Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cartoon Comment

Two cartoons from Nicholson in The Australian relating to the Al-Hilali debacle.

Get Thee Behind Me Woman

With regard to our friend (not!) Sheik Taj Aldin Al-Hilali which I spoke about here, The Australian has a number of articles on this topic.

The complete text of Sheik Al-Hilali's Ramadan speech is reproduced in Revealed: the Mufti uncut. Despite Hilali's protests that he was misquoted etc etc it is obvious that the original reporting was accurate. He clearly says that women are the cause of "adultery" and need to be punished more severely than men.

I also like Caroline Overington's essay, Metaphor hides mufti's real message, which is an interesting look at the veil worn by Moslem women. The concept of modesty is foreign to most of western society these days, but I feel that there is something wrong with a creed that says that women must cover up completely but men can wear what they want.

Oh, and if you like polls, The Age has one which lets you vote on Should Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali be sacked after his comments on rape? Go here to register your opinion.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Support the Shluchim

I have just discovered new fund that has been formed to raise money for the Shluchim. Named in memory of Harav Yaakov Moshe Hakohen Friedman, father of (amongst others) Avremel Fried, Mannis Friedman and Yossi Friedman (who was a shliach in YG a number of years ago).

The purpose of this fund is to support Shluchim in a tangible way. Money is collected and distributed once a month to Shluchim who register on the site. The site is located here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sheik Alhilali Condones Rape

Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali has opened his big mouth again and demonstrated his true colours. In a much publicised speech he has defended Moslems who were sentenced for gang raping 4 women in 2000. In the much publicised Ramadan sermon to 500 of the faithful last month The Age reports:

He said there were women who "sway suggestively" and wore make-up and inappropriate clothes, "and then you get a judge without mercy (rahma) and gives you 65 years".
"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat," the sheik asked.
"The uncovered meat is the problem."
"If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijib (head scarf), no problem would have occurred."

According to the report in The Age here, a statement was issued today by the Lebanese Muslim Association who said "The board is satisfied with the notion that certain statements made by the mufti was misinterpreted."

The Australian has a less simplistic and more detailed coverage of this incident here. Whereas The Age would lead us to believe that Hilali has the support of the majority of Australian Muslims, The Australian reports that many in that community are incensed at Hilali's extreme opinions in general and these statements in particular. As in any community politics interferes with common sense and there is no simple way for them to get rid of the Imam. Let us hope that this changes soon and Hilali disappears from here very soon.

As a postscript, The Age has an interesting list of Hilali's more ridiculous statements here - many of them to do with Israel and Jews.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Tax Man Cometh

I love this piece from COL (here) on a positive way to deal with the tax department:

"When income tax supervisors arrived for a "friendly visit" to "Gittele's", in Kfar Chabad, they were astounded at the joyous reception of Reb Meir Freedman, who greeted them with singing and the extent that they almost forgot the purpose of their arrival."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Siyum Sefer Torah

Rabbi Yerachmiel Benyominson, Director of Tzivos Hashem,
and Rabbi Eli Gutnick

The Jewish Children's museum in Crown Heights held a Siyum Sefer Torah last Sunday. "The Torah was dedicated by the Hoyda family in memory of Mr. Hoyda's parents, Leo and Lotte Hoyda and Ari Halberstam, the sixteen-year-old yeshiva student killed in a terrorist shooting on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994" according to the article in COL here. What makes it newsworthy for me is that the sofer who completed the Torah is Rabbi Eli Gutnick of Melbourne who is married to Ari's sister. See more photos in Shmais here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Police Officer Involved in Hate Crime

The latest update in the Simchas Torah bashing of Menachem Vorchheimer appears in The Australian here. It turns out that the driver of the bus is a serving police officer and that he refused to give Menachem any information about which club the football players were from. It will be interesting to see if the Victoria Police investigation goes anywhere or whether it will fade away. Knowing Menachem he will not let this rest - and rightly so.

What is interesting to me is that the average Aussie is repulsed by the racist behaviour of a small section of Australian society. I have been approached by a number of non-Jews expressing their disgust at what happened.

Some other blogs have also commented on the bashing: A long article appears in a blog whose stated aim is "To balance the undue adulation of AFL players through scrutiny of their negative off-field behaviour". See the post here. Also"The Diary of an Average Australian" has his say here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Happy Simchas Torah!!

A unique advertisement from Rabbi Shaul Engel of Chabad of Bayside in Melbourne (and a great take on the iPod ads). See you all there!

Good Yom Tov to all.

Hoshana Rabba Photos

Shturem has some historic photos of the Rebbe on Hoshana Rabba here.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Chabad of CBD's Sukkah

Lord Mayor John So and Rabbi Chaim Herzog in the Sukkah

Rabbi Chaim Herzog of Chabad of Melbourne CBD has built a Sukkah in the city according to the report in COL here. There are some nice photos of the event held in the Sukkah which was attended by Lord Mayor of Melbourne, John So, Rabbi Yossel Gutnick and businessmen and others that work in the CBD.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Long Way from Sydney

Rabbi Boruch Lesches, formerly Rosh Yeshiva in Sydney, has moved to the United States where he is Rav of the Chabad community in Monsey, NY. COL has an article and photos of him conducting a farbrengen in Crown Heights this Sukkos (see here).

This is not the first time he has farbrenged in Crown Heights in the short time that he has lived in the States. Obviously his talents are appreciated more over there than they were Down Under.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An Inspirational Story

The "Tefillin Stand" at the Kotel

I am not usually too excited by "miracle" stories as they are generally 4th or 5th hand and lack credibility. Over the last few days I heard this particular story from a few people but since reading it in Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick's own words it has made an impression. The story was told to him on Yom Kippur.

Here it is as related by Rabbi Gutnick:
A choshever balaboss named IB came up to me in the break between Musaf and Mincha today and said he needed to tell me something that recently happened to him in Eretz Yisrael when he went to his grand-daughter's wedding.

The morning of the wedding he went to the Kossel with members of the wedding party. While there he put on Tephillin at the Chabad table and got all those with him to do so as well. Later that evening at the wedding he suddenly felt unwell and when they gave him some water to drink he couldn't swallow it and then the glass dropped from his hand. His daughter (mother of the kallah) is a doctor and she immediately told him that he was having a stroke. They rushed him to hospital where he was indeed diagnosed with a stroke and by that time he was totally paralyzed on one side and was unable to talk. They gave him various medications and hooked him up to all sorts of machines. Eventually he fell asleep. While asleep he dreamt that a Rabbi came to see him. He recognized from the pictures that he had seen that it was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe asked him if he had put on tephillin that day and he answered eagerly that he had put them on with the Rebbe's Chassidim at the kossel. The Rebbe asked him to show him - so he pulled up his sleeve and the marks from the straps were clearly there. The Rebbe's face lit up with a huge smile and he put his hand on the man's arm and said "Zeit gezunt" and then walked off. The balaboss woke up the next morning and to the astonishment of the doctors and his family he was able to move and talk without any problem whatsoever. The story happened two weeks ago and he was the picture of perfect health today in Shule. (I called over a number of our Lubavitcher yungerleit who daven in our Shule to verify the story directly from him in case anyone thought that the fast had caused me to hallucinate...).

There is no reason whatsoever for him to have made up a story like this and the look on his face when he told me the story and the tears in his eyes all added to the impression that this had been a very real experience for him...

Birkas Kohanim at the Kotel

Video from the Point of Pinchas blog

A mass Birkas Kohanim is held every Chol Hamoed Pesach and Sukkos at the Kotel. According to Arutz Sheva this Sukkos saw the biggest crowd since the 1967 Six Day War. The article from Arutz 7 says in part:

A record number of Jews gathered Monday at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City for the traditional massive Birkat Kohanim, priestly blessings.

The ceremony has become a tradition ever since the liberation of the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War in 1967 and is seen as an observance of the Jewish obligation to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Temple three times a year, on Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles). During the weeklong Pesach and Sukkot holidays, the ceremony is held on the second of the Hol haMoed (intermediate) days.

Hundreds of kohanim, Jews who trace their lineage to Aaron, the first High Priest, stood closest to the Western Wall to take part in the special blessings. Attending the Western Wall prayers Monday were Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger, as well as Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. Rabbi Rabinovitch told Arutz-7 that Monday's priestly blessing marked the largest such gathering for prayers at the site since the first Sukkot after the Six Day War.

Police were forced to close the gates leading to the Western Wall Plaza due to its being filled to capacity by worshippers. "The blessing, however, reaches those stuck outside the plaza as well, obviously," Rabbi Rabinovitch said. He added that many of those packing the plaza were not outwardly observant. "Many secular Jews have adopted the custom of making a pilgrimage to the Western Wall on the holiday," he said.
A Gut Moed.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sukkah Listing - 12 Years and Counting

Lithograph by Chaim Goldberg

Avi Vorscheimer has again compiled a list of Sukkot available to the public during Chol Hamoed. This is a great service for the Jewish community - especially since Chol Hamoed this year encompasses the complete work week.

The on-line version can be seen at MitzvosOnTheGo and lists Sukkot in Australia, the USA and other countries.

Kol Hakavod Avi!

Happy Sukkos

Jewish Impact Films has come out with another great video. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Not The Boston Tea Party

I saw this post on Mentalblog here regarding Kapporos held in Rabbi Pinchas Krinsky's backyard in Boston. The Boston Herald article appears here.

In a related story, also in the Boston Herald here, a neighbour of Rabbi Krinsky is complaining of the smell and the goings on during Kapporos at his home. Unfortunately the names of this neighbour and her husband appear to be Jewish...

These stories reminded me of the time, many years ago, when Yom Kippur was also on Monday. Kapporos on erev Yom Kippur was arranged by Reb Arel and held early Sunday morning in his backyard. At that time I was expecting the police to turn up due to the noise that the chickens were making. Maybe his neighbours were more understanding and tolerant.

Gmar Chasimah Tovah!

Post Yom Kippur Thoughts