Friday, February 29, 2008

Religious Teen Girl, Held Three Months Without Charges Denied Right to Attend Funerals of Grandparents

B"H This is a continuation of the brutal story of the six girls jailed for refusing to acknowledge Israel's failed judicial system. This girl has done nothing but defend her home from potential terrorism. She is a Woman of Valor, not a terrorist, or a dangerous felon, or a rapist--those criminals would have been released by now! (Unless, of course, they were Jews living over the green line.) This is one more example of how the Israeli justice system is JUST US. This is a political lynching of a beautiful soul, an innocent young girl who loves Eretz Israel. Please, don't let this story go cold. We must get her out. Then, those who jailed her should be held responsible--both criminally and civilly. I hope she sues for a million Shekels and is awarded 10 million instead! M
Date added: 2/28/2008

KFAR SABA -- Israeli prison authorities twice denied requests by a Jewish teenager, held for three months without trial, to attend the funerals of both her grandparents.

"They wouldn't allow her out for the funeral," Ruth Sariel, Tzvia Sariel's mother, said. "They behaved as if she was serving a life sentence, as if she was a very dangerous person."

Tzvia, 18, has been held in the Neve Tirza prison since December. She was arrested in the West Bank Jewish community of Elon Moreh after she allegedly pushed three Arab men who were accompanied by Israeli troops to pick olives in the community. Police charged her with aggravated assault and threatening to throw a stone at the Arabs if they refused to leave.

Tzvia refused to identify herself or to be fingerprinted or photographed by the police but she was later forcibly fingerprinted. The court then ordered her held in the Neve Tirza prison until the completion of judicial proceedings.

Her family said they have been permitted three visits in as many months and they have appealed to parliamentarians concerning the violation of Tzvia's rights.

"They know who she is," parliamentarian Uri Ariel said. "We hope she will be released soon."

Tzvia has also refused to recognize the authority of the court or to be represented by an attorney.

"This is a show," Tzvia told Kfar Saba Magistrates Court Judge Nava Bechor on Feb. 27. "It is justice for gentiles."

Ruth Sariel said that the judge adjorned the hearing for another week after the court failed to provide a translator for the Arabs who were summoned by the prosecution to testify against Tzvia.

The prosecution also summoned three other witnesses who served either with the civil administration or with the security forces.

Two witnesses testified that three girls were involved in the incident and the main perpetrator was not Tzvia.

A third prosecution witness first testified that he did not see Tzvia with a stick in her hand or hit any of the three Arab men. He quickly changed his testimony when pressed by the prosecutor to admit that he had earlier said that he did see Tzvia attack the Arabs.

Ruth Sariel said that prison guards prevented her from communicating with her daughter before or after the hearing.

"They closed off the area [when they brought her and took her]." Ruth Sariel said. "It was impossible to speak to her. They distanced everyone from her."
The next court hearing is scheduled for March 5.

Yassam Riot Police Officer Indicted on Brutality at Amona
by Hana Levi Julian

( Former Yassam riot police officer Mordechai Mehager is facing a judge in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court to answer charges of brutality in the 2006 eviction of protestors prior to demolition of nine structures at the Samarian town of Amona.

Mordechai Mehager was indicted on three counts of grievous assault following an Internal Affairs investigation of his role in the unprovoked violence that bloodied at least 200 people, including two Knesset Members and more than 100 young activists.

Yishai Greenbaum, one of the young activists brutalized during the expulsion, filed charges against Mehager, saying he beat him with a club for two full minutes on his head, arms and leg – leaving him with a permanent disability.

The Yesha Human Rights Organization assisted Greenbaum in filing the suit, with attorney Chaim Cohen writing in the petition that "the accused – officer Mehager – exceeded the authority granted to him by law and police regulations, acting in an independent manner and exercising excessive force without justification."

Accusations by Mehager's lawyers that their client is being used as a political scapegoat by his superiors were countered in Greenbaum's petition. "Alternatively, if it turns out that the accused received 'orders from above,' then we are dealing with unacceptable orders whose implementation should have been refused."

A simultaneous Internal Affairs investigation resulted in a decision to indict Mehager as well.

State prosecutors refused to provide the former riot police officer with immunity and said if he was fined, he would have to pay the damages himself.

Mehager was indicted partly on the strength of video evidence provided by demonstrators who filmed him clubbing young protestors as they sat passively on the floor in one of the nine structures slated for demolition.

Mehager blamed his superiors, testifying "clear instructions were given [to riot police officers] that in any eventuality it would be necessary to use batons." He has filed suit against his former employers, Israel Police, saying he was "a victim of the prosecution and political interests on the one hand, and of the police on the other."

Collision Between Politics and Police Methodology
The overwhelming brutality of that day marked a turning point in the way the government has since approached the issue of dismantling unauthorized outposts.

The hilltop community of Amona, one of the oldest communities in Samaria, was established by 30 families in 1995. It was built on the hill that overlooks the nearby town of Ofra.

The town was hooked up to the national electricity grid – a move which requires approval by the Defense Ministry – by 2003. Today there are approximately 45 families living there.

Nine unfinished structures, intended to become homes in a new neighborhood on the outskirts of Amona, became the flashpoint in the conflict between the government and residents for Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria.

The decision to demolish the new neighborhood was made at the time by then-Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to placate U.S. and Palestinian Authority leaders by demonstrating his willingness to freeze construction and destroy "illegal outposts" in Judea and Samaria.

Passive Resistance Met with Police Brutality
More than 2,000 Yassam riot police and mounted officers had spent a week preparing for a showdown on the appointed day of eviction. Several hundred activists were prepared as well, with many packed tightly into the structures in a passive protest geared to keep things calm.

Others waited outside, gathering cinder blocks and other items with which they hoped to block bulldozers and other efforts to carry out the demolition.

Events quickly spiraled out of control.

A number of other club-swinging police officers and at least one mounted police officer have been indicted for their role in the violence.

Mounted police officer David Edry was charged with trampling at least one protestor beneath the hooves of his horse.

An army driver who happened upon the scene, Ibrahim Sharif decided to join the action, borrowed an officer's club and started swinging, beating activists in the head and elsewhere on their bodies.

The Yesha organization said there are been many more active civil cases against violent police officers who were involved in the brutality than there have been Internal Affairs investigations.

The Conversion Crisis by Mark Angel
by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has taken a restrictive, hareidi view on conversions to Judaism. They have imposed "standards" that are unrealistic for many would-be converts, and which are not required by the halakha itself. The Rabbinical Council of America has essentially capitulated to the Chief Rabbinate, and is now in the process of establishing regional courts in the U.S. and Canada that will adhere to the extremist opinions relating to conversions. Orthodox rabbis, members in good standing of the RCA, who perform conversions outside the RCA system will not have their conversions endorsed by the RCA. Thus, in order to be "accepted" by the Chief Rabbinate in Israel, American converts will now be faced with an increasingly rigid rabbinic bureaucracy.

My views on this topic are well known. I have written a book, Choosing to Be Jewish: The Orthodox Road to Conversion (available from the online store on this website), pointing out the diversity of legitimate views within halakha, and arguing that the Orthodox rabbinate and community should be fostering a far more compassionate and inclusive policy. Please see my article "Slamming the Door on Converts" in the Min haMuvhar section of this website; please also see the Responsa section on this website for Prof. Zvi Zohar's article, as well as the piece on Rabbi Uziel's wonderful responsa on the topic. Likewise, please see Rabbi Isaac Sassoon's essay in the Articles section of our website.

Why am I so upset--and why should all thinking Jews be so upset--about the current developments? Here are a few reasons.

1. Halakha provides an array of legitimate views in the area of conversion to Judaism. Indeed, the Talmud, Rambam and Shulhan Arukh are considerably more "liberal" in this area than are the current leadership of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel and the RCA in America. The attempt to create "unified standards" is simply a code phrase that means: the most stringent standards. All other views are dismissed and discredited. This is a crass violation of the halakhic process--that passes itself off as being in the category of "raising standards". It narrows halakha and robs it of its dynamism and grandness of scope. It allows a small group of rabbis to arrogate authority to themselves, at the expense of all those who differ with them.

2. Many people will suffer due to these rabbinic bureaucratic decisions. Over the past years, I have received calls, letters and emails from literally hundreds of desparate individuals seeking Orthodox conversions--but who have been turned away or treated callously by the Orthodox rabbis they approached. As bad as the situation has been, it will now sink to even worse levels. Rabbis who have been inclined to work with potential converts are now told that they either must cede their authority to the rulings of the RCA, or be effectively disenfranchised. Thus, there will be even fewer Orthodox rabbis to whom would-be converts can turn; and even these rabbis will have their hands tied by the dictates of the RCA's policies which grant very little individual discretion to the rabbis.

