Archive for the ‘Babylon’ Category

‘Noahides’ Embrace Rabbinic, Babylonian Wedding Tradition

February 17, 2011

The ketubah is a non-biblical, rabbinic tradition. Like so many rabbinic traditions, it overturns biblical law allegedly for the purpose of ‘repairing’ God’s alleged poor judgment. Jesus Christ vehemently opposed these traditions of the rabbis which make God’s word of no effect, but today this hard fact is brushed aside with such fluffy slogans as, “Jesus was Jewish, and we appreciate his culture, where he came from.” In reality, the people who sign these ketubot form a covenant not with God but with the rabbis in their millenia-old struggle to overthrow God and His word and to put themselves in God’s place and replace His word with Talmud, Kabbalah and the ‘Noahide laws’ of Babylon:

We must conclude, therefore, that the writ in general and the marriage writ in particular are not original Jewish institutions. Originally they belong to Babylonia, mother of commerce and commercial deeds in antiquity. Jewish contact was necessary to introduce the writ in Judea. This contact came about in a political and commercial way during the last century of the first Commonwealth, and with it came the adoption of the ketubah, among other writs, by the Jews. (Rabbi Dr. Louis M. Epstein, The Jewish marriage contract: a study in the status of the woman in Jewish law, p.31)

Christians Embrace a Jewish Wedding Tradition

SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN – New York Times

February 11, 2011

In a San Antonio chapel last August, after reciting their wedding vows and exchanging their rings, Sally and Mark Austin prepared to receive communion for the first time as husband and wife. Just before they did, their minister asked them to sign a document. It was a ketubah, a traditional Jewish marriage contract.

The Austins’ was not an interfaith marriage. Nor was their ceremony some sort of multicultural mashup. Both Sally and Mark are evangelical Christians, members of Oak Hills Church, a nationally known megachurch. They were using the ketubah as a way of affirming the Jewish roots of their faith.

In so doing, the Austins are part of a growing phenomenon of non-Jews incorporating the ketubah, a document with millennia-old origins and a rich artistic history, into their weddings. Mrs. Austin, in fact, first learned about the ketubah from her older sister, also an evangelical Christian, who had been married five years earlier with not only a ketubah but the Judaic wedding canopy, the huppah.

“Embracing this Jewish tradition just brings a richness that we miss out on sometimes as Christians when we don’t know the history,” said Mrs. Austin, 29, a business manager for AT&T. “Jesus was Jewish, and we appreciate his culture, where he came from.”

Beyond its specific basis in Judaism, the ketubah represented to the Austins a broader concept of holiness, of consecration. “We wanted a permanent reminder of the covenant we made with God,” Mrs. Austin said. “We see this document superseding the marriage license of a state or a court.”

Full article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/us/12religion.html?_r=1

Archaeologists Unearth Human Skulls Used in Talmudic Era Judaic Rituals

April 13, 2009

“Newly published archaeological evidence attests to the fact that ancient Jews used human skulls in ceremonies, despite a strict Halakhic prohibition on touching human remains.”

Ah, yes. But according to the same halacha, non-Judaic corpses do not defile: “R. Simeon b. Yohai said: The graves of Gentiles do not defile, for it is written, And ye my flock, the flock of my pastures, are men; only ye are designated ‘men.’”(Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 114b, Soncino Edition). Nice try at absolving the rabbis of this witchcraft.

‘Ancient Jews used skulls in ceremonies despite ban’

April 13, 2009

Ofri Ilani – Haaretz

Newly published archaeological evidence attests to the fact that ancient Jews used human skulls in ceremonies, despite a strict Halakhic prohibition on touching human remains.

British researcher Dan Levene from the University of Southampton published findings in Biblical Archaeological Review about the human skulls, known as incantation bowls, some of which bear inscriptions in Aramaic.

The skulls were unearthed in present-day Iraq (formerly Babylonia) and are believed to have been used during the Talmudic era. At least one of them appears to be that of an anonymous woman.

“When I presented these findings in Israel, people told me, ‘It is not possible that this is Jewish,'” said Levene. “But it is certainly Jewish.”

Levene added that, despite going against conventional wisdom, the talisman was likely used by someone desperate, and that there have been past cases of skulls being used to ward off increased ghosts or demons.

“The fact remains that belief in demons was widespread at this time among Jews as well as other peoples,” writes Levene. “Incantation bowls are known not only from Jewish communities but from other communities as well.”

To combat demons – who cause medical problems as well as other mishaps and ills – people invoked numerous magic rites and formulas.

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1078227.html

Archaeologists Unearth Human Skulls Used in Talmudic Era Judaic Rituals

April 13, 2009

“Newly published archaeological evidence attests to the fact that ancient Jews used human skulls in ceremonies, despite a strict Halakhic prohibition on touching human remains.”

Ah, yes. But according to the same halacha, non-Judaic corpses do not defile: “R. Simeon b. Yohai said: The graves of Gentiles do not defile, for it is written, And ye my flock, the flock of my pastures, are men; only ye are designated ‘men.’”(Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 114b, Soncino Edition). Nice try at absolving the rabbis of this witchcraft.

‘Ancient Jews used skulls in ceremonies despite ban’

April 13, 2009

Ofri Ilani – Haaretz

Newly published archaeological evidence attests to the fact that ancient Jews used human skulls in ceremonies, despite a strict Halakhic prohibition on touching human remains.

