Thursday, November 27, 2014

Consequences of easy divorce: Divorced Mothers Turning to Prostitution

Arutz 7   Dozens of divorced Israeli mothers have joined the prostitution trade in Eilat, as divorce rates skyrocket.

Dozens of divorced and separated Israeli mothers have joined the sex trade in the southern city of Eilat, according to a report on Channel 2 News's website.

The new trend can be seen as a byproduct of Israel's growing divorce rate, which studies say has reached 40% in just the first ten years of marriage.

According to the report, Eilat brothels disguised as massage parlors used to employ women brought into Israel for prostitution from the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe, but after the security fence was built along the border with Sinai, Bedouin smugglers are no longer able to bring these women into Israel. 

Their place has been taken, in large part, by Israeli women, many of whom are divorced or recently separated mothers. The report quotes several of them as saying that they are able to make 20,000 shekels (over $5,000) or more a month in prostitution, while their former jobs earned them a quarter of that amount. [...]

Under pressure from radical women's groups, Israel has adopted a plethora of policies that encourage women to divorce - including meaningful financial benefits that are offered to separated and divorced women regardless of the circumstances of the divorce.

Fighting Child Trafficking

Here is a letter to me from Rob Morris, just back from a recent trip on behalf of his child trafficking rescue organization, Love 146.

Dear Alec,

Just got in from my trip to the Philippines and it was amazing. I think people too often only talk about the horror and despair surrounding child trafficking and exploitation (which is a reality), but not enough about the hope, empowerment and change that is also just as much of a reality.
As I mentioned in my email, while in the Philippines I had the privilege of being part of two weddings for girls who were rescued years ago, were brought to our safe home, went through our program and were reintegrated back into a community. They came back to our safe home because they wanted to have their weddings there. It was amazing and beautiful. It was so humbling and such an honor to be a part of it.

While there, I was also able to spend time with girls who are currently in the safe home as well as several who had graduated from the home and are now living in communities and holding down good jobs. One of the girls I met with is Amanda. Amanda's past of abuse and exploitation began when she was eight. She was eventually trafficked throughout different provinces and even sold on the Internet. She was rescued when she was 14 and then moved from institution to institution. Her greatest desire was to go to school. Because she was unable to attend school in these institutions she ran away and began working in bars and ended up being exploited again.

Rescued again, she came into Love146's care. We lost no time putting Amanda in a home study program in our safe home that would allow her to learn at her own pace. At age 17 she began at a fourth grade level. After just one year, she passed exams that allowed her to skip high school and go on to college. During college we continued to support her with private tutoring. She has now finished her courses and passed qualifying exams to become a professional caregiver. She is now able to work in hospitals, schools, and other facilities with children, adults and the elderly. 

How many times does a girl need to be rescued before she is free? For Amanda, the answer was until she was given access to education. [...]

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How do responsible Jewish organizations respond to abuse allegations?

The Jewish Week     The revelation that one of the most respected rabbis in our community is alleged to be an abusive Peeping Tom has come as a shock. Unfortunately, the allegations against Rabbi Barry Freundel in Washington, D.C., are but the latest in a long string of abuse cases that have come to light over the past few decades. The one thing that they all have in common is that they all had warning signs. There were always things that did not seem right or behavior that was bizarre. Many people were holding pieces of the puzzle but there was no one to put them all together. This is the crux of the crisis facing our community. How do we protect our children and institutions from those who seek to abuse others? [...]

In the wake of the 2000 Jewish Week expose by Gary Rosenblatt on the decades’-long abusive behavior by Rabbi Lanner, who was NCSY’s director of regions, the OU formed a commission to investigate. It became clear very quickly that many lay and professional leaders knew about the abusive behavior, but everyone claimed they only knew a piece of the puzzle. No one was putting it all together. Thus was born the NCSY ombudsman. A position was created so that all complaints would be filtered through one person, independent of the organization and therefore unbiased.

Fast forward to January 2005. That was when I became the international director of NCSY and assumed responsibility for the ombudsman. At the time the system was in place but left much to be desired in terms of accomplishing its goals. I realized that when I was handed a folder full of ombudsman complaints. Unfortunately, the files were generally incomplete. The complaints mostly consisted of emails that had been put in a file. There was no systematic filing system for abuse complaints. More importantly, there was no conclusion ascribed to the complaints. It was impossible to know what had happened and how each issue was resolved. This is not uncommon in the Jewish community, where there is much turnover of staff and little institutional memory.

