Hasidic Israeli Jazz Musician Coming to JCC – Atlanta Jewish Times

Israeli virtuoso saxophone player and composer Daniel Zamir is headed to Atlanta for a Feb. 19 performance at the Marcus Jewish Community Center. The Hasidic jazz musician, who has toured with Matisyahu, is one of the most in-demand artists in Israel.

He spoke to the AJT by phone from Israel.

AJT: Will this be your first time performing in Atlanta?

Zamir: Well, I played a few years ago with Matisyahu at the University of Georgia. We were on a college tour, and, every campus we visited, I bought a baseball hat and would play the show wearing it. I remember I shouted, Go, Bulldogs! into the mic at UGA, and the crowd went crazy for it.

AJT: Youve actually been on a few tours with Matisyahu. What was it like touring as two observant Jews?

Zamir: Its an amazing experience to be able to express such a unique message on a big stage in front of so many people. To be able to bridge so many gaps and overcome so many prejudices and stigmas, its really unique and a privilege. AJT: You also have the top-selling jazz album of all time in Israel. How does that feel?

Zamir: Its amazing. I never thought that something like that could happen. Ive loved jazz since I started playing the saxophone, but I never thought I could be this successful in it. Also, to be able to connect jazz and Judaism is something I never thought I could do. From what I can tell, I think Im the only ultra-Orthodox jazz musician in the world.

AJT: How much Jewish or Hasidic influence would you say your music has?

Zamir: When I write my music, I have no concept in mind. In other words, I never planned to be a Jewish musician; its something that happened organically. It actually started before I was religious, and I was calling it world music or ethnic music. Only after (American Jewish composer-saxophonist) John Zorn heard my demo in 1999 and called it Jewish music did I finally accept it.

AJT: Why are there so many top-notch Israeli jazz musicians?

Zamir: I remember people were asking me in New York, What are they putting in your falafel over there? But the truth is jazz is music of the people, and after the 1950s people in Israel were trying to imitate American jazz. But what my generation did Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital, myself and others we took our personalities and tradition and infused that into high-quality jazz. The result of that product is so unique and original and alive. I think thats why people love it so much.

Who:Daniel Zamir

Where:Marcus JCC, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody

When:7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19

Tickets:$15-$25; atlantajcc.org/pldb-live/daniel-zamir-32968

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Hasidic Israeli Jazz Musician Coming to JCC – Atlanta Jewish Times

SEE THIS: Official Rockland County GOP Facebook Page Slams …

The following was published on Sunday evening on the official Facebook page of the Rockland County Republican Party. It was not edited in anyway by YWN, and appears in full:

Im all in favor of others right to speak their mind and peacefully demonstrate their views. Conversely, I understand that my right to swing my arms in protest ends when my fist hits someone elses nose and my right to free speech ends when I falsely yell fire in a crowded theater. What I cant stomach is hypocrisy!

The Rockland County Democratic Committee has been posting all weekend in support of the marches in all of the liberal cities of our country. Yet, right here in Rockland County, right in their own backyard, is the most egregious example of womens oppression in our entire country. The ultra orthodox Hasidic communitys abusive treatment of women is epic. In that community, women must separate themselves from men, must dress as they are told, are forced into arranged marriages, can not divorce without the approval of their husbands and community leaders, they are not properly educated, cant attend college, and can not use birth control, yet, the Rockland County Democratic Committee says nothing: absolute silence. Why? Because the people in that community vote in a block and the leaders of the Rockland Democratic Party want their votes. Please!!!!! Total hypocrisy!!!!

(YWN World Headquarters NYC)

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SEE THIS: Official Rockland County GOP Facebook Page Slams …

A Jewish reporter asked Trump about anti-Semitic attacks, and Trump told him to sit down and be quiet – Quartz


Quartz
A Jewish reporter asked Trump about anti-Semitic attacks, and Trump told him to sit down and be quiet
Quartz
Towards the end of his press conference today, Donald Trump took a question from Jake Turx, a Hasidic Jewish reporter for a small US-based weekly magazine that caters to the international Orthodox Jewish community. During the 2016 presidential …
Quiet, Quiet!: Trump Silences Jewish Reporter Who Asks Him About Attacks On SynagoguesThe Ring of Fire Network
A Jewish Reporter Got to Ask Trump a Question. It Didn't Go Well.New York Times
Jewish journalist sticks up for Trump after being called a 'liar'Jewish Telegraphic Agency
International Business Times -LBC -Forward
all 292 news articles »

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A Jewish reporter asked Trump about anti-Semitic attacks, and Trump told him to sit down and be quiet – Quartz

Transgender Woman’s Daughter Shunned By Hasidic Classmates – Forward

(JTA) The daughter of a transgender woman in Manchester, England, is being shunned by her classmates at a haredi Orthodox school after being ordered to by their teachers.

The classmates were told not to communicate with the girl in any way, the regional newspaper the Jewish Telegraph reported.The students wrote her a letter telling her that if they see her they will have to ignore her but that they would always love her and that they would pray for her, according to the report.

A British high court judge ruled late last month that the transgender woman, who is the father of the girl and four other young children, may not have direct contact with the children.

I have reached the unwelcome conclusion that the likelihood of the children and their mother being marginalized or excluded by the ultra-Orthodox community is so real, and the consequences so great, that this one factor, despite its many disadvantages, must prevail over the many advantages of contact, Justice Peter Jackson of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales wrote in his decision.

The transgenderwomanis allowed to indirectly contact the children four times a year on Jewish festivals and their birthdays.

In the yearlong case, the identity of the family remained anonymous, the London-based Independent newspaperreported.

The childrens mother had said in court that if the children had direct contact with the transgender woman, the parent body of their schools would not allow other children to play with them, and she was backed by the testimony of several community rabbis. The children could also be denied places at good yeshivas and schools, be prevented from marrying into some families, and the entire family could be shunned by the community, the court was told.

The judge also wrote that his decision was not a failure to uphold transgender rights but the upholding of the rights of the children to have the least harmful outcome in a situation not of their making.

Jackson has written to the U.K.s top education official,warning that social banishment of trans peoples children in strict Jewish schools may be illegal, The Independent reported.

There is, to say the least, evidence that the practices within the [ultra-Orthodox Jewish] community, and in particular its schools, amount to unlawfuldiscrimination against and victimization of the father and the children because of the fathers transgender status, he wrote.

Religious bigotry is illegal in the U.K. Allschools must promote tolerance, inclusion and respect for people who are LGBTQ, and cannot refuse admission to children on the basis of whether they or a family member is LGBTQ, the LGBQ Nation, news website reported.

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Transgender Woman’s Daughter Shunned By Hasidic Classmates – Forward

Quiet, Quiet!: Trump Silences Jewish Reporter Who Asks Him About Attacks On Synagogues – The Ring of Fire Network

During yet another disastrous press conference held on Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump committed numerous attacks against the freedom of the press, attacking the legitimacy of the members of the press and silencing a Hasidic reporter who tried to ask an important question.

As he often does, Trump referred to CNN as fake news, and said that while the leaks being released by members of the White House are real, the news stories reporting them are fake.

Later, Trump called on a BBC reporter, but before allowing him to ask the question, he asked, where are you from? When the reporter said, BBC, Trump declared, Thats another beauty!

Insulted by the insinuation, the reporter curtly replied, Good line. Impartial free and fair.

Finally, Trump called on hasidic reporter Jake Turx, a reporter for Jewish magazine Ami, who attempted to ask the president about recent bomb threats and attacks made on Jewish cultural centers and religious buildings. Before he was able to finish his question, he was told to sit down. Trump appeared insulted by the question and declared that he was the least antisemiticperson and least racist person.

The reporter then attempted to speak up to clarify his question before the President repeatedly told him, quiet, quiet, quiet.

Trump continued his non-answer, saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to forget it, in reference to any question about Trumps views on Jewish people. The president also said that he found it offensive that his views on Jewish people would ever be questioned.

What the president failed to know, because he didnt let the reporter finish his question, was what Turx even wanted to ask.

By the direction of the question it seemed that he was asking for the president to respond on the antisemitic threats and attacks that religious centers had been facing. As he has failed to do many times before, the president missed a simple and easy opportunity to condemn the violence while reasserting his Jew-friendly stance.

Here is the transcript of that exchange:

All in all, Trumps press conference was a monumental disaster from the point of view of a free and fair press. The president continues to lie and mislead the American publicly while constantly acting as if it is the press who are doing wrong.

Turx asks his question at the 2:05 mark. Watch:

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Quiet, Quiet!: Trump Silences Jewish Reporter Who Asks Him About Attacks On Synagogues – The Ring of Fire Network

Abby Stein Opens Up On Her Journey From Hasidic Rabbi To … – Forward

Abby Stein is almost certainly the only ordained Hasidic rabbi who is also a woman. Stein wasnt female when ordained, of course. She was a young man, soon to be married to a woman also from the strict Satmar community in which they were both raised.

While Stein then named Yisroel and nicknamed Srully had long had unsettling feelings about his gender identity, when he married at age 18 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and moved to Monsey, he had no idea that just a few years later his life would be radically different.

But it is. Today Stein, 25, is a Columbia University student, divorced, no longer ultra-Orthodox and female. Abby, as she is now known, is a petite young woman with shoulder-length brown hair, whose religious origins are detectable only in the Yiddish accent and cadence of her speech. Estrogen has made her face softer and her body more womanly, and has even induced PMS-like mood swings.

She is happier than she has ever been and plans to work on transgender issues in public policy. She may even one day run for local public office.

Debra Nussbaum-Cohen

Sixth of 13 children, Stein was her parents first son. It was an upbringing full of cousins, weddings and Shabbos tisches (Friday night community gatherings) with the rebbe. Her father is descended from the Baal Shem Tov, the mystical 18th-century rabbi and founder of Hasidism, and as such, Stein explains, the family has had to adopt certain customs befitting their lofty status. While in strict Hasidic communities women dont drive, Stein men dont either. They dont eat in restaurants and work only in Jewish education. After bar mitzvah the boys wear white knee socks rather than black ones something most Satmar men do only after marriage.

To wake up as a girl

When young Srully questioned his father about why they didnt go to amusement parks during the Passover and Sukkot festivals like most Hasidim, he would respond that those things were pas nisht simply not done by Steins.

Something nagged at the little boy from an early age, although he lacked the language to describe it. In the bathtub at age 4, hed prick his penis with pins because, as Stein tells Haaretz now, It just felt like it didnt belong there. I realized right away that I couldnt tell anyone.