British researcher Dan Levene from the University of Southampton published findings in Biblical Archaeological Review about the human skulls, known as incantation bowls, some of which bear inscriptions in Aramaic.

The skulls were unearthed in present-day Iraq (formerly Babylonia) and are believed to have been used during the Talmudic era. At least one of them appears to be that of an anonymous woman.

“When I presented these findings in Israel, people told me, ‘It is not possible that this is Jewish,'” said Levene. “But it is certainly Jewish.”

Levene added that, despite going against conventional wisdom, the talisman was likely used by someone desperate, and that there have been past cases of skulls being used to ward off increased ghosts or demons.

“The fact remains that belief in demons was widespread at this time among Jews as well as other peoples,” writes Levene. “Incantation bowls are known not only from Jewish communities but from other communities as well.”

To combat demons – who cause medical problems as well as other mishaps and ills – people invoked numerous magic rites and formulas.

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1078227.html

More Pagan Judaism: Birkat ha-Hammah (Blessing of the Sun)

February 17, 2009

See the Birkat ha Levanah (Blessing of the Moon) here:

http://mauricepinay.blogspot.com/2007/02/blessing-of-moon.html

The global warming fraudsters of the “Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life” are celebrating Birkat ha-Hammah in association with B’nai Brith this year.

http://www.blessthesun.org/tiki-index.php?page=Advocacy

And they have a “Noahide” interfaith branch for the “goys.” Who knew! Note the “Noahide” rainbow:

http://www.theregenerationproject.org/

Jewish Groups Prepare for Rare Blessing of the Sun

February 17, 2009

As sunrise broke over New York City on the morning of April 8, 1981, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi — at the time he was known just as Zalman Schachter — stood on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and sounded the shofar.

For more than two hours after, Shachter-Shalomi led some 300 mostly young adults in an obscure Jewish ritual known as Birkat Hachamah, or blessing over the sun, a prayer recited once every 28 years when, the Talmud says, the sun reaches the same spot in the firmament as when it was created.

According to an account of the service in The New York Times, participants raised their hands in prayer, asked for healing for individuals and the earth, and released 70 balloons. At the conclusion, some worshipers joined in the singing of a Hebrew version of “Let the Sun Shine In” from the rock musical “Hair.”

The rite, Shachter-Shalomi told the Times, “helps us renew our relationship with the solar system and increase our awareness of the sun as a source of energy.”

Twenty-eight years later, Jews across the denominational spectrum are gearing up again for the observance with a range of planned celebrations, many of them environmentally focused. The sun prayer will be said, as it will several times in the 21st century, on April 8, which this year falls on the eve of Passover.

In the northern Israeli city of Safed, an eight-day festival is planned featuring several environmentally and kabbalistically inspired events, including the ceremonial burning of leavened bread on the morning before Passover by concentrating the sun’s rays through an optic lens.

“Over the last 28-year cycle, we have suffered from pollution and the depletion of natural resources,” said the festival founder, U.S.-based artist Eva Ariela Lindberg, in a news release. “Let us use this extraordinary opportunity to co-create the next cycle by seeking alternative solar energies and a purer environment, recharging ourselves and learning how to honor the earth, our neighbors and ourselves. This is a time to renew, and bring fresh blossoms to our world for the next 28-year cycle.”

In the United States, 14 Jewish organizations have joined to launch BlessTheSun.org, a Web site with links to various educational materials and ideas for April 8 activities. The site asks users to sign a Covenant of Commitment in which they “pledge to hasten the day of environmental healing, social justice and sustainable living for all.”

Five of the groups also are sponsoring an art competition for works “interpreting aspects of the sun and exploring the relationship between Judaism and the environment.” And the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism has designed a 68-page study text on the prayer emphasizing environmental themes.

“Growing up, there was almost a fear in recognizing that our holidays and calendar are indicative of an earth-based religion,” said Nati Passow, co-founder of the Jewish Farm School, one of the groups behind BlessTheSun. “That doesn’t necessarily mean idol worship or earth worship, but it means that the calendar and the cycles were a reflection of people who lived with a greater awareness of natural cycles than we have now. And so any time you can teach people about elements of our tradition that are earth-based, and especially the ones that are hidden and not as well known, it’s a way of bringing people into Judaism.”

The prayer, whose origins lie in the Talmud, blesses God “who makes the work of creation” and is the same blessing said over other rare natural phenomena, like lightning or a meteor.

Its Talmudic origins mean that the sun blessing is hardly the sole province of liberal Jewish environmental groups.

ArtScroll Publications, an Orthodox publishing house, has reissued an updated version of Rabbi J. David Bleich’s seminal 1981 book “Birchas Hachamah,” probably the most definitive English-language treatment of the subject. And Canfei Nesharim, an Orthodox environmental group, is working on a number of initiatives, including a sun-themed mishloach manot — the food baskets traditionally given on the holiday of Purim, which falls about a month before the sun blessing.

Bleich’s book includes a rigorously detailed discussion of the evolution of the Jewish calendar and the complex calculations of lunar and solar cycles that determine the dates of Jewish observances.

“The blessing on this occasion, it would seem, is evocative rather than responsive,” wrote Bleich, a professor of Jewish law and ethics at Yeshiva University. “It is designed to arouse man from his lethargy, to force him to reflect upon this cosmic phenomenon, to summon him to contemplation. Marking yet another solar milestone in the calendar of eternity, the occasion calls out to man: Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?”