Aside from the filing issues, another pressing matter was brought to my attention. When the NCSY ombudsman was put into place, there were no guidelines in terms of what fell within the discretion of the overseer. Often, after an employee was let go from the organization, inevitable anonymous complaints would be submitted to the ombudsman complaining about that person’s supervisor. This wasted a lot of time and effort on things that should have been handled by the human resources department. [...]

How Debbie Gross "saved" me from being abused physically and emotionally at her Convention dealing with abuse and violence in the religious community

What I am about to describe is the ironic story of abuse by the organizers of a convention dedicated to preventing and dealing with abuse. It also is also another example of well meaning laymen who are genuinely trying to help the Jewish community - insisting on imposing their innovations and distortions of halacha by strong armed tactics and blocking the voices of those that disagree with them.

As I have mentioned previously, I had been approved by the organizers to give two short presentations at next week's International Conference dealing with violence and abuse in the religious community. One of the presentations dealt with the problem of get meusa resulting from putting pressure on the husband to give a divorce the other with insensitivity to abuse by using halacha as a barrier to investigating the allegations of abuse

Also as noted in a previous post last Friday the 21st, I received a letter from Debbie Gross - the organizer of the convention - that she had received  many threatening emails against me from people saying they were coming to the convention specifically to attack me. She said there were no security guards to protect me and she would understand if I withdrew from the convention. This is the letter
Rabbi Eidensohn
Shalom u’vracha.

I am writing you concerning your email of a few weeks ago as to whether we will have some form of bodyguards at the conference to protect the speakers against “hecklers”.  Unfortunately, we do not have any funds or way to provide any form of protection to the speaker.  In these difficult security times in Jerusalem, we are hoping just to stay safe from the arab terrorists who seem to be everywhere.

I would like to alert you to the fact that we have been receiving numerous emails over the past week, from agunot and their families concerning your views and blogs about agunot and the use of the internet.  These emails have been very aggressive and threatening.  I would like to alert you to this fact so that you can reevaluate whether you are prepared both emotionally and physically to deal with what seems to be a large amount of angry participants who are specifically coming to the conference to denounce you and your views.  I am taking their anger quite seriously and relaying such to you.  I hope that you are prepared to deal with their anger and aggression.  I would like you to take all of this into consideration prior to coming to the conference.  I will certainly understand should you decide that this is not the right platform for you at this time.
With best regards,
Shabbat shalom
Debbie Gross
I replied to her that I was coming anyway. 
Thank you for the information. I am still planning on coming.  I am surprised given the emotion associated with the issue the conference is dealing with that there is no security - not even volunteers?
She replied:
May you be well. 
Shabbat shalom
 From her response it seemed that she was not happy with my answer. 

But I also received another email on Friday the 21st  from the Conference reminding me that I must register by Monday 24th.

Monday 24th morning I received an email from organizer Henry Horwitz of the Conference saying that since I hadn't registered they were removing me from the Conference speakers.

I called up Henry Horwitz and he told me that he had been told to remove all unregistered speakers on Sunday. I protested and said that I had emails stating that the deadline was Monday. He said I had to speak to Debbie Gross because there was nothing he could do.

While it is true I hadn't registered I had responded several times to the convention organizers that I was coming - and I knew that I could register until Monday 24th.

I registered on their website Monday anyway and paid the fee - the web form said that I was officially registered. I took a photo of the confirmation screen and sent it to the Debbie Gross and the convention organizers asking for clarification.


It was clear from Debbie's letter that she was not happy with my presentation about Agunos and was exaggerating her point about the "physical and emotional" dangers to me to scare me. Obviously nobody is coming to the conference and paying the hefty fee - specifically to attack me etc etc. Besides why would a convention about abuse allow a speaker to be abused and heckled?
The question is why she didn't want me speaking since I am merely stating mainstream halacha? I had clearly indicated that on my application which had been approved by the conference. Why had my Internet activity dealing with Dodelson, Epstein and Stein suddenly become an issue 2 weeks before the convention?

However someone at the conference slipped up and sent me a confirmation at 5 p.m. Monday - that I was speaking - but the time of my presentation had been changed to Wednesday. It again specifically said that the deadline for registration was Monday and requested that I register if I hadn't done so already.

