Volume 56 Number 44
                    Produced: Sun Sep 21  7:28:05 EDT 2008

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Blessing for the Head of State
         [Eitan Fiorino]
A plurality of customs
         [Eitan Fiorino]
A plurality of local customs
         [Martin Stern]
         [Harry Weiss]
Ultra Orthodox hashakfa
         [Ben Katz]
Welcome Home to the New Olim (and pictures)
         [Jacob Richman]


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2008 08:53:36 -0400
Subject: RE: Blessing for the Head of State

> I've always presumed that the authority behind this prayer is from
> Pirkei Avos 3:2 -- "Pray for the welfare of the kingdom, for if not
> for the fear of it, each person would swallow his neighbor alive."
> Can anyone offer a little more history about the development of this
> prayer? (I sure hope I don't end up finding out that Pirkei Avos has
> nothing to do with it, and that the prayer was simply written to
> placate or impress someone.)

This past shabbat I read an article on the development of the liturgy
surrounding the removal and return of the sifrei torah, and keriat
hatorah; the author had reviewed dozens if not hundreds of siddurim,
both manuscript and printed, and noted that the earliest finding of a
prayer for the welfare of the government was in a 16th century
manuscript, of Ashkenazic provenance (though I cannot remember if she
indicated if it was from Ashkenaz proper or from Canaan (Poland/Eastern
Europe).  This of course doas not prove that it wasn't recited prior to
this time, as liturgical changes may occur years or generations before
the new practice is recorded in siddurim.  So its first appearance in a
siddur manuscript may suggest that recitation of such prayers was
becoming increasingly common in the 1500s.



From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2008 09:13:51 -0400
Subject: RE: A plurality of customs

> From: David Ziants <dziants@...>
> With regards to Eitan's remark on my posting, I don't mention here any
> names of specific communities and so don't see how this could insult
> or potentially shame anyone.

Just to clarify my thoughts on this.  My comment "I think the issurim
involved in insulting and potentially shaming individuals and
communities who engage in this recitation are more problematic than the
practice itself" was mainly a generic comment directed at those who
might seek to foist their own religious correctness upon fellow Jews who
may be following their community's ancient minhag.  Nevertheless, I will
point out that in my view, this (quoting form the original posting):

> > > The communities where Jewish learning is/was not so strong, people
> > > continued following force of habit, not even necessarily knowing
> > > that what they are/were doing is not halachikally acceptable (hoping
> > > this premise is now proven).

Counts as a comment that could be taken as an insult or could induce shame.

You've said that people say "baruch hu ubaruch shmo" at places that you
think it ought not be said are likely from unlearned communities.
Imagine for just one second that YOU were a member of a community that
had such a custom, and you read those words.  Might you not take umbrage
at such comments?



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 09 Sep 2008 11:32:16 +0100
Subject: Re: A plurality of local customs

On Thu, 04 Sep 2008 10:05:46 -0400, Mordechai Horowitz
<mordechai@...>, wrote:

> The congregation doesn't necessarily want him to leave.  The non
> halachic Rabbi and non halachic board (and if they are disobeying a din
> Torah they are not Orthodox Jews anymore than if they threw Martin out
> for not agreeing to support the "Rabbi" performing gay marriages) wants
> him to leave because he insists of halacha.

I must thank Mordechai for his support. I think he is correct regarding
the general membership. It is only a few individuals who seem to be
conducting a personal vendetta against me. The trouble is that they
control the shul.

> Additionally Non Torah Jews should not be allowed to take over Torah
> institutions.  I salute Martin's fight against these rebels against
> Torah (again once they disobey Beit Din they exclude themselves from
> the Torah community)

As I pointed out in a previous posting, I am not against all change and
gave criteria which I felt needed to be met for their
introduction. Clearly halachic acceptability is a sine qua non.

> I'm impressed that he lives in a community where the Beit Din is
> willing to force communal Rabbis to adhere to halacha rather than
> deferring to them for political reasons.  Hopefully the community will
> take any action needed to remove these people from the Jewish
> community.