Despite the complexity of the Talmudic discussion, the determination of April 8 is almost certainly inaccurate, Bleich told JTA. But the sages of the Talmud ordained the blessing not as a precise astronomical commemoration, Bleich said, but as a pedagogic device to impress upon future generations God’s continuing role in sustaining the universe.

Asked about Jewish groups that want to infuse the blessing with an environmental message, Bleich said, “I wish them luck.”

http://forward.com/articles/103089/

More Pagan Judaism: Birkat ha-Hammah (Blessing of the Sun)

February 17, 2009

See the Birkat ha Levanah (Blessing of the Moon) here:

http://mauricepinay.blogspot.com/2007/02/blessing-of-moon.html

The global warming fraudsters of the “Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life” are celebrating Birkat ha-Hammah in association with B’nai Brith this year.

http://www.blessthesun.org/tiki-index.php?page=Advocacy

And they have a “Noahide” interfaith branch for the “goys.” Who knew! Note the “Noahide” rainbow:

http://www.theregenerationproject.org/

Jewish Groups Prepare for Rare Blessing of the Sun

February 17, 2009

As sunrise broke over New York City on the morning of April 8, 1981, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi — at the time he was known just as Zalman Schachter — stood on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and sounded the shofar.

For more than two hours after, Shachter-Shalomi led some 300 mostly young adults in an obscure Jewish ritual known as Birkat Hachamah, or blessing over the sun, a prayer recited once every 28 years when, the Talmud says, the sun reaches the same spot in the firmament as when it was created.

According to an account of the service in The New York Times, participants raised their hands in prayer, asked for healing for individuals and the earth, and released 70 balloons. At the conclusion, some worshipers joined in the singing of a Hebrew version of “Let the Sun Shine In” from the rock musical “Hair.”

The rite, Shachter-Shalomi told the Times, “helps us renew our relationship with the solar system and increase our awareness of the sun as a source of energy.”

Twenty-eight years later, Jews across the denominational spectrum are gearing up again for the observance with a range of planned celebrations, many of them environmentally focused. The sun prayer will be said, as it will several times in the 21st century, on April 8, which this year falls on the eve of Passover.

In the northern Israeli city of Safed, an eight-day festival is planned featuring several environmentally and kabbalistically inspired events, including the ceremonial burning of leavened bread on the morning before Passover by concentrating the sun’s rays through an optic lens.

“Over the last 28-year cycle, we have suffered from pollution and the depletion of natural resources,” said the festival founder, U.S.-based artist Eva Ariela Lindberg, in a news release. “Let us use this extraordinary opportunity to co-create the next cycle by seeking alternative solar energies and a purer environment, recharging ourselves and learning how to honor the earth, our neighbors and ourselves. This is a time to renew, and bring fresh blossoms to our world for the next 28-year cycle.”

In the United States, 14 Jewish organizations have joined to launch BlessTheSun.org, a Web site with links to various educational materials and ideas for April 8 activities. The site asks users to sign a Covenant of Commitment in which they “pledge to hasten the day of environmental healing, social justice and sustainable living for all.”

Five of the groups also are sponsoring an art competition for works “interpreting aspects of the sun and exploring the relationship between Judaism and the environment.” And the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism has designed a 68-page study text on the prayer emphasizing environmental themes.

“Growing up, there was almost a fear in recognizing that our holidays and calendar are indicative of an earth-based religion,” said Nati Passow, co-founder of the Jewish Farm School, one of the groups behind BlessTheSun. “That doesn’t necessarily mean idol worship or earth worship, but it means that the calendar and the cycles were a reflection of people who lived with a greater awareness of natural cycles than we have now. And so any time you can teach people about elements of our tradition that are earth-based, and especially the ones that are hidden and not as well known, it’s a way of bringing people into Judaism.”

The prayer, whose origins lie in the Talmud, blesses God “who makes the work of creation” and is the same blessing said over other rare natural phenomena, like lightning or a meteor.

Its Talmudic origins mean that the sun blessing is hardly the sole province of liberal Jewish environmental groups.

ArtScroll Publications, an Orthodox publishing house, has reissued an updated version of Rabbi J. David Bleich’s seminal 1981 book “Birchas Hachamah,” probably the most definitive English-language treatment of the subject. And Canfei Nesharim, an Orthodox environmental group, is working on a number of initiatives, including a sun-themed mishloach manot — the food baskets traditionally given on the holiday of Purim, which falls about a month before the sun blessing.

Bleich’s book includes a rigorously detailed discussion of the evolution of the Jewish calendar and the complex calculations of lunar and solar cycles that determine the dates of Jewish observances.

“The blessing on this occasion, it would seem, is evocative rather than responsive,” wrote Bleich, a professor of Jewish law and ethics at Yeshiva University. “It is designed to arouse man from his lethargy, to force him to reflect upon this cosmic phenomenon, to summon him to contemplation. Marking yet another solar milestone in the calendar of eternity, the occasion calls out to man: Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?”

Despite the complexity of the Talmudic discussion, the determination of April 8 is almost certainly inaccurate, Bleich told JTA. But the sages of the Talmud ordained the blessing not as a precise astronomical commemoration, Bleich said, but as a pedagogic device to impress upon future generations God’s continuing role in sustaining the universe.

