sarah Lee,
Bringing Religion to the Boardroom, Forbes, November 10, 1999


Intermarriage and Impurity in Ancient Jewish Sources
.
Harvard Theological Review
, January 1999
"In this paper, I argue that an alleged Gentile ritual impurity communicated by physical contact to the Israelite partner is not the rationale for restrictions on intermarriage in the biblical, Second Temple, and rabbinic periods. My discussion will focus on key Second Temple sources, specifically 4QMMT as illuminated by the book of Ezra and the book of Jubilees. I will show that in these three works, the underlying rationale for a ban on interethnic sexual unions is not the fear of contracting ritual impurity from a Gentile, but rather the fear of profaning the holy seed of Israel--an entirely distinct concern unconnected with an alleged principle of Gentile ritual impurity."

[The Threat of Jewish Fundamentalism]
(an email exchange at another web site, featuring Israel Shahak, the
former head the Israel Civil Rights Association)

Israel Shahak. The Guardian [Great Britain], July 6, 2001
"Israel Shahak, who has died aged 68 from complications caused by diabetes, was for 25 years a highly popular professor of organic chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But during the same period, Shahak, an old-fashioned liberal, was also chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights. As such he was accused of being an 'Israel hater,' was spat at in the streets, and received constant death threats. Shahak was the youngest child of a prosperous, cultured Polish Jewish family; when, during the wartime Nazi occupation of Poland ... After Israeli army service in an elite regiment, he became an assistant to Ernest Bergmann, the head of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission ... . Shortly after the l967 six-day war, he concluded from observation that Israel was not yet a democracy; it was treating the newly occupied Palestinians with shocking brutality. For the next three decades, he spent all his spare time on attempts to change this ... . He contributed to various small leftwing papers, but when this proved to have little impact, he decided to alert journalists, academics and human rights campaigners abroad. From his small, bare West Jerusalem flat poured forth reports with titles such as Torture in Israel, and Collective Punishment in the West Bank. Based exclusively on mainstream Israeli sources, all were painstakingly translated into English ... Shahak came to believe that these human rights incidents stemmed from Israel's religious interpretation of Jewish history, which led it to ignore centuries of Arab life in the country, and to disregard non-Jewish rights. Confiscation, every schoolchild was told, was 'the redemption of the land' from those who did not belong there. To Shahak, this was straightforward racism, damaging both sides. It was a minority view, but after the 1982 war, when the Israeli liberal sector grew, Shahak was able to put it forward in the reputable daily Ha'aretz."

Subject: Michael Samuel Reports on Media Black Out: Quebec Government Funds Racist Jewish Cult That Claims All Chrisitans and Muslims are 'Evil.'
Moslem Students' Association.
October 16, 1999
"My name is Michael Samuel. I am a former professor in the Judaic studies department of Concordia University, Montreal, and I have a question for you: What would you do if a racist cult tried to build its headquarters in your neighborhood? What if the cult targeted specifically young people, teaching them that all Christians and Muslims are:- 1. evil, Satanic creatures from birth (making all Gentile babies "little demons"); 2. no better than worms; 3. not really living beings at all, but already 'dead;' 4. all to be forcibly converted or subjugated by the 'Messiah,' whose arrival it is their sacred duty to hasten. These are just some of the racist teachings of the fanatical messianic cult named 'Chabad-Lubavitch.' This cult, masquerading as 'authentic Judaism,' has been promised nearly one million dollars in funding by the government of Premier Lucien Bouchard of Quebec in order to build its new religious complex in Cote St. Luc, Montreal. Why should you care? Because Chabad-Lubavitch is not just our problem, it may be yours as well. It is an extremely powerful, worldwide organization. Its power has until now intimidated the media, who are afraid to expose the evidence of racism produced here to the public, lest they be accused of anti-semitism." Chabad devotees include famed radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger and President George Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer.

An Unpardonable Attitude. [Jewish] Forward, February 23, 2001
"This conflict should sound familiar, in light of President Clinton's notorious last-minute pardon of four men from the New York village of New Square. Their crime was bilking tens of millions of dollars from school-aid and other government funds. Their defense was that they did it not for personal gain but to help their community's children. They were just doing for their own. Some who denounced Mr. Clinton's pardon have themselves come under fire for implying that this kind of lawlessness is actually accepted behavior in certain parts of the Jewish community. Well, of course it is. This is a very old story. Ever since Emancipation some 200 years ago, the Jewish world has been divided between those who want the outside world to accept us and those who do not care if it does but are happy to take what that world has to offer, as long as no strings are attached ... In most circles, however, crime is considered an assault on the social order. People who are caught at it are at least supposed to pretend to be embarrassed. By contrast, those who bilk the government to benefit their own seem to consider what they do not a crime but a species of virtue. In their view, the children are 'us.' The government is 'them' ... The Diaspora analogue of this gall is the by now proverbial practice of welcoming convicted felons back to synagogue with ovations and honors."

The Future of American Jewish Orthodoxy, by Jonathan Sarna.
Shma
[Jewish Family and Life!], Februrary 2001.
"American Orthodoxy is currently mired in several ugly scandals that have undermined the credibility of some of its foremost lay and professional leaders. The mystery surrounding missing tape recordings of Rabbi Soloveitchik's lectures has already tarnished several reputations. Meanwhile, the far more serious scandal surrounding the alleged sexual misdeeds of a charismatic figure in the National Council of Synagogue Youth along with the alleged widespread cover-up that allowed him to maintain his job for years, accusations against him notwithstanding, threaten the credibility of the entire Orthodox Union."

Book Review. Jewish Fundamentalism, by Allan C. Brownfeld.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
. March 2000
"The adherents of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel oppose equality for all citizens, especially non-Jews ... The value of the [Jewish] religion, at least in its Orthodox and nationalistic form that prevails in Israel, cannot be squared with democratic values ... Rabbi Kook the Elder, the revered father of the messianic tendency of Jewish fundamentalism, says 'the difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews -- all of them in all different levels -- is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.'"

Extremism in Israel is Fueled by a Growing Ultra-Orthodox Movement in the U.S.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Jan/Feb 2001
"In the years since the end of World War II, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has seen dramatic growth in the U.S. and has been influential in fueling extremism and terrorism in Israel ... As late as 1955, sociologist Marshall Sklare dismissed the Orthodox experience in the U.S. as “a case study of institutional decay.” Now, we have witnessed an Orthodox renaissance. With less than 10 percent of the Jewish population, the Orthodox disproportionately affect the larger community."

