Charedi Judaism

Lubavitch reopens debate on messianic beliefs

By Paul Berger, December 3, 2009

A Lubavitch website has reopened a debate over the exclusion of some Chabad rabbis from an Orthodox rabbinical organisation.

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), which is the main association of Orthodox rabbis in the US, inserted a clause in its membership application some years ago that barred rabbis “with messianic beliefs” from joining the group.

The clause refers to the belief among some in the Chabad movement that the last Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died in 1994, may one day return as the messiah.

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Zaka rescues Charedi Londoner's body in Jordan

By Simon Rocker, November 12, 2009

The body of a north London Charedi man who died suddenly while on business in Jordan was buried in Israel after the Jordanian authorities were persuaded not to carry out an autopsy.

The man, whose family asked for him not to be identified, was in his early 70s from Stamford Hill and believed to be of Sephardi background.

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Orthodox life turns around teen terrors

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

It began with foul language, lip piercings and under-age drinking, but it led to studying an “ology” and spending more time with the family.

Two Hampshire teenagers who lived for a week with a strictly Orthodox family in Israel for a BBC reality show believe the experience changed their lives.

Jack Travers, 18, and Gemma Lyons, 17, filmed the episode of World’s Strictest Parents with the Sha-ked family in the gated, religious community of Nof Ayalon, near Modi’in, in May.

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Charedis raise funds for rapist

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

A strictly Orthodox community is running a fundraising campaign for a convicted child molester who avoided jail by hiding in London for two years.

Nachman Stal lived secretly among the Charedi community in Stamford Hill, north London, having fled Israel in 2006 after being found guilty of sodomy and indecent assault of a minor.

The father-of-nine lost an extradition hearing in June and is now serving his sentence in an Israeli prison.

Members of the Stamford Hill community are appealing for money to support his wife and children, who have also returned to Israel.

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Segregated public buses ruled illegal

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 29, 2009

A special committee has ruled that gender-segregated public buses are illegal, but at the same time will allow the strictly Orthodox community to organise segregated private transport.

The largest transport co-operative, Egged, has about 55 bus lines on which men and women are made to sit separately as a result of strictly Orthodox pressure. Petitions against this to the Supreme Court resulted in a committee appointed by the Transport Ministry.

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Lofty ideals for Orthodox

By Robyn Rosen, October 22, 2009

Haringey housing bosses are appealing to residents to help refine a rulebook on loft extensions, a key issue in strictly Orthodox households.

The council is to undertake a six-week consultation on the guide, which sets out design principles for home extensions in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood.

There are, on average, six children per household in South Tottenham and many families live in cramped conditions. Some loft extensions do not meet council guidelines.

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Orthodox 'shielding sex abusers'

By Paul Berger, October 15, 2009

A New York State Supreme Court judge has criticised the Orthodox community for shielding perpetrators of sexual abuse while persecuting victims.

Judge Gustin Reichbach lamented the community’s “circle-the-wagons attitude” as he sentenced Yona Weinberg, a barmitzvah tutor and social worker from Brooklyn, to 13 months in jail for molesting two boys.

At the sentencing earlier this month, the courtroom was filled with Weinberg’s supporters. Almost 100 members of the Orthodox community wrote letters to the judge defending him.

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Jews and Arabs unite against Charedi town

By Ben Lynfield, October 8, 2009

Arab Israelis and Jewish kibbutz members are both trying to stop the building of the first Charedi city in northern Israel. But the kibbutzniks are wary of being seen as working too closely with Arabs, fearing Jewish public opinion.

Plans spearheaded by the strictly Orthodox Shas party call for the expansion of the small community of Harish, in the heavily Arab Wadi Ara region, into a Charedi city of 150,000 people.

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Move to outlaw Shabbat 'lifts'

By Anshel Pfeffer and Simon Rocker, October 1, 2009

A new edict by senior Charedi rabbis forbidding the use of “shabbat lifts” is causing an uproar in the Orthodox world.

For decades, the great majority of rabbis have approved the use of lifts that operate automatically, stopping for a few seconds on every floor, on Shabbat.

But on Tuesday, the Charedi daily Yated Ne’eman published a new ruling signed by some of the leading halachic decision-makers in Israel, including Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Shmuel Halevy Wosner.

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Plea to save Charedi sites

By Robyn Rosen, October 1, 2009

Charedi community leaders have warned that some longstanding institutions, including mikvehs, charities and schools are “suffering dire financial deficits” as the recession takes its toll.

The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations has sent out an urgent appeal to the strictly Orthodox community as a “wake-up call” to help organisations “on the verge of bankruptcy”.

Chanoch Kesselman, executive co-ordinator at the union, said: “Most of the hardship experienced by these institutions is because of the recession, coupled with the increase in expenses.”

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