Asked about Jewish groups that want to infuse the blessing with an environmental message, Bleich said, “I wish them luck.”

http://forward.com/articles/103089/

"Elder Brothers’" Voodoo Ritual Comes Under PETA Scrutiny

August 26, 2008

More on Kapparot in Judaism Discovered pp. 516-520.

Also see:
Benedict’s Elder Brothers and their Voodoo Ritual

PETA alleges bird dumping at High Holidays ritual in Brooklyn

PETA undercover cameras show chicken carcasses piled in a Dumpster after slaughtering at the kapparot center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 2006.

By Sue Fishkoff – 08/25/2008

NEW YORK (JTA) — An animal rights group is calling for a New York state investigation into kapparot, the High Holidays ritual that involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head.

The ceremony is meant to transfer one’s sins to the bird, which is then slaughtered and its meat or an equivalent monetary amount, is given to the poor.

Instead, the rights group charges, thousands of dead chickens were thrown away in Dumpsters following last year’s ritual in Brooklyn, a violation of Jewish law and a burden on sanitation workers.

It’s the second year in a row that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is objecting to kapparot — also pronounced kapparos — in the New York City borough, but the first year it is focusing on dumping dead birds.

Last summer’s complaint to the state and city was more wide ranging, alleging a variety of health and safety violations as well as animal cruelty.

On Monday, in a letter to the state’s kosher law enforcement division, PETA asks that Rabbi Shea Hecht of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education be investigated for possible consumer fraud at the kapparot center he runs in Crown Heights.

The letter charges that on Sept. 20, 2007, the center discarded thousands of chickens slaughtered after the ceremony, throwing their carcasses into hundreds of trash bags picked up the next day by Greg’s Express.

“These are chickens that consumers expected to be processed for meat that would be distributed as tzedakah,” or charity, it states. “Participants at NCFJE clearly did not expect the chickens they made kapporos with … to be disposed of as trash.”

As the center knew it was selling and killing more chickens than it could process, the complaint continues, its actions constituted deceptive advertising and consumer fraud, as well as a violation of the principle of “ba’al tashchit,” or wasteful, wanton destruction.

A separate letter was submitted to the Kashrus Information Center, an independent association of more than 100 rabbis that monitors kosher affairs in Brooklyn.

Hecht vehemently denies PETA’s allegation.

“To my knowledge I didn’t throw out any chickens last year,” he told JTA. “Last time I checked, in this country we have a right to swing a chicken over our head and give it to the poor to eat. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Rabbi Moshe Weiner, the rabbinic administrator of the information center, said that sites operated by communal organizations such as Hecht’s are well run. Weiner acknowledged problems at unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” but said the situation had significantly improved because of proactive steps taken by area rabbis.

Nevetheless he is taking the situation seriously, he told JTA, and has already called for a meeting of leading rabbis, the state authorities and Hecht to address PETA’s concerns. “If something is wrong we have to clean up our act,” he said. “We are not shrugging it off.”

The recent complaints are based on the work of PETA staffers Hannah and Philip Schein, a married couple who have been documenting what they allege to be health, safety and animal welfare abuses at Brooklyn’s estimated 14 kapparot centers for the past three years. They were chosen because they are Jewish, they say; and both are former Hillel program directors — Hannah at Princeton University and Philip at Syracuse.

Although this year’s letter focused on disposal problems, animal welfare continues to be a concern, the Scheins say. Some centers become overwhelmed by demand and use young men not properly trained in shechting, or kosher slaughter, they say.

“They’re supposed to put the chickens in cones to bleed out,” said Hannah Schein, showing a video the couple shot at one Brooklyn center last year. “These youngsters were just taking them after shechting and putting them in garbage bags.”

Pointing to several Chasidic boys standing in a Dumpster surrounded by chicken carcasses, she asked, “How is this fulfilling my mitzvah of kapparos?”

The Scheins, who live near PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Va., came to light earlier this year as the couple responsible for the first undercover videos of controversial slaughter methods at Agriprocessors, the kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, that is currently at the center of a legal maelstrom.

“Here you can see, in the whole shechting area, they’re piled five to six layers high,” said Philip Schein, walking a reporter through footage he shot at kapparot sites in 2005 and 2006. “Some of them are still alive. There’s blood everywhere. It’s the most unhygienic thing I’ve ever seen.”

Weiner told JTA that “chickens were dumped” at some sites. One site in Flatbush, which did not operate last year, was a notorious violator.

“They slaughtered too many, couldn’t process them, then dumped them in the garbage,” Weiner recalled.

Talking about the unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” he said, “They buy chickens, hire a shochet and have no supervision. It’s true, it got out of hand.” But, Weiner added, things were much better last year.

A week after the PETA complaint was submitted on July 30, 2007, about a dozen leading rabbis met to discuss how to clean up kapparot and clamp down on the worst offenders.

In a letter signed by 27 of their colleagues, the rabbis warned local Jews to patronize only those kapparot centers with rabbinic supervision.

Rabbi Luzer Weiss, the director of the Brooklyn office of the Kosher Law Enforcement Division of the New York State agriculture department, said that every center was told it must have a rabbi on site from the time the chickens arrived early in the morning through the slaughter process to ensure the animals are given food, water and appropriate shelter.