Working With Words of Torah, by Jane Rachel Litman.
Shma (Jewish Family and Life!), April 2001
"The background sound in the small library is muted but intense. Pairs of scholars lean over their talmudic texts whispering energetically, trying to puzzle out the meaning of the particular sugya, passage. The teacher directs them back toward the group and asks for questions. One student raises a hand: "I don't understand verse 5:4 of the tractate Niddah. What does the phrase 'it is like a finger in the eye' mean?' The teacher responds, 'This refers to the hymen of a girl younger than three years old. The Sages believed that in the case of toddler rape, the hymen would fully grow back by the time the girl reached adulthood and married. Therefore, though violated, she would still technically be counted as a virgin and could marry a priest. It's an analogy: poking your finger in the eye is uncomfortable, but causes no lasting harm.' There is a collective gasp of breath among the students. Their dismay is palpable. They do not like this particular talmudic text or the men behind it. But its authors, the talmudic rabbis, hardly wrote it with this particular group of students in mind - mostly thirty- and forty-year-old women in suburban Philadelphia taking a four-week class titled 'Women in Jewish Law' at their Reform synagogue. The questioner persists, 'I don't understand. Are you saying this refers to the rape of a three year-old girl?' 'Or younger,' the teacher responds dryly. 'I don't see how it says anything about rape and hymens. You must be mistaken. I don't believe the rabbis are talking about rape at all. I think this statement has nothing to do with the rest of the passage.' The teacher (I'll admit now that it was me, a second-year rabbinic student) responds, 'Well, that's the common understanding. What do you think it means?' The woman is clearly agitated, 'I don't know, but I do know that it couldn't be about child rape.' This is week three of the class. The woman does not return for week four. Denial ... I find [Elizabeth Kubler] Ross's model helpful when addressing sacred Jewish texts that are violent or xenophobic, that speak of child abuse, human slavery, or homophobia with gross insensitivity. Like so many of my colleagues and students, I often drift confusedly through denial, anger, grief, rationalization (a form of bargaining); sometimes reaching acceptance, sometimes not."

Love Thy Neighbor. The Evolution of In-Group Morality,
Skeptic, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1995 [posted here at Stalking the Wild Taboo]
"The Sages were quite explicit about their view that non-Jews were not to be considered fully human. Whether referring to 'gentiles,' 'idolaters,' or 'heathens,' the biblical passage which reads 'And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God,' (Ezekiel 34:31; KJV) is augmented to read (italics in original): 'And ye my flock, the flock of my pastures, are men; only ye are designated 'men' (Baba Mezia 114b). Or: 'And ye My sheep the sheep of My pasture, are men; you are called men* but the idolaters are not called men." [Footnote in original: *…only an Israelite, who as a worshipper of the true God, can be said to have been like Adam, created in the image of God. Idol worshippers, having marred the Divine image, forfeit all claim to this appellation (Yebamoth 61a).]

Real Story of Purim Less Pleasant Than the One Taught in Sunday School,
JTA
[Jewish Telegraphic Agency], February 12, 2001
"'Be happy, it’s Adar,' the rabbis tell us. Yes, be happy. Unless you’re a goldfish, a Purim carnival prize, who finds himself swimming inside a sealed plastic bag, fated for a shortened life of cramped captivity and neglect. Yes, be happy. Unless you’re a woman, appalled by the unexpurgated story of the orphaned Esther, who is essentially sold down the Tigris River, not for the purpose of saving the Jews, as most people assume, but, rather, for fulfilling the king’s salacious desires. Yes, be happy. Unless you’re a parent wondering how to approach this tale of sexual subjugation and political savagery – and whether to costume your child as a concubine, a misogynistic and murderous king, an ambitious sycophant or a genocidal despot. In the sanitized, Sunday school version of Purim, Mordechai enters his cousin Esther in a beauty contest, organized for the purpose of selecting the next queen of Persia. But, in truth, the voiceless, virginal Esther is delivered, by whom we’re not told, to the king’s harem. There she spends a year, 'six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and feminine cosmetics' (The Book of Esther 2:12), under the tutelage of seven count-appointed handmaidens, preparing for a sexual liaison with Ahasuerus."

Orthodox-Bashing in the Israeli Press, by Harold Faneman.
Jerusalem Letter
, February 4, 1998
"As documented in a widely read book (Millim Mesugalos Lirzo'ach ['Words Can Kill'] -- Manof, l995), mass circulation newspapers display caricatures depicting religious Jews and rabbis in a manner indistinguishable from the cartoons in Hitler's Der Sturmer, Stalin's Pravda, and the Syrian and Egyptian press. Nearly every radio and television discussion about religion is biased against religion. Interviewers ask loaded questions and react with unconcealed sarcasm to an interviewee who dares defend Judaism. Broadcasters never miss an opportunity to vilify religious Jews ... ... The Jerusalem Report some months ago ago carried an article by Zev Chafetz attacking Torah as nothing but 'a scientifically based doctrine of racial purity' lacking any moral message and something to be 'ashamed' of. An op-ed writer in The Jerusalem Post wrote that Torah learning is "intellectual mud," and those who practice it are 'primitives' ... [Pioneer Israeli poet and Zionist] Bialik is reported to have been pleased by the first Jewish thief in Tel Aviv. 'Now,' he said, 'we are a nation like all others.' Would he have been pleased by the sight of Jewish anti-Semitism?"

The Cost of Worship. Tattoo Jew: The Online Magazine for Jews with an Attitude
"Non-Jews who have overheard me in conversation about the fees involved in obtaining tickets for Jewish holiday services have expressed confusion at the very existence of fee schedules and entrance tickets."

To Some Jews, Faith Means Lox, Bagels and Seinfeld.
New York Observer
, November 8, 1999
"In September, I had an argument with my wife about Judaism. During the high holidays, I feel the need to go to synagogue, but attendance is limited. You must have a ticket to get in, usually a color-coded one, and if you don’t you must either steal in, or wait on a line for the ticketless, maybe get in late, or attend an off-hours 'community' service. And my non-Jewish wife said this year, as she has said before, 'I can’t believe that you sell your high holidays.' 'Christians favor the wealthy, too,' I said. 'True, but we stopped selling pews around Edith Wharton’s time,' she said, and you really do see homeless people in the front row at Christmas. I couldn’t counter her point on religious grounds. Here you are going to the most solemn service in the Jewish calendar, to stand before God and atone for sins, and you are being excluded on an economic basis, or worrying that you did not spend $250, or fretting (as my sister did) that she was in the place reserved for congregation members. Not very spiritual thoughts."

Is Eruv Proliferation a Real-Estate Scam? Ukrainian Archives, July 2001
Lubomyr Prytulak's brilliant analysis of the absurd hypocrisies of the eruv system: an attempt by Orthodox Jews to circumvent the unrealistic dictates of their religion.

Eruv Awakening. Phoenix New Times. May 5, 1996
"Although the Phoenix eruv has been in the works for more than a year ... there hasn't been a word about it in the local press ... Why such secrecy over what gentiles -- and even non-Orthodox Jews -- would view as an imaginary boundary?"

Dispute Over Eruv Divides Tenafly. The Record [Bergen, NJ], May 20, 2001
"We shouldn't have things like this in the 21st century," said Penelope Young, a retired school teacher who has lived in Tenafly for 25 years. "It sets them [Orthodox Jews] apart as being different and special in a country where we are supposed to be getting along and blending together. They aren't different. They are part of the citizenry."

Court Okays Jewish Ritual. The Gazette (Montreal), June 22, 2001
"A judge's ruling allowing Orthodox Jews in Outremont to string symbolic fishing line around their homes has angered some of their neighbours. Several Outremont residents who were at the Montreal courthouse yesterday as Quebec Superior Court Justice Allan Hilton read his decision said Orthodox Jews don't respect other citizens and don't deserve privileges."

An Artist Suggests 'New Meaning.'
Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
. May 25, 2001
"[Ruth Weisberg, the Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California] advises graduates to look at art and spirituality in new ways, by offering a new perspective on the contributions and importance of art within Judaism, presenting a stronger interconnection between art and the study of the Torah ... [Weisberg's] presence symbolizes the desire of the [Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion] to bring the world of Judaism and creative art expression together for the benefit of Jewish religious and community life."

