I found myself at the Kotel, or Western Wall, yesterday. Even though I live within walking distance of this profoundly moving site, the holiest in all Judaism, I don’t actually go very often. But a Bar Mitzvah invitation from American friends saw us get up early and walk through the Old City.
We took a shortcut through the Arab souk, deserted and a bit eerie so early in the morning. I was glad when we reached the turnoff to the security area leading to the Kotel. To my surprise, extra guards were stationed before the …
…continue reading Shrieking at the Kotel
I was watching another one of Pat Condell’s marvelous rants on YouTube when by chance I came across this stunning video created by an ex-Muslim who grew up in the Middle East and attended Islamic schools. Her explanation of Islam left me in shock and awe. So clear. So unequivocal. It cuts through all the insane chatter, the talking heads, the politically-correct, dim-witted speech.
You HAVE TO listen to her. Only then will you truly understand what is going on in the world, the “refugees”, ISIS, Islamic faith, etc. etc. …
To see this brave …
…continue reading An Ex-Muslim’s Short and Brilliant Explanation of Islam
Some of you might have heard about the cult pretending to be devout Jews called “Lev Tahor,” wanted all over the world for child abuse and forcing young underage girls into marriages with much older men.
The prestigious magazine Foreign Policy has published an eye-opening article about the cult that reads like my latest novel, Devil in Jerusalem, which is also about a dangerous cult pretending to be super-devout Jews.
You can read the article here (no subscription required).
Those seeking holiness, beware!
Dear Friends, You are all cordially invited to join me for a book reception at 10:30 AM on Sunday on 8 November 2015 at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun at 125 E 85th Street in Manhattan. The event will take place under the auspices of the highly respected synagogue as well as the Institute of Jewish Ideas and Ideals, headed by my dear friend and mentor, Rabbi Marc Angel.
I will be speaking about my new novel (my tenth!) The Devil In Jerusalem, which will be published this coming Tuesday, 13 October. …
…continue reading My New Book and Lecture Tour
What happens when rabbis prey on people’s need for holiness?
The wave broke slowly. First, one woman from a close-knit National Religious community in Safed approached the town’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, son of Israel’s former Sephardic chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, describing how the charismatic rabbinical head of her community, a man credited with “magical powers,” had raped her. Over the next month, more than ten women came forward. Their stories were shockingly similar: When they sought rabbinical counseling on marital and fertility issues, their rabbi/counselor advised them to submit to sexual acts with him.
…continue reading An Abuse of Sacred Trust
All he wanted was to see women naked. Lots of men are like that. Hence the tsunami of internet porn. The difference is, he was a Rabbi, and instead of watching anonymous women who enjoy showing off their bodies, he was secretly taping his married congregants, candidates for conversion, and young college students as they showered and purified themselves in his synagogue’s ritual bath, many doing so at his demand as their religious mentor as they struggled to complete their conversion.
Much has been written and much said about the Barry Freundel scandal. Freundel, who was …
…continue reading Protest The Outrageous Leniency of the Barry Freundel Verdict
My son brought the kids over today. While I was still furiously attacking the chametz (bread crumbs for the uninitiated, which are the foe of every devout Jewish housewife this time of year), I am always thrilled to spend time with my grandchildren.
They had just seen the cartoon version of the exodus from Egypt, Prince of Egypt, produced back in the Nineties. While cartooning has improved fantastically since then, they were so excited by the experience, they couldn’t stop talking, each one interrupting the other.
We took them out for pizza, and the last cupcake …
…continue reading The Greatest Story Ever Told
Dear friends, read this article – it’s the best explanation I have EVER seen of the differences between Islam and the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Judaism’s beginnings are rooted in the cultures of the ancient Near East, brutal autocracies whose idolatrous religions featured child sacrifice and temple prostitutes and whose military tactics included massacring entire towns and enslaving captured populations to build massive royal tombs. The Hebrew slaves who escaped this dismal fate emerged from their desert wanderings with a Torah that rejected those cultural mores and enjoined the Israelites to build a better world, where …
…continue reading The Vision of Islam
Perhaps because we live in the Holy Land, the idea of closeness to our Maker, and adherence to His will, is commonplace even among the most secular Israeli, particularly around Rosh Hashana, when Israelis from all backgrounds and religious levels turn their hearts and minds toward the idea of spiritual growth and healing, trying to find their way to a more intimate relationship with their God.