Weiner said at least three centers decided not to open because they did not want to pay for such supervision.

“There were people walking around from place to place, checking,” Weiss said. “Thank God, it went very well.”

Not that well, the Scheins claim. While they did see latex gloves and other indications of health and safety precautions at last year’s kapparot sites, the Scheins said the chicken dumping and other animal welfare issues were as bad as ever.

Weiss said he received no reports of dumping in 2007.

For years, Orthodox groups have warned against sloppy kapparot sites in Brooklyn. In 2001, Kashrus magazine, a watchdog publication for the kosher industry, urged much tighter control over kapparot.

For the past five years, the Kashrus Information Center has warned Jewish consumers about violations it observed at some centers and issued guidelines for correct practice.

The problem is that no one agency of any kind, religious or government, is in charge of overseeing or enforcing kapparot. The Scheins found that out when they submitted their first complaint last year. Each agency passed the buck to the next, they said.

“The power is in the hands of the consumer,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant of the Orthodox Union, one of the rabbis at last year’s August meeting. “The consumer has to say, ‘I will not go to a kapparot center that is not supervised.’ And their rabbi has to tell them not to go.”

In preparation for this year’s kapparot, which will take place Oct. 2-8 throughout the borough, rabbis again are urging the Jewish public to keep its eyes open and telling kapparot centers to obey the law, secular and Jewish.

In its summer issue, Kashrus magazine printed a nine-point guideline for ethical and safe kapparot worked out by the magazine’s publisher, Rabbi Yosef Wikler, in cooperation with kosher slaughter expert Dr. Joe Regenstein of Cornell University.

Weiner worries about bringing the state into the issue.

“It could open up the door for groups like PETA to give trouble to the legal ones,” putting the entire ritual in jeopardy, he said.

That’s OK with the Scheins, who point out that Jewish law allows one to give money to charity instead of swinging a chicken. Today it is primarily Chasidim who still observe the full ritual.

That may be so, Weiner said, “but each community has the right to practice its own customs.”

Nevertheless, he added, it must be done “in a legal and humane way.”

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080825kapporosPETA08252008.html

"Elder Brothers’" Voodoo Ritual Comes Under PETA Scrutiny

August 26, 2008

More on Kapparot in Judaism Discovered pp. 516-520.

Also see:
Benedict’s Elder Brothers and their Voodoo Ritual

PETA alleges bird dumping at High Holidays ritual in Brooklyn

PETA undercover cameras show chicken carcasses piled in a Dumpster after slaughtering at the kapparot center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 2006.

By Sue Fishkoff – 08/25/2008

NEW YORK (JTA) — An animal rights group is calling for a New York state investigation into kapparot, the High Holidays ritual that involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head.

The ceremony is meant to transfer one’s sins to the bird, which is then slaughtered and its meat or an equivalent monetary amount, is given to the poor.

Instead, the rights group charges, thousands of dead chickens were thrown away in Dumpsters following last year’s ritual in Brooklyn, a violation of Jewish law and a burden on sanitation workers.

It’s the second year in a row that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is objecting to kapparot — also pronounced kapparos — in the New York City borough, but the first year it is focusing on dumping dead birds.

Last summer’s complaint to the state and city was more wide ranging, alleging a variety of health and safety violations as well as animal cruelty.

On Monday, in a letter to the state’s kosher law enforcement division, PETA asks that Rabbi Shea Hecht of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education be investigated for possible consumer fraud at the kapparot center he runs in Crown Heights.

The letter charges that on Sept. 20, 2007, the center discarded thousands of chickens slaughtered after the ceremony, throwing their carcasses into hundreds of trash bags picked up the next day by Greg’s Express.

“These are chickens that consumers expected to be processed for meat that would be distributed as tzedakah,” or charity, it states. “Participants at NCFJE clearly did not expect the chickens they made kapporos with … to be disposed of as trash.”

As the center knew it was selling and killing more chickens than it could process, the complaint continues, its actions constituted deceptive advertising and consumer fraud, as well as a violation of the principle of “ba’al tashchit,” or wasteful, wanton destruction.

A separate letter was submitted to the Kashrus Information Center, an independent association of more than 100 rabbis that monitors kosher affairs in Brooklyn.

Hecht vehemently denies PETA’s allegation.

“To my knowledge I didn’t throw out any chickens last year,” he told JTA. “Last time I checked, in this country we have a right to swing a chicken over our head and give it to the poor to eat. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Rabbi Moshe Weiner, the rabbinic administrator of the information center, said that sites operated by communal organizations such as Hecht’s are well run. Weiner acknowledged problems at unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” but said the situation had significantly improved because of proactive steps taken by area rabbis.

Nevetheless he is taking the situation seriously, he told JTA, and has already called for a meeting of leading rabbis, the state authorities and Hecht to address PETA’s concerns. “If something is wrong we have to clean up our act,” he said. “We are not shrugging it off.”

The recent complaints are based on the work of PETA staffers Hannah and Philip Schein, a married couple who have been documenting what they allege to be health, safety and animal welfare abuses at Brooklyn’s estimated 14 kapparot centers for the past three years. They were chosen because they are Jewish, they say; and both are former Hillel program directors — Hannah at Princeton University and Philip at Syracuse.