 I looked at the session schedule that they sent me and discovered that Rabbi Jeremy Stern was scheduled to speak at that session. He of course is the head of ORA which is a feminist driven YU organization which holds massive demonstrations against husband who don't give their wives a get on demand. Such pressure produces an invalid get according to normative halacha. He has often been mentioned on my blog as we have taken opposing sides in a number of divorce cases. Rabbi Blau - mashgiach at YU - and Dayan with the new Kraus Beis Din [the new incarnation of the Rackman Beis Din] for freeing agunos is also presenting at the convention.

An hour later at 6 p.m. I received another email from the convention saying that the confirmation was a mistake and that I was not speaking because I hadn't registered in time. I still have not heard from Debbie Gross or the other organizers I spoke to as to why I am being excluded.

The reason for my exclusion is obviously not a concern that I might be abused at the abuse convention nor is it a bureaucratic error about registration deadlines. The first could have been solved simply by the standard announcement that anyone who interrupted the speakers would be kicked out of the convention and not allowed to return. The hotel does have security guards for that purpose. The registration deadline is also strange since I received 3 different emails stating it was Monday and in fact the registration for the general public is until today the 26th. I was told by Mr. Horwitz that the registration deadline for the speakers was imposed to ensure the schedules of speakers could be printed up in time. Assuming that is true - it is not big deal to have a session with one speaker not officially listed and it does not explain why Debbie Gross did not bother responding to my emails.

I wish Debbie Gross well with her work to help the community and abuse victims and hope that next week's convention meets her expectations and goals. Perhaps she will allow someone there  to mention the serious normative  halachic problem of get me'usa.

R Rackman: The solution to Aguna is being able to annul any marriage without a Get

 The following are excerpts from Chapter 3 of One Man's Judaism by Rabbi Emanuel Rackman 

He states on page 244 that Rav Moshe's annulment marriages for preexisting conditions which a normal woman can't live with - is a good start but it is not enough. He raises the important question of whether the ability to help agunos is worth the price of
"making virtually all marriages easily annullable and such liberalism might destroy the sanctity of marriage - one of Judaism's most cherished values and desiderata. Rabbis and laymen would raise a hue and a cry that marriage bonds in Judaism are made of straw. The stability of marriages would be adversely affected. Instead of being viewed as indestructible, marriages would be regarded as ephemeral. That is why our Rabbis in the past so hesitated to suspend the requirement of a Get. That is why they so formalized the procedure for a Get. That is also why the forbade conditions and the inclusion of capricious agreements in the original marriage contract." 

Chapter Three

In contemporary halachic creativity rabbis are rarely daring. This complaint is often heard whenever Jews meet to discuss the present plight of Jewish law. It is, therefore, an event joyously to be hailed when so renowned a scholar as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein publishes a volume of responsa [Igrot Moshe on Even Ha-ezer NY 1961] which reveals not only erudition of exceptional breadth and depth but also courage worthy of a Gadol in an age of unprecedented challenge to our cherished Halachah. 

There is abundant authority in earlier respona of great scholars for all thus far reported from Rabbi Feinstein's volume. However, he deserves our approbation for reaffirming the rulings in our contemporary situation when Orthodox rabbis have become so panicky about liberalism that they have "frozen" the law beyond the wildest expectations of more saintly forebears. But there is one area in which Rabbi Feinstein forges ahead of predecessors. He permits husband or wife to remarry without a Get when there is reasonable assurance that if either had known some important fact about the other in advance of the marriage they would not have entered upon the marriage. Rabbi Feinstein has revived the Talmudic notion of "marriage by mistake," and he does not limit it, as the Tosafists of the Middle Ages did, to the period intervening between betrothal and consummation of the nuptials. According to Rabbi Feinstein, the spouse may avail himself or herself of the fraud or conThere is abundant authority in earlier respona of great scholars for all thus far reported from Rabbi Feinstein's volume. However, he deserves our approbation for reaffirming the rulings in our contemporary situation when Orthodox rabbis have become so panicky about liberalism that they have "frozen" the law beyond the wildest expectations of more saintly forebears. But there is one area in which Rabbi Feinstein forges ahead of predecessors. He permits husband or wife to remarry without a Get when there is reasonable assurance that if either had known some important fact about the other in advance of the marriage they would not have entered upon the marriage. Rabbi Feinstein has revived the Talmudic notion of "marriage by mistake," and he does not limit it, as the Tosafists of the Middle Ages did, to the period intervening between betrothal and consummation of the nuptials. According to Rabbi Feinstein, the spouse may avail himself or herself of the fraud or concealment at any time after the marriage. Thus a husband may remarry without a Get if he discovered that his wife could not bear him children because of an affliction that existed prior to the marriage. Similarly, the wife may remarry without a Get if she discovers that her husband is incapable of sexual intercourse or that he was committed to a mental hospital for a period prior to his marriage and became ill again during the marriage. The presumption is simple: She would not have married him had she known all the facts. 

