Monday, October 16, 2017

Choosing to be Jewish—and How

TABLET


This is the second installment in a series chronicling the author’s fiancé’s conversion to Judaism. You can find the first installment here.
Just like that, another round of High Holidays has come and gone. This year was a bit different, though. My sister Gabbie, who goes to Colorado College, surprised me with a New Year’s visit. Since she was only in town for a few days and not feeling the idea of spending them in temple, we decided to skip services. This was the first time in my adult life that I haven’t gone to High Holidays services and let me tell you: It was exhilarating. We had a festive meal with some friends at Jack’s Wife Freda, which has always been my favorite part of the holiday anyway.

ISRAEL

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/d3bk5lptgat4/?view=att&th=14b74d2329f95484&attid=0.1&disp=attd&realattid=f_i5zm9ul60&safe=1&zw



I really think it is time for your readership to understand what is happening in Israel now!
It must be stopped!
Please print the attached article.

Thank you!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

religion of gedolim

Where are Reb Shmuels defenders who will state that a gadol is more important
than Chazal or truth or even g-d


that is the clear basis of his defense!


Stupid Trump Tricks

nytimes


This week Donald Trump failed to stand at attention during a military ceremony. He just sat around talking and telling jokes. My question for today is: Do we need to dwell on this?

Stop jumping up and down and cheering.

Policy-wise, this has been a particularly dreadful week in Washington. The president trashed the health care act and washed his hands of the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Attention must be paid. But there has also been a bumper crop of Ridiculous Events. And it seems only fair to mention a few of them, given that the president himself doesn’t have enough stable thoughts for a serious policy debate. He never did understand the Affordable Care Act. During one top-level discussion with his foreign affairs advisers, he reportedly compared the United States’ strategy in Afghanistan to the remodeling of the 21 Club in Manhattan.

Good story, huh? I’m afraid I’m sinking to his level.

Let’s get back to the flag. Trump was doing an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, sitting in a hangar used by the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. A bugle began playing “Retreat,” music marking the end of the day and, often, the lowering of the flag. The military tradition is that when you hear it, you rise and put your hand on your heart. Or salute. Trump kept sitting and talking. He joked to the crowd that the bugle was in honor of Hannity’s ratings.

Well, maybe he had no idea what “Retreat” was. And to be fair, only people outdoors are really obliged to stand for the ceremony. But if you’re a president who went to a military high school, sitting in a military facility, near people who suddenly get to their feet, there ought to be an inkling that some attention should be paid.

Continue reading the main story

Gail Collins
American politics and culture.
The Trumps, the Poodle, the Sex Scandal
OCT 12
Dogs, Saints and Columbus Day
OCT 6
Out of Control on Contraception
OCT 6
Sex, Sanctimony and Congress
OCT 5
A Very Taxing President
SEP 29
See More »

RECENT COMMENTS

PJ Maybruck 18 hours ago
Thank you Gail for today’s article. You are blessed with having a wonderful writing skill filled with knowledge, integrity and humor.My...
Mark Long 18 hours ago
Why is Trump treating California and Porto Rico quite differently than Texas and Florida? Two reasons... One... Number of electoral vote...
TJ Michaelson 18 hours ago
Speaking of the bugle incident, Trump attended the NY Military Academy. He should still be familiar with the appropriate response to...
SEE ALL COMMENTS
Trump was in Pennsylvania, by the way, to promote his tax plan. In recent days he was also in North Carolina for a dinner with the Republican National Committee. He played golf with Lindsey Graham and met with the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Do we have any right to ask why he hasn’t dropped into California to check up on the wildfire disaster? He couldn’t do anything to help, and most Californians wouldn’t vote for him if he showed up wielding a hose and rescuing trapped bunnies. But it would still be a nice, leaderlike gesture.

Have you noticed how much of our discussion about the president is just a list of symbolic failures and punch lines? Are we just aping his fecklessness? Nah.

Has the Israeli taboo on criticizing Trump finally been lifted?

jpost



Israel's Likud government showed a tactful fondness for the US president so far, but it seems that the floodgates have been opened and Israel's patience with Trump is running out.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

DEFENSE BY KILLING MESSENGER


Ad hominum arguments – that is how rav Shmuel is being defended. INSTEAD OF DEFENDING HIS POSITION SUPORTING ADULTERY. EFFORT IS WASTED CLAIMING I AM IMMORAL


SAM WHAM WROTE:

I'M JUST WONDERING WHY YOU LIKE TALKING ABOUT RAPE ALL. DAY.




IT IS STRANGE YOU CANT NOTICE THE OTHER THINGS I WRITE ABOUT LIKE R KAMINETSKY

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

‘Bad Rabbi’ exposes seamy underbelly of early 20th century Jewish life

'Bad Rabbi' by Eddy Portnoy (Courtesy Stanford University Press)
Thugs. Thieves. Blackmailers. Deadbeats. Murderers. These are the kinds of Jews who populate “Bad Rabbi and Other Strange But True Stories from the Yiddish Press,” a new book published this month by Stanford University Press.
Contrary to what Hollywood, popular culture, and family lore would have us believe, not all Jews who lived in the first part of the 20th century — in the old country and new — were pious, honorable and upwardly mobile. One need only peruse the back pages of the many Yiddish dailies published in New York, Warsaw and other heavily populated Jewish cities in the decades leading up World War II to see that life was a series of daily disasters for many average members of the tribe.

For Trump, the Reality Show Has Never Ended

ny times

WASHINGTON — Over the weekend, President Trump was accused by a Republican senator of running the White House like a “reality show.” In the 48 hours that followed, this is how the president rebutted the characterization.
He called out the offending senator for being short and sounding like “a fool.” He challenged his secretary of state to an I.Q. contest and insisted he would win. He celebrated the downfall of a critic who was suspended from her job. And his first wife and third wife waged a public war of words over who was really his first lady.
Mr. Trump’s West Wing has always seemed to be the crossroads between cutthroat politics and television drama, presided over by a seasoned showman who has made a career of keeping the audience engaged and coming back for more. Obsessed by ratings and always on the hunt for new story lines, Mr. Trump leaves the characters on edge, none of them ever really certain whether they might soon be voted off the island.
“Absolutely, I see those techniques playing out,” said Laurie Ouellette, a communications professor at the University of Minnesota who has studied reality television extensively. “Reality TV is known for its humiliation tactics and its aggressive showmanship and also the idea that either you’re in or you’re out, with momentum building to the final decision on who stays and who goes.”
Among those on the in-or-out bubble in this week’s episode was Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the frustrated Republican who described — and derided — the conversion of the White House into a virtual set for “The Apprentice” and, for good measure, expressed concern in a weekend interview with The New York Times that the president could stumble the country into a nuclear war.

