Thursday, May 18, 2006

Let The Healing Begin?

Hilarious posts from Gafni's friend Ken Wilber of He's all shocked that someone who teaches for something called Integralnaked could commit "sexual improprieties." Here are excerpts from Wilber:
...I do not believe that somebody with an acknowledged emotional illness or sexual pathology is competent to be a public spiritual teacher. Therefore, at this time, Marc will not be involved in public teaching or presentations of any sort at Integral Institute.
...Sending all of you much Love, Light, and Life,
Rabbi Yosef Blau responds on Jewschool:
Some critics of Jewish Renewal are responding to the accusations against Mordechai Gafni by criticising the movement. This should not lead to the defensive response of refusing to reevaluate the tragic dismissal of earlier accusations.
I have known Mordechai for at least twenty five years starting when he was a student and during the years that he functioned as an Orthodox rabbi. The young women who complained then and have never modified their stories, did not receive much of a hearing then from an Orthodox rabbinate that was impressed by his charisma and talent. A number of us, followed a career of short periods of brilliance as a head of an outreach program, a teacher and a congregational rabbi each ending suddenly with rumor of scandal. After changing his name and moving to Israel the pattern repeated itself. The only thorough investigation of the accusations was made by a private investigator in Israel in 1997 and it did not clear him. Based on my ongoing conversations with women who had made accusations, which was only a portion of the dossier prepared by the private investigator, the supposed investigations by various rabbis two years ago were minimal and their testimony not heard. I suggest that all the defenders read the long interview with Rabbi Gafni in the magazine (sof hashavua) of Maariv Oct. 15, 2004. If he is sick, then it is not the kind of illness that suddenly strikes someone in his mid forties and his earlier behavior should reevaluated accordingly.
Whether one supports Jewish Renewal or not is irrelevant to the fundamental issue of protecting women from abuse from an authority figure.
Micha Odenheimer writes:
Ken Wilbur has an unfortunate history of turning a blind eye, or “rehabilitating” even the most egregious offenses of people he considers “brilliant”–usually those whose ideas conform in some ways to his own. This history includes fawning praise of Da Free John, but even more significantly, continuing association with “enlightened spiritual master” Andrew Cohen, whose history of severe, ungoing and systematic psychological abuse of his followers is well documented in two books: “Enlightenment Blues” written by Andre van der Braak, a student of Cohen for 11 years, and the other, Mother of God, by Cohen’s own mother, Luna Tarno, who was also his disciple until understanding the tyrannical and narcisistic nature of Andrew’s guruship. There is also ongoing documentation on
The Gafni connection is that, through Wilbur, Gafni met Cohen and invited him to tour Israel together with him as a guest of Bayit Hadash. I personally contacted Gafni and warned him of Cohen’s systematic humiliation of his followers, and his creation of an almost fascistic hiearchy of people “in favor” or “out of favor” with Cohen–to no avail. Gafni continued to promote Cohen in Israel. Wilbur continues to benefit from his association with Cohen and to appear with him on the pages of Cohen’s magazine “What is Enlightenment”. So there is a triangle of abuse here, with Cohen, Gafni, Wilbur, with Wilbur acting as enabler of both–and with both Cohen and Gafni returning the favor by continuing to promote Wilbur as a great philosopher and theologian of the New Age. Will Wilbur learn from the Gafni incident and reexamine the copious evidence of Cohen’s continued and extremely severe psychological abuse of followers? I doubt it.
Incidentally, as my friend Shefa Siegal has pointed out, one of the aspects of both Wilbur and Jewish Renewal’s promotion of Gafni and failure to truly investigate accusations against him despite repeated warnings is that Renewal, and I assume Wilbur’s organization, made good money from Gafni. Gafni, a facile “charismatic” speaker, was a good draw for Renewal events and for retreat centers such as Elat Chayim associated with Renewal. Whether consciously or not, I assume this was part of what kept the whole kit and kaboodle running forward.
Yeilah writes:
I am more than a little disturbed by Ken Wilbur’s assumption that Gafni’s sincerity is meaningful. People with pathologies like Gafni’s (I am assuming he has a personality disorder of some kind) are frequently sincere in their apologies once they get caught. I have personal experience with this through a family member, who has issued more than eight deeply sincere and moving apologies but hasn’t been able to stop his behaviot. People like this may mean what they say, but will often cycle through the behavior again, and then offer more sincere apologies when they get caught again. Sadly, sincerity is not a benchmark for success in this matter.
Rabbi Marc Gafni & Andrew Cohen Enlightenment, Evolution, and the Future of Judaism
Rabbi Marc Gafni is not your average Rabbi. He's an unorthodox Orthodox Rabbi, a passionate Kabbalist, a popular Israeli television host, and the founder of Bayit Chadash, an international spiritual community and retreat center committed to Jewish renaissance. Yet no matter how far from the established order he may travel, Gafni never loses sight of those most basic Judaic tenets: pray to God and live a moral, ethical, and generous life, because this life is the one that matters most!
In this videotaped conversation between two spiritual masters, Andrew's original conception of an evolutionary enlightenment engages with Rabbi Gafni's soul-level understanding of Judaism's timeless mystical teachings. Together, these two free-thinkers propel an enduring ancient tradition into the exhilarating and uncharted terrain of the future.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Narcissists In Love