What is especially noteworthy about Feinstein's desire to relieve anguish and pain is his readiness to ignore prior authorities when their conclusions are antithetical to his. Thus, with the zeal of a great humanitarian he cites the Ein Yitzhak who permitted a widow to remarry without Halitzah because he held the marriage of the widow to be a nullity, but he fails to cite the Shevut Yaakov whom the Ein Yitzhak cites and who unequivocally arrived at a conclusion opposite to that of Rabbi Feinstein in an almost identical case. Such is the power of Heterah (leniency) in the hands of a Talmudic giant! And we thought our generation was altogether bereft of them! 

It is also noteworthy that the eminent Rabbi Weinberg of Montrieux ended one of his responsa, published in Noam, with a prayer that one day some rabbi will be bold enough to rule as Rabbi Feinstein has. He lived to see his prayer fulfilled.
There is no doubt but that the liberalization of Jewish family law can best be done through the broader exercise of the inherent power of a Beth Din to annul marriages for fraud or mistake. Of course, the consequence will be that the issue of marriages subsequently annulled will be regarded as born out of wedlock. But in Jewish law this does not mean illegitimacy-or even serious consequential stigma. Altogether, to solve the Agunah problem without annulling marriages is impossible. Even in Israel, where coercion against the recalcitrant spouse is feasible, the court may be helpless if the recalcitrant spouse is in another jurisdiction or escapes there before the court's relief is sought. Furthermore, in the event of the husband's insanity the wife is absolutely without a remedy even in Israel unless the marriage can be annulled. An insane husband is not competent to delegate his authority or power to the Beth Din. For these reasons, as well as others, the abortive attempt of the Conservative movement in the United States to solve the problem with an eye exclusively on the Get was unfortunate. It seized upon the least progressive alternative (as did some American Jewish journalists) and placed in jeopardy the course Rabbi Feinstein is pursuing. 

The Talmud assumes in many of its tractates that marriages by mistake are void or voidable. Indeed, such marriages can be annulled not only because of facts known to one of the spouses before the marriage and concealed from the other, but also because of facts that no one could possibly have known in advance. Thus the Talmud queries why a widow who is childless cannot annul her marriage to her deceased husband on the assumption that she would not have consented to wed him had she known in advance that she would one day require Halitzah.2 [2. The Tosafists would limit the query to deaths after betrothal but before the consummation of marriage. Rabbi Feinstein does not make the distinction. ]  The answer is that we legally presume acquiescence on the theory that a woman prefers to be married even to a bad risk than remain a spinster. Yet this is a presumption as to a state of mind. And this state of mind is subject to change. Indeed, it has changed in our day. Most Jewish women today would never acquiesce to marriages which would ultimately involve them in an Agunah situation because of the husband's insanity, lack of masculinity, or recalcitrance to give a religious divorce. These are conditions which often exist potentially in advance of the marriage, albeit unknown to either spouse in advance. Certainly they are as much potential facts as is the subsequent death of the husband without children when Halitzah is required, and but for the presumption with regard to an older generation of females who preferred any kind of marriage to none, our Sages would have waived the requirements of Halitzah. Now, however, women feel quite differently. The lot of the spinster is not as pathetic as it once was and is preferred to that of the Agunah. The Agunah is far more miserable, and her lot is far less enviable. Ours is the duty to reckon with the change. 

