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sexually abusing minors in J’lem PART II ‘SKIPY’
October 3, 2011, 8:43 pm
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HAARETZ; An unholy mess in the Holy City

Parents in Nahlaot alerted police to a possible pedophile ring in their Jerusalem neighborhood, but the police allege that what they did next may have allowed the alleged pedophiles to walk free.

By Uri Blau and Nir Hasson

One night several weeks ago, an unusual sight could be seen in a small park in Jerusalem’s Nahlaot neighborhood. The local residents – Haredi yet heterogeneous – attacked a well kept public park and destroyed it to its core. Earlier that evening, the police had arrested the man who created the park and devoted his time to sports activities in it, and now the parents were taking out their anger on his creation. They couldn’t tolerate the discovery that this man SKIPY, a very familiar figure in the neighborhood and city, is suspected of belonging to a network of pedophiles – they even claim he is the brains behind it – which operated unimpeded in the small neighborhood. This network of pedophiles, claim the parents, included no fewer than 10 molesters and operated for years, in houses, niches and parks. Many dozens of children – apparently over 100 – from the neighborhood and elsewhere fell victims to it.

child abuse - Michal Fattal - October 2 2011 A park in the neighborhood. Parents claimed children were abused in parks and homes.
Photo by: Michal Fattal

The story of the pedophile network in Nahlaot exploded in August, with the arrest of four suspects. One of them had already been arrested several months earlier and subsequently released. SKIPY, who was arrested two weeks ago, was the fifth suspect, and the parents hoped that this was the start of a solution to the major crisis they had experienced. But this month, attorney Shlomit Ben-Yitzhak, of the Jerusalem District Prosecutors’ Office, submitted indictments in the affair, and the parents discovered that their hopes had been dashed: Indictments were submitted only against two of those involved – B. and P. And although the indictments describe sodomy, indecent assaults and rape, they refer to only five children. Even the most skeptical of those involved in the investigation and in the welfare agencies admit that that number is only a small percentage of the attacks. The police themselves have interrogated over 40 children.

The possibility of serving indictments against two additional suspects is still under consideration, but they are currently free. But what disappointed the parents most – and what motivated them to think that the arrests did not, in the final analysis, herald the hoped-for solution – was the release of S. Called “the handler” by H., one of the parents, S. was released without charge after a week and began walking around the neighborhood again. Along with him, the small community’s nightmare returned in full force.

Someone close to the investigation claims that the reason for the huge gap between the parents’ stories and the harsh testimony on the one hand, and the legal outcome on the other, is the activity of the parents themselves. The parents, he says, unwittingly interfered with the investigation process. The conversations and “investigations” that they conducted with their own children undermined the reliability of the stories the children then told the juvenile investigators. There are parents who even showed their children pictures of the suspects so the children could identify them, an activity that invalidated their testimony. For their part, the parents stress the fact that they have cooperated with the authorities from the beginning. Many of them are ultra-Orthodox, but as opposed to the usual stereotype of this religious community, they did not hide anything, described what their children had told them without mincing words, and encouraged their children to talk. Only afterward, they say, did they discover that the problem was not a lack of cooperation, but on the contrary – their great desire to eliminate the problem.

The interrogation texts, which are being revealed here for the first time, indicate the difficulties in getting children involved in the criminal evidence system – difficulties that are common to all the cases that center around children. Alongside that, there is also an indication of the unique difficulty in this particular case, stemming from its dimensions and the place where it occurred.

Open, trusting neighborhoodThe knowledge that there was a group of pedophiles among them was a tremendous blow to local residents. In the small neighborhood, which is known for its pluralism and openness, Yiddish-speaking Haredim, American skullcap wearers, Bratslav Hasidim and even secular people live in coexistence and with mutual respect. They all testify that, before the incident, this was an open, trusting neighborhood. “This is a neighborhood with a naivety you won’t find anywhere in the 21st century. And suddenly they find themselves talking about rape and sodomy. Those are words that have never been heard in this place,” says one of the residents.

child abuse - Daniel Bar-On - October 2 2011 One of the accused, B. He denied all charges of sexual assault against the children.
Photo by: Daniel Bar-On

G. and R., a Haredi couple who live in the neighborhood, are just two direct victims of the affair. A few years ago, they began to sense that something was wrong with their children as they started suffering from various behavioral problems. G. and R. didn’t hesitate. They turned to family therapists and child psychologists in order to discover the problem. “They told us that we lacked confidence, that the children were third-generation Holocaust survivors. They said that it was my husband’s fault, and they said that it was my fault,” recalls R.

