Thursday, July 29, 2010

Apt AJN front page: Avodah Zarah and Giluy Arayot...

What happened to Shefichat Damim?

Some may say that that the depiction of the church steeple topped by a cross is symbolic and would not be out of place in most AJN editions…

PS: Due to Tzeniut concerns of our readers, we have modified the banner photograph.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Postal voting - an AJN Watch tip (plus our endorsements)

The Federal election will take place in a few weeks (to be followed closely by State elections). As always it will be held on the Shabbat. Many observant voters are unaware that in addition to applying for a postal ballot before each election, they have the option of registering as a "General Postal Voter" which results in their automatically receiving ballot papers in the mail for all future state and federal elections.

It is a great service and of immense value to all of us. It is quite easy to forget to apply for a postal vote and risk being fined for not voting. We strongly urge everyone to register all members of their family and to forward this information on the others in their community.

For further details click here.

For general information about pre-poll and postal voting see the Electoral Commission website.

At the same time, in the spirit of Hakorat Hatov, AJN Watch strongly endorses the incumbent candidates in the 2 electotates with the largest Jewish populations.

Both Michael Danby (Melbourne Ports) and Malcolm Turnbull (Wentworth) deserve our full support and appreciation for all their efforts on behalf of the Jewish community. We wish them Hatzlacha Rabbah.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Va vorscht". Say it again Joe!

Another post by "Chaverim Kol Yisroel" (see earlier post here) :

Following on last week's front page feature on Yiddish, the AJN decided to prove that they really haven't go a clue.
Whether Joe Krycer really said "Va vorscht nisht?" or that is the way the paper's reporter heard it, is irrelevant. It clearly shows that the Yiddish knowledge at the AJN is zero! And that is despite their editorialist trying his best to make use of every cutesy Yiddish word that he has ever heard on American TV shows.
Indeed their entire reportage about Yiddish language locally is completely flawed. Their attempt to fill a few pages by making a desperate big deal about a dozen (or less) Yiddish ‘academic’ students, (whose irritating, unnatural and stultifying dialect usually hurts listeners ears,) is a complete beat-up with the total result showing gornisht mit gornisht.

Had they done even minimal research, the AJN may have discovered that indeed Yiddish is a live day-to-day language in Melbourne amongst many frum Jews. In the Adass there are dozens of families for whom Yiddish is on an equal footing with English (and quite a few where that is actually the first language). Similarly in the Lubavitch community has – especially amongst the “imports” - families where Yiddish is a living language. So too can one find its use in the Ger shteebel, Katanga, Yeshiva and Beth Hatalmud. But then what would the Jewish News know about such places?

The Adass school has since its inception 60 years ago remained faithful to it as the language of instruction - as it was in “der alter heim”. They have produced generations of Yiddish speakers over that time. Also, there are dozens of Yiddish Torah shiurim held in Adass. Not only all speeches but even the selling of aliyos is in Yiddish. But as to be expected, the AJN’s report doesn't have a single word about all that, rather its focus is on the efforts of a few housewives and pensioners who ‘study’ the language for an hour or two a week.

What’s to say, except  to repeat the immortal words of Joe: “Va vorscht?”

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Williamsburg tale

A nice story from an American rabbi's site.
(Hat tip SBA)

As I enter the main shul on Rodney Street, I see hundreds of men engrossed in learning Torah and davening to Hashem.

As I walk down Ross Street, I notice dozens of women emerging from a Tzedoka event which in all probability was not even for the population of their community.

On Lee Avenue I admire the now legendary bus of the Satmar Bikur Cholim which goes daily to the hospitals in Manhattan delivering home cooked kosher food to any Jew; regardless of their religious persuasion.

I observe dozens and dozens of shteibach and Batei Medrash and most of all, I lovingly gazed at the holy faces of the hundreds of fellow Jews who walk the streets unabashedly Jewish in their dress, language and mode of conduct.

I thank Hashem for allowing me to witness such a neighborhood located in the midst of the most modern and culturally secular city in the world.

One day, as I was heading back from the Satmar Shul on Rodney Street, I noticed a group of Chassidic men holding radios and running down the street. They had no medical equipment on them and they were not moving towards a vehicle so I realized they must be part of the famous Shomrim (neighborhood watch) squad.

I quickly turned on my heels and off I went in quick pursuit of these 21st century heroes!

About one block down on Bedford Avenue the objective of the chase became apparent.

There in the street, surrounded by half a dozen Shomrim members was a man standing next to a bicycle lying in the street. As I approached the men, I realized that the fellow under guard was accused of ‘misappropriating’ the bicycle from a Jewish grocery and he was being held until the police could arrive.

I waited and observed for about 7 minutes until a police vehicle arrived to take control of the situation. As I was watching, I overheard the suspect relate: “. the next thing I knew, all of these Jewish cops appeared out of no where and are holding me here!”

Did he say: Jewish cops? Did he really say Jewish cops?

Indeed, he did.

However, this is not the end of the story.

As we were waiting for the police to arrive, numerous individuals- me included- kept surging forward off the sidewalk and into the street to see and hear what was transpiring.

