And, if you act now, I’ll throw in TWO twenty percent off discount coupons for High Holiday services 2020 at the synagogue of your choice!

The spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Rabbi Shalom Cohen, has promised Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Blue and White co-chairman Yair Lapid the afterlife if they join a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties.

… “Liberman and Lapid, know that I do not hate anyone,” said [Shalom] Cohen at a ‘greet your rabbi’ event held by Shas in Jerusalem on Tuesday night. “I welcome everyone with love. I am certain that you did not intend to anger God, just the politicians, and the proof is that you have not been given the ability to form an evil government. I say here to Lapid and Liberman: if you now join a government with the ultra-Orthodox , you will merit a divine voice that will come forth [from Heaven] and declare ‘Liberman and Lapid are invited to the world to come.’”

Robertson: “He’s in danger of losing the mandate of heaven.”

Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.

Know Your Enemy.

[Indonesia’s] apparently progressive President had been compelled to install one of the nation’s most famous conservative figures, Maruf Amin, as his vice-presidential candidate. [They subsequently won the election.] As chair of Indonesia’s most powerful Islamic council, Maruf oversaw fatwas against religious minorities, calls for the death penalty for gay sex and the support of female genital mutilation as “a form of honour for women”.

‘Last month, an Azerbaijani woman smothered her 14-year-old granddaughter to death for refusing to wear the niqab outside her tent.’

Family values, al-Hawl.

He prayed and prayed and prayed on him until he felt worshipped into it.

“It is undisputed that Rick Singer prayed on Stephen [Semprevivo], and parents like him, in his 25-million-dollar racketeering bonanza, that to some real extent makes Stephen a victim,” [the Varsity Blues parent’s lawyer] wrote.

‘Making friends as an adult without a weekly congregation is hard. Establishing a weekend routine to soothe Sunday-afternoon nerves is hard. Reconciling the overwhelming sense of life’s importance with the universe’s ostensible indifference to human suffering is hard. Although belief in god is no panacea for these problems, religion is more than a theism. It is a bundle: a theory of the world, a community, a social identity, a means of finding peace and purpose, and a weekly routine. Those, like me, who have largely rejected this package-deal, often find themselves shopping a la carte for meaning, community, and routine to fill a faith-shaped void. Their politics is a religion. Their work is a religion. Their spin class is a church. And not looking at their phone for several consecutive hours is a Sabbath.’

Intriguing essay about the quite rapid rise of atheism in America.

“When it comes to future peace, if it happens, and whatever obligations come from it, there is no real inherent difference between the right-wing bloc and the left-wing bloc, it’s all completely cosmetic. The conditions for peace will be made by the great powers – the US and the Soviet bloc.”

Israel’s religious parties: Scripted by Woody Allen.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Mike Lofgren’s column makes UD all nostalgic for the rapeabilliest campus in America, and its late lamented leader, Ken Starr!

One of Epstein’s lawyers was Ken Starr.

Yes, that Ken Starr, independent counsel of Bill Clinton-era fame, that half Eagle Scout, half Cotton Mather for whom, apparently, all sex was illicit.  Despite his ostentatious revulsion [against] the White House malefaction that he investigated with merciless thoroughness, he managed to be much more broad-minded defending pedophilia and sex trafficking charges when, in 2007, Epstein offered him a big payday.

Starr’s subsequent presidency of Baylor (the largest Baptist university campus in the world), from which he was fired for doing nothing about reports of campus rape later sustained in court, shows a similar moral relativism. It appears our high-level criminal class needs a sanctimonious front man or two to keep the Bible thumpers in line.

Time for Oberlin to Smear the Entire Jury as White Supremacists and Picket their Homes.

Pending an appeal, that’s their only move.

This is one angry jury; they just added $33 million in damages. See this post for details.

Why are they so angry? I’m gonna go ahead and guess.

  1. Most people really hate bullies.
  2. The jury perceives itself to be defending not just a family but a way of life, and the reputation of its community (which, by the way, voted for Hillary Clinton). These are things they take very seriously.
  3. Oberlin has throughout this fiasco handled things with the delicacy, kindness, and rationality of Donald Trump. In the way of Trump, it has basically, and repeatedly, dismissed the jury as losers. The jury did not take this well.

Oberlin at this point desperately needs an outside public relations firm. But apparently it is too clueless even to realize that.


UD thanks tp.


Crowds of obnoxious Israeli ultraorthodox (there’s no real sense in railing against them, since they will in a few years be ruling a halachic religious state… but let’s fight the good fight anyway) scream every Saturday at people trying to enjoy their dinner at a Jerusalem restaurant. No one’s allowed to open a restaurant on the Sabbath, see.

The eatery’s owner decided she’d had enough; she and her female waitstaff waded into the crowd of ultras and pulled up their blouses to expose their bras, which scared the ultras away.

“Klil Lifshitz, the 28-year-old lesbian who opened Bastet 2 1/2 years ago with a ‘super feminist’ wait staff rather than decamp to liberal Tel Aviv as most of her friends had,” is my heroine; she scared away the ultras.

Maybe if they had some military experience the ultras would be able to stand up to a few bras.

Surely Klil’s next tactic (when the boys get it up enough to come back) is mooning… and after that, well, UD just can’t say.

Herd Instinct + Political Correctness: A Most Expensive Confection.

A slice of Oberlin College’s administration, students, and faculty ganged up on a local bakery.

Oberlin College staff — including deans and professors — and students engaged in demonstrations in front of Gibson’s Bakery following the arrests of … three students, [a] lawsuit [filed by the bakery] stated. The suit also said Oberlin Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo and other college staff members “handed out hundreds of copies” of a flier to the community and the media stating that Gibson’s Bakery and its owners racially profiled and discriminated against the three students. The court documents include a copy of the flier, which included the words “DON’T BUY.” “This is a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION,” the flier read, according to the lawsuit.The flier also listed 10 of the bakery’s competitors and urged customers to shop there instead.