Rabbi Feinstein hesitates to go so far. He did annul the marriage of a woman whose husband became insane after the marriage because he had been similarly ill prior to the marriage, and he so ruled even though the husband appeared sane at the time of the marriage and thereafter served for two years in the military establishment of the United States. Nonetheless, the subsequent development of the malady was enough to warrant annulment of the marriage. Insanity­ - actual or potential-is sufficient cause for either spouse not to want the marriage. Incompatibility, however, is not adequate. Sadism-even sadism in refusing to give a Get--is also not adequate. Why? We know now that almost all marital problems are due to one neurosis or another. The neurotic behavior and the circumstances that evoke it cannot be foretold. Insanity is only an extreme form. Yet if a marriage may be annulled because a woman does not want to cope with an insane husband, and" therefore, the presumption that she would prefer a bad marriage to no marriage no longer holds because the marriage is so bad, then in every case where it subsequently appears that latent neuroses make it impossible for the spouses to relate to each other as they should there ought also be a basis for decreeing that the marriage is annulled because of mistake. 

The obvious reply is that if one adopts this position one is making virtually all marriages easily annullable and such liberalism might destroy the sanctity of marriage-­one of Judaism's most cherished values and desiderata. Rabbis and laymen would raise a hue and a cry that marriage bonds in Judaism are made of straw. The stability of marriages would be adversely affected. Instead of being regarded as indestructible, marriages would be regarded as ephemeral. That is why our Rabbis in the past so hesitated to suspend the requirement of a Get. That is why they so formalized th« procedure for a Get. This is also why they forbade conditions and the inclusion of capricious agreements in the original marriage contract. 

However, there is another consideration to be reckoned with. The overwhelming majority of marriages will not be affected. Where the spouses continue to be decent, normal and humane, the Get is always available. The problem arises principally when one spouse becomes sadistic, vicious, or vengeful. And when we insist on the Get in such a case-­despite the discovery of indecent, abnormal or inhumane behavior in the intransigent one - are we promoting respect for the sanctity of marriage or undermining respect for Jewish law altogether? This is the issue. Which end are we to safeguard? This brings one to a consideration of means and ends in Halachah generally. Respectfully it is submitted that more Halachic experts of our day ought ponder this problem.
From a philosophical point of view, can it ever be said that correct ends do not justify wrong means? It would appear that there can be no such thing as an ethical objection to the use of so-called wrong means for correct ends, because nothing can be regarded as evil except by reference to the ends involved. If we refuse to adopt a course which we regard as evil--even to achieve a worthy objective--it is because the means are evil with reference to still another end which ranks higher than the end for which we are considering the controversial means. […]

Rabbi Weinberg of Montrieux and Rabbi Feinstein of New York have opened the door. A courageous Beth Din must now restudy the situation and make choices. The worldwide Jewish community feels less bound by Halachah than ever before in Jewish history. Bastardy is, therefore, rifer than ever, and Jewish communal organization with internal discipline is virtually non-existent. Which is the more important Halachic end to be pursued in the present situation-the preservation of an ideological commitment to family holiness which concerns only a few who will not be affected by liberalism in the annulment of marriages, or to prevent the greater incidence of bastardy against which there can be no real protection in so mobile and fluid a society as ours now is? 

Needless to say, a minority among us will scream. But they need not suffer. Nothing will have been imposed upon them against their will. Jews always had small groups that were especially careful in matters of Taharah. as well as family background. There need be no insistence on uniformity or regimentation. Let there be standards of excellence here as everywhere. However, one must help relieve a situation which begs for correction. Most Jews will hail the effort. That Gedolim in the past hesitated to act means only that they mistook the gravity of the situation. They simply erred. With their rigidity they did not save. This was even true in Europe. In America conditions have become indescribably worse. 

What other alternatives are there? We can isolate all who are loyal to Halachah from the rest of the worldwide Jewry, outlaw their intermarriage with the rest of their coreligionists, and let those who suffer as Agunot because of their commitment to Jewish law resign themselves to their fate as the will of God. For those to whom these alternatives are not acceptable, the only available road is that initiated by two Gedolim. of our day

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson grand jury's extraordinary efforts to establish truth - but does it matter?

NY Times  Officer Wilson’s version of events was just one part of a vast catalog of testimony and other evidence that the grand jurors absorbed during the three months that they heard the case. Yet it appeared to have helped convince the jurors, a group of nine whites and three African-Americans, that the officer had committed no crime when he killed Mr. Brown. On Monday, the announcement that there was no indictment set off violent protests, burning and looting throughout the beleaguered St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

Most grand jury proceedings are swift and simple: a few witnesses are called, the prosecutor makes the case for an indictment and the jurors vote.