3. The new policies have built in delay mechanisms so that it will be difficult, if not impossible, for a candidate to be converted in less than two years. In the case of women candidates, this can diminish the number of children they might have; if the women are around 40 years old, it may deprive them of having children at all. Is this fair to these women? Is it fair to the Jewish people? Is it morally acceptable to create unnecessary obstacles to conversion, to prevent Jewish children from being born, to hinder the possibility of couples and families to function within the (Orthodox) Jewish community?

4. The Chief Rabbis and the RCA say that conversions done outside their authority will not be "accepted". I had always thought--and continue to think--that the important thing is for conversions to be performed according to halakha and to be "accepted" by the Almighty! If individuals are converted according to halakha, then the Chief Rabbinate and the RCA have no right whatsoever not to "accept" such conversions. On the contrary, to deny or cast doubt on halakhic conversions is a sin of the first magnitude. Rabbinic tradition teaches that oppressing a convert is a violation of 36 (and some say 46) commandments! If the Chief Rabbis or the RCA do not endorse conversions done by Orthodox rabbis who follow halakhic procedures, then the Chief Rabbis and the RCA will have much to answer for when they have to explain themselves to the Almighty.

5. I have been working with Rabbi Avi Weiss and a number of other Orthodox rabbis to create a new Rabbinic Fellowship, a think-tank for Orthodox rabbis that will be open to candid discussion in a non-authoritarian environment. We had a tremendously successful initial conference last October, and are planning a larger conference in late April. I will report on the Rabbinic Fellowship in a future essay on this website. In connection with the Rabbinic Fellowship, Orthodox rabbis here and in Israel have been discussing establishing an independent Orthodox bet din system that will not be cowed by the extremist, authoritarian views of the Chief Rabbinate and the RCA. We have been threatened with the charge that such a beth din would not be recognized and that conversions done under its authority would not be accepted. My answer is: we are not asking anyone for their approval or acceptance; we are interested in serving God and the Jewish people in a halakhically sound, compassionate and inclusive way. If others will use bureaucratic means to impede our efforts, the sin will be on their heads. Moreover, we have genuine faith in the wisdom of the entire Jewish people who will come to the realization that the future of Judaism cannot be left in the hands of an increasingly extreme, bureaucratic and authoritarian rabbinic establishment. Jews in Israel and the diaspora will insist on the "acceptance" of all those who have converted according to halakha, and will not allow the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to continue its stranglehold on matters of Jewish identity.

6. If you share our views on this matter, please let your voices be heard. Join in the support of our new Rabbinic Fellowship that will bring together like-minded Orthodox rabbis who believe in a halakhically vibrant, respectful, and dynamic Orthodoxy. If we want to turn the tide on authoritarianism and extremism, each of us needs to stand up and be counted. If not us, who? If not now, when?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dan cancels nine Shabbat bus lines


Wait. Aren’t the same leftists who are complaining now about their inability to desecrate Shabbat publicly the same group who argued that the financial considerations should be paramount in making decisions about offering transportation?

Didn’t they argue that the public overwhelmingly demanded this transportation, and if something would make money, they should do it—even on Shabbat?

Now they are complaining because their free-market system isn’t working for their goals, the people don't want it, and it isn't making money?

I guess they will actually have to argue honestly next time and just admit they want to to run Shabbat buses Davka!


Feb 27, 2008 16:54 | Updated Feb 27, 2008 16:58


The Dan bus company will stop operating lines on Shabbat afternoons, the company said in a statement Wednesday. The lines will be operating only from the end of the religious Shabbat, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. according.

The decision will affect nine bus lines. The lines affected are considered main lines, including line 1 in Holon, line 9 in Tel Aviv, line 18 in Bat Yam and Tel Aviv, line 24 from Ramat Hasharon, line 35 arriving at Tel Hashomer Hospital, line 64, line 83a from Alphei Menashe to Ra'anana, line 161 from Ariel to the Jordan Valley and line 247 from Kfar Saba to Tel Aviv.

Meretz MK Ran Cohen demanded that Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz act immediately to repeal the decision. "This [decision] is a high robbery and very bad news for the users of public transportation," Cohen said.

Labor party secretary Eitan Cabel lamented the decision, saying that "poor families that have only Saturdays to visit their family members are not interested in the halachic time Shabbat comes out ... and this decision has also social ramifications."

Dan spokesperson Dan Piksman said the decision was motivated "purely by financial considerations, and has no connection to the status quo. He said polls conducted by Dan showed that the hours canceled were the ones less in demand by the public. "If results were different, we would cancel other time slots."

Jewish American Demographic in Decline


I can’t stand it when a columnist brings up all the facts, laments the results, but doesn’t offer a concrete solution. He just says “something” needs to be done.

I guess he must fall in the group without children, or he would know what that “something” is.


OK, so we make, as a group, a lot more money than any other religious demographic. We enjoy the best educational opportunities—but are those opportunities in Jewish schools?

For a lot of Jewish kids, especially those most at risk for intermarriage and for losing their heritage, I would suggest the answer is “no.”

It has already been shown that kids in Jewish day schools have the closest connections to Israel and to Judaism. It has also already been shown that the kids in “after school” and “Sunday School” programs actually have a HIGHER rate of intermarriage.

So, the answer is . . . We need to invest in education, big time.

Most of us with kids are struggling to afford the 12-20K tuitions (per kid) that the Jewish Day Schools are asking. There is some funding through federation grants, but the funding is not comprehensive and many kids go without education because they can’t afford it.

Likewise, the education level at Jewish Day Schools is not the best because they can’t afford the best teachers. They are charging as much as they can, but they still don’t have enough money to keep the schools running and pay the teachers a living wage because they allow a lot of “charity” cases, and the cost of maintaining, running, insuring, administrating, and promoting the schools are more than what they are bringing in. Fundraising is a constant, and it always seems to be pulling from the same barrel—those parents and grandparents who can’t afford the education anyway.

So, where are our Jewish businessmen? Where are our Jewish celebrities? Where are our Jewish Doctors, Lawyers, and Accountants? If they don’t have kids, what are they doing with their money?

Mostly, unfortunately, that money is going to non-Jewish charities instead of being invested in educating the next generation of Jewish kids and keeping Judaism alive.

I suggest we need to make a real paradigm shift in the minds of the Jewish elite and encourage them to set up foundations for education, supporting Jewish schools and Jewish educators.

This must be a priority before we lose one more child.


Feb 26, 2008 19:58 | Updated Feb 27, 2008 10:15
Fundamentally Freund: Perverted priorities and demographics
By MICHAEL FREUND [Recent columns]

Well, the numbers are in, and the news is not looking all that good. In a new report, considered one of the most wide-ranging of its kind, the respected Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life interviewed 35,000 Americans from all walks of life, and the results provide an important glimpse into the future of US Jewry.

On the one hand, according to the study, American Jews are generally wealthier and better educated than members of most other faiths. Close to half of our brethren across the ocean in the Goldene Medina are said to earn upwards of $100,000 per year, and more than one-third have a post-graduate degree of one sort or another.

Mom would surely be proud.

But while their dinner parties might be more lavish, and the conversation more cerebral, American Jews are also becoming an increasingly older, and lonelier, bunch.

The Pew survey found that a whopping 51% of American Jews are over the age of 50, tying them with members of the mainline Protestant churches for the highest such percentage.

And at 72%, Jews also share the lead when it comes to not having any children at home.

While that last statistic might be considered good news for those who enjoy some peace and quiet, it is categorically bad tidings for what it says about the Jewish future.

In effect, American Jews may be living better, but they are reproducing less. They are forging a better present, while ignoring what is yet to come.

Of course, none of this is really new. We have known for a while that American Jewry is in demographic decline, as various studies over the past two decades have made clear.

The alarm bells first sounded after the publication of the 1990-91 National Jewish Population Survey, which caused a stir when it said the intermarriage rate among US Jews was 52 percent.

That figure was later disputed, but it nonetheless set off a panic in the Jewish organizational world, which suddenly realized that its set of priorities was badly skewed.

Further concern arose when the results from the 2000-1 NJPS came in. It showed that the number of Jews in America actually shrank by 5.45%, from 5.5 million in the 1990 survey, to just 5.2 million. That means that on average, American Jewry lost about 100 Jews per day, every day, over the intervening 10 years. This, when the overall US population grew by more than 13% during the same period.

NONETHELESS, the current Pew study is interesting and worthy of note, particularly because of its context. Since the US Census Bureau does not tally religious data, the new findings underline the extent to which American Jewry's decline is not only absolute, but relative too.

And that is why it is essential that it serve as a wake-up call, for it underlines once again just how shaky the Jewish demographic future in America is.

Sure, it is easy to dismiss the results with a wave of the hand. After all, demography is not always the most reliable of sciences, given that it attempts to project the future based on many unforeseeable events.

And what's more, the number of Jews surveyed by Pew, and upon which its findings are based, was just 676, which seems like a regrettably small sample.

Nonetheless, it would be foolhardy to ignore the reality that is staring us all in the face: enormous demographic shifts are taking place, and American Jewry is gradually slipping away.

While great strides have been made in recent years in stemming the tide, this has largely been despite the Jewish establishment, rather than because of it. Programs such as Taglit/Birthright, which are having a transformative effect, are the result of the private initiative and vision of philanthropists such as Michael Steinhardt and others, and not the well-paid professionals who dot the Jewish organizational landscape.

The crisis of Jewish continuity in America, home to the largest Diaspora community in the world, remains real, and the clock is ticking. A serious overhaul of priorities will be necessary to ensure the Jewish future in the United States, ranging from greater Jewish education to more outreach to the unaffiliated to strengthening the connection with Israel.

None of this is rocket science, and a great deal has already been written in this regard.

But what is most important now is to seize upon the Pew findings in order to press the leadership of American Jewry for greater change in the allocation of Jewish resources.

Take, for example, the battle against anti-Semitism. There are at least three major Jewish organizations dedicated to combating extremism and bigotry. These include the Anti-Defamation League, whose 2006 budget was over $76 million, the American Jewish Committee, with annual outlays over $40 million, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which consumes some $27 million a year.

That is over $140 million annually in Jewish money being spent by three groups operating with the same aim. Each one has senior staff to pay, office space to rent, marketing and advertising to do, and dinners and cocktail parties to organize. Talk about a wasteful redundancy of effort and funds.

Just imagine if more of that money went into building Jewish day schools, improving teachers' salaries and benefits, and raising the level of Jewish education.

Indeed, instead of chasing the phantoms of anti-Semitism with such vigor, the American Jewish leadership would do well instead to focus more on the two-headed monster of intermarriage and assimilation.

For until American Jewry declares a communal state of emergency, and puts Jewish education at the top of its agenda - both rhetorically and financially - the crisis highlighted by the Pew study is only likely to worsen.

Surveys and statistics are important - but behind those faceless numbers stand tens of thousands of Jewish boys and girls, many of whom are leaving the fold.

It is time to make them a priority, before none are left to be counted.

Knesset okays Internet censorship bill, Shas Weanies Stay in Government


I can think of nothing more harmful than Shas remaining in the government as Olmert divides Jerusalem. There is nothing more pornographic than that.

Shame on them. This is like rearranging the deck chairs as the boat sinks.

----- » Israel » Article
Feb 27, 2008 15:26 | Updated Feb 27, 2008 15:58
Knesset okays Internet censorship bill

The Knesset on Wednesday passed the first reading of a bill that will restrict Israelis' access to the Internet. According to the bill, which passed by a majority of 46 to 20, Internet service providers would be asked to implement an apparatus that would filter out sites deemed "harmful".

MK Amnon Cohen's bill calls for the censorship of "violence, pornography and gambling" on the Internet.

The decision on the filtering of specific sites will ultimately be in the hands of the communications minister, who will be aided by an advisory committee.

The letter of the law, proposed by MK Amnon Cohen of Shas, calls for the erection of a "filtering service for minors of inappropriate content on the Internet." Specifically, the bill advocates the censorship of "violence, pornography and gambling" Websites.

Under the new law Internet service providers would be forced to offer a filtering program to their customers free of charge. Consumers would be given the chance to refuse to install the program, but it would be installed by default if a customer did not provide a response within a time frame that has yet to be finalized.

The law also states that as soon as the technology will be made available, providers will block content on their end, unlocking it only to customers over the age of 18 who explicitly request to receive the "harmful" content.

The communications minister will also be granted the power to decide on changes to the blocking program, the manner of communication between providers and their customers and even the way in which providers will verify the age of a customer requesting the unlocking of content.

While Cohen hailed the approval of his bill as "a victory for common sense," adding that, now "instead of parents having to actively block their children from viewing hard pornography and violence, pornography enthusiasts will have to be active and make only one phone call," other MKs voiced concern that the law would ultimately result in severe infringements of personal freedoms.

"Internet service providers, according to the worldwide norm, would be willing to distribute free of charge a family filtering program," MK Gilad Erdan said. "The law will transform us into a type of Iran by giving the minister the authority to decide that the Shas Council of Torah Sages will determine the sites to be rejected and blocked - without any supervision or monitoring of its considerations by the Knesset."

Erdan also slammed Labor MKs Danny Yaton, Yoram Marziano, Nadya Hilu and Ephraim Sneh for voting in favor of the law, claiming that the Labor party had become a "superfluous appendage" of Kadima.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Se'oudat Pourim Be'Ereb Shabbat by Joseph Mosseri


I have posted the wonderful work of Joseph Mosseri before, and I was very pleased to received his newest research. He is a man of considerable facilities, who looks deeply into and studies carefully the traditions of Sephardic communities. He is a true scholar, as his work is always a work in process--as he is always revising and editing as he learns more about the subject in question.

As you can probably tell, I hold Joseph Mosseri in the highest esteem. There are few of his caliber in the world, in or out of the academic communities. He is an honest scholar--working for the love of Torah and of his love of Sephardi traditions.


Dear Rabbis, Professors, Relatives, and Friends,

This year Pourim day falls out on Friday March 21, 2008.

Pourim day has fallen out on Friday 13 times only from 1900--2005.

Pourim day will fall out on Friday only 11 times from 2008--2103.

This e-mail is concerning Se'oudat Pourim Be'Ereb Shabbat.

This is a rare occurrence that I first wrote about in 2001. I revised it in
2005 and now I have significantly revised and expanded it for 2008. A Friday
Pourim will not happen again until 2021.

I will attempt to answer the following questions: What is correct and why?
What is the halakhah based upon? What sources do we have to rely upon? What
should be done this year and how?

This essay will be broken down into 6 Sections.

1) Proper time for Se'oudat Pourim

2) Having a Se'oudah on 'Ereb Shabbat

3) Pores Mappah

4) Reason and benefits of having a late day Se'oudah

5) Conclusion

6) Suggested schedule

Section 1....Proper time for Se'oudat Pourim


Maran Ribbi Yosef Qaro in his Shoulhan 'Aroukh siman 695 discusses the laws
of Se'oudat Pourim. He himself mentions nothing about Pourim on 'Ereb
Shabbat, but Mouram Ribbi Mosheh Isserles says in Seif 2 that in such a case
the Se'oudah should be in the morning due to the honor of Shabbat. It seams
that his only source for this is Sefer HaMinhagim of Ribbi Yisshaq Tirna.

Shoulhan 'Aroukh first printed in 1564, Rabbi Yosef Qaro (1488-1575)

Hagah first printed in 1578, Rabbi Mosheh Isserles (1525-1572)

Sefer HaMinhagim first printed in 1566, Rabbi Yisshaq Tirna (c.1420)

Now comes along a great Hakham whom I will term "our Sefaradi Hagah", his
name is Ribbi Yaaqob Qastro, better known as Mahariqash. He lived from
1523-1610 but his book of hagahot, 'Erekh Lehem was not published until

In it he writes, that when Pourim fall out on 'Ereb Shabbat, you make
Se'oudat Pourim while it is still day and when night begins you make Qidoush
and continue to eat. Then he also mentions that there are those who make
their Se'oudah in the morning and everyone should follow their minhag.

The prolific writer and genius Ribbi Haim Yosef David Azoulai (1724-1806)
who wrote so much on every subject does not seem to have mentioned a word
about this situation. I have checked all his halakhah books and have come up
empty handed, maybe I've missed something, let me know.

Rabbi Haim Palacci (1787-1868) who was Chief Rabbi of Turkey wrote in his
Mo'ed Lekol Hai (1861) chapter 31 item 45 that on a Friday Pourim the most
correct time is to have the Se'oudah in the morning after Shahrit or at the
very least prior to Hassot (mid-day). He also is of the opinion that the
Se'oudah should always be in the morning no matter what day of the week it

Nehar Missrayim (1908) by Hakham Refael Aharon Ben Shimon (1847-1928) who
was chief rabbi of Egypt from 1891-1921 wrote regarding the time of Se'oudat
Pourim. There are those who make it early and those who do it late, but most
God fearing people make the Se'oudah after hassot closer to the evening.
That is the time that the poor stop making their rounds for charity and no
one makes the Se'oudah in the morning. He then goes on to quote HaRaMBaM
Hilkhot Megilah Pereq 2 Halakhah 17 who stresses the importance of spending
the earlier and better part of the day engaged in Matanot LaEbyonim and
Mishloah Manot. He then continues that when Pourim falls on 'Ereb Shabbat
the nice and pleasant minhag is to make the Se'oudah after Minhah when it is
almost night (before sunset). In the middle of the meal (once it becomes
Shabbat) you should spread a clean tablecloth say Qidoush and resume eating,
what is now your Se'oudat Shabbat. For this he quotes Mahariqash. Then once
the meal is complete you say Birkat Hamazon with 'Al HaNisim (and Resseh
VeHaHalissenou). Then you should pray 'Arbit of Shabbat. And this way is the
most correct and straightforward path! This is how we conduct ourselves and
such is the custom of many who awe God.

Now I recently found in a book I've had for a number of years, a teshoubah
on this exact subject. The book is entitled VaYa'an Shemouel and printed in
Jerusalem in 1959. The author is Rabbi Shemouel Marciano who was originally
from Dabdou, Morocco and in 1959 he was in Lod, Israel. There is a picture
of him in the book in which he looks very old and "holy". The Haskamot by
very prominent Rabbis of the day also refer to him as the great saintly and
old from a great line of rabbis etc.... In any case on page 18 siman 29 he
discusses the situation at hand and first he quotes the Baer Heteb (by Rabbi
Yehoudah Ashkenazi) siman 695 Seif qatan 6 "and I found written in the
Mordekhi, that he would eat Se'oudat Pourim on 'Ereb Shabbat , pray 'Arbit,
spread a tablecloth, make Qidoush, and say 'Al HaNisim in Birkat Hamazon."

He then continues and says that others wrote, that no he did not pray 'Arbit
at that point, for if he did, he would not be able to say 'Al HaNisim in
Birkat Hamazon. Maharil wrote therefore it seems to me that he should say
Birkat Hamazon first then pray 'Arbit in order that he shouldn't run into
any problems. Now Maran in siman 271 Seif 4 writes that it is forbidden to
even taste anything even water before Qidoush, if he began prior to Shabbat
he must stop, spread a tablecloth and say Qidoush. There the Baer Heteb in
Seif qatan 5 writes that obviously he need not pray 'Arbit yet since he is
spreading the cloth and saying Qidoush, because he has begun with something
permissible. Maran also writes in the same place that if they were drinking
wine before hand they must still make Qidoush but not Birkat hayayin (bore
feri hagefen) and then say Birkat hamossi. And see Baer Heteb Seif qatan 7
on that. From all he wrote in this teshoubah it would seem that he also
agrees with Nehar Missrayim and Mahariqash to make Se'oudat Pourim close to
Se'oudat Shabbat, saying Qidoush in the middle of the meal , saying Birkat
Hamazon with both 'Al HaNisim and Resseh, and praying 'Arbit after Birkat
Hamazon is over.

I've been looking high and low for any posqim who discuss this issue of
Se'oudat Pourim when Pourim falls out on 'Ereb Shabbat. Thank God I just
found two more sources and they both seem to concur with the idea as
originally laid down by Mahariqash (Hakham Yaaqob Qastro).

They are:

1) Hakham David Cohen Saqli (1862-1949) he was Ab Bet Din and Chief of all
Rabbis in Oran, Algeria for over 40 years. His She-elot ouTshoubot entitled
Qiryat Hannah David was published in 2 volumes in Jerusalem in 1935 & 1936.
It carries the Haskamot of the Rishon Lession Hakham Yaaqob Meir as well as
the leading rabbis of North Africa and that of the Chief Rabbi of Paris Dov
Halevi Englander.

In Volume 2 siman 90 he writes about our case and says "sarikh" you have
to start the Se'oudah prior to Shabbat and when Shabbat arrives Pores Mappah
and make Qidoush, etc... Continue eating, say Birkat Hamazon with 'Al
HaNisim and Resseh then pray 'Arbit. He also mentions that since both
hagefen and hamossi were recited prior to Shabbat while it was only Pourim,
since it's all one big meal, to not say Birkat hagefen in Qidoush or to say
hamossi afterwards. Just make Qidoush and continue eating, etc.

2) Hakham Baroukh Abraham Toledano who was born in Meqnes, Morocco (1890)
and was Rosh Ab Bet Din there for well over 30 years, he passed in 1981. His
son Rabbi Pinhas Toledano who is a Dayan in London has begun publishing his
fathers works and in his responsa Sha-alou LeBaroukh (Jerusalem 1993) he
writes in siman 76 concerning the minhag when Pourim falls on Friday when is
the proper time to eat the Se'oudah. He says that the custom of "the
rishonim" was to start the meal prior to Shabbat and once Shabbat arrives to
spread a cloth, say Qidoush and continue with the meal. In Birkat Hamazon
say 'Al HaNisim and Resseh then pray 'Arbit. And this is what I saw my
fathers do and it seems to me to be the correct way to practice.

So far if we just say majority rules it would seem that the above mentioned
system is in the lead as stated by 'Erekh Lehem, Nehar Missrayim, VaYa'an
Shemouel, Qiryat Hannah David, and Sha-alou LeBaroukh.

Before I continue, please allow me to share a scenario with you.

This is very common if not the norm for most people that I know.

Here we are Friday morning of Pourim. You get up to join a minyan for
Shaharit, sefer torah, megilah, etc... You finally finish the prayers and
it's later than usual. You have to go running off to work. It's a Friday of
course so for many people it's a very busy day. As it is it's 'Ereb Shabbat
and that doesn't leave you much time to dilly dally, either to get to work
late or have a long lunch, or to leave earlier than you would normally have
to on a short Friday.

Some may suggest getting together with friends at a restaurant for a longer
than usual festive lunch, the only problem is, that better restaurants in
Brooklyn or Manhattan are closed on Friday.

If you plan on having the Se'oudah in the morning while drinking wine you
may be better off not getting on the road. Or for that matter for driving
all around town with Mishloah Manot.

If you have time to get together with your family for a late morning meal
or an early afternoon lunch then you're probably off from work and all of
this doesn't make much difference to you.

As a side note, when Pourim does not fall out on Friday, I do not work on
Pourim day and I do my best to convince others not to as well, it's not a
day for working. When it's Friday it's a whole different issue. I have no
choice but to work and so do many others who have deadlines to complete
projects before the weekend.

The only feasible plan would seem to be:

Get a minyan together at someone's home, pray Minhah about 1 hour before
sunset then begin Se'oudat Pourim (recall that on a "normal" year most of us
begin our Pourim Se'oudah about 1 hour before sunset), before sunset light
candles, at sunset "pores mappah" and make Qidoush, then continue the meal.

At the meals end say Birkat Hamazon with 'Al HaNisim and Resseh
VeHaHalissenou then pray 'Arbit shel Shabbat.

One small question here is:

When Qabalat Shabbat (which includes bameh madliqin) should be recited...

a) Before candle lighting?

b) Before Qidoush?

c) After Birkat Hamazon before 'Arbit?

Now, it should be remembered that the whole custom of Qabalat Shabbat
was begun by the AR"I HaQadosh, and only gradually spread out from Safed to
other communities.

Thus, it is very possible that Mahariqash did not have this problem.

Incidentally, the custom of having a leisurely late-Friday-afternoon meal,
then "perisat mappah" followed by Qidoush etc. and only finally Shabbat
prayers -- seems to have been the normal custom every week in 15th century
Alexandria, as related by Rabenou Obadiah MeBertinoro in his accounts of
his travel to Eress Yisrael!

Finally I have just had the opportunity to do more research on this
subject and lo and behold look what turns up. Rabbi Obadiah Yosef in his
Yehaveh Da'at (1st edition, Jerusalem 1980) volume 3, siman 55, page 171 in
the footnotes;

He cites Rabbenou HaMe-Iri, on Ketoubot 8a, who writes:

"It is our custom, and that of our fathers, that when Pourim falls on
Friday, we begin the Se'oudat Pourim in the late afternoon, and when the day
becomes sanctified [= i.e., Shabbat begins] we spread a mappah, and make
Qidoush, and complete our Se'oudah, and say Birkat ha-mazon and mention
therein "'Al ha-Nissim".

So, this custom known to Mahariqash is actually a custom of the Rishonim.

From the context, it seems that Rabbi Obadiah Yosef may agree with this,
although he is quoting it in the context of another issue under discussion.

For some reason though, Hakham Obadiah Yosef seems to favor following the
meqoubalim on the issue of Se'oudat Pourim. In fact he states in his Hazon
Obadiah on Pourim which was just released in 2003 on pages 179-180 that no
matter what day of the week, the Se'oudah should be held in the morning.
This is exactly the same as the opinion of Rabbi Haim Palacci which I
mentioned earlier.

Section 2....................Having a Se'oudah on 'Ereb Shabbat (Friday)


The question now arises; can one have a meal on Friday?

1)Maran in his Shoulhan 'Aroukh, Orah Haim, 249:2 says: It is forbidden to
establish on Friday a festive meal that one is not accustomed to during the
WITH A HEARTY APPETITE. This prohibition applies to the entire day.

2) At this point Mouram adds: And a meal, whose fixed time happens to fall
out on Friday such as a Berit milah or Pidyon Haben, is permitted. So it
seems to me and such is the custom.

3)Maran then continues and says: And to eat and to drink, without
establishing a meal, even a meal that one is accustomed to during the week,
is permissible the ENTIRE DAY according to the LAW. But it is meritorious to
desist from such a meal from the end of the ninth hour and on.

We see from this and from closely reading Shoulhan 'Aroukh, Orah Haim,
271:4, 5, 6. That having a Se'oudah that one is accustomed to or that falls
out on Friday is permissible any time on Friday even close to Shabbat.

The point that Mouram made in his glosses about a meal whose fixed time
falls out on Friday seems to have been accepted by Sepharadim as well as
brought down in the works of Sephardic Hakhamim. In fact Mahariqash in his
glosses on Shoulhan 'Aroukh says the following: When Se'oudat Pourim falls
on Friday even though this is not a Se'oudah that we are accustomed to we do
in fact permit it! And such is the law for any Se'oudah whose fixed time
falls out on Friday such as Berit Milah.

In 1991 a very important 3 volume work on Hilkhot Shabbat was issued by
Rabbi Moshe Levi of Bene Beraq (Bnai Brak).(It has since been reprinted at
least 4 times). In fact it was the only work written by a Sepharadi to ever
receive the Bnai Brak prize for Rabbinic Literature, and it carries the
approbations of Rabbi Obadiah Yosef, Rabbi Shemouel HaLevi Wozner, and Rabbi
Meir Mazouz!

In volume 1 page 26 he states: Se'oudat Missvah whose fixed time falls out
on Friday, such as: Berit Milah, Pidyon HaBen, and Se'oudat Pourim, it is
permitted to have this meal on Friday even after the 10th hour, even though
it is a large meal that one is not accustomed to during the week!!

Based upon all of the above it is clear that the law is not to have a large
meal on Friday in order that you should enter the Shabbat with a hearty
appetite and be able to partake of the Shabbat meal properly. Since in our
scenario your intention is to begin the meal prior to Shabbat and carry it
into Shabbat there is no problem at all.

Section 3..............Pores Mappah


What exactly is Perisat Mappah?

Three classical reasons are offered for covering the bread:

1) Reminiscent of the MANN, which was covered by dew.

2) "Not to embarrass the bread." i.e., according to the principles of
priority in berakhot, the bread is supposed to be partaken of first; having
wine before bread in the bread's presence would be slight to the bread's due

3) To emphasize that one may not eat or drink food on Shabbat without first
pronouncing its sanctity over wine.

Depending upon which reason we accept will determine how we practice "Pores

According to #1, only bread must be covered.

According to #2, all grain products must be covered since they all have
berakhah priority over wine.

According to #3, all food must be covered.

Each one of these opinions can be found in the posqim but what clearly
stands out as the underlying logic is that a distinction must be made
between the pre-Shabbat meals to that point when Qidoush is recited at the
arrival of Shabbat.

Section 4...........Reasoning and benefits for having the Se'oudah late in
the day


As we stated far above HaRaMBaM says in Hilkhot Megilah 2:17: That it is
better for a person to spend the day giving money and gifts to the poor than
spending the day eating and giving food to your friends! In other words as
our custom is every year we spend the better part of the day giving charity
and only then do we take care of ourselves towards the end of the day.

That is when we always have Se'oudat Pourim and Friday is no different, in
fact it may be more important to give charity the earlier part of the day so
the poor will have what to eat for both Pourim as well as Shabbat!

Of course the basic "common-sense" reasons for making the Pourim Se'oudah
in the afternoon even when Pourim occurs on Friday have been alluded to
already. For many people, rushing around in the morning to deliver charity
and Mishloah Manot while also rushing to prepare and consume a large feast
and then rushing about in the afternoon to prepare for Shabbat and also to
prepare another large feast (for which one is unlikely to have any appetite
at all by the time it is served) are likely to detract from both Pourim and
Shabbat. On the other hand, spending Friday delivering Mishloah Manot and
charity, preparing for Shabbat more-or-less as usual, and then sitting down
to a single feast at approximately the regular hour, by which time one has
fulfilled all the other Pourim and Shabbat obligations and presumably has an
appetite, might make it possible to accomplish everything with less pressure
and to show more respect both to Pourim and to Shabbat--as well as
preventing "akhilah gassa".

Another reason could also be so people would not have to spend too much
money, which is another form of charity. After all, preparing one Se'oudah,
even if one makes it as festive and as elaborate as one can afford, is still
likely to be much less of a financial expense than making two. This should
enable every household that adopts this practice to increase its Matanot
LaEbyonim considerably.

It's very possible in fact probable that our great rabbis of old had these
very reasons in mind when they established the custom of having a late day
Se'oudah that would go right into Shabbat!!

Section 5.......Conclusion


Based upon all of the above which stems from the Gemara to the Rishonim and
the Aharonim, It would seem that having one meal late in the day, being
pores Mappah, etc... would be the most halakhicly sound.

Minhah is said before the meal. Se'oudat Pourim is begun early enough so
that a significant portion of it can be eaten before sunset. Once sunset
arrives, you stop eating and drinking. The two loaves to be used for Shabbat
should be brought out if they are not already on the table and be covered.
Qidoush should then be made over a full cup of wine. If wine was already
consumed earlier in the meal, Bore Feri HaGefen should not be said as part
of Qidoush. Assuming bread was eaten earlier; hands need not be washed
again. The bread should be uncovered and then distributed to those present
without saying Hamossi. People can then resume eating. At the conclusion of
the meal, Birkat HaMazon is recited with 'Al HaNisim and Resseh. 'Arbit then

Section 6..........Suggested Schedule


In my humble opinion it would be wonderful if this old tradition caught on
and was embraced not only by certain families but by entire congregations as
well. It would really help if minyanim for Minhah (pre-Se'oudah) and 'Arbit
Shel Shabbat (post-Se'oudah) could be arranged.

This suggested schedule is based upon the times for Brooklyn, New York

1) Pray Minhah anytime from 1:40PM on

2) Begin Se'oudat Pourim with Bread, Wine, Meat, etc... at 6:00PM

enjoy your soup, salads, appetizers, etc...

3)6:49PM...Candle Lighting

4)7:00PM...Qabalat Shabbat at the table

5)7:09PM...Pores Mappah then Qidoush without Birkat hagefen if you are
already drinking wine, which you should be doing because of Se'oudat Pourim.

6) Continue with the meal, eating, drinking, singing, etc...

7) Birkat Hamazon with both 'Al HaNisim and Resseh VeHaHalissenou

8) Pray 'Arbit Shel Shabbat at about 8:30PM or any other time that you have
arranged for a minyan. (I just wonder on a non Friday Pourim how many people
actually pray 'arbit with a minyan).

Have I missed anything??

I'd love your feedback, comments, etc...

Joseph Mosseri


I am not a Rabbi or a Poseq.

I am just interested in discussing Halakhot & Minhagim, laws and customs.

I invite your insights, comments, criticisms, etc...

Joseph Mosseri

MKs Debate Jewish Presence in Yesha


Let's be clear here: Jewish land is what Hashm gave us, and Talia Sasson can't change that. Likewise, if Israel decides not to give up land (and why should they?), then no land will be given up.

Why is this so hard? The Knesset needs to start seeing themselves as leaders and not followers. Why did they have to wait until Olmert was out of town to do these things? Are they all so afraid of him that they can't function when he is around?

by Hillel Fendel

( The Knesset Audit Committee held a session on Monday regarding the unauthorized Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria, and voted not to request a State Comptroller review of the situation. Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan protested the vote.

MK Vilan, aided by former senior State Prosecution attorney Talia Sasson, demanded to know why the government was not fulfilling its own decisions to evacuate and destroy Jewish outposts (new development communities) on Judea and Samaria hilltops. Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon, who heads a ministerial committee on the outposts, said that during the period of the Disengagement, in the years 2004-5, "the government decided not to open up two fronts, and therefore nothing was done to remove the outposts."

Sasson, who authored a detailed anti-outpost report for the Sharon government three years ago, strongly condemned the Justice Ministry's plan to allow some construction in and around some of the outposts.

MK Demands Approval for Jewish Towns
MK Nissan Slomiansky (National Religious Party), however, took the opposite approach, saying the Jews of Yesha should not be discriminated against: "If the Bedouin, who clearly took over lands that were not theirs, and who certainly did not have any government help in doing so, are now about to have their communities regulated and legalized, then all the more so - and the very comparison is demeaning - we should also have a government authority for the purpose of regulating and legalizing the communities in Judea and Samaria."

"Instead of talking about evacuating and destroying these communities," Slomiansky said, " - I don't even want to call them outposts - we should be expanding them."

"The Jews in Judea and Samaria have rights, and these must be respected," Slomiansky said. "Just like all other towns in Israel, they must be recognized and approved, period, so that people can live normal lives. Afterwards, if Olmert want to negotiate with the PA and make agreements and concessions, we can have our big argument [over this] then."

"All Towns in Israel Were Built This Way"
Another participant, Gush Etzion Regional Council Chief Sha'ul Goldstein, told Arutz-7's Hizky Baruch after the session that the Jewish towns in Yesha must be treated no differently than all the others in Israel: "We did a study of 200 towns in Israel, out of 1,000, and we found that every single one of them was first built, and only years later received final approval. Every single one! And this was true for towns built not only before the State was established, but even for towns built in the 1980's."

"To accuse us of building illegally, when a host of government offices helped us, and when this is how the entire State of Israel was built, is simply to lie and deceive," Goldstein said.

Ramon's Position
Ramon, an outspoken proponent of withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, said that not a single unauthorized outpost has been established in Yesha since 2005. "No monies are transferred to the existing outposts without the approval of a committee headed by the Deputy Attorney General," he boasted.

Ramon lamented that caravans had been added to some of the outposts, and claimed as fact that "the construction in Judea and Samaria is not the result of a lack of housing, but from a desire to create political facts on the ground that will make it hard for Israeli governments to [give up the land]."

He admitted that adding a classroom or building another floor onto an existing building in Yesha need not require governmental approval, but "to add 20-30 homes to a community of 100 families has political significance and therefore requires government approval."

A Third Can be Legalized
Ramon said that out of 100 outposts that he checked, "a third of them can be easily legalized, a third cannot, and regarding the rest, there is what to talk about." He said that he would be happy to reach an agreement with "the settlers" on all the outposts in order to avoid violence, but said, "If there is no choice, I believe that in the end, the government must fulfill its legal and political obligation."

Ramon further said that 26 outposts were built after March 2001, when then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised the Americans that he would not allow new Yesha neighborhoods. "This is a promise that will be very hard to violate," Ramon said.

Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev said that Sharon made this promise without informing his coalition partners - of which he was one at the time.

Migron in Danger
Eitan Baroshi, the Defense Minister's Assistant for Settlement Affairs, said that in any event, "the outposts cannot be removed immediately... We are in contact with the Yesha Council," noting that Migron - 43 families in a strategic spot in Binyamin, north of Jerusalem, is a good example of an outpost whose future fate can be negotiated, "since it is built [partially - ed.] on privately-owned land... No one wants to have another Amona [where heavy violence accompanied an expulsion two years ago - ed.]. In the coming months, we have a Supreme Court decision coming up on this issue, and the Yesha heads know that we have to reach an agreement."

Vilan's Complaint
The session was originally initiated by MK Vilan of Meretz for the purpose of investigating why the government's decisions to remove unauthorized Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria have not been implemented. His objective was to have the committee vote to have State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss investigate the matter. However, he later withdrew his proposal in order to wait for a report being prepared by the ministerial committee on outposts.

Later in the session, Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) submitted an opposite proposal, namely that the committee vote not to ask Lindenstrauss to investigate the matter. The Committee voted to approve this notion - and MK Vilan said he would complain to the Knesset Legal Counsel over Orlev's behavior.

Pastoral England Fosters Terror Training Camps


"Merry ol' England" is very nice in the imagination of tourists, but even the romantic green pastoral paddocks of England are quickly becoming training camps of terror with the increasing numbers of radicalized terrorist factions which have been allowed to fester and grow in this new environment.

I am sure there are similar festering fields of fanatics here on US soil. Strangely, they seem to grow best in the very places that they claim to hate the most.

Freedom is a sacred value that terrorists profane and twist to serve their evil intent, but they shall not win. That same freedom that feeds their hate supplements a love of our nation and our laws in the general Amercian populace that is so strong it only grows stronger, prouder, more solidly focused when attacked.

We might argue among ourselves, we might put one another down, we might complain about our lot, we might protest and show anger--but don't be fooled by that into thinking you can divide us. Americans are like a big loud family. If an outsider says or does anything against any one of us, we will immediately forget our minor arguments, unify, and come down like one large avenging wave.


Terror trial exposes network of terror camps in picturesque rural England


LONDON - Clad in mud-smeared combat fatigues, the young Muslim men trained in picturesque British farmland, hurling imaginary grenades, wielding sticks as mock rifles and chopping watermelons in simulated beheadings.

Tourists and others who stumbled across this sight _ described by eyewitnesses in a London courtroom over recent weeks _ struggled to stifle laughter.

But a 4-year inquiry, which ended Tuesday with the convictions of seven men, has exposed a network of alleged British terrorism training camps with a serious intent to prepare recruits for mass-murder.

Security officials believe hundreds of men _ including a gang that made a failed attempt to bomb London's transit network _ passed through camps across the English countryside.

Investigators say their discovery exposes a worrying development at the heart of British homegrown terrorism: training camps once thought to be exclusive to northern Pakistan or Afghanistan are being held in sleepy rural England.

Two ringleaders will be sentenced next month on charges of running the camps and inciting participants to murder. Their convictions, and five others, can be reported for the first time Tuesday after a judge lifted restrictions banning publication of details of a four-month trial.

Prosecutors told a trial that the men set up camps in idyllic spots across England to train in a range of paramilitary skills.

National parks in the Lake District, in northern England, and the New Forest, in southern England, and quiet corners of the southern counties of Berkshire, Kent and East Sussex were all used for training _ including a former school.

Officials fear the case shows British citizens can now be radicalized, trained and funded to carry out terror attacks _ without ever leaving the country.

The British camps, which gave instruction to around 10 men at a time, also offer a glimpse of the training centers British-based radicals hoped to open in Oregon, in the United States, before authorities halted their plans.

"People have got to be alert to the fact that right in the middle of our society these things are going on," said Patrick Mercer, an opposition Conservative lawmaker and ex-intelligence officer.

The development may help explain why Jonathan Evans _ head of domestic intelligence agency MI5 _ says Britain faces an ever growing number of potential terrorists within its borders, which he last year put at around 2,000.

Secretly filmed video from the camps shows recruits marching with backpacks _ used by London's transit network attackers to carry their suicide bombs _ and carrying out weapons drills favored by insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban.

An undercover police officer, codenamed "Dawood," infiltrated one group and captured cell phone video of the training. One clip shows trainees rehearsing a beheading with a watermelon.

While security officials say the techniques often appear comical _ in one video, two recruits fall into a river _ they insist the training provides crucial psychological cohesion for would-be radicals.

"What's important is bonding people together, just like traditional team building exercises carried out by businesses," said a government security official, who demanded anonymity to discuss the inquiry.

A gang of North African men who made a failed attempt to bomb London's transit network on July 21, 2005, two weeks after the July 7 subway and bus strikes that killed 52 commuters, met and were trained at one of camps, the official said.

"For the July 7 group it was whitewater rafting, for the July 21 group it was meeting at these camps which was the key factor in bringing them together as a cell," the official said.

Officials said the ringleaders were two notorious London-based preachers: Atilla Ahmet, who once told a CNN interview he was "the number one al-Qaida in Europe," and Mohammed Hamid, who gave himself the nickname "Osama bin London."

Ahmet is a longtime aide of radical preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri _ an Egyptian who the U.S. is attempting to extradite over plans to set up terror camps in Oregon.

Hamid, originally from Tanzania, hand-picked recruits from mainstream mosques, inviting them for radical meetings at his home and then selecting a smaller number to attend the camps.

The two men will be sentenced at a court hearing next month. Five accomplices were scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday.

Somalian Kader Ahmed, West Indies-born Mohammed Al-Figari, Jamaican Kibley da Costa and Londoners Mohammed Kyriacou and Yassin Mutegombwa were all convicted on charges of attending terrorist training.

Ahmed told his trial that scores of tourists saw a training camp in Cumbria, northern England, in 2004. "They were kind of shocked at the big beards but we spoke to them just to break the ice," he said.

Farmer Bruce Rowland, who rented a field to the men, told police he originally jokingly called the group "my Taliban" _ before becoming concerned. At a paintballing center north of London, a female member of staff told officers how customers had laughed at the men.

Hamid, prosecutors said, was candid about his hope that the recruits could dwarf the scale of the 2005 London bombings. He hoped they would carry out six or seven major attacks before London hosts the 2012 Olympics, prosecutors claimed.

"Fifty-two. That's not even breakfast for me," Hamid was recorded as saying on a bug installed in his home, referring to the number killed in 2005 blasts.

One of Hamid's recruits was Muktar Said Ibrahim, who led the July 21 gang. The two had been arrested together in central London in 2004 as they handed out extremist leaflets.

A year later, Ibrahim and three accomplices attempted to set off bombs on three subway trains and a bus. Their devices failed, though police said tests proved the bombs were viable.

Dozens trained at Hamid's camps were hoping to carry out attacks, said a senior police official, who demanded anonymity to discuss counterterrorism work. "There was repeated talk of finding and killing nonbelievers," he said.

But police said the camps were also used to prepare unfit British Muslims for training, or combat, overseas. "There are repeated instances of people, particularly from the West, being sent home from training camps overseas for being unfit," the police official said.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Florida High School Athletic Association Succeeds in Discrimination Against Shomer Shabbat Teen


I tried so hard to get everyone to write and call about this situation. I wrote, I called. I don’t know if anyone else did. I guess it seemed to small, too insignificant for most people to take five minutes out of there day to pay attention to this.

However, I don’t think it is small or insignificant. This is 2008, and a Florida Athletic Association won’t make a small accommodation for a Jew.

How many Jews are in Florida? How many pay the taxes that pay the salaries of these bozos?

That’s not significant?

Observance of Sabbath costs Yeshiva athlete shot at title
Palm Beach Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 23, 2008

LAKELAND — Despite tying for first place in the semifinals of the Queen of the Hill three-point shooting competition Friday, Bassie Orzechowitz won't be competing in today's finals.

That's because Orzechowitz, a senior at Weinbaum Yeshiva High School in Boca Raton, will be observing the Jewish Sabbath. The basketball competition begins at 6:15 p.m., and the Sabbath ends at sundown - 6:18 p.m. Orzechowitz is staying 45 minutes away from the Lakeland Center and won't be able to make it to the arena in time.

Jack Watford, associate director of the Florida High School Athletic Association, would not change the time of today's all-classification championship to accommodate Orzechowitz.

"We did not feel it was appropriate," he said when asked whether he considered asking the other competitors about a time change.

Sarasota Christian's Heather Miller and Orzechowitz each made 5-of-15 three-point baskets in the Class 1A semifinals. Orzechowitz was allowed to shoot Friday afternoon before leaving the gym to prepare for the Sabbath, which began at sundown. Miller later tied her.

FHSAA rules call for a tiebreaker to determine the winner, but because Orzechowitz was not present, the association declared the girls co-champions. Both will receive championship plaques.

Watford said he left a message on Orzechowitz's cellphone informing her of the decision, but she observes rules that prevent her from using the phone during the Sabbath. She left the Lakeland Center on Friday knowing that if she won the semifinals, the FHSAA likely would not alter the time.

She had pleaded with the association to alter its time for the three-point shooting competition. Yeshiva High asked the FHSAA to hold the competition after the Class 6A state championship game, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Orzechowitz also suggested that she shoot after the 6A championship game. Watford did not agree with that idea.

"We don't feel that would be fair to the other girls who have to compete in a loud arena where fans are there," he said. "She would be able to shoot in an empty gym by herself."

Instead, Miller will compete today with the five champions from the other classifications.

"All we asked is for them to move it a couple of hours," Orzechowitz said after her afternoon performance. "There's a lot of options, and they refused to compromise. I won't compromise my religion to play."

She was visibly disappointed after hitting only a third of her three-point attempts. She sat on the sidelines with her head in her jersey.

"I've been attacked by so many people, getting phone calls from all over. It's been a total shock," she said. "If we all get this far, we all deserve to have a chance."

Melissa Pereira, who oversees athletics at Yeshiva High, said she did not understand the FHSAA's decision.

"They have a basketball game going on from 7 o'clock until 8:30, and it's not really going out of their way to ask this three-point shootout to occur after the basketball game," Pereira said. "It is unfortunate that they have decided to make a stance and to not allow this 17- year-old girl the opportunity to be the state champion."

Pereira said Yeshiva High has worked with the FHSAA in the past, including a compromise that allowed boys basketball players to wear yarmulkes with built-in clips.

But she said the decision not to push back the three-point competition has larger ramifications.

"It's bigger than this one student," Pereira said. "What happens if one of our teams advances to the regional or state playoffs? I can't imagine how devastating it would be for a team not to be able to participate. But again they would put religion first."

Through the years, religion often has clashed with sports. Two of the most famous examples were in baseball.

In 1934, Hank Greenberg, known as "the Jewish Babe Ruth," decided to play on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year and first of the High Holy Days. Rabbis interviewed by Detroit newspapers differed in their reactions.

With Greenberg's help, the Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees 2-1.

In 1965, Sandy Koufax refused to pitch the first game of the World Series on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the most sacred of all Jewish holy days. Many Jews, sports fans or otherwise, point proudly to Koufax's acting on his convictions.

Don Drysdale replaced Koufax on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost 8-2 to the Minnesota Twins.

When manager Walter Alston pulled Drysdale from the game, the pitcher reportedly joked, "I bet right now you wish I was Jewish, too."

Religion won the day when Eric Liddell, a talented British sprinter who also was a Christian missionary, dropped out of his best event, the 100-meter dash, because it was scheduled on a Sunday during the 1924 Olympics. That decision was the inspiration for the 1981 Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire.

FHSAA rules prohibit any high school sports activity, including practices, on Sundays. Executive Director John Stewart said it was completely coincidental that Sunday is the Sabbath for most Christians.

Even if Orzechowitz does not become Queen of the Hill, her performance in the three-point contest has been a crowning moment for Yeshiva High's girls basketball team. The Storm finished 14-6 this season and won a national tournament for Hebrew schools.

The 198-student private school, founded 11 years ago in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Boca Raton, follows the practices of Orthodox Judaism, including religious practices for food preparation, prayers and other daily activities. Even candy bars in the school's vending machines carry the kosher symbol.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Shomer Shabbat Student Discriminated Against in Basketball Competition in Miami


This calls for some intercession from her competitors.

If the other girls in this competition know this is going on, that she is being discriminated against for keeping her religion and for refusing to bend on that, I would hope that they would all sit down and refuse to compete until Shabbat was over--allowing this girl, in the spirit of sportswomanship and fair play--to compete on a level playing field.

I can't imagine that any of them would want to win by discriminating against another girl . I will hope that the next news story I see on this event is one of inspiration, of sportswomanship, and of community strength in the face of a discriminatory policy.

Please, pass this story around and get an e-mail campaign going. Lets give these girls the strength they need to support true competition.

Also, please contact the Florida High School Athletic Association to end this policy:

John A. Stewart, Ed. D
Executive Director
1801 NW 80th Boulevard
Gainesville, FL 32606
Phone: (352) 372-9551 ext. 110;
Fax: (352) 373-1528


Star student may lose 'Queen of the Hill' chance due to Sabbath By LONA O'CONNOR
Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Boca Raton basketball player may be edged out of a state contest because the contest occurs on the Jewish Sabbath.

Bassie Orzechowitz, a senior at Weinbaum Yeshiva High School, won a regional three-point shooting competition earlier this month, making her eligible for the "Queen of the Hill" championship in Lakeland.

The competition is on Friday evening in Miami, when observant Jews refrain from most worldly activities to honor their Sabbath.

The Florida High School Athletic Association allowed Orzechowitz to compete earlier on Friday for one level of the competition. But the association turned down a request from her high school athletic director to postpone the next level of competition - should she win - to after 7 p.m. Saturday night, when the Sabbath ends.

In an e-mail to Weinbaum athletic director Jon Kaweblum, FHSAA associate director Jack Watford wrote, "I have no problem in allowing Bassie to shoot her round of competition at 2 pm Friday. With regard to the tie-break procedures, there is no accommodation that we can make there. The other Class 1A shooters will compete at the regularly scheduled time of 6:12 pm. If a tie occurs involving Bassie, she will have to forfeit the tiebreaker as she will not be present to compete in it.

"Also, be aware that if Bassie wins the Class 1A competition outright, she will qualify to compete in the Queen of the Hill overall competition Saturday at 6:15 pm. If, however, she is unable to participate in this competition we will advance the 1A second-place shooter."

Weinbaum Yeshiva principal Perry Tirschwell said he tries to be laid-back about conflicts with the Sabbath when he can, but decided that it was time to make an issue about what he sees as an unnecessary exclusion of a talented athlete.

