Friday, November 24, 2006

I've begun another web site. Yes, yes, yet another.

I had no choice. This topic must be aired.

The site is called Critique of Judaism and is to be found on the following URL:

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Traces of Child Sacrifice in Orthodox Judaism

The original article, entitled הכוח להתמודד, להמשיך ולהתחזק, which appeared in גיליון מס' 1037 of שיחת השבוע on November 17, 2006 can be found on the following URL:

The Hebrew version of this essay, entitled: אבק זבח ילדים ביהדות חרדית can be found on the following URL:

Yet more articles and a video can be found on the following site: .

As reported in the article, eight-year-old Chiah-Muska Attiyah of blessed memory, daughter of Rabbi Victor Attiyah and his wife Devorah, was playing with matches in the back yard of their home. Some dried schach (the covering of the succah, which is usually highly flammable dried, thin branches, leaves and the like) in the yard caught fire, as did the girl's dress. Her younger brother told her to take the dress off. She refused to take the burning dress off even as she was engulfed in flames because "it's not modest". "It's not modest" is a formula that is drilled into the heads of Orthodox girls from the time they are three years old. From that age they begin to wear dresses that cover their knees by a few inches, with high necklines, long sleeves and opaque stockings. They are taught to dress and undress under a blanket. If their dress goes over their knee while sitting, running, playing - anything they are reprimanded: "It's not modest!" Modesty for an Orthodox girl is everything.

Chiah Mushke died.

She died because the lesson of being modest was drilled into her more than the overriding principle that saving a life, including her own, precludes all else. Her younger brother did know that either because as a boy he was better schooled than she or because, still being so young, he was reacting with natural common sense. God only knows the effect the experience had on her brother. The worst of it is that neither her father, the head of the Chaba"d house in Kiryat Arba-Chevron, nor his community and large circle of friends seem to have learned anything from the terrible incident. As we see from the site above, Rabbi Attiyah addressed an audience of 600 girls wherein he praised the virtue of modesty. He said nothing about his daughter not understanding the virtue of modesty properly or that saving one's life takes precedence over being modest.

It is of no especial import that the family is Chaba"d. It could have happened in any ultra-Orthodox family. In fact, most of the Orthodox who have heard this story seem to think that as regrettable and tragic as it is, it was unavoidable and that the girl did the right thing.Rather than asking himself if his understanding of Jewish Law and the way he was promulgating it is incorrect; the Rabbi is digging in his heels and building a large school in his daughter's honor wherein they will disseminate the self-same teachings. There isn't the merest hint that the teachings of female modesty in the school being built in her memory will be revised from the way in which she was taught.

There is no intimation in the incident, as reported, that either the family of the child, Chiah-Mushka Attiyah, of blessed memory, or any of the thousands of people who attended the funeral and contacted the family during the mourning period thereafter see this as anything other than a story of the ultimate "self-sacrifice" for the sake of the grand principle of female modesty. She is being hailed as a precocious paragon of female Orthodox Jewish virtue.

It is a perversion of our religion to think that it is in any ways right that a child should die for the sake of modesty. There are only three mitzvot that a Jew who is ben or bat mitzvah must die rather than commit: They are: incest, idol worship and the shedding of innocent blood – known by the acronym גע"ש.

If there be among you anyone who might think that an eight-year-old engulfed in flames taking off her dress in front of her younger brother constitutes the sin of incest, consider that in the time that she said: "It's not modest!", she could have said: "Turn away!"

There is an element of child sacrifice in this incident that is blood chilling and wholly inimical to Judaism as I learned it.

There was always a strain of this type of approach in Judaism, but it was a strain and nothing more. The vast majority of Orthodox Jews were rational and common sensical. That was even true among those who learned the Kabbalah. I remember Jews as being very rational from my childhood, speaking of "luftmenschkeit" with utter disdain. This fanaticism is now the norm in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world. This fanaticism is growing and becoming more dangerous, even fatal. We see the execrable violence in Orthodox/non-Orthodox relations. We see it in factional violence even within the same group of Orthodox Jews. We now see it in the death of children who have not even attained the age of being b'nei and b'not mitzvah.