It was only 10 months ago that they discovered the real reason. A former neighbor called and told them that her son had returned home with black and blue marks on his penis. The neighbor also mentioned B., the first suspect in the case and one of the two who were later served an indictment.

“And then I suddenly understood,” says R. “We started asking the children. One of them replied: ‘He didn’t do bad things, he only gave punishments.’ When I asked him to explain, he described acts of sodomy, indecent assault and rape. This is a child of four, he has no way of inventing it, he has no place from which to imagine it.”

B. lives very near the home of G. and R. and was known in the neighborhood as being feeble-minded. “The absurd thing is that I was his defender in the neighborhood,” says G. “When my son raised accusations against him, I thought it was my job to feel sorry for him and to be angry with my son, and that only made it harder for him. Instead of his parents protecting him, they supported his greatest enemy.”

The parents estimate that three of their children fell victim to B.’s acts. All three are suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms and are receiving psychological therapy.

child abuse - Daniel Bar-On - October 2 2011 The Jerusalem neighborhood of Nahlaot. According to parents, a pedophile ring operated here for many years with at least 10 child molesters taking part.
Photo by: Daniel Bar-On

Since they learned about the attack, the parents are discovering additional dimensions of abuse, additional clues about the nightmarish world in which their children lived. “My son has a fire phobia, he doesn’t allow me to light the Shabbat candles and I have to remove him from the room,” says R. Eventually the child told his parents that B. had once caught him playing with a lighter and punished him with harsh physical and sexual violence. “He told him: ‘I’m doing this to you so you’ll know not to touch fire,'” says G.

In another case, the parents claim they discovered that B. had made a rule. Whenever their mother went out to the supermarket, the children had to come to his home for a series of ‘punishments’. “One time the children begged me to take them along but I refused, because the therapists said that I wasn’t strict enough. When I returned I saw the three of them screaming. I didn’t understand what had happened.”

The parents submitted a complaint to the police as soon as the acts were discovered. The subsequent investigation led in the end to the serving of an initial indictment against B.

At that point, nobody imagined there was more than one molester and more than a few children. But as time passed, more and more children began to talk. They described in detail acts of rape and sodomy, watching pornographic films, harsh physical punishments for “disobedience,” and watching the rape or abuse of another child. The parents claim that almost every child who lived there, or even came for a visit, was a target of abuse. “We noticed that we were a kind of bacterium, that everyone who came was infected. A niece came for Shabbat and it turned out that she had been exposed to pornographic films,” says G.

“[Previously] we already had cases of molesting 70 or 80 children, but I’ve been in the profession for 30 years and I’ve never seen such brutality. It’s heartrending,” says Debbie Gross, director of the Crisis Center for Religious Women that is helping the families.

Altea Steinherz, a trauma specialist who is helping the parents on a volunteer basis, has difficulty holding back tears when she describes one of the stories she heard, about a brother who was forced to watch his sister being raped. “Anyone who has heard this story knows that it was true. I didn’t sleep for an entire week because of that story.”

How is it possible that in such a small neighborhood, in a radius of about 50 meters, there are presumably no fewer than four men who spend most of their time hunting down children, together or alone, abusing them and enlisting additional adults for group sexual attacks?

The residents explain that, among the residents, there are many lonely adults, some of them with special needs. The residents claim S., the leader of the gang, worked among them as a recruiter. “These people are unemployed and nobody pays attention to them, they’re looking for some excitement and someone recruits them,” claims one of the parents.