MainAll NewsILTV ISRAEL DAILYTell your kids to get up and play Tell your kids to get up and play

Several armed teens arrested as Israel’s clown menace continues

arutz7

As the 'scary clown' fad hits Israel, a year after it ended in the US, kids in one Israeli seaside town don’t suffer the fools gladly

married and divorced with nfalse identity

arutz 7

Dads aren't invited to discussion on children's welfare

arutz7


Knesset Committee for Children's Rights holds meeting on alienation of children - and invites only women's organizations.

JWC ANNOUNCEMENT CONVICTED CHILD ABUSER RELEASED FROM JAILTO LIVE IN MIDWOOD

Convicted child rapist who completed a jail sentence in Australia in 2014, currently lists a Midwood/Sheepshead Bay address in Brooklyn as his residence.
In July 2013, Kramer was sentenced by an Australian court to three years and four months in jail for sexually assaulting four students. The abuse happened against four boys aged between 10 and 11 at the Yeshivah College where Kramer served as a teacher from 1989 to 1992.

Kramer continued teaching at the school even after they received complains of abuse and the school  paid for Kramer to return to Israel, shortly afterwards.

Kramer later moved to the United States where in 2007 he was jailed for sodomizing a 12-year-old boy at a synagogue in St. Louis. After completing that sentence, Kramer was deported to Australia to stand trial for the earlier abuse.

There are also allegations that Kramer abused children in Israel.

If you, or someone you know, has been abused by this individual, please contact your local police department and JCW. If any of the information on this page has changed or you have additional information to add, please contact us.
Donate Today & Help Us Keep Our Streets Safe

Consent - by minor considered rape?HALACHIC SOURCES


Yes

Aruch HaShuchan[1](E.H. 178:27): The Beis Yosef writes in 178:3 “a child who has been married by her father and she commits adultery willingly – there are those who say that she is prohibited to her husband…. Others say that she is not prohibited to her husband unless he is a cohen.” That is because the seduction of a child is considered rape. The first opinion that she is prohibited to her husband is that of the Rambam (Hilchos Sotah 2)  and Rambam(Hilchos Issurei Biah 3) who doesn’t agree that sedution of a child is considered rape. However all the poskim reject his words….
Beis Shmuel[2](E.H. 178:3):  The view of most poskim as well as Tosfos is that  seduction of a child is rape and therefore a wife who is a minor is permitted to her husband when she is seduced if she is not married to a Cohen….
Ravad[3](Hilchos Issurei Bi’ah 3:2):  I don’t know why the Rambam says that a seduced child-wife is prohibited to her husband since our Sages say that seduction of a child is considered rape.
Shulchan Aruch[4](E.H. 178:3): A child who was married to another by her father and she committed adultery willingly – there are those who say that she is prohibited to her husband… However there are others who say she is not prohibited to her husband except if she is a cohen. Rema If an adult committed adultery by mistake because she thought he was her husband, she is permitted to her husband (Rambam Hilchos Ishus 24). However if she committed adultery because she thought that adultery was permitted – this is considered a deliberate act and she is prohibited to her husband. If a woman is in seclusion with men on the road and then she says that she was secluded and was raped – some say that she is believed with a migo because if she was lying she could have denied have intercourse. However others say that she lost her migo since she was secluded against the halacha.
Yerushalmi(Sotah 1:2):[[child has no free will
Yevamos[5](33b):The seduction of a minor is  in fact rape

No

Aruch HaShuchan[6](E.H. 178:27): The Beis Yosef writes in 178:3 “a child who has been married by her father and she commits adultery willingly – there are those who say that she is prohibited to her husband…. Others say that she is not prohibited to her husband unless he is a cohen.” That is because the seduction of a child is considered rape. The first opinion that she is prohibited to her husband is that of the Rambam (Hilchos Sotah 2)  and Rambam (Hilchos Issurei Biah 3:2) who doesn’t agree that sedution of a child is considered rape. However all the poskim reject his words….
Aruch HaShulchan[7](E.H. 177:23):[[
Aruch HaShulchan[8](E.H. 177:5):[[
Meshech Chochma[9](Vayikra 20:15-16):[[male child considered ratzon
Rambam[10](Hilchos Issurei Bi’ah 3:2):[[No
Rambam[11](Hilchos Sotah 2:2):[[
Rambam[12](Hilchos Sotah 2:4):[[
Shulchan Aruch[13](E.H. 178:3): A child who was married to another by her father and she committed adultery willingly – there are those who say that she is prohibited to her husband… However there are others who say she is not prohibited to her husband except if she is a cohen. Rema If an adult committed adultery by mistake because she thought he was her husband, she is permitted to her husband (Rambam Hilchos Ishus 24). However if she committed adultery because she thought that adultery was permitted – this is considered a deliberate act and she is prohibited to her husband. If a woman is in seclusion with men on the road and then she says that she was secluded and was raped – some say that she is believed with a migo because if she was lying she could have denied have intercourse. However others say that she lost her migo since she was secluded against the halacha.

Sources

Ravad (Hilchos Sotah 2:4):[[
Tosfos(Kesubos 9a):[[
Tosfos(Kesubos 40b):[[
Mishne LeMelech(Hilchos Ishus 11:8):[[
Radvaz (1:63):[[seduced child payment as onas – even Rambam agrees
HaFla’ah (Kesubos 40b):[[
R’ Akiva Eiger (Kesubos 42a):[[



