Chosen: Crimes and Misdemeanors

By Shmarya Rosenberg

The Weekly Blotter

Kabbalist stars and business moguls Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s top aide, Ben Zion Suky is a longtime porn distributor and real estate developer with a string of lawsuits against him. (Forward)

Suky has made contributions to political campaigns, including almost $10,000 to US Congressman Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) New York City mayoral campaign and $48,100 to Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. (Huffington Post)

Brooklynites Rabbi Lavel Schwartz and David S. Goldhirsh were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Schwartz and Goldhirsh were caught in an FBI sting that also snared more than 30 others, some New Jersey politicians and others ultra-Orthodox Jews and rabbis. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

Caught in the same sting, an ultra-Orthodox real estate developer, Moshe Altman, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for money laundering and bribery. An ultra-Orthodox real estate developer, Itzhak Friedlander, who was charged with Altman pleaded guilty to money laundering earlier this month. (

The president Of B’nai B’rith International, Dennis Glick, was indicted for tax fraud. (JTA)

Ultra-Orthodox women held rallies in Brooklyn and in New Jersey to support two Satmar hasidic yeshiva students convicted in Japan of drug smuggling but whom the ultra-Orthodox community considers innocent. (The yeshiva students admitted to smuggling, but claimed they thought the suitcases they were smuggling into Japan for a third party, also a Satmar hasid, contained antiques, not drugs, and asked for leniency. The Japanese court didn’t buy it.)  (Matzav)

Sholom Rubashkin, a Chabad rabbi and former VP of Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse, is a convicted felon currently serving 27 years in federal prison for bank fraud, related financial fraud, and perjury. From prison, Rubashkin launched a Purim contest for Jewish children. “I would like to introduce the ‘Rubashkin Purim Contest,’” Sholom Rubashkin wrote. “I beg all Jewish children across the world to write down, in about 200 words, how you learned from the story of Purim to be strong against the tide, against those who mock our faith. In this short essay, I want you to explain what you learned from the Purim story, or describe something you accepted upon yourself on Purim, to behave as a proud and courageous Jew. Let us disregard those who mock our beliefs, who make us feel that if we abandon the Torah, it will be good for us, G-d forbid. I will personally read all your submissions…and reply to each of you with a letter and a special gift, sent by my family. The three best entries…will receive a beautiful [Passover] Hagadah, and their [essays] will be published…in prominent [ultra-Orthodox] Jewish papers.” (Matzav)

For five years, lobbyists for the ultra-Orthodox umbrella organization Agudath Israel of America, the state’s most powerful Jewish social service organization, went to Albany to urge lawmakers to allow ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to receive state-funded tuition assistance grants. They went home empty-handed – until this year when they allegedly illegally promised a Republican lawmaker they would support him in a bid for a state senate seat in return for millions of dollars in yeshiva student grants. (City Hall News)

The European Parliament will be debating a proposal to mandate that all ritually slaughtered meat be labeled. Jewish ritually slaughtered meat would be labeled, “This product comes from an animal slaughtered by the shechita method.” Muslim halal meat would carry a similar label. Shimon Cohen of Shechita UK, a British organization that defends Jewish ritual animal slaughter, branded the proposal as “the 21st century equivalent of the yellow star, but on our food.” Cohen and others fear that labeling would lead to a massive hike in kosher meat prices because the vast majority of shechita meat is sold to unwitting non-kosher consumers who may now decide to opt for other meat. (Half of every mammal that is kosher slaughtered is sold as non-kosher. On top of that, 30% to 40% of all mammals kosher slaughtered are found to be non-kosher in their entirety after slaughter and all of their meat is sold as non-kosher.) Animal welfare activists want ritually slaughtered meat labeled because the animals slaughtered are not first anesthetized or stunned, and they want consumers to be able to make an informed choice. (Totally Jewish)

Israeli ultra-Orthodox newspapers published an ad signed by leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis forbidding ultra-Orthodox Jews from volunteering with Israel’s version of the Red Cross, Magen David Adom (MDA). “We hereby inform you that it is forbidden to volunteer in the Magen David Adom organization even for the purpose of saving lives,” the rabbis wrote. Volunteering in MDA “may, God forbid, lead to serious prohibitions – both in terms of general conduct and spiritual influence, and in terms of Torah prohibitions and particularly Shabbat laws.” In response, an MDA spokesman noted that, “Magen David Adom is Israel’s national rescue organization which engages in saving lives 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.…MDA is particularly careful in maintaining and respecting the religious lifestyle of hundreds of its workers and volunteers who engage in saving lives routinely and during emergencies, on weekdays, Saturdays and holidays.” (Ynet)

A well known rabbi in Jerusalem, David Tovol was arrested suspicion of sexually assaulting a newlywed bride. The bride and her husband sought counseling from Tovol. During the session, Tovol allegedly asked the husband to leave the room and then sexually assaulted the bride. Tovol refused to cooperate with police or answer questions. His attorney claims his clients silence is based on “the privilege he has by law as a religious minister hearing a confession.” Tovol’s attorney also claims the charges against his client are false. (Ynet)

An Israel Defense Forces soldier from a unit, the Nahal Haredi Brigade, made up exclusively of ultra-Orthodox men, was convicted of illegal use of a weapon and disgraceful conduct. Three other members of that unit were caught with incriminating photos on their cell phones, and have been indicted. The soldiers abused a Palestinian prisoner. (Ha’aretz)

Ultra-Orthodox Jews resorted to vandalism in a bid to disrupt an Old City of Jerusalem food festival they opposed. The ultra-Orthodox allegedly brought “soiled, reeking diapers” to drive away customers and cut electrical cables. (Jerusalem Post)

The Antidote

Naama Shafir, a junior guard, scored a career-high 40 points to lead the University of Toledo to victory in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament championship. Then she walked about two miles home, because the game was played on Shabbat. Shafir, who was born and raised in Israel, was also named the tournament’s MVP. (Forward)

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.

What do you think?

One Response

  1. ruby

    Why? in every society you can find
    bad people.
    lets look at the good
    a child of Israel


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