‘A toy gun’The investigation of M., whose testimony is the basis for the indictment against B., lasted for several hours. The texts reveal an intelligent boy whose descriptions are coherent. First the investigator ensures that he distinguishes between fact and fiction. “I want [you] to tell me … only the true things that happened, and I want to be sure that you know what it means to say something true and something untrue,” he tells the child. “If I say, for example, that you’re standing now, would that be true or untrue?”

M.: “Untrue, I’m sitting.”

“So, I see that you know what it means to say something true and something untrue. Now, if I ask you something you don’t know, then say you don’t know – all right?”

Only after these preliminaries does the interrogator get down to work. He shows M. the picture of the suspect, and the child immediately answers: “I played with him in the mikveh [ritual bath] and I was in his house many times – we were groups that came to him. We knocked on the door and he opened it. We had to walk around outside his house so that they wouldn’t hear outside when he was hitting … He showed us films . He told us not to tell our parents, and if someone told, he would hit him with a toy gun and it hurt.”

The gun that M. is talking about recurs repeatedly in the children’s descriptions of B.’s reign of terror. The parents say he would threaten to shoot the children, murder their younger siblings or burn their houses down.

In his interrogation, B. denies the acts that the children attributed to him. Although he confirmed that he “brought children home, I played checkers with them, and there are some … with whom I played ‘balancing’.” But he denied implicitly that he had attacked them sexually.

B’s attorney, Roy Politi, responds: “This story is a horrifying example of turning a person whose only crime is a personality disorder that dooms him to live on the margins of society, into a monster who can be victimized. For several weeks, public hysteria in the accused’s neighborhood gave rise to a process that should become a subject for a sociological study. In the course of it, rumors turned into complaints, and a story was consolidated to the effect that over 50 children had been raped by the accused and others on a daily basis for years, were forced to participate in mass orgies and suffered exceptional sexual abuse. All that without anyone noticing their strange disappearance for hours at a time, injuries on their bodies or other indications. The accused denies the accusations against him and will prove his complete innocence in the courtroom.”

A thin lineM.’s testimony became the basis of the indictment after his interrogator decided that he was “consistent and tries to stick to the relevant facts that he draws from his memory … I believe that he can give testimony in court.” But that was not the situation in many other cases. In those cases, the interrogators decided that, in light of the parents’ involvement, “It’s impossible to determine reliable findings.” This decision, say those familiar with the case, does not mean that a child is lying, but that it is impossible to determine whether what he is saying is entirely correct. But the result is the same: Most of the suspects were released to their homes, to the horror of the parents.

People in the legal system and professionals involved in the case actually agree that, even if there are exaggerations in the children’s stories, the core is true. Debbie Gross states she has no doubts over the verisimilitude of most of the children’s stories. “I don’t think that a child is capable of inventing such stories,” she says. “You can’t invent such a thing even when you’re exposed to newspapers, the Internet and television. And a Haredi child certainly can’t invent such stories.”

“I’m sure that it’s not an invention, there’s a very large mass of children who were harmed,” said someone who is very close to the investigation, but who has some reservations. “But when a child says that he was hurt and says that it happened only once, and then goes back and says that it happened three times because his mother reminded him, that’s a problem. We have a child who told a very serious story, with a beginning, a middle and an end, but in the end it turned out that his parents had shown him the picture of the suspect, and that invalidated the entire testimony. We are beginning to understand that the parents caused damage. The knowledge that there may be pedophiles walking around free outside certainly makes people feel terrible. But there is definitely also another possibility – that not everything is true. And it’s very difficult to sort what’s true from what may not be true.”

One of the issues that bothered the police – and also bothers Politi – was the fact that most of the children began reporting what happened to them at exactly the same time. The children and their parents were quizzed on this during the interrogations, and one of the neighborhood residents was even interrogated under caution for interfering with the investigation process.

The parents, for their part, admit that they may be mistaken, but they point an accusing finger at the police. “We’re new at this. They should have told us what to do and what not to do,” says one resident. The parents also point to problems in the police investigation. Among other things, the time that passed until the suspects’ homes were searched, which enabled them to remove evidence. “I understand the problem with the children’s testimony, but why wasn’t there initiative on the part of the police?” asks one resident. Now, in light of the meager indictments, say the parents, they won’t hasten to turn to the police again with additional names.

“They murdered their souls. We, the men, are still living somehow, but our wives aren’t living. They’re in an ongoing trauma,” says G. And H., who says that five of his children were caught in the net, adds: “Among the five, you can sense it with three of them. But the most frightening are the two on which you can’t see anything. You don’t know when it will come out. With God’s help it will pass, but it’s very frightening. We won’t be calm until we accompany these children to the chuppah and they have their first child. Then we can say that we’ve forgotten about it.”

But it’s not just the parents who feel they are standing on shaky ground. The entire neighborhood has changed. “Once we were known as an open neighborhood, now everything has disappeared. Today, when a stranger shows up in the synagogue, the gabbai [sexton] tells him not to come again. That’s something that never happened before,” says a neighborhood resident. H. points to the playground and public spaces that have emptied of children as a result of the affair. “The yards were bustling, today it’s quiet. I have nine children and the door to the house is locked, nobody leaves.” Gross understands them perfectly. “This is a simple, naive community that has been hit by a tsunami and they simply didn’t know what to do with it. It’s a catastrophic blow,” she says.

The community leaders are actually demonstrating an ability to cope. They turned to a lawyer to try to change the mind of the Prosecutors’ Office regarding the additional suspects. At the same time they started a fund, collected donations and have started to pay for intensive individual and group therapy, for the children and the families.

On the advice of the psychologists who are treating the neighborhood children, an unusual sight was seen there about two months ago: At 9:30 P.M., when the police arrived at P.’s house, dozens of parents and children were waiting for them on the balconies and at the windows, in order to see them raiding the house, arresting its tenants and confiscating equipment. The psychologists thought that the sight of the arrest would reinforce the children’s confidence. “After he was arrested there was a festive atmosphere here,” says one of the neighbors.

Now, say the parents of the children who were molested, one thing scares them more than anything else: The moment when their children discover that the suspects are not in prison, as the children were promised.



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Pedophiles in Nachlaot- walking freely
Several pedophiles who were recently arrested were set free in a situation which is nothing short of a travesty of justice.

Nachlaot is probably one of the dearest neighborhoods to me in all of Israel. I call the shuk “my happy place” and spent many years in various apartments throughout the ‘hood. In many ways, Nachloat helped me to form my identity as a spiritually aware and observant Jew who could still keep my hippy street cred.

There is an enchantment about the place where techlet (light blue) doors welcomed people in and where there have always been especially tight bonds between people. It has been devastating to find out recently how deeply the residents there have been betrayed by a group of pedophiles who preyed on their children and a justice system which has seemed to fail them.

My oldest son was born while I was living in Nachlaot on a corner apartment on Shirizlee street- as it turns out, this is just down the street from the park which was used as a central place to lure children and recently the park was destroyed by angry residents.

It is almost impossible for me to imagine what they are going through. I have been hearing about this from friends but only recently understood the magnitude after reading an article in Haaretz. Apparently, over 100 children have come forward to say that they were victimized- more than 40 were interrogated by the police and the testimonies of only 5 children is being used. The majority of the testimony of these brave children was deemed “inadmissible” because parents questioned their children before the police did. The big mistake seems to be that they were shown pictures to try and identify the assailants in advance.

As if a parent could NOT talk about this with their kids, could NOT try to pry out information, beg them to talk or do whatever they could to get them to be able to identify their attacker.

And now, these predators are back on the streets- WALKING THROUGH THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

Justice needs to be done. I share with all of the parents there a feeling of frustration and anger. I have no idea what actions need to be taken- or if anything can be done. If the testimony of these children can be tossed aside so easily then the laws need to change- this needs to go all the way to the Supreme court but violence and sexual acts against children destroy lives and need to be taken seriously.

Unfortunately, pedophiles are a part of our world. They are in every community- religious, secular, American, or Israeli. The current statistics say that 93% of kids who are abused, are actually abused by someone that they know- someone from their inner circle. In America sex offenders are registered and tracked- I have no idea if this happens in Israel. If you know about this please leave a comment as it would be a great service to people.

Since pedophiles insinuate themselves into the lives of children by working in education, volunteering at youth groups or “helping” disadvantaged kids, the only REAL defense (besides making sure that abusers are hit with the full measure of the law against them) we have against them is having open, honest conversations with our kids. Pedophiles promote secret keeping. They also tend to prey on kids who are already emotionally struggling, kids who are lonely and kids who have the least support at home.

Some people thought I was crazy but as soon as my children seemed old enough to understand (around 3 yrs old) I began having conversations with them about their “private parts.” I was frank, clear and straightforward that no one should EVER touch them, that they should never believe a grown up who tells them to keep secrets from their Mommy and Daddy and that there are bad people in the world who hurt kids by making them do things with their private parts.

This is not as hard a conversation as it might seem and it is one that can protect your kids from horrors which are almost to terrible to imagine.

Comment by mom

after having these comments blocked by false messiah i respectfully bring them here and ask you to forward them.

first i’d like to point out the glaring differences between the post’s Sept.14 Th article and the haretz’s Oct article. twice [sub headline] Melanie lidman insisted there was no organized ring even after admitting that some of the rapes were multiple.she’s protecting the scum? no, her police source. haretz said it was clearly an organized ring- any fool can see that. Melanie then said there were 5 attackers but haretz quoted sources that doubled that number. the Sept. article was clearly intended to calm the situation by minimization. this gives a clue as to why the police did nothing until forced to and then allowed the attackers to destroy evidence and ultimately freed these heinous fiends to continue their rampage and terrorize the neighborhood -any subsequent violence is solely on police.
the reasons for this mysterious actions by the authorities isn’t so hard to understand if certain pretensions are dropped – but the action of doing so endangers people’s very sanity and basis of their lives. one pretension is that there is a working justice system here in the Israelite kingdom- when the truth is that police determine who goes to trial and under what circumstance[ in other words how long the sentence] the judges are rubber stamps- sometimes they twist and turn under their masters. only one case in 600 are the defendants found innocence. the only thing a person can do is pay a connected lawyer [25000$ is minimum] to affect his fate – but then this applies to the guilty as well as the not.the police determine what happens to you on the basis of the good of the status-quo there is no equality under the law; that’s laughable or seen as naive.each case is predetermined according to who the person is and what power he holds in the order of things- this can work in your favor sometimes if your a nothing. may i remind you that there are no civil rights for citizens here often times people are jailed for months on the fact that police say they are a danger to society : here where there is a clear danger these people were released in days- which brings us to a possible explication of events- the political power here in Jerusalem is held by the haridem in conjunction with civil secular authorities . the last thing these people want to see is a sex scandal involving world wide exposure of such a crime on such a scale involving the Hasidim.they will go to any length to avoid that if a 100 children die that’s a small price for them to pay- were talking survival ! this is what people can not hear about is real [or is not]. there’s a much deeper expostulation here- that the entire state security is based on the relationship between the state and its religious minority those children are it’s sacrifice. Skippy may have realized that by the recruitment of haradi perverts he was protecting himself from punishment how else could this hellish ring have committed these outlandish crimes so openly for so many years without police protection!?!? THIS HURTS the coverment of sexual crimes by the jewish relgious world is the main issue of of our day. this is a worldwide occurance.
what failed messiah does not want to know is how much this is tied into the state of israel; whoes very exsistance is established on agreements with this sector.

Comment by jack

jack can you please get in touch with me, are you living in israel now. i am in shirizly and working hard to get some help for the kids against all odds as you know
i will be damned if i will let the evil monsters walk my street looking for more babies – i will not fold hands and bleat like a dumb animal.
if you are in israel in am 3 shirizly where the pretty garden is, or else i am at

Comment by ruth cohen

jack, you are so right about the lack of justice in israel. and failed messiah is pathetic. i spoke to melanie of jpost myself. she is young and eager and brain dead. the other journalists from other israeli papers know what is going on, but cannot report it.
i really wish you would get in touch with me.

Comment by ruth cohen

The survival? The only survival of anyone

Comment by Meth

shman’s new book, Becoming the People of the Talmud: Oral Torah as Written Tradition in Medieval Jewish Cultures (University of Pennsylvania Press, 424 pages, $65) for the Forward. And he notes the following:

…[Fishman] demonstrates not only that even when written copies existed, the Talmud in Mesopotamian, North African and Iberian Jewish communities of the early Middle Ages was still primarily transmitted by word of mouth, but also that authoritative pronouncements on Jewish law often diverged from that Talmud. It was only in 11th- and 12th-century France and Germany [300 years after the Babylonian Talmud was codified] — the Ashkenazic heartland — that Jews began to experience Talmud “as readers studying a book,” and that book came to be viewed as the paramount guide to practice, a process similar to the shift going on at the same time among non-Jews, as Northern European Christianity moved to a text-based culture from a custom-based one.

The work of the 11th-century French scholar known as Rashi facilitated the treatment of Talmud as one long book by preparing the authoritative running commentary still in use today. The next step, accomplished by several generations of scholars beginning with Rashi’s grandsons — collectively known as the Tosafists — was to identify and seek to reconcile the multiple contradictions in the book, a problem that had rarely surfaced when the Talmud was an oral tradition. By the 13th century, this focus on the intricacies of the written text had spread across the Pyrenees [mountains] to scholars in Spain and then elsewhere, quickly establishing itself as the normative form of Jewish learning.

As the medium transforms the message, two key substantive changes in Judaism wrought by textualization are discussed in “Becoming the People of the Talmud.” Clearly, the newly constituted “text” is more rigid than oral tradition, reducing the flexibility of the religious authority to reinterpret past wisdom in light of new reality in a way that does not disrupt the consciousness of a seamless tradition. Thus, Fishman notes, the Tosafists were often perplexed when they saw that customary religious practices that had evolved naturally differed from those prescribed in the talmudic texts, and so they exerted remarkable casuistic energy in attempts to reconcile them.…

What’s interesting here is that if you set the date of the Talmud’s ‘universal’ adoption as a rigid source of Jewish law at the mid-1300s instead of the rabbinic back formation that sets it in the mid-8th century CE, it makes the behavior of so-called questionable Jewish communities like the Beta Israel of Ethiopia and the Bene Israel of India in clearer context.

Many of the binding legal decisions of the talmud these communities supposedly ignored or inexplicably did not know about are thrown into a completely new light when it becomes clear that the Talmud itself wasn’t really binding until much later than the rabbis have claimed.

It is also helps demonstrate that rabbis who do not know history and related sciences like archeology can easily make mistakes in judgement, just like rabbi who do not know medical science or physics make errors of judgement.

In both those cases, these rabbis rely on the Talmud as if it existed, pristine and perfect, in a vacuum.

But it does not now and it never did exist in that way.

Perhaps one day, rabbis and their yeshivas will acknowledge that.

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Comment by jack

Good thing the man was caught.

Comment by sexual harassment attorneys

The Binding of Isaac and the Beatles

The chapter of Akedat Yitzhak, the Binding of Isaac, is no doubt the most problematic one in the entire Torah, raising thorny problems, theological, ethical and covenantal. How are we to understand the notion of a God who tests the faith of “Abraham His lover” by demanding that the latter sacrifice his own son, born after decades of barrenness, and who was meant to continue the covenant that his seed would be a “great nation,” “as numerous as the stars” and as “the sand by the sea,” and who would in due time “inherit the land of Canaan”? There is an unbearable contradiction between what we are taught about God elsewhere, as the very source of all that is good and just and righteous, and what He demands here—what the Danish theologian Kierkegaard called the “theological suspension of the ethical.” And even if, as we readers know in advance from our familiarity with the story, God intended all along to halt this cruel and barbaric human sacrifice at the crucial moment, what does it say about Abraham’s faith? Was he truly a “knight of faith,” or a fool who equated faith with blind obedience to the cruelest, unethical and self-contradictory commandment?

Rivers of ink have been spilled in attempting to understand this problem, and I would not suggest that I have any new solutions to this knotty dilemma that has taxed the best minds over the centuries. On another level: the Akedah is seen in our tradition as the model for Kiddush Hashem—for the willingness of Jews to die in order to sanctify God’s Name. Particularly at those junctures in which Jewish faith was placed to the test—during the First Crusades and at other periods of Muslim or Christian religious fanaticism and persecution, when Jews were confronted with the awful choice of either foregoing their faith or being put to death, Abraham at Mount Moriah was seen as a model of heroism for Jews who were called upon to emulate his single-minded devotion. Here in Israel, some speak of the Akedah—often ironically—in secular terms, as a model for parents who send their children to fight, never knowing whether they too may end up as “sacrifices” for the homeland.

Many years ago, John Lennon of the Beatles wrote a song called “Imagine”:

Imagine there’s no heaven / Its easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky / Imagine all the people / Living for today / Oh-oh.
Imagine there’s no countries… Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too/ Imagine all the people / Living life in peace…
This song may have been the closest thing to an ideological manifesto of the Beatles and the 1960’s youth culture for whom they served as spokesmen of a sort—if you will, a kind of anthem for the “hippie nation.” What they (or should I say we—I include my younger self in this movement) saw in the adult world was mostly racism, economic exploitation, war and bloodshed motivated by national or religious differences. Wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place if all these artificial differences between people were to miraculously disappear? If all the people were to live “for today.” Then the world would live in peace. As the song concludes:

You may say I’m a dreamer / But I’m not the only one / I hope some day you’ll join us /And the world shall live as one.
One line in this song—“nothing to kill or die for”—seems diametrically opposed to the ethos implied by the Akedah, raising a crucial question: Is there anything worth dying for? Is life—meaning, in the end, the individual’s life—dear at all cost? Are there any absolute principles, ideas so central and cardinal, that one must die rather than violate them? Are there any actions so reprehensible, that one must avoid doing them even at the cost of one’s own life?

I think of the generation that preceded those of us who grew up in the ‘60s—the generation that fought against Hitler and the Nazis in World War II, which at times refers to itself as “the Great Generation” because of the qualities of heroism and self-sacrifice called for by that struggle. To the Beatles generation, the concept of the existence of forces so evil that one must do battle against them, was unknown—doubtless because of the dubious justification for the War in Vietnam, which dominated that era. The credo was that people are basically the same, that everyone want the same things from life, and that it’s only the leaders who, for their own diabolical, power-driven reasons, set one group against another.

The Jewish tradition has its own, rather definitive answers, to the question, “Is there anything worth dying for?” The Talmud in Sanhedrin lists three mitzvot for which “one should be killed rather than violate them” (éäøâ åìà éòáø): namely, bloodshed, sexual license (i.e., incest, adultery, and the like), and idolatry. Interestingly, two of these three are social–ethical mitzvot, in the sense that they relate to the Other: i.e., taking another person’s life and violating another person’s sexual integrity. But the last of the three is at once the most cardinal and, doubtless, the most problematic in terms of the ethos underlying Imagine: denying, even for temporary expediency, even to external appearances, one’s loyalty to the God of Israel. This is, in a sense, the crux of the lesson of Akedat Yitzhak, and it is that which, in the end, distinguishes the ethos of the Akedah from that of the ‘60s.

* * * * *

A supplement on the occasion of the seventeenth Yahrzeit of Rav Shlomo Carlebach, which falls this Sunday night and Monday (16th Marheshvan), will follow later today or after Shabbat. For readers living in Jerusalem: an evening dedicated to his memory, including a panel discussion, live music, and dancing will be held at Yakar, 10 Lamed-Heh Street, at 8 pm Sunday evening.

Comment by jack

y r u so negative?

