Saturday, January 19, 2008

Three-Part Testimonial Series on Ohr Somayach Published on The Kvetcher


Comment following article: "OS is deffinately a cult. They might not have anything to do with Chabad, but they sure do things similar. I do find it ironic that they ban internet, yet have their own personal sight. They also try to lure poor unsuspecting souls into their cult trap by giving them trips to Israel and Oz and all sorts...obviously one must attend the torah learning sessions (in which the omar then brain washes them).
Tragic. They also have tons of money available to them. Funny how they scorn those who earn money for a living and are also able to give to charities and then take from that same money to use for their own decreped purposes.
Also the OS Rabbis come out of there like over zealots. My husband was in Ben Yehudah in a bar with his friends and some new OS Rabbi came over and sat himself down and then started going on about all the evil they are doing. I think they told him where to go. That and the fact as my husband said. That over zealot had become frum two seconds ago and was spouting out over righteous tattle. Basically, they are a bunch of nuts."

I got the following email from “Seth.”

I’ve recently discovered your blog and have really enjoyed it. I notice you speak a lot about Ohr Somayach, or “Dark Light” as you appropriately label it. I attended Dark Light and would be interested in sharing my experiences with you in the hopes of maybe preventing others from making the same mistake that I did or at least know exactly what they are getting into.

You got it, “Seth.”

So drink your eggnog, and nurse your hangover. Wednesday, the celebrations end, and it’s back to work. And we’re kicking off 2008 with a three part series from one man’s experience in the Dark Light.

Guest Post by “Seth”

Part I: The Road to Dark Light

I had been a ba’al teshuva for less than a year. I grew up in a fairly secular family that didn’t observe Shabbos or kashrus, but I attended Hebrew school in the evenings as well as Sunday school, was bar mitzvah’d, and our family would attend shul on High Holidays, etc. When I moved away to university, I didn’t do much that was Jewish at all. I stopped coming home for Pesach and other celebrations, dated almost exclusively non-Jews and barely considered myself Jewish at all beyond feeling a connection with Israel,and trying to defend Israel on a campus that was fairly rife with anti-Israel activism. I graduated and began a successful career in the [deleted] industry but got somewhat out of control.

images-11.jpgI was working insane hours, was constantly stressed, was drinking too much and having a series of short-term meaningless relationships. An old friend from college who had since become frum invited me to join her and some others for a Shabbos dinner. It was terrific. I had never had a true shabbos experience like this before and I loved the peace of not worrying about work, not watching TV or taking cell phone calls. Just eating a great meal with nice company and having good conversations. I began dating one of the attendees at this dinner, a young Baal Teshuvah [newly Orthodox], who was quite frum by this point. Through her, I became more connected with Yiddishkeit. I began going to shul, keeping Shabbos and learning Torah with a terrific rabbi. Although the relationship didn’t work out, my connection to Yiddishkeit survived and actually thrived. I met someone who was a recruiter for Ohr Somayach who invited me to a Shabbaton at [deleted]. It was a great time. Tons of food, lots of beer, very relaxed, a little bit of learning and just generally fun. It became very clear, however, that the purpose of the weekend was to recruit us to attend Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem to learn full-time. After the weekend, I got calls repeatedly from Ohr Somayach people telling me how much I was missing and what great programs they had. They said if I liked the weekend at [deleted], I’d LOVE being in Jerusalem because it was like that every day. The truth is that I wanted to keep learning and working full-time made it difficult. Being a Baal Teshuvah I had a lot of catching up to do and twice a week for an hour after work wasn’t cutting it. I decided to go to Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem.

I arrived in an absolute living hell.

