Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Constant own goals

Vaad Lemaan Tohar Hamachaneh letter Iyar 5774

The above was sent to me with the following text:

The matchless Vaad Lemaan Intimidation of the Machane has come close to scoring a spectacular own goal by shielding an apparently known abuser. Local moisdos (and possibly others) recently received the attached letter.

Phoning the mobile number given during the designated times goes straight to a pre-recorded message saying only that the person concerned is "Mrs [X]" (that narrows it down, then - presumably it might possibly be the choshuva rebbetzin) and saying that if you want more help, to call 020 xxxx xxxx. Calling that number gets you another voicemail message asking you to leave a message. Having done so, you then eventually get a call back in person from one of the stalwarts of the heilige Va'ad, who "having taken legal advice" explains that, leider, they can't give out her first name. But she is an [X] [X] who has been "abusing against boys", but it seems she's AC/DC and is choshud for girls as well.

Shame, otherwise it wouldn't be so bad and she could be given a safe job in one of our chadorim and the whole thing could be kept quiet. And she has teenage children of her own. And she lives on [X] Road (we could be getting close to identifiable details here...).

And the goyim are sort of aware of her but not really, and it would be worse for her if she was properly reported to them for what she is thought or known to have done or planned to do, so the Vaad is keeping everyone safe in this much preferable way. Everyone, that is, unless you happen to be a goy. Or a modern-orthodox Yid (I use the term Yid loosely of course). Etc.

Shameful.

Someone should advise the said woman to undergo a gender reassignment and she’ll be perfectly safe. She might even be asked to fill the empty plinth on the rabbinate.

Friday, 25 April 2014

So who’s a ‘mooser’, Pinter?

yhs mooser

Click to enlarge

The email you see above (read it slowly and savour the chill as it courses up your spine) appeared in the inbox of a parent trying to get his child into Yesodey Hatorah School. After getting nowhere with the school’s admissions supremo, namely one Abraham/Avrohom/Avraham/Avrumi Pinter, the parent chanced upon the idea of raising his case with The Learning Trust and other public bodies who might be able to assist. The parent had exhausted his efforts with communal bodies and rabbonim but with little to show for it, which will come as no surprise to us locals. And so he started badgering outside bodies in the hope that they can wield the stick that gets our bigwigs quaking in their oversized trousers. This, it appears, earned him the honour to be at the receiving end of the above email.

I should add that without an apparent provenance (though do note the sender's ever so clever address) the email may be a mere coincidence with no connection to YHS and its content entirely unrelated to the dealings that the parent was having at the time with our dear friend Pinter. It would be a strange coincidence, especially as similar letters have been sent to parents at a similar juncture in their dealings with the very same person and some even referring to the addressee's skirmishes with Yesodey Hatorah, but then strange things do happen.

In yet another instance concerning YHS admissions, the case went to the UOHC Beth Din which issued a ruling unfavourable to the school. So what did wily Pinter do? To frustrate the Beth Din decision he immediately set about changing the school's constitution. And when he was caught and warned that his efforts would be brought to the attention of the Charity Commission Pinter reverted to form: 'Mooser' he cried.

But change the constitution he did anyway. Or to be more precise, he closed down the charity altogether and started a new outfit with a very different constitution. For a start, he purged the school of the pesky rabbinical committee and so leaving it with no formal rabbinical oversight. (This has its perks too especially if you wish to invite a pornographer to the opening of a chareidi girls' school.) Besides for the rabbis, a large board of trustees was also disposed of and instead a few stooges were installed to act as Pinter's front. This grants him de facto internal control of the school with any outside challenge instantly repelled with the 'M' word, or the deed, depending on the expediency of the moment.

Whatever the case, Pinter is no stranger to mesirah whether accusing others or allegedly engaging in it himself. Some years ago there were pashkeviln denouncing him for having allegedly reported a local family to some official body or other. For far as Pinter is concerned 'M' is where the alphabet ends if not begins.