[1]  ערוך השולחן (אבן העזר קעח:כז): כתב רבינו הב"י בסעיף ג' קטנה שהשיאה אביה וזינתה לרצונה יש מי שאומר שאסורה לבעלה לפיכך מקנין לה כדי להפסידה כתובתה ויש מי שאומר שאינה נאסרת על בעלה אא"כ הוא כהן עכ"ל דפיתוי קטנה אונס הוא ודיעה ראשונה היא דעת הרמב"ם בפ"ב דסוטה ובפ"ג מאיסורי ביאה דלית ליה האי סברא וכל הפוסקים דחו דבריו ואנחנו בררנו כוונתו בס"ד בסי' ס"ח סעיף ח' ובסי' ו' סעיף ל' ע"ש:
[2] בית שמואל (קעח:ג): יש מי שאומר שאסורה לבעלה. היינו דעת הרמב"ם וס"ל כשהשיאה אמה ואחיה אז לא הוי קידושין מדאורייתא וכאלו זנתה כשהיא פנויה ומותרת אפילו לכהן משא"כ כשאביה השיאה אז הוי נשואי' דאורייתא ואסורה לבעלה ישראל, ויש מי שאומר השני כן ס"ל לרוב הפוסקים וכן הוא דעת תוס' וס"ל פיתוי דקטנה הוי כאונס ומותרת לבעלה ישראל ואסורה לבעלה כהן ואם בא עליה באונס והבועל הוא ישראל ובעלה כהן עיין בסי' י"א מ"ש ועיין סימן קצ"ט:
[3] רמב"ם (הלכות איסורי ביאה ג:ב): הבא על הקטנה אשת הגדול אם קידשה אביה הרי זה בחנק והיא פטורה מכלום ונאסרה על בעלה כמו שביארנו בהלכות סוטה, ואם היא בת מיאון מכין אותו מכת מרדות והיא מותרת לבעלה, ואפילו היה כהן. +/השגת הראב"ד/ ונאסרה על בעלה. כתב הראב"ד ז"ל /א"א/ לא ידעתי למה נאסרת על בעלה ישראל שהרי אמרו פיתוי קטנה אונס הוא עכ"ל.+
[4]  שולחן ערוך (אבן העזר קעח:ג): קטנה שהשיאה אביה וזינתה לרצונה, יש מי שאומר שאסורה לבעלה. לפיכך מקנאין לה, כדי להפסידה כתובתה. ויש מי שאומר שאינו נאסרת על בעלה, אלא אם כן הוא כהן. הגה: גדולה שזנתה בשוגג, שסברה שבעלה הוא, והוא אחר, מותרת לבעלה ישראל (הרמב"ם פכ"ד דאישות). אבל זנתה שסברה שמותר לזנות, הוי כמזידה ואסורה לבעלה ישראל (מהרי"ק שורש קסז). אשה שנתייחדה עם אנשים בדרך, ובאה ואמרה: נתייחדתי ונאנסתי, י"א דנאמנת, במגו דאמרה: לא נבעלתי,  וי"א דאבדה מגו שלה, הואיל ונתייחדה שלא כדין (שני הדעות במרדכי פרק שני דכתובות):
[5]  יבמות (לג:): פיתוי קטנה אונס נינהו
[6]  ערוך השולחן (אבן העזר קעח:כז): כתב רבינו הב"י בסעיף ג' קטנה שהשיאה אביה וזינתה לרצונה יש מי שאומר שאסורה לבעלה לפיכך מקנין לה כדי להפסידה כתובתה ויש מי שאומר שאינה נאסרת על בעלה אא"כ הוא כהן עכ"ל דפיתוי קטנה אונס הוא ודיעה ראשונה היא דעת הרמב"ם בפ"ב דסוטה ובפ"ג מאיסורי ביאה דלית ליה האי סברא וכל הפוסקים דחו דבריו ואנחנו בררנו כוונתו בס"ד בסי' ס"ח סעיף ח' ובסי' ו' סעיף ל' ע"ש:
[7]  ערוך השולחן (אבן העזר קעז:כג): ג' דברים של מפתה וארבעה של אונס הכל לאב שכל שבח נעורים לאביה ועוד שהרי בידו למוסרה לקדושין למנוול ומוכה שחין ויהיה לה בשת ופגם וצער ולכן אע"פ שבתורה אינו מבואר רק שהקנס הוא של האב מ"מ גם שארי הדברים שייכים להאב ואם לה אין אב שייך לעצמה ובכל מקום ששייך לעצמה אינו שייך במפותה שהרי מחלה אך כשהיא קטנה י"ל דמחילת קטנה אינו כלום והתוס' כתבו כן (מ"ב.) ומהרמב"ם לא משמע כן כמבואר ממ"ש בפ"א דין ט' במגורשת מאירוסין שהקנס לעצמה דמפותה אין לה קנס ולא חילק בין קטנה לנערה ע"ש וצ"ע (עי' מל"מ פ"ב הי"ג) ועוד דבקטנה לא שייך פיתוי דפיתוי קטנה אונס הוא אך הרמב"ם ז"ל הולך לשיטתו דלא ס"ל כן כמ"ש בסעיף ה':
[8]  ערוך השולחן (אבן העזר קעז:ה): והנה לפי דעת הרמב"ם והטור נראה דבקטנה לא משכחת לה כלל ברצון דפיתוי קטנה אונס הוא אך הרמב"ם לית ליה האי סברא כמבואר דבריו בפ"ב מסוטה ובפ"ג מאיסורי ביאה וכבר בארנו טעמו בסי' ס"ח ולכן לא הזכיר זה אבל על הטור קשה למה לא הזכיר זה:
[9]  משך חכמה (ויקרא כ:טו - טז): ואיש אשר יתן שכבתו בבהמה מות יומת ואת הבהמה תהרוגו. ואשה אשר תקרב (אל כל בהמה לרבעה אותה) והרגת את האשה ואת הבהמה. לפי מה שחידש רבינו הגר"א באליהו רבא למסכת נדה, באשה קטנה הנרבעת, אין הבהמה נסקלת על ידה, דפיתוי קטנה אונס וליכא תקלה על ידה. אבל בקטן הבא על הבהמה נסקלת הבהמה על ידו, דאין קישוי אלא לדעת, ורצון גמור הוא ובר קטלא, רק רחמנא חס עליה, והוי תקלה גמורה ונסקלת הבהמה. לפי זה אתי שפיר הא דבאשה כתיב "והרגת את האשה ואת הבהמה" - היינו היכא דהיא בת עונשים נסקלת בהמה על ידה. אבל באיש כתוב באנפי נפשיה "מות יומת האיש, ואת הבהמה תהרוגו" - היינו אף אם השוכב אינו איש, שהוא קטן, גם כן "הבהמה תהרוגו". ואתי שפיר מה שתניא בפרק ארבע מיתות (סנהדרין נד, סוף עמוד ב) (תניא כוותיה דרב): זכר בן תשע שנים ויום אחד (הבא על הבהמה בין כדרכה בין שלא כדרכה) והאשה המביאה את הבהמה (עליה בין כדרכה בין שלא כדרכה, חייב). ולא תני שלוש שנים באשה, דבקטנה אין הבהמה נסקלת על ידה. אבל מהא דמייתי סייעתא לרב משמע דדייק דבנשכב זכר מיירי, מדלא תני באשה בת שלוש, מוכח דבאשה לכל עריות כן לא תני, ורק בזכר בנשכב בן תשע הוי רבותא, יעויין ברש"י. סוף דבר, הדבר נכון בלשון הכתוב ובברייתא בסייעתא דשמיא. ועיין שם בדברי הגר"א.
או יש לומר, דמשום שהעושה אותן עושה בצנעה שלא תשורנו עין, ולכן כתוב באיש מיתתו בפני עצמו, לרמז למה שאמרו (סנהדרין ט, ב) "רבעתי שורו של פלוני" דנהרג על פיו, משום דאין אדם משים עצמו רשע, והוי כמו שאמר פלוני רבע שורו של פלוני, והוא עם אחר מצטרפים להרגו. לכן הוא אינו במיתה והבהמה נהרגת. אבל באשה, דלאו בת עדות היא, אם כן אם יש עדים, מצוי שהתרו גם בה, ונהרגים שניהם.
ויתכן עוד לשיטת רמב"ם, דאונסים אותו לבוא על הערוה חייב מיתה, דאין קישוי אלא לדעת, מיירי הכא אף באונסין אותו. ולכן אינו דומה לבהמה, ופרטו בפני עצמו "מות יומת". אבל באשה הנרבעת, אם באונס - לא עבדא כלום, ופטורה אף במביאתו עליה, כמו מי שעבד עבודה זרה באונס. ורק ברצון מיירי קרא, אם כן נכללת עם הבהמה, דדומה לה בכל דבר.
[10]  רמב"ם (הלכות איסורי ביאה ג:ב): הבא על הקטנה אשת הגדול אם קידשה אביה הרי זה בחנק והיא פטורה מכלום ונאסרה על בעלה כמו שביארנו בהלכות סוטה, ואם היא בת מיאון מכין אותו מכת מרדות והיא מותרת לבעלה, ואפילו היה כהן. +/השגת הראב"ד/ ונאסרה על בעלה. כתב הראב"ד ז"ל /א"א/ לא ידעתי למה נאסרת על בעלה ישראל שהרי אמרו פיתוי קטנה אונס הוא עכ"ל.+
[11]  רמב"ם (הלכות סוטה ב:ב): ואלו הן הנשים שאינן ראויות לשתות אע"פ שהיא רוצה לשתות ובעלה רוצה להשקותה אלא יוצאות בלא כתובה משיבואו עידי סתירה אחר עידי קינוי ויאסרו על בעליהן לעולם, וחמש עשרה נשים הן, ואלו הן: ארוסה, ושומרת יבם, וקטנה אשת הגדול, וגדולה אשת הקטן, ואשת אנדרוגינוס, ואשת הסומא, או החגר, או האלם, או מי שאינו שומע, או שהוא כרות יד, וכן החגרת, והאלמת, והסומה, וכרותת כף, ושאינה שומעת, כל אחת מאלו אינה ראויה לשתות.
[12]  רמב"ם (הלכות סוטה ב:ד): קטנה שהשיאה אביה אם זינת ברצונה נאסרה על בעלה לפיכך מקנין לה, לא להשקותה אלא לפוסלה מכתובתה כמו שאמרנו, אבל קטנה בת מיאון אין מקנין לה שאין לה רצון להאסר על בעלה ואפילו היה כהן לא נאסרה עליו. +/השגת הראב"ד/ קטנה שהשיאה אביה אם זינתה ברצונה אסורה על בעלה. א"א והלא אמרו (יבמות לג) פיתוי קטנה אונס הוא ועוד התראה לקטנה אינה התראה שאין לה דעת אלא אם זינתה ודאי אסורה לבעלה כהן ולא מצאתי הפרש בין קטנה לקטנה לענין פיתוי לומר קטנה בת מיאון אין לה רצון ויתן את הצער כמו אנוסה אלא כולן שוות להתפתות בקלות הדעת.+
[13]  שולחן ערוך (אבן העזר קעח:ג): קטנה שהשיאה אביה וזינתה לרצונה, יש מי שאומר שאסורה לבעלה. לפיכך מקנאין לה, כדי להפסידה כתובתה. ויש מי שאומר שאינו נאסרת על בעלה, אלא אם כן הוא כהן. הגה: גדולה שזנתה בשוגג, שסברה שבעלה הוא, והוא אחר, מותרת לבעלה ישראל (הרמב"ם פכ"ד דאישות). אבל זנתה שסברה שמותר לזנות, הוי כמזידה ואסורה לבעלה ישראל (מהרי"ק שורש קסז). אשה שנתייחדה עם אנשים בדרך, ובאה ואמרה: נתייחדתי ונאנסתי, י"א דנאמנת, במגו דאמרה: לא נבעלתי,  וי"א דאבדה מגו שלה, הואיל ונתייחדה שלא כדין (שני הדעות במרדכי פרק שני דכתובות):