Wedding Disaster Rabbi: God Punished the Dancers.
Haaretz
[Israeli newspaper] June 1, 2001
"The rabbi who performed the marriage ceremonies at the Versailles wedding hall [where over 20 people were killed in Jerusalem] earlier this month claimed that the floor collapsed under the dancers because the Bible forbids unmarried couples from dancing together, on pain of death ... [Rabbi Reuven Levy said that] 'all mixed dancing is incest, according to the Bible.'"

Continuing Turn to Tradition, Reform Set to Approve Conversion Guidelines.
JTA
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency), June 19, 2001
" In another break with its past, the Reform movement is poised to adopt new guidelines that endorse traditional rituals for people converting to Judaism. Two years after the Central Conference of American Rabbis' 'Statement of Principles' reversed the historic 1885 Pittsburgh Platform — a strident rejection of tradition and ritual — the Reform group is expected to overturn an 1893 resolution that described conversion rituals as unnecessary and meaningless."

Son of Wall Street Legend Shuns Finance for Religion.
Yahoo Finance
[from Reuters], June 28, 2001
"Roy R. Neuberger made a name for himself as a legendary investor in value stocks and a keen observer of the market. But for his son and namesake, Roy S. Neuberger, the path to personal fulfillment has led him far from the world of high finance. Instead of Wall Street, the son has made the spiritual life as an Orthodox Jew his primary focus."

Chief Rabbi Gives Religious Backing to Assassinations. Haaretz [Israeli newspaper], July 27, 2001
"Israel's practice of killing Palestinian militants has the full backing of Jewish religious law, according to a statement made yesterday by Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. Quoting ancient sages and Biblical passages, Lau explained that Israel is now fighting a war of commandment, mandated by God. Lau referred to an oft-quoted Jewish precept, He who comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first."

The Immersing of Vessels in Mikvah
.
Congregation Agudas Israel Golf Manor Synagogue
, 2001
"According to Torah law, one is required to immerse vessels acquired from a non-Jew, that come into contact with food, in a mikveh, before they may be utilized. The following are some laws concerning this topic which may be more unfamiliar: 1. Only metal items (Toraitically) and glass items (Rabbinically) must be immersed ... 2. One may not use an item that requires immersion even one time ... 3. In the following cases, if one is in great need, he may give the vessel as a gift to a non-Jew and then borrow the vessel from him, which obviates the need for its immersion in a mikvah."

Who Is Shumuely Boteach? Slate, March 28, 2001
"To understand why Shmuley Boteach is one of the world's most prominent rabbis, you do not have to pore over learned Talmudic disputations (he isn't known for his erudition) or attend a Sabbath service (he hasn't led a congregation of his own for several years). You simply have to scan the dedication to one of his latest books, Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments. 'To Michael,' it reads, 'who taught me of humility.' Michael, of course, is none other than Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, and Boteach manages to slip references to their relationship into most of his interviews and writings. The rabbi is currently co-authoring a parenting book with the blanched superstar and sponsoring a Jackson-led charity dedicated, unbelievably enough, to ensuring that children receive appropriate amounts of affection. And just a few weeks ago, Boteach orchestrated one of the most bizarre coups in the annals of American pop-cultural imperialism, arranging for Jackson to speak at the Oxford Union, that university's august debating society. Shmuley—he is known universally by his first name—is the best-selling author of Kosher Sex and has marketed himself as a rabbi to the stars and an expert on Jewish attitudes toward relationships and marriage. ('Dr. Ruth with a yarmulke,' the Washington Post called him.) Despite Jackson's lesson in humility, he approaches self-promotion with religious fervor. As he told one reporter, his own Eleventh Commandment is 'Thou shalt do anything for publicity and recognition.'"

Berlin Declines to Define Who Qualifies as Jewish.
Philadelphia Inquirer
, August 30, 2001
"A half-century after the Holocaust, the German government has decided it does not want to make another attempt to identify who is Jewish - even though the head of the German Jewish community asked it to. Paul Spiegel, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, recommended this summer that the government stem the tide of Jewish emigres from the former Soviet Union by accepting only those with Jewish mothers or those who have officially converted. The outrage he provoked is still resounding. Israeli politicians accused him of fueling anti-Semitism. Liberal Jews accused him of bigotry. The German government thanked him for his thoughts but said no ... Germany's open door and generous benefits for Jewish immigrants have created massive identity problems: Nearly half the arrivals are not really Jewish, according to the halacha - the evolving body of Jewish law, which says that religion comes from the mother's side - and therefore they are unable to participate in formal religious life. Thousands of others have no connection to Judaism at all, having presented fake documents and phony history to claim eligibility for the social welfare ... 'The problem,' Rabbi [Walter] Rothschild said, 'is something we haven't had to cope with for hundreds of years. It's an advantage to be Jewish. So we don't trust the motives of the people who say they are.'"

Jewish Board to Consider Stunning of Animals, Before Ritual Knife Slaughter
, The Sunday Telegraph, May 20, 2001
"The Board of Deputies of British Jews has agreed with the RSPCA to examine ways of electronically stunning animals when they are slaughtered in accordance with Jewish tradition. Stunning animals using electricity causes them to lose consciousness immediately and stops them feeling any pain, but also stops the heart. Under Jewish tradition the animal must still have a beating heart when a knife enters the body, so that all the blood, seen as unclean, will be pumped from the body ... The last large scientific investigation into religious slaughter was carried out by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, an independent government advisory body, whose report, Welfare Of Livestock When Slaughtered By Religious Methods, was published in 1985. It concluded: 'The up-to-date scientific evidence available and our own observations leave no doubt in our minds that religious methods of slaughter, even when carried out under ideal conditions, must result in a degree of pain, suffering and distress that does not occur in the properly stunned animal.'"

A Feminist's Conflicts of Faith, Washington Post, Auguest 23, 2001
"[Helene] Aylon embarked on her three-decade career of turning out decidedly feminist and environmentally conscious works soon after the death of her husband, an Orthodox rabbi, whom she married at age 18. Beginning in the 1970s with pieces of art designed to change over time, Aylon moved to anti-nuclear and ecologically based works. In the '90s, she began a series of installations highlighting what she sees as Judaism's misogynistic edicts, earning her notoriety in the art world and within her faith. Over the years, those God-centric works have grown ever more personal. In 'My Bridal Chamber,' Aylon trots out juicy tidbits from her own marriage, and her participation in Jewish purity rituals, for all to see ... Another bit describes how a woman is 'unclean' for a week after giving birth to a boy, but for two full weeks if she's had a girl. According to Aylon, 'the Old Testament was a blueprint for abuse.'"

Feminist Rebbetzin Brings Mission to San Francisco, Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, November 23, 2001
"Some years ago, Rivkah Lubitch's daughter Re'ut asked a question that would change her mother's life. 'Mommy, why does God hate girls?' the 6-year-old asked. Lubitch, who considered herself a feminist, asked her daughter why she thought so. "Because the boys say the prayer thanking God for not making them women," Re'ut replied. 'For all the feminist awareness I was trying to teach her, it hadn't changed a thing,' said Lubitch. 'We were facing the same problems. That was my first push into doing something'."

