Soda and Charoises

Guest post by Eric Apel.


NEW YORK—Following his recent ban on soda containers over 16 ounces, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that he now intends to place similar limits on wine and matzo consumption at Passover seders.

“Everyone knows that Jews struggle with obesity,” the mayor declared at a news conference yesterday at Gracie Mansion, “so why aggravate the problem by drinking four whole cups of wine and eating three large sheets of matzo at a single meal?”

Noting that the Passover foods are a Jewish tradition dating back thousands of years, the mayor said, “That may be so, but look at the health problems they create. You eat all that unleavened bread, and your system is bound to get backed up. It’s no wonder Moses was pleading, ‘Let my people go.’”

Bloomberg added, “No one needs that much wine at a meal, either. And, shamefully, the biggest offender is a Jewish icon—the prophet Elijah. On seder night, he goes from house to house drinking. Who does he think he is, some frat boy?”

In a surprising display of erudition in Jewish law, the mayor said he was familiar with, and opposed to, the adherence to the strictest requirements encouraged by some Torah sages.

“If you intend to adhere to the shiurim of the Chazzon Ish, or even Rabbi Moses Feinstein, take your Seder out of the City,” said a defiant Bloomberg.

He outlined his restrictions as follows:

For the drinking of the four cups – “3.3. oz. will be the maximum permitted under New York City law. You may think 5.3 ounces is a saintly amount to drink for each of your 4 cups, but it is overly burdensome on the NYPD when they have to haul your machmir tuchus off to detox.

For the Eating of Matzoh – “No more than the size of 1/3 of an egg, measured by weight and not volume. You will be subject to citation or arrest if you feel the need to stuff half of a ‘Talmudic’ egg in your mouth and choking on your high halachic standards.”

The Mayor then left the press conference angrily, turning only to add, “Next year in Jerusalem. IF you can fit on the plane!”

Several Jewish organizations have already filed lawsuits in Brooklyn courts, claiming that the mayor’s new proposal infringes upon their religious rights. Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwieback, legal counsel for Agooda Israel and author of the book When Abbada Things Happen to Agooda People, said, “Instead of downsizing seder foods, the mayor should be increasing them, like donating his nuts to make more charoses.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Rabbi Frankfurter and Child Molestation

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Here is an email back and forth I had with Rabbi Frankfurter, editor in chief and publisher of the popular “Ami Magazine”, under the pseudonym “Rabbi Braunstein”. Don’t get me wrong here. I wasn’t expecting some decency to appear in this man’s soul out of the blue, but I was hoping to have a dialogue, which unfortunately, as evidenced by this exchange, this person is incapable of having:


Subject: Let us speak up!

ImageFrom: Rabbi Braunstein <>
Date: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 10:46 PM

Dear Rabbi Franfurter עמו”ש

As a regular reader of the Ami, a member of klas yisroel, and a father of 4 boys and 2 girls ke”h, I follow the recent developments of molestation accusations against heimisher Yiden with great interest and concern. Throughout the past year, at multiple occasions, you publicly defended our communities in this regard, and accused the activist community and media of being biased, racist, anti-chareidi, and more than all, just simply lying, fabricating stories about us, and creating venomous myths about the Chareidi community.

Using the typical Straw Man Argument, you presumed that the activists believe or argue that the prevalence of molestation and abuse is bigger than the population at large, and that only in our community is it difficult for a victim of molestation to come forward. As an avid follower of this subject for the past few years, this is not the case. I have not seen this argument taken in any serious activist forum. However, the real problem that I’ve seen mentioned and discussed by the activist community and media reports they have spurred, you have totally ignored and disregarded.

The real problem is obvious to any human being who has not yet destroyed his Neshama ch”v and the problems are multiple:

1.      There is no Beis Din within our community with the slightest training or experience of how to determine whether or not the victim is saying the truth or not that. Let us take the Kolko episode as an example. A Chushiver Beis Din acquitted Rabbi Yehuda Kolko years ago. We now have a group of people, some of them already grandfathers with white beards, coming forward with accusations.

2.      Since people committing such crimes usually don’t do it in public the evidence is usually such that’s inadmissible in a Beis Din (sometimes for the reason of being a minor, lady, single, or involved).  Although there’s room within Halacha to accept an אומדנא דמוכח, we have yet to see a Beis Din do so.