Although this year’s letter focused on disposal problems, animal welfare continues to be a concern, the Scheins say. Some centers become overwhelmed by demand and use young men not properly trained in shechting, or kosher slaughter, they say.

“They’re supposed to put the chickens in cones to bleed out,” said Hannah Schein, showing a video the couple shot at one Brooklyn center last year. “These youngsters were just taking them after shechting and putting them in garbage bags.”

Pointing to several Chasidic boys standing in a Dumpster surrounded by chicken carcasses, she asked, “How is this fulfilling my mitzvah of kapparos?”

The Scheins, who live near PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Va., came to light earlier this year as the couple responsible for the first undercover videos of controversial slaughter methods at Agriprocessors, the kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, that is currently at the center of a legal maelstrom.

“Here you can see, in the whole shechting area, they’re piled five to six layers high,” said Philip Schein, walking a reporter through footage he shot at kapparot sites in 2005 and 2006. “Some of them are still alive. There’s blood everywhere. It’s the most unhygienic thing I’ve ever seen.”

Weiner told JTA that “chickens were dumped” at some sites. One site in Flatbush, which did not operate last year, was a notorious violator.

“They slaughtered too many, couldn’t process them, then dumped them in the garbage,” Weiner recalled.

Talking about the unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” he said, “They buy chickens, hire a shochet and have no supervision. It’s true, it got out of hand.” But, Weiner added, things were much better last year.

A week after the PETA complaint was submitted on July 30, 2007, about a dozen leading rabbis met to discuss how to clean up kapparot and clamp down on the worst offenders.

In a letter signed by 27 of their colleagues, the rabbis warned local Jews to patronize only those kapparot centers with rabbinic supervision.

Rabbi Luzer Weiss, the director of the Brooklyn office of the Kosher Law Enforcement Division of the New York State agriculture department, said that every center was told it must have a rabbi on site from the time the chickens arrived early in the morning through the slaughter process to ensure the animals are given food, water and appropriate shelter.

Weiner said at least three centers decided not to open because they did not want to pay for such supervision.

“There were people walking around from place to place, checking,” Weiss said. “Thank God, it went very well.”

Not that well, the Scheins claim. While they did see latex gloves and other indications of health and safety precautions at last year’s kapparot sites, the Scheins said the chicken dumping and other animal welfare issues were as bad as ever.

Weiss said he received no reports of dumping in 2007.

For years, Orthodox groups have warned against sloppy kapparot sites in Brooklyn. In 2001, Kashrus magazine, a watchdog publication for the kosher industry, urged much tighter control over kapparot.

For the past five years, the Kashrus Information Center has warned Jewish consumers about violations it observed at some centers and issued guidelines for correct practice.

The problem is that no one agency of any kind, religious or government, is in charge of overseeing or enforcing kapparot. The Scheins found that out when they submitted their first complaint last year. Each agency passed the buck to the next, they said.

“The power is in the hands of the consumer,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant of the Orthodox Union, one of the rabbis at last year’s August meeting. “The consumer has to say, ‘I will not go to a kapparot center that is not supervised.’ And their rabbi has to tell them not to go.”

In preparation for this year’s kapparot, which will take place Oct. 2-8 throughout the borough, rabbis again are urging the Jewish public to keep its eyes open and telling kapparot centers to obey the law, secular and Jewish.

In its summer issue, Kashrus magazine printed a nine-point guideline for ethical and safe kapparot worked out by the magazine’s publisher, Rabbi Yosef Wikler, in cooperation with kosher slaughter expert Dr. Joe Regenstein of Cornell University.

Weiner worries about bringing the state into the issue.

“It could open up the door for groups like PETA to give trouble to the legal ones,” putting the entire ritual in jeopardy, he said.

That’s OK with the Scheins, who point out that Jewish law allows one to give money to charity instead of swinging a chicken. Today it is primarily Chasidim who still observe the full ritual.

That may be so, Weiner said, “but each community has the right to practice its own customs.”

Nevertheless, he added, it must be done “in a legal and humane way.”

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080825kapporosPETA08252008.html

"Elder Brothers’" Voodoo Ritual Comes Under PETA Scrutiny

August 26, 2008

More on Kapparot in Judaism Discovered pp. 516-520.

Also see:
Benedict’s Elder Brothers and their Voodoo Ritual

PETA alleges bird dumping at High Holidays ritual in Brooklyn

PETA undercover cameras show chicken carcasses piled in a Dumpster after slaughtering at the kapparot center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 2006.

By Sue Fishkoff – 08/25/2008

NEW YORK (JTA) — An animal rights group is calling for a New York state investigation into kapparot, the High Holidays ritual that involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head.

The ceremony is meant to transfer one’s sins to the bird, which is then slaughtered and its meat or an equivalent monetary amount, is given to the poor.

Instead, the rights group charges, thousands of dead chickens were thrown away in Dumpsters following last year’s ritual in Brooklyn, a violation of Jewish law and a burden on sanitation workers.

It’s the second year in a row that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is objecting to kapparot — also pronounced kapparos — in the New York City borough, but the first year it is focusing on dumping dead birds.

Last summer’s complaint to the state and city was more wide ranging, alleging a variety of health and safety violations as well as animal cruelty.

On Monday, in a letter to the state’s kosher law enforcement division, PETA asks that Rabbi Shea Hecht of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education be investigated for possible consumer fraud at the kapparot center he runs in Crown Heights.

