Volume 56 Number 54
                   Produced: Wed May 13  5:57:38 EDT 2009

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Does Anyone Know What Happened to Mail.Jewish? (2)
        [Baruch J. Schwartz, Yisrael Medad]
A plurality of customs
        [Martin Stern]
A plurality of local customs
        [Martin Stern]


From: Baruch J. Schwartz <schwrtz@...>
Date: Tue, 12 May 2009 17:44:58 -0400
Subject: Re: Does Anyone Know What Happened to Mail.Jewish?

Yesterday, Avi Feldblum released MJ Volume 56 Number 51, beginning
his traditional "Administrivia" with the words:

     Hello All,

     After a fairly long hiatus, mail-jewish is restarting.

This came only three short days after I began the thread that seems to
have served as the catalyst. I am very grateful to Avi, and to everyone
who responded immediately and enthusiastically, for this quick and happy
result. This response is the clearest evidence (if any were needed) of
how much MJ was missed and of how important it is to keep it going.

Kol hakavod to Avi, to all those who responded, and to those who have
volunteered to help get MJ back in gear and keep it running smoothly.

Baruch Schwartz
(writing from New Haven)

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 09:35:23 +0300
Subject: Re: Does Anyone Know What Happened to Mail.Jewish?

as one who was a part of a previous not-that-successful attempt to
restart MailJewish after a longish hiatus over a half-year ago, I too
congratulate those who, being a bit more computer savvy, managed to
solved the problems involved.  So, Avi, no more Facebook?


Baruch J. Schwartz wrote:

     Yesterday, Avi Feldblum released MJ Volume 56 Number 51,
     beginning his traditional "Administrivia" with the words:


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 13 May 2009 06:59:48 +0100
Subject: Re: A plurality of customs

Since my position might have been misunderstood, I wrote the following
some months ago which might be a useful point from which the discussions
may proceed:

   Adass Yeshurun Minhagim - Position statement

Since I am thought to oppose any changes I feel I must clarify my position.
My line is that some changes are inevitable but, provided they are
halachically permitted, should only be introduced subject to the following

1. they should be overwhelmingly beneficial

2. they should not cause any problems, or at least these should be
insignificant relative to the benefits (a significant factor to be
considered must be the problem of tirkha detsibbura which has to be balanced
against any lengthening of davenning time)

3. they should be acceptable to the overwhelming majority of active members,
not merely those who pay a membership subscription but hardly ever attend

4. every effort should be made to persuade objectors of their desirability
and they should not be forced through over their heads (cf. Igros Mosheh,
Orach Chaim second series, siman 21)

Furthermore, while everything reasonable should be done to accommodate
those who wish to daven with greater kavannah, and in consequence more
slowly, this should not be at the expense of the legitimate needs of
others who, for example on weekdays, may have to leave by a certain time
because of other commitments. In my opinion, those who wish to take
longer should consider starting earlier and allowing the tsibbur to
"catch up" with them since, strictly speaking, the obligation of
tefillah betsibbur only applies to shemoneh esreh.

The one reason I find unacceptable is the wish to obliterate any
distinctive traditions in order to be like "everyone else". In my
opinion, diversity is valuable and, even if a certain "style" is
currently less popular it should not be abandoned since fashions change
and what may now be unfashionable might become fashionable again at a
later date. If it is destroyed now then it will be virtually impossible
for later generations to revive.

Finally, in line with the general principle of "shev ve'al ta'aseh adif", I
believe the onus lies on those wishing to make changes, and not on those who
oppose them, to justify their proposals.

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Wed, 13 May 2009 06:59:36 +0100
Subject: A plurality of local customs

Other members of mail-jewish may remember the persecution I suffered as a
result of my temerity in suggesting that the minhagim of my shul should not
be altered against the wishes of part of the membership. For my pains, I was
physically ejected and guards put at the door to prevent my entry, something
not heard of since the days when Yeravam ben Nevat posted sentries to
prevent his subjects from being oleh regel.

I believe that this extreme action was not taken against the other
dissenters because they were so successfully intimidated by the 'Reform'
faction that they fled the place.