But the grand jury in the Wilson case met for an extraordinarily long session, hearing what the prosecutor said was “absolutely everything” that could be considered testimony or evidence in the case. While what happens in the grand jury room is almost always kept secret, Mr. McCulloch insisted on making the transcripts of the proceedings available to the public immediately after the session concluded. Unlike most defendants, Officer Wilson testified before the grand jury.

The grand jurors in the Wilson case met in a St. Louis County courthouse on 25 separate days. They heard 70 hours of testimony from roughly 60 witnesses. And they confronted a jumble of forensics reports, police radio logs, medical documents and tapes of F. B. I interviews with bystanders. [...]

Monday, November 24, 2014

'Vanished' Millionaire Guma Aguiar's Estate Divided among Heirs

Arutz 7    Two years after Aguiar mysteriously disappeared, 9 Jerusalem properties worth $44 million to be split between his mother, sisters and wife.

The estate of Guma Aguiar, the Jewish philanthropist who disappeared off Fort Lauderdale in June, 2012, has been divided among his heirs by a Florida court, reports Yediot Aharonot.

The court approved a compromise agreed upon by Aguiar's wife, Jamie, and his mother, Ellen, along with his sisters Adriana and Angelika.

The sides had been in conflict over the estate, with each side claiming all of the estate for itself, and Jamie insisting at first that her husband was still alive. Jamie accused her mother-in-law of wanting to drive a wedge between her and Guma, while Ellen said that the reason Guma went out to sea on the day he disappeared was that he was distraught after Jamie told him she wants to divorce him. Jamie completely denies this version of events.

Rav Belsky as a teacher of Torah and as a role model after a series of problematic events?

For many of us, Rav Belsky has been a role model for many years. He is a giant in Torah knowledge. He has been selflessly and readily available for halachic questions and advice. He is one of the leading experts on kashrus in the world and the basis for the reputation of OU Kashrus. He is also an independent thinker - even going against the accepted wisdom for that which he views as true.

Unfortunately events in recent years have raised major question about his judgment. His strong defense of Kolko of Torah Temima, Kolko of New Jersey where he also strongly attacked the abuse victim's father and falsely accused him of being a moser and a molester. The revelation of his role in the torture of husbands in get cases. Gedolim have denounced him in other divorce cases for questionable tactics. What does that mean about his being a role model and gadol? Why does the OU continue to employ him when his values clearly are inconsistent with theirs?

I have received enough emails that have convinced me that I am not the only one who is strongly bothered by the question. More importantly why this is the elephant in the room that everybody tries not to see? Is he simply too big to fail? See Chazon Ish: Lashon Harah about gedolim

RCA acknowledges R Belsky's views on abuse are problematic

R Belsky's contradictory statements about not going to police for abuse 

Rabbi Goldin president of RCA discusses Rav Belsky's views

Rav Aharaon Schecter and Rav Miller criticize Rav Belsky

Rav Belsky, Mendel Epstein and torturing husbands

Abduction and torture of Rabbi Rubin

Rav Belsky accuses father of being a moser and molester

Torture of Rabbi Avraham Rubin to give a get

Rav Belsky's support of child molesters

Support for Lakewood Kolko

Rav Sternbuch's psak to report Kolko to police

Involvement in the Friedman Epstein divorce case
Friedman case - See page 3 of Rav Gestetner bitul seruv

Burying objects with the deceased - what is the source of the practice?

Someone just asked me about the appropriateness of burying objects with the deceased. Below is a description of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's wife being buried with a ring. Similarly Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld was buried with some of the wood of his dining room table as a zechus for the tremendous kiruv work he accomplished at his Shabbos table. Does anyone have a source for the practice?

 From Telushkin, Joseph (2014-06-10). Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History (Kindle Locations 6683-6687). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Per Chabad custom, no eulogies were delivered. A twenty-member motorcycle police guard escorted the procession from Crown Heights. Also accompanying the Rebbetzin was a ring given to her by her sister Sheina, who was murdered in Treblinka; the Rebbe instructed that the ring be interred with her. The last line on the Rebbetzin’s matzevah (monument), after various honorifics about Chaya Mushka and her parents, mentions her sister, “the righteous Rebbetzin Sheina.