And why am I telling you all of this, you may be wondering? Well, if you've been following the local rumour mill you will probably have heard that of late few things can go wrong in town without this blog and its alleged author being somewhat implicated. It must be only a matter of time before the Keddasia Pesach-non-Kosher-LePesach meat nets and the curious case of the local shul injuncting its rabbi are somehow found to bear this blog's imprimatur. Specifically, first-hand reports suggest that Pinter has been claiming that blame for the failure of his cack-handed attempt to redact GCSE exam questions and the recent Ofsted inspections of local yeshives may be laid at the door of the alleged yours truly. As they say, it takes one to know one.

So before I go on let me set the record straight on this rather important point:

No one associated with this blog, allegedly or otherwise, has made any report or provided any information to Ofsted in respect of boys' education, be they yeshives or talmud torahs based in Stamford Hill or elsewhere. Similarly, no one associated with this blog has made any complaint or provided any information to Ofsted, Ofqual, the British Humanist Association or the National Secular Society in respect of the redacting of exam questions or the content of GCSE curricula.

I hope this is clear enough though it would be too much to expect from those desperate to deflect attention from themselves to let the matter rest at this. Indeed, one would expect nothing less from so fine a practitioner of the dark arts of dirty tricks and smears as Pinter, honed to perfection over decades in the tzniusdike salons of kiddush-wine socialists and fellow supporters of the party of chareidi stalwarts like Peter Mandelson and Damian McBride. Heimish to a tee.

However, given Pinter's unrivalled media and networking skills, his chairmanships, principalships, spokesmanships and not to mention his photogenicity (or should that be photogeniality?) you might think that when cornered this brave and heroic man would don some pugilistic handgear, figuratively of course, and strike back. Or at least defend himself.

Unfortunately, it falls to me to disabuse you of any such notion. It appears that at the time or place Pinter took his media course, crisis management was not a module on offer. They may have managed their budget the way Yesodey Hatorah does (25% unspent) and restricted their curriculum to the minimum they could get away with. Very difficult to know in the secretive world of some institutions.

The net result, however, is that we have ended up with a run-of-the-mill playground bully who doesn't just cower in a corner when under attack but makes himself invisible altogether . Whether it be allegations of child abuse in the community for which he has appointed himself spokesman and a lot more, rabbinic abuse within the communal body where he acts as a trustee, school 'admissions', unqualified teenage teachers for GCSE subjects, redaction of exam questions, a wedding hall extortion racket, even a school complaint directed at him or indeed the email above, whatever the case Pinter, like McCavity, is nowhere to be seen.

And stupid me had been thinking that 'bullies are cowards' is just not a toiredike concept.

Friday, 4 April 2014

A Tale of Two Hatzoles (and two venues)…

… but one singer

What I'm going to write about is so secret and so highly classified that not even all who regularly pop up for photo ops with the old bill and other epauletted worthies are in on this one. But in my mission to keep my readers informed I will nevertheless share it all with you despite the fact that I may be breaching the Official Secrets Act. But please lmaan hashem don't say you heard it from me because I'm in enough hot water as it is and this is one I can do well to avoid.

You must have all heard of last night's kumzitz, between you and me little more than a fancy word for a concert especially when held on leil shishi, which took place at the Walthamstow Town Hall in aid of Hatzole North West. Its star performer was none other than Abraham Fried.

Since the Walthamstow Town Hall is kind of on our turf the rabbis banned it. I mean, what use would rabbis be if they allowed concerts? All you have to do is allow one concert and next they'll be twerking in Yesodey Hatorah at £500 a booty shake. I said our turf with 'our' meaning Stamford Hill, because if you were to measure the distance between the Walthamstow Town Hall and Golders Green Road and the Walthamstow and Stamford Hill we work out closer. In addition, the Walthamstow was once the hall of choice before Yesodey Hatorah came onto the map at £2,500+ a pop and since our crowd hired it more than theirs it further enforces our rabbis’ jurisdiction over events taking place there. This being the case it puts the Walthamstow firmly into our orbit which translated locally means, our rabbis’ sphere of bans.

