Posts Tagged “brooklyn NY”

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided a home in the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn early Thursday morning.  / Michael Nagle for The New York TimesThis news out of New York is horrific. Some rabbis there chose a disturbing means of getting around a peculiarity of Jewish divorce principles, as the New York Times reports (WebCite cached article):

The two rabbis offered an unusual service to Jewish women who could not get their husbands to agree to a divorce, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For a fee, they would convene a rabbinical court and authorize the use of violence to get a recalcitrant husband to agree to a divorce, the F.B.I. said.

But that was not all, according to court papers unsealed Thursday morning. They were also willing to employ hired muscle, two men known as Ariel and Yaakov, to actually kidnap the man and torture him, until he pledged to divorce his wife, according a criminal complaint in Federal District Court in Newark.

Two men whom the authorities describe as rabbis — Martin Wolmark and Mendel Epstein — as well as a third man, Ariel Potash, have been charged in a kidnapping conspiracy according to court papers. In connection to the case, F.B.I. agents carried out raids in southern Brooklyn and Monsey, N.Y., in Rockland County on Wednesday evening.

The reason for this extreme approach, is because, as the Times explains, Orthodox Jewish husbands have a “veto” on divorces, and wives can end up stuck in bad marriages with no recourse:

In some Orthodox Jewish communities, a divorce is granted only once a husband provides his wife with a document known as a get. And stories of the frustrations and obstacles that women face in their quest to obtain a get are commonplace. While a woman can sue in rabbinical court to try to secure a get, some husbands do not comply with the court’s edict.

That, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is where the rabbis came in. “You need special rabbis who are going to take this thing and see it through to the end,” Rabbi Wolmark said in a recorded telephone conversation with an undercover F.B.I. agent posing as a woman whose husband would not grant her a get.

Whether or not a divorce is granted, is solely up to the husband. If he doesn’t want it, then it can’t happen. While I can understand the desire to help wives who want divorces whose husbands won’t grant them, kidnapping and torture is — quite obviously! — excessive. A much better and more effective approach would be to allow wives an equal say in whether or not they get a divorce. I don’t know, maybe that seems too simple a notion? Or maybe, being a cynical godless agnostic heathen, I just don’t understand the spiritual importance of giving husbands total and absolute control over their marriages and allowing wives no say?

Once again, we have ancient ritual purity codes getting in the way of contemporary practical considerations. It’s time we finally fucking got over the idea that women are property already and started treating them like real human beings. No?

Photo credit: Michael Nagle / New York Times.

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Di Tzitung's doctored photo of the White House situation room (Shmarya Rosenberg / Failed Messiah)It’s not just Muslims who think poorly of women and believe they should be neither heard nor seen. Some Jewish sects have a problem looking at women, too. CNN’s belief blog reports on an example of this phenomenon, as noticed by a blogger (WebCite cached article):

Faith has outweighed fact at Di Tzeitung, a Hasidic newspaper based in Brooklyn, New York.

The ultra-Orthodox Jewish publication ran a doctored copy of the iconic “Situation Room Photo” last Friday — you know, the one taken of President Barack Obama and his national security team during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.

Scrubbed from the picture: the two women in the room.

It’s as if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with her hand clasped over her mouth, and Audrey Tomason, director of counterterrorism, weren’t there and weren’t part of history.

The blogger in question is Shmarya Rosenberg of Failed Messiah; here’s his article on the matter (cached). Di Tzeitung issued a classic non-apology apology, conceding they shouldn’t have done what they did with that particular photo, but defiantly trumpeting how upstanding and righteous they are:

But in a written statement issued Monday afternoon by Di Tzeitung, the newspaper said that its decision to leave women out of photos is religiously mandated and that the right to do so is protected by the U.S. Constitution. …

“Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging women, which is certainly never our intention,” it continued. “We apologize if this was seen as offensive.”

While they may not “intend” to disparage women, they are doing so, by saying that all photos of women are immodest, while photos of men are not. Sorry, but this cannot logically be seen as anything other than disparaging of women, merely because they are women.

Note to Hasidic Jews, and Wahhabist Muslims, and any other fierce religionists who hate the idea that women exist: Grow up and get over it! There are women in the world — even if you prefer never to hear from or even see them — and they’re just as real — and as human — as you are. You don’t have to like this reality, but you do have to accept it. The Constitution may grant you the legal permission to pull this kind of shit under the aegis of “religious freedom,” but that doesn’t make these stunts anything other than juvenile. Having the ability to do something does not automatically make that action mature or rational.

I wonder how Di Tzeitung, or any other paper run by ultra-orthodox Jews, dealt with the administration of Golda Meir, while she was prime minister of Israel? I can only assume they refused to allow her to be pictured.

Photo credit: Failed Messiah.

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