He voraciously read articles about organ transplant from Yiddish language newspapers Der Yid and HaMaspik, thinking someday Ill get a full-body transplant. At age 11, Srully added a personal prayer to his bedtime recitation of the daily Shema (confession of faith) prayer: to wake up a girl.

At 15 Srully went to a high-school yeshiva of the Vizhnitz Hasidic community in upstate New York. One day a classmate gave him a Hebrew-language translation of Richard Friedmans Who Wrote the Bible? That led Srully to read The God Delusion by atheist Richard Dawkins, and to the discovery in the yeshiva library of books by Rabbi Yitzhak Moshe Erlanger, a scholar of kabbalah, Jewish mysticism.

Students at the yeshiva typically returned home one weekend a month, and Erlanger was in Williamsburg one Shabbat when Srully was there. They spoke for hours and the rabbi gave him an important work about kabbalah to read. For the first time, Stein recalls now, I realized that gender could be fluid.

At 17, his parents conducted the requisite research for a girl recommended by a shadchan (matchmaker) and the two met for a bshow at her married sisters apartment. While theoretically either of them could have declined the match, when the prospective groom arrived the table was already set to celebrate their engagement.

Its extremely taboo to turn down such a match, similar to breaking an engagement in the non-ultra-Orthodox world, says Stein.

The bride called his mother every week, but Srully had no contact with her during the year leading up to their wedding. The night before the chuppah, he went to the rebbes son for marital instruction. He was told they were to have sex only on Friday and Tuesday nights, after midnight, in the dark and in one position. Gender identity doubts persisted, Stein says, but I kept telling myself everything would be fine.

They lived in Monsey and were soon expecting a child.Steins feelings rose up anew, he says. Gender began punching me in the face.

Srully got his hands on a smartphone and, in the bathroom at a mall, began his search. The first thing I Googled was boy turning into a girl. Then I found a Hebrew Wikipedia page about transgender. I couldnt read English (Yiddish is the predominant language among the Satmar sect and in its schools).

He also founded an online Israeli forum for trans people. I realized, Wow, theres a whole world out there and that freaked me out, says Stein. This was before Caitlyn Jenner and the television show Transparent, when there was relatively open, public conversation about trans people.

The couples son, Duvid, was born in January 2012; a year later, Srully told his wife that he was a non- believer. They talked about leaving Satmar for a more modern community because we were still trying to make it work.

Srully joined the New York-based Footsteps organization, which supports people leaving ultra-Orthodox communities, started taking English as a second language at a local community college, explored various online trans communities and opened a Facebook account as Chava. With a Footsteps tutor he prepared to take the high-school equivalency test.

Eventually Srully and his wife separated. He worked in Williamsburg and lived with his parents, with whom he was still close; she lived with Duvid at her parents. At first father and son saw each other weekly, until the wifes parents decided they could not meet unless their daughter was granted a get, a divorce, and Srully promised not to change his appearance and agreed to see the child just once a month. Hard-hitting depression

After enrolling in a college-preparation program offered by Columbia University, Srully started spending time at the Hillel Jewish students organization on campus, and later applied to the school at Columbia designed for students from non-traditional backgrounds. On his application, which required a lengthy essay, he wrote simply, I grew up in New York City but until I was 20, I never saw a movie, went to a Broadway show or listened to music and was accepted.

Once immersed in studies, Srully hoped his gender identity issues would fade, but several weeks into his first semester depression hit hard; he couldnt get out of bed. A counselor at the university said he thought the student was hiding something.

By then he had begun using womens deodorant and letting his hair grow, but wasnt yet ready to confront gender transitioning head-on. The depression intensified and he looked for a new therapist. At the LGBT center in lower Manhattan, a staffer told Srully he was trans. After working at a Jewish camp that summer, he began to transition.

Stein began taking estrogen and a testosterone blocker in September 2015, and started coming out to friends. One showed up with a bag of womens clothes, another taught her how to apply makeup. She began going to trans support groups.

Stein still dressed outwardly as male though emotionally it was getting harder not to make the full transition. She wanted to tell her parents personally about her decision so they didnt hear it through gossip. One Shabbat, back at home, Stein says she lit candles solely a womans ritual which she had been doing privately for a year.

My mother said, You look different, says Stein, but didnt ask any specific questions.

Taking estrogen has changed Stein, in the interim. A receding hairline has filled in and her hair has grown thicker. Her cheekbones have become fuller, she has breasts and her hips have widened. Her son Duvid, now 5, started calling her Mama as soon as she got her ears pierced, she says.

Stein started attending Romemu, a Jewish Renewal, egalitarian Jewish congregation in Manhattan, and became close to its rabbi, David Ingber. He offered to speak with Steins father, and they met in late 2015.

It was the first time [my father] saw me wearing earrings. He said, It would be easier for me to talk to you while youre wearing a kippah, Stein recalls.

Her father, who runs a Williamsburg yeshiva for troubled youth, didnt say much.

He stayed frozen, Stein says. He said, I dont believe it [transgender] exists.I showed him kabbalistic and Hasidic ideas. He said, Why would you do that women are so much less than men? Then he said, You know this means I probably cant talk to you ever again. He stood up, thanked David for taking care of me. He didnt say goodbye to me, he just walked out the door.

Her parents have not spoken with her since. Stein called home before the Jewish New Year last fall but got no response from her mother, who answered the phone.It is painful, says Stein, who likes baking challah her mothers way.

Speaking out

Stein had her name legally changed from Yisroel to Abby Chava. Now her birth certificate, drivers license and school ID indicate that she is female. In an emergency room recently after being hit by a car, a doctor asked when her last menstrual period was.

Stein and her ex-wife havent spoken directly since their divorce. The womans new husband turns Duvid over when Stein comes to pick him up.

Today Stein wears a triangle charm necklace. Two corners bear symbols for male and female, while the third indicates transgender. She is dating a woman. And she is on a waiting list for sexual reassignment surgery.

At Columbia shes majoring in political science, and womens and gender studies. She teaches Hebrew school at Romemu and at the Congregation Bnai Jeshurun, and recently started a part-time community engagement job at the Manhattan borough presidents office.

Stein is also writing a memoir, and someone is making a documentary about her. As the only Hasid in America to come out publicly as transgender, she is in great demand as a speaker from Limmud Jewish education organization, to college and LGBTQ groups. She also runs an online support group for Hasidic trans people.

Most importantly, Stein notes now, she has never felt better.

I experienced cycles of depression since I was 12, she says. Now I have mood swings, but I can deal with that by watching Netflix and eating pickles.

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Abby Stein Opens Up On Her Journey From Hasidic Rabbi To … – Forward

Hasidic Family Wreaks Havoc On Flight From Israel To Britain – Forward

It was a nightmare at 20,000 feet Monday, as an ultra-Orthodox Jewish clan traveling to a wedding in Britain disrupted a flight. The Hasidic men refused to sit next to women, stood up in the aisles while the plane was in the air and disturbed passengers during the five-hour flight.

They were blocking the aisle, making it really difficult for other passengers to get past and take their seat, said one passenger, recounting the experience to The Times of Israel. They were constantly ringing the bell for the steward. Ive never heard it go off so many times. It was dinging constantly and to the point it was really intrusive if you are trying to read or something.

And that wasnt all, as one of the unruly passengers tried to plug in his phone charger to an unauthorized outlet in the stewards galley, leading the planes exit light to flash.

Passengers heard fuming from the crew, who called the police when the flight landed in the United Kingdoms Luton Airport. The police made sure all passengers got off the plane without incident.

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at solomon@forward.com or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon

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Hasidic Family Wreaks Havoc On Flight From Israel To Britain – Forward

Hasidic woman Brooklyn court judge – Yeshiva World News

Jews, male or female, should not be taking a position as a judge on a non-Jewish court that will have cases involving two Jewish parties litigating against each other. It is forbidden for Jews to litigate a case against each other in non-Jewish courts. And it is forbidden for a Jew to judge a case between two Jews who are non-halachicly using non-Jewish law instead of halacha (especially if one of the litigants doesn’t want to be in non-Jewish court or using non-Jewish law, but it only there because the non-Jewish law and authorities force him to attend and respond to the case.)

Secondly, women shouldn’t be taking public positions.

Sadly, whenever this is pointed out (about becoming a judge on a non-Jewish court being halachicly wrong), despite explaining the extremely severe issur arkaos involved, the retort of supporters of Jews becoming judges on non-Jewish courts invariably is that “he asked a shaila”. (Unfailingly to a rabbi who must remain anonymous too.) They virtually never can offer a halachic rational explaining how they can overcome the serious prohibition against arkaos and, specifically, judging cases between Jews who are in non-Jewish court Keneged Halacha (at least one of the parties to the case, with the other Jewish party simply being dragged into non-Jewish court against his will.)

Well, at least they can say “he’s wrong” and leave it at that.

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Hasidic woman Brooklyn court judge – Yeshiva World News

What It Was Like To Grow Up Biracial and Orthodox in a Hasidic Enclave – My Jewish Learning

They were older than me, by at least five years, and I was afraid. Though my Satmar Hasidic neighbors were my friends, their cousins usually approached me with disdain whenever Id go over for a playdate. On one occasion, they bullied me and lifted my shirt up. He asked where are your tzitzis? feeling uncomfortable I stammered, they said you call yourself a yid!? Gai ahein you goy! I tripped as I begged my feet to carry me towards the door, but then it got worse, they poured cold water on me, and repeated the abusive slurs. I walked home crying to never tell a soul until over a decade later. How?!

I learned, from a very young age, how complicated modern Jews and Judaism are. I grew up in a mixed-race Chabad-Lubavitch family in Monsey, New York, where I was exposed to all walks of Orthodox Jewish life. My mother, a convert into the Orthodox community, my father a Baal Teshuva someone who sees themselves as a returnee to higher levels of spiritual consciousness and Jewish practice, made a point to educate us on our rich Jewish and African history, and always encouraged us to be Dorshei Chochmah, those who see the deep wisdom, Chochmah, the diverse wisdom, found in our world.

To this day, I wonder how could society have produced teenagers who saw it as their right to put me down for how I looked or dressed? Was this race related, though I pass for white? Was this due to the homogeneous reality of my ZIP code? Maybe it is because my family background challenged the assumptions of what a Jew looks likeI dont have answers.