"I told them, 'You can either be known as discriminatory or inclusive, it costs you nothing.' I only complain if it's relevant, and now it became relevant. I don't want the message to an 18-year-old kid to be that if you're Jewish you can only go so far."

RCA Agrees to Cave on Conversion


Well, Amar has his wish. He is now the de facto Jewish pope. Amar is convinced that being Chief Rabbi makes him some sort of HOLY SOVEREIGN and not the political appointee with no religious power above his station as a regular learned Jewish Rabbi. Shame on Amar. Shame on the RCA.

At least Rabbi Angel has the brains to call the emperors clothes for what they are--the cloak of active imagination and out-of-control power.


Feb 21, 2008 20:19 | Updated Feb 21, 2008 20:27

RCA, Rabbinate reach conversion deal

In a move that puts an end to the ongoing conversion controversy between the two largest rabbinic organizations in the world, the Chief Rabbinate has agreed to recognize conversions performed by the Rabbinic Council of America (RCA).

The Jerusalem Post has learned from sources in the chief rabbinate that in an agreement to be announced Monday, the Chief Rabbinate approved a list of about 15 RCA rabbinic courts and about 40 rabbinic judges scattered across the US who are authorized to perform conversions.

Courts and judges not on the list will not be automatically recognized.

The RCA and the Chief Rabbinate also agreed that conversions performed in the past by judges who are not included on the official list will need the approval of Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, the octogenarian head of the Beth Din of America.

In addition, new conversion judges who wish to be included on the official list will need to receive the approval of Rabbi Hershel Shachter head of the Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Theological Seminary in Yeshiva University and Rabbi Mordechai Willig, deputy head of the Beth Din of America and a Professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University.

As part of the agreement, Rabbi Moshe Nidam, a representative from the chief rabbinate, will also help approve new judges together with Shachter and Willig.

One US rabbi who supported the agreement said that it was legitimate for the chief rabbinate to demand minimum standards for conversions.

"The Israeli rabbinate is going to be asked to recognize these conversions in the future," said the rabbi who preferred to remain anonymous. "So they have a right to make demands."

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who is responsible for conversions in Israel, sparked the controversy between the rabbinate and the RCA when he announced in April 2006 that he would no longer automatically recognize conversions performed by RCA rabbis.

Amar criticized the RCA for failing to adhere to the most stringent standards in the acceptance of converts. He demanded that all RCA conversion judges come to Israel to pass examinations and was reluctant to recognize conversions performed by RCA judges.

Amar's comments cast doubt on the Jewishness of hundreds of American converts.

RCA rabbis perceived Amar's statements as an attack on their legitimacy and jurisdiction.

Rabbi Marc Angel, a former president of the RCA, who together with Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of the liberal Chovevei Torah rabbinic seminary, plans to set up alternative rabbinic organization called Rabbinic Fellowship, blamed the RCA of capitulating to pressure from the Chief Rabbinate.

In an e-mail message from New York, Angel commented that, "The Chief Rabbinate has taken a narrow and extreme views on the question of conversion, and is now demanding that all rabbis comply with these 'standards'.

"The RCA has, very unfortunately, capitulated to the demands of the Chief Rabbinate. This not only undermines the authority of individual Orthodox rabbis, but creates a climate of stringency, rabbinic bureaucracy and authoritarianism."

Rabbi Seth Farber, head of ITIM an organization that helps converts navigate the Israeli rabbinic, voiced concern that American converts and their offspring would have difficulty proving their Jewishness if they were to immigrate to Israel.

"The overwhelming majority of American Orthodox converts over the years have not had their conversion certified by Schwartz. Children or grandchildren are going to wind up in Israel and their Jewishness will be questioned."

Farber also voiced concern that by centralizing the conversion model the RCA "runs the risk of transforming the conversion from a personal journey to a bureaucratic one, which is precisely the mistake that was made by the chief rabbinate here in Israel."

Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, an aide to Amar on conversion matters, said that the agreement with the RCA would upgrade the conversion standard in the US.

"Making sure that conversions are performed in accordance with halacha is good for the converts and good for the Jewish people.

"Now all conversions performed by the RCA will be universally recognized by all communities within Orthodoxy."

"Communal Leaders" Call Anti-Jewish Hate Threat an "Isolated Incident"


Please tell me how-- in a country where anti-Semitism has increased substantially each year, where there was a parliamentary session on the increase in anti-Jewish/anti-Israel rhetoric last year, where heads of state were overhead saying snide things about Israeli diplomats, and where there is a long history of hating Jews--”communal leaders” could say this was an “isolated incident.”

Who are these “communal leaders” and why weren’t they mentioned by name? Why is this so vague?

Isn't every anti-Jewish thing that comes along considered "isolated" by those who want to hide the fact that it is happening. I'm sure that is no consulation to Grant, who, although he might feel isolated is not, I'm sure, taking solace in the idea that this might be an "isolated" incident.

I hope they put every facility they have on this, track down the scum who did it, and then let Betar give the gentleman about an hour of unsupervised attention.


Shock over Grant death threat

The news that Chelsea manager Avraham Grant received anti-Semitic death threats in the mail has been met with shock amongst his friends and the Jewish community in England.

However, communal leaders are cautioning that at this point in time it should only be taken as an isolated incident and not as symptomatic of a wider rise in anti-Semitism in British soccer.

Police in the English county of Surrey confirmed on Wednesday that a package containing a "mysterious powder" had been sent to the Chelsea FC training ground in Cobham on Tuesday.

A note inside the package alleged that the substance was lethal and was accompanied by an anti-Semitic letter.

However, after the training ground was initially sealed off, Surrey Police confirmed that the powder was in fact harmless.

The letter called Grant a "back-stabbing Jewish bastard‚" and promised him a "slow and painful death" while also threatening sexual assault against his wife, Tzofit.

Grant and the Chelsea first team were not present at the Chelsea training ground at the time, having flown to Athens to play Olympiakos in the Champions League knockout stages, a match which ended 0-0. Surrey police say that the investigation is ongoing.

"I was surprised to hear about it, because in the last few years we have hardly heard about anti-Semitism [in soccer], then suddenly [Grant] received this letter," former Liverpool player and long-time friend of Grant‚ Avi Cohen, told The Jerusalem Post.

Cohen spoke of how anti-Semitism had virtually disappeared from the game since his own playing days in the 1980s.

"It was hard in the '80s because of the political situation [in England]. Sometimes I could hear shouts from the crowd, such as "yid" but it was nothing too serious. Now you don't hear from any of the players who play abroad about this problem. Not from Turkey, Belgium or Spain," he said.

Cohen added that he felt this was an isolated incident, saying that Grant had never spoken to him of suffering anti-Semitic abuse from crowds in the past.

A spokesman for the CST, an organization which aims to protect the Jewish community in Britain, said: "There was a spate of disturbing white powder incidents in 2001, but for now this appears to be an isolated case against a high profile individual.

"We are, however, concerned at the generally high levels of anti-Semitic incidents that are faced by the Jewish community."

A CSTspokesman added: "In a football context, this is often concentrated around Tottenham Hotspur, and also in lower level football against actual Jewish teams. We have discussed these issues with the Football Association and Police, and have their support in challenging it."

When Grant first took on the job of Chelsea coach, sections of the Stamford Bridge support, who felt that he had helped push out the former manager Jose Mourinho, were accused of being anti Semitic.

At the time Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck told the Agence France Presse: "We welcome all constructive points of view. But there have been a few which could be viewed as racist and anti-Semitic and that must stop immediately.

"This is one thing we will not tolerate, whether in written correspondence, on the chat pages, on posters or banners, or through singing and chanting."

However, Chelsea has denied that fans of the club were to blame for the death threat Grant received on Tuesday.

"There is absolutely no evidence that Chelsea fans were in any way connected to this incident," a Chelsea source told the Post.

"I think we have taken great steps to stamp out all forms of discrimination at Stamford Bridge," the source added.

Israeli sports Web site reported on Wednesday that Grant issued a statement reassuring his fans that he is ok, although this has not been confirmed officially.

Meanwhile, in response to his team's drab 0-0 draw with Olympiakos, Grant was disappointed but looked forward to the return tie in two week's time.

"This was a game that we played less well than previous games," he said. "We only created a couple of chances so it's a little disappointing. The performance could have been better but the result was good."

Grant drew criticism for his decision to rest key players Frank Lampard and John Terry with one eye on Sunday's League Cup final against Tottenham.

"In football, I never gamble and we put a strong team out," was Grant‚ response.

"Anything I do is questioned, I'm ok with this. They are not easy decisions but it is my job."