Chosen: Crimes and Misdemeanors

By Shmarya Rosenberg

The Weekly Blotter

The Spinka Rebbe, Naftali Tzvi Weisz, turned himself in to federal prison authorities this week. Weisz, 62, began serving a two year sentence for money laundering. (Failed Messiah)

A 19-year-old Brooklyn woman, Nechama Rothberger, was charged with criminally negligent homicide earlier this week. Rothberger struck and killed the owner of a Chinese restaurant, Tian Sheng Lin, in September. Prosecutors allege Rothberger was texting at the time of the accident. (New York Post)

Henry Kissinger, President Nixon’s National Security Advisor and a Jew, told Nixon that  “The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.” (New York Times)

That revelation, released in a new series of Nixon White House tapes this week, angered Jews worldwide, and Kissinger sought to clarify what he told Nixon more than forty years earlier. Kissinger now claims his remark was directed at Jewish community support for the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which tied US relations with the Soviet Union to Human Rights issues, which he felt was undermining US foreign policy.  “I think that the Jewish community in this country on that issue is behaving unconscionably,” Kissinger claims he said to Nixon moments after his “gas chamber” comment. “It’s behaving traitorously.” (Forward)

A fake religion created by a Seinfeld writer and his father and used in an episode of the show was cited by a non-Jewish inmate seeking better, healthier food. The judge ruled in the inmate’s favor, granting his request to be put on the prison’s kosher meal program. (Patch)

An Orthodox woman, Sonja Kohn, who is a prominent Austrian banker, was accused this week of conspiring with fraudster Bernard Madoff for 23 years, funneling almost $9 billion into his Ponzi scheme. Kohn is being sued for $19.6 billion dollars. (New York Times / Dealbook)

Chabad’s Crown Heights beit din, religious court, ordered all Lubavitchers to stop speaking to the media, publishing blogs, or reporting Chabad criminals to police, citing a Jewish law that forbids informing on another Jew to secular authorities. (New York Daily News)

Brooklyn’s D.A. Charles Hynes, seen by many as being weak on ultra-Orthodox crime, responded to the Chabad beit din’s ruling by telling  the Catholic League’s William Donohue that, “in the 21 years I’ve served as Brooklyn’s District Attorney I have never been deterred by anyone including the various Beth Dins in Brooklyn from fulfilling my responsibilities as the Chief Law Enforcement Official of Kings County.” (Spero News)

Former glatt kosher meat king Sholom Rubashkin’s defense fund is almost empty, the fund’s chief evangelist says. “We’re at the bottom of the barrel. We’re desperate.” Rubashkin, a Chabad rabbi, was convicted on 86 federal fraud and money laundering counts related to his family’s kosher meat plant, Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa. Rubashkin was also accused of grossly mistreating his largely immigrant workforce. The defense fund claims to have raised – and spent – about $2 million dollars so far. (The Jewish Star)

Israel deported about 150 Sudanese refugees this week, one third of them children. The refugees, primarily Christians, were sent to Southern Sudan where they face the possibility of imminent civil war and death. Indeed, the Muslim north bombed the south earlier this month, and the north has a long and documented history of murder, rape and torture of southern Christians. Israel claims the deportations were really voluntary, but human rights activists doubt it, noting that Israel’s treatment of the refugees was so poor, many of them spoke of going back to Sudan only so they could die in their homeland rather than die on the streets of Tel Aviv. (Ha’aretz)

The Antidote

An Orthodox Jewish millionaire from Brooklyn donated $13 million dollars to the Government of Israel earmarked for repairing the damage caused by a massive brush fire that killed more than 40 people earlier this month. The millionaire asked to remain anonymous. (Jerusalem Post)

Shmarya Rosenberg publishes His reporting has been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, Forward, JTA and many other publications. He was named to both the Forward 50 and the Heeb 100 in 2008.

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About The Author

Shmarya Rosenberg

Shmarya Rosenberg has been published in Newsweek/The Daily Beast, Moment Magazine, the Forward, Tablet, StarTribune, Jewcy, Sh'ma and Heeb, and was profiled in the New York Times, Ha'aretz and the Jerusalem Post. His work has been cited in dozens of newspapers and broadcast media sources worldwide, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Observer, AP, Des Moines Register, Ha'aretz, Jerusalem Post, and CNN and CNBC's America Greed. He is the publisher and editor of

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