All this time, the Shomrim men- who were very professional and courteous, continually urged everyone to return to the side walk while simultaneously making sure that traffic continued unimpeded down Bedford Avenue.

They were very sensitive not only to their needs which was apprehending the suspect, they were equally concerned that traffic was not impeded and that even the suspect was never taunted nor abused- even verbally!

They treated the accused man with respect and backed off the moment the police arrived and allowed the officers to speak with the suspect in an uninterrupted fashion.

In short, I felt proud to be a part of these people who professionally, effectively, yet, in a non-vigilante method- keep their neighborhood safe and secure.

It was also obvious that they have an excellent working relationship with the local precinct and its officers.

Just sixty five years after many of these men’s grandparents were being gassed in Auschwitz, their grandchildren are the ‘Jewish cops’ of Williamsburg; working in tandem and with the support of the local authorities and with their encouragement and backing.

Where else in the world can you find a Jewish cop, who speaks Yiddish, has peyos and a beard and has the respect and backing of the government powers that be?

Where else in the world will you find ‘Jewish cops’ who have respect for the law of the land and make sure -while maintaining the safety of their own neighborhood- that the needs of all the citizens of the city in which they reside are maintained?

Only in America.
It is a zechus and a chessed from Hashem to live in America.

G-d Bless America.
Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What's in a name?

The reader who sent us the above screen-snap speculates that the name for this website was conceived by some mischievous Jewish advertising executive.

Sounds right to us.

(If you want to know more, click here.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

AJN's idiotic headline of the week

A young Jewish boy lies critically ill in a hospital overseas and the AJN feels that the soccer aspect is important enough to feature in the headline! Really!

On the other hand we were impressed to learn that Reagan's fellow students at Bialik College have been praying for his recovery. Were we the only ones unaware that prayers take place there and that the school even employs a campus rabbi?

Meanwhile AJN Watch requests that all our readers join in Tefilah for the speedy Refuah Sheleimah of Yitzchok Yehuda Refoel Ben Tamara - betoch shaar cholei Yisrael.

Ambassador's treif gig: Redux

Was it a slip-up or did the AJN censors relent in publishing a letter to the editor mentioning AJN Watch?

Admittedly, the fact that the writer wasn’t exactly praising us may have been part of the decision…
Or has there been a change in guidelines? Whatever the case, we appreciate the publicity.

As to the letter itself, Michael Burd misses the point. Like Burd (and indeed the others who made similar comments to our earlier post), AJN Watch is mightily pleased that Israel has an Arab friend. And we too wish Sharbel only the best for the future. However as the restaurant is actually “chazir-treif”, it is NOT a place where any self-respecting Jew should be dining. Even more so, the official representative of the Jewish state may not and should not allow himself to be used as a drawcard for a full house in a non-Kosher locale. If Burd doesn’t understand that, he obviously lacks not only minimal knowledge of our laws and traditions
but also any inkling of sensitivity.

And as mentioned previously, the fact is that Yuval Rotem broke the laws of his country by so publicly attending such a function.

Muslims – diplomats or laymen – don’t arrange functions in pork restaurants and neither should Jews.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Current Affair stirs up the St Ives Eruv controversy - an absolute disgrace!

The AJN article about anti-semitic comments posted on the ACA website after it published a story about the St Ives Eruv plans:

Nine’s racism claim

CHANNEL Nine and its program A Current Affair (ACA) allowed anti-Semitic comments to be published on its website, violating racial vilification laws according to NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff.

ACA reported last Wednesday evening on plans for an eruv in the Sydney suburb of St Ives. After the show, it posted a video of the story on its website, which attracted hundreds of comments.

The discussion, which was about whether or not Ku-ring-gai Council should approve an application to erect 27 poles that would allow the Northern Eruv Committee to create the religious boundary in the North Shore suburb, soon descended into an attack on Israel and the Jewish community.

“The bosh (Germans) didn’t finish the job.” said one post. Another went further: “Quick, hide your babies. the Jews are going to drain their blood to bake bread!”

Alhadeff contacted Channel Nine to alert them to the possible breach of law and the network immediately removed all comments.
“The quick response was appreciated, but the incident draws attention yet again to the need for all media to implement effective filtering systems of what is posted on their sites,” Alhadeff said. “Some of the remarks clearly violated the race vilification laws, and it is unacceptable for media to carry such slurs until such as time as the offensiveness is drawn to their attention.”

B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission executive director Deborah Stone said it is not the community’s job to monitor news sites. She added it was particularly concerning that the report prompted virulent anti-Semitism.

An application by the Northern Eruv Committee to erect additional poles for an eruv was first submitted to Ku-ring-gai Council in 2006. It was withdrawn because council said there was a lack of information. A further application was lodged recently, with a decision regarding the erection of the 27 poles expected by the end of August. Around 100 objections against the eruv were sent to the council.

Jonathan O’Dea, who represents the local electorate of Davidson, said there needs to be a rational debate over the feasibility of an eruv in the area. “Prejudice or discrimination based on racial or religious grounds should play no role in the debate,” the NSW politician said.