We haven't invented any of this and Russia nowadays also operates a similar policy in its 'near abroad' and given the commitment of Russia to freedom of expression, democracy and rule of law we have quite a bit in common with Reb Vlad. But let's leave that for another day.

Anyhow, two local rabbis competed with each other over the quality of their handwriting and each wrote a note denouncing the event. To one it was mere frivolity while to the other the concert organisers were no less than emissaries of Satan. This last one then went on to hint darkly at what might befall those daring to attend.

The event went ahead anyway especially as its purpose was not even a local cause and none other than Dayan Abraham gave a talk. So much for the power of bans. To be fair though, those same rabbonim might have preferred a ban to frequent certain establishments in St James or more recently in Stratford. However, as I explained earlier this is a turf war and their writ does not run to those distances. It's tishn they manage not tables.

And so we come to the classified stuff. This coming motzei shabbos Hatzole Stamford Hill will be holding its own fundraising event at £360 a head and with the very same Avraham Fried as its star performer. Yet not a word, handwritten or otherwise, from those who've made it their business to ban all in their sight and a lot more beyond.

It may well be that word of this event has simply not reached the rabbis since the organisers have made a concerted (excuse the pun) effort to keep the local riffraff in the dark. There were no adverts or announcements on ticket sales and only the local refined lot were solicited via a discreet text message. The riffraff is of course good enough for the annual Reich's fress up and lots of photo ops for VIPs so long as they fill up the hall and turn out their wallets, but when it comes to a seated dinner with fine wines please take a haircut before we’ll consider you lot. Of course Hatzole belongs to all of us as we're constantly told and no one would dream of doubting that, but still there are times when the little people and big beards are best kept at a safe distance. Fressing is for the masses, entertainment for the few, appears to be the message.

And not just the people but the rabbis too. Apparently the line up of speakers does not include any Stamford Hill rabbonim despite that it is for the supreme local charity and that truckloads of rabbonim are commandeered annually for the local event when we’re all invited, nay, marched at the end of a barrel but with no wine in sight.

To explain this apparent inconsistency let us return to the turf war we mentioned earlier. You see, Hatzole has thought it wise to hold this melave malke in Kinloss and there lies the answer for it works roughly like this: when Hatzole NW comes onto our territory then they're spat in their face, figuratively of course, because they tend to bring their dirty habits and promiscuous crowds with them and try to corrupt our pure youths by offering some entertainment for all. But when Hatzole Stamford Hill want to let their hair down they climb Archway in the other direction where they're as far as can be from the hoi polloi who know not how to hold a knife and fork and never mind dine in the company of £360-a-headers and for whom fun is a filthy word. And that they are also safe from the interdicting killjoy rabbonim cannot do any harm either.

The two events do however share another feature besides the common singer. Both the NW and SH events was and is for men only. This is undoubtedly to do with the time of year when men face the challenging task of deciding which matzo and wine vintage to opt for and it was felt they deserved a respite from their arduous toils and be afforded the opportunity to wind down with some music and dance. Women on the other hand are already in throes of ecstasy while scrubbing the grouting between the tiles behind the cooker and coaxing out that recalcitrant crumb from under the freezer and with life-affirming mitzvos like that it would be a total waste to indulge them any further.

And so if you're one of the recipients of the cherished text do enjoy your meal and ban-free song especially as it's for a good cause. But do please have in zin to be moitze all us lot who've been left behind.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Horrible Histories

Yesodey Hatorah is holding a fundraising evening and good luck to them for that. They don’t have to pay for the use of the ‘voluntary aided’ wedding hall that is extorted from the rest of us so that’s already £2,500 gained. As they say, every little helps.

As part of the build-up to this annual event, Hamodia has been running a 4-part series, "Yesodey Hatorah - Past and Present",  which is supposed to be a "short historical review of its history". Several photos accompanied the articles with Reb Shmelke Pinter appearing in many of them but not a single photo of that minor inconvenience, Rabbi Pardes, who by chance just happened to found the school.