Tomorrow: In the Belly of the Beast (Part 2)

Guest Post by “Seth”

Part II: Welcome to Ohr Somayach

Iimages-1.jpg took a cab from the airport to campus. Campus seemed nice enough. The rabbis and other students seemed friendly enough. I was led to my apartment off campus which was an absolute hell-hole, infested with cockroaches and being shared by 9 students in a spae that seemed only fit for 3. My roomates were a mix of first-year students like me and students who had already been there for over a year. Seeing the more experienced students gave me a lot of fear because I assumed that this is what you turn into after a year at Ohr Somayach. They all dressed completely in black and white, complete with black fedoras. None had any interest in discussing anything other than gemera [Talmud]. Since I am a big sports fan, my father would mail me back issues of Sports Illustrated. I left one out on the coffee table and later was told that the other students had taken a vote and decided that Sports Illustrated was banned from the apartment because it was not “appropriate in a yeshiva environment.” One student bought a box of cereal, one of the “healthy” types that featured a middle aged couple jogging on the box. He actually took a black magic marker and scribbled over the woman because she was not dressed tznius [modest]. One of my roommates who had been there for almost two years boasted that in his entire time in Israel, he had not once left the Charedi neighborhood where the yeshiva is located.

What is most disturbing to me is that all of these students had such great achievements and promise prior to arriving. Most had graduated from top universities. Many left successful careers with 6 figure salaries to live with 8 other people in a run-down roach-infested apartment and learn for 14 hours a day. One of my roommates graduated from an elite law firm and interned at the White House before attending. Within 6 months of arrival, he was married to a woman he had met 5 times. This woman worked as a secretary for Aish. He would continue learning at OS [Ohr Somayach] with no income. He had close to 100 grand in student loans to repay but the rabbis insisted he stay and learn and even suggested that he simply make aliyah so as not to have to repay the loans.

Tomorrow: Seth Reviews The Checklist (Part 3)

Guest Post by “Seth”

Part III: Seth Reviews The Checklist

ohr-edu-main.jpgOne of your posts entitled “Checklist for Steve Brizel” asks several questions that I will do my best to answer.

“Is Hebrew Ulpan [language] taught sufficiently? How many levels? When is it taught? As part of the normal schedule, or during the nap break at midday? How many levels are offered? Are the “Bais Midrash” students encouraged to learn Hebrew as well?”

In my opinion, it is not taught sufficiently. It is offered twice a week for a total of 3 hours, which in my opinion is not nearly enough. It focused mainly on conjugating verbs and was somewhat helpful with grammar but did not go nearly far enough in giving us the skills we need to actually converse or to understand what we were reading. I picked up far more Hebrew taking taxis than I did in ulpan. It was not mandatory and most chose not to attend. It was only offered for 1st year students. Those beyond first year could not attend and had no ulpan of their own. Students in the Beis Medrash program did not have ulpan.

“Since this is a haredi yeshiva, and its curriculum Talmud intensive, is there an Aramaic Ulpan for these baal teshuvahs? If so, same questions as above.”

There was no Aramaic ulpan or Aramaic instruction of any sort. Which made learning Gemara [Talmud] next to impossible. Because we could not read it or understand it on our own, the Gemara shiurum consisted exclusively of a rabbi reading it to us and offering his commentary and interpretation.

“How is Modern Orthodoxy presented by the Rabbinical staff?”

It is seen as a start, as a springboard to become Charedi. It is seen as something you do “at first” to “get comfortable” with Yiddishkeit with the expectation that you will continue to grow into a charedi. This is where I noticed a huge difference between Ohr Somayach and Chabad since I had previously learned with a Chabad rabbi. Chabad feels that just because you are not ready to do everything doesn’t mean you should do nothing at all. If you’re not ready to go learn in kollel, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep kosher or keep Shabbos. Ohr Somayach advocates an all-or-nothing approach. If you’re not ready to whole-heartedly adopt charediism, they don’t see a point in even trying to be a good Jew.

“How is Yeshiva University and Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik presented by the rabbinical staff? Is Modern Orthodoxy presented as somehow insufficient and “not really” religious?”

Rabbi Soloveitchik was never discussed because we spent no time discussing philosophy or Jewish history, simply halacha. In fairness, there were a couple books by him in the library. Yeshiva University was looked down upon and students were not encouraged to attend. In fairness, ALL universities were looked down upon. When two students I knew who were taking a year off from law school to attend yeshiva announced that they would not be returning to law school, the rabbis congratulated them for making a great decision.

