Chosen: Crimes and Misdemeanors

By Shmarya Rosenberg

The Weekly Blotter

A Chabad rabbi, Sholom Dovber Wolpo, who holds no official position in the Chabad movement but who is arguably the most popular rabbi among Chabad followers in Israel, called on settlers to fire on Israeli police and soldiers who tried to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts. Wolpo also threatened civil war over the evacuations. (Ynet)

Facing possible arrest for incitement to violence and sedition, Wolpo later said his words – broadcast in his own voice on an Israeli radio station – were “misconstrued” and that media reports about his statements were “biased.” “God forbid,” Wolpo said, that anyone should fire on soldiers or police. Wolpo then went on to attribute his call to violence as utterances “made as a result of a storm of emotions.” (Ynet)

Two Orthodox army recruits in the Kfir Brigade of Israel’s army told their commanding officer that they were loyal to their rabbi first and the commanding officer second. The recruits were asked about their loyalty because another soldier in that brigade refused to return to the army unless and until the government rebuilt his family’s home in an illegal West Bank outpost. The home had been bulldozed by the government as part of the evacuation process. The commanding officer is said to be in the process of expelling the recruits from the army. In response, more recruits – apparently also Orthodox – threatened mutiny. (Ynet)

A leading Zionist Orthodox rabbi in Israel, Yisrael Rozen, urged members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to “boycott” Member of Knesset Einat Wilf because she is married to a non-Jewish man. “[A] Knesset member in a mixed marriage, for no reason, is more than I can tolerate,” Rozen said. (Ynet)

Brian Greenwald, a mob associate who testified against one of  John Gotti’s most notorious henchmen, begged a judge to leave him in prison rather than release him. Greenwald, who has been in prison for the past 27 months, the last seven in solitary confinement, feared he will be murdered by the mob if he is released. The judge gave Greenwald a choice: leave the courtroom now as a free man or spend the next 60 days in prison while trying to get into the federal witness protection program. Greenwald chose prison. (New York Post)

Joseph Passof, a retired New York City schoolteacher who works as a head counselor at the Flatbush Park Jewish Center Day Camp in Brooklyn, was arrested for allegedly molesting a 5-year-old boy in a bathroom last summer. Passof has pleaded not guilty. (New York Post)

Bernard Freilich, a Satmar hasid from Brooklyn, is not a police officer. He’s a rabbi paid over $100,000 annually as a New York State Police “special assistant,” a political appointment he’s held since Republican Governor George Pataki gave him the job in March 1995. According to the State Police, Freilich functions as a “community liaison” to the Hasidic Jewish community. Other ethnic communities apparently do not have similar liaisons or “special assistants.” Freilich is under fire for allegedly illegally wearing a police badge, illegally parking using an illegal police parking placard, and illegally using flashing red police lights on his SUV. (Albany Times-Union)

Mosdos Chofetz Chaim, a Ramapo, New York yeshiva and kollel (advanced school for married men), has been allowed by the township to occupy housing it built for married students, even though the township has clear evidence Mosdos Chofetz Chaim violated a state judge’s order and illegally occupied the housing. Town officials claim approval last week of the final site plan by the Ramapo Planning Board voids any past violation claims and allows the yeshiva and its housing to operate. (

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis demanded the city of  Jerusalem cancel a food festival planned for later this month in Jerusalem’s Old City because the festival would include restaurants in the Christian, Moslem and Armenian Quarters that serve non-kosher food. (Ynet)

Israel’s chief rabbinate chimed in with a demand that only kosher restaurants be included in the festival. Jerusalem city authorities responded by pointing out that Israelis and tourists are free to eat wherever they choose, and that many Jerusalem residents and tourists are non-Jews who have no obligation to keep kosher. The city also noted that non-kosher restaurants would be clearly marked as such. (Jerusalem Post)

After a government investigation found rampant fraud by ultra-Orthodox yeshivas which allegedly illegally padded their student roles to get more government subsidies, enrollment in ultra-Orthodox yeshivas dropped by 6.5%. The implication is that the suddenly missing ‘students’ were in fact fraudulent, although ultra-Orthodox sources attributed the drop to government ‘persecution’ and the fear that charges would be trumped up or leveled against them mistakenly. (Ynet)

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews rioted and tried to block a highway at the entrance to Jerusalem by using garbage dumpsters they set on fire and rolled into the road. Police forcefully cleared the highway and made one arrest for rioting. The ultra-Orthodox were protesting the arrest of eight other ultra-Orthodox Jews who were arrested during separate protests against archeological digs in northern and central Israel. Ultra-Orthodox activists claim the digs disturb ancient remains of Jews, which they consider to be a violation of Jewish law. (Ynet)

The City of Jerusalem erected a fence to separate a city-funded ultra-Orthodox kindergarten and preschool from a a city-funded secular kindergarten and preschool over the objections of secular and some ultra-Orthodox parents. The reason for the fence apparently is to ensure ultra-Orthodox toddlers do not see secular toddlers playing without wearing yarmulkes, and that they do not see teachers who may be immodestly dressed according to ultra-Orthodox standards. The city issued the following Orwellian statement after the separation was challenged: “Following a shortage of structures to be used as kindergartens at the neighborhood, and in order to meet the needs of all students in the area, both secular and haredi [ultra-Orthodox], the city’s appropriation committee decided to divide the existing building so it serves both haredi kindergartens and the parents of secular children in the neighborhood. The fence was erected based on broad vision that addresses the various needs of each community.” (Ynet)

Marc Heremlin, a major donor to St. Louis and Israeli ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox charities including Aish HaTorah, is due to appear in federal court today for probable sentencing on charges related to knowingly distributing mis-calibrated morphine through his family’s pharmaceutical company. The morphine could have killed patients. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch / Failed Messiah)

Heremlin’s family’s company obtained the exclusive rights to market an existing drug to prevent premature labor. The drug’s price skyrocketed from $10 per dose to $1500 per dose as a result. (AP)

New York State Senator Carl Kruger surrendered to federal authorities this morning. Kruger is expected to be tried on public corruption charges. (New York Daily News)

Kruger was an opponent of the Child Victims Act, which was meant to make exposing and punishing pedophiles easier. The CVA was backed by activists seeking to eliminate pedophilia in the ultra-Orthodox community and by victims of Catholic priest abuse. It failed to pass. (Failed Messiah)

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, Village Voice and many other publications. He was named to both the Forward 50 and the Heeb 100 in 2008.

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