Category: News & Events

One More Jewish Mayor

SIW is reporting on Orthodox mayors and not surprisingly, good ‘ol Springfield, NJ gets overlooked once again. Not only have we had an Orthodox mayor in Clara Harelik, but a female Orthodox mayor who has served several terms1 and recently won the Mayor of the Year award for Union County.
Who knew Springfield could be so progressive?

1. For some wacky reasoning you don’t vote for mayors directly in Springfield, but for a five-member Township Committee who selects the mayor from among themselves.

Karben Copies

I’m beginning to think there’s something in the water in Rockland County NY.
Once again, we have yet nother Orthodox Jew holding a prominent position finding himself in yet another sex scandal. This time, YU grad and Assemblyman Ryan Karben has been accused of inappropriate behavior allegedly making passes as male interns. Since Ryan is resigning from office – in his words to focus on his law firm and family – this story will probably go away rather quickly.1
You’re probably aware of the Rabbi Tendler scandal so there’s no need to go into that here. However, you may not be aware or remember the case of Kenny Gribetz, the former Rockland County D.A. who was caught embezzling public funds to have an illicit affair.2
I’m finding it very disconcerting that Orthodox Jews have such a hard time keeping out of political scandals. Maybe it’s the nature of politics, where life is thoroughly adversarial and moral compromises are routine. Maybe it’s the allure of power and the corresponding ego boost which leads to moral corruption. Then again, maybe the problem is not that widespread and that we are just dealing with individuals with character flaws.
In an odd way, the modern cynicism toward politics and religion is advantageous in that the scandals do not become a “Jewish” issue.3 Sadly these things happen so often it’s getting harder to be shocked and in a few days this should blow over in the mainstream media. Thank goodness for the small things.

1. On a personal note, I can now empathize with the Abramoff supporters in that I knew Ryan many years ago while neighbors in Spring Valley.
2. Regarding this case, I like to point out the different moral compass between Jews and gentiles. In the secular press, Gribetz was mostly criticized for the embezzlement but excused for having the affair. The Jewish press did the opposite.
3. At least overtly. Anti-Semitism is still alive and well in politics, but not nearly as bad as it could be.

Travel Bag

There was a big kerfuffle a few years back about kohanim flying on airplanes and passing over cemetaries and one of the wackier proposed solutions involved having the Kohein wrap himself up in a bodybag. While this didn’t go over well at the time, it was probably due to lousy marketing. Had they called it an “airline sleeping bag not only would it have become trendy, but they could have even charged $99 for it.

Ok so we’d need to make a more “modest” sleeved version, but it’s basically there.

Jackpot Of The Beast

Quick post to let y’all know I’m still alive, busy, and heading to NY soon. On a completely unrelated note, the winning number for Chicago’s Dec 25th evening pick-3 number was 666.
Submit punchline below:

Kushner Continues Crashing

First there was that whole messiness with McGreevey donations and witness tampering. Now, the school named after Charles Kushner’s family has over 40 students busted for drugs and alcohol.
I have several friends who teach there, my father contributed to the curriculum when it first started, and I’m sure there are many positive things to say about the school. Still, I know this school has had such problems and it’s been going on for years.
But now, not only does this happen, but I first hear of it from FARK of all places.
Hopefully this will be embarrassing enough to the school, the board, and the students to actually effect some change.
I can’t say I’m terribly optimistic, but that’s for another time.

You Can’t Hurry Love

In yet another Sunday in the Library I randomly found yesterday’s Dear Abby:

    DEAR ABBY: I’m 19. My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half. Eventually we want to be married. Our relationship is great. We are committed to each other in every way. Of course, we have our disagreements, but neither of us has ever cheated.
    I’m considering marriage now rather than later because I will be moving to Florida for school next fall, and he won’t be coming with me right away.
    Abby, is it silly to think about marriage as a way to ensure that the distance between us won’t tear up apart? Or should I wait till I finish school? — THINKING ABOUT MARRIAGE
    DEAR THINKING: Wait until you finish school. The college years represent a significant intellectual and emotional growth spurt for most people. There is the possibility that by the time you’ve graduated, you won’t be the same person you are today — and neither will he. Please don’t be afraid of this. Growth is positive.

Rebbetzin Jungreis she isn’t, but more Jews follow Dear Abby’s advice than you might realize.
Although the trend is to marry young, the society does impose a minimum standard of development. For most of Modern Orthodox, the most drastic changes occur during “the year in Israel” before college. Based purely on anecdotal research, yeshivot and seminaries often (but not always) encourage students to end existing relationships so that they may concentrate on their own personal development. Only afterwords could the student adequately know what is appropriate to look for in a spouse.
If a person is about to enter a personality changing experience, it does not make sense to commit at that time. Although everyone changes (hopefully matures) over the course of their lives, some periods are more formative than others. People who get married too early would have greater risk of feeling stifled later on in their marriage.
Of course you can argue just how developed one is after 10 months of intense yeshiva/seminary life, or if one is really ready to get married at that point. I’d say that the logic is in place, we just need to work on the details.

Crime And Punishment

Real quick posting today. There’s an editorial in the NYTimes today lamenting the increase in the prison population.

“Federal, state and local governments have been putting more people behind bars even though crime, including violent crime, is down sharply. The driving force has been an array of get-tough policies, many adopted in another era, when fear of crime was greater.” [emphasis mine]

In case you’re not following the logic, the Times is suggesting that since crime is down, we don’t need to be so aggressive in inaceration. The Times avoids making the correlation that perhaps crime is down because of the very policies it decries.

An alternative the Times suggests:

“And special attention should be given to releasing older inmates, a fast-growing part of the prisoner population.”

Perhaps the reason the older inmates are a fast growing part of the population is because they commited heinous crimes in their youth and consequently received lenthy prison terms. After all, isn’t prison more humane than the dealth penalty?

One would think with the way physics work these days that all inmates get older over time, thus increasing the population, and perhaps they actually deserve to be locked up – or we deserve not to have lunatics running around on the streets.

Update: This link was accepted to OpinionJournal’s Best of the Web.

Divorce By SMS

Interesting mahloket in the Islamic world. In 2000 an Alexandrian court ruled that Islam doesn’t accept electronic communications for divorce. Malaysia, however, authorized the use of SMS as a legitimate medium. This seems to be an official pesak and would carry more weight than the acts of individuals.

Acc to Islamic law, a husband divorces his wife by telling her “I divorce thee” three times. So, are electronic communications ok for this?

Topics for discussion:

  • What are the nafka minot between SMS and e-mail?
  • Would this work for AOL’s Instant Messenger?
  • Can the husband do this over the phone, since the technology converts his voice into electronic pulses? Is it a din in the voice or a din in the da’as haba’al?
  • If it’s an electonic communication, does the husband have to type the whole message three times, or can he type it once and just send the same message three times? Is it talui on the shlichus or kabbalah?
  • What does this mean for the Da’as Torah of the Moetzet Gedolei Ha-Quran?

My bekiut in Islam is admitedly weak, so any comments would be appreciated.