Sunday, November 28, 2010

Menachem Vorschheimer in the news again

Today's Age has a very interesting piece written by their well-know crime reporters Andrew Rule and John Silvester (aka "Sly of the Underworld") regarding the Vorschheimer affair.
Seeing that many in our community no longer subscribe to the Age, and after having recently criticised Menachem's blog effort, we feel it is only fair to post this article to show what the upset is all about.
THERE'S the strange case of the policeman accused of long-term bullying who has been on fully paid leave for two years. It seems he's lucky enough to have a doctor willing to declare his ''patient'' unfit to face questions about the alleged offences. We hope the (alleged) bully's victims are being looked after nearly as well.

Then there is the case of the fortunate Leading Senior Constable Terrence Moore. He used to be a plain senior constable, but has been promoted since - or despite - being revealed as the driver of a minibus full of louts who assaulted a man for objecting to their racist abuse. Promoted, in fact, despite being the subject of an internal inquiry by the force's ethical standards unit. He, too, seems lucky.

Either the police force is an extraordinarily forgiving employer - or the police union is too tough to mess with. Like the 250-kilogram pet gorilla in the old joke, it sits anywhere it bloody well wants to and gets called ''Sir'': the sort of ''pet'' that makes senior police and their political masters nervous, especially before elections.

Advertisement: Story continues below But Menachem Vorchheimer is neither a politician nor a senior policeman and he's not nervous - of the police union, the chief commissioner's office or the government, it seems.

Vorchheimer hit the news in the spring of 2006, when the then off-duty Constable Moore was driving a minibus full of country footballers home from Caulfield races through East St Kilda towards the road to Geelong. The constable was not subsequently breathalysed - so he gets the benefit of any doubt about that - but being more sober than his passengers didn't help him to stop them from racially abusing Jewish people walking home from weekly worship.

Our heroes, from Ocean Grove footy club, were mostly young and mostly drunk, which explains some of their tasteless and offensive behaviour but does not excuse it - especially when it turned violent.

One genius yelled an obscene sexual suggestion to a Jewish mother of five. Another wit mimed machinegun fire as his mates jeered ''Go the Nazis'' and ''F… the Jews''.


But, being almost as full as the bus was, the footballers made a couple of tactical mistakes. One was to yell insults just before the bus stopped at a red light. The other was to pick on someone who would fight back - the aforesaid Menachem Vorchheimer, who was walking his two small children home from the nearby synagogue.

Incensed by the abuse, Vorchheimer ran to the bus driver's door and demanded to know who was in charge.

The driver (he says) was surly and refused to identify himself, the group, or anyone in it. It might have ended there but a passenger snatched Vorchheimer's hat and yarmulke (religious skull cap) through an open window.

A passing motorist who saw this blocked the bus by parking his car in front of it. The bus driver wasn't happy. In fact, he allegedly tried to reverse and drive off. What might be called ''doing a runner''. One of the footballers tossed Vorchheimer's felt hat on to the ground but they still had his skull cap. When he demanded it back, someone in the bus punched him in the face, giving him a black eye. It was a mistake. Vorchheimer promptly sat in front of the bus.
Meanwhile, passers-by gathered around. Despite the driver's demands not to call the police, someone did.

Three cars came from St Kilda police station. The officers soon learnt an inconvenient truth: the driver was an off-duty ''member''. Not that anyone was shouting it from the rooftops. In fact, if a reporter hadn't dug it up days later, maybe no one outside ''the job'' would ever have known.

The policewoman taking notes recorded an interesting fact about her off-duty colleague's actions, later recorded in a carefully worded statement. When Vorchheimer said that whoever punched him was wearing a pink tie, Moore got on to the bus and spoke to his passengers and within seconds all of them removed their ties. It was then impossible for Vorchheimer to clearly identify his attacker.

The bus was blocking traffic, no one was volunteering information and, in any case, statements from intoxicated people do not fly in court, so the police allowed the culprits to leave. One policeman gave Vorchheimer his telephone number and assured him ''justice would be done''.

Since then, Vorchheimer and his legal advisers have tried to make sure that happened. Three footballers were subsequently fined for offensive language but none was found for the assault. Worse, he says, he didn't get a sincere apology - except from AFL boss Andrew Demetriou, who made one on behalf of the football community in a way that made the Ocean Grove club look flatfooted and ungracious, at best.