I recall two stories of extreme modesty in women, two women who are held up as models of the modesty. The first is that of a woman by the name of Kimchit, the story of whom is related here: . Note that the site says of Kimchit: "She was rewarded with seven sons who served as High Priests. We see from this story that a woman’s covering her hair in private is highly praiseworthy." Let's examine these comments. Is having seven sons who were High Priests a reward? The High Priesthood was an office for life from the time it was assumed. In order for a High Priest to be replaced by another he had to die or be otherwise incapacitated or found incapable or unworthy to continue the function. It is not a natural state that in the space of the lifetime of seven brothers they all serve as High Priests. Clearly, something is very wrong in this story. Indeed, the Talmud relates an explanation of this story that appears contrived and unconvincing, as we see here: . Moreover, it is said that other women likewise did not let the beams of their house "see" their hair. Surely there was another reason why all seven of Kimchit's sons become High Priests. The text would have us understand that she did something meritorious in addition to being very careful about covering her hair. Perhaps the fact that those seven men grew up in a home in which the wrong aspects of Torah were overly stressed contributed to the fact that they did not serve as High Priests in a normal, natural way. Perhaps a woman being so punctilious about covering her hair in private that the "walls of her house do not "see" her hair is not so "praiseworthy" after all. Perhaps it is unhealthy fanaticism, which always comes at the expense of doing mitzvoth correctly and putting the emphasis on serving humanity.

The second story of a model of female modesty is that of a woman who pinned her dress to her legs so that when she was dragged through the streets to her death by horses no one would see her legs. The story, entitled "שלש מתנות", part 3, by י"ל פרץ can be found in Hebrew on the following URL
. This is a story that recounts a grown woman, a woman who is bat mitzvah. She was designated for death in the brutal way described immediately above by Gentile authorities. Rather than give them the satisfaction of seeing her utterly humiliated, she pinned her dress to the flesh of her legs so that they would not be seen. Obviously, that must have been very painful. It was a brave and noble act of defiance and retaining her dignity to the last.

Eight-year-old Chiah-Mushka Attiyah, of blessed memory, was in no way in the same position. She could have and should have taken off her dress. She would have in no way been compromising her self. She made the ultimate compromise of herself for nothing, for absolutely nothing – because she was incorrectly educated in Jewish Law.

This story haunts me for many reasons

Looking at the pictures of the lovely children Chiah Mushke, of blessed memory, and her siblings on the site
( we see
healthy, happy children. They are immaculately clean. They are well dressed. There isn't a spot on their clothes, not so much as a wrinkle. Not one hair is out of place. They are obviously the recipients of great love and devotion. They also obviously love one another profoundly. There isn't the merest hint of neglect.

There is no doubt in my mind that the girls were educated to overweening צניעות (modesty) out of the sincere desire to protect them. The problem is, צניעות (modesty) seems to have been used as a kind of fetish and the *only* fence of protection. They were obviously not taught the whole battery of survival skills that we all need.

Chiah Mushke was playing with matches, which there is every reason to assume that she knew was forbidden. From this we learn that she had the spunk to be a bit naughty.

So, why was she not a bit "naughty" enough to go against Torah to save her life, assuming she did not know that פקוח נפש (saving a life) is a מצוה (mitzvah, commandment, good deed), and not an עברה (sin, transgression)?

Why was the will to survive so attenuated in this child? Was it a function of her education as an ultra-Orthodox female child, education geared toward creating women who will be utterly devoted to others, never thinking of their own welfare. I am apt to think that this occurred as a result of a wholly distorted concept of בטול (self-effacement, negation of the ego) and that is the reason why this story haunts me so.

God protect us if this is what "Ufaratztah" (the spreading of Jewish teaching and practice) means. May God prevent the spreading of such "teaching" of such "Chassidus" (piety; devotion; virtue; Hassidism).

Please do not misunderstand me. I am convinced that Rabbi and Rebbetzen Attiyah are lovely and loving people. I am sure that there intentions are only good. The problem is that they are terribly misled. Herein lies the problem with Judaism today - the confusion, the ignorance, the reversal of priorities and the superstition that passes for halakhah.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chaba"dnikim from Tzfat Riot at Chaba"d Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Reasons Not to Live in Tzfat? How about the fact that the ultra-Orthodox in the town (they are a large percent of the population) think they have the right to decide who should live and who should die?