3.      Even if one were to be found guilty in a Beis Din there is no mechanism or therapy program within our community that actually deals with the problem of molestation. I personally had a conversation with Rabbi Mandel from Ohel who told me that he hasn’t had a single case referred to him by a Ruv or Beis Din where the perpetrator successfully completed the program.

Although we have many Gedolim that paskened both, orally and in their Tshuvos, that one is allowed or perhaps even obligated to report to civil authorities, those psakim are in theory only, not in practice.

In fact, I challenge you to name a single Rov that resides in the greater NYC area that wears a shtreimel on Shabbos and was Matir to report in even “one” specific case!

Name one Rov that came out against the overwhelming shaming, indignation and harassment of alleged victims!

Name one Rov that came out against Satmar (R”A) Rebbe’s statement this past Motzei Shabbos!

Name one Rov that came out against the Fundraiser for Weberman and his ilk! If there’s even a 50% chance for the victim to have actually been victimized what right on earth do they have to label that young lady a menace to the community!

In fact, our community is unique in systematically discouraging and in some cases even proactively hindering victims from coming forward! I am not aware of a single other community, with the exception of the Catholic Church in the past, where victims are similarly banished, discouraged, and otherwise worn down! And no, once again, our community probably does not have a higher prevalence of abuse and molestation incidents, but our community does have a much stronger apparatus striking at the heart and soul of victims that dare come forward!

Victims in the general population also have a hard time coming forward, but the opposite scenario plays out in those communities. Their leaders and mental health professionals encourage and assist them in coming forward and at least publicly claim to support their cause!

I therefore ask and demand a public apology for you defaming victims and their advocates, and failing to use your public persona to advocate for change in how our community deals with the molestation problem.  

From: EIC <>
Date: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 2:42 AM
To: Rabbi Braunstein <>

Thanks for your email. Ami actually cited more than once the psak of Rav Elayashiv that one is obligated to report a molester to the authorities and has had articles written by survivors of abuse urging the community not to take molestation lightly.


Unfortunately this important cause has been hijacked by people who have left our community and a life of Torah to try to besmirch all of Orthodoxy in an attempt to bring it down. The general media has been more than willing to assist them. Ami has pointed this out as well. 

From: Rabbi Braunstein <>
Date: Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 9:00 PM
To: “EIC” <>

Thanks for your timely response, and it says much about your character that you have been able to print the tshuvos on this subject matter even though this may be considered controversial to some. I appreciate that you have allowed your magazine to be a platform for survivors and it indeed is heartwarming to hear this. I must have missed those articles, please be so kind and attach a copy of those articles.

It must be noted however, that the core of my complaint to you has been left unanswered. My complaint to you is that currently our community is unique in its drive to silence victims! And you, as publicly on the record denying this phenomenon of our communities lack of any mechanism dealing with and ignorance of this issue, and claiming us to be “just as all the rest or better”, with this you are doing a disservice to our community that you claim to advocate for. Actually, the way you take this to the next level by blaming “those who left our community and a life of Torah that try to besmirch all of Orthodoxy in an attempt to bring it down,” is the problem! Killing the messenger only disallows a solution! The problem is Mr. Frankfurter and his sort who are publicly distorting the facts by comparing us to the general population.

It is therefore incumbent upon you to be an advocate for true change, which cannot happen as long as we are in denial of the problem itself. I therefore insist that you publicly admit, that yes, we did indeed misunderstand and mishandle this issue from the very beginning. And let there be stop to the intentional and conscious ignorance!!

From: Editor in Chief <>
Date: Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 9:04 PM
To: Rabbi Braunstein <>

Thanks for sharing your perspective with Ami Magazine. Ami always appreciates feedback from its readers.


Man up!

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

C’mon guys, show your true colors!

Categories: Uncategorized

Cop out

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

I just had an interesting discussion with a MO friend yesterday. We were discussing (yes! you guessed it, what else?) the pros, cons, practicality, possibility of closeted OP guys staying or leaving fold. And the big question on the table of course, why do you still do it? You keep carrying on with the mitzvot, lifestyle etc. Why keep on doing what you don’t believe in?

This question may seem absurd to the veteran OP ear, but what he added after this surprised me. Claiming to have intimate knowledge of a couple of MO guys who are enveloped in religious doubts as well, yet they don’t “frie” out. They keep mitzvot, although with moderation, and most of all, their (lack of) faith is never an issue (as far as the MO community is concerned). As to why they still keep mitzvot, they claim heritage, culture, lingering doubts etc. and all types of complicated answers.

Turning the question on me he says, well, for you guys it’s easy, you have so much to lose by coming out of the closet and declaring yourself non-religious, that it’s reason enough for why you remain religious in practice only.

Which left me wondering, is this threat to our safety and well-being just a cop out for why we still keep on observing? In other words, should we take ourselves seriously that we’re not interested in the least bit were it not for the practical reasons that keep us here, or is it something deeper in our psyche that’s keeping us here? And if the answer is the first, is there any rational way to prove this?

Categories: Uncategorized

Where Are You At My Darling Young One…

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

I see you crying – o dear one
This situation belies belief
I’m seeing myself in the mirror
Yet I see there no tears
I can’t believe that either

What is it – o dear one
Your tears pierce my heart
I know yours from mine
Yet I have grown
My stubbornness persists


Categories: Uncategorized

Found On A Note Flying Out Of Citifield

My heartfelt plea to all our free brothers and sisters! Image

Yes, quote me on free! I am sitting inside this vast stadium and can’t believe my eyes! The power and control that has been wrought on us is more than what we can bear! Please! Do stand out there and utter a cry! Create a commotion! Perhaps a shriek! Whatever it is that you can do please do! Please, as you stand out there, do keep in mind all the people who have been caught in the iron grip behind the shtreimel curtain! With no way out due to the many constraints – the societal and financial shackles that are sometimes beyond the ability of mere mortals to overcome!

However, our hearts and minds are with you guys and gals out there who are screaming out loud about the human pain being inflicted on so many masses with impunity! From the molested child to the trapped infidel! From the handicapped adult to the shackled housewife!

Yes! Do stand out there and inflict some shame! Where are thy holy men? What have thy done for you poor and infirm? And more than any of this, how do thy treat the person who dares to rebuke you? Is there any business you have besides for ensuring the backwardness of your masses?

I will stand inside, trapped and shackled, blush and take the shame – for you may say the insults are directed at me. But I would rather have my face blush than allow my heart to bleed forever. Perhaps if their shame is large enough my children will have a better life! Perhaps their cruelty will subside, and in feeling some pain themselves they will relate to the pain of their fellow human as well!

Chassidim on Display

I’ve been thinking forever how it feels to the Amish when equally quaint chassidim come to see their “old” lifestyle. I’ve also wondered how the chassidic community would feel had the Amish decided to make it their chol hamoed treat to visit Williamsburg in all its glory! And really now, the chassidim always being the industrialist entrepreneurs how is it that they have skipped this great opportunity to capitalize on a unique resource!

This last question at least has been answered.

Categories: Chareidim, Humor, Uncategorized


March 19, 2012 2 comments

I just read the comments in sisterhood by Gavriella Lerner about the recent media attention accorded to Deborah Feldman and Pearlperry Reich. I wasn’t shocked to see Gavriella’s misunderstanding of Deborah Feldman and Pearlperry Reich – after all, these people never had a voice to begin with – they were silenced by the community. And the point of their departure and the shopping-around of their stories in the media is precisely this – countering the wall of silence and reinstating their right to be heard. The question for Gavriella is whether she (Gavriella) is enabling the silencers or assisting these victims of extreme religion to find their voice as would be appropriate for members of a sisterhood. Or is Gavriella perhaps offended that these young ladies didn’t give a chance for her “garden-variety Judaism”?

If any evidence is needed for Gavriella’s total lack of understanding of what these women are up against, let me quote this:

Orthodox life is not for everybody, I get that. I only ask that in return that women like Feldman and Reich respect those of us who find beauty and meaning in our rituals and way of life.

What is the quid pro quo here? In return for what should Feldman and Reich respect those who find beauty and meaning in the instruments used to inflict shame and harm onto its dissenters?  

Categories: Uncategorized


February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Farzeitishe חן in today’s yiddish theater



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The Downward Spiral

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

I guess there is another “marrano” in town… 

Regardless, the most weird part about the material posted by Shmarya is the fact that people within the community fail to see this stuff as weird! 

Categories: Uncategorized