Poverty and Plenty in the Orthodox World

cross currents

Good Vegan, Bad Vegan

nytimes


I he no argument with people who adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet for health, religious, environmental or ethical reasons. But I object vehemently to proselytizers who distort science or the support for dietary advice offered to the more than 90 percent of us who choose to consume animal foods, including poultry and red meat, in reasonable amounts.

Such is the case with a recently released Netflix documentary called “What the Health” that several well-meaning, health-conscious young friends have urged me to watch. And I did try, until I became so infuriated by misstatements – like eating an egg a day is as bad as smoking five cigarettes, or that a daily serving of processed meat raises the risk of diabetes 51 percent — that I had to quit for the sake of my health. While the film may have laudable goals, getting the science wrong simply confuses the issues and infuriates those who might otherwise be supportive.

Please understand: I do not endorse inhumane treatment of farm animals or wanton pollution of the environment with animal wastes and misused antibiotics and pesticides. Agricultural research has long shown better ways to assure the nation of an adequate food supply if only regulators would force commercial operations to adopt them.

Nor do I endorse careless adoption of vegetarian or vegan diets for their name’s sake. A vegan who consumes no animal products can be just as unhealthy living on inappropriately selected plant foods as an omnivore who dines heavily on burgers and chicken nuggets. A vegan diet laden with refined grains like white rice and bread; juices and sweetened drinks; cookies, chips and crackers; and dairy-free ice cream is hardly a healthful way to eat.

Current dietary guidelines from responsible, well-informed sources already recommend that, for health’s sake, we should all adopt a plant-based diet rich in foods that originate in the ground. These can be “fleshed out” with low-fat protein sources from animals or combinations of beans and grains. However, here too, careless food and beverage selections can result in an unhealthful plant-based diet.

Continue reading the main story
A very large study recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology is a case in point. The study, by a team from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, examined the relationship between plant-based diets of varying quality and the risk of developing coronary heart disease among more than 200,000 health professionals. The participants, who started the study free of chronic disease, were followed for more than two decades, submitting their dietary patterns to the researchers every two years.

Based on their responses on food-frequency questionnaires, the participants’ diets were characterized by the team as an overall plant-based diet that emphasized plant foods over animal foods; a healthful plant-based diet emphasizing healthful plant foods; or an unhealthful plant-based diet. Any of the diets could have included various amounts of animal products.

Healthful plant foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes, as well as vegetable oils, coffee and tea, received a positive score, while less-healthful plant foods like juices, sweetened beverages, refined grains, potatoes and fries, and sweets along with animal foods were assigned a negative rating.

The more closely the participants adhered to a healthful plant-based diet, the less likely they were to develop heart disease in the course of the study. Those with the least healthful plant-based diet were, on average, 32 percent more likely to be given diagnoses of heart disease. In a prior study, the researchers found a similar reduction in the risk of Type 2 diabetes of a healthful plant-based diet.

The team, led by Ambika Satija of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition, concluded that “not all plant foods are necessarily beneficial for health.”

Interestingly, the Harvard finding was nearly identical to one from an 11-year European study that found a 32 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease among vegetarians than among nonvegetarians, although no health-based rating was given to the quality of the participants’ vegetarian diets.

The more detailed Harvard study, which examined gradations of adherence to a plant-based diet, found that “even a slightly lower intake of animal foods combined with a higher intake of healthy plant foods” was associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease.