What I do know is that they were not what Rabbi Sid Schwarz would call seekers of wisdom (dorshei chochmah), seekers of social justice (dorshei tzedek), seekers of community (dorshei kehillah), and seekers of lives of sacred purpose (dorshei kedushah). On a good day, I see my neighbors cousins as those who were a product of a society that did not see me in my Jewishness, and because of their upbringing, it would be hard for them to see my Jewishness and my family history as a form of wisdom worth exploring.

They were older than me, by at least five years, and I was afraid. Though my Satmar Hasidic neighbors were my friends, their cousins usually approached me with disdain whenever Id go over for a playdate. On one occasion, they bullied me and lifted my shirt up. He asked where are your tzitzis? feeling uncomfortable I stammered, they said you call yourself a yid!? Gai ahein you goy! I tripped as I begged my feet to carry me towards the door, but then it got worse, they poured cold water on me, and repeated the abusive slurs. I walked home crying to never tell a soul until over a decade later. How?!

I learned, from a very young age, how complicated modern Jews and Judaism are. I grew up in a mixed-race Chabad-Lubavitch family in Monsey, New York, where I was exposed to all walks of Orthodox Jewish life. My mother, a convert into the Orthodox community, my father a Baal Teshuva someone who sees themselves as a returnee to higher levels of spiritual consciousness and Jewish practice, made a point to educate us on our rich Jewish and African history, and always encouraged us to be Dorshei Chochmah, those who see the deep wisdom, Chochmah, the diverse wisdom, found in our world.

To this day, I wonder how could society have produced teenagers who saw it as their right to put me down for how I looked or dressed? Was this race related, though I pass for white? Was this due to the homogeneous reality of my ZIP code? Maybe it is because my family background challenged the assumptions of what a Jew looks likeI dont have answers.

What I do know is that they were not what Rabbi Sid Schwarz would call seekers of wisdom (dorshei chochmah), seekers of social justice (dorshei tzedek), seekers of community (dorshei kehillah), and seekers of lives of sacred purpose (dorshei kedushah). On a good day, I see my neighbors cousins as those who were a product of a society that did not see me in my Jewishness, and because of their upbringing, it would be hard for them to see my Jewishness and my family history as a form of wisdom worth exploring.

My parents, my heroes of meaning, purpose, and justice, raised us with eyes toward the Divine in all and that there is a Divine wisdom that fills all peoples. They taught us, they guided us, with the mission of bringing redemption, not just to the Jewish world, but the world as a whole. They saw this not as a fanciful and nice idea, but as our integral mission as Jews.

They raised us this way knowing full well the prophets words days are coming when there will be a hunger in the world, but not for bread or water and to hear the words of the Living God, and they did so knowing that redemption would come through the multitude of wisdoms of the world, as their marriage represented to some extent.

I went to a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) yeshiva as a youth, and I enjoyed celebrating civil holidays with my deeply spiritual and deeply religious non-Jewish uncles and cousins. I sang the Alter Rebbes Niggun (song) while chanting the freedom songs that celebrate my existence my mother cried a thousand tears from the TV room of our Monsey home when Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first Black president in American history.

My childhood home was a representation of what a 21st century Judaism should look like. Our home was a haven for many of my peers when looking for a place to be themselves. My father would hang out with what we coined as the Monsey rebels, and teach us from his heart and from his mind the lessons of Judaism, with his encyclopedic memory would offer us kernels of Torah and how it related to the spheres of science and literature. My mother would do the same with her deep love for the Jewish nation and Jewish peoplehood, driving the mission of Sinai forward all through the rhetoric of a freedom fighter and woman of color.

My vision as a Jew of color, as a rabbi, as a member of the millennial generation, and as a social activist who seeks to create visibility for those who are unseen, is to create platforms for our collective wisdom as Jews could be heard, because for too long, their wisdom has been silenced. This is my vision for our Jewish future as an individual, and this is the vision of our Beis Community: an innovative creative Jewish community.

We are building a Judaism that sees everybody with their own wisdom, where nobody is left out, and where everyones voice of wisdom could be heard. Where people can hear their voice and smile because they know that who they are is enough and how they practice is enough to be supported and sheltered in Abrahams tent. To quote Rabbi Schwarz once again, the future vibrancy of the Jewish community depends on leaders of the Jewish community reaching out to this constituency and finding ways to reach them, even as it will challenge many long-standing assumptions of what the Jewish community should look like.

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What It Was Like To Grow Up Biracial and Orthodox in a Hasidic Enclave – My Jewish Learning

This Orthodox soup kitchen director rallied support for his Yemeni neighbors. Some donors aren’t happy. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Alexander Rapaport, rear left, attending a protest at New York City Hall after presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., Dec. 9, 2015. (Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) Alexander Rapaport, a Brooklyn Hasid, says his experience being the victim of anti-Semitism forces him to call out hatred against others. So Rapaport, who runs a network of kosher soup kitchens, helped organize a communal show of support last week for a local Yemeni-owned bodega in reaction toPresident Donald Trumps executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Not everyone was happy about the gesture.

I received your solicitation letter in the mail along with this phone number,read a text message he received Wednesday. After seeing, though, that you protested President Trumps executive order, and thus shamefully sided with those who are putting American lives in danger, I am no longer able to donate to your organization.

The message, Rapaport told JTA, was referring to a fundraising letter hesent a few weeks ago to about 1,500 top donors those who had given a one-time three-figure donation tothe New York-based Masbia Soup Kitchen Network.

Rapaport, who lives in the strongly Hasidic Borough Park neighborhood, said that other donors approached him in the street to complain about his stance on immigration following his show of support for the shop. Last week, after Yemeni-American bodega owners organized astriketo protest the presidents temporary travel ban, Rapaport showed his support by goingto a local store with other community members and pasting Post-it notes withmessages of love and solidarity on itsstorefront.

This isnt the first time Rapaports outspokenness has angered donors.

The 38-year-old father of sevenhas gotten complaints after he spoke up for immigrants previously and lost funders who wereunhappy that the strictly kosher soup kitchen serves anyone who wants a meal, regardless of religious background.

In December 2015, Rapaport attended a protest at New York City Hall following a call by Trump, then a presidential candidate, for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

While Rapaport has considered being less outspoken, he said hiding his views wouldnt be honest.

I dont want to take anyones money under false pretense. Yes, I am personally very pro-immigrant, and if that makes me unqualified for your donation, pleasedont give it to me, he told JTA.

The complaintscome at a critical time for Masbia, which isseeking to raise $250,000 to complete renovations for itsQueens location.

Masbiais now serving meals outside the old Queens building, which is being demolished, but weather conditions in the winter canmake it impossible. That means on some days, the over200 people served dinner by the soup kitchen may go hungry.

We are serving hot food on the street in front of our old site, right under the scaffolds of that building,Rapaport said.This is not the way we want to feed people.

News of the donor pushback, however, spurred someto increase their giving, such asRabbi Jonah Geffen, whose Upper West Side synagogue has hosted a fundraiser for Masbia.

In a Facebook post, Geffen called on friends to join him in donating to the soup kitchen network. As of late Friday morning, the post had raised over $2,000 through Facebook posts anddonations made directly through Masbias website, Rapaport said.

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This Orthodox soup kitchen director rallied support for his Yemeni neighbors. Some donors aren’t happy. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Gods Wall Hasidic

One of the greatest privileges of living in Jerusalem, is that you can visit the Western Wall at any given time for just $1.75!

The Western Wall is a small remnantof the majestic Herodian wall that encircled the Temple Mount. The wall served as a fortification for the Temple, but more importantly, it was the border of the common world and the Divine. Outside these walls is the world of money, power, greed and lust; within these walls is Gods Presence, and therefore, love, charity, blessing and purity.

In 70 C.E. when the Romans conquered the Holy Land and destroyed its cities, the Jews of Jerusalem found refuge in the Temple. The people were protected by the Temple, and the Temple was protected by the mountains Wall. When the wall finally succumbed to the enemys lethal blows, the Temple and Jewish life in their homeland were immediately destroyed, too.

Yet, like herpeople, the Wall was not completely destroyed; herwestern part survived. Like herpeople, the Wall changed hands from century to century, from one kingdom to another, butwas not weakened by forces wishing to compromise herdignity and loyalty to her purpose. Like her people, while it is ironic to refer to the small surviving fragment as grandeur, you cannot help feel so when looking upon her strength and perseverance. Like her people, we can mourn the loss of her full glory by appreciating the small portion that still stands.

The Jewish people always felt connected to the Western Wall, for to us, this Great Wall is not just a structure built of stone; it is the story of our existence and the miracle of our survival. When prayingat the Wall we confide with the only friend that understandsand the only shoulder upon where we can shed a tear.We came from Spain in 1492, from Poland in 1648, from Lithuania in 1914, from Germany in 1936, and every year in between; poured ouranguish into the cracks of the Wall, and the Wall silently cried with us, sharing similar fate. Indeed a Wailing Wall.

But at the same time, the Wall gives us great hope. It shows us that even if we are severely injured we can never be wiped out. Even if others rule over us, we can stand tall and strong as ever. It is why you can see marriage ceremonies and Bar Mitzva celebrations among other festivities in the Kotel Plaza, we dont only come to mourn in pain; we also come to tocelebrate blessing.

The bricks of this Wall are cemented together by tears of joy and hope. And millions of notes.

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Gods Wall Hasidic

Hasidic Real Estate | Yoel Goldman | Satmar Real Estate

Hasidic investors and developers have transformed Brooklyn, but they remain in the shadows(Illustration by Lexi Pilgrim for The Real Deal)

TRD Special Report: On the day before Thanksgiving, Yoel Goldman phoned one of his go-to lenders with an urgent request.

The Brooklyn developer, who heads All Year Management , wanted to score a construction loan for his Albee Square project by Monday, which gave him just one business day to make it happen.

The lender, Gary Katz of Downtown Capital Partners, reminded him of Thanksgiving. But Goldman, who is from the Satmar sect of the Hasidic branch of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, countered: So you cant work Thanksgiving tomorrow, but you still have all of today, Friday and Sunday.

Katz tried an analogy. Wednesday, he told Goldman, is Erev Yontiff evening before the holy day in Yiddish and Friday is Chol HaMoed a weekday between two holy days. For most Hasidic Jews, Chol HaMoed is an occasion for family and Talmud study, not dealmaking.

