A BBC documentary set to air last night has been mysteriously pulled from the broadcaster’s line-up and has so far failed to appear on its online iPlayer service. Continue reading
Category Archives: Judaism
We don’t often see the classic Twin Peaks phrase “wrapped in plastic” taken so literally—but a Redditor posted the above photo of an Orthodox Jewish man who did just that on a recent flight. Continue reading
A long-running battle over worship at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest shrine, has been rejoined as Israeli police arrested five Jewish women who wore prayer shawls at a morning service, contrary to Orthodox practice enforced at the site. Continue reading
VICTIMS say the admission of guilt by a former teacher at a Jewish Orthodox school accused of sexually abusing students is a watershed for Australia’s Jewish community. Continue reading
A self-confessed paedophile who sexually abused several boys in Sydney is being harboured by a leading Los Angeles Jewish welfare group. Continue reading
The Sisterhood has covered Haredi exclusion of women from the Israeli public sphere for some time now. When it comes to the removal of women’s images from public view, we’ve seen the disappearance of women from advertisements; the photoshopping of female leaders like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton out of news photos; the blurring of women’s and girls’ faces on memorial notices and even the erasing of a pair of women’s shoes from an innocuous photo of a family’s shoe drawer. Continue reading
Dead kids, good God — what’s up with that?
Ask the Religion Experts: How can we explain a tragedy like the Newtown shootings?
It’s appropriate, because these guys wrote the book on crazy! Here’s a summary, so you don’t have to read it:
Anglicans: ‘Cos people are shite and God hates us.
Sikhs: God knows, we don’t.
Muslims: Can we have more time, please?
Bah’ai: God? What God?
Hindus: See Sikhs above.
Atheists: Stupid question!
Buddhism: Dunno why it happened, but Buddhism could have prevented it.
Catholics: God gave us this great stuff, so dodge the question.
Fundamentalist Christians: God da man, dude! Don’t give him no shit, yo!
How come they didn’t ask any Satanists?
Update: I didn’t realise, but at the Ottawa Citizen every Thursday is Ask A Confabulist Day!
For more than a week, spectators and members of the press have been packing the Brooklyn courtroom where a prominent chasidic man is on trial for sexually abusing a girl from the Satmar community who was sent to him for counseling. The case is noteworthy for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that the young woman pressed charges in the first place.
Indeed, ever since she reported the abuse, the alleged victim of Nechemya Weberman — an unlicensed “therapist” to whom, testimony has indicated, Satmar schools referred “wayward” girls for “help” — has been subjected to intense pressure to withdraw her claim, including intimidation, harassment, social ostracism of her family and even a reported $500,000 bribe. Last spring, members of the Satmar community held a lavish fundraiser for Weberman’s defense. Not long after, four men were arrested and charged with witness tampering in connection with the case. And last Thursday, four chasidic men were arrested for taking the young woman’s picture — which was then posted online — as she testified in the courtroom…
However, many people with ties to the chasidic community believe there is something even more important about the Weberman case — namely, what it exposes about the larger communal role played by chasidic “modesty committees” in communities like Williamsburg, Borough Park and Kiryas Joel. These groups — to which, sources say, Weberman was connected — originated years ago to guard the “purity” of the community by enforcing strict dress and behavior codes that characterize the insular chasidic lifestyle. But, insiders say, the tactics of these self-appointed, freelance modesty patrols have evolved from public shaming to extortion and threats.
The narrative to emerge from the trial testimony so far is that a chasidic girl, perceived as “acting out” by the standards of her chasidic school and family — defying the community’s dress code, communicating with boys, asking questions about the existence of God — was sent to Weberman for therapy. She was 12 at the time, and the move apparently came at her school’s insistence and under threat of expulsion.
Both the girl’s mother and a principal at the school, Benzion Feuerwerger, testified that the school, United Talmudical Academy at one point required the family to pay $12,800 in advance for Weberman’s “therapeutic” services before they would accept her into their summer camp and back into the school the following year. According to her testimony, the mother challenged the propriety of Weberman taking the girl, alone, on a long drive in his car, a clear violation of the chasidic prohibition against a man and a woman who are not married to each other being alone. The mother claimed that Weberman demanded an apology from her and that the school ordered the family to go along with it, according to the mother’s testimony.
The young woman, now 17, alleges that Weberman, who often “treated” her in a locked room with a bed, began touching her sexually during their sessions, which also came to include forced oral sex. The alleged abuse went on for years and was reported to the authorities only after the young woman disclosed it to a counselor at a new school she was attending….