See: Yahoo! Groups Tzfat

Message 3325: "No pervert demonstration should ever be allowed in Israel.This sort of demonstration can lose us the country.The Torah recommends the death penalty for chutzpah of this sort-and quite rightly.Perverts should be ashamed of their perversion and keep it out of the public eye."

Message 3326: "Amein. And homosexuality is in fact a perversion. No one can argue that. What? In today’s world perversion is ok? Well DUH! LOL Perversion has always been around. Individuals are destroyed by it, just as they always were. Families are destroyed by it, just as they are today. In fact, entire cities were destroyed because of it."


Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat (Safed), Israel

Monday, November 06, 2006

Reason Not to Live in Tzfat? Here's a BIGGIE.

NO ONE, but me, is condemning the violence on the part of the Charedim in demonstrating against the Gay Parade.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Sunday, November 05, 2006

תגובה על: אנחנו עדיין ממתינים להסברים על התנהלות העירייה במהלך המלחמה

1077, 1078

קבוצת דר' שטרן לא מרפה: אנחנו עדיין ממתינים להסברים על התנהלות העירייה במהלך המלחמה

שוקלים להקים תנועה פוליטית למען צדק בעיר" יותר ויותר אנשים פונים אלינו כדי שנקים תנועה פוליטית שתנסה להשפיע בעיר למען הצדק", כך אמר שלמה דברת, במסיבת העיתונאים שארגן ד"ר יצחק שטרן מראשי הקבוצה שקמה בצפת לאחר המלחמה. דברת עד לא מכבר מנהל הפרויקטים של שיקום שכונות בעיר, טען כי בשלב זה אין בכוונתה של הקבוצה להתמודד פוליטית, אך לא מן הנמנע כי הם יצטרכו לעשות זאת בעתיד. " אנחנו רוצים תחילה תשובות לאירועים רבים חריגים שצצו בזמן המלחמה", אמר דברת. במסיבת העיתונאים שארגנו חברי תנועת המחאה כחודש לאחר הכנס הטעון שעשו חבריה במלון "מרכזי" השתתפו יצחק שטרן, שלמה דברת, אורית כחלון ויערית ינאי מעמותת "ידיד", הוצגו מסמכים ומכתבים עם עדויות של אזרחי צפת על התנהלות העירייה במהלך ימי המלחמה. " את החומר העברנו למבקר המדינה", אמר שטרן שהוסיף כי אין לו עניין אישי עם ראש העיר, ישי מימון אלא הוא דורש את עלבונם של התושבים בעיר שנפגעו מיחסה של העירייה למצוקותיהם של האזרחים. " אנחנו לא רוצים לנגח את מימון, אנחנו רוצים הסברים על התנהלות העירייה במלחמה", אמר שטרן. חבריו של שטרן הכינו תקליטור עם עדויות של כ- 08 תושבים על התנהלות העירייה. " מי שיצפה בתקליטור יבכה מהסיפורים הקשים המועלים שם", אמר שטרן. חברי תנועת המחאה נגד העירייה טוענים שאין בכוונתם להרפות מלעלות לסדר היום הארצי את העדויות שהם צברו על מנת שתוקם וועדת חקירה בצפת על התנהלות העירייה במלחמה.

בקבוצת דר' שטרן מבהירים כי אין בכוונתם להקים תנועה פוליטית

חברי תנועת המחאה נגד העירייה בראשות דר' יצחק שטרן טוענים שאין בכוונתם להרפות מלעלות לסדר היום הארצי את העדויות שהם צברו על מנת שתוקם וועדת חקירה בצפת על התנהלות העירייה במלחמה. חברי התנועה ממשיכים להכחיש שיש בכוונתם להתמודד או להקים תנועה פוליטית.מעמותת "ידיד" נמסר כי העמותה לא עוסקת בפוליטיקיה וזה לא מטרתה. " עמותת ידיד" הוקמה בנובמבר 7991 והחלה בפעילות העצמה ברמה האישית והקהילתית בקרב שכבות חלשות ועולים חדשים. במישור המקומי מתבצעת פעילות העמותה הן בדרך של הגשת סיוע פרטני בהתמודדות עם מצוקות יום-יומיות והן בדרך של הקניית כלים לאחריות קהילתית ולהשתתפות פעילה בחיים בחברה דמוקרטית. במישור הארצי מתבצעת פעילות העמותה בדרך של מאבקים ציבוריים ומשפטיים לשינוי מדיניות.בצפת ובערים אחרים פועל סניף של העמותה.