Hamodia correctionTo be fair to them, they apologised in advance for "unintentional inaccuracies, of which we would be pleased to be informed" and by week 3 some corrections duly appeared. The corrections included a number of local names who had given 'substantial support' to the school and also noted that Reb Dovid Berkowitz was a 'menahel' prior to Pinter senior. I suppose we ought to deduce that other than those few corrections the remainder was accurate to a tee.

 

I hate to rain on their parade but I can't resist pointing out what appears to be a little invention that inexplicably made its way through the army of scholars and highly qualified history teachers who must have fact checked every syllable to ensure that nothing slipped through the barbarians at the gate safeguarding their family’s honour, prestige and not a small fortune. I will leave it for readers to decide whether what follows forms part of the 'unintentional' or whether it has mens rea scribbled all over it. To assist you along with this little brain teaser here is just a small clue: the current 'Principal' of the voluntary aided senior girls' school happens to function as an 'unpaid advisor' to the Hamodia. Could be a red herring or may possibly hold the clue to the puzzle. We may never know.

IMG_00001318Anyhow, back to the 'history'. According to the second instalment of the series (above) the genesis of Yesodey Hatorah school was at a meeting called by Rabbi Pardes in 1942 in war-torn London. Of that meeting the Hamodia has this to say: "Rav Pardes called a meeting attended by Rav Rabinow, Rav Shmelke Pinter" and which included Pinchos Landau, Getzel Berger, Shaul Bodner, Wolf Schiff, Efrayim Nussbaum, Yechiel Schwimmer, Sholom Hanstater and Avrohom and Mendel Getter.

So no mistake there. Pinter the Elder was firmly in attendance at the school's founding meeting and which would make him a co-founder of the school.

Now for some facts. I am told that in 1943 Pinter was a melamed (Hebrew teacher) at the school of 6 year olds. One former pupil told me that Pinter Senior taught him mishanyos. Another former pupil told me that in 1948 Pinter was teaching 8 year olds and that he taught him gemore. Knowing the status of melamdim in general even these days and all the more so then, one can reasonably question whether a future melamed would be invited to a meeting attended by the Great and the Good. But let's leave assumptions and, you might say, prejudices aside and concentrate on the more concrete evidence.

1957, Dec 20 - Part 3The above (click to enlarge) is a JC article from 1957 under Reb Shmelke Pinter's byline who by then was well enough established at the school to be titled Prinicpal. The JC had published an entire supplement that week dedicated to the school and also in aid of a forthcoming fundraising dinner. (Note the Guest of Honour!) . Pinter starts the article with this same epic 1942 meeting and lists all the attendees save for one significant omission. Himself. This begs the question: are we to believe that at a time when he had yet to establish himself as the sole principal operator, his title notwithstanding, he failed to place himself at the centre of the action? Or is it the case that he was simply not there?

A World Apart, 120-121If you are still following me, there is even more to it. This meeting is also mention in A World Apart, The Story of the Chasidim in Britain (London, 1997) by Harry Rabinowicz, and it gives as its source the above JC article. But note how by then myth is surreptitiously replacing fact. In the JC article, Reb Shmelke quotes Rav Pardes addressing the meeting, "We are in serious danger." But in Rabinowicz, published when Reb Shmelke was no longer with us, these epic words are uttered by Rabbi Pardes "clad in tallit and kittel " before Kol Nidrei when he "extracted a solemn pledge from Rabbi Shmelke to establish a Jewish day-school." If this is to be believed, it is remarkable that Reb Shmelke himself mentions none of it in his article back in 1957. But then stranger things have happened in that place.

The myth making does not end there either. A page further Rabinowicz has Pinter acquiring a disused nursing home at 2/4 Amhurst Park in 1948 , which is still the site of the nursery and boys' school. Besides the fact that it was the Getter brothers and Getzel Berger who donated the Amhurst Park buildings, as mentioned above in 1948 Pinter was still a melamed and at that time was acquiring little else but his meagre salary.