Comment by sammy


Comment by philip silverstone

“I love the Shuk and I love the Charedim.”

For years, this has been my standard answer when people ask me why I love Nachlaot so incredibly much.

By “the Shuk” I mean Jerusalem’s booming-with-life fresh-air market a hop, skip, and a jump from my front door. The shuk is my favorite place in the world, quite probably.

And by “the Charedim” I mean the black-robe/housecoat wearing residents of Nachlaot’s shtetl. Let me explain…

A hop, skip and jump from my front door in the other direction exists a very special community of religious Jews who, for the past 120 years, have been living a life of total dedication to Hashem and His Torah.

The children and mothers and fathers in this modern-day shtletl are simple and innocent and good-hearted Ovdei Hashem to an extent that almost doesn’t exist anywhere anymore.

And this unique community was the one where the pedophiles chose to make their Holocaust. These pure, holy children were the evil pedophiles’ prey for the past 5 years while confused parents and psychologists and pediatricians were unable to figure out what was causing the Shtetl’s terrorized-into-silence children to be so severely injured and traumatized.

Up until a few months ago, when I walked through Nachlaot’s shtetl, I saw a scene that was reminiscent of paradise. Crowds of religious girls playing jump rope and religious boys trading Tsaddikim cards. Mothers peeking out to check on their children while preparing dinner, or hanging laundry, or reading Tehillim. Just to walk through Nachlaot’s shtetl filled me with longing for a different life…

And now, where have the children gone?

Today, the Shtletl is silent. 5 families including over 40 children have already moved away to safer neighborhoods.

And the families that are not moving, because they cannot afford to, or because they choose not to, keep their children largely locked inside. Or the children are outside, with their mothers hovering anxiously and wondering how their paradise on earth became the Devil’s playground while the police and legal system cluck their tongues, and do next to nothing to protect Jerusalem’s children from “S,” the alleged mastermind of the pedophile ring, and his band of experienced predators who have done nearly irreparable damage to the children of an entire community.

And over Chanukah I’ve been thinking even more about these holy children and their families than usual…

Chanukah’s been crazy for me. Non-stop kids and family and frying and cleaning.

But once a day, every day, I come to a screeching halt. Every night I collapse on my sofa and watch my Chanukah candles.

On the 1st night of Chanukah, I watched those two little candles shining in a sea of darkness. You would think that those two little candles would have been totally Bitul b’Sheesheem in that ocean of darkness, right?

But not at all…

Watching those 2 little candles, I saw that they were so strong, so bright in the dark room, shining with the light of Torah and Hashem and Mitzvot. Boiled-honey intense, core-of-the-Sun illuminating. Their flames tirelessly reaching upwards with yearning for something higher, for the Divine.

And these candles, I understood, are the molested children and their parents.

Despite the darkness that fills my community today, an immense light continues to exist in these holy children and their parents. That light fills the hearts, in fact, of most Nachlaot parents and our children as we strive, as well, to be good and better parents and Jews.

The days of Chanukah pass by, and my Menorah is no longer filled with 2 teensy candles, but rather with an entire family of candles. The light of these families, these holy Nachlaot families, flickering in the darkness.

The light of the Torah and Hashem filling us, and enabling us to drive away the darkness that fills our community and our world.

“Please Hashem…” I begged Hashem last night as I watched my candles reaching up towards Hashem in the darkness, “more than anything else I want to be a candle. A candle for my children. A candle for my husband. A candle for my JewishMOMs. A candle for my community.”

“Please Hashem, please Hashem, in this darkness, let me be a candle too…”

Comment by mom

i wanted you to know that i was the person who helped make the garden for moshe montifore, when i found out what was really going on, i destroyed it, gave away the plants. a few people helped me too.but they dont want to be identified. at least that stopped him from hanging around in the area. he is very angry about that and still walks around him and is furious he lost his “good name”

it has had a dramatic effect on the area now that he has no place to hang around and the garden is now a pile of rocks – the tuma is lifting and the light is returning

Comment by ruth cohen

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