This longing for a purer life, has, unfortunately, given rise to a vast number of psychopathic and criminal gurus, ranging from completely secular to ultra-Orthodox, who prey on the most …
…continue reading Religious Experience or Cult?
By supporting Hamas, you are supporting the use of Palestinians as human shields, the use of Palestinian children to dig terror tunnels in which 160 have died, and the summary execution of Palestinians by Hamas thugs whenever they open their mouths to protest the use of their homes, school, mosques, or hospitals as weapons caches and missile launching sites.
I’m not sure the people who need to hear this will ever hear it, but I want my conscience to be clear that I said it to them.
Dear Human Rights Activist, Leftist Liberal, Crying-for-the-poor-children, Israel-hating, Hamas-forgiving, …
…continue reading This Is What You Are Really Telling Us
Fear of ostracism—not lack of conviction—prevents some haredi men from enlisting.
A day before the haredi “million man march” called to protest the new drafting of yeshiva students, I sat in my synagogue in Jerusalem’s German Colony as Rabbi Benny Lau got up to speak. This rabbi is no stranger to the haredi world; he is the nephew of the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Meir Lau, and cousin to the present Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, David Lau. But the congregation was not surprised to hear him lash out with vehemence against the planned protest. Calling it …
…continue reading “I Want to Serve, but …”
Why would some of the top educators in the haredi world fear apostasy in those students exposed to secular life? Is their education so poor, their faith so weak, that any exposure at all will see their beliefs wilt like hothouse flowers brought out into the fresh air?
I gave a lecture on literature last week in the library of Kibbutz Magen, right near the Gaza border.
The Eshkol Regional Council in the northwestern Negev, in which the kibbutz is situated, has been bombarded by rocket fire from Gaza for years, its workers getting killed, …
…continue reading Rebels Without a Cause
Whether it is a tolerance for radical and objectionable political views, or a lax and forgiving response to dangerous and illegal behavior, sometimes the compassionate thing to do breeds a culture of forgiveness towards wrong and evil that contaminates and weakens our attempts to live moral lives, creating only more misery.
I came across a video someone sent me on Facebook about a haredi grandfather in B’nai Brak whose five year-old grandson was left accidentally in a hot car by a young teacher and neighbor who was asked to drive him home as a favor. The …
…continue reading Compassion
Even if I don’t have the guts to let the whole, sordid truth hang out, perhaps incidentally my books have encouraged others to do so. If that is true, then I am glad.
I received a letter the other day from a reader. As with all respectful letters I receive from readers, I read it in its entirety and answered it. Because I don’t have permission to reveal the author’s name, let’s just call her Chava from Brooklyn:
I just finished reading your latest novel, The Sisters Weiss. While I enjoyed parts of it, …
…continue reading Mirror, mirror
Several high-profile Israeli rabbis have come under fire for less-than-holy schemes
On November 17, 2013, to the disgust and embarrassment of Jews all over the world—but particularly religious Jews in Israel—Israeli police arrested the former chief rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger. The former occupant of the highest official rabbinic office of the land and also a dayan, or judge, on the Rabbinical Supreme Court, Metzger was accused of receiving bribes, money laundering and fraud amounting to millions of shekels. He is accused not only of pocketing money earmarked for charity, but also of accepting bribes to …
…continue reading The Wonder Workers
Friends, here is a report from Friday’s English language edition of Haaretz, Israel’s most respected newspaper, explaining what the Supreme Court ruling in my favor really means.
Writer Ragen vindicated in plagiarism court deal by Maya Sela
A compromise agreement that represented an almost total victory for best-selling author Naomi Ragen was reached in the Supreme Court copyright violation suit against her. Then Jerusalem District Court Judge Joseph Shapira [now State Comptroller] had found in favor of author Sarah Shapiro, ruling that Ragen had violated Shapiro’s copyright. Ragen then appealed to the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, …
…continue reading Naomi Ragen Vindicated in “Almost Total Victory”