I was forced to take the rabbi and executive to a Din Torah in front of the
Manchester Beth Din and obtained the psak below. Unfortunately those in
control saw fit to ignore its ruling despite having signed a shtar birurim
(deed of arbitration) before the hearing agreeing to accept its ruling. Can
anyone suggest what I should do next?

Mr. M. Stern
Rabbi Y. Cohen & Others

Before Dayan Berger on 23rd Cheshvan 5768/4th Novemeber ^=CC07

Mr. D. Berkeley QC for the Plaintiff
Rabbi Goldblatt for the Defendants
Both parties signed the Deed of Arbitration

This case concerns a disagreement between a member, or members, of  Adass
Yeshurun Shul, and its Rabbi and Executive apparently supported by the
general membership. At the hearing on 23rd Cheshvan 5768/4th November 07 it
was agreed that I decide, by way of a preliminary question, the following
issue: Is it within the powers of the Rabbi, the Executive and the general
membership to alter the ethos of the Shul?

In deciding this, one has to determine what had been the objectives of the
Shul[1]. The Shul was founded in 1940 by German refugees. One ought to
remember that at the time there was no shortage of Prayer Houses in
Manchester. Was the founders goal merely to provide a familiar ambience for
the German refugees? Or, did they go further in endeavouring to perpetuate
and keep alive the illustrious Germanic tradition? Guidance on this may be
found in the Congregation's Constitution.

 Clause 2 thereof provides inter-alia:

All activities shall be carried out in accordance with Shulchan Oruch

Clause 3 provides:

Every Jewish person who is Shomer Shabbos may become and remain a member

Clause 11 provides:

If a member in the opinion of the Executive no longer adheres to item 2 and
3 of this constitution he can be excluded from the congregation.

Clause 12 provides:

It is declared that items two and three are declared to be fundamental and
unalterable for all times,

One ought to bear in mind that the document was not drafted by
constitutional lawyers and is therefore somewhat ambiguous, I take it to
mean that the congregation cannot abandon the Shulchan Oruch or to alter
what it calls Ashkenas, nor may it admit members who are not Shomrei

In this context a question springs to mind. Whilst one can appreciate the
insistence on adherence to the rules of Shulchan Oruch, as the founders were
adamant that their efforts should not, in future, be diverted to Reform, why
insist on Ashkenas? Why not rely on Shulchan Oruch to determine when and
under what circumstances Ashkenas may be abandoned? This, as well as my
personal experience in other cases, leads me to the conclusion that the
founders were endeavouring to perpetuate and keep alive the Germanic
traditions. They were determined that their hard labour should not be
converted into a Chasidic Shtiebel or a Lithuanian Shul.

I now turn to define the meaning of Ashkenas in clause 2. On a narrow,
technical interpretation it qualifies the words "Shulchan Oruch" just
preceding it as if to say "according to the rules of the
Rema". Following on from what I said above, however, I do not believe
that that is the case.  What it means is that all activities shall be
carried out according to Shulchan Oruch and the rites and customs of
Germany (in Hebrew Ashkenas).  I now come to a crucial issue: what is
deemed a change of ethos? In fact there is no precise answer. It is
obvious that not every modification is necessarily a change of ethos. A
need for change may arise out of current circumstances that necessitate
a modification of the prevailing custom. For example, when the Shul is
attended by boisterous youngsters it may be advisable to omit some
Piyutim. When there is no one able to render a certain tune, a more
familiar one may be substituted. However, changes only designed to
eradicate the idiosyncrasies of the congregation certainly fall foul of
the constitution.

That being the case, any member may insist that the constitution be
adhered to. It is not necessary for me to determine now, nor, I hope, in
the future, what should happen if the adherence to the old ways will
result in mass defection to the extent that it would not be possible to
carry on with the Shul activities.

The cost for the Hearing and all associated activity has been fixed by the
Administrative Department of the Beth Din at 300. In keeping with Halocho,
this is to be paid equally by the parties on receipt of this Psak.

Issued by the Manchester Beth Din on 5th Adar 1/ 11th February ^=CC08

Dayan I.D.Berger


End of Volume 56 Issue 54