“Is scientific method accepted? What is O.S.’s position on evolution? What is the position on Rabbi Slifkin?”

images-40.jpgScientific method is certainly not accepted and neither is evolution. A rabbi tried to disprove evolution by saying that the heat of the flood when Noach was saved has altered the earth’s make-up to the point that carbon dating was impossible. One rabbi presented an idea from Talmud that a baby’s sex is determined after a certain number of days. This has been proven absolutely false by doctors. I tired to show him an article from a medical journal showing otherwise. He refused to read it. Another rabbi suggested that spending money on medical research is a waste because a cure for cancer will not come from scientific breakthrough but through prayer. He insisted that if we took that money and gave it to kollel families, we would get a cure for cancer much sooner.

“What is the position of Ohr Somayach on college studies for high school graduates? Does Ohr Somayach discourage or advocate postponement of college education to its students who have not yet attended or finished college?”

Absolutely. As I said, convincing people to drop out of law school was seen as a victory. Many students came for a year before they intended to go to college and have simply never left. I would guess that of the high school students who attend OS, less than half will go on to college and of the college students who take a year off to attend, less than half will ever go back.

“Is the western world taught as incomplete in terms of what it offers a traditional Jew, or is it presented as depraved in its entirety and engagement presented as something to be avoided? Does Rabbi Weinbach (the Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Somayach) consider the secular world in its entirety an “environment of sin?”

images-39.jpgAbsolutely. I had one rabbi tell me that “nothing good” has ever come or ever will come out of secular society. I suggested that things like the automobile, airplane, the space program, the cure for polio, the progress made in treating illness were all pretty good things. He replied that it wasn’t worth it. That these things cost too much and that it may be fine for the goyim, but it’s not our place.

“Is poverty common among those recruits who are “successful” when they come from middle class backgrounds?”

Very much so. Many have given up careers with lots of money and now learn full time while their wives work a low-level job. They live in tiny, rundown apartments with 10 kids in 2 bedrooms. It’s heartbreaking, frankly to see.

“Is Kollel instead of a vocation advocated as preferable to advanced students?”

Not just advanced students, but almost all students. Because they discourage college and think it’s inappropriate to take any job where you might have to work with non-Charedim or be exposed to women, they rule out most occupations that most would actually want or where one could make any money. For those not considering kollel, they encourage them to take classes on how to be a schochet (ritual slaughterer).

“Are students encouraged to disengage from the world to the point of not even reading newspapers?”

Completely. I would estimate that less than 5 percent of students read a newspaper on even a weekly basis. I read three papers a day before arriving and this was amongst the hardest part of the transition. I was told that there was nothing in the newspaper I needed to read and that I wasn’t missing anything. Having an interest in anything other than yeshiva is discouraged. Because there is no internet on campus and it is not allowed in the apartments and because the charedi neighborhood does not sell secular newspapers, keeping in touch with the world is incredibly difficult. They say this is their goal. They think yeshiva should be about leaving the world behind and concentrating only on studying.


Seth’s Story: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2

Monday, January 14, 2008

Phillies fondly remember Podres

01/14/2008 3:10 PM ET

Phillies fondly remember Podres

Former pitching coach passed away Sunday at age 75
By Larry Shenk / Philadelphia Phillies

Johnny Podres, one of the Phillies' most beloved pitching coaches, died on Sunday in Glen Falls, N.Y., where he had resided.
Podres, 75, was Philadelphia's pitching coach from 1991-96. The following year, he began serving as a part-time pitching instructor for the club. He'd spend time every spring, including last March, at the Phillies' Minor League camp at Carpenter Field.

A four-time All-Star, Podres pitched in the Majors for 15 years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres, compiling a lifetime record of 148-116.

"I'd pitch on Sunday, throw again on Tuesday and pitch again on Thursday," Podres said in a Phillies Magazine story last April. "Back then, we threw a lot. We were geared to pitch complete games, not the five innings that seem to be the norm these days."

Podres was MVP of the 1955 World Series, pitching two complete games against the New York Yankees, including the Game 7 clincher, to deliver Brooklyn's only World Series championship.