According to Yerachmiel Lopin, who blogs at FrumFollies and has been reporting on the case for two years, “UTA was in effect, extorting money for Weberman. I strongly suspect they kept some of it. Given widespread rumors about his sexual misconduct, Satmar was in effect pimping its girls to Weberman, adding insult to injury by making the victim pay to be victimized.”
Getting paid $150 per hour to commit rape on a 12-year-old girl. Not a bad gig, if you can keep out of jail.
Israel hit more than 20 “targets” inside Gaza after it killed the head of the Islamist organisation’s military wing, Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, along with another Hamas official, in a missile strike against the car in which they were traveling…
It was part of a wider Israeli operation against militant groups in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the Israel Defence Force said, and followed a wave of rocket attacks against Israel.
There were scenes of chaos at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, as dozens of seriously injured patient were stretchered in, ambulances tearing off to collect more casualties.
Gaza’s health ministry said 10 civilians have been killed, including two young children – an 11-month-old and a six-year-old – while at least 45 people were wounded, 10 of them in critical condition.
This is what happens when you institutionalise paranoia.
Canadian Islamic school sources its teaching materials from Iran.
A Toronto Islamic school whose teaching materials disparaged Jews and encouraged boys to keep fit for jihad will not face criminal charges but police said their investigation had identified passages of syllabus books they found concerning.
A York Regional Police report outlining the hate crimes investigation of the East End Madrassah said a review of 30 school syllabus books found portions that “challenged some of Canada’s core values” and “suggested intolerance,” even if they were not criminal.
The report also confirmed some of the school materials originated from books published by Iranian foundations, one of which is an alleged front for the Islamic regime. The Iranian-origin passages referred to Jews as “crafty” and “treacherous,” and contrasted Islam with “the Jews and the Nazis.”
Police held Principal Masuma Jessa and Imam Syed Mohammed Rizvi responsible. “As leaders in their respective roles the two must accept responsibility for failing to appropriately screen the learning material. Although not held criminally responsible, the complaint has raised a legitimate concern and has prompted change.”
Until the next time…
As Hurricane Sandy barges through the northeastern U.S., what are people of faith to make of it? Is it a punishment from God, as some pastors have already declared? It it a test? Will everything be OK? Pastors, rabbis, imams and other clergy have been inundated with these kinds of questions and requests for prayers. The answers are complex, and vary among faiths.
But they all have one thing in common: none of them make any sense.
“Nature is value-free,” said Kushner, a rabbi of the conservative Jewish tradition. “It can’t tell the role between the deserving the undeserving. God’s role is not to decide where the hurricane goes and how severe it is. God’s role is to motivate people to help neighbors and improve methods to predict hurricanes. God is found not in the problem, but in the resilience.”
See, God’s just a regular guy like you and me, except for knowing everything and being all-powerful.
And when in doubt, obfuscate:
Martin, the Catholic priest, said Christians should have a similar outlook. “Suffering is never the last word in the Christian world view. “There is no cross without resurrection.”
Oh, wait — I already am!
Back in June I posted my worries about Mohamed Morsi (a member of the Muslim Brotherhood) having been elected President of Egypt. I was told by some of my readers to “calm down,” since Morsi was either a moderate or a meaningless figurehead. I don’t think that’s proved to be the case. Check out this video, which implies that he’s not a moderate. Here Morsi joins a cleric in a prayer for the destruction of the Jews and infidels.
My prediction: Egypt is moving slowly towards a state run on Islamic law, along the lines of Iran.
It may turn out that the most important lesson to come from the Arab Spring is that revolution is possible.
Consider yourself lucky: atheists don’t even get a mention!
A ninth-grade textbook published by the Ministry of Education states, “The Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believers, and they cannot approve of Muslims.” An eighth-grade textbook says, “The Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians.” These are just two examples of a long list of hate-filled passages.
Children who are indoctrinated with such hatred are susceptible to engage in bigotry and even violence. Hate speech is the precursor to genocide. First you get to hate and then you kill. This makes peaceful coexistence difficult, if not impossible.
The Daily Beast – appropriately enough.
Schoolboy George Pratt had attended his local Scout group for ten months, and was expecting to invest in the group along with his friends.
But, after being required to swear the traditional promise, he found himself unable to join as he does not believe in God.
George, 11, said he was “very disappointed” in the decision, calling it “very unfair” and claiming he feels left out from experiences and trips his friends are attending.
His father Nick Pratt, 45, has accused the Scout movement of being “narrow minded” and “intolerant”, saying his son is being “excluded because he doesn’t believe”.
