Thursday, June 21, 2012

Too Funny for Words

I told her she had 3 beautiful daughters. She got upset. My mistake.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Orthodox Population Growth

The following appeared in today's Forward. I think it is an important piece. I have republished it in its entirety. It follows.

The Jewish population of the New York City area grew to 1.5 million in the past decade, driven by rapid growth among the Orthodox that is quickly transforming the face of the biggest Jewish community in the country, according to a landmark study released on June 12.

More than six out of ten Jewish children in New York are Orthodox, according to the report, which marks the first comprehensive accounting of the community in a decade.

The study, sponsored by the UJA Federation of New York, covered the five boroughs of New York City plus Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island and Westchester County to the north. It found most of the growth centered in the city’s Orthodox populations.

The survey calculated the Jewish population in the area at 1.54 million, up from 1.4 million a decade ago. Of those Jews, 32% identify as Orthodox, up from 27% in 2002.

Among the Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews are the largest group, at 16% of the Jewish population of the eight counties counted in the survey. They outnumber both Modern Orthodox Jews, at 10% of the total Jewish population, and non-Hasidic ultra-Orthodox Jews, at 6% of the population.
Ultra-Orthodox households are far bigger than non-Orthodox households. The mean number of Jewish members of a Hasidic household is 4.8, compared to 1.8 in a non-Orthodox home.

The study found rising poverty rates among Jews. In New York City, 27% of all people living in Jewish households are poor, compared with 20% a decade ago. More than one in ten Jewish households is on food stamps.

Poverty rates are high among older Jews, and among the Orthodox. Hasidic Jews are the poorest Orthodox group – a full 43% of Hasidic households qualify as poor.

The proportion of seniors who are poor has dropped since 2002 to 24% from 35%.
While Jews make up a slightly smaller proportion of the population in New York than they did a decade ago, they are way up in Brooklyn. Now, 22% of Brooklynites are Jewish, compared to 18% a decade ago.

The study found some markers of Jewish engagement among unaffiliated Jews were down. The proportion of Jewish households that never Hanukkah candles is up to 19% from 12% a decade ago.
According to the report, half of the non-Orthodox marriages between 2006 and 2011 included non-Jews. About 1 in 6 Jewish households include biracial or non-white people, the study said.

Of particular interest to the backers of the study, the UJA Federation of New York, the proportion of Jews who reported a donation to the UJA was down from 28% in 2002 to 24%. Hope for a reversal looks dim: Only 11% of the Ultra-Orthodox give to the UJA, and only 9% of the Jews with no religion give.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bulgarians and the Holocaust

One of the things most striking about the Holocaust is how the nations of the world turned their backs on us. Jews were prominent citizens of the European nations - many of them patriotic who contributed to their nation’s prosperity and welfare.

When World War II broke out, Bulgaria joined the Axis powers allying itself with Hitler and his anti-Semitic Nazi philosophies. Much like most of Europe, the Bulgarian government leadership couldn’t care less about the fate of its Jewish citizens. So they started enacting anti Semitic laws themselves – acting much the same way other countries did toward its Jewish citizens at that time.

One might think that is the end of the story. But it isn’t. Sometimes people can rise as a group to the challenge. This was true in individual cases in many countries where righteous gentiles risked their lives to help us. But in those countries, the vast majority of citizens did nothing, or worse – actaully cooperating with the Nazis - some of them with relish. This was not the case with the Bulgarian people.

Someone just sent me a page from something called Candles – Holocaust Museum. Here is an excerpt:

At the beginning of 1943, the pro Nazi Bulgarian government was informed that all 50,000 Bulgarian Jews would be deported in March. The Jews had been made to wear yellow stars and were highly visible.

As the date for the deportation got closer, the agitation got greater. Forty-three ruling party members of Parliament walked out in protest. Newspapers denounced what was about to happen. In addition, the Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Krill, threatened to lie down on the railroad tracks. Finally, King Boris III forbade the deportation. Since Bulgaria was an ally of Germany , and the Germans were stretched militarily, they had to wrestle with the problem of how much pressure they could afford to apply. They decided to pass.

I guess in some cases it was more the rule than the exception to help the Jewish people. Bulgarians obviously never heard of the oft quoted Rashi  “Eisav Sonei L’Yaakov”. 

Imagine that! The Bulgarian Archbishop of the Orthodox Church was willing to lay down his life for us. If only the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Rome had done the same…

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Admitting the Value of Bloggers

Mishpacha Magazine has published a very revealing interview with Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel. He has in fact given credit to bloggers for raising the painful issues of abuse and getting organizations like his (Agudah) to address them in ways  that have not been addressed heretofore. It is an article worth reading. An excerpt can be seen on FM’s blog.