"Heck, I shut out the Yankees on three days' rest," Podres said in Phillies Magazine. "I threw a lot of changeups [his money pitch], but when the October shadows took over, I went with fastballs. If they can't see it, they can't hit it, right?"

Podres was on the coaching staff when the Phillies won the 1993 National League pennant. He's the third member of that staff to die in the last 11 months, along with John Vukovich and Mel Roberts.

Funeral services weren't finalized as of Monday afternoon.

Remembering Johnny

Phillies president David Montgomery: "Above and beyond his accomplishments on the field, Johnny was so enjoyable to be around. He was a great storyteller. As a baseball man, he was very knowledgeable about the game, especially pitching. He made substantial contributions to the Phillies both on the Major League and Minor League levels. Our deepest sympathy is extended to his wife Joanie, sons Joe and John, and their families."

Phillies chairman Bill Giles: "I loved the guy. He was a true character and great fun to be around. He was a great example of why working in baseball is so enjoyable. He was a great pitching coach and was able to instill confidence in the pitchers he worked with. I do not believe the Phillies would have won the 1993 pennant without Johnny."

Former Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling: "Next to the Lord, my father and my wife, no human being ever impacted me the way Johnny did. No one ever cared about me more, or watched out for me as much as he did. There is no doubt in my mind that the career I've been blessed to enjoy is a direct result of this man's commitment to me and to my life. I'll be forever grateful for his love and his friendship and hope that when I've thrown my final pitch, I'll be able to look back on my body of work and it will have been something he was proud of. The thoughts and prayers of my entire family go out to Joanie, the Podres children and the Dodgers organization. The game lost a man that has truly made a difference."

Former Phillies pitcher Larry Andersen: "You would be hard pressed to find a more positive person. He made you feel like you were the best player to ever put on a uniform ... truly! I will really miss him."

Former Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams: "He was the best pitching coach I ever had. He was the only one that dealt with the mental side of the game, the most positive person and, again, hands down the best pitching coach I ever pitched for. He will be missed."

Former Phillies manager Larry Bowa: "He was a great pitching coach, got his points across with no pressure. I know I learned a lot from him. He never talked a lot about his career, but when you look at the numbers, he was special. Johnny had the knack of being dead serious about baseball and a minute later, having everyone laughing. He was a very funny man."

Former Phillies first baseman John Kruk: "Johnny made mound visits very interesting. I came in from first base just to listen. We might have had a pitcher on the mound who was getting lit up and Johnny would come out and say, 'You've got great stuff. I don't know how they are hitting you. Just go get them.' Another time he came out, 'Jimmy [Fregosi] is getting [mad] at me because you aren't throwing strikes. You know I don't like it when he gets mad at me. Throw strikes.'"

Phillies pitcher Brett Myers: "He was a very positive guy and a great morale booster for all the pitchers. [At] my first big league camp, he was telling people I should have been in the big leagues then, and I didn't know anything about pitching. Johnny was a good friend and I will miss him."

Larry Shenk is vice president, public relations for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

An extremist Jewish cult in Brooklyn: a description of Habad-Lubavitch


Schneersohn: the cult leader
Schneersohn: the cult leader
He claimed redemption from exile in America was imminent. The Jews he believed were essentially different from the the non-Jew. Assimilation: the adoption of non-Jewish culture and ways was morally wr... [more]

“Here God ordered the blessing.” This is Crown Heights also known as the Rebbe’s neighborhood, a section of Brooklyn in New York City. The Rebbe was Menachem M. Schneersohn, the deceased leader of Habad Lubavitch, an extremist Jewish cult. These days one can see all types of photos of the Rebbe in the Judaica stores of Crown Heights, from when he was young man with a black beard to when he was an elderly man. Those who believe that the Rebbe was or is the Messiah wear skull caps upon which it is written in Hebrew the words, “Long Live Our Master, Teacher, and Rabbi, the King Messiah forever and ever. Others , who believe that the Rebbe was merely the Moses and leader of world Jewry try to emphasize his human qualities. In one photograph for example he wears glasses and in others he plays chess with his father in law.

Crown Heights has developed in recent years. The Jewish Children’s Museum was completed recently. It is made of metal and glass and towers over many of the old stone and brick buildings on Eastern Parkway. Inside the Judaica store of the museum an Israeli man with a pale
From somber cult leader to Messiah
From somber cult leader to Messiah
Some of Schneersohn's followers after he died considered him the Messiah who will redeem the Jews from exile in America and supernaturally bring them to the Land of Israel.

face explains to a young sister that one can purchase Hanukkah candles in 770 Eastern Parkway, Lubavitch headquarters, more cheaply but as a woman she can not go in there. She should send her brother.

770 Eastern Parkway has been referred to as “Lubavitch World Headquarters” but many cultist like to call it, “The House of Our Master in Babylon.” The Lubavitchers believe that they are in exile in America as the ancient Judeans were in Babylon. They hope and pray to be redeemed from the unholiness of exile in America and the gentile nations and returned by supernatural means to the “Land of Israel.”

The residents of Crown Heights could be defined in many ways. They are Hasids, Lubavitchers, and Jews but the terms Jewishist and Jewishism are more apt to describe them and their ideology. They are Jewish fundamentalists, nationalists, and reactionaries. They believe that their entire lives should revolve around Judaism. Judaism is not a mere religion for them . It is the best way and the only way for those of Jewish descent. All other ways are considered degenerate and inferior and criticized. The Jewishist has little to do with the non-Jew, the non-Jew
Habad-Lubavitch cult members in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Habad-Lubavitch cult members in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Cult members dress in the clothing of the 19th century. It is wrong they say to dress as the gentiles do. They do not cut or trim their beards.

is considered impure. His world, the world of 99.99% of humanity, is wrong. Thus “goyishche” or non-Jewish clothes, names, music, philosophy, education, food, and social associations are all disdained. The worse sin is that of “intermarriage”, marrying a non-Jew. Those who follow “goyische”ways are ostracized condemned and become pariahs. They are guilty of social and cultural crime.

The Lubavitchers lament the modern era. They trace themselves back to Hasidism of the 18th century, a mystical anti-intellectual and anti modern movement of Eastern European Jews. They remember Napoleon’s plan to emancipate the Jews of Eastern Europe and grant them equal rights as a plot to destroy Judaism while the Czar’s way of traditional persecution and progrom they find more familiar and less threatening. They look favorably to the time when Jewish society was autonomous under the direction of Rabbis in the Middle Ages. But their golden age was three thousand years ago when the Jews lived in the Land of Israel under the direction of the Torah which they consider to be the teachings of God as interpreted and handed down by prophets and Rabbis. In their view as time moves further and further from the glory days of three
On their way to the "House of their Lord in Babylon"
On their way to the "House of their Lord in Babylon"
Young cultists walk towards their center in Brooklyn

thousand years ago,the world becomes more corrupt and evil.

Rather than live integrated into a democacy with equal rights the the Lubavticher cult would prefer to live in a society which does not accept them because if this were the case there would logically be less assimilation. Assimilation, the gradual acculturation of persons of Jewish descent into the societies in which they live, is considered a spiritual holocaust. They believe that the holocaust of World War II occurred because the Jews of Europe committed the sin of assimilation. The ideal for them is separation or segregation from the corrupt and degenerate non-Jew. According to them, a Jew can not convert out of his or her religion because in his essence he is a Jew He has a Jewish soul. The Jew they believe has a godly soul and an animal soul while the non-jew, the goy, has only an animal soul. Thus they argue those who follow their true essence as Jews are free. Those who do not are enslaved to their bodies and desires and living as gentiles when they are really Jews.