To become a full member of the 1st Midsomer Norton Group in Somerset, which meets in a hall opposite his home, George must take the Scout Promise.
This reads: “On my honour, I promise that I will do my best, To do my duty to God and to the Queen, To help other people, And to keep the Scout Law.”
Different versions of the oath are available for different faiths, such as the use of ‘Allah’ to replace ‘God’ for Muslims.
So it doesn’t matter what Invisible Friend you think you have, as long as you have one? What about Harvey, the six-foot rabbit? I’m sure he could teach a twelve-year-old boy all sorts of things.
It’s International Believe Weird Shit Day!
…today, we pledge to agree with what everyone else believes and says, just for one day. We are not allowed to dissent, ‘offend’ or question. Also, to be fair, we ask everyone else to agree with everything that we believe and say. So let’s see how that works out.
Just for today, I agree with the following twenty five beliefs:
I agree with the Greek poet Hesiod that the world began when Gaia emerged out of Chaos, and gave birth to Uranus, who made her pregnant to give birth to the Titans, after which Gaia convinced her son Conus to castrate his father and become King of the Titans.
I agree with the Bible that the creator of the universe came to planet Earth, circling one of a hundred billion stars in one of a hundred billion galaxies, so that he could impregnate a virgin in order to give birth to himself, then be tortured and die and dictate a book about it…..
Because, you know, they’re right.
The federal government is cancelling the contracts of non-Christian chaplains at federal prisons, CBC News has learned.
Inmates of other faiths, such as Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews, will be expected to turn to Christian prison chaplains for religious counsel and guidance, according to the office of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who is also responsible for Canada’s penitentiaries.
Toews made headlines in September when he ordered the cancellation of a tender issued for a Wiccan priest for federal prisons in B.C…
In an email to CBC News, Toews’ office says that as a result of the review, the part-time non-Christian chaplains will be let go and the remaining full-time chaplains in prisons will now provide interfaith services and counselling to all inmates.
Let us know how that works out for you.
Miss! Miss! Dicky Dawkins is being rude about my Invisible Friend, Miss!
Lord Sacks claimed that a remark in Prof Dawkins’s best-selling book The God Delusion, likening God as portrayed in Jewish scriptures to a fictional villain, was based on centuries of prejudice.
He said that although Prof Dawkins does not believe in God, he was nevertheless a “Christian atheist” as opposed to a “Jewish atheist”.
Prof Dawkins, an Oxford evolutionary biologist, dismissed the allegation as “ridiculous” and said he was not “anti-Jewish” just “anti-God”.
“I don’t collect stamps.”
“OK, which stamps?”
“Which stamps don’t you collect — local or international?”
Click the image for a full-size version.
Giles Fraser thinks cutting bits off boys’ penises is like teaching them to talk.
So, I want you to imagine a ridiculous liberal experiment, inspired by the philosophical idea that parents ought not to impose their world-view upon their child. Imagine if some mad parents decided not to teach their child a language.
After all, a language like English is impregnated with a set of values and assumptions. So why not keep the child away from all language and then when they get to adulthood allow them to choose for themselves?
Why is this madness? Because learning a language does not close down options. Rather, learning a language is the very basis upon which choice is made possible. It is a precondition for the possibility of understanding.
I offer this bonkers experiment as a reductio ad absurdum of the sort of thing that is often said about imposing religion on children.
Because baby boys always scream with fear, misery and excruciating pain when you teach them to talk.
On the other hand, nobody actually dies from it.
As a rising star in Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party, Csanad Szegedi was notorious for his incendiary comments about Jews. He accused them of “buying up” the country, railed about the “Jewishness” of the political elite and claimed Jews were desecrating national symbols.
Then came a revelation that knocked him off his perch as ultra-nationalist standard-bearer: Szegedi himself is Jewish.
Following weeks of internet rumors, Szegedi acknowledged in June that his grandparents on his mother’s side were Jewish – making him one too under Jewish law, even though he doesn’t practise the faith. His grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor and his grandfather a veteran of forced labour camps.
Since then, the 30-year-old has become a pariah in Jobbik and his political career is on the brink of collapse. He declined to be interviewed for this story.
And they don’t want to be shot at. Who knew?
Israel’s top court struck down on Tuesday a law designed to encourage ultra-Orthodox Jews to join the military and the workforce, saying it had backfired by “entrenching” their blanket draft exemptions and protracted seminary studies.
The ruling was welcomed by Israel’s secular majority but could set off rifts in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative coalition government, which includes powerful religious Jewish parties.