The letter charges that on Sept. 20, 2007, the center discarded thousands of chickens slaughtered after the ceremony, throwing their carcasses into hundreds of trash bags picked up the next day by Greg’s Express.

“These are chickens that consumers expected to be processed for meat that would be distributed as tzedakah,” or charity, it states. “Participants at NCFJE clearly did not expect the chickens they made kapporos with … to be disposed of as trash.”

As the center knew it was selling and killing more chickens than it could process, the complaint continues, its actions constituted deceptive advertising and consumer fraud, as well as a violation of the principle of “ba’al tashchit,” or wasteful, wanton destruction.

A separate letter was submitted to the Kashrus Information Center, an independent association of more than 100 rabbis that monitors kosher affairs in Brooklyn.

Hecht vehemently denies PETA’s allegation.

“To my knowledge I didn’t throw out any chickens last year,” he told JTA. “Last time I checked, in this country we have a right to swing a chicken over our head and give it to the poor to eat. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Rabbi Moshe Weiner, the rabbinic administrator of the information center, said that sites operated by communal organizations such as Hecht’s are well run. Weiner acknowledged problems at unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” but said the situation had significantly improved because of proactive steps taken by area rabbis.

Nevetheless he is taking the situation seriously, he told JTA, and has already called for a meeting of leading rabbis, the state authorities and Hecht to address PETA’s concerns. “If something is wrong we have to clean up our act,” he said. “We are not shrugging it off.”

The recent complaints are based on the work of PETA staffers Hannah and Philip Schein, a married couple who have been documenting what they allege to be health, safety and animal welfare abuses at Brooklyn’s estimated 14 kapparot centers for the past three years. They were chosen because they are Jewish, they say; and both are former Hillel program directors — Hannah at Princeton University and Philip at Syracuse.

Although this year’s letter focused on disposal problems, animal welfare continues to be a concern, the Scheins say. Some centers become overwhelmed by demand and use young men not properly trained in shechting, or kosher slaughter, they say.

“They’re supposed to put the chickens in cones to bleed out,” said Hannah Schein, showing a video the couple shot at one Brooklyn center last year. “These youngsters were just taking them after shechting and putting them in garbage bags.”

Pointing to several Chasidic boys standing in a Dumpster surrounded by chicken carcasses, she asked, “How is this fulfilling my mitzvah of kapparos?”

The Scheins, who live near PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Va., came to light earlier this year as the couple responsible for the first undercover videos of controversial slaughter methods at Agriprocessors, the kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, that is currently at the center of a legal maelstrom.

“Here you can see, in the whole shechting area, they’re piled five to six layers high,” said Philip Schein, walking a reporter through footage he shot at kapparot sites in 2005 and 2006. “Some of them are still alive. There’s blood everywhere. It’s the most unhygienic thing I’ve ever seen.”

Weiner told JTA that “chickens were dumped” at some sites. One site in Flatbush, which did not operate last year, was a notorious violator.

“They slaughtered too many, couldn’t process them, then dumped them in the garbage,” Weiner recalled.

Talking about the unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” he said, “They buy chickens, hire a shochet and have no supervision. It’s true, it got out of hand.” But, Weiner added, things were much better last year.

A week after the PETA complaint was submitted on July 30, 2007, about a dozen leading rabbis met to discuss how to clean up kapparot and clamp down on the worst offenders.

In a letter signed by 27 of their colleagues, the rabbis warned local Jews to patronize only those kapparot centers with rabbinic supervision.

Rabbi Luzer Weiss, the director of the Brooklyn office of the Kosher Law Enforcement Division of the New York State agriculture department, said that every center was told it must have a rabbi on site from the time the chickens arrived early in the morning through the slaughter process to ensure the animals are given food, water and appropriate shelter.

Weiner said at least three centers decided not to open because they did not want to pay for such supervision.

“There were people walking around from place to place, checking,” Weiss said. “Thank God, it went very well.”

Not that well, the Scheins claim. While they did see latex gloves and other indications of health and safety precautions at last year’s kapparot sites, the Scheins said the chicken dumping and other animal welfare issues were as bad as ever.

Weiss said he received no reports of dumping in 2007.

For years, Orthodox groups have warned against sloppy kapparot sites in Brooklyn. In 2001, Kashrus magazine, a watchdog publication for the kosher industry, urged much tighter control over kapparot.

For the past five years, the Kashrus Information Center has warned Jewish consumers about violations it observed at some centers and issued guidelines for correct practice.

The problem is that no one agency of any kind, religious or government, is in charge of overseeing or enforcing kapparot. The Scheins found that out when they submitted their first complaint last year. Each agency passed the buck to the next, they said.

“The power is in the hands of the consumer,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant of the Orthodox Union, one of the rabbis at last year’s August meeting. “The consumer has to say, ‘I will not go to a kapparot center that is not supervised.’ And their rabbi has to tell them not to go.”

In preparation for this year’s kapparot, which will take place Oct. 2-8 throughout the borough, rabbis again are urging the Jewish public to keep its eyes open and telling kapparot centers to obey the law, secular and Jewish.

In its summer issue, Kashrus magazine printed a nine-point guideline for ethical and safe kapparot worked out by the magazine’s publisher, Rabbi Yosef Wikler, in cooperation with kosher slaughter expert Dr. Joe Regenstein of Cornell University.