To follow one’s essence and be free, the Lubavitch cult argues the Jew is
The cult proclaims Crown Heights, "The Rebbe's  neighborhood"
The cult proclaims Crown Heights, "The Rebbe's neighborhood"
In Crown Heights,"the Rebbe's neighborhood", Jewish women are urged to dress modestly.

expected to obey god’s will as manifest in the Torah-the teaching of god-bestowed on the ancient Israelites and having written, revealed, oral and concealed aspects to it. These teachings are considered absolute law valid forever. Every decision in life and every action is made in accordance with it from when one can have sex with one’s wife to when to wake up in the morning. The opinions of men and women are considered unimportant. The Lubavitcher cultists are authoritarian; they believe that rabbis have the authority to interpret this Torah or teachings of god and decide on every behavior of men and woman and human society and that Menachem M. Schneersohn, their leader was the supreme Rabbi of his time, the Moses of his generation. In their view, therefore, all men are not equal and democracy is not the proper way to govern a society.

When the Lubavtichers came to the United States from Europe, after World War II, they proclaimed that “American was not different”. While in the Soviet Union, they waged a cultural war against the communist, atheist and secularist policies of the society and this continued in the United States. Like in Russia, many of the chief secularists in this country where of Jewish origin. The secularists strove to create a society where a person would not be be judged or discriminated against because of his religious pedigree, where religion was taken out of the public sphere. The Lubvatichers saw this as a danger to their society. But unlike the Satmar, another Jewish cult, they did not close themselves off from the gentile world. Their leader Schnnersohn decided to fight against it. In his war, he created for Jewish youth an organization with the English name, “The Armies of God”. He constructed “Jewish Commandment Tanks”. He sent missionaries all over the world to convert assimilated Jews into fellow cultists. His mottoes: “Every Jew will have a portion in the World to Come.” and “No Jew will be left behind.”

Schnnershohn himself was a childless, friendless and somber individual who only spoke publicly in the Judeo-German language of Easter Europe and rarely left Crown Heights. Yet among members of the cult he was admired almost as a god. The cultists believed he could intercede with god on their behalf to heal illnesses. They believed he could foresee the future. They sought his advice and asked for his blessing in every matter of importance. His somber and severe face adorned the walls of many cultists homes. At the same time, few cultists knew anything about the man whom they considered to be the highest human spiritual authority in existence. Most had never even had a conversation with him.

The great progress of the Habad-Lubvavitch cult took place in the 1960’s and 70’s when many in America were searching for an alternative to the culture of materialism of this country. Those of Jewish descent sometimes found that Lubavtich offered a spiritual alternative to the eastern philosophies and religions which were growing in popularity. Musicians, artists, and practioners of meditation joined the movement. But like those who embraced the Hare Krishna movement, they soon found out that they were not accepted by those who were born into the the old time religion. They eventually formed a sub-society in Lubavitch, a lower caste. The original Lubavitch cultists were reluctant to socialize or marry with them.

In the 1980’s and 90’s, Lubavitch cult saw the pinnacle of its power. It began to get large funding from wealthy Jewish philanthropists. Many of these philanthropists saw Lubavtich as a tool to preserve Jewish culture and society in America. With monies donated, Lubavitch set up schools, soup kitchens, synagogues, children’s camps around the world. They launched aggressive media campaigns against the assimilation of Jews into American society. They also lobbied for an end to the separation of church and state in America. They tried to get religious education into the public school system making use of the “release time” program and the argument for a “moment of silence”. They made alliances with Christian Fundamentalists who also wanted to create a theocratic state in America.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the cult made in roads in its old territory of Russia and Eastern Europe as well. They found support from the billionaire Russian Oligarchs, many of who were Jewish. They captured the Chief Rabbinate of the country. They saw an outlet for their social services among the Jewish poor. They enjoyed the resurgence of religion ,ethnic tension, and poverty in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union because these factors led to a strong market for their fundamentalism and Jewish chauvinism.

In Israel, the cult found support from many traditional Israelis of Middle Eastern origin who chafed under the antitradtional philosophy of the labor movement. The Israeli government also welcomed the pro-Israel orientation of the cult and its anti-assmimlationsist ideology. The cult took an aggressive position on the issue of the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war. They believed it was redeemed land of Israel which should not be returned to the Arabs. But the Lubavtich cult ultimately had disdain for Zionism and the objectives of the modern Jewish nationalist movement. Previous cult leaders opposed Zionism because of its antireligious aspect. The Lubavitch cult believed that the Jews would be returned to the Middle East miraculously by the Messiah. In the meantime they followed the maxim,”Make here the Land of Israel”, meaning construct everywhere Jewish life. Menachem M. Schneersohn, the cult leader, never visited Israel and refused to do so.