In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child, sexualitymutilatedchild.org
Jewish tradition demands that a male child be circumcised within 8 days of his birth. This web site addresses the sexual mutilation of children in various cultures. The text strongly argues against such practices and includes discussions of the Jewish tradition.

About Kashrus and Supervision (Wine), Kosher Living
"The production and handling of kosher wine must be done exclusively by Jews. Wine, grape juice, and all products containing wine or grape juice must remain solely in Jewish hands during the manufacturing process and also after the seal of the bottle has been opened. We are not allowed to drink any wine or grape juice, or any drink containing wine or grape juice, which has been touched by a non-Jew after the seal of the bottle has been opened."

God Is a Killer, by Shelby Sherman, [citations from the Torah/Old Testament]
"It looks pretty plain to me that the Jehovah God is really Jehovah War God who likes to childishly parade his power before the masses and destroy those who don't like his totalitarian regime. Jehovah is the God of Evil, many more times worse than any Satan we can conceive of. TOTAL BODY COUNT (from known numbers): 314,637. This does not include the general body counts given in 'whole cities slain' figures such as in Num. 21:25, Deut. 2:19-21, and Joshua 10. These may indeed boost the total figures to over six million. As they stand, the 300,000+ is well over the U.S. body count of the Viet Nam war."

The Chabad Lubavitcher Organization
Links to information about this very influential Ultra-Orthodox group.

Jewish Women Are Still Treated as Inferior, Study Says,
Independent [London], January 21, 2002
"The Jewish faith treats women as second-class citizens and alienates those in Orthodox communities, a report released yesterday says. The report, based on research carried out in London over the past two years, comes seven years after the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, recommended sweeping changes to social rules governing women. The aim of the reforms was to make women feel more involved in synagogues and religious life. Dr Sacks particularly wanted to reform the Jewish system of religious divorce, or 'get,' which has been a vexed issue in Orthodox communities. Although the report says the issue is now on the agenda, there has been little progress. Orthodox Jewish women denied a get by their husbands cannot remarry in a synagogue, while descendants from a second marriage are considered illegitimate for 10 generations."

Why Be Jewish? Tagar (a religious/Zionist group at Cleveland State University)
"Consider what [Jewish identity] you had and threw away! You were part of a people that was trampled upon, spat upon, burned and drowned, hanged and shot, gassed and buried alive. And then continued to live in spite of all these. You were part of a people that did not fall prey to the moral disasters of crime, immorality, and cultural anarchy, but created geniuses and men of morality and ethics. While others beat their wives, Jews respected them. While others rolled in the gutter drunk with whiskey, the Jew raised his Kiddish cup to G-d. While others dabbled at Inquisitions and conquests, the Jew bent over his Talmud and created warmth, kindness, and scholarship. While others worshiped idols, the Jew embraced the One G-d. In a sense, you have no right to run because you owe an obligation to the unborn child who will someday come from you, to remain with his people - the people of his grandparents and great-grandparents and ancestors. ... [T]he Jewish people is bound together by common destiny, and that this imposes upon each one an obligation to love and rush to the aid of each and every other Jew; that the Jew has no permanent allies except his own people; that the Jew, Jewish problems come first; that we measure our responses by the yardstick; Is it good and right for the Jew?"

Bible Teaches Inclusion, Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, April 330, 1994
"Piety and morality diverged once again when Rabbi Hertz Frankel, the English studies principal of Beth Rachel, a network of Satmar girls' schools in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, recently pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $6 million in public funds for his employer. Frankel is unrepentant. 'The end justifies the means,' he told the New York Times. Apparently he believes the Jewish children in his care are more deserving of the money than non-Jewish children ... The Jewish people are 'particularly beloved,' says the Talmud, because God gave them mitzvot (commandments), tefillin on their heads and arms, fringes (tzizit) on their clothes and a mezuzah on their doorposts. The Talmud offers the view of Rabbi Meir that a Jew ought to offer God at least 100 blessings each day. The chosenness of Israel expresses itself in acts of self-transcendence. The underside to this sense of chosenness is an inclination to dichotomize the world between 'them' and 'us.' Categories of people are set apart by the fact that God has assigned them far fewer mitzvot to keep. Three of those 100 blessings praise God for 'not having made me a gentile,' 'for not having made me a woman' and 'for not having made me a slave.' No matter the original intent, specialness slips easily into denigration of the other, chosenness into contempt. For this reason, the prayer books of the Conservative [Judaism] movement long ago formulated each of these blessings positively. We need not define our identity versus any other group, especially non-Jews. Sadly, a low estimate of non-Jews pervades much rabbinic literature. The Mishna admonishes Jews not to leave their animals unattended at the inn of a gentile, because gentiles are suspected of engaging in bestiality. Gentiles are described also as liable to rape and murder, so that a lonely Jew should avoid their company. This xenophobia contaminates one of the finest expressions of universalism in the Mishna. Prior to testifying in a capital case, witnesses are warned of the consequences of their words. 'Anyone who saves a single person is credited with having saved the entire human race' (Mishna Sanhedrin 4:4). Regretfully, in some manuscripts and printed texts the word 'person' is replaced by the word 'Jew.'"

Dictionary of Key Words and Phrases. A Yiddish/Hebrew Refresher Course,
jewishgen.org
"goy (pl. goyim) -- non-Jew. It's best for non-Jews to use only the plural, if at all, since the singular has been so commonly used in a derogatory way. The words 'gentile' or 'non-Jew' are safer."

Rabbi Ruling Outrages Israeli Women, BBC News, February 26, 1998
"Women in Israel have reacted with outrage to a rabbinical ruling that an ultra-orthodox man must divorce his wife who was raped. In an unusual case, the man, who wants to remain with his wife and their nine children, was told that he must seek a divorce because he had failed to utter the necessary words that would have allowed the couple to stay together. The ruling came a day after a Jewish court in a divorce case, ruled that married women must be home by midnight if their husbands complain about them staying out late ... The rape case has provoked fierce criticism from a large women's group which accused the Rabbis of 'adding insult to injury' in passing such a judgement. According to the national daily, Yediot Ahronot, the woman, who lives in an ultra-orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv, was returning from the mikvah, a ritual Jewish bath, when she was raped by three men. She told her husband. He bears the last name Cohen, meaning he's a descendent of the Jewish temple priests, and unlike other Jews, has to divorce his wife if she has been raped. In practice cases like this rarely do end in divorce because Jewish law has left a loophole: the man can deny the rape by pronouncing 'I don't believe you'. But in this case the husband failed to do so and consulted various Rabbis instead. He and his wife are now trying to find another Rabbi who will tell them they can stay married."

'Textual Activists' Unravel Seamy Side of Esther Scroll,
[Jewish] Forward, February 22, 2002
"After all, said this resident scholar
[Bonna Devora Haberman] in women's studies at Brandeis University, the Purim story as recounted in the Scroll of Esther is in many ways a story of sex and violence, a tale of how men of power use the currency of the female body to achieve their goals ... Say hello to the seamy underbelly of Purim, the holiday that this year falls on Monday night and Tuesday, and on which Jews celebrate how an orphan named Esther — under the tutelage of her uncle Mordechai — wins a place in the heart of the Persian monarch Ahasuerus and outwits Haman, the king's evil right-hand man, to save the Jewish people from certain annihilation. Or so goes the sanitized version of the holiday that has traditionally been taught in schools and synagogues. Now, however, more and more scholars and activists are dipping into the holiday's darker side — filled with deception, murder and subjugation — as a way of connecting the festival to campaigns of social justice and of attracting unaffiliated Jews who may not be interested in synagogue, but are certainly interested in sex ... Details of the holiday that historically have been often glossed over include the denouement of the Scroll of Esther, when the Jews, whose very lives had been at stake, turn the tables, murdering 75,000 Persians."