דורין אלן בל-דותן, צפת

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Reasons Not to Live in Tzfat (Safed), or Anywhere Else in Israel for that Matter - Total Denial of the Fact that the State of Israel is a Failure that is Disintegrating

--- In, "flakfire" wrote:>> Sabras are only at their best when their backs are really against the > wall.

I wrote:

You might add the inability to rethink our mythology about ourselves or be confused by the facts to your list.

You just lived through a war in which the Israelis were most certainly not at their best, but you persist in repeating the old cliches that give you an illusory sense of security.

That is one of the most obiquitous and serious problems in Israeli society.

flakfire wrote:

> Otherwise, they are generally quite paltry and mediocre: blase, over-> confident, arrogant, ungrateful, easily sidetracked and none too > smart!

I wrote:

Speak in the second person plural. Why do you exempt yourself?

flakfire wrote:

> And that includes ALL Sabras: Jews, Arabs, left wing, right wing, > charedi, frum, professors, professionals, chilloni....! If it wasn't > for the constant threat from the outside plus the constant stream of > new immigrant Jews, Israel would quickly degenerate into a farrago!

I wrote:

The way you use the term 'ferrago' is a malapropism. Your other IDs use malapropisms in the very same way. Ditto for the run on descriptions and overly emotional exclamation marks.

Can we get real? Perhaps that's a funny question to pose in a response to someone who posts with an alias (or two, or three...)

Can we admit that we have failed miserably?

We have not created a society that is in any wise superior to that of the Gentiles.

We do not exceed the Gentiles in average IQ in Israel, as we do in the Diaspora. (The average IQ of American Jews is 117. For Ethiopian Israeli Jews it is 105-110. For Ashkenazi Israeli Jews it is 100. For Mizrahi Israeli Jews it is 88). Our political system is not superior to the Gentiles'. Our judicial system is not superior to theirs. Our quality of living is not superior to theirs. We have not created a society that is more peaceful than theirs, more cultured, more interesting - in short, more anything. Let's not even talk about statistics of road accidents. We have a better system of medicine than does the US, but it is inferior to that of Gentile countries that likewise have socialized systems of medicine.

We are mediocre in every way, in every sphere.

Scientists who have talent are working for foreign research and many of them beat a permanent path out of here.

In all spheres there is a brain drain out of the country.

Certainly we are not proving either to ourselves or to the world that we are chosen.

We, in becoming a nation with a state, lost everything we once were. We also lost the respect and the awe of the nations.

We are sending our boys to die for the myths we want to believe about ourselves.

It doesn't matter that we have a nuclear arsenal. We can't use it without making mushroom soup of ourselves too. We are smack dab in the Middle East. So, if someone thinks that is a reason to have a state, they are dead wrong.

More than terrorist bombs, our illusions and delusions are blowing up all around us.

The only thing we do well is be second fiddle in others' countries.

When we are not in the driver's seat we make great driving instructors. Those who can't do teach.

I heard of a man who arrived here from Morocco as a child. He had a fistukia (a stand for nuts and snacks) that he barely made a living from. One day he decided to try his luck in Morocco. He became a successful businessman there. The same man who could hardly run a fistukia here ran a corporation in Morocco. The only difference was the location.

The only sane way to go is to realize that we are entertaining very dangerous illusions and delusions about ourselves. The foremost among them is that we are fit to run a state of our own.

I say we face the reality that we are making a total mess of our ersatz state and that we are at the point of losing control totally. I say the smartest way to go is to cut our losses, pack up and go back to wherever we came from and salvage whatever we can of what Jewry once was.

This country will go out , either with a bang or a wimper, if we persist in the belief that we are the holy People in the holy Land and that everything we do is blessed.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel