Voices from Russia

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Vandals Spray Hate Graffiti on Jerusalem Church

00 Monastery of the Holy Cross. Jerusalem. 16.12.12


Vandals spray-painted “Death to Christianity” and “Jesus, son of a whore” on a Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem. The overnight attack on the Monastery of the Cross was the latest in a series of vandalisms of Christian holy sites. Extremist Jews sympathetic to Israel’s settlement movement are suspected. On Wednesday, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that the vandals also sprayed “price tag” on the monastery’s outer wall… a form of retribution settlers and their sympathisers use in retaliation for acts they consider pro-Palestinian. Extremists carried out similar “price tag” attacks on other churches, mosques, and Israeli military bases. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the defacing of the church. Israel has 155,000 Christian citizens, less than 2 percent of its nearly 8 million people {according to friends who know the region that’s an undercount… they say that the actual figure is closer to 400,000 (5 percent of the population), mostly concentrated amongst immigrants from the former Soviet Union: editor}.

12 December 2012

Washington Examiner


Monday, 1 October 2012

1 October 2012. Something to Help You Understand the Twisted World of the Konvertsy and Hyper-Religious


Editor’s Foreword:

This is a bit longer than the usual, but this topic requires it, I think. Although the piece below deals with Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi/Hasidic) Judaism, I think that it fits the konvertsy subculture in Orthodoxy to a tee. After all, they came out of Christian milieus that are exactly analogous to Ultra-Orthodox. Read this first… it’s TRUTH.



In the world that I come from, there are lines that you don’t cross, stories that you don’t tell, and agonies that you keep to yourself. I knew the nuts and bolts of this mindset. After all, I spent so much more of my life in that mind than I ever did in my own. Therefore, I already knew what was in the e-mail… a terrible sense of betrayal would fill every word and line. I read it three times. She said she hadn’t read the book, but she knew what it was about. The title was enough. How could I have done such a thing? I’d slandered yiden, yiden who were kind and good. Sexual abuse was something that only happened to people with issues… people with a lack of moral guidance, who had secular magazines in their homes. I’d encountered this perverted denial too often in the community… the need to blame the victims, to feel better by invalidating the agony of the most vulnerable. Such things never happened to pious Jews, she explained to me, never to those who followed our rabbis’ rules. One day, she said, I’d clearly see the evil that I’d done, and repent. I knew that I’d never speak with Rivky again.

I told my therapist that week, “Why this reaction? I should be relieved that it’s over, done with. No more pretensions”. He said, “Maybe, but still, it’s a loss”, I countered with, “It’s a loss I chose. Or, I’d never have written the book”. He repeated to me, “Still, it’s an enormous loss”. I asked him, “But why? I knew this would happen. It was so predictable”. He said, “You can predict a loss, but you can’t prepare for it”. For days after, I wept. I held the loss close to my heart: I wept for friends I’d known since kindergarten and relatives I’d never speak with again; the world that I was part of before I wrote of forbidden agonies and became a traitor.

Every year, there’s a small but steady exodus of young men and women from the ultra-Orthodox world. For most of us, leaving isn’t bravery or stupidity. It’s a form of survival, an escape. You leave because you can’t stay. You leave because if you don’t, you’ll die. Suddenly, there’s an enormous void. You’re utterly alone. From the moment your mind wakes up, and realisation strikes, it’s as if you were in a colour-blind world, where the inhabitants see only in shades of black and white. When you first say, “The sky… it’s blue!”, they look at you with pity, as though you were a child with a disorder. Immediately, they attempt to cure you, frantically trying to turn blue into black… but when you look up at the heavens, the sky is bright blue.

Now, there’s serious concern. They point to the other inhabitants, every person you’ve ever known, and ask them the colour of the sky. Black and white, they say. A dark gray, perhaps, but… good heavens! … not blue. You know that they must be right, that it can only be a delusion of your mind, and you don’t want to be delusional, so you pretend to be cured. The clouds are black, you agree. Of course, there’s no such thing as blue. It’s a bewildering experience, frightening to the core, because when you look up, blue’s still there, sometimes, it’s a bright yellow. Colours, colours, everywhere, betraying your mind. You don’t dare tell anyone of your terrible secret. You wonder constantly… “Why? Why can’t I see like the others?”

It’s impossible to pretend for long. Sometimes, it happens by accident; sometimes the colours are so vivid you’re certain they can see them, too. How can they not see? However, they look at you suspiciously, at a distance; there’s irritation in their eyes. Now, they tell you that you’re damaged, a person with a disease. They warn you that seeing colours that don’t exist is a dangerous game, that you might embed in others a desire for this insanity, or convince them that this lie is true. You’re now a menace in their world. They must fix you at all costs. They close in on you. They tell you that to be cured, you must go blind; it’s the only way the colours will stop. They tell you that it’s the only choice… a small sacrifice for a larger God. They tell you to submit, for you own good, because you aren’t normal; you aren’t, you aren’t. Your mind’s an unstable place; something has snapped. However, they can save you from yourself. Guardians of your eyes, the gateway to your soul, they’ll destroy the terrible colours until you’ll never see them again. The circle tightens. They look at you with mercy in their eyes and knives in their hands. It is at this point that you begin to run.

You stumble out, climbing over high, thick walls, jumping to the other side, falling hard onto the ground below. You find yourself on strange land. You begin to walk. The mind pushes you on. You don’t allow yourself to think or feel. You don’t dare turn around. You mustn’t look behind. You must only dream of what’s ahead, and know that somehow it is good. You’ve no idea how long it takes to reach that place… days, months, years? You keep walking. However, the people from your city don’t give up. They search for you. They can’t understand why you’d ever want to leave. They stand on the ledge of the wall, reaching out. They call your name knowing you can hear them. If you’re not yet too far away, they send out people to bring you back. They use persuasive words, and, sometimes, threats or force, but you’re too far from them now; they can’t reach you. Nevertheless, when they call, you still turn your head. You hear their plea, “Come back”. It scares them to see you this way, so alone. You look at them from afar… at their certainty, their security, their warm colour-blindness… and from the lonely place you stand, a lie never looked so good. You stumble away, faster, until you can’t hear them anymore. Nevertheless, it’s too late. You’re in agony, grieving.

They say there are five stages of mourning… shock, denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. For the young men and women leaving the ultra-Orthodox world behind, there’s an enormous loss. It is easy for those outside to think that now you’re free; your life is so much better than when you were among the colour-blind. However, it’s still an enormous loss. That loss carries everything we ever believed, and everyone who taught us to believe it… parents who loved us, teachers who educated us, siblings who played with us, cousins and classmates and former best friends. Our loss holds in it entire families. It holds our faith, innocence, and belief… and it’s devastating.

Eventually, you meet others like you, emerging like shadows from the dark… a former classmate, a second cousin, the quiet girl from summer camp. You’ve seen them before, walking the streets of your city, but you couldn’t tell back then that they were different from the others… that they pretended not to see colours, too. Time helps. Eventually, you see life ahead. Eventually, you understand that there’s no magical transformation, no black-and-white transition from yesterday to tomorrow, and that grieving the loss of an entire world is a long and torturous process. However, finally, alongside the trauma, there’s enormous relief. Now, standing far from the place you ran from, you begin to see clearly that the colours aren’t a delusion. They are, indeed, real… chaotic, vibrant beauty, a kaleidoscope of colours, colours by God, everywhere.

They say there are five stages of mourning: shock, denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. However, for us, there’s a sixth and a seventh wonder, the wonder of knowing that the world truly is a miracle of colours, and relief at no longer being colour-blind. When I was a young girl, my teachers always said that God works in mysterious ways… that, sometimes, He withholds in order to give, that every loss is really a hidden gain. It’s difficult for us to understand this, because only God, high above, can see the larger picture… that the dark path we’re struggling through leads to a better place. It’s true. Today, I can finally believe them.

From The Loss

Judy Brown (Eishes Chayil)

20 September 2012

The Jewish Daily Forward



Editor’s Afterword:

Most of the konvertsy came out of Christian milieus similar to those described above. Two of the most crank are so-called “Continuing Anglicans” and “Evangelicals”. The latter have an oddbod patchy doctrine, which one can boil down to “Me n’ Jayzuss”. Jayzuss is your “Personal Saviour”, and you become a “Christian” by “giving your heart to Jayzuss”. That’s not in the Scriptures, but what’s that amongst friends? In short, it’s a chaotic and incoherent mess… with each congregation going its own merry way. It’s the farthest thing from the Church that you can imagine. However, like Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, sectarianism gives CERTAINTY. It doesn’t give truth… it doesn’t give enlightenment… it doesn’t give wisdom… but it does give certainty, and that’s all that some people want. You can’t talk to such sorts, don’t even try; all that it’ll do is to frustrate you to no end and to hammer heresy even more firmly into the attitude of your interlocutor.

The Continuing Anglicans are odd birds, even odder than the Sectarians are (two very typical examples of this oddjob mindset are Patrick Henry Reardon and Freddie M-G). You find them as subscribers to such prelest-ridden websites as Stand Firm in the Faith, and as congregants in mostly-Lilliputian tin-tabernacle parishes. Here’s the odd part… Anglicanism, by its nature is comprehensive; it’s how Henry and Elizabeth founded it. Besides that, Anglicanism is profoundly Protestant… it’s quite similar to Scandinavian Lutheranism in doctrine and practise (with a dash of Jean Calvin here and there). In fact, the most-honest sector of Anglicanism is the Low Church, such as one finds in the C of I, “no bells and smells, no pomps or popery”.

However, not many of these are “Continuers”. They’re mostly “High Churchers”. We all know the stories circulating about them, don’t we? In fact, they’re the same stories circulating about some of the higher clergy in the OCA! These sorts run about hollering about Tradition… but they’re really Protestants under the skin… they’re just as wilful as any Evangelical deep-down. One of their particular hobby-horses is “sexual purity”, especially, homosexuality, which leads one to the conclusion that they’re ridden with it. I do know that those who “convert” to Orthodoxy defend those with chequered backgrounds such as Fathausen, Dmitri Royster, and Pierre l’Huillier with impassioned vigour (and there are stories that won’t die about ex-HOOMie clergy cult-leaders). In fact, there’s so much noise, that I (and many others) conclude that there must be an elevated level of “closeted homosexuals” amongst this group. Do remember who Fathausen’s mentor was… the infamous Gleb Podmoshensky. Podmoshensky was Fathausen’s formative mentor and we forget that at our peril. Remember, Fathausen was NEVER a member of the Valaam brotherhood; he merely lived there for a spell. Yet, to the konvertsy, Fathausen’s on the right-hand of God.

The reason that the piece I quoted is important is that, after the OCA implodes, some of the konvertsy are going to remain amongst us. Understand that they don’t have an Orthodox mindset… be kind. It’ll take at least seven years for a real Orthodox consciousness to grow, perhaps, longer. You see, under normal circumstances, converts come in to an already-established congregation with a pastor born-to-the-faith. This gives the convert two indispensible things, groundedness and stability. Unfortunately, many konvertsy are in “convert conventicles”. That is, the group isn’t mostly people of grounded and long faith… they’re cabals of recent arrivals, often led by convert pastors with little formal Orthodox formation. Mirabile dictu (meant ironically here), they’ve NEVER received the Good News… NEVER. Therefore, show patience with such people. They’ve much to learn (and unlearn).

Some of the above applies to former autocephalists as well, but they’re not in as sad a shape. People such as Mark Stokoe shall see what happened to their dream… be kind to them, too. How would you like it if your saw that your dream, which you worked for all your life, was just an illusion? You wouldn’t… so, extend such people a hand and show them some consideration. It’s the Christian thing to do.

Remember, both the konvertsy and autocephalists who’ll choose to remain with us are like the woman in the Forward piece. They’ll have given up everything… for the “pearl of great price”… we, for our part, should realise that. Be a good Christian and show them what Fellowship in Christ REALLY means, need I say more?

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Monday 1 October 2012

Albany NY

Thursday, 27 September 2012

27 September 2012. This is Why the Draft Exemption for Haredi in Israel Stinks… and Why Bibi’s a Bozo for Supporting It

Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Netanel Yahalomi during his funeral 


Slain IDF Soldier Known as “Halachic Man”

On Sunday, 23 September, hundreds of mourners gathered at a synagogue in the small Orthodox community of Nof Ayalon in central Israel for the funeral of IDF soldier Netanel Yahalomi. Terrorists killed Yahalomi, 20, in the Sinai Peninsula near the Israel-Egypt border on Friday afternoon. He was laid to rest in the military cemetery in Modiin.

The three terrorists were on the border between Egypt and Israel south of Mt Sagi, an area in which the defensive fence being built by Israel isn’t yet complete. An IDF spokesman told Yedioth Ahronoth that the IDF returned fire, killing all three heavily-armed terrorists, thus, thwarting “a major terror attack that was supposed to take place in Israeli territory. The terrorists were carrying a powerful explosive device”. Reportedly, Yahalomi killed a terrorist before he himself was fatally shot. It isn’t clear if the terrorists were from Gaza or from the Sinai Global Jihad Organisation. Another IDF soldier was injured in the attack.

Yahalomi, the third of six children born to Shmuel and Tova Yahalomi, was in the hesder programme, which combines army service with yeshiva study. He was nicknamed by his army buddies as “Halachic Man”, the title of a well-known book by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik that describes Soloveitchik’s view of how the ideal religious Jew thinks and acts. His sister Avital said, “It was very important to him to integrate Torah study into everything he did. Even when he came home, it was important to him to learn Torah. He was a man of truth”.

His mother, Tova, said she had spoken to him just the day before he died. His sister Avital said, “He was home two weeks ago, and was supposed to come again only on Sukkot. He was supposed to be in the army for Yom Kippur. We sent him a package because we wanted him to have a good holiday. He was very sorry he wouldn’t be able to pray with a minyan on Rosh Hashanah, but told us he was excited because they managed to blow the shofar”. Avital said he rarely spoke to his family of the dangers of serving on the Egyptian border, saying, “He never told us exactly what he did in the army. He said he was forbidden to tell us anything”.

25 September 2012

Jewish Ledger: Connecticut Edition


Editor’s Note:

Bibi the Bobo is making huge noises over Iran. Trust me, his coalition’s in the deep doo-doo over Haredi draft exemptions. He can’t attack a doghouse, let alone Iran (a former Mossad chief slammed the very idea of it). Kadima left his coalition, and he’s going to have to call elections soon. Well, Willy and Bibi had their picture taken together recently… Tweedeedum and Tweedledummer… two has-beens on the way to defeat.

The above article shows that religious Jews do serve in the IDF and serve honourably. The Haredi who hide under exemptions are cowards and poltroons… they aren’t fit or decent company for anyone or anything (a mangy mutt would turn up his nose at such and lift his leg at them).


Saturday, 22 September 2012

This is Why Israel Isn’t Going to Attack Iran Any Time Soon (Or, Any Time Later): In Israel, Time Change Unleashes Culture Clash

Protesters in Tel Aviv against ultra-religious imposition of early shift to Winter Time in Israel


The forecast for Israel on Sunday: balmy late-summer temperatures, uncomfortable humidity along the Mediterranean coast and … darkness at 18.00? Israel moves its clocks back by an hour overnight, putting the country on its winter clock more than a month ahead of Europe and the USA, adding to the rising anger that many mainstream Israelis feel toward the ultra-Orthodox minority. Many Israelis believe the time change, meant to make it easier to fast on the upcoming Yom Kippur holy day, unnecessarily disrupts life, and it costs the economy millions of dollars. They say the early onset of darkness raises electricity costs, causes more car accidents, and gives children less time to play after school.

Whilst the custom has long bred resentment, the premature arrival of winter hours comes at an especially sensitive time, given the rising backlash against what is widely seen as religious coercion by ultra-Orthodox leaders. Raanan Lidji, a 34-year-old high-tech worker from Tel Aviv, said, “Its ridiculous. It’s just a power play by the ultra-Orthodox to show who’s in charge. There is no reason for it being this early”. The move to winter time ahead of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and holiest date on the Jewish calendar, has been standard practice for decades and enshrined in law since 2005. Yom Kippur, which begins on Tuesday evening, is marked by a sundown-to-sundown fast. Orthodox religious parties, which have always held key swing votes in Israel’s political system, are behind the time change, wanting to decrease the number of waking hours for those fasting.

Although the length of the fast doesn’t change, the sun sets an hour earlier with the winter clock, shortening the more difficult end of the fast. In a similar custom, neighbouring Muslim countries sometimes adjust their clocks, even in the middle of summer, during Ramadan to make the month-long fasting period easier to manage. However, the clocks return to summer time after Ramadan ends. In Israel, the seemingly premature clock change elicits complaints every year from secular and Modern Orthodox Israelis, who make up some 90 percent of Israel’s Jewish population. Nevertheless, this year, a variety of factors heightened the anger. Yom Kippur, which falls on a different date each year based on the Jewish calendar, arrives relatively early this year, making the change all the more noticeable.

It also comes against the backdrop of rising tensions between the secular masses and the politically-powerful ultra-Orthodox minority. Much of the anger is directed at Interior Minister Eli Yishai, whose ultra-Orthodox Shas Party played a key role in shaping the law. Yishai resisted repeated calls to push back the change. In 2010, when it came even earlier in September, nearly 400,000 people signed a petition urging him to change the system. Following the outcry, Yishai appointed a committee to study the matter. However, he never implemented its recommendation that the summer clock remain in effect until early October.

Nehemia Shtrasler, an economics affairs columnist at Haaretz wrote, “He simply wants to build up the special form of régime to be found in Israel… a religious ‘minocracy’. It’s not a democracy that represents the majority and takes the minority into account, rather, it’s a minority that controls the majority and doesn’t care a damn about it”. A spokesman from the Shas party didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment. A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also had no immediate comment.

Ultra-Orthodox parties such as Shas, whilst representing less than 10 percent of the general population, have long served as kingmakers in Israel’s fragmented political system. With this power, rabbinical authorities control the rules for marriages, divorces, and burials, and ultra-Orthodox males have long received exemptions from compulsory military service in order to pursue religious studies. Ultra-Orthodox men often continue their studies well into adulthood, living off welfare subsidies as their secular counterparts work and pay taxes. The draft exemptions and study subsidies have become a central issue in Israeli politics. Early this year, the Supreme Court ruled the exemptions illegal and ordered the government to change the law.

However, attempts in parliament to reform the nation’s draft law deadlocked; it caused one of Netanyahu’s coalition partners to quit, and the government missed a deadline to draw up new legislation. With religious leaders saying that they’ll resist any change to the old arrangement, Defence Minister Ehud Barak is currently struggling to figure out a new draft system. Adding to the tensions, in recent months, extremist sects within the ultra-Orthodox community came under fire for attempts to ban the mixing of sexes on buses, sidewalks, and other public spaces. In Jerusalem, because of fears that extremists will vandalise them, advertisements depicting women are gone from billboards and buses.

These attempts at coercion fuelled a brewing cultural clash between two Israels. On one hand, the country continues to be a high-tech powerhouse with liberal values, turning Tel Aviv into a gay mecca. On the other hand, the ultra-Orthodox, with their high birth-rates, have grown increasingly outspoken and assertive. With Netanyahu expected to call early parliamentary elections in the coming months, the country’s opposition is likely to use the controversies over the draft and religious coercion against him. Ronit Tirosh, a lawmaker from the opposition Kadima Party, said, “Israel’s proving, once again, that it’s living in the dark”.

22 September 2012

Associated Press

As quoted in Wenatchee (WA) World


Editor’s Note:

By the way, the coalition partner that left Bibi the Bobo over his coddling of the ultra-religious was Kadima, which is an offshoot of the Likud. You see, they woke up and saw reason… they’re unwilling to bend over and suck up to the ultra-religious. Bibi’s in the deep doo-doo… his talk is just that… big talk, no action. Israel isn’t united behind him. That sounds like the Republicans in the USA, sucking up to the loudest and most unrepresentative “religious” voices in the country. That’s why President Obama’s going to win… most Americans don’t want a theocracy run by a set of unsmiling ignorant yahoos. Well, it shows that the rightwingers in both Israel and the USA coddle pietistic draft-dodgers… and kiss up to loudmouthed “religious authorities”. Do you want polygamous Mormons and hardshell Southern Baptists dictating to the rest of us? Vote Republican, then… the rest of us can vote against that (the Prez has an almost-certain lock on re-election, thank God). That’s why all the talk of Israel or the USA attacking Iran is hot air and arrant bullshit. It’s “bollocks on stilts”, as the English say. The whole megillah’s just a political Kabuki play, with no relation to the real world. In short, much ado about nothing…

As for me, I have much sympathy for Modern Orthodox Judaism… I find that my attitude to the Church is quite similar. I utterly reject the Über-Orthodox and konvertsy paths… just as some of my Modern Orthodox Jewish friends reject the Haredi path. Both are dangerous and godless perversions of Holy Tradition. We should have the courage of our convictions and speak up… after all, the nutters make a loud racket, don’t they? Don’t let them monopolise the online discussion… join in… you’re NOT alone!


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