As Vorchheimer sees it, he didn't get much joy from the police hierarchy, either. After a barrister advised him to study relevant law and police regulations, he concluded that Senior Constable Terry Moore had failed his sworn duty to uphold the law.

Not only had Moore failed to prevent his passengers from committing the original offences but he was suspected of tipping off an assault suspect to remove his tie to confuse detection. And he had tried to drive off after asking witnesses not to call the police.

But when Vorchheimer pressed these points with Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe, the meeting ended abruptly with Walshe insisting that Moore would not be suspended.

The top cop was as good as his word.

Early this year, a truck sideswiped a car on the Western Ring Road, spinning into a barrier and back on to the freeway, where oncoming traffic narrowly avoided it. The driver, a 25-year-old woman, was lucky to survive the ordeal. As her battered car spun to a halt, she saw the truck slow down, then speed off. She didn't get its registration number.

Police appealed for witnesses but none came forward. One policeman from the Brimbank Traffic Management Unit was so concerned he even spoke to a local newspaper about it.

"It is an offence to not stop at an accident or render assistance if someone was injured," the policeman said. "In a lot of instances trucks don't know they have hit a car, but he would have known. It is disappointing he didn't stop.''

The speaker? None other than Terry Moore, basking in his promotion to leading senior constable. A policeman's lot can be a happy one, after all.

Or, to quote another lyric, ''You don't get me, I'm part of the union.''

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks for Lipa

"Non-Chabadnik" writes:

While Chabadnik disapproves of footballers at a Chanukah function (and he may or may not have a point) I'd like you to publish my thanks and the appreciation of many families in the frum community to Caulfield Chabad House for 'importing' Chassidic singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer to Melbourne. Lipa and his songs are # 1 in frum communities worldwide (I hear the Gold's too sell quite a lot of his CDs). So thank you for giving us and our kids a real Chanukah treat.

And talking of the footballers, the ad says that they will be from Carlton. However following the recent miracle of Collingwood winning the grand final - it is the Magpies that should be celebrating "al nisecho ve'al nifle'osecho"...

Thank you RCV - but why now?

Can anyone explain why the RCV has released this statement at this time?
Have there recently been abuse issues in our community? Or is this simply the RCV catching up with what has happened in the past?

Whatever the reason, it is commendable that the rabbis have publicly ruled on the necessity of reporting such matters to the authorities and clearly stating that there are no Mesirah concerns when doing so. The welfare of our children comes first, second and last and we must do everything to protect them. The wording, though, in our humble opinion, could have been a bit less confounding - without all those “whereas”es.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Did the Yevonim triumph the Maccabees after all?

By Chabadnik:

Why the obsession of Chabad Houses with inviting AFL footballers to help celebrate our Chanukah celebrations?
First it was Caulfield Chabad House advertising Chanukah in the Park featuring footballers and now Chabad of Malvern have decided to ape them.

Don’t the organisers know anything about the festival? Haven’t they been taught that Chanukah is a celebration of the battle victories of Mattisyohu and his sons over the Greeks who were trying to force their culture upon us? Didn't they learn that unlike Haman, the Yevonim were not out to physically harm the Jews. Their intention was purely להשכיחם תורתך ולהעבירם מחוקי רצונך – to turn Klall Yisroel away from the path of the Torah and lead them towards their lifestyle - a society where (amongst other things) sporting events were glorified and idolised. (Admittedly, here in Australia such events and participants are similarly treated, but Boruch Hashem there is no demand or compulsion for us to be part of it.

So why are we handing the Yevonim and Misyavnim of today a victory on a platter? This is EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what the rebbe wanted and expected from his followers.

So my dear friends, the organisers, have a good long think about this. There is still time to cancel those invitations and replace football stars with something more in the true spirit of Chanukah.

[Thank you AJNWatch for giving me the opportunity to air my views.]

* * * * *
PS: It is quite possible that due to my exposure to the many Holocaust survivors in my family I an somewhat oversensitive, but that yellow Mogen Dovid in the advertisement above brought on unpleasant comparisons with the the Nazi imposed yellow "Jude" star that our grandparents were forced to wear in the ghettoes.
I'd like to hear if any others share my concern.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

!חכמים הזהרו בדבריכם

JWire, the wannabe on-line competitor to the Australian Jewish News (they of the "Rabbi Shem Tov" fame), is, as we have previously posted, מחלל שבת בפרסיא. Even more disappointing is the fact that a site that continuously reports and publishes photographs about Sydney Chabad events continues to flout such a serious Torah command.

In recent months JWire has been posting a weekly message written by Sydney's Rabbi Michoel Gourarie - which is fine with us. What isn't so fine is that this week that message was emailed to JWire subscribers on Shabbat - at 5.30 pm!

We have no doubt that Rabbi Gourarie had no knowledge of this and would and will object vehemently. But this מכשול should be a lesson to all rabbis to carefully consider with whom they form "partnerships".

Monday, November 15, 2010

More on Vorschheimer

Our earlier posts regarding the [now-expired] anti-Brumby blog of Menachem Vorschheimer seems to have upset a few in the blogoshpere. The following is a comment we received from Tim Anderson, with links to his blog - which we also reproduce:

Tim Anderson said...
How disappointing that Menachem has been told to, "shhh, be quiet, you are causing trouble!"  I shall continue with his good work exposing the corruption of the Victorian democracy. Good governance in Victoria relies on the Westminster democratic system with a separation of powers between the lawmakers, the courts and police. Former Premier Bracks made secret deals with police and Robert Hulls appoints his own judges. Perhaps that is not how things operate in Israel but the Australian democracy has foundation stones to prevent the tyranny of governments from having control over the courts and police. Shame on AJN and the Jewish community for not supporting someone who is trying to expose the corruption in Victoria. Blind Freddie can see the system is being degraded by Premier Brumby.

Let us assure you that we have absolutely no objections to political activism on either side of the fence and view it as a healthy sign of our democratic lifestyle. Our guest poster's objection to Vorchheimer was as one Chabad chassid to another - demanding a higher and more respectful tone and language when addressing another human being - expecially a leader and one that the community considers to be a friend.  No more - no less.

(And, by the way, Tim, we note that you criticise the premier saying that he "cannot even correctly date a web document". However, let us also note that you couldn't correctly name our blog...)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oy, did you get it wrong, Lawrence!

[Click to enlarge]
It's "AJN Watch" not "AJN News"!  (“AJN News” would be a tautology…)
Now had you checked out our “header” you would have learned that:
“AJN WATCH - the on-line voice of Australian Orthodox Jewry observes and comments on matters of interest to that community. We particularly monitor prejudice and monopolistic abuse of influence in the pages of the Australian Jewish News - the main source of information to and about Australian Jewry. We spotlight errors, expose misrepresentations and vigorously advocate our community's positions.”

Actually, the AJN, ie, the Australian Jewish News, after originally threatening to ‘watch’ us, seems to have placed a ban on even mentioning our name. Ah, well, we’ll just have to rely on The Age…

Anyway, right or wrong name, we appreciate the publicity. For obvious reasons, AJN Watch hardly gets any hits on an average Saturday. Today, however, was different, as quite a few Age readers seem to have followed up that item with a peek at our blog. Even when putting in an incorrect name Google likes us. We searched “AJN News Menachem” and got this result:
Even when we dropped the “Menachem” the response was quite respectable:
So thanks for that Lawrence. (And despite what we generally think of the Age, LM is a well-liked journo in the community, and we even have your mug shot here.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thank you John Howard

Further to the earlier post by Chabadnik where he writes: "Victorian, and indeed Australian, Jewry is most fortunate to be in a situation where all leaders of the major parties are friends of ours and supportive of Israel", here is a link to the J-Wire site showing a recent clip of former prime minister John Howard forcefully responding to a loaded question about Israel put to him by an Iranian journalist at the dinner of the Foreign Correspondents' Association.

We can do no more than add to Chabadnik’s words that Baruch Hashem we live in a country where the people that count are our good friends.

Here are a photographs of the last 2 prime ministers with their favourite rabbi, Rabbi Pinchos Feldman of Sydney.

Talking about Aussie prime ministers, we reproduce a photograph - which just landed on our desk - of the welcome sign in Kuala Lumpur for our current leader Julia Gillard who was attending the East Asia summit.

(Nothing at all to do with AJN Watch's usual topic list, but as we haven't noticed it anywhere else, we can't resist the possibilty of scooping the entire Australian media...)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time to pull your head in, Menachem

Chabadnik posts:
I am not sure how many members of our community still read the Age, but those who did so yesterday would have been disturbed and appalled at Menachem Vorchheimer's latest attempt at self-promotion and notoriety.

His incessant public besmirching the Yeshiva leadership is bad enough and we are sick and tired of it. But this effort at bashing John Brumby,  the premier of Victoria, who, besides being a decent, hard-working and honorable human being, is well-known to be a good friend of the Jewish community, is despicable.

(I am in no way taking sides here in the electoral battle between Mr Brumby and his equally decent opponent - Ted Ballieu. He too is, BH, a good friend of ours.

Victorian, and indeed Australian, Jewry is most fortunate to be in a situation where all leaders of the major parties are friends of ours and supportive of Israel.)

I sure hope that John Brumby ignores that pathetic blog of a wannabe rabble-rouser - who has absolutely no support or following in our community.

And to you Menachem, a request on behalf of all of us: Pull your head in!

Friday, November 5, 2010

“Once-in-a-millennium scholar”? Really?

Melbourne Rabbi posts:

I have noticed over the years that every time Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz gets mentioned in the AJN - whether it be an article or an advertisement we are reminded that the internationally renowned Maven on Torah scholars and rabbis - Time magazine - labelled him as a “once-in-a-millennium scholar”.
Now if this designation referred to the current millennium which began 10 years ago, it may be palatable to many, though I doubt that those who know of Rav Chaim Kanievski or Rav S Y Elyashiv would agree. But Time wrote this some time in the 80s so they were referring to the earlier millennium.

I am always amazed at the childlike naivety of the average person in accepting and repeating such nonsense.

Rabbi Steinsaltz is indeed an extraordinary and notable scholar. But to make and repeat such an absurd statement is mind-boggling. Is he really a greater scholar than the Rambam, Ramban, Rashi, Rosh, Rav Yosef Karo? Or even more recent Gedolim, eg, the Rogatchover, the Chafetz Chaim, the Chazon Ish, etc etc?

Come on Australian Jewry, grow up!

"The Supervision Conundrum"

Guest post by Kosherman:
It has been a while since I last posted here. Meanwhile things are livening up in the world of Australian Kashrut. Of course I’ll be commenting here as they happen.

For today’s post, replicating the headline of Yankel Wajsbort’s article in this week’s Mizrachi newsletter seems most apt.
I picked up this packet of Gluten-free cake mix this week and noticed it says “Kosher Pareve”. Fine. Then I see it has the stamp of KA. Fine.

But then I notice another stamp:

For those who cannot read the tiny fonts, here is the wording on the stamp:

כשר למהדרין פארעווע
בהשגחת הרה''ג רב מרדכי זאב הכהן גוטניק שליט''א
ראב''ד דבד''ץ של ק''ק מלבורן והמדינה
Kosher Pareve. Under the Supervision of Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick. Melbourne Australia

That’s when questions began popping up in my mind. The conundrum and mystery here is:

1) Why the need for 2 supervisions? (It’s not like the case of products that have both Adass and KA stamps. There the producer is aiming at 2 distinctly separate groups, one which demands its own Kashrut standard.)

2) Seeing that Rabbi Gutnick of the Melbourne Beth Din is one and the same person as Rabbi Gutnick the head of the KA, what’s the point?

3) Is the manufacturer paying 2 lots of fees?4) And would the second – non-KA – fee (all or partial) be paid to the Melbourne Beth Din – seeing that their name is used for the marketing?

5) Isn’t it strange that Rabbi Gutnick’s full-time employer, Elwood Shul, doesn’t get a mention on his stamp?

6) Remember that colossal hullaballoo recently regarding Rabbi Meir Rabi’s supervisions and him being criticised by the RCV for operating as an individual – as opposed to an organisation like KA and Adass? So what is happening here? Is Rabbi Gutnick himself moving towards again becoming independent by resuming his own Hashgacha?

7) Whilst researching this post, I was informed that the Melbourne Rabbi Gutnick’s Sydney brother, Rabbi Moshe, the head of the NSWKA also has his personal stamp of a number of products – in tandem with his organisation’s stamp. What do the committee and board members of both KAs think of this trend?

I have many more questions, but for starters this should suffice.

I would appreciate answers and comments – either via this blog's comment section or to my email address: