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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

When in . . .

By Yochonon Donn


DEMEANING? Hillary and Chelsea Clinton dressed (involuntarily?) in non-Western garb. Front Page news?




New York's Republican candidate for mayor was harshly criticized for respecting an Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn congregation's religious custom. A double standard?


JewishWorldReview.com |

mROOKLYN— Ever see the picture of President Barack Obama wearing a Somali tribal costume? Hillary Clinton with a Muslim headscarf? Britain's Prince William shoeless?

Elected officials, world-renowned journalists and even civil rights activists when, in Rome, do like the Romans.

Women cover their hair when going into a mosque. And visitors — when turning up at a temple — remove their shoes at a Hindu one and don bandanas at a Sikh.

There is, after all, a certain standard of behavior that is universally recognized as just the decent thing for a visitor to do.

Well, not always.

When New York's Republican mayoral candidate, Joe Lhota, wandered into a synagogue in Brooklyn's heavily Chassidic Boro Park neighborhood Wednesday as the congregation held services, the city's full court press converged to falsely report the details of how three women accompanying him were booted.

Men and women in Orthodox and Chassidic Judaism, it must be remembered, never mix at prayer in order to keep their attention on the Divine and not each other.

"Joe Lhota does nothing as women with him are kicked out of Brooklyn synagogue," screamed a New York Daily News headline. "Lhota campaigns at men-only ultra-Orthodox synagogue," blared Newsday.

The City, after all, needed to be on high alert.

In Gotham, of all places, yet another anti-woman GOP candidate was gaining ground, don't you see. He needed to be stopped!



As he walked through Boro Park's business district on Wednesday afternoon, Lhota, having just come from meeting a Chassidic delegation where the same "booted" women participated, made an impromptu stop to take a peek at a neighborhood landmark, Congregation Shomer Shabbos. The storefront synagogue -- they have those in Brooklyn -- is truly unique in it offers prayer services nearly around the clock.

Out of respect -- and of his own volition -- Lhota voluntarily decided to don a yarmulke. When he walked in, there were no stares. The shul's approximately dozen denizens were all davening (praying).

Along with Lhota and his mostly male entourage, were a female NYPD officer, a female aide and Erin Durkin, a New York Daily News reporter. Since the congregation was at prayer, the group were politely asked to separate for a few moments until after Lhota emerged.

Apparently given the nature of the unscheduled peeking and the candidate's limited schedule there wasn't sufficient time for the women to go to the lady's section.

Durkin immediately took to Twitter to voice her displeasure at being "ejected".

"Female reporters and staffers ejected from [Lhota] stop at Borough Park synagogue," she tweeted.

Seeing the tweet, I asked Durkin what Lhota had to do with the request to leave, which was done on religious grounds.

"Oh, I did not mean he had anything to do with that," she told me.

OOPS! Too late.

So began a 24-hour period in which hallowed Jewish law was ridiculed in the media, thrown in with the usual fare that marked the tabloids' coverage of this year's circus-like mayoral campaign.


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It's just another day, another issue for the media.

But is it, really?

When politics creeps into our shuls, and Judaism's 3,000-year-old traditions are treated with the cynical brush of the 24-hour news cycle, it's a sad day for America and an even more tragic one for human decency.

The Associated Press quoted the Democratic candidate, Bill de Blasio, opining outside a Manhattan rally Thursday that he found it "perplexing" that Lhota would have "organized an event" in a "situation [where] women wouldn't have access to."

It is a disheartening quote. Not because de Blasio is incorrect — Lhota's aides should indeed have prevented the situation from occurring. But because the mainstreaming of such notions cheapens the sanctity of shuls for the politics of moment. (It also was not an "organized event," but a spontaneous stop.)

A "no comment" would have been far more appropriate and sensitive, especially for a former councilman who knows better. Not long ago de Blasio actually represented parts of that very community.

Confronted afterward by the media scrum, Lhota responded well. He defends the rights of practitioners of a faith to decide their own religious laws and customs.

"I will not as mayor violate their First Amendment constitutional rights for their religious practices," the Republican promised.

Lhota is to be commended for his defense of Jewish tradition, but he got it wrong for basing his position on the Constitution.

Respect of another's religious beliefs and customs is a matter of decency, not a question of right or wrong --- legal or otherwise.

For thousands of years Jews who live synagogue-centered lives have made sure that, even as social norms have waxed and waned, those who come to pray actually wind up doing do so without distraction --- no matter how fleeting the moment or under what circumstances.

It figures then that when entering a synagogue, visitors conduct themselves with that in mind.

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Yochonon Donn, a periodic JWR contributor, is political and local news editor at Hamodia, the Daily Newspaper of Torah Jewry.


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© 2013, Yochonon Donn