Paging Woody Allen

The suit alleges that Rabbi Yechezekel Wolff reneged on an agreement whereby he would lease the building housing the synagogue on West 23rd Street in exchange for paying operating expenses and covering repairs.

Instead, Wolff ripped out old pews from the 100-year-old building and turned off the heat in the winter time in order to ‘kill off the congregation,’ the lawsuit alleges.

‘Contempt for Civil Society’

[The] recurrent leitmotif in ultra-Orthodox electoral messaging is “in line with Israeli Haredi school curricula” and its “contempt for civil society,” said Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, an organization that studies the content of textbooks across the Middle East…

“The big picture is that there is a definite clear and concerted effort to keep Haredi children behind the walls they built up and away from everything they consider bad, all the temptations of the modern world,” Sheff explained. “That is to say, civics and democracy are taught in a very restricted manner” and many of the ultra-Orthodox “are not given an expansive view of how civil society and democracy works and [about] individual choice in choosing representatives. Take away the civics and democracy education, and give ‘rabbis-know-best education’ and presto, you have a situation where large [numbers] of people will be very open to being told how to vote at election time.”

… Samuel Heilman, a professor of sociology at Queens College, [says:] “The basic orientation is that individuals are not the ones to make political decisions, because if they are, then the power brokers lose their capacity to in effect deliver a bloc vote and their greatest power and strength is their ability to deliver that … I think the idea of every person thinking for himself, whether politics or anything else, is very threatening to the Haredi community. It’s not about politics so much as independent thinking and decision-making, and that’s the real risk.”

Beit Shemesh Decides to Stop the Madness.

A city overrun for years by violent primitives suddenly elects a reformist woman mayor. Her radical political platform featured making haredim educate their children; letting women walk on the street without having to find hiding places so that their vileness is kept from the view of men they might pass; and protecting women and girls from being spat on, called whores, and beaten up for draping only two rather than three black sheets over themselves.

Good luck, Mayor-Elect Bloch! Here’s hoping you have excellent personal security: These guys hate women and they’re coming after you.

UD, as you know, is somewhere on the Scrabble spectrum.

She plays one-minute-per-move games against cold brilliant robots on this site, and will only play random boards because when you get a good random board you get all sorts of amazingly high point possibilities – imagine a seven-letter word spanning two triple-word scores…

However. I may be on the spectrum, but I have nothing on this dude, who seems to me well into idiot savant territory.

‘“Hilary told us she does not think a jury in Waco is ready to convict someone if this was only his first rape,” the statement reads.’

You have to understand Waco, Texas. You have to understand Baylor University. You have to understand fraternities. You have to understand football.

Once you begin to understand the culture of Waco, you’ll have no trouble understanding the likely legal outcome of the university’s 1,534th rape this week.


Begin by understanding context. To start with, this latest campus rape was just a rape: it wasn’t a gang rape, and it wasn’t filmed. At Baylor, this barely rises to the level of an event, let alone a crime.

As for a jury made up of average Waconians: Waco’s famous for breastaurants that host rival biker gangs that slaughter each other in hours-long shootouts right down the street from Baylor.

It’s just that kind of down-home all-American place okay? and no way the good citizens of Waco are going to convict a Baylor frat president of rape. I mean, that’s not what Waconians would call a violent crime. And remember: Baylor’s a Christian school! This boy’s a Christian.

University of Oklahoma Prayer

Twas Adam’s fall that brought McCall
Unto the plains; unto the law.
Forgive us, pray
We lost our way
O Lord! Forgiveth all.

Catholic University attempts to rein in one of its more enthusiastic deans.

McCarrick, Wuerl, and … just… wow… So at least the Catholic church in DC has decided that one of its university’s deans shouldn’t get a pass when he writes this:

[Julie] Swetnick is 55 y/o. Kavanaugh is 52 y/o. Since when do senior girls hang with freshmen boys? If it happened when Kavanaugh was a senior, Swetnick was an adult drinking with&by her admission, having sex with underage boys. In another universe, he would be victim & she the perp!

In another universe, Chilean priests and monks wouldn’t “[create] their own sick sign language to command the deaf and mute boys to perform oral sex and be sodomized.” Maybe CU’s social justice dean should direct his attention to that.

‘[Georgetown Prep’s president, in a recent letter to the school community,] speaks of a need to show “respect for women and other marginalized people.” These are unfortunate constructions.’

LOL. A New Yorker writer does a cruel takedown of Brett Kavanaugh’s bizarre boy-world just down the street from UD‘s house – Georgetown Preparatory School.