Students carried signs accusing the bakery owners of white supremacy or simply saying “Fuck Gibson’s.”


All three students eventually confessed, one to having tried to steal wine, and two others to physically attacking a person from the bakery who tried to stop them as they exited the store.

A jury just told Oberlin to pay the bakery eleven million dollars. Punitive damages – to be decided later – may raise that figure quite a bit.

A subtle moral lesson for Oberlin students from the people who run their school:

  1. Rush to judgment.
  2. Pay for your mistake with other people’s tuition money.



Update: Those who argue that this was a bad decision, with frightening implications for free speech on campuses, make two points:

  1. It is impossible to assess what damage was done to the bakery by a concerted effort (large protest gatherings in front of the store and broadly disseminated messages to the community to boycott Gibson’s because it was and had long been a racist institution) to shut it down.
  2. The attack on the bakery did not come from officials who speak on behalf of Oberlin. Thus, “to punish a college for not reining in its students, administrators, and faculty even when they are not speaking on the college’s behalf represents an extraordinary threat to academic freedom and to freedom of speech.”

As to #1, you can see from these clashing financial experts at the trial that Oberlin did itself no favors by hiring as their expert someone who dismissed out of hand any evidence of harm to the business. No doubt the guy on the other side inflated stuff, but Oberlin’s problem lies in the fact that when a crowd of people vociferously and steadfastly condemns a business as racist, it’s reasonable to expect long-term damage. UD grants that we’re in a rather gray zone here, but if she consults her own response to obscene deep-rooted bigots of the sort the Oberlin literature about Gibson’s evoked (she shrinks away as fast as possible), it’s intuitively obvious to her that many people are going to stay away from the bakery. Serious damage will ensue.

On #2: Actually, a college should – must – rein in people like the Oberlin vice-president and dean of students who stirred up the student body against an innocent business (UD personally thinks the deathblow in that trial came from the parade of African American locals who testified that far from a racist location, Gibson’s Bakery was a place of love) and in texts boasted of her ability to organize the students to do her bidding. Oberlin might have saved itself a lot of grief if it at least issued a statement acknowledging that this woman acted badly. Intemperate ideologues who rush, disastrously, to judgment, don’t seem to UD the very best candidates for deans of students; but if you insist on hiring them, you should be prepared to distance yourself when they make a mess of things. If you choose not to distance yourself, you should be prepared to absorb some legal blows.

Rabbi William Handler: Leave the Sucking of Our Infants’ Genitals to Us…

and the same goes for child sex abuse cases, and of course the matter of our little ones’ vaccinations.

School for Scandal

Another WE CHILDHOOD MEASLES school has been shut down by New York City.

‘As per the Islamic rules, the body parts of women should not be shown out[side].’

Islamic scholars heard from on the burqa.

‘[A] powerful subgroup is continuing to ignore’ the imperative to vaccinate their children.

Sad opinion piece in the New York Times, by a Hasidic Jew distraught at the failure of significant numbers of his fellow orthodox to protect their children – and the rest of us – from disease. Here’s the most interesting passage of an essay that rehearses ironclad destructive know-nothingism in several aspects (these most notoriously at the moment include the un-education of children and certain grotesque forms of circumcision) of the larger ultraorthodox community – not merely in the anti-vaccination preaching of a powerful subgroup within that community.

Whether out of shortsightedness or strategic malice, some of our religious leaders have directly fostered an atmosphere where thorough research is sneered at, the scientific method is doubted and the motivations of professionals are assumed to be nefarious and steeped in anti-religious animus.

Hardly shortsightedness, is it? I mean, that’s a pretty innocuous word, suggesting that if we can only point out the longer-term results of various rabbis’ behavior, they will maybe change it. No, the author’s use of the phrase strategic malice is far more interesting. The author’s rightly seeking a nasty motive for a nasty set of behaviors. Malice against whom? Strategic in regard to what end? (If he’d written ignorant malice, we could say What do you expect, given the appalling state of education in many American yeshivas? Weep for where the rejection of enlightened modernity lands you…)

The author repeats the word strategic at the end of his essay: Certain religious leaders are exhibiting “the strategic deployment of a siege mentality.” What’s the percentage, for powerful rabbis, of inculcating in their followers an outside-world-rejectionist mentality so severe as to mentally and physically cripple significant numbers of their children for life, and to put the health of the rest of us at risk because of their followers’ behavior? Answer: It’s obvious. These men are insanely power-hungry. As in other abusive, endgame cults, this is how cult leaders totally control people. Unto besieged death.

And, to use the technical term, this is nuts, ain’t it?


Nuts it may be, but it’s hardly unprecedented or enigmatic behavior. Mildly cultic groups notoriously spin off radical subcults (see Warren Jeffs and the like), and respectable sects know to shun their various psycho subsectarians. Maybe they’ve got people sucking infants’ penises and thereby infecting and sometimes killing them. Maybe they’re infecting their own children with measles. “While it is reasonable to allow adults to martyr themselves to their religion, it is not reasonable to allow them to martyr their children,” says an observer.

UD‘s pretty sure it ain’t reasonable to allow adults to self-martyrize either; but anyway the theme within some orthodox Jewish communities of – in a remarkable number of ways – martyring their children is lately unignorable. Yet these communities – often modern as well as ultra – seem incapable of the shunning that other secretive and tight-knit religious communities are able to accomplish. (Not that they don’t love to shun! They just seem to shun the wrong things.) Nor is New York City’s government willing to go there. So here we are.

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