Meanwhile, the federal member for Bradfield, Paul Fletcher, whose electorate would contain part of the eruv, called the anti-Semitic comments disturbing. “There is no place in this decision-smaking process for offensive anti-Semitic sentiment,” Fletcher said.

View clip here

In our view the various communal organizations should also have turned their attention to ACA reporting standards. Not only did the reporter Damien Murphy grant those uninformed and narrow-minded whingers a free reign, but proved that he too is no less ignorant. (Eg, “On Saturday, the Sabbath, she can’ any sort of lifting or picking up a kid..”)
Is it really too much to expect that a journalist from an Australia-wide news program do better than play up to the prejudices of a miniscule mob of intolerant and bored pensioners who obviously need to get themselves a life?

And Murphy’s bizarre attempt at depicting those seeking to erect the Eruv as “extremists” is not only offensive but idiotic. And again clearly shows that he knows absolutely nothing about the topic or indeed the Jewish religion.
The ACA reporter inciting the mob with:
“Everybody’s against this and everybody’s objecting?”

And receives this nonsensical reply:
"It will be very divisive because we’ll end up with people of the Jewish faith living on one side of the street and everybody else on the rest…”

This poor dear is concerned that the Eruv threatens her security and is going to make the entire suburb a target! (After all, it's well known that Eruv's are Al-Quada's No. 1 priority.)

Listen to her:“It’s been the root of so many wars - this Jewish thing.”
“I don’t want to be inside it. I don’t want to be in a Jewish enclave.”
(And - surprise, surprise:) “We have many friends who are Jewish.”

Finally, ACA reveals the best kept secret in Australia - the Chassidim of St Ives - with the following depiction that accompanies their Eruv beat-up!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Invitation: Hear the Israeli ambassador while enjoying bacon and prawns

Like most of our readers, we never heard of the Zanuba restaurant. It doesn't seem to appear on the lists of supervised eateries of Adass, KA or Kosher veYosher.

Helpfully their advertisement in the AJN included their website which we checked out.
“Open 7 days a week”. Not a good start.

Then we had a look at their extensive menu and we reproduce some of the options that guests may request while listening to Yuval Rotem view's on “a range of issues”.

Egg and bacon sandwich on turkish bread
BLT bacon, lettuce, tomato w/mayo on turkish
BLAT bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato w/mayo on turkish bread
Ham, tasty cheese & fresh tomato
Grilled tomato spinach, 2 slices on bacon, leg ham,
Steak open sandwich w/mustard mayo, lettuce, tomato, caramelised onion, on pane toscana w/chips (extra bacon, cheese)
Creamy garlic prawns cooked in dry white wine, fresh garlic & cream
Caesar salad w/bacon, poached egg, cos lettuce & anchovy dressing
Seafood linguini w/ prawns, salmon, calamari and scampi cooked in white wine
Linguini carbonara w/bacon, onion, white wine, grana padana,
Burger w/egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, caramalised onion & corn relish
Chicken fillet burger w/bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion & corn relish

(One thing we can say about Zanuba; the do not make any claims to being “Kosher-aware”, "Kosher-friendly" or “Kosher-style”.)

We seemed to recall that Israeli diplomats were ordered to stick to Kosher – at least in public. Here's a  Reuters report we found from 2007:

So what’s going on here? Do Rotem’s bosses in Jerusalem know about this? Someone should notify them as he deserves to be severely censured by the Foreign Ministry. So too should there be a strong protest by the rabbinical and lay leaders of Australia’s orthodox Jewish community. As ambassador of Israel he is setting a very bad example in flagrantly and openly flaunting Jewish law and tradition (not to mention his own department's regulations).

Here's a link to another article about Israeli government regulations.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Alter Rebbe - in wax!


The Rebbe in the Wax Museum

One of the rabbis in this photo is made of wax.

It's such a strange photo.... at least 3 of them look wax-like.

It's actually a photo of Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar visiting a wax museum in Russia. The waxwork is in the centre: it is the "Alter Rebbe", Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder and first Rebbe of Chabad and author of the Tanya, Shulchan Aruch HaRav, and Siddur Torah Or.

I thought replicas (statues) were forbidden under Jewish law.Seems like they forgot to tell the local wax museum in St Petersburg Russia.

And from Chabad on line:

Israel's Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar met with the "founder of Chabad - the Alter Rebbe" last week - or at least his lookalike.

Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar concluded a visit to the Jewish community in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. He was hosted by Rabbi Mendel Pewsner, the city's Chief Rabbi and Chabad Shliach and Mark Gruberg, chairman of the local community.

The visit was jam-packed, beginning with the first Congress of Rabbis of Russia, a Farbrengen for Tammuz 12 in Cheder Menachem, inagurating a Bukharian shul and welcoming a new Torah to the city's main synagogue.

Amar also took the time to learn about Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder and first Rebbe of Chabad and author of the Tanya, Shulchan Aruch HaRav, and Siddur Torah Or.

Amar visited Petropavlovski fortress where the Alter Rebbe was imprisoned for 53 days in 1798. He later visited the a local wax museum which includes a wax figure of the Rebbe in a lifelike pose.

More photographs here