In 1990, seven years after Kavanaugh graduated, four students were expelled from the school for participating in a hazing ritual called “butting.” According to the Washington Post, which reported on the fallout from the expulsions, in the ritual, “a student is held down while another student places his naked buttocks close to the victim’s face.” One of the students, whose father was an alumnus, filed a lawsuit with his parents contesting his expulsion, arguing that he and his classmates had taken the fall for a common practice at the school. [A] county judge rejected the lawsuit…

Step aside, priests-abusing-little-boys scandal; make room for the head-up-everyone-else’s-ass scandal…

The slutty-wig crisis has orthodox communities nostalgic…

for a quieter time, when the only thing they were famous for was massive welfare fraud.

Wigged out, baby.

Get a confession booth.

Two Chicago-area priests were charged Monday with Lewd and Lascivious behavior and Indecent Exposure after being caught performing a sexual act inside a car parked on a Miami Beach street.

Pure Woody Allen.

Yogurt and all.

The Falwells have got to take a lot of the blame for this. Liberty University has got to bear some of the burden. I point the finger in their face and say your effort to turn America into a theocracy helped this happen.

The founder of Liberty University gave us both the language and the concepts within which to understand the biblical flooding that currently threatens Lynchburg, Virginia. Watch and learn.

Coacha Inconsolata!

It’s been a long time since this blog has featured that genre of sports journalism in which the university football coach is cast as a pietà, an icon of purity and innocence suddenly and shockingly beset by evil.

UD thinks this piece, written by a Bowling Green football fan, qualifies as Coacha Inconsolata writing.

You tend to get CI when a football team is so vile – a complete loser on the field, with a heavy emphasis on criminality – that the choice for booster/journalists becomes very stark: Either contempt or sympathy. Either you allow yourself to acknowledge – and even express – the disgust that the sickening reality of the local team makes you feel, or you cast about for some way to redeem an unredeemable spectacle. You rifle (riffle?) the mythic-familiar and conjure a fallen world whose gratuitous malignity brutalizes Our Mother of the Gridiron, the coach.


Heat Rising on Bowling Green’s [Coach] Jinks as Arrests Pile Up

Not that Jinks recruited the heat; the heat just satanically piled up from Hades.

The team, the writer notes, is at “the bottom of the standings,” but “No. 1 in the country in offseason arrests.”

Off-season, mind you; there are almost always far more crimes committed during the season.

The writer pithily sums things up:

Six wins in two years.

Five arrests in six months.

Can we say the obvious? Can we say that this is the result you get with a really really shitty coach and program?

No, no. The writer goes on to praise the coach for dismissing the naughty players (what a saint: most coaches would keep dangerous people on campus), and for spouting the most amazing stream of sports cliches in his own defense that UD has ever seen — more even than that scene in Bull Durham. The writer actually quotes the coach’s entire statement in the piece.

The coach, he concludes, is “a good guy,” tasked with the “inherent challenges of monitoring more than 100 college kids.” Problem is, his “inexperienced staff” (another cross he has to bear) “is recruiting too many marginal characters out of self-preservation.” They’re doing it out of self-preservation, after all! Nobody else wants these dudes, but Bowling Green has to take them because … no one else will …

The Vector of Sadness

From an essay about Buddhism by Adam Gopnik:

Secularized or traditional, the central Buddhist epiphany remains essential: the fact of mortality makes loss certain. For all the ways in which science and its blessed godchild scientific medicine have reduced the overt suffering that a human life entails, the vector to sadness remains in place, as much as it did in the Buddha’s time. Gotama’s death, from what one doctor describes as mesenteric infarction, seems needlessly painful and gruesome by modern standards; this is the kind of suffering we can substantially alleviate. But the universal mortality of all beings—the fact that, if we’re lucky, we will die after seventy years or so—is not reformable. The larger problem we face is not suffering but sadness, and the sadness is caused by the fact of loss. To love less in order to lose less seems like no solution at all, but to see loss squarely sounds like wisdom. We may or may not be able to Americanize our Buddhism, but we can certainly ecumenicize our analgesics. Lots of different stuff from lots of different places which we drink and think and do can help us manage. Every faith practice has a different form of comfort to offer in the face of loss, and each is useful. Sometimes it helps to dwell on the immensity of the universe. Sometimes it helps to feel the presence of ongoing family and community. Sometimes it helps to light a candle and say a prayer. Sometimes it helps to sit and breathe.

And while we’re on the subject of …

mutilating infant genitals (see my back and forth with Dennis, a reader, in the comment thread to this post): In 2014, Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court mandated that a woman pay $140 a day until she agreed to circumcise her son.

She just, you know, didn’t want to. Turns out it ain’t a choice.


Except that Israel does have a higher court: The Israeli High Court. And they struck down the rabbis’ ruling.

The High Court decision to stop a mother from being forced into circumcising her son upholds the principle that no state body can force its citizens into keeping Jewish law. If Israel is to keep both parts of its Jewish and democratic character, it must never tip the scales into coercive religious law, whether judicial or otherwise.

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