The 2002 “Service Deferral Law” offered the ultra-Orthodox, who make up 10 percent of the population and are often welfare dependant, a choice, upon reaching draft-age, between studying in seminaries or working. The latter option entailed first enlisting in the military, with the possibility of serving in technology units where soldiers can learn a trade.
But by a vote of 6-to-3, the Supreme Court declared that the law, which was subject to review, was unconstitutional and ordered it not be renewed after it [e]xpires in August…
“The law was enacted with a hope that it would ignite a societal process which would lead to a situation in which, even without imposing any duty, ultra-Orthodox people would wish to serve, or to perform civil service. However, the hope that accompanied the law was dashed.”
A senior United States official has confirmed Israel’s assertions that the suicide bomber who killed five Israelis in an attack on Wednesday was a member of a Hezbollah cell operating in Bulgaria.
As the bodies of the victims were flown home to Tel Aviv, the official said the US intelligence assessment is the bomber was ”acting under broad guidance” to hit Israeli targets when the opportunity presented itself. That guidance was given to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, by its primary sponsor, Iran, he said.
…because it might lead to people not getting circumcised.
Yet the circumcision of babies cuts against one of the basic assumptions of the liberal mindset. Informed consent lies at the heart of choice and choice lies at the heart of the liberal society. Without informed consent, circumcision is regarded as a form of violence and a violation of the fundamental rights of the child. Which is why I regard the liberal mindset as a diminished form of the moral imagination. There is more to right and wrong than mere choice.
In other words: people should be free to do what I want, not what they want.
…Brendan O’Neill says so.
There are many bad things about the modern atheistic assault on religion. But perhaps the worst thing is its rebranding of certain religious practices as “child abuse”. Everything from sending your kid to a Catholic school to having your baby boy circumcised has been redefined by anti-religious campaigners as “abuse”. This use of emotionally loaded language to demonise the practices and beliefs of people of faith has reached its ugly and logical conclusion in Germany, where a court has decreed that circumcision for religious purposes causes “bodily harm”, against boys who are “unable to give their consent”, and therefore should be outlawed.
This is an alarming attack on freedom of religion and on parents’ rights to initiate their children into their faith.
No, it’s an attack on anyone’s right to viciously mutilate a person who is unable to resist their physical assault. The reasons for assault are immaterial — literally.
Comments on the article are both hidden and closed — suggesting that perhaps they didn’t get the enthusiastic endorsements they were looking for.
A court in Germany has ruled that circumcising young boys for religious reasons amounts to bodily harm.
In a decision that has caused outrage among Jewish and Muslim groups, the court said that a child’s right to physical integrity trumps religious and parental rights.
The case involved a doctor who carried out a circumcision on a four year-old that led to medical complications.
Thousands of Muslim and Jewish boys are circumcised in Germany every year.
Although male circumcision – unlike female circumcision – is not illegal in Germany, the court’s judgement said the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents”.
Circumcision, it decided, contravenes “interests of the child to decide later in life on his religious beliefs”.
Listen carefully. This is what the voice of reason sounds like.
This post is extensively linked. It’s tragic that there are so many examples of misogyny, but it’s great to see them all exposed in one place.
Girls, these things happen because there are men with power who fear you and want to control you. I know that I have equated relatively benign baseball games with deadly, honor killings but, whereas one is a type of daily, seemingly harmless micro-aggression and the other is a lethal macro-aggression they share the same roots. The basis of both, and escalating actions in between, is the same: To teach you, and all girls subject to these men and their authority, a lesson: “Know your place.” I also know that there are places where girls are marginalized and hurt that are not religious. But all over the world these hypocritical, pious men, in their shamefully obvious wrongness, represent the sharp-edged tip of an iceberg, the visible surface of a deep and vast harm. They employ the full range of their earthly and divine influence to make sure, as early as possible, that you and the boys around you understand what they want your relative roles to be. Where there are patriarchal religions girls, in dramatically varying and extreme degrees, disproportionately suffer. Understand these men for what they are: bullies. Do not internalize what they would have you believe.
The recently retired chief of Israel’s domestic intelligence agency has described the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, as men driven by ”messianic feelings” and said that he had ”no faith” in them to lead a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
”The fact that we are talking about clever and calculated people, who seek to stay in power and are striving to reach their goals underhandedly and with an idea of the moves and intentions of their rivals, does not make them rational in the Western sense of the word,” he said in an address on Israel’s Independence Day.
Or, indeed, any other sense.
And these guys have nuclear weapons.