Goldman got that, and held off. Property records show he ultimately received a $25 million mortgage from Downtown Capital and RWN Real Estate Partners on Christmas Eve.

The real estate investors who hail fromBrooklyns insular Hasidic communities are some of the industrys most active and powerful players. Over the past decade, theyve spent more than $2.5 billion on acquisitions in five prime Brooklyn neighborhoods, according to an analysis of property records by The Real Deal. But unlike their Grill Room-dining, art-collecting Manhattan counterparts, they prefer to stay in the shadows, their connections to properties masked through a network of frontmen and a labyrinth of LLCs. Most have no websites, and some have never been photographed.

Thisimmense cultural divide hasnt stopped them from transforming key neighborhoods into yuppie central, where rents and sales prices have skyrocketed. From the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2016, the average apartment sales price in Williamsburg doubled from $668,956 to $1.3 million, according to real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel. The average sales price in Bedford-Stuyvesant jumped 67.8 percent, to $877,225, and average monthly rents in Bushwick jumped 70.6 percent, to $2,643. Borough-wide over the same period, the average sales price climbed by 38.8 percent, to $816,827, and average monthly rents rose 26.2 percent, to $3,137, the data show.

The Hasidic community helped create the frenzy [in Brooklyn] we have today, said Pinnacle Realtys David Junik. They let the market explode after that.

A clandestine empire

Any Brooklynite could tell you the Hasidimare prominent landlords in the borough. But the extent of their dominion long remained unclear.

These 10 addresses in Hasidic Williamsburg are linked to over $2.5 billion in real estate purchases (source: The Real Deal analysis of city property records)

TRD reviewed every building purchase in five of the boroughs fastest-growing neighborhoods Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Borough Park between January 2006 and mid-June 2016. Over this period, 10 addresses affiliated with one or more firms were each responsible for at least $100 million in purchases. The analysis included only addresses where the total expenditure involved five or more separate purchases, indicating repeat bets on neighborhoods. Firms like Forest City Ratner, Two Trees Management and Spitzer Enterprises, for example, also spent big on these neighborhoods, but made fewer deals.

The 10 addresses (see chart above) were predominantly clustered in South Williamsburg and Borough Park. In Williamsburg, they include 390 Berry Street, 320 Roebling Street, 266 Broadway, 183 Wilson Street, 543 Bedford Avenue, 199 Lee Avenue and 505 Flushing Avenue. Mapping them out north to south takes you on a walking tour through the heart of the neighborhoods Hasidic enclave.

The addresses point to a whos who of Brooklyn real estate: Simon Dushinsky and Isaac Rabinowitzs Rabsky Group;Joseph Brunner and Abe Mandels Bruman Realty; Yoel Goldmans All Year Management; Joel Glucks Spencer Equity; Joel Schwartz; the Hager family; and Joel Schreibers Waterbridge Capital.

One address, 199 Lee Avenue, is affiliated with an incredible 1,400 LLCs. Over the 10-year period, the mailbox hub on Hasidic Wiliamsburgs main commercial corridor is linked to 423 purchases totaling $583.5 million, the data show.

Some of the biggest deals were Goldmans April 2016 purchase of part of the Rheingold Brewery site in Bushwick for $72.2 million, and Goldman and Toby Moskovits 2012 purchase of the Williamsburg Generator site at 25 Kent Avenue for $31.8 million. (Goldman is no longer an investor in the 480,000-square-foot Generator office project.)

Dushinsky, Goldman, Brunner and Mandel are considered the heavyweights. Goldman, who is in his mid-30s, owns a portfolio of more than 140 rental buildings. The bulk of his holdings were included in his bond offering on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and were valued at $850 million, according to a recent filing. Hes also looking to build up to 900 rental apartments at a 1 million-square-foot complex at the former Rheingold Brewery site. Brunner and Mandel, also in their 30s, own more than 100 buildings.Dushinsky, who is in his 40s, has more than 600,000 square feet under development, including a 500-unit project at the Rheingold site. Hes also pushing for a rezoning at the former Pfizer site at the edge of Bed-Stuy that would allow him to develop a 777-unit rental complex.

A rendering of All Year Managements Rheingold Brewery project (credit: ODA New York)

Most of these investors, believers in the concept of ayin ha-ra or evil eye, either didnt respond to requests for comment for this story or declined to comment. Dozens of market sources who spoke to TRD for this story did so under condition of anonymity, for fear of antagonizing them.

They believe their success happens because theyre under the radar, a former employee at a top financial brokerage said. Blessings come from God for staying private.

The pious ones

During and after World War II, thousands of Hasidim migrated from places such as Hungary, Romania, Poland and South Ukraine to Williamsburg and Borough Park. Joel Teitelbaum, the founder of the Satmar Hasidic movement, urged the young men to balance their prayers with jobs that would provide for the community. Some went into the diamond trade, kosher foods, garments and light manufacturing. Real estate was particularly appealing because for a long time, Jews in Europe were barred from owning land.

There was a deeply psychological aspect to owning real estate that drove the first wave, a source said. There wasnt a notion that they could get rich off this.

Today, their approach to the business is completely different. Hasidic investors including those from the Vizhnitz, Satmar, Klausenberg and Ger dynasties are among the fastest-moving dealmakers in the industry, and have jumped headfirst into property speculation and large-scale development.

For decades, the Satmars had been lobbying for the Williamsburg-Greenpoint rezoning, which came to pass in 2005 and transformed a roughly 175-block area along the East River from industrial to residential and mixed-use. The rezoning led to a luxury condominium and rental boom in the borough, but when the market turned in 2008, development and lending slowed. A select few Hasidic firms then bought nonperforming mortgages.

A lot of capital withdrew from real estate, said Gabriel Boyar of Columbia River Capital Advisors, a real estate investment and advisory firm. Those who remained doubled down and acquired assets at a cheap price.

By the early 2010s, as the industry recovered, the firms brought those buildings or parcels to market, reaping large gains.

These days, the Hasidim are some of the keenest practitioners of the buy-and-flip, often employing the 1031 deferred-tax exchange to plough profits from one deal into the next. They also use their construction savvy to get projects moving before selling them at a premium.

Rabsky, for example, bought a former silverware factory at 51 Jay Street in Dumbo for $25 million in 2012. Within a year, the firm secured approval for a one-story addition as part of a proposed residential conversion, and then sold the building to Silverstone Property Group for $45.5 million. Silverstones Martin Nussbaum and David Schwartz, who later formed Slate Property Group, partnered with Adam America Real Estate to develop it into 73 condo units and a townhouse. Thelate Satmar president Isaac Rosenberg and his brother Abraham, after securing a zoning variance at 462-484 Kent Avenue, put the site on the market for $210 million, drawing interest from the likes of HFZ Capital Group and Michael Fascitelli.

Blessings come from God for staying private.

The business became more of a trade than a long-term investment, said a prominent lawyer for Hasidim-led firms. They used to look at yield over 30 years. Theres more of a shorter vision now just two to three years.

Despite this more frenetic pace, many things remain as they were. Developers often live and work on the ground floor of buildings they own. Theyre uncomfortable dining out, unlike the Gary Barnetts of the world who frequent kosher hotspots such as the Prime Grill.Their schmoozing happens at school functions, weddings and synagogue.

Two of the largest Satmar synagogues, located on Rodney Street and Hooper Street respectively, are both called Congregation Yetev Lev DSatmar. Inside them, investors chit-chat at the ritual bath known as a mikvah. You see people, one source said, and you just bullshit.

Given that the poverty rate in the Hasidic community 43 percent, according to a 2011 UJA-Federation of New York study is the highest among Orthodox Jews, the developers patronage of yeshivas and synagogues gives them a lofty status.

Real estate is not a big employer, said Philip Fishman, author of A Sukkah Is Burning: Remembering Williamsburgs Hasidic Transformation. Its only a few percent of the total community, but some [developers] may be worth tens of millions of dollars and are relied upon to support many of the poor people.

The ultra-Orthodox enclaveof Williamsburg a top beneficiary of Section 8 housing vouchers is almost exclusively Hasidic, while Borough Park is home to both Hasidic and Haredi Jews. Due to extremely high birth rates, the Hasidic population in Brooklyn has been forced to spread south of Williamsburg into northern Bed-Stuy and expand its footprint in the heavily Orthodox village of Kiryas Joel upstate, Fishman said.

Along with secular housing, developers like Rabsky continue to build religious housing by Jews, for Jews, as a source put it. The projects typically hold cookie-cutter units that are sold at discounts. There is also a loose rule to preserve housing for fellow Hasidim: If one buys a building owned by a non-Jew, he may market it to hipsters. If one buys a building from a paisan, however, he should keep it as is.Luxury buildings in Williamsburg like the Gretsch a condo conversion at 60 Broadway by Orthodox Jewish developers Martin and Edward Wydra, where a penthouse sold in 2013 for $4.3 million faced strong opposition from the Hasidic community.

Though there are occasional displays of wealth among the Hasidim rich men, or gvirim, may sport a felt derby hat from Bencraft Hatters, which offers more than 100 styles they are far removed from the flashes of excess seen among others in the industry.

If you dont have a 72-foot Azimut yacht, two Ferraris and three houses, what the hell do you do with your money? a source said.

Mishpacha

The Hasidim have become masters of the deal syndication model pioneered by late titan Harry Helmsley: To make an acquisition, they bring in anywhere from dozens to thousands of small-time equity investors, both local and international. Though their operations have grown more sophisticated, company heads tend to steer clear of dense Excel spreadsheets to run the numbers on a prospective deal.

These guys are still very old school, a lender source said. Theyve memorized half the Talmud they prefer to do complex calculations in their head.

Their approach to financing projects also stands out. While firmssuch as Two Trees Management and Tishman Speyer shoot for the big institutional loan up-front, many Hasidim wait until just before breaking ground to line up funds. They prefer to finance in smaller loan increments over multiple stages, whichallows them to tweak their design plans or bring in new partners, and then subsequently restructure the financing, sources said. Josh Zegen, co-founder of Madison Realty Capital, said this approach is more of a middle-market entrepreneur thing in general.

As values increased, some sponsors have refinanced their properties during the course of development, using leverage to return equity to their investors, Boyar said. Once the property is fully leased and operating, they can secure long-term debt. By contrast, he added, institutional developers have been able to take advantage of the capital markets and finance their developments early on at lower interest rates.

If you dont have a 72-foot Azimut yacht, two Ferraris and three houses, what the hell do you do with your money?