In other words, you don’t have to become a strict vegetarian to protect your heart. Simply reducing your dependence on animal foods, and especially avoiding those high in fat, is helpful. In fact, “a diet that emphasized both healthy plant and healthy animal foods” was associated with a coronary risk only slightly higher than a diet based almost entirely on healthy plant foods, the researchers found.

On the other hand, overdoing “less healthy plant foods” and less healthy animal foods like red and processed meats, the study showed, significantly increased the risk of developing heart disease.

The Harvard findings lend further support to the most recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans that urge people to consume large amounts of “high-quality plant foods,” the researchers noted. They added that the recommended diet “would also be environmentally sustainable” because plant-based food systems require fewer resources than those that rely heavily on animal foods.

Thus, the more plant foods and the fewer animal foods you eat, the lower your carbon footprint and the less you would contribute to animal suffering. But to be truly beneficial, the plant foods you choose must be rich in nutrients.

Although most Americans rely heavily on animal foods for needed protein, it’s not difficult to get quality protein on a vegetarian diet that contains dairy foods and eggs. Pescatarians, who add fish to such a diet, get a nutritious bonus of healthful omega-3 fatty acids along with high-quality protein from fish and shellfish.

Those choosing a strict vegan diet — one devoid of all foods from animals — face a greater challenge because the protein in plants is not complete and must be balanced by consuming complementary sources, like beans and grains. A sandwich of almond butter or peanut butter on whole-grain bread is totally vegan and an excellent example of balanced protein in a high-quality plant-based diet. Vegans also must supplement their diet with vitamin B-12.


Short of becoming a vegan, you can improve your diet, protect your health and add variety to your meals by a few simple dietary adjustments. For example, as Dr. Hena Patel and Dr. Kim Allan Williams Sr., cardiologists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, suggested in a commentary on the Harvard study, you might choose one day a week to be meatless and gradually add more meatless days while adding one or more new plant-based recipes each week.

Whatever Happened to Just Being Type A?

nytimes


A few years ago, Gretchen Rubin, the best-selling self-help author, pivoted from the happiness racket into the habit business with her seventh book, “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.” Embedded in it was a personality typing system of her own invention she called the Four Tendencies: a homage to Freud’s “fateful tendencies.”

She’d had an insight, Ms. Rubin wrote in a typical flurry of italics, as seismic as Archimedes’s eureka moment in the bath: how does a person respond to an expectation? The answer to this question, she averred, revealed a fundamental law of human nature, a linchpin of personality, a Sorting Hat — Ms. Rubin is a J. K. Rowling fan — for the drives that motivate us.

Whether you chafe at or thrill to outer expectations like deadlines or speed limits, or inner ones like New Year’s resolutions or fitness goals, you might find yourself to be an Obliger or an Upholder (that is, a people pleaser or a hard-working Hermione type), a Rebel or a Questioner; Tendencies that are perhaps self-explanatory. (Ms. Rubin has a Swiftian fondness for capital letters.)

Rubinettes everywhere were captivated, as Ms. Rubin explained her framework on her weekly podcast, “Happier With Gretchen Rubin,” which she hosts with her sister, Elizabeth Craft; on her website; and at speaking gigs. One reader sent a series of light bulb jokes based on the Tendencies. (“How do you get a Rebel to change a light bulb? Answer: Do it yourself.”)

Ms. Rubin devised an online quiz and, last summer, introduced an app, Better, a digital hub for women — and the occasional man — eager to join accountability groups, tweak their organizing, exercise and networking practices and debate the finer points of the Four Tendencies. The other day, an Obliger wondered how birth order may affect the Four Tendencies; a Questioner wanted to talk tattoos. “Do all tendencies have them?” she wrote.

Meanwhile, Ms. Rubin gestated her eighth book.

“The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too),” out last month, is already a best seller. By mid-September, over one million people had taken Ms. Rubin’s online quiz, making her the queen of personality typing.

A colleague of mine took it and learned she is an Obliger, “which is totally messing up my career,” she said. She thinks I’m a Rebel because I’m squirrelly about deadlines, but the quiz deemed me an Upholder when I first took the test, and then a Questioner the second time around; a couple of days ago, I took the test again and came up an Obliger.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Can an 11-Year-Old Girl Consent to Sex?

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Can an 11-Year-Old Girl Consent to Sex?

By VALENTINE FAURE

October 5, 2017



Alex Majoli/Magnum Photos

PARIS — Last Tuesday, France woke up to news reports that a 28-year-old man and an 11-year-old girl had had “consensual” sex.

The events, first reported by the website Mediapart, took place on April 24 in the Paris suburb of Montmagny. That afternoon, the child followed a man, who had already approached her twice in the previous days, telling her he “could teach her how to kiss and more.” They went to his building, where she performed oral sex in the hallway. Then she followed him to his apartment, where they had sexual intercourse. Afterward, he told her not to talk to anybody about it, kissed her on the forehead and asked to see her again.

On her way back home, the girl called her mother in a state of panic, realizing what had just happened. “Papa is going to think I’m a slut,” she said. The mother immediately called the police and pressed charges for rape. But citing Article 227-25 of the French criminal code, the public prosecutor stated that “there had been no violence, no coercion, no threat, no surprise,” and therefore, the man would be charged only with “sexual infraction.” That offense is punishable by five years in prison, while rape entails 20 years of imprisonment when the victim is under 15.

The trial was supposed to start last Tuesday, but it was postponed to February. Meantime, the story caught fire across the country. The widespread outrage put me in mind of the Jacqueline Sauvage case, in which a battered woman who shot her husband in the back in 2012 ended up getting 10 years of prison (a harsh sentence for France). The verdict prompted wrathful comments from pundits, politicians and the public about the French justice system failing to deliver justice to society’s most vulnerable. (Ms. Sauvage was pardoned and released last year.)

What shocked many French people most of all was not the encounter itself, but that there was a legal possibility of labeling it anything other than rape. If legal norms reflect a society’s mores, what does this say about France? Petitions started circulating, and politicians would soon echo them: The law must change.

Most European countries have, over the past two decades, set age limits under which a minor simply cannot consent. In Belgium, any sexual intercourse with a child below the age of 14 is rape, punishable up to 20 years, or up to 30 years for victims under 10. In Britain, the age of consent is 16, but specific legal protection exists for children under 13: They cannot legally give their consent to any form of sexual activity. There is a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for “rape, assault by penetration, and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.”

But in France, as long as “violence, coercion, threat or surprise” is not proven, sexual intercourse with a minor — even one under 15 — is considered an “atteinte sexuelle,” which is an infraction and not a crime. The trial takes place in a “tribunal correctionnel,” which handles infractions, and not at a “cour d’assises,” which is for the most serious crimes like murder or rape.

In 2005, the Cour de Cassation, France’s highest criminal court, stipulated that coercion is presumed for children at a “very young age.” That’s an outrageously blurry formulation that in practice has largely been applied to children under 6. This leaves children above 6 potentially considered not raped when violence cannot be established. It also allows the state of paralyzed shock experienced by many victims — and all the more so children — to equal consent.

In 2010, a new law introduced the question of age difference between the victim and the perpetrator from which “moral coercion” could result, expanding the notion of force beyond physical violence. But once again, the difference in age was not precisely qualified. In February 2015, the Constitutional Council reasserted that French law “does not set an age of discernment in regards to sexual relations: It is for the courts to determine whether the minor was capable of consenting to the sexual relationship in question.”

France doesn’t exactly have a sterling record when it comes to labeling sexual criminality. It took two centuries for sexual crimes against children to be considered so by the law. The penal code of 1810, established by Napoleon, did not say much about sexual behavior, “as if sexuality were not to fall under the law,” the philosopher Michel Foucault said in 1978. He deplored the growing “weight” of the laws “controlling” sexuality during the 19th and 20th century.

Foucault was writing a year after the cream of the French intelligentsia published an open letter in Le Monde defending three men charged with having sexual relations with children under the age of 15. The list of signatories included Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Gilles Deleuze, Roland Barthes, Philippe Sollers, André Glucksmann and Louis Aragon. “We consider that there is an incongruity,” the letter read, “between the outdated nature of the law and the everyday reality of a society which tends to recognize the existence of a sexual life in children and adolescents (if a 13-year-old girl has the right to be on the pill, what is it for?).”

Interdiction, the thinking went, belonged to the old moral order, and it was considered an honor to children to acknowledge that they had desires.

Fortunately, the mainstream culture has turned away from this pedophile-chic ethos. But if France has continued to be reluctant to define a firm age of consent, it probably has to do with the lingering vestiges of idealized sexual freedom.

And linger it does. When the Roman Polanski case resurfaced in 2009, I remember an outraged Alain Finkielkraut, one of the most visible public intellectuals in France, saying on the radio that Mr. Polanski’s 13-year-old victim, Samantha Geimer (nee Gailey), “wasn’t a little girl” because she had agreed to be photographed topless, expressing the all too common belief (and likely hope) that girls and boys can indeed be sexual at a young age.

I grew up in Paris, a very free little girl playing in the streets and riding the Metro. By the time I was 15, I had been exposed to more flashers than I care to remember, a few “frotteurs” (men who take advantage of the crowded trains to rub up against their prey), and one man who followed me into my building to have a conversation about my sexual habits when I was about 8. When I was only dreaming about boys my age, I already was very familiar with the chilling effect of adults inserting themselves into my intimate life.

This was how city kids grew up in the aftermath of sexual “liberation”: navigating these uncomfortable interactions, unaware we maybe were escaping something worse.

Today, I can’t look through the window into a classroom other than my daughter’s without being called to order by the headmistress. Still, what horrifies us as a society and seems to belong to common sense — that every instance of sexual intercourse with a child is, by definition, violent — has been left by the law to be examined case by case. The assault in Montmagny must serve as a moral wake-up call for France.

Valentine Faure is writing a book about the Jacqueline Sauvage case.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Why Do Smart People Do Foolish Things?

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-smart-people-do-foolish-things/
What punishment does rav Shmuel deserve

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

really!


Startup that detects your ills by analyzing your voice wins contest

https://www.timesofisrael.com/startup-that-detects-ills-by-analyzing-voice-nabs-first-place-in-contest/

Israel's Healthymize, which uses AI to spot symptoms of diseases such as asthma and heart failure, takes first place in mHealth competition

By TOI STAFF
September 17, 2017, 3:23 pm


The future of disease prevention may be in our voices.
At least that is what Israeli medical startup Healthymize believes. The firm has developed technology that uses artificial intelligence to analyze the voice and breathing of patients via a regular voice call to detect symptoms of diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure and mental illnesses.
The startup’s technology nabbed first prize last week in the connected health startup contest of mHealth Israel, which touts itself as “the largest connected health community in the Middle East” with more than 4,500 active members. The four-year-old competition took place in Jerusalem, with the support of the Jerusalem Development Authority.
Healthymize’s patented technology seeks to detect disease quicker and to initiate treatment sooner, increasing chances of survival and full recovery of the patient, by turning smartphones, tablets, smart watches and home virtual assistants into continuous health monitoring devices, the organizers of the event said in a statement about the winning firm.
Healthymize also uses its AI-based technology to detect worsening symptoms or flareups and alert medical teams in time to get help to the patients earlier, possibly saving their lives.
“We’re grateful to be acknowledged for our technology and for the opportunity to improve patients’ quality of life while significantly saving on the cost burden on both patients’ families and the health system,” said Dr. Shady Hassan, co-founder and CEO of Healthymize and attending physician of internal medicine at Carmel Medical Center in Haifa. “We expect this win and the recognition in the value of our technology to accelerate our planned pilots and our deployment with connected health partners around the world.”
The conference was attended by over 500 health tech startups from around the world, including Israel, Europe and the US, the organizers said. More than 70 startups vied for the final prize. Finalists included radiology health tech startup AI DOC, which applies deep learning and AI to medical images and data, Augmedics, Neetera, Day Two, Eye Control, Dreamed Diabetes, MedyMatch and Wikaya.
Speakers at the event included former UK health minister Nicola Blackwood.
“Israel has a tremendous amount of health innovation and talent to offer the world, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting some extraordinary companies during my visit,” said Blackwood.
“Startups are helping to pave the way for a promising healthcare future, but they must be careful not to fall into the trap of ‘build it and they will come.’ For healthcare startups to succeed, they must deeply understand the market and how their solution fits into it. They should not assume the market will adapt to fit their solution.”
Founded by Levi Shapiro in 2013, mHealth Israel aims to create global awareness of Israel as a leader in health technologies and to actively connect Israeli digital health startups with global healthcare leaders.
“It is incredible to see the growth of the community and the significant global interest in the breakthroughs being produced by our innovators,” said Shapiro. “We are helping to accelerate the path towards a healthier future.”

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Should I view my stroke as punishment

While there are a number of confused and ignorant individuals who strongly disagree with Chazal and RAV Sternbuch, it is far more likely that my actions are the reason for my well being after being declared legally dead a number of months ago following a massive stroke

note rashi in Berachos 5a the suffering should match the sin in the eye of the sufferer

alsp bote shulchan Aruch YD  visiting the sick based on Nedarim 40

Rabbinate expanding marriage blacklists for ‘questionable’ Jewish immigrants

times of israel

 Israel’s rabbinical courts have in recent years ramped up their practice of blacklisting citizens they deem not Jewish, internal data released Sunday show.
With increasing frequency, the courts have placed Israelis, almost all of them immigrants with Jewish heritage, on lists that prevent them from marrying Jews. They argue they are acting preserve the coherence of the Jewish people.

The Secret Fear Plaguing The Unmarried, Untethered Orthodox Read more

//forward.

