Thursday, March 29, 2012

Robert Weil's letter to the AJN

Despite the fact that Robert Weil doesn't like AJNWatch very much, we feel that he deserves a public Yasher Koach for his letter in this week's AJN where he succinctly responds to the nonsense written by an activist of the noisy homosexuals - who get far too much encouragement and support in addition to coverage in that newspaper. 

This is not the first time that Mr Weil has stood up for the Torah view on this matter and this should be acknowledged by all of us.

It is quite sad that from the entire Jewish community of Australia, only he and Sydney's Rabbi Chaim Ingram can be relied upon to defend traditional decency and 'normalcy'.

Friday, March 23, 2012

AJN: "First time of the firstborn"

In the AJN's "Preparing for Pesach" supplement this week:

First time what?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why the silence in the Elwood v. Yesodei dispute?

From "Yesodei dad"

Dear AJN Watch editor

I am a parent of 2 boys enrolled at the Yesodei Hatorah College in Elwood and am upset at the fact that you haven't thought it important enough to bring to the attention of your readership the appalling situation that our school have been facing due to the unreasonable, irrational  and obstinate attitude of some members on the board of Elwood Shul. 

It is no secret that for the past few decades Elwood Shul is in decline. They can rarely put together a Minyan during the week and  despite the efforts of the rabbis is basically an empty shell. The late Rabbi Chaim Gutnick z'l understood this well and sensibly encouraged the board to welcome the Yesodei school into its empty ex-Moriah premises thus returning the sound of Torah and children studying it back to Dickens Street. This brought much Nachas to those who have warm memories of the Elwood Talmud Torah and Moriah College of years gone by. Rabbi Gutnick did not for a second consider local 'politics' and affiliations. He made his decision to help because he knew that this was the right thing to do from all aspects.
Since Rav Chaim's passing however, a number of those 'in power' seem to have gone to war against this "shidduch". They wish to reverse such a remarkable and rare achievement of 'Techiyas Hameisim' of a local Shul property. Yes, remarkable and rare. Imagine how grateful the people who belong to Shuls like Toorak, Brighton, Moorabbin, East Melb would be if they could host such a vibrant and lively Jewish centre with 100s of kids operating out of their premises 6 days a week? And even being paid for the privilege! 

But what is happening in Elwood? The board has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legals trying to remove the students and make difficult the continuing Torah and general education of hundreds of Yiddishe kinderlech! How shameful is that? 

Why isn't the entire community up in arms? Why are the rabbis silent about this? Indeed, what about Elwood's own rabbis? Shouldn't they be in the front line of battle to save this most important Torah mossad? Wouldn't one expect to see Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick leading the campaign for continuance of one his late father's greatest achievements? (I apologise in advance, if Rabbi Gutnick has been doing so quietly. Though doing so openly would be far more useful and effective.) Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being wasted on legal costs and we don't hear a peep anywhere. Why no in-depth enquiry by the AJN? And aren't the members of Elwood Shul concerned at the waste of so much of their money?  Finally, where are you AJN Watch? Isn't this a topic that you should be headlining? 

I agree with your criticism of  Caulfield Shul for its treatment of poor collectors. And I usually agree with your stance on most communal issues. But, why oh why,
have you been silent in this painful and sad case of a few angry old men fighting against 
  של תינוקות של בית רבן הבל פיהם  .

Why is your voice is not heard at all?


Comment from AJNWatch:

While we haven't directly addressed this issue, it has been mentioned on this site previously.
Click here:
But to answer your main complaint, can we just say that AJNWatch is run by a few volunteers who, believe it or not, each has another life as well. They toil for hours behind the scenes because they genuinely feel an obligation to try and improve matters - rather than simply sulk and kvetch. We hope to at least somewhat remove the חילול השם of silence and accusations of מדשתקי שמע מינה דניחא להו

Having said that, we do not claim to have even scraped the surface of  issues that require commenting upon. As a partial solution we are happy to host appropriate posts (like yours) that reflect the aims and viewpoints of AJNWatch. So - be our guest...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rabbi Genende's Purim Torah and...Sodom

The end of (the original) Sodom

In Ethics of our Fathers (Pirkei Avot 5:13) the Mishna talks about  4 categories of people associated with giving charity. The 4th is one who doesn't give any - and also prevents others from doing so. The Mishna calls this person a Rasha (wicked). Now read on:

For some time now some AJNWatch contributors have been following up the truly bizarre (alleged) claim by a number of Meshulochim and (allegedly) verified by their local drivers that they are banned from entering Caulfield Shul during prayer times by the 'guard' if he has the slightest suspicion that they may  Chalilah vaChas use the opportunity to accept Tzedaka.  They virtually have to beg this bouncer for mercy and almost 'swear' by their mother's lives that they will only pray.