Most Hasidic investors rely on hard money lenders, a cadre that includes G4 Capital Partners, Emerald Creek Capital, Downtown Capital Partners and Trevian Capital. They also tap development and investment firms like Madison Realty Capital and Ari Shalams RWN Real Estate Partners, the family office of Apollo Global Management co-founder Marc Rowan.

But some of the bigger players have been able to lock in major banks and other institutional lenders.

In the past year, Rabsky secured $95 million from TD Bank to refinance its debt at Leonard Pointe and an $80 million acquisition loan from Bank Leumi for a development site it bought from Forest City Ratner. For the Rheingold Brewery redevelopment, Madison Realty Capital and Bank Leumi provided acquisition financing $70 million to All Year and $50 million to Rabsky, respectively.

Other banks that work with the bigger Hasidic firmsinclude Dime Savings Bank, Santander Bank, Centennial Bank, Bank United and Modern Bank, sources said.

Some Hasidim have taken their quest for funds to the the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Goldman, for example, raised $166 million to date, from a total of two bond issuances. Pooling properties together makes them easier to refinance, a source said. But others in the community, reluctant for the spotlight that comes from being in the public markets, avoid this path.

Amid the deal frenzy, the Hasidim are also dabbling in trading debt.

These guys are very liquid, said a prominent financing broker. Youll see them very strategically buying notes on properties, but only within their own strike zone. They are very, very good in the markets that they know.

The outside world

The Hasidim are encouraged to remain insular except when it comes to business.

Some developers from the community have become especially skilled at making a high-end product for young and upwardly mobile professionals, Jewish or otherwise.

Theyve memorized half the Talmud they prefer to do complex calculations in their head.

Theyre informed about new trends to the extent that it might be shocking, said Eran Chen, founder of ODA New York, which is designing the Rheingold Brewery sites for Goldman and Rabsky. If you sell something and do it well, its still not something that you would necessarily buy [for yourself].

The Rabsky principals, for example, proposed a series of treehouses in landscaped Zen gardens located throughout the under-construction building at 10 Montieth Street. That property will boast a 25,000-square-foot zigzagging landscaped roof for biking, running and gardening.

A rendering of 10 Montieth Street (credit: ODA New York)

We have conversations about amenity spaces Ive never had before typologies that dont exist, Chen said.People have a preconceived view: that they dont experience the city as we do.But they walk around the projects we do, they read, and they have the ability to quickly gain knowledge.

The Hasidimare more than willing to do deals with outsiders, brokers said, but its not always easy to get their ear.

If you call an owner in Brooklyn and speak Yiddish, youre going to get a lot further, said Gabriel Saffioti, who along with colleague Nicole Rabinowitsch left Eastern Consolidated earlier this year to launch Williamsburg-based brokerage Constellation Real Estate Advisors. Rabinowitsch said she hands out business cards at kosher Williamsburg eatery Gottliebs to draw potential clients.

Despite their best efforts, Hasidic investorshave recently drawnincreasedattention and controversy.

Late last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released a list of landlords with properties that benefit from 421a tax abatements but allegedly dont offer rent-regulated leases to tenants. Rabsky, which was also accused of abusing preferential rent rules at a Williamsburg rental building in a ProPublica investigation, was one of the landlords. The firm denies the claims.

In March,Allure Group, a for-profit nursing-home operator led by Solomon Rubin of the Borough Park-based Bobov Hasidic sect, made headlines for its role in the controversial $116 million sale of Rivington House to developers Slate Property Group, Adam America and China Vanke. The deal is in the center of multiple investigations, including one by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. In June, Schneiderman prevented Allure from closingon two other nursing home purchases, citing the Rivington House deal.

We have conversations about amenity spaces Ive never had before typologies that dont exist. ODA New Yorks Eran Chen

Perhaps the most notorious within industry circles is Chaim Miller, who got his start working for developer Abraham Leser. A recent investigation by TRD found that Miller, whose assets include the Beekman Tower in Midtown East, has been sued at least 18 times since 2014 byat least 29 individuals and entities.

In recent months, the real estate market slowdown has madeHasidic firms, like others, far more selective about deals. But looking at their overall impact over the decade, its clear theyve been the dominant force in shaping Brooklyn real estate.

For the sake of their business and their community, they need to create an experience they never had, Chensaid. Through this, there is the opportunity for innovation.

Yoryi DeLaRosa and Hiten Samtani contributed reporting.

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Hasidic Real Estate | Yoel Goldman | Satmar Real Estate

Kaliv (Hasidic dynasty) – Wikipedia

The Kaliver Dynasty began with Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Taub (1744-1821) of Nagykll (in Yiddish Kaliv, Kalov, Kalev), Hungary. He was the first Hassidic Rebbe in Hungary. He was discovered by Rabbi Leib Sarah’s, a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. Rabbi Leib first met Rabbi Isaac when he was a small child, a small shepherd boy. Rabbi Leib told his mother, a widow, that her son was destined to be a great Tzaddik. He took the small child to Nikolsburg to learn with Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg. Rabbi Isaac grew to be a great rebbe and was known as “the Sweet Singer of Israel”. He composed many popular Hasidic melodies. Often he adapted Hungarian folk songs, adding Jewish words. He taught that the tunes he heard were really from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and were lost among the nations over the years, and he found them and returned them to the Jewish people. He said that the proof that it was true was that the gentile who would teach him the song would forget it as soon as the rebbe learned it. He was famous for composing the traditional Hungarian Hasidic tune “Szl a kakas mr”.

Today there are two Kaliver Rebbes. They are distinguished by the spelling of their title. The rebbe in Jerusalem is called the Kaliver Rebbe, (Hebrew: ” ). The rebbe in New York is the Kalover Rebbe, (Hebrew: ” ).

Grand Rebbe Menachem Mendel Taub is the Kaliver Rebbe in Israel, the son of the Rozler Rov, and son-in-law of Grand Rabbi Pinchos Shapiro, the Kechneyer Rebbe, scion of the Nadvorna Dynasty.

In 1944 he was put on a transport to Auschwitz by the Nazis, and he arrived there three days before Shavuos. He was transferred from there to the Warsaw Ghetto and the Breslau concentration camp, and later to Bergen-Belsen. Six months after the war ended he discovered that his wife had survived, and they were reunited in Sweden. In 1947 they migrated to the United States of America, where he began his work in memorializing the Holocaust in Cleveland, Ohio .[1]

He moved to Israel in 1962. Upon coming to Israel, the Rebbe created Kiryas Kaliv in Rishon LeZion. The foundation stone was laid on 7 Adar 5723 (3 March 1963), the day of the Yahrtzeit of the founder of the dynasty, Grand Rabbi Isaac Taub. Recently a property developer acting on behalf of the Kaliver Rebbe of Jerusalem submitted plans to the Rishon LeZion municipality seeking permission to destroy the synagogue and drive out the religious residents of Kiryas Kaliv to take advantage of soaring property prices in the area and build high rise blocks for sale on the open market. Several years later he moved his headquarters to Bnei Brak. In 2004, the rebbe’s court moved to Jerusalem.

During the last 60 years, since World War II, the rebbe has traveled to millions of Jews with his story and the saying of Shema Yisrael. He is also active in Jewish outreach and holds regular lectures for groups of professionals, including doctors and police officers. In addition, a Network of Kollelim, An Encyclopedia Project, and Several other divisions of Kaliv have been founded.

Grand Rebbe Moses Taub is the Kalover Rebbe. His synagogue is in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. His father was the previous Kalover Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Menachem Shlomo Taub, the author of Chakal Tapuchin. The present rebbe travels all around the world teaching Jewish people about Judaism.

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Kaliv (Hasidic dynasty) – Wikipedia

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Holy Rollers (2010) – IMDb

NYC judge is first Hasidic Jewish woman in U.S. public …

NYC judge is first Hasidic Jewish woman in U.S. public office

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Monday, December 26, 2016, 11:40 PM

The people of Brooklyn are used to making history and they did it again this year after voting in the countrys first Hasidic Jewish woman to serve in public office.

Its an incredible feeling, said Rachel Freier, who was sworn in just last week as a New York City Civil Court judge.

Freier, a real estate attorney and community activist, was endorsed in the September Democratic primaries by the Daily News to beat attorneys Morton Avigdor and Jill Epstein for Brooklyns 5th Judicial District seat.

One of my missions is to prove to the girls out there that you can be devotedly religious and not have to compromise your standards to be successful in the business or professional world, said Freier, a Touro College and Brooklyn Law School graduate.

Jewish women in Brooklyn launch EMT service

In November, Freier won in a landslide with 74% of the vote.

The Borough Park trailblazers 10-year term will officially begin Jan. 3.

Civil Court judges can be assigned to various lower court cases, including commercial landlord-tenant, small claims and civil motions.

I didnt become a lawyer until I was 40. I was an older student. I was an older first-year lawyer, always older. Now I finally caught up, said Freier, a mother of six.

I love my role as a woman. We dont have to lose our identity as women to become professionals, she added.

Freier said she thanks the pioneers of the civil rights movement and the United States for opening their doors to Holocaust survivors like her grandparents and parents.

Freier, 51, founded the first female volunteer ambulance service in Brooklyn called Ezras Nashim Hebrew for helping women and also volunteers with the Flatlands Ambulance Corp.

Freiers roles with those emergency units inspired her to become a paramedic in 2015.

It was an eye-opener for me because I was taking my experience from home and going out to the Canarsie community into peoples homes and catching them when theyre in a crisis, helping them and giving them care, said Freier, who hopes to continue volunteering.

Its an incredible feeling of taking what I learned from my home and helping someone from a different community, and I want to be able to do the same thing on the bench.

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NYC judge is first Hasidic Jewish woman in U.S. public …

Satmar (Hasidic dynasty) – Wikipedia

Satmar (Hebrew: or ) is a Hasidic sect originating from the city of Satu Mare, Transylvania, where it was founded in 1905 by Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum. Following World War II it was re-established in New York, becoming one of the largest Hasidic movements in the world. After Joel’s death, he was succeeded by his nephew, Moshe Teitelbaum. Since the latter’s death in 2006, the dynasty is split between his two sons, Aaron Teitelbaum and Zalman Teitelbaum.

Satmar is estimated to be one of the largest Hasidic dynasties in the world:[citation needed] The estimated number of affiliated men, women, and children ranges between 50,000 and 120,000. It is characterized by extreme religious rigidity, rejection of modern culture, and fierce anti-Zionism. Satmar sponsors a comprehensive education and media system in Yiddish, and its members use Yiddish as a primary language. The sect also serves as the leading power within those ultra-Orthodox circles which oppose the State of Israel, heading the Central Rabbinical Congress and providing most donations for the Orthodox Council of Jerusalem.

Upon the death of Chananya Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum, the Grand Rebbe of the Sighet Hasidic dynasty, in 1904, he was succeeded by his oldest son, Chaim Tzvi Teitelbaum. A small fraction of his hasidim regarded his second son, Joel Teitelbaum, as the appropriate heir. The younger brother left Sighet. On 8 September 1905, he settled in Szatmrnmeti (in Yiddish: Satmar), where he began to attract a small following in addition to his few old supporters. Hungarian journalist Dezs Schn, who researched the Teitelbaum rabbis in the 1930s, wrote that Joel started referring to himself as the “Rebbe of Satmar” at that time.[1][2]

Joel’s power base grew with the years. In 1911, he received his first rabbinical post, being appointed chief rabbi of Irshava. In 1921, the northeastern regions of Hungary, which were densely populated with Orthodox Jews, were ceded to Czechoslovakia and Romania under the terms of the Treaty of Trianon. Many Sighet hasidim, unable to regularly visit Chaim Tzvi’s court, turned to Joel instead.[3] In 1925, Joel was appointed chief Orthodox rabbi of Carei. On 21 January 1926, Chaim Tzvi died unexpectedly, leaving his fourteen-year-old son, Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum (II) to succeed him. Chaim Tzvi’s followers accepted Joel as their leader, and Joel became the dynasty’s head in all but name.[4] In 1928, Joel was elected as chief Orthodox rabbi of Satu Mare itself. The appointment resulted in bitter strife within the Jewish community, and Joel only accepted the post in 1934.[1]:320

Joel rose to become a prominent figure in Orthodox circles, leading an uncompromisingly conservative line against modernization. Among other issues, he was a fierce opponent of Zionism and Agudat Yisrael.

On 19 March 1944, the German Army entered Hungary. The Jewish population, which was spared wholesale destruction prior to that time, was concentrated in the Satu Mare ghetto, and deportations to the concentration camps ensued. Joel sought to reassure the frightened people who for the most part weren’t able to leave the country, saying that in the merit of their religiosity, they will be saved. However, when the Germans invaded, he was saved by his devoted followers who paid a huge ransom to have him included in the passenger list of the Kastner train. Joel reached Switzerland on the night of 78 December 1944, and soon immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine. Many of Joel’s followers whom he left behind were killed by the Nazis.

Joel chose to move to the United States following his last daughter’s death in Jerusalem, after a year,[5] arriving in New York aboard the MS Vulcania on 26 September 1946.[6]

Joel settled in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a small group of followers, and set out to re-establish his sect, which was destroyed in the Holocaust. His arrival in America allowed him to fully implement his views: The separation of religion and state enabled the Satmars, as well as numerous other Jewish sects, to establish independent communities, unlike the state-regulated structures in Central Europe.[7]:30 In April 1948, his adherents founded “Congregation Yetev Lev”, which was registered as a religious corporation.[2]:47 Teitelbaum appointed Leopold Friedman (1904-1972), a former bank director, as the congregation’s president, while he was declared supreme spiritual authority. After his death, Friedman was replaced by Leopold Lefkowitz (19201998).[7] The Grand Rebbe’s policy was to maintain complete independence by refusing to affiliate or receive financial aid from any other Jewish group;[8] his hasidim established a network of businesses which provided an economic base for the community’s own social institutions.[7]:3234

The Satmar group grew rapidly, attracting many new followers. A 1961 survey established that its Williamsburg community included 4,500 people. From the 860 household heads, about 40 percent were neither Satmar nor Sighet Hasidim in the pre-war years.[2]:47, 262 In 1968, Satmar was New York’s largest Hasidic group, with 1,300 households in the city. In addition, there were many Satmars in other parts of the United States, and worldwide.[9] As part of his vision of complete isolation from the outside world, Joel encouraged his followers, many of whom were immigrants from former Greater Hungary who spoke primarily German or Hungarian, to use only Yiddish. The sect had its own Yiddish-oriented education system and several publishing houses which provided extensive reading material. His work in this matter made him, according to Bruce Mitchell, the “most influential figure” in the maintenance of the language in the post-war period.[10] The uniformity of Satmar in America enabled to tutor the young in it, unlike at Europe: George Kranzler noted already in 1961 that the children speak Yiddish much better than their parents.[11]

On 23 February 1968, Joel suffered a stroke, which left him barely functioning. His second wife, Alte Feiga, administered the sect for the remainder of Joel’s life with the assistance of several Satmar functionaries.[9]:85

In 1974, the sect began constructing the housing project Kiryas Joel in Monroe, New York for its members. It was accorded an independent municipal status in 1977.[9]:207 On 19 August 1979, the Grand Rebbe died of a heart attack.

Joel was not survived by any children – all his three daughters died in his lifetime. After prolonged vacillations by the community board, his nephew Moshe Teitelbaum, Chaim Tzvi’s second son, was appointed as successor, in spite of Feiga’s severe objections. Moshe was proclaimed Rebbe on 8 August 1980, the first anniversary of his uncle’s death by the Hebrew calendar.[9]:126128 The great majority of Hasidim accepted the new leader, though a small faction called Bnei Yoel, which was unofficially led by Feiga, opposed him. The tense relations between both led to several violent incidents in the 1980s.[11]:229 The new Rebbe appointed his firstborn son, Aaron Teitelbaum, to chief rabbi of Kiryas Joel in 1984. Both incurred opposition from elements within the sect. They were blamed for exercising a centralized leadership style and for lack of sufficient zealotry.[9]:209211

In 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the case of Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet that a school district whose boundaries had been drawn to include only Satmar children violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Until the late 1990s, Moshe’s heir apparent was his oldest son, Aaron Teitelbaum. In 1999, his third son, Zalman Teitelbaum, was recalled from his post as Satmar chief rabbi in Jerusalem and received the parallel post in the sect’s largest enclave, Williamsburg. He was later proclaimed successor, and an often violent struggle between both brothers ensued. Aaron resided in Kiryas Joel, New York, where he was considered as the local authority, while Zalman held sway in Williamsburg.[12]

Following Moshe’s death in 2006, both groups of followers announced their candidate was named successor in his will and declared them Rebbes. Since then, Zalman and Aaron have been engaged in prolonged judicial disputes. The sect has effectively been split into two independent ones.

At the time of Reb Moshe Teitelbaum’s death, sources within the sect estimated it had 119,000 members worldwide, making it the world’s largest Hasidic group.[13] A similar figure of 120,000 was cited by sociologist Samuel Heilman.[14][15] However, anthropologist Jacques Gutwirth estimated in 2004 that Satmar numbered about 50,000.[16] As of 2006, the dynasty controlled assets worth $1 billion in the United States.[13]

The two largest Satmar communities are in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Kiryas Joel, New York. There are also significant Satmar communities in Borough Park, Brooklyn, and Monsey, New York. Smaller communities can be found in other North American cities such as Los Angeles, Lakewood, New Jersey, Montreal, in some European cities such as Antwerp, London, and Manchester, in Argentina, Australia, and Israel.

In addition to the Grand Rabbis two main congregations, Chaim Yehoshua Halberstam, chief rabbi of the Satmar community in Monsey, New York, became its local leader. Unlike the two brothers, Halberstam does not lay claim to the entire sect, though he conducts himself in the manner of a Hasidic Rebbe, accepting Kvitel and holding tish. Another son, Reb Lipa Teitelbaum, established his own congregation and calls himself Zenter Rabbi, after the town Senta, Serbia, where his father served as Rabbi before World War II.

Both the demeanor and principles of Satmar reflect Joel Teitelbaum’s adherence to the Hungarian Ultra-Orthodox school of thought (not to be confused with ‘Ultra-Orthodox Judaism’).[17] This stream was founded by Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein and his son-in-law Akiva Yosef Schlesinger in the 1860s, on the eve of the Schism in Hungarian Jewry. Faced with rapid acculturation and a decline in religious observance, Lichtenstein preached utter rejection of modernity, widely applying the words of his teacher, Moses Sofer: “All New is Forbidden by the Torah.” Schlesinger accorded Yiddish and traditional Jewish garb a religious status, idealizing them as means to maintain separation from the outside world. To reinforce his opposition to secular studies and use of vernacular, Akiva turned outside of Jewish Law and based his rulings on the non-legalistic Aggadah. The Ultra-Orthodox believed the main threat were not the liberal Neologs, who advocated religious reform, but the moderate traditionalists; they directed their attacks chiefly against the modern Orthodox Azriel Hildesheimer. Their power base lay among the Unterlander Jews of northeastern Hungaryroughly present-day eastern Slovakia, Zakarpattia Oblast and Northern Transylvaniawhere progress made little headway, and the local Galician-descended Jews were poor, unacculturated and strongly influenced by Hasidism. Sighet, as well as most other Hungarian hasidic dynasties, originated from these regions.[18] Lichtenstein’s successors were no less rigid: the leading Ultra-Orthodox authority in the Interwar period, Chaim Elazar Spira of Mukaevo, regarded the Orthodox Agudath Israel as a demonic force as much as both religious and secular Zionism. He demanded complete political passivity, stating that any action to the contrary was akin to disbelief in divine providence. While the Aguda opposed Zionism for seeing it as anti-religious, Spira viewed their plan for establishing an independent state before the arrival of the Messiah a “forcing of the end”, trying to bring Redemption before God prescribed it. In addition, he was an avowed anti-modernist: he sharply denounced Avraham Mordechai Alter, Rebbe of Ger, for introducing secular studies and allowing girls to attend school, and criticized modern medicine, believing the treatments recorded in the Gemara to be superior.[19] Though personal relations between Spira and Joel Teitelbaum were tense, his ideological stance had a strong influence over the younger rabbi. Aviezer Ravitzky believed it remained unacknowledged in the latter’s writings due to the personal animosity between both.[20]