According to My Moral Leader, I "must" guest blog for him during his five day "spiritual retreat" in Las Vegas.

I've been given a list of topics that I can and cannot discuss: no Kitten Natividad (of course); no Holly Randall (who?); but lots about Luke Ford -- the hovel-dwelling, moral-leading Jewish theologian.

Yeah, sure.

I haven't been reading Luke Ford for weeks. I needed a little break from all the self-absorption.

So, after being given my guest blogging instructions, I decided to check out the Luke Ford Family of Blogs™, including the naughty one (that I'm not allowed to mention). Perhaps, I hoped, Mr Ford has changed; perhaps he is now a more outward-focused, giving, and thoughtful human being, entering into mature, healthy relationships with other similarly well-grounded people.

Er, no.

If anything, Hovel Boy™ seems to be regressing.

Since I'm not allowed to discuss Holly Randall, I will discuss a completely different person: Rolly Handall (not her real name).

If I have the story right, Our Moral Leader started dating Rolly last Fall. Soon, Luke, a hopeless romantic, fell madly in love with the Shiksa goddess.

Luke's invisible friends [!] (i.e., the voices inside his head[!!]) convinced him that soon he'd be marrying Rolly and moving into her fabulous Malibu mansion (with its cosy book-lined study overlooking rolling hills, and horses, and a sandy beach, and the Pacific Ocean), and starting a family of ridiculously good-looking Aryan children (raised as Orthodox Jews, of course).

Too good to be true?

Afraid so.

In fact, Rolly didn't even know that Luke was her "boyfriend," and couldn't even be bothered to invite him to her parent's New Year's Eve party.

Undeterred, Our Moral Leader attends the big party. As he chats with prospective father-in-law Kumphrey Hnipe (not his real name), imparting some much needed Dennis Prageresque wisdom on the old boy, he can't help but notice his "girlfriend" throwing herself (all ho-like) at various "gentlemen," including ex-boyfriends. Eeeeewwwww!

Luke Ford, the sensitive artiste-type, storms out of the house and races back to Hovelworld™ (in the Serial Killer Van™), where he writes an angry email to Rolly announcing that the marriage is off and their relationship is over.

The End.

So what is the moral of this heartbreaking story of unrequited love/lust?

Is it that mixed relationships don't work? That a socially conservative, religious Jew like Our Moral Leader needs to stick with his own kind (who hate and reject and refuse to have sex with him), rather than running after a pagan princess (with whom he has been having weeks of blissful, chemically-enhanced sex)?

Hell, no!

The problem is that Luke Ford is a narcissist, and he must be the centre of attention in a romantic relationship. His partner must play the supporting role -- financial and emotional -- paying his (modest) bills and constantly stroking his fragile ego. Rolly, alas, is also an attention hog. She even has her own interior-type blog: a tell-tale sign of NPD.

Let's be real: there can only be one superstar in a successful relationship. Around here that superstar is Luke Ford. And don't you forget it!

This Story is Bad for the Jews (NY TIMES)

If this had not appeared in the New York Times, who among you - save the few degenerate antisemites amongst you - would have believed it? Alas, it shames me to report what the goyim are reading about us. This is not good for the Jews. And those of you who would have the city clamp down on this expression of religious liberty I ask, if today a rabbi can not suck blood out of a baby's penis, what other liberties will you lose tomorrow? Make yourself heard!

NY Times
January 6, 2006
Mayor Balances Hasidic Ritual Against Fears for Babies' Health
With three days to go before Election Day, ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, held what was by far the largest rally of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's campaign. With searchlights bouncing across the Brooklyn sky and klezmer music blaring from speakers hoisted on cranes, thousands of Hasidic Jews, in black hats or head scarves, cheered the beaming mayor from rooftops and blocks upon blocks of bleachers.

When one of the most revered Orthodox leaders, Rabbi David Niederman, addressed the throngs, he praised the mayor for his push to create more affordable housing, his takeover of the public schools and his support for the constitutional separation of church and state.

For many in the crowd, the last reference was code for the administration's decision to hold off from taking action against an ancient form of ritualistic circumcision practiced by some Hasidic rabbis that had been linked to three cases of neonatal herpes in late 2004, one of them fatal.

But now, with the election over, the city's Health Department, while not banning the procedure, is angering those Hasidic leaders just the same by pushing a public health campaign against the rite, in which the practitioner, or mohel, sucks the blood from the circumcision wound to clean it. The department took the action after linking the rite to additional cases of herpes in infants, one of whom suffered brain damage as a result.

Some in the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox communities say the city is infringing upon their religious rights. They go so far as to accuse Mr. Bloomberg of reneging on what they say they took as an election-year assurance that the administration would leave the matter to rabbinical authorities. But others outside those communities had been harshly critical of the administration, saying that it failed to take adequate action against a practice that has been endangering the lives of infants.

The dispute, which had the mayor trying to calm rabbinical leaders at Gracie Mansion yesterday in what his aides called a frank exchange, has put Mr. Bloomberg in the rare position of balancing a key constituency against the policies of one of his most trusted commissioners. And it occurs against the backdrop of the roiling ethnic politics of New York, with Orthodox leaders having threatened to disrupt the mayor's inauguration last Sunday by wearing yellow stars like the ones Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.

The Bloomberg administration denies that politics have had anything to do with its decisions, and administration officials say they made no pre-election promises regarding the rite.

"The mayor has a fundamental commitment to public health," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the commissioner of health and mental hygiene. "That didn't change when it looked like the smoking ban was going to cost him re-election, and it didn't change in this case."

Still, Dr. Frieden said, there were plenty of other factors to make an issue affecting a small percentage of city Jews as thorny as the smoking ban that the mayor pushed in 2002, which affected millions. In this case, Dr. Frieden said, the administration is trying to balance religious rights against the health of infants by educating parents about the dangers of the procedure.

"There's no question this is one of the most delicate issues I've ever had to deal with," he said.

Dr. Frieden and other officials said they were forced to act in recent weeks after discovering the two new cases of herpes infection.

But some Hasidic leaders see political motivations at work.

"The whole thing seems to be that Bloomberg before the election just told the health commissioner, 'Listen, cool it down, and wait till after the election,' " said Isac Weinberger, a leader in the Satmar Hasidic sect in Williamsburg. "It was a flip-flop. He fooled the community."

The health department began focusing on the risks of the procedure, known as metzitzah b'peh, after it learned that one boy in Staten Island and twins in Brooklyn, circumcised by the same mohel in 2003 and 2004, contracted Type-1 herpes.

That form of herpes can prove deadly for infants, who, health officials argue, are of particular risk during metzitzah b'peh. Most non-Orthodox Jews have abandoned the practice, as have even many Orthodox Jews.

But Orthodox rabbis who support the procedure say 2,000 to 4,000 such circumcisions are still performed each year in the city. They insist the procedure is safe and does not transmit herpes, which can be contracted by infants from their mothers, during childbirth. For some Jews the procedure is crucial to raising boys in a Jewish tradition.

"We chose America because of religious freedom. That's why we are here," Rabbi Niederman said this week in an interview at City Hall. "There is no compromise on this issue, because we know it is safe."

The issue erupted in August, when the health department prepared an order prohibiting the mohel whom the department had linked to the three cases of herpes, Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, from performing further circumcisions. After members of the Central Rabbinical Congress promised to keep him from performing circumcisions and to investigate the cases involving him, the health department stopped drafting the order.

The mayor and his health commissioner said they would continue to study the matter but that they would not ban the practice, with Mr. Frieden saying that such a ban could be seen as interfering with religious freedom, and that a ban would be unenforceable anyway.

And, in a message heard loud and clear by rabbinical leaders, Mr. Bloomberg said on his radio program, "It is not the government's business to tell people how to practice their religion," although he also promised, "We're going to do a study, and make sure that everyone is safe."

Some outside the Hasidic communities criticized the mayor's statement, seeing it as a decided change of tack for an administration that had banned smoking and taken an aggressive stand on public health issues in general.

"He has made it legally impossible to have a cigarette and a cocktail at the same time, anywhere in the city," fumed the writer Christopher Hitchens on Slate in August. "I'll trade him his stupid prohibitionist ban if he states clearly that it is the government's business to protect children from religious fanatics."

An editorial last week in a local Yiddish newspaper, Der Blatt, cited the mayor's position then as a catalyst for the huge campaign rally for him on Nov. 5 in Williamsburg.

"What has been promised to us prior to the recent elections - and this was the only request we made - was that the subject of metzitzah b'peh should be completely untouched by the city department of health," the editorial said. "This and only this was the reason why thousands of Orthodox Jews registered themselves to vote, undersigned a petition to the mayor, came out in droves, men, women and children, to an unprecedented rally."

Rabbi Niederman said this week that he believed that Orthodox Jews supported Mr. Bloomberg because of many of his policies, not just his position on the rite, and said it would be unfair to question his political motives. Nonetheless, he said, "Before the election, we were very proud that the mayor did the right thing."

He said he was "astonished" and "shocked" by the city's more recent actions.

In December, Dr. Frieden wrote an "open letter" to Jews recommending against the practice and highlighting an alternative in which a sterile tube is used. He has also announced a plan to hand out literature about the practice's dangers to postnatal mothers. And a new health department alert has reminded hospitals of a mandate to report what Dr. Frieden described as "all unusual manifestations of disease" in newborns.

Dr. Frieden said his hand was forced when his department discovered the new cases of neonatal herpes - one coming in the spring, the other, in which the infant suffered brain damage, coming in October - and conclusively determined that they and the earlier cases were caused by metzitzah b'peh.

He emphasized that the city had no plans to take more aggressive action against the procedure. "I really have bought into the worldview that says for some part of the community metzitzah b'peh is integral to circumcision, and circumcision is integral to being Jewish," he said.

One public health specialist, Dr. William M. McCormack, director of the infectious disease program at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, said Dr. Frieden's move "was probably the least that he could have done with a clear conscience."

But members of the Central Rabbinical Congress said that Dr. Frieden was in effect going over rabbis' heads by talking directly to their congregations in an attempt to persuade them to abandon a centuries old religious practice.

An open letter responding to Dr. Frieden, signed by "a member of the Jewish community" but approved by Hasidic leaders, said, "The citizens of the observant Jewish community live by the our own Director of Surveillance, with mandates that have guided and preserved our families for thousands of years."

Rabbi Niederman, who attended last night's meeting at Gracie Mansion, said the mayor calmed the rabbis by calling for a meeting of doctors who agree with the city and doctors who agree with the rabbis at which they would find "common ground."

"Maybe it needs a Camp David, you know what I mean, for three days, and nobody leave the room until an agreement is reached," Rabbi Niederman said.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Coming Soon

Yourmoralleader (and mine) is traveling for restorative purposes the next few days.

Watch this space as we apply lessons taught in the Book of Job to modern life.