Countless families and communities across the world have graciously opened their doors and tables to me. From the homes of close friends in my neighborhood to the home of an eccentric kabbalist-cum krav maga teacher in Israel, through the boisterous Chabad of Panama City and everywhere in between, every Shabbat and every holiday I’ve found a place amongst my generous fellow tribesmen and women.I’ve never once been made to feel unwelcome. But I have also never forgotten that I am always a guest.And while I pay my synagogue dues and give what I can to the communal institutions that have made me who I am today, and though I regularly host Shabbat and holiday meals of my own in my tiny apartment, there’s a little part of me that will always feel like a burden, a tiny voice in the back of my head telling me I’ve been given more than I can ever give in return.It’s not a friendly voice. A child of divorce hate to need. I’ve been able to pack a dufflebag by rote in fifteen minutes flat since age eight. I have become a self-sufficient machine; my first word was not “mommy” or “daddy” but “cat.” I’m an introvert by nature, and at the end of the day, I live in my head much more than I do in the presence of others. But the rthodox Jewish world is no place f0rr such singularity.
This point was driven home for me duringa seminar course in college on religious leadership. Our first assignment was to tell the cohort a 10-minute narrative of our life and religious journey. When it came to her turn, a fellow Orthodox Jew from a wealthy coastal town who I’ll call Beth shared the story of a woman I’ll call Rebekah, a woman from her community who had no nearby Jewish family members of her own. Rebekah would come to Beth’s Orthodox home every Jewish holiday at the behest of her parents, who made room for this unmarried woman in their hearth.
When Beth was a child, she saw Rebekah’s visits as a burden; making space in the house, making space at the table, making space in the family for a virtual interloper during the pinnacle of family time seemed like a grand intrusion. But as Beth grew older, she realized that though it was never truly painless having her home opened to someone so different each and every holiday, she gained as much from Rebekah’s presence and unique persona as Rebekah did from her family’s hospitality

Shas rabbinic council members back MK in gay wedding fiasco

arutz 7

Members of the Shas rabbinical council expressed support for an MK under fire for publicizing his attendance at a same-sex wedding.

Earlier this week, MK Yigal Guetta (Shas) told Army Radio he and his family attended the same-sex wedding of his nephew two years ago.

“I told my wife and children that we are all going to this wedding. I usually don't tell my children to come with me, but I told them that for this one, we are going. We all went, and we made them happy."

The revelation left fellow Shas MKs stunned because of its seeming acceptance in public of the violation of an unequivocal Torah prohibition, with senior Sephardic rabbis calling on Guetta to resign from the Knesset.

"We need to go to Shas leader Aryeh Deri and expel Guetta from the party,” said the dean of Porat Yosef Yeshiva, Rabbi Moshe Tzedaka. “What he is doing is crazy.”

A day later, Guetta announced his intention to resign from the Knesset.

Guetta’s resignation has yet to go into effect, however, and since his announcement, members of the Shas party’s Council of Torah Sages have weighed on the MK’s future with the party.

At least two members of the council allegedly expressed support for Guetta in a closed door meeting. One of the two rabbinic council members added that if Guetta was forced to resign, he too would also resign from the party.

“If Yigal is forced to resign, I’ll resign too. He doesn’t need to leave the Knesset,” the council member said, according to a report by Kikar Hashabbat. Associates of the rabbi, who insisted that his name not be published at this time, confirmed to Kikar Hashabbat that he indeed expressed support for Guetta.

A second member of the Council of Torah Sages also argued that Guetta need not resign, writing to the council president, Rabbi Shalom Cohen, to that effect.

In addition, a venerable Sephardic rabbi outside of the council, Rabbi Ben-Tzion Mutzafi, also sent a missive to Rabbi Cohen, writing that Guetta should not be expelled from the party.

But sources inside the council say Rabbi Cohen is insisting on Guetta’s resignation, and has refused even to meet with the embattled MK since the scandal erupted.

Rabbi Cohen is expected to meet with fellow council member Rabbi Shimon Baadani before the council adopts a binding decision.

hunted-the-search-for-colorado-serial-rapist-marc-o-leary/

cbs news

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/48-hour

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Orthodoxy’s Smashing Success and Lurking Challenges

https://cross-currents.com/2017/09/15/orthodoxys-smashing-success-lurking-challenges/

BY  · PUBLISHED  · UPDATED 
In Does Orthodox Explosion Signal Doom for Conservative and Reform?, Dr. Steven M. Cohen and other researchers present the bold reality of robust Orthodox growth and dramatic non-Orthodox atrophy and population decline, based upon these researchers’ brand new study:
(T)he truly startling situation is among Conservative and Reform Jews. (We combine them to simplify somewhat, recognizing the greater severity in numeric decline among the Reform segment). Here see that the number of 30-39 year olds amounts to just about half the number of the 60-69 year olds. If current trends continue, then, in 30 years, we’ll see about half as many Conservative and Reform Jews age 60-69 as we have today…
And the number of Conservative and Reform children do not reverse the decline. For Jews in Conservative and and Reform homes, we have 570,000 people in their 60s, but just 320,000 kids. Metaphorically, every 100 Conservative and Reform Boomers have only 56 photos of Jewish grandchildren in their wallets (or smart phones).
Turning to the Orthodox, we find wildly different trends. While just 40,000 are in their 60s, we have triple their number – 120,000 – in their 30s. And, perhaps even more astounding are the number of kids aged 0-9. They amount to 230,000 – over five times the number of people in their 60s. If 100 Orthodox grandparents gathered in shul, they could show their friends photos of 575 grandchildren on their smart phones (but not on Shabbat, of course).
Only the Orthodox are having enough children to fuel population growth. Conservative and Reform Jews are falling well short of population replacement. We may compare Reform/Conservative Jews with the Orthodox at different ages. Among 60-69 year olds, the ratio of Conservative/Reform to Orthodox is 14:1. Among 30-somethings, it falls to just over 2:1. And among the children, it’s less than 3:2, as Orthodox numbers have almost caught up to the combined Conservative and Reform numbers.
The data clearly show how non-marriage, intermarriage, and low birthrates have taken their toll on Conservative and Reform population numbers. If the Conservative and Reform movements are to arrest their declines, it means helping younger Conservative and Reform Jews find partners to marry and supporting their decisions to have children. It means encouraging more non-Jewish spouses and partners to convert to Judaism. All of these worthy goals can be furthered by more participation in Jewish day schools, summer camps, youth groups, trips to Israel, Hillel, Chabad on campus and other ways of connecting adolescent and young adult Jews to one another have. And, let‘s not forget that parents, grandparents, and rabbis all shape the Jewish lives of children, teenagers and young adults.
The demographic trends we described are already in motion and cannot be changed overnight. The American Jewish community is entering a transitional period, and in particular the Conservative and Reform movements are facing a rocky few decades that will have implications for many of the major Jewish communal institutions. We hope that a dose of hardnosed realism will motivate committed action so that we get through this period with our feet on the right path.
There is a tendency among many – including the authors of the above words – to advise “bandage” solutions to reverse the precipitous decline of non-Orthodox Jewry: get non-Jewish spouses to convert, encourage non-Orthodox students to become involved with Jewish campus groups and congregational youth groups, and so forth. Many of these “doing Jewish” solutions are certainly better than doing nothing about the problem, but they fail to address the real cause of the predicament.
In a wonderful article that addresses this point head-on, Ms. Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt insightfully argues that it is the very unique values and commitment of Orthodox/Torah Judaism rather than its “doing Jewish” which have enabled the Orthodox community to blossom:
But it’s a fool’s errand. Our methodology for continuity is rooted in the very values that, sadly, many liberal Jews reject — our insularity, our commitment to the collective over the individual, our obligation to a divine value system. Having a few more kids, sending them to sing Shabbat songs once a week for two months out of the year, and then on a Birthright trip a few years later isn’t going to change anything. To me, that’s a band-aid on a bullet wound.
If the Orthodox experience has taught us anything, it is that complete immersion succeeds. Like the immersion in the mikveh, in which every centimeter of the body must touch water, so, too, our commitment requires totality. It is an immersion in our books; immersion in prayer services as punctuation marks for time; immersion in a 25-hour Shabbat experience without smart phones and the internet; immersion in round-the-clock Jewish education, at all costs.
Our commitment to religious values, as much as it is all-consuming, as much as it may jar with secularism, is what keeps us thriving. As the secular Zionist Ahad Ha-Am wrote, “More than the Jewish People have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.” Perhaps it is not just the Sabbath, but all of our laws and social commitments which keep us from fading into a larger human tapestry, by maintaining a strong sense of identity that always comes first.
One can’t have the numbers of the Orthodox without the values — the two go hand in hand.
The strength of the Orthodox community is not rooted in a mere birth rate unsupported by certain principles. Our very demography is rooted in values that run deeply, and which source and sustain our numbers, in the culture of Jewish literacy and in the very texts we construct our lives around, in the way we constantly engage with centuries of Jewish conversation in our study halls and synagogues. It is even in our absolute refusal to touch a light switch on Shabbat, the way we let Judaism define every molecule of our very being — this is where the key to continuity may lie.
Until one values that all-consuming lifestyle — a lifestyle not defined by only tikkun olam and interfaith dialogue — one shouldn’t expect a demographic shift any time soon.
Of course, the sustainability and success of Orthodoxy come from Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu, but the above is the system that He gave us for spiritual and popular prosperity.
We should not be triumphal; we should instead be immensely appreciative and ever-awed. Adherence to a Torah life has resulted in incredible communal success, while the prognostications of Marshall Sklare and others about the doom of Orthodoxy and the success of the Conservative movement (and the other heterodox movements), based on the need to adapt religion to societal values and needs, have been overwhelmingly disproved.
Despite the clear and current trends and the favorable forecast for the Orthodox community, there is room for concern, based on other trends within Orthodoxy that are not yet properly documented but are anecdotally known to all.
I do not speak about the challenges to Orthodoxy that the Open Orthodox movement presents. This movement, which is now its own separate denomination, has followed the trajectory of the early Conservative movementand has continued to move away from normative Orthodox practices and attitudes, including recently several prominent Orthodox clergy members expressing an openness to intermarriage and the cornerstone Open Orthodox congregation two weeks ago extending mazel tov wishes in its recent bulletin to two men who got “married” (and to a woman for “her aufruf”). Open Orthodoxy jolted out of the Orthodox door long ago and is not germane to this discussion.
Rather, I am concerned about trends in Modern and Charedi Orthodoxy. In Israeli society, there is a very steep attrition rate among Religious Zionist youth, and the situation in America does not appear to be so posivite either. Although the numbers are not as severe among Charedi youth, there is an increasing preponderance of stories of such youth “going OTD”, including children and grandchildren from prestigious rabbinical families. All in all, there is powerful growth, but the substantive cracks cannot be overlooked.
In Modern Orthodoxy, the factors for attrition are: 1) positive immersion in/embrace of secular culture, including its values and practices, which are frequently antithetical to Torah practice  and values; 2) an often sterile, uninspiring religious atmosphere. Some of the solutions presented fail to address the underlying issues (factors 1) and 2)) and instead resort to novel pedagogical tactics, or the introduction of Neo-Chassidus, Carlebach-style minyanim and other such endeavors, while ignoring the roots of the problem. (But please see here for a candid assessment and a refreshingly traditional solution.)
Part of the problem in Modern Orthodoxy is an expanding disconnect from the rest of Orthodoxy, and especially from the latter’s Torah leadership. Modern Orthodoxy was previously not a denomination or stream of Orthodoxy per se; it was, rather, an informal way to describe those who were more involved with the outside world and adopted several of its features, in many cases resulting in a diluted religious observance. But it was not a formal movement; rebbeim in Modern Orthodox educational institutions were more often than not of a traditional/”yeshivish” orientation, Modern Orthodoxy did not have its own formulated hashkafa, and there was no religious mandate to be Modern (with a capital M). It was just a pragmatic, situational thing.
(The above issues of Torah leadership and rebbeim are very important for another reason. When institutions insist on hiring and seeking guidance only from those of their own immediate orbit, intellectual cross-fertilization and peer review/checks and balances are sorely compromised. Veering off course, decreased quality and departure from established norms are more prone to result, and one can observe this happening in Modern Orthodoxy – sometimes on an alarming scale.)
I fear that somewhat recent trends of Modern Orthodoxy identifying itself as a distinct religious system and modus operandi will encourage, even unintentionally, factors 1) and 2) above to be more prevalent, thereby triggering even more attrition. (Irrespective of the actual arguments, this approach seems to engender the attitude and mindset of the “Jewish Father” blogger; Rabbi Harry Maryles’ critique is excellent and demonstrates where this is likely to lead.)
Although important higher education/parnassa initiatives have been embarked upon in the Charedi world, the fact that much of the educational system avoids any parnassa training until the point of sha’s ha-dechak or close to it has created some serious problems – which inevitably impact the religiosity of a portion of those caught up in the problems. (Not to mention that this strategy is bound to force people to rely on public assistance and perhaps cut the corners of honesty due to major financial pressures.) The image of new arrivals from Eastern Europe at these shores a century ago abandoning their Torah lifestyle, due to a belief that being frum meant unemployment and poverty, arises in one’s mind as tens or hundreds of thousands of young men receive not even minimal parnassa training until extremely late into the game, if at all. Not to mention lack of instruction in decent and professional communication skills.

Baruch Hashem that the Orthodox community is growing. Hashem’s pledge to perpetuate the generations of those who follow His Torah is being fulfilled before our eyes. Let us do our best to address hashkafic and educational matters in a manner that is conducive to continued sustainability, growth, and adherence to the Torah’s vision and goals.