Jan 24, 2014
Chabad Rabbis Ban "Call of Shofar"
Chabad's official rabbinic body has concluded an extensive investigation into the "Call of the Shofar" and found it to be "dangerous."
By COLlive reporter
The rabbinic body of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in North America has issued a ruling that participation in the controversial self-help program "Call of the Shofar" is forbidden according to Jewish law.
The "Central Committee of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbis in the United States and Canada," also known as Vaad Rabbonei Lubavitch, wrote in a letter dated Thursday, 22 Shevat 5774, that the decision was the result of an extensive investigation.
It was signed by its executive members (in order of appearance): Rabbi Dovid Schochet of Toronto, Canada; Rabbi Elimelech Zwiebel of Morristown, NJ; Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky of Brooklyn, NY; Rabbi Zusha Winner of Brighton Beach, NY; Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld of Pittsburgh, PA.
Their letter in Hebrew reads (free translation):
"In response to the questions of many about participation in the program "Call of the Shofar," we are informing that according to the testimony from a number of participants, and a number of knowledgeable experts, and after reading many documents, it is explicitly proven that the above mentioned program has in it things that were learned from foreign organizations, Heaven forbid."
They write that they concluded that the program "includes exercises and speeches that not only are not according to the spirit of Torah and chassidus, but rather a peculiar way that has in it several prohibitive matters, and this isn't the place to elaborate."
They concluded: "Because of all of the above, we have concluded that this program is dangerous and it is forbidden to participate in it."
A source at Vaad Rabbonei Lubavitch told COLlive.com that the ruling was done following "an accumulative 50 hours of extensive investigation that combed through documents, analyzed programs, interviewed participants and did endless research."
He said that while some complained that the rabbinical body took its time to produce a ruling, the rabbis wanted to cover every possible aspect to reach a definitive and decisive conclusion.
COLlive.com was told that a "Kol Koreh" call is currently being signed by rabbis, roshei yeshiva and mashpiim offering a working plan to those that have participated in any of the weekend retreats, workshops, conference calls and other contact with the program.
FOLLOW UP TO OUTCRY
The Call of the Shofar has come under heavy fire since first being exposed on COLive.com in December 2013. The inroads it gained within the Crown Heights community and Chabad followers has enraged many, leading to an "urgent gathering" attended by some 2,000 people.
Simcha Frischling, founder of the "Call of the Shofar" who recently relocated to Australia, told a Jewish newspaper that of its 2,000 participants, mostly men, he estimates that "maybe 90 percent of them could be considered Lubavitch community members."
The program has been openly recruiting participants in Chabad circles for around two years and held weekend retreats at a mansion owned by a Lubavitcher family in Morristown, NJ. A recent statement from Frischling showed the program's mailing address to be a private home on Lefferts Avenue in Crown Heights.
Articles by mind-control and cult experts and admissions by the program's past participants said that Shofar, also called by its initials, "COTS," is a "cult" and uses "mind-controlling techniques."
The hotly debated conversation also discussed the proper way to deal with life's challenges. As a result, new shiurim were established in Crown Heights and schools are reporting that parents are taking greater interest in the education of their children.
Two new weekly webcasts on COLlive.com, presented by preeminent Chabad scholar Rabbi Yoel Kahn and best-selling author Rabbi Simon Jacobson, have been started, discussing timely matters and concerns and their application according to the teachings of chassidus.
These classes join the long-running programs "Shabbos Night Live" with Rabbi Shmuel Butman, Executive of Lubavitch Youth Organization, and insights into halacha by Rabbi Nachman Wilhelm, Dean of OnlineSmicha.com and ongoing broadcasts of farbrengens and lectures.
DEVELOPMENTS AT OHOLEI TORAH
The Oholei Torah educational institute for boys in Crown Heights reported this week that a number of staff members who have attended sessions of COTS were individually interviewed by Raphael Aron, Director of Cult Counseling of Melbourne, Australia.
"Mr. Aron has reported to the Oholei Torah board that he is satisfied that these staff members have since disassociated themselves from this organization and any of its practices," said Rabbi Joseph Rosenfeld, Oholei Torah's Executive Director.
"We also accepted the staff member's assurances that they will continue to attend therapy as needed. Mr. Aron will be continuing to monitor the situation in the future as well," Rosenfeld wrote, adding that the school is "looking to expand its many exciting and interesting approaches in presenting and dealing with the issues and questions in today's environment."
Rosenfeld said that he plans to incorporate professional, chassidishe and respected lecturers and guidance counselors to help the staff and students "better deal with and relate to everyday life struggling issues with a positive and happy attitude."
THE COVERAGE ON COLlive:
+ Man Behind "Call of the Shofar"
+ Rabbi Hecht: "Call of the Shofar is a Cult
+ Rabbi Y Schochet: Call of the Void
+ What Really Happens at "Shofar"
+ Op-Ed: The Call Is Simply a Symptom
+ Rabbis Convene Urgent Gathering
+ 2000 at "Urgent Gathering"
+ R' Yoel Kahn's Full Speech
+ Cult Expert Explains Dangers
+ Oholei Torah Staff Issue Statement
+ Bochurim Protest School Firing
+ Confessions of a 'Shofar' Staffer
+ Oholei Torah Reinstates Teachers
+ How to Detox from 'Shofar'
+ Comedy: The Call of the Puppet