Weiner worries about bringing the state into the issue.

“It could open up the door for groups like PETA to give trouble to the legal ones,” putting the entire ritual in jeopardy, he said.

That’s OK with the Scheins, who point out that Jewish law allows one to give money to charity instead of swinging a chicken. Today it is primarily Chasidim who still observe the full ritual.

That may be so, Weiner said, “but each community has the right to practice its own customs.”

Nevertheless, he added, it must be done “in a legal and humane way.”

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080825kapporosPETA08252008.html

Reform Congregation Nostalgic for Genocidal Racist Texts

October 31, 2007

The genocidal racial supremacism, pantheism, self-worship, sex magic, witchcraft, etc., of Kabbalah is making a comeback among Benedict’s elder brothers of the Reformed persuasion who previously distanced themselves from some of the dark elements of Orthodox Judaism.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz signs a copy of Opening Tanya, one of the 60 books he has authored, for Rabbi Claudio Kogan of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick

Scholars take separate paths into the mystic

by Debra Rubin
NJJN Bureau Chief/Middlesex
10.30.07

Rabbis from Orthodox and Reform backgrounds brought their insights into Jewish mysticism to a New Brunswick synagogue this month.

And while they may have started from very different places, they both arrived at a destination where those looking to rise above the material and ordinary could find resources in Jewish tradition.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, the noted Israeli scholar perhaps best known for his translation of the Talmud into modern Hebrew and English, spoke Oct. 17 at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick on How To Live a Spiritual Life in a Materialistic Time.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author of a series of influential books on Jewish mysticism and spirituality, spoke Oct. 22 on Kabbalah: A Reform Approach, reading passages from his book Kabbalah: A Love Story …

… “Real Kabala is when you use your study of Kabala to heal the divine,” said Kushner, the scholar-in-residence at Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco and visiting professor of Jewish spirituality at the Graduate Theological University in Berkeley …

Those who for centuries performed mitzvot only for the sake of performing a mitzvot were, in essence, acting as “God”s chiropractors,” and expecting God to reply, “Thanks, I needed that,” he said.

Kushner said the practice of continually dissecting and “recreating ourselves” through the study of sacred texts is “an enterprise unique to Judaism.”

The master text of Kabala is the Zohar, a book once so revered that “for 400 years more Jews could quote Zohar than Talmud,” said Kushner.

Kabala, with its mystical overtones, bears a similarity to Eastern theology with its emphasis on the feminine dimension of the divine and infusion of divine presence into everyday events.

The erotic yearning that can be found on the Zohar”s pages, explained Kushner, can be interpreted as: “It makes me happier to do what my lover wants than what I want. In loving someone else, we have a heightened sense of self.”

Like Kushner, Steinsaltz also drew a connection between human action and divine reaction.

“Life is identical with the divine,” he said …

http://www.njjewishnews.com/njjn.com/110107/sxScholarsTakeSeparate.html

Reform Congregation Nostalgic for Genocidal Racist Texts

October 31, 2007

The genocidal racial supremacism, pantheism, self-worship, sex magic, witchcraft, etc., of Kabbalah is making a comeback among Benedict’s elder brothers of the Reformed persuasion who previously distanced themselves from some of the dark elements of Orthodox Judaism.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz signs a copy of Opening Tanya, one of the 60 books he has authored, for Rabbi Claudio Kogan of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick

Scholars take separate paths into the mystic

by Debra Rubin
NJJN Bureau Chief/Middlesex
10.30.07

Rabbis from Orthodox and Reform backgrounds brought their insights into Jewish mysticism to a New Brunswick synagogue this month.

And while they may have started from very different places, they both arrived at a destination where those looking to rise above the material and ordinary could find resources in Jewish tradition.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, the noted Israeli scholar perhaps best known for his translation of the Talmud into modern Hebrew and English, spoke Oct. 17 at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick on How To Live a Spiritual Life in a Materialistic Time.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author of a series of influential books on Jewish mysticism and spirituality, spoke Oct. 22 on Kabbalah: A Reform Approach, reading passages from his book Kabbalah: A Love Story …

… “Real Kabala is when you use your study of Kabala to heal the divine,” said Kushner, the scholar-in-residence at Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco and visiting professor of Jewish spirituality at the Graduate Theological University in Berkeley …

Those who for centuries performed mitzvot only for the sake of performing a mitzvot were, in essence, acting as “God”s chiropractors,” and expecting God to reply, “Thanks, I needed that,” he said.

Kushner said the practice of continually dissecting and “recreating ourselves” through the study of sacred texts is “an enterprise unique to Judaism.”

The master text of Kabala is the Zohar, a book once so revered that “for 400 years more Jews could quote Zohar than Talmud,” said Kushner.

Kabala, with its mystical overtones, bears a similarity to Eastern theology with its emphasis on the feminine dimension of the divine and infusion of divine presence into everyday events.

The erotic yearning that can be found on the Zohar”s pages, explained Kushner, can be interpreted as: “It makes me happier to do what my lover wants than what I want. In loving someone else, we have a heightened sense of self.”

Like Kushner, Steinsaltz also drew a connection between human action and divine reaction.

“Life is identical with the divine,” he said …

http://www.njjewishnews.com/njjn.com/110107/sxScholarsTakeSeparate.html