Let's leave it to another day to fill in on some of the true history of the school, a lot of which is well worth repeating but unfortunately cannot be spotted by the current ‘owners’ who care for little more than some name dropping. For now, significant omissions in the Hamodia series include the first head of the school Myer Dominitz, the Lieger Rov who was head of Kodesh at the school during some time in the '50s, those who chaired the building fund during the school’s early years, the trustees of the Great Garden Street Talmud Torah of the East End who made substantial donations to the school, the Chief Rabbis and London Beth Din Dayonim who helped it along and many others. Athough Hamodia did mention Wolf Schiff as having attended the founding meeting no mention was made of his running of the school during those difficult early years and without whom the entire project may have folded. (Oh, and shhh don’t mention the boxing match.)

Instead we were fed Pinter ad nauseum and given a roster of gedoilim who stepped in from time to time when paying one of their flying visits but who contributed little to the school. It fits the zeitgeist perfectly, I guess, and so big deal if the historical record is ever so slightly distorted. There are no qualified teachers to check, so who really cares. As we say, there are lies, damn lies and Yesodey Hatorah history.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The iRov

IMG-20140105-WA000

Greetings

I received your letter concerning the intention to install an eiruv in your city [Manchester] and you have explained numerous serious doubts about [the validity of] the eiruv. The rabbonim of here [London] who specialise in the rules of eiruv have also commented to me likewise and told me that there are grave doubts about the eiruv. Besides, supervising an eiruv is a very difficult task and involves large costs and certainly over time it will lead, God forbid, to the desecration of the Shabbos. It has been agreed by the gedoilim of the generation that one should not make an eiruv in large cities like yours and this was also the opinion of my father of blessed memory.

It is therefore your duty to do whatever you can that the [eiruv] should not come to fruition.

In the merit of observing the Shabbos may you be blessed with all good and God will be in your help and may you succeed in all your endeavours.

Your friend who seeks your peace

Moshe Chaim Ephraim Padwa

(Chief Rov of the London based Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations)

What’s worse than having a rov on your Rabbinate in your city allegedly molesting women who come to him for counselling? An eiruv in a city some 200 miles away of course and how silly of me to ask. This is the most pressing issue and requires meddling even in another community’s affairs especially when affairs in your own town are a wee bit complicated, to put it politely.

As a wise man quipped, rather wrestle female arms than wrestle with your own conscience. And if that means knotting yourself up in someone else’s rope it’s still preferable to being the only major Jewish community anywhere in the world that says no to an eiruv. It was after all King Solomon the Wise who instituted the eiruv so you should be able to figure out what it takes to annul it.

But let’s try to understand the murky politics behind this. An eiruv in Manchester will set a very dangerous precedent for us mugs without one and so two wrongs will make one right as they’re wont to do in these parts. The loonies in London and in Manchester have joined a common cause and before not too long they may even institute arm wrestling sessions north of the M1. At Brackmans, the Ladies-who-Lunch must be sick in anticipation. Not to worry lasses, without an eiruv it’s no strings attached.

What however is most interesting is Rabbi Padwa’s newfound concern for matters financial. The apparently astronomical cost of supervising an eiruv is of course unique to the UK and against which hiring a stadium to prevent you reading this very blog post is a mere pittance. This penny pinching may well be connected to the dependency of his community on a whole range of benefits which, unless the powers that march on Westminster on our behalf get their way, may be drastically cut if they haven’t been already.

So let us applaud our dear Rov for his immense bravery and courage and let us hope others will follow his lead and give him and his ilk a taste of their own medicine. Let us get rabbis from Bnei Berak to Brooklyn, from Jerusalem to Johannesburg to proclaim loud and clear why London, Manchester and any other city are not just fit for an eiruv but that it is a mitzvah to install one and the sooner we get one the better. And while they’re at it, they may also wish, as a footnote, to voice an opinion on posing for a photo-op with suspects while under police investigation.