As part of the war against the predominant trend in Jewish life, the Lubavtich cult resisted moving out of Crown Heights to the suburbs. This was despite the fact that every area around their small enclave had become first predominantly African-American and later Afro-Caribbean. Their philosophy was that not one inch of Jewish land should be given up. In Europe, like other fundamentalist Jewish sects and cults, they did not encourage their members to move to America, since America was considered contaminated. In America, they preferred to be separate. In their socio-religious hierarchal world view, the Rebbe was on top, followed by renowned Rabbis of the cult, the Lubavitch rank and file, new cultists, other fundamentalist Jews, Modern Orthodox Jews, traditional Israelis and Assimilated Jews, and finally white gentiles. At the very bottom were African-Americans who were seen as animals from the jungle. Their opinion of their African American neighbors was reinforced by the high level of crime in the Black community. Yet where as Crown Heights was a predominantly Jewish area in the 1960’s, in the 1970’s and 80’s it was a predominantly African American neighborhood. By the 1990’s the neighborhood saw the influx of people of the Caribbean Islands-The West Indies.

Unlike the African Americans, the West Indians did not accept so readily an inferior status in the neighborhood and they soon came into conflict with the Lubavitchers in the course of a riot that occurred in 1991. The riot developed after a young boy Gavin Cato was run over and left for dead by a Lubavitcher driving a car in the cult leader Schnnersohn’s motorcade. During the course of the riot, the West Indians protested the racist attitudes of Habad cult members which led to the child’s death but because of growing Lubavitch political power, legal action was not followed against the Lubavtichers for the death of the child and the protests of the West Indians and African Americans were met by deaf ears.

After the the cult leader died in 1994, there was a split among members of the cult. Some considered Schneersohn to be the messiah who will save the Jews from exile
while others thought he was merely the “Moses of the generation”. In the course of the last decade the two splinter groups have grown apart. The Messianists now have their own schools and institutions. In the last few years, the cultic qualities of the Habad-Lubavitich group have become more apparent to many as the conflicts between the two groups have entered the public sphere.

Former Dodger Johnny Podres dies

Former Dodger Johnny Podres dies

Pitched Brooklyn to only World Series title in 1955
The Associated Press

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- Johnny Podres, who pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to their only World Series title in 1955, died Sunday at the age of 75.
A spokesman for Glens Falls Hospital confirmed Podres' death but said he didn't know any details.

The left-hander was picked for four All-Star games and was the first Most Valuable Player in World Series history. He became a hero to every baseball fan in Brooklyn when the Dodgers ended decades of frustration by beating the Yankees to win the World Series.

It was the first time a team had won a best-of-seven World Series after losing the first two games, and it was Brooklyn's only World Series victory. The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season.

The Dodgers lost the first two games of at Yankee Stadium, then the Dodgers won the third 8-3 at Ebbets Field. Podres, going the distance on his 23rd birthday, scattered seven hits.

In the climactic seventh game, at Yankee Stadium, Podres shut out New York 2-0 on eight hits, relying on his fastball and a deceptive changeup.

As the story goes, Podres told his teammates to get him just one run and the Dodgers would win Game 7. They got him two, and the franchise celebrated its first and only championship while playing in Brooklyn.

Years later, Podres was uncertain he made such a brash statement.

"I don't know if I said it or not. That's what they said I said," a grinning Podres recalled in 2005. "Probably young and dumb -- something like that would haunt you your whole life. ... You put on a big league uniform, you've got to think you're pretty good."

Tommy Byrne, the losing pitcher in that game, died Dec. 20.

Podres' career spanned 15 years with the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres. He retired in 1969 at age 36 with a lifetime record of 148-116.

Podres also served as a pitching coach when he was older, helping develop Frank Viola when he was with the Minnesota Twins and Curt Schilling when he was on the Philadelphia Phillies staff.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.