Perhaps I should have given some more background details for my calling the
shul's rabbi and executive to a Din Torah. I was issued with a letter on 11
May '06 stating that my membership was suspended "in the light of recent
events", though their nature was not specified. Since a few days a letter
(below) signed by myself and seven other members had been circulated to the
membership which suggested a moratorium on change until feelings had cooled,
I must presume that this was the "recent event" though it is strange that
the other signatories were not issued with a similar notice. Having taken
rabbinic advice, I ignored this 'expulsion' and continued to come to daven
there. I also replied to point out that the shul's constitution, stated

"If a member in the opinion of the Executive no longer adheres to item
two and three of this Constitution he can be excluded from the
Congregation. The referred person has the right to request an appeal and

I concluded my letter:

"As I am not aware of any deviation from either item two or three, I
would be most grateful if you would inform me of any such that may be
suspected. I would further request that, in the event that your threat
of suspension is not revoked, the matter should go to arbitration."

I received no reply to my request but some weeks later the executive
sent a second letter of suspension, followed eventually on 21 Mar. '07
by posting a notice on the shul notice board that I was "a persona non
grata ... and anyone assisting [me] is a machzik bemachloket and
mesayeia yedei ovrei aveirah". Guards were then stationed at the shul
doors to bar my entry.

As a result, I was forced to call them to a Din Torah. Among my principal
complaints to the Beit Din were:

1. I was expelled without any precise reason being given (arbitrary action
by a 'kangaroo court').

2.  When I pointed out the constitutional position, they did not reply
but merely repeated their previous expulsion (lack of due process)

At the first (and only) hearing on 4 Nov. '07, both sides agreed that,
as a preliminary, the dayan should rule on the question of minhag change
which he eventually did despite the other side's delaying tactics on 11
Feb. '08 (posted previously). Their response was less than co-operative
and the matter is as a result still unresolved. I am informed that in
fact further changes have been made in defiance of the psak. As one
member of many years' standing said to me about the davenning on Rosh
Hashanah "It was like being a visitor in a strange shul", so much had
the style been altered.

The main problem is, as Meir points out, the Beit Din can issue a psak
but it has no means to enforce it in the event of one side refusing to
accept it. There only sanction was to write to them that

"If this [call to a resumed hearing] does not evoke a positive response
Mr Stern will no doubt pursue an application to the Beis Din for
permission to go to the High Court and this will be considered

This is something I am very loath to do except as a last resort.

Martin Stern

Letter to members of the Adass Yeshurun Synagogue:

We write to you in response not only to the recent letter circulated
with the summer timetable but also the worrying trends we perceive in
our shul over the last year or so.

As is fairly obvious, something is seriously wrong when at least six
members (almost 15%), who joined relatively recently because of our
unique ethos and participated regularly in our activities, have left,
and no new members have joined, in such a short period, resulting in a
noticeably much emptier shul at almost every tefillah. This trend is
likely to continue as more members become disenchanted with the
authoritarian approach of our executive who have made changes without
first even trying to win over a consensus among the regular mitpallelim.

While some changes may be necessary, it is our belief that they should
be only those that fit into the general ethos for which the shul was
established and, then, only once such a consensus has been
established. An example of a beneficial innovation was the introduction
of a short Devar Torah on the Sedra by the Rov on Friday evenings
between minchah and ma'ariv in the winter when ,ca comes in early.

The argument that the shul is declining because its Teutonic style does
not appeal to the children of members is not entirely correct; the major
factor inhibiting attendance is that they no longer live in the
area. All non-Chassidic shuls, not just in Broughton Park, have suffered
from this problem.

Though the executive consider that making changes which will transform
the shul from a 'Yekkishe' style to a more 'Yeshivishe' one will bring
in new members, we are very doubtful whether this will be the case. The
shul will still have a reputation based on its past which will take many
years to change, by which time it may well have ceased to exist,
especially in the light of the current rate of attrition.