Red-Heifer Days,
National Review, April 11, 2002
"So how does the [red] calf recently born in Israel figure into things? As [Israeli journalist Gershom] Gorenberg explains, the ashes of a flawless red heifer — an extremely rare creature — were required by the ancient Hebrews to purify worshipers who went into the Temple to pray. In modern times, rabbinical law forbids Jews from setting foot on the Temple Mount, thus violating the site where the Holy of Holies dwelled, until and unless they are ritually purified. Without a perfect red heifer to sacrifice, the Third Temple cannot be built, and Moshiach — the Messiah — will not come. Writes Gorenberg, '[Israeli] government officials and military leaders could only regard the requirement for the missing heifer as a stroke of sheer good fortune preventing conflict over the Mount [Muslims have the third holiest Islamic shrine there -- the Dome of the Rock] ... rabbis who have examined her have declared her ritually acceptable (though she will not be ready for sacrifice for three years). She arrives at a time when Israel is fighting a war for survival with the Palestinians, who are almost entirely Muslim, and a time in which Islam and the West appear to be girding for battle with each other, as Islamic tradition predicts will be the state of the world before the Final Judgment. 'These kinds of circumstances are exactly what people are waiting for,' says Richard Landes, a Boston University history professor and director of its Center for Millenial Studies. 'We could be starting a war. If this is a real red heifer, and strict Orthodox rabbis have declared her worthy of sacrifice, then a lot of Jews in Israel will take that as a sign that a new phase of history is about to begin. The Muslims are ready for jihad anyway, so if you have Jews up there doing sacrifices, talk about a red flag in front of a charging bull.' Landes says there is immense anger among Israelis, both religious and secular, at the ingratitude of Muslims, whom the conquering Israeli army allowed to occupy and control the Temple Mount in 1967. Add to this the fury of a nation under attack by Islamic suicide bombers, and, says Landes, 'it's entirely conceivable that this [red heifer] could trigger a new round of attempts to blow up the Dome of the Rock ... You don't have to believe that a rust-colored calf could bring about the end of the world — or that 72 black-eyed virgins await the pious Islamic suicide bomber in paradise — but there are many people who do, and are prepared to act on that belief.'"

Two Books Examine Scriptural Justifications for Slavery
,
Chronicle of Higher Education, May 2002
"As Stephen R. Haynes shows in Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (Oxford University Press), the finest theological minds in Dixie found plenty of scriptural justification for that 'peculiar institution' -- particularly in Genesis 9, where Ham comes upon his father, Noah, passed out and naked after a bout of drinking. He tells his brothers, who respectfully cover up the old man. Noah later curses Ham, condemning his descendants to eternal servitude. Mr. Haynes, an associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College, in Memphis, says, 'My initial interest was to figure out how pro-slavery intellectuals -- well-educated, thoughtful people -- thought this was a compelling pro-slavery argument.' Many historians have assumed that the equation of 'the Hamites' with Africans was part of Southern folklore; any theologian citing it was presumably making a concession to the popular mind. 'But almost every pro-slavery tract mentioned the curse of Ham and took it very seriously,' Mr. Haynes notes." [i.e., this foundation of southern Christian justification for slavery can be found in the (Jewish) Torah/Old Testament]

Some troubling citations from the Torah, cited by Peter Myers

Ask the Rabbi. Circumcision
,
Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies
"According to Halacha (Jewish Law), a person is Jewish if his/her mother is Jewish or if he/she is converted to Judaism. As Matt Hershel wrote in his article on circumcision, 'Circumcision does not 'make' a person Jewish, for he is Jewish already by birth. The circumcision rather testifies that he who bears this sign sealed in his flesh is under the covenant... Through the covenant he is bound to all of the children of Israel, and through them to God.' The rite of circumcision is central in Judaism as circumcision is the sign of the covenant (Brit) between God and the Jewish people (Genesis 17,9-13). Accordingly, Jewish Law requests from every Jewish male to be circumcised. If he was not circumcised by his father when he was a child, then he is obligated to have himself circumcised as an adult (Shulhan Aruh, Yore Dea 261:1). The circumcision should be done by a Mohel who is experienced and knowledgeable in the procedure of the circumcision, and in the ceremony and blessings accompanying it. However the circumcision could be done by a physician if he is Jewish, and knows the special procedure of the circumcision and the required blessings (it cannot be merely a surgical procedure). It is recommended that a Rabbi be present. A circumcision performed as a surgery or by a gentile physician is valid only if a drop of blood is drawn afterward by a Mohel or a Rabbi."

Kosher Laws Unconstitutional,
New York Post, May 22, 2002
"A federal appeals court yesterday spat out New York State's kosher laws, saying they violate the constitution by using the state to promote religion."

Wishful Thinking About the Middle East, by Paul Gottfried,
lewrockwell.com, May 25, 2002
"I would stress the futility of trying to present Jews as Eastern European Unitarians who allegedly stumbled into ethnic nationalism because somebody tricked them into this position a few generations ago. Having lived most of my life among Jews, I must blink in disbelief when I hear Sheldon [Richman]or the American Council for Judaism describing most Jews throughout time as ethical universalists who would want no part of the supposed tribal narrowness represented by the Israeli right. As far as I can tell, the other kinds of Jews, the real ones, are highly noticeable and certainly could easily defend their sentiments by citing loads of rabbinic authorities going back thousands of years. In fact I’m at a loss to find what traditional Jewish sources the other side can muster to build its anti-Zionist version of Jewish religion. Please note that I have nothing against those who imagine that their Jewishness equates with ethical universalism and I would chose them socially and esthetically over most of the vocal Zionists I’ve known. Unfortunately their efforts to dissociate Jewish religion from Jewish nationalism are doomed to failure, because they are based on wishful thinking."

[FROM PAPER EDITION]
Rynold, Daniel. Booklog: Dr. Danield Rynhold on a Freudian Take on the Ups and Downs of Shabbat Lifts (The Shabbat Elevator and Other Shabbat Subterfuges: An Unorthodox Essay on Circumventing Custom and Jewish Character, by Alan Dundes, Rowman and Littlefield);
Jewish Chronicle
, November 22, 2002, p. 28

"Alan Dundes, a leading academic folklorist, presents an avowedly Freudian account of the Orthodox propensity for 'circumventing halachic restrictions' as evidenced by the Shabbat elevator (one that stops automatically to allow Orthodox Jews to allow it on Shabbat). The argument is that Jews exhibit traits of an anal erotic nature -- that basically, pride in order and self-control, obsessions with cleanliness or purity, and even feelings of superiority (Jewish chosenness) can all be traced back to our potty training. There follows an extended discussion of such avowedly repressive anal components in halachah; and an argument that circumventions are ingenious attempts to break out of the repressive restrictions while continuing to comply with them, attempts in which we delight like naughty children ... [I]f one is impressed by ideas like 'writing is an act of defecation' (as the book went on, I became more and more convinced) then this volume the book for you." [sic]

The Torah,
Henry H. Lindner,
"The author argues that the Torah, which forms the basis of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, presents a perverse theory of God and of mankind. Instead of a loving God who cherishes his created humans as a human mother cherishes her children, the Torah presents a God that wants nothing from mankind except obedience, worship, and burnt animal sacrifice. He gives one tribe of humans a license to live by conquest, slaughter, theft, and slavery. The Torah teaches that humans are innately prone to disobey God, and are therefore innately flawed, innately evil. It teaches that sex is dirty, that women are inferior to men, and that life consists of following rigid rules whose violation is punishable by death. The Torah is, in fact, a blueprint for a militaristic, totalitarian society based on the conquest and exploitation of outsiders. It advocates tribal supremacism and condones mass murder and enslavement. It advocates a moral double standard even for aliens living among the Israelites and following their basic laws. It is patriarchal and profoundly misogynous."

Celebrity Endorsements,
Aish Hatorah
President of Israel Moshe Katzav; Carl McCall Controller, NY State Honorary Chairman, The Jerusalem Fellowships; Len Leader, President of AOL Investments; Steven Spielberg, Producer and Director; Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: "The main thing is to be Jews... be proud Jews"; Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu; Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak; Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres; Former Prime Minister Lady Margaret Thatcher; Kirk Douglas, Actor; Elie Weisel, Nobel Prize Winner; Robert Hormats, Vice Chairman Goldman Sachs International; Michael Goldstein, Chairman Toys R Us; Peter Hochfelder, Managing Member Braham Management L.L.C.; Michael Minkes, Treasurer Bear Stearns & Co.; Helen Berman, Philathropist; Leslie Dan, Founder Novopharm Pharmaceuticals; Former CIS President Michael Gorbachev; Former President Bill Clinton; Larry King, Television Personality; Elliot Gould, Actor

The Sins of King David,
Gary Greenberg
"My latest book, The Sins of King David: A New History, is scheduled to be released in December 2002. It challenges the traditional view of David as a great biblical hero beloved by ancient Israel and argues that the ancient Israelites considered him a traitor to Israel, a corrupt murderer, and a cruel tyrant. Prof. David Noel Freedman, the great biblical scholar who edits the Anchor Bible Project and the Anchor Bible Dictionary, was kind enough to allow me to use the following quote on the book jacket: 'I heartily recommend this substantial volume . . . Greenberg's book is a worthy addition to the library of first-rate and challenging books on David.' My publisher will be trying to arrange a number of media interviews for me at about the time of the book's release, so check in regularly around then for upcoming appearances."


Brookline nursing home says it can't keep kosher,
by David Abel., Boston Globe, December 18, 2002
"It's nearly noon and Jimmy Cohen can't wait anymore. The specially prepared baked fish in tartar sauce beckons from his tray. So the 90-year-old resident of the Coolidge House Nursing Home plunges in, before his guests arrive. It's a good meal, with mashed potatoes, string beans, and lemon meringue pie, and he clearly enjoys it. But in a month, Cohen and about 15 other devout Jews who live here may not be able to get such food anymore, and they'll have only two choices if they want to keep kosher: leave for another nursing home or eat the equivalent of what their incensed relatives and local rabbis describe as TV dinners ... In this heavily Jewish town, where many residents closely follow strict religious rules on eating, the Coolidge House is the only nursing home with a kosher kitchen. But like other nursing homes, which now face skyrocketing costs and a falloff in government subsidies, administrators have sought corners to cut. For administrators at the Coolidge House, it comes down to the math: Only 30 percent of the 200 residents are Jewish, they say, and only 8 percent now keep kosher. By preparing meat and dairy foods in the same kitchen, administrators say, they would save about $200,000, or 14 percent of annual dining costs ... 'To treat the community in such a fashion is unconscionable - and it's an insult to suggest that the elderly accept a below-quality substitute to freshly prepared food,' said Rabbi Gershon Gewirtz of Young Israel of Brookline, where about 100 opponents are expected to meet tonight to plan a strategy to fight the decision."

Is it Anti-Semitic to Question Circumcision?,
by Nicolas Walter
Fathering Magazine
"It could be argued that it is anti-Christian to attack the doctrine of hell or the burning of heretics, anti-Muslim to attack the doctrine of hell or the mutilation of thieves, anti-Hindu to attack the forced marriage of children or the forced suicide of widows, or anti-Chinese to attack the infanticide of girls or the foot-binding of women. Surely anything must be attacked which is cruel and unnecessary, whether it is a religious ritual or a social custom, and that the universal criterion should be the welfare of individuals and not the presentation of a collective tradition. Observer, Sunday, 10 September 1995, p. 6.

The Rise Of Tikkun Olam Paganism,
by Steven Plaut, Israel National News, December 27, 2002
"I have long had a pet peeve about the vulgar misuse and distortion of the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) by assimilationist Jewish liberals in the United States and elsewhere. Elements of American Jewry have fallen captive to what can only be described as Tikkun Olam Paganism. Tikkun Olam Pagans are people who misrepresent Judaism as nothing more and nothing less than the pursuit of the liberal social action political agenda, all in the name of a suitably misrepresented Tikkun Olam. It is the banner waved by the countless 'social action' committees at synagogues across America and in other liberal Jewish circles in support of liberal-leftist causes, including some that are harmful to Jews and some that are just plain wacky ... 1. There is nothing in the Torah concept of Tikkun Olam that can justify government programs that take people`s private wealth and property away from them to help the poor ... 2. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be considered to be a judgment holding that income and wealth disparities are evil in and of themselves ... 3. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as a condemnation of materialist desires and pursuits. Quite to the contrary, Judaism is not embarrassed at all about asking G-d to make us rich, such as in the Havdala prayers, where we ask for lots of silver. 4. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that could be remotely regarded as justifying affirmative action programs that discriminate against Jews ... 5. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as sanctioning homosexual relations. Indeed, the Torah makes these a capital offense. 6. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as supporting the public school monopoly or single-payer health care system ... 7. There is not even the tiniest inkling of a rationalization in Tikkun Olam for granting Palestinians or anyone else territorial rights within the Land of Israel. 8. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for refraining from retaliating militarily against those who attack Jews. 9. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for claiming that animals have 'rights.' 10. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for refusing to acknowledge that human environmental goals must be traded off against other social and private goals. 11. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for abortion on demand. 12. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for opposing capital punishment for convicted murderers. To the contrary, the Torah explicitly endorses capital punishment for murderers."

[Insights below into Jewish mystical materialism. Do they fall into trances when they touch sacred artifacts like $100 bills? Is "Fat Wallet" one of the "names of God?" Looks like Jews will put a price tag on anything -- including God. We suggest a line of Kabbala porno movies.]
Kabbalah craze hits fashion racks as mystical clothing line is launched,
by Mica Rosenberg, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 9, 2003
"David Shamouelian thinks he has tapped into what he thinks is a sure-fire marketing tool: Four thousand years of Jewish mysticism. 'How do you explain this? You walk into the store and want to buy a blouse for yourself but you end up buying a dress, why? Because there is internal energy in the clothes,' says Shamouelian, whose clothing company, Sharagano, has signed an exclusive deal with the Los-Angeles-based Kabbalah Center to market clothes using the once-sacred symbols of the Kabbalah ... Shamouelian hopes that supernatural forces will draw shoppers straight to his new clothing line inspired by the 72 Names of God and the teachings of The Kabbalah Center, which offers courses in Jewish mysticism and spirituality. He has already released the first of a series of designs: T-shirts inscribed with the Hebrew letters lamed, alef and vav, one of the 72 divine names in kabbalistic teachings. The shirts, retailing from $32 to $40, will be available through SharaganoParis.com and 72namesofGod.com, with all proceeds going to the Kabbalah Center. The center teaches that “these three letters give you the power to conquer your ego . . . ... Rabbi Yehuda Berg, who is also the author of the book 'The Power of Kabbalah' ... is releasing another book called 'The 72 Names of God' in the spring, potentially a wonderful accessory to the clothing line ... Berg says he hopes the Kabbalah 'is going to have' an even 'wider reach' as a result of the new clothing line, Berg said ... Shmouelian thought, 'if this is Judaism I don’t want a part of it.”


[ 1) Circumcision is medically unnecessary. 2) Jews, by self-definition, must be circumcised 3) Non-Jews in the Western world have had no religious reasons for circumcision. 4) Circumcision has always been the absolute way to recognize a Jew from the rest of the population, and this way was used by the Nazis. 5) Jews are preeminent in the medical field. Do these things have anything to do with each other? ]

The unkindest of cuts,
Times Online (UK), January 13, 2003
"There is one operation being carried out on thousands of British children by NHS doctors without any clinical need — and without the patient’s consent. This procedure has an irreversible physical effect, yet there has been minimal public debate about the extent to which it is being performed. The procedure is non-religious circumcision, carried out on 'therapeutic' grounds on 4 to 6 per cent of boys under 15. Increasingly, the expert consensus is that most non-religious circumcisions are carried out for reasons of family history, medical myth and professional laziness. Some campaigners claim that as many as five in six of these circumcisions are unnecessary and potentially traumatising. Circumcision has become the subject of bitter debate in the US, where 80 per cent of men are circumcised. Doctors Opposing Circumcision is one of a range of groups challenging the medical orthodoxy of circumcision at birth; their campaign has been buoyed by a statement from the American Medical Association that there is insufficient evidence of benefit to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. Here, the British Medical Association is reviewing its guidelines and is due to announce its findings in March; current guidance makes it clear that it is unethical to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where research shows that less invasive techniques are available. Norm-UK, an organisation which campaigns against circumcision, estimates that fewer than 1 per cent of boys require the operation, and that most of those performed on the NHS are unnecessary ... Yet the psychological issues are complex: in a largely Jewish or Islamic community, this argument works as much in favour of circumcision as against it. Dr Lotte Newman, a former president of the Royal College of General Practitioners who chairs the circumcision working party of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, is troubled by developments in Sweden which may lead to a ban on child circumcision there."


Circumcision Opponents Use the Legal System and Legislatures,
by Adam Liptak, New York Times, January 16, 2003
"Josiah Flatt, like about 60 percent of other newborn American boys, was circumcised soon after he was born here, in the spring of 1997. Two years later, his parents sued the doctor and the hospital. They did not contend that the circumcision was botched or deny that Josiah's mother, Anita Flatt, had consented to the procedure in writing. They said, instead, that the doctor had failed to tell them enough about the pain, complications and consequences of circumcision, removing the foreskin of the penis ... The suit is but one effort by a small but energetic group of loosely affiliated advocates and lawyers to use the legal system to combat the practice most American newborn boys undergo the operation when they are days old which they liken to genital cutting in girls. The advocates have been active in state legislatures, too. Ten states no longer allow Medicaid to pay for circumcision ... J. Steven Svoboda, director of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, a group devoted to the issue, contends that circumcision is wrong as a matter of law, medicine and philosophy. Children of both sexes, Mr. Svoboda said, should be entitled to 'bodily integrity.' Josiah Flatt's case appears to be the first to go to trial based on the theory that the absence of an exhaustive medical briefing about the risks and benefits of circumcision is tantamount to a lack of informed consent. Among the possible complications in the operation are excess bleeding, infection and ulceration and occasional permanent damage to the penis ... About 1.2 million newborns are circumcised in the United States every year, at a cost of $150 million to $270 million, the American Academy of Pediatrics says

[Well, are there any priests for sale in your toy bag?]
Rabbis for Rent,
Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, March 7, 2003
"The site is www.Rabbirentals.com, and once you log on, you can use your credit card to rent a rabbi, who will then rock up to your door and invoke the necessary blessings to make your special occasion a religious one. Be it weddings, bar mitzvahs, house blessings or funerals, Rabbirentals.com has rabbis for all special moments, at a variety of prices. While the site does not list any of the rabbis by name, it does give some biographical details, so you can choose between a rabbi who was 'formerly a corporate executive, [who] entered rabbinic school at the age of 30,' and one who 'earned his license as an Israeli desert guide.'”

Your Religion's Stance on Iraq,
Belief .net
According to a survey by Belief.net, only four religious groups of those surveyed support an invasion of Iraq. They are the Southern Baptist Convention and three Jewish groups (whose qualifier is that "other means" must be "exhausted" first before invasion): The Orthodox Union, Union of American Hebrew Congregrations (Reform), and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. All these pro-war groups -- including the Baptists -- have especially strong ideological ties to Israel. Religous groups OPPOSED to war include the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Episcopal Church, Greek Orthodox Church in America, Mormons - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Presbyterian Church (USA), Quakers - American Friends Service Committee, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Cabal,
wordorigins.com
"Popularly, cabal is said to have been formed as an acronym for the names of five ministers of Charles II (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale) who were at the bottom of various political intrigues in the early 1670s. According to history, these five, plus others, defaulted on the national debt by closing the exchequer in 1670, started a war with Holland in 1672, and entered into an alliance with the hated French in 1673. While this is good history, it is poor etymology. Usage of the word in English predates the nefarious schemes of these five by at least twenty-five years. The word entered the English language from the French cabale and derives ultimately from the Hebrew cabala, or the medieval body of arcane and mystical Jewish teachings. The earliest use of the word in English is in 1616, in the original, Hebrew sense. By 1637 the word was being used in the sense of a secret, and the OED2 has the word being used in the sense of a group of conspirators by 1646."

[The story of Jacob -- representing the Jewish line -- and Esau -- representing the non-Jewish -- is one of the foundations of Jewish perception of themselves and non-Jews. Jacob cheated his twin brother Esau out of his birthright.]
Jacob and Esau and the Emergence of the Jewish People,
by Daniel J. Elazar, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
"It is part of the greatness of the Bible that it poses the problem that God, as well as humans, faces in choosing between less than perfect alternatives, even in connection with those whom it presents unequivocally as God's special people. The Bible does so even at the risk of exposing the ancient Israelites and hence the Jewish people to unjust criticism, based upon showing them, as Oliver Cromwell once said to his portrait painter, 'warts and all.' That may be a situation less than pleasant for Jews to face and indeed in previous generations as well as the present there were those Jews who either ignored those critical parts or reinterpreted them to show that the Jewish forefathers were always God-fearing models of what the Almighty expected. In this respect the Bible is far more honest than some of its interpreters. Frequently, the Bible presents characters whose personalities and roles confront those of other characters in order to make its point. ... Here we examine a different confrontation, not so stark as that between Joseph and Moses but more direct between Jacob and Esau, two brothers, the sons of Isaac and the grandsons of Abraham, at least one of whom is destined to carry on the patriarchal tradition. They ultimately give birth to the Jewish people as a covenanted people, invested with the task of doing God's will through their polity and society. The story of the two brothers, Jacob and Esau, is a classic example of that dilemma and how God faces it in determining who shall carry on the Abrahamic line that will serve His purposes in the development of a societal model for the world ... Esau and Jacob are introduced as struggling (vayitrotzetzu) with each other from the womb (Genesis 25:22). The homiletic treatment of this has been extensive, considering the way each has come to symbolize conflicting dimensions of power and authority. The common element uniting both is their tremendous energy which must be directed and harnessed. Jacob is to become Israel (literally: one who struggles with God) whose energy is to be directed by the covenant with God, while Esau will struggle with men and animals (nature) to become, in the eyes of the Midrash, the exemplar of a non-Jewish imperial ruler. The future of the two struggling fetuses is foretold by God and is stated in ethno-political terms. The fathers of the two nations -- goiim and leumim are the terms used -- are struggling. Jacob emerges as he is to live the first half of his life, struggling for personal advantage, as Yaakov, one who grasps at the heel of his brother, trying to get out first. The twins grow up as very different people ... In the second recorded confrontation between the two, Jacob takes advantage of Esau's weakness, namely an unthinking impulsiveness, to press his advantage in a most unbrotherly way, first acquiring Esau's b'khora (birthright) for a bowl of lentils and then his father's blessing ... Jacob shows his wiliness as well as his greater intelligence and forethought. Jacob's eye is always on the main chance; he sees his advantage and takes it, perhaps not believing the foolishness of his despised -- and despising -- rival. What he does is not quite honorable, though not illegal. The title he gains is at least partially valid, although he is insecure enough about it to conspire later with his mother to deceive his father so as to gain the blessing for the first-born as well (Chapter 27). In short, he is what nineteenth century Americans would call "sharp," a characteristic associated with the products of covenantal cultures -- the term was invented to describe the New England Yankee descendants of the Puritans -- ever since. Much later, Esau marries two wives, both Hittite women, that is, locals, in violation of Abraham's (and God's) injunction not to take wives from among the Canaanite population. Again, one gets the sense of a headstrong person who acts impulsively, without sufficient thought (26:34-35). His marriage is described as a vexation to both Rebekah and Isaac. Even his father, who has strong affection for him, is hurt by his act. This action alone forever rules out Esau as the bearer of patriarchal continuity. Esau could have overcome the sale of his birthright; as we see in the next chapter, Isaac was still prepared to give him the blessing due the firstborn. But acquiring foreign wives meant the detachment of his children from the Abrahamic line. Both the personal and psychological and the public and national dimensions of the rivalry between the two brothers are noteworthy. Despite the dreadful deception on the part of Jacob and his mother to gain Isaac's patriarchal blessing, Jacob's vocation as Isaac's legitimate heir in the continued founding of the Jewish people is reaffirmed. In essence, the Bible tells us that a bright, calculating person who, at times, is less than honest, is preferable as a founder over a bluff, impulsive one who cannot make discriminating choices. Jacob continues to display characteristics which are later to become part of the non-Jewish stereotype of Jews (although they are only prominent, not typical -- witness the very different characters of Abraham and Isaac), while Esau continues to display characteristics which are later to become part of the Jewish stereotype of non-Jews ("goyim") ...

First eruv poles go up amid joy and opposition. Jewish boundary is reality after 15-year fight,
by Carmen Lichi, Ham & High (UK), August 23, 2002
"THE first poles of the north-west London eruv – unique in the UK – have been put in place after nearly 15 years of fierce opposition. Workmen from David Webster Lighting – the firm charged with building the controversial Jewish boundary – looked baffled as a media mêlée erupted on Tuesday around Prospect Place, a quiet residential street in East Finchley. The installation of the two metallic poles was overseen by Rabbi Jeremy Conway and president of the United Synagogue, Peter Sheldon. A delighted Rabbi Conway said: 'It’s wonderful that we have finally moved into the construction phase of the eruv.' The eruv will allow thousands of observant Jews to take part in activities usually banned on the Sabbath, including pushing prams and carrying keys. Opponents of the boundary have protested against the United Synagogue Eruv Committee’s (USEC) bid to win over Barnet Council’s planning officers since the scheme was first put forward ... Despite the installation of the first poles, some opponents were unwilling to concede defeat. Lorna Noble, a member of the Eruv Boundary Opponents Group, said: 'One swallow does not make a summer. I have come along to see what’s going on today but I still maintain it is wrong within the context of the community.' Some neighbours, too, were unhappy about the poles. Prospect Place resident Henry Evans, 78, said: 'I’m disgusted about it. I know people have to have their religion, but I don’t see why they have to have all this. 'But, as with most things in this world, I suppose there is nothing we can do to stop it.'"

Feud over synagogue: 'It's been a nightmare',
Miami Herald, April 14, 2003
"Heidi O'Sheehan says there are days when the noise from a nearby Hollywood synagogue filters into her living room when she is watching television or trying to get her three young children to sleep. ''It's like there are 80 people in my backyard having a party,'' said O'Sheehan, who lives directly behind the synagogue. The dispute over Hollywood Community Synagogue Chabad Lubavitch operating out of two houses in the residential Hollywood Hills neighborhood has been going on for years. And it looks as if it won't end any time soon. 'Since Day 1, it has been a nightmare,' said Joseph I. Korf, the synagogue's rabbi. `We have been harassed, supervised and overlooked.' Residents have called code enforcement and the police and fire departments about trash, noise, parking and the number of people at the synagogue, which previously had an occupancy limit of 60. One day, resident Jamie Mardis said he and another neighbor filmed and counted 136 people going into the synagogue. The synagogue's rabbi has disputed that number. 'We have drawn a line in the sand and we are not going to back down. No matter how tired we are,' said Mardis, who lives on 45th Avenue, a block away from the synagogue. `You have to fight for what is right.' On June 4, Hollywood's City Commission is scheduled to review a city board's decision allowing the synagogue to permanently stay at the two houses at 2215 and 2221 N. 46th Ave., as long as the synagogue meets certain conditions. Some residents, including O'Sheehan, say it doesn't belong in the neighborhood. 'I think if you buy a home completely surrounded by single-family homes, you have a reasonable right to expect it to stay that way,' she said. `It's not like every commercial property in the city of Hollywood is full' ... The never-ending feud has been heard by the city's Development Review Board and the City Commission on six occasions. Two of the city meetings have lasted more than 10 hours, ending about 6 a.m. Why has it taken so long? O'Sheehan blames the city. 'The city keeps granting them more and more,' she said. `They have no intention of leaving, until forced to do so' ... On June 5, the fight arena changes to Broward Circuit Court. There, a hearing will take place in the lawsuit that O'Sheehan's husband, Edward, has filed against the city and the synagogue, claiming the city board's decision to grant the synagogue a six-month special exception was illegal. Several neighbors have also joined the lawsuit, Edward O'Sheehan said."





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