Multiple Personality Hoax - or How psychiatrists messed up the lives of thousands

NY Times   The notion that a person might embody several personalities, each of them distinct, is hardly new. The ancient Romans had a sense of this and came up with Janus, a two-faced god. In the 1880s, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” a novella that provided us with an enduring metaphor for good and evil corporeally bound. Modern comic books are awash in divided personalities like the Hulk and Two-Face in the Batman series. Even heroic Superman has his alternating personas.

But few instances of the phenomenon captured Americans’ collective imagination quite like “Sybil,” the study of a woman said to have had not two, not three (like the troubled figure in the 1950s’ “Three Faces of Eve”), but 16 different personalities. Alters, psychiatrists call them, short for alternates. As a mass-market book published in 1973, “Sybil” sold in the millions. Tens of millions watched a 1976 television movie version. The story had enough juice left in it for still another television film in 2007.

Sybil Dorsett, a pseudonym, became the paradigm of a psychiatric diagnosis once known as multiple personality disorder. These days, it goes by a more anodyne label: dissociative identity disorder. Either way, the strange case of the woman whose real name was Shirley Ardell Mason made itself felt in psychiatrists’ offices across the country. Pre-"Sybil,” the diagnosis was rare, with only about 100 cases ever having been reported in medical journals. Less than a decade after “Sybil” made its appearance, in 1980, the American Psychiatric Association formally recognized the disorder, and the numbers soared into the thousands. [...]

As retold in this latest video documentary from Retro Report, part of a series exploring past news stories and their consequences, the phenomenon burned most intensely for roughly a decade, from the mid-1980s to the mid-'90s. Then it faded from public view, partly the result of lawsuits brought successfully against some psychiatrists, who were found by the courts to have used dubious methods to lead their patients down the path of false memories.[...]

Dr. Wilbur did not write up her findings in some dry professional journal. Instead, she went looking for a large audience, and enlisted a writer, Flora Rheta Schreiber, to produce what became a blockbuster. But as the years passed, challengers began to speak up. One was Herbert Spiegel, a New York psychiatrist who said that he had treated Ms. Mason when Dr. Wilbur was on vacation. Dr. Spiegel described his patient not as a sufferer of multiple personality disorder but, rather, as a readily suggestible “hysteric.” A harsher judgment was rendered in the 1990s by Robert Rieber, a psychologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a New York City school where Ms. Schreiber taught English. After listening to tape recordings that he said Ms. Schreiber had given him, he concluded that “it is clear from Wilbur’s own words that she was not exploring the truth but rather planting the truth as she wanted it to be.” Debbie Nathan, a writer interviewed for this Retro Report documentary, piled on still more skepticism in her 2011 book, “Sybil Exposed.” Perhaps inevitably in a dispute of this sort, counter-revisionists then emerged to denounce the doubters and to defend “Sybil” as rooted in reality.

Overwhelmingly, those receiving a diagnosis of the disorder have been women. They typically had rough childhoods. A pattern to their stories — Ms. Mason fell squarely within it — was that they endured horrific physical and sexual abuse when they were little. More than a few claimed to have been the victims of torture at the hands of satanic cults. In many cases, their memories were brought to the surface through hypnotism or with injections of so-called truth serums like sodium pentothal. But were those recollections real? The “Sybil” phenomenon went arm in arm with a reassessment of certain psychiatric techniques. Some studies concluded that people may have become less inhibited with pharmacological intervention, but not necessarily more truthful. Other research found that hypnosis sometimes creates false memories. Those who dismiss Dr. Wilbur’s work as hokum say that induced false memories lay at the heart of her work with Ms. Mason. [...]

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Har Nof Massacre: Survivor describes his miraculous escape

Arutz 7   Rabbi Shmuel Goldstein describes his 'miraculous' escape from the brutal massacre at Har Nof synagogue - after tackling a terrorist.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldstein, one of several people seriously wounded in last week's horrific attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem, has described his "miraculous" survival to journalists for the first time.

Speaking with some difficulty from a wheelchair at the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem where he is being treated for his wounds, Rabbi Goldstein recounted the terrifying moment two terrorists burst in during morning prayers at Har Nof's Kehillat Bnei Torah synagogue.

He said the attack happened during the Amida - the central prayer of the service - and recalled how he suddenly heard gunshot and saw people fall to the floor "ducking for cover."

Rabbi Goldstein described how one of the two terrorists struck him three times with a meat-cleaver, twice in the head and once in the back, leaving him for dead on the ground.[...]