Already firmly anti-Agudist and anti-Zionist in the Interwar period, Teitelbaum had to contend with the issues which baffled world Jewry in the aftermath of World War II: the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. In 1959, he laid down his theological response in the book And Moses Was Content (Hebrew: “Va-Yo’el Moshe”; the title is from Exodus 2:21). The book contained three segments; the first was devoted to Teitelbaum’s interpretation of an Aggadatic text from tractate Ketubot in the Talmud, the Midrash of the Three Oaths. It discusses the meaning of a phrase quoted thrice in the Song of Solomon (2:7, 3:5, 8:4): “I charge you… that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.” The passage explains it as a reference to three oaths forced by God; two on the Children of Israelthat they “shall not go up” (migrate en masse) to their land before redemption, and neither rebel against the gentile nations among which they are exiledand the third upon all nations, “that they shall not oppress Israel too much.” Teitelbaum argued that the first two are binding and eternal, and that their intent was to keep the people in divinely decreed exile until they would all fully repent their sins and earn a solely miraculous salvation, without human interference. He sought to demonstrate that Rabbinic sages of the past were all aware of this nature of the Oaths, and even those who did not mention it, like Maimonides, did so because it was self-evident. His thesis was also meant to refute contrary pro-Zionist religious arguments: that its Aggadatic source made it non-binding, or that the Oaths were no longer valid, especially after the Gentiles “oppressed Israel too much” in the Holocaust. Based on this, Teitelbaum stated Zionism was a severe heresy and a rebellion against God, and that its pursuit brought about the Holocaust as a divine punishment; the continued existence of Israel was a major sin in itself, and would unavoidably lead to further retribution, as well as to the delaying of redemption. And Moses Was Content crystallized the Rabbi’s uncompromisingly hostile stance toward the state. The Oaths were not utilized as a central argument beforehand, and his analysis of them is Teitelbaum’s most notable contribution to Rabbinic literature. The link between Zionism and the Holocaust became a hallmark of his religious worldview.[20]:6366[17]:168180[21]

Teitelbaum’s rabbinic authority and wealthy supporters in the United States made him the leader of the radical, anti-Zionist flank of the Orthodox Jewish world. He adopted a policy of utter non-recognition towards the State of Israel, banning his adherents residing there to vote in the elections or to affiliate in any way with the state’s institutions. When he visited the country in 1959, a separate train was organized for him, with no Israeli markings. The educational network of Satmar and Edah HaChareidis, the latter also led by the Grand Rebbe, were fully independent and received funding from abroad. Satmar and allied elements refuse to receive social benefits or any other monetary aid from the government, and attack those non-Zionist Orthodox who do. He and his successors routinely condemned the Agudah and its supporters for taking part in Israeli politics. As to Religious Zionism, the Satmar Rebbe described its chief theologian, Abraham Isaac Kook, as “wicked adversary and enemy of our Holy Faith.” In 1967, when the Western Wall and other holy places fell under Israel’s control after the Six Day War, he reinforced his views in the 1968 pamphlet Concerning Redeeming and Concerning Changing (“A’l ha-Ge’ulah v-A’l ha-Tmurah”; Ruth 4:7), arguing the war was no miracleas opposed to statements by Menachem Mendel Schneerson of Chabad and others, which he condemned severelyand forbade to pray in the Wall or in the other sites, as it will grant legitimacy to Israel’s rule over them.[9]:3640 While providing support for the otherwise unrelated Neturei Karta, Satmar has not always condoned its actions. Joel denounced them in 1967 when they cooperated with Arabs, and in 2006, the Rabbinic court of Zalman Leib’s groups placed an anathema upon those who visited the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust.[22]

A stringent code of modesty is enforced in the group: Women are required to wear long, conservative skirts, garments with long sleeves, fully covered necklines, and have full stockings. Upon marriage, they have to don a scarf or a wig, or both; some Satmar women wear a wig with a hat on top of it. While in this, they are not very different from other Hasidic dynasties, the Grand Rebbe also had his own demands: He insisted that the stockings of women and girls be fully opaque, a norm accepted by other Hungarian Hasidic groups which revered him.[7]:30 Teitelbaum also opposed education for girls, opening Satmar’s “Beis Ruchl” school network only due to fearing that otherwise, many parents would send their daughters to “Beis Yaakov”.[11]:57

In 2016, it was learned that the sect issued a decree warning that university education for women is dangerous. Written in Yiddish, the decree warns:[23]

It has lately become the new trend that girls and married women are pursuing degrees in special education. Some attend classes and others online. And so wed like to let their parents know that it is against the Torah.

We will be very strict about this. No girls attending our school are allowed to study and get a degree. It is dangerous. Girls who will not abide will be forced to leave our school. Also, we will not give any jobs or teaching position in the school to girls whove been to college or have a degree.

We have to keep our school safe and we cant allow any secular influences in our holy environment. It is against the base upon which our Mosed was built.[23]

The decree was issued from the sects base in New York and will apply to followers of the faith group around the world.[23]

The sect operates numerous community foundations. Bikur Cholim (“visiting the sick”), established in 1957 by the Grand Rebbe’s wife Alte Feiga, concerns itself with helping hospitalized Jews regardless of affiliation. Rav Tuv aids Jewish refugees, originally founded in the 1950s to help Jews in the Soviet Union. Today, the organization mostly helps Jews from Iran and Yemen. Keren Hatzolah is a charitable fund to support yeshivas and the poor in Israel, providing for those who shun government benefits.

Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum founded a network of large educational institutions, both yeshivas and girls’ schools. If its schools in New York were a public school system, it would be the fourth-largest system in the state, after those of New York City, Buffalo and Rochester.[24] In most places, the girls’ schools are called Beis Rochel and the yeshivas Torah VeYirah. In 1953, Rabbi Teitelbaum founded the Central Rabbinical Congress of the United States and Canada, which provides various services, including a kashrut supervision. Satmar also operates its own Rabbinical courts, which settle various issues within the community by the principles of Jewish Law.

The sect has a Yiddish newspaper called Der Yid, now privatized, and various other Yiddish publications. It is currently identified with Zalman’s group; Der Blatt, established in 2000, is owned and run by a follower of Aaron.

Excerpt from:
Satmar (Hasidic dynasty) – Wikipedia

The Hasidic Men Who Saved An Arab Woman On A Plane | Jew …

When Hasidic men on airplanes are in the news, its generally not for a good reason. But what about all the polite and positive interactions that go on everyday, unreported? Or the heroic ones, like what happened on a flight this week from Tel Aviv to JFK, when two Satmar Hasidic men saved the day? Reb Beirish Shonbrun and Reb Avraham Meir Miller of Kiryas Joel, New York, were on a trip to Ukraine to support a small yeshiva in Kuresteen, where dozens of Jews are beginning their journey to an observant Jewish life. For the past 15 years, they have visited the community nearly monthly to teach them Torah, sustain them, and to help them make simchas (Shonbrun is a mohel in addition to running two businesses). They were just there to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah in Kuresteen and a Torah dedication in Israel and were flying home on Turkish Airlines.

The flight was halfway through its 10 hour travel time, and the plane was somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the passengers were asleep, but an Arab woman wasnt feeling well. She had gone to the planes rear galley to get help from a flight attendant, and as she approached the galley, she collapsed. An announcement was made asking that if anyone had medical training they should alert a flight attendant immediately. Not only is Shonbraun a Mohel and a business owner, he and his friend Miller are also longtime members of the Kiryas Joel Hatzolah (Shonbrun for 12 years and Miller for 20). Shonbrun immediately ran up the aisle towards the galley to help, while calling for Miller, who was asleep at the time, to wake up. Shonbrun recalls I had my kit and licenses with me. Even though there was a doctor on the plane, he didnt have his ID and so they had me help.

The woman was unresponsive and Shonbrun did what he could to wake her. When she became responsive again, she was began throwing up, and Shonbraun helped clean her up and take her vitals.By the time I got there, Miller says,Beirish was working hard to get a story out of her. We gave her water and ice and helped her sit up. Miller worked with a hijab-wearing translator to get a medical history since the patient spoke no English (or Yiddish). We stabilized her, Shonbrun says, The pilot asked if we needed to make an emergency landing, but by that time, she felt much better. We were able to avoid it. When the woman was safely back in her seat, Shonbrun and Miller told her where they were sitting so that she could follow up if need be. They went back to their seats. Miller recalls, The service was nice to begin with but from that moment on, everyone was just thrilled. Everyone couldnt thank us enough.

Back in New York now, Shonbrun is very humble about the whole experience. I became an EMT when I was young. In addition to my businesses in contracting and in roofing and sidingI grew up in Williamsburg and moved to Kiryas Joel when I got married 20 years ago. I try to help people all day. He is demure when asked about the lasting impact of the incident. It was a nice kiddush Hashem. A man came up to me and told me that he never saw anything like this. How did I do it? He asked me. He only ever sees Chasidim turn the plane upside down. But not this time.

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The Hasidic Men Who Saved An Arab Woman On A Plane | Jew …

Gay man blames brutal beating on Hasidic patrolmen linked …

A gay black man who was brutally beaten in 2013 by a group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men blames the attack on the ongoing NYPD corruption scandal, a new lawsuit filed Monday says.

Taj Patterson accuses the city and police officials of being in bed with members of the Shomrim saying the Satmar watchdog patrol group has for years been given favorable and preferential treatment, the Brooklyn federal court complaint says.

Patterson, who is openly gay, was left permanently blind in the left eye from the beat-down in Williamsburg, allegedly by the group of Hasidic patrolmen.

Five were ultimately arrested but Patterson says in his suit that the investigation was bungled and prematurely closed after Shomrim members made calls to the 90th Precinct.

The now-25-year-old says the city is responsible for his serious injuries because its allowed the close-knit relationship between the two groups to continue for years.

Taj Pattersons brutal beating, and his lack of access to adequate justice, was the inevitable result of the citys refusal to address these issues, the suit says.

One of the attackers, Pinchas Braver, received special treatment and rewards from the NYPD, including getting a tour of the 19th Precinct which was then run by ex-Deputy Inspector James Grant.

Grant was recently arrested with other NYPD officials on charges they took bribes from Jewish businessmen.

At the time of Pattersons attack, the 90th Precinct was led by Commander Mark DiPaolo, who allegedly took a trip to Israel with former Chief of Department Phillip Banks that was paid for by politically connected Jewish businessmen, the lawsuit notes.

In May, Abraham Winkler and Braver pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the attack in exchange for three years probation.

A third attacker, Mayer Herskovic, is headed to trial and charges against two others were dismissed.

A city Law Department spokesman said the complaint will be reviewed.