We also feel that trying to be 'like all the other shuls' is an
intrinsically flawed approach. We consider that it would be better to
build on our own basic ethos of Torah im derekh erets, which has
attracted new members in the past who felt more at home with it than the
style in other shuls despite not coming from a German Jewish
background. No one will respect us if we pretend to be anything other
than what we are. We have a unique approach to Yiddishkeit which does
attract others and we should do the 'market research' needed to identify
them rather than chasing the mirage of a 'Yeshivishe welt'. In any case,
why should anyone wish to join an imitation of a 'Yeshivishe' shul when
they can join a genuine one.

Having consulted with our Rov, we feel that everything must be done to
remove the ill-feeling caused by the executive's failure to consult with
the general membership on these fundamental matters. He agrees that this
can only be done if there is a moratorium on change so that matters can
settle down. Accusations that some members are motivated by selfishness,
and demands that they should leave the shul if they will not accept
their program unconditionally, can only have exactly the opposite effect
and should not be allowed to exacerbate the situation.

It should be recognised that, despite differences of opinion, we all
sincerely wish to see the shul succeed in the future as a centre of
Torah and tefillah, contributing to the overall vibrant growth of the
local Jewish community. Imputation of base motives to those with whom
one disagrees as to how it can best be done is hardly the way to achieve


From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2008 06:14:48 -0700
Subject: Podcast

> From: Richard Dine <richard.dine@...>
> Podcast Question: While there has been some discussion of Jewish blogs,
> I would like to open a discussion on Podcasts and other audio available
> for the ipod.  What sites, programs, do people like best?  So far I have
> found Pardes.org has a good Parashat Hashavuah podcast in English and
> Keshet has one that I can more-or-less understand in Hebrew (the problem
> being my Hebrew not Keshet's quality).  What else worth listening to is
> out there, in either English or Hebrew?  And not just Parashat
> Hashavuah.  Thanks.

OU radio on the OU site has some great podcasts, including daf yomi, nach 
yomi, various parasha and general interest  podcasts. 


From: Ben Katz <BKatz@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2008 07:51:58 -0500
Subject: RE: Ultra Orthodox hashakfa

From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
> Not so fast :-)
> There actually **is** an adverse affect between stearic acid (in beef)
> and omega-3 in fish inducing lipid peroxidation and formation of free
> radicals.
> [snip]

With all due respect -

1.  There is not a doctor that I am aware of that cautions people
against eating fish with meat.

2. Even kashrut organizations do not really take this seriously.  At
Kiddush, fish and meat are served and everyone is expected to use a
separate fork.  If kashrut supervisors were really worried about this,
they would not serve the 2 together, as they do not serve meat and milk
at the same Kiddush and expect everyone to eat the dairy first.

3.  How come there is no issur on smoking which is infinitely more
serious a health issue.

As usual, Dr. Backon's response is learned, but I believe here

 PS - I do not think I am "ridiculing" chazal because they had medieval
notions about medicine, the same way I am not ridiculing them because
they did not ride in cars.


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Sep 2008 16:56:32 +0300
Subject: Welcome Home to the New Olim (and pictures)

Hi Everyone!

On Monday morning, September 8, 2008, I was at Ben-Gurion airport 
to greet the new olim that made aliyah from North America to Israel.

There were 235 olim on the flight including 91 singles (including
18 joining the IDF) and 34 families with 53 children.

The youngest oleh in the group is three months old and the 
oldest oleh is 85 years old. The flight also included 10 dogs.

I took 272 pictures of the exciting event and I posted them online at:

I also copied 260 of the 272 pictures to Facebook for name tagging.
There are five sets of pictures and the address of the first set is:

If you have a Facebook acccount and you are in the pictures or 
see someone you know, please feel free to name tag the pictures.

May the aliyah from all over of the world grow and bring 
more Jews back to their homeland, Eretz Yisrael.

Shana Tova - Have a Good Year,


End of Volume 56 Issue 44