The Daily Dwek: Saying sorry, buying a kidney


Earlier this week, JTA’s Eric Fingerhut previewed a meeting in Brooklyn being organized by a leader of the Agudath Israel of America in the wake of last week’s arrests of several prominent rabbis.

In New York, a leader of Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella group bringing together several Chasidic and non-Chasidic communities, helped organize a meeting to stress the same theme. The meeting was to feature two prominent rabbis and two well-known New York lawyers, Benjamin Brafman and Jacob Laufer.

The meeting was announced in an e-mail sent out by Agudah’s executive vice president, Rabbi David Zweibel, to the organization’s supporters. Titled “An Urgent Gathering,” the e-mail said the meeting would be “focusing on the timeless (but also all too timely) theme of ‘Vi’asisa hayashar vi’hatov,’ or making sure one is doing ‘the good and honest thing.’ "

“In the wake of recent headlines and front-page photographs that made every feeling Jewish heart ache, it is even more timely for us to take a good, hard look at our obligations to our fellows, to our society, to our government,” Zweibel said in the e-mail, adding that “I am confident that you realize how vital it is that we hear words of mussar [taking stock] and chizuk [reinforcement], and that we learn to distinguish between conduct that conforms with dina d’malchusa [the law of the land] and conduct that does not.”

The Forward’s Nathaniel Popper was in attendance, and has the details of a surprise appearance:

The most surprising moment of the night came at the very beginning, when the Grand Rabbi of the Spinka sect, Naftali Tzi Weisz, at right, took the stage for an unscheduled appearance. Weisz was arrested in a separate money-laundering case in 2007, and just last week he pleaded guilty, reportedly accepting a jail term. Before heading off to serve that term, Weisz delivered an obviously emotional mea culpa for his wrong-doings, first in Yiddish and then in awkwardly translated English.

“Unfortunately we have to admit in public that things happened that were not supposed to happen,” Weisz told the men in attendance (women were not invited to the forum). “We must have to express our wish that these matters will never happen — we have to commit that in the future this will never happen again.”

Weisz spoke in great detail about the compliance program that the Spinka board has entered with the government and he said, “Our community, baruch hashem, is not lacking in smart experienced lawyers and accountants that are willing to teach the tzibur [community], how to conduct their communal affairs in a manner that is in compliance with the law in all respects.”

Also check out Popper’s story on growing self-reflection in the haredi world. Plus the Forward also has a story by Rebecca Dube about how black-market kidneys are sold:

Six months ago, Ronen came to the United States from Israel on a life-or-death mission. He needed a kidney transplant, or he would die.

Soon after he arrived and moved into a donated basement apartment in Brooklyn, a man approached him and offered to give him what he wanted most in the world — for a fee. Ronen would have to pay $160,000 for a kidney; the “donor” would get $10,000.

Ronen is 35, and he has endured nightly dialysis sessions for 15 years. The Forward is not publishing his last name to protect his privacy. Because of his failing health, he cannot work. His rabbi raised money to get him to New York because organ donations are so rare in Israel. Today, his dream is simple: to get a kidney transplant and “to live a normal life, to marry and to work, and to make a family.” …

Read the full story.

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