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Gay man blames brutal beating on Hasidic patrolmen linked …

Hasidic philosophy – Wikipedia

This article is about Hasidic philosophy. For an overview of the Hasidic movement, see Hasidic Judaism.

Hasidic philosophy or Hasidus (Hebrew: ), alternatively transliterated as Hassidism, Chassidism, Chassidut etc. is the teachings, interpretations, and practice of Judaism as articulated by the Hasidic movement. Thus, Hasidus is a framing term for the teachings of the Hasidic masters, expressed in its range from Torah (the Five books of Moses) to Kabbalah (Jewish mysticisim). Hasidus deals with a range of spiritual concepts such as God, the soul, and the Torah, and gives them understandable, applicable and practical expressions.[2][3] It also discusses the charismatic religious elements of the movement, but mainly Hasidus describes the structured thought and philosophy of Hasidim. In other words, it speaks of the “soul of Torah”, as Hasidus is often referred to by that very name.[4]

“Hasidus” (piousness) and “Hasid” (a pious person) are terms used in Jewish literature of all ages, and are not limited to adherents of the Hasidic movement, whose philosophy is discussed in this article.

The word derives from the Jewish spiritual term Hessed (or “Chessed”), commonly translated as “loving-kindness,” and which also means kindness, love and merciful behavior. It is also one of the 10 Sephirot of Kabbalah, which represents God’s provision of good and sustenance to the world, and the power underlying similar actions performed by human beings. The word “Hasidus,” sometimes pronounced “Hasidut”, as well as its appellation “hasid”,[5] has been used in Jewish tradition for pious persons who have sincere motives in serving God and helping others, especially when not obligated to do so (“lifenim mi-shurat ha-din”). The “Hasid” goes above and beyond what is demanded of him by ordinary morality and the boundaries of Halakha, the collective body of religious laws for Jews which derive from the Torah.

In Jewish religious practice, “Middat hasidut” is a religious observance or moral practice which goes beyond mere obedience to Halakha, it is an extraordinary act of good performed by an individual because of their love for a fellow person or for God. An early mention of the term “middat hasidut” appears in the Talmud (Baba Metzia 52:2), and thereafter it was used widely in Jewish Halakhic literature. Thus the term “hasid” should not be mistaken to refer solely to a follower of the Eastern European movement started by the Baal Shem Tov in the 18th century and its philosophy known as hasidus. Rather, “hasid” is a title used for many pious individuals and by many Jewish groups since Biblical times.[6] Some earlier European Jewish movements were also called by this name, such as the Hasidei Ashkenaz of medieval Germany.[6]

Today, however, the terms hasidus and hasid generally connote Hasidic philosophy and the followers of the Hasidic movement.[2][4] They refer to the mystical, populist revival of Judaism, initiated by Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer (the Baal Shem Tov) in 18th century Podolia and Volhynia (now Ukraine). His close disciples developed the philosophy in the early years of the movement. From the third generation, the select leadership mutually decided to split the Hasidic movement into smaller groups with the hope of more easily spreading hasidus across Eastern Europe. These new leaders, who until now were all adherents of the second generation leader, settled in cities from Poland, Hungary and Romania, to Lithuania and Russia.[5]

Hasidic tradition and thought has gained admirers[2][5] from outside its immediate following, and outside Orthodox Jewish belief, for its charismatic inspiration and kabbalistic insights. “asidism should in Jewish history be classed among the most momentous spiritual revolutions that have influenced the social life of the Jews, particularly those of eastern Europe.”[5]

Distilling a culture of Jewish religious life that began before the arrival of modernity, its stories, anecdotes, and creative teachings have offered spiritual dimensions for people today. In its more systematic and intellectual articulations, however, it is also a form of traditional Jewish interpretation (exegesis) of Scriptural and Rabbinic texts, a new stage in the development of Jewish mysticism, and a philosophically illuminated system of theology that can be contrasted with earlier, mainstream Jewish Philosophy. This quality can bridge and unite the different disciplines of philosophy and mysticism[5] (in the older Jewish tradition of Kabbalah, experiential connection with spirituality takes place through a highly elaborate conceptual theology and textual interpretation, in contrast with some common, more intuitive definitions of mysticism; new ideas derive authority from Scriptural interpretation, and therefore gain an intellectual organisation). Hasidic thought builds upon Kabbalah,[5] and is sometimes called a new stage in its development. However, this generalisation is misleading (although implicit in Hasidus are new interpretations of Kabbalah, that can be drawn out and related to its new philosophical positions). Kabbalah gives the complete structure of traditional Jewish metaphysics, using subtle categorisations and metaphors. This studies the Divine interaction with Creation, through describing the emanations that reveal, and mediate Godliness. Because of the concern to divest these ideas from any physical connotations, Kabbalists traditionally restricted their transmission to closed circles of advanced scholars, for fear of misinterpreting sensitive concepts. Hasidus leaves aside the Kabbalistic focus on complicated metaphysical emanations, to look at the simple essence of Divinity that it sees permeating within each level, and transcending all. Hasidus looks to the inner spiritual meaning within Kabbalah by relating its ideas to man’s inner psychological awareness, and conceptual analogies from man’s observation. This independence from the esoteric nature of Kabbalah, gives Hasidic thought its ability to be expressed in its spiritual stories, tangible teachings, and emotional practices, as well as the ability to pervade and illuminate other levels of Torah interpretation, not only the hidden ideas of Kabbalah. Hasidus only utilises Kabbalistic terminology when it explains and enlivens the Kabbalistic level of Torah interpretation. This distinctive ability to bring Kabbalah into intellectual and emotional grasp, is only one of the characteristics and forms of Hasidic thought. The more involved Hasidic writings use Kabbalah extensively, according to their alternative paths within Hasidism, but only as a means to describe the inner processes of spirituality, as they relate to man’s devotional life. The spiritual contribution of the range of Hasidus avoids the concerns that traditionally restricted Kabbalah, and for the first time,[5] offered the whole population access to the inner dimensions of Judaism.

The new interpretations of Judaism initiated by the Baal Shem Tov, and developed by his successors, took ideas from across Jewish tradition, and gave them new life and meaning. It especially built upon the mystical tradition of Kabbalah, and presented it in a way that was accessible for the first time by all Jews. Until then the Jewish mystical tradition had only been understandable and reserved for a scholarly elite. The innovative spirituality of Hasidism, sought to leave aside the advanced and subtle metaphysical focus of Kabbalah on the Heavenly Spiritual Worlds, to apply the Kabbalistic theology to the everyday life. The new teachings centered on Divine immanence present in all of Creation, and an experience of Divine love and meaningful purpose behind every occurrence of daily life.

The Baal Shem Tov and his successors, offered the masses a new approach to Judaism, that valued sincerity and emotional fervour. This was conveyed through inner mystical interpretations of Scripture and Rabbinic texts, sometimes conveyed by imaginative parables, as well as hagiographic tales about the Hasidic Masters, and new dimensions to melody (Nigun) and customs (Minhag). The Baal Shem Tov taught by means of parables and short, heartwarming Torah explanations that encapsulated profound interpretations of Jewish mysticism. The unlearned, downtrodden masses were captivated by this new soul and life breathed into Judaism, while the select group of great disciples around the Baal Shem Tov, could appreciate the scholarly and philosophical significance of these new ideas. The anecdotal stories about the legendary figures of Hasidism, offered a vivid bridge between the intellectual ideas, and the spiritual, emotional enthusiasm they inspired. Implicit in Hasidic tales are the new doctrines of Hasidism, as the new interpretations of Torah taught by its leaders, were also lived in all facets of their life and leadership, and their new paths to serving God. This gave birth to new Jewish practices in the lives of their followers that also reflected the new teachings of the movement.

Each school of Hasidic thought adopted different approaches and interpretations of Hasidism. Some put primary emphasis on the new practices and customs (“Darkei Hasidus”-the Ways of Hasidus) that encouraged emotional enthusiasm, and attached the followers to the holy influence of their leaders, and some put their main emphasis on scholarly learning of the Hasidic teachings of their leaders (“Limmud Hasidus”-the Learning of Hasidus). Some groups have seen the Hasidic way as an added warmth to a more mainstream Jewish observance, while others have placed the learning of the writings of their school, on a more comparable level to learning the esoteric parts of Judaism. These differences are reflected in different styles of Hasidic thought.

This diversity mirrors the historic development of Hasidism. From late Medieval times, Central and Eastern European Kabbalistic figures called Baal Shem encouraged the influence of Jewish mysticism, through groups of Nistarim (Hidden mystics). With the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov (16981760), centred on Podolia (Ukraine), the new ideas of Hasidism were conveyed initially in emotional forms. After his death, his great disciples appointed Dov Ber of Mezeritch (1700?1772) (The Maggid of Mezeritch) to succeed him. Under the leadership of the Maggid, the new movement was consolidated, and the teachings explained and developed. The Baal Shem Tov was a leader for the people, travelling around with his saintly followers, bringing encouragement and comfort to the simple masses. Dov Ber, whose ill health prevented him from travel, devoted his main focus to developing around himself a close circle of great, scholarly followers (called the “Hevra Kaddisha”-Holy Society) who were to become the individual leaders of the next generation, appointed different territories across Jewish Eastern Europe to spread Hasidism to. They formed different interpretations of Hasidic thought, from profound insight in mystical psychology, to philosophical intellectual articulations. Many of the Hasidic leaders of the third generation, occupy revered places in Hasidic history, or influenced subsequent schools of thought. Among them are Elimelech of Lizhensk, who fully developed the Hasidic doctrine of the Tzaddik (mystical leader) that gave birth to many Polish Rebbes, and his charismatic brother Meshulam Zushya of Anipoli. Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev became the renowned defender of the people before the Heavenly Court, while Shneur Zalman of Liadi initiated the Habad school of intellectual Hasidism. Subsequent Hasidic leaders include Nachman of Breslav, Menachem Mendel of Kotzk.

One Hasidic Master related that he visited the court of Dov Ber of Mezeritch to “see how he tied his shoelaces”[7]

With the spread of Hasidism throughout Ukraine, Galicia, Poland, and Russia, divergent schools emerged within Hasidism. Some schools place more stress on intellectual understanding of the Divine, others on the emotional connection with the Divine. Some schools stress specific traits or exhibit behavior not common to other schools.

Among the major tracts compiled by early Hasidic masters are:

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Hasidic philosophy – Wikipedia

Hasidic neighborhood in B’klyn is a top beneficiary of …

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