And woe betide anyone who breaks this most ancient decree (conceived approx 3,500 years ago by the Board of Management of the former city of Sodom). To the best of our knowledge there was never such a diktat in place under the previous rabbis, Rabbi Sholem Gutnick and Rabbi Yonasan Abraham.

Maybe it's time that someone gave the good people of CHC a halachic/history Shiur regarding the behaviour of the Sodomites - as well as  how it all ended.

Until then, maybe when next sermonising, the rabbi  quote a few lines from one of the many sites that talk about this and freely available on the net, Eg:

From the perspective of Jewish tradition, is tzedakah a mitzvah that Gentiles should also fulfill?
Do all the nations of the world have a Divine mandate to establish caring societies that help and strengthen those in need?

A 13th century sage, the Ramban - also known as Nachmanides - finds a reference this from Proverbs (14:34): "Tzedakah uplifts a nation."

He writes: "Tzedakah exalts any individual nation that practices it. According to him, the classic example of a cruel and selfish society which failed to do acts of tzedakah was the city-state of Sodom, which was why it was destroyed during the era of Avraham and Sarah. The story of Sodom's destruction appears in the Book of Genesis, and in his commentary on a verse from this chapter (19:5), the Ramban points out that the root cause of Sodom's destruction is described in the following Divine message:

"Behold, this was the sin of Sodom, your sister: She and her daughters had pride, surfeit of bread and peaceful serenity, but she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy. And they were haughty, and they committed an abomination before Me, so I removed them in accordance with what I saw." (Ezekiel 16:49,50)

Another 13th century sage, Rabbenu Yonah, expresses a similar idea:

"We find concerning the sin of Sodom, that although they sinned with many perverse acts such as robbery, violence, miscarriage of justice, and illicit sexual relations, Scripture attributes their annihilation to their failure to practice tzedakah, as it is stated, 'Behold this was the sin of Sodom, your sister...she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy.' " (Sha'arei Teshuva 3:15).

Jewish tradition views Sodom as the epitome of selfishness; thus, selfish behaviour is referred to in our tradition by the contemptuous epithet "Midas Sodom" - the attitude of Sodom, and it is a term which can apply to an individual or to an entire nation.

 And actually, we didn't find "re-creating Sodom" featured anywhere in RABBI RALPH'S PLAN - "MORE THAN A SHULE"  

But then neither did we find amongst in his plans anything about educating the parishioners about the importance of Mitzvah of Tzedakah. Check out the list, maybe we missed something there.

Despite using the term "allegedly", we actually have several first-hand reports about this disgraceful behaviour taking place regularly in front of a once proud and heimish Shul.

What causes a formerly highly respected Beth haKneset to turn its back on Mitzvat Tzedaka and in its place be labelled by visiting needy people as a reminder of one of the most wicked places known in our (and indeed the world's) tradition?

Was it the change in the make-up of board members? Was it the religious leadership or lack of any input by them?  Some may say that after the unpleasant and expensive Mond business and the departure of the rabbi there was been a noticeable drop of attendance by those labelled as Shomrei Torah uMitzvot. But whatever, instituting "Sodom laws" is a massive plunge in acceptable standards and indeed something unheard of in Shuls anywhere.

Following the publicity about these charges, we truly hope that the decent and charitable folk who remain and/or who have connections with CHC will express their outrage and pass on our sentiments to as many people as possible with the aim to influence a change in this despicable rule.

Having known about the above for quite some time,  you can imagine how staggered we were after receiving the following  'hilarious' Purim newsletter published by Rabbi Ralph, where he jokes about how Chareidim will be treated in his Shul. (At least, we hope he is joking. But seeing the way collectors are treated in his Shul, who knows?)
Rabbi, here's some advice. Forget the college humour. Take a long and serious look at what  is happening in YOUR synagogue! Hiring guards to ensure that congregants (unfortunately very few - after you discount the Kaddish-zogers) do not, G-d forbid, give a few dollars to destitute or unwell fellow Yidden! Poor Jews who have paid a small fortune and shlepped themselves to the other side of the world to try and get help themselves and their families. Shouldn't you be thoroughly ashamed to be associated with such practices? Do we need to remind you that Tzedakah was always the most important Mitzvah that Jews everywhere participated in? Whether  they could afford it or not.

Where is your and your Shul's Ahavat Yisrael to these poor people - Chareidi and non-Chareidi?

Are you not embarrassed that your CHC spend member's monies - ensuring that they won't give charity! What an absolute disgrace!

Maybe your next newsletter topic should discuss at length the words of Chazal that proof of being part of עם ישראל  is when  Jews show that they are ביישנים, רחמנים וגומלי חסדים
And you may also use the Mishna that we began with:

אַרְבַּע מִדּוֹת בְּנוֹתְנֵי צְדְקָה.
הָרוֹצֶה שֶׁיִּתֵּן וְלֹא יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים, עֵינוֹ רָעָה בְּשֶׁל אֲחֵרִים.
 יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים וְהוּא לֹא יִתֵּן, עֵינוֹ רָעָה בְשֶׁלּוֹ.
 יִתֵּן וְיִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים, חָסִיד.
לֹא יִתֵּן וְלֹא יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים, רָשָׁע:
PS: Previous AJNWatch commentary about Rabbi Genende's views here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mikey Bear misses us!

Thank you Kay T. for forwarding the above kvetch from that pesky serial whinger Michael Barnett, not someone whose blog we normally follow.

Mikey, no need for you to be intrigued and no, we certainly haven't been leaned upon by anyone or changed any of our views. The simple reason that we have stayed away from this semi-annual "gay moan and gripe" festivity is because it has become boring. Boring for us and boring to our readers. Zehu! Nothing else. 

Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen can, BH, well look after himself and his opinions without requiring any outside help. He is obviously a giant amongst pygmies and a person with courage to put forward the eternal unbending truth of the Torah. (Admittedly, it is sad,  that apart from a handful of other rabbis, Rabbi Chaim Ingram comes to mind, the rest of the rabbinate remains shtum on this matter.) 

And it is sometimes painful to read criticism of Rabbi Cowen (and AJNWatch) by hypocrites who in private conversations express views on screeching, noisy homosexuals which are no different to ours. (Yes, we get around and hear a lot.)
Sadly many politically-correct nonentities feel that they have no option but to declare their "warm acceptance" of these publicity-seeking, often half-naked, sexually-disturbed weirdos.

But no fear, Rabbi Cowen is a far bigger person than any of them and as a principled Torah-true Talmid-Chacham and intellectual, his views will triumph. No amount of frilly-pink-underpants wearers can ever overcome this reality.

Let the ECAJ, AJN and all the other ABC-XYZs of the community concentrate on those who are truly suffering in silence and really want to be helped and leave the frilly-pink-undies screechers to the accomplished hands of Mikey and his one-man blog.

By the way, Mikey, how did you enjoy the cheese?

Now it's "Rabbi-auctioneer"..

Further to the earlier post about "rabbi-chef" and "rabbi-plumber" we now can add to our list "rabbi-auctioneer (and all things real-estate)".

We don't know if the reverend gentleman currently (or previously) occupies/ed any rabbinical position, but his qualifications he would really be handy in a Shul where the Aliyot are 'auctioned' off every week.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Kosher Cheese Wars

Life was meant to be cheesy writes:
I regularly receive the emails of 2 popular community lists - Emmanuel and SBA. I enjoy reading the Mazel-Tovs and especially appreciate the communal notices and advertisements which are of specific interest to most of Melbourne's observant families. So thanks and keep it up chaps.

So what's up?

I noticed yesterday that one (or maybe both) of those lists had the following notice:
108 sliced cheese - for $21.99! That's a HUGE difference to the mid -to-high $30s we've been paying for similar Haolam sliced cheese for years. Despite the fact that in the past few years our dollar has surged in value going from just under 50 cents to the US$ to almost $1.10. But have we seen any significant drop in prices? Not that I have noticed. And this refers to most other Kosher products (though we noticed a few great specials put out by Coles and Safeway prior to Rosh Hashono). A quick browse on the net shows that the same Haolam 108 slices are available in Kosher supermarkets in the NY  for less than half the price we are forced to pay here.

So thank you to whoever is behind this new cheese importing venture - !כה לחי . Melbourne (and presumably Sydney) Kosher consumers wish you much הצלחה and look forward to support you as you increase the variety of your products. Hopefully, not only will your prices remain fair and reasonable, but you competitors will emulate your actions.

And thanks also to another new local entrepreneur for dramatically lowering prices of his imported Paskesz lines. (Also advertised by SBA and Emmanuel.)

Maybe this Pesach families will not have to go into debt in order to keep their kiddies tummies full.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Jon Faine and Purim

Guest post by J. Harman:
I am actually quite a fan of Jon Faine. I try to listen to his engaging and intelligent morning radio show on 774 as often as I can. But come on, Chaim Herzog, do you REALLY think that Faine is the appropriate person to host a "Purim farbrengen" and Megilla-reading? And shouldn't the fact that you represent Chabad mean that you should be more careful when making arrangements for (at least) religious occasions? And what I know about Faine, he would agree with my sentiments 100%.